TV-PGOctober 18, 2000: Steve Jobs dashes all hopes of an iPresident by endorsing Gore-- or is it all just a cunning plan? Meanwhile, Massachusetts may soon require all public college students to buy laptops, but PowerBooks need not apply, and rumors surface once again of an Apple-branded multi-button mouse...
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From the writer/creator of AtAT, a Dad Joke taken WAYYYYYY too far

Hey, There's Always 2004 (10/18/00)

You know, this may sound crazy or something, but we're actually starting to wonder if maybe Steve Jobs isn't planning to run for President. After all, time's really starting to run out, here; the election is less than three weeks away, and yet the Stevester still hasn't even announced his candidacy yet. Now, his barefoot leanings aside, Steve's no slacker, so it obviously isn't the case that he just hasn't gotten around to throwing his hat in the ring because he's been otherwise occupied catching up on his tapes of Ally McBeal. As shocking as this may sound, we may have to face the very real possibility that the man simply has no plans to run.

And that's a crying shame, of course, because after watching the third debate last night on the off-chance we'd get to see either Algor or Dubya throw a punch, we couldn't help but feel that if Steve had been there, he would have mopped the floor with both of them. Alas, he wasn't-- and we didn't even get a single sucker-punch from either candidate. On the plus side, we did get to update our list of quizzical and droll out-of-context quotes by adding Gore's "I will do something" and Bush's delightful "We shouldn't be using food." But deep down, we kept hoping against hope for Steve to do a walk-on like David Brenner on the old Tonight Show; after the applause died down, "Mr. Jobs Goes To Washington" would lay the verbal smackdown on Mr. Sleepy and Wooden Boy and perhaps toss in a few body slams just to liven up the proceedings. No such luck.

And then there's the matter of The Endorsement. Faithful viewer Christine Wright almost killed the dream outright when she passed on a Dow Jones article about how the Gore campaign was about to announce endorsements by "420 high-tech executives," including such heavy hitters as Netscape founder Marc Andreessen, RealNetworks bigwig Rob Glaser, Novell's Eric Schmidt, and ex-Palm-current-Handspring guru Donna Dubinsky. (Well, of course-- why wouldn't the high-tech industry support Gore? After all, he invented the Internet.) That's all well and good, but one of those 420 executives almost drove a stake through our hearts: Steve himself is on that list, backing Gore instead of himself.

Faithful viewer PJ Taylor passed along a Reuters article confirming the news, so that pretty much clinches it... no iPresident come next Inauguration Day. Instead we'll have to settle for a puppet Chief Executive with Steve pulling the strings from behind the scenes. Unless, of course, Steve's endorsement of Gore is just one more step in some diabolical plan to splinter the tech vote before swooping in at the last minute and sealing his write-in victory. (What do you mean, we're reaching?)

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Why Can't Johnny Mac? (10/18/00)

See, now here's the sort of thing that always gives us the heebie-jeebies. First we've got Apple issuing an earnings warning in part due to slow sales in one of its long-time strongholds, the education market. Then we get the news that, at least according to one set of numbers, Dell has knocked Apple out of the top spot in education sales. And now faithful viewer Vince Briones points out further evidence of what appears to be a very disturbing trend: the increasing tendency of schools to opt for Wintels over Macs.

Here's the scoop: according to the Boston Globe, it seems that AtAT's home state of Massachusetts is looking to require that all students at its public colleges "buy and use their own laptops." In and of itself, that doesn't sound like such a bad idea; as far as we're concerned, we would have loved an excuse to force the ol' parental units to buy us PowerBooks back when we were in school. Unfortunately, it sounds like PowerBooks and iBooks won't be an option for many of the students of tomorrow anyway, because of the voucher-based subsidy program that the state is reportedly putting together. Massachusetts wants to reduce the cost of laptops for students who receive financial aid by issuing price vouchers, but to do that, "state officials have been in talks with computer makers IBM, Compaq, Gateway, and Dell." Notice anyone missing from that list?

The real tragedy, of course, is that the iBook is a great option for many college students: it's low-cost, fast, stylish, and rugged enough to survive all those times it'll get dropped when its owner is falling-down drunk. (Er, it's probably best not to mention that selling point to the parents.) But even those students who don't need vouchers and aren't going to be financially locked into a Wintel purchase may not have much of a choice. If this proposed laptop ownership requirement comes to pass, we imagine it's pretty darn likely that the state would issue a set of specs to which all student laptops must conform-- and we're betting it's going to be a very Wintel-centric list.

This all sounds like just another symptom of the disease, and hopefully Apple is working on a cure. Deep down, though, while we'd love to believe that Apple has representatives lobbying away at the Massachusetts bigwigs trying to gets Macs included in this proposed laptop requirement, we strongly suspect that the company is ignoring the situation altogether. And with literally tens of thousands of young adults who may soon need to buy laptops to attend Massachusetts public colleges just itching to spend their parents' money, if Apple isn't working hard to get in on the action, it's throwing away a golden opportunity.

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Who's Got The Button(s)? (10/18/00)

Mac traditionalists can't be having an easy time these days. Over the past decade we've all seen lots of changes to the Apple landscape. Remember back when IBM was the enemy? Remember when Microsoft wasn't our "friend"? Remember when LocalTalk let us network any Macs quickly and cheaply, and all Macs had SCSI ports? And people who aren't even comfortable with those changes are probably nursing ulcers over Mac OS X, which throws an armload of Mac interface rules out the window and trades fundamental simplicity for power. At least the smiling Mac icon still appears when you start it up; if it didn't, we imagine a few of you would be heading to the clock tower with a rifle by now.

But perhaps we should take cover anyway, because one of the Mac's last trademarks of simplicity may soon be challenged: the single-button mouse. Faithful viewer Ryan Layton sent us over to RAILhead Design, where rumor has it that Apple's working on a new version of the Pro Mouse that will sport two buttons-- or, rather, it'll continue to sport no buttons, but it'll provide left-click and right-click functionality via "two pressure points under the front." This long-avoided departure from Apple's single-button fixation is said to be slated for shipment alongside Mac OS X, which includes left- and right-click functionality even in its current beta form.

Some of you are saying "it's about time," but others are climbing up the tower steps as we speak. But before you start firing at the local populace, consider this: word has it that Apple will continue to ship the existing single-button Pro Mouse as the standard, and the two-button beastie will be available as a build-to-order option for people who want it. So it's sort of a "best of both worlds" scenario, even if Apple is finally deviating from one of its longest-standing ease-of-use trademarks-- assuming any of this rumor is true in the first place. Now come down and take your medication.

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