May 26th, 2010

NadaNet 3.1 released

Michael Mahon announced the release of NadaNet 3.1 via Usenet newsgroup comp.sys.apple2 today.

The latest version of NadaNet, version 3.1, is now released.

This is a minor update, containing one new command, &PEEKPOKE, providing a reliable atomic primitive for acquiring a lock in a multiprocessor environment. It supplements the existing &PEEKINC command.

In addition, the NadaNet 3.1 &BOOT protocol no longer supports the NadaNet 2.x AppleCrate boot ROM. Machines which must boot from NadaNet at power-up must now use the NadaNet 3.x boot ROM. This completes the migration of all protocols to 3.x level.

Updated documentation, disk images, and source code for NadaNet 3.1 is available on my website at:

http://home.comcast.net/~mjmahon/

-michael

May 25th, 2010

Brutal Deluxe cassette archive reaches 333 titles

Before affordable floppy disk drives were introduced, cassette tapes were the most commonly used media to store programs and data on early personal computers. While inexpensive, most cassette tape drives were slow (no random access) and sometimes a near masochistic hassle to use.

Some early Apple II users (like me) may recall tweaking their tape recorder volume and tone settings and then using a marker pen, a drop of glue or whiteout to “mark” the optimal settings… a hard lesson learned after someone else twiddled with them (in my case, it was my cousin making his ultimate Styx mix tape). The resulting inopportune load or save failure and re-tweaking could induce unparalleled frustration. Then there were those incidents, when you’d lose track of the tape counter and accidentally overwrite previously recorded programs or data. Whoops.

Fortunately for Apple II users, the cassette era was relatively (and mercifully) short. The Apple Disk II floppy drive introduced in July, 1978 was an instant success and within two years, demand for programs on cassette had all but disappeared. Floppy disks had quickly become the new standard for larger, more capable applications. There was also the desire of some publishers to copy-protect their software which also factored somewhat into their hasty withdrawal from cassette tape. Even though deck to deck recording was rampant, it was nothing like the level of floppy disk piracy which would occur later on.

The era of the affordable disk drive became the harbinger of good times for the Apple II and personal computing in general. The cassette tape belonged to the faded genre of the hobbyist and early adopter, whereas the floppy drive made the personal computer even more accessible and convenient to business, education and the home user. Progress.

Having said all that, you would probably think I was being overly critical of the lowly cassette tape and would be happy to never see another one ever again. Not so fast (literally, no pun intended there), but that’s not the case at all. Cassette tapes were the standard storage medium by which the earliest personal computers were made viable, for without it, users would have been stuck with inferior technologies, ie. paper tape drives, streaming wafer drives, reel to reel tape decks or some other even more complicated or expensive technology. If anything, cassette tape deserves credit for helping make early personal computers affordable and practical. So, when I feel nostalgic about the Apple II, I get equally nostalgic about cassettes.

Which brings us to Antoine Vignau of Brutal Deluxe. Antoine recently began collecting and documenting cassettes from the early Apple years and has amassed quite an impressive collection. The cassette archive has just reached 333 titles with more being added as they become available from other members in the Apple II Community.

Some of the titles are unique to tape, having never been transferred to or made commercially available on disk. The preservation of these rare titles is certainly a worthy and commendable effort. Antoine’s hard work and the generosity of those who have contributed tapes to the project are greatly appreciated.

A number of the tapes have even been recorded into audio files, and can be used with a real Apple II or supporting emulator (such as Virtual II). I’ve tried a few, and found it easier and much less cantankerous than dealing with a real tape. I was able enjoy the nostalgia without too much of the hassle.

I encourage anyone who hasn’t done so, to check out the Brutal Deluxe site and explore this fascinating glimpse into Apple history.

May 20th, 2010

May 2010 Call-A.P.P.L.E. available for download

The May 2010 issue of Call-A.P.P.L.E. Magazine is now available for all users to download. You will need the latest version of the Adobe PDF viewer to read the magazine. See the A.P.P.L.E. website at http://www.callapple.org and follow the Current Issue link for the magazine.

May 19th, 2010

Apple II Quickies (05-19-10)

The guys at Mac software developer Panic use an iPad to load “Jed’s Other Poem (Beautiful Ground)”, a demo program written in Applesoft BASIC, onto an Apple //e via it’s cassette port. Proof positive that Apple continues to (indirectly) support the Apple II; products like the Macintosh and iPad are among the best Apple II peripherals ever produced. :)

Here’s a video featuring the developers of the iconic The Oregon Trail, quite possibly the most famous program ever written.


The Oregon Trail Bottlecap Talk from The Nerdery on Vimeo.


It’s about 45 minutes long… don’t die from dysentery while trying to watch it!

May 18th, 2010

Cecil Fretwell (1936-2010)

Charles “Cecil” Fretwell, noted Apple II technical writer, analyst and reviewer passed away May 11, 2010. His numerous publishing credits include articles that appeared in Call-A.P.P.L.E., TechAlliance, the APDA Journals, Assembly Lines, inCider/A+ and NAUG.

Cecil specialized in programming utilities, and dissecting and documenting code. He frequently analyzed versions of AppleWorks, ProDOS, and BASIC.System to expose how the software worked, educating thousands of Apple II enthusiasts in the process.

Cecil’s obituary can be found here.

Apple II Forever, Cecil — we thank you, on behalf of a grateful Apple II community.

May 18th, 2010

A2GS-L01 project update

The A2GS-L01 Project Team has posted an update, including information on features, specifications and recent battery tests. Even better, it looks like they’re still on track to demo the prototype(s) at KansasFest 2010. Personally, I can hardly wait to see it.

May 13th, 2010

Slotless 30MHz accelerator for IIGS announced

The following was received from the team at BrainSystems (via Bill Martens) today:

BrainSystems Is Proud to Announce GSBarnDoor Accelerator
13 May 2010

Finally, The ponies are let loose! You want horse power? You are fixing to see horse power! GSBarnDoor is the latest in Apple IIgs Accelerator technology. No longer will acceleration require a slot in your IIgs, but instead will plug seamlessly straight into the CPU slot.

Sleek, streamline design means no interference with inserted cards and unbelievable speed boosts of your Apple IIgs to more than 30MHz.

Beta releases of the GSBarnDoor cards will be available to selected testers later this year. For more info, go to the GSBarnDoor Website at: http://www.gsbarndoor.com

About BrainSystems

BrainSystems is a Pacific Northwest based think tank specializing in electronic components for vintage computing systems. The group is currently located in Walla Walla, Washington.

May 2nd, 2010

FishNDA – use your Apple IIgs to keep tabs on Barney Miller’s Fish

Ryan Suenaga released FishNDA, a new desk accessory for the Apple IIgs that tells you whether actor Abe Vigoda is still among the living. Although Ryan bills this as “the stupidest program in the history of computing”, we know it’s a tech demo for even more interesting projects to come…

FishNDA screenshot

May 1st, 2010

A mini-review of a IIgs application starter, UtilityLaunch 2

Drew ][ takes a brief look at UtilityLaunch 2 for the Apple IIgs on his blog. This application launcher was written by George R. Wilde in 1992. An excerpt:

UtilityLaunch is an application launcher for the GS. It can run independently or replace START as your initial program when you boot to GS/OS. It provides up to 50 seperate Menus containing 40 small buttons or 16 larger ones with custom icons. The program seems very customisable and you can configure slot changes as well as Transwarp GS and Zip GSX Speed changes for applications that you launch.

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