Met Office supercomputer not as forecast

You may have noticed a lot of coverage today in the mainstream media (or MSM, as we post-print pundits say) about the Met Office's brand-new IBM supercomputer. We certainly did, and got slightly grumpy about it: we had had no press releases, no contect from IBM or the Met Office, nothing.

You may have noticed a lot of coverage today in the mainstream media (or MSM, as we post-print pundits say) about the Met Office's brand-new IBM supercomputer. We certainly did, and got slightly grumpy about it: we had had no press releases, no contect from IBM or the Met Office, nothing. It's a nice tech story, with weather and petaflops and the West Country and everything. We like nice tech stories. You like nice tech stories. Why didn't we know?

Still, looking at the MSM stories there was a distinct lack of real chewy information. They were all a bit... wispy. Still a job for us to do, then.

I checked the IBM and Met Office web sites. No press releases there. Odd.

So, I called the IBM Press Office. This turns out to be a mistake - all you get is a recorded message asking you to call someone's mobile if it's really urgent. OK, well, let's try the Met Office down in Exeter.

This time, I got a nice human, who put me through to another nice human called Barry. Barry sighed, with the sigh of a chap who's done a lot of sighing already today and expects to get a lot more sighing in before the six o'clock pint.

It turns out that the reason there's been no press release is that there is no story. The IBM supercomputer was delivered some time ago, and is going through its testing and qualification process before being signed off. It's expected to come into service in August. Of late, nothing particular has happened with the computer.

What did happen was that South West News Service (whose speciality appears to be novelty vegetables and baby animals) asked to come in, take pictures of the computer, and have a natter about it. The Met press office couldn't quite see the point - but yes, why not. "Any publicity is good publicity" is their motto, and rightly so.

But then everyone woke up this morning to find that their computer - actually, it's still IBM's - had been mysteriously launched at a mysterious event yesterday, presumably in some parallel universe accessed through the sheer cogitatory powers of their very own Deep Thought.

The stories were larded about with all sorts of figures dug up from hither and thither, some of which might actually be relevant, but the impression they strive to give is not one that reflects reality.

Barry has promised to send me some pics anyway, and let us know when things really kick off. Meanwhile - beware the MSM. It can be even harder to predict than the British weather.