TV-PGDecember 14, 2000: There may or may not be another public beta in the works, but the only non-public beta update to Mac OS X so far is less than enthralling. Meanwhile, the entire incoming Class of 2006 at the University of Wisconsin-Stout will be armed with PowerBooks and iBooks, and another movie is in the works which features Bill Gates getting shot and killed...
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Hey, Progress Is Relative (12/14/00)
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Those of you who plunked down thirty smackers for the privilege of testing the Mac OS X public beta lo those many moons ago may be wondering just how much progress Apple has made on polishing that beta into a 1.0 release. Heck, we know we are-- especially amid the rumors that Apple will formally unleash the beast in all its lickable glory this coming February 24th. After playing with the beta last September, it was clear to us that Apple had a lot of work left to do before Mac OS X was mature enough to leave the kiddie table and come sit with the grown-ups.

Unfortunately, so far Apple hasn't seen fit to bless us public beta testers with a single, solitary update, so we don't have much to go on to gauge the company's progress. While some rumors claim that an update for the beta will ship in three weeks or so at the upcoming Macworld Expo, the heaviest buzz claims that the public beta is just that: THE public beta. Of course, if the February 24th ship date is real, that's pretty much a given; we can't see Apple's engineers killing themselves to issue a public beta patch a month before the Real Thing hits the shelves. Even without a beta update in the works, we bet those people haven't slept since the last time a George Bush was declared President.

That said, apparently the "real" beta testers-- as in, the ones who paid to join Apple's developer program-- did receive one update to the public beta a while back. According to OS X Talk, the release bears the extremely non-public-sounding appellation of "2E14" and includes a list of enhancements and improvements as long as your arm... provided you've got really teeny arms. As a matter of fact, 2E14 appears only to have added two things: multiple language support and zippier performance. Take a second to digest that, and then chew on this: the "zippier performance" bit is debatable. While one user claims a perceivable "15-20%" speed boost, others state that 2E14 adds "no real speedup" at all. One user plainly states that the only difference between the public beta and 2E14 is the addition of multiple language support and the removal of the Charlie's Angels and Vertical Limit QuickTime trailers. Either Apple was trying to save space, or it considers those movies just dandy for the unwashed masses, but beneath the dignity of the average developer (washed or not).

Now, if you find that discouraging, it's worth noting that 2E14 reportedly shipped only a month after the public beta itself-- so it's not exactly a fair yardstick by which to measure Apple's performance. And given how much Steve likes surprises, it's pretty safe to say that he's keeping the Mac OS X cards pretty close to his chest in hopes of wowing the public when 1.0 finally sees the light of day, whether that's on February 24th or not.

Lastly, we should add that some new data has wafted its way into the AtAT studios, and we're now a bit more confident in that whole February 24th release date thingy, despite the suspicious coincidence that it also happens to be Steve's birthday. We can't say why, exactly, but basically one of our trusted sources heard from another trusted source that a third trusted source heard the date straight from one of the mucky-mucks high up at One Infinite Loop (whose name you'd recognize if we were actually allowed to say it). Hey, that's enough corroboration to qualify as stone-cold fact, as far as this show is concerned.


 
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How To Pick A University (12/14/00)
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We all know Apple's been taking a beating in the education sector for a while, now. Just recently Steve Jobs himself finally admitted that Apple slipped into the number two slot, losing out to Dell. Granted, being in second place isn't exactly the end of the world, but it does show that Apple is losing its hold on an important market-- and with every story about flat Mac sales and schools "standardizing" on Wintel, the outlook for any resurgence for Apple in education seems bleaker.

Still, every once in a while a tidbit floats through the ether that gives us hope. Take, for example, the article in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that we found while cruising MacNN; reportedly the University of Wisconsin-Stout is going to require all of its incoming freshmen to own laptops starting in the fall of 2002. That in itself isn't particularly inspiring (though it's nice to see the march of progress, we suppose). The nifty bit is that "in the pilot program, Apple and Macintosh laptops are being used because those are the computers most often used in the printing industry." (Wow, both Apple and Macintosh laptops? Even better!)

Don't get too excited about this, because once the program gets into full swing and laptops are required campus-wide, "students will be able to use either the Mac/Apple platform or Windows-based laptops." So it's not like the school's going all-Mac or anything, but even so, these days we're starting to consider even the choice of being able to use a Mac to be an ever-rarer luxury. And if there are any of you out there planning on going off to college in a couple of years, maybe you should consider UW-Stout-- if for no other reason than being able to score a free iBook from your parents.


 
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Big-Screen Bill-Kill, Take 2 (12/14/00)
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Far be it from us to wish harm on any living creature, no matter how much personal satisfaction it might give us. Plus there's that whole sticky issue of court costs, jail time, etc., and our social calendars are way too full to accommodate a few consecutive life sentences right now. That's where the wonderful world of fantasy comes into play. If you're miffed at your boss for, say, stiffing you on a Christmas bonus, don't grab an Uzi and reduce him to a quivering mass of people parts; that's not nice. Instead, close your eyes and visualize his head popping à la Scanners. See? Almost as satisfying, and without all that messy "before turning the gun on himself" action on the six o'clock news.

What we're getting at is that no matter what impression you may have formed of us after digging through three years of Reruns, the truth is, we honestly don't wish Bill Gates any actual physical harm. Sure, he embodies lots of things that we consider less than good (antitrust violations, poor taste, having that much money and still keeping that damn haircut), but he's still a human being, after all. (Probably.) If it were announced tomorrow that the man is suffering from a rare tropical disease that makes his extremities fall off, we'd be genuinely sorry for the man. Okay, okay, so we rejoiced when he got hit with a cream pie-- but that didn't actually hurt the guy.

So, back to the fantasy thing. One of our favorite escapes from the work-a-day world is to go catch a movie. There we can sit in the dark and give ourselves over to fantasy for a couple of hours-- while eating popcorn, to boot. And thanks to a tip from faithful viewer Kent Hull, it looks like we can add another upcoming movie to our must-see list. According to a ZDNet News story, the folks behind last year's motion sickness-inducing The Blair Witch Project are back, and this time they're leaving the potty-mouthed teens alone and killing off Bill Gates instead-- on the big screen, of course. In next year's MacArthur Park, the Microsoft mogul gets assassinated in the first five minutes of the flick while attending a charity event. Was it a lone nut, or a "JFK-level conspiracy"? Pretty soon you'll be able to investigate for yourself, at BillGatesIsDead.com.

First the violent animated cameo in South Park: Bigger, Longer, And Uncut, and now this. Clearly fantasies of Bill getting iced are all the rage in Hollywood right now. Suppose that has anything to do with the Mac's disproportionately high use in the creative world? Naaaahhh...


 
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