TV-PGJune 15, 2001: Dreams can come true: Apple hands out free FireWire CD-RW drives with every PowerBook G4 purchase from now until September 3rd. Meanwhile, at least one outfit thinks that the iMac may debut as early as Steve's June 25th NECC 2001 keynote, and Larry Ellison unveils Oracle 9i-- but why is his "9" exactly like Steve's?...
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From the writer/creator of AtAT, a Pandemic Dad Joke taken WAYYYYYY too far

Mr. Jobs, Bring Me A Dream (6/15/01)

Well, it's Friday-- and now we've got proof that dreams can come true. Two days ago, we put on our Seer Hats and advised those of you who were about to buy a PowerBook G4 to wait until today, based solely on some wacky fever-dreams that hinted vaguely at a special offer to come. Well, guess what? By an astonishing and utterly mind-blowing coincidence, it just so happens that faithful viewer David Nagler awoke this morning to discover that a new PowerBook promo has materialized on Apple's web site: from now until September 3rd, any qualifying purchase of Apple's titanium wonder includes a free SmartDisk VST FireWire CD-RW drive, thus making the PowerBook the final Apple product line to gain "Power To Burn"-- albeit via a third-party solution.

If there's a catch (and isn't there always a catch?), it's that the spiffy free CD-RW drive doesn't actually come with the PowerBook; customers have to download a special form, fill it out, and mail it in with an "itemized dated sales receipt" and the UPC code cut from the PowerBook's box. After you jump through those hoops, you're expected to wait "eight to ten weeks" for your drive to show up in the mail. (We should note, however, that in the past we've found Apple's estimated ship dates on special offers to be extremely overcautious; we wouldn't be surprised if some people got their gear in a week or so.)

Now, seeing as this promotion is obviously a thinly-veiled attempt to clear out Apple's PowerBook inventory, we'd be fools not to expect a refreshed model coming soon-- but "soon" is a relative concept. Since this promotion runs until September 3rd, it seems highly unlikely that Apple will ship a new titanium sex machine before then. Our groundless speculation is that the PowerBook will remain unchanged at next month's Macworld Expo, and will instead get a makeover in mid-September; we're banking on an internal CD-RW option, as well as some other under-the-hood improvements-- and possibly a choice of anodized colors. Personally, though, if we were in the market for a PowerBook (which we're not), we'd probably buy a current model now and take the free FireWire CD-RW drive instead. We can't see ourselves having much of a need to burn CDs on the road, and we could use the external drive on any FireWire-equipped Mac. Your mileage may vary.

Oh, and before anyone asks, the recipe for that experimental strawberry-and-Tabasco sorbet which brought on such vivid and prescient visions was accidentally dropped behind the fridge, smudged with water, eaten by a crow, set on fire, shot into geosynchronous orbit, and sent forward in time to the year 2525. Oops! Sorry about that.

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iMac: Earlybird Special? (6/15/01)

Hey, if Apple's new promotion indicates that there won't be a new PowerBook G4 at next month's Stevenote, then what does Fearless Leader have up his sleeve? Forget about a new iBook; the current model's barely been shipping for a month yet. A new Cube? Sorry, Charlie; gorgeous though it may be, we have a strong feeling that Steve's eight-inch brain-in-a-box is about to vanish quietly, with scarcely a mention of its passing. (The other possibility is a modest upgrade of features in the same ageless enclosure, but we're not holding our breath.) That leaves Power Macs and iMacs.

There's some debate among the professional Expo prognosticators whether or not the Power Macs will be revised next month (personally, we're guessing at an across-the-line speed bump, some minor architectural improvements, and more dual-processor options). However, everyone with a pulse and two brain cells to rub together seems to be expecting new iMacs to join Steve onstage. After all, the product line is clearly overdue for a serious rewrite, and we're not talking about slapping some funky new patterns onto the same old enclosure in hopes of extracting a few more bucks from the terminally fashion-conscious. Most speculation revolves around an iMac with an LCD display that's optimized to run (and to showcase) Mac OS X. So an Expo iMac intro is a given, right?

Not so fast, Slim-- at least one entity is pondering the notion that the new iMac may not make its debut at the Javits Center in a month after all. But before you go ballistic about the iMac being late, we should clarify: Go2Mac actually thinks that it might in fact be early. Given Apple's recent openness to non-Expo product introductions (witness last month's iBook press event, for instance), Go2Mac figures that the new iMac may actually strut its stuff during Steve's other imminent keynote-- at the education-focused NECC 2001 show in Chicago in a mere ten days' time. Sure, Apple's been pushing the iBook as the ideal education unit, but the iMac still might be well-suited for a NECC unveiling.

Then again, since we've already got a pretty hefty hint that the new PowerBook will be introduced in September, we really doubt that Apple would let as important an event as this Macworld Expo pass without a fairly serious hardware intro-- and speed-bumped Power Macs don't quite qualify. If we had to slap down a Benjamin on the new iMac's intro date, we'd still pick July 18th; this Expo is Mac OS X's "coming-out party," and Apple needs something huge to draw the press. What's huger (figuratively speaking, of course) than the first completely all-new iMac since 1998? But we'll be keeping a close eye on NECC 2001, just in case...

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"Number 9... Number 9..." (6/15/01)

Finally, we leave you with a quickie to send you reeling into a weekend filled with dark and feverish conspiracy theories. You all know, of course, that Larry Ellison and Steve Jobs are the Bobbsey Twins of the high-tech CEO set; at least according to Larry (who, not so coincidentally, just happens to be a member of Apple's board of directors), the two are bestest buddies and lifelong pals. Given that fact, then, doesn't it seem a mite odd that Larry's company Oracle has had Mac support that we'd describe as spotty, at best? Let's ignore for a moment that Intuit CEO Bill Campbell is an Apple board member as well, and getting Mac software out of his company is sometimes like pulling teeth from an alert mountain lion with a pair of pliers-- and what that mountain lion is doing with a pair of pliers we'll never know.

But we digress (surprise, surprise). Back to Oracle. Well, apparently ol' Larry just unveiled a new version of his company's enterprise database software: Oracle 9i. And eagle-eyed faithful viewer Echo Sounder Smythe noticed something very interesting in the background of a Reuters photo of the introduction: doesn't that big orange "9" look awfully familiar, somehow? As if you may have seen it somewhere before? Yes, Larry's big orange "9" is quite similar to Steve's big orange "9"-- if by "quite similar" you mean "virtually indistinguishable." It's not just the unusual shade of orange that's the same; the typestyle used for the "9" (with the single swooping curve and unclosed loop) is so similar, you'd think Larry photographed a Mac OS 9 box to make his 9i backdrop.

So what does this mean? We honestly couldn't tell you. And not in the "we could tell you but we'd have to kill you" sense, but in the "we haven't the foggiest clue why Larry and Steve are both using the same exact '9'" sense. Maybe if Larry were using a big blue "X" we could come up with something good, but circumstances being what they are, we've got nothing. Just chalk this up as another one of those spooky coincidences that keeps people awake at night when they don't have more important things to worry about. Enjoy the weekend!

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