After having missed the first 24 hours or so of this year’s festivities (including what I understand was an excellent keynote speech), I quickly settled in to the late-July routine here at Rockfest: presentations, impromptu hallway brainstorming sessions, and late-night runs to restaurants of dubious quality.

By Friday morning, the effects of sleep deprivation are beginning to settle in on some of the late-night crowd.  The group at breakfast is noticeably smaller and dragging the body out of bed in time for the first sessions a little harder.  We’re at just over the midway point, and things are going well.

Overall, there’s been a much stronger emphasis on 8-bit machines than at some of the recent KansasFests past, and it’s a welcome change.  Not that I don’t enjoy the focus on the IIGS, but it’s nice to know that there are some Apple II’ers keeping the 8-bit spirit alive.  Martin Haye and Ivan Drucker in particular have presented some amazing stuff that doesn’t require a IIGS.

Martin kicked off the day’s session schedule with a continuation of his two-part NakedOS/Super-Mon series, again using only his Apple II Plus not only to demonstrate his extensions to the Apple II’s system monitor, but to run the presentation as well.  Neat!  Super-Mon provides some powerful additions to the monitor that will immediately benefit anyone programming in Assembly or just poking around.

Ken Gage followed this up with the next part in his ongoing series of Classic Gaming Inspirations.  Essentially, Ken gives us a look at some modern games available to users and links them back to their humble beginnings as Apple II titles.  Arkanoid, Dark Castle and Maelstrom are just a few examples of the titles covered.

From here, Ken launched right into the next session, one not originally on the schedule and showing a few of the latest and hottest Internet memes.  If you haven’t seen the hilarious Double Rainbow guy (and the inevitable parodies that followed it – Double Taco Bell, anyone?) or the ongoing Old Spice Guy videos that became so popular Alyssa Milano herself got caught up in them, make sure you head over to YouTube to give them a viewing or three.

Next up was a technical session from Wayne Arthurton covering methods for optimizing algorithms in AppleSoft BASIC.  Wayne decided that he needed better performance from BASIC on his 4MHz Apple IIc Plus and found some neat techniques to make it happen.

Following lunch at the cafeteria at Massman Hall, Stavros gave everyone a demonstration on how to use an Apple II as a dumb terminal for Mac OS X.

Unfortunately, I can’t really say much more about the presentations put on by Wayne or Stavros, as I instead retreated to my room for a bit to catch up on a few personal projects I’d been promising myself to work on when I’m here in Kansas City.  I emerged in time to take in Geoff Weiss’s session on GNO/ME – good, but very technical stuff that was mostly over my head.

My favorite session of the day however was from KansasFest newcomer Melissa Baron, who took the popular Oregon Trail edutainment title and replaced all of the existing in-game text with her own hilarious blend of l337, chatspeak and LOLcats syntax.  After we all got a good laugh from the resulting messages in the game, Melissa surprised us all when she explain her method for replacing the text: she simply opened the Oregon Trail disk image file in TextEdit and replaced the text one character at a time.  Melissa then demonstrated another Apple II technique she calls “glitching”.  This involves replacing a single character in the disk image file – again in TextEdit – with a different character to produce random graphical weirdness on the screen when the image is loaded in an emulator (or, presumably, a real Apple II).  The new and innovative things people come up with to do on the Apple II more than thirty years after its introduction always amazes me and it’s one of the reasons I keep coming back to KansasFest.

Following Melissa’s session, everyone got dressed up for the Dinner Banquet festivities.  Tom Vanderpool of Resource Central joined Dennis Doms as guests of honor and Dennis later chose Tony Diaz’s circuit board tie as the winner of the Annual Roger Wagner Tie Contest.  This year also saw the start of a new annual award given to those members of the Apple II community who go above and beyond in their dedication and contributions to our hobby: the Apple II Forever Award. Inaugural winners were Tom Weishaar, Dennis Doms, Tom Vanderpool and Ellen Rosenberg of Resource Central, as well as this year’s keynote speaker Mark Simonsen of Beagle Bros.  But the best moment of the night was when the award was also given to Juiced.GS’s publisher and KansasFest committee member Ken Gagne.  The look of shock on his face was priceless.

Wrapping up the activities, which were held in the campus pub this year, was a rousing round of live-action interactive fiction, starring Ken Gagne as the computer, and the rest of the KansasFest attendees each taking turns as the player.  Repeated attempts to kiss the princess were met with hilarious results.  Following this, we made our way over near the dorms for the annual photo before being turned loose for an evening of socializing.  A few folks headed to the Apple Store, though I heard later they got there just as it was closing, and a planned game of Apple II Jeopardy to be emceed by Tony Diaz never materialized.

Later on, attendees were rounded up to help unload items from James Littlejohn’s Big Green Bus (yes, it needs to be capitalized) in preparation for the opening of Sean Fahey’s Garage the next morning.  Following that, a large group headed out for a late-night Steak ‘n Shake run.  I considered tagging along, but decided against it – the spirit was willing but the flesh was weak and I spent the rest of the night organizing and posting my photos before turning in.