Rupert Goodwins' San Francisco IDF Diary

Wednesday 27/02/2002More keynotes, more sessions, more pancreas-endangering finger food in the hacks' enclave. Away from the organised activities, most fun is to be had watching the antics of thousands of engineers free to act without restraint among their own kind.

Wednesday 27/02/2002

More keynotes, more sessions, more pancreas-endangering finger food in the hacks' enclave. Away from the organised activities, most fun is to be had watching the antics of thousands of engineers free to act without restraint among their own kind. Normally they're an ebullient lot, but this time there's a certain circumspection to their jollity: everyone knows more than a few friends who've been laid off or had their companies collapse from under them like an exhausted horse, and nobody's sure that they won't be next.

There will be unexpected knock-on effects of this, once the shellshock wears off. Time and again I hear that so-and-so walked off with the source code for a product, and you'd never guess what's in it; that when company X comes to update product Y they'll find that the only person who actually understands how such a block of circuitry works was sacked six months ago, and sacked badly. And there's still a smog of gloom discernable over what happens next financially.

But there's no shortage of optimism over what happens next with technology. Intel is saying that the pace of change and improvement isn't slowing down: quite the opposite, with many fundamental new ideas jostling to be first out of the gate and joining in the revolution. Walking around the floor of the show, where hundreds of companies are showing off their Intel-related (and very often Intel-funded) gizmos, it's hard not to subscribe to this view of the future.

And the most fun I had? A short, intense discussion with a couple of Australians who've invented a new kind of capacitor that packs in more farads per square inch than any before. This is so esoteric and unsexy to non-engineers that I doubt I'll ever have reason to write it up, even though it promises to help squeeze an extra 20 percent or so life out of rechargeable batteries, but for a brief moment the cares of life fall away as I indulge in mutual arm-waving over embedded ion migration, impedances, effective series resistance and polarisation issues. Go to http://www.cap-xx.com/ if you care about such things.

And to think: some people come to San Francisco for the nightlife.

Newsletters

You have been successfully signed up. To sign up for more newsletters or to manage your account, visit the Newsletter Subscription Center.
See All
See All