WWDC 2014 Keynote to be Broadcast LIve


The annual World Wide Developers Conference keynote for the 2014 rendition of WWDC will be broadcast live.  Breaking with past years, the past several keynotes have been broadcast over the Internet, making it available to more people, especially in light of the popularity of the tickets for the event.  WWDC is held each year at Muscone Center in San Francisco and is a week long chance for developers to rub elbows with the developers at Apple.  It is also a chance for Apple to announce forthcoming products at a conference where it is a majority of people who are pro-Apple.

Apple has also made many of the events available for viewing using their WWDC app over iOS enabled devices.  The broadcast of WWDC 2014 will begin at 10PM PST and can be viewed with the Safari Browser only.   To view the WWDC Keynote, go to:


ADTPro 2.0.0 Released


ADTPro, the vintage apple disk imaging software, has been updated to version 2.0.0.  ADTPro allows users to image floppies from Apple II and Apple III series computers and allows boot strapping of machines directly from a disk image over bare wire.  The software handles a number of emulator image formats and supports many of the newer hardware items produced for the Apple II and Apple II series computers.

New features in 2.0.0 included as specified in posting by David Schmidt on CSA2:

New protocol (code-named “Wide”) that makes transport more reliable  and significantly faster with tunable payload lengths
[Client] Arrow-and-Return interface for choosing a file to receive
[Client] Arrow-and-Return interface for the main menu
[Client] Directory listing allows for wildcard filtering of files, paging forward and backward
[SOS Client] Slow driver-based screen I/O subsystem replaced with custom code, significantly speeding up display
Separated ProDOS and SOS boot disks for ADTPro client; VDRIVE boot disk remains common to both

Bug fixes included in this version:
When the server decides to abort, the new protocol will not react  to the “spray of commands” when the client (re-)sends data that isn’t supposed to be commands
[SOS Client] Keyboard interaction works correctly
[SOS Client, SOS VSDrive] Changing serial connected-ness to the Apple /// no longer causes fatal SOS $02 errors
[SOS Client] Bare-metal bootstrap more reliable with timeout logic borrowed from Speediboot and made prettier with a logo and better display management
[Client] Hitting the escape key on the configuration screen truly aborts changes; this prevents DHCP from requesting a new IP address, for example
[Build] Re-architected ‘Ant’ build system to be completely dependency-driven; allows complete granularity of build target

For more information about ADTPro, including usage and setup videos and instructions, check out the ADTPro website at :


Bluetooth Wireless on the Apple II


Peter Wong has been working on a proof of concept project for the past several years which would allow the Apple II to utilize wireless communications.  The project has a number of ideas included and even a version of ADTPro, the disk imaging software managed by David Schmidt with the Bluetooth option on the main menu.

While there have been several projects which proved the concept would work, this is the first views which show the full integration of the software and hardware performing actual disk transfers.  This project also uses the Bolutek BLK-MD-BC04-B module attached to the Super Serial Card to achieve the bluetooth communications.

To read further about this project, check out his blog posting at:


Apple Updates Digital Camera RAW Compatibility

Apple Camera

Apple has released version 5.05 of the Digital Camera RAW compatibility driver.  The update comes close on the heels of the Mac OS X 10.9.3 update and addresses support for a number of camera in Aperature 3 and iPhoto ’11 including the following:

  • Canon EOS Rebel T5 / 1200D / Kiss X70
  • Canon PowerShot G1 X Mark II
  • Nikon D4S
  • Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX10

The update is included in the Software Update function.   For more information or to directly download the update, go to the Apple downloads page at:


Apple Releases Mac OS 10.9.3

Mac OS 10.9.x

Apple has released a new version of the operating system for Intel based Macs.  Mac OS X 10.9.3 increases apple’s support of 4K devices.  Restoration of the USB syncing of Calendars and Contacts is also included in this update.  Also Apple has attempted to imporve the reliability of connections via VPN that use IPsec. They has also released Safari 7.0.3 in coordination with this update.

The update is a 947mb download and is available now. For more information about the update or to download, check the Apple support page at:


Brutal Deluxe Updates Apple II Cassette Collection


Antoine Vignau has announced an update of the Apple II Cassette Collection on Brutal Deluxe.  The update includes the following new items:

  • Apple’s High-resolution graphics (002-0002-01)
  • Apple’s Checkbook-1 (002-0005-01)
  • Hayden’s Songs in the key of Apple

The new additions brings the total number of offerings in the collection to 623 tapes.  For more information or to download the items in the collection, see the Brutal Deluxe Apple II Cassette Collection website at:


The Northern Spy — Much Ado About Something


May 2014

but, what are those somethings?
Rumours continue to swirl about Apple and its certain/probable/possible/mythical/impossible product introductions for 2014 (some may be all five at once). Given Apple’s recent history, and that we’ve made it this far into the year without any major introductions, the Spy is convinced (has managed to convince himself–Nellie) that WWDC will be the venue for some significant product announcements.
Our reader may recall that by delaying two minutes after 0900 on ticket sale day in 2013, he missed by nearly half a minute the “sold-out” state for the 5000 tickets. This year, he put in his name on receiving Apple’s kind invitation to do so, and was astonished to receive approval to buy after a random draw a few days later, so is one of the favoured ones–his first WWDC in several years. He anticipates interesting days in early June San Francisco. In what respect?
By all appearances Apple is focused these days on hardware rather than software, though the Spy opines that this perception is due to supplier and partner leaks on the hardware side providing the meat for a kind of speculation for which Apple’s high-security cloister on the software front throttles the fuel for any such rumours before they can exit the campus.
Immediate focus should be on new MacBook Pro models (likely introduced before WWDC and showcased there), a new and larger iPhone/iPod Touch (to be announced there but not available till later) the iWatch (mentioned tongue in cheek last month, and a definite maybe to join an increasingly crowded field in the next few months) and a new TV product–almost ready, and the best candidate for a blockbuster hardware announcement. Call it an iTV+/pro/s.
The Spy recently purchased one of the current models to supplement his video centre–not that he is even connected to a TV network, but as the only available window on the iTunes store videos. Not withstanding that Apple has made a billion dollars on these little boxes in the past year, they still are a hobby–as indeed appears to be the entire genre. Selection is limited, the interface unimaginative and awkward, there is no live programming, little older TV or movies, and some services, like Netflix, are available in many other ways (through the receiver, TV, or Blu Ray player software). It’s nice to have, it’s very fast, the store connection of course exclusive to it, and the iPod app remote convenient, but it won’t get used a lot here. Neither will his subscription to Netflix once the free month runs out. The Spy supposes one could stretch a point and call the offerings content, but like most television programming it’s repetitious, thin, hackneyed, and dull. You’d think there would at least be live news.
So a new TV product must be much more to be worthwhile and to fit iSteve’s enthusiastic descriptions–not likely just a software upgrade, but a whole new approach in a set top box and/or full blown large screen TV. However game-changing the interface and hardware, however, content is the key, and tie-ins to movie studios, TV networks, and/or cable providers to stream their content through Apple’s hardware the only way this product category is ever going to be more than a hobby–and it would take extreme doses of all those to persuade the Spy to open his wallet. More, he believes the delays in bringing the concept to market are due to a paucity of content agreements, not of engineers to instantiate Jobs’ concepts.
No doubt the current box would be downgraded to an iTV Jr/-/v1, though possibly with some of the new feature set so as not to antagonize the billions of dollars already spent. But unless Apple indeed raises the art to something far beyond the entire current set top box niche tools, the company is better off not bothering. Ditto very many more models of the iPhone or even a first model of an iWatch–Apple needs to give its imitators something genuinely new to copy rather than run merely to catch up with them.

Besides being more opaque
the software side of the Apple machinery is perhaps more interesting. It’s been a truism for some decades that software utility lags far behind hardware capability, and this remains true today. Indeed the lag grows yearly.
That leads one to ask what, besides the obvious iOS 9 and OS XI, the legions of Apple’s software gnomes are mining behind the multiple closed doors at One Infinite Loop.
Apple’s iWork is thus far kin to iTV–a moderately lucrative hobby for the home market, but scarcely a marketing threat in the professional workplace. The Spy, for decades an avid reviewer and consumer of word-and number-smithing products, uses none of its components except Keynote, a true upgrade on the Office suite, whose other components earn first, his best overall software product award (all categories) for Excel–he uses it a lot–and second, his worst of category raspberry for Word–never, never, never open it! There is, by the way, no single best-for-everything writing product. BBEdit and Alpha have their strengths for code, Nisus Writer Pro for general writing, and the incomparable Scrivener for books and scripts. This is probably the way it must be, though an alliance among the three could produce something amazing in a componetized product.
OTOH, FileMaker Pro is a superior product, OTOH the MS offering–what’s it called again?–not worth accepting even as free. The Spy is baffled over this. MS must know they have an eviscerated turkey (bad metaphor considering it never had any vis) in this category, yet never does anything about it. Why not? Because they can’t?
The bottom line on the number crunching front is no new opportunities, unless Apple decides to do an accounting product that includes fund accounting–a category not currently available on the Mac, and not well done elsewhere thus far either.
Now you would think that with WWDC showcasing the overwhelming plurality of Apple ecosystem developers over all others, Apple’s development software would be a shining example of how to do things right in enabling programmers to do things righter. Not. xCode could use considerable work. Indeed, the pre-OS X MPW, though primitive in some ways, was easy to use, more versatile and more customizable, especially when it came to dropping alternate languages into the environment.
The ideal programming environment has superb file handling (including multiple-user version control), program editing with multiple language keyword highlighting (think BBEdit or Alpha), has all the back end tools for building end products, low-end libraries of procedures and constants for binding, comes with a choice of two or three languages and plenty of current examples for starters, and allows for simple, easily integrated alternate language drop in support.
Apple’s XCode has Objective C. Nothing else. Worse, it makes it difficult (not impossible) to integrate other language packages, and increases that difficulty by changing and removing functionality from version to version instead of adding to a solid base. The Spy gets that this is supposed to be in the name of consistency, a closed ecosystem, and their ease of support. But convenience, versatility, and appropriateness are all being sacrificed. Apple does not get that no language is ideal for every problem solving domain–all have their strengths and weaknesses; some are better for some things, others for others.
For instance, the Spy would never dream of teaching beginners in either C++ or Objective C. Far too steep a learning curve, and too many inconsistencies in the language designs. Python and Modula-2 (the latter despite being older) are far better. Modula-2 can be made to run in XCode, but not easily. A combination of the commercial p1 compiler, the open source Alpha editor, and the RSMP/RASS back end utilities with gcc seems best, but without XCode’s unnecessary awkwardness. Coming up: Modula-2 R10, which incorporates many new programming paradigms and may turn out to be the easiest-to-use high level notation yet. (Disclaimer: The Spy is one of the designers.) And, on the gripping hand, many people in numerical analysis still prefer to use Fortran. Still others overlook the complexity of Ada for its elegance. Further examples abound. Why not encourage multiple language use. The linker doesn’t care. This could have been done much better, Apple.

But there is a software category
for which a dramatic re-think is possible, one Apple could exploit to move way ahead of the curve (again). Computers are touted as having the potential to make all aspects of life, community, and work simpler, faster, easier, better, and the Spy has been one such prognosticator for decades. Mind, he has worried equally long about the potential to empower destructive behaviour, but it is important to note for both evil and good, that computers are mere tools. They add no meaning, have no intentionality–both, for whatever purpose and end, reside entirely in the user. A hammer can both build and destroy. Computers are no different.
To some extent (though the tools are primitive compared with what they could and will be, this promise has been fulfilled by word processors, spreadsheets, database management and accounting software–all of which do make many work tasks far easier than they once were. However, the whole communications sphere is primitive and fragmented–one-purpose tools like social media, texting, instant messaging, notification, email, and voice telephone have their use-strengths, but the collection lacks the kind of integration and unity that would make it truly a communications game changer that even present day hardware could enable, were the software up to it. What we need, and someone will eventually supply, is a one-stop communications shop with all tools integrated into a single user experience. An iPhone goes partway there, but Apple can do better–much better–and it is unlikely anyone else could, except by way of slavish imitation.

And, as the Spy has mentioned more than once in this space
Tim Cook remarked to him at a previous WWDC that Apple had not yet figured out how to do a textbook reader right, and wouldn’t release a product until they did. The Spy knows as well as anyone that textbooks are not novels, and cannot be properly read in the same simplistic way. However, the clock is ticking, iTim. The first company to do it will hand the entire paper textbook publishing industry an instant death sentence and take over what is left. Why should a student pay $350 for an Abstract Algebra or Principles of Compiler Writing textbook instead of downloading it into a suitable reader for a mere  $10.
WWAD? WWDC will tell much of this year’s story, but the Spy anticipates the majority of the announcements will be hardware related. And, the Spy will be there. Thus, the June column will appear a couple of days late, and will be written on the floor of the convention hall as revelations are made. Indeed, as in previous visits, much of it may be written ahead of time, and only polished there. Likewise, there may be a second column later in the week. Stay tuned, and remember, you read it here first.

–The Northern Spy

Opinions expressed here are entirely the author’s own, and no endorsement is implied by any community or organization to which he may be attached. Rick Sutcliffe, (a.k.a. The Northern Spy) is professor of Computing Science and Mathematics at Canada’s Trinity Western University. He has been involved as a member or consultant with the boards of several community and organizations, and participated in developing industry standards at the national and international level. He is a co-author of the Modula-2 programming language R10 dialect. He is a long time technology author and has written two textbooks and nine novels, one named best ePublished SF novel for 2003. His columns have appeared in numerous magazines and newspapers (paper and online), and he’s a regular speaker at churches, schools, academic meetings, and conferences. He and his wife Joyce have lived in the Aldergrove/Bradner area of BC since 1972.

Want to discuss this and other Northern Spy columns? Surf on over to ArjayBB.com. Participate and you could win free web hosting from the WebNameHost.net subsidiary of Arjay Web Services. Rick Sutcliffe’s fiction can be purchased in various eBook formats from Fictionwise, and in dead tree form from Amazon’s Booksurge.

URLs for Rick Sutcliffe’s Arjay Enterprises:
The Northern Spy Home Page: http://www.TheNorthernSpy.com
opundo : http://opundo.com
Sheaves Christian Resources : http://sheaves.org
WebNameHost : http://www.WebNameHost.net
WebNameSource : http://www.WebNameSource.net
nameman : http://nameman.net
General URLs for Rick Sutcliffe’s Books:
Author Site: http://www.arjay.ca
Publisher’s Site: http://www.writers-exchange.com/Richard-Sutcliffe.html
The Fourth Civilization–Ethics, Society, and Technology (4th 2003 ed.): http://www.arjay.bc.ca/EthTech/Text/index.html
URLs for items mentioned in this column
p1 Modula-2: http://modula2.awiedemann.de/
ETH RAMSES/RASS project: http://www.sysecol.ethz.ch/RAMSES/RASS.html
AlphaX programming editor: http://alphatcl.sourceforge.net/wiki/pmwiki.php/Software/AlphaX
Modula-2 R10–see the link at: http://www.modula-2.com/

Skype group video calls now free



Posted on the Skype blog is the announcement that group video chats are now free.

The blog goes on to say, “For the last few years, we’ve offered group video calling to Premium users on Windows desktop and Mac and more recently Xbox One. Today, we’re excited to announce that we’re making group video calling free – for all users on these platforms. And, in the future, we’ll be enabling group video calling for all our users across more platforms – at no cost.”

Up to 10 simultaneous video exchanges are allowed on the Windows and Mac versions of Skype. Premium Skype accounts cost $5 per day or $9 per month.

ADTPro 1.3.0 Released

David Schmidt, curator of the ADTPro project, has announced the release of version 1.3.0.  According to the posting in CSA2, ”

Just a quick purge of CVS as I prepare to get going on the new wide protocol in earnest – this should represent the known bugs up to today of the “1-byte protocol” ADT-compatible ADTPro client and server.

There’s no new functionality, just a cleanup of earlier problems caused by yours truly.  There will be maintenance as required of the 1.x line going forward, but all new enhancements will go into the upcoming “wide” (as-yet-unnumbered) version.
1.3.0 – April 6, 2014
Bug fixes:
* Re-enable 19200 baud rate for serial client (removed in 1.2.8) – the Mac LC/Apple IIe card requires this speed
* [Client] Don’t bother turning the drive motor on early (introduced in 1.2.9) with Audio protocol”

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