II Something Issue # 26

II Something Magazine

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Issue # 26
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a weekly journal devoted to the Apple II family of computers
Sunday, April 21, 1996 – issue 26 – II.Smthg.960421
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Contents
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  • About…
  • Editor’s Greeting – Our Sixth Month is Complete!
  • Letter
  • Hair We Are Again
  • WebFind of the Week – User Group Connection Home Page
  • Do It In Hardware – EZ Drive the sequel
  • Updata – Syquest Prices and Plans
  • Updata – Internet Email Subscriptions to II Something
  • So High I Can’t Get Over It So Wide I Can’t Get Around It
  • Wish List – Pointer Info
  • Ouch!
  • Coming…

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About…
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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.”

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Editor’s Greeting – Our Sixth Month is Complete!
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We’ve reached the end of the sixth month of II Something and I’m still using my Apple IIgs. The only concern I have is, what happens if the battery fails? Is such a thing available? It would be nice to have a couple of those on the shelf. Oh. Nite Owl Productions, 5734 Lamar Ave., Mission, KS 66202, 913-362-9898, still has a slide on battery for ROM 01 IIGS (thanks Steve). What do ROM 03 owners do? If you know, see those email addresses right up there in the previous paragraph? Send me the information, please and thank you.

I’ve caught up with the backlog. My vacation in Rochester was very fun, in fact, so much fun that you’ll be reading all about it different aspects of it for the next couple of months. I plan to sneak them in, a few every week, until the next time I take a trip. Yes, you read that correctly. I’m not going anywhere, unless it’s on vacation. I’m fired up!

Some of you will be pleased to know that once again I’ve turned my back on the dark side of the force and declined to buy a Macintosh. I just don’t see any sense in spending a lot more money for such a thing. I have, however, picked out the model I would get if I were to buy one – the 5215CD – and have noticed that the User Group Store was selling them for about $1300 (factory reconditioned? they’re not that old, are they?). Don’t take this as an endorsement – I don’t want you spending hard earned money (or stolen money either) on a bunch of Macs.

My dad is thinking about getting some sort of Wintel thing, and I’ve told him that if he does I won’t be knowledgeable enough to help him when it blows up (actually, when he blows it up, more to the point). I suggested that he get the 5215 – it is moderately fast at 75MHz, has 8 MB (should be upgraded immediately to 16 or 24), a 1 Gig hard drive (IDE), and is sort of classic in that it is one box with speakers, color monitor, CD, floppy (the manual inject kind), and internal modem, and into which he need only plug his keyboard and mouse. It will be similar to his IIgs and much easier to use than a Wintel box. Regardless, he’ll have to get a new desk. And he’ll have to find a new place for the new desk.

Enough of this Mac talk. This is the world’s first and only Apple II weekly.

Okay, how about this? On average it comes out once a week. Now get off my back.

You’ve been sending lots of email, and you can be sure that much of it will show up here. I’ve been getting email subscription requests, and as soon as the last three issues are complete (like now, since you’re reading this) you’ll be inundated. Nothing like a great big dose of Apple II information.

One thing is certain – I’ve got to start frequenting the comp.sys.apple2 newsgroup so I can have a better grasp of what’s going on. I spend a lot of time screwing around, tangled in the World Wide Web, covered with bits of virtual gossamer, so it may as well be in an Apple II area, rather than some wacky UFO thingamagig, or Unabomber ramblings, or some other fringe site.

That doesn’t mean that I’m not on the fringe myself.

Last week I received a gracious offer in email from Steve Cavanaugh to have a bit of information about II Something available within his Apple Blossom pages. This is such a nice thing to do, I can’t even express my gratitude except to reiterate that all II Something readers should visit TAB, and furthermore, a subscription to the actual newsletter itself would be pretty nice as well.

Steve, honestly, I’m writing the check right now…

As you’ve read in the past two issues, Ewen Wannop, author of Spectrum, has given me some good pointers regarding my script problems. He also expressed interest in some of my less farfetched ideas for XCMDs. I suggest that all readers who have not already done so go sit down and order Spectrum 2.0 with all speed (unless you’ve got it now). Not only am I grateful for his help, I’m also fired up about the KOTOL project again.

Installment 4 has only been delayed about six or eight weeks. C’mon.

Do It In Hardware is back this week because I returned from the airport via Computer City, where I picked up a second EZ drive. Yes, the editor has lost his mind. I spent a sick day (Dave had some sort of sore throat thing going on the last couple days of my visit, so I blame him) on Friday backing up about 80 megs of stuff I wanted to preserve, or to wipe off the working partitions. Lots of GS/OS stuff is over there now, and I can get at the Beatles or the Mosquitoes cartridge without a lot of fussing around. The archive has something that may have appeared on a newsgroup somewhere, but I got it off GS Worldview. I’m including it because I love it when someone agrees with me.

So enjoy our return to an accurate schedule, and keep the faith.

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Letter
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Date: Sat, 20 Apr 1996 01:57:00 +0000 (UTC)
From: s.cavanaugh1@genie.com
Subject: Web page
To: chstiles@delphi.com
Clark,
sending both files would be fine, but I usually have time on my commute to work (I take a train to Philadelphia every day) to do that kind of work, so it gives me something to do.
You can send a GIF or two, that would "spruce" up the page for those using their Macs or PCs to visit the site.
Good luck getting these three issues out. I have an issue to get out myself! Double Yikes!
Steve

MAIL> reply
To: IN%”s.cavanaugh1@genie.com”
Subj: RE: Web page

Many thanks! I’ll see what I can find or figure out.

Thanks again for the offer of some web space. I really will try to work on something this week that will be fairly small. I may be able to get a digitized picture of myself from my friend Dave (if he still can get to those machines at Kodak), but I’ll let him know not to go crazy so that it takes 700K or something. I’m shooting for 30K or so on that. If he can’t do it, no problem.

[ come to think of it, if Dave comes up with a picture I should ask him to send it directly to Steve’s AOL emailbox ]

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Hair We Are Again
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Rogaine, the minoxidil-based hair regrowth formula, is now available without a prescription. I’ve used the prescription version (identical to the OTC) intermittently since July 1995, and from December until February this year I used it regularly. I’ve seen some regrowth. My mom saved a rebate coupon for Rogaine purchased by 4-20 at Walgreen’s, so I traveled there and picked up a bottle.

A friend at work came by on Thursday and said he’d tried Rogaine earlier in the week and ended up in the emergency room because of a side effect which I’ve never experienced (that I know of). His heart was pounding, his blood pressure dropped, he turned white, broke out in sweats, and nearly passed out. He was not the first one in that day. His blood test showed he hadn’t had a heart attack and that it was just an allergic reaction.

I just realized that I should have asked him for his unused portion. Damn.

Perhaps the conversion of Rogaine to a prescription will turn out to be a problem. Since a wider population will now be using it, accounts of people experiencing side effects will no doubt increase. One thing I’ve always disliked about Rogaine is asking for a refill on the prescription. This has almost the same stigma as going to a drug store or other place where the condoms are kept behind the counter. No chance of hitting on the spectacular babe that comes out to help you unless you think fast and ask for something else, preferably in one of the aisles. Otherwise, no matter how pleasant the conversation begins, when it gets to “how can I help you,” asking for some condoms is like showing her A) your wedding pictures, or B) your most recent hidden camera home sex video (not that I have any of those – I’m not that depraved). The chill comes over the room so fast icicles form on the ceiling tiles.

Asking for Rogaine at a similar moment is like saying A) I’m old enough to be your father but don’t let that stop you, or B) I’m going prematurely bald, or C) I’m really vain and obsessed with my own looks (B & C are a “heads I win, tails you lose” scenario).

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WebFind of the Week – User Group Connection Home Page
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http://www.ugconnection.com/

Now here is a site that gave me some trouble. I don’t know if it was a problem with Delphi’s Lynx (I’ve had similar bogus error conditions before which kicked me right out through the gate and back to the APPLE prompt), but many of the selections yielded some sort of text report of what was happening (looked like some sort of interpreter error) and I suspect that the HTML at the site may have been very very wrong.

It’s still the WebFind of the Week because I’ve just now visited it and there were a few things that worked on the first try (some didn’t but worked on the second or third, while some just wouldn’t work at all). The User Group Store (associated with the User Group Points Program) has absolutely no Apple II stuff at all, except for ADB and SCSI devices, most of which are IIgs compatible. What they really need is an Apple II presence here, maybe a II Something homepage…

Back in 1988 I went to the AppleFest in San Francisco, and the UGC people were completely unacquainted with the Apple II, to the extreme in some cases of being unaware of the nature of the show. It is true that it was a mixed show, very little in the way of Macintosh was there. It is hard to believe that was nearly eight long years ago and that I’m still, well, you know.

A Korean student studying in SF tried to talk me into staying there with her, I think primarily to help her with her classes. From things she said I believe she was an only child and daughter of a millionaire. I was tempted. Perhaps I was too cautious. Perhaps it was prudent. I guess I’ll never know. But I digress.

[ maybe taking Benadryl, Tylenol, and Sudafed isn’t such a great idea ]

Eight years ago is a long time ago from the standpoint of UGC ignorance of the Apple II. Three models were then in production, including the IIc+ which John Sculley held aloft to introduce during the ‘fest. This just serves to remind me how little Apple used to care about its marks, er, customers. Mac users tend to be big spenders for whatever reason and also tend to upgrade a lot. Except for some teachers I know who bought at least one of their Macs through the special discount packages offered to educators, Mac owners spend more often. Given the cost of early Apple II models, and figuring in the decline of the dollar’s value, no one can say that Apple II buyers have spent a lot less.

I plan to spend a lot less in the future, though.

[ was that an Opinionata? ]

I guess I’m saying that to visit this site is to experience how the other half gets treated.

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Do It In Hardware – EZ Drive the sequel
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Dave and Becky hosted the editor at Hotel Ziebarth in Rochester NY beginning April 11 and ending April 16. Besides the fact that I hadn’t finished the 4-7, much less 4-21-96, issue of II Something, the trip was perfectly timed. The leg from the Pittsburgh hub took two tries and two planes, and was delayed over three and a half hours. Sucked. The air was very turbulent and I was on the verge of losing my stomach contents on both landings and both takeoffs. Generally I like takeoffs and don’t so much like landings.

The trip back was uneventful and only eight minutes behind schedule. On the way home I stopped off at Computer City and picked up another Syquest EZ Drive. The price is down to $199.95, making the (6% sales tax) adjusted price about $212. There was also no additional cost for shipping, and the included cartridge really was included. I’d heard or read that for a time Syquest had ceased packing a cartridge with each new drive due to a worldwide shortage, but had an 800 number to request a cartridge for people who got stiffed.

I need a new desk. When the drive had to go in I had to get out the neat AT&T; surge box (also has a phone line protector – bought this at Sam’s Club) because the AC adapters are really large. The way power strips are made you’d think that the manufacturers have never seen an AC adapter in use anywhere. The 44MB, which had been out of the chain but used as a power strip for months, had to go. When I have time I plan to switch out the CD-ROM for the 44MB so I can back up the contents of all the old cartridges, verify the copies, reformat the 44MB carts, and sell the system, or maybe take it out for my dad to use. Hmmm. Maybe not.

Disk access has been slower than the others because I just used the cartridge as is (HFS) after I trashed the Mac and/or Windulls stuff that is on there. Maybe I should have fooled with it, but KOTOL will use a Mac volume for certain storage needs, so the plan is to use this one for the time being (renamed Backup, how imaginative).

The day after I got the drive I started up the computer. GS/OS wouldn’t mount the volume in the new drive. This was a weird problem. The first time I ever fired it up I got the usual error message due to the flakey Mac pseudopartition and just clicked Eject. After the crashes I experienced (after trying out MacSoundGrabber then attempting to access an OLD sound, then each time I tried to access the Sound control panel) the same process happened each time. I don’t know what happened, but I hope to find out some day before I die.

The first step in fixing this was to run the Chinook hard drive utilities. This is step one primarily because it will show me whether it is a cable or connector problem right away. I also thought there was a chance that GS/OS would check for volume changes when I switched back out of ProDOS 8.

It didn’t work.

Advanced Disk Utilities couldn’t even find the device. Figures.

My last resort was to do a system shutdown, but clicking the Restart button instead (just shutting down and rebooting didn’t work when I tried that). It worked! I got the message about the unrecognized file system (the 32K partition that holds the Mac driver has no file system, even when booted on a Mac – it is analogous to Track Zero on a ProDOS or DOS 3.3 diskette).

I think I’ve figured out that the second drive has to be fired up first, or at least up to speed by the time the CPU gets switched on. So I’m happy for now. Better check back in a week or so. In the meantime I plan to scour the drive to find if my vague recollection of a GS/OS volume mounter INIt is true (I think it was for the RamFast SCSI, though).

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Updata – Syquest Prices and Plans
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According to MacSense (online magazine downloaded as a single file, which unpacks as a hypermedia application that includes the articles and graphics), Syquest is lowering prices, building in backward compatibility, and offering coupons for free cartridges to buyers of its drives (call 800-245-7334, or visit their website). The backwards compatibility will consist of something called the Power Disk Cartridge standard (PDC).

PDC will be a cartridge that is compatible with 135MB, 270MB, and 540MB drives and available from Syquest, Nomai, Kao, Maxell, Polaroid, and Xyratex. PDC is not yet available, but it appears that the idea is to make it possible to get the economy of scale that has eluded users of the 270MB systems. The PDC standard is intended to provide future compatibility beyond 540MB. Fascinating.

Drive size  Old Price   New Price

135 MB      $239       $199
200 MB      $499       $399
270 MB      $499       $399

The 105MB system that preceded the 270MB system is no longer seen or heard from, so I’m glad I didn’t buy one of those. Maybe users of the 105MB have some comments regarding this. I’d love to hear from you.

Despite the extra hard drive space I need more room, because I’m not getting any smaller (see “So High…”) and it gets very warm in the summer. I suppose that, with help, I can move the corner desk out of the guest room and down to the basement, then rearrange all the computer gear down there. In the summer it is just right for temperature, and there is much more room to work. For the winter I’ll have to insulate and partition a work area down there, and get the furnace crew to put in a hot air duct.

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Updata – Internet Email Subscriptions to II Something
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This list gets bigger all the time (it’s almost the size of our local A2UG) but it is not huge. If you get this from any sources besides Genie and Delphi let me know and I’ll investigate the possibility of adding the webmaster or sysop to the list. A Genie user who is also on Compuserve uploads it there. Prodigy, AOL, and straight up Internet providers don’t have an Apple II front end (yet), but there may be some interest in II Something as a download.

This is the ideal way to distribute a magazine. Especially nice is the quick feedback and response time to it. When someone doesn’t get an issue, gets a garbled one, or has some other problem like an address change, it gets done (he lied) right away. If you feel I’m not doing the best that can be done, let me know how I can improve delivery.

Two subscribers had recent problems (one an address change, the other wondering what happened to the weekly distribution) which should now be resolved. Here’s the usual deal – if you fail to get this issue, drop me some email…

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So High I Can’t Get Over It So Wide I Can’t Get Around It
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My official weight (Thursday, 4/18/96) was 198 pounds. That makes my goal for next week 196. This has been a very fun diet. Resetting the goal counter every week is undemanding. I don’t see how those commercial diet programs stay in business, frankly.

A few years ago my vegetarian friends the Kivinens were reading a book called “Fit for Life” which contains a whole lifestyle change. They were already vegetarians, but for a time they tried the breakfast idea, which is to eat nothing but fruit. A work neighbor reacquainted me with this about a month ago, and I’ve been trying it. It seems to give me more energy, and as long as I just vary the fare it’s like eating fifty seven times. I usually begin with a sliced raw pear (d’Anjou) and some strawberries, plus some raisins and other assorted dried fruit (my favorites are pineapple and mango). Bananas (fresh or dried, although the dried is usually coated with coconut oil) and apples are occasional treats.

This is a great way to start the day, and an even better way to stay regular. If you’re squeamish about your need to, uh, go, then you’ll probably not eat what you should and get colon cancer. And as you lie there expiring you’ll think,”if only I had listened to that strange guy, what was his name, who wrote that II Something years ago…”

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Wish List – Pointer Info
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Some time ago someone built a little INIt that allowed GS/OS applications to automatically recognize when the mouse pointer was in a menu and drop the menus as if the mouse button had been pressed. This was a great idea, although I don’t recall ever using such a thing. Don’t get me wrong – I’m not a fan of the two button mouse (why would anyone need a second button, except to play Minesweeper?), I’m just unbelievably lazy.

Pointer Info would be a weird little FEXt that would display a small window containing the size and status of any volume on the Finder desktop. The window would show the file system, total size, amount used, and amount available. I’ll bet you’re thinking, “hey, that exists – it’s under Special, and is called Icon Info.” That is nice to have also, but it’s too big and has to be closed. Too much work!

The Pointer Info window would be triggered when the mouse pointer drifted onto a volume icon while the Control key is held down, and the window would disappear as soon as the mouse pointer drifted off. This would be a pleasant surprise and a quick way to find out about each and every volume.

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Ouch!
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In compiling the collected tables of contents for the first 26 issues of II Something (see issue 24, 4-7-96), your editor found some old mistakes no one had mentioned. In the very first issue the filename is given as 951022 rather than 951029. That one also had a substandard layout which is now fixed (I won’t be re-uploading the whole thing – just grab the Contents archive when I put it up).

The 11-5-95 issue had a screwed up Wish List title in the table of contents (oddly enough, from the following week’s issue).

The 1-21-96 Wish List was incorrect in the table of contents (it had the previous week’s title) but not at the beginning of the article.

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Coming…
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Since the first six months are now behind me, I’ve been thinking about changing the headers by replacing the =:=: stuff with something else. I’ve only had two complaints about it (you know who you are) and the last time I brought it up no one had any suggestions at all, none, nothing. Please, I beg of you, suggest a replacement, even if it’s bad, just so I can go on.

Many web pages seem to use the underline character, and I would except that many seem to use the underline character. Perhaps my quirky choice is perfect for this medium. Perhaps I could use the tilde ~~~~ as an underline of sorts, and not use anything above. Help me out here. You know where to get in touch with me.

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II Infinitum

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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.