Good News And Bad News (9/20/01)

Funny thing; yesterday we were all set to tell you folks about Microsoft's upcoming Mac OS X-native version of Office, new details of which had just been made available. We had planned to link to CNET's article about how Office v.X for Mac is slated for a November release, as well as to MacCentral's coverage, which is chock full of feature descriptions and nifty screenshots. We were even prepared to admit somewhat grudgingly that Microsoft's Mac Business Unit had apparently done a pretty kick-butt job of crafting a suite of true Mac OS X applications that really let the operating system's special qualities shine through. After all, we here at AtAT may not be particularly interested in picking it up, but we're well aware that thousands of others may be waiting to switch to Mac OS X until Office is available, seeing as it's quite simply the finest suite of office applications produced by a convicted monopoly abuser, period.

However, as it turned out, we couldn't tell you any of that stuff. Instead, yesterday we had to broadcast a truncated episode that was utterly free of any Office-related content whatsoever, because we had to spend so much time in our non-AtAT capacities dealing with the fallout of this Nimda worm that's making the rounds. You know the one-- Nimda's the latest fast-spreading virus to come down the pike which does its thing by exploiting all those wonderful security holes that are so liberally peppered throughout Microsoft's sieve-like non-Mac products. Now ain't that a kick in the head? Who says irony is dead?

Yes, Katie may be a Mac fan, but in her non-minutiae-goddess day job role, she's sadly forced to use Wintels like so many others-- except that yesterday, her entire firm was offline for a whole day while the IT staff attempted to deal with a massive Nimda infection. Meanwhile, Jack got to watch a Mac web server handily deflect any and all incoming attempts to infect it, but the sheer volume of worm probes made for a fairly effective denial of service attack in its own right, which had to be dealt with. The result? Less time for AtAT, and a shorter broadcast.

As for Nimda itself, it's actually a pretty clever little beast. If you're using Windows and Internet Explorer, you can actually catch it simply by browsing any page on an infected server (unless you've turned off Javascript). It also spreads via the now-classic "emailing itself via Outlook to random people in the address book" trick, but Wired reports that, thanks to the wondrous bounty and variety of Microsoftian security holes, email messages containing Nimda often "do not have a visible attachment." Instead, users can be infected even by clicking on the message's subject line to delete it. (Clicking the subject line causes the message to be shown in Outlook's preview panel, the embedded script launches, and bickety-bam-- chalk up one more infected Wintel box. Neat-o!)

Incidentally, those of you feeling left out because Nimda is just the latest in a long line of catastrophic Windows-based viruses (Melissa, ILOVEYOU, Code Red, etc.) that don't infect Macs, hang in there; we're sure our day will come soon enough. Heck, just to take this full-circle, Entourage X (the email client in the upcoming version of Office) now "includes the ability to insert rich content, such as movies or photos, into the body of email messages," which, granted, isn't exactly a scathing indictment of the product's security lapses, but it does hint that maybe Entourage is leaning towards acting more like the Windows version of Outlook. With any luck, that will eventually extend to things like auto-executing embedded scripts, and we Mac users will get to join in all this virusy fun. We can but hope. There's a pretty good precedent, after all-- remember when pretty much the only active viruses plaguing the Mac platform were cross-platform Office macro viruses?

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The above scene was taken from the 9/20/01 episode:

September 20, 2001: Office is coming to Mac OS X in November; let's see if the viruses follow. Meanwhile, Mike Dell is at it again, this time in the "teeny notebook with big features" category, and an unnamed Motorola exec nearly expires in an apoplexy of laughter when shown the recently leaked G5 specs...

Other scenes from that episode:

  • 3312: Gee, It's Almost Innovation (9/20/01)   Boy, it's a good thing our ill-conceived "no more making fun of Mike Dell" New Year's resolution went straight out the window, because otherwise we'd be in a bit of a bind right about now. On the one hand, we find ourselves wanting to offer a partial retraction for all that stuff we said about Dell's new Dimension 8200 being a rip-off of Apple's current Power Mac G4, enclosure-wise...

  • 3313: "G5? What The Heck's That?" (9/20/01)   You know we hate to burst your collective bubble, kiddies, but those of you who have been hanging your hopes for the Mac platform on those alleged PowerPC G5 specs that surfaced a few days back might be in for a nasty little wake-up call...

Or view the entire episode as originally broadcast...

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