#MARCHintosh Wrap Up, GlobalTalk News

Update, 5 April 2024: I have simplified and improved the bridging configuration recommended below allowing both the host OS and System 7.1 within the emulated Quadra 800 to access the Ethernet network. Additionally, I’ve added the rtc directive to allow the emulated machine to display the correct (local) time – thanks to Autumn for her extensive notes on setting up QEMU on Debian, prompting me to reinvestigate my bridging setup, and alerting me to the rtc directive.

While it is now 1 April here in Sydney, it’s still March somewhere (for a few more hours), which means it’s still somewhere.

I’m also documenting something I legitimately achieved in March local time – mid-yesterday afternoon, I succeeded in getting QEMU to run with bridged networking in Ubuntu, boot System 7.1, and have that emulated Quadra 800 see GlobalTalk (automatically once booted, I might add, thanks to my still running macOS-hosted QEMU-based Apple Internet Router Quadra 800).

Before I get to a short summary of that, I’d like to just comment on what a fun and challenging month March has been.

For fun, meeting my new (first) grandchild yesterday certainly tops the list, but for spread across the month, , and most especially GlobalTalk, hit it out of the park.

Those technical aspects also almost topped the list of why March was so challenging, and I did touch on some of the other reasons in my ¾.2 update. There’s so much more to that side of the story, but, as promised, this blog is not going to become the place where that will be discussed in any great detail. Big shoutout to my fam, though – love you guys, you’re the best!

BTW, I hope one day they make a blockbuster Hollywood movie about the dawn of GlobalTalk. I’m thinking Anthony Edwards can play me –I was always told when ER was big that I “looked like that guy from ER“. We can have the whole “countdown timer” thing going on, maybe some helicopters and motorbike races/fights – real Mission Impossible stuff. I’ll try and get a draft script done.

But first…

2024 was not all GlobalTalk. While I was going to offer some other highlights, I just don’t have it in me to tease out any nuggets, sorry! It was such a busy month…so much happened…I don’t want to exclude anyone!

If you’re a Mastodon user (or anywhere else there’s been content posted), I suggest doing a search for in your favourite client – that will likely bring up the bulk of the material.

If you’re not a Mastodon user, or if you want things in slightly more bite-sized pieces, here’s a list of URLs pointing to tagged posts on the Mastodon servers my server can see (because of the way federation works, this cannot ever be guaranteed to be an exhaustive list [but I suspect it’ll be pretty close] and some posts will be replicated across multiple servers):
astrodon.social, awesome.garden, betweenthelions.link, bitbang.social, bsd.cafe, cloudisland.nz, defcon.social, dialup.cafe, donotsta.re, dosgame.club, fedi.nano.lgbt, fosstodon.org, fozztexx.com, freiburg.social, frogs.lgbt, furry.engineer, hachyderm.io, incognitus.net, indieweb.social, infosec.exchange, kolektiva.social, mas.to, mastodon.acc.sunet.se, mastodon.lawprofs.org, mastodon.nu, mastodon.online, mastodon.sandwich.net, mastodon.sdf.org, mastodon.social, mastodon.vladovince.com, merveilles.town, nso.group, oldbytes.space, pounced-on.me, princess.industries, slayers.online, social.europlus.zone, social.vcfed.org, sueden.social, tacobelllabs.net, tal.org, tech.lgbt, techhub.social, tilde.zone, topspicy.social, vivaldi.net, wetdry.world, xoxo.zone

And now, some meat for your sandwich…

GlobalTalk from System 7.1 Booting in QEMU on Ubuntu

So, I’ve verified this all works from a base Ubuntu Desktop install – even one being virtualised under macOS! I believe this is what’s minimally required to get things working – there’s certainly scope for bells and whistles, so let me know your thoughts!

Some caveats, first, though…

  • I’m not a Linux/Ubuntu expert. I know enough to get myself out of trouble sometimes, and enough to get myself into trouble sometimes.
  • There are probably better ways – FozzTexx is working on Docker containerisation, Autumn is trying to use other features of QEMU to load the emulated Quadra 800, and I wouldn’t mind a “headless QEMU I VNC into” setup (maybe that will be my next GlobalTalk update).
  • For the moment, this requires a dedicated Ethernet interface so the host doesn’t grab a connection or configuration which affects the emulated Quadra 800’s connection. I’m sure there are ways around this, but see the first point above. I’d be happy to revise all this to allow bridged networking for QEMU while maintaining the base connection for the host OS. Something about tun/tap? A project for another day – for the moment, I use wireless for network access on the host, and Ethernet for network access in the QEMU emulated Quadra 800.

With those out of the way, the “simple” steps are:

  • Download the QEMU source from the QEMU website – I’m using v8.2.2
  • In a Terminal window (or SSH session), open the directory with the source archive, then run the following commands

    tar xvJf qemu-8.2.2.tar.xz

    sudo apt-get install python3-pip ninja-build libglib2.0-dev git flex bison libsdl2-dev libpixman-1-dev libgtk-3-dev

    cd qemu-8.2.2

    ./configure --target-list=m68k-softmmu --enable-gtk --enable-sdl


    sudo make install

Next, we’ll set up the bridge interface (these steps based on information from the Ubuntu website):

  • Define the bridge itself by editing /etc/netplan/01-network-manager-all.yaml (or whichever main configuration exists in the /etc/netplan/ folder):
      version: 2
      renderer: networkd
          dhcp4: no
          dhcp4: yes
            - enp3s0
    Note: Make sure the specified nic is relevant for your setup (i.e. replace “enp3s0” above with your Ethernet nic label as appropriate).
  • Apply the configuration:
    sudo netplan apply
  • Make qemu-bridge-helper setuid: to set up a bridge as a normal user, qemu-bridge-helper must be run as root. Do this by adding the setuid bit:
    sudo chmod +s /usr/local/libexec/qemu-bridge-helper
  • Allow user access to the bridge from qemu-bridge-helper: Create or modify /usr/local/etc/qemu/bridge.conf with these contents:
    allow br0

We’re now almost ready to run QEMU!

Create a folder wherever you want, and copy the contents of my setup files for GlobalTalk (these are linked to from the GlobalTalk coordination spreadsheet) into that folder.

Change the contents of qemu-GlobalTalk.command in that folder to (differences are -nic and -display directives):

cd "$(dirname "$0")"
qemu-system-m68k \
-machine q800 \
-m 32M \
-bios Q800.ROM \
-drive file=pram.img,format=raw,if=mtd \

rtc base=localtime \
-g 1152x870x8 \
-display gtk \
-nic bridge,model=dp83932,br=br0 \
-device scsi-hd,scsi-id=0,drive=hd0 \
-device scsi-hd,scsi-id=3,drive=cd3 \
-drive format=raw,media=disk,if=none,id=hd0,file=GlobalTalk_HD.img \
-drive format=raw,media=cdrom,if=none,id=cd3,file=Sys7.1-GlobalTalk_Install.img \

From the Terminal cd to that folder and type:


QEMU should open a new window, boot System 7.1, and you’ll then be able to follow the instructions for setting up GlobalTalk access in my Read Me.

I will be creating a broader set of instructions which go through the whole GlobalTalk setup from this point of initial boot. You can use a disk image configured for GlobalTalk from another QEMU setup (I’ll be testing my Apple Internet Router config on my macOS QEMU host to check it runs, but have not had a chance to yet).

Please let me know if you find any errors in the above, or hit any snags, or create a set of instructions for other distributions.

I would love to change this setup to allow simultaneous access for the bridged Ethernet interface to allow use in QEMU as well as the host system while allowing each to have a direct IP address on the network the host is connected to – please let me know how I might be able to achieve this and I’ll post an updated set of instructions with the information.

While this is my last 2024 post, it’s certainly not my last GlobalTalk one, so look for more info as I work on a more permanent set up moving forwards, and try and create a comprehensive set of GlobalTalk documentation (with screenshots, and everything!). And, hey, look! There’s still two hours of March (and therefore 2024) left…somewhere!

GlobalTalk Technical Note 2024.01: Network Numbering

OK, so the title of this post might seem a bit presumptuous, but stay with me, there’s good reason for it…

As previously discussed, GlobalTalk is an international conglomeration of AppleTalk networks tied together using the Apple Internet Router software from 1993.

Humble beginnings have blown out to a wild success for this aspect of #MARCHintosh 2024, and I know at least some admins (including myself) are planning on leaving their nodes online beyond 31 March, and others are planning to spin theirs back up for 2025 – but I also hope we see additions before and during next year’s event.

To date, technical information supporting optimal configuration has been rather sparse, mostly worked out on the fly, and supported by Paul Rickards, dan and Mac84 through initial successful experimentation, original setup instructions, and moderation of the spreadsheet used to coordinate network/zone names and numbers, for example.

I believe an assumption was made that a selection of a Network Number range spanning 10 “addresses” was seen as adequately servicing the number of devices individual GlobalTalk Admins might want to connect, but I think this is based on a false assumption of what the Network Numbers accommodate/represent.

So, what should we do? Well, as always, we should…


As I’ve settled into GlobalTalk, seen messages in my Router Log, discussions on Mastodon, and Comments in the coordinating spreadsheet, I realised it would be ideal if I and my fellow GlobalTalk admins could benefit from reading the Apple Internet Router 3.0 Manual…it that were at all possible.

I mean, ideally, don’t we all like to obey the Fourth Golden Rule of Computing – RTFM?

However, this is getting harder and harder these days – for older hardware and software, the manuals might be nigh on impossible to get a hold of, and for modern hardware and software, you might have to be satisfied with a Regulatory Compliance note and a sticker…if you’re lucky!

So far, for the Apple Internet Router v3.0 software being used for the majority of GlobalTalk nodes, all I have found online is the plain text of the primary chapters of the Apple Internet Router Manual (no appendices).

It’s a little hard to pick out sections, chapters, and headings, but it is absolutely better than nothing.

As a side note, I’ve seen such plain text PDFs of Apple manuals before – I’m not sure if these plain text files have somehow leaked from Apple or their design houses, or if it’s just the output of OCRing the originals (which I would expect said originals to be available, but they often aren’t). I generally settle on the former due to the lack of scanned originals suggested by the latter.

While incomplete to provide full technical details (I want Appendix A!), it has still brought me fuller understanding of how network numbers and ranges operate, which informs the recommendations I make below.

Should these recommendations be accepted by the GlobalTalk Admin community, I believe it will allow for any future potential growth of the network, optimise the Admin experience, improve flexibility on the network, and minimise (if not eliminate) network number conflicts (a small, but persistent issue on GlobalTalk to date).

News just in: in a timely change of fortunes, I have discovered while writing these very RTFM paragraphs that I have secured the original, full, Apple Internet Router 3.0.1 package on eBay, including ring-bound manual. Huzzah!

Once scanned (and uploaded to The Internet Archive), I’ll be donating the full package to the Australian Computer Museum (of which I am a volunteer sysadmin), which will be joining GlobalTalk as soon as I can get the time to get their configuration together.

Unfortunately, the package won’t arrive before the end of 2024, but the plain text has enough information to inform my proposals below regarding Network Numbering to the wider GlobalTalk Admin community.

What the Manual Says…
Identifying networks on an internet

Networks connected by the router retain separate identities. Each AppleTalk network in an internet must have a unique network number or network range.

- A single network number identifies a LocalTalk network.

- A network range is a series of contiguous network numbers that identifies any other type of AppleTalk network, such as an EtherTalk or TokenTalk network. A network range can neither include a network number already assigned to another network nor overlap another network range.

Each network in an internet can include a maximum of 253 devices. You can assign up to 253 devices to each network number in a network range. Thus, a network range determines the maximum number of devices on a network. For example, a network having the network range 1-10 could include up to 2,530 devices (10 × 253).

If you designated the EtherTalk or TokenTalk port as a seed port, type the lowest network number in the network range for the network connected to that port in the Network Range text box and the highest network number in the network range in the "to" text box.

IMPORTANT A network range must be unique in an internet. It can neither include a network number already assigned to another network nor overlap another network range.

A network range must consist of a series of contiguous network numbers. You can specify a network range as two decimal numbers between 1 and 65,279, or two hexadecimal numbers between $1 and $FEFF. In Router Manager, a $ character must precede hexadecimal numbers. If you don't expect a network to grow beyond 253 devices, you can assign a single network number to a range – for example, you can specify a network range from 14 to 14.
How I Interpret this…

In the above, “internet” means the internetwork of AppleTalk networks being routed/bridged between all the GlobalTalk nodes (a “node” I define as a distinct Apple Internet Router-running Mac [or equivalent-functionality device or software from other companies] which allows joining of local networks to the GlobalTalk “internet”).

Additionally, “network” means the devices sharing a distinctive networking infrastructure, where those devices are directly able to see each other without any intermediaries such as bridges, routers, etc.

Network Numbers are valid within the range of 1 to 65,279, capping the potential number of networks connectable to GlobalTalk at that higher number.

For AppleTalk networks (whether LocalTalk, EtherTalk or TokenTalk), at most 253 devices can be on any single Network Number.

LocalTalk networks can only have one Network Number (which, once again, must be unique on the GlobalTalk internet), and EtherTalk (the most common network type on GlobalTalk) can have a range of unique Network Number/s, but that range may represent a single value (the “14 to 14” example above).

A Mac running AIR may have multiple LocalTalk networks (through printer and modem ports, or perhaps expansion cards), and multiple EtherTalk networks (through a combination of built-in Ethernet port/s and/or expansion cards). The number of networks an individual Mac running AIR can route for is limited to 32 networks, however (so 32 × 253 devices – 8,096 – devices maximum routed devices per GlobalTalk node).

Given any given Network Number must be uniquely assigned within each such “internet”, and each numbered network can have up to 253 devices within it, a single Network Number per network type (LocalTalk or EtherTalk) should be adequate for most, if not all, GlobalTalk nodes/networks. Many GlobalTalk nodes will not even need the second Network Number for a LocalTalk network (mine doesn’t [currently]).

The occurrence of a duplicate Network Number between individual LocalTalk networks or within EtherTalk Network Number Ranges anywhere across the GlobalTalk internet will cause the “Remote Net Range Conflict” errors we have been seeing in our AIR Router Logs, which prevents the second network attempting to use that Network Number from being visible until the conflict is resolved (which may be out of their hands and reliant on conflicting node’s Admin).

What I Propose be Adopted by the GlobalTalk Admin Community…

My feeling is we have an opportunity to lay some ground rules which will improve GlobalTalk administration moving forward, and the sooner we do so, the better.

And so, I propose:

  • Each GlobalTalk node be initially allowed up to two Network Numbers by default – one for their primary EtherTalk network, and another, if needed, for their LocalTalk network. Currently these are assigned on a first-come (i.e. first-requested), first served basis, and I see no reason to change this self-allocation.
  • Additional Network Numbers for additional network types (multiple physical LocalTalk or EtherTalk networks, or TokenTalk networks, connected to the Mac running Apple Internet Router) need to be requested after successful connection as a “base” GlobalTalk node (one EtherTalk network and, optionally, one LocalTalk network).
  • GlobalTalk Admins agree to request/reserve/assign a single number “range” to their EtherTalk network unless otherwise approved.

Assuming 1-2 Network Numbers per GlobalTalk node, we can accommodate somewhere between 32,639 and 65,279 GlobalTalk nodes on the GlobalTalk internet.

With up to 65,279 unique Network Numbers of up to 253 devices each, we can accommodate up to 16,515,587 individual network devices across the GlobalTalk internet.

I doubt we will run out, even with additional Network Numbers allowed when occasionally needed.


GlobalTalk is already a co-operative in the sense that anyone with access to the coordinating spreadsheet needs to co-operate with other GlobalTalk Admins to optimise everyone’s experience.

While things don’t necessarily have to change based on current usage, I think the above suggestions are worthwhile implementing for the long term benefit of all current and future GlobalTalk Admins.

Additionally, Network Number choice for individual Admins is increased with the recommended limitations – which, I feel, are not really limitations at all, given the device allowances per Network Number, and what I think are reasonable assumptions on the usage needs of any given GlobalTalk Admin/node.

I hope my fellow GlobalTalk admins embrace these suggestions, and I look forward to a very long life for this spontaneously ignited community of retro-Mac enthusiasts.

PS. Support

If you would like to support the preservation of the AIR original package and its donation to the Australian Computer Museum, please reach out to me via the contact page. Supporting the purchase of this software will provide an important resource to the global Mac retrocomputing community, and any excess funds will aid the ACM’s critical mission to preserve Australian computing heritage.

All donors will be acknowledged in the donation form to the ACM, and no moneys will be retained by me.

Thank you.

#MARCHintosh ¾.2 Update

Content Warning: This post is more “personal” than I usually get here on my blog. However, I’m coming to an awareness in what quite frankly will be the latter years of my life (at 55, I’m hardly likely to be considered “middle-aged”!) that, basically, “I’m too old for this shit”.

Understanding and learning about my experience over the last year, and more recently (and much more dramatically) that I likely have PDA, has allowed me to be more open about my experiences and behaviours, and the repercussions across my whole life and experience are continuing to be felt and will do so for some time to come.

This blog will not become a “Living on the Spectrum” or “Living with PDA” blog – I have an alt Mastodon account (PM me for details) where I delve more deeply and personally into that aspect of my life.

But, quite frankly, I am too old to not acknowledge the impact my lived experience has on how I enjoy my life and my retrocomputing hobby. And this is just one example of that experience

I have to admit, I think there’s a certain degree of expression of PDA in my not having progressed my first 2024 project, the preservation/recreation of my 1991 MacViruses article.

Progress on Project 1: Start, make significant early progress, get distracted, feel unable to return.

Status of Project 1: Stalled.

That could almost be my life mantra.

And it’s not just “real life got in the way”. Read my other 2024 updates and you will understand I have applied a not insignificant amount of time to GlobalTalk…and virtually none on Project 1 since I recreated the article screenshots for that project on 5 March.

I do not regret the time spent on connecting to GlobalTalk and the offshoot adventures/projects, nor on documenting them in my not-entirely-short updates. I’ve had a blast this month, and if I do nothing else on Project 1, I know I have still engaged in a lot of enjoyable retrocomputing this month.


PDA is not about productivity or lack of it. It’s not about effectively prioritising one project above another after meaningful consideration. It’s not about “chores” vs. what I enjoy. It’s not about important vs. frivolous. And it most certainly is not about procrastinating.

It’s about a feeling arising at any given moment of not having control of my actions, or of a crippling paralysis which can rear its head at any time of the day, week, month, year, my life.

I honestly do not how I am going to live with this understanding, but I’m going to describe what it’s like to have a task/project/ToDo I am heavily, emotionally, invested in completing falling by the wayside, but trying to move it forward.

Project 1’s completion would fulfil a lot of my motivations for being in the retrocomputing community in the first place: knowledge sharing, and the preservation of information. I’d be stoked to have it completed.

But here I am, seven days away from the end of and I have not progressed anything on it for 19 days.

There’s absolutely a part of this which is distraction by the technical thrill of getting onto GlobalTalk via emulation. But often distractions serve avoidance, not the completion of those distracting tasks in and of themselves.

There’s a part of me which understands that, should I be able to do so, I could literally knock this project over in a day, easy. Like, please, it is not that hard.

But it sits there, neglected, day after day. Sometimes I sit at my computer just looking at the screen (or lay in my bed) and I am literally unable to do anything…for minutes…hours…days…forever. And I’m not being overly-dramatic here – I mean a literal inability to do one single action to move anything forward. Some tasks fare better than others.

Even now, I feel the resistance/paralysis to reach to the desk directly behind me, pick up the article, and walk the two metres to scan and OCR the text for the reproduction. I want to do these things. I want to complete this reproduction. I know I will feel a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction to have it done.

That simple first step has sat there for 19 days. I’ve sat with it every single day since 5 March. The inaction is hanging over me like a Sword of Damocles. But when that sword drops (often when it’s too late to undertake a given task), it will leave at least a sense of inadequacy, and sometimes that inaction has major life consequences.

So, for the purposes of describing what this is like, I’m going to pull away from the keyboard, and grab that article, and scan it…

As I work on the practical issues of scanning and OCRing the article, I feel the obligation to do this, not the personal motivation or enjoyment. Sometimes I can do what it feels I’m obliged to, sometimes I can’t. At the moment, I can do this thing, but I constantly reflect on the other things I “should” be doing today – they almost haunt me, and I feel incapable of finding a balance which is comfortable for me…

As with anything retro, there are roadblocks, hurdles. I don’t think I’ll be able to get VueScan to OCR the article without taking the print version apart (it’s glued on the spine like a notepad) – it’s not auto-rotating properly…

When I’m dealing with PDA, these hurdles are more likely to stop me working on the project at hand, and leave me sitting motionless till I move to do something else. I try to commit to returning to it another time, I often know I won’t, no matter what I “want”.

I love troubleshooting, I adore overcoming technical obstacles. Can’t OCR without separating the pages? I’ll try to recognise the text in Preview. When that doesn’t work, I try on my iPhone – I’d try other things if I need to, but the iPhone works…

I work through the large TIFF files – I’ll have my text soon, no doubt needing proofing and correcting, but better than retyping. My god, I could not face retyping this right now, that’s so…so primitive, and involved! I do not need that sort of “involved” right now.

Stupid when I consider how involved I need to be to get this done in any fashion. And that retyping may well be more accurate and quicker. Hint: do not think on that unless you want another source of paralysis…

I actually get in a groove. This is familiar work for me, pulling together disparate sources of copy to prepare for layout. I did it for years, I was good at it, I have a good eye for detail and work quickly relative to the hurdles in front of me.

This is my territory – if I get in a groove, I will be able to apply myself for hours and hours to completion. Even days, if it will take that long.

However, these grooves are interspersed with sometimes days of little or no productivity. If I wasn’t über-productive when I am able to get in these grooves, I’d probably be destitute.

I’m adept at finding efficiencies, at automating tasks. I’d previously described it as being lazy as it allowed me to do more with less effort, but that doesn’t do justice to what I do. If I had these grooves across 100% of my work life…it’s literally depressing and confronting to consider where I could be.

But I’m me, and I’m finally accepting that more than I ever have before. I will never be a 100% high achiever. I feel like I will always be the “less good MVP” – the Minimum Viable Product. It’s gotten me this far, and maybe I can subvert the process now I understand it better to achieve at least a slightly better outcome. Sometimes it feels very late to be having the understanding I have right now. Is it too late?

Now I’m stimming as some frustrating hurdles appear. Nothing major, but pauses and repetitive corrective actions which take some time cause me to physically “fill in the time” or express frustration. I’d only been vaguely aware of my stimming before my acceptance of being on the spectrum. I’m now more likely let it go where it will (especially when I’m alone, as I am now), but sometimes, I really feel weirded out by the little physical expressions I do to stim.

I’m also stimming to try and reduce the stress of working against my PDA. I’m having to have to wait for a sync process now which is taking ages – it’s triggering my desire to abandon this task. Stimming helps to allay the stress I’m feeling. So close, and yet I’m stuck for the moment from moving forward.

Damnit, why is this sync taking so long! I try and access directly from phone to iMac – still the upside down version! Gah!

Then, for the heck of it, I try something – how about that, the iPhone can OCR upside down pages! I grab the last page’s text and make sure I have everything now. Yep, seems that way.

Time to fire up PageMaker to import the text and graphics and get this things done. I feel like I’m within reach now.

Now I’m dealing with line endings and text encodings. I really don’t want to be dealing with line endings and text encodings. In macOS Sonoma I replace all line endings with “@@@”, import to PageMaker, then change “@@@” to “^p” – boom, baby!

Text is flowing, new Styles are being created (or old Styles recreated), I’m back in the groove, or in a very old comfort zone. After so many years, this comes so naturally to me. It doesn’t feel like a demand at the moment.

I’d worked out so many shortcuts and scripted so much automation back in my desktop publishing days the demands felt much less present. More so than any other time of my life. And I don’t think any of my employers ever had a more productive employee than I was.

I know there’s an “ideal” lucrative existence out there for me somewhere – I think the closest I have come to feeling comfortable in my work, life and skin so far has been the entirely financially unsustainable “just a desktop publishing operator”.

I left that job 27 years (half a life!) ago – it was low paying, and in many ways probably not entirely allowing me to reach my full potential. But it utilised my brain in a way which felt entirely comfortable. It suited me. Throw in some writing (when I could do that to deadline!) and I felt like I was in heaven.

The Apple consultancy work scratched many of the same itches of interest, but there were too many external demands around “running my own business” and dealing with other people which I was ultimately incapable of meeting. Everything since has not hit the same mark even though I’ve loved every job I’ve had.

Wow, so there’s an insight.

Test laid out. A Style or two to create/modify, some boxed text to lay out, then bring over my recreated screenshots. Then, I think I’m done.

The push to avoid this demand has reduced the more I’ve gotten into it. It’s like the face of the wave is more daunting than the actual riding of it, especially the closer you get to the crest.

But it doesn’t matter how many times I might have that insight – PDA will still strike on tasks I have a handle on as much as those which are new to me. For now, I’ll just work towards completion of this task…

O.M.F.G! Am I done?! I think I’m done. Five hours. Like I said, within a day.

What mixed emotions – it feels like not a celebration because of the delays, but it feels like a celebration for the finishing. This is what it always feels like:

“Why didn’t you just do it earlier?”

“Why did you actually find that so hard?”

“What is wrong with you?”

Those questions are being asked less, but they’re often still there.

I’ll do a quick cross-check/proof of the file, then create the PDF, upload to Internet Archive, and I’ll actually be done.

I’m honestly numb. IYKYK.

And at the end of all that, I’m happy to report that Project 1 for my is now complete – the MacViruses article I wrote in 1991 is now preserved and archived to The Internet Archive.

What a journey, thanks for joining me on it.

#MARCHintosh ¾.1 Update

I realised soon after posting yesterday’s overview of GlobalTalk that I had left out a few things which I really feel I need to include.

This is going to be like an Oscars speech – self-centred (as in from my perspective), probably overly long (no band to push me along, and I’d probably choose Jethro Tull playing Thick as a Brick, anyway), full of hyperbole (hey, I’m excited!), and I’m going to forget or not be aware of people I should be giving a shout-out to (hence the generic shout-out at the end).

For all of these, I blame my eminent fallibility and declining cognitive functions and beg everyone’s forgiveness!

Firstly, a shout-out to dan and Paul Rickards for setting this up in the first place. A simple “let’s try and connect across the Atlantic” experiment has become so, so much more, and I know has given dozens a geeks a fun, challenging, and interesting project for 2024.

I’d also like to acknowledge the Apple hardware and software engineers – they have designed and released a system which quite literally works across the decades and around the world. A lot of this stuff really does “just work”, and most of my challenges have been related to trying to connect via emulation or trying to use modern hardware. And some of what’s lacking in modern systems is more policy (no more AFP in macOS) than technical (netatalk fills the AFP gap).

Next, my fellow GlobalTalk Admins! You all rock! The willingness to jump right in, the regular visits between sites, the resources you’ve made available and times you’ve shared, and the simple camaraderie of a shared retro technical goal has made this, my first , an absolute blast!

74 Admins have placed their network details in the coordinating spreadsheet (a few are yet to reach that stage), and I suspect we may get a few stragglers in the last week of March.

I’d like to particularly shout-out Paul Rickards and Steve (Mac84) for administering the coordinating spreadsheet (otherwise known as “herding the cats” [and yes, there are lots of cats on GlobalTalk – furry felines and cat printers both]). Any gig like that can get fractious and be a time sink, so thanks for helping to give this “rag tag fugitive fleet” a place to keep the house in order.

Overall, the creativity and sheer genius of some solutions Admins have used to get equipment and resources online has left me in awe.

Speaking of creativity and genius, some admins have gone above and beyond, creating new programs or solutions to help out their fellow admins, or give users a more interesting experience.

This following list is where I know I will forget people – but know: if you’ve created a program, if you’ve created tutorials or configuration files to help people get onto GlobalTalk, if you’ve resurrected old file archives with interesting stuff or created new one, if you’ve done even one small thing like create new artwork to print to available printers or leave as calling cards, you’ve all made this one for the ages!

  • Karl Baron has created several programs/HyperCard stacks for GlobalTalk, including GlobalTalk Chat (a HyperCard chat system for people on AppleTalk networks), ZoneWatcher (sort of a log of AppleTalk zones which have been visible on the network), AIRConfig (which greatly simplifies keeping the list of Apple Internet Router Host IDs up to date), and KalleBoos AppleWideWeb (sort of a HyperCard World Wide Web/wiki which allows linking between stacks on different GlobalTalk hosts)
  • Sam Johnson has released GlobalTalk Updater, which periodically grabs the list of Host IDs from the coordinating spreadsheet and creates a text file compatible with AIRConfig for importing into AIR
  • Vlado Vince has set up a Spectre multi-player system and tracking page (so you can see who’s playing and who’s in the waiting room) – he also hosts a lot of files related to early Yugoslavian/central European networking systems.
  • LikesOldMacs has set up an open access System 7.5.3 folder for participants to play with/modify, and will be booting it at the end of to see what “treasures” it holds – can’t wait to see the denouement on that one!
  • Josh is creating jrouter, a homemade AIR-equivalent router package for modern systems written in Go. While I enjoy the retro feel of doing this the “original” way, I am also trying to keep this online in the long term and emulation may end up being too crashy and/or just a resource drain I might avoid with a solution like this…or just by getting an SE/30!
  • Rairii has put a Windows NT4 server online with a file share and “Print-to-PostScript File” printer.
  • Byte Knight is hosting a GlobalTalk server on a IIci which also hosts a 6-node BBS (Captain’s Quarters II)
  • Andy Diller has set up an Apple IP Gateway server to allow GlobalTalk clients (especially those using LocalTalk) to connect to the wider internet. Oh, and as The Three Golden Rules of Computing (1. Backup 2. BACKUP 3. BACKUP!) still apply, Andy runs a Retrospect (old Mac backup software) server to backup your GlobalTalk clients to!
  • As an extension of getting their Lisa clone online, DosFox ran AppleShare 2.0.1, which effectively hijacks the whole OS to share files from
  • vga256 recreated the website of the creator of the popular Simpsons icons from “back in the day” (and has done other such recreations). That creator unfortunately has passed away, so these sorts of preservation efforts are vital to remembering our digital past. I love digital archaeology/preservation stories like this, so much is being lost to bitrot and link-death
  • nulleric (the creator of the BlueSCSI, see below) has released a TashTalk (see below) compatible version of mini vMac (I’ve yet to try this out)
  • Eric’s Edge made a network tic-tac-toe game, Tic Tac For Two
  • While less active recently, Sinclair-System 7.5 had some entertaining posts on Mastodon earlier this month in relation to purposefully infecting emulated systems with old school Mac viruses – all I can say is “Ouch!”

Because of the way Fediverse message propagation works, I may not have captured all the GlobalTalk hashtag goodness – please reply to this post with anything you think worthy of being on this list.

To the developers of hardware and software like NeitherNet, BlueSCSI, SEthernet/30, PiSCSI, FloppyEmu, modern Lisa clones, TashTalk, TashRouter, AirTalk, netatalk, QEMU, Basilisk II, mini vMac, and many others, and the communities which have built up around those projects, thank you for helping this all work in new and interesting ways on both modern and retro hardware/emulations.

Lastly, for this update, here are some of my hints and tips for being on GlobalTalk:

  • Network Discovery: Who’s There (available on the Elsie file server in the billgoats zone, and mirrored on WOzFest HQ file server in GlobalTalk share in the Networking folder) is a great Chooser extension for seeing information about devices in zones, and Trawl does something similar graphically (available in the BlackBird Public share on Blackbird in BaroNet zone, and WOzFest HQ in same folder as Who’s There)
  • Printing: The AppleTalk MacPalette II driver (available on the Elsie file server in the billgoats zone) gives vastly superior results on AppleTalk printers, especially in colour. If compatible, LaserWriter 8 allows the selection of a PPD (PostScript Printer Description) file to allow the setting of printer model-specific options – I have placed 103 Brother PPDs into the appropriately named folder in the GlobalTalk share on the netatalk file and print server in the WOzFest HQ zone (there also a folder for the two printers in that zone, my Brother MFC-L3770CDW colour laser printer, and the CUPS-PDF “Print to PDF” printer).
  • Coordination Spreadsheet: protect your own cells, make cells like Status easier to update, and reduce clutter by using Google Sheets’ Comment feature if you want to leave a message for someone (even works on protected cells)
  • Practising : Make sure you have Disinfectant 3.7.1 or Virex installed to avoid any embarrassing infections – these are both widely available on GlobalTalk file server (Disinfectant 3.7.1 is in WOzFest HQ’s GlobalTalk share, along with a few other goodies). Don’t forget to install any protection extensions/INITs to avoid infections moving forwards, too

Please, if I’ve not covered something worth giving a shout-out to (even if it’s on other [unmentionable] social networks!) that you have done or are aware of because I’ve overlooked it or am not aware of it, reach out and I will include details here – I love you all, and appreciate everyone’s hard work on this stuff!

I was hoping today I would have already started working on some of my outstanding (as in left over, not fantastic [although they may well be both]) projects, but I thought it worth taking the time to celebrate those I’ve mentioned above, and, of course, acknowledge there are likely many more who deserve recognition.

As I receive info, I’ll update the above, and I’ll hopefully finish my weekend with an update on my outstanding projects (although I have a Stranger Things Season 4 finale to watch, as well [yes, I know I’m late to that party!]).

If possible, I’ll also post a list of GlobalTalk relevant blog posts, tutorials, etc. as an independent update.

In the meantime, I hope you all have a great weekend!

#MARCHintosh ¾ Update

Unfortunately, I’ve been too busy to return to my 2024 Project 1 (archiving my MacViruses article).

This week has been a lot calmer on the GlobalTalk front for me compared to the prior couple of weeks.

However, the network has not infrequently exceeded 60 networks online, which I don’t think anyone would have predicted at the start of the month, so I think it’s worthwhile doing a broad brushstrokes overview of what it is.

GlobalTalk includes networks/zones in 12 timezones, from -8 to +11 UTC.

The range of technology/devices is truly impressive – real and emulated computers and printers, with the emulated devices being on Windows, macOS and Linux.

The client systems run the whole gamut of Apple device history – Apple IIGS’, Lisas, Newtons, Mac 512Ks, then through all sorts of 68k, PPC (including clones), Intel and Apple Silicon machines…they all feature in one way or another. Even Apple’s first Unix system, A/UX has joined in the fun.

Plus our Windows and Linux brethren through, for example, Window NT4(!), and netatalk-based Linux hosts providing file and print services on “traditional” desktops and laptops and also Raspberry Pis. An SGI IRIX system has even made an appearance!

We’ve got physical switches and routers, old computers with new additions or versions (BlueSCSI, PiSCSI, FloppyEmu, modern Lisa clones).

Emulated systems in QEMU, Basilisk II and mini vMac.

Printers from Apple, HP, Brother, Oki, Kyocera, and modern thermal “receipt”-style printers and “Print to PDF” services – so dot-matrix, laser, thermal and virtual printers (PDF and PostScript files) are all represented. Some are EtherTalk, some are LocalTalk, some are lpr/IP printers, but between them they span 40 years of printing technology.

And all that heterogeneity is handled with (relative) aplomb by the Apple Internet Router (AIR) software from 1993, with client devices from roughly 1984 through to 2024!

In my own situation, I copy files to my virtualised netatalk Linux server from my macOS Sonoma iMac, and those files are then visible to the emulated Quadra 800 running AIR.

My Brother colour laser printer (which is not AppleTalk capable) is shared via netatalk, and I’ve had almost 25 print jobs sent from all sorts of old Macs so far.

My intention is to leave my GlobalTalk and netatalk servers running once 2024 concludes, and I do hope others will also leave their setups online and available via the network.

I’m hoping to get a bit more done on other aspects of my projects tomorrow, and will update again then if I do.

#MARCHintosh 2024 – What a Ride!

First off, Happy St Patrick’s Day! Éirinn go Brách! 💚🤍🧡

This has been what I can only describe as an unexpectedly, heavily, Mac-flavoured March.

Yes, I know it’s #MARCHintosh – but I don’t have any retro Macs! What projects could I possibly contribute with?

Oh, boy, let me tell you!

My Project

It started out innocently enough, with a post from a Mastodon mutual indicating their project was classic Mac virus-related.

That triggered the memory of doing a “MacViruses” article for PC Support Advisor when I worked for Paul Zucker, and I knew I had the original PageMaker file for at least one of the two articles I wrote for that publication in 1991, and print copies of both.

So, I thought, my project (note the singular at this time, please), would be to find them, archive them, and have that info available online. I found the printed copies quick smart, and the PageMaker file (both PageMaker 4.2 and 5 versions) for the other article (“Macintosh Resources”) soon after.

As a proof of concept, I fired up PageMaker 5 in mini vMac, printed to the PostScript file printer I’d already set up, used GhostScript to convert that .ps file to PDF, and I ended up with a modern, clean, searchable copy of the resources article quick smart, which I uploaded it to The Internet Archive.

You might think I’d be happy about achieving 50% of my project, but then I considered the viruses article. With no copy of it in PageMaker, I was left with scanning, OCRing and uploading that to IA.

But that felt just plain wrong!

When I scanned the pages in colour as 600dpi TIFFs, they were 400MB each! The whole PDF of the resources article was only 200KB, and it had more pages and screenshots! Scanning two colour spot printing as a colour TIFF, even with a limited colour depth, was blowing out the file size. And I was worried about how good a job OCR would do, anyway, especially for the figure captions which were printed over a dot screen of the second colour.

So I considered my options and thought what I would do was just use the scanned pages to extract the text and graphics, and use the resources article PageMaker file as a template to recreate the viruses article, and inherit the file size and format benefits by converting that to PDF.

I embarked on this path and after a significant amount of fiddling (and advice from noted Australian digital image manipulatoreditor NanoRaptor), I was able to extract six “clean” 512 × 342 1-bit Mac screenshots identical to the originals.

The project stalled at that point because of an unexpected hurdle: I’d started taking notice of the GlobalTalk networking project, and wanted to get involved.

GlobalTalk started as an attempt by Paul Rickards and dan on Mastodon to get their AppleTalk networks joined across the Atlantic. While it looks nothing like the original proposal (it now uses Apple Internet Router [AIR]), to say it has taken off would have to be the understatement of the year! As of today there are roughly 60 zones intermittently showing up on GlobalTalk, with usually over 45 online at any one time.

But…I have no AppleTalk capable Macs, so what can I do to participate?

Well, emulate, of course! I (totally sensibly) down tools on Project 1 (temporarily, I assure myself), and enthusiastically join…

The GlobalTalk Revolution! (a.k.a. My Second Project)

It’d be pretty straightforward, I surmised – look how easy it was to use mini vMac to create a PostScript file from a PageMaker file almost 35 years old!

Okay, Houston…we’ve had a problem here…

First of all, my favoured classic Mac emulators are not currently being very co-operative.

SheepShaver and Basilisk II are both crashing for me immediately upon launch. I’ve tried changed settings, creating new settings, new downloads of the apps – nothing is working to get them going. I’ve subsequently seen that using OpenCore Legacy Patcher to run later macOS versions on officially unsupported hardware is at fault, but I haven’t seen any reasons why that is the case.

“But hang on,” I hear you ask, “what about mini vMac? You were using that just a few paragraphs ago!”

Indeed I was, but this is where I expose my selective laziness and technical chauvinism – when it comes to emulated systems, I like to use bridged networking (if the emulated systems are network-capable at all), whereby they appear as independent/peer network devices to the other devices on my network.

It means I can play with different network protocols (inbound and outbound) as if the emulated system was a physical device plugged into my network.

If necessary (and appropriate), I can easily forward ports from my router to those emulated systems for external access without funky TAP/TUN/SLiRP/BURP networking shenanigans (that last one is made up if you didn’t guess, but who could really be sure these days, eh?).

I seem to recall having bridged networking working with SheepShaver and Basilisk II, but they’re useless to me at the moment, so I couldn’t check and looked at mini vMac.

Every time I tried to enable AppleTalk in mini vMac, the boot system would crash on restart. I’ve even tried Beta Branch 37 with UDP enabled for LocalTalk by default (which I thought would do the bridged networking I was looking for) with no luck.

On looking around, however, I saw that another emulator, QEMU, can do bridged networking on macOS, and its Motorola 68k emulation can emulate a Quadra 800, which runs the OS version Paul Rickards’ instructions said I needed (System 7.1).

So I settled on QEMU as my fastest path to getting set up for GlobalTalk.

Famous last words.

QEMU to the Rescue…Eventually

I downloaded QEMU and a helpfully provided System 7.1 installer linked to from the QEMU download page on emaculation.com.

In the interests of brevity (ahem!), I’m going to take a deep breath and blurt it all out in one go: 3…2…1…

Download qemu-system-m68k; download System 7.1 installer disk; struggle for hours to get it right – both the blank image file I created and the installer disk have to be “scsi-hd” in the command file’s options; vmnet is mistyped on the Emaculation guide, so copy/pasting that killed networking for an hour until I noticed the typo; vmnet requires root privs (fine…I’ll just sudo the command each time); trouble mounting additional software installer images required for GlobalTalk!; more trouble mounting additional software installer images required for GlobalTalk!!; even more trouble mounting additional software installer images required for GlobalTalk!!!; Disk Copy 6.1.2 requires AppleScript (not on installer drive!); extract bare partition image with Disk Jockey; use mini vMac to mount System Update 3 images and bare partition (which probably won’t work if brought back to QEMU, but I’m desperate); won’t boot; try loading bare disk image after booting mini vMac with my usual System 7.5.3 boot image to import NDIF disk images mounted with Disk Copy to make net install folders, then use the QEMU disk converter to make it right again – will this even work?!; Disk Copy 6.1.2 on installer disk runs in System 7.5.3 in mini vMac, but importFl doesn’t bring any filetype information over (already lost?); assign filetype and creator code to .img – still doesn’t work; import suggested Apple Internet Router compressed archive to mini vMac with importFl; it’s a StuffIt! .sit file, and no expander is installed on my mini vMac boot disk; install Stuffit! Expander from mini vMac site; no filetype and creator code on AIR .sit file; assign filetype and creator code to AIR installer .sit – DOESN’T WORK!; download a different AIR 3.0.1 archive I find online – it includes 3.0 installer disk images!; they mount with Disk Copy, huzzah!; I’m able to make a network installer from the three disk images and install AIR!; I’m able to install the Router IP Extension and Network Software 1.4.5 Installers!; I’m ready to take this back to QEMU, but how should I do that?; I try Disk Copy’s “Create Image from Disk” feature, hoping it’s QEMU compatible…QEMU doesn’t boot with it!; I try Disk Copy’s “Create Image from Folder” feature, but choose the installer disk; I create Read Only, Read/Write and Compressed versions of the disk image; I try to mount them all in QEMU – none work!; Aaaaarrrrgggghhhh!

I feel so close! I have all the necessary software installed, I just need to find a way to load and run it on the compatible “hardware” in QEMU.

I’m not exactly sure what I did next (I’d stopped taking notes, just looking at them was stressing me), but somehow, soon after the above I landed on the necessary command options to load one of the pre-installed disk images I’d made in mini vMac as a Read/Write boot disk in QEMU with my modified installer disk as a second disk. Huzzah, indeed!

Most everything after that pretty well followed the script prepared by Paul Rickards (other than some port naming differences). I was soon on GlobalTalk with (by this stage) quite a few other zones.

I’d done it! I was online and my machine was connected to other AIR routers around the world!

I eventually got to packaging up my disk images for others, creating a Read Me on how to use them to boot QEMU with AIR pre-installed (with update installers ready to go beyond the base version used by Paul) or leaving it as an exercise for the user to install from scratch using my installer disk.

I could close off that chapter, and leisurely move to the next chapter, which was really the first chapter: finishing my original project, finally

Next Chapter: I Catch a Virus

Before I did return to Project 1, I thought I’d just quickly find the Quadra 800 icon the System 7.1 Finder’s About This Macintosh dialog. I thought I could use it as an avatar or something.

So, I dived into a copy of the Finder (where that icon was likely to be stored) with RedEdit, the trusty old resource editor from back in the day (you can read about it and icon resources in the above article!).

Almost immediately upon opening the file (even before opening any icon resources), my heart almost stopped. There, sitting in amongst all the innocent resources, was one I well remember as not being innocent at all – nVIR.

“$#!+”, I thought, “that’s the nVIR virus in the Finder from my boot disk! A copy of which I made available globally last night!”

I immediately cancelled the iCloud share of the packaged files and announced the problem on Mastodon and in the spreadsheet used to coordinate GlobalTalk admins.

I then rode the “find a disk image that works in QEMU” merry-go-round again (well, a much smaller version of it, “only” an hour or so this time) to install and run Disinfectant 3.7.1, an early Mac antivirus program I knew could deal with nVIR.

I ran it on the boot disk, but it couldn’t do a full clean while some infected system files were loaded. I also ran it on the installer disk, which it cleaned completely – so then I booted from the installer disk mounted in Read Only mode, cleaned the boot disk, and then mounted the distribution copies and cleaned those.

I then rebooted back into my usual system setup so it could get back to running AIR, amended my Read Me, and sent out links to a new version of my packaged files all fresh and clean.

Apparently, mine wasn’t the only distributed disk image which had a virus infection. Subsequent to my announcement, other GlobalTalk admins ran antivirus on their installs or disks they’d distributed, and at least one other infection unrelated to mine was found on someone else’s distribution disk. Welcome to 1993!

When trying to nail down the source of my infection, I revisited that helpful installer disk image Emaculation linked to – a fresh download was, indeed, already “helpfully” infected with nVIR, so I notified the admins there and they quickly cleaned it up, as well.

Thankfully, nVIR was pretty innocuous and easy to clean.

So, now I can get back to Project 1, right?!


Next Chapter: Get in the Queue!

There was still one GlobalTalk thing nagging me – printing.

So far, all I’d achieved in that area was a disastrous attempt to print two small SimpleText files, print jobs which I cancelled as nothing seemed to be happening at my end, but which actually resulted in hundreds of blank pages going through the printer, and every 20 pages or so my small one- or several-line messages would appear. Oops! Sorry, Eric!

What I wanted even more than sending print jobs was for people to be able to print to my printer, a nice Brother colour laser printer I’d only gotten mid-last year. However, it’s too new to understand AppleTalk, older Macs (pre-System 7.5) can’t properly speak lpr/lpd/ipp, and I didn’t want my printer just available to the wider Internet via port forwarding, I wanted GlobalTalk participants to be able to choose LaserWriter in the Chooser, go to my zone, select my printer, print, and have it appear in my printer’s physical output tray. Is that really too much to ask?!

I knew what I had to do – I needed to run, in Linux, netatalk 2, which understands old-style AppleTalk and IP-based AppleTalk, and which could present printers from the CUPS system as AppleTalk printers.

Now, you might think, here we go again, this sounds über-complicated, judging by the above, there are going to be numerous roadblocks here, how many words is he going to wring out of this part?

Well, the answer turns out to be (as it should) “42”:

I installed a small Linux virtual machine in UTM (a nice QEMU frontend for x86 virtualisation on the Mac), installed Webmin (my preferred remote admin console), CUPS, and netatalk 2, and had the whole thing installed and working in a single afternoon.

OK, well, actually, that’s not the whole story, as it turned out – I subsequently decided I also wanted people to be able to print straight to PDF from their GlobalTalk devices, so:

I installed CUPS-PDF, probably spent as long as I had on the above install getting CUPS-PDF to accept jobs as an AppleTalk LaserWriter queue, PDF them the right way up without mirroring, and allow users access to grab their PDF print files.

Oh! Look at that – only another 42 words, what an amazing coincidence! There must be some significance to that number – but I’ll have to look into that another day, maybe after a cup of tea, or after a few pints and peanuts down the pub with a good (or at least not unfriendly) friend.

A Pause, for WOzFest and Words

All the above was in place by 15 March, halfway through .

I’ve not yet returned to poor old Project 1, but I have two very good reasons:

  1. I had to host WOzFest 33 yesterday, and I had a ball, and even helped some others get on the GlobalTalk bandwagon (or should that be “the GlobalTalk bandwidth”? ::boomtish::), spoke to some International GlobalTalk admins, and successfully printed a colour JPEG to Jason Griffiths’ LocalTalk-enabled ImageWriter via his now-GlobalTalked WorkGroup Server 60, acting as an AIR host.
  2. I wanted to get all the above written down before it disappeared from my head, and before progressed too much further.

So, those are now done, and I still have two weeks to complete Project 1, and document its progress along with that of the other minor side-projects/quests I have omitted from the above, or which I will no doubt encounter in the next fortnight.

Interestingly, there’s been a lot of crossover between Project 1 and the GlobalTalk work through the virus infection, and the CUPS-PDF printing solution will actually allow Project 1’s PageMaker output to go directly to PDF.

So, as Dirk Gently might say, “There seems to be a lot of interconnectedness going on here.” (OK, you’re right: Douglas Adams would write that at least marginally better.)

While I work on the next stages and before I provide my next update, please look out for and posts on your favourite social media – yours truly is only posting/seeing them on Mastodon, I do hope to see you there.

So lastly, until my next instalment – keep on Maccin’!

Paul Zucker

I was drawn to think of Paul again after settling on my 2024 #MARCHintosh project – preserving a couple of articles I wrote while working for him.

But this is actually a pretty hard post to write – how do you do justice to a friend, a mentor, a great boss, and a larrikin like Paul?

Words were his life (after his family), but words fail me to truly capture him.

It’s a testament to Paul that 30+ years after meeting him, 7+ years after bidding him farewell, his loss still hits hard, and the words I have seen regarding his life and his passing have drawn laughs, groans, and tears.

Paul could elicit those reactions…not infrequently at the same time.

I first met Paul when I worked at an inner City Sydney desktop publishing bureau, Creative Computer Company, which Paul then utilised for International Technology Publishing artwork output.

He tried to head hunt me – but at that time, I was happy where I was, so I said no.

Things change of course, and I became unhappy and asked Paul if he still had a position for me, but by then he had hired someone in the role he was originally seeking me for. He suggested another bureau, which ITP had moved to outputting their artwork through, and so I worked for Lyno’s at Artarmon for a few months, holding the fort over the Christmas Holidays of 1989.

During that time, when discussing an ITP output job for Paul, he asked out of the blue if I’d be interested working with him after all – the person he’d hired had not worked out – I jumped at the opportunity, and have never once regretted that choice.

We slotted in very well from the start – I laughed at his jokes (not as a sycophant, they were funny!), we had the same pedantic nature, and we had the same love of technology – he was way more outgoing than me, though.

I never witnessed him getting angry (passionate about things, yes, but never angry), but I saw evidence he could get angry – namely, a blemish in the carpet behind the “third seat” in our office.

That seat had been my predecessor’s (I think he made me use the second seat for a reason), and to say there was a clash of cognitive styles between Paul and Gavin would be putting it mildly. That blemish was the result of Paul becoming so frustrated with Gavin once he went to the back room of the office, where his workbench was, grabbed a hammer, and hit the floor behind Gavin’s seat in utter frustration.

That strike was so forceful, the concrete below the carpet exploded like a meteor-struck landscape, blasting the carpet fibres outwards. While not a tall man, Paul was a strong man, a barrel of a man, and that small blemish in the carpet reminded me always how he was not normally prone to physically striking out in any manner, despite his strength.

That was the prompting for Paul reaching out to me again, so, I guess I need to thank Gavin – thanks, Gavin!

Working with Paul was an utter joy. He prodded and encouraged me to extend myself. He always offered positive and insightful advice/criticism of my work.

He encouraged my writing, first with Newsbytes (archives available on the Internet Archive Site), then with MacNews, a Newsbytes customer who, through its incarnations as MacNews, then MacUser, then Australian Macworld saw me writing features and regular columns for over a decade. I had pieces published in PCWorld, Computing and Desktop after he introduced me to them.

Paul instilled in me a love of writing which endures to this day, but which I now seldom get the chance to indulge – I think Paul would probably encourage me to “take up the pen” more often, and he’d be right.

He regaled me with stories of his childhood (full of pranks) – like the time he survived the making (and detonation) of a pipe bomb, with all 10 fingers and both eyes remaining!

How his father was captured in WWII after bailing from his stricken aeroplane, and the Germans were bewildered someone with a German name would be fighting against them.

He was overjoyed to meet Nigel Planer (of The Young Ones fame) at his parents’ house on the Central Coast – Nigel’s parents were neighbours of Paul’s parents.

He loved trying to pull a joke on others. He was excited to try a new one when he got his first fax/modem card for his PC. He was going to fax someone with an intro from a fake stationery company extolling the virtues of their fax paper, with the promise of a free sample to follow, then he’d send pages and pages and pages of vertical text saying









But he wasn’t sure it would work, so he did a trial run to his own fax number first – but he couldn’t stop the whole file sending and ended up with metres of his practical joke on his own office floor.

He literally burst out laughing, and couldn’t wait to explain to me about how he had pranked himself. As far as I’m aware, he didn’t prank anyone else that way.

If someone sent SPAM faxes despite repeated requests from Paul to stop, before leaving for the weekend he would start to fax the page/s back to the sender late on Friday night, but tape the top of the page to the bottom as it went through, so the SPAMmers would arrive on Monday morning to a floor covered with their own SPAM. We rarely got more SPAM from them.

Once, when visiting the US, he posted back a slingshot (illegal in Aus) with a “child’s toy” customs declaration – it actually arrived at the office and he started a campaign of terror on a neighbouring business.

We overlooked the car park of the Pennant Hills Shopping Centre, and at the diagonal corner of the car park was the Pennant Hills Hardware Store.

Paul made special efforts to arrive early, and, with the vertical blinds turned to just allow enough of a gap, and the window slightly open, he would wait for the manager to start bringing out the external display items (wheelbarrows, brooms, that sort of thing) at 7am, and use his slingshot to shoot a 1¢ piece at the metal awning above the shop entrance (he had a pile of “ammunition” at the ready).

It would make an almighty bang, understandably startling the manager no matter how many times it happened, but Paul in his “blind” (he’d love that pun) was never discovered. He revelled in the mayhem.

NDAs were occasionally times for him to play word games. I remember him coming back from an Apple-paid trip to Cupertino, and he said, “I’m afraid I signed an NDA, which means I’m not allowed to tell you that Apple is about to release a laptop which fits in the paper tray of a LaserWriter!” (which is literally how they revealed them to the pack of journos in attendance). I think that must have been the PowerBook 100 series.

Working with Paul was the most fun job I have ever had, but all good things come to an end. ITP decided not to renew their production contract, which was Paul Zucker Computing’s bread and butter. This meant he couldn’t afford to keep me on staff, and I ended up moving to a print shop in Liverpool.

I kept writing for years after, though, and always appreciated Paul’s encouragement on that front.

Learning Paul was no longer with us hit me hard.

Despite his pranks, he was one of the most generous, loving people I have ever known. He valued family above all else, and was overjoyed as each of his children joined his tribe.

But he expressed his passions for other things, most especially technology and journalism, every day of his working life.

I think I would have been pretty pleased just to know him – but to have worked with him for two years was definitely an honour.

While I don’t think of him every day, when I do, it’s always with gratitude that he brightened my world.

After he passed, I wrote my “last” (despite that service’s demise/amalgamation decades past) Newsbytes post as per its house style. Here it is, as my final tribute to Paul:


Australia - Veteran IT Journalist Paul Zucker Farewelled 12/09/16
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA, 2016 DEC 9 (NB) -- Long time Australian IT journalist Paul Zucker was farewelled today by family, friends and colleagues at a well-attended ceremony in Sydney’s north-west.

Paul had been a mainstay of the Australian IT news industry for decades, and wrote for and/or edited many local IT publications, and also for Newsbytes News Network as Sydney/Australian Bureau Chief.

The list of publications Paul was involved in was testament to his skills as a journalist and editor: he wrote for and edited International Technology Publishing titles, was Sydney Bureau Chief of (and contributor to) early online IT news service Newsbytes, was Founding Editor of Australian Reseller News, and wrote for PC World, PC User, Computing, to name a few.

Paul passed away suddenly on 29 November 2016 at age 64.

He is remembered by all as a fun-loving prankster, pedant, considerate boss and devoted husband and father. He will be sorely missed by his family and those who knew or worked with him.

(Sean McNamara/20161209)

Announcement of 2024 WOzFests (33-37)

Where did the last two years go?

Oh, that’s right

Things certainly stayed hectic at home and at work over that time and, while Dylan is no longer living with us, I don’t expect 2024 to be particularly calm.

So…2024, eh?!

2024’s first WOzFest, WOzFest 33, will be held on 16 March 2024 – start time is midday Sydney time (UTC+11).

While I’m using a basic pattern again this year (the fourth Saturday of the odd months), this will only apply May to November, as I needed to shift March a week earlier.

This means the full scheduled looks like this:

WOzFest 3316 March 2024
WOzFest 3425 May 2024
WOzFest 3527 July 2024
WOzFest 3628 September 2024
WOzFest 3723 November 2024

The changed timing for WOzFest 33 gives me a little more time to prepare for – drumroll, please – the due date of my first grandchild!

OMG WTAF GTFO!1!!!one!!

Time certainly is marching on, but 2024’s still got a few excitements in store for this old geek.

I’ve not set a theme for any of 2024’s WOzFests yet – themes are hard to maintain (especially when holding five a year!), so they’re usually pretty low key these days. If any themes pop into my head I’ll notify accordingly.

I’ve returned to Google Meet to stream/videoconference WOzFests, relying on my ACMS account – let me know if you’d like the link so you can connect up with us.

Run time is 12:00 to 22:00 local time – UTC+11 for WOzFests 33 and 37 and UTC+10 for WOzFests 34-36.

As always, I’m continuing to raise funds via Ko-Fi or PayID.

Ko-Fi allows small (or large!) donations to be made via PayPal – check out my intro post there for the lowdown, and feel free to drop anything you can in the can to help me to run WOzFest moving forward.

PayID is great for Australian donations as there are no processing fees – just reach out and I’ll send the mobile number to use.

Time flies…

I’m not getting to post here as frequently as I’d like to – real life really does get in the way. Looking for and starting a new job, having an 11yo living with us now, renovations, shopping for a new car (so many EV considerations!)…it all adds up so quickly!

That said, later this month (22 July), I will be hosting WOzFest 30! It’s hard to believe we’re up to 30+ gatherings (some minor ones between mainline ones) over the last 8+ years.

Attendee numbers have waxed and waned, but my enthusiasm has not – it’s still a lot of fun to just dedicate a day to not just my Apple ][‘s, but those of attendees (and virtual attendees – Steve in Brisbane is again simulcasting QFest on the same day) several times a year.

I recently scored four (yes, four!) europlus lids on eBay, which I’ll be allocating to my machines on the day, not sure what other work I’ll get to, but I’m sure we’ll have a ball.

We’ll also be trying to setup a video hookup with KFest 2023.

I retrospectively (is doing something on the day retrospective?) dubbed WOzFest 28 (held on 1 April) “WOzFest 28 Apple Fool’s Day“, and WOzFest 29 was held on 20 May 2023 – we had a good time mucking around with our gear, as always, and enjoyed the cider and pizza.

I had the pleasure of meeting (and hosting for a mini gathering after WOzFest 28) Ken Gagne, editor of Juiced.GS (amongst many other accolades) when he visited downunder. As my son is wont to say of good kids everywhere, “he’s a good kid”, and it really was a pleasure to shoot the breeze with him and show him some local sights.

I’m also excited that late October 2023 will see the return of Oz Kfest – the first one in 6 years.

The plan is to gather at the old Portland School of Arts just west of the Blue Mountains. The old SoA is the future site of local Apple über-enthusiast Adrian’s Apple museum. Adrian is also President of the Australian Computer Museum Society (see June 2023 Juiced.GS), which I volunteer for (as do many WOzFest attendees).

The last Oz Kfest, Oz Kfest 2017, still feels so recent in so many ways – it’s going to be great to catch up with some of my old Apple ][ friends who haven’t been able to get to WOzFests over the last few years.

But I do have to say, it won’t be the same without Tony, who attended Oz Kfests 2015 and 2017 and a few WOzFests (including WOzFest-1 in April 2015 immediately after Oz Kfest 2015). Gonna miss ya, mate.

But life relentlessly moves on, and I know Oz Kfest attendees are going to have a blast, just as Tony would want it to be.

Post-migration Twitter and Mastodon Thoughts

Note: While I recently dealt with my flight from Twitter, I’ve had some more time to think about my relative experiences, some of my motivations and changing expectations, and just where it is I feel I am heading. While originally meant as a series of Mastodon posts, it seemed to quickly outgrow that mode of expression. This topic remains, and may always remain, a work in progress for me…

I’ve been full time on Mastodon (here) since the deal closed, but had preempted that by registering soon after the deal was announced so I could start to settle in, and I fired up my own instance not long after that.

I couldn’t abide staying on Twitter (there) long term, even if the deal fell through, simply because of who the shareholders and board were choosing to approve the sale to.

Like many, I’d built a comfortable set of follows and followers on Twitter, and knew it would take a while to settle in here. I honestly resented the board for recommending the deal, although from a fiduciary standpoint I understood why they would pursue it given the tanking tech stock market.

While there are many I follow here (or am followed by here) who were on Twitter, it’s certainly not a complete overlap. But it’s certainly at least as interesting a mix!

I’m not sure if tools like Movetodon and Fedifinder will capture many more of the Twitter accounts I followed in their new home here if Twitter continues its URL ban. I may need to rely on others finding me while my Mastodon-referring Twitter account remains active, or just through mutual follows or serendipity.

As per my earlier Mastodon post, I struggle with potential rationalisations of people I followed on Twitter who it baffles me have not yet come over (or at least left Twitter).

I know for many disadvantaged folks the community there can be a literal lifeline (and I hope that can become the case here), but for those not facing those challenges, ignoring (or abetting) the cesspit that it’s becoming just seems like an especially wilful sort of ignorance to me.

And there’s certainly no point staying to try and fight the good fight – that fight is so heavily weighted in the opposition’s favour it’s no fight at all.

The “Mastodon’s too hard“ argument doesn’t cut it for me – Twitter was hard once (I can’t tell you how difficult it was for me to learn direct messages in the early days, or how to effectively use the . tagging method!), Facebook has a learning curve…in fact MySpace, Insta, Yahoo Groups – they all had learning curves!

For some, I think it’s a handy and especially wilful sort of laziness to just stay where they are. As in physical reality, inertia can be pretty powerful.

I’d originally intended on leaving my accounts there as zombie accounts to prevent my handles being overtaken, but that is seeming less and less useful as time goes by. If I’m never going back (and I am never going back), what do I care if my handles are snaffled? They weren’t even my first choices!

But I haven’t decided between just deactivating or deleting tweets then deactivating (would be interested in pros and cons). And I do want some more time for my inactive accounts to grab a few more of my contacts from there.

As it started to be the case on Twitter, I find I’m struggling to keep up with my timeline, but I think a not insignificant part of that is discussion about Twitter, so I’m going to filter relevant terms and obfuscations to improve the signal-to-Musk ratio. I don’t quite feel ready to unfollow anyone at the moment, so I’m hoping that brings things back under control. At least I’m not suffering the sort of low level anxiety I did on Twitter at not keeping up.

At least I can check in on my instance’s Federated Timeline every now and then in case I feel I’d like an update on Twitter goings on – I do still care about what’s happening over there, but I need some clearly delineated space, too.I

I very quickly settled on a strict rule that I don’t cross-post from my main account – Twitter gets nothing from me now.

And while I intended to extend this to phasing out posting to the Applesauce Fluxes Twitter account, I cut that offf early after one of the many egregious decisions Musk made (I think it was unbanning Trump, but it’s honestly all becoming a blur now).

I’ve seen so many interesting introduction posts here, not all overlapping my interests, but I’ve made an effort to boost as many as I remember to in case they overlap my followers’ interests. Now is the time for community building, and this seems a low effort contribution I can make towards that goal.

I still have to get in the habit of using more (don’t forget to !), but I think I’ve been remembering image descriptions/alt-text pretty reliably – CamelCasing hashtags and adding image descriptions are low cost (especially for what my time is worth!) ways of supporting accessibility here which I endorse wholeheartedly.

I know hashtags improve discoverability, but I’m not on a “get followed” drive, which is why I may have a lower impetus to actually utilise them more (for now).

I think that’s pretty well it at this stage. I’m enjoying Mastodon, recommend it wholeheartedly, and am still considering other fediverse usages. But for now, I really want to bed Mastodon down and feel as comfortable as I can.

P.S. Oh, and enough with the “John Mastodon” stuff already – I personally think owning that RWNJ would have been better by saying he either misread #JoanMastodon as , or, in typical RWNJ fashion, downplayed any role Joan Mastodon, John’s partner/mother/predecessor/whatever, had in establishing Mastodon the social network. And now I want to subvert the subversion, but it’s probably too late…