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Sep 9th

The BBS era … &SPEED=202

The BBS era for me was roughly 1982 – just crossing into 2001.  I took over the operation of the BBS in the 1983 timeframe, though I had been a co-sysop on it previously. With my main access to a modem being the computer lab in the elementary school across from jr. high, when I was in the 7th grade.. my “co-sysop” abilities were a stretch of the term. I looked forward to the one period a day when I was TA in that computer lab across the street. Besides getting to “leave campus”, I got to use the Apple II’s.  Shortly thereafter I had gotten a modem of my own, though it was a Hayes Micromodem II, it was a lot cheaper than the Apple-Cat II. In the new A+ Magazine there was an ad.. Garden of Eden computers, selling the Apple-Cat II for $269! December was coming up, and that meant extra tips from the paper route .. so I sold the Micromodem II and eagerly awaited the UPS truck with a wad of cash.. back in the era when UPS COD was a kid’s best friend, and the drivers in brown actually took green paper. That was just the beginning of a line of UPS deliveries of Apple II hardware.

One time the UPS driver commented, “If you’re not into computers, you are now.. ” as he recognized the Applied Engineering packing tape, saying he delivers “a lot of boxes from this shipper”.

About 1985 the BBS became full time when the house got another phone line because I kept it tied up. If only they had known what the breakup of AT&T would bring. Those 5 digit MCI access codes were something else. ;) Around 1987 I switched the software to that of what a friend wrote. It was called Elfnet, though it was not a networked system, it was because he was known as the Grey Elf when he ran a BBS in the San Francisco Bay Area prior to moving to Southern California. It was Applesoft based and he was a diehard Hayes modem type, and in turn he got me interested in a Hayes Smartmodem 2400.  I had a multi-format BBS that supported AE and Cat-Fur for transfers, and with the addition of the Smartmodem 2400, every type of connection was supported, with regards to the Apple II. At the time those were 103/212/202/v.22 – 300/1200/2400 & Apple-Cat II.

The Apple-Cat II would detect the inbound ring, and answer at the half ring point. Checking for a Bell 202 connection rate first, , then 103 (300), and if nothing was negotiated, it sent an ATH1 to the external modem that was attached to the external serial port on the Apple-Cat II Expansion block.

Once the Apple-Cat II detected that the Hayes Smartmodem 2400 had picked up the line, it would stop sending it’s carrier and go on hook. The SM2400 would then send the carrier as if it answered at 2400, and negotiate for the 2400 or eventually the 1200 connection. It was done that way because if the Apple-Cat tried for Bell 212 (1200) the caller would get that instead of 2400 if they had it, unless they specifically configured their terminal to not connect at any other rate.

Once that was figured out, the modem driver set a value at a memory location, corresponding to the connection rate. The values were $67, $82, $8A, and $E0.

That was so that the BBS software itself could tell the speed that the caller connected at, and even change it. Though changing it was universal. It could hit any speed, it’s real purpose was to allow for the Apple-Cat’s 202 mode to be used during reading messages and downloading from the G-Files section.

For the speed changing part, a second memory location would be set with the connect speed which is the fastest speed available during that session. If the caller was using Cat-Fur as the terminal program, that value would be $82. All the values are here, and their respective baud rates:

Standard Baud Rate Decimal Hex
Bell 103 300 (Full Duplex) 103 $67
Bell 202 1200 (Half Duplex) 202 $82
Bell 212 1200 (Full Duplex) 212 $8A
CCITT v.22 2400 (Full Duplex) 224 $E0

If the connection was Apple-Cat II based, then the BBS software would adjust the speed accordingly, to send data using Bell 202 which was specifically supported by the Apple-Cat II, and very select few other modems, all external. No other internal Apple II compatible modem supported this rate.

The switching was done at the main loop for data to be sent to/from the modem and the speed was changed using an Applesoft Ampersand (&) extension. If data was being sent to the modem, the memory location of the highest speed was checked, if it equaled $82, then a GOSUB loop was called, if data going out, &SPEED=202 : when the data was finished, &SPEED=103.

Could you do &SPEED=224? Sure. Would the connection drop? Sure. Aside from the Apple-Cat II, switching speeds was just not something that was done, not until later on with higher speed modems like the US Robotics Courier, Telebit Trailblazer and Hayes V-Series.

In 1987 I got the US Robotics Courier HST 9600 and for a short time I had the HST on the Apple-Cat’s serial port at 9600, and had the BBS available at baud rates from 300 to 9600. Shortly after the ROM 01 upgrade became available, I switched to ProDOS one night. Did I mention I was one of those die-hard refuse to switch from DOS 3.3 types? So much so that a few of us even considered hacking ProTERM to work under DOS 3.3.

Along with the ProDOS switch meant switching BBS software. Before the custom Apple-Cat supporting BBS software, I was using T-Net BBS, which was compiled with Microsoft TASC. Eventually I had made a T-Net modem driver for the ProDOS version of T-Net BBS that worked very similarly to the previous one, but when the HST 14.4 came, I decided to switch to using the inbuilt IIgs modem port instead of the serial port on the Apple-Cat, and eventually dropped the Apple-Cat from the system all together when I switched BBS software again after that.

The BBS was known as /<-Mart, (The Krack-Force), Project TerraForm, the CPU (Central Phoenix Underground) and the Space Bar, from 1982 through sometime in 2000, when the modem last  answered. It started as a part time BBS, with night time hours in area code 714, which changed soon after to 619, and later on to 760.

loadedgs

The photo above is from 1988-1989 when the BBS was in the 602 area code for about a year, you can see the Courier HST just off to the side. All of that hardware was not hooked up at the absolute same time, but it was all usable. The Sider’s and two Xebec “Trustor” (Thrustors), being SASI were actually all accessible at one time, as they were setup as single ProDOS volumes, and one of them was DOS 3.3. The Corvus OmniDrive was where the BBS software resided, and that was accessible on both IIgs’s, another one was on an adjacent desk out of view.

The Tallgrass DC600 tape drive worked in place of the Sider backup drive, and was used to backup those Siders, and the 8 inch drive had an SVA (Sorrento Valley Associates)  8″ Controller. The Disk II stack was from the original BBS/AE days, and utilized two Rana Systems quad drive controllers, and an additional Disk II card, for a total of three slots.  Whatever hardware was on the BBS storage wise usually stayed with the computer. The beige 800K drive up top actually has the daughter card from a UniDisk 3.5″ stuck to the top of it, and it’s hooked inline with the two AppleDisk 3.5″ drives below.

One of the “annoying” things about the Sider was how you had to setup “all four” common file systems on the drives, and waste “a little” bit of the drive, and also have two ProDOS volumes. Since the Sider was the same system as the Xebec, when Xebec worked to make the whole sub-system cheaper and went on to mass-market it, skipping the whole dealer network and selling direct, that meant that while the Xebec drive had a lot less friendly software, the user had to do math, keeping track of heads/cylinders/blocks and set up the partition map manually, the Sider did all this for you with a graphic interface. You just allocated portions of the drive to each file system, and it set it up for you.

But what if you didn’t want any of that? You wanted the whole thing to be DOS 3.3, or one ProDOS volume?  If you put side 2 of the Sider disk in, and BRUN INSTALL PT#4, and after hitting return, press the ‘R’ key once. When the program loaded, if it found that ‘R’ in the keyboard buffer, it would allow you to manually setup the Sider like the older Xebec drives. You could leave off Pascal, CP/M and do just one single ProDOS volume.

The BBS was in the dinning room of the apartment and it was quite “whiney” in there with all those drives running. The maintenance guy fixing the air conditioner one day commented that “no wonder it broke”, and “this place looks like NORAD”.

The box to the lower left is the Rana Systems 8086. One way to describe it is an “External PC Transporter”, though not nearly as capable, and actually able to be a stand alone PC.  With it’s interface card, it could be used to transfer files between the two operating systems and it’s drives be used for the Apple II.

I still have most of that stuff, and even a couple of Coca-Cola Classic cans. I could probably set up that whole scene again, and take better photos, better than a scanned print from Longs Drug’s Fuji Film Fotolab equipment.

A post on the Facebook Apple II Enthusiasts triggered this as a response, and I decided I’d post it here instead .. as it grew a little long. :)

Until next time .. hopefully with more frequency..

…end Of phile…

Aug 21st

Olomana Trail Visit – June 2012

This starts around Fall 2011 when I was at Maxwell Air Force Base attending a weeklong Civil Air Patrol course, and throughout the week I met many new people, one of them was the director of Cadet Programs for Hawaii Wing, and not soon after returning home I was offered the opportunity to be on staff for the 2012 Summer Encampment, to be held at Marine Corps Base Hawaii, on the island of Oahu. I didn’t have to think very long about that, it’s been one of the places I’ve wanted to visit for many years, and reciprocate as Ryan Suenaga had visited many of us on the mainland several times.

Realizing that Ryan had talked about the Olomana Trail a few times in passing, and I thought .. that would be a fun afternoon trip if I ever went there, but that was probably a pipe dream at that point.  Forwarding a few years, suddenly I was actually going to get a chance to visit Oahu.

Our week started out with a visit by a Hawaiian Kahuna to the building and area we were going to be conducting our 10 day activity to perform a traditional spiritual blessing and cleansing involving conch shells to chase away evil and healing tea leaves at which the tea leaves are left on the door for three days and then tossed into the ocean. On the third day I drove to the beach near where Ryan lived in Kaneohe, tied the tea leaves around a rock and tossed it into the water.

Though I didn’t have a lot of free time while there, due to my position, I was able to get out a little bit and in the process of careful planning when I did need to drive, I got to drive the full length of all three of Hawaii’s Interstate Highways, even though a bit was in the wee hours of the night sometimes, I was quick to volunteer to pick someone up, drop off, etc, on other parts of the island since civil infrastructure is one of my interests, and getting out was one way to see it :)

Though there is lots to see in Hawaii, one of the things I really wanted to see was the USS Arizona Memorial, and that worked out perfectly because the day after we started, we took 36 cadets and others from the mainland, other islands, etc, that don’t normally have the chance to get there, to visit the memorial. After that it was very similar to KFest .. late hours, early hours, etc.

Later in the week when I had an afternoon that I could sneak off, (well,not really sneak.. but.. figuratively..) I arranged some stand ins and got some information from the locals on staff, and went to visit the Olomana Trail.

I’ve added some pictures here, you can open this in another tab and flip through them  when you read about the last one you saw in the text, flip to the next and read some more.

Visiting the Olomana Trail starts by heading to the Luana Hills Country Club, and parking off Loop Rd. just outside the country club, and waking from there. About a 1/4 mile up the road as I neared the guard gate the person manning it, as he does everyone else I’m sure, sized me up .. “another one coming to the trail..:”, as I was dressed not like the typical country club patron, nor was in any kind of transportation, just me, cargo pockets with water bottles poking out, a handfull of lanyarded cameras and a monopod with one more camera, doubling as a walking stick.

“You here for the Olomana trail? .. it’s just up that road, over the hump, it takes about 2-3 hours, have you been here before? .. ” .. no this is my first time, I’ve never even been to Hawaii before.” .. I’m not a seasoned hiker, I wouldn’t even call myself a hiker by sport, though living in suburban Southern California, this kind of terrain is stereotypical, and my usual outdoor activities do expose me to this somewhat often, combined with my volunteering with search and rescue, so I’m familiar with it.

“You be careful, about a year ago, four people went up, and only three came back on their own. ” … yes, I know. he was my friend.” .. “I’m sorry .. ” … and I nodded, “Mahalo.. ” and I was on my way.

It was really weird in some ways, and serene. As soon as I walked off the asphalt road, several feet into the tunnel formed by the foliage, the sounds of civilization just went away. Poof. Like someone flicked a switch. This place isn’t just off a main road from this end, but you can definitely hear nearby traffic from the main road that’s about a half mile away, and of course the cars speeding by on the private road, oblivious to the limited views due to the hills and turns.

The sound of the gentle wind coming through the trees, the occasional leaf falling, and this would change ever so as the trail progressed. As both the types of growth and geology changed with the altitude, direction and such. Knowing that I’m standing on a mountain peak, while it may be just a mountain peak of 1,300 feet, it’s really just the top of an even much larger picture. The mountain range that makes up the Hawai’ian islands starts as much as 18,000 feet lower. The same could be said for the continent, but it’s not quite the same. The changes that take place along this relatively short ascent, the changes in vegetation and geology were fairly obvious to me, not like the typical Western United States desert and semi-arid nature.

When I arrived, I estimated about 3 and a half hours of daylight remaining and had resolved to myself that I probably would not reach the top of the first peak, and probably make it about halfway and have to turn back. My halfway point on the clock was about 30 minutes past half the time remaining between then and the sunset time for MCBH, where I was staying, to my east. Figuring that the descent would be faster than the ascent, and the bottom third of the trail was relatively flat with plenty of shoulder.

As I started my ascent, the first thing that struck me was the lack of views, when hiking trails in the Southwestern US, one tends to find vistas at most every switchback, but Olomana is more like a rain forest with growth up to as much as 100 feet overhead in many areas. But not lush like a rain forest. One of the first things I came across was what I would have figured was an old pump house, or fire watch quarters. It was a barren cement structure in the shape of a small house, devoid of pretty much everything inside and out except for the walls and roof. The only colors were the paint used leaving urban graffiti like designs on the walls. A bit of light switching back and forth as the trail seemed to circumnavigate the way up the mountain, and I start to notice a bit of change in the growth, it’s getting thinner, scragglier, drier. I thought this was kind of strange as I was on the windward side of the island, yet during my 10 days the most encounters with rain were on the Honolulu side of things. So much for the rain shadow.

This lead to the trail getting a little thinner, but also with the thinning tree tops the possibility of some views started to come into play. With the ground turning more smooth, bare and sort of Martian landscape like reddish, I came to a point where the trail made a hard turn and there was direct sunlight poking through and I could see Castle Medical Center in the distance, and the road where I had parked before walking towards the country club. I stopped to take some photos and then continued onward, still not being able to really see the peak, with no altimeter I wasn’t sure about how far up I’d gone yet. About 20 minutes later the surroundings had turned to tall pine trees and the ground was no longer bare, but a nicely packed bed of pine needles, like hay, soft enough to sleep on. The trail at this point was saddling a ridge line, though it wasn’t very steep at all, you could see down both sides. The wind was pushing it’s way up and over that ridge and the sound it made as it passed through the pines was just amazing. Not loud enough to stifle out the further surroundings, but still very distinctive.

After the trees cleared I finally saw the peak. It reminded me somewhat of Devil’s Tower, from the Movie, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, kind of like the visions that Roy Neary, (Richard Dreyfuss) had before actually seeing the peak, though they’re really not like each other, from a few angles there’s that similarity in many peaks. Seeing that I’m a lot farther up than I had realized, I figured I might actually make it near the top of the first peak. Pressing onward, I come to another area where I can now see quite a bit more eastward to the coast, and even a bit of Kaneohe Bay and Marine Corps Base Hawaii. Even the road where I parked, and where it comes off the main road is visible. A bit more distant noise is coming into play now, too. Looking towards the peak again, I’m even more amazed at how far I’ve gotten and I still feel like I just started out.

After some time again, I’ve come to an area where I can see almost 180 degrees around me, and quite a bit of the horizon, as well as the Mokapu Peninsula that MCBH resides on and Kaneohe and Kailua. Kaneohe and Kailua are actually west/east of each other and the Mokapu Peninsula is north of both, about centered. At the same time that the Hawaii Wing Civil Air Patrol annual Summer Encampment was going on, at MCBH, there were some foreign forces cross training with the Marines and a biproduct of their training were explosions, explosions that were triggering noise complaints. Being from Southern California, living just south of Camp Pendleton, I’m very accustomed to this and hardly even notice it. In fact, what I was hearing while around the Kaneohe area was so little in intensity, that I had to laugh when I did hear about complaints. The stuff we get in California actually shakes buildings sometimes, and rattles stuff.

A little further on and I come across a section of trail that has some ropes left behind by prior hikers. In my research about Olomana Trail, I had read that it’s considered one that isn’t really for beginners, at least not alone, and portions of it were fairly advanced. Having read that I had decided that should I reach areas where ropes and rigging were required I’d probably call it at that point. The angle of attack, and the shoulder areas of the trail seemed fairly similar to what I was used to seeing a lot of in California, without ropes, just trees and rocks, to aid in traversing the trails, so I went forth and saw that I was fairly close to the top of the first peak now, looked like it was about 100 feet higher or so.

The marine layer had started to take hold and the peak was now in the clouds, this was probably going to be the last area where I could both see the horizon, and see enough for a photo opportunity. It was really cool, I could not only see Castle Medical Center quite well, but the road I parked on all the way from where Loop Road is accessed off Kalanianaole Hwy, and where it becomes Kailua Rd at the entrance to the Medical Center, but also back towards H-3, and Kamehameha Hwy as it goes into Kaneohe. All the places I’ve been in the last week or so, I can pick out. Longs on Kamehameha Hwy, Kinko’s, the Kaneohe Post Office, Burger King .. places I’ve associated with in the past in conversations with Ryan, and when I traveled Kamehameha Hwy for the first time I felt like I’d been there before. Issues of Juiced.GS surely were mailed from the Kaneohe Post Office, printed at the Kinko’s, and the Burger King and the traffic nightmares created at the intersection Likelike Hwy/Kaneohe Bay Dr and Kamehameha Hwy, when Burger King had the “gold” Pokemon cards. I could see how that must have just blown to epic proportions since that was obviously a major thoroughfare and the entrance to the parking lot and drive through lane are situated kind of uniquely.

Taking some time to take in the sights, being able to zoom in with the camera and confirm that I am seeing everything, it looks so close, but yet so far. Why does it take so long to get to H-3 from Longs, it’s only right there!?! Most everyplace I’d been utilizing outside of MCBH, all within view. So close, but so far. Seeing right where we were on base, seeing the P-3′s operated in and out of MCBH, and air traffic from Honolulu overhead. High enough to hear a hint of the freeway traffic, and the wind that makes this the windward side of the island. Serenity and Civility, the combination of mans creations and natures creations. A reminder that we’re just a speck on this planet, and could be flicked off at any time.

Returning to ascending the trail just a bit more, I’ve come to more ropes and it’s a bit steeper than it was before. Hearing sounds that are possibly out of place, I make my way a little further up and see movement from above, when a group comes down the second part of the rope and rock portion I’m in the midst of, almost just barreling through, at least 6 or 7 of them. The first sign of others I’d seen in the past couple hours since I started up this trail. I’m nearing my turn around point on the clock, and I ask, “how far to the top?” .. “About 15 minutes, it’s way worth it!” one of them says.. I turn around and see them disappear into the distance below, when their voices disappear, muffled by the landscape I started shooting some more photos, seeing just a little bit more than before, marveled at the view once more. It was around then that I realized the other noises I was occasionally hearing were impacts and explosions in the distance, the source of the noise complaints.

I continued on past the second part of the ropes and rocks and again stood for a few minutes, now that there really wasn’t much else to see as the marine layer had gotten thicker and I was at the base of the clouds with a little more trail to go before reaching the top. The landscape had definitely changed from the base, and even the trail just about a 100 feet below. It was very desert like, dry growth poking out of the light coral colored ground, the trail width being fairly narrow and somewhat steep in places, a few being almost vertical and a bit more than my height, as I could not see onto the next step without climbing some. I ended up slinging the cameras on branch, and leaving two of my remaining water bottles on a rock, as I was not going to be able to go much further with stuff in my hand and didn’t want the other stuff sticking out of my pockets. It was foggy just above me and already a bit misty in the air. I didn’t want extra stuff to deal with and wasn’t going to be able to take much more in the way of photos I figured, it was trees, rocks, and trail floor.

I reached the top a few minutes later, and while couldn’t see much except the immediate area, I’m sure the near 360 degree view would have been even more impressive. I definitely have to go back, and plan several points where I might be able to do this so I have flexibility with the weather. After reaching the I made a call back to the base, giving a status report, ops normal, at the top, starting back down in a few minutes .. and a noise complaint. :) It seemed that the impacts were very audible at the top and the population at the Mt. Olomana trail peak was being disturbed… :)

The descent seemed to go faster, but some areas that I came across, despite having only very recently traversed, didn’t look anything like I remember. The view looking the other way is so different. Even though you turn around and look down when going up. Amazing. Other sections I’m wondering “how the heck did you get up here?”, knowing I scoped it out as I was going up, looking for things to aid in coming back down. Sure, you think “I’ll just come down backwards”, the same way I stepped up. Somehow it does not work that way for the most part.

Back through the pine needle ridge, the wind sounded a bit different, it was getting darker, the sun wasn’t quite set now, but it was obvious the day was coming to an end, 2,200 miles west of the mainland, where America’s day ends, and my visit to Oahu would be itself, ending in just about 50 more hours. As I descended, stopping to look again at the same things I looked at on the way up, seeing just a little different look to it all as the day was coming to an end, the changing of colors in the horizon. Passing the area of mostly red hardened clay and what seemed like cactus-like plants, heading into the rain-forest like sections of rampant growth and overhead coverage it got fairly dark since the sun was low on the horizon and this area is mostly in the shadows without direct light except when it’s directly overhead. Past the empty house structure, and finally emerging at the trail head onto the private road section.

Looking back, that peak was “so far”, and quite a ways up there, it wasn’t but about 45 minutes ago that I was up there on top, the descent did indeed go much quicker, and in many ways I think was much harder. But the strangest thing was when I reached the road again, and looked back, somehow .. I didn’t feel tired at all. I was ready to do it again. I really felt like I had just gotten there. Or course, I get a photo emailed to me the day after I left showing a peak against a clear sky … Figures.

http://www.kansasfest.org/2011/05/rsuenaga-scholarship/

May 21st

Mac Classic Target Disk Mode, Really.

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So you’ve got a Compact Mac (Plus*, SE, SE/30, Classic or Classic II), PowerBook 140-180c or Mac II era machine and an empty, or corrupted hard drive and no way to install system software except you have another Mac with a SCSI port.

Where I’m headed may send  shivers up people’s spines.. ;-)

If you have a working Macintosh capable of running the same system software you wish to install on whatever classic era system you are working with, this works really well, but if you’re using say, a 9600 to install 6.0.8 on an SE, you can do that too, with a few different steps.

If all you have are the two systems, with an internal hard drive, and equipped with an Interrupt Switch, or a work around and figuring you don’t have spare cabling/external cases around to temporarily connect a hard drive to another SCSI port or just don’t want to bother. :)

The Interrupt Switch is found on the lower rear left side of a Mac Plus, SE, SE/30, Classic, Classic II, lower right rear of a Mac II/x/fx, front lower left of a IIcx/ci or the rear panel of a Powerbook 140-180c. One switch resets, and the other interrupts. If you do not have one on those models where it’s removable, you can use a flat tooth pick with a flashlight to look into the vent holes where it would be. With the power off, you can find the switches, it will be the rear  most, or edge most one of the two.

If it’s a Plus, you pretty much can figure on an external SCSI drive unless it’s one of those where someone has installed one inside, or it’s one that’s not really a “Plus”, but using Levco, MacSnap, and other similar options to become a “Plus”, though here’s a Mac Plus with an internal hard drive being discussed on the 68K MLA forums.

Get a 25-25 pin SCSI cable. (Or other known full 25 pin conductor male-to-male straight through cable). Getting one that says “CMS” or some other known hard drive vendor pretty much assures you that the cable is what it is.

You will be using two Mac systems with SCSI ports, and on one of them you will need to verify that the SCSI id of  internal hard drive is not 6, and if it is, it’s probably a good idea to change it to something else and gratefully reduce the odds of having the two drives be the same ID since the default is 6, if they both shipped from Apple with the drive installed and have not been touched, it’s a pretty good bet that they both are the same.

Once you’ve changed ID’s, or otherwise decided to go for it and see if it works, connect the two machines together using the 25 pin SCSI cable.

Next you’ll want to turn on the Mac that you will be installing onto, this is the Target. As soon as the hard drive is spinning, and the screen displays something other than black, press the Interrupt Switch and wait 30 seconds. The display will usually turn black and display the black eye like icon. It may do something else, but as long as it’s not blinking a disk icon you’re good to go.

Turn on the host machine and boot as normal.

You should see an additional drive mounted on the desktop when you arrive there, or be prompted about an unformatted disk, or.. maybe nothing.

Launch your chosen formatting utility and see what you’ve got. You should see the Target machine’s HD in the SCSI ID list. If not, you’ve got an ID conflict, incorrect cabling inside of the Target machine, or a non-functioning drive within the Target machine.

Incorrect cabling encompasses everything from term power settings, resistors, disconnected power or data cables, etc.

Once you’ve got the drive connected and visible it’s just a matter of doing what you would normally do. Install your choice of system software and when it’s done, shut down the Host system, and then the Target system.

As mentioned earlier, if you’re installing system software that you can not run the installer on the host system, you’ll want to install a minimum system onto the Target machine. This can be as simple as just the contents of the chosen system’s “System Tools” floppy image. I recommend doing this in two steps. First being, copy the contents of the floppy and shut down, disconnect and boot that machine to verify that it’s working, sees that minimum system software, and the System Folder should have the Macintosh icon overlaid on it.

Once that’s verified, re-attach the system the way it was and copy over the entire System Software installer set you wish to use. If all you have are Floppy images, you may mount them individually, copy each of them to a folder that is the same name of each floppy, and put all of these folders into another one entitled “6.0.8 Install” or whatever you want to call it, and place anything else you want to install onto the hard drive while it’s mounted.

When you disconnect again, you can now use that system installer to finish the job on the Target machine. Older systems will allow you to install components while it’s the active system.

This article was inspired by an answer I submitted to a thread on MacInTouch, and I figured I’d go into a little more detail here.

Who’d have thought Apple actually had “Target Disk Mode” before we knew it :)

Mar 20th

KansasFest After Dark .. A Look back to the Beginnings

For me, half the fun of KFest has always been getting to and from Kansas City. The other half is KFest itself, and the other half is what goes on after the day’s sessions and presentations are over with. Wait, that’s three halves! There can’t be three halves you say? Must be Reaganomics. Anyhow as for getting there,  just hopping on a commercial flight to get there just has never appealed to me.  On the other hand, flying myself there, now that’s a different adventure, for another installment.  Stay tuned for the upcoming A2-Airlines aviation related blog ..

Otherwise, getting to KFest and having access to transportation of your own while on site just makes things all the more interesting. There’s always some form of late night/early morning runs going on. Be it Denny’s, Wal*Mart, Steak ‘n Shake .. but it wasn’t always like that.  In the early years of the A2 Central Summer Developers Conference, when the outings were inbuilt by the event planners, which usually included a visit to Oceans of Fun or a Royal’s home game, a core group of us usually had other ideas … that usually resulted in just us hanging around back at the Halls of Avila and sharing stories. Stories A2 related antics of the 80′s, and such. Like the era of War Dialing to find things to dial into with the modem, or when I was looking for the dial in to the DEC mainframe at my high school because I thought it would be great to be able to do my homework … completely from home :)

Thus began another part of the KFest rituals, the sessions in the Halls, the roaming of rooms, and gatherings on the floors and couches in the commons that would last well into the evening, the night, and the wee hours of the morning. Thus began the Great Experience of Sleep Depravation. Back then vs. now, things were really different in the area. Like how here in California, even in the 80′s, there were ATM’s all over the place. However one day, one of the Apple IIgs System Software engineers attending KansasFest expressed a desire to get some cash from an ATM to buy some hardware and I said, “sure, I can take you … to the mall, where there just has to be an ATM.” We hopped in the car and went a lookin’, and the first place was over to Bannister Mall only to come up empty, and driving around, the few ATMs we did find didn’t share the same ATM network. We visited two malls that day, the other being Blue Ridge Mall, both of which now are long gone.  But all was not lost, eventually a bank was spotted along Holmes Rd at Red Bridge, and we decided to go to the Sun Fresh market that was nearby and on the way in I spotted the typical racks of free periodicals, community newspapers, and such.  One in particular caught my interest ..

Applied Engineering, the long time, fairly popular Apple II peripheral manufacturer  had long matured and in the process of branching out to the Macintosh and Amiga markets to supplement their business, as in 1991 it was fairly obvious that the Apple II marketplace was diminishing, it was not as strong as it used to be just even a year earlier. Applied Engineering was a trend setter, and had been around nearly as long as the Apple II, going on 12 years. Very early AE catalogs and advertisements made it known that they were available to take orders ANYTIME. 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. They wanted to be sure they caught all those impulse sales opportunities. Something that you wouldn’t see even in the booming x86 and Macintosh markets for years to come. Later on AE settled on 7AM to 11PM, 7 days a week for ordering. Tech support was always available just during the week. AE positioned itself as a staunch Apple II supporter, going so far as to include letters of protest in their products urging Apple II users to boycott AppleFest, and inCider Magazine because they started including Macintosh coverage.

Some people thought there was a bit of irony there because AE themselves marketed Macintosh and Amiga peripherals. But in their open letter to Apple, they clarified that they advertised the Macintosh products in Macintosh venues, Amiga products in Amiga venues and thought that the Apple II’s being pushed aside at regional and national events like AppleFest was not in the best interest to the Apple II platform. Imagine the surprise when AE took the Apple II community by storm when they migrated Apple II tech support to a 900 pay-per-minute service, even for products under warranty as they really made no effort to differentiate. Macintosh and Amiga users could continue to call the same standard 214 area code number.  Of course, this was long distance, but at an average of 1/8th of the price. For a company so dedicated to the Apple II, this certainly was a strange move.

Back to the store visit, and KansasFest, so on the way into the store, the publication that caught my eye was a local singles newspaper entitled AE Singles. The part of it that was amusing was how the cover had ‘AE’ using the same Alpha Epsilon Latin diphthong logo as Applied Engineering, and it was even in purple. So I was like… huh, what the heck is something computer doing in the entry of the grocery store?  But upon  closer examination it wasn’t computer at all. :)

You see, when AE went to the 900 line, 900 lines were popular with, and widely associated with phone sex services. So of course, there were rumors afoot that AE was running a phone sex service after hours on their 900 service. Of course you’d have thought that we could just figure it out by calling it, right? D’oh! But no one wanted to call it and give them any satisfaction of getting any money. So .. the rumors just lived on, and on .. and on.. Besides, it was more fun that way. Just think of the logistics though, someone calling for RAMWorks support .. at a few minutes after and talking about RAM .. um, NOT that kind of RAM.

On the way out of the store I grabbed a thick stack of them. Figured they’d be fun items back at the Halls of Avila. Various KFest 1991 Related Paper items, publications, etc.I wanted to see if the purple AE that dominated the front above the fold would catch anyone else like it did me.. They got passed around for a few hours, every once in a while a new “group” would discover some sitting on the tables in the common area, some thought they were Applied Engineering sales propaganda sitting around. After several hours of that, the group now fairly laid back and relaxed decided to have a little fun at the suggestion of someone from GS+ that thought it would be a fun photo opportunity. As you can see, it certainly was. It ended up on the cover of the next issue with KFest coverage, with a description of “On the Cover – A group of Kansasfest attendees take a look at the latest offerings from AE. From left to right they are: Joe Wankerl, Brian Winn, Nory (in the background), Chris McKinsey, Nate Trost (kneeling), Derek Young, Jim Maricondo, Bill Heineman, and Jason Coleman.” .

..and of course, right here in the General Files section is a scan of the front page from that issue of , you can make your very own if you wish.. and as promised, when I’ve added a few other things to the General Files section, since we’re talking about Applied Engineering, I’ve added an , that has some inserts of early 1984, that quotes the 24/7 ordering ability on several pages, with a Dallas, TX PO Box address, which is different than a similar catalog that only has ordering until 11PM and a Carrolton, TX PO box address. In their first glossy print catalog offered in 1985 is where the familiar 214/241-6060 phone number was cited, though the address was the same PO Box. Another AE document is a  from July 1986

Until next time …

…end Of phile…

 

Mar 10th

The Spartans Invade Cupertino

CUPERTINO — 20525 Mariani Ave has been invaded by the Spartans, okay – not quite, but..  The Mimic Systems Spartan is not just an Apple II Clone, but it’s also an expansion chassis for the Commodore 64.  The Spartan plugs into the back of a C64 and takes up the space that a monitor occupies on most desktops. All of the C64′s ports are replicated to the perimeter of the Spartan.
Spartan and Commodore 64

Styled similarly to the far eastern clones of the day, but designed by ATG Electronics and manufactured by Mimic Systems of Victora, BC  Canada. Similar to the Rana 8086 and the Applied Engineering PC Transporter for the Apple II, that allowed MS-DOS to be used with an Apple II, these really were co-computing devices that used the host systems keyboard and display, presumably offering the user a “cheaper” way to have both platforms on their desktop. In reality, that was not always the case. With the Spartan being offered at $599.00, it cost a little more than the Laser 128 in 1985, but offered a lot more flexibility. The Spartan is really a “backplane” computer, in that the Apple II itself resides on a card inserted into the bus, and the Spartan motherboard works both for the C64 and the Apple II, adding expansion options to each. For the C64 an additional three cartridge slots are added, 1 external and 3 internal, that are software selectable. So you could leave the Epyx FastLoad cartridge in one of the internal slots, or one of the many “Utility” cartridges, with the little red button, with the button on a cable much like the Wild Card or Replay II for the Apple II.

Features shared between the Apple II and C64 are an 8 bit parallel port and the audio cassette connection, and an internal C64 compatible joystick connector that allows the same joystick to be used with either platform.  The audio cassette option is in addition to the C64′s edge connector that the Commodore Dataset 1530 connects to. An Apple II specific 16 pin game port is also available. Since the Apple II joystick is analog, and the C64 uses a digital (simple switches) joystick, using the C64 game port for the Apple II will work for games like Pac-Man, but not nearly as well for others like Pole Position.

The right side of the Spartan cabinet has the external C64 memory/cartridge slot and three reset switches. The rear has the 488 (Drive), A/V, Parallel (DIN), and Audio Cassette (DIN), and the the tape and user expansions from the back of the C64 in the similar position. The left side does not have any external connectors as there is an Apple II type power supply installed inside on that side.

The Apple II side of the Spartan actually contains 9 slots, since one is meant to be occupied by the CPU card which is the heart of the Apple II side of things. The Apple II part of the Spartan is an Apple II Plus compatible feature set with 64K inbuilt. The ability to install a tethered language card in Slot 0 is still there as well.  The Apple II CPU card has a 16 pin II/II Plus (ASCII) compatible keyboard connector, and 16 pin game port. The 6502 is onboard, hence, the ‘CPU Card’, along with two additional custom chips that allow the whole thing to work together, but separately.

Both the C64 and the Apple II can be used in parallel with just a keypress to switch between them, and in some ways they can be used together, though neither platforms software capabilities are available to the other. The only things shared are hardware as mentioned previously.

The Computer on a Card concept was not new as many far eastern Apple II clones employed this concept as well. Partially as a dodge against the copyright/infringement claims, as the computer chassis would be sold at one vendor, and the CPU cards would be sold at another, often located right next door, if not in the same place. That is if they didn’t offer it all in the same box.  But the ATG/Mimic setup is probably the best implementation of the whole concept for the Apple II.

The Spartan was designed for the power user and programmer as there 24 jumpers that can be used to setup everything from the power up modes, the integration of peripherals, and such.  The Apple II compatibility is among the better implementations though there’s some debate if it’s a “Clean Room” implementation or not, depending on viewpoints taken.

Another option is an additional PCB that would install inside the Commodore 1541 allowing it to be used ‘directly’ by the Spartan as an Apple II compatible disk drive, with just a key press. This was accomplished fairly easily because the 1541 uses Group Code Encoding (GCR), the same method employed by the Apple Disk II. This probably caused a lot of headaches for people :) But it also allowed files to be moved between the platforms directly, without serial cable voodoo.

In closing, the Spartan can also be used as a stand alone Apple II by configuring the jumpers and attaching a 16 pin keyboard internally.  View some photos of this unique Apple II clone system in our photo gallery.

Mar 8th

the Albert Computer, a unique Apple II Clone

The Albert Computer Company in Thousand Oaks, California saw a good thing and tried to ride the wave, and make it better. Unfortunately for them, they probably did too good of a job and that got them a little too much attention. Apple Computer, Inc. came down hard on them and it didn’t last long. Their goal out the door was to offer a complete system for just a little over what the basic Apple //e cost. While a bare-bones Apple //e included just upper/lower case and 64K, over what the Apple II Plus shipped with, the Albert Computer included that and a whole host of other things.

With a feature set that includes serial and parallel ports, an A to D converter, useful to scientists and hardware hobbyists. Enhanced graphics modes and Analog RGB support right out of the box,  and an AppleWorks-featureset like package, all for just $1,595.00, they clearly were aiming for the heart of the consumer. For just $50 more you could even get a battery backup option that integrated with the computer. If you were using the A to D capabilities for an alarm system, you would not be unprotected during a power outage.

Albert Computer said theirs was not a copy, but an improvement. The courts on the other hand, were not convinced and they ended up retreating. Despite their soft-boot method, perhaps they were just a few years too early as Video Technology (Laser Computer) managed to finally figure out how to do it and launch a product a year later.

No extra cards to buy! With the most commonly needed cards inbuilt, purchase decisions were easy. Just pick your choice of printer and head for home! Voice Recognition? Albert’s got it! Your wish is my command. Just say it and it’s done. As long as your name isn’t Dave .. they claimed that it even could be configured to work with only certain voices. Turn on the lights, turn off the TV.

Digitized audio in 1983, for the masses? Surely, you can’t be serious. Right? If anyone ever told you back then, that you’d be playing with 5 second pieces of sound from various movies you’d probably have laughed, and imagined yourself still laughing about it years into the future. Well? … think about some of those system alert sounds, ring tones and such that we’ve been hearing for many years now. I am serious, and don’t call me Shirley.

The Albert Computer has inbuilt graphics features that it took Apple another two years to offer with the Apple IIgs. Instead of the 16 color option that the Apple II has, the Albert Computer offered 256 colors and color worked across text and graphics modes combined. Something that no other Apple II offered until the IIgs, and that isn’t quite the same. Sounds great doesn’t it? ..and probably looks great too, if only .. but wait. The Albert Computer also included an RGB interface.  Similar to the inbuilt graphics display capabilities of the Apple ///, the standard configuration included Analog RGB support for a 140 x 192 pixel display. The Apple //e has double high-res, at 280 x 192, and at a premium price as the Apple Extended 80 Column RGB card and AppleColor 100 monitor were a pretty penny back in the day.

The other unique feature included with the Albert Computer was a graphics digitizer tablet, much like a CAD (Computer Assisted Design) operator would use, but included with the base package, again ready to go when you get home.

Some years ago I came across one of these systems in a thrift store. What caught my eye was the disk drive unit. I recognized the Super 5 logo, but it was green instead of red, and when I picked up the unit  I saw ribbon cables hanging out of it. “Neat, a dual drive cabinet”.. here in the thrift store. Then I saw the other two pieces that were the same color and realized it was a set, as the price tag was marked “X3″ which meant there’s there pieces to this set. So I put them all in the cart.

It did not have a power supply, and I’ve never tried to do anything else with it all these years. The computer was designed to use a DC power supply, presumably as it was simpler to make a world-compatible product by just substituting the proper wall-wart style brick.

When I went to the Apple II Enthusiasts group on Facebook to post the announcement of the opening of the General Files section, I saw a blurb asking about the Albert Computer, and said “I have one of those… ” and got it out yesterday and took some pictures. I’m not exactly sure which model it is, they’re not really labeled. I knew it needed a pre-boot floppy, and since I didn’t find any in the thrift store with it, and I scoured the place, the book shelves, and such for any more stuff that might have gotten separated from it. Floppy disks were not an uncommon sight at this particular store, either. So it wouldn’t have been out of place. You just had to sort through them like records, books and tapes, and they were sold for a quarter each, or a fistful for a sawbuck.

So, here it is.. if the disk is around, I’ll setup a switching power supply for the unit, as I’ve heard that using the OEM power board isn’t a good idea :)

The photos are among the first to be added to the Reset Vector Retro-computing Image Gallery, and there will be plenty more coming. They can be found under the Apple II – A2 Clones sub-heading.

Mar 6th

The General Files Section

In an ode to the BBS era, the General Files section was where you could find files that were other than programs or graphic images. the Reset Vector’s new General Files section aims to pay tribute to this, and serve as a hub of memories, flashbacks and information for newcomers to the Apple II platform, and other things of the era of the Apple II.

Instead of ASCII text files, in a modern twist, the GFiles section will mostly be PDF, Additions will come periodically, and be whatever shows up in front of the scanner next.  Along with the additions will be a blog entry about the item, it’s use, compatibility, trivia, or whatever relevant information we can present along side the release.

The General Files Section will be a part of the Reset Vector and the content here will be mostly coming from my archives of literature, pamphlets, handouts, documentation, and general paraphernalia of the era, as well as submissions from others. Blog entries will introduce both newly added items and the initially seeded items, both of which will include a little about the items themselves, the manufacture, author, etc.

The organization will be mostly just by manufacture/vendor/author or some easily identifiable mark, and where attributable to an individual, the person’s last name will be the first part of the file names as to provide grouping in the directory listings. The directory listings will be browsable, and some content will be blogged about individually,  others would be compiled in a new post just for the mention of posting.

A little about the compilation, and the site contents.

Of course the idea is to disseminate information to the masses for preservation, and of course there are those who feel that they just have to download everything. That’s fine. I’m even guilty of that. Of course, resistance is futile. I’d spend more than an average lifetime of hours tracking stuff down and policing it. It’s just not worth the hassle. If something has attributions to it’s source, creator, author or such, please leave these attributions in place and reference them in a like manner where the items are placed. Therefore, where applicable among this collection, the compilation, descriptions, presentation is being released under a Creative Commons Attribution – Non-Commmercial, No Derivatives License.

Of course I retain all rights to my created content.

…end Of phile…
Creative Commons License
The Reset Vector General Files Section by Tony Diaz (tdiaz(-at-)apple2()org) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Feb 28th

A belated … Happy II Year!

2012 already gives me the feeling of it’s not slowing down for the Apple II. 34 years after the it was introduced, rose to a market leader, and returned to the hobbyist market that started it. 12,686 days.

34 Years, 8 months and 23 days.

A lot has come and gone, and a lot is still with us in little ways we might not even realize. The Apple II set the standards for a lot of the personal computing industry as we know it today.

Trade shows, publications, user groups.. and more. Almost everything has a following. People have interests in all kinds of things. From Elevators to Exhaust systems. YouTube is loaded with shorts on these two subjects. Seems that people even collect wheeled trash carts and can tell you all kinds of stuff, what city used this kind first, and seek to collect them, even repair/refurbish them, and get a thrill out of seeing them getting tipped. (As in the truck picking them up and dumping the contents into itself.)

..and people think computer collectors, hobbyists and historians are nuts? Whatever. That’s right, whatever it is, someone probably collects it, tracks it’s existence and can tell you exactly what they were doing when each variation was released, even if it’s not standing in a line waiting for one themselves.

Welcome to the ResetVector.com, and what I hope becomes a periodic blog of technology now, and then, and what ties it together.

Got a request of an A2 related topic to cover, a correction to something you see here, or .. something that you just can’t stand?  Use the contact form to let me know!

Until the next post…

Apr 26th

A loss, at an unexpected time.

I guess there’s a reason why Monday’s tend to suck. Finding out someone you know passed on, on a Monday morning, probably doesn’t help.  It had been a while since Ryan dropped into IRC on the Apple II side of things, but during the tsunami warning for Oahu that resulted from the Japanese earthquake disaster, he did drop in to let everyone know their status.  I remember one July late night waiting for Ryan to arrive from Hawaii, only to get a call from Union Station L.A., “there is no train, they said the next one won’t be for a couple hours, and I have hardly any battery left, and the cleaning lady gave me crap about plugging in.”  I would have gone in the airplane to get him like I did in a previous year, except that transit between LAX and Union Station had quit for the night, too. The alternative was a rip off cab ride from hell, probably. I told him to stay there. I’ll be there in an hour. At 1AM it was pretty quick to get there.

Ryan had been into a lot of things, over the years of telling stories on bicycle adventures, and rocky trails, and the like back in the days of GEnie A2, way before the Yovelle Renaissance purchase, (or as we used to call ‘it, ‘Yowreckum’), and later IDT takeover. He’d come in and tell how he nearly rode of the side of a cliff or some other harrowing hair raising adventure. I always figured that would be his end, someday we’d come into A2 and hear about how he’d gone missing.

It’s 2011, and .. well, no bike, just a morning hike.  Rest in Peace, Ryan.

When I looked at the IRC session, I had to scroll back a little after reading a few lines. just to make sure I wasn’t reading what I think I was reading, and .. in a parody of your immortal words. “This Sucks!”

You were and inspiration, and this morning I’ve realized that even more than ever.

http://www.hawaiiweblog.com/2011/04/24/ryan-suenaga

The first podcast will be dedicated to you.

Aug 22nd

An excerpt from Apple2.info …

The 1st Post Place Holder -

Not trying to steal any thunder, I think Ben Heckendorn’s portable IIgs definitely raises the bar. No questions there. But.. if there had been an Engadget in the days of GHB’s loosing election for a second term, I think I would have been there with it. It’s really hard to believe it’s been that long. But the first portable IIgs I built using an Otrona luggable CP/M machine as the case made it’s debut at the Apple Expo East, at The Castle Expo Center, Boston, on Oct 2nd, 1992. Just weeks before the national elections. What made that event memorable was in the very same hotel that the Apple Expo was based out of, was right across the street from some high level Republican convention in Boston the same week and the hotel was busy giving all our rooms out to higher paying reporters and the like. GWB was on site while the Apple Expo East was going on. The SS was all over the rooftops, we were looking out a window from the 8th floor when our phone rang, “Close the Window”, they said. Diz and Burger Bill were in the room with us. We decided to walk to China Town, and while making our way through the protesters that had gathered at the base of the two hotels, we all started chanting “Apple II Forever!”. Why not, everyone else there had a cause and since national TV was near, why not. A few of us even had some signs. When we opened the window, a portion of the crowd was singing, “Na-na na-na.. hey-hey.. good-bye ..” and “six more weeks! six more weeks!” But anyway, as I prepared the day and evening before my flight from Carlsbad, CA to LAX and then to BOS, I was doing final preparation on the Apple IIgs Portable, tweaking the amber monitor just ever so much to get the perfect picture. My flight from Carlsbad was a very short one, the IIgs fit just perfectly on the belt and they were definitely curious.. of course, it was carry-on. At LAX I had about a 3 hour wait for the flight east. I practiced the now modern day activity of seeking out a spot near an electrical outlet. It wasn’t hard back then. Hardly anyone travelled with anything that needed plugging in.. except me. I had been known to sit on the floor in a terminal during long layovers with an entire IIgs system plugged in.

Anyhow, there I am sitting with the IIgs Portable, I’m playing the IIgs version of Ultima I on it… a massive crowd goes past and I hear this voice, “hey, thats Burger Bill’s Ultima I for the IIgs!” and see a hand waiving from the crowd..

At the Expo, the Macintosh version of Lemmings was released, and they were there at the Expo with it. I had appropriated some of their marketing materials and positioned them at my Apple II booth with added captions, “port us to the IIgs”, and the like. I still have those items, and at one time I presented some of them to the Brutal Deluxe folks some years later during one of their visits to California.