TV-PGAugust 23, 2002: Apple plans to open two new retail stores on August 31st-- and the AtAT staff plans to be at one of them. Meanwhile, the bigwigs behind Macworld Expo are talking about moving the summer gig back to Boston, and a report from Taiwan has 15-inch LCD iMac production ceasing completely in two months' time...
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Wauwatosa, Here We Come (8/23/02)

This is just going to be a quickie episode, folks, because the AtAT staff is currently gearing up for BabyTour 2002, and we leave for the first leg (to the hopefully presciently-named town of "Happy Jack, AZ," if we're reading this itinerary correctly) in just about five hours from now. Since we're pessimistic enough not to expect to find 'net access roaring like the Mighty Mississippi up there, we're expecting to be pretty much incommunicado-- we mean, even more so than usual, if that's even possible-- until we wind our way down to Urbana, IL next week. And by then we may well have been rendered completely incapable of stringing together a comprehensible English sentence-- again, even more so than usual-- due to lack of oxygen, prolonged exposure to family members, and the X-Factor of heavy travel with a four-month-old sack of cute. So we figured we'd get this in just under the wire, in case we don't make it back in one piece. Or however many pieces we're setting out with. You know what we mean.

Good lord, the unintelligibility has started already. This does not bode well.

Anyway, those of you who are Apple Retail junkies have no doubt already noticed that at some point over the last few days, Apple updated its "Coming Soon" listings to confirm the long-rumored grand opening date of August 31st for the Twelve Oaks and Mayfair stores, located respectively in scenic Novi, MI and historic Wauwatosa, WI-- the latter of which, as we've mentioned previously, just happens to be the birthplace of some truly towering and magnificent individuals, such as AtAT's own resident fact-checker and Goddess of Minutiae, Katie. And some other really important and historic figures, too, we're sure, but obviously they pale in comparison.

So we've got a little news: since we've long had it on fairly good authority that the Mayfair Mall was to be blessed with an Apple store on August 31st, we took a chance and made Wauwatosa the final stop on BabyTour 2002. What that means to you folks is that barring some really unfortunate and unforeseen circumstances (like us not feeling like dragging our jetlagged kiesters out of bed that morning), the entire AtAT staff-- meaning Jack, Katie, and even Anya-- are currently planning to make an appearance at the Mayfair grand opening. Odds are the roller coaster ride that is infant care will preclude the possibility of us showing up hours in advance and camping out in line like the true freaks we are, but if any of you Cheeseheads can struggle on down to the Wauwatosa store any time before, say, noonish, you'll have a reasonably good chance of spotting the bedraggled slackers responsible for cranking out this little show (or neglecting to, as the case may be). If you say hi, gush appropriately about their ridiculously godlike talents, and don't yell at them too much for the recent lack of broadcasts, you might even be able to shake them down for a free sticker. Ooooo.

If you're planning to go, here's a recent mug shot of two of the three perpetrators, taken in a similar environment. (For easy identification, the big goofy looking one will probably be wearing an AtAT t-shirt, providing he doesn't ruin it while fighting off vicious bears in the wilds of Montana.) And no, folks, we're not making a Michigan stop, too. Not to short-change Novi, which we're sure is a splendid town and all, but traveling 360-odd miles to catch two grand openings on the same day is not exactly something we're itching to list on our résumés. Darn this lack of initiative.

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2004: Beantown-Bound (8/23/02)

Speaking of travel, have we mentioned that we mostly just find the whole shebang to be one royal pain in the nether regions? "Broadens the mind; expands the horizons"-- yeah, right, whatever. All we know is that even leaving aside the newly-added complication of toting a baby along, getting from Point A to Point B frequently involves lack of legroom, long waits in depressing fluorescently-lit environments, "food" that only qualifies as such in the same way that ketchup qualifies as a vegetable, and various and sundry other indignities we could just as soon live without. Most of the time we'd much rather just keep hanging out at Point A. Point A's a pretty nice place, after all-- we know what's in the fridge, the grooves in the couch perfectly match those aforementioned nether regions, and really, just what's so special about Point B anyway?

The big exception for us in recent years has been when Point B is New York City, which even under normal circumstances is special enough unto itself, but gains about 150 extra cool points each summer ever since the mid-year Macworld Expo moved there four years ago. For three years in a row, we therefore deemed Point B to be absolutely worth visiting, the ickiness of travel notwithstanding. This year, however, we had to bail on the trip entirely, because even the prospect of seeing His Steveness live and in person wasn't enough to outweigh the sheer psychic one-two punch of traveling with a two-month-old and blowing all that bread on hotels, restaurants, and cab fare. (We have a college fund to think about now, you know.) If only last month's show were held here in Boston, we could have attended, and not missed our first summer Expo since 1994. Kinda makes you cry, doesn't it?

So you can imagine the giddiness that Mac-using Point A-ers like ourselves are feeling now that there's talk of moving the summer Expo back to Beantown. For the Angus-Come-Latelies out there, prior to 1998, Macworld Expo's mid-year show was always held in Boston, which was a sick horse of a completely different illness. Sure, the town didn't have a convention center big enough to contain the show, and thus Expo-goers were subjected to the decidedly surreal necessity of constantly hopping shuttle buses that plodded glacially through Big Dig spillover carnage between the World Trade Center (no, not that World Trade Center) and the Bayside Expo Center. On the plus side, however, it meant that your friendly neighborhood AtAT staff didn't have to venture far from Point A just to hang with fellow Macheads at a big trade show. No travel and no crippling expense (well, for us anyway), and at the end of the day we could look forward to raiding a familiar fridge and settling down into our own custom-molded couch grooves. Selfish? Heck yeah, we were selfish; when the show was moved to NYC, we didn't care one jot about the alleged good that would come of it. All it meant to us was that we'd have to start catapulting ourselves Point B-ward every year if we wanted to catch the festivities.

But soon we might have reason to smile again, because according to a Business Today article, now that Boston is planning to open a shiny new (and severely underbooked) convention center in 2004, IDG World Expo is seriously considering moving Macworld Expo back to within a dozen miles or so of the AtAT compound, with LinuxWorld tossed in as a happy bonus. If you're a Boston-area denizen, don't break out the bubbly just yet-- the idea's just in the tossing-around stage, and it's contingent on the city being able to strongarm hotel owners into cutting rates for showgoers. But hey, it gives us hope. And for those of you for whom NYC is Point A and who will suddenly have to figure your own expensive Point B trips if this move comes to pass, well, we'll feel sorry for you, because we'll know exactly how you'll feel. But that won't keep us from doing a little Happy Dance if 2004 brings the chickens home to roost.

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You People Need To SPEND (8/23/02)

Look out, folks; rumors of changes to Apple's production plans are once more surfacing from Taiwan. We've seen this plenty of times in the past, since Taiwan is where Apple contracts out the actual building of most of its gear, and thus there are plenty of opportunities for people in the know to drop a tasty hint now and again to the local press. Of course, the accuracy of some of these rumors leaves a bit to be desired (remember the wider screens and choice of colors that were supposedly going to hit the iBook line in July of last year?), but heck, we figure that any tidbit from the land where this stuff is actually being put together is worth at least a quick once-over, for entertainment purposes if nothing else.

Unfortunately, this one's not nearly as wacky as an alleged major iBook update slated for two months after the product was introduced; what's more, it's got a faint scent of truth about it, and if it is true, the news isn't particularly great. According to an article at, Apple is applying the brakes when it comes to making the 15-inch LCD iMac, with production allegedly slated to cease entirely in October. Apple has already admitted that sales of the systems have been drastically slower than originally anticipated, but reportedly now the company is looking at selling just half as many as it first projected for 2002-- 500,000 instead of a million. We've got two words for you: Yeee-ouch.

So this claimed production slowdown is reportedly intended "to allow Apple to reduce inventory accumulated from more positive days," and while the up side is that it's also meant to "make room for an upgrade to the 17-inch" model, bear in mind that the 17-inch iMac costs a whopping $1999. Granted, that's an absolute steal for what you get (zippy G4, SuperDrive, widescreen LCD), but we think it's pretty safe to say that anyone expecting Apple to increase market share by pitching a $2000 system at the consumer market in today's hole-in-the-head economy needs to bite the bullet and switch to a better grade of crack.

Don't go all Chicken Little on us, though. Like we said, just because a report comes from Apple's manufacturing hub doesn't make it gospel. ("Apple PDAs are rolling off the assembly lines!" leaps to mind.) And even if iMac sales come out to be just 50% of projections, well, hey-- it still did better than the Cube, right?

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