Rupert Goodwins' Diary

Summary:Travellers' tales, distant space probes and quantum nucleonics are well and good but it's the IBM PC BIOS that really has Rupert scratching his chin this week.

Monday 24/02/2003
Ah, Star Trek. As the old joke has it -- how come whenever they boldy go where no man has gone before, there's always someone there? But it's getting like that down here on Earth. Once upon a time, when friends departed for a year off travelling around the world to find themselves (or dysentery, whichever came first), you could expect a handful of postcards and a couple of drunken evenings with the photograph album on their return. Not pleasant, but bearable. Now, everyone's got a Hotmail account and every village with more than two shacks and a donkey has an Internet café. So now there's the weekly email, full of wonderful things they've done and seen and how much they're missing the cold, miserable, dull old UK, haw haw haw. These are usually hierarchical, so if you're a very special friend of the wanderer you then get a second, for-your-eyes-only, email detailing the real mischief they've got up to and some of the more amusing diseases they caught while they were up there. (Don't bother, travellers, these get forwarded just like anything else). I dare say that with picture phones and the ever-rolling tide of broadband, we can expect audio and video reports any time now, just to make us boring old stay-at-homes with our eau potable and flush plumbing feel even more inferior. And just to make sure, someone's building a Web café on Everest. Just at Base Camp for now, so we'll be spared the unpleasantness of a breathless "Top of the world, ma!" if we have pals who make it to the top, but at this rate there won't be an unwired spot left on the planet. People won't be able to resist the temptation of telling the rest of us just what a good time they're having at the exact time they're having it. Bah, humbug. Bring back longhand and short postcards. (This from the man who set up a Web cam from his hotel room at IDF so the poor sods back in the office in London could check out the sunny view - Ed.)

Topics: Tech Industry

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Editor, ZDNet UK. Ex technology/technical editor of ZDNet UK, IT Week, PC Magazine, Computer Life, Mac User, Alfa Systems, Amstrad, Sinclair. Micronet 800, Marconi Space and Defence Systems, and a dodgy TV repair shop in the back streets of Plymouth. Can still swap out a gassy PL509 with the best of 'em.Dear Reader - contact me via our m... Full Bio

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