July 26th, 2014

KansasFest Day 3

MORE LINKS WILL ADDED LATER

Andre Lozano greeted early risers with the first session of the day. Andre was part of the group that restored disks from the collection of Chris Marker, a French film director, writer and early pioneer in multimedia computing and authoring. Chris was interested in how computers and humans interacted emotionally (something retro-computists can easily identify with). He developed a program called ‘Dialector’ that explored these emotional responses which were similar in concept to the famous ELIZA program and it’s variants.

If you haven’t seen Jason Scott in person, it should be something on your short ‘to-do’ list; he’s like a Kung-Fu kick to the psyche (but in a good way). Jason is a natural and entertaining speaker with a passion for his work with the Internet Archive. He’s been busy JSMESS emulation project (try it, you’ll be floored), in addition to scanning of magazines, books and disks from all sources retrocomputing. Jason shared some good news, apparently museums, other archival organizations (and even copyright holders like Atari) are waking up to the need to preserve and protect our digital history and are supporting projects like the Internet Archive. Perceptions are changing; it’s no longer a matter of digital piracy, but of digital preservation.

Ken Gagne announced that Juiced.GS continues to thrive as the last, and longest running Apple II print magazine ever. Publishing will continue into 2015 at the same rates as before! Also announced, some money-saving bundles for digital copies of back issues. See site for details.

Ch-ch-ch-changes to the schedule created an opportunity for an impromptu but very productive programmers roundtable event.

Charles Mangin and friend then gave us a tutorial on the various types of 3D printing that are available. During the session, he produced a few key caps as practical examples of what can be achieved for the retrocomputing hobbyist.

Next up, Quinn Dunki discussed her personal journey of discovery with ‘Veronica’, a homebrew 6502 based computer she built from scratch. Quinn put in about 5 years of work designing circuits and PCB’s as a learning exercise reminiscent of Steve Wozniak’s Apple 1 endeavor. You can read about on Quinn’s blog.

Michael Sternberg next demonstrated how Sir-Tech’s ‘STAR SAGA: ONE, Beyond the Boundary’ can be played over the internet using the VASSAL Engine. According to it’s site, ‘Vassal is a game engine for building and playing online adaptations of board games and card games. Play live on the Internet or by email. Vassal runs on all (modern) platforms, and is free, open-source software.’ Wow, I didn’t know this existed and it’s very cool. I can’t wait to try it out.

Pizza happened next, which was a much appreciated, welcome break from the yucky, uninspired, tasteless (and occasionally mysterious) food we’ve been getting from the cafeteria. Wow Rockhurst, we LOVE you, but the food has been disappointing this year. I think I lost weight just by looking at what was on my plate. Thanks?

The evening’s activities wrapped up with the annual group photo, best wacky tie (hey, I won!) contest and a few late evening sessions.

We have more than a few Podcasters present this year. I saw them massed around a microphone recording a joint podcast. I’m looking forward to that podcast — it should be interesting.

David Schmenk demo’d Apple II Pi (because he still gets asked ‘what is it?’).

Anthony Martino announced the upcoming A2Pi 6.5 card (with numerous improvements). We hope to have pics and a press release for that soon.

Lastly, Tony Diaz led a class on repairing floppy disk drives. Attendees were free to bring their malfunctioning drives for diagnostics and repair, because if Tony can’t fix it, probably no one else can.

Wow it’s late. I’m tired but staying up late tonight. I’ve managed to return 3 Transwarp GS boards from my personal collection back to the community so far. I’m using the proceeds to fund additional Garage Giveaways, recoup shipping expenses, etc. I’m probably going to list a few more on eBay before long.

Tomorrow, I’ll probably sleep in. Saturday is the last official day of KansasFest and I can’t tell if we’re winding up or winding down. One thing is for certain, this has been a great year.

July 24th, 2014

KansasFest Day 2

I’ve heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. During KansasFest, that isn’t true — it’s lunch. So many people stay up late and then sleep in that lunch is kind of the new breakfast. Sadly, the food isn’t worth jumping out of bed for.

Right off the bat, we had a thinking session as Mark Pilgrim introduced his research posing the question, ‘can an Apple II program detect if it’s running in an emulator vs. real hardware?’

Up next, Stephen Buggie showed off his solutions for making the Apple IIc a greatly more portable (but still technically ‘luggable’) computer.

For me, the most interesting session of the morning was ‘Controlling I/O Via Game Port Interface’ presented by father and son Andrew and Ivan Hogan. They put on quite the show, with an Apple II controlling a K’NEX roller coaster and a compressed air/water plastic bottle launcher. A couple of the 2L bottles were quickly launched onto the roof of the dorm, over 40′ in the air. The nearby campus security guard didn’t look very amused but this was science!

Ivan Drucker presented the latest 2014 edition of A2CLOUD and A2SERVER, demonstrating to attendees how easy and useful a Raspberry Pi can be when used in conjunction with an Apple II. If you’re not using a Pi now, YOU SHOULD BE.

Tony Diaz tore into an Apple /// to go over the good, the bad and the ugly of the machine’s design. He pointed out mostly the good things about the /// that often go overlooked. Tony physically took the machine apart, showed the crowd the internals and led a Q&A on it’s capabilities and maintenance. Then, he put it back together again. Good times.

Our next session featured Geoff Weiss demonstrating how you can use the Git revision control system for Apple II development. The assumption is made that the programming is taking place in an emulated virtual machine. For example, Geoff was emulating an older Mac with Basilisk running OS 7.5.5 and using the Apple MPW development environment.

After dinner, Ken Gagne lead several participants in an interactive text adventure game called Jungle Adventure. At the same time, Carrington Vanston was teaching a beginner’s course how to setup and use the cc65 cross-compiler on Mac OS X (with some help from Apple’s free Xcode IDE).

About a dozen or so attendees signed up for Vince Briel’s Build a Computer Workshop. Under Vince’s supervision, participants assembled and soldered their own Briel kit. If you ever get a chance to attend one of Briel’s workshops, you should try it. They are a lot of fun.

Later, we remembered Ryan Suenaga and raised money for the scholarship named in his honor. We enjoyed a round of Krispy Kreme donuts and raised a glass of milk to our friend that we miss so much.

Also tonight Daniel Kruszyna presented a performance of ‘Satin Weave’ featuring 3 Apple //c computers. I hope we’ll be able to post a recording of that at some point. Even later is the Structris Tournament, but I’ll probably be too zonked out to watch or participate in that.

July 23rd, 2014

KansasFest Day 1

For those willing to get up early and make the trek, breakfast happened. Others (imo) wisely chose to save their energy and sleep in. Today is the official first day of KansasFest 2014 and it’s going to be crammed full of activity.

Our first event was the Garage Giveaway, sometimes referred to as ‘freebay’. Attendees got to grab as much Apple II gear, magazines, software and books as they could carry FOR FREE. Apple IIGS monitors were a big hit this year, as were several Apple II and vintage Macintosh computers. At least 92% of what was brought has been claimed by eager KFesters. A great big thank you to everyone who donated to help defray gas, storage and shipping expenses, but our deepest gratitude is extended to KFest Alums Michael Mahon and Ray Merlin for their personal donations to the Apple II community.

After the Apple II feeding frenzy, a feeding frenzy of another kind was held. The annual Kookout hosted by GrillMeister Kirk Mitchell is the official ‘meat and greet’ social event of the conference. Burgers and hot dogs (even the veggie variety) were heaped before hungry attendees. Yum.

Margot Comstock, editor and publisher of Softalk Magazine presented the keynote. Margot is awesome, and it was a privilege to hear her stories about the history of the magazine, the early microcomputer industry and her personal anecdotes about relevant people she’s known (like Woz). Personally, Softalk will always be my favorite Apple II magazine (with Nibble being a close second). Margot and Al Tommervik (who both founded Softalk in 1980) were presented with the ‘Apple II Forever’ award by the KansasFest Organizing Committee in recognition of their contributions to the Apple II community.

Peter Neubauer next demonstrated Appletalk networking with GSport. Spoiler: Peter wrote the code that makes GSport the first modern Apple IIGS emulator with built-in support for Appletalk. Peter showed how seamless the Appletalk support is, by sharing files with emulated and real Apple IIGS machines.

After dinner, Rob Walch of ‘Today In iOS’ podcast gave his annual update on tips, updates and predictions for iOS. I skipped it, because I was doing Apple II stuff elsewhere.

The evenings activities were pretty laid back. Sarah W. presented an Apple II themed ‘make your own Christmas ornament’ session. Concurrently, the classic ‘Bite the Bag’ contest was held. First time attendee Ian Primus won, followed by Andy Molloy in second place.

The last session featured James Littlejohn leading a workshop on accelerating your Apple IIc Plus. It’s actually pretty easy to double your average IIc Plus from 4MHz to 8MHz or even 10MHz under the right conditions. James and a few helpers managed to upgrade about a dozen machines in the span of about an hour. It’s *that* easy.

Afterwards there were a few late night outings to local restaurants, and lots of gabbing in the common areas before eventually, sometime around 4:00am, even the die-hards began calling it quits.

July 21st, 2014

KansasFest News: All 1200+ Nibble Magazine programs available FREE

For nearly 4 years, Stavros Karatsoridis has been a very busy man, collecting, typing and debugging Nibble Magazine’s complete 12 1/2 year run of (1,200+) featured programs. What a remarkable achievement. Even better news, Mike Harvey (Nibble Magazine’s editor and publisher) has made all of the software from Nibble Magazine available for free! Mike’s announcement is attached below.


Exciting news from Stavros Karatsoridis!!!
ALL 1,200+ NIBBLE PROGRAMS FROM 12 1/2 YEARS ARE DOWNLOADABLE!
AND THEY’RE FREE!!!

After a 3 1/2 year effort, Stavros Karatsoridis has laboriously typed, formatted and packaged the entire collection of Nibble 1,200+ programs spanning our 12 1/2 years of publication. His 42-disk collection includes the 265 major programs that were volunteered several years ago by Sam Stoddard (see below) and goes well beyond. Stavros has also provided a scrollable Index of the Programs by Title, so you can easily search our the location of your favorites programs (on the Nibble Disks page).

So this is your chance to recapture some of the magic and charm of the good old 40-character screen with its Low-Res and Hi-Res graphics and take a program tour to that wonderful decade of the 1980′s!

WELL DONE STAVROS, AND THANK YOU ON BEHALF OF THE APPLE II COMMUNITY!

June 6th, 2014

The French Touch

Block ASCII art done right on the Apple II. Who needs ANSI?

May 19th, 2014

Do you want 16MB of auxillary RAM in your Apple IIe?

The real question is, ‘what would you do with 16 megabytes of auxiliary RAM?’ Well, there’s AppleWorks (but it only recognizes 1.5MB) and only a few other programs like SuperCalc that can adequately justify adding more than 1MB of RAM to your Apple IIe. Sure, you can also add a print spooler and a RAM disk but then, what’s next?

We’re about to find out. Matt Jenkins is close to turning his prototype RamWorks clone, dubbed ‘ScramWorks’ into an actual card. Initially, Matt looked at an 8MB version, but it’s just as easy and with little increase in cost to max out the card for the ultimate 16MB auxiliary card.

During their early years, Applied Engineering advertised memory add-on cards for the RamWorks line totaling between 14MB to 16MB (achieved by stacking multiple expanders), digital and analog video adapters and even optimistically developed a 65c816 option card, perhaps in the hope of spurring 16 bit development on the Apple II line. By the time the RamWorks II and III were introduced, AE had reduced their advertising claims to 3MB and the 16bit option card was a gizmo that little to nothing took advantage of. That was then.

So what’s new and different today? Honestly, very little. Matt is looking into making the card compatible with the older AE RGB interfaces, or more likely, integrate Nishida Radio’s VGA adapter into the design. That would certainly be practical.

It would be up to today’s hackers and enthusiasts to develop the killer apps or utilities to make 16MB of RAM dance on the Apple IIe. I will buy one (or two) in the hopes someone will do exactly that.

If you’re interested in the ScramWorks project, let Matt know. He has a survey up to gather information on what the community needs and expects.

February 28th, 2014

Nishida Radio working on Apple IIc VGA adapter

Koichi Nishida has Apple //c users on Facebook excited about the VGA adapter he is designing. Since the extremely limited run of Gregory Estrade’s Guimauve 2000, the Apple IIc has been without a viable VGA adapter option.


photo

Thank you Koichi — we will be following your progress with enthusiasm!

February 24th, 2014

Ultimate Apple2 officially reopens — Apple2Pi card now available for sale


UA2

The day is finally here! Ultimate Apple2 reopens today with exciting new products and carrying old favorites from ReactiveMicro and James Littlejohn. Available NOW: the Apple2Pi 4.4 for $59.99. Also available, A2Pi Accessory Pack for beginners or anyone wanting to get started with their A2Pi quickly.

You’ll also find previously sold out and hard to find products are now back in stock: LittlePower GS, 32K cache card and high-speed GAL kits for Transwarp GS, the cloned EDD4+ card and MicroDrives!

January 30th, 2014

G. George Ostrom needs an Apple II

George Ostrom, noted columnist for the Columbia Falls, Montana Hungry Horse News needs an Apple II to replace his (currently malfunctioning) machine so he can look up archived data and stories for his column. If anyone in the northwest USA region can help him out, please contact him. He lives in Kalispell, MT. You can reach him via feedback to his column, or through the paper.

January 24th, 2014

News from UltimateApple2

Anthony Martino dropped us an update on their re-opening and future plans.

What is up with the Apple2Pi…..

It’s been some time since any news about our new card, the Apple2Pi (or A2Pi for short) for your beloved Apple2 has been announced. We wanted to thank everyone for their support and encouragement. We are happy to announce that we have due to be delivered to the UltimateApple2.com office in New York on or around February 15th, 2014 the final production boards.

We originally wanted to launch in January, but the reason for our delay is two part. One is that we have made a few slight changes on our proto boards here and wanted to be sure that all of these improvements were successful and passing with flying colors! The second part for the delay outside of our regular lives as this isn’t our full time jobs is that China has their new year celebrations this week and next. This shutdown effects any of our orders and are forced to wait until they reopen and resume their daily regular working activities.

So that being said, if they do arrive on our office doorstep, we will immediately test our items that we received. If everything is perfect which is expect to be the case since every design since we started this project has been working fine, we can expect to open the “2store” immediately which should be around February 16th, 2014. Set your calendar reminders!! If our order is processed quicker than they projected for us to receive, then expect this date to be moved up. If we can get these back any sooner and release them any sooner, we will.

Some other re-release announcements….

On the same day as the A2Pi gets released, we will once again open up ordering for two other items that we had for sale a few years back. One will be the EDD4+ card and the other will be the DB19 crimp connectors. These are VERY limited supply so act fast!

Collaboration projects for 2014….

As for some collaboration work with our trusted partner company ReactiveMicro, we are expecting them to get up and running sometime soon. As of now, we are not totally sure when, but we do expect them to be back online in some way, shape, or form and offering some of those very hard to find items. There has been some discussions as how this will launch and it is finally starting to take shape. Stay tuned to both websites and most importantly here at A2Central for more information.

Looking ahead for the rest of 2014…..

As we mentioned ReactiveMicro already, even though their online store is not open at this time, this doesn’t mean that they are not actively working behind the scenes. We are working closely with them to bring to market two great items this year. We would hate to give a time table, but, if things progress the way they have been progressing, expect to see two great projects released we hope around Kfest2014…again, if everything stays on track…we are keeping our fingers crossed!

Will we attend Kfest 2014…..

We are always hopeful that we will be able to attend Kfest. It is always a great escape from the East Coast during some of the hottest days in the summer! This year, if we can attend, we already said that we would try to host a hands-on workshop. We haven’t worked out these details yet as we are not even 100% sure that we can attend. We will announce on UltimateApple2.com once we have a better idea about our availability.

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