TV-PGApril 22, 2004: Somehow the entire Disney Records catalog just found its way exclusively into the iTunes Music Store. Meanwhile, a bunch of Apple resellers are outside picketing the Apple shareholder meeting, and we offer several handy tips on how to deal with AirPort 3.4 problems...
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From the writer/creator of AtAT, a Pandemic Dad Joke taken WAYYYYYY too far

Just Business, Folks (4/22/04)

Okay, so there's this big ol' semi-covert grudge match between Disney's Michael Eisner and Apple's own Steve Jobs, right? You know the drill: Eisner called Jobs a Shiite Muslim, Jobs took the Pixar ball and went home, Eisner unscrewed the caps on all the salt shakers in Steve's house, Steve badmouthed Eisner during the Pixar earnings conference call, Eisner TP'd Steve's front lawn, Steve cut the brake line in Eisner's Mercedes, etc. It's pretty darn clear that, whether or not Steve is jockeying for Eisner's job, these are two guys who just plain don't like each other. So you'd figure that the last thing we'd see are any funky new partnerships between Disney and Apple, right?

So what's up with this new joint press release (pointed out by faithful viewer Danny Cohen) announcing the addition of a metric ton and a half of Disney music to the iTunes Music Store? As of right now, the entire catalog of Walt Disney Records is reportedly "available exclusively on the iTunes® Music Store through September 30th." Moreover, the executive veep of Walt Disney Records's parent company says, "We chose to deliver our digital music catalog exclusively on iTunes because it is the leading global online music store." Notice the total lack of any sort of Eisner-mandated smack-talk. It's like these guys are running actual businesses or something.

Sure enough, if you fire up the iTMS and enter Browse mode, you'll find that "Disney" is now its own freakin' category nestled right between "Dance" and "Electronic." Poke around in there and you'll find everything from the original Peter Pan soundtrack to Toy Story 2 narrated by that guy from Wings to such classic recordings as Let's Get Together with Hayley Mills and Ukelele Ike Sings Again. (Try to ignore the fact that people buying the Hayley Mills album are also buying Pink Floyd's The Wall, or else you might blow a head gasket or two.)

So what do you think-- does this deal represent some kind of freaky cease-fire in the longstanding Jobs-Eisner feud? We're guessing no. After all, just because you want somebody's head on a stick doesn't mean you can't sell his stuff in your store, and Steve has never exactly shied away from using his position at Apple to promote Pixar flicks 'n' merchandise. Notice how the press release manages to mention no fewer than five Pixar movies-- meaning, all of them-- by name? Steve even manages to squeeze in a second reference to Toy Story, deftly wedging it in between The Lion King and Mary Poppins. We figure this latest team-up is all about the Benjamins, and it won't have the slightest impact on the flaming bag of dog poop Steve'll find on his doorstep-- just as soon as Eisner gets out of traction.

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Rabblerousers Are Fun (4/22/04)

Guess what? It's Annual Apple Shareholders' Meeting Day™! And we'd actually be there, too, if only we'd remembered more than six hours before the thing's supposed to start, and round-trip plane fare had materialized on the dining room table as if from nowhere, and we actually cared enough about the whole thing to skip The Price Is Right. Personally, we take a very passive approach to AAPL ownership; we buy shares, never sell 'em, and diligently recycle the annual reports as soon as they hit our mailbox. No, it's not the most responsible pattern of shareholder behavior, but we wear it well.

Actually, though, this year we wouldn't mind attending-- or at least hanging around outside to watch the fireworks. Faithful viewer neopod informs us that, as reported by MacMinute, a trio of Apple resellers plans to picket outside the meeting: representatives of Elite Computers, MACadam, and MacTech Systems are probably out there right now, trying to anger up the blood of shareholders as they file in. Says Elite's CEO, "It's time that Apple's conduct is made known to Apple shareholders... we look forward to sharing what we have uncovered." And if you're wondering what these guys are all steamed about, you clearly haven't been paying attention to this whole retail pricing scandal and the reseller lawsuits with the sign-swiping and whatnot.

So yeah, there are apparently Apple resellers out there doing the whole civil disobedience-type shtick; The Mac Observer reports that the picketers will be holding up signs emblazoned with such catchy slogans as "Something is Rotten in Cupertino" and "Steve, You're Fired!" (In our book, any public reference to The Apprentice constitutes instant credibility collapse, but hey, that's just us.) The picketers are hoping to persuade attendees to question Apple about the alleged massive discrepancy between reseller wholesale prices and the prices paid by Apple's own retail stores, and if the issue does indeed get raised during the meeting, whoa Nelly there's potential for some crazy-butt drama going down. We'll be sorry to miss that.

But, you know, this lady on TV just won a brand new car. And that was pretty exciting, too.

Regardless, tune in tomorrow to see how this whole picketing thing turns out. The jury's still out on whether the resellers will be or less effective than those consumer watchdog zombies who protested at the Macworld Expo a few months back-- and, in fact, we're hard-pressed to decide whether picketing resellers or protesting undead corpses would be scarier. But if the resellers join hands and start singing Kumbaya, run like hell.

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The High Cost Of Progress (4/22/04)

As it happens, folks, we're all sitting in that pregnant pause between the NAB announcements and the annual shareholders' meeting, so things are actually surprisingly slow in Appleland right this second. That's a blessing in disguise, though, because it gives us the chance to fulfill a portion of our Public Service Announcement duties by offering a few helpful hints on how to live with AirPort Update 3.4. For those of you who haven't heard of the affliction, several viewers have written in complaining that after applying the update, their AirPort Extreme-equipped Macs are now showing greatly reduced signal strength and slower data speeds, and some even report completely dropped signals after a period of use-- which is tragic, although personally we're relieved that Apple's Quality Control department hasn't gotten boringly conscientious yet after all.

If you want proof that not only AtAT viewers are suffering from these symptoms, look no further than MacFixIt, MacInTouch, O'Grady's PowerPage, etc. As for us, prior to the update, our own test PowerBook showed a healthy four bars of signal strength from the AtAT couch; after the update, negative two. (While we aren't entirely sure what a negative signal strength means, whenever we tried accessing a network service, we received a mild electric shock and the PowerBook laughed at us derisively.) We found we were only able to establish and maintain a usable signal by climbing up on the desk in the production room, placing the PowerBook directly on top of the Base Station that's sitting on a high bookshelf, holding one leg out in the air pointing magnetic north at 90 degrees from vertical, and repeatedly singing the chorus from "It's Raining Men" in a high-pitched, squeaky voice. This doesn't bother us, however, since that's how we usually work anyway, but some people might find it inconvenient.

Apple's own advice on how to maximize your AirPort reception states that you should "rotate your computer until signal strength peaks," but we've found that several people are less productive when their PowerBooks' screens are facing away from them. Instead, we recommend that viewers suffering from AirPort 3.4 woes boost their signal strength by covering themselves head to toe in aluminum foil, keeping both feet in at least three inches of standing water (deionized, of course), and removing all electrical wiring from the walls of their workplaces and domiciles. We also have reason to believe that having the cells of one's entire skeleton bonded to indestructible Adamantium molecules may improve reception. Just keep those claws extended.

If none of that works, may we suggest that email is highly overrated, and that you consider rediscovering the lost art of letter-writing? Of course, another possible course of action would be to revert to a previous version of the AirPort software, but that seems to us to be a drastic and Luddite move when you could simply stick with the latest and greatest software and instead communicate via letters, smoke signals, and semaphore. But hey, if you don't mind people pointing at you and giggling because you're running out-of-date software, that's your business. Loser.

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