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TV-PGMay 31, 1998: Up in the sky: it's a bird, it's a plane, it's... AltiVec! Meanwhile, Microsoft is either worried enough or distracted enough by its current antitrust entanglements to relax the tight anti-Netscape reins on its Windows licensees, and according to Jerry Pournelle, BYTE is apparently dead after all...
There was no new episode broadcast on June 4, 1998, so we're still showing you the last episode broadcast before then. (May 31, 1998)
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Isn't It a Soft Drink? (5/31/98)

Confused by all the recent hype about AltiVec? Perplexed because you thought AltiVec was the site of that free Rolling Stones concert gone horribly wrong? Never fear-- there's a great overview of AltiVec technology available that can bring you up to speed. Basically, AltiVec is a "vector processing extension" to the PowerPC architecture which promises to speed up certain operations by several hundred percent. Think "MMX done right." It doesn't just accelerate certain multimedia-focused operations like MMX does, but it's purported to have a much wider range of use.

Be warned, though-- the overview is written from a programmer's standpoint, so if you're not a programmer, make sure you're wearing your hardhat. After trying to get our heads around all the technical bits about vector permute instructions and data cache prefetch, your friendly AtAT staff eventually skipped to the end for the non-geek summary. The good news is this: AltiVec should add a serious speed boost to upcoming PowerPC's (like the G4 we're expecting in Macs this winter) "without compromising any other part of the already elegant PowerPC architecture." Good enough for us.

And no, AltiVec isn't an internet search engine, either.

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While the Cat's in Court (5/31/98)

Microsoft continues to bend like the willow once the government antitrust threat exhibits the potential to uproot them completely. You've probably heard about the recent concessions it's made to PC manufacturer Gateway-- Gateway is now allowed to ship its Windows 98 computers with a custom screen that allows customers of its "Gateway.net" online service to choose whether they'd rather use Microsoft Internet Explorer or Netscape Navigator. That's a pretty serious departure from Microsoft's previous stance, which was pretty much "Explorer or nothing." While this concession is a special case (since most manufacturers don't have their own ISP's), it's still worth noting as an example of how Microsoft is willing to deal when the antitrust action starts to heat up.

In fact, longtime industry luminary Don Crabb makes it clear in one of his recent articles that, in his opinion, there's no way Microsoft would have agreed to such a scenario before the Department of Justice and the attorneys general of twenty states filed suit against Microsoft a couple of weeks ago. And he also notes that NEC has figured out how to "unbundle" Internet Explorer from Windows 95, and they plan to ship systems with a CD-ROM that allows their customers to install either Netscape or MSIE. "We did it, and we did not ask Microsoft's permission," states a NEC engineer. But we bet Microsoft won't do a thing to stop them.

Note to PC manufacturers-- if you've been longing to do something that was likely to annoy Microsoft but you didn't want to risk their ire, now's probably the time to give it a shot. ;-)

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Cross Purposes (5/31/98)

Looks like we may have announced BYTE's return a little too quickly, as we hadn't yet noticed ex-columnist Jerry Pournelle's take on this before our last broadcast. CMP Media's rosy press release about the buyout of BYTE claimed that the publication would be returning in a few months after a "refinement," but Jerry notes that he returned from a trip to Israel to find the whole staff sacked with one day's notice, and "few if any" employees offered positions with CMP. Yikes.

Apparently, Jerry's heard unofficially from a friend at CMP that they do plan to honor employee contracts, they do plan to ask several of the staff to sign back on, and those who were fired will apparently get "decent" severance packages-- though it seems that not all of them know that yet. A communication breakdown of that magnitude only goes to show just how little CMP appears to regard the BYTE staff, which it apparently fails to recognize as the life's blood of the magazine.

As faithful viewer Paul Constantine points out, "[CMP] may bring the name back, but it will not be BYTE... because the editorial folks who made BYTE are no longer associated with it." Good point. It kind of reminds us of the Velvet Underground without Lou Reed; the band bore little, if any, resemblance to the real VU.

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Previously, on As the Apple Turns...

TV-PGMay 30, 1998: Apple's going after the grey marketers by offering a bounty to its authorized resellers. Meanwhile, back in the labs, the finest minds in Cupertino prepare the next generation of Power Macs with G4's at the core, and Byte magazine will reappear in the fall once it's been "refined..."

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