Rupert Goodwins' Diary

Bank Holiday. Still time for a gossip with a pal, though, who informs me that the Motorola-based Iridium global satellite system has hit a few problems.

Bank Holiday. Still time for a gossip with a pal, though, who informs me that the Motorola-based Iridium global satellite system has hit a few problems. It needs a constellation of 60-odd satellites in low earth orbit, all crammed with electronics. Since the Cold War went away, though, the military hasn't been buying nearly as many space-certified components as they used to and the price has gone, er, rocketing.

So Iridium has gone looking for alternatives. The toughest it's found - more than up to the job - turns out to be car parts. We're about to be surrounded by talking, orbiting Ford Cortinas...

Tuesday

"Why are these darned Word 7 documents twice the size of Word 6?" asks an exasperated editor, not unreasonably. Hey, we're PC Magazine! Why don't we phone Microsoft and ask?

Err... Unicode, says Microsoft. Now, Unicode is the successor to ASCII, and it's true that a Unicode character is 16 bits wide rather than ASCII's 7 or 8 - the scheme covers all foreign character sets. However for normal English characters the top 8 bits of Unicode are zero and can be omitted. "Ah. We know that," says MS. "That's why we strip them out." So why *are* W7 documents so big? Because having carefully stripped them out, the software apparently appends them to the end of the document and saves them anyway, doubling the size.

Why, Microsoft?

Silence.

Wednesday

Like many, I'm keeping half an eye on the Kasparov/Deep Blue chess tournament (currently running at two games each). Get a phone call from Simon Bates (yes, that Simon Bates) who's now on Liberty 963 AM - the radio station occasionally gets me to opine on topics technical. Are computers taking over the world? No. Doesn't Deep Blue beating Kasparov prove that it's smarter? No. Why not, asks Batesy. I ask him whether he plays chess, and whether his computer can beat him. The interview is terminated shortly thereafter.

Thursday

Ziff-Davis UK is 6! Entire company traipses over to Tower Bridge, where we party on down in the corridors that run between the towers. Much internal gossip and mildly depraved behaviour - the highlight of the evening comes when I describe a grandiose idea to Tony Westbrook, online director, with an expansive sweep of the arms. Am carrying a glass of red wine which impinges on the buttocks of our managing director: glass bounces off him without leakage and applies itself liberally to my nice white Martin Bell linen jacket. Doh!

End up with small band of nogoodniks at Troy's, the nearly-legendary Hanway Street drinking hole. Attempt to impress bored woman with in-depth knowledge of Microsoft's ongoing comedy of errors and also variegated jacket. Fail.

Friday

Hangover the size of a hippopotamus. Work at home. Quietly. If anything's happened in the outside world, I don't care.

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