II Something Issue # 24

II Something Magazine

Issue # 24
a weekly journal devoted to the Apple II family of computers
Sunday, April 7, 1996 – issue 24 – II.Smthg.960407


  • About…
  • Editor’s Greeting
  • Letter
  • Webfind of the Week – KansasFest
  • The Wire Service – ISDN, 14.4 modems, and other stuff
  • The Wire Service – Cyberian Express and Prodigy
  • Opinionata – All the world shall be taxed
  • Opinionata – oh that computer company
  • Updata – Internet Email Subscriptions to II Something
  • Wish List – Sticky Notes



As you know, Apple Computer, Inc. owns all of the Apple II computer copyrights and trademarks, including their names.

II Something is offered as freeware – copyright by Clark Hugh Stiles. Intact distribution of the entire file is acceptable using online services, including BBSes, or via user group DOMs provided there are no commercial sales. Individual articles may be reprinted in user group publications only, provided the following paragraph (except for the opening and closing quotes) is included at the beginning or end of the reprint:

“This article originally appeared in II Something, a weekly journal devoted to the Apple II family of computers, copyright by Clark Hugh Stiles. It has been reprinted by permission. All trademarked names and phrases mentioned belong to their respective owners. Send email to CHStiles@Delphi.Com or C.Stiles3@Genie.Com via the Internet, or newsletters, disks, products for review, gifts, or bribes to Clark Hugh Stiles, Box 46, Comstock Park, MI 49321-0046.”

Editor’s Greeting

Around here we’ve got stores called the Bulk Food Pantry. I’m sure most cities have similar businesses. Basically, you scoop the amount you need of whatever it is, pasta, beans, nuts, spices, flour, candy, coffee, pet food, etcetera, label the bag with the item code, and the cashier weighs and prices it when you’re ready to pay and leave. It is an excellent stop to make when it’s time to begin a road trip, because of the dried fruit, sunflower seeds, and other roughage, which is always my choice over chips.

I haven’t been sick a lot this winter. Last winter (1994-1995) I was sick for something like five months, beginning around Veteran’s Day. This winter I’ve only had a couple of illnesses, but both necessitated taking off a day or two. This is unusual. Lately I’ve been thinking that it might be nice to a Bulk Drug Pantry to dispense over the counter medications by weight.

Not only am I not a physician, I’ve never played one on TV. I do have my own preferences for OTC meds, however, and have no use for some of the prescription stuff. Guiafed and Claritin are both like Tic Tacs for me – they do nothing. Trinalin doesn’t really do anything about my breathing, but it does do something to me that keeps me from getting sleepy, so by the morning I’m exhausted. Extendryl is the only thing my doctor prescribes that actually works a little.

OTC pills are mostly crap. The first one I’ve liked a lot has been Benadryl, and I’ve been buying that for a number of years, generally the 100 caplet bottle, brand name (the others are capsules). I don’t experience any of its popular side effects, which may be because I generally have paradoxical reactions to medication.

Benadryl by itself is only good for my allergy attacks, including shellfish (I like it a little, not a lot, but I get a sore throat from eating it). Last winter I found a Rite-Aid brand super pill that has the equivalent of a dose of Benadryl, a dose of Tylenol, and a dose of Sudafed. I thought, hey, why not, and took it. In about an hour my breathing started to clear out. I slept easily.

Now, I’m not recommending any medication. I’m just saying that taking the equivalent dosages of the three meds is actually cheaper than buying the superpill version of this, and it really helps me a lot. Extendryl’s effectiveness ramps down, so that it becomes less effective after I’ve used it a few days.

My doctor prescribed Naproxen Sodium (Naprosyn, Aleve are a couple of brands) for the anti-inflammatory properties. This is one OTC I’d never tried because the list of side effects goes on like the tape on an old fashioned accountant’s calculator. Naturally, I had none of them except for a slight headache (ironic that it’s in the list since the drug is a headache remedy).

What I’m really saying, I suppose, is that winter has lasted six months around here, it’s April, I’m a little under the weather both literally and figuratively, on three different drugs, but I’m still using an Apple IIgs.

My apologies for the long delays on this issue and some of the other recent issues. I plan to be caught up by the six month mark, which will be issue 26 (this is 24). Also planned are extra releases consisting of collections from all 26 issues. The first will be the collected tables of contents. The second will be all the Wish Lists. Perhaps other things will follow, such as the adventures in the land of EZ Drive, or a massive collection of The Wire Service. Okay, I doubt that.

This issue may seem a little light, but really it’s just your imagination. The main feature will be a Wire Service article regarding ISDN and an editorial (I know how much you love those). Got to go. I have a lot of writing to do.


From: Ewen Wannop Date: Sun, 07 Apr 1996 09:19:42 +0100
Thanks for adding me to the Internet subscription list for II Something. You added me to your GEnie list, which would be fine, but, if there are any dropped characters during the transmission, the BinSCII part of the message can't be used!
I do get one or two dropped characters on long messages, probably nothing to do with my Spectrum high speed link, but more than likely to do with the pigeons opening their mouths to breathe on the way across the pond to the UK…
So, could you please change the address on your mail list to my Net address? There are no dropped characters on that link.
Thanks for doing that, and keep up the good work, and get better soon. We all miss you bringing some parallel thoughts into the Apple II world…
Regards - Ewen

[ the editor replies ]

Subj: Thanks for the words of encouragement and…

Thanks for the suggestion about the Spectrum Host A2U course. Right after I got your email I went to A2Pro and found that it had been bundled into a download along with BB messages about it. In fact, there were a mess of new uploads on A2Pro and I got them all. Very surprising.

As far as the Spectrum Host project, it’s based on an attempt at a TIC host that I’ve made several times, then never finished due to the variable limits. My main concern is the use of the $ sign to mark variables, since someone may wish to post a message of something for sale and, well, you get the idea. The XCmd will work if it accepts the stream from the modem as well as the keyboard.

Otherwise, a frontend for the caller (downloaded during the first session) would provide the functionality, but callers without Spectrum would be unable to access the BB areas. I’d like to build a system that could be installed as is by unpacking an archive, running on the GS only, but providing the 8bit user with a nicely behaved and fast running environment.

An HTML XCmd might be nice 🙂

That would just allow callers to browse through the bbs in case they have that ability (a graphical or graphics-based text browser)…

A modest plan 🙂

Thanks again. I’ll alter my mailing list as you suggested.

Webfind of the Week – KansasFest


Ryan Suenaga updated us on the real location of this web page. Since the date is rapidly approaching, I thought I would reiterate it and give it my wholehearted support, even though I won’t be attending. I’m not much of a programmer, and lately I haven’t been much of a writer either. Also, I’m pretty old to stay up for 72 hours straight, then drive 14 hours to get home. I’ve always wanted to go to one of these though, and I’m glad that it’s still happening.

The Wire Service – ISDN, 14.4 modems, and other stuff

The May 1996 PC World has an article about ISDN, with a few related sidebars. I plan to heavily summarize it. Before I do, I would like to point out with amusement that on page 49, under “Breaking News”, the magazine blows the lid off the top secret 120 meg floppy drive. Where have they been? Now I realize that Iomega’s Zip drives, and for that matter their older Bernoulli boxes, have been marketed to Dostypes by calling them “tapes”, but the 100MB Zip and 1Gig Jaz drives have been out for quite a while. InSite has offered their 20MB floppy for a long while now (although this one needs to have servo inject, and nowadays a higher capacity, Iomega licensed things from InSite and came up with the Zip drive thereafter).

Of course, this new drive will read and write 1.44 MB floppies as well, making it similar in concept to the InSite drive (InSite didn’t or doesn’t produce these for end users; the OEMs buy them in large quantity and market them to us. Remember Jasmine? They had a model using the InSite drive).

This article was very interesting, although for the time being ISDN does us no good. I’ve used Netscape (for WinDulls – it was an Internet class, okay?) on a T1 line before, and it just flies! Until this article, I’d always thought that ISDN used a T1 line, mainly because the NT-1 adapter is needed for an ISDN modem (most of the new ones include it inside). It turns out that a T1 line is just over 12 times faster than ISDN, and both have the same speed in each direction. No wonder those 1000K files downloaded in just a few shakes.

I was a bit nonplussed to learn that they don’t even mention the Motorola model of ISDN modem. CDW and most other Mac vendors carry it, and have for quite a while. The NT-1 is built in, and it is $100 cheaper than the externals mentioned in the article. Must be that the name Motorola doesn’t register in their ears.

The description of the difficulty in getting a Wintel box to work with these modems was a bit amusing, but perhaps it is hasty to conclude that the difficulty stems from the inherent difficulty in getting Wintel boxes to do anything that didn’t ship preconfigured (and sometimes even those).

I was most interested in two things this article offers. The first is the speed comparisons, and the second is the sidebar where the speed comparisons appear (page 52). Cable modems poke along at ISDN speed when the user sends, and that’s only almost 9 times faster than a 14.4 modem (!). They run about 107 times faster on receive, or about 12 times faster than ISDN.

ADSL (asymmetric digital subscriber line) is a compressed digital format that uses conventional phone lines. It is still not available, but GTE and Bell Atlantic plan to test the service this year in Dallas and in Virginia. ADSL has a measly fivefold speed advantage over ISDN on sends, and a mere 46-fold speed advantage on receive.

The authors of the article and this sidebar seem to be speed fans (who isn’t?). The sidebar lists the cost range of a 28.8 (V.34) modem as $200-$350 to setup plus $20 a month for the service. Excluding phone charges (we have to have phones, right?), the $20 per month Internet charge seems realistic. If this is just for the phone line, then it is still reasonable. On the other hand, the $40 per month for the ISDN line seems a little low (the range in the article was from $20 to $80 per month), but may represent an average or common rate. The advantage to having ISDN seems to me to be access to the Internet, otherwise why go to the expense?

ISDN has the advantage of offering simultaneous voice service, so you don’t need to have two lines anymore, but there will be extra cost. It could be a while before you can get any use out of the ISDN line, and for this kind of money it makes more sense to get a faster conventional analog modem (for example, go from 14.4 to 28.8, or get a 14.4 if you’ve been suffering at lower speeds or with some sort of pre-V.32bis). Apple II users might get some use out of a 28.8 modem as long as the modem will buffer incoming data.

For the cash involved, and given the fact that I’ve got a 14.4 modem, I’d rather have a cell phone at $20 a month more than I pay now. If I’m going to be able to use faster modems, I need to have a faster serial port. Much faster. My Wish List from 11-19-95 was for that very thing:

“…Clone boxes and Macs have had various adapters to increase serial port flexibility as to speed and number of input and output ports. Perhaps it will take some sort of hardware development, like a processor direct adapter (pull the processor, plug in the adapter, plug the processor back in) hooked to a high speed serial chip or digital signal processor (like in the Power Macs) and dedicated memory, but in the past its programmers have made the Apple II function beyond its intended limits without significant hardware modifications…”

The Wire Service – Cyberian Express and Prodigy

The 12th edition of the Cyberian Express(tm) newsletter from Cyberian Outpost (Cyberian Outpost and Cyberian Express are trademarks of Cyberian Outpost, Inc., 27 N Main St, Kent CT 06757, 800-856-9800, 203-927-2050, Fax: 203-927-2055) published a paragraph long story claiming that Prodigy moved from what had been their fancy Soho offices back to White Plains (both in New York). It also states that Sears is peddling their stake in the company. When you can’t beat them, run away from them, that’s what I say. Hit ’em where they ain’t. Build relationships with local Internet providers and let them bill the subscribers and promote your service in the local markets. Mailing out a trial startup package with disk costs a fortune, especially when it’s once a week. I’ve been saving them for the time when I have a 1.44 drive, and between AOL and Compuserve I’ve received 24 diskettes. The others combined (Spry, which I believe is owned by Compuserve, GNN, Prodigy, Accutrade, and Netcom, plus an unlabeled) number ten more. Let AOL and Compuserve blow all their money trying to build market share using the scattergun method.

Opinionata – All the world shall be taxed

Also in the “Breaking News” in PC World was the somewhat distressing news that Florida may soon levy a 7% use tax on Internet users. If this survives a court challenge, California and Illinois may also begin to do this. In case you’ve needed one more reason to leave California (heh heh)…

I wonder where this leaves out of state callers? I mean, if we surf into a California based site, or our signals just happen to pass through California based servers or phone lines, will we be liable for some surtax? The ninnies in the California legislature have attempted to impose taxes beyond its borders in the past.

[ Sidebar: Even the so called zero emission vehicle legislation (implementation of which has recently been delayed) should be challenged by the federales on the basis of the Constitution – interstate commerce regulatory powers are reserved to the federal government, and the cost of cleaning up the air in California would be levied on the citizens of all other states because they would pay more for a conventional vehicle as long as the so called zero emission vehicles had to be sold at a loss. Since the electric vehicles cost much more than a conventional vehicle, and California will attempt to require a certain percentage of vehicles sold be electric, the price of the electric will have to be lowered and the cost shoved onto the price of all other vehicles sold. Period. The car companies don’t print money in the basement.

This stupid law is part of the problem, not part of the solution. To clean up the air down in the Los Angeles area, require emissions tests of cars and when they fail, impound them until such time as they can be sold out of state or cut up for scrap. Of course the mealy mouthed jerks who run the place won’t even try that one, because of the big gas guzzlers that remain on the road, both very old lead burning cars, as well as diesel powered German imports and other big heavy foreign cars they (and all the sanctimonious movie stars) drive.

The electric car requirement won’t clean up the air because it won’t do anything about the existing pollution producing cars. Furthermore, electricity isn’t a zero emission product, it just produces emissions in a different place, or is produced using nuclear reactors that are built on fault lines and produce waste of a more deadly kind. The intent is that the electrics will be recharged at night during what is now off peak power loads, but it will never happen. The first few times the electric car owner gets an electric bill it could very well result in shock. The electric will not be a commuter vehicle, it will be a symbol for the driveway or a ride to the nearest convenience or video store and back. But I digress. End of Sidebar ]

I’ll try to track the progress of this possible Internet tax and keep you updated. If you have any light, shed it now. Just don’t bill me for it.

Opinionata – oh that computer company

MacSense is a monthly multimedia (and copyrighted) magazine available on Compuserve, AOL, and its own website (see below). I like this: “Disclaimer: All information is correct to the best of our knowledge, but we make no guarantees. Caveat lector. Publication, product and company names and logos may be registered trademarks of their companies. Written articles and original artwork cannot be republished or reprinted in any form without the explicit permi…” yeah, whatever.

There were four or five interesting articles in the issue I saw. I suggest that, since I won’t be reproducing them here, you go right out and read the thing. I don’t know how it works with Lynx, I haven’t tried it yet, but the information about Apple was very interesting, and it’s correct to the best of my knowledge.

According to one article (and of course the evening news), Apple’s latest quarterly loss was $700 million, of which about half will be a writedown of its unsold 68K inventory. Apple stock rose on the news, so this quarter’s $1 billion loss should be seen as really good news! [I made that up. I don’t know how large the loss will be]

Guy Kawasaki’s EvangeList quoted an Apple employee regarding Apple CEO Amelio’s plans for the company, and the two things that stuck out were that Apple will offer a better product than the Wintel makers and charge just a little more for it, and that Apple has to reduce the number of hardware and system software combinations from the current estimate of 100,000 – support for this kind of number means either more people or less support.

Some wacky Apple II guy in Michigan has been telling Dave these two things for the three years since Dave pretended to go deaf. You’d think that anyone running a company would be at least as smart as that, but you see, the company’s officers have always had big stakes in the company and new products were very good for the immediate bottom line until recently. In other words, their interests were to get rich in the here and now, and not worry about the future. After all, most computer companies have already ceased to exist. It’s just fate. Can’t be helped.

MacSense also covered Apple’s recent success in the area Virtual Reality Modeling Language (VRML) used on the Internet. Apple, Netscape, and Silicon Graphics (SG builds workstations used among other things as site servers. I believe Ambrosia software uses one) plan to collaborate on 3D graphics standards for the Internet. This should or at least could lead to faster performance and a cushier environment for webmasters and end users.

Updata – Internet Email Subscriptions to II Something

This week’s issue will go out when I’m good and ready. Okay, it will have gone out when I will have been good and ready. Remember, it’s not too late to be added. Except for this issue. The mailing list is getting pretty big. I’ll accept Internet subscribers until I let you know otherwise. The only reason I’ll ever have to stop is if I end up kicked off Delphi and Genie.

Wish List – Sticky Notes

Dave has been using something (on one of those other Apples) called Stickies. Basically, this application just puts virtual yellow sticky notes on the desktop and they remain there until the program is shut down. If the entire system gets powered down with the application active, the stickies will be there when the system is powered up again.

This would be fairly handy to have and fairly easy to implement for the IIgs. It would just be an INIt that would provide a sort of paint capability for the maintenance of the desktop background, accessed via an NDA (or FEXt). Instead of a static or a random desktop init, there would be this utility that would manage the desktop background, allowing importation of pic files, rudimentary painting, and (most relevant), the ability to create and edit notes.

Not only would the desktop be edited in real time, the entire screen shot would be saved out into the resource fork of the INIt (as a user option, it might be nice to make the save manual, although it should default to auto-save), so that it would be back on reboot as well as during the current session.

Funny that no one has thought of this before. Does such a utility exist? This would be devilishly handy to have around.


II Infinitum

Please follow and like us:

About the Author

Clark Hugh Stiles

Welcome to II Something. It’s October 1995 and I’m still using an Apple IIgs. What am I missing? The newest machines use CRT screens (preferred, even with laptops except when actually used on the lap), keyboards, mice, and sound to implement an interface with the user. Hard drives are used for primary storage and boot volumes, while CD-ROMs are used to hold larger data files, and floppy and tape drives are used for current data and backup for the hard drives. Modems are used for communication with mainframes. These features have not changed in years; most of them have not changed in decade.