Friday 14/02/03The future, alas, has arrived. Ouch.

Friday 14/02/03
The future, alas, has arrived. Ouch. But it's Valentine's Day. Hm. This is signalled by the arrival in my tube carriage of a crusty carrying a guitar and a loud voice. He proceeds to say: "Enough of this commercial pseudo-romance! Let's see how many couples I can break up!" before launching into a surprisingly good version of Bowie's Ashes To Ashes. Not sure why that should provoke discord among the romantic, but it's a suitably bizarre start to the day. Then I have to wade through all the Valentine's emails, texts and cards (guess how long that takes), and spend rather longer being nice to my friends who boast about using various temporary email addresses to send the same poem to multiple recipients. I don't think that's sporting, chaps! There's no love lost between Microsoft and Opera today. The maker of tiny yet perfectly formed alternative browsers was complaining that Microsoft was detecting their software and sending them broken pages from the MSN website in an attempt to make it look as if Opera itself was at fault. Heavens. Microsoft at first denied and then defended the practice, and the rumpus continues. Today, Opera hit back by releasing a special version of its software that turns MSN -- and just MSN -- into Muppet-style gibberish. I like this idea. It's a much better way of filtering sites you don't like than blocking them, and will doubtless be fallen upon with glee by the guardians of our personal morality. Imagine if porn sites had their content rendered with fig leaves over the dodgy bits, or ranting reactionary nonsense was rendered in Lear-like nonsense prose. There's a lot of potential here. I remember the early days of Canal Plus, the French pay TV channel that had no small amount of erotic content. This was back in the time of analogue, where the scrambling you could do was somewhat limited by the parameters of the TV broadcast system. Canal Plus worked by adding one of a variety of delays to each line of the broadcast picture, resulting in a very shimmery display that looked as if it was being watched though a heavy rainstorm. If you bought the decoder and paid for the key, it took out the delays in the right order, bringing the perfect picture back. Alas for poor Canal Plus, the shimmery pictures were judged more erotic than the plain version by many of the gourmet Frenchmen who tuned in, and although the channel was a great success the revenues from the decoders weren't as great has had been hoped. Want to read more of Rupert's diaries? Click here for the full archive.