Wednesday

Wednesday 5/3/2003A long time ago, a much younger Goodwins made a bit of pocket money in the school holidays by repairing fruit machines and pub videogames. He did this in a huge old garage on the edge of Dartmoor, as part of an operation run by a colourful local character who later came to the attention of the authorities for an exercise in popular art involving printing presses, security paper and fine etchings of American currency.

Wednesday 5/3/2003
A long time ago, a much younger Goodwins made a bit of pocket money in the school holidays by repairing fruit machines and pub videogames. He did this in a huge old garage on the edge of Dartmoor, as part of an operation run by a colourful local character who later came to the attention of the authorities for an exercise in popular art involving printing presses, security paper and fine etchings of American currency. While I was messing around with my soldering iron in the Okehampton shed, it was around the time that modems and all that they imply began to appear: wouldn't it be good, I mused, if all the Galaxian machines were hooked up so people could play each other and leave each other messages. Although the arcade machines are indeed networked together today, it's not for that sort of thing -- a solid indication of my commercial nous. Instead, a company called Inspired Broadcast put in the UK's single biggest ADSL order to BT and are hooking up tens of thousands of pub and club machines with the intention of downloading new games on a regular basis. Variety equals liquidity. As part of this, the company found that wireless networking was the best way to link multiple machines in one location to a single broadband line, so they did that. And then they realised that all that bandwidth and connectivity was just sitting there most of the time, so why not sell it to the punters? Voila, instant hot spots across the country on a scale that nobody else can touch -- and as they're already making money out of the existing service, it's nearly all gravy. Rather appropriately, I learned of this story from the peerless Guy Kewney through the good old fashioned sort of pub networking: the only packets contained crisps, the protocol was strictly beer-to-beer and the servers sported the best sort of fibre and Chanel. Cheers!