Hardware

First report on the new Uthernet II

Uthernet II

Uthernet II

As promised, the beta Uthernet II card has finally arrived for me to test out and share my feedback. Big thanks to Glenn Jones of A2RetroSystems for including me in his beta testing program and allowing me to give the Apple II world a preview of this exciting new technology!

My first impression after opening the box and removing the bubble wrap is that this is definitely a little card! If you thought the original Uthernet was small, the Uthernet II is around half the size, despite having more components on its face.

In less than 35 lines of 6502 assembly code, I was able to setup and configure the Uthernet II with MAC and IP addresses, and I could ping it from across the network. I think we’re going to see a lot more Internet-enabled programs for the Apple II once the Uthernet II is out.

Read my full report here

What’s happening in the Apple II world

As we all know, it’s never a dull moment in the world of Apple II. Let’s look around and see what’s happening.

What’s happening in the Apple II world

Quite a lot has happened since last time. Let’s take a look at what’s new in the world of Apple II!

 

David Schmenk has made an Apple II card that will interface with the Raspberry Pi. It is called Apple II Pi.

A new utility called Spyglass is an online disk image browser that will show disassemblies, hi-res graphics, and BASIC listings. It is in beta and will be improved in the coming weeks.

Option8 is selling Apple IIe card replacement “Y” cables.

Episode #31 of the Open-Apple podcast is out. The show hosts speak with Brendan Robert, famous for his Java Apple emulator.

Latest in the Apple II World

What’s been going on in the Apple II world these past few days? Let’s take a look:

 

1.) Steven Weyhrich is asking about the Applesoft Firmware card in comp.sys.apple2 for his upcoming Apple II history book.

2.) The Daily Apple blog has been keeping up with daily updates. Currently we are working on Pascal and BASIC programming, and trying to use the Apple IIc as a command-line terminal.

3.) Wade Clarke has started a new web site called Wade-Memoir where he is telling the story of Apple II games that he programmed in his youth, complete with playable disk images of these games.

4.) David Schmenk is busy at work interfacing a Raspberry-Pi with the Apple, and posting YouTube videos of his handiwork.

5.) Everyone is getting excited about this years’ KansasFest which should have a larger crowd of people compared to years past.

Apple Introduces 128gb 4th Generation iPad

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Apple has introduced a 128gb version of the 4th generation iPad with Retina Display.  The new iPad will be available to users on 5 February 2013 but is available for order immediately.   The standard WI-FI model will start at $799 USD with the cellular enabled model costing $929 USD.

The Press Release from Apple this morning follows:

CUPERTINO, California―January 29, 2013―Apple® today announced a 128GB* version of the fourth generation iPad® with Retina® display. The 128GB iPad with Wi-Fi and iPad with Wi-Fi + Cellular models provide twice the storage capacity of the 64GB models to hold even more valuable content including photos, documents, projects, presentations, books, movies, TV shows, music and apps.

“With more than 120 million iPads sold, it’s clear that customers around the world love their iPads, and everyday they are finding more great reasons to work, learn and play on their iPads rather than their old PCs,” said Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing. “With twice the storage capacity and an unparalleled selection of over 300,000 native iPad apps, enterprises, educators and artists have even more reasons to use iPad for all their business and personal needs.”

iPad continues to have a significant impact on business with virtually all of the Fortune 500 and over 85 percent of the Global 500 currently deploying or testing iPad. Companies regularly utilizing large amounts of data such as 3D CAD files, X-rays, film edits, music tracks, project blueprints, training videos and service manuals all benefit from having a greater choice of storage options for iPad. The over 10 million iWork® users, and customers who rely on other incredible apps like Global Apptitude for analyzing team film and creating digital playbooks, Auria for an incredible 48 track recording system, or AutoCAD for drafting architectural and engineering drawings, also benefit greatly from having the choice of an iPad with more storage capacity.

“Our AutoCAD WS app for iOS was designed to give customers seamless access to their designs anywhere, anytime,” said Amy Bunszel, vice president of AutoCAD products for Autodesk. “These files are often large and highly detailed so having the thin and light iPad with its Multitouch display, integrated camera and all-day battery life, is a real advantage for iPad users to view, edit and share their AutoCAD data.”

“The features and capabilities of iPad give us the ability to set a new standard for multitrack recording and editing on a mobile device,” said Rim Buntinas, WaveMachine Labs’ CEO. “Users of the Auria app can play 48 mono or stereo 24bit/96 kHz tracks simultaneously, record up to 24 of those tracks simultaneously, and also edit and mix with familiar tools. With its portability and all-day battery life, iPad has revolutionized recording for audio professionals allowing artists to record anywhere.”

“The bottom line for our customers is winning football games, and iPad running our GamePlan solution unquestionably helps players be as prepared as possible,” said Randall Fusee, Global Apptitude Co-Founder. “The iPad’s unbeatable combination of security, being thin and light, having an incredible Retina display and also being powerful enough to handle large amounts of data enables us to deliver a product that takes film study to a new level and ultimately gives our users the best opportunity to prepare, execute and win.”

The fourth generation iPad features a gorgeous 9.7-inch Retina display, Apple-designed A6X chip, FaceTime® HD camera, iOS 6.1 and ultrafast wireless performance**. iOS 6.1 includes support for additional LTE networks around the world***, and iTunes Match℠ subscribers can download individual songs to their iOS devices from iCloud®.

iPad runs over 800,000 apps available on the App Store℠, including more than 300,000 apps designed specifically for iPad, from a wide range of categories including books, games, business, news, sports, health, reference and travel. iPad also supports the more than 5,000 newspapers and magazines offered in Newsstand, and the more than 1.5 million books available on the iBookstore℠.

Pricing & Availability
The new 128GB versions of the fourth generation iPad will be available starting Tuesday, February 5, in black or white, for a suggested retail price of $799 (US) for the iPad with Wi-Fi model and $929 (US) for the iPad with Wi-Fi + Cellular model. All versions of the 128GB iPad will be sold through the Apple Online Store (www.apple.com), Apple retail stores and select Apple Authorized Resellers.

*1GB = 1 billion bytes; actual formatted capacity less.
**Network speeds are dependent on carrier networks. Check with your carrier for details.
*** Information about LTE carriers can be found at www.apple.com/ipad/LTE.

Apple designs Macs, the best personal computers in the world, along with OS X, iLife, iWork and professional software. Apple leads the digital music revolution with its iPods and iTunes online store. Apple has reinvented the mobile phone with its revolutionary iPhone and App Store, and is defining the future of mobile media and computing devices with iPad.

Paperless for everyone: Doxie One is now available

Raleigh, North Carolina – Apparent’s new Doxie One, the simple and affordable new paper scanner for everyone, is now available worldwide. Doxie One scans anywhere in your home or office – no computer required – and syncs with your iPad, Mac, or PC. Included Doxie software offers a complete solution for going paperless.

Scanning made simple:
Doxie One scans your paper – simply, automatically, and with no computer required. Just push the button and insert your sheet. Doxie scans anywhere in your home or office. You get everything you need to go paperless in one box for just $149.

Paperless made personal:
When you’re ready to sync, organize, and share, Doxie works with your Mac, PC, & iPad to make going paperless easy. Doxie’s modern app for your computer provides intuitive controls to organize your way: save to searchable PDFs, share docs, and send to the cloud.

Doxie fits your life:
Doxie’s different than other scanners. It’s small – about the size of an empty paper towel roll – so you can tuck it in a drawer when you’re not scanning. Setup is easy: Connect power, insert an SD card (included), press Doxie’s button, and you’re ready to start scanning.

Doxie One

Why the desktop computer will stick around

As long as mobile devices such as my 3rd generation iPod touch still require me to squint at everything, and require me to jab at a glass screen to “type,” the desktop computer is still worlds easier to use for so many tasks.

Sarah Purewal at PCWorld thinks so, too.

It’s an intriguing proposition, but don’t count on mobile devices killing off your desktop PC any time soon. While mobile gear is certainly convenient when you’re trying to conduct business on the go, it’s nowhere near as convenient as a desktop when you’re trying to complete serious work in an office environment.

Sure, your phone, tablet or even laptop might conveniently fit in your pocket or backpack, but all these devices are fraught with compromises, whether it’s computing power, screen size, or, well, a really expensive price tag.

Read 10 Reasons why the desktop PC will last at PCWorld.

The hard drive crisis: petabytes of storage, banned from Costco

When last year’s hard drive shortage threatened Backblaze’s all-you-can-store cloud backup service, the company had to get creative to keep up its 50TB-a-day hard drive habit. The solution: external hard drives from retail stores and an army of volunteers making sure they kept coming.

 

“We buy lots and lots of hard drives . . . . [They] are the single biggest cost in the entire company.”

Those are the words of Backblaze Founder and CEO Gleb Budman, whose company offers unlimited cloud backup for just $5 a month, and fills 50TB worth of new storage a day in its custom-built, open source pod architecture. So one might imagine the cloud storage startup was pretty upset when flooding in Thailand caused a global shortage on internal hard drives last year.

 

“Literally overnight,” Budman told me, “… all the places we would go to get drives said, ‘Sorry, we don’t have any drives.’”

Read the full article by Derrick Harris on gigaom.

Duplex printer tip:

A couple of weeks ago I noticed my HP printer was no longer printing two sided pages. Strictly speaking this was with Linux but it could happen with the Mac as well since they use the same printer driver software… I figured it was an application problem with Thunderbird and Firefox since all the other applications (and computers on my LAN) worked fine. It never occurred to me it was a driver problem.

Thanks to some prodding by Adam T. at one of the computer clubs I attend, I thought I’d give it a try since there was nothing else left to try. I found some information at https://bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+source/ghostscript/+bug/885118 which seemed relevant. On this page they suggested accessing the CUPS driver directly by accessing the HTML page at http://localhost:631/. This opens the page on the local computer rather than heading out to the internet…

From there I found the defaults were altered by an update. Sure enough CUPS thought it was a single sided printer. I told it to set the default to print on both sides of the page. It whined and said the duplexer was not enabled. The next thing I did was to enable the duplex unit. At that point it accepted the changes.

So far I was only able to print a single six page document from Firefox, but it looks like this solved the problem.

DIY antenna for TV tuner cards and new generation TVs

A couple of months ago I posted an article about a “home made” antenna I made from plans on the internet. A couple of days ago I completed an antenna with a different design I also found on the internet. Last night I held a demo of it for some friends (including a couple of retired TV/RADAR/HAM professionals. They were fairly impressed with the results and sensitivity. Considering the darned thing was made of wood and mostly wire coat hangers it would be hard not to be impressed.

Here is some information on the design I was using… http://www.digitalhome.ca/ota/superantenna/ There have been some improvements since then… http://www.jedsoft.org/fun/antennas/dtv/gh.html However I chose to build the older version because there was less work involved.

The performance outdoors was fairly impressive. The design was for UHF only. While aiming it toward the center of town where most of the transmitters are located, it was able to pick up all four of the UHF stations in town. After a friend of mine suggested pointing it toward one of the VHF transmitters we all got the idea to see if we could get the two VHF stations as well. Sure enough with some careful aiming we were able to get both of the VHF stations. For one station we had to lift the antenna a couple of metres off the ground but  that was to be expected when the transmitter is slightly farther away. Had I not left the remote for the TV at home we could have tried for a couple of North Dakota stations.

The demonstration took place on the other side of the city from where I live. This afternoon I tried it in the back yard. The UHF stations were clear but there was trouble with the VHF stations even when aiming at the transmitters. Even trying the American stations there was no signal. Given the back yard is surrounded on three sides by stucco buildings, and there are no transmitters on the fourth side, I suppose the difference in performance is reasonable. Indoor performance wasn’t anything to write home about. In the basement only three UHF stations were visible.

I have a picture of what it looks like. I chose the location because things are highly visible. Ignore the power cables coming out of the power bar.

SBGH antenna

Single Bay Gray-Hoverman antenna

Here is a short list of what people will need to get digital broadcast TV.

  1. A broadcast source (a TV station).
  2. An antenna (like the design I wrote about – rabbit ears don’t cut it any more).
  3. A TV
  4. A digital receiver (new generation TVs have this built in as do new TV tuner cards).

Here is some technical info for people to keep in mind.

  • For the most part broadcast TV is line of sight.
  • Buildings with a lot of metal (like a mesh for stucco) tend to decrease signal strength.
  • Outdoor antennas are better than indoor.
  • The higher up an antenna is located the more stations it can “see”.
  • Directional antennas (like this one) should be pointed toward the broadcast tower for the best results.
  • Digital TVs are fine with weak signals up to the point where not enough information makes its way to the TV.
  • Night time reception is better than day time reception.
  • TV stations over the horizon may occasionally be seen by the antenna but this phenomenon is not consistent.
  • The further away the TV station is the weaker the signal.
  • The quality of the antenna construction is very important.

My next antenna project will be to build one of the newer versions of the antenna. I’ll need some serious help to do a good job. Fortunately I know a few people. ;-)