Retrochallenge 2017/10 Recap – A Soft Exit

A very short post here to confirm what my tweets have previously stated – I was unable to get any work done during Retrochallenge 2017/10 so I had to soft exit, which is a very sad story.

Well, I did line my europluses up on the table, and take one case apart, and get skewered by a keyboard ribbon cable plug, but that was it and probably took less than 30 minutes from go to (bloody) woe.

I suffer from chronic nausea, and it flared up rather badly after I got the flu recently, so it was very hard to have any energy beyond work and home commitments to do any more.

I’m certainly planning on entering Retrochallenge 2018/04 more successfully, but I can’t promise I won’t work on my europluses before then – in fact, I’m expecting to do at least a little bit during WOzFest 8-bit as penance.

WOzFest 8-bit Announcement

I’m very happy to finally announce the date for the next WOzFest, WOzFest 8-bit – Saturday 18 November 2017, starting around midday Sydney time (UTC+11:00).

The theme for WOzFest Slot 7: Your Card was the Apple IIgs, Apple’s only non-8-bit Apple ][. It therefore seemed appropriate to set the theme for WOzFest 8-bit to all the other Apple ][s (which were 8-bit)…and the Apple-1, Apple /// and Apple ///+.

On the Apple ][ front, this runs the gamut of the original Apple ][, the ][+, the //e, the //c,  //c+, and the IIe LC PDS card – and variants such as the euromod, the europlus (of course!), the j-plus, etc. And that’s without even starting on the numerous clones!

I have a couple of great Skype calls teed up to discuss this seminal time of Apple’s history – so many iconic models and such a phenomenal growth time for the company.

Attendees are welcome to bring their favourite 8-bit computer(s!) – I’ll even allow ring-ins if you have a non-Apple 8-bit you’d like to bring along. Projects are more than welcome to be brought along, of course – whether it be repairs, imaging, upgrades…whatever you want to work on.

As always, it will be held at my place at Wollstonecraft, on Sydney’s Lower North Shore – contact me for the address. Start time is 12:00(ish), with an expected finish time of around 21:30.

No lunch provided, but nibbles, soft drinks and Apple cider will be available (I ask for a small contribution towards snacks), and we’ll all chip in for delivery pizza for dinner whenever we notice we’re hungry.

I hope to see you there!

Juiced.GS Publisher Announces Two New Retrocomputer Services

Gamebits, publisher of the sole remaining Apple ][ print publication, Juiced.GS, has announced two new online services for retrocomputer enthusiasts: Retro Roundup and a2.click.

Retro Roundup is a feed aggregator of retrocomputer-related sites (disclaimer: including this one!) which can be filtered in several ways. Interested users can read the feed “onsite”, subscribe to RSS feeds, or receive weekly updates via e-mail. Sites are being actively added by Gamebits, and site publishers can submit their own site for inclusion in the aggregator feed.

a2.click is a URL shortener with an Apple ][ focus. Links on a curated whitelist of sites (disclaimer: this site is on the whitelist!) can be shortened to make them more easily shared. For example, after setting it up, rather than sharing “https://the.europlus.zone/resources/silentype-font-v2-0-released/” as a link to my Silentype font, I can now just share the link “https://a2.click/silentypefont” instead. Much easier!

I’ll be using both sites (and encourage you to do the same), and really appreciate the effort Ken Gagne at Gamebits puts into supporting the Apple ][ community in particular, and the wider retrocomputer community in general – thanks, Ken!

Retrochallenge 2017/10 Entry – europlus Refurbapalooza Ep. 3

Retrochallenge time is almost upon us again, and, after two prior entries helping me move my europlus refurbishment project along, there’s no way I wasn’t going to enter again!

And so, for the third Retrochallenge in a row, I am entering my “continuing stooooooory” of a europlus Refurbapalooza into the mix for Retrochallenge 2017/10.

I’m now at the stage of chronologically aligning the base (with serial number) to power supply to motherboard – my intention is to troubleshoot the motherboards once attached to the bases and connected to the power supplies, but before affixing the top case – it will make swapping chips out that much easier, especially at the front and back of the motherboards.

I’ll also aim to replace any missing/damaged/moved rubber feet on the bases, and hopefully clean the top plastic cases.

My minimal aim is to have at least one extra fully operational unit by the end of October – given the glitches I saw when I quickly ran through all the machines, I think it’ll be a stretch to get them all working, but I will try.

If you’re vacillating about entering, or have never considered entering, I can highly recommend it as a way to help you move your retrocomputing project/s forward.

For anyone who does enter, whether for the first time or as a returning entrant, I wish a heartfelt “Good luck!”

WOzFest S7,D2 Announcement – and a Bonus Sydney Gathering!

I’ll try and be a little more timely in my Oz KFest 2017 reminisces than I was with my WOzFest Slot 7: Your Card Recap, but in the meantime, I have great news: WOzFest S7,D2 is about to be held – details to follow after a short diversion…

As I recounted in Juiced.GS, the first gathering I held, before it was known as WOzFest, was in the afterglow of Oz KFest 2015, as Tony Diaz, who had attended all the way from the US, was in Sydney before flying back.

Seizing an opportunity to again see the items he had brought with him (and he had brought numerous supremely interesting items), and to hear his stories about them, I held a gathering for what I thought would be Sydney-siders who hadn’t been able to make it to Oz KFest.

We set a precedent that first gathering which is a bit of a WOzFest tradition now – there was an interstate attendee, Kim, who had made it all the way from Tasmania. So far, there has only been one WOzFest without an interstate attendee (WOzFest ][), and it is amazing to me that people are prepared to travel so far for what is, at its heart, a small enthusiast’s gathering in a small-population city (from a global perspective).

Well, Tony has again attended an Oz KFest, and again brought a metric shed-load of historical Apple-related items…and will again be in Sydney before heading back to the US – this time for two Saturdays.

So, over the next two Saturdays, 9 and 16 September, we’re having two gatherings in honour of Tony’s presence in Sydney!

And the first one will not even be a WOzFest!

Local enthusiast Adrian has offered space he has available for a short while at Mosman on Sydney’s Lower North Shore for the first gathering – Adrian has a staggeringly large Apple-related retrocomputer collection, and has promised some interesting items to complement Tony’s. Adrian was featured on Episode 81 of RetroMacCast (almost 10 years ago!), and I know he’s made some interesting acquisitions since then.

Start time on the 9th is 14:30 Sydney time, with an expected finish time of 21:00 – contact me for the address if you can make it.

And then, as indicated above, on 16 September we’ll hold WOzFest S7,D2. There are currently no Skype calls planned, and, given its short lead-time and the fact I’m reserving my 8-themed name for later this year, it has a name which reflects its “between 7 and 8” nature (and it ties in nicely with the “Slot 7” name for the most recent “full” WOzFest).

The usual schedule applies – start time is midday Sydney time, if people are still here at dinner time we’ll get some pizza, and we’ll aim to finish by about 21:30.

Holding two events gives Oz KFest non-attendees the maximum flexibility to attend and see Tony and his items – some couldn’t make 9th, and some couldn’t make the 16th, so I’m really pleased that between Adrian and I we’re able to cater to as many enthusiasts as possible.

I hope to see you on one or both of the coming Saturdays!

WOzFest Slot 7: Your Card Recap

Apologies for the delay getting this recap out – real life interferes with more than just my Retrochallenge entries! But given Oz KFest 2017 has started, I thought I’d better get a wriggle on! Photos are in a separate post as usual.

We had a pretty good turnout on the day, with around 12 attendees all up. Most attendees had to leave by about 17:00, so I didn’t end up leaving many attendees alone when I had to get ready for my night out, and those remaining had left before I left home myself.

Melody and April, authors of the Octalyzer, had driven up from Melbourne – they attended KansasFest last year and wanted to capture some of the KFest magic by being here for the Skype hookup to Kansas City. They discussed their work on the Octalyzer with attendees, who were impressed by its features such as 3D rendering of Apple ][ programs, rewind functionality, and online access to disk images.

Speaking of which, the hookup went pretty well with a reasonable number of KFest attendees hanging around in the basement to say “Hi!”. WOzFest regulars Michael and Jeremy were there, and another Aussie, Steve from Brisbane, also participated.

Audio was acceptable overall, but is always the weak link in the hookup – there were a couple of other groups of KFest attendees in the basement along with the Skypers, and I think that may have made the audio a little more challenging for Michael’s laptop to pickup properly.

That said, it’s great to check in with the KFesters and capture just a little bit of what it’s like to attend – Jeremy made that a little easier by providing a couple of 360° 3D pictures which we looked at in Sydney using Jon’s ViewMaster phone-holder. It was amazing to look around and feel like you were in Rockhurst. I’m sure nothing beats the real thing, though!

Craig worked on some custom ROMs for his //c+ which Leslie had burnt for him, and Mark discussed his IIgs port of Asteroids and checked out The Octalyzer.

Andrew worked on a few projects: he troubleshot a non-working Ensoniq chip in one of his IIgs’s; he changed the config of a Toshiba FlashAir SD card (which has built-in WiFi and HTTP POST-based access to contents) with the aim of updating it from an emulated IIgs build environment; he helped David check his //e PSU; and he helped Murray check the operation of his IIgs and IIgs PSU.

Look for an announcement soon on a mini-WOzFest in honour of Tony Diaz’s attendance at another Oz KFest – the gathering I held after Oz KFest 2015 before Tony flew back to the US became the seed that has germinated into WOzFest, so it seems appropriate to have another gathering with him in Sydney before he flies back this year.

Welcome to the europlus zone!

 

While I struggle to find the time to write up my WOzFest Slot 7: Your Card recap and post the galleries photos and links, I may as well write a quick post on the “re-branding” of my blog here.

A year and a half ago, when I moved the hosting from MacGUI Vault’s A2HQ, I went searching for a domain name to host under and settled on “europlus.zone”. Following my Twitter handle, I made “apple2.europlus.zone” the main domain for blog URLs, and left “][europlus” as the blog title.

Earlier this year, I was thinking about the blog name (I think in response to it being mentioned on the Open Apple podcast) and changed it just to “europlus” to simplify mentions of the blog – it could be referred to as just “the europlus blog”.

This also made my WordPress e-mails a little tidier, as they use square brackets around the blog title, so I was seeing lots of e-mails with subjects starting “[][europlus]” (the square brackets also do funny things at line ends, which is an occasional source of annoyance on Twitter and Facebook).

A few months later and I’m pondering such issues again, and I realise what I should have back when I first registered the “europlus.zone” domain – a suitable name for the blog, matched with the corresponding domain name for URLs, was “the europlus zone”.

I’d already set up Let’s Encrypt certs earlier this year, so I needed to add the new domain name to the cert, which was a little bit of an exploratory adventure, but I figured it out eventually (I’m looking forward to Let’s Encrypt’s support of wildcard domains early next year, let me tell you).

Setting up the new domain in my hosting settings was relatively straightforward – as was allowing the existing “apple2.europlus.zone” domain to continue to point to this site (and “www.europlus.zone” and “europlus.zone”). Plain http connections are also automatically redirected to https.

I’m yet to go through prior posts to update the links to use the new URL, that will be dependent on me finding the time and inclination to do so. It doesn’t help my motivation that the old ones will continue to work.

I’ve gotten a strange sense of satisfaction making the changes to the site name and setup – I’m not sure why that is, but who am I to argue with my strange senses of satisfaction? All that really matters is I like the sound of:

“Welcome to the europlus zone!”

Update: after posting this, I went to the trouble of reading my post about moving from A2HQ, and what do I see but me referring to this blog on my hosting as “The europlus Zone”! Nothing new under the sun and all that, eh what? I think my brain dropped that name from its awareness in the two months between setup and my first real post here, and the rest is (forgotten) history. So consider this a faulty recollection of how I came about the name, when, in fact, it’s simply an implementation of something I did think of back in the day (albeit with tortured capitalisation). I hadn’t made the URL or title match that name, so it’s no wonder I got confused!

Oz KFest 2017 Registration Open

Registration is now open for all Apple ][ enthusiasts interested in attending Oz KFest 2017.

Oz KFest is Australia’s premier gathering of Apple ][ fans, and is being held this year on Bribie Island, Queensland.

The multi-day event will see Apple ][ aficionados from around the country converge on the Bribie Island Retreat and Recreation Centre from 30 August-3 September (official program starts on 31 August).

Camping facilities and dorm-style cabins are available onsite for the first time at an Oz KFest, and there are numerous accommodation options on the island.

A Call for Sessions has been put out and, while the full schedule is yet to be finalised, a basic overview of the event has been put together by the organisers.

Oz KFest 2015 played a major part in my Apple ][ “re-emergence” and was a significant motivator to keep me writing this blog (albeit sporadically). It was also the inspiration for me to begin hosting WOzFests.

I’m hoping to blog regularly from the event, and attendees are encouraged to tweet using the official hashtag #OzKFest2017 – event notifications before, during and after Oz KFest will be tweeted by the official Oz KFest Twitter account.

I’ve put my hand up to present a session or two – further details to come when the full schedule is finalised (I’d better get back to prepping for them!).

It’s a great event with fantastic, information-soaked sessions and I wholeheartedly recommend it to Apple ][ enthusiasts – I hope to see you there!

WOzFest Slot 7: Your Card Announcement

I’m very happy to announce that the next WOzFest, WOzFest Slot 7: Your Card, will be held on Saturday 22 July 2017, starting around midday Sydney time (UTC+10:00).

The theme for the day will be “The IIgs”, and was requested/selected by attendees at WOzFest PR#6.

I’ll be taking a relative back seat on this one as I have a prior social engagement that evening, so I’ll have to leave my own gathering late afternoon and will be handing the evening into the capable hands of the attendees. The day really will be for attendees to fill, just like a IIgs slot assigned as “Your Card”.

What I have organised is the usual Kansas Fest video hookup we try for each year – the Skype call is slated to start at around 14:00 local time (23:00 Friday Kansas City time). Frequent WOzFest and Kansas Fest attendee Michael, from the Retro Computing Roundtable, will reprise his role as host of the Kansas City end of the Skype call.

WOzFest PR#6 attendee Mark has already announced to the Apple IIoz mailing list his IIgs-related project, a port of Asteroids for the IIgs, which he’s hoping to demo on the day. I’m looking forward to seeing it, as well as other IIgs-related projects attendees will work on for the day.

As always, it will be held at my place at Wollstonecraft, on Sydney’s Lower North Shore – contact me for the address! Start time is 12:00(ish), with an expected finish time of around 21:30.

No lunch provided, but nibbles, soft drinks and Apple cider will be available (I ask for a small contribution towards snacks), and anyone here for dinner can chip in for delivery pizza whenever the mood strikes.

I hope to see you there!