TV-PGDecember 1, 1999: Clear the runways-- AirPort has landed at AtAT. Meanwhile, Steve Jobs' ban on named credits lists in Apple products becomes "official" by virtue of a "real news" article, and Apple Expo 2000 is finally laid to rest...
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Ready For Takeoff (12/1/99)
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You're aware of how many Apple-bashers in the press are adopting kindler, gentler attitudes these days? Well, we figured it couldn't last, but longtime Apple critic Hiawatha Bray continues his newly-Mac-tolerant ways in his latest Boston Globe column, as reported by faithful viewer Zach Leber. Sure, Bray gets his licks in as he describes his new iBook, but many of his points are completely valid. We haven't had the opportunity to try to use our iBook on a plane like Bray did, but given how cramped we were even when using our much smaller Duo 280c, we can imagine it's no picnic. Yes, it's big and relatively heavy-- heck, that's our main criticism, too. Yes, we wish Apple had made at least 64 MB of RAM standard in the iBook's shipping configuration. In fact, the only statement with which we flat-out disagree is, "why bother with a built-in handle?" (We love the handle. Nobody disses the handle.)

The part where we can get behind Mr. Bray 100%, though, is where he starts raving about AirPort. If you think AirPort's cool and you've never used it, you probably don't realize just how cool it is. We bought our iBook expressly with the intention of turning it into a wireless portable AtAT production terminal. (Meaning, we wanted to be able to surf the web while lying on the couch or sitting in the back yard. Is that so wrong?) After a few weeks of disappointment from the on-line and mail-order vendors ("PREORDER," "OUT OF STOCK," "CALL FOR AVAILABILITY," etc.), our local Micro Center reported that they had both cards and Base Stations in stock. We picked ours up last night, brought the gear home, and started to build our own wireless network.

Installation could only have been easier if Apple had packed a small gnome in the box to perform the physical labor. If you've read other AirPort reviews, you probably know the drill: for the iBook, we flipped two switches, flipped down the keyboard, attached the antenna to the card, and slipped the card into its slot. The Base Station was even easier: we plugged it into a power outlet and connected it to our LAN with a standard Ethernet cable. That was it, from a hardware perspective. As for software, after we ran the AirPort installer and restarted, the AirPort Setup Assistant kicked into gear and asked if we wanted to configure our Base Station. It then copied the network settings from the iBook to the Base Station, and before we knew it, we were surfing from the couch, unfettered by wires or cables. We've seen horror stories about AirPort configuration, but in our case, it was quick, simple, and flawless.

And get this: contrary to early rumors, AppleTalk support seems just dandy. Not only were we able to connect to any of our other Macs via the Chooser's AppleShare, but we were also even able to print wirelessly to our ancient HP DeskWriter 560c. Everything just worked, like a good Apple product should. So now Katie (AtAT's resident fact-checker and Goddess of Minutiae) can indulge her truly frightening eBay addiction without having to miss her favorite TV shows. Ain't technology grand? The Apple team has really pulled off a miracle here: they've made us agree with Hiawatha Bray.


 
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Credit Where It's Due (12/1/99)
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The Internet press is a funny thing: rumors seem to become official "news" once they get reported by news sites instead of rumor sites, even if the news site's primary source is the rumor site in the first place. (Did that make sense?) Case in point: a few days ago, Mac the Knife whispered that Steve Jobs had sent an internal memo to Apple staff banning named credits in all future Apple products. Now, as far as we're concerned, anything Mac the Knife says is officially rumor; even if he says "water is wet" (or, more likely, "Water is wet. Holy Esther Williams in a kicky one-piece!"), we're going to want confirmation from at least two reliable sources at the Federal Wetness Bureau and a signed affidavit from the World Society of Water backing up that statement before we accept it as fact.

But then the San Jose Mercury News picked up on the credits ban story, and even though their article cites the memo "posted in part on the MacWEEK Web site," now we haven't the slightest qualm about believing that the era of "signed" Apple products is over. To be fair, the Merc did the standard journalism thing, trying to get confirmation from Apple, only to get a metric ton of "no comment" unloaded on their doorstep. And they also brought up some interesting possibilities for Jobs' alleged credits ban, aside from Uncle Steve's claimed desire not to leave anyone out. First of all, there's the security thing. What better way for a nefarious organization to ferret out some juicy info leaks than by tracking down Apple employees on a named basis? With ready-made lists of Apple team members embedded in, say, the Mac OS Finder, it's a simple matter to dig around and try to match those names up with home phone numbers and outside email accounts. The next step is to contact those people off "Apple time" and see if they're willing to play the leak game...

The other possible reason for the credits ban is to prevent job-poaching. Say some other company takes a look at QuickTime and says, "Hey, that's really cool. The people who worked on this must be top-notch talent." Well, if a credits list complete with names is available, then that company has an easy way to try to hire away some of that Cupertino talent. So while we're bummed that credits lists are going away, we can understand the rationale. It's still lame, though, like having to pre-pay for gasoline-- a few scumbags ruined it for everyone.


 
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End Of An Error (12/1/99)
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Stick a fork in it-- it's done. Apple Expo 2000, the UK Mac trade show to end all UK Mac trade shows, has just, well, ended. After Apple recently reneged on a promise to attend and bring along Steve Jobs to deliver one of his fabulous keynote addresses, the whole show began to crumble, until finally it vaporized completely. A Macworld UK article has more on this disturbing development.

Why is it disturbing? Because it's the culmination of a pattern of abuse; Apple has pulled out of UK Apple shows (or cancelled them outright) for three years straight now. And in this codependent relationship, Apple Expo 2000 was supposed to be Apple's olive branch-- the one show that would make up for all those past sins. Unfortunately, it wasn't meant to be, and we imagine that the UK Mac community is more than a little steamed right now. Once Apple pulled out, there was much debate among the show's organizers and exhibitors over what should become of the show. Should it be another Apple-less Apple Expo, or should everyone just cut their losses, cancel the gig, and get on with life? As it turns out, Apple pretty much made the decision for them. When Steve and company bailed on the show, they reportedly took their ball and went home; Apple withdrew the rights to call the event "Apple Expo." Faced with a starless show and a required name change, those involved finally decided to pack it in.

We still haven't figured out Apple's apparent antagonism towards the UK. In addition to the ongoing Apple Expo disasters, Apple also recently canned the practice of developing and releasing localized (er, "localised") British English versions of the Mac OS. Our best guess right now is that Steve is privy to some secret government plan for the U.S. to annex the British Isles and declare them the 51st state...


 
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