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TV-PGNovember 28, 2001: Six weeks to the Power Mac G5? Pinch us, we're dreaming. Meanwhile, Microsoft's $1.6 billion settlement proposal looks mighty skimpy now that the company's economist admits that a trial award could be as high as $12.5 billion, and the key to buying a cheap iBook is fizzy sugar water, and lots of it...
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Tempting Fate & Loving It (11/28/01)

The G5 saga continues, and now more than ever it's getting kind of tricky to find the line. You know the line we mean: on one side of it is the sensible town of Plausible Speculation, populated with published facts and credible insider info; on the other there's the fevered burg of Rampant Wishful Thinking, land of the pipe dream and home of the whopper. Personally, we think the latter is a far more fun place to hang out, but even we acknowledge the need for a dose of good, solid reality even now and again. The problem is, a lot of the recent G5 talk has been straddling that line, so we're never entirely sure whether we should be seriously preparing for a whole new PowerPC architecture to arrive in less than two months' time, or just getting giddy with the thrill of it.

See, the very latest buzz (as pointed out by faithful viewer HikerCA) is over at The Register, and it's a doozy: reportedly, according to the ever-popular "source close to Apple," the G5 is done. As in, complete. Finished. Ready for action. Indeed, the chip has been approved for "full-scale manufacture" and "volume production," which, if true, means that Apple's going to be swimming in G5 processors in a matter of weeks. And if that's true, then the source is probably also correct in reporting that Apple is "still on course to ship Power Mac G5 desktops at Macworld Expo San Francisco in just over a months' time." In order to have shipping product at or soon after the Stevenote, Apple is allegedly planning to start cranking out low-end G5 systems just two weeks from this Friday, with midrange systems entering production less than a week later and high-end models rolling off the assembly lines just after the new year.

Speeds are yet to be determined; Apple hopes to ship at 1.2, 1.4, and 1.6 GHz, but if yields on the 1.6 GHz chips don't improve soon, the company will drop back and punt with 1.0, 1.2, and 1.4 GHz models instead. (Hey, better now than later. Remember the Great G4 Speed Dump debacle?) As for other specs of these alleged new Power Macs, as previously rumored, they'll supposedly ship with DDR RAM and a "much faster" bus, and now The Reg is hearing that they'll also come with something called "Gigawire." Odds are that's what Apple is calling the next iteration of FireWire, which doubles bandwidth to 800 Mbps. It's just a much classier name than "FireWire 2," or "Son of FireWire," or even "The FireWire Strikes Back."

So, whaddya think? Is it all just a pleasant Mac fantasy, or are we really going to see a Power Mac G5 less than six short weeks from today? We have to admit, we're really starting to believe-- and as everyone knows, a little belief is a dangerous thing. Some might say it could even jinx the whole deal. Hmmmm, maybe we should rush right out and blow six grand on a top-of-the-line G4 system; surely that would guarantee the imminent announcement of the G5, right? And if we, your humble AtAT staff, get stuck with a new G4 just to leverage the power of Murphy's Law to conjure forth a January G5 intro, well, saints that we are, that's a sacrifice that we're just going to have to make. Pity us.

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The 60% Margin Of Error (11/28/01)

Well, we were hoping for some sustained hysterics to erupt from the whole "One-Year Office v.X License" brouhaha, but unfortunately it turned out to be a bust; the MacInTouch reader who claimed that the license specified "that the product will 'de-activate' one year (365 days) from activation" kinda sorta completely neglected the whole preceding clause that reportedly read along the lines of "If you purchased this software on a subscription plan..." Oops. As of today, MacInTouch has very quietly yanked the original letter with (as far as we noticed) nary a mention of the error, leaving our quote from the missive the only evidence that it ever existed at all. Easy come, easy go.

But there's clearly a law of conservation of drama in the Redmond area, because even as that potential doozy of an issue fizzled out, Microsoft's proposed class action settlement for a couple hundred private antitrust cases just gets more and more exciting. Yesterday we noted that Steve Jobs himself had leaped into the fray, saying that he was "baffled" by the idea that Microsoft might atone for abusing its monopoly power by volunteering to extend that monopoly into the nation's schools. That's hardly an overreaction, since most sane beings would notice that Microsoft would come out of the deal way, way ahead. The company would get to infect the nation's school system with its products with zero effort or competition, and most of the "$1.6 billion" it would have to "spend" in providing the goods really amounts to just about zilch, since $839.5 million of that is in free software, which costs next to nothing to duplicate. Heck, it'd be the wisest money Microsoft never spent.

Okay, so today it gets even better; faithful viewer Michael Grey pointed us towards an article in the Baltimore Sun which informs us that a "mathematical error" led Microsoft's economist to "gravely underestimate" how much the plaintiffs might have won if the cases went to trial. Initially he reported that figure to be about $5 billion (and Microsoft's settling for $1.6 billion, most of which isn't even real money-- talk about getting off cheap). But because "an assistant had omitted part of a formula," the actual potential trial award is closer to $12.5 billion. Whoops! Evidently that was some formula. Hey, what's another $7.5 billion to Microsoft, though? Gates probably has that much change in his sofa. It does make Microsoft's proposed $1.6 billion settlement look a lot less attractive, however, despite the company's claims that "the incorrect figure had not been used during settlement negotiations." (A likely story.)

Look, we've got nothing against Microsoft giving money to the nation's underprivileged schools (although $1.6 billion is sounding skimpier and skimpier). But we don't think the company should profit from the act by furthering the very monopoly that it was sued for abusing in the first place. If Microsoft wants to settle a $12.5 billion lawsuit for $1.6 billion, hey, that's fine with us... but make 'em pony up the cash, divvy it up among said schools, and let the schools decide what technology they want to buy. If that turns out to be Dells running Windows, well, that's unfortunate, but at least then we know the schools made that choice-- and if they're smart they'll buy iBooks and AirPort gear instead. Surely having the funds and the choice is in the best interests of the schools-- and obviously this is an entirely unselfish proposal and Microsoft only has the schools' best interests at heart, right? Right?

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The Sugar Rush Pays Off (11/28/01)

The holidays are upon us, and we know that nothing would please your generous and giving spirit more than for you to send us, your doting and hardworking AtAT staff, a brand new iBook. (Awwww, how sweet!) However, we also know that times are tight and wallets are skinny, so performing that thoughtful act of kindness may be a smidge outside the realm of financial possibility. But we just can't bear the thought of you folks being deprived of the joy of iBook bestowment, and so we've decided to pass on a helpful holiday tip on how to get an extra hundred bucks knocked off the price of Apple's little white beauty: drink a lot of Pepsi.

How much Pepsi? Well, if faithful viewer Alan Carr has done his math correctly, probably about 115 bottles. See, Pepsi's got some special promotion going called PepsiStuff, where you earn anywhere from 100 to 500 points in every Pepsi bottle cap. By racking up a mere 14,000 points, you qualify to buy an iBook for $100 off. It's just that easy! And don't worry about getting sick of Pepsi; codes are found in bottle caps for a wide range of other PepsiCo soft drinks, such as Diet Pepsi, Pepsi One, Wild Cherry Pepsi, Mug Root Beer, Orange Slice, and even Mountain Dew and Diet Mountain Dew. We know at least some of you are slaves to the chartreuse caffeine boost known as the Dew, right? Well, here's your chance to turn your addiction into a cool hundred smackers.

When used in conjunction with Apple's own $100 rebate promotion (which appears to be fully compatible with the Pepsi offer), this deal lets you snag an iBook for a net cost of just $1099-- the perfect amount to spend on a crew that slaves day in and day out to bring you the latest in Apple-flavored melodrama. (Actually, $1499's a better price point-- go for the combo drive model.) And all you have to do to qualify is quaff enough sugar water to fill a decent-sized bathtub! Oh, sure, there are going to be some spoilsports pointing out that 115 bottles of concentrated tooth-rot may well cost more than the $100 you'll be saving on the iBook, not even counting the medical expenses incurred by giving oneself diabetes; all we can say is "that's what insurance is for" and thank Steve not everyone has such negative attitudes, or progress wouldn't exist, there'd be no light bulbs or TV, and we'd all be sitting around in the dark poking ourselves in the eye for entertainment. Now get quaffing!

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Previously, on As the Apple Turns...

TV-PGNovember 27, 2001: Apple finally speaks out on the whole "free Windows for schools" Microsoft antitrust settlement proposal. Meanwhile, the company announces two more retail stores gearing up for grand openings this Saturday, and believe it or not, Apple really did attend an English Mac trade show last week...

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