TV-PGMarch 26, 1998: Microsoft, whose latest version of Office for the Mac may contain a cream pie in the face for some users, is losing its subtlety as the years drag on. Meanwhile, a cult leader admits he's wrong and recants, as your friendly neighboorhood AtAT staff begins to reach the hallucinatory stage of sleep deprivation...
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Fish in a Barrel (3/26/98)

Since we're so tired, we're going for the easy conspiracy theory today-- hope you don't mind. It would trouble us to think that our viewers thought any less of us for going for the easy topic; namely, the way that Microsoft Office 98 seems to enjoy sparking the occasional System Folder deletion, just to keep users on their toes. When we first read about this at MacFixit, we thought it had to be a one-time fluke, but several MacFixit readers are corroborating the tale.

Now, to be fair, this spontaneous trashing of the System Folder isn't actually caused by simply running the Office applications like Word or Excel, so it's not like Office 98 is a ticking time bomb just waiting to go off at an unspecified "happy time." (At least, there's no evidence to that effect. Yet.) What actually triggered the System Folder deletion was the running of the "Remove Office 98" application on the Office CD-ROM. (Granted, that's not quite as inocuous-sounding as it could be, but it certainly doesn't sound like it should remove Office 98 by rendering your system disk unbootable.) According to Microsoft tech support, the "vanishing System Folder" rears its ugly head when a particular library file mysteriously finds its way out of the Office folder and into the System Folder. Microsoft contends that the only way this could happen is if a user manually moves the file there, but several MacFixit readers say that's not the case.

Either way, in our weakened state we find it difficult to muster our usual level of trust. That's why we're skeptical that Microsoft actually wrote software that assumes that whatever folder holding that particular library file must be the Office folder, so it should just go ahead and delete it. Think about it-- if they really wrote software that poorly by accident, would they be the biggest software company in the world today? We claim it's all a plot, driven by evil ulterior motives no mere mortal could comprehend-- and just because we've been up for thirty-six straight hours doesn't mean they're not all out to get us.

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Change of Pace (3/26/98)

And secondly on today's abbreviated episode, we're going waaaaay off topic to mention that cult in Garland, TX who believed that God was going to interrupt our earthly television broadcasts last Tuesday so he could tell us all that he was returning to earth in a week or so. When we first heard that this prediction had been made we weren't aware that the holy broadcast was scheduled for midnight and only on channel 18 through the country; thinking that God might pre-empt Buffy the Vampire Slayer, we panicked until we found out that Buffy was a rerun anyway. (Nobody messes with New Tuesday on the WB.)

Anyway, the prediction failed to come true, which comes as a great shock to a few very optimistic people, and as no big whoop to the rest of us. So why our interest? Because according to a Reuters article, the cult leader, Hon-Ming Chen, said something that we can only regard as a huge breath of fresh air: "Since God's appearance on television has not been realized, you can take what we have preached as nonsence. I would rather you don't believe what I say any more." Wow. When's the last time you heard a cult leader say that?

Actually, now that we think about it, it's not that far off topic. We Mac folk are used to being branded as a freakish cult waiting for the wildly improbable to happen any minute now. (Whether or not you find that insulting depends largely on how long you've been waiting for the wildly improbable to happen; with Apple finally returning to profitability, the jeers are easier to take these days.) Plus, Mac the Knife linked to the story, so it must be relevant. Right. I think it's probably time we started thinking about getting some rest...

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