TV-PGAugust 22, 2003: Another weeks passes by PowerBookless. Meanwhile, Apple's showing in ZDNet's back-to-school computer recommendations is decidedly uncharacteristic, and theories are running rampant linking the past two weeks' virus activity to organized crime and terrorism...
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The Rules Are For A REASON (8/22/03)

Well, here we are at the end of the week! So we should be seeing new PowerBooks any minute now.

Yup. Any minute.

(Glances at watch)

...Uh, yyyeah. Well, clearly something's gone slightly awry, because everyone from Think Secret to Mac OS Rumors to MacBidouille to this guy had been expecting new PowerBooks this week. Plus, an alleged screenshot of distributor inventory status at MacTeens shows a whole lotta goose eggs as far as existing PowerBook models are concerned, at least for the 12- and 15-inchers, so something's gotta give. Obviously Apple planned for a release by today, and something went horribly, devastatingly wrong. But what?

If you like playing the easy odds, you may be banking on the delay being All Motorola's Fault™, especially since AppleInsider has already blamed them for the PowerBook delays up until now; if you recall, Apple reportedly wanted to ship new pro portables back in June, but Motorola's inability to ship suitable G4s in promised quantities scuppered that plan and reduced Steve Jobs to a raving potty-mouth whenever Motorola's name was uttered within earshot. (We're told this was particularly entertaining to trigger during board meetings and in line at the supermarket.) But our own sources are reporting that, in a miracle whose nature has stumped the world's leading theologians, Motorola actually did manage to squeeze out and deliver enough G4s to allow a new PowerBook launch, albeit barely.

No, the current delay, we're told, is purely an Apple-originated holdup. The PowerBooks were done and ready to ship, see, but it seems that someone in the marketing department didn't bother to read all the warnings associated with the new Power Mac G5-- specifically the one about the FCC requiring "the operator or a nearby person be more than one centimeter (0.4 inches) away from the AirPort Extreme antenna during transmission." Being unaware of the one-centimeter rule, he did what any rational person might do while transferring a large Photoshop file from a central server: he walked around to the rear of the machine and licked the antenna.

Now, we're probably going to blow your minds, here, but we'd like to assure you that the time-honored tradition of licking antennas to speed up wireless file transfers does not work. At best you're just wasting perfectly good saliva, and at worst (as in the case of the G5's external antenna) you run the risk of punching six or eight holes right through the fabric of space and time itself. (The FCC really hates that.)

So when the marketing guy pulled the old Lick Trick on his new G5, the ensuing dimensional vortex instantaneously sucked our entire universe into an alternate reality-- one completely identical to the one we'd been occupying, except that for some reason in this realm 1) the sky is blue, although no one seems to remember that it used to be orange, and 2) all the new PowerBooks were found to have become iron Mariachi frogs.

So it's back to the production phase, apparently, and we'll be waiting a while longer for those PowerBooks to get remade, unless Apple's dimensional engineers can find a way to transport us back; we understand they're already hard at work on a plan involving mattress tags and running with scissors. In the meantime, look for musical amphibian-themed Mexican lawn decor to show up at the Apple Store any time, now...

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Pigs Above, Snow Below (8/22/03)

Quick, somebody get us something to hold on to, because everything's topsy-turvy! Up is down, black is white, Freddy vs. Jason garners eleven Academy Award nominations! (Hey, it could happen. We haven't seen it yet, but we hear there's a heartrending monologue in the second act in which Freddy tearfully recounts his struggle with the heartbreak of adult bedwetting.) Our point being, things are kindasorta different than one might expect.

Take, for example, ZDNet's Back to School Guide, in which they scoured through what must have been tens of thousands of personal computers in order to find and name "The essential student desktop" in three categories. And guess which computer manufacturer made the system that won in the "Head Turner" category? Go on, take a guess; the category's called "Head Turner," so you should figure the winner would be flashy, gorgeous, dressed to kill-- do you happen to know of any manufacturers who build computers like that? C'mon, guess already! Would we be asking you to guess if the answer weren't the obvious one? Huh? Would we?

Yes! We would! Because we're that kind of people! In ZDNet's opinion, the biggest "Head Turner" personal computer isn't an iMac, or a Power Mac G5, or anything that sprang from the head of Jonathan Ive; instead it's this thing, Hewlett-Packard's Media Center PC, which, while it does pack a boatload of features (it better, seeing as how it apparently consists of about two dozen individual components), can only be rationally classified as a "head turner" if you count that it might turn heads the same way that a car wreck does. Or a lime green short-sleeve suit. Or, coincidentally enough, a really ugly and cumbersome-looking computer system. We call shenanigans!

But wait, that's not all: guess which manufacturer made ZDNet's choice for the best "Starving Student" computer? Here's a hint: one would expect the ideal system for a "Starving Student" to be inexpensive, and therefore made by just about any manufacturer not known for near-30%-margins and charging a premium for excellence in design and ease of use. So take your time and think about it, and keep in mind that just about any guess is a reasonable one provided you don't say "Apple."

Ha!! Tricked you again! ZDNet ate some fermented hummous or something and declared the best "Starving Student" computer to be the eMac, which, while relatively inexpensive and crammed to the gills with value, is still a Mac, and therefore strictly verboten from receiving any sort of value-based recognition from the tech media. Once ZDNet recovers from whatever mind-addling substance it so evidently ingested, we bet they're going to face some harsh words from the International Tech Media Conspiracy. Maybe even a spanking. But at least they chose a Dell for "Best in Class," so maybe the Conspiracy will let them off easy.

So there you have it, the Total Weirdness of the Week: Apple doesn't win in the "Head Turner" category, but does take home the "Starving Student" award. All we needed was for the Coleco ADAM to win "Best in Class" and we'd have fulfilled our surrealism quota for the rest of the freakin' year...

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They're All In It Together (8/22/03)

Attention, Windows users-- welcome to Virusville, population: you. But you knew that already. Meanwhile, as usual, in the past week and a half we Mac users on the whole have been only mildly inconvenienced by Blaster (e.g. slow network performance as infected Wintels spew packets like Linda Blair spewing split pea soup) and then SoBig.F (e.g. having to delete a couple hundred chunks of virus-infected spam). But between Mac users being generally unfazed and Wintel saps being resigned to their fate as the whipping boys of the virus world, are computer users in general missing a golden opportunity for extreme paranoia? Sources say yes!

Get this: according to, a "leading antivirus expert" named Peter Simpson insists that SoBig.F was not the work of some bored kid hoping to be able to claim L337 status, but rather "the latest in a series of forays into the digital world by organized criminals looking to make a move online." Organized crime developing viruses? Holy offer you can't refuse, Godfather! Reportedly these sneaky online gangsters are "combining the twin threats of spam and viruses for mutual gain." "It's all about the hidden agenda," says Simpson-- which, whether he's right or not, is exactly the sort of thing a seasoned conspiracy theorist says when he goes off his meds. Which is probably exactly why it resonates so well with us...

But if the thought of the Digital Mafia cranking out viruses isn't enough to freak you out, check out what the World Tech Tribune is reporting: sources at Microsoft allegedly claim that they, together with the FBI and Secret Service (whose URL,, sure doesn't seem all that secret to us), have gathered evidence "linking the worldwide attacks made against computers running the Windows operating system to 'terrorist activity.'" Apparently Blaster and SoBig.F "show signs of a coordinated attack by an entity wanting to disrupt world commerce." Does anyone else find this a little suspicious in light of the Department of Homeland Security issuing an unprecedented two warnings about patching the specific hole in Windows that Blaster would exploit a couple of weeks later-- especially since DHS spokesman David Wray insisted at the time that "there is no apparent connection between the increased hacker activity and terrorism"?

So there you have it, folks: your paranoiac fodder for the weekend. Interestingly enough, assuming there's actually a distinction between organized crime and terrorism in this specific context and that both articles aren't just talking about the same thing, Microsoft's gross negligence (i.e. shipping products so full of security holes they could double as nifty colanders in a pinch) has, for all intents and purposes, made the company an accessory to the actions of both nefarious factions. And yet, instead of getting tossed in the slammer, they get a $90 million contract from, of all entities, the Department of Homeland Security. Which means that Microsoft, the DHS, the Mafia, and unspecified terrorists are all in on it together. Run! Hide!

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