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ATPM 3.08
August 1997



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On a Clear Day, You Can See the Hollywood Sign

by Mike Shields,

The fine folks here at ATPM, (Ok, it was my cohorts, Michael and Rob), have asked me to take this column in a new direction (after spending a year and a half finding my voice). “No problem!” I said tentatively. Part of this new direction leads to a change in name o’ the column. MacMan to the Rescue can still be found elsewhere in this and every issue as long as user questions keep coming in.

Allow me to explain. The title above refers to where I physically work. The buildings at Huge are at the southern border of Los Angeles International Airport, or LAX. When I’m in an office that faces North while responding to a trouble ticket, I can see the planes take off and land while I’m waiting for whatever “fix” I’m downloading to finish. Looking further to the North, I can see the Marriot and the Airport Hilton. Above those, when the sky isn’t cloudy or smoggy, I can see the (you guessed it) “Hollywood” sign.

Which leads to the other reason I’ve chosen this title. As most of you know, I’ve written a few screenplays in an effort to launch my acting career. Lately, whenever someone asks me what I want, I simply say, “A three picture studio deal,” and get back to what I was doing (which is usually installing MS Office).

So, the new direction of this column will be how Apple affects the two industries with which I’m involved, Aerospace and Entertainment.

Bill Gates Has Capitulated!!!

If you haven’t been on a deep jungle expedition without a satellite hookup to the ‘net, you know what was announced at Macworld Expo last week—”Our Good Buddy Bill” (OGBB) has “purchased” $150 million dollars of Apple stock. Purchased is in quotes because they are non-voting shares. Now, some people will tell you that this will simply keep Apple around for another six months because this figure is about equal to how much they lost in the last two quarters. However, I’ve got a different take on it. The maker of Gatesware has finally figured out that if Apple goes under, he won’t have any place from which to copy technology. After all, an immediate effect of Apple going under would cause OGBB to lose 25% of his business. He’s also made a commitment to MS Office for Mac for the next five years. Yes, we have to share patents with MonopolySoft, but at the same time, we get Internet Explorer. “Ok,” you’re saying, “Do we want Exploder?” (Exploder is its nickname among the masses.) Well, every review I’ve read gives Explorer the edge over Netscape Navigator. I haven’t tried Communicator yet, however.

How does this fare with my “100% Microsoft Free” bumper sticker campaign? Well, I’ve stopped printing them, if that’s what you’re asking. I haven’t checked out my second favorite newsgroup of late, alt.destroy.Microsoft, either, to see how they’re taking the news. However, I believe that everyone should strive to use the best software available for the Mac, regardless of where it comes from. I think this is a cease-fire (I was reminded today that the Korean War still isn’t over, we’ve just been observing a cease-fire for over forty years).

Good Things Come To Those Who Wait

Last month, I talked about Gil’s resignation and speculated who should become the CEO. The crowd shouted, “Steve Jobs,” to which I replied, “Guy Kawasaki.” Neither has said they want the job, and Jobs even turned it down when the offer was made. At the recent Macworld Expo, Steve stood in front of the masses for forty minutes and talked about Apple’s new direction. He also talked about new Board members (or is that “Bored members?”). Anyway, Larry Ellison’s name was mentioned. Recently, you may recall, he tried to buy Apple outright and now, he sits on the board. Three seats on the board are still open, including one for the CEO. I’ve put myself on the short list, but don’t hold out too much hope. This, with Bill’s cash infusion, should keep the company going in the direction that Gil Amelio set forth when he came onboard. Like you, I’ll be waiting patiently for the announcement of a new CEO. I have no guesses at this point, other than to say, “Don’t make any assumptions based on the fact that Jobs sold all his Apple stock recently.”

You Too Can Own Stock

This was a bit of bad financial planning. As recently as last Friday, Apple’s stock was at $29.81 a share. Because Mr. Jobs got anxious, he lost approximately $20 million. As I write this, the price has leveled off at $23.25. I think I remember mentioning here recently that Apple will be back at $30 a share by fall. But I’m not a financial advisor and don’t even play one on TV. I say this in case any of you decide to go out, buy Apple stock on this recommendation, and then find out I’m totally 100% wrong (i.e., Apple goes under tomorrow).

How to ‘Save’ Apple

Here at Huge, I see all kinds. Secretaries who have Macs on their desks complaining that it’s the worst computer they’ve ever seen. Except, when I go back six months later on a different problem, the Mac is still sitting there patiently, waiting for me to fix it again. When I spend any amount of time at a Huser’s desk, they always steer the conversation toward, “The Mac is going away, I can’t wait,” or my personal favorite, “Apple should dump the hardware side of their business and just sell the OS.” For more fabulous tips, check out the recent cover story in Wired: Although some of these are quite dated.

I’d like just to spend just a moment on the former. The aforementioned Board of Directors retained Gareth Chang, who’s Senior Vice President in charge of Marketing here at Huge. As long as he’s there, I don’t see the Mac leaving this site anytime soon. Otherwise, I’ll be looking for other work and I may have to take off for a column or two. I hear UPS is hiring. Three words: “Not Gonna Happen,” and you can quote me.

Dumping the hardware business makes no sense. The élan of the Mac OS comes from its design to coexist with the underlying hardware. Simply put, if there’s no hardware, the entire company might as well fold up shop. Bill and his company would have to go looking elsewhere for innovation. Furthermore, where would the clones be? Good question, since not all clone makers are anxious to sign the current licensing deal which Apple structured. I’ll let others speculate on what this would mean to the Mac as a whole, but I prefer to believe that Macs and Mac-compatibles are here to stay. After all, I just renewed my MacUser subscription for three years. Then, they went off and merged with MacWorld. More on this, next time.

72 and sunny, here in El Segundo. “E Ya” next month.

Remember to check out MacMan to the Rescue! elsewhere this issue.

[apple graphic] “On a Clear Day...” is ©1997 Mike Shields,

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