TV-PGJune 12, 2003: A bunch of people took us way too seriously and now hundreds are dead. Meanwhile, Apple's use of the name "UNIX" prompted a lawsuit-- 18 months ago-- and QuarkXPress 6 ships next week, or maybe at the end of July; it all depends on whom you ask...
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Oh Boy, Damage Control! (6/12/03)
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Whoops! It seems that, once again, we have inadvertently driven scores of Mac fans to their untimely and needless deaths. Who knew that a quick and heavily-tempered throwaway caution about some lingering third-hand doubts surrounding a Power Mac G5 intro at WWDC that we slapped in at the end of a book report would send so many excitable rumor junkies scurrying for the nearest high window ledge? Looking back, it's all so terribly, terribly funny. Tragic. We mean "tragic."

Look, folks, here's the scoop: first of all, as the oft-ignored disclaimer at the bottom of this page should imply, AtAT is not a source for insider information; we don't have operatives hiding behind Steve's ficus plant while the man rehearses his big speech. Secondly, if we ever did have inside moles pipelining us all sorts of illicit information (and we're not saying we ever did, mind you), they would certainly have all dried up during those thirty-seven years when we had vanished completely from this plane of existence. (Worker Bee 2-- what's up? You don't call, you don't write... uh, never mind.) When we mentioned that we had heard the "faintest rumblings" that the G5 might not make it in time for the Stevenote, we were talking about rumblings that were-- guess what?-- pretty darn faint. Which is why we also said that we don't much believe them. (Yet.)

Unfortunately, everyone and his grandmother apparently leapt upon that "faintest rumblings" bit, and while many sites took it in the spirit it was offered, a few of them linked to it as some sort of incontrovertible evidence that the 970 doesn't really exist, it's all just some cruel hoax foisted on us by Steve's Evil(ler) Twin (no wrongdoing on the part of Mona Simpson implied), and we're all going to be stuck with Motorolan G4s until either Jesus comes back or we die. The direct effect of this was twofold: firstly, it caused our server to emit horrible straining sounds and break out in a heavy sweat; secondly, it led the aforementioned overly-excitable rumor junkies to take their own lives in an act of overwhelming despair. Which was, again, all pretty hilarious distressing.

Now, to put this whole situation into a bit of context, we'd like to remind you all of what happened way back in July of 2001, AKA "The LCD iMac That Wasn't." You remember this, right? Everyone got whipped up into a foaming frenzy about how LCD iMacs were absitively, posolutely going to be introduced at Macworld Expo. We were almost burned at the stake for suggesting that they weren't in the cards. The LCD iMacs were indeed a no-show, and the entire Mac-using community wound up in a bad mood for six months. (Everyone was so snippy.) This is precisely why we start to get a little concerned when we see people getting their hopes up so high; there are no guarantees when it comes to what Steve's going to unveil, so if we hear rumblings (no matter how faint or unquotable) that the G5 may not be done in time, we consider it a service to pass that info along to you in the hopes that maybe you'll temper your enthusiasm just a hair or two.

(By the way, we don't mean to imply that we believe the current "G5 might not make it to WWDC" rumor even remotely as strongly as we did that original "no LCD iMac" report; if the whispers that the G5 might not surface at WWDC are the "faintest rumblings," reports that LCD iMacs weren't going to be at the summer 2001 Expo were air raid sirens, sonic booms, head-on collisions by semis loaded up with high explosives, the fans in the original Xserve, etc.)

Indeed, in the interest of keeping expectations at a reasonable level, we'll point out that MacRumors notes a "real" source indicating that the G5 might not ship until well after WWDC: an eWeek article claims that Smeagol, the version of Mac OS X required to boot the G5, might not be ready for general consumption until August. In our experience, eWeek's pretty consistently correct about stuff like this; take that as you will. It still doesn't mean a pre-production unit won't at least be used for the Panther demos onstage.

You are, of course, all perfectly capable of choosing and embracing your own personal levels of enthusiasm. If you want to stick your head in the clouds, that's fine-- provided you're aware that there's a chance, no matter how slim, that what you're expecting won't show and you'll wind up plummeting ten thousand feet into an Olympic-sized pool filled with horse manure and AOL CD-ROMs. Personally, we're allergic to surprise disappointments, so we prefer to keep our expectations incredibly low, making every one of Steve's WWDC announcements a pleasant surprise. Therefore, despite the fact that we're pretty sure that Steve will at least demo the G5 even if it doesn't ship for a month or two, we hereby provide AtAT's official list of WWDC keynote predictions, designed to maximize your eventual surprise and delight:

  • Steve will announce that not only doesn't the 970 exist, but IBM itself is also just an elaborate hundred-year hoax intended to grant false hope to those naughty Mac fans who dare to read rumors sites.

  • He will then introduce Apple's new Power Mac G4again, running Motorola chips at clock speeds of 1.25, 1.42, and 1.5 GHz at prices starting at just $2199. Half the audience immediately shoots themselves.

  • In the middle of a Photoshop bake-off demonstrating how a dual-processor 1.5 GHz G4again system marginally beats out a Wintel box that costs fully half as much, Steve's cell phone will ring. After a brief muted conversation, Steve will announce that, due to processor availability problems with Motorola, the G4again will actually ship in 1.0, 1.25, and 1.42 GHz configurations, but at the same price points as the originally-announced systems. The other half of the audience gnaws off their own limbs and beats themselves to death with them.

  • Steve will introduce new 15-inch PowerBooks. They're actually the old 15-inch PowerBooks, but with less RAM and missing half the keys so that Apple can claim they're lighter than the previous models. The only people left alive to watch are the two guys working the video cameras; they seem nonplussed.

  • Steve trots out a new videoconferencing version of iChat and an accompanying webcam-thingy, and announces that it's only compatible with the G4again ("so you freeloading bastards will actually buy them")-- and even then, you really have to shout pretty loud.

  • Steve then begins to roll out new adjustable displays, but his cell phone rings again, and after a minute he announces that the G4again will actually ship at 733, 800, and 933 MHz at prices starting at $4000. At this point the two camera guys off each other in a suicide pact.

And there you have it: AtAT's official List O' WWDC Predictions™, guaranteed to bring a smile to your face come the morning of the 23rd when things suddenly don't seem so bad after all. Thank us later.


 
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Two Suits, Lots Of Waiting (6/12/03)
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Hey, so does a story qualify as news if it's not so much saying "this is happening," but rather "this is still happening"? What about if it's saying "this is still happening, and nobody ever noticed in the first place"? Our guess is yes, based on NBC's First Law of Summer Reruns: "If you haven't seen it, it's new to you." Words to live by, people. That said, to us, the whole issue over whether the Great Apple UNIX Court Battle is news or not is moot-- it's drama, baby, and nothing else matters.

Or, rather, it will be drama. Someday. Maybe. Faithful viewer Victor alerted us to a CNET article (by way of MacMinute) which reports the Apple is being sued by The Open Group, who claims to own the rights to the trademark "UNIX" and therefore takes umbrage at Apple constantly yammering on about how Mac OS X has UNIX underpants. Underpinnings. Whatever. Allegedly Apple is supposed to pay about $110,000 to license the name "UNIX" and allow Mac OS X to "undergo testing to certify that it complies with [The Open Group's] standards for software bearing the UNIX name." Apple countersued, claiming that the term "UNIX" has become generic and the trademark should be tossed. Alrighty then-- we've got a suit. We've got a countersuit. Let's get ready to rumble!

Or, more accurately, let's begin to consider the possibility of evaluating when to commence the start of rumbling. As it turns out, these lawsuits originated way back in December of 2001, and they still haven't gone to trial yet. Apparently the reason it's making the news now is that 1) nobody actually remembers anything about all this from the first time around, and 2) both sides just filed briefs (man, what is it with underwear today?) aiming for "an exchange of factual documents completed by August" and a trial in February of 2004. (For those of our international readers who are perhaps unfamiliar with the U.S. court system, this is what we refer to as "the fast track.")

You can be sure we'll keep you updated on this rock 'em sock 'em case whenever anything actually happens-- so check back in, say, two months or so, and again a half year after that. You'll still be on the edge of your seat by then, right? What are we saying-- of course you will.


 
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Next Week Or Next Month? (6/12/03)
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Wow, we knew this whole "QuarkXPress 6 for Mac OS X shipping next week" thing was big news, but we really didn't grasp just how big. Remember how Quark's head honcho Fred Ebrahimi was acting all insane and stuff, going off in public about how the Mac was a dying platform, publishing was a dying industry, anyone who didn't like Quark's attitude could switch to something else except switching to InDesign would be committing suicide, etc.? Well, CRN reports that a seemingly lucid Ebrahimi actually apologized for taking so long with the Mac OS X port-- and according to CNET, at the big announcement for the press, "Jobs embraced Quark CEO Fred Ebrahimi, something Quark executives say has not happened for some time." Embraced? Literally? Oh, so that's what the problem was all this time-- Fred just needed a hug!

Meanwhile, is QuarkXPress 6 shipping next week? You'd think this shouldn't even be a necessary question to ask, but there's a surprising amount of confusion surrounding the product's actual ship date. Originally the orgy of Quarkness on Apple's web site included several references to the product being "available next week," but as far as we could tell from a quick tear through the site, every instance of that phrase has apparently since vaporized. (Compare the original splash graphic as replicated at MacCentral versus the one currently on Apple's home page, for instance.) Moreover, MacSlash notes that a reader was actually told by a Quark representative that the company is performing "MAJOR fire fighting duties to squelch the 'shipping next week' bugaboo... the order desk states that Quark 6 will not be shipping until the end of July!" Wuh-oh. Did someone screw up?

Well, if someone did, that someone is pretty high up; according to CRN, at that tearful public reconciliation at One Infinite Loop, Ebrahimi himself said that the product "should ship next week." And the official Quark press release says it "will ship next week." Plus, if you go to the Apple Store and add a copy of QuarkXPress to your cart, you'll find it has an estimated shipping time of "7-10 days," which to us sure sounds a lot like-- all together, now-- "next week." So what's up with Quark's order staff telling people they'll be waiting until the end of July?

Now, we realize that you may well have been waiting for this application for over two years, so an extra month and a half might well drive you to do something drastic. Don't. According to Quark Communications Manager Glen Turpin, it's just a "communications problem"; when contacted by MacCentral, he said, "some time ago we told [our customer service personnel] that we were going to ship by July 31 at the latest, but obviously we announced yesterday that we'll ship next week, and their current responses should be in line with that announcement. I absolutely want to reassure you that QuarkXPress 6 will ship next week." Ahhhhh. Feel better now?

Well, maybe you shouldn't feel too much better, because a MacSlash reader called up Quark after the MacCentral article was posted, and was specifically told that "it will be the end of July before this will ship in the states" and "that the Quark web site is incorrect and that the other web sites such as MacCentral are wrong." Hoooo mama, this is one doozy of a pickle. We'd call them ourselves, but that would be a little too much like investigative journalism and not enough like smart-ass commentary, so we decided it would be against our charter. Besides, we kind of like the uncertainty. It makes us feel alive.


 
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