TV-PGAugust 13, 2003: Wouldja believe Steve Jobs is the highest-paid CEO in America? Well, Bloomberg thinks so, anyway. Meanwhile, Apple settles a class action suit with refunds and coupons, and the latest worm to slime the Wintel world once again leaves Macs (mostly) unaffected...
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Jet Jet Options Jet Options (8/13/03)

Heads up, Steve Junkies: it's no substitute for the Expo keynote we were cheated out of last month, but BusinessWeek has posted an excerpt of an interview with everyone's favorite Mercurial Boy. Tune in for the Gospel According to Jobs on subjects as diverse and sundry as why Apple hasn't cut R & D spending, which tech companies "amaze" him, why the iPod is "innovative" without being "new," why Boise's never going to have a booming tech market, and more. Oh, and don't forget the revelation of where he sits along the Hope Curve: "I'm an optimist," says he.

Surprised? You shouldn't be; just because the man has a penchant for black shirts doesn't make him goth. (Now, the clumpy eyeliner and the "Born To Die Weeping And Alone" tattoo on his left forearm-- those make him goth. But we digress.) Besides, we have a hard time believing he could be anything but optimistic given that he's the highest-paid CEO in the country; $219 million a year would put a spring in the step of even the gloomiest Gus in Mopetown. (You think Marilyn Manson's an exception? Au contraire-- once he's behind closed doors he dons a sweater vest, kisses a bunch of puppies, and then rolls around in his money while grinning like Mr. Rogers.)

"But wait," you say, "I thought Steve's annual salary was only one dollar, and he was back at Apple out of the goodness of his heart." Well, technically, yes. But Graef Crystal over at Bloomberg is averaging over three years and including pay elements in addition to base salary, such as that tax-free Gulfstream jet that Apple's board awarded Steve as a thank-you gift in 2000 and his stock options covering 27.5 million shares. (Apparently the fact that those options were eventually traded in for five million free shares after Graef's study period and were worthless during it doesn't signify.) For those "extras," in addition to ranking as the highest-paid CEO in the country, Jobs also wins Graef's coveted "Most-Ludicrous-Pay-Package trophy."

Which all tells us two things: 1) they have trophies for everything these days, and 2) business pundits are never going to stop harping on those options or that freakin' jet. For our money, the bottom line on Jobs's compensation is that there's nary a doubt in our minds that Apple would have folded completely without him, or at least been bought out to build crappy Wintels for Compaq or something-- so as shareholders and as Mac users, we figure he's worth every penny. Still, these days we really wish he'd bought his own aircraft and turned down those worthless-anyway options, because the whole "Jobs Makes Trillions of Dollars Every Minute" thing is getting old.

Note to the board of directors: the next time you want to thank Steve for accomplishing the nigh-impossible, do us a favor-- just buy him a box of Blow Pops and be done with it.

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Blink And You'd Miss It (8/13/03)

Crack all the jokes you want about the snail's pace at which the U.S. legal system tends to move, but every once in a while disputes do, in fact, get resolved at what can only be described as "breakneck speed." No, really, it's true! Things aren't always as slow as, say, "Redmond Justice," which we suspect still isn't finally final, and took roughly six years to accomplish just about nil. (Legally speaking, that is; entertainment-wise, the first couple of years were one helluva ride.) As proof of this controversial theorem, may we respectfully submit for your consideration the class action lawsuit that was filed against Apple just last year by customers upset that Mac OS X didn't fully support all "supported" systems?

You remember the one; it was a pretty open-and-shut case, really, since, at the time of the filing, Apple's own web site included several Macs with ATI Rage II/Pro/Mobility graphics chipsets on its list of officially supported-by-Mac OS X systems, while also announcing that full Mac OS X support for said chipsets was "not planned." Granted, it wasn't the end of the world or anything, but it did upset several customers who shelled out the ducats for Mac OS X and then discovered that their "supported systems" couldn't run OpenGL (or, for that matter, use their floppy drives).

Well, most likely because of the availability of smoking-gun evidence from Apple's own public marketing and support documents, the lawsuit has been resolved in record time; according to faithful viewer David Poves, MacCentral reports that a settlement has been reached: Mac OS X users with not-quite-supported Macs are entitled to either a full $129 refund for each copy of Mac OS X purchased (yes, you have to turn in the CDs) or $25 off any purchase of $99 or more at the online Apple Store. You do realize what this means, right? The original suit was filed at the end of January 2002, so this case has been resolved in just over 18 months' time. Wooooo-hoooooo!!! Land speed record, baby!

Sort of. Technically, this is still just a "conditional" settlement, and it goes before a judge for approval on September 2nd. Once it's signed, though, we're still looking at something like a 19-month resolution, which is practically unheard of in a court system in which just going to the bathroom takes an average of 28.3 days. (And that's just for Number One.) It just goes to show you what we human beings can accomplish if we just try. Inspirational, isn't it?

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Blaster: The Worm Du Jour (8/13/03)

Being Mac users, we usually aren't affected by viruses, so we tend to be a little slow to realize that a new one has shown up to say howdy. Eventually you learn to read the signs, though; judging by the general sluggishness we're noticing around the 'net and the occasional IT person running pell-mell down the street with his hair on fire, we can only assume that yet another virus-thingy has the Wintel world by the virtual throat. Sure enough, according to the San Francisco Chronicle, the latest in a long line of NaughtyWare to disturb the peace is known as "Blaster," which apparently showed up on Monday and continues to spread more quickly than terminal boredom at a "Documentaries About Chalk and Excise Tax" film festival. CERT claims that 1.4 million individual IP addresses had been infected by yesterday afternoon.

Now, we pretty much always chuckle a little when something like this sends Wintel networks into a tizzy, but this time the Giggle Quotient's just about off the meter. Perhaps you recall how, the day after Microsoft scored a $90 million contract to provide software for 140,000 computers at the Department of Homeland Security, Microsoft announced that most versions of Windows included a little security oopsie that kindasorta lets cybermeanies "seize control of a victim's Windows computer over the Internet, stealing data, deleting files, or eavesdropping on emails." And maybe you recall just a couple of weeks ago when the same Department of Homeland Security (yes, the one that shelled out $90 mil for a pile of software so insecure it's frequently mistaken for Woody Allen's more neurotic younger brother) saw fit to issue "an unprecedented second warning" about this particular security abyss, practically begging all Windows-using Americans to patch their Wintels posthaste.

Gee, guess which vulnerability Blaster exploits? So that should give you a sense of how seriously the average Wintel user takes the necessity of patching Windows's many holes, even when the government gets involved.

Interestingly enough, Blaster has an air of tech commentary about it that most viruses sadly lack; it appears to exist primarily to chastise Microsoft for making Blaster's existence possible in the first place. The worm's code includes this message: "Billy Gates why do you make this possible? Stop making money and fix your software." On top of that, this Saturday all infected computers will reportedly participate in a massive distributed denial of service attack by firing off zillions of requests to, Microsoft's site for issuing all those hundreds of security patches that evidently no one ever downloads. (Well, at least the site will get some traffic for once.)

As usual, Macs themselves can't be infected by Blaster, but Macs Only! reports that Mac networks can experience problems even if there's only a single infected Wintel somewhere on the LAN. They suggest that the solution is to "take the Wintel offline, apply the Microsoft Windows patch, and use a worm removal tool." We here at AtAT would amend that slightly in order to prevent a similar problem in the future:

  1. Take the Wintel offline;
  2. Throw it off the nearest bridge;
  3. There's no step three.

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