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One of my favorite KansasFest activities is the HackFest, which challenges KFest attendees to write the coolest Apple II program possible within the time constraints of the convention. My programming skills are meager, I found that creativity counted for more than technical accomplishment. I used Applesoft, GSoft, or Spectrum scripting to place in many consecutive competitions, until finally my I tapped dry my well of ideas and switched over to the judging panel.
HackFest continues to be a popular feature of KansasFest, though some have called for it to be less stringent in its rules. "Why should someone have to be at KansasFest to compete in HackFest?" I've been asked. Partly it's for the contestants' benefit: the synergy and inspiration abound at KFest, with contestants often working alongside each other, advising them on particular programming challenges. Such was the case with my own now-infamous Maxster, which I believe placed second to my roommate Geoff Weiss's Taipan script.
Nonetheless, it remains true that, although everyone should attend KansasFest, not everyone can. For them, there is an alternative: the RetroChallenge. This competition is held every summer and is not restricted to the Apple II. RetroChallenge occasionally is held in the winter as well, to keep everyone's programming skills current. Courtesy volunteer urbancamo (filling in for traditional host Simon Williams), the RetroChallenge 2011 Winter Warmup is now underway. From the event's Web site:
In a nutshell, the RetroChallenge is a loosely disorganised gathering of RetroComputing enthusiasts who collectively do stuff with old computers for a month.
The event is very much open to interpretation: individuals set [their] own challenges, which can range from programming to multimedia work; hardware restoration to exploring legacy networking — or just plain [messing] around. It really doesn't matter what you do, just so long as you do it.
While the RetroChallenge has its competitive side, it's not really a contest — it's more like global thermonuclear war: everyone can play, but no [one person] really wins.
Come on — give it a go!
The rules aren't quite as stringent as HackFest's and permit the use of any 20th-century pre-Pentium computer, including game consoles and PDAs. Check out the event's discussion forum and Twitter feed for more details.
I won't be able to participate this year, focused as I am on retrocomputing multimedia projects that require no programming — but I encourage all programmers, both budding and veteran, to get out there and represent the Apple II!