TV-PGOctober 1, 2002: Apple pulls iPods from store shelves in France because the French government says they're too loud. Meanwhile, Apple reportedly readies a new "Switch" ad featuring pro skater Tony Hawk, and if you're still bumming about performance lags on the PowerPC side of the fence, just be grateful your G4 isn't spitting out 130 watts of heat...
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From the writer/creator of AtAT, a Pandemic Dad Joke taken WAYYYYYY too far

What? Speak Up, Sonny (10/1/02)

Slow news day? Heck yeah it was a slow news day... no height-of-passion board room wedgies in Cupertino, no bug-ridden Apple software releases that cause Macs to melt when installed, no word of Steve Jobs accidentally admitting that he owns a secluded island where he hunts men for sport. Indeed, there was only a single Apple-related story out there that actually qualifies as real news, though it's enough of a doozy to send the mind reeling in Lovecraftian horror when one ponders the implications. Ready for this? Apple has pulled all iPods from the shelves in France because the government says they're too loud. (Try to stay calm. Breathe deeply. Everything will be okay... maybe.)

Yep, it's true-- at least, it is if a report from MacGeneration can be trusted. Seeing as our French is at least as rusty as our English (and we love a good laugh), we sent that article screeching through Google's beta translation service to get something that almost qualifies as intelligible 'Merican. It seems that the iPod puts out a maximum volume of 104 decibels, which, while within European limitations, exceeds the French noise limit of 100 dB for personal music devices. What's four decibels between friends, you ask? Well, considering that thanks to the wonders of logarithms loudness doubles every three decibels, the iPod is actually quite a bit louder than the French allow. There's apparently some governmental concern that Apple's product may give rise to an entire generation of deaf Frenchmen.

Here in the States, of course, the concept of a legal volume limit for MP3 players is completely foreign to us, since our government is perfectly comfortable with letting us perforate our eardrums with acid-covered meat thermometers, so it sure isn't going to care whether or not we might suffer a smidge of long-term hearing loss because we were listening to "Shout At The Devil" cranked up to eleven. Since the government doesn't have to pony up the cash to fix the damage, we're pretty much free to wreck our bodies darn near any way we see fit. See? There are some benefits to our lack of a national health care plan!

But we digress. The point is, for whatever reason, the iPod in its current state is apparently just too darn loud for the French, and therefore Apple was compelled to yank all units from store shelves over yonder. Don't panic, though; all is not lost. Apple is already exploiting the magic of upgradable firmware and expects to have a patch that muffles the iPod to within acceptable French limits by October 8th. iPods will presumably make their way back into French stores shortly thereafter-- speaking just a little quieter. Whew! How's that for spine-tingling, edge-of-your-seat drama? We're going to get the shakes as soon as the adrenaline rush fades, we just know it...

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That Guy Looks Familiar... (10/1/02)

Okay, so on the one hand, you've got some pundits arguing that Apple's "Switch" campaign is exactly the kind of aggressive marketing that'll finally start to boost the Mac's market share beyond its anemic one-in-twenty slice of the personal computer pie. On the other hand are the folks insisting that Apple's Switch ads are about as likely to persuade a real live Wintel user to ditch the beige and buy a Mac as they are to bring about lasting world peace and an end to all known diseases, including the really icky ones with the pus and the oozing and the limbs falling off. And on the other other hand are the people like us; we here at the AtAT compound haven't given a whole lot of thought to how effective the Switch commercials might be, because we're convinced that Apple is spending millions of dollars producing and running them entirely for our own personal entertainment. Ain't that sweet of them?

Seriously, we haven't a clue whether or not an arguably stoned high school girl yammering on about having to rewrite a "really good paper" after her dad's PC ate it is going to boost Apple's sales by a few thousand units, nor do we particularly care; what we do know is that the growing Cult of Feiss phenomenon amuses us so darn much, we use Ellen's "...Mmm??" grunt as our alert sound on AtAT's primary production Mac and every time we hear it we giggle like we're the ones with the suspiciously red eyes. (But trust us, no Naked Mole Rats are we-- we're just high on life, fellas. And goofy Apple commercials.)

And yet, despite our truly astounding and selfish ability to ignore any issues that don't relate directly to our own personal amusement, we can't help but think a little bit about whether or not these commercials might actually be gaining Apple any customers. (Curse this dratted analytical bent.) So we can understand Apple's intent to showcase "regular people" with whom the average viewers can identify, but we've always suspected that Joe and Jane Average might respond a little better to hearing the virtues of the Mac platform sung by an honest-to-gosh celebrity who isn't Jeff Goldblum for a change.

But hey, just like that, bickety-bam-- apparently those mind-reading devices Apple bribed our dentists to install in our molars are really starting to pay off, because suddenly MacMinute has word of an advance preview Switch ad starring none other than skateboard ubermensch Tony Hawk. Actually, technically it's not much of a "switch" ad, because Tony's been a Mac nut for donkey's years, and he's not regaling us with tales of blue screens of death or Registry corruption or anything like that. Instead he simply talks about the ease of using Final Cut Pro for both personal and professional video editing, and we get to see some clips of himself and his son riding the ramps.

We fully admit that we're old fogies down here at AtAT, but whereas when Jack was wrecking his knees on kickflips down sets of five stairs a decade ago skating was about as reputable as shaving bunnies and small children against their will, we hear tell that skateboarding is actually popular with those consarned kids of today-- and thus Mr. Hawk qualifies as a bona fide Recognizable Famous Guy™. So will the addition of the celebrity factor improve the effectiveness of Apple's Switch ads? Hey, like we said before, it really doesn't concern us as long as Apple's primary goal is to keep us, the AtAT staff, entertained. And that little Hudson's really popping those kickflips high, isn't he?

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The Smell Of Burning Flesh (10/1/02)

Hey, seeing as things are so quiet around here today, why not take some time out from fretting about the PowerPC's apparent slippage in the chip performance race and give thanks that we Mac users aren't staking the future of our computing platform on Intel's latest processor, the Itanium 2? If you happen to follow such stuff, you may recall that last year the massively-hyped original 64-bit Itanium finally belly-flopped onto the scene four years late and with performance so lackluster it prompted from the tech crowd the Yawn Heard 'Round The World. Gee, remember when Apple promised an Itanium (then Merced) version of Mac OS X (then Rhapsody)? We don't hear too many people complaining about that project quietly fizzling out...

Well, despite the original Itanium's disappointing debut, Intel's looking to take another stab at it; according to a New York Times article pointed out to us by faithful viewer Jason Bunston, the Itanium 2 was designed to address those performance issues-- by packing 221 million transistors into the chip. The result? A single processor with heaps of performance-- and a power dissipation of a knee-buckling 130 watts, which the Times describes as "enough to fry the proverbial egg." (For comparison's sake, a 1 GHz G4 has a maximum power dissipation of 30 watts, and it's typically shedding more like 21.3.)

"Enough to fry the proverbial egg"? Aw, c'mon... even an Athlon XP 1500+ (touted for its low power consumption, relatively speaking) runs hot enough to fry an egg, as has been proven and painstakingly documented in the past. We strongly suspect that, spitting out 130 watts, an Itanium 2 would vaporize any chicken ovum brought within three feet of its blast-furnace heat-- unless said egg issued forth from a Kryptonian chicken who gained super powers from exposure to Earth's yellow sun. And really, what are the odds?

Now, we really haven't heard enough about the rumored IBM-designed GPUL chip to be able to compare its power consumption to that of the Itanium 2, but we'd bet the farm (and all Kryptonian chickens thereon) that GPUL won't even come close to throwing off 130 watts. Seriously, if Intel keeps on this path, in ten years Macs will be running PowerPCs that are cooled by something as pedestrian as, say, a fan, while a typical Wintel server will need a piped water system, a self-contained refrigeration unit, and a small contained black hole to funnel the heat away from the Itanium 5 cranking away at its core. And we can't wait to see what the laptops are going to look like...

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