If there's one thing worse than coming back to the office at the end of a holiday, it must be the discovery I made, first thing Monday, that it was a public holiday, but only in Scotland (or somewhere known only to my diary software). For some reason my colleagues found this highly amusing. I can't pin anything on them, but they're under suspicion... anyway, the premature return to the fray was sparked by an indignant reader, who rang me on my mobile when I thought I had a day off,and ticked me off soundly for offering spurious advice.
The advice was in a column I wrote for PC Direct suggesting that if you've got a class room full of 386-based Windows machines, you should not upgrade to Win95.
Surely not hard advice to follow? But my reader has been given the money for a dozen Pentium 100 PCs. They'll have Windows 95, and why not, he says?
In the end, I invent a new charity. "Start an organisation which collects unloved 286 and 386 PCs from big corporate users, and distributes them to schools," I tell him. Future generations will thank me; I suspect he'll go mad.
What on earth was that, whizzing past the window? Dear me, surely memory prices can't have dropped like that, so quickly?
But yes, they have. Phone calls to memory vendors produce more misery than pubs in the corn-growing belt after rain. Ruined, ruined, all is ruined - "We're going to go bust." Only a month after a colleague attacks the memory suppliers for their high prices, saying a four meg SIMM should cost five quid, the prices have dropped to a tenner. And they aren't stopping.
A little late, as I plan my route for tomorrow, through Tube-struck London, it occurs to me to wonder why I haven't heard anything from Microsoft about the launch of NT 4.0. First phone call goes unanswered. We have to resort to the intra-net; stand up at my desk and ask: "When's the launch?"
Some clown says "Last week." Very funny.
In a corner, drawing attention to himself only by the quantity of steam coming out of his ears, a software reviewer is heard complaining that he can't review software if he hasn't got it. We (apparently) still haven't got it. A check on the Web shows proud statements that NT Workstation and Server 4.0 went to manufacturing on July 31. A check with Microsoft produces the second unanswered phone call.
What can Microsoft be doing? A letter from Netscape's anti-trust lawyer offers some sort of explanation; Microsoft is having its knuckles rapped for trying to "proprietise" the standard Internet TCP/IP protocol.
Microsoft's argument is that it sells its OS (Windows) with licences. It restricts the number you get. It includes, in this restriction, the number of TCP/IP connections you can have. Netscape -- hang on, this can't be right - Netscape is trying to get Microsoft to admit that you can get more connections with NT than people think?
Well, believe it or not, yes; Netscape has shown a chart, and Microsoft says it is encouraging people to use more TCP/IP slots than they're allowed to.
It's going to be a long week, with not much time off work. I get a lift home from a senior Microsoft Internet manager. Imagine my surprise; I ask him about the company's Internet strategy, and the poor man goes purple with fury. He invokes Bill Gates in unflattering terms. He rants. He doesn't stop speaking for a second; we get some very strange looks from taxi drivers.
Blow me; the NT launch? It was last week. Not so much a launch, as a lunch; all the normal market-speak (apparently) and no software.
Today, still no software.
A reader wants me to know how awful his company IT staff are. "I've got this new notebook, and it won't boot," he says indignantly. "It won't boot even from the floppy," he adds when I start offering suggestions.
I call the support guy. "Oh, him," says the Awful IT Man.
It seems our near-expert user has been given a fully-configured machine. It has the diskette boot disabled to protect him from boot sector viruses. It has all the software he wants installed and tested, including intra-net access stuff - with Windows 95, Plug and Play, Novell NetWare support and mappings, IP address, and a full set of driver disk images.
And it seems he's decided to install some new software on it. And in order to do that, he (naturally) ran FDISK "so that I could start with a clean disk."
I suppose he may be allowed to live.
Guy Kewney is a Ziff-Davis Editorial Fellow