Archive for May, 2013

Bringing Warp Six into the 21st century

May 27th, 2013 11:59 PM
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Twenty years ago this past Presidents' Day, I launched a dial-up bulletin board system. The Playground was powered by an Apple IIGS running the Warp Six BBS software by Jim Ferr. As was often the case among the many brands of computers back then, pledging allegiance to a particular piece of hardware or software placed you into its community, connecting you with like-minded individuals. I became a frequent caller of another Warp Six BBS, the Apple Hide-A-Away (AHAW), run in Iowa by Scott Johnson. We traded many tips and tricks on how to make the most of the software. Whereas I stopped tinkering with Warp Six 16 years ago, Scott has been working on-and-off for years to update the software to v3.0, with an updater package currently in beta.

In tandem, Lon Seidman, star of last week's Apple II Bits post, is making Warp Six more accessible than ever. Using a Raspberry Pi — the same computer that was featured on the cover of Juiced.GS — Lon has made it possible to connect to his Warp Six BBS via telnet. Check out his video demonstration, which was featured on episode #1400 of The Giz Wiz:

I'm hopeful that, once Scott and Lon get Warp Six v3.0 stable, they'll be able to connect it with the BBS door game I wrote for an earlier version. Space Ship of Death (SSOD) stands as the most complex piece of programming I ever produced, at a whopping 624 lines of Applesoft BASIC and zero documentation. To see it running again would boost my already massive ego to intolerable heights.

Interested in trying Warp Six yourself? Point your Telnet client to matrixreturns.dyndns.org, port 6401. Just like the original Warp Six software, Lon's BBS accepts only one caller at a time, so for the first time in decades, be prepared to get a busy signal!

Lon Seidman's Apple IIGS on TWiT

May 20th, 2013 11:19 AM
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Unless the subject is video games, I don't listen to any modern technology podcasts. Perhaps as a result of having been a Computerworld editor for six years, I feel sufficiently connected to the state of modern IT without spending my spare time consuming audio or video content on the subject. As a result, I'm largely unfamiliar with Leo Laporte and his expansive This Week in Tech broadcasting empire. What little I've been exposed to has left me underwhelmed. When the stars of his shows are Apple II heroes such as Dan Bricklin or Jeri Ellsworth, then I always walk away satisfied and enlightened. But without those outside personalities, I find Laporte and his cronies to be pretentious and bombastic.

I recently made an exception for The Giz Wiz #1377, which aired all the way back on August 14, 2012. I'd added the episode to my queue long enough ago that I'd forgotten my motivation for doing so. But I trusted my past self and listened to the entire episode. It wasn't until time indices 52:39–58:16, after nearly an hour of listening to Laporte and co-host Dick DeBartolo discuss SkyMall's catalog, that I found the show's relevancy to this retrocomputing enthusiast:

To this episode, Lon Seidman submitted a video tour of his Apple IIGS. Enhancements include not only an overclocked Transwarp GS but also the Uthernet networking card and Rich Dreher's CFFA3000. We don't get to see much of the software or unique uses Seidman has for his Apple II, and that which we do see will be familiar to members of the modern Apple II community — but the segment was short and focused enough to get picked up by TWiT, making for excellent publicity for our hobby. Way to go, Lon!

For other video reviews and tours of Apple II hardware, check out the work of Brian Picchi and Terry Stewart.

Unboxing Zéphyr

May 13th, 2013 9:53 AM
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Back in November, with no scripting and little forethought, I shot an unboxing video. Those outside the tech world may be unfamiliar with the genre, which is essentially a step-by-step documentary of the opening and unpacking of a new product. My product was the Nintendo Wii U, a video game system released on November 18. Much to my surprise, viewers were enthralled with the product and my stream-of-consciousness narration — that, or I had really good SEO. Either way, the video is now nearing a staggering one million views. Despite being only 1.4% of the videos on my YouTube channel, this single video accounts for 78% of my channel's total views.

Not that popularity makes me an expert, but I decided to revisit the genre when I purchased Zéphyr, a new, physical game for the Apple II. Once my copy arrived via international mail from Brutal Deluxe, I touted it, my Canon Rebel T2i DSLR, and my tripod to my office, where resides my Apple IIGS, and recorded my experience with the game. The camera is good for only ten minutes of consecutive video, which was more than enough for the six cuts I shot, which when edited together happened to add up to exactly ten minutes.

It'd be disingenuous for me to not acknowledge the influence of Brian Picchi, aka TanRu Nomad, who has produced dozens of excellent video reviews of Apple II hardware and software. His reviews are more stylish and edited than my "start rolling and see what happens" approach, so there really is no comparison between the two — otherwise, I'd lose! (Horribly.) But the idea that one could produce a video about the Apple II and have fun doing it was enough of a precedent for me to try. (Now if only I could get the hundreds of views he does!)

Although the Zéphyr video was openly posted to YouTube, it was primarily promoted on Facebook, where users were invited to "like" Juiced.GS's Facebook page to view the video. I don't know if anyone found that "fan gate" cumbersome or pretentious, but I received no complaints. Nonetheless, I figured two weeks later, the promotion has run its course, and I won't be cutting into the page's appeal by sharing the video here.

There aren't many opportunities to shoot unboxing videos of new Apple II products, especially one of a sort that aligns with my YouTube channel's other gaming content. I enjoyed this experience, even if there won't be another one like it. I hope the Internet enjoyed it, too!

Little Inferno for Apples old and new

May 6th, 2013 11:56 AM
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One of the best Nintendo Wii games was an indie title called World of Goo. The 2009 release marked the first (and, so far, only) game from developer 2D Boy, who then went on to port it to Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, iOS, Android, and BlackBerry, including as part of the Humble Indie Bundle — but the game was best in its original home on the Nintendo Wii.

Now Kyle Gabler, one of the leading forces behind 2D Boy, has released his first Nintendo Wii U game: Little Inferno. Unlike World of Goo, which received a 94% average rating (making it one of the best Wii games ever), Little Inferno has received only a 79% and described as more of a fireplace simulator that requires repetitive actions than an actual game.

Just as strange as the evolution from World of Goo to Little Inferno is the way in which the latter's developer and publisher, Tomorrow Corporation, announced the game's port to OS X. Five months after its Wii U debut, this image appeared on the game's Web site:

Little Inferno

This is not the Apple you're looking for.


That, dear reader, is most certainly NOT a Mac. It's an amusing image, but a perplexing one. What is Tomorrow Corporation trying to say about this port? That they find the Mac an archaic platform? That Little Inferno can run on anything? If so, it's a bit of an exaggeration — it's not like they actually ported a modern game to the Commodore 64 of anything.

Of the twenty comments on the blog post, only one, the first, acknowledges the discrepancy: "Hahaha, awesome. Of course you guys have a pic of it 'running' on an Apple II. You never fail to make me laugh. Kudos!"

If there's one thing I learned from World of Goo, it's that 2D Boy and Tomorrow Corporation certainly have a strange sense of humor.

(Hat tip to Mike Schramm via Steve Weyhrich)