TV-PGJune 18, 2000: Bungie sells out to Microsoft-- and AtAT follows suit. Meanwhile, AirPort shows signs of increasing use in airports, and Microsoft admits the merest possibility of a breakup in a filing with the SEC...
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A Whole New Direction (6/18/00)

Who says rumors are always false? Faithful viewer Navarro Parker clued us in; according to CNET, it's really happened-- Bungie, the formerly Mac-only company who has always demonstrated undying support for the Mac gaming community, has sold itself to Microsoft. Bungie is leaving its tiny burg of Chicago, IL and moving on up to Redmond, where it will become a "separate development studio within the Microsoft games division," focusing its development efforts on titles for Microsoft's new Xbox game console. While some of you might expect us to slam Bungie for this move, you couldn't be further off the mark. On the contrary, we'd like to extend our sincere congratulations to Bungie for taking such a lucrative step. Three cheers for everyone's favorite game company division, Bungie! Honestly, we don't blame them one bit.

By the way, on a completely unrelated note, we suppose we should put an end to some other rumors that have been floating around out there. No, the eyewitnesses weren't mistaken; they did indeed see high-ranking Microsoft executives visiting AtAT's Boston-area studios over the past few weeks. We'd like to take this opportunity to announce that, in exchange for a really, really attractive infusion of capital from the Pacific Northwest, AtAT will be undergoing a few changes-- nothing drastic, mind you, but we feel that total disclosure is the best policy in these situations, so we'd like to tell you about some of the positive evolutionary advancements you'll be seeing in this time slot shortly.

First of all, AtAT is switching networks, and will soon be broadcasting as a wholly-owned (but independent!) subsidiary of MSN-- a vast improvement over our current arrangement, since Microsoft's outstanding network reach will allow our show to be viewed by a wider audience than ever before. Secondly, you'll be noticing a steady improvement in the quality of AtAT's content. Currently, AtAT employs a single part-time writer who can barely crank out the show as it is, what with a full-time day job and all. Following the Microsoft deal, he'll have even less time available to write AtAT, since he'll also need to devote several hours a day to the onerous chore of spending all that sweet sell-out money. But fear not, because Microsoft has kindly agreed to replace his sleep-deprived, borderline-psychotic scribblings with a professionally-crafted, industry-leading soap opera turned out by the team who formerly wrote the critically-acclaimed but commercially nonviable primetime soap "Models Inc."-- with Steve Ballmer overseeing the total creative process. We are thrilled by the positive changes this move will bring our faithful viewers who stuck with us from the beginning.

Oh, we almost forgot: AtAT's content will soon be optimized for Microsoft Internet Explorer, ensuring that users of that particular browser will enjoy uninterrupted dramatic bliss. Users of other browsers may notice ghosted images, a fuzzy picture, and garbled dialogue, but we figured that's no big deal, since IE's the default browser for the Mac anyway. (Note: users of IE on the Mac may experience the same poor reception to a lesser degree. Should this occur, a migration to IE on a Windows-based PC is recommended for optimum viewer enjoyment. We have also heard that users of iCab in particular may see nothing but large block letters accusing them of being commies. This is merely a side-effect of that browser's shoddy design, and again, a migration to the standard browser-- preferably on the standard platform-- is the ideal solution.)

Lastly, there are a couple of things that are so minor we scarcely feel it necessary to point them out, but again-- full disclosure, and all that. "As the Apple Turns" will formally change its name to "As the Sweater Spins," all references to the now-competing show "Redmond Justice" will be happily eliminated in future episodes, and via the magic of digital editing made possible by Microsoft's upcoming innovative consumer-level video tools in Windows ME, all references to Microsoft in AtAT's two and a half years of reruns will be dubbed to say "Oracle" instead. We hope you enjoy our new direction, as we move to the next level of our undying commitment to entertaining you, our faithful audience. Now excuse us, as we've got to go buy a yacht or three.

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What's In A Name (6/18/00)

How many of you assumed that Apple's name choice for its wireless networking technology was simply a clever play on words? You know, like "Air" as in transmissions sent wirelessly through the air, and "Port" as in the thing you plug a network cable into. AirPort. Get it? Nuh-uh-- you just think you do. In reality, the "AirPort" name holds far more meaning than a simple pun. Apple's ever-astute marketing department was fully aware that calling the technology "AirPort" would virtually guarantee its use in airports. We realize this may sound sketchy, but hey, apparently it worked.

See, Dave Hamilton over at MacObserver made an interesting little discovery while PowerBooking the time away at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport. While he was waiting for his flight to board, he decided to turn off his AirPort card to conserve battery power-- and noticed a wireless network named "Wayport_Access." He selected it as his AirPort network, set his TCP/IP control panel to receive settings via DCHP, and bickety-bam: suddenly he was surfing the 'net, RF-style. Free wireless Internet access while stuck in the terminal? Sounds good to us.

But wait, there's more! Lest you think the Austin thing was a simple fluke, may we refer you to a recent Go2Mac article? It seems that another traveler noticed a similar phenomenon while waiting in O'Hare International Airport in Chicago. The "Laptop Lane" service (which evidently provides wired access for a fee) is apparently planning to offer pay-to-surf wireless service as well. During this testing phase, however, it looks like the "pay" part of the equation hasn't been worked into place yet, so if you're stranded in O'Hare and you have an AirPort-equipped laptop, at least you might be able to catch up on old AtAT episodes to help while away the hours.

Incidentally, wireless network access is only half the fun when you've got AirPort-- the other half is the entertainment value derived from seeing what other wireless networks are in your area. Once we upgraded to the performance-boosting 1.2 version of the AirPort software, we were surprised and delighted to note a new entry in our list of available base stations-- our own, and something called "Dave's Roving Access Point" or something like that. Heck, if we're ever bored and looking for something to do, we may just drive around town with the iBook and see what other networks we can find. Beats cleaning the downspouts...

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Moment Of Doubt (6/18/00)

It's a time-honored dramatic device: the fearless leader who sits straight-backed in the saddle as he insists to his followers that victory is assured, but slumps in self-doubt when no one else is looking. And that's just what we've got in "Redmond Justice" right now, except that instead of followers we've got shareholders, instead of a straight-backed fearless leader we've got Steve Ballmer, and instead of a moment of weakness while alone we've got an admission of vulnerability in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. But it's pretty much the same thing, dramatically speaking.

See, according to The Register, despite Ballmer's public bluster about how there's absolutely no way that Microsoft will ever be split up, the company's recent government filing shows the cracks in the facade. Last Friday Microsoft submitted a filing to the SEC which "warned that the company stock could be materially damaged if it failed to get sufficient legal relief through a stay of Jackson's order, or through a successful appeal." What's this? A semi-public acknowledgement that its antitrust lawsuit might not come out all sunshine and lollipops after all? Perish forbid.

But that's only to be expected. For one thing, corporate SEC filings are notoriously negative; worst-case scenarios are standard fare, so companies don't get smacked down for insider trading or whatever if things just happen to go really, really poorly. (In fact, we're surprised Microsoft's filing is as positive as it is, but maybe that's just an indication of how deep the dementia goes.) Still, it's nice to see Microsoft's relatively spin-free take on its antitrust woes. After all, if Microsoft were really betting the farm on its penalty being overturned and is not even considering the merest possibility of a breakup-- as Ballmer repeatedly states in public-- then it'd be acting terribly out of character. As in, "really stupid," which Microsoft generally is not.

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