Archive for February, 2012

Enhancing AppleWorks 4

February 6th, 2012 11:12 AM
Filed under History, Software showcase;
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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.

The Minecraft-Apple II connection

February 2nd, 2012 2:06 PM
Filed under Game trail, History, Software showcase;
1 comment.

There are plenty of places on the Internet to find people’s stories of their introduction to the Apple II: blogs, podcasts, videos, and tweets. Though games are often early computer users’ gateway to the platform, I don’t expect to find their stories within a game.

Troy Cheek is the exception with his YouTube channel, which features a daily Minecraft video blog. As he explores the sandbox world from a first-person perspective, he records his musings, which meander through both the virtual world and his own history. On day 142, posted on New Year’s Eve 2011, Troy tells the story of his first Apple II program and its unexpected longevity. The first mention is at the 2:00 mark, but the below video starts at 3:24 with the crux of the odd juxtaposition of Minecraft and Apple II.

At 3:55, Troy says that his school bought computers "not for computer science geeks, but for the business office — the vocational education people.” That reminds me of Mark Simonsen, who said in his KansasFest 2010 keynote speech that he first encountered computers in his college accounting class. I wonder how many people were introduced to the Apple II almost by accident, as a tangent to some other professional endeavor, without anticipating the impact it could have on their lives?

At 14:34, Troy mentions that the school attendance program he developed employed the bubble sort algorithm, which he calls "the redheaded stepchild of the sorting family". It’s true that it’s not the most efficient way to sort a large data set, but it’s also one of the easiest to implement and the best-known. Heck, even President Barack Obama is familiar with it:

Of course, Troy isn’t the first person to intersect the Apple II with Minecraft. Steve Weyhrich did so nearly a year ago with his amazing and faithful re-creation of an Apple II using Minecraft building blocks. He later presented his work at KansasFest 2011, including a virtual Apple Store.

What other inspirations of the Apple II have you seen in your favorite games?