Forget Hellfire; It's Dellfire! (5/3/01)

Here's us, yesterday: "Gee, what's Mike Dell gonna do now that the new iBook (not to mention the sale of 23,000 of them to a single county's worth of schools in Georgia) is stealing his education thunder?" And here's us today: "Oh, of course-- he's going to distract the multitudes by setting his own notebooks on fire. Again." Hey, what can we say? His obsession with All Things Steve notwithstanding, the man's a beige thinker through and through, and as such, he's nothing if not utterly predictable. In fact, we're more than a little embarrassed not to have seen it coming.

Regular viewers will recall that it was only last October when Dell was forced to recall some 27,000 notebook batteries due to a "serious defect" suspiciously reminiscent of Apple's legendary PowerBook 5300 debacle, only more so; whereas the defective 5300 batteries never caused an "incendiary incident" outside of a lab setting, apparently one Dell laptop actually caught fire in the field. (It was at that time that we realized just how deep Mike Dell's psychosis ran, since he was evidently copying an Apple blunder that even predated the Second Jobs Dynasty. Now that's sick.)

So here we are, not seven months later, and Mike's panicking because after all his trumpeting about having swiped the education crown from Steve, the iBook comes along and threatens to turn the tables once again. So what does he do? Well, you probably already know, since faithful viewer Alan Benson was the first of roughly eleventy-zillion people to point out the sad truth in the form of another CNET article: he pulled the same "flaming laptop" stunt again, only times ten. Yes, folks, this time around Dell is recalling 284,000 batteries from its "Inspiron 5000 and 5000(e)" portables because a "design flaw" has caused one of these puppies to burst into flame. And isn't that timing just so convenient?

Here's what we figure really happened: Mikey bribed a reporter to sneak a video camera into the press event on Tuesday and was watching from afar. Eventually he saw Steve holding up one of Dell's boat-anchor consumer laptops next to the svelte and stylin' new iBook. Needless to say, Mike blacked out-- and the next thing he knew, he discovered that he had set fire to his own Inspiron laptop in a paroxysm of inadequacy-fueled rage. In a desperate and psychotic bid for attention-- any attention-- he then ordered his minions to use his torched notebook as evidence to launch a massive recall and alert the press. Hey, sicker things have happened-- particularly when Dell is involved. We just hope the man seeks help.

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The above scene was taken from the 5/3/01 episode:

May 3, 2001: Is it almost time to kiss those bulky CRTs goodbye? Meanwhile, Mike Dell grabs the spotlight back by recalling 284,000 laptop batteries, and word has it that the iBook's pristine white enclosure may not look all that great after a bit of everyday handling...

Other scenes from that episode:

  • 3030: The World Is Flat (Or Will Be) (5/3/01)   Ah, the good ol' cathode ray tube-- for oh so many years, the CRT has been the window of the computer's soul. But is all that about to change? The popularity of LCD displays has been on the rise as the price of the technology continues to drop, and while there are certainly good reasons to love the time-honored CRT (price, better multiple resolution support, and color vibrancy, mainly), there are even more reasons why some people think they've long since worn out their welcome...

  • 3032: Smudges Build Character... (5/3/01)   At first we thought everyone was making too much of the new iBook color choices-- or rather, the lack thereof. ("You can have any color as long as it's white.") For a market that until recently had a choice between a very conservative Graphite, a slightly more colorful Indigo, and a psychotically bright Key Lime, suddenly being limited to white is a bit of a shock, to be sure...

Or view the entire episode as originally broadcast...

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