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Apple iCEO Steve Jobs has announced a redesigned Apple.com website that offers free, user-friendly, integrated portal services for Mac OS 9 users. (Apple's site already had 9.5M visitors per week.) The new iTools and services include free email; 20MB of data storage (iDisk) that mounts on your desktop; a HomePage website within your iDisk, with templates such as Photo Album, iMovie Theater, Invites, Baby Announcements, and Resume; elegant online greeting cards (iCards); site reviews (iReview) with user ratings; and kid-safe Web access integrated with Apple's Sherlock 2 search engine. The free email service works with any standard POP-based mail reader (such as Eudora, Outlook Express, or Netscape Communicator) and comes with vacation and forwarding features and 5MB of storage. iCards and iReview do not require OS 9, and none of the services have banner advertising. Instead of just providing information or selling products, "each of the tools, even the Web site reviews, is aimed at helping Macintosh users _do_ something." Apple's control of both the server (running WebObjects) and the client-side Mac OS will permit additional integrated services in the iFuture. OS X is now scheduled for Jan01, with a final beta released to developers this spring. [TidBITS, 10Jan00.] (The i in iCEO now stands for Internet instead of interim-for-life. Jobs intends to stay on the job at both Apple and Pixar.)

Jobs also announced a $200M investment and multi-year partnership with EarthLink Networks to provide Macintosh-friendly Internet services. . [TidBITS, 10Jan00.] (EarthLink recently merged with MindSpring, making it a leading "everywhere" or travel ISP service. AOL is another good travel choice.)

You can read extensive Mac OS 9 coverage from MWJ, a weekly Macintosh journal, in a 76-page, 1MB PDF file available free on Fatbrain.com's eMatter service. . [TidBITS, 03Jan00.]

What's new in Mac culture is chiefly the resurgence of small developers. Adam Engst compares this "recolonization of the Macintosh forest" to the emergence of new growth after a forest fire. Small companies at Macworld SF 2000 were grouped into a Consumer Showcase; Music and Audio; Extensions Workshop for desktop publishers; Education District; Small Business Solutions; Sci Tech; Digital Media Studio; Net Innovators; and Developer Central. Companies developing for handheld organizers were also in attendance. . [, TidBITS, 10Jan00.]

IBM has added its support to the Mac platform with a Mac version of its ViaVoice speech recognition software. [Atlanta Journal and Constitution, 09Jan00. Edupage.]

TidBITS is moving its newsletter and forums to digital.forest, a Macintosh-centric Web hosting service run by Chris Kilbourn. "We've never seen so many Macs of all shapes, sizes, and colors in earthquake-proof rack mounts," with custom Ethernet cables and Maxum's PageSentry monitoring software. The site specializes in FileMaker support for database-backed Web services. [, TidBITS, 10Jan00.]

Neil Shapiro is recreating his seminal MicroNet Apple Users Group (MAUG) -- MicroNet was the original name of CompuServe -- now as free "Micronetworked Apple Users Group" threaded forums and chat on the beta ForumsAmerica.com website. Anyone wanting to moderate a new forum -- for pay -- should contact . Programmers have been working to make Mac-friendly interfaces for the service, and the moderators are people who love the Mac. . [Adam C. Engst , TidBITS, 03Jan00.] (For info on the differences between Mac and PC screen displays, see and .)

----- "We learn wisdom from failure much more than from success. We often discover what will do by finding out what will not do; and probably he who never made a mistake never made a discovery." -- Samuel Smiles. -----