Fire engines add excitement at Xtra launch

When the sirens started up at the Xtra party, the crowd simply assumed it was the start of a multimedia spectacular to celebrate the launch of Telecom's Internet business. It wasn't. It was a real fire alarm.

Even as the assembled captains of industry and denizens of the media filed out of trendy Auckland launchpad Kermadecs to the sight of arriving fire engines, many still thought it was all part of the show. Most probably wished the firemen had hung around when the decidedly unspectacular Telecom CEO Dr Roderick Deane eventually delivered his address.

After a merciful handover to the the Xtra mainman Chris Tyler, the show began to roll, with a walkthrough of Xtra's various sections, a speech by Silicon Graphics' Ed McCracken and a bout of stand-up comedy from the Hon Maurice Williamson. Netscape CEO Jim Barksdale was present in spirit (on video, actually), delivering the kind of touchy-feely tribute to partnership of which he is the modern master.

After that, the throng was free to explore Xtra (http://www.xtra.co.nz) on a brace of PCs, and to attempt to eat and drink a dent in Telecom's next quarterly profit announcement. But even so, the question remained. Who had hit the alarm button? Was it Voyager? Was it Clear? Or was it just fate?

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