Enhancing AppleWorks 4

February 6th, 2012 11:12 AM
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Last summer, I found my copy of the 1993 VHS tape Enhancing AppleWorks 4, a 26-minute video in which software developers Randy Brandt and Dan Verkade discuss the program's origin and the optional enhancements one can make to Quality Computers' 1993 update to the classic word processor, spreadsheet, and database productivity suite.

I recently decided to part with the video (before finding out that the intended party didn't want it), so I finally digitized it so that everyone could enjoy it. It seemed especially timely to do so, given Randy's recent reappearance in the Apple II community. Though it's true this video is already available on YouTube courtesy the generous Antoine Vignau, he writes, "My VCR is NTSC compatible on output to a TV screen, but my Plextor digitizer sees the flow as black & white only." I knew from my previous conversions of Quality Computer videos that my setup was capable of color, so I now offer a more picturesque alternative in this single Vimeo video:

Q/Vision, a division of Quality Computers, presents this introduction to AppleWorks 4 and the Apple II programmers behind it. Starring QC employees Randy Brandt, Dan Verkade, Katherine Hempton, and Walker Archer, written by Jerry Kindall, and produced and directed by Sam Mannino, this 1993 video was converted from VHS and is posted here with permission from copyright holder Joe Gleason.

I am not skilled at editing video and so did not run the above MP4 file through free utilities such as JES Deinterlacer and JES Video Cleaner. If anyone wishes to do so, the video file can be freely downloaded from Vimeo for further processing. Please let me know of your results, and I can replace the Vimeo file with a superior quality version without changing the URL.

It's important to remember that physical media have additional aspects that can be lost in a straight conversion, so I have also scanned all pertinent materials associated with this VHS tape into a PDF.

Bringing KFest to Denver Apple Pi

August 25th, 2011 9:00 AM
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Being in Denver this summer, I've been eager to meet people and make friends. One way to do so is to seek out those with common interests, so I immediately took myself to the Denver Apple Pi user group's summer barbecue. As I introduced myself, they welcomed me into their fold — though I was surprised to discover for a few people, I needed no introduction. Tammy, the resident Apple II collector, recognized me by name as "the KansasFest guy", and Elissa, the group's secretary, knew of KansasFest, even though no one in the group had attended. In fact, since I would apparently be the group's sole honorary representative, would I be willing to come back from KansasFest and present to DAPi on everything they missed?

Wow! Only a few weeks in Denver, and already I was being invited to be a guest speaker!

The presentation occurred last Tuesday, immediately after Jeff Gamet of Mac Observer presented the new features of Mac OS X Lion. I chose to expand my topic to cover not just KansasFest, but the history of the Apple II, what its modern community is doing with it, and what additional resources exist for viewers interested in learning more. My media, as is my wont, was mostly a a slideshow, preferring images instead of text with which to complement my speech. I've compiled the many links I referenced into a document of show notes (PDF).

The quality of the facilities and equipment were surprisingly good. A lavaliere mic boosted my volume but didn't pick up the audience voices as well, which may be for the best. Although ClarisWorks and AppleWorks, for the Mac and Apple II respectively, were once simultaneously marketed by Apple, some audience members insisted that they were both Apple II programs. I found this a bit stunning, since their disagreement was with not only me, but fellow attendee Randy Brandt — who I think would know better!

The full video in which I present the Apple II to DAPi is available for viewing or download under a Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike Creative Commons license.

My thanks to Martin Haye, Peter Neubauer, Steve Weyhrich, and Andy Molloy for their help in preparing the slideshow. I hope I did my bit to evangelize the Apple II and spread awareness that it is alive and well. If nothing else, the presentation gave me an opportunity to connect with some of the kindest and coolest Mac users this side of the Continental Divide.

NAUG's AppleWorks Forum

July 4th, 2011 10:58 PM
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I recently came into temporary possession of a complete collection of the AppleWorks Forum, a monthly publication of the National AppleWorks Users Group (NAUG). As the only Apple II periodical I've ever subscribed to during its lifetime has been Juiced.GS, to suddenly have in my hands thousands of pages of retrocomputing resources was eye-opening.

NAUG's newsletter was published every month for ten years, 1986–1995. Each issue covered everything about AppleWorks, from how to create templates for business and greeting cards to how to write macros. It was only a year after this wealth of information stopped publishing that Juiced.GS launched, putting out 20 pages per quarter. I'm humbled to know that there were those who produced that many articles three times more often. Juiced.GS may have lasted longer — but in NAUG's ten years of publishing, they produced ten times more issues than Juiced.GS has in sixteen.

Pawing through the tenth and final volume, I saw such legendary bylines as Randy Brandt and Mark Munz, as well as several other familiar names. I wonder what had become of these authors. I'm tempted to run a Google or LinkedIn search on their names and reach out to them and see if they're aware of the longevity of their work and the Apple II community at large. Similarly, an index of vendors provided now-defunct GEnie email addresses but also phone numbers; what would a reverse lookup reveal about who has those numbers now?

I handed the volume to Andy Molloy, who maintains a Web page on the emulator II in a Mac. That page states of the developer, "The company also released a product called II-in-a-PC that allowed Apple II software to run on a PC. I haven't been able to locate any info on this product." Understandably, Andy was quite excited to find an AppleWorks Forum cover story on this rare piece of software, complete with screenshots.

Fortunately, such resources are not limited to the binders I was given. Mike Maginnis, with the permission of the original NAUG head honchos, has scanned the AppleWorks Forum and made the collection available as a free download. Reading PDFs may not create the same sense of awe that a stack of magazines might incite, but the information contained therein is identical and no less valuable.

Mike's collection is currently incomplete. I suspect that will not be the case for long.

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