Rupert Goodwins' Diary

Written by Rupert Goodwins, Contributor

Uh-oh. Lotus Notes is about to sprout RealAudio streaming video and audio. Which means that when I email the office saying "I've got the lurgy, I'm dying here, I'm working from home. Aren't I noble?" I'll have to accompany it with a streaming picture and streaming noises of my streaming nose. The world doesn't need this. The world doesn't want this. Although it does raise interesting issues for those tabloid agony aunts who specialise in sexual dysfunction and now appear to have email addresses...


Do you want an MP3 player? I do. But the music industry doesn't want me to have one, because it will turn me into a wicked stealer of bread from the mouths of starving musos. The industry points with a finger fair quivering with emotion to the gigabytes of illict MP3 albums clutting university FTP sites across the Net: if I choose to download these to a credit-card sized MP3 player I'll never buy the albums, they say.

Which would probably be true: on the other hand, if I'dve known just how dull most of the music I end up buying is I wouldn'tve bought it anyway. Who doesn't have a yard of 15 quid CDs gathering dust, bought on the strength of one track or a favourable review, but that turn out to be mostly filler?

This is what the industry really fears: if we can sample our music before buying it online, we won't buy it. Me, I want the convenience of solid-state recording, and to pay a fair price for music I'll enjoy. MP3 (or something else like it) will let me do that - and, truth to tell, I can't see the industry stopping it happening. What will they do when PDAs get good enough to run MP3 software? Ban PDAs? Better they get into the new markets first and start offering value for money than stand around with their fingers in our ears.

I feel so strongly about this, that I'm embedding a (perfectly legal) tune in this diary. See if you can spot it!


Mammoth excitement! BT has finally got around to telling us all about the splendid new DSL service it's been cooking up in the labs. And on the slab tonight is 2 megabits of raw IP power, hurtling down a telephone line near you - but only if you live in West or North London. Which I do! Hurrah! Emergency calls are placed to any BT press relations person I've ever bumped into, web site registration forms are filled in at the speed of light... but what's this? Prices for the 2Mbps service range from £410 to £30 a month? For the same thing?

I talk to the BT ISN (for such ‘tis called) marketing manager, who politely yet circuitously avoids addressing this remarkable discrepancy. "We only wholesale the lines to the ISPs", he said. "Since we run the basic network, we never have anything to do with the consumers of Internet connectivity."

"How about Click?" I ask, unable to resist disinterring my very favourite telco monster.

"I don't think I should talk about that" he replied, with a rapidity that said he really meant it.

More news as it happens: but if the £30/month service is what it appears to be, and if other ISPs can offer the same class of product, and if it carries on at that sort of price after the trial, we'll have what will be one of the best consumer Internet structures on the planet. And I will be extraordinarily delighted to say very nice things about BT. Only one but and three ifs.


Nothing happened on Thursday.

Did you know that Brian Eno was commissioned in 1984 by Sony to write a piece of music that would show off the sheer length of the then-new CD format? He responded with "Thursday Afternoon", 60 minutes of ambient chiming and burbling, , that gently slip from non-event to non-event without a break. It's very nice, like hanging motionless in a crystal-clear ocean while sunbeams dance from the surface above.

And that's what this Thursday afternoon was like. Except for the sunbeams.


Thanks but no thanks this week to: Finjan, makers of Internet security systems, who spammed a load of journalists with a megabyte file of that bleedin' dancing baby and then followed it up with a note telling them off for downloading it. "Could've been dangerous", said the follow-up. "It's going to be dangerous for ***** Finjan", said the journalists, especially those who pay for their own modem downloads.... TBNT to Intel, for creating a huge great 3D model of the Millennium Dome which managed to cause the badly-spelled message "ERROR: MILLENIUM NOT FOUND" on my browser. I'm Mandy, load me... TBNT to the CIA for saying that Britain ‘gained its independence' in 1801 on its web site. And these people have guns? TBNT to Gateway for saying its new 450MHz Xeon computer is for the "hard core enthusiasts": my, that's a big hard disk, boys.

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