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Apple finding more colorful ways to 'think different'


Boring beige be gone!

The color of computers may be changing thanks to Apple Computers, though it wasn't the first to try.

I'm showing my age again here, but sharped-eyed fans of the old Friday night TV series "Dallas" will recall that the Sue Ellen Ewing character owned a successful lingerie business before actress Linda Gray left the show.

One of the most distinctive props I remember seeing on "Dallas" episodes of this era was in her office -- it was a jet black computer, with matching monitor, mouse and case. (Trivia note for "Dallas" fans: What was the name of her business? See the answer at the end of this column.)

Other computer makers have experimented with alternative colors, but it wasn't until Apple Computers' new iMac that the computer world really took notice.

COLOR OF MONEY. Since its debut in August, the Apple iMac has set the "boring beige" computer standard on its ear.

Cupertino, Calif.-based Apple has already sold 800,000 iMacs since their introduction in August, and it topped the list as the best-selling computer in the U.S. retail market in the final three months of 1998.

Last week, Apple interim CEO Steve Jobs unveiled a line of faster iMacs in five bright new colors reminiscent of a box of fruit-flavored cereal: strawberry red, tangerine orange, lime green, grape purple and blueberry blue.

Jobs also announced price cuts for the iMac line, as well as additional hardware and software.

For a peek at the Apple's colorful new lineup, visit their Web site at www.apple.com.

CHIP UNVEILED. The one sure thing I've learned about computers is that the term "state of the art" describes a moving target. Buy the best computer today and next week it becomes obsolete (or so it seems).

Just when you thought your new Christmas PC was the "state of the art," Intel Corp. is set to unveil its new next-generation computer chip Monday, code-named Katmai, as the "Pentium III."

Industry watchers say the Pentium III will be available by early March in at least two processors speeds -- 450MHz and 500 MHz. Faster speeds will be coming later in the year.

The new Pentium III's offer a new hardware architecture that's said to offer improved multimedia and graphics handling.

For more details, visit Intel's Web site after Monday's announcement at www.intel.com.

Y2K UPDATE. You may be tired of hearing it already so early in the new year, but the Year 2000 bug -- Y2K -- is going to be an everyday part of life these next 12 months.

Microsoft, acknowledging the increased demand for information, has unveiled its own site to help its customers deal with Y2K issues.

The company plans to provide tools, seminars and support for Y2K testing and compliance of its software.

The software will include Y2K Product Analyzer, which will look at a user's hard drive and examine Microsoft software on it for Y2K compliance. It then can provide users with Microsoft Web sites to obtain software updates.

This free tool should be available in the next 60 days on the company's Web site, or on its quarterly Y2K Resource CD-ROM.

Y2K plug-ins will be available for the company's Excel spreadsheet.

A host of Microsoft Y2K information can be found at the company's Y2K Web site, www.microsoft.com/y2k.

ARE YOU PREPARED? Most people look at large businesses and corporations when they talk about Y2K compliance, but a new study shows that small businesses may be lax in their Y2K planning.

A study by the National Federation of Independent Business trade group revealed that while many plan to replace their old computers, more than half of small employers haven't taken any steps to address Y2K issues.

One-third of business owners have already made their Y2K preparations, and many others cite the high cost of replacing computers as one obstacle to achieving full compliance.

The NFIB estimates that while one-fifth of all U.S. small businesses don't need a computer, business owners need to be aware of any "ripple effect" -- how their business can be affected by Y2K problems that could disable or disrupt the operations of suppliers or other critical business services.

TRIVIA ANSWER. The name of the lingerie company started by Linda Gray's character -- Sue Ellen Ewing -- on the TV show "Dallas" was called "Valentine Lingerie."

Comments and questions about this column may be sent to jbrooks@myoldkentuckyhome.com, or visit www.myoldkentuckyhome.com on the World Wide Web.

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