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OPINION JULY 30, 2001
Talkin' Smack: The Big Conspiracy

How Bill Gates, Steve Ballmer and Joseph Stalin tricked me into writing last week's column

by David Nagel
Executive Producer
[email protected]

The topic of last week's Talkin' Smack seemed to arouse the full range of emotions in our readers, from "Dave, you're an idiot" to "Dave, your mom is an idiot for not committing infanticide when you were born." A few of you were a bit more level-headed about the whole thing, offering some practical suggestions for seeking help for my mental problems, while others offered some not so practical suggestions for where I could stuff my obviously impaired brain.

So what do I have to say for myself?

You might recall that around this time last year I had suffered some similar fallout from a Talkin' Smack that took a not so favorable look at Apple's product offerings. I explained that away by claiming to have been kidnapped while some peecee-using Microsoft freak took over Creative Mac to write those negative comments. I still stand by that claim.

However, this year I think I'd better offer a more plausible explanation. So here's how it went down.

As I recall, I was sitting here at my awesome G4 400, drinking some Don Jose Original Horchata (which was being served by my three teenaged French maids) and writing my column, the topic of which was "10 Reasons to Love Apple." I was sort of daydreaming about how I could afford three new G4 867s, when something odd caught my eye. The little spinning icon in my Internet Explorer browser had started pulsing, and I was able to see the faces of Bill Gates, Steve Ballmer and Joseph Stalin emerging from the icon and exhorting me to praise Windows and renounce the Mac.

I resisted, of course. I knew that two of them were the most evil men of the last 100 years, so why should I listen to their lies, especially when they're telling me to blast the Mac? I immediately pressed Shift-Option-Command-Escape to quit out of Internet Explorer and thus put an end to the hypnotic spell they were trying to cast on me. Then I downloaded and installed Opera because I surely wasn't going to use Internet Explorer again. Netscape, of course, wasn't an option.

Moments later I received an e-mail stating, "Hi! How are you? I send you this file in order to have your advice. See you later. Thanks." It included an attachment called "hailgates.win.bat." I tried to open it, but to no avail. I continued to receive several similar e-mails, none of which would open. Later I found out it was a virus, but I guess viruses are just incompatible with the Mac.

I figured the matter was settled, so I continued to write my column. I had just gotten to the part in which I stated, "The peecee platform doesn't stand a chance now that Apple has unveiled the 867 MHz G4," when I received a new e-mail. This one included an attachment called "gatesofhell.mp3." Well, I thought it was about time for a break, so I opened up the file in iTunes and started listening.

The melody was a bit reminiscent of Europe's "The Final Countdown." But the lyrics surely were not. These lyrics, instead of inspiring me to wear makeup and hang out in German discos, were telling me to spread lies all over the Internet by telling people that peecees are faster than Macs. What's more, they were using the power of iTunes to hypnotize me completely into submission. After all, who could resist the excellent audio visualization features of Apple's iTunes? O, the devils! They had me this time, using the power of Apple's own software against me!


Who can resist the call of iTunes, even when
it is used against Apple?

The next thing I knew, it was Tuesday, and I was receiving a flood of hate mail about a column I had no recollection of writing. People were accusing me of being a peecee user in disguise, of falling for the megaHertz myth, of using my position as the preeminent journalist in the world to promote Microsoft, etc.

So I went back and read the column I had supposedly written, and, needless to say, I was as shocked and appalled as any of you. Could you imagine actually believing that a peecee could be faster than a Mac? Of course not. My 8 MHz Mac SE is faster than a Polywell AMD, HP Xeon and SGI Octane workstation put together! Obviously these other chips have longer pipelines and different architectures from the Motorola chips used in my Macintosh, so how could they possibly be faster, regardless of clock speed? To think otherwise is nothing short of heresy.

Although the comments in last week's column were really the work of Gates, Ballmer and, to a lesser extent, Stalin, I couldn't help but feel some guilt for having been used as a vessel for their evil deeds. And so I fell into a state of depression that required a lengthy journey of suffering and self-discovery to overcome. Fortunately, I emerged from it just in time for this week's column so that I could offer some sort of explanation and apology.

Well, this journey, like all classical journeys of discovery, involved battling demons, overcoming adversity, journeying to the underworld to confront my own mortality and, finally, a trip to the Cave of Knowledge, where all Truth was revealed to me. I could go on for pages about the journey itself, but, as all wise people know, it's the result of the journey, not the journey itself, that counts. I sum up what I learned in the Cave of Knowledge with the following haiku.

My first
Macintosh
13 years old
Still runs perfectly
On System Seven Five.
One month old peecee
Blue screen of death
Lies dormant
Unloved.

So to sum up, I'm doing much better now, ready and able to continue the fight against the Unholy Triumvirate. I thank you all for your much-needed encouragement during those dark times, and I assure you that your efforts were not wasted.

Coming next week: How the devil tricked me into buying a three-button mouse.

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Dave Nagel is the producer of Creative Mac and Digital Media Designer; host of several World Wide User Groups, including Synthetik Studio Artist, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe InDesign, Adobe LiveMotion, Creative Mac and Digital Media Designer; and executive producer of the Digital Media Net family of publications.

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