Archive for May, 2011

A weekend with the Apple II

May 9th, 2011 4:52 PM
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Filed under Musings;
1 comment.

Given the number of friends I've made through the Apple II, and my involvement with Apple II magazines, podcasts, and conventions, it's a rare day that I'm not thinking or doing something with or about the computer or community. Sometimes, that means a relaxing weekend proves exhausting, leaving me no time to write the blog post I owe Apple II Bits every Monday. So today, I thought I'd outline in roughly chronological order what I've done from sundown Friday to sunup Monday that kept me from smithing anything remotely engaging for this blog:

Is it any wonder I'm tired? Despite needing to edit Open Apple this evening, I think I need to disconnect for a bit and enjoy a bike ride. Too many apples a day is not good for one's health!

Presenting the Apple II

May 5th, 2011 5:55 AM
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Last Wednesday, I delivered the final presentation of my graduate student career. The course was in the theater education department of Emerson College, and the subject was non-profit grant-writing. Most of my classmates knew as much about theater as I do about computers, so I enjoyed the opportunity to be the most technically literate person in the crowd. Nonetheless, it also made me constantly mindful of my audience when presenting information.

My presentation was on the need to preserve the history of KansasFest. I started off with a brief overview of how Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs founded the company in their garage in 1977, with titles such as Oregon Trail and Visicalc making the machine a success in educational and business markets alike. I then traced the lineage that modern software owes to the Apple II by putting up a slide of the first-person shooter Call of Duty, which is derived from Wolfenstein 3D, which in turn was based on the Apple II game Castle Wolfenstein.

Most of the students recognized at least one of these titles, so by playing to their familiarity, I was able to keep them engaged — though one student seemed more enraptured than even I expected, with a face-splitting grin on her face at the screenshot of Castle Wolfenstein. I asked her later if she'd played that game. "No, but I grew up with King's Quest, so to see an old game like that was great," she enthusiastically replied. Ah! A retrogamer in the crowd. I followed up by emailing her a link to AGD Interactive.

KansasFest 2006 presentation

Watch as Ken presents the hell out of the Apple II.

The rest of the presentation went smoothly, due I believe in part to my M.O. when planning such events: I use as little text as possible. More often, my presentations could be better described as slideshows. Besides the fact that I'm a visual learner, I also didn't want to bore people by reading text off slides or by burying them with facts, statistics, and graphs that I may find interesting but which they do not. With a photo or screenshot, they can quickly absorb a visual complement to my speech without distracting them as they try to interpret the media.

The Q&A section was brief. One person asked if Apple Inc. still has an involvement in the Apple II and would be interested in participating in the preservation and continuation of KansasFest. Without trying to explain the Apple II downloads page of Apple.com, I told her that yes, Apple used to come to this event, but they hadn't been seen since my first year attending in 1998. Another student asked a question tangential to my proposal: have we figured out a way to put the Apple II online? In this, I momentarily forgot my audience by replying, "Sure — we've had dial-up modems since they were 300 baud." A few shrugs indicated that this reference was lost to them, so I moved on: "There is an Ethernet card for the Apple II, and just last week, I put the Apple II in my cubicle on the company network. Now I just need to install the Twitter client … It's pretty slick," I added, to their laughter.

Overall, it was a fun evening, especially since I was presenting on a topic I'm both knowledgeable and passionate about. I don't get many chances to present about the Apple II outside KansasFest, so to let my inner geek proudly shine — and, I hope, get an 'A' for it — was a great sendoff to my time at Emerson.

Apple II music videos

May 2nd, 2011 1:43 PM
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Filed under History;
3 comments.

I ended a recent blog post by asking, "Will the Apple II ever have its own music video?" Although not quite what I had in mind, there's actually been an Apple II music video for nearly three decades. It was released in April of 1984 as part of Apple's official "Apple II Forever" event.

I suddenly feel the need to wear a stuffy suit and shake people's hands over a keyboard.

Perhaps better known is the song "Apple II Forever" a song released on the disc Developer Helper Volume 1: Phil And Dave's Excellent CD (with the titular Dave being David Szetela, KansasFest 2007 keynote speaker). It's been set to slides and published as this music video:

Is a thirty-year hiatus from the music scene enough? How can we build on this sterling record to create what's sure to be the next Apple II chartbuster?

(Hat tips to Steven Sande and Steve Weyhrich)