TV-PGFebruary 10, 2000: Excitement mounts amid whispers of five new Apple products entering the system next week. Meanwhile, Connectix wins the right to resume shipments of its Virtual Game Station product, much to Sony's chagrin, and Al Gore's still using Windows-- why hasn't Apple shipped him a free PowerBook yet?...
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What's For Dessert? (2/10/00)

Guess who knows a secret? That's right: us. And guess who can't keep a secret? Right again-- us. Now before we dish the dirt, remember, AtAT's a soap opera, not a professional rumors show in any traditional sense. We don't actively cultivate shady relationships with loose-lipped insiders. On an average day, we don't exchange lots of PGP-encrypted email with Hotmail-account-using Apple employees risking their jobs to leak sensitive information. Why? Well, we could make a case on ethical grounds, but frankly, it's mostly just that we're lazy. We don't go digging for inside information; if it takes longer than opening an AppleInsider bookmark, we figure we'll let someone else do the work. We'd rather discuss rumors than start them. Besides, we're happy with the soap opera format; if it ain't broke, don't rewrite it.

That said, we sure as hell aren't going to kick any juicy inside info out of bed for eating crackers. Just because we don't go looking for scoops doesn't mean we aren't pleased when one drops in and says howdy. Take, for example, the secret whispered to us last night: it would appear that Apple really is planning on unveiling some new products at Macworld Expo Tokyo, because five new Apple products are slated to appear on that day next week. Before your mind does cartwheels and says "Apple-Palm, Pismo, 17" iMac, Graphite iBook DV, and Mystic multiprocessor G4s," by five products we mean five SKU numbers. The most likely scenario? Two of those SKUs are for Pismo in two configurations, and the remaining three are new speed-bumped G4s, probably running at the originally-announced speeds of 400, 450, and 500 MHz.

Again, we can't stress enough that this is a rumor. It came from a source we trust implicitly, but people make mistakes, things get misheard, etc. But try this: take the "five SKUs" rumor. Add three teaspoons of "our dealer postponed my G4 order because he says there's a speed bump next week." Stir well, bake at 350° for thirty minutes, and garnish liberally with "I work at Apple and I saw a production-grade, non-prototype Pismo, ready to ship." Voilà-- a heaping helping of "Pismo and faster G4s at the Expo." Mmmm, who wants seconds?

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Chicks Dig Blisters (2/10/00)

Hey, remember Virtual Game Station? It's that keen Connectix product that got trotted out on stage at last year's Macworld Expo keynote in San Francisco. Basically, you load it up on your G3- or G4-based Mac, pop in one of many supported Playstation games, and while away the hours giving yourself various debilitating repetitive stress injuries. It was a huge hit at that Expo, we're told, with gazillions of copies being sold on the show floor. And Connectix managed to ship a slew of copies to retail outlets before Sony lowered the boom and slapped a lawsuit against Connectix, eventually securing a preliminary injunction preventing the company from manufacturing or shipping any more units.

Good news! Faithful viewer Jason Mazzotta was the first to notify us of Connectix's latest victory in the case. According to a Connectix press release, an appeals court has finally overturned the injunction, proclaiming that reverse engineering the Playstation in a clean-room environment (as Connectix claims to have done) is a "common, legitimate, and valuable development practice, protected under law." So basically, as long as Connectix didn't use any of Sony's actual intellectual property in Virtual Game Station's development, they're in the clear. Note that this still isn't the end of the case, just the reversal of the preliminary injunction; a Bloomberg article states that the actual trial begins this June.

So Connectix can start shipping copies of VGS again-- as if they needed to. Copies from the original shipment back before the injunction was handed down are still available in the retail channel; heck, we got our copy for a mere $20 from only a few weeks ago. (Now you know why eOnes are still available in the stores, months and months after the injunction against them was filed.) But now Connectix can ship its Windows version (shudder), and hopefully development will pick up and speed and compatibility will get even better. Mortal Kombat Trilogy runs flawlessly on our iBook, but Tony Hawk's Pro Skater is a smidge choppy (though still incredibly fun). VGS gives us yet one more reason to love the iBook: it's a portable Playstation.

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Wooden Man, Wooden OS (2/10/00)

What a difference two years can make. Remember the end of 1997? Steve was nearing the end of his first ninety days as "interim" CEO, and while the newly-unveiled Apple Store, the long-awaited Power Mac G3 (in classy beige!), and the first "Think Different" commercials were giving Apple a fighting chance at survival, the red ink was still flowing and the stock price was in the toilet. These days, of course, Steve's the permanent iCEO, the products pouring out of Cupertino are world-class winners, Apple's profitable and growing, and AAPL is generally keeping its head well over 100. But two years can't change everything; the vice president still hasn't switched back to using a Mac.

Yes, it was way back in November of 1997 that we first discussed Al Gore's defection to the Windows camp. Back then he had just traded in his desktop Macs and his trusty PowerBook Duo for a Compaq and a couple of IBM ThinkPads. (Why didn't he trade his last cow for a handful of magic beans while he was at it?) Yes, even Al Gore couldn't hold onto his Macs at work-- even though he believed the Mac was a "superior format," he claimed he was forced to switch because of software availability problems. And now here we are in February of 2000, and according to an Associated Press article, Gore's still using Windows.

After dashing the hopes of the nineteen-year-old, Apple-logo-pin-wearing, spinal-muscular-atrophy-suffering college freshman who wanted to get Gore back on the Mac, the world's most wooden individual since Allan Jones in A Night At The Opera threw the kid a bone by asking, "You know, Apple seems to be coming back with the iMac, don't you think?" Well, gee, Mr. Gore, Apple sure may be "coming back" with that new-fangled iMac contraption, but we won't know until it's been on the market for at least a few months. We'll get back to you in, say, December of 1998, okay?

Poor guy... see what happens when you stop using Macs? You lose all sense of perspective. We've said it before, and we'll say it again: Gore likes Macs but (apparently) needs to run some Windows-only software. So will someone at Apple ship him a frickin' PowerBook with VirtualPC already? After all, the guy only invented the Internet, for crying out Pete's sake-- it'd be a real marketing coup for Apple if he started using a Mac again. (You know, as a backup plan just in case that iMac turns out to be a flop.) Oh yeah, there's also that little matter of him perhaps becoming President some day. C'mon, folks, make him an AppleMaster before he's irretrievably assimilated into the Wintel world.

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