Rupert Goodwins' Diary

Thursday 9/10/2003How to describe NetEvents? Nine years ago, a bright lad had the idea of getting a load of European tech journalists together in a room and feeding live computer company executives to them.

Thursday 9/10/2003
How to describe NetEvents? Nine years ago, a bright lad had the idea of getting a load of European tech journalists together in a room and feeding live computer company executives to them. At least, that's what he told us. Apparently, he told the executives that we were the bait and they the snapping piranhas: whatever, they're the ones being charged an arm and a leg and we're the ones shipped over to a hotel -- on occasions, a boat -- and the occasion's been a great success ever since. Well, it took a little holiday over the Great Recession, but it's back now and the usual suspects are even now sitting in a room in Nice and finding out what the other half thinks. Admittedly, Graeme "Smashing" Wearden, our representative at the event, describes it as "speed dating outside your price bracket", but he says that about late-night shopping in Lidl.

As you might expect, the event's not without its fun. This time, the itinerant hacks were told, there'd be go-karting of an evening to help with the festivities. I'm not one for go-karting: being of above average avoirdupois, Newton's laws of motion work against me and I'm always left at the back of the pack with exhaust fumes ahead and nothing but the sound of an overloaded engine behind me. Other people take it a little more seriously, but it would be unsporting to identify the petrolhead hack -- Manek Dubash -- whose competitive spirit let him to bring his own large and shiny racing crash helmet. Easy, tiger!

Everyone else there has been having a great time with the wireless network. Dealing with French telcos is an exercise in anger management for even the most adept, and the promised broadband connectivity somehow failed to arrive. So the hotel's own connection was co-opted, but with the greatest misgivings on the management's part -- you can't blame them, really. Only Web browsing was allowed, leaving those smartypants who used telnet, FTP or VPNs chewing their own beards, twanging their sandals and twisting their bowties with frustration.

The importance of such security was brought home when one hack was surprised to hear the speaker declaim merrily from the podium that he'd already accessed the writer's laptop over Wi-Fi and had been browsing the collection of MP3s he found. It would be equally unfair to both men to name them -- stand easy, Peter Judge ("It was a new laptop! On review!") and Steve Broadhead -- but suffice it to say that the scribbler had downloaded ZoneAlarm by the time the talk had finished.

These are the people responsible for creating and documenting the high-tech world in which we live. Be afraid.

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