September 15th, 2014

Oz KFest dates announced: Melbourne Australia, April 17-19, 2015

Andrew Roughan asked that we post this:

The next Australian retro computing gathering, Oz KFest, will be happening in Melbourne, Australia, April 17-19, 2015. Come join us downunder for a few of days of retro inspiration, Aussie ingenuity and camaraderie!

The goal of the event is to provide a user group style environment to exchange ideas and discuss new developments in retro computing hardware, software, preservation, emulation and other related topics.

There will be a few attendees of past KansasFests and Oz KFests and we hope to imbibe the spirit of these events into Oz KFest once again.

The presentations during the weekend will come from the participants and therefore an invitation is extended for session proposals to be made via email to ozkfest@gmail.com

If you have an idea for a session that you’d like to present, please let us know so we can allocate a time slot for you. If you would like to learn something, let us know what that is and we will try to find a presenter for that topic.

Registration for the event is not yet open. However, now is the time to block out the dates in your calendar, arrange how to get there and where you’ll stay. If you need help, let us know how we can help.

For event details, see http://ozkfest.net and for breaking updates follow OzKFest on Twitter.

Reminder that the ‘Downunder Chat’ happens every Friday night from 9pm Australian EST in irc.a2central.com #a2.chat

Apple II Forever!

August 30th, 2014

Open Apple #38 (Aug 2014): Lawless Legends dev team, KansasFest

Open Apple #38 is published (still August – just made it. Whew!). If you’re a subscriber, it should be appearing in your favorite RSS reader or iTunes shortly if it hasn’t already.

This month on Open Apple, we go deep on Lawless Legends with most of the team building it. We’ve managed to corner Seth Sternberger (of 8-bit Weapon fame), Martin Haye, and Brendan Robert (Dave Schmenk, we’re coming for you…) to grill them on this amazing effort. We also wish a fond farewell to co-host Ken Gagne, and welcome our new co-host Quinn Dunki. Listeners can look forward to more angry sarcasm and less professionalism here on Open Apple. Of course, we also ramble some more about KansasFest 2014. Because KansasFest.

http://www.open-apple.net/2014/08/30/show-038-lawless-legends-team-kansasfest/

August 1st, 2014

Quinn Dunki (BLONDIHACKS) blogs about her KansasFest 2014 experience

Read about Quinn’s KansasFest 2014 experience.ogol

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 23rd, 2014

KansasFest Day 0

Tuesday is move-in day, and it’s HOT here at Rockhurst University in Kansas City, MO. I arrived with James Littlejohn just before 11:00am and we were greeted by several other KansasFest attendees. We have a big turnout this year (lots of new people), about 70 Apple II enthusiasts have braved the elements, highways and crowded airports (with friendly frisking by Homeland Security) to come here for THE ULTIMATE APPLE II PARTY in the world.

Nothing official is planned today. This is when we unpack and settle in, fill the coolers, make our trips to get supplies and catch up with our friends. It’s when we unload a huge truck full of Apple II gear, software, magazines in the hot and humid weather, just to give it all away the next day. It’s when we hit a local favorite BBQ establishment en mass and overwhelm the reception staff. It’s where we stay up until 1, 2 or 3 o’clock in the morning swapping technical information and Apple II stories, showing off projects and trading parts.

THIS IS KANSASFEST.

June 26th, 2014

Vince Briel to host BIY workshop at KansasFest 2014

KansasFest attendees are in for a special treat this year. Vince Briel is attending and will once again host a ‘build it yourself’ workshop. You can sign up to assemble any of his famous kits, including the brand new Ohio Scientific Superboard III (another famous 6502-based micro).

Complete details are on the Briel Computers web site.

December 10th, 2013

Students experience 30 years of Apple technology

At Kenilworth’s Joseph Sears School (Chicago, Illinois suburb), students recently participated in a ‘visual history of technology’ exhibit featuring 30 of Apple’s products from the Apple II through the latest iOS equipped devices. The exhibit is now on permanent display.

The students researched the Apple computers used by their school district over the years and interviewed the former technology coordinator. It’s a fun read and it’s nice to see the contributions of the Apple II series in education weren’t forgotten.

Check out the article here. You can also see a tour and listen to the students present their written and oral reports on the various Apple models at Elisabeth LeBris’ Apple Computer Museum site.

It looks like the students grabbed pictures of some very well-equipped machines off the Internet. If only school cast-offs were loaded like these units (with accelerators, RAM and other goodies).

September 12th, 2013

Original Mac dev team gathers to remember the Twiggy Drive

As an Apple II fan site, we don’t post very many articles about our frenemy, the Macintosh. That’s unfortunate, because I’ve often felt several of the Macintoshes (especially later models) were amongst the best Apple II peripherals ever made.

This story posted on CNET today is an exception, as it features pictures and anecdotes from many of the early Apple employees who worked on the Apple II and the first Mac. Check out Apple’s ‘Twiggy Mac’ comes back to life by Dan Farber. It’s an interesting read for Apple history buffs.

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