Bits and Pieces
My Mac Magazine #16, Aug. ’96

The headline story of Infoworld ‘s June 24 issue was on the alliance Apple and Microsoft have entered into to develop multimedia standards. One result will be the integration of Apple’s QuickTime into Windows 95. (It does send chills up the spine, doesn’t it?) Infoworld columnist Michael Vizard explained the phenomenon this way: “…the biggest single dynamic now driving industry alliances is simple, outright fear. And to be quite frank, this is an incredibly good thing.” For Mac lovers, it may be a great thing. In these pioneer days of the Web, Apple has gotten some of its most important technologies adopted by cyberspace’s biggest player.

The magazine New Media (July 15,1996) gave a strong review for Cyberdog. It also answered one of the questions that had gone unanswered for me for far to long. Namely, will Cyberdog always be a PowerMac-only program? Currently, the version available for download at Apple Web sites won’t work on any 68000-series Macs, but according to New Media, “the commercial version coming later this summer” will be for all Mac users. The author of the article (Becky Waring) also pointed out that the imagination of several big software companies is beginning to run with OpenDoc, on which Cyberdog is based. Waring finishes by writing, “Cyberdog may not be able to save Apple all by itself, but judging by the enthusiastic responses of developers and customers, it’s definitely a St. Bernard sniffing around after the avalanche.”

PC WEEK ‘s July 8 issue reviewed both Cyberdog and the alpha version of ClarisWorks for OpenDoc. Generally, the magazine thought Cyberdog was really … well, neat. In their view, it does some cool things, lets you write your own program parts, and does it all very easily. The same reaction was in evidence concerning ClarisWorks. “Sensible”, “easily”, “especially useful”, “fast and flexible”, “let us incorporate directly” … these are among the positive-sounding words that ran through the reviews. Positive-sounding, but not followed-up by any endorsements. PC WEEK was just taking a peek over the fence into Apple’s yard with these two articles. I’ll take it. They did, however, include a small announcement that IBM’s beta of the Windows version of OpenDoc should be out before you read this.

InfomationWeek devoted its first feature story of their June 24 issue to Apple’s exploration of making servers to support Windows NT. The reason behind the exploration? The magazine quoted Marco Landi, the new Apple Chief Operating Officer, as saying “The glory is not in selling the Mac. The glory is in making a profit.”

Infoworld ‘s Stewart Alsop (author of the Distributed Thinking column) informally asked his readers to help him select “the perfect notebook computer”. As he puts it in his June 10 column, the response from readers of this widely read magazine was “Get a Macintosh!” A Macintosh Duo, that is.

The July 1 issue of Business Week explained that Apple CEO Gil Amelio is giving consideration to writing a book about his time heading up Apple. A little early, you think? That was part of Business Week’s point. Apple isn’t exactly an Amelio version of Lee Iacocca-style success yet. Amelio has done this sort of thing before, though, in publishing “Profit from Experience,” his story of how he turned around National Semiconductor. But Business Week has a slightly less-than-glowing review of that management effort.

Byte Magazine finally got around to discussing the annoying cache problem with AOL’s first Mac browser. (Ultimately, this bug caused the browser to simply stop working when a flawed web page or link got cached.) Nice of them to notice, but this seems to have been a topic of discussion in, say, June of 1995. And their suggestion for fixing the problem? One of them was “fix this problem by getting … another Internet service provider.” Killing the patient to cure the disease?

Another wonderfully bizarre statement in the same issue: “Indeed, GUIs have transformed the face of computing over the past 12 years, starting with the Mac and culminating with the Windows PCs.” Huh? Windows was the culmination of the Mac GUI? In what dimension? This comment was from a generally ridiculous article on the future of GUIs. Other notably annoying statements:
-Netscape Navigator, rather than its predecessor Mosaic, is credited with introducing the browser as a means of accessing information on the Internet simply because it is more “popular” .
-The upcoming Microsoft Windows Explorer, which turns a person’s standard Windows hard drive interface into a Web-like one, is compared not to Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, on which it will be based, but to the Explorer’s main competitor, Netscape’s Navigator. What are these people thinking? If Bill Gates were dead, he’d be spinning in his grave.

INFOCANADA made the IBM/Apple licensing agreement its front page headline for the June issue. Inside, an article appeared explaining the decisions made by Apple, IBM, and Microsoft to include Java in their various operating systems. Apple will also make use of Java in Macs, Pippen, and Newtons “as well as in its media authoring technologies, Internet servers, client software and in CyberDog…. ”

I was thrilled when, very much by accident, I found an article on buying Macs in a special edition of PC Magazine. It was an older issue (Winter 1996) called “Your First PC”, and is a buying guide for first timers. Of course, this is PC (emphasis) Magazine, so Macs are not something I expect to see covered. But sure enough, the magazine tips its hat our way with an article titled “What About a Mac?” In the article, this Wintel-focused magazine had these pleasantly Mac-friendly things to say (among others):
–“When you consider how easy the Mac is to use, the enthusiasm (of Mac devotees) is understandable. Ease of use alone can make a Mac a good choice for a first computer.”
–“Mac still wins hands down as the more user-friendly.”
–“… selecting a Mac no longer relegates you to a small community insulated from the rest of the PC world. Apple cites a study … that says Apple represents the largest base of computers installed in homes ….”
These statements were followed by thoughtful discussions of the features available in Macs (especially compatibility features) as well as several reasons why you might be better off with a Mac.

I say this in the most good-natured way possible, but you know, of course, that many Europeans love all things American as long as no one actually forces them to recognize the fact that the things they love are indeed from America (uncultured, historically-lacking young nation of upstarts that we are). One predictable manifestation of this phenomena presented itself to me as I flipped through the June issue of PC Magazine ‘s British edition this past 4th of July weekend. A two-page America Online ad in the issue somehow escapes the need to have the word “America” anywhere in its copy! Apparently in Britain (and no doubt in the rest of Europe), our number one on-line service is known simply as AOL.

Infoworld ‘s industry gossip columnist Robert X. Cringely mused in his June 17 column that Bill Gates has been studying up on Gil Amelio lately for the unexpected reason that “Microsoft just might need Apple more than Apple needs Microsoft.” Cringely’s thinking is that unless Microsoft continues developing software for multiple platforms, the Feds will be even more likely to cause monopoly-related legal woes for the company. Translation for the theory: Microsoft has to do everything it can to keep Apple strong and develop good software for Macs in order to protect Windows. It’s just a theory, of course, but an interesting one.

All this concern and good will may already be manifesting itself. You may want to check out Microsoft’s Empowerment Pac for Mac, a free load of software available exclusively for Macintosh users at It is also being shipped free to registered users of Microsoft Office (or the various office programs). Oops. Never registered my copy. Oh well. The free programs include Internet Explorer 2.0 (so what if the beta of 4.0 is due this year?), Internet Assistant 2.0, and Word Update.

A theory like X. Cringley’s (see “Gates Needs Apple”, above) is actually understandable considering the current mood of the industry. The business world has stopped simply being impressed by Microsoft’s swiftly implemented strategy for the Internet and have started cheering it wholeheartedly (as evidenced by Business Week ‘s glowing review of the effort in its July 8 cover story). Simultaneously, the grumbling about Apple’s growing isolation and slowing development speeds gets ever-louder. Compatibility may be one of Apple’s four new selling points (see last month’s column), but the powers that be are increasingly beginning to demand why, as Microsoft improves, they should buy expensive computers that run Microsoft’s blizzard of products rather than computers that were made for them.

So as the industry’s initial goodwill toward Apple after Amelio’s arrival wears off, what exactly is Apple going to do about it’s image problem?

PC WEEK ‘s July 8 issue had some things to say about this in its report on a blistering internal company memo circulated at Apple. The memo was intended to be a smack in the face to employees, trying to wake them up to face the new realities of the computer industry and Apple’s precarious place in it. At one point the memo states: “While we are accustomed to regarding our products as superior in a number of ways to [Window/Intel] machines, we must face the fact that for many routine tasks in the hands of routine users, the two types of personal computers have become largely indistinguishable.” In other words, there’s now an addendum to a joke you may remember from the recent past: Windows 95 equals Macintosh ’84. That may be true, but the addendum states: Macintosh ’96 still equals Macintosh ’90. This is not a thing to be proud of, especially after Bill Gates made his entire multi-billion dollar corporation turn on a dime to meet Netscape’s challenge. PC WEEK also states that “(the memo) implies the (MacOS) should support Windows applications directly, instead of requiring an emulation application or coprocessor card.”

“One customer guessed that maybe his hard drive didn’t work because it had been ‘sitting in a snowdrift by the barn for a while.'” -Computerworld July 1

“If you leave the word “apple” out of the address for Apple Computer’s Cyberdog Web site (, you’ll go to the site for a dog training academy in Phoenix.” Computerworld, June 24

“Two-thirds of all Macs are shared by more than one user.” Apple, as quoted by Byte.

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