TV-PGNovember 10, 1999: At first we thought it was a joke, but nope-- Compaq really did name their new computer that. Meanwhile, rumor has it that Apple's development effort with Handspring has stalled out, meaning no new Apple handheld for a while, and a Gallup poll shows Bill Gates and Microsoft to be more popular than ever (though the opinion on the Web seems quite different)...
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It Kinda Hurts, Too (11/10/99)

First of all, we'd just like to take this opportunity to apologize in advance for any typos that may make it into today's episode, but your friendly neighborhood AtAT staff is operating at a severe disadvantage right now: we've been struck blind. Now, before anyone starts freaking out, we should make it clear that we believe this is entirely a temporary condition, and we expect we'll be back to our old sighted selves real soon now. What happened was this: we stumbled across the announcement of Compaq's new low-cost, "legacy-free" computer and when we saw its name, our eyes rolled so far back in our heads that they stuck there. So until the sheer "oh, brother" effect wears off, we're stuck sitting here staring at our own frontal lobes. All because Compaq named their new computer the iPaq. (We're not kidding-- and hopefully we haven't just temporarily blinded half of our viewing audience.)

Now, the thing about the iPaq is that it's not really an iMac clone. For one thing, it's not an all-in-one unit; it's a little PC with a standard VGA port so you can plug in a monitor. For another thing, it's neither brightly-colored nor translucent-- it's silver and charcoal-grey. And perhaps most importantly, it's targeted at the business market, not at consumers. That said, the iPaq shares certain design features with the computer after which it was obviously named. It's got many of the same "drawbacks" of the iMac that the PC crowd denigrated so roundly (no expansion slots, no SCSI, no serial/parallel ports other than USB), only now those drawbacks are lumped into a single great "feature" which Compaq calls "Legacy-Free." Plus, the iPaq is marketed as a low-cost Internet device just like its more colorful precursor.

The thing is, we have to admit, the iPaq looks like a pretty nice option for large businesses who just want cheap Windows systems to throw on the desks for Internet access and basic office productivity. We especially like the removable media bay feature. But did they really have to call it the "iPaq" and strike us blind? We can't be the only ones who suffered from this affliction-- we're sure there are plenty of other Mac fans out there who experienced the same phenomenon. Class action lawsuit, anyone? And while we're at it, maybe we should file suit against Gateway for the design of their all-in-one Astro; it's not an iMac copycat per se, so Apple can't go after them on trade dress grounds, and it didn't really make us roll our eyes to a dangerous degree, but the thing is so freaking ugly that we were smitten with a bout of hysterical blindness by the sheer sight of it. Eeeewwww.

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Twiddling For Dollars (11/10/99)

Thumbs are pretty cool, aren't they? You can use them to hitch rides with potential serial killers if you don't feel like walking. You can thumb-wrestle with your coworkers for money and lose the kids' college fund to Lenny "Crusher" Wachowski. You can even use your nice, evolved, opposable thumbs to hold a stylus in one hand and a post-Newton Apple-branded handheld computer in the other-- or, at least you could if Apple would ever get up off their collective kiester and ship one. In the meantime, you can twiddle your thumbs and wait.

But warm up those thumbs if you're really planning on twiddling until Apple ships a new handheld, because it looks like you're going to be twiddling for a long, long time. First Apple tried to buy Palm-- no go. Then Steve Jobs made an offer to buy Handspring, the Palm OS licensee started up by the Palm founders. Again, no luck. So then we had heard that Apple and Handspring were working together on a new Apple-branded Palm OS device based on Handspring's new expandable Visor product. And we waited patiently (or not so patiently) for the fruits of that collaboration.

Unfortunately, now MacProvider is quoting a source at Handspring who reports that, due both to the overwhelming success of the Visor and difficulties working with Apple, the co-engineered Apple handheld project has been scrapped completely, at least for the time being. If that's true, then Apple has a couple of choices: they can plan to wait for Handspring to decide it has the time and resources to devote to the Apple project, or they can say bye-bye to Handspring and take another tack. Either way, it sounds like our hopes for an Apple handheld are being pushed ever further into the future, and we wish Apple would just bite the bullet and resurrect the Newton in a smaller incarnation, or something. Our thumbs are getting tired from all this twiddling.

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Vote Gates in 2000 (11/10/99)

Ahhh, polls! Nothing tells you more about what people are thinking than a nice, scientific, unbiased poll-- in theory, anyway. In AtAT's opinion, unbiased polls are sort of like leprechauns: few sober people actually claim to have seen one, but apparently some people still seem to think they exist. And the king of polls is the Gallup poll, long believed to be the finger on the pulse of the American public. At least, that's what we think that guy down at the bar told us, but he was slurring his words pretty badly, so we're not entirely sure.

Anyway, get this: according to an Associated Press article, "a new Gallup poll suggests that consumers side with [Microsoft] over the government, oppose a possible court-ordered breakup and respect the world's most famous billionaire more than ever." Gallup operatives called 1,011 adults at home and asked them various questions about the whole "Redmond Justice" thing. Reportedly 68% of those polled had "favorable" opinions of Gates, and two-thirds "saw Microsoft in a favorable light." When the data is confined only to the opinions of actual computer users, a whopping 78% saw Microsoft favorably. Given these numbers, we can only assume that Bill should be running for President right now, and the big issue in his platform should be a promise to replace the federal government with a new division of Microsoft.

That all sounded just a little fishy to us, so we decided to try our own unscientific "poll." An Alta Vista web search for the phrase "hate microsoft" yields 2,572 pages. Changing the search string to the more colorful "microsoft sucks" instead pulls up 5,979 pages. And on a more personal note, a search for "bill gates sucks" actually finds 4,454 distinct pages which use that exact phrase. By comparison, Alta Vista lists only 499 pages containing the phrase "clinton sucks", 102 pages with the phrase "bush sucks", and a scant 31 pages that use the phrase "hitler sucks"-- and Hitler's dead. (We think.) So we can only assume that Gallup called 1,011 of Mr. Gates' closest friends when compiling their data. Scientific, schmientific.

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