Diary Entry: 24 May 2001
Steve’s stopping for the weekend. He’s over for some conference and hates hotels so I’ve put him up. He’s a bag of nerves because he’s so stressed about Gatesy grabbing such a big share of the market, and he can’t stop fidgeting and interfering with stuff when I show him round the lab. A machine is coating glass with a semi-conductive film, the resistance of which changes with pressure. The process is unbelievably sensitive, with the machine fixed to a 9 ton slab of granite floating on pneumatic pillows to dampen vibrations from the floor, so when Steve clumsily yanks up its lid to see what’s happening inside I can’t stop myself walloping him. Of course he’s instantly winey and remorseful, which makes me feel guilty, so to compensate I say let’s go to the bingo. I’ve never figured out why, but Steve’s mad for the bingo, and we always go when he needs cheering up. On the bus he’s asking how I get the money for the lab, and when I tell him about the big grants he starts slagging-off governments for throwing cash at ‘pointless’ research, going on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on, until in the end I’m glad we’re at the bingo even though it bores me to death. Steve’s hopping with excitement though, and when he gets a full card he screams ‘house’ and leaps up, knocking his bottle of Pepsi all over my crossword and his new Nokia 568. I mop up the mess and apologise to the other people nearby. Then it’s the end of the world, because Steve finds the dousing with Pepsi has broken his phone. We take it to the gents and hold it under a drier until the Pepsi’s all evaporated. Then everything seems to work again until suddenly the ‘5’ button falls off in his hands. Steve’s inconsolable. ‘See’, I say. ‘That’s why you need research. That glass I’m making back at the lab- you could use that for a touch-sensitive screen on a phone, and if you’d spilt your Pepsi on that you could just wipe it off.’ Of course he’s so slow, I end up having to explain what touch-sensitive means. I love him, but sometimes he drives me nuts.