TV-PGDecember 2, 2002: There's a new Teen Switcher on the scene; will he restore the balance of power? Meanwhile, if you haven't yet experienced the sublime beauty of a Jaguar kernel panic, now there's a remarkably easy way to cause one, and Massachusetts alone decides to appeal Judge Kollar-Kotelly's decision, thus keeping "Redmond Justice" on the air for another half a season, at least...
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From the writer/creator of AtAT, a Pandemic Dad Joke taken WAYYYYYY too far


 
Hell-Bent For Conquest (12/2/02)
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Okay, folks, it's been over three whole days since we gorged ourselves silly on potatoes and pie, and we're just about recovered enough from the overdose of complex carbohydrates to classify ourselves as once more marginally among the living. We're up (sort of), we're moving (slightly), and we're totally plugged back in to all things Apple. So now that Turkey Day is over and we find ourselves plodding resolutely through the "D" month, what's the haps, you ask? What's the skinny? What's the single most vital and significant issue on the Mac scene today? Well, we'll tell you: it's Teen Switcher Intrigue.

That's right, people, such trivial stuff as the topic of next month's Stevenote isn't so much as a blip on the radar compared to the antagonism brewing amongst the adolescent Switcher set. Most of you have probably memorized every word of the recently posted Ellen Feiss interview and could recite it backwards while hanging upside down from your ankles and being pelted with Milk Duds, so we hardly need remind you of Ms. Feiss's comments on the subject... but we will anyway, mostly because we're filling space, here, but also because it gives us a chance to credit faithful viewer Josh Lewis for sliding us the reminder, and he seemed desperate for the mention. (You can thank us later, Josh; tens and twenties will suffice.)

Thus quoth Ellen: "Me and Hamilton have decided that our new nemesis is Jeremiah Cohick. He's our age, and he's trying to steal our limelight! We decided we don't like him. We're out to get him."

Hamilton, of course, is Hamilton Morris, Ellen's fellow Switcher who is drunk with power after squishing a couple of hundred CDs into his iPod. Jeremiah, meanwhile, is the former Mac-basher who now entreats the unschooled to "get out of their Windows world." Now, granted, Jeremiah's in college, while the Ellen-Hamilton duo is still of high school ilk, but in a knock-down, drag-out, back-alley throwdown, we really have to assume that the whole two-against-one thing far outweighs any advantage that might arise from a more advanced level of schooling. In short, Jeremiah's likely to get his ass handed to him-- even if Ellen is doped up on Benadryl-- if he doesn't round up some support before he gets double-teamed.

Enter the latest of the Teen Switchers! Faithful viewer Alex Schoknecht tipped us off last week to a new Switch ad featuring-- by a stunning coincidence of truly epic proportions-- Alex Schoknecht. What we know is that Alex is a high school Mac user who's tired of fixing his dad's Wintel every three days. What we don't know is if he packs a shiv-- or whether he's yet been enlisted by Jeremiah Cohick as muscle in the inevitable doomsday showdown with Ellen and Hamilton. If Alex has indeed signed on with Team Cohick, then we're all looking at a much more balanced fight, and somebody's probably working on acquiring the Pay-Per-View rights even as we speak.

If, on the other hand, Alex decides to join forces with Ellen and Hamilton instead, well, then Jeremiah is pretty well screwed. But given Ellen's reason for disliking Jeremiah in the first place, it seems pretty likely to us that Alex (who's presumably even closer to Ellen's age than College Boy) is probably already topping the official Ellen Feiss Enemies List. Our money's still on a Cohick-Schoknecht alliance of necessity, and an ensuing battle of such ferocity that it'll be immortalized in song. Or possibly a mini-series.


 
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29 Keystrokes To Meltdown (12/2/02)
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Apple lists "over 150" features and improvements in Jaguar that didn't exist in previous versions of the Mac OS, such as iChat, Rendezvous, and an improved Calculator (oooooo), but for some reason the company's been somewhat silent about one of Jaguar's biggest improvements of all: the new kernel panic! When previous versions of Mac OS X imploded into a whimpering pile of smoldering code fragments, we were exposed to a sudden spate of decidedly un-Mac-like tech gibberish spilling right out through the GUI, exposing stark white characters on a plain black screen beneath. But as of Mac OS X 10.2, a kernel panic is now a decidedly friendlier affair, as a white box pops up informing you that "you need to restart your computer now" in four languages.

Or so we're told. To be honest, since we installed 10.2, we haven't actually had any kernel panics, so we're just taking other people's word for it. And while we figure that a screenshot in an AppleCare Document is a pretty reliable outside source, some part of us can't help thinking that we really should experience this nifty new improvement first-hand-- partially for curiosity's sake, but mostly to get our money's worth. After all, we did pay $129 for this upgrade, and what's the use of paying for a vastly improved kernel panic if our Mac never crashes?

Luckily, should we ever decide we really need to experience that shiny new kernel panic for ourselves, there's a simple way to induce one, which is now the topic of heavy discussion over at Slashdot a week or two after it surfaced over in the MacNN Forums. Apparently Mac OS X 10.2.2 collapses into a wretched, sobbing heap the instant one pops open the Terminal and tries to replace one directory with another of the same name. (Mac purists, we are certain, will interpret this as punishment of those wicked souls who choose to violate the "Thou Shalt Not Use Command Lines" commandment and will spend the next few weeks even more smug than usual.)

Actually, we'd also have to upgrade to 10.2.2 first; we decided to stick with 10.2.1 after we saw the copious reports of 10.2.2 weirdness. Sure, Apple says to "update to the latest version of Mac OS X to avoid certain potential kernel panic situations," but this is one such situation that comes with 10.2.2.

So if, like us, you're Jaguar-enabled and panic-deprived, consider this your personal ticket to System Crash Purgatory. Please note that we're not suggesting that you use this information to crash your Mac on purpose, since, unless you've got a full backup of your data and you really don't care about potential data loss, doing so ranks right up there on the Stupid Scale with shaving your legs with a cheese grater. But if user-induced kernel panics sounds like your idea of fun, act quickly; Think Secret reports that Mac OS X 10.2.3 is "due for release in December," and you can bet that it'll fix this embarrassing little issue. Then the fun part will be figuring out what embarrassing issues it introduces. The merriment never ends!


 
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Bay State Justice, Buddy (12/2/02)
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Thanksgiving had come and gone by the time we'd heard the news, but we're still giving thanks that we live in the only state in the union with the sheer bloody-mindedness necessary to drag "Redmond Justice" out even further. You will, of course, recall that a month ago Judge Kollar-Kotelly finally approved the proposed settlement (with minor changes) between Microsoft and the Justice Department, much to the chagrin of courtroom drama fans everywhere. Once that happened, the only chance that "Redmond Justice" would continue was if one or more of the nine "holdout states" appealed the decision, which looked increasingly unlikely given the current political climate and the ever-strengthening certainty that-- let's just face it, here-- one way or another, Microsoft's gonna walk.

So, like we said, it does our hearts proud to hear that Massachusetts Attorney General Tom Reilly is the proverbial wiener dog clamped firmly onto the leg of the Redmond Gorilla and absolutely refusing to let go. Faithful viewer Danial Hocson informed us that, last Friday, ol' Tom get up and announced that the Bay State alone would challenge the Judge's ruling and kick the case back to the Court of Appeals. According to the Seattle Times, since seven of the nine states decided to stop fighting, this whole sordid mess "would have effectively ended [last] week if it weren't for Massachusetts." (West Virginia's still on the fence due to money troubles.) Says Reilly, "Microsoft has been found to have repeatedly violated the antitrust laws of this state and this country. We believe that a remedy must send a message that breaking the law does not pay." You go, Tom!

Now. we know what you're all thinking, and for the record, no, AtAT had absolutely nothing to do with Reilly's remarkable decision to go it alone: no bribes, no blackmail, not so much as a letter to the man's office. But now we're going to have to send the guy a muffin basket or something, because persevering alone when the Feds and eighteen other states have all been beaten down by Microsoft's seemingly limitless endurance, well, clearly that's a decision that deserves a few baked goods.

As for law professor Ernest Gellhorn's comment that he's glad he's "not a taxpayer in Massachusetts, because it's money wasted," well, let us lay a little science on you, here, Ernest: here in Massachusetts, wasting money is a time-honored tradition. Heck, we've poured so much tax revenue into black holes like the Big Dig, we figure that throwing a few more bundles of cash on the fire in the interest of irritating Microsoft is money well wasted. So nyaaaahhh.


 
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