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.