When some charming public relations person said that anyone who cared to listen or view IA-64 supremo Ron Curry's presentation was bound by an embargo, we picked up our bags and ran.
For a cigarette and a chance to think.
We returned, 45 minutes later, for the question and answer (Q&A) session, which confirmed our earlier impression given by manufacturing geezer Mike Splinter. That is to say, the Itanium is further delayed.
Although OEM systems are now likely to appear at the back end of Q4 (that's after Yuletide), Curry responded to a question we asked by saying OEM systems would appear in the first half of next year.
Splinter - what a great name - accidentally let the cat out of the bag by saying Itanium would be introduced "later this year or early next year".
Hence our question to Curry, which went something along these lines. "Personally, I am tired of writing stories that the Merced Itanium is late every six months or so, only to be re-assured that it will arrive in the second half of next year or this year."
Here is Curry's response, as verbatim as possible given the slowness of our shorthand.
He said OEM systems will now arrive in the first half of next year.
Some OEM systems will be available on the pilot scheme, now pushed back to the end of Q4 this year.
Intel is not now recommending that people move wholesale to the Itanium for mission critical situations.
Then Curry became, so to speak, enflamed with passion and delivered this emissive to the people.
"This isn't as simple as cloning a chip that somebody already invented. We're inventing the whole platform."
He continued along the line that two years ago Intel had said it would have a working system in June 2000 did not take account of the complexity of the situation.
But his top quote was, and is, "A few months either way isn't that significant."
A few minutes later, smoking our tab on the verandah of the San Jose conference centre, we discussed the whole situation with colleagues we have.
We complained that we were sick and tired of writing the same old story that Merced-Itanium was late and how the hell could we write that same tired old story again?
Wiser counsels prevailed. One journalist told us: "This is a boring story. That's why I didn't listen to it." Another said: "Why doesn't Intel just stop pre-announcing the Itanic and just tell us when it's ready?"
We agree with the latter view. ®