TV-PGOctober 4, 2002: Just days after Larry Ellison quit Apple's board, Steve Jobs has given up his role as a director for Gap Inc. Meanwhile, if you're in the market for business-class high-speed Internet access, you can snag a free iPod in the process, and word has it that the iPod can actually be used to download music from the Internet!...
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Uncle Steve Goes Gapless (10/4/02)

Everybody do the Boardroom Shuffle! Man, here we always thought that in corporate America the role of any board of directors worth its salt was to hibernate 98% of the time and then emerge from their holes every couple of months, meet in a room with a really big and expensive table, and then fight over who gets the last jelly donut. Not so, Spanky; there are signs of life in them thar hills! Maybe Larry Ellison's recent departure from Apple's board was a trendsetting moment (what with Larry being the world-savvy, jet-set go-getter and all) and other directors are following suit. Or maybe BusinessWeek's recent naming of Apple and Gap Inc. to its list of the eight companies with the worst boards in the country struck a nerve. Who's to say?

All we know for sure is that, boardroom-wise, things are getting all shook up, uh huh huh, uh huh, yeaaaa-heaah. (Insert Elvis lip-twitch and hip-swivel here. Don't worry, we're only filming from the waist up.) Following hot on the heels of Larry's resignation from Apple's board to go play with boats, faithful viewer Matt points out that now Gap has announced Steve Jobs's resignation from its board of directors, allegedly so he can "focus on other priorities." Other priorities? A likely story. What other priorities? Being CEO of two major corporations? Spending time with his family? Getting his bowling average up over 230? C'mon, even all of that stuff added together probably leaves him, what, eight or ten hours of free time per day, right?

We really can't help thinking that BusinessWeek is indeed a major factor in these shifts; after all, two of its biggest criticisms of Apple's board were that Larry Ellison was dead weight (problem solved) and Gap CEO Millard Drexler was on Apple's board while Apple CEO Steve was on Gap's (also solved). In fact, that second problem is doubly fixed, since Drexler isn't even Gap's CEO anymore-- Gap announced that he was replaced last week. So now all Apple has to do is get Micro Warehouse's Jerry York off the board and then persuade Steve to buy a few fistfuls of Apple stock and give back the jet, and BusinessWeek will have nothing more to complain about.

Meanwhile, we understand that wonky Apple conspiracy theorists are flying high these days, drawing relations between Gap's new CEO Paul Pressler being "a 15-year veteran of The Walt Disney Company" and Steve's sudden ensuing departure from the Gap board. Did he beat a hasty retreat? In other words, is this yet another tenuous Disney-Apple connection to bolster the dear-lord-it-just-won't-DIE-already rumor of a buyout of the latter by the former? Well, let's just put it this way: you do know that Millard Drexler goes by the name "Mickey," don't you?

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Free iPod: The Geeks' Turn (10/4/02)

Longtime viewers will recall that it's something of a tradition 'round these parts for AtAT to tip our audience off to the various ways in which they might acquire a free iPod now and again. For instance, back in February we suggested that you sing at the Grammys, since performers at that sedate and dignified ceremony reportedly received iPod-laden goodie bags in return for shakin' their groove thangs onstage. Then in March we also suggested that you might consider getting nominated for an Oscar, or at least be a presenter, because once again-- iPod goodie bags. See? It's like they grow on trees or something.

"But AtAT," we hear you whine, "I am neither a soulful yet nonthreatening R&B vocalist who tests well with females aged 12-18, nor a big-shot movie star with ties to the mob. How can I, a timid non-entertainer, score a free 'Pod so I can instead blow the $299 on hookers and smack?" Well, Grasshopper, you're in luck, because our latest free iPod scheme requires absolutely zippo in the way of acting or singing talent on your part: all you need is an all-consuming desire for a T1 pipe into your basement so you can download porn just that much faster. (Actually, a business-class DSL connection will do the trick, too.)

Here's the skinny: broadband provider Speakeasy has announced that it's giving away free 5 GB iPods to anyone who signs up for a Business Class Broadband connection by the end of the month. So if you're really jonesing to save $299 on an iPod, all you need to do is commit to spending at least $125 each month for a DSL connection instead. And while we could never ever ever personally recommend DSL as a technology to anyone we even remotely liked, we should point out that we've got friends with Speakeasy DSL service and they're perfectly satisfied with the setup. Indeed, AtAT was actually broadcast via a Speakeasy DSL line for a couple of weeks during our own D-S-HELL saga, back when we were foolish enough to try to make that work.

So there you have it: a free iPod for signing up for business-class broadband. The grand karmic symmetry of this deal, of course, is that if you happen to be the sort of unscrupulous and amoral monster who does this sort of thing, you could then use your new fat pipe to download illegal digital copies of the music and movies made by all those snooty artists who got their iPods for free at awards shows earlier this year. Yeah, that'll show 'em.

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It Also Dices And Juliennes (10/4/02)

Speaking of the iPod and unrepentant copyright violation, we just have to kick off your weekend by sharing some absolutely amazing news we discovered by way of the Portsmouth Herald: in an article on peer-to-peer file sharing and its widespread use as a means to pirate digital music and movie content, the paper features a big ol' photo of a hand holding an iPod, and the caption is "Apple's iPod is just one of the many ways to download music from the Internet."

Wow, talk about your amazing Easter eggs! The hidden Breakout game was one thing, but who knew that the iPod actually contains the hardware and software necessary to download digital music directly from the Internet? Clearly Apple's brilliant designers and engineers are woefully underpaid, because this latest revelation about the iPod just proves that they're all even more unbelievably talented than we ever imagined. Unfortunately, we're not provided with any details on how to unlock this mysterious and undocumented capability; in fact, the article itself never mentions the iPod or Apple at all. The only thing we get is that photo and the accusatory yet incredibly revealing caption. Perplexing, no?

Of course, that didn't stop us, your friendly neighborhood AtAT staff, from immediately snatching up our iPods and spending hour upon hour trying various button, dial, and menu combinations in hopes of uncovering the hidden Gnutella client and PPP dialer to which the Herald indirectly refers. So far no luck, but we did discover that up-up-down-down-left-right-left-right on the Equalizer screen is the fatality move for Sub-Zero. (If you're not seeing it, you're just not doing it right. Try it, um... faster. Yeah, that's it.)

We also admit to being somewhat stumped on how to physically connect these things to the Internet. Should we try to wedge an RJ-11 phone cord from the wall jack into the iPod's FireWire port, or just force the iPod's FireWire cable into the wall jack, probably with a hammer or something? Either way, we're sure we'll figure it all out eventually, and then whoa Nelly-- look out, RIAA, because our iPods will be illegal peer-to-peer music-downloading machines! Honest. The Herald says so.

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