TV-PGMarch 28, 2000: "Redmond Justice" fans get robbed; Judge Jackson grants Microsoft a stay of execution. Meanwhile, Apple's iReview site disses the web sites of both Presidential candidates, setting the stage for Steve Jobs to run, and an old Mac rumors site that shut itself down following a major scandal may be trying to re-enter the Mac webiverse...
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"Fished In! Fished In!" (3/28/00)

So it was supposed to be the Big Day™ for "Redmond Justice"-- sort of an antitrust Super Tuesday. Barring sufficient headway between the government and Microsoft towards reaching a settlement in the case, Judge Jackson had decreed that he'd issue his long-awaited verdict (otherwise known amongst the antitrust fan base as the "Microsoft Smackdown"). And since Microsoft's last-ditch proposal faxed in on Friday didn't seem to give the government much cause for excitement, as of Monday the chances of both sides settling seemed remote. But all we can say is, we hope you all didn't buy lots of junk food and soft drinks in preparation for a "very special episode" party. As you all know by now, Jackson caved and extended his deadline.

Yes, faithful viewer and Microsoft watchdog Jerry O'Neil first clued us in early on Tuesday, giving us plenty of time to call friends and cancel. (We lost our nonrefundable deposit on the Mariachi band, though, and this dry ice isn't going to keep for long.) According to a CNET article, a court liaison disappointed legions of antitrust drama fiends by flatly stating that "there will be no ruling today." But if not today, when? Later on Tuesday "reports" hinted that the postponement could last for "as many as ten days." Now, while it could be lots worse, a ten-day delay is likely to send "Redmond Justice" fans climbing the walls in anticipation. During that time, the only action is taking place behind the scenes-- at secret settlement talks in Chicago. Oh, when will our suffering end?

But the most unsettling (please, don't hit us) thing about Jackson's deadline extension isn't the ten-day delay itself, painful though that may be. No, the thing that strikes fear into the hearts of "Redmond Justice" fans the world over is what the delay represents. It sounds like Jackson believes that a settlement is still possible, which would be a tremendously unrewarding conclusion to a great show. Because any settlement that Microsoft would accept, no matter how punitive in nature, is going to include the stipulation that the company admits no wrongdoing. With that clause, and the absence of an official verdict, Microsoft's other antitrust opponents (we've heard that the number of suits is now into three digits) won't have anything new with which to arm themselves as their cases go to court. So much for lots of exciting spin-offs; without a verdict against Billy G. and company or an admission of wrongdoing, most of the smaller lawsuits will simply wind themselves into the ground, as Microsoft wins by sheer stamina. C'mon, the company's legal budget is virtually limitless; what smaller entity's going to be able to compete against that? So we continue to keep our fingers crossed for an honest-to-goodness verdict, and pray to the trust-busting gods above. For drama's sake, we recommend that you do the same.

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Preparing For November (3/28/00)

While Microsoft's involvement with the government is primarily litigious in nature, it looks like Apple's playing the politics angle instead. For those of you who regularly visit iReview (and that may not be many of you, given how infrequently new iReviews are added), you may have noticed a couple of new sites on the list. Most notably, the George W. Bush for President site has fallen under Apple's critical eye, resulting in a "Featured Review". What's particularly interesting about that fact is that Apple's reviewers only gave Bush's site two stars out of five-- and that rating is displayed prominently on the iReview main page. Bush's site dissed by Apple, in such a highly-visible fashion? Could this be Apple's way of cozying up to the Gore campaign?

You might think so, unless you dig past the "Featured Reviews" and check the "News" section. There you'll find that, in the interests of fairness, Apple's also posted an iReview of the Gore 2000 site. Now, while it's true that Gore's home on the web fares marginally better-- three stars-- and its lukewarm rating isn't featured right on the iReview home page as is the panning of Bush's site, three stars isn't exactly a rave review either. Certainly one would expect the inventor of the Internet to have a snazzier web site when running for President, right? So as far as we're concerned, Apple's dissed the web sites of both candidates.

Now, one interpretation of Apple's motives is that these low ratings are honest reviews of the candidates' web sites, and don't reflect on the merits of the candidates themselves at all. Another more interesting interpretation is that Apple has an ulterior motive for panning both candidates. Just you wait; now that the seeds of doubt have been planted in the unsuspecting minds of iReview visitors, it's only a matter of time before Steve Jobs himself throws his hat into the ring. And guess what'll happen then? That's right; "" (or whatever his web site turns out to be) will be iReview's featured five-star site of the year, thus guaranteeing victory in the fall. The best plans are the simplest ones, aren't they?

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Back From The Grave (3/28/00)

The really fun thing about soap operas is the fluidity of the cast. Characters can leave the show one day and suddenly resurface three years later. Remember when Dylan came back to 90210? Heck, characters can even die in particularly horrible and mutilating ways and then just walk back onto the set one day as if nothing ever happened, with no explanation. Continuity's not the priority in this game; drama is.

That's why we're intrigued to hear that a long-departed AtAT guest star is apparently returning to the Mac universe. Faithful viewer Chris Turner sent us a hot tip about the old site MacInsider apparently rising from its own ashes. Now, only AtAT's longest-addicted viewers are going to remember MacInsider; it was a rumors site that self-immolated under "suspicious circumstances" back in 1997. After only four months of dishing dirt on all things Apple, MacInsider "voluntarily" retired, but evidence hinted that the people running the site weren't exactly on the up-and-up. MacCentral did some digging back then and discovered that MacInsider was, in all likelihood, not run by ex-Apple employees with still-employed friends feeding them data, as MacInsider claimed. InterNIC registration info hinted strongly that MacInsider was run by an Apple reseller called Computers Plus, who apparently violated Apple nondisclosure agreements to post its "inside info." Computers Plus was also often mentioned on MacInsider as having great deals, despite the fact that MacInsider took advertising money from other resellers who probably had no idea they were advertising with a competitor.

Once all that info came to light, MacInsider conveniently decided to retire, and since then the site's been inactive. But now if you visit, you'll find no content, but there's a teaser saying, "MacInsider Reborn; Stay Tuned." Now, if this were a simple case of a completely new site using the old MacInsider domain name, we wouldn't expect to see the phrase "MacInsider Reborn." So what exactly is in store for this site which shut itself down over two years ago amid scandal and shame? Well, like the teaser says, you'll have to stay tuned to find out.

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