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July 28, 2003

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

Neocons of the world, take succor! The Gay Blade hereby interrupts his incessant poking at the Bush administration (already leaking gas faster than the Hindenburg) to acknowledge the recent passing of yet another unsung hero of the PC Revolution: Buddy Ebsen.

True, Mr. Ebsen’s contributions to the anti-authoritarian, DIY spirit of personal computing may not be as widely credited as those of Dee Dee Ramone, Allen Ginsberg, Billy Zoom or Stately Wayne Kramer (to cite a few obvious examples); however, the Blade suspects that this worthy’s frequent omission from the pantheon of “the crazy ones” is merely an extension of the same sort of countercultural elitism that put Bob Dylan on a “Think Different” poster to the exclusion of, say, Wayland and Madame.

For sheer durability, the nonagenarian thespian put other Mac avatars to shame: From his early, abortive efforts to put a human face on hardware as an original Friend of Dorothy, Mr. Ebsen helped grease the skids for user-friendly computing. And who can deny that the Beverly Hillbillies’ homespun invasion of California’s wealth and power centers foreshadowed the colonization – and eventual conquest – of Silicon Valley by nouveau riche sons of Steinbeck less than a decade later? The Blade raises a glass of white lightning and fires a random burst of buckshot to salute Steve Jobs’ true cultural progenitor.

Chips ahoy!

Speaking of intergenerational relations, the Blade has received some snippets of new intelligence about the successor to the PowerPC G5; aka PowerPC 970; nee GPUL (GigaProcessor Ultralite).

The GPUL2, which was recently fingered as the centerpiece of a mid-2004 line of Linux servers from IBM, is also a presumptive player in Mac models due at the same time; however, the Blade’s sources caution that, whirring of the propaganda machine aside, the Rev B processors won’t mark much of a departure from the Power4-based underpinnings of the current chip.

Specifically, the next-generation processor will be based on IBM’s Power4+, not the Power5, the Blade’s moles attest. “GPUL and GPUL2 are considered the same architecture, and if the marketing drones don’t fiddle with it, GPUL2 should be marketed under the 970 series,” they chirp. “The 980 series (if indeed it will be called 980 at all) will be the chip referred to as P5UL (Power5 UltraLite).”

Going to a Hukilau

Meanwhile, a message in a bottle indicates that Apple has been enjoying a retail win from an unexpected corner: “The Apple Store at Ala Moana Center in Honolulu has been doing better than the company expected,” this utensil’s pen pal writes. “Apparently, it’s getting even more visitors than the bigger store in L.A., and I’ve heard rumors of trouble keeping popular items in stock at Ala Moana.”

“Ala Moana Center attracts wealthy Japanese tourists, who are nigh unto obsessed with cool new gadgets, and economic conditions sometimes make it cheaper for them to buy things in Hawaii than at home!

“The Apple Store is right across from where the Japanese department store Shirokiya, with all the latest Japanese photo, audio and video stuff, is (or was a couple years ago anyway) and only several stores down from The Sharper Image. So that is cool toy heaven, more or less.

“There’s a downside for locals, though. Plain old mail goes between islands overnight or second-day, since it’s all by jet – but the Apple Store’s Web site insists on shipping everything FedEx. $12 shipping for a $25 iPod sleeve, when the mail would get it there just as fast for $1 or 2? Oy.”

Seeking some schwag of your own, dirt-cheap? Drop a Mac tip to the NMR Report, and a commemorative mole rat could be yours. Kick your shoes off ... Set a spell ... Y’all come back now, hear?

 

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