TV-PGAugust 1, 2000: Word of incendiary Macs is spreading; is the restless ghost of Gil Amelio the culprit? Meanwhile, Intel trots out a 1.13 GHz processor, while Motorola continues to play FreeCell all day long, and Steve Ballmer publicly equates Linux with communism...
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Them Pesky Poltergeists (8/1/00)

There are many images from the Amelio Dynasty that stand out: 90,000 Performas sold, no two of which had the same model number; those creepy infomercials that reeked of stale desperation; the torrents of red ink that made the elevator scene in The Shining look like someone got a paper cut. But perhaps the most persistent image, the archetype that remains burned indelibly upon the collective consciousness of the Mac community, is that of the Flaming PowerBook. Never mind that the problem was the battery manufacturer's fault and not Apple's. Never mind that none of those PowerBook 5300s ever caught fire in the field. The fact remains that no image better captured the essence of Apple in 1996 like a CD-ROMless, notoriously unstable, overpriced and underpowered 5300 going up in flames. (To those of you with perfectly happy 5300s: no offense.)

But we all know what happened in 1997, right? Steve Jobs, who managed to RDF Amelio into buying NeXT, then engineered a boardroom coup in which poor ol' Gil was told not to let the door smack him in the butt on the way out. Now Steve runs the show, and Gil's been reduced to making occasional noises to the press about how everything Steve has done was actually Gil's idea. At this point in the game, whether that's actually true or not is largely irrelevant; we only mention it because it may help to explain a recent horrifying phenomenon that's afflicting the Mac platform, as reported by MacInTouch: Macs are catching on fire. And we're not talking figuratively, as in "Mac sales are burning up the charts." We're talking about good old-fashioned spontaneous combustion, here.

The site quotes three readers who have had relatively recent brushes with smoldering Macs. The first contributor notes that one of his 350 MHz iMacs "literally caught on fire during the night," though thankfully the blaze had burned out before spreading beyond the confines of the iMac's case. The second notes that his Lombard PowerBook simply burst into flame while he was typing on it-- now that's some fast typing. Apple reportedly confiscated the "Lombard Flambé," issued a replacement, and refused to explain what had happened, classifying the event as "proprietary" and "confidential." The third reported incident, while less dramatic, is still rather troubling: a Pismo PowerBook user claims that when he disconnected a FireWire cable from his powered-down unit, he got "a crackling sound and SMOKE out of the FireWire port." Apparently there was no actual damage (!), though now we finally know why Apple called it "FireWire."

There's only one answer we can think of that explains these seemingly random instances of Mac cremation: Apple's production facilities are clearly being haunted by the angry and vengeance-driven ghost of Gil Amelio-- an act made all the more impressive by the fact that Gil's still alive. (Just because the man wore a suit doesn't mean his ectoplasmic essence can't wreak some havoc.) We have a feeling that these disturbing incidents will continue until Steve issues some sort of apology and makes his peace with Gil's troubled soul. Perhaps a generous Sharper Image gift certificate?

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Uh, Time For Quad-Boxes? (8/1/00)

Those of you who have been tracking Apple's standing in the megahertz races, we have some news for you, and it ain't good. While the advent of dual-processor Power Macs as standard equipment at the high end should give you some indication that Apple's given up hope of ever seeing Motorola catch up to Intel and AMD, even the specious marketing message of "two 500 MHz chips, one 1 GHz chip-- same difference" has just been derailed. Faithful viewer Mike Dini sent us after a Salon article which describes Intel's latest breakthrough: a Pentium III running at 1.13 GHz. (That's 1130 MHz, for the mathematically challenged.)

Meanwhile, Motorola's still spluttering along with the same 500 MHz G4 that it couldn't ship last year. The company's stagnancy in the clock speed arena even prompted MacEdition to offer up a wanted poster, which advertises a "1,000 Megahertz 'in silicon'" reward for the apprehension of the Motorola Semiconductor Group, "alias 'Slow-Aim,'" for "violation of Moore's Law." So let's see... the G4 is still at 500 MHz, Intel's at 1130 MHz. Motorola's new slogan: "44% of the clock speed of the competition, but twice the fun!"

Yes, we know full well that clock speed isn't everything when it comes to performance-- but, sadly, it's almost everything when it comes to marketing. Hey Apple, here's an idea... the new 1.13 GHz Pentium III is $990. Just introduce a new top-of-the-line Power Mac G4, hike the price by a grand, and toss a 1.13 GHz Intel chip in the box. As in, literally, toss it in the box-- don't bother hooking it up to the motherboard or even soldering it down somewhere; let it rattle around loose to save on costs. Then you can market the system as a dual-G4 Mac with "a 1.13 GHz Pentium III included!" They'll sell like hotcakes. Trust us.

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The New Cold War Erupts (8/1/00)

Reason number 423 why you should support Microsoft's every move: it's an all-American democratic watchdog that's fighting a war to keep the commies out of your computer. Well, okay, maybe not your computer, since you're probably a Mac user-- but all that Intel-compatible iron out there is just waiting to be seized by the Red Menace. Oh, sure, a hearty majority of them run Windows now, but Linux poses a very real threat-- and as faithful viewer Esther Perez tells us, according to The Register, Microsoft bigwig and Peter Boyle lookalike finalist Steve Ballmer has publicly claimed that Linux is the operating system equivalent of communism. After all, you know what Marx said: "From each according to his Registry, to each according to his X Window Manager." Or something like that.

Why, you ask, is Linux such a menace? Well, for one thing, according to Ballmer, "there's no company called Linux," which is clearly a slap in the face of Adam Smith himself. A product with no company? Capitalism weeps. Furthermore, "Linux sort of springs organically from the earth," which is obviously why it's openly embraced by tree-hugging anti-American hippies bent on smashing the state. Worst of all-- the part that makes Microsoft positively convulse in horror-- Linux has "the characteristics of communism that people love so very, very much about it. That is, it's free." FREE! Duck and cover, people, because the daunting specter of Mother Russia is coming to assimilate your PC!

Linux as a communist plot: we should have seen it all along. Consider this-- what's the most recognizable organization associated with Linux? Yup; Red Hat. So if you ever wondered why it's "Red Hat" and not "White Hat" or "Blue Hat," or why the company logo is obviously a KGB agent, now you know. (Sure, Red Hat's operating in the realm of IPOs and dotcom stock success, but they're obviously just trying to bring down the system from within.) Of course, if Linux represents communism and Windows represents (cough) capitalism, we can't help wondering what the Macintosh is. A totalitarian state, one community under Steve?

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