May 25th, 2015

4am cracks featured at Internet Archive

4am is a well-known and gifted software cracker best known for releasing detailed step-by-step instructions for cracking commercial copy-protected programs for the Apple II series, and for also producing ‘clean’ cracks, which is to say the so-called ‘warez’ were free of any vanity crack screens (where the cracker usually takes credit for their exploits).

The Internet Archive (through the efforts of digital preservationist Jason Scott) are now hosting of over 300+ of 4am’s cracks online. You can download the disk image for transfer to your Apple II, or in many cases play the disk image online through your web browser. Many of these cracks are for titles that never got much love from the pirating community, primarily educational titles.

Read more about it at http://ascii.textfiles.com/archives/4630, as well as see 4am’s impressive array of cracked software at https://archive.org/details/apple_ii_library_4am.

May 25th, 2015

NinjaForce releases Ninjatracker

The programming ninjas at NinjaForce are certainly active lately. Today they released Ninjatracker, a “vastly modified version of the SoundSmith player” for the Apple IIGS along with the programs source code. You can read how to use it and download it directly from NinjaForce’s Ninjatracker web page.


Ninjatracker

May 21st, 2015

KansasFest early registration ends May 31st!

Early-bird registration for KansasFest, the 27th annual convention dedicated to the Apple II computer, ends on May 31. After that, prices rise $55. Register now, and you’ll have extra cash to upgrade your Apple II. Users, programmers, hobbyists, and retrocomputing enthusiasts are invited to Rockhurst University in Kansas City, Missouri, from Tuesday, July 14, through Sunday, July 19, for six days and five nights of sessions, demos, announcements, contests, and camaraderie.

The week kicks off with keynote speaker Rebecca “Burger Becky” Heineman, a prolific computer game programmer, designer, and industry veteran. Heineman will be available immediately afterward for a Q&A and autograph session.

The rest of the week will be packed with hardware and software sessions. All KansasFest sessions are presented by the attendees, who are known for unscheduled events and debuts, too. Whether it’s a behind-the-scenes look at new software, preorder opportunities for new hardware, a live-action text adventure, a podcast recording session, Structris tournaments, or an athletic round of Bite the Bag, there are experiences to be had and memories made at KansasFest that aren’t possible except in the company of surprising, brilliant, diehard Apple II fans. We already have 900 minutes of scheduled sessions with only 400 minutes still open. Please sign up now to present a session. Check out our YouTube channel for examples of past presentations.

KansasFest invites any and all Apple II users, fans, and friends to attend the longest running annual Apple II conference. Sign up for our discussion list to meet other attendees and get the latest details as the event approaches. With only two months to go before KansasFest starts, it’s time to finish your registration, book travel, and format your floppies.

May 20th, 2015

David Finnigan updates Marina IP Stack

Today I released the newest edition of the Marina IP stack for Apple II computers. This edition adds DNS name resolution, as well as several other bug fixes and improvements. Domain name resolution means that users can use human-readable names such as www.yahoo.com instead of hard-to-remember IP addresses like 98.138.253.109 to access resources on the Internet.

The Marina IP stack is the newest networking implementation for the Apple II series, designed to have better RFC-compliance than existing
implementations. Written in 6502 assembly language, it is compatible with all Apple II models that accept the Uthernet card in slot 3.

For more information, and links to download and documentation, visit the official Marina web site: http://marina.a2hq.com/

Here is the change log:

  • Added checks on destination address for incoming datagrams
  • Datagrams not addressed to our IP, or to broadcast, or DHCP replies, are dropped.
  • Broadcast flag is set for incoming broadcast datagrams
  • IP datagrams with head longer than 20 bytes are checksummed and accepted, but options are not processed
  • Fixed checksum routine to work with IP headers longer than 20 bytes
  • Fixed the check for UDP datagrams sent with no checksum (offset was off by one)
  • Added NETBCAST for storing network broadcast address, e.g. 169.254.255 or 192.168.2.255
  • Incoming check for broadcasts now looks for “all ones” or the network broadcast address
  • Updated IPSEND to use the new check on NETBCAST
  • Wrote IPTOHEX subroutine to convert dotted decimal addresses to 4 hex digits
  • ARPTEST and UDPSENDTEST now take a user-supplied IP address
  • Bug fix: datagrams with Link-Local destination addresses were being forwarded to router when a routable address was configured
  • Intitial DNS resolver implementation that queries for A records
  • IPSEND now uses a retry counter for ARP requests. It will not fail if the MAC address was not in the ARP table
  • IPSEND forces TTL to 255 when destination is a Link-Local address
  • Increased size of ARP table from 4 to 5
  • Display of incoming IP datagrams shows source address
  • Renamed UTHERDEMO file to MARINA
May 12th, 2015

Apple II Festival France 2015

Mark your calendars! Coming this August 3rd through August 9th is APPLE II FESTIVAL FRANCE 2015, at Maska to Castera-Verduzan in Gers. Join your fellow European Apple II enthusiasts for a week of retrocomputing, gaming, hacking and fellowship. Apple II Festival France 2015 is being produced by Silicium and Groupe Apple II France (Facebook).


ApplefestfranceLogoNoir

Click here for Google Translation (English) of site.

May 7th, 2015

UNISDISK Air used for cross development



Courtesy Arnaud Cocquière

May 3rd, 2015

KABOOM! 1.01 released


kaboom

KABOOM! v1.01 released

Bug fixes:

  • Fixed a bug where the game crashes during play.
  • The game now stores settings and scores (oops).
  • Typos in credits fixed (plus some names we forgot).

Have fun!

May 3rd, 2015

Assembly Lines Podcast #11: Replace RAM in an Apple //c



May 1st, 2015

Testing the UA2/RM TranswarpGS clone begins this weekend

BOY HAVE WE GOT BIG PLANS FOR THE WEEKEND!

A2Central has received its TranswarpGS v1.0 clone prototype and we are going to test it in our primary Apple IIGS starting this weekend.


IMG_20150427_113533_1 - Fixed For Handout

The first run of 10 PCBs are intended for testers and developers, with the remainder being sold to a lucky few who have offered to help fund the continuation of the project by graciously offering more than the retail asking price. If testing is successful, more PCBs will be ordered within a few weeks with full availability to be announced at a later date.

Our TranswarpGS test unit came with all the bells and whistles you’d expect on an upgraded TWGS except for an on-board fan. We’ve been asked to experiment using the card at 16MHz (and higher) without it, so the only cooling will come from our Kensington System Saver (which I consider essential equipment anyway). It will be interesting to find out if, or when, the card begins to get crashy without onboard active cooling. We know the old cards required cooling at higher speeds, but the new TWGS may not necessarily behave the same way or have identical requirements.

Our test rig is a ROM 3 Apple IIGS, with a ReactiveMicro 200W power supply. Currently installed are a typical assortment of cards:

4MB Sequential Systems RAM card (RAM slot)
R&D Automation CFFA3000 (slot 6)
Apple ‘Mustang’ SuperDrive controller (slot 5)
Drewbie Stereo card (slot 4)
A2RetroSystems Uthernet card (slot 2)

I usually have a 12MHz ZipGSX with 32K cache installed in this machine, so I’m expecting to see a noticeable difference in performance.

As we test the card, results will be posted here:

TEST RESULTS PENDING

What did we get?

Out of the package, aside from the TWGS itself, we received a flyer congratulating us on our purchase that also briefly describes the benefits of the card and a set of stickers with a chart of the Scalable Oscillator settings printed on them. The stickers are for placing on the underside of your Apple IIGS lid, so you won’t lose the settings when you need them most. No manual was included, but does anyone really need one? The original Applied Engineering TWGS manual is available online from several sources, and it remains applicable to the clone TWGS board.

Our TWGS also arrived with version 6 of the 32K cache board. By the time the clone TWGS is in full distribution, the version 7 32K cache board will be shipping with it. The primary difference is the version 7 board has a flash ROM on board, with LOTS of space to tinker with the TWGS firmware in the future. I’m attaching a pic comparing the 2 cache boards side by side.


TWGS_Cache
The top two cards are version 7 cache boards, the two bottom ones are version 6.
The new TranswarpGS v1.0 clone from UltimateApple2 and ReactiveMicro has a lot going for it. For one thing, all the components are brand new instead of being 25+ years old and benefit from modernization. New logic and manufacturing techniques should equate into power efficiencies and heat reduction for longer life and increased stability. Also, modifications that were previously considered hacks and upgrades are now standard features. There’s certainly more bang for the buck with the cloned TWGS.

The new TWGS includes:

High-speed WDC 65c816
32K cache board, with the current 1.8S firmware
Scalable Oscillator (preset to 16MHz) with .25MHz incremental tuning
High-speed GAL set
Enhanced “straight” CPU cable
On-board fan, for active cooling

Pricing

The price for the TranswarpGS v1.0 clone is $550 USD plus shipping. That’s probably not the price point some people were hoping for, but at least an option now exists for the Apple II Community for a new, modernized and faster accelerator in addition to the older, used accelerators. It’s extremely difficult to achieve discount pricing from suppliers on such small, niche product runs, especially one with this much silicon on it.

I’m grateful Anthony Martino and Henry Courbis undertook this project and brought it to completion. They were able to succeed where others have not. Good job guys.

April 28th, 2015

GGLabs producing new IIGS to component video adapters

In addition to their RAM card products, GGLabs is now producing a component video adapter for the Apple IIGS. You can see (and bid on) it via eBay. I think my only gripe is that it isn’t in a protective box.


GGLabs_RGB

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