No Cracks About Ice (3/12/00)

Now that the iBook Disk Corruption hullabaloo is winding down, we're just itching for a new scandal that involves our funky little Blueberry friend. Alas, the most promising candidate for "Next Big Brouhaha" may have to drop out of the race, amid startling new revelations that it may not be a scandal after all. We're talking about iBook Cracked Ice; many, many iBooks have what appear to be faint stress cracks in the Ice plastics surrounding the keyboard. Our iBook has them. In fact, we got a little worried when we first noticed them a few weeks back, trying to remember if we'd done anything nasty like smacked it against a brick wall or backed over it in the driveway or something. The thing was, they were very faint, and they appeared to be on the underside of the Ice plastics-- they definitely didn't reach the surface. In fact, we never even noticed them until we had the iBook open under some bright sunlight, which is definitely not representative of our normal working conditions, so for all we know, those cracks were there when we first bought the thing.

Since the problem didn't appear to interfere with the iBook's functionality in any way, we had pretty much just adopted the attitude that "stress cracks build character" and forgotten all about it. Imagine our surprise, then, when a reader report surfaced on MacInTouch, revealing that lots more people had reported the exact same problem we had seen. Apparently cracks and iBooks are two great tastes that taste great together, because it seems that darn near everybody's got 'em. These cracks generally show up in the same areas from iBook to iBook-- running upward from about where the Num Lock key is, sitting between the trackpad and the keyboard, extending to the right of the power key, etc. Could this be the scandal we were looking for? Would a design flaw force Apple to repair hundreds or thousands of cracked iBooks, thus forming a PR debacle?

And then the bubble burst; turns out these "cracks" probably aren't really cracks at all. A couple of readers privy to the plastic part manufacturing process state that they're actually "weld lines" or "flow lines," which are the normal outcome whenever molded plastic parts have holes in them-- it's the result of two flows of plastic meeting around an obstacle. Apparently this is where translucency may have turned around and bitten Apple on the butt; if the iBook's plastic was opaque white instead of "Ice," those flow lines would never have been visible. Still, while we expect extreme elegance and attention to detail in Apple's industrial designs, it's tough to make a scandal out of something as piddly as barely-noticeable flow lines. On the other hand, if these hairline imperfections turn out to be real cracks after all, the drama fiends among you will have a field day when iBooks start falling apart at the seams. Hey, it could still happen.

SceneLink (2148)
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The above scene was taken from the 3/12/00 episode:

March 12, 2000: Don't let Apple's press release fool you; three of the iMac cloners may have folded, but Future Power still stands strong. Meanwhile, some hubbub over "cracks" in iBook Ice may not hold water, and Microsoft quits the SIIA-- what took them so gosh-darned long?...

Other scenes from that episode:

  • 2147: The Cheese Stands Alone (3/12/00)   It's all about color. Actually, let us amend that: it's all about color and spin. The iMac Knockoff Wars aren't over yet, although Apple would certainly like you to think so; last week's press release comprised some of the best propaganda to emerge from Cupertino since the G3 Bytemarks...

  • 2149: That's One Expensive Ball (3/12/00)   People have accused Microsoft of many things over the years: graft, threats, FUD, illegal anticompetitive behavior, and plenty more. But even with all those crimes allegedly staining its soul (or lack thereof), there's never been much reason to accuse the Redmond Giant of that most heinous of character flaws, poor sportsmanship-- until now...

Or view the entire episode as originally broadcast...

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