TV-PGOctober 10, 2002: Word has it that Apple employees aren't supposed to use iCal for company scheduling purposes. Meanwhile, Microsoft considers charging for the fruits of its "trustworthy computing" initiative, and the Apple Store SoHo wins the "Best Staircase" award of 2002...
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From the writer/creator of AtAT, a Pandemic Dad Joke taken WAYYYYYY too far

Consternation. Uproar. (10/10/02)

Attention: if you live in the general vicinity of Cupertino and you've got a little free time on your hands, would you mind perhaps donning a rainbow wig, wandering over to Apple headquarters, staking out Steve's car in the parking lot (you can't miss it-- it's the flashy number with no license plates parked across three handicapped spaces and on top of the torso of an elderly woman), and when he shows up to drive home, offering him a stick of Juicy Fruit? Actually, it doesn't even have to be Juicy Fruit-- Doublemint, Big Red, heck, even a non-Wrigley brand if you must. Because really, absolutely nothing of interest is happening in the Apple world at this particular point in time, and we could really use a "Rainbow-Wigged Stalker Offers Steve Jobs A Stick of Gum" plot point right about now. Thanks in advance.

Until that comes to pass, of course, we suppose we should try to make a really big thing about the issue raised in the latest Naked Mole Rat report: it seems that Apple's IT department has issued a memo warning company employees against using iCal for any official internal scheduling purposes, instead pushing MeetingMaker as Apple's "preferred option for business calendaring." So bear with us for a moment, here, as we studiously ignore the fact that iCal is a 1.0 release of a consumer-targeted application and therefore understandably lacks certain useful corporate groupware functions (like a centrally-maintained list of all users, an integrated means by which to invite multiple users to a given function beyond simple email, a way to schedule rooms and equipment, an automatic system to determine when to schedule a meeting based on the published availability of specified required attendees and resources, etc.) and instead just go all melodramatic about Apple using someone else's product instead of its own.

Ahem. Ready?

Quick, sell your stock, set your Macs on fire, and erect a shrine to Bill Gates in your living room, because Apple as a company will no longer exist this time next week. How could it, when it doesn't even have enough faith in its own products to hinge its day-to-day operation and corporate effectiveness on software it designed for tracking and sharing family birthdays and the kids' soccer games? This policy is a zillion times worse than when Motorola ditched all its Macs and moved to Wintels running its competitor's processors, and clearly indicates a profound lack of confidence in iCal as a viable product-- meaning that Apple might only realize a tenth of the revenue it originally planned to generate based on iCal sales. What's next, news that Apple is archiving all of its terabytes of crucial corporate data on its thousands of Macs and file servers with something other than .Mac Backup? That's it, game over-- it was nice while it lasted, folks. And who ever suspected that Apple's demise would come not at Microsoft's hands, but at MeetingMaker's? Oh, the irony.

Okay, we're done. Never let it be said that we can't squeeze blood from a stone. But seriously, if anyone can help us out with the clown wig and gum thing, we'd be really grateful.

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Tech Protection Racket (10/10/02)

Hey, what slow news day would be complete without a little gratuitous Microsoft-bashing? Well, around here, the answer is no slow news day, and we'll tell you why: not a day goes by in this dimension of existence that word of some bonehead blunder, security flaw, illegal behavior, or other drama-laden episode or circumstance doesn't issue forth from Redmond, Washington: Tree City USA and Endless Fount of Microsoftian Comic Relief. It's a given. It's like the Old Faithful of raw material for melodramatic snarky tech commentary, and for that we face west, get down on our knees, and give thanks every day at sunset. Or, at least, we think about it when people do that stupid thing at Thanksgiving and go around the table making people say what they're thankful for. Same thing, really.

So, many thanks to faithful viewer fibait for pointing out a lovely Tech Update UK article which reveals that Microsoft is indeed still working on that whole "trustworthy computing" thing as mandated by Bill Gates himself back in January. (You remember that whole spiel, right? Gates issued a company-wide memo insisting that, in the wake of all those crippling Windows/Outlook/Explorer viruses, all Windows development would stop in February and Microsoft's 7000 systems programmers would be sent to "special security training.") Well, here's the latest on that red herring: reportedly any actual security that might make its way into Microsoft's products could cost customers extra.

Yup, according to the company's chief technical officer, Microsoft "may offer new security abilities on a paid basis"-- which we interpret to mean, "kick us a hundred bucks per seat or Bugbear will cripple your company quicker than you can say 'Sherman Antitrust Act.'" (Kinda makes you wonder who actually writes those viruses, doesn't it?) It's a concept just in the kicking-around phase right now, but clearly Microsoft sees security as "a potential source of revenue."

You don't think that Microsoft would do something as blatant as charge extra for more secure versions of its software? Well, frankly, even we think such a move would be just a little too Microsoftian even for Microsoft. But consider that when the aforementioned chief technical officer was asked why it took his company twenty-five years to put an emphasis on security and so-called "trustworthy computing," his response was, "Because customers wouldn't pay for it until recently." Was it just a flippant reply, as he later claimed, or did he maybe accidentally grab the truth serum when he went in for his mid-morning dose of heroin?

Whatever. To us, the real gem in this whole mess really doesn't have anything to do with security at all: Microsoft is quoted as saying that its operating system "is designed to run on machines that are not designed yet." Wow, that's quite a handicap! Suddenly all the pieces fall into place; no wonder the Windows user experience sucks.

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Finally, Some Recognition (10/10/02)

Lastly, we've got a quickie from last week, which at first glance is so seemingly unimportant that you might surmise we're really scraping the bottom of the barrel, here. Not so, friends; for your information, we don't keep this stuff in a barrel. We are, in actuality, licking the insides of the mustard jar. There's all the difference in the world, so nyaaaah.

But, surprisingly enough, we digress. What we meant to point out was that Apple's SoHo retail store recently won the coveted "Best Staircase" award for 2002 from the Village Voice. As you probably know, the Village Voice Best Staircase award is an elevatory honor second in eminence only to the prestigious Golden Escalator prize of Switzerland, which is so amazingly highly regarded, it hasn't actually been awarded since 1957 due to the last recipient's head spontaneously combusting with superconcentrated glory. (These height-altering structure and/or conveyance awards are taken extremely seriously, you know.)

At an exclusive awards banquet attended only by the true A-List of the Society of Stairs, Elevators, Escalators, and Fire Poles, the Voice lauded Apple's prizewinning structure as being "an architectural beauty made entirely out of glass, frosted on the footing to thwart potential peeping Toms." Truer words were never spoken. Our sources report that Steve Jobs attended the no-press-allowed white-tie affair and accepted the award on behalf of all the people who made that staircase possible. When his voice caught as he expressed his heartfelt thanks to all of the stairologists who put in so many late nights and therefore missed out on family time and syndicated Frasier reruns, there wasn't a dry eye in the house.

This latest "Best Staircase" award joins a slew of other recent triumphs by Apple retail stores, including "Best Hardwood Floor" of Phoenix; "Best Novelty Children's Sitting Devices" of Cincinnati; "Best In-Mall Public Restrooms" of Greater Chicagoland; and "Best Borderline-Illegal Store Signage" of Germantown, Tennessee. Kudos to all of Apple's designers on a job well done. But the real question is, will the upcoming Apple Store Somerset somehow manage to beat out the Novi store to win "Best Shiny Red Phone" in the greater Detroit area? Only time will tell...

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