July 17th, 2015

KansasFest 2015 Thursday Report

Thursday’s report is brought to you by fifth year attendee Mark LaPlante

Thursday (Day 2)

Today’s schedule was packed full of mostly technical sessions. Some were about software, some were about hardware, some a little of both, but what struck me most, and what I enjoy about KFest, is they were about collaboration.

Following breakfast Stephen Buggie explained the importance of EPROMs, creating them, preserving them, and sharing them with others. At least according to the session guide. I am not a morning person and, unfortunately, I missed both breakfast and that talk. My apologies.

Next, Quinn Dunki delved into the basics of mouse programming on 8-bit Apple IIs, a much more complex topic than I had imagined owing to the fact that different design approaches were taken on different machines. Quinn has generously provided a generic mouse driver and sample code at https://github.com/blondie7575/MouseII. During her talk she mentioned how her driver could not detect multiple mouse clicks between mouse movements. By this afternoon, she and Rebecca Heineman had teamed up to squash that bug!

Later in the day Charles Mangin of RetroConnector addressed the many versions of pre-ADB Apple II and Macintosh mouse hardware. Audience members speculated that a lack of collaboration between the Apple II and Macintosh teams (perhaps involuntary) may have led to early mice not always being compatible with both. Charles announced and demonstrated new products (pricing TBD) that will allow the mechanical mechanism to be replaced with an optical one (particularly useful if you have a broken or incomplete mouse), or going the other direction, allow a working Apple serial mouse to be used as a USB mouse.

Before lunch, Jay Graham taught us the history of Pascal, how it differs from AppleSoft, and gave a summary of several Pascal compilers for the Apple II. I am most interested in trying Kyan Pascal and it’s Unix-like shell, Kix. Surprisingly, even though he discussed using Turbo Pascal via a Z80 card, he did not go into Pascal for ARM processors installed in Apple IIs. Perhaps someone will take on that challenge next year.

After lunch, Javier Rivera showed us his techniques for converting CRT monitors to use LCDs. This often takes many months of research into finding panels of a suitable size. Results with LCDs are discussed pretty regularly on the Apple II Enthusiasts Facebook group, so keep an eye out there and share your results as well. You may learn of non-obvious solutions like Javier’s discovery of a visor-mounted display intended for use with a rearward-facing camera system for large trucks as a retrofit for the Apple IIc Flat Panel Display, finally making it usable, and in beautiful color.

Jason Scott entertained us with stories of at least five ways he and teammates at the Internet Archive have brought the Apple II into public view this past year. The Internet Archive web site has had a facelift and there are hundreds of Apple II software titles able to be run in a web browser. He and his request to be sent any and all CD-ROMs were featured on NPR and he has thanked them by outfitting their studio with an Apple II and three issues of Compute! magazine so they can experience the exhilaration of typing in programs.

Mark Pilgrim showed us a clever copy protection method involving intentionally getting the reading of data out of sync. This slowed down pirates over about 6 years as more and more publishers gradually adopted the technique. Rebecca Heineman pointed out that this had a side effect of making many very popular programs crackable all in pretty much the same way once a technique was discovered.

After dinner, Martin Haye spoke on behalf of the Lawless Legends team about their progress over the last year. Ivan Hogan has produced an amazing new font engine, David Schmenk’s PLASMA language has been enhanced and incorporated into much of the game code (PLASMA will be a topic of a session Friday evening), and the team has been working on fleshing out the game scenario. Lawless Legends is a labor of love for its creators, so when asked when it will be done the answer is simple — it will be done when it is ready. Martin is taking the request for an updated playable demo to be released back to the team. It seemed like that was a definite possibility; a good place to watch for news is their Facebook page.

Word has gotten out that Kansasfest is a friendly place for fans of other vintage computing platforms, and Kevin Savetz, Wade Ripkowski, and Rob McMullen compared the development of the Atari 8-bit computers with that of the Apple II. It seems there was quite a bit of collaboration between the two companies — well, at least some Atari engineers were working on the Apple II on the side — some contributed expertise, some likely contributed Atari hardware, and some outright left Atari to work for Apple. Kevin laid down a sort of gauntlet by showing an impressive game written in just 10 lines of BASIC — one contest at an Atari conference I won’t even pretend to remember the name of.

There were several parallel workshops in the evening. Some people worked on Briel Computers kits and Chris Torrence led folks through building a cable which allows feeding a Night Owl security monitor with video and power from a IIc monitor port. KFest is crawling with this monitor this year — a buying frenzy ensued a while ago after it was discussed on Facebook. Others helped repair keyboards, install oscillators and EPROMs, troubleshoot game controllers (a Flapple Bird and Lit’l Red Bug game tournament was taking place in an adjacent conference room). The smell of solder, flux, and Krispy Kreme donuts wafted throughout the building, and life was good.

Finally, I would like to discuss the session that brought the theme of collaboration to mind the most for me. Dagen Brock shared all the ways he has worked with Apple II enthusiasts from all around the world throughout the past year. Following an impromptu Programmer’s Roundtable at last year’s KFest, Dagen was inspired to register and create a web site dedicated to Apple IIGS programming at www.apple2.gs. He collected and linked to a library of IIGS reference books, created a series of YouTube videos, published demos old and new, presented remotely to OzKFest, and disassembled and enhanced Transwarp GS firmware. I am sure I have left something out, but it was the disassembly project that really drove home the importance of collaboration. After disassembling most of the binary with The Flaming Bird disassembler (including translating 30+ pages of documentation from French to English), Dagen got stuck and turned to the Facebook group for help. It was only then that he learned that Antoine Vignau had already disassembled the firmware a few years ago.

So, folks, when you can, share early and share often — you never know what someone else may be working on. There are many rewards to be had when playing with our favorite computer, and, I like to think, even more so when we are able to cooperate across geographical and cultural boundaries.

July 16th, 2015

Rebecca Heineman releases Mindshadow for the IIGS

Rebecca Heineman has released Mindshadow, a graphics text adventure for the Apple IIGS programmed by her and formerly produced by Interplay Productions. You can get a zipped disk image of Mindshadow here.



July 12th, 2015

Dagen Brock’s KansasFest 2015 preview



July 12th, 2015

Ewen Wannop updates BrkDown, new Marinetti link layer for Uthernet II

In honour of KFest 2015, OZ KFest 2015 Take Two, and of course so I don’t suck, I have released two updates today.

Firstly, BrkDown gets even better, with more functionality, more features, more bug fixes, and is now even easier to use. The PDF manual has been updated to show the changes.

Secondly, with the Uthernet2 card getting nearer completion, I have released a Marinetti Link Layer for the new card.

Download ‘brkdown1.0.2.bxy’, ‘brkdown_manual.pdf’, and ‘uthernet2ll.bxy’ from my website:

http://www.speccie.co.uk

Ewen Wannop

July 1st, 2015

Charles Mangin’s KansasFest Preview 5



This was too epic not to post.

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.

April 27th, 2015

Charles Mangin is ready for KansasFest. Are you?



KansasFest Preview #2

April 10th, 2015

KansasFest 2015 opens for registration

KANSAS CITY, MO — April 10, 2015 — KansasFest, the 27th annual convention dedicated to the Apple II computer, is now open for registration. 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.

Attendees are encouraged to share their knowledge by presenting their own hardware and software sessions, especially of the Apple II but including Macintosh, Windows, Linux, iOS, and others. 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.

Register by May 31 to guarantee a price of $385 for a double room or $455 for a single, which includes admission to all sessions as well as most meals. Official KansasFest shirts are extra and optional and must be ordered by June 22; registration for staying on-site closes July 1. To register, please visit the official registration form.

KansasFest invites any and all Apple II users, fans, and friends to attend the longest running annual Apple II conference. For photos, videos, schedules, and presentations from past year’s events or to sign up for the email list and for inquiries, please visit our website at http://kansasfest.org.

CONTACT:
Register: http://www.kansasfest.org/registration/
Email: http://www.kansasfest.org/contact/
Twitter: @KansasFest
Facebook: TBD
Google Plus: TBD

March 16th, 2015

Rebecca “Burger Becky” Heineman to deliver keynote at KansasFest 2015

image credit: Heineman’s personal website at http://burgerbecky.com/becky.htmKansasFest 2015, the 27th annual Apple II convention, is scheduled for July 14 –19 in Kansas City, Missouri. Rebecca “Burger Becky” Heineman, a prolific computer game programmer, designer, and industry veteran, will join us with a keynote presentation.

Heineman learned programming at age 16 and gained fame in 1980 as the first National Space Invaders Champion with a score of 165,200. Her career soon blossomed with credits in over 250 games including classics such as Tass Times in Tonetown, Dragon Wars, Crystal Quest, The Bard’s Tale III: The Thief of Fate, Battle Chess, and Wolfenstein 3D. She developed numerous titles for the Apple IIgs, other contemporary platforms such as the Macintosh and Super Nintendo, and modern platforms such as the Xbox 360 and Playstation 4. She has founded or co-founded multiple game companies, including the venerable Interplay Entertainment, and worked for many more. Heineman continues to work in the game industry, and her company Olde Sküül recently announced a new RPG, Dragons of the Rip. She has not announced an Apple IIgs port.

KansasFest is an annual convention offering Apple II users and retrocomputing enthusiasts the opportunity to engage in beginner and technical sessions, programming contests, exhibition halls, and camaraderie. KansasFest was originally hosted by Resource Central and has been brought to you by the KFest committee since 1995. Any and all Apple II users, fans, and friends are invited to attend this year’s event. Registration details will be announced on the KansasFest Web site in April 2015. For photos, videos, and presentations from past KansasFests, please visit the event’s official Web site at http://www.kansasfest.org/.

January 30th, 2015

Get ready for OzKFest, April 17-19 in Keysborough, Melbourne AU

OzKFest is going ahead April 17-19 in Keysborough, Melbourne.

There are 12 people already confirmed to attend. The website has just been updated with session teasers and those of us on the Apple II Oz mailing list are eagerly making plans with the expectation that this will again be a great event.

We encourage you to attend and join in the fun.

More information and a registration form is available on the website: http://ozkfest.net
If you can’t make it, but would like to follow the event happenings, we will be on twitter @OzKFest #OzKFest2015

Contact me directly (roughana@yahoo.com.au) if you would like assistance with securing shared accommodation.

Regards,
Andrew

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