Apple Releases Jewish System Software v1.0

by Ben K and Daniel Lewkovitz

Cupertino: Apple Computer has announced today the release of the first localizable religion module for their system software. Previous versions of Macintosh (MacOS) software have been able to support localizable geographical regions and languages, according to an Apple spokesman, but no operating system has yet been able to add customisable support for religion and culture. The module is to modify the system software to interact with the user's ethnicity as closely as possible, so as to maximise enjoyment of the religion, to minimise potential embarrassing conflicts and to increase its overall intuitiveness and functionality. The first Religion/Organisation Tolerance and Functionality Layer (ROTFL) to be released will support the liberal Jewish religion. Others are expected to follow in the near future.

While Apple has declined to allow demonstrations until an embargo date some weeks from today, several developers have given inside information on the beta versions of the software, developed under the codename "Tsures". Some of the more obvious and useful features are said to include:

* The Dates and Times control panel and the Calender desk accessory have been extended to include all major religious holidays. Notifications can be arranged for these and for the commencement times of the Sabbath to allow the user to finish in time for prayer;

* The Numbers control panel now has different currency options as well as interest and exchange rates depending on whether the figure is for buying or selling;

* The clock menu in the menubar will be set to Jewish mean-time, which is approximately 0.5 hours later than the default system time;

* Extensions to the Speech Manager include addition of the voices "Brooklyn" and "Queens" to the dialects in which the computer can talk, while support for extra nasality and running-together of words has been added to the speech recognition software. A new output voice termed "Drescher" was to have been added but problems with the physical damage it caused some sound output hardware could not be overcome in time and it will be released in a later update to the system.

Other changes designed to allow better cosmetic integration with the Jewish faith include:

* The addition of a 'Nag' feature to the On-Line Help Menu;

* The "OK" button in system dialog boxes is changed to "Nu?";

* The "Welcome to Mac" icon and the dialog alert icons get a yarmulke and the "Welcome to Mac" message on startup becomes: "So? Why has it taken so long to see me again?";

* Instead of saying "Are you sure you want to do this?" the system asks: "Why do you want to do this? You don't want to do this. You shouldn't do it this way, there's a better way...";

* Instead of offering the restart button when the System crashes, the Sytem displays a modal dialog saying "That's okay... I will just sit here frozen...";

* Hypercard is now to be on Prozac and thus will be only "card";

* The GeoPort modem achitecture is extended to offer the VolvoModem(tm) which has a maximum speed of 300bps with extra error-correction;

* Extra support is added for the EGED bus, in addition to the SCSI and PCI buses.

Some other software vendors are reportedly modifying applications to take advantage of the new features and needs of the ROTFLs. Symantec and other anti-virus vendors are reportedly updating their hard disk scan utilities to include the ability to scan your system and peripherals in El-Al mode, which picks up guns, bombs and knives, while un-erase utilities now display useful information such as "See? I TOLD you a million times... if you don't back up..."

However, prospective users should be advised that some developers have reported problems. One said that the Finder(tm) had been changed so that it cleans up your desktop whether you like it or not and you will never be able to find anything again. He also reported unusual messages in "Tip-for-the-day" startup dialogs, which often seemed stuck on the same thing every day. Another noted that his network probes showed that AppleTalk(tm) was much more active than usual, with short messages being exchanged between a few selected nearby machines for long periods of time. Also, machines, and especially older machines, often appeared to send messages repeatedly just to themselves.

Another reported problems with the 'guide' program designed to aid new users. Called "Ben" or "Bibi", it is based on the well-known and widely-used Microsoft(r) "Bob" program. "It's supposed to take me by the hand and guide me through the intricacies of using the computer", complained one user. "Instead, its security guards wouldn't let it near me. When I finally got to talk to it, it spent the whole time assuring me that everything was fine and asking if I had any babies to kiss." This does not appear confined to the Jewish ROTFL, however, as some users reported the same problem with the now-defunct "Bill" program developed in parallel for US users.

Other complaints concerned the packaged internet explorer, called "Moses". Some users claimed that it seemed to take forever to access any address inside Israel, usually crashing just after displaying images on the screen. More worryingly, computer security experts claim to have caught it in the act of gathering information about the user's occupation and forwarding details of doctors, lawyers, stockbrokers and bankers to a shadowy company called "Shadchan Inc.".

Lastly, some users reported that their computer seized control from them, started making strange incantations and caused their memory chips to burst into smoky flames, displaying cryptic error messages about giving burnt RAM offerings to the Lord.

While Apple will not comment on the release of other ROTFLs, it is believed that the ROTFL for fundamental Judaism has been held up until Kashrut certificates can be obtained for the 603e and 604 PowerPC processors. ROTFLs are also expected to be relased soon to support the Islamic and Buddhist religions, but the module to support Catholicism is reportedly being delayed due to negotiations associated with the acquisition of the Church by Mr Bill Gates.

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