ADTPro 1.2.9 Released

From CSA2 Announcment by David Schmidt:  For your consideration this Christmas day:ADTPro 1.2.9 has been released.  There are a few tweaks that came up
under some heavy usage scenarios:

Nibble sends now work in batch mode, and they are a little more tolerant
of communications failures.  This gets really handy when you have, for
example, a pile of 13-sector disks to image.  Linards Ticmanis’
13-sector ADT13 was always an option, but due to the fact that DOS 3.2
and below didn’t actually initialize sectors until you wrote on them,
your drive can end up knocking quite a lot on sparsely populated disks.
Not so any more.

From IvanX’s A2CLOUD work, the VSDrive code has changed to optimize
virtual drive access for speed at the expense of concurrent access from
both server and client.  This should make really big virtual drives
useable on the Pi.

Oh, and finally – after all these years… a Disk II drive will spin up
beforehand in anticipation of reading or writing.  With one optimization
that DOS ADT missed: turning on the drive for the final pass of writing.
It’s not required for the final pass of reading, but is for writing.
It probably doesn’t even represent a measurable improvement, but it’s
there for completeness’ sake.

http://adtpro.sourceforge.net

1.2.9 – December 25, 2013

New functionality:

* Disk II drive turns on a little early to reduce spin-up delay

Bug fixes:

* Nibble sends work correctly in batch mode

* [Client] Nibble sends retry (more) correctly

* [VDrive] Virtual disks are loaded at once at initialization time,
making it much faster for huge drives (but much less dynamic)

* [VDrive] Serial driver installer quits to where it came from,
allowing an invocation from the launcher to return there, this
time with the driver in place

Apple Herds Developers To iOS 7

Apple is making the push for iOS developers to adopt the iOS interface and standards. Chuong Nguyen writes on gottabemobile.com

The company has advised iOS developers that all apps submitted after February 1, 2014 must be optimized for iOS 7 and built using Xcode 5. The move would at the very least remove visual fragmentation in the way apps look and feel for the iOS operating system.

This is Apple’s plan to fight fragmentation of users who have not upgraded to the latest versions of iOS. There is still a significant installed base of iPods and iPhones with iOS 6 and 5.

Read More

Brutal Deluxe Releases Multi-Purpose LZ4 Compression Algorithm

Brutal-Deluxe-logo

This technical article discusses the recent LZ4 data compression algorithm and its ability to become a good multi-purpose lossless compression format for the Apple IIGS computer. Mostly for game programming area, where we have to handle multi-types of data (Graphic, Sound, Music, Code, Misc data…), the availability of one generic compression / decompression algorithm will ease developers’ life!

LZ4 Compression for the Apple IIgs is part of Brutal Deluxe’s Cross Development Tools project, a full set of utilities available on Windows (and other) platforms to enable the creation of new Apple IIgs software : 65c816 Assembler, 65c816 Disassembler, 65c816 Simulator, Graphic File Converter, Resource Catcher…

Find more at http://www.brutaldeluxe.fr/products/crossdevtools/lz4/

Antoine Vignau & Olivier Zardini
Brutal Deluxe Software
http://www.brutaldeluxe.fr/

The Northern Spy — Curmudgeonly Yours

northernspy3

December 2013

Following up on
comments in this space last month, the Spy still has had none of the issues reported by others  who’ve adopted Mavericks. Apart from the need to upgrade a handful of programs, all continues smooth. However, iTim’s elves are busy at work releasing betas of the first incremental upgrade to fix issues some have seen. Of greater interest might be what they’re doing with system XI.
And, the reader will recall the troubles reported here with  his own hosting company’s mail server (another millisecond older and deeper in spam with faked to, from, and reply-to addresses). Enabling MCP (Message Content Protection) in MailScanner to scan and delete on specific content did blue list and refuse much of the offending mail, which on that change alone declined from 80% of all arriving messages to about 20%. But, subject, content, and other characteristics kept changing, and even adding more block lists to the scanner only went partway to a solution, so he’s experimentally modified the Exim settings to reject messages with multiple “From” addresses (they usually match the “to” addresses in order to escape scanning) and to break off connections if the sending server lacks or has an improperly configured reverse DNS.
There wasn’t much documentation on the net about the exact positioning of such commands in the config file, but the mail scanning does seem to be functioning, with none of the formerly blue listed material getting through. He may be able to tone down the MCP scanning–a good idea since dovecot is currently using too many resources and is bogging down. The score for today thus far is 2% high MCP and 6& high scoring spam, with 85% of messages allowed in being clean. Progress.
The Spy still cannot fathom a motive in such bombings. The targeted account cannot receive any of the mail, as the default address is set to :fail:. When the mail bounced to the wrong address, it got refused there, and piled up in the WebNameHost queue by the thousands. But making those bounces got the server blacklisted. Was that the goal? Why? Most of the messages contained viruses, so presumably the desire was to spread contagion. But on a well-set-up mail server there would at no time be any possibility that a customer would receive, much less read the junk, so why send it in the first place?
It’s all juvenile bathroom wall stuff, but sufficiently annoying (and often virus laden) to be worthy of a few years computer-free meditative time-out in the crowbar hotel for the perps.

A last gasp
seems the best way to describe the withdrawal of the take-private bid, and subsequent purge, er, pardon me, multiple executive departures at RIM. Making Android and iPhone devices first class citizens on the RIM network and allowing the Blackberry to die gracefully (and in some privacy) might have been a better move. The company might then have survived as a service-provider bit player. If things continue on their present course, a very public demise appears now inevitable. This ought to be a cautionary tale for Microsoft, the company all dressed up in sales but with no idea where to go, but seems unlikely to be heeded.

Is Black Friday real
or just smoke and mirror advertising hype, with genuine price reductions thin on the ground? Let’s be realistic here. Assuming the retail margin on most electronics ranges from 3% to 15%, the biggest discounts are really manufacturer-ordered clearouts, for a retailer cannot take sustained losses and stay in business. You have to hand it to the hypesters, though. Most people believe they are getting bargains even when the BF price is little different from what it was a month before, and they open their wallets willingly. They may be more savvy on Cyber Monday, bit that’s harder to assess. But, if they were that willing to have a walletectomy when the offering plate was passed at church…
Oh, and BTW, a second lesson in making money: Apple can sell its mass-produced product through its own stores without having to be concerned about any wholesale markdown. Those stores are therefore one of the major reasons for the company’s profitability, and are worth a considerable chunk of the share capitalization. The Spy also notes that certain “premium retailers” in markets deemed too small for a genuine Apple store have been allowed to produce near clones of the visual experience–but to do so must even use Apple produced signage. He doubts however that the wholesale discount gives them much wiggle room on profits, and knows there ins none on pricing. Not much place for innovation, and none for competition here. iSteve and iTim have rewritten the text on how to sell product for the maximum return, and thus far no one else has come close to successfully cloning the experience. Apple owns the direct retail computing market as thoroughly as they’ve owned the tablet market. The time when buying up Radio Shack for the locations was a plausible idea has passed.

The future of “big iron”
was once a topic of discussion around mainframes, but here the Spy’s using it as a lead in to the fate of the desktop. For his own work–large writing projects, a host of lecture materials, research, correspondence, etc., he needs the real estate provided by a couple of 50cm plus monitors, a keyboard that fits his big mitts, networked laser and inkjet printers, scanner, NAS for backup, and a versatile software suite that can handle big data and documents. Most other people work only with social media, mail or messaging, and a browser, and can get by without a desktop setup. A few in between still use email and word processing, but may homes of today’s teenagers do not even have computers, just phones, pads, and pods.
Here’s a guess at where it could go, where the Spy has seen it making baby steps toward a merge of the two computing paradigms: A much more robust pad/pod/phone-like device that can be hauled around in a pocket or under an arm, but at the desk plugs into all the accessories and the collective system becomes the big iron. Think a CPU-enabled portable solid state storage device with a screen of modest size and on-screen keyboard for the usual on-the-fly stuff–all most people care about–but with the wattage (horsepower is so retro) to become the desktop and more for the power user.
We’re a ways off, so the Spy does eagerly await the new MacPro, but strongly suspects that it may be the last such system Apple makes. Eventually we will get the PIEA (Personal Intelligence Enhancement Appliance)–the descendent of the iPod Touch with universal WiFi, with the descendent of Google Glass, with throat mikes, and ultimately with a rudimentary neural interface. It will work wirelessly everywhere, but the term “phone” will join “typewriter”, “key-punch machine”, “breakout box”, and “comptometer” in the dictionary graveyard. Sit down at your desk and put your PIEA on a cradle to make your interface to the global Metalibrary a desktop experience. It was all SF when the Spy first wrote about it in the early eighties, but we’re most of the way there now.

But that brings up
a related matter–the dumbing down of computer (and other) literacy. There was a time when the term included knowledge of the history and culture of computing as well as something of the art and science of programming. Hey, the most computer literate people on the planet are the Spy’s age. Their first electronics was a crystal radio mounted on the bike handles first program was in FORTRAN (we used to spell it that way) on coding sheets handed to the keypunch operator, first personal computer was a home-built, and first commercial programs were written in Pascal, BASIC, and/or 6502 assembler. Oh, yes, and we actually used computers too–for wordprocessing, data base access, spreadsheets, and mail.
Today’s young tech addicts communicate, after a fashion and in 140-character snippets, but aren’t literate in even approximately the same sense. The hotshots can build a web site, but remain innocent of programming all the while, and their documents rarely exceed a few pages except in school. All the rest is beyond their ken. So is mathematics. No wonder so few go into the STEM fields these days–they’ve been culturally, educationally and intellectually conditioned against them.
Now the Spy fully understands that the power of an abstraction lies in the hiding of detail, so that not everyone needs to know how to fix a car in order to drive one. Still, a rudimentary knowledge would forestall ripoffs like the one perpetrated on a friend I know who paid $800 for a simple two-wheel brake job from a store on the same weekend that another store charged the Spy $600 for a more comprehensive four-wheel brake refit. The complete absence of computing literacy and programming courses in high schools and the not-yet-recovered-from crash in university computing science enrolments may produce inflated salaries for software developers for another generation, but  it also seems a harbinger of an age when there are too few people with the technical knowledge to build and maintain the toys that have been driving the information revolution.
Look. You can’t roboticize and automate everything, nor can computers maintain themselves and the big data of the Metalibrary without human intervention. “Information” is data + meaning, and notwithstanding Clarke, Asimov and Minsky machines cannot “intend” or “mean” anything. The Spy is all for making basic literacy in computing as much a requirement as in mathematics. Wait. What was that item on the news about schools removing Algebra from graduation requirements? Conic sections have already been removed from the senior course, despite that calculus requires this knowledge, and more students than ever are being funnelled into university remedial courses. Is the next generation going to end up as passengers in a technologized society with no knowledge of either their history (how they got there), up-to date technical knowledge (where they are), or the ability to contribute meaningfully to the debate on where they’re going (if anywhere)? If so, they’ll the more easily get taken for a ride.
Moreover, the reliance on machines to mediate our “friendships” is fundamentally dehumanizing. The Spy once had a bumper sticker that read “Have you hugged your computer today?” It was a joke then. Is it still? Will it be in the future?
BTW, and almost completely non-a propos, but in the same genre, he had one that said “Private Bumper Sticker. Please do not read.” You could put the same ironic self-referentially and therefore paradoxically contradictory slogan on email, chatroom posts, and Facebook–none of which is private, and all of which will still be around as long as the Internet endures. Does anyone care?
The Spy can still usually engage fourth-year students in discussions around the big-meaning questions and issues that a Liberal Arts university is supposed to be teaching/provoking. He wonders how long this will last in the face of “meaning” being socially redefined to mundane tweets and posts between people who neither know either each other as real human beings nor the society in which they live as a living, growing organism with a history and a destiny–become too in-the-instant-minded to be contributors to the social or heavenly good. The dumbing down of computer literacy is, after all, only a manifestation of a much larger phenomenon of the same ilk–too many people tuned in, turned on, and dropped out–of everything. Have a nice day.
But on a more positive and encouraging note, have a blessed Christmas, and may you and yours have a profitable New Year, particularly spiritually.

–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/
Mailscanner:  http://www.mailscanner.info/

Lamb Chops — New Apple II Game

Lamb Chops

Brian Picchi has released a new Apple II game, Lamb Chops.  The game which plays much like the old Atari games, is a multi-level fast action arcade game which speeds up as you progress through the stages.  The object of the game is to protect sheep as they cross a pasture.  Wolves and aliens of different species attack the sheep and the player, forcing him to keep on the alert at all times.  The player can only shoot one bullet at a time, which makes this game potentially a difficult game.

According to his press release on CSA2, “Here’s a new arcade game I’ve been working on. It’s my first assembly game (and thank you to everyone who has been answering my 6502 questions this month, especially Wade Clarke). It should run on any Apple II with 64K RAM.  Joystick and keyboard are both supported.  It’s a simple game, but took me a good month to write since I was learning as I programmed it. “

Brian’s information bracket on YouTube describes the game as “ an arcade game probably best described as a cross between Robotron and the hunting section from The Oregon Trail. You’re a sheep farmer and your flock has escaped from their fencing. Armed with a shotgun, you must protect them from the natural (and unnatural) forest inhabitants as they make their way home. You get extra men every 1,000 points. You lose a life by touching any creature (except the sheep) or by losing 3 sheep per level. The game gets progressively harder until level 20. If you make it that far you get a better game over screen when you die. Oh, and don’t shoot the sheep, friendly fire is enabled. “

The game is available as a free download.  For more information about the game, check out the YouTube video at:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6sT2OjfIcIQ

To Download the came in .DO image format, go to:
http://tanrunomad.com/wp-content/uploads/disks/LAMBCHOPS.do

LambChops_Disk

If you would like to have a physical copy of the game, Brian has made a limited number of copies available through EBay at:
http://www.ebay.com/itm/331078401119

 

AppleCommander Updated to Version 1.3.5.14

AppleCommanderLogo

AppleCommander, the java based floppy viewing software has been updated.  Dr. John B. Matthews has put forth version 1.3.5.14 which is intended to address a freezing issue which has been in many early versions.  The issue addressed in the update affected SWT and has long forced users to to FORCE QUIT the application.  The new version has been confirmed to work on all versions of Mac OS X from 10.5.x to 10.9.x.

AppleCommander is a floppy disk image viewer which allows users to check the contents of Apple II Disk images, manipulate files, change disk ordering and save the disk images to the users local drive. For more information or to download the latest build, check out the AppleCommander
website at:

https://sites.google.com/site/drjohnbmatthews/applecommander

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

613-9967-02

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.