(Welcome to the World of Endless Reruns! Two decades ago, As the Apple Turns (AtAT) was a daily web-based soap opera obsessively following the melodramatic ins and outs of all things Apple. Now the archives are broadcasting in syndication, so each day you can see what life was like 20 years ago when Apple was still the underdog, all in not-so-fabulous RetroVision™!)

TV-PGNovember 18, 1999: Apple puts a damper on third-party Sherlock 2 plug-ins by quietly blocking ads from "unsanctioned" sites. Meanwhile, "Redmond Justice" continues to pull in the ratings as the judge sets the dates for the next several episodes, and what do you get when you stick Bill Gates and several hundred PC geeks in a dance club? Do you really want to know?...
There was no new episode broadcast on November 19, 1999, so we're still showing you the last episode broadcast before then. (November 18, 1999)
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Searching For Ads (11/18/99)
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Remember when Mac OS 8.5 first came out, and Apple was touting it as "a brand new Mac for $99"? Evidently Apple's marketing department felt that an improved search utility was all it takes to transform an aging Power Mac 7200 into a sparkly new G3, since the biggest visible addition in Mac OS 8.5 was Sherlock. Sherlock added several new features to the previous "Find File" application, such as the ability to search the contents of indexed files and to save search criteria to run again later. The biggest new feature, though, was arguably Sherlock's ability to search the Internet. You could just enter what you were looking for, and Sherlock would return results from multiple Internet search engines. Kinda neat.

However, "neat" is all it would have been if Apple hadn't made it really easy for people to write their own Sherlock plug-ins. What elevated Sherlock from "neat" to "nifty" was the way that you could add your favorite sites to Sherlock's list, no matter how obscure or bizarre. Want to add tinymarsupials.com to Sherlock? Go for it. And there was actual incentive for webmasters to build their own Sherlock plug-ins, because Apple was smart enough to make sure that banner ads from a Sherlock-searched site could be displayed right in the search results window. Ad-dependent sites (like the one you're tuned in to right now) could post a Sherlock plug-in without worrying about losing any money.

Suddenly, though, we've got Mac OS 9, and all that's changed. Sherlock 2 may include some nice new e-commerce features like the ability to comparison-shop across multiple sites, but according to MacWEEK, one feature quietly disappeared: banner ads. Or, more accurately, banner ads from the searched site are still shown-- but only if the Sherlock 2 plug-in is an Apple-sanctioned one. Third-party plug-ins now show an Apple ad instead of one from the site that was searched. Well, that's a fine how-do-you-do! Unsurprisingly, this has a few webmasters mildly peeved-- and less willing to support Sherlock with a plug-in, now that doing so could represent a revenue loss.

For the record, we're putting the finishing touches on a searchable Reruns tape library, which will let legions of AtAT junkies dig through over two years of past episodes. Yes, we'll probably release a Sherlock plug-in, since we figure that when it comes to entertainment, we could never stand in the way of instant gratification. Still, it'd be nice if Apple re-enables third-party ads in Sherlock 2.01 so others have more incentive to support this funky technology.


 
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Set Those VCRs Now (11/18/99)
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Still following the roller coaster antitrust saga known as "Redmond Justice"? Well, the producers have just released the latest updates to the broadcast schedule, and there's good news: we've got entertainment a-plenty lined up for the next several months. If you thought that Judge Jackson's intensely anti-Microsoft findings of fact represented the fat lady's song, you've severely underestimated the glacial pace of our legal system. Fear not! There's lots more to come.

According to a Reuters article, Judge Jackson has now set the dates for the next events in this ongoing drama. First, the government's side has to file a brief in response to those hot-as-a-pistol findings of fact before December 6th. Then Microsoft has to do the same by January 17th. These briefs are to be no more than 70 pages apiece-- a bit unfair, perhaps, since the judge's last document was over 200 pages long, but what the hell, he's the judge and he can do what he wants.

Then comes the reply briefs. Before January 24th, the government will have to issue no more than 30 pages responding to Microsoft's response to the judge's findings. Then Microsoft has until the 31st to issue a 30-page reply to the government's response brief-- the 70-pager, not the new 30-pager. (Confused? You will be-- after this episode of "Redmond Justice.") And finally, in February, the judge will hear oral arguments from each side. We expect that little episode to be a real nail-biter.

Of course, if Chairman Bill is in a mood to compromise (and it appears that he might be, given his "deer in the headlights" look earlier this week as he repeatedly refused to rule out a settlement requiring a Microsoft break-up), then this whole schedule might go right out the window. So keep your fingers crossed and hope that Bill's ego re-inflates-- without a settlement, we've got entertainment gold lined up for months.


 
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Oh, The Humanity... (11/18/99)
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It was a scene straight out of Night of the Living Geeks, and we're sorry we couldn't have witnessed it first-hand. Actually, no, we take that back-- we're positively thrilled that we didn't witness it first-hand, because some things stop being funny and cross right over into the realm of intense psychic pain. If you watched Pirates of Silicon Valley (and hey, who here didn't?), you may have wondered whether Bill Gates was as much of a dweeb as he was portrayed by Hollywood Übergeek Anthony Michael Hall. Well, thanks to faithful viewer Jim Palmer and the Washington Post article he brought to our attention, it's pretty safe to say that Comdex may attract a lot of dorks, but Bill is their king. Long live King William The Dorky.

Now, don't get us wrong-- we have nothing against geeks in general, and in fact AtAT maintains a 100% geek-populated staff. But if there's a general difference between Mac geeks and Wintel geeks, that difference would appear to be this: Style. The very image of a pack of Comdex mucky-mucks overriding the dress code of Studio 54 and partying down on the dance floor is all the more disturbing because it's not the roller-disco scene from a TNT movie-- it's real life. Even John Dvorak, a PC geek in every sense of the word, knows the score; he wouldn't know a cool-looking laptop if it bit him on the rear, but he noted that "these guys dance like a 12-year-old kicking around a dead squirrel." (We apologize on John's behalf to young squirrel-kickers everywhere for the comparison.) And guess what? Bill Gates was right in the middle of it all, "twisting with the worst of them." Art imitates life. Or at least cable does.

We're not saying that Mac geeks are necessarily better dancers; in fact, the AtAT staff has, on average, 1.8 left feet-- two left feet would be an improvement. But at least we, personally, have the decency not to descend upon a high-profile dance club en masse and inflict our shocking lack of coordination and rhythm on any Washington Post staff writers who happen to be standing around. And there are definitely Mac aficionados who more than make up for our lack of skill. (Two words: Gregory Hines.) While we've never been to Comdex, we've been to enough Macworld Expos to know that Mac geeks certainly seem to maintain an image that's less polyester-and-bad-tips...


 
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Previously, on As the Apple Turns...

TV-PGNovember 17, 1999: The first Drew Carey television-Internet simulcast may have been a historic moment in entertainment history, but QuickTime wasn't invited to the party. Meanwhile, Future Power announces an ePower redesign to sidestep Apple's preliminary injunction against the iMac knockoff, and Bill Gates is making settlement noises-- will he really let the feds bust up his company?...

Tune in now!


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