State of the Apples

I have had quite a bit of Apple II activity, but haven’t written about it.  I feel that I should make an entry, though, for two reasons.  The first reason is to solidify amorphous, ephemeral, short term project ideas I have.  The second is to share them with you, and maybe get a random comment that lets me see things from a different perspective.

Let’s talk about how and what I am working.  I have the IIGS up and running and am primarily using it to transfer actual Apple II disks in to disk images.  These are the same disks that you may have read about in my previous e-log.  I had a catastrophic file system failure that left me hurting and bitter and almost misanthropic enough to take up fly fishing, but somehow I managed the strength to carry on.  So I am now archiving my original disks locally and via CrashPlan back ups, DropBox, SkyDrive, GoogleDrive, and Ubuntu Unity.  Not counting CrashPlan, I have managed to wrangle about 25GB of free cloud storage.  I imagine that the free cloud storage business has an Eric Cartman-type plan that goes along the line of “Hey guys, give me your info, I’ll hold it for you,” followed by, “Hey guys, I have your info.  Times are tough.  I am holding it hostage, what’s it worth to you?” Between the choices, though, I have distributed the info.  Informational survivalism is like evolution in that the information that adapts it’s form to it’s environment and propagates widely has better odds of surviving in the long term.  I really am enjoying the DropBox DiskBox that I have set up.  I can use emulation to work on hard disk setups and to update across platforms and locations.  If I have an idea, I have instant access to my disk images.

The second thing I have been thinking about is setting up a Cat-fur board, and last week I was actually working to this end.  I was hoping that I could make a connection with a willing Apple-Cat II owner / volunteer and test the system.  I’d also like to work out a way to keep the board up 24/7 but right now the idea I have is that is would have calling hours, but I haven’t solidified that idea as of yet.  I have some ideas for the board, but again I don’t want to get ahead of myself.  I should probably develop this idea as some kind of Retro Challenge.  Early testing though has proven problematic as I have to major roadblocks.

The first obstacle is this:  I have an order in for an undisclosed CF Drive for the Apple II’s that has been outstanding since last November with no clarification as to order status, which is depressing, but understandable, since I expect few things move quickly in the retro world, so the hard drive for the system is up in the air. But here is the thing that gets me.  I am interested in 2 CF card readers.  I have asked to be on the waiting list for one brand, I’ve crossed the six month mark waiting for the other brand, and I am considering ordering a second CF card from anyone that I can get to take my money.  Do I sound desperate?  Because I kinda am.

The second problem that I have to overcome is that three of my Disk II hard drives seem it have stopped reading/seeking floppy data.  My Duo Disk sees the info, but various combinations between the Apple IIe and Apple II+, 2 separate drive controllers and the 3 Disk II drives have proven fruitless.  All have failed overnight.  It’s puzzling and I am now researching how to troubleshoot this.

If I can overcome my data storage and retrieval issues, I can begin to live the dream that all healthy young lads strive for the opportunity to be found fit for:  Apple-Cat II Sysop. For now, though, I am going to be tinkering way at the mundane task of troubleshooting my gear.

Another thing that I have found immensely satisfying for personal reasons was a task I underwent to give me a better idea obout the Apple II timeline.  I have been operating under an untrue but understandable assumption that I know a lot about how the Apple II period went down.  I am kind of being funny there, as really, I have to do a lot of research to find things out.  I was kind of isolated, and I know how things went down on my desert island, but I don’t have good perspective overall.  One of the things I did to remedy that was to make an excel spreadsheet by year that corresponds to A2 History’s time line for software and hardware.  This is a work in progress and as I find new information and have time to do so, I add entries into the spread sheet.  In reality I should begin a database along side.  In many instances I was surprised by the actual dates that things were released and when I experienced them.  This project also gave me more clarity on the programmers that created some of my favorite software, and showed me how I gravitated to certain programmers without knowing they were responsible for the offerings.  Each programmer is very distinctive, like each author, each song writer, each band, and are somehow able to create artifacts that you enjoy rediscovering time and time again.  It also is helping me make my Apple set-up more anachronism free, which jangles my nerves when I realize them.  I am also going to a point when I am categorizing my physical floppies by year of release and only want to operate software on the temporally sensible machine for the job.

Finally I am going to put this here:

Last night I woke up from a dream.  In the dream I was watching a history of Apple II Software.  The documentary detailed the first software protection schemes and also talked about software firsts that occurred in Apple II software and continued to be used today.  The dream/film was incredibly interesting to me and when I awoke, I realized that maybe I had been spending too much time looking at the Top Software by Year at A2 History.

You are one of the few that has achieved this level. Do not leave it unsung.