Rupert Goodwins' Diary

MondayAnd you thought your Monday morning was bad.

A member of the PC Magazine editorial team -- who shall remain nameless -- cut himself shaving today. Sliced off a mole, in fact. Oooh! In some pain, faint from loss of blood and with mere seconds of consciousness left, he dashed into his kitchen to search for the Band-Aid. While he was thus engaged, he slowly realised that the situation was complicated by a number of factors: the kitchen windows were large and clear, they faced onto the street and (apart from a thin, greasy film of blood) he was stark ballcock naked.

Summoning the last reserves of mental agility, he immediately ducked out of sight and edged back towards the safety of 'the inner core or sanctum', as Protect and Survive calls the centre of the house. Alas, since he is a member of staff who not only shaves but believes in a certain standard of sartorial presentation, the steam iron was (a) on, (b) standing upright and (c) now pressed into his right buttock. Our unfortunate colleague will from henceforth be known as 'Tefal Man', and will doubtless be appearing on a Channel 4 chatshow soon.

Tuesday

Well, the DSL consortium (Microsoft, Compaq, Intel, telephone companies and Uncle Tom Cobbley) has woken up and told the world what a good idea it all is to have a permanent 1.5 megabit a second wired into everyone's homes. It'll all be USB and Windows, strangely enough. The company I mentioned last week was Texas Instruments, by the way, but everything had to wait for the Universal ADSL Alliance to show its colours. Or, rather, colors - all the companies involved are American as far as I can see. Also missing, oddly, is Hayes.

Find myself explaining ADSL to a colleague. "So... everyone will have a fast enough link to the Internet to make and send real time, TV quality video?" he said. "Yes." I said. "So everyone will be transmitting home porno movies, downloading ten at once, and videoconferencing their willies?" he said. "Er... probably", I said. "Hm" he said. "Of course, some of us will need more bandwidth than others." Only he could move a conversation from high-speed networking to penile size in two sentences...

Wednesday

One of the simple pleasures of the online world is wandering into an IRC, AOL or CompuServe chatroom and winding up Americans. I have nothing against Americans or America, but there are times when one just itches to get in there and press a couple of buttons... The trick is finding people who can respond in kind.

Surprisingly, some of my more right-wing online sparring partners react very badly when I tell a couple of Clinton jokes (You've heard them already, honest. Oh, OK: "When 500 Washington women were asked whether they'd have sex with Bill Clinton, 490 answered "Not again"".). While none of them seemed to like the man much, they thought that he was the President, dammit, and worth defending on principle. Anything else was demeaning to America. Now, you try feeling the same way about, oh, Blair.

Odd, that.

Thursday

Noises of misery down the phone. A friend of mine has the same morning problems as I do - faced with anything resembling 8am, a temporary yet neurologically profound coma sets in. She's tried to fix it by calling BT and asking for an alarm call every morning, positioned strategically between the alarm going off and her boss achieving low earth orbit. "Any idea how much that costs?", she asked me, "Because I just thought to ask them after all these weeks."

Um. 50p? That seemed about right, so I opened the bidding there. Nope. Sixty. No. Seventy? A quid? A quid fifty? By now, I was beginning to get the idea. The ten second alarm call was sold to the woman under the duvet for no less than two hundred and seventy of your earth pence. Ouch, I said.

Of course, they don't tell you this. Now, if it takes the operator thirty seconds to call the number, wait for it to be answered and say "Alarm call", that's 5 quid 40 a minute. Or three hundred and twenty four pounds an hour - just to wake people up. And I thought consulting in the City was a good payer...

Friday

It's Domain Name Terror again! The US Government (hey, who put them in charge of the Internet? Did I miss something?) is proposing to hand over control of things like .com, .net and what have you to a committee of fifteen bods. These will decide when to add new ones like .vend, .person, .store and so on - after all, .com is heavily oversubscribed. But it's not clear how they'll decide this - a mixture of commercial pressures and residual public service, I suppose.

Why not do things the Internet way? Invent a voting protocol, set up a server, and add the top five new domain name suffixes - as voted for by the great connected - every month. That way it'll all be nicely democratic and if some crass commercial interest wants to get an unfair advantage they'll just have to bribe an awful lot of us.

(Here's the story on news.com. But I have no idea what Denis Norden has to do with it...)

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