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ATPM 6.04
April 2000



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On a Clear Day, You Can See the Hollywood Sign

by Mike Shields,

But I Ordered Steak

I was going to talk about the lawsuit the Motion Picture Association of America is filing, and I might even get to that, but until an actual decision is made it doesn’t really affect me, or any of my three readers for that matter.

We’ve had an interesting situation pop up at Rocket Science Central. The PC-afflicted people I work with use and support Windows ’95 on laptops, and NT 4 on the desktop machines. The make is irrelevant. Now this is all fine and good, and the System Administrators (SAs) that I work with handle this with little or no problem. This is our policy. We have it, and that’s what comes installed when you, the Rocket Scientist, order a new PC from us.

Of course, this won’t stop the more technical among you from asking for NT on your laptop, which I understand is a bear to do. Furthermore, we don’t support it, unless of course you ask really, really which case we’ll go out and install it for you, over and over again, until we get it right. And even after that, if you have a problem with it, it’s fully supported.

The best analogy I can come up with here is that it’s like going into Kentucky Fried Chicken and ordering steak. Instead of them giving you a funny look and telling you to go away, they ask, “Would you like it rare, medium, or well done?” and they proceed to serve you steak.

We have these on our platform too, which I will dub “KFC moments.” They happen all the time in the service industry, from what I hear; the customer asks for something that you don’t normally do, and since you believe the customer is always right, you try to accommodate them. From what I’ve found, the customer isn’t always right, but on the other hand a customer is a customer.

Anyway, for the sake of a good story, let’s say that Rocket Science Central is, oh, six months behind the rest of the planet when it comes to OS upgrades. After all, we have to make sure that all our software, or at least the Core Products, work with each new OS. We have a guy that does this—he’s very good at it—for which he receives the esteemed title of Core Products Manager. After he pokes and prods, twists and genuflects, he produces a Core Release CD with which the SAs can do OS and software upgrades, for which we each get the esteemed title of Install Monkey.

Unless a customer wants to do the installation himself. Apparently, he wants his steak rare. Two months and several meetings and exchanged e-mails later, instead of us simply telling him he can’t do it, he now gets to fill out a form, and we provide a temporary server for him to access the CD Image.

I got the signed form back last week.

This is almost as good as a service call I had back in July. The caller was getting a virus check error when he attempted to create a new document in MS Word. Upon further inspection, he was running ten applications at the same time. A quick install of an Alsoft utility later, I discovered that he had 346 open files. Using Mac OS 8.6 and lower, the open file limit is 348, due to OS restrictions. So, I went into his Startup Items folder, and had him pared down to a manageable 262 open files on startup. I explained the situation, asked him to wait patiently for OS 9, and closed the case.

This customer, however, wanted fries with his steak; two months later, he called back to reopen the case. He says he’s reconfigured his system, and the same problem is coming back. Obviously, I didn’t fix it the first time. Never mind the fact that the fix was still another month away at that point, with the release of OS 9 and a nice, comfortable upper limit of 5,169 open files. OK, KFC does serve potato wedges, but go with me on this. Why anyone would want 5,169 files open is beyond me; nevertheless, this guy needed this capability yesterday if not sooner.

Some unfortunate SA gets to do this install next week. I fully expect to see the batsignal in the skies above Pasadena shortly thereafter.

I Want My iMovie, and I Want It Now

Apple is having a KFC moment of its own, regarding iMovie. When you buy an iMac DV, the iMovie software comes included on a CD of its very own. So far, the only way to obtain iMovie is through purchasing an iMac DV, as I briefly went into last time. We all waited—OK, I waited with breathless anticipation at Steve’s Macworld Expo keynote for the announcement of iMovie being made available as a stand-alone product.

It never came.

Here we are almost three months later, still waiting. On the MacDV mailing list I recently exposed you to, every once in a while someone will post something along the lines of “I’m running iMovie on a [insert your favorite non-iMac here] and I’m experiencing [any one of several issues]. Anyone out there having similar problems?” Inevitably, two or three posts later, another ’lister will respond with the answer. Currently, Apple maintains that iMovie is only supported on the iMac and, conversely, Final Cut Pro shouldn’t work on an iMac; yet we, the consumer, want A-1 with our steak.

So, when will we be able to obtain iMovie for ourselves? The answer is “I don’t know.” We may never get it. I’m not one to participate in conspiracy theories, however I did pick up a copy of Catcher on the Rye last week, so I won’t speculate that this is an effort on Apple’s part to drive up the sales for Final Cut Pro. My long-time readers know that I would never do that. I would simply imply or infer it, because when I go into KFC, I order Original Recipe.

72 and sunny in Redondo Beach.

e You next time.

appleDisclaimer: Mike is currently searching for a female lead for “Diamond in the Rough,” as the woman he originally cast is nowhere to be found. For this and other sad stories, Mike can be reached at

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