Wednesday 11/09/2002It's here: Nine Eleven. Curiously, if you avoid the TV and the papers, it seems much like business as normal.

Wednesday 11/09/2002
It's here: Nine Eleven. Curiously, if you avoid the TV and the papers, it seems much like business as normal. There's a moment's silence at the beginning of the show, but that's it. We finish with a briefing about ultrawideband radio, which is shaping up to be one of the more interesting technologies of the next few years. Intel has pretty well saturated the Forum with the more old-fashioned 802.11b wireless network, which means it's a simple matter to be on the Net while ostensibly taking notes during a presentation. I take advantage of this to transmit the audio from the UWB briefing to a pal in London via the microphone in the laptop and Yahoo! Instant Messenger's voice chat feature. He hooks up his laptop -- also on a wireless network -- to his stereo to make the most of the admittedly rather poor audio, and makes a very effective ghost member of the audience. I'm not sure Intel would quite approve of this. They've told us off often enough for trying to record or photograph the technical briefings, and while I'm complying with the letter of the law I'm not minded to cause problems. Outside the show, the streets of San Jose are thronged with crowds commemorating the first anniversary of what will doubtless be remembered on this date hundreds of years from now. There's an open-air concert in a park next to the hotel where a mullet-haired rock group are power-chording their way through songs of defiance, and the Stars and Stripes are fluttering from baby buggies, pick-up trucks and the backs of bicycles. I feel very much the outsider. One chap drives around downtown for hours in a huge truck with an even huger flag flying from the roof, but this isn't the time to bring up the ironies of petrochemical culture. Once again, the EMEA journalists are rounded up and taken to a nearby restaurant where we sit outside and try to persuade the waiters to bring us steaks that aren't well done. We're under the flight path to San Jose International Airport, and so 9/11 finishes to the sound of aircraft powering a few hundred metres overhead, one every couple of minutes, with the sound of the open air concert spilling over in the spaces in-between. I've always found life a surreal affair, but sometimes it excels itself.


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