Rupert Goodwins' Diary

Monday

Watch out! A jobbing hack on Cix mentioned he was researching EDS' faux pas (EDS is the large American company with a habit of picking up the Establishment's big computing jobs - to less than universal acclaim), and promptly got an email from the company itself - nobody knew they were watching. At the same time, a letter from EDS appears in Private Eye, firmly correcting something printed earlier. Someone somewhere has decided to get proactive, and these are the first shots across the bow. Students of media manipulation should prepare for a slew of pro-EDS articles: for a more interesting view, just ask some of the civil servants who've been involved in the many projects.

Tuesday

Full steam ahead on IT Week where the first dummy issue is taking shape beneath the steely gaze of production editor Rhys. I know I shouldn't say this: it's looking good... We're under strict instructions not to reveal too much, but golly. There's a lot of it.

Wednesday

Remember the browser wars? Remember those heady days when reports from the front line flew in daily claiming that Explorer was beating Navigator, or Navigator was creaming Explorer? In a particularly ironic twist, Microsoft is carrying on the fight in reverse - ask them now, and they'll proudly say that IE has never really done as well as Netscape's products. Market share? Not as good as it might have been.

It doesn't take long to divine the reason for this peculiar blast of inverse publicity: if Internet Explorer was doing as well as MS used to claim, then all those anti-trust actions in the US are more difficult to defend. If IE isn't doing that well, then obviously MS can't be accused of heavy-handed abuse of their virtual monopoly.

On a related note, it's interesting how quickly Linux is turning into the Great Contender, and how willing people are to believe that the combination of Linux and Navigator makes a good desktop system. As with so much in computing, perception is king: while everyone signed up to the idea that Linux was for techies and Windows was for real people, it was so. The truth is more complex: it's true that Unix is horrible to learn and resolutely mysterious but then so is Windows. Do you know what a tenth of those files in your Windows directory do? And if you run everything through a browser, it doesn't matter whether it's Windows or Unix underneath: who cares?

Could the biggest software monopoly in history be brought down by free stuff? D'you know, I think it might...

Thursday

News that a Japanese company has produced a fridge with a Pentium II in the door provokes a ribald flight of fantasy. Is it used as some form of advanced defrosting device, where you bring your chicken to a dethawed state by running PowerPoint until the Pentium's nice and toasty? Is Intel's next device going to be code-named McCain? Will it combine with Tut's home Ethernet product to let you browse the drinks shelf from your front room? Will we see web cams in the ice box?

Bah. Humbug.

Friday

And there goes Demon, flogged off to the Scots for sixty-odd million quid. Cliff Stanford, founder and former MD, is now a consultant to Scottish Telecom and has no official connection with the company he founded. He's trousered thirty three million quid, which has taken some of the sting out of losing his creation, but he's reportedly still wistful about the whole affair.

I've seen Demon grow from the beginning, and while it might seem facile to talk of vision, commitment and idealism these are the things that got it going, kept it growing through some difficult times and finally turned it into the company that's written the rules for the Internet market in the UK. Cliff passionately believes in the idea of affordable, easy and uncensored access for everyone, and he made it happen -- a wonderful contrast to the combination of fear and greed that seems to drive so many of the big companies. It's hard to imagine what UK plc's online world would look like if Demon had never happened.

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