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From this World to the Next

Between Swindon and Bristol on the train from Paddington, crammed into my window seat like a battery hen. The train thunders along at 100 mph and occasionally lurches violently. There’s a conveniently-placed ‘Emergency Procedure’ leaflet in the Perspex holder glued to the window next to me but I choose to ignore it. After all, if this carriage comes off the rails there isn’t the room for people to escape unless they happen to be thrown through the hardened-glass window. Another violent lurch leaves me thinking that air travel is considerably safer and more comfortable option than the train.

Then of course there’s the immediate risk of germ warfare. The woman opposite me has bronchial pneumonia or at least gives a remarkably good impression of the symptoms. Across the aisle, there’s a second woman suffering from influenza and then there’s the young lady with a gorgeous sari but an unfortunate personal hygiene problem that makes breathing normally difficult for the rest of us.

Another series of lurches and coughing stops me typing for a while and I wonder if my laptop is sufficiently robust to handle the line between London and Bristol.

Off the train and today, it’s another local government seminar examining email policy, security and all those other less exciting details that need to be resolved before joined-up government becomes viable. The film, ‘Life of Brian’ is I’m told, a metaphor for the struggle that local government is experiencing these days. Not so much “Follow the gourd” or even “Follow the sandal” but rather, “Follow the e-Envoy or indeed, “Follow the Deputy Prime Minister”. What I do find interesting is that these local government people from the South-west also share a dream of packing-up and moving somewhere else with less taxation. Forget any vision of joined-up government, revolution was mentioned several times and it doesn’t have an ‘e’ in front of it either.

I need to push-on with the security research that I’m conducting for Microsoft but I’m pre-occupied with trying to work out why my desktop system, running Windows ME, has decided that it needs to re-install its internal modem and has gone into a hanging loop at start-up.

Yesterday, I spent three hours with the machine in bits on the floor and I still can’t solve the problem other than pulling the internal modem card out of the unit. Strange thing is that my back-up modem won’t work either, so I visited to see if I could locate an appropriate driver to fix the problem.

The one I found looked right but it carried its own payload, a virus that fortunately Norton anti-virus picked-up immediately. The moral of this story? Assume that any drive found on a public site is contaminated or more importantly, assume everything is compromised and download nothing without quarantining it first.

Of course, this won’t fix my PC and the only solution appears to be a trip to PC World, which based on previous experience, may not leave me any better off after their technicians have taken a look.

Ironically I’m writing this in a Marriot, which is to install wireless access points in its hotels worldwide. Of course, I’m in the reception area in Bristol and I’m wondering, is Bristol part of this world or the next?


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