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Steve Jobs proves Apple & Macintosh still has the magic


Apple Computer's interim CEO looked clean-shaven and slightly younger at the beginning of his appearance at the recent MacWorld computer show.

Standing before the Macintosh faithful for his keynote address wasn't Steve Jobs, but actor Noah Wyle, who portrayed Jobs in the made-for-TV movie "Pirates of Silicon Valley," complete in Jobs' trademark business attire -- polo shirt, jeans and vest.

Wyle started with some of Jobs' typical praise of Apple products, but it was Jobs who made the most noise by unveiling the much-anticipated new Mac portable, the iMac-inspired iBook.

Like the iMac and the newer, translucent-cased G3 Macintoshes, Apple's new iBook notebook computer is very unique in appearance.

One show attendee said its latchless clamshell case reminded him of a toilet seat. Rest assured the iBook is as striking a portable as the iMac was in the world of desktop beige box computers.

Not only is it sleek in styling, the iBook comes well equipped: a 12.1-inch display, a fast G3 microprocessor, built-in 56k modem, built-in networking and CD-ROM to name a few.

The iBook has two built-in antennas and an internal slot to accept AirPort, a wireless networking option that resembles a small flying saucer.

With AirPort, iBook users can surf the net without being tethered to a phone line -- within 150 feet of the AirPort base unit, anyway.

Retail priced at $1,599, Jobs promised the iBook has "Pentium-toasting performance."

Look for the iBook in stores in September, available in two of the popular iMac colors -- tangerine and blueberry.

Take a gander at the new iBook at Apple's Web site, www.apple.com.

NET NERVOUS? It's only been a few months since coffee retailer Starbucks Corp. announced its plans to aggressively expand into e-commerce on the Internet.

But the Seattle-based company appears to be putting the brakes on its multi-billion-dollar Internet expansion plans before the train leaves the station.

While its quarterly earnings came in as expected recently by Wall Street analysts, investors were apparently shaken at the ambitious Internet expansion plans announced by Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz.

The company's stock lost a quarter of its value in June after analysts warned that overly ambitious Internet investments could lower the company's earnings and slow its growth.

Schultz has worked to reassure investors, saying the company will expand its Internet business "conservatively," not through big (and expensive) acquisitions, which investors had feared.

Schultz said his enthusiasm for the Internet had been misinterpreted, and he stressed his commitment to what Starbucks does best -- coffee.

But Schultz is no newcomer to e-commerce -- he's an investor in the mega-auction site eBay, and the Drugstore.com site, and from all indications, he already has the ideal market in mind for Starbucks' online expansion -- the young, Web-savvy consumers with some extra cash and aren't' afraid of buying online.

MSN MESSENGER. The live "chat" field seems to be getting more crowded these days.

Netscape Communicator comes bundled with AOL Instant Messenger (AIM), which allows you to chat with other AIM users as well as America Online subscribers.

There's also the ever-popular ICQ, and you can't forget the old standard, Internet Relay Chat.

Now Microsoft Corp. has entered the fray with its own MSN Messenger chat software.

Messenger operates much like AOL's Buddy List service. It alerts you when friends or family come online, and allows you to chat in real time.

The interesting part is that according to press reports, the MSN Messenger is also compatible with AOL's Instant Messenger (AIM) software, provided you are already signed up for that service and have the AIM software installed.

This compatibility gives MSN Messenger users a link to millions more users, which was a smart move on Microsoft's part.

The compatibility didn't settle well with officials from America Online, who called the move by Microsoft a violation of the privacy of their members.

For more information on MSN Messenger, visit Microsoft's Web site at www.microsoft.com.

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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