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November 26, 2002

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Burrow into The Gay Blade’s enclave. The Spork Boards

Ua ou fiafia ua ta teiloaim, Niue! The moment of departure is at hand, and the Gay Blade couldn’t be more nervous if he were riding shotgun to the senior prom with Laura Bush.

As the United States’ freshly minted Vichy congress cascades, Borg-like, toward Washington – a trajectory that promises to blow a Chicxulub-size crater in the teetering tectonic plates supporting this nation’s economy and security – the Gay Blade believes he has identified a new base of operations far, far from the corrosive effects of Trent Lott’s aftershave.

With a population of less than 2,500 and dropping, the tiny South Pacific island of Niue may lack some of the amenities to which this utensil has become accustomed; bars (of the biker, tapas and spreader varieties) are apparently in relatively short supply, but the mild climate, capacious Internet access and blissful lack of conservative radio personalities more than make up for these minor inconveniences. And while the fact that G.W. Bush wouldn’t be able to locate it on a map scarcely distinguishes Niue from 90-plus percent of the world’s other nations (and every state but Texas and Florida), the Blade hopes a country that defines New Zealand as a superpower may escape the figurative or literal fallout of his homeland’s current foreign policy. O le sala a tautai e totogi!

Spork Boards

Interact with the Blade and all his cronies at the Spork Boards.

Stick a Quark in it

The Blade apparently isn’t the only barnacle-encrusted industry leviathan seeking calmer seas, at least judging from the latest reports of Quark Inc.’s increasingly crotchety attitude toward Apple and its newfangled Mac OS X.

Desktop publishers from Vanuatu to Tuvalu are painfully aware of the near-endless diplomatic and technological wrangling between the creator of the pre-eminent publishing platform and the developer of that market’s once-quintessential software application, the Precambrian yet still Carbon-free QuarkXPress.

Now, another round of reports from DTP’s DMZ suggests that Apple-Quark relations remain stony, that a Mac OS X-native version of XPress may still be writhing in the tarpits of alpha for many months yet, and that Quark is still nurturing its decade-old pipedream of breaking free from Apple technology in favor of a cozy niche in the Windows ecosystem.

Publishing professionals who attended a Quark-convened “executive summary” in New York last week are still abuzz over the performance of Quark CEO Fred Ebrahimi, a gentleman whose outbursts make Steve Jobs seem like Captain Kangaroo.

The ostensible topic du jour: the pending integration of Quark Publishing System and Digital Media System within a framework of Microsoft’s .Net and SQL Server technologies. Notably absent from the roadmap: any support for Mac OS X Server.

Indeed, these witnesses attest, audience questions about Mac OS X provoked an Ebrahimi tirade of Old Testament proportions: Quark’s Dear Leader told his squirming guests that “the Macintosh platform is shrinking,” and that “publishing is dying.” He suggested that anyone dissatisfied with Quark’s Mac commitment should “switch to something else,” although he insisted that making the move to Adobe’s long-Carbonized InDesign package is “committing suicide.”

“Everyone was stunned, and most folks left by noon,” one attendee reported. “It was awful.” Although many of Quark’s hapless visitors were lured to the gathering by a promised demo of XPress for Mac OS X, Quark provided precious few details and no time line. Ua fa’atagito’ia, Mr. Ebrahimi!

IBM, You BM

Meanwhile, back in Armonk, the Blade’s fishing party can’t stop talking about IBM’s plans to consolidate its variegated server lines around its own processor architecture.

Specifically, the big boys with the paddles report that IBM now plans to blend its hardware alphabet soup of zSeries, iSeries and pSeries servers over the next few years to compete in the low-end and Blade ... errrr, blade server markets while dominating the mid-range and high end against pretenders such as Sun and HP.

The vehicle of IBM’s deliverance: a rapidly evolving series of Power chips that the company predicts will hit 6GHz within the next couple of years. Even as clock speeds rise vertiginously, IBM expects that its server-class silicon will run much cooler than comparable offerings from MIPS and Intel, both of whom Big Blue expects will soon encounter heat-dissipation issues of Richard Pryor-esque proportions.

This server-side blitz could trickle down nicely into future generations of Macs, the Blade’s advisers suggest, as successors to IBM’s 64-bit PowerPC 970 (née GPUL) cop the Power line’s speeds and efficiencies.

E logo le tuli i ona tata! ("The Blade is away from the continent right now, but if you’d care to leave a Mac industry tip, a souvenir mole rat could be yours!")

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