TV-PGJune 20, 2005: Who wouldn't be hospitalized after contemplating the possibility of a Dellintosh? Meanwhile, the Queen of England classes up her act by purchasing an iPod mini, and Henrico County is selling $50 iBooks to its students-- why aren't there more takers?...
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And It Can Be Beige Again! (6/20/05)

So here's the thing: when we told you that wildly intermittent broadcasts and the occasional slightly-extended unplanned hiatus would be par for the course around here for a while, we were basing that estimation purely on our current workload and various time-sucking real-life commitments. Fair enough, right? Unfortunately, we utterly failed to reckon with the alarming frequency of debilitating aneurysms, strokes, cardiac events, and other stress- and shock-induced personal health crises that are now a daily part of life for longtime Mac users living in the MacIntel era. We're sure you understand that producing the 'net's best Apple-flavored soap opera from the confines of a hospital bed is a dodgy prospect at best, especially since the Intensive Care Unit here at St. Leonard's Hospital for Dramatic Overreaction is woefully without WiFi access. Sheesh, what is this, the Dark Ages?

Come to think of it, that would explain all the leeches.

Anyway, wouldn't you know it? We had barely recovered from the ensuing infarctions following Jobs's whole "we're switching to x86" bombshell when faithful viewer James Hromadka dished us a Fortune article that landed us right back in the ICU. The topic? Mike Dell's admission that, if Apple were to license Mac OS X to third-party PC manufacturers, his company would be "happy to offer it to [Dell's] customers." Ladies and gentlemen, introducing... the Dellintosh™! Quick, fetch our heart pills.

Not that we're at all surprised by his apparent enthusiasm, of course, given Mr. Dell's long-standing obsession with emulating Steve's every move, which had crossed over into full-blown identity-based psychosis well over half a decade ago. (Indeed, we suspect that the email Mike sent to Fortune in which he mentioned his willingness to ship a Dell with Mac OS X on it originated from a hospital bed not unlike ours, since he probably suffered a nasty shock of his own when he'd heard that Steve had copied him for a change.) Still, the very notion of a Dell-branded Mac complete with "Intel Inside" insignia was plenty enough to land us back in St. Leonard's with an acute case of the Flying Heebie-Jeebies, which, as you all know, can be fatal if not treated. Honestly, just think of Mike Dell in a black mock turtleneck on a stage somewhere in front of hundreds of press photographers, pulling a sheet off the world's first Dellintosh, whose screen displays the legendary cursive "hello." Of course, on the Dellintosh it'll be misspelled "helo," but you get the picture.

Not that this is likely to happen anytime soon, of course; we'd be medically irresponsible (and possibly legally liable, so sign this release form, wouldja?) if we didn't remind you that, for now, at least, the Dellintosh is still a mere pipe dream for ol' Mikey. Steve has made it abundantly clear that licensing Mac OS X isn't part of his grand scheme for world domination. Yet. Of course, throwing off the PowerPC like an old coat and jumping stark raving nekkid in Lake Intel presumably wasn't part of his sixteen-point plan to rule the universe, either-- at least, not until pretty recently. So who's to say that Apple won't eventually manage to flip the switch and transition entirely into being a software company, relying on way higher sales volumes through manufacturers like Dell to more than offset any loss of revenue from no longer selling Macs?

Whoops-- there goes the ol' ticker again. Good thing we have 911 on speed dial...

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We Bet She Digs Slayer, Too (6/20/05)

In more heart- and brain-friendly news, what does it matter if the iPod's sales are allegedly slowing down as long as the right people are still buying them? Sure, from a short-term cash-flow sort of perspective, it looks better if Apple is selling iPods to Joe and Betty Everyperson by the millions, but isn't that sort of myopic? Consider the big picture: in the long run, wouldn't it be a zillion times better if Apple sold just one iPod to an highly visible and powerful world leader? Well, the company's done the next best thing: it sold an iPod to the Queen of England. Close enough, right?

It's true! Well, probably. When faithful viewer Luke informed us that QE2 was gettin' jiggy wit' it iPod-style, our enthusiasm was dampened only slightly by seeing that the original report was apparently in The Sun. Sure, it's the UK's biggest-selling newspaper, and maybe this is just a matter of cultural differences, here, but we have to maybe wonder about the journalistic competence and integrity of any newspaper that runs an entire web site dedicated to selling pictures of topless journo-bunnies. Still, we see no particular reason to doubt that Queenie "despatched a flunkey" to the Apple Store (presumably the London one-- after all, it is on her property) to buy her a 6 GB silver iPod mini so when she's being driven along in parades, she can wave to her people while secretly listening to the complete discography of Ted Nugent. She just strikes us as a "Cat Scratch Fever" kinda gal, ya know?

Infallible AtAT sources claim that the store charged the Queen an extra tenner out of spite, the memory of Bill Gates's recent knighthood and Uncle Steve's continued lack of Sir-ness still fresh in their minds. But now that the Queen's bopping along with such an undeniably cool piece of kit, honestly, can a ceremonial sword-tap on Steve's shoulders be far behind?

Better still, suppose the Queen has any serious pull with the judge in the Apple-vs.-Beatles case? One would think she might get all torqued up on Nuge and then pay m'lud a little visit, informing the judge in no uncertain terms that he's to make nice with the clever gents responsible for creating the iPod, or she'll have to go upside his wig-sportin' head with a scepter or something. Sure, she probably still harbors a certain fondness for those Liverpudlian tunesmiths of yore, but when push comes to shove, we figure she's going to ask, "but what have they done for me lately?"

And maybe that'll finally mark the ultimate end of the years-long Apple-vs.-Britain tussle that rears its head every so often: Steve gets his honorary KBE and the Beatles off his back, the Queen gets her Motor City Madman, everybody's happy, and we never hear anything more about the UK banning Apple TV commercials or talking smack about iPod batteries in the House of Commons ever again. Sure, we'd miss the drama, but there's always Eastenders if we get desperate for a fix.

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Heck, We'll Take 'Em For $51 (6/20/05)

We believe we were on one of our many hiatuseseses back when Henrico County lost its mind, so if you rely on us to keep you abreast of actual news in the world of Apple (you know, you really shouldn't do that), there's a chance you missed this thrilling bit of nutjobbery: a couple of months ago, the Henrico County School Board-- you remember, the ones who made history back in 2001 by leasing 23,000 iBooks to distribute to every middle and high school student and teacher-- voted on how to continue the program. The result? They voted unanimously to replace most of the iBooks with Dell laptops. Which, in an education environment which is generally low on dedicated IT staff, is akin to voting unanimously to take a communal bath in a large vat of glass shards 'n' acid, but who are we to judge?

Now, sure, part of us is upset, both for Apple and for the students and teachers that are going to have to take such a backwards step, but part of us is also eagerly awaiting the Three Stooges-like calamity that will surely strike when Henrico schools suddenly find they've got to deal with viruses, spyware, and a platform with lots more games for the students to abuse. It's going to be the education-tech equivalent of a society lady getting hit with a pie while three grown men try to poke each others' eyes out. It'll be glorious.

Anyway, that's all the commentary we're going to cough up on that specific subject, seeing as the ship sailed two months ago and all, but it turns out there's an interesting coda to the "let's dump the Macs" development down Henrico way: faithful viewer Pineapple tipped us off to a Richmond Times-Dispatch article which reveals that, as per its original lease agreement with Apple, Henrico County plans to exercise its option to purchase all of the four-year-old machines at the bank-breaking price of-- ready for this?-- $1 each. That's right; 500 MHz dual-USB iBooks for a buck apiece. Heck, at that price we'd slap down a fifty and get enough to build a little fort. And then we'd take out a home equity loan (no, not on the fort), buy the rest, dish a few out to family and friends, and eBay the rest of 'em off and make a killing.

So what's the county going to do with over twenty thousand iBooks, you ask? Well, about 7,000 or so are go to middle school students; the switch to Dell only applies at the high school level for some reason. But the remaining 15ish thousand are going up for sale, and the high school seniors get first crack at them. The school board intends to pass a should-be-illegal 5,000 percent markup onto its students, of course, because why shouldn't it turn a profit? Still, any senior with two functioning neurons to rub together ought to jump at the chance to buy their iBooks for a measly fifty clams, right? Right.

Except, surprise surprise, it doesn't quite seem to be working out that way. For instance, at J.R. Tucker High School, "nearly one-third of the graduating class" has expressed interest in buying a $50 iBook, and the Times-Dispatch reports that like it's supposed to be a high number or something. News flash: here's hoping that the percentage of interested graduating seniors isn't so low at other schools in the county, because even if they hated their iBooks and never plan to touch another Mac for as long as they live, if a whopping 70 percent of Henrico County's high school seniors can't even recognize that paying $50 for a laptop that currently sells on eBay for an average of roughly $350 (often without an AirPort card) qualifies as what is commonly referred to as a "good deal," well, we can see what a fine education they've all received in the field of mathematics, at any rate. College ho!

But hey, what do you expect when the teachers were hired by the same school board that unanimously voted to swap 15,000 Macs with Wintel laptops? We don't have all the facts, of course, so we don't necessarily want to cast aspersions on the faculty at Tucker High, but given the way the Dell vote went, we can't help wondering if the math teachers the board hired for the school (who evidently skipped the chapter on "350 > 50") aren't, say, a department store mannequin and a monkey with an abacus. Just a guess.

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