Tuesday 29/10/2002Today is a Why Do I Bother day. I know this instinctively, from the moment I stumble to the laptop, coffee in hand, and check the breakfast emails.

Tuesday 29/10/2002
Today is a Why Do I Bother day. I know this instinctively, from the moment I stumble to the laptop, coffee in hand, and check the breakfast emails. Halfway through the task, the error messages cluster over the screen -- my broadband has gone down. It comes back for a bit, just long enough for me to download a press release about University College sending the world's first human handshake across the Atlantic between Boston and London. It's quite a nice story, involving Internet2 and haptic systems -- real senses of touch sent over an experiment ultra-high speed network, eh? OK, it's a goer. So I phone up the press contact for UCL and ask about this Internet2 business. "Ah," he says. "I'll have to get someone to get back to you." While waiting for this, I search away... and find out that one of the people heavily involved in Internet2 in the UK is an old school chum, Tim (now Doctor Tim) Chown. I primarily remember Tim for drunken nights on Dartmoor and incidents involving a toad called Europa and a shed full of Girl Guides, but I'm sure he's moved on from such juvenilia. So I call him to find out more about the UCL business. The phone rings out, and I'm just about to give up when there's what sounds remarkably like a croak on the line. Surely not... "Tim? Tim Chown?" "Ugh? Ugh? Yes?" It turns out he's in Los Angeles for an Internet2 event, it's 5 a.m., and he forgot about the fact that phones roam to the US now. But he struggles manfully to wakefulness. Yes, he knows about the demo. It's happening between London and LA. But the press release says Boston. We're both mystified, but he's mystified, jetlagged and groggy, so I leave him to it and wait once more for UCL to get back to me. For the next few hours, I battle on in an ever-widening circle of people who don't know what's going on. The UCL press office puts me in touch with experts in touch technology when I want to talk about networking, everyone thinks the test is going on between some combination of Boston, LA and London but nobody can agree on what... and all the time, my broadband is on and off my box more often than Angus Deayton. But,darn it, I have a story. In the end, I pummel it into a vague reflection of what might possibly be happening either in this universe or a near-parallel thereof. And I doubt that anyone else could have done it much quicker, so we've got something quite cool... but of course, the rest of the world got there ages beforehand. Their version of events seems less likely than mine, but who's to say? I glower at my laptop. 404 Page not found, it says back. Gah.


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