LAB NOTES

In the pink. Apple Computer Inc.’s iMac
has not only brought the company out of the red, it has revived the once moribund Apple in
the hearts and minds of PC users as well.


The iMac’s rounded, post-modernist, translucent blue shell was what drew
people’s attention first. Then they started asking for it in other colors. Apple,
seeing a golden opportunity, promptly announced it would make iMacs in five hues.


PC makers, as you might expect, are green with envy at the iMac’s success. We will
likely start seeing colorful iMac clones with an underlying PC architecture, bearing a
number of famous PC brand names, before year’s end.


This milestone in computing history was overdue. Now that processors and buses run
about as fast as anyone could possibly need them to—except of course for graphics
geeks and gamers—the computer has morphed from a work tool into an interior design
accessory. Incidentally, the iMac colors are tangerine, lime, grape, blueberry and
strawberry.


May I see your papers, please? Digital
certificates are getting more and more popular as a way to ensure data security for
transactions. But shoehorning the necessary certificate infrastructure into existing
applications has proved to be quite a challenge.


Take, for example, Microsoft Corp.’s Internet Explorer 4.0 and 4.01 browsers.
Explorer handles up to 16 different digital certificates from certificate servers.
That’s fine for the majority of government users, but watch your step as time goes
by.


The kicker: If you attempt to add a 17th certificate, you do not receive a polite
message explaining why it cannot be accepted. Instead, Explorer summarily removes all 16
existing certificates and wipes out its ability to handle certificates at all. To fix
it, you must reinstall Internet Explorer and reacquire all your certificates. The only way
to know whether you are edging up on sweet 16 is to search for the location in the Windows
Registry that details what certificates are installed and count them on your fingers.


A potent mixture. Take one part Microsoft
Windows 98, add another part Advanced Configuration and Power Interface standards support,
throw in a dash of Accelerated Graphics Port video and a pinch of an application that uses
a Microsoft DirectX 6.0 driver, and what have you got? A system crash.


Some users have reported that running a program that uses DirectX 6.0 features after
the computer has been in suspend or standby mode will cause it to hang up. A fix will
probably appear in the next service pack from Microsoft.


—Jason Byrne
jbyrne@gcn.com

 

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