TV-PGMay 21, 2000: The U.S. Navy is reportedly in high-level talks with Steve Jobs himself, as they work to lift the ban on Macintosh purchases. Meanwhile, an AppleMaster whispers that Apple's handheld isn't just a hoax, and while Windows users are already playing with the Love Bug's sequel, version 1.0 hasn't even been ported to the Mac yet...
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Anchors Aweigh (5/21/00)
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If you happen to think "military intelligence" is a contradiction in terms, prepare to eat those words, soldier. Over the past year or so, we've seen some very positive signs coming from that sector of the government-- at least in terms of computer platform choice, and really, what better indicator of intelligence is there? First, the Army made a smart move last year when it finally took decisive action against hackers. Needless to say, it was extremely embarrassing when U.S. military security had been breached in the form of some kid hacking the Army web site, so the Army dishonorably discharged its eminently hackable Windows NT-based web server and enlisted a Mac running WebSTAR instead. Since then, the Army's site has been secure and hack-free.

The Navy, however, still hadn't done much to erase the haunting spectre of the USS Yorktown incident-- until now. For those of you who don't recall the infamous Yorktown shutdown, we're talking about one of the Navy's computer-controlled "Smart Ships" that suffered a total system failure following a divide-by-zero error a few years ago. The ship went dead in the water and actually had to be towed back to base. Care to hazard a guess at what operating system was responsible when the Yorktown went belly-up? Yup, it was our old pal Windows NT, which apparently choked on that zero like a chicken bone when a more "robust" OS like Unix would have handled the situation a bit more gracefully. It's a darned good thing the Yorktown failed during peacetime instead of during, say, a full-scale Canadian invasion, or we'd all we saying "aboot" and have decent health care right about now.

But the Navy's definitely starting to show signs of wising up, at least if AppleInsider can be trusted. At one time the Navy was "the single largest Macintosh customer in the world," but intense political pressure eventually led to a standardization on Windows and a prohibition of all things Apple. But reportedly the seafaring branch of our nation's defense is on the brink of lifting its ban on the "purchase and incorporation of Apple Macintosh systems." How's that? Well, apparently Navy higher-ups have been meeting with Apple execs-- including Rear Admiral Steve-- "for some time now." Whereas our first guess would have been that Steve was negotiating the U.S.'s surrender terms on behalf of his home planet, it seems that Steve's intentions are purely friendly-- for now. As we all know, no one's better at playing politics than Steve, and accordingly, a draft proposal is making the rounds that would let any Navy department requisition Macs for appropriate uses. We don't know about you, but we'll certainly sleep safer knowing that Macs will soon play a larger role in protecting our national security.


 
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Night of the Living PDA (5/21/00)
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Okay, we've decided. "Official" word be damned; we don't care what Phil Schiller let slip in a moment of weakness, because the Apple handheld rumors just aren't ready to die yet. Every time we think this story's deceased and in the ground, some juicy tidbit floats our way and suddenly it's like the hand pushing its way up through the graveyard dirt in some Romero flick. Yes, once again we've received word-- post-Schillerblab-- that Apple does have a handheld in the works, but the security around the project is so dense it makes fifty years of Roswell coverups look like a screen door with no screen in it.

Here's the latest skinny: a faithful AtAT viewer (who shall remain nameless, for if word ever got back to Apple about his identity, his life would surely be forfeit) just happens to have an "in" with someone who may be privy to Apple's stealth PDA project-- an honest-to-goodness AppleMaster. Again, we'll omit the identity of the particular AppleMaster in question, because we don't want to be responsible for the mysterious disappearance of some well-liked celebrity, but our unnamed source asked his unnamed AppleMaster about Phil Schiller's comments point blank. His response? "They're doing something-- but it's all secret!"

Now, if you're trying to keep your hopes of an Apple handheld alive, this is thin gruel, we know. But we found it very interesting if for no other reason than it's second-hand info allegedly from an AppleMaster that knowingly contradicts what Phil said in public. Take this as you will; if you choose to imagine that Phil was lying, go for it. If it tickles your fancy to think that one of Apple's "official" Mac-using celebrities might in fact know more about Apple's secret development projects than Marketing Dude Phil Schiller, so be it. All we know is, people are still talking about an Apple handheld, which signals to us that if it doesn't exist, it almost certainly should.


 
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We Demand Equal Pain (5/21/00)
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Okay, that's it-- we're at the end of our tether. As much as we love the Macintosh platform, sometimes we really get sick and tired of the woeful software selection. We know, we know-- how many word processors do you really need, etc. We've heard all the arguments. And we know that the future looks bright for Mac software, what with Apple working so hard to court software developers over the past couple of years. The simple fact of the matter, though, is that we watch our PC-using friends having fun with a particular Windows-only piece of software, and it bothers us that we can't join in. Apple needs to do something to get software developers to port their products to the Mac OS. Specifically, we really wish the company would correct the shocking disparity in availability of all the hot new virus titles.

Remember last year when "Melissa" was all the rage? Sorry, there was no Mac version; Mac users who wanted to participate in the fun had to visit infected Windows-using friends. And much more recently there was the Love Bug virus-- again, no Mac version, and while Mac users could participate by manually emailing the virus to PC-using friends, we derived none of the pleasure that the virus itself could bring, short of perhaps losing email service while companies found their servers overwhelmed by the bug. Rather than have a Mac-native version of the Love Bug, Mac users were expected to run PC emulation software to experience the effects of the virus first-hand-- and it would still only trash the virtual Windows partition file. And guess what? According to MacAddict, the Love Bug's sequel, "NewLove," is already out; this time around, the bug has advanced features like randomly changing subject lines and more thorough system scrambling-- but once again, there's no Mac version available.

Oh, sure, we Mac users had our own hit virus with the AutoStart 9805 worm-- but that was two whole years ago. And even that virus generally didn't shut down whole systems, delete random files, and scramble your system's remaining data after emailing itself to everyone in your email address book, so it didn't exactly catch the full attention of the mainstream press. Frankly, we're tired of being treated like second-class citizens. Perhaps a virus-equality petition is in order?


 
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