Apple Computer Inc’s charismatic interim CEO, Steve Jobs – who these days calls himself the iCEO – is to deliver the kick-off keynote at the company’s Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) in San Jose on May 10, 1999. At his side will be senior VP of software engineering Avie Tevanian. Word among long-time Apple- watchers is that Jobs will use the speech as the launch platform for the company’s much-anticipated consumer portable, a laptop version of the hugely successful iMac. As Jobs himself put it: WWDC is a must. Other attractions will include technical tracks on Mac OS X, Java, QuickTime, AppleScript, WebObjects, the Universal Serial Bus (USB) and FireWire. Special sessions on Adobe PhotoShop and Quark Xpress plug-ins will be held for the first time. In other Apple news, the company has been awarded a couple of intriguing patents. One covers a re-configurable enclosure panel for a mobile computer. The enclosure can have cosmetic or functional attributes or both, reads the patent application, adding that the housing can be made of transparent or colorful plastic or stainless steel. Since the consumer portable is said to be based on the defunct Newton eMate, which foreshadowed the iMac by shipping in a transparent green shell, this patent could be another clue to its appearance. The other Apple patent to raise eyebrows covers a System and method for improving the ranking of information retrieval results for short queries. More power to MacOS 8.5’s Sherlock web search utility?