WOzFest PR#6 Approaches

It’s now less than two weeks to WOzFest PR#6 and I’ve barely begun prepping.

The re-organisation of the Man Cave has begun, and I’m hoping to have that much further along before the big day.

I’ve had to pare back my Retrochallenge ambitions as I’ve just had too much real life stuff to find much free time anywhere.

That may also mean I pare back my book scanning ambitions – I still aim to have a book scanner at WOzFest PR#6 (subject to its availability), but I may not get to the post-processing stage, so it might be primarily for basic demonstration purposes.

Despite this, I think attendees are in for a treat with the four Skype sessions I’ve teed up with well-known retrocomputer enthusiasts/preservationists from around the world, and, although I’m not aware of any new product announcements happening on the day, there will be a timely update on a product announced during a previous WOzFest.

The usual schedule applies: start from around midday (Sydney time, UTC+10:00), I’ll pepper the Skype calls and product update throughout the event, dinner (pizza) will likely be around the 18:00-19:00 mark, and a wrap-up by sometime between 21:30 and 22:30 (depending on attendee energy and sound levels).

I hope to see you there – please let me know if you’re planning on attending.

WOzFest PR#6 Announcement

I’m exceedingly pleased to announce that the next WOzFest, WOzFest PR#6, will be held on Saturday, April 29 2017, starting around midday Sydney time (UTC+10:00).

The theme of the day will be “Preservation”, with a special emphasis on grass-roots preservation efforts.

It wouldn’t be a stretch to say all retro-computer enthusiasts are preservationists of one kind or another – software, hardware, documentation, books: you name it, we preserve it!

With that in mind, I’ve lined up three Skype video chats with well-known grass-roots retro-computer preservationists from around the world – it will be great to hear their history, get their thoughts on preservation and just how far we can take these efforts, as well as generally celebrating keeping items available in one form or another for decades to come.

And in honour of the theme, I’m going to borrow the book scanner from Robos & Dinos (a local maker space I’m a member of) to non-destructively scan and (hopefully) post-process a previously unpreserved Apple ][-related book or manual throughout the day. The aim is to upload the resulting PDF on the Internet Archive for all to enjoy.

Let me know in the comments if you have any thoughts on other preservation-related projects for the day – I can’t promise we’ll get to them, but they can be food for thought for preservationists around the world.

Attendees, bring you preservation projects to work on, items from your collection for others to admire, your retro-computing stories, and anything else you feel is appropriate.

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 21:30-22:30.

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!

 

Caverns of Mordia Re-released at WOzFest 5¼″

I’m very happy to announce that Australian-produced text adventure game, Caverns of Mordia, was officially re-released at WOzFest 5¼″.

Written by Hans Coster, it was originally released in 1980, and the game saw an update in 1982. Hans had further updates which were never released.

At the prompting of another WOzFest attendee, Hans attended WOzFest ///, and attempts were made to image an original game disk. Unfortunately, efforts to create an EDD image were unsuccessful, but a still protected .dsk disk image file was able to be provided to Hans.

A short while ago, prompted by a Comment on this blog seeking disk images for Caverns of Mordia, I began to consider releasing an update with Hans as I was aware he was working on deprotecting and updating it.

With WOzFest 5¼″ being a celebration of the 5¼″ disk it seemed a great thing to not only announce the re-release, but to prepare physical disks to give to attendees and participants.

Hans was keen, and his grandson Sebastiaan was already engaged in typing in the manual.

Once I had the manual text and a scan of the original, I began laying it out and tidying up the graphics (the original manual was printed on orange paper to make copying difficult, so the graphics needed some tidy up work).

There were 20 copies produced for WOzFest 5¼″ – attendees and participants accounted for 17 copies.

What that means for you, dear reader, is that you have a couple of ways to secure your very own copy of this limited edition disk and manual.

Firstly, one lucky Juiced.GS subscriber will be randomly drawn from all subscribers (except those who already have one of the 17 distributed copies) to receive copy #10 with their December issue. The winner will not be pre-announced – we’ll all just have to wait for the lucky winner to crow about it online! Thanks, Ken Gagne, for being willing to be involved in the re-release.

The other way to score one of the remaining copies (copies #1 and #20) will be via eBay auctions for them. I’ll be posting the eBay auctions this coming Sunday, 27 November 2016, and making announcements everywhere I can. They’ll be 10 day auctions, so bid early, and bid often!

Proceeds from the auctions will offset the production costs of the physical disks and manuals, as well as some WOzFest-hosting incidentals, and the remainder will go to Hans.

For those unlucky enough to not score a WOzFest Special Edition physical copy, there is still one small consolation prize: I’ll be posting the disk image and manual PDF on the Internet Archive to play there or download (links to come).

To any potential bidders, and all Juiced.GS subscribers, I say: good luck!

UPDATE: I’ve now uploaded the disk image and manual PDF to the Internet Archive – you can find them here.

The game is playable in your browser, or you can download for use on a real Apple ][ or via an emulator.

The manual is worth a quick read through before playing, and it has a command reference you’ll want as well. Enjoy!

[On a side note, there was a printing error I noticed on the night {page 2 reprinted in place of page 4}, and I corrected all manuals…except three whose owners declined the update {I’m not sure if this is some sort of rarity speculation}. I’ve also made a slight modification to the Preface in the posted version compared to the printed manual: I was made aware that a non-EDD disk image was able to be made at WOzFest ///, so I’ve changed the Preface to reflect that. Three versions in three days! Who’s going to collect them all?!]

UPDATE #2: Copies #1 and #20 of 20 are now on eBay.

WOzFest 5¼″ Galleries

These are my pictures (and Michael’s) from and related to WOzFest 5¼″ – please link to any galleries of your own photos in the Comments below.

I used this teaser of the Caverns of Mordia Special Edition manual in the days leading up to WOzFest 5¼″.

I used this teaser of the Caverns of Mordia Special Edition manual in the days leading up to WOzFest 5¼″.

The label for the WOzFest 5¼″ Apple Cider my son brewed.

The label for the WOzFest 5¼″ Apple Cider my son brewed.

Attendees drew a number which determined which copy of Caverns of Mordia they were given.

Attendees drew a number which determined which copy of Caverns of Mordia they were given.

That's about as clean as I could get the Man Cave before WOzFest started.

That’s about as clean as I could get the Man Cave before WOzFest started.

Projects started getting worked on pretty quickly.

Projects started getting worked on pretty quickly.

Our Skype call to 4am.

Our Skype call to 4am.

Michael very much enjoyed the home-brewed cider. [Credit: Michael Mulhern]

Michael very much enjoyed the home-brewed cider. [Credit: Michael Mulhern]

Michael's µ-Sci Havac clone – the most loveable, most ugly clone there is. [Credit: Michael Mulhern]

Michael’s µ-Sci Havac clone – the most loveable, most ugly clone there is. [Credit: Michael Mulhern]

The Havac boot screen. [Credit: Michael Mulhern]

The Havac boot screen. [Credit: Michael Mulhern]

Our Skype call with Jason Scott. [Credit: Michael Mulhern]

Our Skype call with Jason Scott. [Credit: Michael Mulhern]

Our Skype call with Jason Scott. [Credit: Michael Mulhern]

Our Skype call with Jason Scott. [Credit: Michael Mulhern]

Our Skype call to John Valdezco of Manila Gear. [Credit: Michael Mulhern]

Our Skype call to John Valdezco of Manila Gear. [Credit: Michael Mulhern]

The Special Limited Edition disk and manual for Caverns of Mordia’s re-release. [Credit: Michael Mulhern]

The Special Limited Edition disk and manual for Caverns of Mordia’s re-release. [Credit: Michael Mulhern]

WOzFest 5¼″ Recap

Well, WOzFest 5¼″ seems to have been a successful last hurrah for my Apple ][ events this year, and a great celebration of the 5¼″ floppy disk.

Including myself, we had 12 attendees, which I think is a good size for these gatherings. The Man Cave was not bursting at the seams the way it did for WOzFest ///.

Jeremy was our furthest flung attendee, driving up from Canberra again – he really does put in the hard yards (and many kilometres) to attend, and his enthusiasm is a great addition to the WOzFest vibe.

As a special treat, my son Cal (who has been brewing up a storm at home) provided 12 bottles of apple cider for the event. Low fizz, super-dry, and packing a punch (at 8-9% alcohol), it was a big hit with some attendees (and me, who got to test a few bottles beforehand [QA is very important to me]).

It wasn’t quite to some attendees’ taste, and others couldn’t indulge due to needing to drive home – but that just meant there were more bottles for those of us able to enjoy it! I made a special numbered label for them, check out the WOzFest 5¼″ Photo Galleries post for the pics.

Our three Skype hookups started with a 45 minute video chat with Apple ][ disk cracking legend, 4am. 4am’s cracks are “clean”, meaning they only defeat the copy protection scheme without affecting the operation (or contents) of the programs themselves (unlike pirated software “back in the day” which often had parts removed to allow multiple titles to fit on a single pirated disk, and also often included “crack screens” singing the praises of the pirates and dissing their rivals).

In only a few short years, 4am has not only cracked hundreds of copy-protected floppy disks, but he’s also released an automatic cracking tool called Passport which has programmed into it his knowledge of copy protection schemes. With this knowledge programmatically built in, anyone is able to use Passport to crack disks using schemes it knows about.

For example, Jeremy from Canberra has been sourcing and cracking (mostly local) educational titles which may share protection schemes with their American sibling titles, but would never have made the journey across the Pacific and be caught in 4am’s efforts to gather as many physical Apple ][ disks for cracking as possible.

This distributed preservation effort therefore gets us closer to the aim of capturing and preserving as close as possible to all the released Apple ][ 5¼″ software titles.

Another luminary in this field is Jason Scott, noted documentarian of digital history and Software Curator at the Internet Archive – we were lucky for Jason to be our second Skype video chat for the night, and he gave us over an hour of his late Friday night.

Jason’s and the Archive’s goal is to capture everything, and the archive has a truly impressive collection of digital media and website archives. Jason has been instrumental in having uploaded software titles run directly in Web browsers via a Javascript port of emulators. This allows people to discover (and re-discover) titles of old simply by following a link to a website.

We discussed with 4am and Jason the challenges they face in their quest for software preservation, and discussed their successes so far, as well as other issues and topics related to preservation in general and specifically of software.

I’m exceedingly grateful for the time these two gentlemen took out of their Friday evenings to chat with a bunch of Apple ][ enthusiasts half a world away – both 4am and Jason have attended and presented at KansasFest, and so for those of us who have been unable to attend KFest, it was great to hear their stories.

Before we ordered pizza in, I announced the big surprise for attendees: Hans Coster (author of Caverns of Mordia) had deprotected and updated the adventure game, and attendees received a limited edition physical disk and printed manual (see this post for more details).

Once we’d eaten, we had our third Skype video call with John Valdezco of Manila Gear – he and his business partner, Jon Co (who was in attendance), announced they are developing a new No Slot Clock product for the Apple ][ line of computers.

With easily replaceable batteries, suitability for both 24 and 28 pin ROM sockets (both active high and active low chip enable pins), and an interesting “skateboard” form factor (the batteries are mounted at each end – one or both can be snapped off the main board and a lead run from the now separate batteries to the board), I think this will fill a niche in the Apple ][ market. It can also be run with one or two batteries.

Jon is still working on the driver software, but Manila Gear is hoping to have the board available by December this year.

As always, attendees worked on their own projects – or the projects others brought along – throughout the event.

New WOzFest attendee Phil brought a malfunctioning Apple //e and a few other attendees helped to check what might be wrong with it. Jon worked on the keyboard to get several non-functioning keys up and running.

Jeremy got some imaging done, including an original Caverns of Mordia disk (EDD disk image and Passport crack), two DLM software titles (which Passport was able to crack), and “How about a game of Chess!” (EDD format for 4am to look at as Passport didn’t crack it).

Leslie, as is often the case, provided invaluable support for various projects, both on the knowledge and soldering fronts – I’d say I only invite him because he’s so handy at the soldering station, except I also happen to actually like the guy as well!

Andrew (who brought some apple cider, aged double Brie and crackers – thanks!) worked on his Transwarp GS using the scalable oscillator from Craig’s to determine its fastest stable speed. It topped out at 16.25MHz (thanks in part to recently installed high-speed GALs).

Speaking of Craig, he brought along two Cortland IIgs prototypes he’s trying to resurrect (and a pile of other gear). Although “all” that was achieved was to get the keyboards and power supplies working, it was great to see these early IIgs’s. Hopefully this ongoing project will reach fruition soon.

And speaking of early IIgs’s, Adrian ducked out at some point to grab his IIgs in a //e case (an upgrade of this form was offered in the early days of the IIgs). It seems odd to see the badge on an old-style case like that.

Adrian had already brought his Apple ///+, which isn’t operational, and when he picked up the IIgs in a //e case, he also picked up his working Apple /// to bring back and play with.

A big hit with attendees was the µ-Sci Havac clone (the “missing” picture on that page is a working link to another picture) which Michael from the RCR recently scored off eBay. He’s nicknamed it “Fuglie” (which is a really apt description) but I think everyone fell in love with this ugliest of ducklings. While Caverns of Mordia wouldn’t boot on it, I’m sure Hans will do whatever’s necessary to support this market of one!

Michael also brought his recently acquired Ultima V package (including “tea towel” map), which was a nice eBay score, and some Night Owl composite video mini-LCD monitors which work well with the Apple ][ (and the Havac!) for distribution to their new owners.

I’ve no doubt missed out on some stuff that was done on the day – it always seemed pretty hectic, and, from what I can tell, everyone had a great time. Attendees, feel free to add any other details in the Comments below.

I can’t wait for the next one – I still love organising and holding them. Look for the announcement next year!

WOzFest 5¼″ Approaches

Not long to go now till WOzFest 5¼″ (19 November), and, as previously mentioned, it will be a celebration of that venerable storage medium, the 5¼″ diskette.

I hoping to deliver a couple of surprises to attendees, and adventurous types will get a kick out of one of them – the other surprise is a bit fluid at this point.

Additionally, there may also be a product announced on the day – and it’s about time this product hit the markets!

We may even have a Skype hookup or two – it’s always nice to surprise attendees with a virtual visit or two.

Michael from RCR has suggested he’ll bring his newly arrived Havac Apple ][ clone – I’ve never seen anything like it, so that’ll be another treat for attendees.

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 21:30-22:30.

No lunch provided, but nibbles, beer and 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.

Hope to see you there!

WOzFest 5¼″ Announcement

I’m pleased to announce WOzFest 5¼″ is going to be held on Saturday, 19 November 2016!

It is, as its name suggests, a celebration of that venerable storage medium, the 5¼″ floppy disk.

The 5¼″ floppy disk was critical to the Apple ][’s success in the market.

Woz’s engineering prowess and ethos permeates how floppy disks and drives were implemented in the Apple ][ – the controller card is considered one of his great engineering feats.

I have a few ideas for the night – nothing I can really go into yet, and I always like to have a surprise or two – but I’d be interested to hear attendees’ thoughts on projects or things to do throughout the event.

As things firm up I’ll post further details of what’s happening – as usual, arrival is from midday onwards, there’ll be snacks and apple cider and we’ll order in pizza for dinner. Wrap-up is likely by about 10:30pm (all times AEDT/UTC+11:00). Please let me know if you’re intending on attending.

Hope to see you there!

What WOzFest Is…and Isn’t

There seems to be a lingering confusion in the international Apple ][ community about what WOzFest is, and what it isn’t.

If you had told me a year ago that I would ever write that sentence, I’d have had you committed – there was no way I expected the international Apple ][ community to care one iota enough about WOzFest to get confused by it.

The most common misunderstanding is that WOzFest is Australia’s version of KansasFest and is an annual Apple ][-related gathering, when, in fact, Australia’s version of KansasFest is Oz KFest.

I know I’ve brought about this confusion to some degree myself with the choice of name – keeping the “Oz” and “Fest” in the name does make it look similar to Oz KFest, but with the fact I live in Wollstonecraft giving me the opportunity to make the ultimate Apple ][-related name pun possible when abbreviated and paired with “Oz”, it was too tempting not to.

The events are also viscerally different in other ways – WOzFest’s informal nature vs Oz KFest’s set session schedule; WOzFest is a frequently-held one day gathering vs Oz KFest being less frequent and held over several days; WOzFest is always held at my home while Oz KFest is held in different locations around Australia.

So, when your international Apple ][ buddies mix up WOzFest and Oz KFest, point them to this handy comparison chart:

Attribute WOzFest Oz KFest
Frequency Several a year Every 1-3 years
Static addressing Yes1 No2
Formal program of events No Yes
Length One day Several days
Pizza Yes Yes
Chaotic nature Yes Variable
Comparison Chart Notes:
1. WOzFest is always held at my home in Wollstonecraft, NSW, Australia.
2. Each Oz KFest is held in a different location throughout Australia.

WOzFest $04 Galleries

These are my pictures from and related to WOzFest $04 – please link to any galleries of your own photos in the comments.

A new logo for WOzFests.

That’s going to be one BIG europlus!

Guiding Disk ][’s back into operation.

i’m fEDD up doing its thing in preparation for WOzFest $04.

The fun begins.

Denis’ original europlus and //e.

A //e clone and a couple of //e’s needing love and attention.

A Laser 128 with an external port…it just looks wrong!

Things are kicking along now!

Soundsmith v2.0b starting up.

Giving credit where it’s due.

Soundsmith v2.0b in action.

Up to eight channels selectable thanks to the 4soniq!

FTA’s Soundsmith Player supporting extra channels.

Badge prep begins.

For a sense of scale.

Masking tape to keep bare wood available for gluing.

Undercoat.

My paint selection.

First coat.

Second coat – some pieces required a third coat.

Silver paint for authenticity.

WOzFest $04 Recap

Well, I had a lot of fun at WOzFest $04 – and got more done than I usually do.

Thanks again to all attendees for making it a great day. Denis, a first time WOzFest attendee from Canberra, brought his original europlus and //e – it was nice to see the original monitor he’d bought for the europlus as well. Jeremy, also from Canberra, brought the fruits of his search for educational material, including a //e clone.

Craig brought a Laser 128 – unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to play with it much or watch too much of the work on it, but seeing an interface card plugged into the external slot was very disconcerting.

Andrew worked on an adaptor for connecting a colour QuickCam to an Apple ][ – it’ll be interesting to see when he gets that working (no pressure!).

Jon as usual was helpful on lots of fronts, and Leslie also offered his expertise and experience in lots of discussions and projects, including replacing key switches on one of Jeremy’s //e keyboards.

Jon’s ESR meter was put to good use testing some power supplies’ capacitors to see which were out of spec. He’s kindly left it with me so I can test more of my PSUs.

For those not attending, the second hookup was to Antoine Vignau and Olivier Zardini from Brutal Deluxe, who revealed that they have been able to recover the Soundsmith source code files from the original author’s hard disk and have been busy working on v2, which, amongst other things, supports one or two 4soniqs.

The hookup to KFest went well as well – there were about 8-10 people at the other side who hung around to say G’day, and I finally got to personally say “Boo Atari!” to Kevin Savetz.

A reasonable amount of disk preservation was done, with more to happen with disks left behind for me to do so – it’ll be good to have Michael’s EDD+ card he won at KFest in the mix as well. Now that 4am’s Passport has been publicly released, some disk preservation might start to happen on a more distributed basis.

My special decoration project was a europlus badge reproduction…except it’s 550mm wide (a europlus to scale would be 2m wide, 2.4m deep and 0.5m tall!). The letters and Apple logo segments were laser cut at Robots & Dinosaurs, a local makerspace I’m a member of, and I hand-painted it all over the last week or so. I’m pretty pleased with the result.

I was happy to do more hands-on stuff this time around than I’ve been able to the last couple of WOzFests, and I’m certainly looking forward to the next one, look for the announcement as soon as I settle on a date.