Archive for August, 2011

Moon Patrol unboxing video

August 8th, 2011 3:17 PM
Filed under Game trail, Software showcase;
1 comment.

A hallmark of the 1 MHz podcast are unboxings. The show’s host, Carrington Vanston, often gets his hands on new-in-box Apple II games and will record the audio of breaking the seal, horrifying collectors worldwide. His philosophy: games were meant to be played, and these classics aren’t doing anyone any good in the box.

Another self-described "anti-collector" is Clint, the host of Lazy Game Reviews, a retro computer and video game site founded this past February to collect the thoughts and media that he’d previously distributed via social media (Twitter, YouTube, etc.). The site got off to a great start, with a two-part series on getting an Apple IIGS with ADTPro up and running. He quickly followed up with a feature of similar interest to Apple II hobbyists: an unboxing video of side-scrolling shooter Moon Patrol.

Unfortunately, the video stops short of an actual review of the game as 1 MHz would do. But it’s still a fun look at the tangible aspects of a game that you don’t get with an ADTPro-reconstituted disk image. As we move more and more toward digital distribution, these "feelies" will become artifacts with no modern counterparts. How long before there are no more boxes to unbox?

Keyboard navigation in a GUI world

August 4th, 2011 3:38 PM
Filed under Hacks & mods;

Computers have come a long way since the Apple II, with important improvements to both hardware and software. But along the way, a few valuable computing aspects were lost.

A recent story looks at features that lost the evolutionary war: "… there are some things they don’t do that the old, slow, often command-line-intead-of-GUI-oriented applications did." The first page of the story focuses on the losses associated with the transition from a command-line interface (CLI) to a graphical user interface (GUI). One consultant laments the loss of programmable function keys and other shortcuts that extended keyboards once offered. These features were never available to the Apple II user, but I can commiserate with the need for shortcuts that don’t require a pointing device.

My first six years as a Macintosh predominantly took the form of a laptop (a PowerBook 1400cs) with an external trackball (an ADB Kensington TurboMouse). That trackball had four buttons that could be programmed for a variety of custom functions, such as right-clicking or switching applications. My right hand rarely strayed from that device, as it was impossible to use Mac OS Classic without it.

After switching to Mac OS X on December 7, 2003, I began to rely less and less. I found this reinvention of the Macintosh operating system featured keyboard-based shortcuts that I’d previously used the TurboMouse for. Now, I could switch windows, applications, and more while keeping my hands on the keyboard. In this way, OS X is actually a bit more similar to the Apple II with which I grew up. Navigating Microsoft Word will never be as intuitive or efficient as using AppleWorks, but it’s a bit closer.

With all my Macs having always been portable, it’s important for such power to be inbuilt, though I imagine those with desktop computers might enjoy the options such a stable position brings. For example, Andrew Plotkin, in an interview with The Setup (the same site that previously interviewed Bert Kersey), recommended the Matias Tactile Pro 3 keyboard, saying, "If your typing doesn’t sound like a hailstorm on a tin roof, you’re not typing." (This is despite the keyboard being connected to a MacBook Pro; says Plotkin, "I essentially never move it — I’m not a laptop person at heart.")

As a former or current Apple II user, by what input device or method do you prefer to navigate your modern computer? Is there particular hardware you favor or recommend?

Woz: The early years

August 1st, 2011 4:40 PM
Filed under History, Steve Wozniak;
1 comment.

Steve Wozniak has achieved a fame that doesn’t seem to be fading. Although it was already eight months ago that he unveiled an expansion to the Computer History Museum, he was recently there conducting an interview on his early aspirations. At only eight minutes, it’s a quick and fun watch:

No matter how often I encounter Woz in various media, there always seems to be something new to learn. For example, I didn’t know that he and Steve Jobs had met in high school instead of college. Nor did I know that he pronounces that Hewlett-Packard device as “cackle-ator”. (His estimate that $400 at the time of the HP-35’s introduction (1972) would be $2000 is correct — $2060.98 in 2010 dollars, according to this inflation calculator.)

But my favorite is his closing ideology: “Don’t get attached to things have to turn out a certain way. The world just kinda flows, and whichever way it goes is right — it’s just how it went.” It reminds me of a similar philosophy against having expectations, suggesting instead that one have preferences. Is that a pessimistic detachment from results? Given Woz’s track record, I’d have to say no.

(Hat tips to Thomas Compter and Nicholas Griffin)