October 31st, 2009

Transylvania rereleased on iPhone

TouchArcade reports that the 1982 Apple II game Transylvania has been ported to the iPhone, complete with the original graphics!

October 30th, 2009

Coming soon from bootZero: HDDD A2 Deluxe

While perusing bootZero.com, I came across these pictures of the sweet-looking HDDD A2 Deluxe. The Deluxe is an HDDD A2 adapter and 3.5 drive in an attractive external enclosure, which I’m pleased to see has a daisy chain port.

October 28th, 2009

First look at the iDisk for Apple II

Antoine Vignau of Brutal Deluxe was the first person to purchase a iDisk for Apple II and he’s kindly sent us several pictures and a short write-up on it.

The announcement on comp.sys.apple2 of the availability of the iDisk card for the Apple II, the first dual USB Bluetooth/Disk controller/Disk image archive for our platform, has been more than surprising as nobody was aware of it. The card is divided into two parts: one that fits into the computer which contains the two USB ports and the second external card which offers disk switching operations.

Installation on a //GS (ROM 01) is straightforward and takes less than a minute but requires you to cut off your chassis for the two USB cards to be reachable. It is recommended to install the card into slot 6 to restrict compatibility issues with some disk images.

The internal card recognizes USB Bluetooth dongles as well as USB Flash drives formatted with FAT16 thus limiting their size to 2GB. It is very well-designed despite the fact that the chassis be cut. A further release will correct that drawback.

The external card can be seen as the remote controller of the iDisk offering disk switching and status as well as the mandatory reset feature.

Press the reset button, turn your computer on and release the button, the iDisk menu is displayed and allows you to browse through your .DSK disk images or access the Bluetooth features which have not been tested yet. The menu is simple but lacks simplicity as key shortcuts are not user-friendly (P to exit, 2 to enter a folder, and so on) I would like to see a firmware update to correct these minor issues.

Once you have your disk images selected and have pressed P to exit and boot, the disk images load magically from the USB disk. Several images have been tested (Zaxxon, Thexder, Master.dsk) with no issues and what is surprising is that the images load at the original Disk II speed!

Despite the design issue that will be corrected soon, that card introduces USB connections to the Apple II family which, if the firmware permits, will open a new world of USB devices if the few remaining programmers use it.

Priced at NTD 6500 (32 NTD = 1 USD) for an iDisk and a Bluetooth USB dongle, at NTD 8005 (USD 245) with taxes and s&h, it is an expensive item which will have to find its way among Compact Flash card readers and the newly introduced Carte Blanche.

Gallery:

iDisk 1
iDisk 2
iDisk flipside
iDisk Control Dongle
iDisk Control Dongle flipside
iDisk goodies
iDisk closeup
iDisk installed
iDisk User Menu
Running Zaxxon
In slot 6
In slot 5

October 28th, 2009

Carte Blanche getting sound, USB add-ons

AppleLogic has announced new add-ons for the Carte Blanche card. First, the CB Audio/Visual card (CBAV) is a Delta-Sigma stereo adapter that connects in-line between the Carte Blanche VGA port and your display. It does this by using the SDA and SCL lines which normally are not utilized. With the CBAV, the Carte Blanche may eventually be programmed to impersonate popular speech and sound cards, such as the Mockingboard series.

AppleLogic is generously providing the CBAV free, for the cost of shipping to current Carte Blanche owners.

The second add-on is a dual port USB adapter (CBDUALUSB) that will provide access to mass storage and other USB devices.

October 19th, 2009

Guimauve 2000 VGA adapter for Apple //c now available

Gregory Estrade today announced the availability of the Guimauve 2000, a VGA adapter for Apple //c and IIc Plus computers. The Guimauve 2K is essentially a specialized CPLD-based scandoubler, converting 15Khz video signal to 31Khz. It is available now for EUR 75, or USD $115 shipping included. Please allow 2-3 weeks for delivery.

Euro-//c models may need to use a slightly different firmware to accommodate 50Hz vertical referesh rate. Be sure to specify what model/region your Apple //c is when ordering.

The Guimauve 2000 was recently unveiled at VieuMikro 2009 (event coverage provided by Obsolete Tears). The site is in French, but the Babel Fish translation is available here.

October 19th, 2009

bootZero HDDD A2 adapter now available

Bulgarian Apple II vendor bootZero.com is now selling the HDDD A2 3.5 Disk ][ replacement adapter on eBay. As of this post, three options are available: a deluxe HDDD A2 kit including adapter, 3.5 disk drive, IDC20 and DB19 cables for interfacing via Disk II controller or smartport, power leads, a box of diskettes and cleaning kit for USD $139.90 plus $15.90 S&H. Option #2 is an HDDD A2 adapter plus cables only for USD $119.00 plus $7.60 S&H, or, you may opt for option #3, the HDDD A2 adapter only, with power lead for $89.90 plus $5.70 S&H.

The HDDD A2 adapter is intended to replace aging 5.25 drives and floppies with widely available 3.5 HD drives and disks while preserving the retro-computing experience of working with physical media. To your Apple II, the HDDD A2 appears as and behaves just like a 5.25 Disk II drive — only the media is different.

A2Central has received a HDDD A2 adapter and we are trialling it now. The HDDD A2 was also recently demonstrated at Mt. KeiraFest which was covered in the most recent edition of Juiced.GS.

October 19th, 2009

Virtual II 6.3.5 released

Gerard Putter has updated Virtual ][, the leading 8-bit Apple II emulator for Mac OS X to v6.3.5

Gerard’s announcement is attached:

The latest version of Virtual ][ contains a substantial improvement in the way Apple II interrupts are emulated, and corrects an error in the emulation of two 65C02 instructions (TSB and TRB). This enhances the compatibility; for example, the Apple II program “Publish It” now works fine.

What’s new in version 6.3.5

  • Improved emulation of Apple II interrupts; as a result, the program “Publish It” version 4 can now be used with the mouse.
  • Corrected an error in the emulation of several 65C02 instructions (particularly TSB and TRB). This enhances compatibility with Apple //e applications.
  • Relative mouse mode is now correctly restored from a saved state file. This was an omission in previous versions.
  • Fixed a few spelling errors in the Inspector and tool tips.
  • Fixed an issue that could cause the text color on the Apple II screen to become white after clicking “Cancel” in the the configuration panel.

The update is free and can be downloaded at virtualii.com.

October 11th, 2009

iDisk for Apple II released (prepare for something completely different)

Back in June of 2007, A2Central posted a story about the BlueFlash Card, an exciting new project that was to bring USB and Bluetooth functionality to the Apple II. However, when no new information or a way to order the BlueFlash materialized, some relegated it to vaporware status.

Out of the blue (no pun intended), the apparent successor to the BlueFlash, the iDisk for Apple II has made an appearance — and it’s ready to be ordered! The iDisk is estimated to cost $226 USD ($245 USD with Bluetooth dongle). Pricing for everything is based on New Taiwan Dollars, so you’ll need to follow the exchange rate instructions on the site to calculate base price, taxes and shipping.

Naturally, we’ll try to get one of these and try it out.

October 7th, 2009

The somewhat robotic-sounding computer

When I was a kid, I used to spend 2-3 weeks of my summer vacations with my aunt, uncle and cousin. They lived several hours away, and I would otherwise see them only around Thanksgiving and Christmas. So for my cousin and me, the summer weeks were nonstop spacemen vs. aliens (pew-pew!), swimming, fort building, tree climbing and bug collecting.

I think I was about 8 and visiting for another summer vacation when one day my aunt said we were going to my uncle’s place of work. At the time, my uncle was a programmer working with mainframe computers at the local state university. I didn’t know what to expect because I didn’t really know what a computer was, except for what I’d seen on Star Trek.

We met my uncle in his office area, and soon after, he offered to show us around. I remember entering the computer room and seeing rows and rows of immense machines with blinking lights, spinning tape drives and printers clattering away. After the customary “don’t touch anything!” speech, my uncle explained to us what each of the machines did and why they were so busy… and then he asked if we’d like to “talk” to one of the computers. That sounded like fun, so within moments, my cousin and I were seated in front of a terminal, eager to talk to the computer.

My uncle told us he had to get the computer ready and briefly consulted with a co-worker, who quickly left, saying he had to load the necessary program tapes. My uncle then instructed us how it would all work: we would type in questions on the terminal, and the computer would answer by “speaking” to us through a telephone handset using something called a speech synthesizer. When everything was ready, we began to type in our questions.

Initially, our questions were pretty basic — like asking what 10 plus 10 equaled, and who was the first President of the United States. In response, we would hear over the handset, a somewhat robotic-sounding voice giving the correct answer! I was amazed and intrigued. I felt like I had discovered something wonderful and I knew right then and there, that someday, I wanted to work on a computer just like my uncle did.

After about 10 minutes of fun, I needed to visit the restroom. My uncle told me where I needed to go, but somewhere along the way, I became disoriented and lost. While wandering by an office with an open door, I peeked in hoping to ask for directions. Instead I found my uncle’s co-worker, sitting back in his chair with his feet up on the desk. He was looking at a terminal and speaking with a bored, somewhat robotic-sounding voice into a telephone handset, “The-capital-of-Missouri-is-Jefferson-City”… and the gig was up.

In retrospect, it didn’t matter that my uncle had played a trick on us. The impression made on me that day has lasted a lifetime, and it fostered my early interest in computers that became a hobby and eventually turned into a profession.

Apple II Forever!

October 6th, 2009

cc65 2.13.0 released

Ullrich von Bassewitz has announced that version 2.13.0 of the popular cc65 cross-development package has been released. cc65 features a macro assembler, linker, C compiler and library manager for 65(C)02 based systems.

Ullrich’s announcement is attached:

I’m proud to announce version 2.13.0 of cc65. cc65 is a complete cross development package for 65(C)02 systems, including a powerful macro assembler, a C compiler, linker, librarian and several other tools.

cc65 has C and runtime library support for many of the old 6502 machines, including

– The following Commodore machines:

VIC20
C16/C116 and Plus/4
C64
C128
CBM 510 (aka P500)
the 600/700 family
newer PET machines (not 2001).

The Apple ][ and successors.

– The Atari 8 bit machines.

– GEOS for the C64 and C128.

– The Nintendo Entertainment System (NES).

– The Supervision console.

– The Oric Atmos.

– The Lynx Console.

The libraries are fairly portable, so creating a version for other 6502s
shouldn’t be too much work.

This version has many improvement over version 2.12. To name a few:

– Support for bit-fields.

– Improved standards compliance. Several missing functions and headers have been added.

– Improved compatibility with ancient K&R sources.

– Additional warnings in case of dubious code.

– The startup code went into the library. This simplifies linker usage. If you have a custom startup file, please check it – there have been conceptual changes.

– Several improvements in the libraries. Functions were changed for more speed or smaller size.

– “Secondary” linker configurations make it easier to support more than one setup per target system.

– Improved code generation. The code generated by the compiler is faster than before, usually without much increase in code size.

Precompiled binaries are available for the most common platforms. On many other host platforms, the sources compile out of the box, so you’ll able to create your own binaries.

For RedHat Enterprise Linux 5, ready made RPM packages are available. These packages may also work on other rpm-based Linux systems. Please note that there are separate RPMs for the compiler proper, the docs, and the target specific libraries. To develop code for one of the target machines, you need the compiler RPM package *and* one of the target machine packages. Be sure to download the documentation package if you’re new to cc65.

For windows users, there’s a user friendly installer package (the one with the .exe extension). All subpackages are selectable from within the installer dialogue. The installer will also setup the necessary environment variables and start menu entries. It is recommended that Windows users choose this package instead of the .ZIP files.

Precompiled binaries for DOS, OS/2 and Windows are available in ZIP archives. As with the RPM packages, you need the package for the development host system (Windows or whatever) *and* one or more of the target machine packages, plus optionally the doc package.

All packages are available from the MU software FTP server:

ftp://ftp.musoftware.de/pub/uz/cc65/

More information on cc65 can be found on the cc65 web page at:

http://www.cc65.org/

There is also a mailing list for discussing cc65 related issues (programming, suggestions, bugs, …). See http://www.cc65.org/#List for information on how to subscribe to this list.

While I’m the main developer of cc65, it is actually a joint effort. I would like to thank the target library developers, all the people on the cc65 mailing list, all those sending suggestions and feedback, and even those bugging me for a new stable release:-) The CREDITS file is probably incomplete, but you know who you are.

Thank you!

Uz

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