TV-PGDecember 20, 2004: That whole "John Doe" trade secret lawsuit? Apparently it's all about that Asteroid leak. Meanwhile, you know we're cool, because we're late just like Apple is with Xsan, and PC Magazine declares the eMac to be the "Worst Desktop PC of the Year"-- mmmm, that's good crack!...
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Sued Over A Space Rock (12/20/04)

So about this here latest "Worker Bee" lawsuit: as it turns out, Apple's not suing about leaked iPod specs at all-- or over iPhone details, either, for that matter. No, as it turns out, faithful viewer Howard Martin was right on the money when he guessed that Apple had unleashed the lawyers because of last month's leak about Asteroid, Apple's alleged new audio breakout box for musicians looking to plug an instrument and/or microphone into their Macs for a bit of GarageBand fun. Actually, we suppose we can drop the "alleged" qualifier at this point, because Apple wouldn't be suing if it weren't true-- and now there's no doubt that Asteroid is what prompted this latest round of litigationy goodness.

The Mac Observer got hold of some actual court documents, see, and apparently in Apple's quest to identify the Mystery Leaker (to whom we'll probably never refer by that unfortunate moniker again-- ewwww), the company has targeted three rumors sites for information pertaining to the identity of "any individual or individuals who have knowledge regarding the source of posts... disclosing information" about Asteroid. As such, AppleInsider, the PowerPage, and ThinkSecret have all been subpoenaed for anything that might shed some light on whoever's spouting confidential inside info like some sort of trade secret lawn sprinkler. Or something.

Let's be clear, here: Apple hasn't sued any of the sites in question for publishing Asteroid info, nor can we imagine that said sites are under any legal obligation to fork over the info that Apple's fishing for. They've been subpoenaed, sure, but only so that Apple can determine the identity of whoever it was that stole the Asteroid specs in the first place, so that person winds up getting jabbed with the pointy end of the Lawsuit Stick-- which is pretty pointy, considering that Apple is reportedly seeking "monetary damages in excess of $25,000 as well as punitive damages" because the company "will suffer severe and irreparable harm and damage," the extent of which will be "difficult to ascertain."

Personally, we can't see how the Asteroid leak in particular could cause "severe and irreparable harm," since nothing about it sounded all that revolutionary; plenty of other breakout boxes are already on the market, although they sell for more than Apple's rumored price. If anything, Asteroid sounds like even more of a niche product than iSight, and we can't imagine that it could have much of an impact on Apple's bottom line. Then again, we haven't seen GarageBand 2; maybe GarageBand Karaoke will prompt millions to spend over a hundred clams on Asteroid just to hook up a serious microphone. Who knows?

Meanwhile, if the lawsuit is only about the Asteroid leaks, does that imply that none of the rumored flashPod specs and pricing were legit enough to prompt a lawsuit? Possibly-- which might even mean that there's no flashPod at all, and we've all set ourselves up for some Titanic-class disappointment come January 11th. We don't think it's likely, however, given the sources of some of the flashPod rumors. And hey, there's an up side: in Apple's lawsuit, the company states that it thinks "whoever leaked the 'Asteroid' product information is continuing to leak facts of other products"-- which means that there's probably 100 percent Grade A bona fide Dirt™ on the flashPod floating around out there somewhere. So what are you waiting for? Get digging!

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Fashionably Late As Usual (12/20/04)

"Say, AtAT," far too many of you are asking, "what's with being so late with the broadcasts all the time, especially recently?" Well, kiddies, we could tell you that it's due to year-end deadlines for paying gigs, or all the shopping and card-writing associated with this oh-so-festive time of year, or the constant need to chase after (and, alternately, flee from) a two-year-old bent on mayhem and destruction. And all of those factors certainly contribute to our chronic tardiness, but truth be told, the main reason why we're always late is simple: because it's cool. Really! Just ask Apple.

Seriously, just think about how many times the company has been late this year-- officially late, with a formal announcement and everything. The Xserve G5 shipped a month late. iPod minis took an extra three months to make it overseas. Just recently Apple claimed it was on track to launch the Canadian iPod Music Store by the end of November-- and then said it'd be late on the day of the deadline itself. (It was only tardy by a day, but still.) And what about the 3 GHz G5? We're still waiting for that, and it was originally due way back at WWDC in late June.

And the lateness just keeps on keepin' on: barely two weeks ago, Apple said it would still ship its Xsan storage area network software "later this fall"-- but fall is now officially over, and right on cue, Apple has reportedly issued a statement to CNET saying that "Xsan will not ship this year; it will ship early next year." That's a minimum of eleven days late, in case anyone's keeping score. So enterprise IT directors interested in Apple (all two of them) are going to have to wait at least another week and a half before they can get all Xsanned up and slickery.

Total everything up and you may be surprised (but probably not) to find that Apple spent at least three-quarters of 2004 being officially late with one or more products-- and that doesn't include all of the unofficial lateness, like with the speed-bumped Power Macs that were clearly originally intended to ship months before they finally saw the light of day. Yessirree, Apple is just one big, twitchy bundle o' lateness these days. And since everything Apple does is, by definition, the height of fashion and the epitome of cool, obviously "late" is the new black. It's all the rage on the runways in Milan right now-- or, at least it will be, once the models finally show up.

So that's the deal, folks: we care so deeply about your viewing experience that we make sure we're late at least as often as Apple is, thereby acquiring some of Apple's renowned coolness (or "coolth," if you will) by association. Sure, it can be tough forcing ourselves to be so late all the time, but such is our commitment to quality. It's all for you, Damien!

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Unconstructive Criticism (12/20/04)

Sigh... Well, we didn't really want to dignify the insult with any extra traffic, but faithful viewer Moogintroll was only the first of about a kajillion people who insisted that we take PC Magazine to task for proclaiming the eMac to be the "Worst Desktop PC of the Year," so we suppose we ought to say something about it. In his article, Jim Louderback calls the eMac "slow, underpowered, and pathetic" because it only has a 40 GB hard drive, a RADEON 9200 graphics subsystem that "won't run this fall's hot Mac games", and no DVD burner, which he claims "makes offloading files impossible." (That's right, impossible. Apparently it's a total myth that computers can connect to networks or external storage devices! Who knew?)

Now, before you go ballistic over the Mac-bashing, let's all take a nice, deep breath and remember that PC Magazine itself has actually been pretty Mac-friendly lately; it did, after all, award the iMac G5 a perfect 5-out-of-5 rating last September. Jim Louderback, on the other hand, just apparently Doesn't Get It™, because he's criticizing the eMac for shortcomings that generally aren't even the faintest blip on the Issue Radar for the people to whom it's actually targeted.

See, Louderback's problem is that no one seems to have taught him anything about a little concept called "context." The eMac, as you probably recall, was originally designed and offered exclusively for the education market. For what it's designed to be, the eMac succeeds very well: it's just the ticket as a relatively low-cost Mac terminal for a networked school lab environment. Schools most certainly do not need (or want) a DVD burner in every lab system. Any local hard drive space over the 40 GB in the entry-level model is probably a waste in most school labs. And unless some school is trying to teach its students about anatomy and physics by tossing them headlong into DOOM 3 deathmatches, that RADEON 9200 isn't a problem, either. Louderback has apparently missed all this, and likely also whines about how the Xserve G5 doesn't ship with stereo speakers and a copy of Tony Hawk Pro Skater 4.

Granted, Apple now sells eMacs as consumer systems, and that's because there are indeed consumers out there for whom the eMac is a perfect fit; indeed, it only became available to the general public when those people begged Apple to open it up to the world at large. For what it's worth, we have two close friends/family members who bought eMacs in the past year or two, and they both seem deliriously happy with their choice. News flash for Loudermouth (yes, we went there; we are not proud): there are plenty of consumers out there who just want a $799 all-in-one Mac that'll handle email and the Web, run iTunes and iPhoto, and maybe let them dabble a little with iMovie or GarageBand. Not everyone needs 400 GB of disk space and a SuperDrive to work on three DVD projects at once. Some people are far happier playing Solitaire and Snood instead of fragging in the latest 3D shooters. Just because there are plenty of folks who do need more than an entry-level eMac can offer, that doesn't mean the eMac is bad-- and certainly not the "Worst Desktop PC of the Year."

Incidentally, we took a quick peek at those cheap Dells that Louderback seems so enamored with and which he claims are better buys than the crappy-video-having, non-DVD-burning eMac. While the Dimension 3000 configurations do offer higher specs than the eMac in many ways (Dell's whole raison d'être is cost savings via economies of scale, after all), for video they have an "Integrated Intel® Extreme Graphics 2" chipset, which Tom's Hardware describes as "nowhere near convincing in a gaming environment"; the site wonders if the word "Extreme" refers to "extremely slow." Want better graphics performance for gaming? Step up to a more expensive Dimension 4700, which instead has the faster "Integrated Intel® Graphics Media Accelerator 900"-- a graphics subsystem that AnandTech says "can't keep up with the cheapest PCI Express graphics solution," so "people who are interested in gaming should stay very far away."

Meanwhile, none of the presented configurations of the Dimension 3000 or 4700 offers a DVD burner, either-- oh no, offloading files is impossible on all of those, too!

Not to be mean mere days before Santa does the final Naughty vs. Nice tally, but here's hoping that on Christmas someone gives Jim a gift certificate for Clues 'R' Us, because he could really do to restock.

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