DRWAPS Updated to Version 1.3.2

DRWaps

Dont Run With A Plasma Sword, the runner game by XperimentalZ Games has been updated. DRWAPS includes 5 levels of difficulty in both a challenge mode as well as an endless arcade style mode.  Each level of the challenge mode concludes with a Boss fight which allows the user to continue to the next level upon completion. The Endless mode includes a variety of objectives, some of which upon completion, unlock the next level of the Endless Mode.  The lastest version of DRWAPS , 1.3.2, includes a host of updates and fixes including:

– Increased XP gains
– Lowered Price on some items
– Increased Daily XP Bonuses
– Fixed a bug which could result in being stuck in endless objectives
– Updated 3rd Party libraries
– Other Minor fixes

The game has been also updated to a free download and is now iOS 7.0 compatible.  For more information or to download DRWAPS, check out the DRWAPS webpage at:

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/dont-run-with-a-plasma-sword/id479907900

WITA2GS Adds New Educational Titles to Their Library

The What is the Apple IIgs Website (WITA2GS) has added a host of new educational titles to their website.  The new titles, archived by the website’s curator, Alex Lee, while on a trip to California offer an ever expanding glimpse into the world of Apple II education.  There are over 20 new titles on the website in Alex’s push in completing his collection of Apple IIgs software and Apple II 8-bit software which was issued on 3.5 inch floppy disks.

For more information about the new titles, check out the WITA2GS website at:

http://www.whatisthe2gs.apple2.org.za/educational-software-updates-via-california/

iPhone 5S and iOS 7 — A few glitches along the way

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Well, another year has passed and of course Apple has updated their iPhones in September with the advent of the 5C and the 5S.  While most of the S series phones over the years have been fairly stable, this latest version has left a bad taste in a few consumers mouths.  Even our own in-house models of the phone have been less then stellar.

The first of these glitches comes in the form of the Camera.  The new 8 megapixel camera was supposed to be the best iPhone camera yet.   However, software issues with iOS 7.x have left the camera looking like the Hubble space telescope before they fixed the lenses.  Photots taken with the camera are blurry and the focus on the unit seems to be constantly unable to focus on any one item within a picture.   Several users have also reported that their iPhone 4S or iPhone 5 have had the same issue once they upgraded to iOS 7.

Another issue with the new iPhone 5S is the newly installed fingerprint reading technology.  Supposedly, this technology was supposed to add one more layer of security for the users, however, it has left many users locked out of their phones.

Battery life with the iPhone 5S units here in-house have been less than desirable with the battery draining with average use at just over 26 hours.   This issue seems to be much like that of early iPhone 4 series models where software issues were causing the iPhone to run down within a very short time.

With each generation of the iPhone, new items are added and some highly touted features are routinely adjusted, yet with the 5S the main selling points of the iPhone have left many questioning why they purchased the new phone and some even threatening to return them to Apple.

 

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.

Chewbagger Byte Editor and SNAP NNTP Client Updates Released

IIgs Case

Ewen Wannop has released two software updates this week.  The first is to his Apple IIgs Byte Editor, Chewbagger.   The second update is to his NNTP client, SNAP.   According to the press release in CSA2, “

Version 1.1.5 of ChewBagger and 1.1.5 of SNAP are now available from my website: http://www.wannop.info/speccie
————————

This is an update of ChewBagger, and amongst many small bug fixes and  cosmetic changes, has two new features:

  • Optionally display the ASCII field with the high bits cleared.
  • Compare two files for differences.
  • The files are displayed in a ‘split’  window, and on opening, the first difference is found and selected. 
  • You can then work through the two files, finding further differences,  and setting an ‘offset’ between the displays if necessary..

Please read the Manual and ‘Changes’ files for more details on how these  new features work.

ChewBagger is a stand alone IIgs application for editing files at byte  level, working with both data and resource forks.

  • Find and Replace either Hex or ASCII data. Compare two files, and find
  • and replace data as required.
  • View and disassemble the relocated segments of an OMF file.
  • Load a P8 application at an optional address for disassembly.
  • Examine a range of IIgs memory and optionally disassemble.
  • Disassembles both 6502 and 65816 code, with optional tool call labels.
  • Dump to file or printer, either the hex and ASCII fields, or the disassembled code.


————————

This is a minor update of SNAP, mainly to fix bugs, but with one major addition, in that you can now optionally choose to read New messages  first.

Please read the Manual and ‘Change.List’ files for more details.

 

  • SNAP is an online NNTP News Client for the IIgs
  • SNAP accesses Usenet and NNTP news servers, right from your IIgs desktop.
  • SNAP gives you multiple server configurations, with custom Group lists,  allowing you to easily tailor your daily news fix.
  • SNAP lets you Post messages, or Followup existing messages.
  • SNAP will optionally Forward or Reply to a message through a normal SMTP  mail account.
  • SNAP is ideal for accessing the A2Central, or CSA2 news Forums.
  • SNAP requires a IIgs running Marinetti 3.0b3 or later.
  • SNAP works best with a direct connection to the Net, such as that from an Ethernet card.

 

 

iPad Mini 2 Goes On Sale

Screen Shot 2013-11-12 at 10.16.12 PM

Apple, Inc. quietly shutdown their Apple Store and then added the Mac Mini 2.  Long delayed by a number of issues, the Mac Mini 2 comes in 2 models and 2 colors.  Silver and Space Grey are the colors currently available in the Apple Store.

While the US store has made both the Wi-Fi model and the Cellular model available, the Japan store is only listing the Cellular model.  4 memory configurations are available: 16, 32, 64, and 128 gb.

At the time of press, the websites on both sides of the water were say 5-10 business days for delivery of the Mac Mini.

Call-A.P.P.L.E. Magazine to return in PDF form next week

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We have decided to once again make the PDF available of Call-A.P.P.L.E. Magazine.  Once again, the magazine will be chocked full of news, interviews, and product announcements and will coincide with the release of articles here on the A.P.P.L.E. Website.   Stay tuned for more!

Sophistication & Simplicity available for pre-order

Sophistication and Simplicity

Dr. Steven Weyhrich’s upcoming history book, Sophistication & Simplicity, is now available for pre-order on Amazon.com for $22.40. It will go on sale 1st December 2013.

Weyhrich states on his blog that,

I will say that although the core of the material in the History has not changed much, there is additional information in nearly every section, as well as a more interesting presentation of that material. In other words, the $29.95 price of the book (before Amazon’s discount) is not a deal-breaker if you need the info in the history for research purposes.

 

Pre-order here.

A.P.P.L.E. President Bill Martens on Open Apple this month

Open_Apple

The Open Apple Podcast, run by Ken Gagne and Mike Maginnis features Bill Martens of A.P.P.L.E. this month.  Discussions about the latest news in the Apple world, Apple II software, preservation and other related topics took place.  Brian Wiser also joined the trio of long time Apple II afficandos to discuss his and Bill’s WOZPAK Special Edition release as well as other forthcoming projects.

You can listen to the podcast in its entirety on the Open Apple website at:

http://www.open-apple.net/2013/11/02/show-032-martens-history-founders-wozpak/

The Northern Spy — Surf’s Up

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The wave of Apple’s future

was supposed to be a simplification of the user interface, a de-skeuomorphism of visual elements, and a unification of MacOS and iOS. The most recent version of the latter went a long way toward this mark

However, MacOS 10.9, a.k.a. Mavericks, is, on the whole, a stay-the-course mild enhancement of Mountain Lion 10.8, nothing radical. Thos who want radical change will have to wait for MacOS 11.

The important changes are in the upgrade process itself. First, it is free to anyone who has Snow Leopard or higher (i.e. can access the Apple Store). This will increase adoption rates and customer satisfaction, and give IT departments at most organizations hissy fits, because they will not be able to prevent their user base from doing independent upgrades. Second, iWork is also free–at least if you are new to the eco-system, or you have a previous version of Pages, Keynote, and Numbers installed. But even this is no obstacle, as one can easily install a demo version, then have the Apple store do a free upgrade.

Indeed, even upgrading to new versions of programs can be made automatic in the new OS. And, this upgrade went well, with installation taking about thirty minutes on a fast pipe. As with 10.8, incompatible applications are set aside, but the only one detected was Default Folder. However, the Spy had to upgrade Graphics Converter as well, as his version didn’t function. Coincidentally, Firefox, Thunderbird, and NisusWriterPro got upgrades, but these were handled separately. The only not-yet-fixed incompatibility the Spy is aware of is in the Western Digital disk manager WD Drive Manager, whose users now cannot access their files from the drive. Undoubtedly a fix will come, but if the WD drive was being used as the Time Machine repository, it is temporarily out of commission.

The only glitch here was with the year-old Retina MacBookPro, which was to have a firmware upgrade as part of the process. This didn’t work on the first download, as everything froze. The Spy feared his machine had been bricked, but a restart and try again apparently succeeded, and all is well. So is his late 2007 MacBook Pro seventeen inch, which is the earliest machine that can run Mavericks. In other words, the new OS runs on exactly the same set of machines as Mountain Lion–a refreshing change over the last few increments, which all saw some models left behind.

On first impression after initial boot, nothing much had changed except the wallpaper and menu bars. Yes, there are now as many finder menu bars as there are monitors, and the semantics are similar to those of application windows in that the monitor “in focus” has the active menu bar, with the other bars dimmed. A file opens on the active monitor. The docks in the various monitor windows all look and behave the same way as each other, though when opening files, they too know which monitor is in focus.

Not much is visibly different in the Finder, except that cloud connectivity is enhanced enough to make it clear where Apple is going in this respect. The Spy, however, declines to use the cloud for anything more important than routine sharing of files with no sensitive information, and this via Dropbox. He’s not prepared to delegate the storage and backup of anything unique or important to the cloud–too much risk to suit him. Even the icons haven’t changed–an oddity considering the detail lavished on iOS in this respect. One useful enhancement is tabbed finder windows. Press command-T to add a tab to a window and you get a tab bar including a button for more tabs. Command-W closes the current tab until only one is left, then it closes the window. Also, the window brought up by Command-I has more information, including a preview of file contents, but it doesn’t always get the file-opener icons right. Finally, the old finder colour labels have been re-cast as sort-on-able tags and given more prominence–though they are still just labels, and don’t do anything. The Finder is on its way to becoming a browser.

The major application enhancements are to Safari, which now has social media improvements and much better speed. Calendar, Contacts, and Notes are all facelifted, but without major new functionality. Notifications have become interactive, which is nice. Their use does grow on one. The ability to use atelevision (with AppleTV) as an external monitor seems nice in theory, but the Spy has no need for an AppleTV, and isn’t sure how this plays out or could be useful.

Turning to new applications, Apple has brought iBooks and Apple Maps to the Mac, though it is hard to see much use for either. The former is a sit-in-an-easy-chair-to-read app, and the latter is for travel–both for portable devices, so perhaps OK on an Air, but not on desktops. ‘Course, the Spy may soon be the only person on the planet using a desktop machine. He hasn’t looked at the new iWork apps, but then, he’s done little with them over the years. Pages is OK, but Scrivener-NisusWriterPro-BBEdit is a triple patty burger that satisfies even his voracious appetite for wordsmithing. Numbers is not a replacement for Excel, and he has too much legacy code in the truly awful VBA to switch. Keynote he does use, but only for one-off presentations where he needs to pack visual and verbal info into the same presentation on a high-powered basis–not for daily lectures, where he already talks and writes too fast even without electronic help.

Under the hood, battery life for portables is supposedly improved by slowing applications not in active use. The Spy hasn’t tested this, but does note that in waking from sleep, scrolling, and switching apps Mavericks seems sluggish or hesitant at times. Perhaps 10.9.1 will address this, as it may address troubles with the most recent Retina MacBookPros.

Should everyone upgrade? Yes. The process appears after three times through to be relatively painless, and entirely so on the wallet. Nothing is broken, the upgrade is free, comes with definite improvements, and the cut and thrust of it is that this may be the most straightforward upgrade of the last ten or so.

The pitter patter of little feats

Under one of his other hats, the Spy runs a small commercial web hosting company. Yes, its on a nice fast server and his customers are there mainly to pay for the machinery hosting his own sites and to force him to keep up to date for his students’ sake, but the job comes with all the problems and pitfalls common to any such enterprise–in this case, spammers.

Like everyone else hosting on a LAMP machine, he runs MAilScanner to control spam, and actively works the system, tagging mail as ham or spam, blacklisting the bad buys and whitelisting the good guys. He has cPanel for hosting and many associated tasks, and the Configerver front end to MailScanner to help with mail specifics. Until a week ago, this was all simple, obvious, routine.

Then the floodgates opened. Some lowlife got the bright idea of sending our email to an account on the server with the From field the same as the TO (both faked and non-existent) but the ReplyTo another faked account at gmail or google.com. Because the messages appeared to be local they weren’t scanned, but when bounced went to gmail or google.com, who then blacklisted this server for sending spam, thus causing grief for all our customers who correspond with people there. As an aside, the Spy recommends that anyone with a gmail account cancel it and buy one from a reputable supplier. Their interface is good, but you get what you pay for. Google is good at automatically labelling things spam without looking into the details of what is really going on, but very poor at handling complaints about spam and abusive mail coming from their own servers. Indeed, they ignore such complaints, an attitude no one else could get away with.

Blacklisting the sending IP numbers did no good, as the spammer had a large supply –possibly also faked. Marking the messages as spam didn’t help, as the system apparently thought they were local. Requiring DKIM verification did not work for the same reason. Verification was being done against a local account so of course the DKIM keys were valid.

As the traffic reached tens of thousands per day, “experts” were at first of little help, and the DC folk said they’d never seen anything like it before. Soliciting help from the mail community elicited the suggestion that he enable MCP (Message Content Protection) in MailScanner, and scan and delete on specific content. The enable was easy, but MCP has no front end, so the rules files had to be created and edited using ConfigServer Explorer, but it did work–so far.

This spam a sophisticated undertaking, and it can’t have been set up to attack one account on an obscure server like this one. Moreover, it seems somehow a little pointless, as the only effect is to get the server banned by gmail, to whom the bounces go. (OK, maybe that was the whole point, but the thing has the bad flavour of either (and if there is one thing the Spy can smell it’s rot):

– graffitti on a bathroom wall that just has to be painted over every time it appears

or

– a dress rehearsal for a really big bot net attack on one or more major operations.

The Spy suspects the latter, and that someone is in for big time troubles. These guys had no trouble sending 125K messages my way from dozens of IP addresses, with thousands of fake To and From and ReplyTo addresses, and dozens of slightly different text content instances. With the kind of horsepower apparently behind this, they could easily send hundreds of millions. Hang on to your surfboards, or they may get broken.

–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

URLs for items mentioned in this column

Mavericks: http://www.apple.com/osx/

Configserver: http://www.configserver.com/