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Martin Veitch's Diary

MondayBank holiday, so there's some relief from the silly season. Like politicians and skiers, computer industry scoops are thin on the ground come summer although this year hasn't been so bad all told.

At least going to work is reason not to visit Allied Carpets and Wickes DIY centres.

Tuesday

Always good to see UK computer companies doing well so it's great to see Videologic picking up a seemingly lucrative deal to supply PowerVR chips to Matrox. OK, NEC fabs the things but a quick glance at UK tech stocks has you reaching for any crumbs of comfort. The recent performance of Tadpole, Microvitec, Calluna et al is hardly inspiring.

Two to watch may be Acorn and Psion, both of whom are trading in the basement, in the former's case very close to its 52-week low. Acorn is very busy (not least in Taiwan) putting together the deals that will give it a shot at the potential cash machine that is the set-top box. If the wheel stops spinning at the Cambridge firm's door, it has huge potential.

As for Psion, the whisper is that 'the Java machine' - a 32-bit handheld that is capable of running Java applets - is going to be hot stuff.

The City of London is even worse than Wall Street at understanding the hi-tech market and the way it has marked down Psion is highly suggestive of continued ignorance and incompetence.

Evening finds me in Soho and a tour of London's less than buzzing West End pubs with PR friends. Said flaks have organised a party for Covent Garden's The Sanctuary and I am embarrassed to know the answer to the question: Which 1970's hit film was shot there?

Answers on a virtual postcard win my favourite software package of the month: Mijenix ZipMagic.

Wednesday

To London's Kensington Roof Gardens where pink flamingoes roam high above the High Street traffic.

Microsoft UK's chosen destination today sports discussion re Windows 98. I am there to speak to IE marketing chap Martin Gregory but also get a word with David Weeks, product manager for 98, who is at remarkable pains to play down the importance of the OS. Weeks says the leap between Windows 95 and 98 is incremental, really almost nothing at all once you forget the IE/Active Desktop integration, and especially if you have the Service Release 2 of 95 that contains all the important new drivers and FAT 32 support.

Sounds very much like Big Green wants to keep expectations of stock performance within arm's reach of sanity to me. Is this the first case of the hyper hit?

Still, my new green carpet has been laid, my painted borders have dried, Newcastle are to play in the Champions League of Europe, the sun is shining, God's in his heaven and all's well with the world.

Thursday

LineOne has 16,000 users after 20 weeks of huff and puff in the Murdoch press.

I'm not over impressed with that number when you consider that AOL is growing at about that number per month in the UK. To be fair, LineOne is a good service and the new additions make plenty of sense but is there really room for a dozen or so serious ISPs. I expect there'll be some farewells before the year is out.

To Soho this evening with friends. I pop in to say hi to an acquaintance at Visio who is heading for the US very soon. He says he will be working closely with Microsoft. In the US it's joked that Visio is virtually a testing department for Bill Gates but you can see why it might make sense to tuck in behind the Microsoft coat tails (sorry, Active Coat tails TM etc).

Friday

The phrase '56K modem' brings a dull thudding to the cerebellum. A quick search shows that this news service has created 102 documents that contain that phrase and the whole business is highly reflective of the hype, FUD, spoiling, bartering, bickering, bitching and very likely a great many other things beginning with a 'b' if only the thesaurus function in Office hadn't done a runner some time last week.

Fortunately, Rupert Goodwins has kindly written me a lucid piece that sifts the mulligatawny, but the threat of a 62K future effort is like the first sharp stabs of a migraine.

No mixed metaphors there then.