March 15th, 2017

Found internal Apple memos about Apple II copy protection

Ben Vandermeer, an Apple enthusiast in Seattle, was at a Goodwill thrift store when he discovered a stack of Apple’s internal memos from 1979 detailing "Software Security from Apples Friends and Enemies" (SSAFE), a form of digital-rights management (DRM) that Apple was developing. Writes Vandermeer:

This was a proposal to bring disk copy protection in-house to sell as a service to outside developers. Inter-office memos, meeting notes and progress reports all give a good idea of what a project lifecycle was like. Different schemes and levels of protection are considered, as well as implementation primarily on the Apple II+ and the upcoming SARA (The Apple ///) and Lisa computers. Randy Wigginton is featured prominently throughout, along with mentions of Woz and many other familiar names.

All 116 pages of memos have been scanned and made available in the Internet Archive.

March 14th, 2017

A glimpse at Nox Archaist

Mark Lemmert of 6502 Workshop recently blogged about the current development status of Nox Archaist, the upcoming 8-bit tile-based RPG, and what the game will be like when it launches later this year.

The post includes a discussion of the tone of the game, a preview of a few villains players can expect to encounter in the adventure and details on expected combat system mechanics. Some highlights:

  • The game engine is approximately 75% complete
  • Programming for the combat system is about 50% done
  • Players will be able to:
    • Place spell casters and archers behind fighters
    • Select a specific mob target for each player attack
    • Aim area of effect spells at large groups of mobs
    • Collaborate between thief/assassin and fighter types for increased critical hit chances
  • Nox Archaist will be a fairly dark game, featuring such foes as demon lords and death knights
  • Characters will be able to choose separate armor to protect their head, torso, feet, and hands
  • Dungeon graphics are being designed by Hollywood animation artists Bill Giggie and Robert Padovan
  • Gameplay will be balanced between combat and non-combat activities

For a more in-depth preview of this game, read the entire blog post.

March 8th, 2017

Oz KFest 2017 – August 30th – September 3rd

The next Australian multi-day retro computing gathering, Oz KFest, will be happening on Bribie Island near Brisbane, Australia, August 30 through September 3, 2017. Come join us down under for a few of days of retro inspiration, Aussie ingenuity and camaraderie!

The goal of the event is to provide a user group style environment to exchange ideas and discuss new developments in retro computing hardware, software, preservation, emulation and other related topics.

There will be a few attendees of past KansasFests and Oz KFests in 2009, 2013, and 2015 and we hope to imbibe the spirit of these events into Oz KFest once again.

Having grown in numbers of attendees over the previous 3 events, this year’s event will take place at a venue that provides onsite accommodation and catering which will further facilitate interaction between participants and provide an experience very similar to the well known and loved KansasFest.

The presentations during the weekend will come from the participants and therefore an invitation is extended for session proposals to be made via email to ozkfest@gmail.com

If you have an idea for a session that you’d like to present, please let us know so we can allocate a time slot for you. If you would like to learn something, let us know what that is and we will try to find a presenter for that topic.

Registration for the event is not yet open. However, now is the time to block out the dates in your calendar, arrange how to get there and plan your session topics. If you need help, let us know how we can help.

For event details, see http://ozkfest.net and for breaking updates follow @OzKFest on Twitter.

Reminder that the ‘Downunder Chat’ happens every Friday night from 9pm Australian EST in irc.a2central.com #a2.chat

March 4th, 2017

Open Apple #68 (February 2017) : Emulator Updates, EDD, Softalk #3

This month on Open Apple, Mike and Quinn sit down with each other and catch up on all the news they’ve been neglecting lately. We discuss the disappointing 8BitDo controller, get excited about remanufactured printer ribbons, and pretend to know anything about EDD. Follow along as we review Softalk volume 1, number 3. The ads are always the best part! Meanwhile, we manage to sneak in one more Kevin Savetz reference, and a Boo Atari in the same breath. That’s the Open Apple Way™. You won’t want to miss this month’s Apology to Call A.P.P.L.E segment. We’re going to need a bumper for that (and the Australians) soon.


Open Apple podcast

March 3rd, 2017

DarkSound by ByteBoosters

Alexander Krauss of ByteBoosters writes in to let us know that their Apple IIGS Stereo Sound Card and Digitizer with line-out is now available:

DarkSound by ByteBoosters. Take full potential of the IIGS Ensoniq sound chip by enabling Stereo output. Furthermore use the Audio Digitizer feature to sample sound and use them on your IIGS with virtually any IIGS digitizer software such as AudioZap.

Head on over to eBay to get yours now!


March 2nd, 2017

Brutal Deluxe to deliver KansasFest 2017 keynote

KansasFest 2017, the 29th annual Apple II convention, is scheduled for July 18 – 23 in Kansas City, Missouri. Antoine Vignau and Olivier Zardini, the French Brutal Deluxe Software programming team known for countless original Apple II programs and archiving efforts, will join us with a keynote presentation to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Apple II.

Vignau and Zardini founded Brutal Deluxe Software in 1992 focusing on 16-bit software. The team created programs, such as the Convert 3200 graphics tool, and adapted games like Bille Art, The Tinies, Cogito, Blockade, and LemminGS. The team remains active and has since released numerous titles, including Cadius (disk image utility), Merlin 32 (cross-assembler), You, DustHead! (disk head cleaning utility), i’m fEDD up (disk archiving), MountIt (disk image tool), and Fishhead (file copier). They also created comprehensive archives of cassette tapes, French cracking and underground groups, machine serial numbers, and unique documentation.  This year, Brutal Deluxe published demonstrations and tools for playing quadraphonic and octaphonic sound on the Apple IIgs. A quarter-century of continuing Apple II innovations and personal perspectives on the European computing scene are sure to delight and inform KansasFest attendees.

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, and registration will open on March 31. For photos, videos, and presentations from past KansasFests, please visit the event’s official Web site.

Brutal Deluxe

(Warning: Picture from 1994. Products shown may vary from actual products.)

March 1st, 2017

Juiced.GS Volume 22, Issue 1 now available

Juiced.GS Volume 22, Issue 1 (Mar 2017)Volume 22, Issue 1 (Mar 2017) of Juiced.GS, the longest-running Apple II publication in print, has now shipped. This issue features a tutorial for telnetting to bulletin board systems from your Apple II; reviews of the AP40 wireless Bluetooth game controller and the Floppy Emu storage device; an interview with Joe Santulli, co-founder of the National Videogame Museum of Frisco, Texas; a behind-the-scenes look at ProRWTS, the filesystem controller by Peter Ferrie being used in the game Nox Archaist; and much, much more!

This is Juiced.GS‘s first quarterly issue of 2017, its twenty-second year in print. The complete 2016 volume is now available as a bundle. Subscriptions for 2017 are $19 each for United States customers, $24 for readers in Canada and Mexico, and $27 for international customers.

February 9th, 2017

T2A2 – The transputer is finally here!

Axel Muhr from Germany has released his T2A2 card, a transputer card for the Apple II. Read his announcement and get yours soon!

 

Hey a2central gang,

I’d just like to send you a quick heads-up, that my T2A2 (“Transputer to Apple II”) interface finally became a real PCB – 6 years after you ran a news-line about the prototype (http://a2central.com/2683/t2a2-apple-ii-transputer-interface/). Well sometimes it just takes a tad bit longer :-D

http://www.geekdot.com/t2a2-for-everyone/

I ran a first initial batch of 20 as I have no idea how big (or small) the interest is, as this is really something, uhm, ‘special’ ;-)

T2A2 Transputer

February 2nd, 2017

Open Apple #67 (January 2017) : Year End Roundtable!

This month on Open Apple, we round out the year with our annual tradition of sitting around a virtual table with some friends of the show, discussing whatever comes to mind. Mike and Quinn are joined by Jeremy Barr-Hyde, Jorma Honkanen, Kate Szkotnicki & Chris Torrence.

We have a really fun mix of Apple II fans from all walks of life and all parts of the world this month. Sit down with us as we discuss our history with the machines and how they fit into our lives today. Can retrocomputers be teaching tools for kids today? Can an Apple II serve a practical role in modern life? What was your unicorn accessory or software package back in the day? How do we get new faces to KansasFest? We chat about all this and more, so don’t miss it!

January 30th, 2017

Sweet16 status update

Eric Shepherd, author of the Sweet16 emulator for the Mac, posted an announcement today about the status and future plans for Sweet16. He starts with a comforting “this isn’t a death announcement!”, then continues:

With that out of the way, I know it’s been a while since the last update to Sweet16, and that it is in need of one. Here’s what’s going on right now.

First, my health has been troublesome for the last several years, as many of you know, with some issues gradually worsening even while others are being controlled through treatment. This has been a drain on my time, and the treatments have tended to leave me with little energy for work on anything non-essential, so I focus on my day job and my family the best I can.

Second, there are technical issues at play. I have started work on a major update to Sweet16 which involves rewriting parts of the code from the old Carbon API into the modern Cocoa one, since Carbon is deprecated and pieces of it are increasingly unreliable. The code as it stands is not a shippable product because of its partially-converted status.

I have become aware of certain issues with the currently available version of Sweet16 (3.0.3) that make it hard to use in certain cases. I am going to attempt to get things situated so I can do an update to fix at least some of these problems sometime before the June solstice.

The sticking point there is that the version of Xcode I used to last work on Sweet16 doesn’t run on the version of macOS I run anymore, and the code won’t build on the current Xcode. So I have decided to set up a virtual environment to use for future work on older versions of Sweet16 so that I can get these updates done.

I’m aware of a few issues I will try to address in this winter/spring (Northern Hemisphere) update.

The latest discovery: I’d gotten some reports of the command and option keys not working right, but hadn’t been able to reproduce it until I realized that this is happening only in software checking them by reading the joystick button flags. That led me straight to the correct solution: the code handling this is looking for a game controller to be present; if one is, then that controller is checked. The keyboard is only checked if there are no game controllers (joysticks or gamepads) connected. I will update the code to check both regardless and report the button down if EITHER or both are down.

I will try to resolve issues related to game controllers not working reliably, but I make no promises. The libraries for this changed over the years and I may not be able to fix this until I resume work on Sweet16 4.0.

I’ll also make some changes to handling of disk images to allow any .po image to be created and used instead of only allowing them for floppy-sized disks. When this code was first written, .po was strictly used for floppy disk images, but that’s changed over time and Sweet16 didn’t keep up with that change (mostly because I didn’t realize it had happened until long after it had — oops!).

There are a few other issues that I’ll look at. The goal is to go after stuff that’s either extremely critical or easy to fix only, just to ensure I get something out. The more I try to put into this update, the more likely it is to get delayed by my health issues.

I’m sorry that work on Sweet16 has been so slow. I have big plans and am pushing hard to get my health situation on track but it’s difficult. I will get this smaller update out, though, no matter what it takes, as soon as humanly possible.

Thanks for your support, and Apple II forever!

Hopefully he’s able to make this happen. He’s missed some planned and hoped-for release dates in the past due to his health, but let’s all hope for the best, and that he is also able to get back to work on Sweet16 4 as soon as possible!

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