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ATPM 4.09
September 1998




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On a Clear Day, You Can See the Hollywood Sign

by Mike Shields,

I find it difficult, if not impossible to write an internationally syndicated column entitled On A Clear Day, You Can See The HOLLYWOOD Sign when it’s been hazy in the basin for the past three months. I can’t see past the airport. So, throwing deadlines to the proverbial four winds, (Thanks, Michael) some of the following may or may not be Mac-related. You decide.

I’m Batman

Yes, ok, I’ve admitted as much in the past. As such, I took a week off, which I may or may not get paid for, and attended the San Diego Comic Book Convention and Expo. A fun time was had by most. Nothing that a hotel change couldn’t take care of. It seems that the fine folks at the Marriott chain are PC-afflicted and didn’t want to give me the staff rate of $79 dollars a night, instead intending to charge the Comic Con, for whom I was working, $239 a night for a two-room suite with a king bed that was clearly not worth what I was going to be paying. Anyway, I got moved to the Radisson, and had the rest of my room picked up by the Con for saving them a thousand dollars. Of course, they’re still holding my credit card hostage, but that’s another story...

Anyway, I would expect a bunch o’ creative types like the fine folks at Marvel and DC and the major independents to be using Macs for their various online displays. No luck. Not a Mac in sight. Not good for someone such as myself who’s going to be looking for a job shortly. Of course, I’ll get to that later. I was amazed and, at the same time, shocked. How could people in their right minds voluntarily afflict themselves with inferior hardware? I didn’t get to ask, having too much to do. I did manage to meet several actresses, whom I hope to cast in “Diamond in the Rough.” I may have also snagged an agent. Handed my script to a production company. But alas, no resumes. Only because I forgot to bring any.

The good news is that, behind the scenes, the fine people to whom I donate a week plus of my time every year are successfully entrenched in the Mac camp. All the computers in the office are networked Macs. They even have the latest and greatest, as I saw two G3s. As for on-site, the person putting together the daily newsletters (both for staff and for the masses) brought with him two Macs from the office, plus a Mac clone that he brought from home. And his scanner. The database of pros, dealers, and attendees is, of course, in FileMaker Pro. The labels and such are printed on various incarnations of HP printers that are of course hooked up to the network back at the office. Chris brought an HP 4M with him to the site to do the newsletters everyday. The president of “The Committee” got an “ok” to get a G3 accelerator card for his Mac at a recent board meeting. Not one need for my services that I know of. I’m trying to become the Webmaster for the convention, but so far, no luck. This would of course free me up from moving heavy objects from point A to point B, including the aforementioned onsite computer equipment, which was my job for the Con this year. I got the walkie-talkie with the Madonna mic attachment and everything. I almost looked official. I even had a green ribbon on my badge that read “Staff.” You may supply your own joke here.

The Name is Jobs. Steve Jobs.

What most of you don’t know, and I’m going to tell you now so that you can hear me later, and understand me after that, is: the Santa Monica offices of Apple Computer, Inc. are located in the same complex as MGM studios. I read yesterday in the LA Times that the venerable studio is going through financial troubles yet again. Actually, they’ve been having them for about a decade. This is what they get for not hiring me almost five years ago, when I was almost on the streets. I could’ve turned them around. The first thing I would’ve done was, of course, switched their platform o’ choice. I’ll discuss financial ramifications of this later, as it applies to the next topic.

For now, all you need to know is that I’ve been fantasizing with the juxtaposition of Apple and MGM. What if Steve came in and did a turnaround for MGM, as he did for Apple? We might see
Rocky saying, “Yo, buy an Apple! Or I’ll punch your lights out!” Or maybe the Pink Panther going on an investigation to find the PC-afflicted. “You said your computer didn’t bite.” “That’s not my computer.” And of course, Our CEO-’til-we-get-another-one Steve, as the above referenced James Bond. I mean, if a PowerBook is good enough for the IMF, certainly MI5 could put it to work as well. And with Q making upgrades, anything is possible. “Now, listen closely James. If you hold down the shift key on startup, it turns the laptop into a proximity bomb with a two minute delay. Run quickly.”

Well, It Finally Happened

The ‘it’ I refer to is summed up in the following memo, which I should excerpt in an effort to retain my job, but I probably will be employed elsewhere by the time you read this so hear goes:

Subject: Stop Processing Macintosh Orders
Author: Name Withheld
Date: 8/17/98 6:16 PM

Please notify all control points ASAP that I have instructed CSC to no
longer process SES orders for Macintosh desktops. In general, orders
previously placed but not yet filled will be returned.

To maximize the effectiveness of our systems and processes, both within
sites as well as across the broader SES and Raytheon organization, we
must increase standardization of our desktop environment. For that reason
Raytheon has standardized on Intel-based PC desktops and laptops.

The issue is not what a specific individual can do on a Macintosh or PC. The
issue is what our enterprise can not do effectively if it must interoperate
on both. Both PC and Macintosh platforms offer acceptable performance
and features. However, the PC’s dominant market position and wealth of
available applications dictate its selection as our standard. Increased
standardization will also enable us to focus our buying power and achieve
greater discounts through volume purchases to a single supplier. To that
goal Raytheon recently signed a purchase agreement with Compaq to
supply us with Intel-based computers. A memo from Dennis Picard and
Dave Welp is being circulated announcing the Intel-based Compaq

Existing Macintosh computers will continue to receive support. However,
when we refresh them it will be with our PC standard.

I know there will be instances where compelling business reasons dictate
exceptions. The Picard/Welp memo references an exception process and
we will get the details of our specific exception process to you ASAP.
However, the INTENT of standardization on the PC dictates that we stop
Macintosh acquisition immediately.

There was a huge distribution list on this, with names that most of you won’t recognize, so I won’t bore you with them. I’ve also withheld the author’s name, so that he won’t be embarrassed. And I can keep my job a little longer. The joke, or lack thereof, is that I knew this was coming. Last year, when Huge became Ray-O-Hac, the writing was on the wall. But to provide no concrete evidence as to why, is astounding. We could pick this apart paragraph by paragraph, however, I think the bottom line here is as usual, cost. And the fact that they cut a deal with Compaq.

Never mind that the third paragraph can be picked apart word by word. I’ll summarize: The recent study done by the Gartner group indicates that a Mac user gets $24k more work done, his computer is down 14% less, and it costs less to support. These are the numbers I referred to earlier, in case you skipped ahead. This is what happens when you play the point and not the line. Another interesting point: The Media Services people that I was recently assigned to get to keep all their Macs, and even buy new ones. I don’t know if they’re hiring, and I’m a neophyte when it comes to graphic design.

So, as I alluded to a few months ago, it’s a litterbox. Time to get out. Fox may hire me again. They have about six copies of my resume, as of this writing. One of my fellow desktop technicians said to me after receiving ‘The Memo,’ “Time to learn PCs.” To which I responded, “Why?”

68 and hazy in El Segundo.
e ya next month.


[apple graphic] Disclaimer: Mike will accept praise and flames at: He is desperately seeking job leads, wants to stay in the LA area, and would prefer some sort of Mac job in the entertainment industry.

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