August 17th, 2015

An amazing Apple II Plus wedding cake

Mike Maginnis posted this delicious link to Facebook… http://saveyourforkcakes.com/2014/12/02/apple-ii-computer-cake/

August 12th, 2015

Video from Apple II Festival France 2015

Andres Lozano Gallego posted this on Facebook.



French Apple II enthusiasts know how to have fun!
Apple II Festival France 2015 Picture Album

August 7th, 2015

Brian Fitzgerald grants release of source code to TAXMAN, Pac-Man clone

Rebecca Heineman has announced via Facebook that she has been given permission to the release the source code to 1981’s “TAXMAN” from H.A.L. Labs by the games programmer Brian Fitzgerald. TAXMAN is notable for being one of the first (and best) clones of the famous Pac-Man arcade game. It was so good, AtariSoft sued and then as part of the subsequent settlement, used TAXMAN’s source code to produce their own Pac-Man port for the Apple II.

Over the years, there have been variants, one of which was created by Heineman herself, when she added additional escape tunnels to the game.

As soon as the source hits GitHub, we’ll post a link here. Examining the code should be beneficial to programmers who want to learn techniques for smooth animation, sound FX generation, obstacle and collision detection as well as general game theory principles.

In the meantime, please enjoy Brian Picchi’s review of TAXMAN courtesy of YouTube.



August 5th, 2015

My First KansasFest – Ian Marks

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.


IMG_2920
Ian Marks

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.


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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.

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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.

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Ian and Mark LaPlante showing NASA mission posters
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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!

August 1st, 2015

KansasFest featured on VICE Radio Motherboard


Motherboard
Click Here for article


July 30th, 2015

Rebecca Heineman releases source for IIGS version of Space Ace -UPDATED

UPDATED POST: 07/30/15

I’ve converted all of the art for Space Ace into animated gifs and created Mac and PC based tools to convert the GIFs into Iigs format data.

The tools are built against Burgerlib and the 65816 code is built with a modified version of a65816. Both Burgerlib and a65816 will be updated on github

ORIGINAL POST: 07/08/15
Just in time for KansasFest, Rebecca Heineman has released the source code to ReadySoft’s Space Ace via Github. Rebecca’s announcement is pasted below:

In 1990, ReadySoft released Space Ace for the Apple IIgs. I purchased a copy and was appalled that the port was only for ProDOS and required you to play the game on floppy disks. Being the reverse engineering nutcase I was, I promptly disassembled the game and converted it back into source code. I then re-wrote the game to use the Apple IIgs hard disk and updated all the file manager code to GS/OS. After creating a really horrible icon for the game, I then uploaded my new application file to friends who wanted to play Space Ace on their hard drives and then promptly forgot about this port.

Here it is, 2015, and after searching my archive CDs, I found this source and decided to share it with you, the programming public, so you can get a glimpse of what 65816 code looked like for the Apple IIgs. This code ACTUALLY COMPILES AND RUNS using the Brutal Deluxe a65816 assembler and my python based build scripts. I’ve successfully built this on my Mac and ran the executable using Sweet16 and in Windows with Kegs. I’ve included the build tools and its source and exes for Mac (Intel/PPC) and Windows.

In case you’re wondering, yes, I did do this port just because I wanted it running natively on my Apple IIgs hard drive. Yes, I’m insane.

Enjoy!

http://www.whatisthe2gs.apple2.org.za/space-ace

And one more thing…

The intellectual property of Space Ace is the exclusive property of Don Bluth and Digital Leisure. No transfer of the intellectual property of Space Ace or any transfer of the ownership of the sounds, art or other game assets are given nor implied. If anyone wishes to release a version of Space Ace for the Apple IIgs commercially, (I have absolutely no idea why? You’d sell like, what? 3 copies?) contact Digital Leisure for a license.

The source code… Go for it.

Rebecca Ann Heineman
Olde Skuul
Seattle, WA



July 20th, 2015

Retro Computing Roundtable episode 105 – KansasFest 2015 coverage

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.

July 19th, 2015

Jason Scott’s KansasFest 2015 Photo Album


Check it out here.

July 18th, 2015

KansasFest 2015 Friday Report

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.

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.

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