Seriously, how did we miss these cool recordings? You can listen to them here.
Seriously, how did we miss these cool recordings? You can listen to them here.
This month on Open Apple we sit down with Robert Bowdidge, one of three interns at Berkeley Softworks who ported GEOS to the best line of 8-bit computers. We talk about what a great place Berkeley Softworks was, along with the power of good tools and proper software engineering. Robert has great memories of the culture there, the GUI technology they had built, and the brilliant people who built it. Apparently GEOS existed for some other 8-bit computer as well, but we imagine it was slow and child-like. Users probably bought it at K-Mart or something.
After the interview, Mike and Quinn delve into their personal memories of GEOS, along with a couple of new projects they both did with the environment. Mike works on GEOS file conversion, and Quinn sorts out all the drivers so you don’t have to. We’re even having a contest this month! Download Quinn’s Ultimate GEOS disk image and find the secret phrase. First person to do so and email us at feedback (at) open-apple (dot) net wins nothing at all!
We also talk some news- lots of really great hardware is coming down the pipe. You won’t want to miss Javier Rivera’s hands-on with Plamen’s IIc VGA adapter, and the Uthernet II is now available. Don’t miss out! We talk some Woz, we talk some French Touch, and we revisit KansasFest yet again.
Celebrate GEOS with Quinn and Mike this Hallowe’en!
This month on Drop /// Inches, Paul’s Apple /// has trouble connecting with the world outside, so he speculates on possibilities for WiFi connectivity, and Mike’s Apple /// has trouble connecting with any worlds at all. So, we turn our attention to literature, including the full Apple /// patent, a survey of Apple II users, an early interview with Trip Hawkins, and books on the Apple ///. Paul’s gotten himself a Cursor /// and some late-era PFS software, and unexpectedly managed to get a CMC Quick-20 drive working, Mike’s gotten an Axlon 320 RAMdrive. And Charles Mangin has created a miniature Apple ///.
The second half of the episode is an interview Mike conducted over the phone with Wendell Sander, designer of the Apple ///, from a couple of years ago, covering things like the Apple-internal interactions between departments, problems and solutions to initial reliability issues, the RAM design and peripherals. Recorded from a speaker through the air for added retro sound quality, but very interesting indeed!
This month on Open Apple, we sit down with Rebecca “Burger Becky” Heineman. Becky is a legendary Apple II developer (not to mention many other platforms), and was the keynote speaker at KansasFest 2015. We discuss Becky’s KansasFest experiences then and now, how the community has changed, and what she’s up to now. She has a lot of Apple II gold archived away, and we’re starting to see more and more of it as a result of the continued warmth and friendliness of the Apple II community.
Tune in after that interview, when Quinn and Mike go on to talk about amazing Bulgarian hardware products, new ways to acquire Byteworks software, the mysteries of Double Hires graphics, and of course Halt & Catch Fire. KansasFest stories abound, Mike plugs the Apple III, and Quinn acts oblivious to Mike on the subject of Prince of Persia. Listen in awe as she tells the exact same story about Mechner’s source code, immediately after Mike says the same thing. We swear your co-hosts do listen to each other most of the time, folks.
Place your orders now for the hottest new fragrance, R3TR0: By Gagne.
During KansasFest, we asked 11 year old Ian Marks to write about his KansasFest experience. This was Ian’s first time attending the conference with his mother, Giselle Marks. The adults weren’t the only ones having a good time with their Apple II computers.
This was my first year at K-Fest. I think that it has been the most interesting thing I have ever done. What I liked the most about K-Fest was how kind and generous everyone was to me. Everyone was so helpful, and I think that made the difference. It was the most fun that I have ever had.
The first thing I went to was the keynote speech by Burger Becky. It was a very interesting story of how she got away from her parents to become a famous programmer. Having abusive parents is difficult, but she still managed to make it. My favorite part of the story was when she won the Atari game tournament by a long shot. I hope I get to see her again at K-Fest next year.
The next thing I did was make a string bracelet with Loren Damewood. This is where everybody started being so generous, because he let me do it for free. Later, Loren helped me download Sweet16. Someone else let me use one of the ROM files he had, and Loren gave me a disk image. It was cool being able to use an Apple //’s software on a modern computer. I was also able to try out real Apple // computers, and Jeremy Moskowitz gave me my first very own Apple //e!
Late that evening, I played Bite the Bag. Everyone thought I was going to win, but I didn’t make it far! I will have to practice to get more experience. All the same, they were kind enough to award me a prize for playing for the first time, and I chose a Juiced GS subscription from Ken Gagne.
Assembling a radio kit
The next day, I did soldering. I was making a radio. I didn’t finish my project on the first day, but when I did finish it, I didn’t have any batteries. Greg Nelson kindly donated a 9 Volt battery from his camera flash for me to use. It worked! I also participated in the game tournament. I played Little Red Bug and FlApple Bird. I didn’t do very well in Little Red Bug, but I placed third in FlApple Bird.
Playing Dagen Brock’s FlApple Bird in the game tournament
The next day, I went to the session where they had eight Apple //s playing music in harmony. I can imagine that it was very difficult to put that together! After that, there was the group photo. One of the photographers had us point at him with expressions of horror on our faces! He said he would edit something into the photo later! Then, I went downstairs to eat pizza. Mark LaPlante had some cool posters that he had brought specially for us kids from NASA, where he works – he donated them to me and Christian Schmenk. I went to see the winners of the door sign contest. In the door sign contest, people customize their doors. One of the winners was Carrington Vanston. His door sign was my favorite, because it was a game! You chose a card, which led to another card, and so on, until you reached an end card.
Ian and Mark LaPlante showing NASA mission posters
Playing Carrington Vanston’s adventure game
After that, I hung out in the lobby of the dorm where we were staying for a while. I enjoyed talking to Sean Fahey, who was also very helpful. Ms. Sarah gave me an extra Apple // computer ornament kit she had. I would have had to pay for it, but she kindly gave it to me for free. I haven’t finished it, and I probably won’t finish it for a while, but I will get it done eventually! After starting on the ornament, I went to the vendor fair they had in the basement. Dagen Brock, the maker of FlApple bird was selling copies of the game. I was interested in buying a copy, so I went up to the table and asked how much it would cost. He had decided that since I placed third in the tournament, I could have a copy for free!
On the last day, we went to see the movie Ant-Man. K-Fest was so fun! Before we left, I tried to say thank you to everyone who had helped me. I hope to go again, and I can’t wait to see what will happen next year!
This month on Open Apple, we sit down with Laine Nooney, researcher of early computer and software companies. She has been digging into the history of such greats as Brøderbund and Sierra On-Line. In particular, she has done some awesome research on the infamous Soft Porn Adventure, including behind-the-scenes details on the infamous advertising photo. We talk about broken microfilm projectors, we talk about printer stands, and we talk about revisionist small town historians. Trust us, it will all make sense in the end. Laine is going deep into the role of the microcomputer revolution in transforming domestic life (and the very layout of the houses we live in).
Listen and wonder why Quinn thinks it’s 2010, wonder how loud an ASR-33 really is, and why Mike reads local newspapers of small towns in Utah. Explore the lost art of naming computer user groups, witness the first pure hack of Rastan, and see what Woz thinks about… well, everything and everyone.
This episode features a special huge circle of podcasters around a single microphone at KansasFest 2015, where we reflect on KansasFest, relative merits of the Apple II, the CoCo, Atari 8-bits, and Commodores, and on the phenomenon that is KansasFest. We also make a couple of attempts at Carrington’s choose-your-own-adventure door decoration, and talk about the history and brainstorm about the prospects of future KansasFests. While listening to this episode is nothing like being at KansasFest, it’s a little bit less like not being at KansasFest.
Panelists: Carrington Vanston (hosting), Quinn Dunki, Ken Gagne, Paul Hagstrom, John Leake, John Linville, Rob McMullen, Michael Mulhern, Wade Ripkowski, Kevin Savetz, Steven Weyhrich, and Mike Whalen.
Friday’s report is brought to you by third year attendee Mike Whalen.
Friday (Day 3)
Friday is nearly always bittersweet for me, at least in the few years that I’ve attended the show. Why? Well, thoughts of returning to the Real World(tm) begin to intrude. Oh no! It’s almost over. What will I do? I stare at the ceiling from my bed.
Well. Hmmm.. Okay. Okay. Focus. Focus. Jump up out of bed and… okay, I’m really tired. There are many, many caffeine-hazed hours ahead. And today is ACTION PACKED.
Thanks to a generous donation from the Mark Frischknecht Black Blood of The Earth Foundation, the caffeine flowed and I could walk to breakfast. But this breakfast had to be quick! Because CoCos await.
WHAAA–? Cocos? Surely I mean Hot Cocoa right? Like, the drink? Er… uhm, no. Special Guest John Linville of The CoCo Crew podcast ran a succinct and informative session on the history of Tandy’s Color Computer series. Now, why would we dare have such a session? Simple. We love all things retro and John pointed out several instances where the CoCo and Apple II have shared heritage, whether it was technology or ideas or people. Of course, everyone’s interest was piqued and John found himself peppered with all manner of technical questions. John’s technical chops allowed him to answer all questions. The session was a welcome twist to the day! And it’s just beginning!
The second session was piled right atop the previous and whereas the previous session was a teensy bit outside the ][, the new one was HARDCORE APPLE. Quinn Dunki, who has really come on strong in the community in the last couple of years, unveiled her brand new artistic sandbox called WeeGUI. WeeGUI is straightforward. Quinn offers you a way to easily create MouseText screens. As a relative programming dummy, even I was able to create screens. And not only that, WeeGUI creates screens you can use a mouse to interact with. Yes, this means a mouse driver is included.
First-timer Javier Rivera gave a highly anticipated session. Javier has been Retrobriting browned and discolored Apple II shells from sun-drenched Miami for quite awhile. Today he dropped his Bomb of Knowledge on all the attendees. Javier showed examples of recent work — including work done in the two days Javier was on-site! Javier explained the mixture he had settled on and, when he was done showing off the examples, brought a number of the attendees outside to Retrobrite their treasures. It was a rare opportunity to get hands on with a RetroBrite master.
After a hearty lunch (urp), Michael Mahon and Charles Mangin blew everyone’s mind (mindblow.gif) when they demonstrated a sequence-controlled music synthesis for the Apple II. No, seriously. No, this was _not_ a beep and/or boop. Not only did Michael and Charles demonstrate the code and how it was developed, they totally had seven Apple IIs playing songs with each one taking up an instrument. Strings sounded like strings coming from one Apple II. Drums sounded like drums and they came from a different Apple II. And we even heard a new composition from Seth Sternberger of 8 Bit Weapon. I dare say I heard jaws hit the floor a few times. But, honestly? Those could have been deep bass drums.
Jan Saggiori recounted a fascinating story about the various actions (ethical and not) in the pay-tv industry around Europe, the UK, and elsewhere. Lawsuits, secret emails, industry titans in skivvies. This was quite a session.
Ken Gagne began his first of three sessions of the day. In this first one, he recounted his history on YouTube with his Let’s Play and Unboxing videos. Ken went into a bit of the trials and tribulations and demonstrated the technology that enables him to record an Apple II game for YouTube. Ken even did an impromptu Let’s Play of Dagen Brock’s Flapple Bird!
After that, it was time for the annual Juiced.GS Pizza Party. Thousands of Pizzas showed up. Hungry from all the thinking, we devoured while Ken Gagne (in his second of three sessions) gave the latest update on Juiced.GS showing the phenomenal growth that has happened over the last few years. That makes for some good news. Juiced.GS will continue! And subscriptions will be available for 2016! Afterwards, several awards and thanks were handed out. David Schmenk, Ivan Drucker, James Littlejohn, Henry Courbis, and Anthony Martino all won Apple ][ Forever awards for their work in the community. Charles Mangin won the best wacky tie. Finally, three people (!) won best door prize. Carrington Vanston won for his door-spanning Choose Your Own Adventure series in which several envelopes with index cards inside, ushered you along the game. Sarah won for her low-res screen pixel art tools which encouraged passers-by to create their own low-res screen right on her door. And last, but not least, Chris Torrence, who edited and released a new edition of Assembly Lines, put together a veritable Karateka game _on_his_door_. How, you ask? With paper cutouts. And they filmed a video showing the entire game in puppet show mode. So, yes, he won too.
After the party and the annual KFest group photo, David Schmenk gave an update on his PLASMA programming language which is now blessed with a new moniker: PLASMA 1 ][ ///. David brought everyone through the most recent changes and demonstrated a number of examples that he encouraged the attendees to download from his Github. Again… programming dummy and I understood it. You will too.
Charles Mangin came back for his annual RetroConnector update. Charles showed off all his latest designs and detailed what was going to be available at Saturday’s show. Of course, all of these items are worth my dollars.
Ken was back AGAIN for the third and last session of the night, but this one was a show-stopper. Last year, Ken ran a live interactive “text” adventure. This year, he ran a new text adventure, Space Station! Over a dozen people worked together to get out of predicament the player found herself, stuck on a space station, dizzy, with a warship knocking on the doors with deadly torpedoes. Multiple tries were tried and forays forged but the good ending was never found sadly.
Brian Wiser wrapped up the night by highlighting the Firefly fan movies and even new games. Brian’s session has become a yearly tradition and there’s always newcomers for Brian to help usher into the Firefly universe. Brian is a great presenter and can make Firefly exciting for everyone.
And with that it was off to bed. Boo! The second to last day is over! :-( Why? Why??? Ok. Ok. There’s one more day. Breathe. Breathe.