Back from a terrifically pleasant holiday in a forest by a lake in Sweden. Before you ask, no, Sweden's not that expensive (apart from gin at twenty quid a bottle. Poo.); yes, the Swedes are charmingly bonkers; no, I nearly didn't come back. A log cabin in the wilderness with an ISDN line paid for by EU teleworking project funds sounds more than appealing.
I wonder if there's commercial potential in month-long working breaks? Am thinking of wiring up a set of farmhouses and renting them out: you can take time away from the office, enjoy the delights of bucolic living and still get some work done. Not a holiday, but wouldn't you rather go for a swim in a springwater lake before breakfast and type to the sound of birdsong for a while? Might be time to set up the ZDNet Travel Agency.
Hmm. Perhaps xDSL and 6 megabit Net access over telephone lines isn't going to rule the world after all. NTT, the Japanese telephone company, is deploying its Pi Fibre To The Home (FTTH) system -- it's got a lot of old copper to replace, and the company says that now is as good a time as any to rebuild with glass. The interesting thing is the cost, which is planned to be the same as or cheaper than copper by the year 2000. Subscribers get 40 analogue and 120 digital video channels, with more bandwidth if wanted. The question, says NTT, is whether anyone would want to use that bandwidth: why is it that telcos either say it's not worth doing fast domestic networking because nobody would use it, or that it's not worth doing because it'd get used too much and flood the backbones?
Ever stumbled across something and wondered whether everyone knew about it all the time but just never told you? A while ago, some pals and I had the idea of setting up a database of music CD track listings and sharing it on the Internet. Being the slackers we are, that's all that happened - meanwhile, someone was actually doing it. The CD Database, now has nearly 90,000 CDs on file and a selection of rather snazzy players that know about it. It's rather wonderful to slot a brand-
new (or very old) CD into the player and see a complete track listing pop up in seconds: so far I haven't been able to beat it, even with the obscure Wire/Eno/Dukes of Stratosphear stuff that none of my friends have heard of (or want to).
Bet it doesn't know about my Sex Pistols "Never Trust A Hippy" Amsterdam bootleg, though. Hope it does - there's no track listing on it, and the quality is so appalling I'm not sure what half the stuff on it is anyway.
Oh no! Run for the hills. Any hills. Readers with history may just recall videotext: block graphics, flash attributes, 1200/75 modems, Mode 7. well, the fur-clad, woad-painted tribes are back. Heaven is a Web site dedicated to rebuilding those halcyon days. It has a Java Prestel terminal emulator. It has an online videotext service. It has a lot to answer for.
As for me. somewhere, I've got my ancient history as one part of MicroMouse (*800651#) and the, er, Buck Fusby fanclub (which got me thrown off Prestel under suspicion of having a sense of humour). I suspect it's on Microdrive, in a box with my Spectrum and VTX5000 modem.
A sad little tale reaches me about a fellow journalist - identity and gender withheld -- who 'got talking' one day online to a pleasant American of the opposite sex. One thing followed another, and before long they were swapping IP packets in front of witnesses and getting married in cyberspace. Their digital coupledom went swimmingly, and seemed set fair to break through into RL (Real Life, for non-saddos) when said journo was offered a chance to go on a press trip to the US. Hotel rooms were booked and much glee was planned. when the RL spouse of the American binary bigamist suddenly found out what was going on. Not happy? I should coco. Needless to say, the online matrimonials have been declared thoroughly off limits, and the UK hack was last seen attempting to drain Soho of all liquids.
(PS: The Heaven story was stolen from Need To Know, a scurrilous online magazine run by desperados who should not be approached under any circumstances.