Tuesday

Tuesday 18/02/03You'll already have read the report from our American colleagues about the marketing and technical thrust of the IDF's first keynote. What doesn't make the news is the ritual nature of the affair, and all the peculiar things that happen when an engineering company gets involved in showbusiness.

Tuesday 18/02/03
You'll already have read the report from our American colleagues about the marketing and technical thrust of the IDF's first keynote. What doesn't make the news is the ritual nature of the affair, and all the peculiar things that happen when an engineering company gets involved in showbusiness. It's a mixture of school assembly, religious revival and TV chat show, with a rather chummy sense that audience and showmen are all in it together. Imagine a huge auditorium, more shed than meeting space, with thousands of chairs beneath TV studio style lights, speakers and special effects projectors. At the front is the stage, which this time looks not unlike one of the later Dr Who sets: there are a number of featureless ten-foot-high towers at the back made from curved panels that reflect camera flashes from the audience in a distracting shower of light whenever something interesting happens. We discover later that the towers are not what they seem. On bounds Pat Gelsinger, Intel's chief technology officer, to kick things off. He's been to 12 of the 13 IDFs to date, he reminds us, and perhaps it shows. He normally has the enthusiastic, no-nonsense demeanour of a youthful teacher at a minor public school who's good at his subject and knows it, carrying the boys along by charisma underpinned with a strict no-fools policy. This time, he's looking a little gaunt, his cheekbones unhealthily prominent under the lights. But then, how bouncy can you be when you have to start off an IDF? You have to say things like "It's all about computing" to thousands of engineers, who may already have guessed. You then have to say "Convergence. It's great!" and mean it. The theme of this IDF, Gelsinger continued, was CCC -- Computing, Communications, Convergence. Unfortunately, most engineers are keen on science fiction and would know Harry Harrison's masterpiece Space Rats Of The CCC, which is a satirical mickey-take of every Independence Day/Starship Trooper clich

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