Arif Mohamed's Weekend Diary

Written by Arif Mohamed, Contributor

Today was full on at the PCDN office: Sun pitched the JavaStation and NC concept at Ziff Towers to an audience who'd heard it all before, Microsoft made cooing noises over Java like it's their baby and there was news of a very neat $10, 20Mb storage device from Iomega which may give Flash Cards a run for their money.

My desk was a flood of papers, press releases, scrawled notes, faxes, invitations for Christmas parties - I know the phone's under here somewhere. Paperless office? Pure fiction.


Apparently the most expensive place to buy IT kit is Norway. I kid you not.

AJP brought a strapping 200MHz Pentium notebook into Ziff Towers. It gives four and a half hours, runs like the wind, but take it on the train and it'll probably give you a hernia. I think rugged is the term you use.


According to Microsoft, there are 1.6 million people surfing the Web. Even my mum wants to get involved. She called today and said: "I want to get e-mail and the Internet. How do I do it?" I anticipate that this is the first of many questions. Early adopters, prepare to impart your knowledge to the late developers.

Call me a snob, but as the mainstream starts discovering the Web, they're going to realise that most of the content has a short-lived appeal for them. That's when the first Internet soap will appear, which is when the Web will enter the bowels of hell whose name is mediocrity, if it isn't there already.


Microsoft held an e-commerce press do at number one Whitehall Place, the Liberal party's traditional meeting place. Beautiful building with a huge marble staircase tearing through the centre like a vortex. Tesco, Jaguar and Shoppers Universe were there, promising great things for the armchair shopper.

I got chatting over lunch to the man behind Tesco's online shopping pilot. He said he could tell if journalists are trying out the service by what they put in their baskets: junk food, alcohol and little else. I thought of the pot noodle, chocolate digestives and pack of lager in my cupboard and nodded in tacit agreement.

Did he think online shopping would take off? Well, put it this way, when you're out shopping with four screaming kids juggling with eggs and sitting in the isle every two minutes because they're 'tired and want to go home', shopping from a quiet armchair has a magical appeal.

Back at the office, Ziff had a private launch party for Computer Gaming World,. The staff have been working day and night for the last fortnight. Take a bow, David Kelly and crew, the magazine, Ziff's first hardcore games magazine, looks surprisingly good. It hits the shops next Wednesday. The night ran long and much wine flowed. I ended up in a kebab house off Tooley Street, talking philosophy with the owner who also freelances for two Punjabi papers in his spare time. What a talented geezer.


AOL cut 300 jobs in the states, there are rumours that MS will fold IE 4 into version 5, ditching beta 4, and release it mid-97, and the Computer Gaming World staff didn't show up in the office at all - and good for them.

Ziff Towers is quiet today as many of the hacks have flown to Comdex, Las Vegas, which is why this weekend's hack diaries come to you from Martin and myself, not Rupert and Guy. I'm expecting great news to come out of Comdex next Tuesday, as many companies have been holding on to announce their big initiatives. We'll get Pegasus handhelds, 56K modems, and all manner of other wonderful beasts. Now it's time for this hack to hit the streets of London, the pub, a club, then a pajama party, of all things. After all, sleep's for losers.

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