Rupert Goodwins' Diary

Wednesday 17/03/2004Ah, good old Maewyn. We know him better as St Patrick, who in a long and perambulatory career among the verdant greens of early medieval Ireland put paid to the Druids and established a Celtic Christianity that was later to reinvigorate a battered and sullen Europe still reeling from the barbarian hoardes.

Wednesday 17/03/2004
Ah, good old Maewyn. We know him better as St Patrick, who in a long and perambulatory career among the verdant greens of early medieval Ireland put paid to the Druids and established a Celtic Christianity that was later to reinvigorate a battered and sullen Europe still reeling from the barbarian hoardes. He didn't throw out any snakes, didn't resurrect any dead people and most certainly had no idea that nearly two millennia after his death he'd be personally responsible for me drinking too much Guinness at the hands of the merciless Creative Labs. Of such mysteries are legends woven.

There are other mysteries at the Creative Labs St Patrick's Day Party. How come the Muvo 4GB MP3 player didn't make a fraction of the ripple that the iPod Mini's made, despite being first and very nearly as cute? How come the entire staff of VNU Business Publications has commandeered the pool table? And how come an Irish pub's idea of traditional St Paddy's Day nosh is sausage rolls and onion rings?

Nonetheless, some good comes of it. I find out from a roving marketing manager that the return rate for wireless kit at retail is 45 percent -- nearly one in two Wi-Fi devices comes straight back to the shop, 'cos the punter can't make it work. This meshes well with a recent report from the Wi-Fi Alliance, which says that it found around 25 percent of kit submitted for certification failed on first try.

It's not getting any better -- for every announcement that some piece of kit is certified, there are five claiming speed improvements, security enhancements or other widgetry that lie outside the Wi-Fi standard and risk messing up interoperability with other people's kit. If people's perceptions of wireless are sullied by this experience, then all that expected growth from new and faster networking technologies may never happen -- and no amount of Guinness will help.

In fact, I can categorically state that large amounts of Guinness won't help matters in any case. Woozily making my way back to North London, I wonder if in fact it was a dodgy onion ring that provoked my insides to complain so much. Yes, that's it. I just hope I don't have to return 45 percent of it.