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Stukas over Cupertino

April 16, 2001

Francis Gary Powers in a can o’ Spam! Talk about your major diplomatic incidents.

Between the incessant barking of The Gay Blade’s seal team, a constant flow of coded missives passing through this facility’s ruggedized Apple Fax/Modem and the dextromethorphan-fueled ravings of MacEdition’s foreign-policy experts, the burrow has been abuzz since the beginning of the month.

For those readers who eschew the San Jose Mercury News’ international edition, that’s when a rented Dodge Caravan carrying a full complement of this utensil’s hand-picked intelligence personnel swerved too close to the Apple campus during a routine fact-finding mission around the facility’s perimeter.

In an effort to avoid the paralyzing firepower of the Santa Clara County sheriff’s Breathalyzer, the well-lubricated crew was compelled to land in the Infinite Loop 4 parking lot, where the vehicle was quickly surrounded by Apple security forces.

True to training, the passengers managed to destroy a teak water pipe, several bags of highly sensitive fungus and some extremely compromising (and suspiciously stained) aerial photographs of Larry Ellison’s recent pool party before being boarded. Nevertheless, the ensuing stalemate left the San Franciscans stranded in the lobby of Apple Campus 4 until the Blade could exercise his legendary Supershuttle diplomacy and return them safely to the multiply-pierced bosom of The City’s SoMa district.

The Long March

And in another concrete example of Teddy Pendergrass’ deathless credo, “Speak softly and pack a large leather salami,” Apple is quietly raising the performance bar for Puma, the as-yet-unannounced rev of Mac OS X that is due to hit the tarmac alongside the company’s summer crop of Mac hardware.

The speed gains, which have been set firmly on the front burner in response to the concerns of Mac power users, will be wrought via a potpourri of small but significant internal tweaks. The Blade’s diplomatic pouch includes a veritable Chinese menu of meaty nuggets, such as minimizing I/O times, calling faster APIs and waiting to load services and frameworks until they’re needed.

Since the lion’s share of Puma’s performance enhancements will run independent of third-party applications, Apple will say little if anything about the forthcoming release during May’s Worldwide Developers Conference in San Jose, Calif. Instead, the company will focus its propaganda efforts on the benefits of the current Cheetah release, urging attendees to stay the course while Apple itself cracks down on counterrevolutionary tendencies in the source code.

Meanwhile, the smart yuan is still on WWDC as the jumping-off point for the new and improved version of the Cheetah-based Mac OS X Server, which Apple handicappers say should alleviate any vestigial sting from the May 15 expiration date on Mac OS X Public Beta.

Got a souvenir mole rat in your sights? Fire off a Mac industry tip to The NMR Report for a chance to earn your wings!

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