II Something Issue # 8

II Something Magazine

Issue # 8
a weekly journal devoted to the Apple II family of computers
Sunday, December 17, 1995 – issue 8 – II.Smthg.951217


  • About…
  • Editor’s Greeting
  • Letters To II Something
  • Does The Editor Have A Life? – third coast undercover work
  • Do It In Hardware – A Look Ahead
  • The Wire Service – More delays from GS Worldview
  • The Wire Service – The Apple Blossom
  • The Wire Service – Aliens in India and Elektromagnum
  • The Wire Service – more FAX software
  • The Wire Service – as he tries to manage his Delphi workspace
  • Multimedia – what’s that? never heard of it…
  • Wish List – PGP, and online with the coaxial cable



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

Welcome to II Something. All I want for Christmas is my IIgs (singing).

This is the eighth issue, which means I’ve been doing this for two months already. Perhaps today would be a great time to recount the history of my writing.

Back in the early 1980s I wanted to get a computer and had no idea which one. I’d heard of the Apple II way back in the late 1970s, and my boss at the time (one of my former teachers, who used to work in the Pentagon coding and decoding messages to Iron Curtain spies) expressed derision when I’d mentioned it. He gave no reason, and considering that the only computers available were Apple, Radio Shack, and a couple of hundred brands of CP/M boxes, I can’t figure out his attitude. Maybe the standard color capabilities, built-in BASIC, easy to use disk drive, and large standard memory repelled him.

As I shopped for a computer, beginning in early 1981, I bought a then-recent back issue of Creative Computing and filled out the reader reply card, the first I’d ever seen. The first thing that arrived was a complimentary subscription to SoftTalk magazine, paid for in my case by Sierra OnLine (now Sierra), makers of Soft Seventy (70 column text display for 40 column systems), the ScreenWriter II word processor, and a mess of games.

[ Arcane Sidebar: Creative Computing went away back in 1982 or 1983. The reason given for its folding was that general interest computer mags were on the way out. CC, like its peers (Compute!, Personal Computing, Byte, Computer Shopper? more?), covered all the CPU brands, and the thinking in 1983 was that magazines that dealt with a single brand were the coming wave. Compute! broke its publication into two, three, or four different ones, with just one remaining as a general interest mag for a few years more. Personal Computing was never very generalized, but was the most professionally produced of its time. Byte is still around but was seduced by the dark side of the force. Computer Shopper is still around, is mostly dark side, and has a physician’s warning to those with lifting restrictions and certain other health conditions. End of arcane sidebar. ]

The Softalk subscription made my novice mind wonder whether my circling of the numbers on the reader reply card had actually placed orders for all the merchandise. I began to worry, and that went on for the few months it took for the rest of the ads to arrive from the various vendors. I remember a few of those products, but the ones that seemed the most on the ball were the ones that seemed the most fun. All of them were Apple II compatible.

Somewhere during this time period I read that the way to choose the hardware was to choose the software that did what I wanted, then buy the hardware on which it ran. Since my primary interest was in writing, I explored word processors. Since I was (still am) cheap, I mostly read reviews in Softalk, meaning that I got a lot of information about Apple II WPing.

I concluded that the only word processor worth buying on the Apple II (this during the DOS 3.3 era) was ScreenWriter II. Hayden’s (?) PIE Writer (and others) had command structures that were so difficult to remember that fourth party providers actually made a living by selling keyboard charts, replacement keycaps, and the like. In those days a decent word processor program cost $200 and up. Very bad word processors with limited capability ran about $80. In those days it could be lucrative to program the Apple II. Paul Lutus, the genius maverick programmer of AppleWriter and other programs, may have made over $2 million doing just that.

ScreenWriter II loaded part of the data file into memory for the user to work on, and auto-saved changes, to work around the CPU memory limit. Many of those old programs did something like it. This allowed the user to create and edit files nearly as large as the disk capacity (which, unfortunately, was only 140K in most cases). It automatically supported 70 columns on 40 column machines, and 80 column cards by most third party vendors. It had footnoting, indexing, and other advanced capabilities. Since I’ve never actually seen the program I can’t tell you how well it implemented all these features, and can’t believe any of us is still wondering. At the time, SWII sounded like the program for me. The last time I checked (1985), some independent had taken over support for it, and was selling it for around $150.

I bought my Apple IIe in March 1984 from a retailer in a local mall. It had 64K, and a non-extended 80 column card, DOS 3.3, monochrome Monitor II, Disk II (5.25″) and controller, and two system disks, plus the guided tour disk set. This was a great bargain at $1500. Just a few years later I spent about the same amount for a ROM 03 GS, Apple RGB monitor, 3.5″ drive, standard 1MB memory, keyboard, mouse, and (eventually) free replacement power supply.

Sometime during 1984 I received a disk from I forget who publishing. It contained a promo version of Zardax, a DOS 3.3 word processor. I really enjoyed using Zardax because of its easy two menu design (I presume a print menu was available in the full version) and whopping 32K of text file editing space. The promo version was copy protected so that it won’t boot correctly on the GS (probably not on any of the enhanced IIs with Smartport ROMs), and the print capabilities were not present, but I used that program to death. I wrote glossary files (that’s what they called them) to embed printer codes in my documents (I had some cheap, weird printer) and dumped the completed text files to the printer using a DOS 3.3 version of a TYPE command. It was not WYSIWYG. It was not easy. It just worked and was cheap.

It took me what seemed a long time to transition to ProDOS. The main reason I did was the original 8-bit version of Squirt. I really liked it. I also liked Bird’s Better Bye. Copy II+ was a huge improvement over the Filer and Convert utilities that used to come with ProDOS, but the ProSel package was far better, and I started to use that after I got a Central Point 3.5″ disk drive and UDC. I remained a contented, and cheap, 3.5″ user until April 1991 when I got a TMS 44MB Syquest.

Back in 1986 I began to write a lot. Most of my writing has consisted of Apple II articles and reviews. This is far removed from my original intent, and lately I’ve been trying to energize myself to write again. II Something is the result. A month or so ago I started wondering why I’d got myself into writing a weekly of any kind. Now I’m glad I did. Having to produce and proof a 25-30K block of my own writing once a week is just the discipline I’ve needed. Last Sunday I sat in front of this machine, listening to the ice storm hit the window, writing letters to editors and various other things, having finished and uploaded the 12/10 issue of II Something a day earlier.

Enjoy this issue. There are more where it came from.

Letters To II Something

INET# Document Id: UX014.BUX0355016
Item 0887573 95/12/13 16:38
To: C.STILES3 Clark Hugh Stiles
cc: RSUENAGA@HAWAII.EDU@INET# Internet Gateway
Sub: Most recent II Something
From rsuenaga@alpha.kestrok.com Wed Dec 13 21:39:41 1995
Date: Wed, 13 Dec 1995 11:38:09 -1000 (HST)
From: Ryan Suenaga
To: C.Stiles3@genie.geis.com
Cc: rsuenaga@hawaii.edu
Subject: Most recent II Something
Hiya Clark,
Loved the new II Something, and went out and bought the EZ 135 for myself. I haven't had a chance to compare it to the Zip, but I will say something: it's fast! And, it's cool :)
See yas.
rsuenaga@kestrok.com <--Preferred
R.Suenaga1@GEnie.com <--Second choice
rsuenaga@hawaii.edu <--Only if you never want me to get it :)


Ryan: I’m glad you liked the issue and the review, and even more glad that you liked the EZ Drive after you bought it 😉 Thanks for the letter!

Does The Editor Have A Life? – third coast undercover work

A couple of weekends ago Mike (of Mike ‘n’ Jodi) went to Saugatuck, Michigan to do some Christmas shopping and took me along. We’ve been friends for twenty years, so despite his vegetarianism, he let me eat a Whopper Junior in his car. Anyway, keep very quiet about this, but Mike was attempting to locate a specific Magritte print for Jodi, and although the particular title was out of print, he ordered one by the same artist. I ordered the small version ($5) of a print of “Spring” (one of the four seasons series) by Guiseppe Archimboldo (sometimes called Archimboldo the Marvelous, or spelled without the ‘h’). Mine arrived on Tuesday, but the poster shop didn’t have time to call until Friday, by which time (it turned out) Mike’s order also arrived. Since I went out there yesterday to pick up mine, I checked to see if Mike’s special order had also arrived. It had, it was a charge, and I saved him a trip. Today Mike and I went to the frame shop to get Jodi’s present drymounted, framed, and glazed. It will be ready by Christmas.

While in Saugatuck we went to Singapore Books which is located on the second floor of one of the old business structures. This bookstore has a smaller stock than any I’ve ever seen, but if I had a bookstore it would look much like this one. The whole sales floor consists of two rooms and an alcove of what was once no doubt an upstairs apartment of some sort – judging from the furnishings, not so long ago. The proprietress is from an old area family (as I recall from a conversation of a few years ago) and keeps an unusual looking cat on the premises. There is a back room obscured by a veil behind the sales counter, and I’ve speculated that she lives there.

The name of the shop comes from a vanished town that stood a mile or two from Saugatuck along the same river but near the big lake. Singapore burned a few times and the lumber business waned as the nearby forests were cut down to rebuild Chicago after its great fire. Sometime in the 1890s the shifting dunes slowly buried the last remaining building (reportedly a three story apartment) as its last tenant moved up, floor by floor. The last hard artifact of Singapore still above ground seems to be the metal historic marker located in Saugatuck.

I think the editor of II Something has more of a life than Singapore.

Do It In Hardware – A Look Ahead

I don’t have much for you wire heads this week. In future issues I plan to tell you about various odds and ends that I’ve got, such as the Slotbuster, and things I may buy, such as the SuperComm (whatever that is – maybe a high speed serial card?). I’d appreciate any suggestions about what you’d like to see here. I have not yet found the needed articles regarding the game port as a high speed serial port and still plan to hunt up Don Lancaster himself.

I’m considering getting an inkjet printer, and the QL catalog has some information regarding what works with the Vitesse drivers. I need to dig into the piles around here to find some more things of interest. I’ve used a Harris Labs expanded memory SIMM card for five years, but I’d love to hear about anyone with a Harris Labs standard slot RAMdisk card that uses SIMMs. Never came up with the money for that one four or five years ago. At that time, the big SIMMs needed to make a 32MB RAMdisk would have cost around $1000, much more than a hard drive, but it would be nice to have the capability. It’s also nice to have one of everything.

The Wire Service – More delays from GS Worldview


Now the GS Worldview has been postponed (third time by my count) until December 27, and the monthly publication date will be similarly moved the the 27th of each month. Issue two is now to be published January 27, 1996. If this thing ever comes to pass I will review the hell out of it.

I must say that I like the hypertext links in his website. There are a lot of very strange places that can be accessed, as well as unusual but basically normal places like Antarctica. The Elektromagnum site reviewed here was discovered in the Turley site. Opinions about “Dr. Tom” have mostly been negative, although the one positive letter I’ve received can be read in the 12/10/95 issue of II Something.

Despite his reputation, he does manage to find links and isn’t shy about putting them in his index page. Once again, I disavow any knowledge of his actions. I’m getting tired of the delays, but remember, it is freeware, and he’s got to eat. See this week’s archive for his official news release.

The Wire Service – The Apple Blossom


Steve Cavanaugh’s Apple Blossom website is pretty nice. I recommend it to everyone on Earth. There are lots of Apple II oriented links, and all the issues of TAB are available as downloads. Also available is a head to head comparison of the EZ Drive and Zip Drive that differs from mine, but you should read it for yourself. Like a lot of Apple II owners, he also uses Macs (for example, to access AOL to maintain the website) and writes user group SIG articles for that machine. I think that user group newsletter editors would be wise to explore the site just to seek out copyrighted but reprintable work that is available, and the conditions under which it can be reprinted.

Steve maintains the vendor list included in the archive with an earlier issue of II Something. I cut and pasted it out of his Vendor NDA that is available on GEnie and elsewhere. The vendor list is available as text within the website, and in at least two downloadable forms there.

I’ve run out of easy to remember reasons to go there. Just go there.

The Wire Service – Aliens in India and Elektromagnum


Aliens in Vedic Civilization is the subject of this website. Vedic refers to ancient India, not Star Trek DS9, and the contention is that it endured centuries of contact and even conflict with non-human, possibly extraterrestrial species. If you’ve read II Something since it began, you know that the frequent wet spot on my chair is not from too much coffee (never touch the stuff) when I explore such subjects, even though I don’t (necessarily) believe a word of it. And sometimes it’s not urine.


Elektromagnum was established in July 1994 and is “devoted to speculative electromagnetics and especially the possible explanation af gravity/inertia by EM. This page has been hit 7763 times since Tue Jun 27 1995.”

There are a lot of very odd things in this website. Everything is accessible from the first FTP site listed above and contributions are uploaded at the second FTP site listed above. I’m sure there are links to each from the other, since what I’ve explored in this site has been very well organized.

There is a good quantity of UFO-related files and website links. Various fringe technology files are available for viewing and download. I was impressed by the whole thing, not because of content, but because of coherence.

I’m aware that some people are put off by any mention of UFOs because they think that UFOs are part of the delusional structures of those waiting for the space brothers, or because they think that UFOs have all been debunked, or because they think that UFOs are only seen by people with no teeth driving pickups with bald tires, or because they think that UFOs are impossible because the way they behave violates the current understanding of the universe which is also the ultimate thereof, of because they think that UFO contactees always portray all UFO occupants as Nordic supermen (this incorrect objection goes back at least as long ago as the 1950s, and is found in “Way Out World” by Long John Nebel) and therefore UFO contactees are a bunch of neo-Nazis, or because they think that UFOs are instruments of the Devil.

UFOs are really just a hot button for a lot of people. My take on it is, ‘cool down.’

The Wire Service – more FAX software

Parkhurst Micro Products put out a press release regarding PMPFax software. It is $89 plus shipping and applicable CA sales taxes. Until March 1, 1996 you can purchase it for 50% off if you send a copy of the invoice from your purchase of another IIgs fax program (there are so many others), or a copy of your diskette and the first page of your manual. PMP made a desktop program to extract files from Zip archives (this is not the same Zip as the Zip drive). The full press release is available on GEnie and elsewhere as a download.

The Wire Service – as he tries to manage his Delphi workspace

I’ve downloaded and edited my FAVORITES.SAV;1 file from my Delphi workspace, and have uploaded the edited version. This is very important, because I had some duplicates, some wasted space (Delphi menus are savable, but then unusable and invisible, which is too bad, really), some none-too-descriptive descriptions (how many “index.html” do I need when they represent completely different links?), and just too much of everything. For fun, I’ve included it in this archive so you can see what I see when I go into my Personal Favorites.

As noted in the 12/10 issue, Ymodem downloads seem to work best for me within the Lynx. Uploading Xmodem is the only documented common ground between Talk Is Cheap and Delphi at any time, although I may try some others that are not supported. Changing this is possible at most Delphi prompts, but within the Workspace menu it is possible to upload Xmodem (or whatever) by specifying the protocol, while the one recorded in the Settings menu remains untouched. Since TIC doesn’t upload Ymodem, this is handy – at least within the Workspace.

Next week I hope to report my success in taking care of all my email transfers within the boundaries of my Workspace.

Thanks to the rapid and helpful staff at Delphi, I now know that I can sign on to Delphi and go right to the Apple II area using the Settings menu. I don’t recall the name of the menu selection, but you want to set your initial menu to COMP ADD APPLE, which represents COMPuter Groups, ADDitional Systems, APPLE II. I hate to be relegated to the same menu as a lot of machines I thought were just rumors when I’m one of a community of five or six million, but as long as I can get there, I’m fine with this. From the Apple II area I can access MAIL, WORKSPACE, and INTERNET, along with all the Apple II specific submenus. When done with my mail, typing EXIT or EX bounces back to the Apple II area.

The other part of Delphi that I like is the Custom Forum area, which has all the forums initiated and maintained by Delphi subscribers. Of course, I end up in some wacky freakin’ forum that is to my liking, or go to one of the commercial ones, such as the X-files forum (note the website equivalent in my Favorites.Sav file). The X-files are also accessible by typing GO ENT X because it is also a menu selection in the Entertainment area. When I’m done with the custom forums, I can return to the Apple II area by typing GO COMP ADD APPLE. Pretty simple, really.

Mostly I need never leave the Apple II area when I’m on Delphi. I’ve been trying to find out whether Delphi’s custom forums can be websites, or if they are automatically, or what. I’ve received no answer. I hope they are, because I’d love to have a homepage. Until I find out otherwise, assume the answer is negative.

Multimedia – what’s that? never heard of it…

Nothing to report on this front. I must plead for your patience – I’m about to spend $3300 for a new furnace and water heater (both high efficiency), and since I live alone I need to be around at least part of the time as the installers work. This week is the biweekly payroll entry period, except that, due to the long holiday weekend, I’ve got just until the end of Tuesday instead of the usual Thursday to complete it. Just for fun, the installers will need both of those days. The old gravity gas deathtrap (at least at this point) has to be cut up and removed, as does the old water heater, and most of the furnace’s old ductwork. I’m hopeful that the installers will have nothing but smooth sailing and finish the job by late Monday or early Tuesday, but not so hopeful that I think it’s going to happen.

My next installment regarding multimedia will occur when I’ve got a Diskquest system, probably from Alltech. This will take place after Christmas sometime, at the earliest. That reminds me – Christmas is also a big consumer of time.

Wish List – PGP, and online with the coaxial cable

Pretty Good Privacy has a forum on Delphi. It seems to me that the PGP algorithms should be usable in an Apple II encryption program. Perhaps there is something already available. This would be enormously handy as well as state of the art. I’ll try to find out more for future issues of II Something.

One of my ideal, imaginary, online webrider systems would consist of a touch sensitive screen (rather than a mouse), keyboard, my existing television (the touch screen adapter would have a configuration program to determine the screen dimensions via user input), and some sort of interface electronics connected to the cable tv coax port. Access to different links by different people would be carried out using encrypted packets along with checksums in the coax signal. The encryption key would be the user’s id (name, handle, address, whatever) and a user chosen password to log on. Naturally, it would be best to maintain privacy by limiting the transactions during initial logon, such that the initial password would be mailed to the user, who could then go online and change it as often as desired.

The main advantages to such a system would be that user front end software need only be written to communicate to the coax interface box, which would take care of buffering (the link could be too fast for UARTs in any existing microcomputer CPU). A touch sensitive screen would be part of the interface box package, and the keyboard could be included, or the keyboard of the user’s CPU could be substituted using the front end software.

The software would handle things like file downloads to disk, and the interface box would take care of all the display details on the television as well as the hyperlinks. Dream big, that’s what I say.


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.