Bits and Pieces
My Mac Magazine #32, Dec. ’97

What is the press up to? Find out every month here in Bits & Pieces!

One of my own rules for this column is to not use Mac publications as sources for my material since the My Mac audience already reads them. However, I recently thought I had the perfect opportunity to be humble and show off my fallibility when I saw a MacWeek article with the headline “Campuses stay loyal to Mac platform” in the November 3 issue. In our October issue of My Mac, I pointed out that many Ivy League schools are feeling forced to warn their students away from the Macintosh platform as their campus intranets get cozy with Wintel. The MacWeek article, I was sure, would prove that those crazy East Coast schools were jumping the gun. Turns out, this is probably exactly what the editors wanted me to think, and they were probably hoping that I would just continue flipping the pages without reading the article. Because the only specific reference I could find in the article to academic institutions’ loyalty to the Mac was: “At most sites, plans that extend the Mac’s reach into campus life are winning out.” Not exactly overwhelming support for the article’s headline. The rest of the article really had more to do with the development of campus intranets.

Could it be that sometimes Lady Justice takes off her blindfold and searches frantically for opportunities to be fair? Speculation has recently been made that this has just happened. It was only a matter of days after Janet Reno made her proclamation against Bill Gates and Microsoft’s business practices in the browser war that a wrench got thrown into the works of the Apple Computer – Power Computing deal. PC Week reports that the “Austin (Texas) American-Statesman said the request for information from the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division has put the deal on hold.” Of course, the two companies said Reno’s interest in their deal was all completely normal “under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act, which requires an investigation of any merger worth more than $15 million.” Still, many thought it was worth speculating that perhaps Reno was throwing Microsoft a bone.

Incidentally, you may have read that Janet Reno was going to levy a fine of $1 million a day against Microsoft if they didn’t start complying with earlier Justice Department instructions. If you did, I’m sure you mentally acknowledged that $1 million is certainly a lot of money, but not really that much for Microsoft. Well, ABC News took it a step further. They recently published (as a factoid on their website) that if Bill Gates were to personally pay the fine out of his own pocket, it would take 110 years for him to run out of money. And that’s if he never earned another dime after he began paying the fine.

Get your gear, Mac fans! Sure, it may be difficult to think of a witty headline pun to go along with a name like John C. Dvorak, but nonetheless it’s time to go exploring among the writings of our favorite National Enquirer-style ex-Mac columnist. This guy has written some crazy stuff in the past, but even I admit that Apple has made some jaw-droppingly wild moves this past year. So we might as well make space here for revelations from Dvorak’s November 4 article in PC Magazine.

Along with the rest of the computer industry, Dvorak spent much of the weeks leading up to Apple’s big November 10 announcements making dramatic predictions about what the company would be doing. Among them:
–The next version of the Macintosh would contain a Windows NT kernel.
–Apple would abandon PowerPC chips altogether and move the Mac OS to Intel.
–The Mac OS has already been ported to the Intel architecture; in fact, the $150 million that Microsoft recently invested in Apple was to cover the cost of this project.
–Following Apple’s lead, former Apple engineer and father of the BeOS will also abandon the PowerPC chips and marry his system to the Pentium.

Although some of his ideas (all of which he attributes to insider gossip) are less far-fetched than others, and they do seem to continually evolve, the underlying theme of his predictions do all point to something we actually have seen surprising development on: an alliance between Apple and Microsoft. What Dvorak keeps predicting is some bright future where the chip wars end (with Intel the winner) and the OS wars become irrelevant as Microsoft and Apple continue sharing patents and licenses, merging the Mac OS and Windows into a kind of super system.

When Apple announced that it would be making announcements about the company’s future November 10, the men and women who make a living writing about the computer industry set about explaining exactly what it was Apple would be doing with itself. Of course, as the Dvorak piece above shows, this exercise began well in advance of November 10. Pleasantly, though, there were some writers and magazines who filed conservative (and ultimately accurate) reports about Apple’s plans. One of the most accurate I saw was from Lisa Picarille of Computer Reseller News. Don’t let the date on her article fool you: it may say November 10, but I found it before that. Picarille correctly stated that:
–“Apple Computer Inc. is set to unveil today it will begin selling low-end systems online”
–“In addition, Apple is expected to launch its new G3 processor line of desktop PCs, as well as a high-end PowerBook notebooks that runs on the PowerPC 750 chip from IBM Corp. and Motorola Inc.”
–“The new Apple PowerBook G3/250 will run on a 250MHz processor and will feature similar 512-Kb cache to the desktop models.”
–” Apple officials declined to comment.”

Despite the fact that a few technical details above may be incorrect, the most awkward of Picarille’s comments is the last one. Writing with a dateline of November 10 (the day of the announcement, but well after she actually wrote the article), Picarille begins her article with “Apple Computer Inc. is set to unveil today…” but in the same article must state “Apple officials declined to comment”, despite the fact that comments by Apple officials would in fact be flowing freely on November 10. No, it’s not her fault. This is what editors are paid to handle.

Another article in Computer Reseller News tries to drive home the importance of returning phone calls. Apparently, CompUSA president and CEO Jim Halpin had placed repeated calls to top level Apple employees for the past four years, but it wasn’t until quite recently that Steve Jobs finally got a message and decided to call back.

The result is a new alliance designed to help boost sales of Macs and move CompUSA into position as a leading seller of Apple products. “CompUSA agreed to create dedicated Apple ‘store within a store’ sections in all of its 139 superstores nationwide. The retailer will devote an area in each store that will carry only Apple products and technologies.” CompUSA will set up in-store holiday promotions and have members of their sales staff trained by Apple in time for a roll-out of the new arrangement in 40-50 stores by Thanksgiving. The other stores will be Apple-friendly by early next year.

Several readers have recently begun sending me some interesting Apple-oriented articles for possible use in my column.

I must admit, I couldn’t be more thrilled.

Although I have never been one to try to get out of mind-numbing monthly chore of digging through thousands of pages in hundreds of magazines while keeping my eyes and ears open for interesting tidbits on TV (or wherever else they might pop up), sometimes this type of community spirit can actually help me finish an article in time to meet my editor’s deadline. So I thought I might as well announce that there is no need to be timid! I might not use your contribution, but send it in anyway! Just make sure that whatever is sent includes the name of the author, publication/program, and the date of the information was released. (We must give credit where credit is due!)

Grant Cassiday (

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