Rupert Goodwins' Diary

"The next generation of Windows CE will be real-time", announces Microsoft. Yer wot?

"The next generation of Windows CE will be real-time", announces Microsoft. Yer wot? I thought that telephone companies, car manufacturers and everyone short of NASA had signed up to use WinCE already - and it's not real time yet? For those who unaccountably haven't designed embedded systems, real-time means just that - something happens, and you act on it immediately. Wheels locked? Get the ABS going. Now.

With Windows CE as it is, if something else is busy - the satellite global positioning system is downloading a bitmap of Croydon, for example - you'll just have to wait. Not ideal when there's a whisker between you, the lamp-post and a huge articulated lorry.

I've got a very bad feeling about this...

Tuesday

Wandering around the Internet, I stumble across a reference to Kingston Communication and ADSL. It seems that Hull will be the first part of the UK to get fast domestic net access: not quite enough to make me move there, but still exciting enough.

But what does one do when one wants to find out about a telephone company? One goes off to find the Web page, of course. Only I couldn't. Now, I've been hanging around in this Web thing for a few years now and take a certain pride in being able to sniff things out, hunt them down and chase them into a darkened back alley before giving them a darn good seeing-to. In this case... nothing.

So, I give in and phone the press department. It only takes three voicemails before I hit a real person, and we chat amiably away about ADSL and telephones and such. "It's odd," I say at length, "but I just can't seem to find your Web site. You could almost suspect you didn't have one."

There's a short silence.

"Actually, we don't. It's really embarrasing," said the PR. "There was some restructuring recently and the people who were going to do the Web site..." He trailed off.

There is a certain irony in this: the company at the forefront of UK ADSL provision - a company which also owns an ISP - has no Web site. Especially since the Web's got to the point where one's slightly surprised if one's local corner shop doesn't have a home page somewhere.

It's grim up North.

Wednesday

This is more like it! Vapour-phase cooling of a 600MHz Alpha chip means you can run it at 767MHz, and ice-cold company Kryotech is snuggling up to Digital to produce just such a machine. Nothing terribly high-tech - it's basically yer standard refrigeration components - but it's nice that a few tubes, pumps and radiators can get the sort of speed increase out of a processor that normally takes a billion-dollar upgrade to a chip production line. Soon, Kryotech predict, it'll have these things deep-chilled to well under -100 degrees celsius and you'll be able to keep a side of meat in your workstation for a month.

How different from the Pentium-II based portables that PC Magazine is reviewing at the moment. Far be it from me to foreshadow the results of the tests, but one reviewer was heard complaining loudly in the lifts that he'd been using one such laptop on the train into work. Or rather, he'd tried - but the thing got so hot it singed his legs. "My thighs were burning, so I had to pull it off!" he said loudly, as the lift stopped at one of the other floors in the building and a couple of suits got in. The rest of the journey was marked by nervous silence, punctuated by the occasional giggle. What do they think of us...

Thursday

Showing an excellence of taste rare in the industry, Seiko has unveiled a wristwatch computer called the Ruputer (www.ruputer.com). A bizarre, Joe-90esque gadget, it has a 102x64 pixel LCD, infrared and serial connection to a PC, can upload and download to your PC and comes with 'three applications from Microsoft'. Oh, and it has 2Mb of storage. It may even tell the time.

More than that, I cannot say. The only source of information in the world is on the Web site, and it's all in Japanese. Even the American arm of Seiko seems taken aback, with a note on its site saying 'this is all we know, but it looks cool'.

I want one, and not only because of its remarkably fine name. No, according to the product pictures on the site the thing has a graphical user interface that looks just like Gem - possibly the silliest thing to put on a watch, aside from toggle switches and octal LEDs. A cult object.

Friday

Hurrah! Day off. Spring cleaning, visiting friends, intensive duvet testing - ahoy there! And no, I'm not going to reveal what happened when I took a close friend to an East End male stripper show for her birthday and left her there with a digital camera - you'll have to find the Web site for yourselves. Nor what happened subsequently in the Soho Spanish gambling den...

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