Archive for May, 2010

Escapist News Network's unmarked Apple

May 10th, 2010 11:44 AM
Filed under Mainstream coverage;

The Apple II made a brief visual appearance, though earned no actual mention, in last week's episode of the Escapist News Network, a satirical weekly news report of the electronic entertainment industry. Appearing at time index 2:25 – 2:35, the image accompanied a story that "Developer Splash Damage is claiming that the AI in their upcoming game, Brink, is so advanced, players won't know whether they're playing against a computer or not."

Escapist News Network's Apple II

The Escapist News Network's Apple II

I wasn't confident that the computer pictured was in fact an Apple II. The form factor of the floppy drive is that of a Disk II but lacks the distinctive rainbow Apple logo, as does the computer on which it rests. For additional perspectives, I consulted with Andy Molloy, associate editor of Juiced.GS, who offered, "It sure looks like a[n Apple] II [and a] Disk II to me. Unless it's a Russian clone or something." Dr. Steve Weyhrich of the Apple II History site agreed that the computer looks like a typical Apple II configuration, adding, "I am suspicious that the Apple logo was Photoshopped out of the picture. Or, as Andy said, it might be a foreign clone that didn't bother putting up a logo of any kind."

Consider this similar picture found via a Google image search:

Apple II comparison shot

This is not the same photo as ENN's, but the setup is similar enough to suggest that they are the same computer. What do you think is the source of ENN's vintage computer? Did they grab and edit the first photo they found online? If so, why the coverup? If not, do they in fact have a rare unmarked knockoff?

The full ENN video report is after the jump.
Read the rest of this entry »

Accessing MOD music files on the Mac

May 6th, 2010 11:37 AM
Filed under Tips & tricks;
Comments Off on Accessing MOD music files on the Mac

In 2008, Geoff Weiss and I collaborated on a Juiced.GS article that described how to convert and play MOD music files on a modern computer. I was motivated by holiday memories of Christmas tunes piping out of Tony Morales' Sonobox NDA. How could I get these songs back and into a format that I can enjoy in iTunes?

The first step in the solution came from Dr. Steve Weyhrich, digital historian extraordinaire, who at KansasFest 2008 presented a session on audio preservation, during which he mentioned PlayerPRO, a music player for Mac OS X. I went home to play with the program and was thrilled to find it plays the hundreds of MOD files I'd collected on my Apple II. Converting the MODs to MP3s, as detailed in Juiced.GS, provides the added benefit of accessing them from iTunes and, thus, your iPod — but if all you want is to play them in your Mac environment, PlayerPRO can do it for you without the effort of conversion.

PlayerPRO, which was first released in 1990, was most recently updated in January 2010. I haven't explored alternatives to PlayerPRO, but whatever your operating system, there's likely to be a MOD music player available.

Once you have the software, you can find several hundred, if not thousand, MODs to play in Esprit de Apple Corps, a once-commercial product that Russell Nielson and I reclassified as freeware at the 2008 KansasFest.

Disk II on the outside, Mac Mini on the inside

May 3rd, 2010 10:10 AM
Filed under Hacks & mods;
Comments Off on Disk II on the outside, Mac Mini on the inside

It seems almost every time Apple is due to refresh their product line, the Mac mini is rumored to get the axe. But this model, the most affordable (though perhaps underpowered) of all Macs, is an excellent low-end product that most people overlook. For consumers switching from a PC who already have a monitor, keyboard, and mouse, the Mac mini is the best value. Three years ago, I replaced my father's beige PowerMac G3 with a Mac mini. After I upgraded the RAM, he couldn't have been more satisfied with his first OS X machine, which serves him well to this day.

But an average Apple II user might find the Mac mini underwhelming, as we like to trick out our rigs, and the mini, with its compact size and modest horsepower, doesn't afford much opportunity to do that. So if we can't go forward with the Mac mini, why not go backward?

Dr. Steve Weyhrich of posted to csa2 the story of Charles Mangin, who has taken his Mac mini and encased it in a Disk II floppy drive, which was popular with the Apple II. Like the TARDIS, the Disk II must be larger on the inside than it appears!

Mac Mini II

Copyright Charles Mangin

This same gentleman made a similar internal upgrade when he put a G4 Macintosh into an original Mac Plus. I wonder what he does with the discarded guts?

(Hat tips to Gizmodo and Blake Patterson)