A Future Of Blisters (7/27/00)
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Okay, we're all for a healthy dose of minimalism-- "Simplify, simplify" and all that-- but does anyone get the feeling that Apple may be taking the philosophy to some rather extreme ends? Take the Cube-- there are a lot of things it doesn't have compared to its less forward-looking brethren: there's no fan, no slots, no tools needed to open it up, no mechanical power button (it's an electrostatically sensitive proximity sensor instead), no visible ports until you turn the thing over, and darn near no space taken up on your desk. Most of that's good. But we had a one-button mouse; now we've got a no-button mouse. And perhaps most perplexing of all, the new keyboard's got more keys, sure, but no power key. Lots of people, right or wrong, seem to be complaining about the missing power key.

But that's a mere trifle, because if InkWell catches on, pretty soon those same people are going to be complaining about the missing keyboard. Faithful viewer Chris Turner pointed out a ZDNet News scoop on the migration of the Newton's best-of-breed handwriting recognition to Mac OS X; regular viewers will recall that we first broached the subject back when the Naked Mole Rat hinted at this intriguing possibility. InkWell, as this project will allegedly be called, is intended to work with stylus-input graphics tablets and maybe even upcoming PowerBook trackpads. It lets users write naturally and watch their scrawl magically transform into editable text. A Mac OS 9 version is reportedly also under consideration. Now, as a supplementary input method it sounds pretty keen, but Apple's goal with this project? "To eliminate the need for a keyboard," according to the ever-popular "source familiar with Apple's plans."

And we, for one, welcome the change. Sure, keyboard entry may be a zillion times faster for most people than handwriting, but it's hardly as elegant. Which is why, in the not-too-distant future, all Macs will ship sans keyboard-- after all, if the floppy is dead, then the keyboard is utterly fossilized. In fact, we have it on good authority that the missing power key on the new Pro Keyboard is Apple's first step in the initiative to wean the Mac community from keyboard use one key at a time. ("But then how come they just added the forward-delete key, the numerical keypad, and all that stuff?" you ask. Pipe down, junior-- we're on a roll, here.) What does this mean for the future of the platform? Well, once typing is abolished, we'll all be free of the lurking horror of carpal tunnel syndrome-- and plagued with writer's cramp instead. Oh, and by the way: we wouldn't get too attached to that mouse, either, if we were you.


 
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The above scene was taken from the 7/27/00 episode:

July 27, 2000: Shadowy details emerge about Apple's rumored new handwriting recognition software for the Mac. Meanwhile, Motorola's being awfully quiet about its upcoming G4+ processor, and Microsoft files its request that the Supreme Court kick its antitrust appeal back down to its good buddies in the Appeals Court...

Other scenes from that episode:

  • 2444: Waiting For The Plus (7/27/00)   Call us nuts, but sometimes we miss those heady days of Apple back in the mid-'90s. Yes, those were the days of Copland and the failed cloning initiative and a zillion other Apple missteps that almost killed the company, but at least we still had our illusions about how the PowerPC was going to bankrupt Intel "any day now..."

  • 2445: A Big, Stinkin' Mess (7/27/00)   Hey, do any of you classic TV fans remember an old courtroom drama called "Redmond Justice"? It's been a long time, we know, but in the grand tradition of shows that churn on seemingly forever like some deranged Energizer Bunny, it's back and ready to rock...

Or view the entire episode as originally broadcast...

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