Aw, cr*p!

20140721-krusty-624-1405966490

 

Back in the late 90’s or so, there was this sound file making the rounds on the internet – it was the Windows 98 (or maybe ME) startup chime, which blended into the sound of an explosion (presumably as Microsoft’s operating system lived up to its well-deserved reputation), followed by Krusty the Clown going, “Aw, crap!” I can’t find a copy of that .wav file these days – there’s an updated version with Windows 95 doing what it does best, but I’m pretty sure that came out after the one I’m remembering… Come to think of it, Windows is pretty much unchanged in this respect; there’s always this little voice filled with nagging doubt in the back of my head every time I turn on my PC. It likes to take bets with the rest of my more optimistic mind over whether the OS will actually finish booting up this time. I owe that little voice about half a million dollars because I just don’t learn.

Anyway, this morning I finally restored all the old posts that used to live here and it went smoothly for the most part. There are a few jpeg missing and the YouTube links from posts in 2009 and 2010 seems to be dead now, but to be honest, I was pleasantly surprised. I’d expected hours of work reformatting, re-entering and re-writing posts and that didn’t happen. Cue the triumphant, yet relaxing chords of the Windows start up chime…

Then the emails started showing up in my inbox… The six of you who read and subscribe to this website had your RSS feeds flooded with notifications of new 6502lane posts. Something like 70 or 80 of them. Aaaaand there’s the explosion – the sound of Windows failing to finish booting, a sound many of us are so familiar with…

And me yelling, “Aw, crap!”. This was supposed to be a cool thing. Nothing magical, or amazing or anything, but there was a little bit of unique and interesting content stirred into the nauseating miasma of the rest of my drivel and I was happy to have it back. But no… not this time. Instead, an inbox full of slightly chiding messages, letting me know how annoying this was. Okay, six. Not exactly an email folder overflowing with vitriol and spite, but still. And me embarrassed and annoyed as well – probably a muted version of what Bill Gates was feeling when this happened:

 

Believe me, I get it. Nothing irks me more than weeding duplicate notices out of my RSS reader. Anyway, I suppose the upshot is that most of you unsubscribed, so next time something like this happens, I’ll only have two or three emails, instead of missives from all six of you.

krusty-simpsons

Apple III and III Plus differences

Last night, I decided it would be a good idea to move a 512K memory board from a 5V Apple /// that has become increasingly flaky over the past few month, to a III Plus. While the effort was ultimately unsuccessful (more on that in a later post), the exercise gave me the opportunity to note some differences between the two boards. I took some pictures. Here they are.

Clock/Calendar Chip and Battery

Of course, we all know the story of the bad batch of clock chips Apple bought from National Semiconductor.  It seems to be one of the few problems commonly associated with the /// for which Apple isn’t blamed.  When end users and dealers began receiving their new ///s in late 1980, one of the first things they noticed was that the inbuilt clock wasn’t functioning normally. Sometimes, it would speed up randomly; other times, it failed to roll over properly and continued to count up.  If you ever wondered what thirty-three o’clock looked like, you could ask your Apple ///.

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Quark Word Juggler protection

Quinn’s comments on my previous post about the downfall of Quark, Inc. pointed out the need for me to take a better picture of the Word Juggler dongle.  So here you go.

Quark Word Juggler dongle

In addition to providing hardware-based DRM for the software, the dongle for Quark Word Juggler also allowed users to create powerful custom keyboard macros.

Also, here’s a shot of the custom keycaps you got when you bought Word Juggler.  These are not stickers that you peeled off a sheet and applied yourself.  Quark shipped actual plastic keycap replacements for your Apple IIe keyboard.

Quark's custom keycaps for Word Juggler functions.

Quark’s custom keycaps for Word Juggler functions.

Two-page Word Juggler ad from a November 1983 issue of InfoWorld.

Word Juggler ad page 1

Word Juggler ad page 2

It’s Quiet… Yeah, too quiet…

I’m sure by now even the three semi-regular readers I had have stopped coming by here (at least if my Jetpack stats are to be believed).  Updates to my Apple II Scans site and this blog are no longer appearing in the A2RSS feed, which is affecting traffic, and not posting anything interesting probably has a lot to do with it as well. In keeping with that grand tradition, here’s more uninteresting content that won’t show up in your RSS reader.

I haven’t recently had a lot to say that I felt needed its own blog post – I have a podcast for that (several actually) and that platform has become a much more interesting content delivery system for me, if I’m being totally honest. Between Open Apple’s new co-host and the great things we have coming up for Drop /// Inches, I’ve found myself re-energized to focus my efforts in those projects rather than this.  When Ken left Open Apple, I was completely demoralized and unsure I’d be able to continue to produce the shows without him. Ken’s fastidious professionalism and organization made it possible for us to produce three years of quality Apple II audio programming, including being able to book great guests and keeping the topics interesting and the discussion lively.  Without getting into details you don’t care about, I can say that the working relationship I had with Ken had become increasingly unhealthy for both of us over the previous months and it was clear the end was nigh. Knowing it was coming though, didn’t make it any easier to face when it finally happened and it affected me much more deeply than I’d expected.

Making matters worse, during the ensuing hiatus I was unable to book any guests for a return show.  Word of Ken’s exit had gotten around and people were unwilling to participate without his presence – I can’t say that I blame them.  I was in a really dark place personally in those following weeks, and (are you sitting down for this?) I’m not the greatest co-host, even with talented people like Ken and Carrington to work with. Carrington’s that Canadian guy who co-hosts another show I do. You can tell he’s Canadian because he smells like syrup and hockey.  (Who even knew hockey had a smell?)  On the mic, I stutter. I’m nervous and unable to convey thoughts in an eloquent, direct manner.  Who would want to hang out with a mumbling, depressed mush-mouth for the hours it takes to complete a recording session?

Quinn Dunki, that’s who.  She agreed to be a guest on #37 and she was great.  She was relaxed and comfortable on the mic and her homebrew 6502 project ‘Veronica’ was something new and fascinating, and I like to think I was able to help her make up her mind to come to Rockhurst. (Hey, I’ll take credit for it even if I had nothing to do with it).  The show was published in July, just before KansasFest and the feedback I got was very positive.  Several listeners even suggested that she should be the new co-host. The outflowing of love was enough that I approached her to come back and sit in the co-host chair.  I guess she also heard a lot of things at KansasFest about it because, after successfully trolling me, she agreed and I have to say, I’m pleased with the results.  Quinn has brought a new technical depth to the show that was evident from the very first episode we did together – the Lawless Legends development team interview was a resounding success largely due to her being able to ask the right questions, and to respond to the answers with even better lines of inquiry.  That episode is not something the listeners would have been able to experience without her participation.

Behind the scenes, it has been great to see her just dive in and get involved with making decisions about the future of Open Apple and what we want to present to you, the listeners.  Maintaining a certain level of quality with every show we put out requires many hours of work – much of it tedious and time-consuming.  It would have been easy for Quinn to assume a passive role and simply sit back, show up once a month to record and not gotten involved in the production or planning aspects at all.  And truthfully, I’d have been happy with that – just being able to continue Open Apple was enough for me really, so to have her instead as an eager and enthusiastic partner has been nothing short of amazing and I wanted to take a minute to thank her publicly.  In short, Quinn is awesome. (Note to self: don’t let Quinn find out she doesn’t have to work as hard.  Second note to self: don’t post notes to self about Quinn in a place she’s likely to see them.)

Oh, and to those few of you who have written to let me know that I only invited Quinn to be on Open Apple because she’s a girl and I’m somehow ‘kissing up’ or white-knighting (is that even a verb?), first I’d like to say that I appreciate you letting me know what I was thinking and what my real motivations were.  Apparently, I didn’t know this and it’s great to have you clear up my confusion.  Second, I’d ask that you listen to the shows she’s done with me objectively (because obviously you didn’t or you wouldn’t have sent those emails in the first place) and then let me know if you still think she’s a ‘fake nerd’ who’s getting things handed to her because she’s a girl (are we really still having this argument? Really?).  Actually, if you still believe that, don’t let me know.  I’d rather you didn’t listen to Open Apple at all and I certainly don’t care what you think.

Up next, we have Drop /// Inches, which has really become an interesting creature.  About three years ago, I decided it might be great to write a book about the Apple ///, focusing on the development of the machine and the people who were involved in it.  I’d read plenty of articles about Apple’s first business computer and they mostly focused on its failure in the marketplace and then repeated a few vague “facts” without really getting to the meat of the matter, so to speak.  Browsing through Google’s completely awesome archives of ComputerWorld and InfoWorld, it became clear that even the tech press of the day was more interested in vilifying Apple than present a clear accounting of the facts.  And so I started reaching out, finding and interviewing the people who were there, who experienced all of this first-hand.  I gathered several dozen hours of audio, as well as documents and other related information that I felt might go well into a book like this.  I even contacted a publisher that had previously released several highly regarded titles on various vintage computing platforms. It became evident that their vision for this project didn’t really align with what I knew I’d be able to provide them and nothing more came of it.  I was left with no clear plan on what I wanted to do with this archive of information about the /// and interviews with the developers, but I certainly didn’t expect what it seems like is going to happen.

I started Drop /// Inches with Paul Hagstrom earlier this year, almost as a laugh and certainly with tongue firmly planted in cheek.  The original goal was to provide an interactive forum for the two of us to get involved with other /// fans, and perhaps provide a valuable learning resource for new users who had just purchased one of these 26-lb beasts from eBay or recovered one from a dank basement/dusty attic somewhere.  The enthusiastic response we received was a complete surprise to us both.  More surprising though, was that we received messages from several people who were involved with the creation of the Apple /// on various levels, expressing their appreciation for what we were doing and wanted to contribute their own experiences and memories.  Of course we accepted.

As hilarious and charismatic as both Paul and I are naturally – we’re amazing and talented orators! I swear! – we realized we needed other voices to help tell this particular story and reached out to Dave Ottalini, former co-chair of the Washington Apple Pi’s /// SIG and keeper of the SARAsaur faith, to join us.  During the course of that interview we learned that while at the Phase /// Conference in 1987, Dave recorded many of the sessions and had saved the original tapes.  The session transcripts made it onto the WAP Apple /// DVD but due to space constraints, the audio was left out.  Dave made those files available to us and it’s been great fun plundering them for information about the /// and the Conference. You can hear the early fruits of our labors in show #6, a session by Don Williams about his experiences with the /// during his days at Apple.

As this was all happening, it occurred to me that those materials I’d been gathering weren’t going to end up in a book.  It’s Drop /// Inches, this weird little podcast about an obscure detour down a dark path on the highway of Apple’s history, chronicling the life and times of the Apple ///, where they would find a home.  I haven’t figured out the best way to integrate the collected research to the podcast in a way that makes sense, beyond the recorded interviews I did, but DTI is becoming this multimedia project to cover in-depth everything we know and can learn about the Apple ///.  Stuff we can scan will likely end up on the podcast’s web page and I know we’re going to eventually release all of Dave’s Phase /// audio files, first as cleaned-up segments for the show with the raw audio files eventually appearing on archive.org.

Through all of this, we’ve somehow ended up with so much material, we’re struggling to understand how to best present it to you.  I can’t go into all the details (don’t want to spoil any surprises!) but at the very least, I can tell you we’ve got some great interviews with developers coming up and I know their stories won’t be anything you could have Googled before.  I don’t exactly know what Drop /// Inches is going to become, but I’m very excited about the future of the show and it’s really great to be able to help tell the story of the Apple /// and write our own chapter at the same time.

And I guess that’s kind of it for now.  I still intend to re-publish some of the old articles that used to live here.  That will be sometime this year, I hope. Apple II Scans is sort of in zombie-mode: scan, post, move on, repeat.

I’m no longer involved in any way with Juiced.GS or any of Ken’s current projects, so I can’t answer questions about that.  It’s great to see his creative efforts take shape in new directions and I wish him well in his future endeavors.

Why did I post this then?  Mostly because I needed to get it out.  No one reads anything here and certainly not this far into a 1900-word post, so I’m not worried about trying to sound grandiose or impress anyone.  The blog is still alive sort of and I’m still here.

German Apple /// ad

I found this Apple /// ad over at Zock.com, a German collector’s website.  It features the familiar flow of text wrapped around a “stretched” graphic of the Apple Monitor /// hovering above the ProFile drive, which itself floats over the main /// unit.

"Apple ///. The personal computer with the new ProFile." (click for full size image.)

“Apple ///. The personal computer with the new ProFile.” (click for full size image.)

Here’s a rough translation, courtesy Google’s handy utility:

Apple ///. The personal computer with the new ProFile.

Apple’s Third Generation. No question – personal computers are becoming more popular. And the number of suppliers is large. But before you buy any personal computer should you choose to progress rather equal; Apple’s third generation.

Apple III. The most powerful personal computer on the market. It will benefit them more than you think possible. To make it easier and faster than ever to do business transactions of all kinds.

Comprehensive Software. The Apple /// are the most advanced program packages are available simultaneously.

How VisiCalc for your plans, budgets or administrative costs.

In connection with the Business Graphics software package, you can implement the developed VisiCalc with data directly in graphics, drawings, diagrams, or tables.

Mail List Manager, another program from Apple, helps you to manage up to 960 names and addresses and print them. With any accessibility – according to your wishes. Alphabetically, postal codes or own search terms.

Take added Apple Writer /// software and a printer – and you have a complete text system. With 90% of the performance of the specific word processing computer. Incidentally, almost all programs of the Apple II also run on the Apple ///.

Integrated Data Processing. Exclusive to the Apple /// is the program package ACCESS ///. This enables you to change and returned able to take data from mainframe computers.

Personal Storage. Do you want more, take ProFile it. The special Apple /// hard disk space. More than 5 million characters are stored directly. Which approximately 1200 pages of text corresponding to A4 – enough to manage the data of a middle operation.

Growing with Apple ///. We want your Apple /// according to your requirements grow. And have therefore constructed him that you can connect almost any kind of peripherals. Expandable up to 256 KBytes RAM will help you just as the powerful operating systems SOS, DOS, UCSD and CP / M. What other personal computer has already four operating systems?

Apple /// for the Software Developer. With Apple /// Pascal software developers is the right tool available: A performance operating computer language.

Full-service through the Dealer Network. Service for your Apple /// offer in Germany over 200 dealers. Visit your nearest Apple dealer. And find out for yourself what is true computer performance.

With the exception of the ACCESS /// paragraph, the translator is remarkably good.  Here’s the text in the lower right corner:

Want to know more? Then please fill out this coupon and send it to: Apple Computer Marketing GmbH, Maximilian Street 29, 8000 Munich 22nd

I am interested in:

Commercial Solutions
Software Development

And of course, Apple’s slogan:

Apple.  The Personal Computer.