TV-PGNovember 6, 2001: Apple gets sued again-- this time for racial discrimination. Meanwhile, reports of prototype Power Mac G5s have the Mac community all a-drool, and half of the states refuse to sign the "Redmond Justice" settlement agreement, thus resulting in the launch of a spin-off show...
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The Apple Lawsuit Du Jour (11/6/01)

Another day, another lawsuit filed against Apple. At this rate, pretty soon the company's lawyers are going to outnumber its engineers-- a development that may herald extreme changes to the landscape of Apple's entire intramural bowling league. Of course, this latest suit may bring other lesser consequences, as well; for one thing, there's forty million bucks on the line, a sum which comes pretty close to Apple's entire profit last quarter. We know that may seem mighty insignificant next to the prospect of the QuickTime developers finally losing the trophy to the litigation department in next spring's Finals Tournament, but it's important nonetheless.

On the plus side, at least this isn't another lame class action suit; those things are usually so dry, we need a pair of vise grips to squeeze any drama out of them. No, this time around we've got ourselves a juicy little racial discrimination case; faithful viewer Mark Chally notes that an unnamed former Apple employee alleges that he was passed over for promotions and stock options and was even physically isolated from the rest of his department just because he happens to be African American. According to an Xpress Press article, the plaintiff also contends that he was "suspended and then wrongfully terminated for bringing a friend on the Apple campus as a means to motivate him to attend college," whereas his "white counterparts" were able to bring friends to work with impunity. Hence, $40 mil.

Personally, our gut reaction is that we're a bit skeptical. For one thing, issues of race aside, somehow we doubt that in an atmosphere as confidential as Apple's, any employee could bring friends into the building without getting canned. On top of that, we'd be surprised to hear that such discriminatory behavior is actually happening at Apple, in light of the company's reputation for diversity and its demonstrated tolerance in other areas in which prejudice runs rampant. (For instance, Apple has a perfect score from the Human Rights Campaign for corporate equality.) Still, that doesn't mean that this guy's particular manager wasn't a racist with "issues." Think of it this way: Apple currently has over 8500 employees. Do you honestly think it's likely that not a single one of those 8500 people just happens to be a big fat jerk?

There seems to be a lot of tension in the Mac community over this issue right now, with some people accusing the plaintiff of "playing the race card" while others lambast Apple for perpetuating the cycle of racism. News flash, people: the trial hasn't started yet. Right now, none of us has enough facts to know whether or not the case has merit. $40 million sounds like a bit much, though; if an Apple manager did act wrongly, the plaintiff deserves his job back, an apology from Apple, and maybe the giddy satisfaction of seeing his old boss clean out his desk. And, of course, if he was fired for a completely legitimate reason (such as an abysmally low bowling average), we hope Apple doesn't have to blow too much on legal fees.

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Hey, Wake Us In January (11/6/01)

Still reeling from the idea that there are a couple of 2.4 GHz G5 processors floating around out there in Cupertino? Well, come back down to earth, buddy, because even when Apple finally gets Power Mac G5s rolling off the lines, they sure as Steve aren't going to ship at clock speeds even close to that range. However, based on preliminary reports of what the first G5-based Macs are going to be like when they ship, there's still plenty of room for giddiness even without projecting clock speeds well into the stratosphere.

Faithful viewer Tony points out that The Register has received a mess of reports from sources who claim to have encountered prototype G5 systems that Apple has seeded to top developers for the purposes of, er, development. There are heavy caveats about the legitimacy of these accounts, but all in all they seem fairly reasonable-- and if they're on the level, hoo mama are we going to have reason to celebrate in the not-too-distant future. Keep the heart pills handy, Mabel, or change the channel now, because the advent of the G5 means we're not in Kansas anymore.

Here's what these alleged loose-lipped insiders are letting slip: Apple has reportedly shipped a slew of G5s to developers running at speeds of 1.2, 1.4, and 1.6 GHz. These chips are grafted onto prototype motherboards with support for "DDR RAM, USB 2.0, IEEE 1394b [that's the double-speed FireWire that'll be all the rage in Milan next spring], and ATA 133." The latest of these motherboards also boast "a 400 MHz bus with HyperTransport elements." Pardon us while we mop up the drool in our keyboards, because these things are going to scream. Indeed, one mole who claims to have access to prototypes at Adobe reports that the G5 test units are "much faster than Pentium 4s in every single task." And he means actually faster, not "Expo bake-off" faster; this isn't Apple marketing fluff, because the source concedes that the Pentium 4 spanks the G4 "in most tests."

So when can we buy one of these puppies? Well, Mac OS Rumors is still implying that Apple is pushing for a product intro "early next year"; in fact, MOSR is even claiming that Motorola is a wee bit miffed, because it finally has "Apollo" G4s in volume at speeds up to 1.33 GHz, but Apple doesn't want to speed-bump the Power Mac line so soon after the Quicksilver introduction and so close to the targeted G5 rollout. What's this? Apple is keeping us all sub-gigahertz on purpose? Scandal! But we suppose we can let it pass if the G5s indeed surface in January to knock us all flat on our kiesters...

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Nine Say Yea, Nine Say Nay (11/6/01)

Sometimes we really love living in Massachusetts. Sure, the taxes may be on the high side, but at least our money gets us an attorney general that won't roll over and play dead like a certain Bush-administration Justice Department we could mention. Whereas the feds are looking to end the three-year run of "Redmond Justice" not with a bang, but a whimper of a settlement so full of loopholes you'd think it was a breakfast cereal, not all of the eighteen states involved with the case are willing to roll with that particular punch.

The states had until today to decide whether or not to sign on with the proposed settlement, and according to a CNET article, fully half of them have refused to cave that easily. Massachusetts Attorney General Tom Reilly has been saying for days that he wouldn't sign, and stuck to his guns; he and the attorneys general of eight other states have therefore managed to split "Redmond Justice" into two shows. The "classic" story will continue with settlement hearings, as the feds and half the states feverishly try to get the heck out of Dodge; meanwhile, an as-yet-unnamed "Redmond Justice" spinoff will follow the continuing litigation as nine states push for a resolution that actually, you know, accomplishes something. It's antitrust fun for the whole family!

Funnily enough, an Associated Press article describes Microsoft attorney John Warden as "frustrated" that half the states are pushing forward and quotes him as saying, "The issues in this case have been beaten to death and they have been beaten to death by people who are worn out." Awwww... Is widdle John-John all tuckered out? Since Microsoft's strategy all along has been to stall until the issues become moot and the government changes hands, maybe the company should have hired a lawyer with a little more stamina. Suck it up, John, because it ain't over yet. You're in this for the long haul.

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