TV-PGJanuary 11, 2000: Irony Alert! Yes, we know Steve's no thief-- at least, not this time. Meanwhile, more details swirl around that wacky Apple-Palm rumor, and teasing little hints imply that a PowerBook G4 is closer than you might think...
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This Time We're Serious (1/11/00)
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Well, so much for subtlety... Yesterday's "Aquagate" bit generated precisely eleventeen-kajillion feedback messages from concerned viewers who sought to assure us that Steve Jobs didn't steal Mac OS X's Aqua interface from that little company called Stardock. Believe us-- we know. Go back and watch it again, keep your ears open for sarcasm, and hopefully you'll pick it up. You'll have to forgive us-- apparently our irony engine wasn't firing on all cylinders and therefore our comic timing was evidently a bit off. We blame the illness.

The fact is, Stardock's product lets Windows users alter the user interface, much the same way that Kaleidoscope lets Mac users change the way their Macs look. The screenshot we referred you to showed one such alternate "skin"-- one that was an obvious rip-off of homage to Aqua. Dig through the posted skins at Stardock's site and you'll find tons of other interfaces "inspired by" the BeOS, NeXTStep, and even the current Mac OS Platinum appearance. Just like you'll find plenty of "schemes" emulating various OS interfaces for Kaleidoscope, too. So there's no big mystery, right?

Except that the Aqua skin for Stardock's WindowBlinds feature came out awfully quick. Someone had to work mighty fast to get it out that soon after Steve's keynote-- unless perhaps said individual had early access to Aqua screenshots prior to the public unveiling. That seems unlikely, if only because Aqua took the entire Mac world by surprise; we assume any leak of Aqua images would have led to a feature on Mac OS Rumors, AppleInsider, etc. So maybe the Aqua copier really did just work really quickly. As for why an Aqua Kaleidoscope scheme didn't surface in the same time frame, our theory is this: if your computer's interface looks like Windows, wouldn't you work super-hard to change it into something as nice as Aqua as quickly as humanly possible? Maybe Mac users are more content with what they already have...

...And it's a good thing, too. An Aqua Kaleidoscope scheme may well thwart Steve's plan for world domination. As we were explaining to faithful viewer Ken Watanabe, every Apple display shipped since late 1997 (including the LCD in every PowerBook G3 Series, every iMac, and every Studio Display) is coated with an invisible film of a zombifying mind-control chemical compound. Jobs has been increasing Apple's market share in an effort to get these treated displays in front of as many eyeballs as possible. Remember how Aqua is so good-looking "you want to lick it"? Once Apple ships Mac OS X, millions of Mac users will lick their screens and immediately fall under the total control of Steve. Bam, instant army of Steve minions ready to enslave the rest of the planet. So you can see how an Aqua K-scheme would throw the timing way off.


 
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A Palm In The Hand (1/11/00)
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Fellow pipe dreamers, rejoice! No longer must we clutch to the single thin straw that is the MacPalm article at The Register. Now Mac OS Rumors has leapt back into the fray to confirm the report that prototype Apple-Palm handhelds have rolled off the belt in Taiwan. Remember last June when CNET reported that the Apple was putting the development of its Palm device on the back burner because of difficulties getting the P1 done in time? Well, the P1's been done and shipping as the iBook for several months now, so we could definitely imagine a new Apple handheld being finished up in that time frame. Then again, our friends call us optimistic-- and the rest of the world calls us gullible. But that doesn't stop us from drooling over the rumored specs that are so sketchy, even MOSR calls them "low-confidence".

So let's examine these "low-confidence" features, shall we? Apple's MacPalm is rumored to be similar to the Palm V; by that we assume it'll have a rechargeable battery pack and sleek, smooth lines. Supposedly it's got a Handspring Springboard expansion slot, which is probably the means by which it gains its rumored AirPort compatibility. Perhaps most intriguing is the rumor that Apple's device will have a color screen. That's not necessarily news to Palm followers, who may recall that the Palm IIIc color device is expected next month, coinciding with Palm's IPO, according to CNET. Heck, it's even possible that Apple's been waiting to release a Palm device until color screens were supported; after all, no matter how fruit-flavored the case, we imagine that Steve and Apple might chafe at the idea of shipping a one-bit black-and-white device with the Apple logo on it.

Whether or not you believe anything that MOSR says is entirely up to you; personally, we'll take any rumor we can get. Anything that adds even a smidgen of extra credibility to the age-old rumor of an Apple-branded Palm device is a-okay by us. MOSR is claiming a May unveiling, though we're wondering if an introduction shortly after Palm's February IIIc debut is too much to hope for. We'll see.


 
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An Extra G Or Two (1/11/00)
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One of the great mysteries of our era continues to be this: What happened to Pismo at Macworld Expo last week? Pismo, as you're no doubt aware, is the long-awaited revision to Apple's PowerBook line, which has remained static since the unveiling of the "bronze" G3s last May. That's a long time for Apple to go without a revision to a product line, and there wasn't an Apple-watching soul on earth who wasn't expecting Pismo to be unveiled when Steve took the stage last Wednesday-- especially since the "bronze" models were end-of-lifed last month. Sure, Steve gave us Apple's Internet strategy and a great sneak-preview of Mac OS X, but we're hard-pressed to think of another big Steve Jobs keynote at which no new hardware was introduced.

In fact, if you were paying attention, you may have noticed that when Steve was extolling the virtues of AirPort, Apple's way-cool wireless networking architecture, he let slip that "all" of Apple's products now support it. Untrue-- unless Pismo was going to debut. To us, it looks like the decision to leave Pismo out of the keynote was a last-minute one. We've heard lots of possible reasons why: LCD shortages, Mac OS 9.0.1 not being done yet, etc. The most intriguing, though, was the report that pre-production Pismos ran so hot they literally melted their own cases. Given that Pismo is supposed to be a UMA system like our iBook, and our iBook barely even gets warm with a 300 MHz G3 at its core, we've really got to wonder what Apple could have done to make Pismo throw off so much heat.

When we discussed that rumor, faithful viewer XXX wrote in to suggest that maybe Pismo was so hot because it was actually a PowerBook G4, not a G3. At the time we dismissed the possibility out of hand; Motorola's supposedly working on a version of the G4 with a low enough power draw to be used in laptops, but to the best of our knowledge, that's months away. But that remark came back to us when an anonymous tipster forwarded us the following excerpt from the Mac OS X Server section of Apple's "Learn & Earn" site: "Mac OS X Server supports Macintosh PowerPC G4- and many G3-based systems. (Does not support iMac, Macintosh PowerBook G3, PowerBook G4, or any earlier systems.)" Just a mistake by an overtired tech writer? Or a harbinger of things to come? Far-fetched? Sure. Fun to consider? Well, yes. If Pismo is a PowerBook G4, let's hope Apple ships it with a low-power G4 chip instead of with an asbestos carrying case and a ten-minute battery life.


 
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