Interests of Science (5/22/00)

Before the event, there was plenty of speculation as to why Apple broke with tradition this year and opted not to offer a public webcast of Steve's WWDC keynote address; after the event, most of us just assumed it was because there wasn't a whole lot of good news that Apple would have wanted to spread. New hardware announcements were conspicuously absent, and WWDC brought forth neither the "fringe" rumor fodder like the Apple handheld nor the more widely expected introduction of a multiprocessor G4 system. (The MP tech demo doesn't count.) Worse still was the announcement that Mac OS X was being, er, "renamed," and therefore the version we'd all see this summer would not be a shrinkwrapped 1.0 release, but rather a public beta instead. Why make it easier for the media to spin its doom-and-gloom stories by providing them with a webcast?

However, it's since become clear to us that Apple's real interest in withholding a webcast from the keynote was merely one of scientific inquiry. Sources report that Apple's tippy-top secret Reality Distortion Field Lab continues to study Steve's uncanny ability to bend minds to his will, and the WWDC keynote was little more than the latest in a series of experiments to test the field's effectiveness when diluted through various delivery media. Stolen lab results reveal that the potency of Steve's RDF rates highest in face-to-face scenarios in which test subjects are within fifteen feet of Steve himself and hear his voice without electronic amplification. Only slightly less effective are situations in which Steve addresses a large crowd with a microphone, as anyone who's attended a live Stevenote can confirm. Interestingly, over the course of the past couple of years, the RDF Lab has confirmed that satellite broadcasts of the same events retain a stunning 96% of their spin index; webcasts, 93%. This time around, the Lab decided to measure the RDF drop-off when Steve's words were delivered via a textual medium-- hence, no webcast. Instead, as noted by faithful viewer Alan Carr, Apple's posted a summary of the speech, complete with actual transcribed quotes from the man himself.

The results, unfortunately, were not encouraging. While the final data have yet to be tabulated, initial qualitative analysis reveals that most of the RDF energy infused by Steve did not survive the transcription process; current estimates place the RDF retention level at approximately the 15% level. An empirical confirmation that web transcripts are a poor conductor of RDF energy is the recent article in The Register discussing Mac OS X's "lateness." Whereas Steve had used a massive RDF burst to claim that Mac OS X was simply being "renamed," The Register homed in on exact quotations in Apple's transcript to prove otherwise. Back in January Apple stated that Mac OS X would be "pre-loaded as the standard operating system on all Macintosh computers beginning in early 2001"; at WWDC Steve tried to claim that that schedule hadn't changed, but without the benefit of a live RDF, his statement that Apple would ship Mac OS X 1.0 "with pre-loading options in January" raises some red flags, since few people would miss the distinction between "standard" and "options" without live RDF waves pumping through their skulls.

Looking on the bright side, when presented with the final results of this unsuccessful experiment, we have little doubt that Apple will webcast all Stevenotes from now on. The shellacking that Apple's stock price has been taking recently is an unfortunate side effect of the experiment that we assume Apple will be striving to avoid in the future...

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The above scene was taken from the 5/22/00 episode:

May 22, 2000: The RDF breaks down in written form-- Mac OS X is delayed, no doubt about it. Meanwhile, Mac The Knife gets reincarnated as the Naked Mole Rat (maybe), and Microsoft tries a new and side-splittingly funny tack in its bid not to be broken up...

Other scenes from that episode:

  • 2309: Sincerest Form of Flattery (5/22/00)   We just don't know. Many, many of you have written in to tell us about Mac The Knife's apparent reincarnation, but we can't help harboring a few doubts. The Knife, as you're probably aware, has been missing in action from his MacWEEK post lo these many moons, leading some to suggest that the edged implement had finally overdosed-- and others to wonder at the staggering amount of narcotic substance necessary to cause an overdose in that walking bundle of toxic tolerances...

  • 2310: But You Promised! (5/22/00)   There are many joys to be derived from "Redmond Justice": the intense courtroom drama, the laughable antics of Microsoft's bumbling legal team, the bracing energy of Judge Jackson's foul temper... the list is endless...

Or view the entire episode as originally broadcast...

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