Apple Museum of Prague

August 7th, 2017 9:49 AM
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In the past few years, I've had the pleasure of seeing the Apple II in museums across the country: the Computer History Museum, the Strong Museum of Play, the Living Computer Museum, and Charles Babbage Institute, to name a few. And there are still others I've yet to explore, including the National Videogame Museum, as featured in the March 2017 issue of Juiced.GS.

But there are many more museums I've yet to visit, and the latest one to pop up on my radar is in the first foreign country I ever visited: the Czech Republic. My former Computerworld manager Sharon Machlis was recently in Prague on vacation, much as I was in March 1998. What's new in the two decades in between our visits is the creatively named Apple Museum. This institution "includes the most valuable and the most complex collection of computers from 1976 till 2012 and other Apple, Pixar and Next products."

Apple Museum entrance

Photo by Sharon Machlis.

While Sharon didn't pop into this museum, there are plenty of reviews of the venue online. On reddit, where a photo album can be found, reports indicate the museum shows the evolution and contrast from old to new technologies, but without being hands-on. The inventory coming from a private collection instead of donors likely accounts for the 472 exhibits being behind glass.

Also found here is an unusual offering among museums: a raw vegan bistro and smoothie bar.

The range of products is in line with favorite foods and beverages of Steve Jobs. This eccentric but likeable man with an infectious enthusiasm and passion for his cause, favored organic fruits and vegetables and totally rejected meat. As time went on, he progressed from vegetarianism to veganism and the most common foods were just salads, juices and fruit smoothies. Complete your visit with a unique culinary experience!

Hey, why not? Museums have to innovate, and anyway, it's for a good cause — all the proceeds go to charity, to help relieve traumatic brain injuries and muscular dystrophy.

Can't make it to Prague? The museum website, available in both English and Česky, has a Google Street View-like 3D tour, complete with support for Google Cardboard and other VR-like devices.

I'm not likely to get to the museum anytime soon — I'm just 19 years too late. But it's encouraging to know the history of our favorite platform is being preserved and exhibited around the world!

More Steamed Apples

July 31st, 2017 10:40 AM
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At KansasFest 2016, I presented parallels between classic gaming and modern Steam games. The session was called "Steamed Apples" and was largely based on indie games I'd encountered while researching and hosting the IndieSider podcast.

That podcast ended earlier this month, but not before I discovered several more games reminiscent of Apple II software mechanics and aesthetics. That combined with unused notes from last year's presentation led to its follow-up at KansasFest 2017: "More Steamed Apples".

Unlike last year, I no longer constrained myself to games available for Mac, Windows, and Linux, as some of the below games are Windows-only (such as Lode Runner Legacy) but were too good a fit to pass up. Also, as I did last year with Plangman, I accidentally slipped one non-Steam game in when I included Leadlight Gamma, which is available from itch.io only.

I've recategorized the genres since the presentation to make them a better fit, and to be more consistent with last year's categories.

GenreClassic gameSteam gameIndieSider?
ActionCrystal QuestEllipsisYes
ActionDino EggsDino Eggs RebirthNo
AdventureOut of This WorldOutlandNo
ActionLode RunnerLode Runner LegacyNo
PuzzleLemmingsInklingsNo
PuzzlePipe DreamWorld of GooNo
SurvivalOregon TrailThe Flame in the FloodYes
Text AdventureZorkLeadlight GammaYes
Choose Your Own AdventureScholastic Microzine TwistaplotOpen SorceryYes
Choose Your Own AdventureScholastic Microzine TwistaplotEmily Is AwayYes
Choose Your Own AdventureScholastic Microzine TwistaplotThe Warlock of Firetop MountainYes
Choose Your Own AdventureScholastic Microzine TwistaplotFirewatchNo

As IndieSider has now concluded its run, I don't expect there will be a third session in this series. But the games included in these tables should be enough for any Apple II user to get their entertainment fix in a modern computing environment.

Parsely Games comes to Kickstarter

July 24th, 2017 11:15 AM
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Text adventures are alive and well, including at KansasFest. Not only did Charles Mangin place in last week's HackFest courtesy his Inform 7 adventure, but several live-action text adventures have been played at KFest over the years. In 2010, 2014 & 2015, I emceed Parsely adventures, where a human replaces the parser and accepts two-word commands from audience members, responding with the results. Jared Sorensen created the Parsely games, sold online and at game conventions such as PAX East. Although the nearly dozen scripts appear to currently be out of print, that's about to change courtesy the Parsely Games Kickstarter.

This Kickstarter has already successfully met its crowdfunding goal of $12,000, well before its August 11 deadline. With these funds, Sorensen will publish a hardcover book of the ten existing Parsely adventures, including the three games I've brought to KansasFest: Action Castle, Jungle Adventure, and Space Station. plus two original titles. The book will also include two original games, bringing the total to 12. All these can be yours for $15 (PDF) or $30 (hardcopy), with rewards all the way up to $2,500, where Sorensen will fly anywhere in the USA or Europe to run a Parsely adventure for you and your group.

While I'm tempted to buy the ten-pack of books and redistribute them at KansasFest 2018, the product will not be ready until a month later, in August 2018 — and that's assuming it ships on time, which Kickstarters do not have a good record of doing. But Parsely adventures have already brought so much joy to KansasFest, the least I can do is support their continued existence. Count me among this campaign's backers!

Old friends of KansasFest

July 17th, 2017 10:31 AM
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KansasFest 2017 is this week, and more than a dozen attendees will be arriving with shirts from KFests past to make a group photo happen. While I was looking for examples of previous such photos, I came across this artifact.

Ryan Suenaga, Steve Gozdziewski, Ken Gagne

Dain Neater snapped this photo outside Avila University at KansasFest 2002. Here I am, chatting with Ryan Suenaga and Steve Gozdziewski. In this moment, Ryan is in his first year as editor-in-chief of Juiced.GS, and Steve is the committee chair of KansasFest.

Legends.

When I think back to those early KansasFests, what I remember most aren't the sessions or the product reveals; it's the camaraderie. It's finally meeting people whom I'd known for years from GEnie or CompuServe and clicking with them immediately. It's the laughter of delight in being among people who get each other. Ryan and Steve were a big part of that, not only by creating the platforms, but by also being wonderful people to be around. They were weird and quirky and absolutely selfless, and they shaped my early experiences in the Apple II community.

Ryan died on April 24, 2011, at age 44; Steve passed away on December 31, 2016, at 69. I wrote their obituaries for both A2Central.com and Juiced.GS.

Everyone who attends KansasFest was or is at some point a new friend. And with KansasFest 2017 hitting its attendance cap at one hundred Apple II enthusiasts, I look forward to making many new friends this year.

But damned if I don't miss the old ones.

The Last Jedi trailer

July 10th, 2017 11:49 AM
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Like most people reading this blog, I'm a Star Wars fan. Not obsessively so — I reserve that level of dedication for Star Trek. But I'm definitely one of the first people to see any new Star Wars movie, which includes Episode VIII, releasing this December 15, 2017. My enthusiasm's been especially high after the first official trailer released this past February.

Another fan who resides at the intersection of Apple II and Star Wars fandoms is Wahyu "Pinot" Ichwandardi, and his dedication to that combination outshines us all. Using an Apple IIc, KoalaPad graphics tablet, the Dazzle Draw paint program, 44 floppy disks, and Steve Chamberlin's Floppy Emu, Ichwandardi recreated the above trailer as 288 monochromatic 8-bit frames.

By pressing "Play" on the above two videos simultaneously, you can see how closely Ichwandardi's work follows the original. A follow-up tweet detailed the process and equipment Ichwandardi used in this three-week endeavor.

This masterpiece isn't simply the result of a modern artist deciding to be bohemian by incorporating retro technology into his craft. Rather, it's a return to form for Ichwandardi: 33 years ago, as an elementary school student, he worked the same magic on Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope. While that original work no longer exists, the skills he honed on his Apple II have aged well, it seems.

My hope is that Ichwandardi will find other impressive ways to use his Apple IIc, and that we'll see even more art coming from him soon — lest The Last Jedi be the last!

(Hat tip to Yvette Tan via Charles Pulliam-Moore and Brendan Robert)

The shirts of KansasFest

July 3rd, 2017 1:48 PM
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Earlier this year, I wrote a tribute to an Apple II user who had passed away — something I've now done too many damn times. But in remembering Steve Gozdziewski, I also recalled sharing this moment with him at KansasFest 2002:

KansasFest attendees wearing shirts representing the event's different years

Many of those pictured had been coming to KansasFest for years (2002 was the event's fourteenth year, and my fifth), and we spontaneously decided to represent our long lineage by donning the various years' shirts that we'd happened to bring with us. (We staged a similar shot another year, though I can't seem to find it in the available archives.)

That got me thinking: why not plan another shirt photo? With this month's KansasFest being the 29th, it's unlikely we'll have representatives from every year — but it'd be fun to try!

So if you've ever attended a previous KansasFest and are one of the hundred who are coming to KansasFest 2017, please use the below form to indicate which years' KansasFest shirts you own. A week from today, July 10, I'll email everyone their packing instructions to ensure we show up in Kansas City with as complete a set as possible!

Let's create another photo by which to remember the many years and friends we've shared across the decades.