Picture the scene: Camden Town, midnight, Saturday. A rather merry computer journalist traipses to the cashpoint to refuel for the rest of the evening's nonsense - but no! "Your bank has not authorised this request". Penniless, and a week till payday. Can our hero survive purely on the generosity of PRs and nibbles at press launches? Read on...
We've moved! Here we are in International House! No phones, no network, no Internet, but plenty of crates. I 'unpack' (well, spill the contents of my crates over the desk), set up the computer and... well, what happens next? I check my e-mail to find out what I'm supposed to be writing, only the e-mail's not working. Feel strangely insubstantial.
Later that evening, progress to Planet Hollywood to see the launch of CyberGuard. A rather uncomfortable video tells how Cyber Springs, a virtual community seemingly composed of Dukes of Hazzard rejects, is going to make the users feel safe, warm and comfy about security and automatic software updates. Not sure how well small-town America is going to play in High Barnet, but am even more unsure about any company whose marketing manager tells us that nobody really knows what a cookie is. Like the idea that they'll 'take ownership' of any technical support problem no matter what's really gone wrong and will pursue it with the various vendors until a result is reached.
Food: hamburgers, "Thai Sticks" (which, rather disappointingly, turn out to be some sort of peanut-flavoured spring roll), chicken bits. Drink: Heineken Export. Survival value: 6/10.
Still no e-mail. Our IT division is showing signs of incipient meltdown, but plug on regardless.
The evening's launch is Internet Explorer 4.0, which comes bundled with previews of NT 5.0 and Windows 98. Microsoft launches are usually more flash than flesh, but this is dire even so. A video of the 'future of television' is silent and aborted after about 20 seconds: a demonstration of dragging links to the desktop crashing and is quietly abandoned without comment. IE 4.0 looks and acts as if it's unfinished: already, reports of various problems on installation abound and... we, like everyone, are putting it on our cover disc. Have interesting conversation with Demon Internet, who will be getting a licence to be a telephone company in two weeks' time. "But OFTEL are giving those out like confetti these days", says the ever-engaging Cliff, chief Demon.
Food: choice of salmon in radioactive green sauce or stir-fry chicken, followed by tooth-implodingly sweet lemon meringue pie. Drink: Molson. Survival value: 4/10.
Discover that Notes has eaten the mailfiles of everyone with a first name beginning with R,S,T,U,V or W. Fortunately, they are all restored... except for one. Rupert_Goodwins@ZD.COM is cast adrift in the depths of cyberspace (so if you e-mailed me over the past four days, try again). IT sigh and create me anew. By now, the leased line to the Internet is back again and we've worked out where to find the toilets, the smoking room, the kitchen and the nearest pub: essentials completed.
Tonight's launch is Elle's BackWeb channel. Lounge decorously in the Café de Paris, hear great demographics - 40 per cent of Net users are now female, Elle has eight Web sites already, and it all looks very swish. And it's really fun to be a sloppily dressed anorak circulating with sharply-clothed fashion journos.
Hear riotously amusing yet undeniably libellous tale concerning a marketing person, a kitchen sink and... well. Alan Clark would've been proud. Journalist who printed this story before finding out that it was wrong on all salient points is not looking happy, but seems that the subject is opting for a quiet life and won't engage m'learneds.
Food: Blinis, tiny poquettes of salmon and egg, frankfurters with mustard dip, delicious pastry confections. Drink: Tattinger. Survival value: 9/10. Am definitely in the wrong business.
During the process of restoring my mailbox, Notes has discovered some messages from three years ago. The one it chooses to present to me (wrapped up as something new) is a passionate discourse from long-since-ex-girlfriend. Ping! You Have New Angst! Lots of carefully buried emotional nonsense resurfaces.
Set off in terrible temper to see the launch of NetDynamics 4.0. Amazing stuff this - it can take just about any old legacy system and extract the information for redistribution over the Web or intranet. What is most interesting is the level of penetration of Webbery - over 50 per cent of US companies have sites.
They take everyone to Yo, Sushi! Despite an enormous fondness for nosh Nippon I'm weighed down by deadlines, so make my excuses and leave. Spend last pennies on M&S chicken sandwich and an apple, washed down by diet ginger beer (new invention, don't bother trying it) Survival value 3/10.
New building having problems absorbing quite so many magazine people in one go. Toilets are ankle-deep in water, the electronic door access system is making loud bleeping noises to itself and the lifts have developed the occasional worrying shudder. Still, to be expected. View of yachts most soothing.
Hear amazing story from the French Microsoft developers conference. A presenter started to get into some serious Java bashing, only to invoke catcalls, boos and random cries of "Allez Java!" from the audience. These increased in loudness and frequency, until the poor Microsofty was forced to retreat in confusion. One of these days, that company will get the message...
And it's pay day! Camden, watch out...