Archive for April, 2011

What to present at KansasFest

April 7th, 2011 11:58 AM
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Filed under Happenings;
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KansasFest 2011, having recently opened for registration, has now put out the first call for sessions. Besides the camaraderie that can be found only in the company of Apple II users, the sessions are perhaps my favorite part of KansasFest. They appeal to all interests, from Apple II to iOS and hardware to software, and all experience levels, from journeyman to artisan.

I attended three KansasFests before being promoted to dinner banquet emcee, but it was six KansasFests before I gave my first session. In 2004 and 2005, I reviewed my favorite Apple II games in a pair of sessions that I barely recall. Bruce Baker continued that tradition in 2006 through 2009, focusing primarily on his favorite Softdisk titles and letting me off the hook. I was again just an audience member for 2006 through 2008, with the exception of a self-running showing of a chapter from BBS: The Documentary in 2007 and, to fill a gap in the 2008 session schedule, a brief and impromptu tour of the social media site Facebook, which I had joined five months earlier.

Then, in 2009, KansasFest started becoming very busy for me! I kicked off a new series called "Classic Gaming Inspirations", which looked at modern-day titles that capture the feel or spirit of original Apple II titles. I also compiled and showed the segments of the television show Dancing with the Stars in which Apple II inventor Steve Wozniak competed.

Deciding that two sessions wasn't enough, in 2010, I cranked up my commitment to an unprecedented five sessions:

If I follow the 2x+1 formula that represents my increase in sessions from 2009 to 2010, then I'll be giving an exhausting 11 sessions in 2011. I'm determined to go the opposite direction and ease up on my contributions, making room for other attendees to participate and allowing myself time to enjoy more of KansasFest.

Apple's Growing Divide Between Users and Programmers

'The brain power there caused the room to tilt a bit!'
said Kirk Mitchell of this KansasFest 2010 panel.

To that end, I've thus far committed to only two sessions: a behind-the-scenes look at the Open Apple podcast with my co-host Mike Maginnis, and a sequel to last year's banquet activity of the live-action text adventure game Action Castle. My tradition of offering a gaming session will again die, I hope to again be picked up by someone who's been similarly inspired.

But I would like to offer a third session: another panel, akin to last year's "Apple's Growing Divide Between Users and Programmers". The Apple II community has some genuine experts in their fields, and the opportunity to tap that collective wisdom shouldn't be overlooked. All I need is a topic that is relevant and of interest, but without being too controversial — we don't want to leave the room with any hard feelings, after all.

What sessions or panel topics would you recommend for KansasFest 2011?

All Apple II roads lead to Boston

April 4th, 2011 12:47 PM
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With the apparent demise of the user group, there are no geographically oriented pockets of Apple II users anymore. But I have the good fortune of living in Central Massachusetts, which has somehow become a destination for many Apple II users over the years.

Juiced.GS associate editor Andy Molloy has regularly made the trip from New York to enjoy the retrocomputing goodness my area has to offer, from Funspot to PAX. The same site where we recently attended PAX also once hosted Steve Weyhrich, who took time out of his professional development in the medical field to share a dinner with me. Even other continents send representatives to Boston, where Australian programmer Peter Watson and I went to the pub that inspired the television sitcom Cheers.

The Watsons in Boston

Carol, Andre, Lynne, Peter, Kahm, and Ken — Apple II users forever!

This weekend alone, I visited with multiple Apple II users. Thomas Compter, who once hosted me and Kelvin Sherlock for a Lord of the Rings marathon, was in town to attend the annual Havoc game convention. His and his wife Jeannie's availability coincided with a local vegan pop-up restaurant's monthly offering. I enjoyed spending an evening with these two KansasFest alumni, talking about everything but the Apple II, from WordPress to to dice towers to living in Germany.

Thomas and Jeannie moved a few years ago from Oklahoma to Vermont and then to Western Massachusetts, but the Panhandle State still has its share of Apple II users. Fewer than 24 hours later, I picked one up from the airport: KansasFest committee member, logo designer, and former HackFest winner Peter Neubauer. Peter's diverse Apple II résumé was recently expanded by his interview of Alan Floeter for Juiced.GS, which landed in subscriber mailboxes just last week. In contrast to the previous evening, the Apple II was practically all we talked about. We caught up on reactions to Juiced.GS and plans for KansasFest 2011 before getting on the horn with Mike Maginnis for another few hours.

I consider myself very lucky to live somewhere through which so many esteemed Apple II users pass, and I appreciate them making time to connect with a member of their community. It's like a series of mini-KFests to keep us going until the big one!