TV-PGOctober 11, 1999: If you're concerned about the intense heat pouring out of your new fanless iMac, you can relax-- a little. Meanwhile, the latest brouhaha in the turbulent world of Apple games development reaches a (semi-)happy conclusion, and Gateway recalls a million foam rubber cows due to concerns over choking...
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Ask Dr. Science (10/11/99)

We at AtAT have received more than a few letters from concerned viewers who are skeptical of the new iMac's lack of a cooling fan. Captain Steve's dislike for fans is well-known, and it's entirely possible that it amounts to nothing more than a perfectly rational belief that computers should be as quiet as possible. Of course, we imagine it's also entirely possible that it springs from some nightmarish fan-related childhood trauma that left deep emotional scars that will never heal. The point is this; the original Macintosh had no fan, and many viewers pointed out that model's high burnout rate while expressing concern that the new iMac may suffer the same fate-- especially after early reports that the iMac gets really warm after running for a few hours.

We're not industrial designers, but we've seen one on TV, so our gut reaction was to relax and have faith that Apple's superb engineering team was up to the task. We figured they were able to vent the new iMac adequately enough to keep the system running cool just by punching a few more air holes in the case. Still, the spectre of the original Macintosh and its high failure rate loomed ominously, and we started to have our doubts-- especially after hearing that the heat pouring out of the top of a new iMac was not unlike the blast from a hot-air popcorn popper. Sure, electronics have improved, and the G3 runs much cooler than before, but we imagine that an iMac logic board would still have trouble functioning properly when running in a toaster oven.

But fear not-- apparently Apple's engineers and designers have addressed the issue by harnessing the power of something called Science™! Remember back in grade school when you learned that hot air rises? It seems that Apple is actually using this fun fact to keep the iMac's motherboard nice and cool. The heat from the monitor causes air to rise up and out of the vent holes in the top of the iMac's case, thus causing cooler air to flow into the bottom of the unit, keeping the logic board breezy and comfortable. Read all about it over at MacInTouch's special report, which includes confirmation that the bottom of a new iMac feels a lot cooler than the top. So you should never again doubt Apple's engineers, because They Know More Than You Do. (We'll know for sure once the new iMacs have been out for a while; let's see if they sizzle to a blackened crisp.)

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Phasers On "Ignore" (10/11/99)

So have you been following the latest saga in the churning world of Mac gaming? As you know, Apple recently pulled a 180° on its official policy regarding games development for the Mac. Until a couple of years ago, the pre-Jobsian Apple actively discouraged the development of games for the Mac platform, fearing that the availability of games would only reinforce the view that the Mac was "just a toy." Accordingly, games programmers were shunned by Apple like a Twisted Sister cover band at a Pat Buchanan campaign rally. That all changed when Steve Jobs returned and actually started encouraging the development of fun games for the Mac. In theory, anyway.

See, the latest scandal started when Rick Johnson of Raven Software publicly stated in his .plan file that a Macintosh port of his company's upcoming Quake 3-based game "Star Trek: Elite Force" was unlikely. The reason? "We haven't had any support from Macintosh at all to do ports, haven't received any equipment, and they won't even do us the courtesy of returning emails... Macintosh has typically been one to ignore the gaming scene, and it appears that they still haven't changed." At first we just assumed that Rick was contacting entirely the wrong company; we considered emailing him to tell him that the name of the company he needed to call was Apple, and that MacIntosh Plumbing and Heating of North Huntingdon, PA was probably wondering why some guy named Rick Johnson keeps emailing them and demanding free computers.

Anyway, according to MacCentral's latest update on the whole situation, things have improved vastly. It seems that Apple did in fact send development G3 systems to Raven, but they were "misappropriated" by Raven's previous publisher, Activision. That's all been straightened out now; Raven has their development systems, and hopefully a Mac version of "Star Trek: Elite Force" will be making its way to shelves sometime next year. Unfortunately, Raven still isn't making any promises-- but at least they're now willing to give it a try.

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Mmmm, Foam Rubber! (10/11/99)

Child-loving bovines the world over sounded a collective "Moo!" of approval earlier when Gateway ordered a recall of approximately a million foam rubber cows. Apparently the PC manufacturer best known for its innovation in the realm of spotted cardboard boxes gave away these 5-inch squishy cows as promotional gimmicks, but complaints started rolling in that strong-willed (and strong-handed) children were able to tear the cows into yummy bite-size morsels which constituted a choking hazard. So Gateway Did The Right Thing™ and told cow-enabled consumers either to "throw the toys away" or trade them in at any Gateway store for another less-chokeworthy Gateway-branded piece of cr-- er, promotional merchandise. A Bloomberg News article has more details.

Speaking of details, if we really wanted to stretch things, we could go on about how Gateway's child-killer rubber cows are just another symptom of the computer industry's lack of attention to detail. Sure, Gateway didn't make the cows themselves, but somebody in marketing ordered a couple million of them, slapped the Gateway name on each one, and threw them into each spotted box with the wholesome, family-values computer inside. (Reportedly Gateway also sold some of them to hapless suckers willing to shell out four bucks for a foam rubber cow with the word "Gateway" on it. Not that we wouldn't pay twice that for a foam rubber dogcow with the Apple logo on it, but that's completely different.) Whoever that marketing person was, he or she apparently didn't think to tear one of the cows into puffy chunks and then stuff them down a nearby child's windpipe to see what the potential effect would be. Testing is everything, people.

Anyway, in the interest of healthy children everywhere, we're happy to see that Gateway issued the recall before anybody got hurt. We've received word from operatives in the field that Gateway stores all over the country are gearing up for the trade-in by replenishing their stocks of Gateway-branded chocolate-covered straight razors and used hypodermic needles. Soon those dangerous cows will be but a memory of a frightening close call in the history of cheap promotional missteps. Hey, didja hear the rumor that with every Compaq Presario you get a free plastic bag filled with oil-soaked rags?

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