WOzFest 5¼″ Announcement

I’m pleased to announce WOzFest 5¼″ is going to be held on Saturday, 19 November 2016!

It is, as its name suggests, a celebration of that venerable storage medium, the 5¼″ floppy disk.

The 5¼″ floppy disk was critical to the Apple ][’s success in the market.

Woz’s engineering prowess and ethos permeates how floppy disks and drives were implemented in the Apple ][ – the controller card is considered one of his great engineering feats.

I have a few ideas for the night – nothing I can really go into yet, and I always like to have a surprise or two – but I’d be interested to hear attendees’ thoughts on projects or things to do throughout the event.

As things firm up I’ll post further details of what’s happening – as usual, arrival is from midday onwards, there’ll be snacks and apple cider and we’ll order in pizza for dinner. Wrap-up is likely by about 10:30pm (all times AEDT/UTC+11:00). Please let me know if you’re intending on attending.

Hope to see you there!

What WOzFest Is…and Isn’t

There seems to be a lingering confusion in the international Apple ][ community about what WOzFest is, and what it isn’t.

If you had told me a year ago that I would ever write that sentence, I’d have had you committed – there was no way I expected the international Apple ][ community to care one iota enough about WOzFest to get confused by it.

The most common misunderstanding is that WOzFest is Australia’s version of KansasFest and is an annual Apple ][-related gathering, when, in fact, Australia’s version of KansasFest is Oz KFest.

I know I’ve brought about this confusion to some degree myself with the choice of name – keeping the “Oz” and “Fest” in the name does make it look similar to Oz KFest, but with the fact I live in Wollstonecraft giving me the opportunity to make the ultimate Apple ][-related name pun possible when abbreviated and paired with “Oz”, it was too tempting not to.

The events are also viscerally different in other ways – WOzFest’s informal nature vs Oz KFest’s set session schedule; WOzFest is a frequently-held one day gathering vs Oz KFest being less frequent and held over several days; WOzFest is always held at my home while Oz KFest is held in different locations around Australia.

So, when your international Apple ][ buddies mix up WOzFest and Oz KFest, point them to this handy comparison chart:

AttributeWOzFestOz KFest
FrequencySeveral a yearEvery 1-3 years
Static addressingYes¹No²
Formal program of eventsNoYes
LengthOne daySeveral days
Chaotic natureYesVariable

Comparison Chart Notes:
1. WOzFest is always held at my home in Wollstonecraft, NSW, Australia.
2. Each Oz KFest is held in a different location throughout Australia.

WOzFest $04 Galleries

These are my pictures from and related to WOzFest $04 – please link to any galleries of your own photos in the comments.

A new logo for WOzFests.
That’s going to be one BIG europlus!
Guiding Disk ][’s back into operation.
i’m fEDD up doing its thing in preparation for WOzFest $04.
The fun begins.
Denis’ original europlus and //e.
A //e clone and a couple of //e’s needing love and attention.
A Laser 128 with an external port…it just looks wrong!
Things are kicking along now!
Soundsmith v2.0b starting up.
Giving credit where it’s due.
Soundsmith v2.0b in action.
Up to eight channels selectable thanks to the 4soniq!
FTA’s Soundsmith Player supporting extra channels.
Badge prep begins.
For a sense of scale.
Masking tape to keep bare wood available for gluing.
My paint selection.
First coat.
Second coat – some pieces required a third coat.
Silver paint for authenticity.

WOzFest $04 Recap

Well, I had a lot of fun at WOzFest $04 – and got more done than I usually do.

Thanks again to all attendees for making it a great day. Denis, a first time WOzFest attendee from Canberra, brought his original europlus and //e – it was nice to see the original monitor he’d bought for the europlus as well. Jeremy, also from Canberra, brought the fruits of his search for educational material, including a //e clone.

Craig brought a Laser 128 – unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to play with it much or watch too much of the work on it, but seeing an interface card plugged into the external slot was very disconcerting.

Andrew worked on an adaptor for connecting a colour QuickCam to an Apple ][ – it’ll be interesting to see when he gets that working (no pressure!).

Jon as usual was helpful on lots of fronts, and Leslie also offered his expertise and experience in lots of discussions and projects, including replacing key switches on one of Jeremy’s //e keyboards.

Jon’s ESR meter was put to good use testing some power supplies’ capacitors to see which were out of spec. He’s kindly left it with me so I can test more of my PSUs.

For those not attending, the second hookup was to Antoine Vignau and Olivier Zardini from Brutal Deluxe, who revealed that they have been able to recover the Soundsmith source code files from the original author’s hard disk and have been busy working on v2, which, amongst other things, supports one or two 4soniqs.

The hookup to KFest went well as well – there were about 8-10 people at the other side who hung around to say G’day, and I finally got to personally say “Boo Atari!” to Kevin Savetz.

A reasonable amount of disk preservation was done, with more to happen with disks left behind for me to do so – it’ll be good to have Michael’s EDD+ card he won at KFest in the mix as well. Now that 4am’s Passport has been publicly released, some disk preservation might start to happen on a more distributed basis.

My special decoration project was a europlus badge reproduction…except it’s 550mm wide (a europlus to scale would be 2m wide, 2.4m deep and 0.5m tall!). The letters and Apple logo segments were laser cut at Robots & Dinosaurs, a local makerspace I’m a member of, and I hand-painted it all over the last week or so. I’m pretty pleased with the result.

I was happy to do more hands-on stuff this time around than I’ve been able to the last couple of WOzFests, and I’m certainly looking forward to the next one, look for the announcement as soon as I settle on a date.

WOzFest $04 Announcement

To celebrate KansasFest 2016 (and commiserate with other non-attendees) I’m proud to announce WOzFest $04 will be held on Saturday 23 July, kicking off at around midday.

At 1400 AEST we’ll try and get a video hookup with any KansasFest insomniacs (it’ll be 2300 CDT there) and share the KFest vibe.

Potential projects include ESR testing of PSU capacitors (feel free to bring some along), software preservation, assessment of some complete Apple //e education systems Jeremy from Canberra has recently secured from his high school Maths teacher, disk drive maintenance/recovery, and anything else people bring with them or decide on the day!

The usual munchies and cider will be present, with an expected dinner of pizza.

I expect it will be more low-key than WOzFest /// – but as I discovered last time around, anything can happen in 3 short weeks!

Hope to see you there!

Update: I’ve been donated an EDD+ card by Chris from Townsville and it’s now arrived – subject to it being operational, software preservation is definitely on the agenda. And, speaking of agendas, the video hookup “session” has been added to KansaFest’s official schedule – so I hope to see you there…or here…or, umm, wherever!

WOzFest /// Galleries

Here are my pictures from WOzFest /// – feel free to post links to your own galleries in the comments!

A bare-bones IIgs.
A bare-bones IIgs.
How tidy!
How tidy!
Now we're cooking’!
Now we’re cooking’!
What could it be? The 4play pre-reveal.
What could it be? The 4play pre-reveal.
The fun continues.
A not-so-bare-bones IIgs.
The 4soniq is revealed.
Jason was a lucky winner on the night.

WOzFest /// Recap

Oh, what a night!

We had 18 attendees, which ended up being a little cramped, but no tempers were frayed (well, none of the attendees’ tempers were frayed, but that’s a different story).

Early attendees were the interstate visitors Geoff and Jason (they were at a bit of a loose end) and über-locals Jon and Andrew.

Others arrived throughout the afternoon and evening, and it wasn’t long before the work table (the fancy name for my table tennis table) was covered with Apple ][’s in various states of déshabillé.

When a //c for a new young enthusiast, Charlie, seemed to have auxiliary memory issues, Jon (thanks!) was tasked (by me) to troubleshoot the problem and figure out how to get a working machine (thanks, Craig, for spares).

When Hans, the author of Caverns of Mordia, arrived with a disk of the game to be imaged, Jason (thanks!) was tasked (by me) to try and image the disk for preservation as he had brought his EDD+ card with him.

When the pizza delivery guy arrived, he was fascinated with what we were doing, and asked to look around. He ended up getting a tour from Christian (thanks!) of the various machines, their histories, etc. and he left with several photos, I suppose to show off to his mates. The costs of the pizza was covered by a mystery donor attendee (thanks!).

At 8pm, the developer of the first surprise new hardware product being announced, Alex Lukacz, videoed in via Skype to give an overview of the 4play digital joystick interface card.

The 4play allows up to four digital joysticks (including the Atari 2600 joystick) to be connected to a slotted Apple ][. Alex had secured support for the card in KABOOM!, allowing the user interface to be navigated via attached joysticks and for gameplay to incorporate connected digital joysticks.

What Alex didn’t know was that Jon Co had approached me about also releasing the 4soniq four channel/surround-sound interface card (co-developed with John Valdezco) on the night. I thought KABOOM! would be a perfect demo program for the 4soniq, so I sent the request to Jesse Blue of Ninjaforce. He took up the challenge (thanks!), and with only 10 days’ notice, was able to bake in support for the 4soniq into KABOOM!.

Once Alex had made his announcement of the card and KABOOM!’s support of it, I then handed over to Jon, who could then announce his card…and KABOOM!’s support of it! Players then got to play the surround-sound and digital joystick enhanced KABOOM! using both cards.

Michael from the  Retro Computing Roundtable brought a bottle of 1987 port which was then served up for attendees – it was a nice touch to have an era-appropriate tipple to go with our retro-computers. Michael also kindly left a magnum of 2002 Redman Cabernet Sauvignon as a thank you for my hosting WOzFest /// and gifted a copy of Steven Weyhrich’s excellent Apple ][ history Sophistication & Simplicity: The Life & Times of the Apple II Computer to Charlie. Thanks, Michael, for your extraordinary generosity.

I had a great time, there was a great vibe, and I think the new products were a hit. I’m not sure yet when the next WOzFest will be, but I’m already looking forward to it.

WOzFest /// Approaches!

One week to go till WOzFest ///!

I’ve been scrabbling to get ready – it’s more work than I expected, partly because the Man Cave was in a worse state than I expected after our renovations, but also because I’m divesting myself of so much of the retro-computing material I’ve collected to focus on my Apple ][ passion, the Apple ][ europlus. What that means is heaps of processing and selection that needs to be done on top of just prepping the Man Cave for not far off 20 visitors. I’m hoping this Anzac Day long weekend will give me the time I need to get things prepared.

It now looks like we’ll have at least two products announced and demonstrated on the night, and that’s not all that’s happening.

Ken Gagne, Editor-in-Chief and Publisher of Juiced.GS is generously providing us with a door prize! The winner gets to choose one of:

  • A 2016 subscription to Juiced.GS (a US$27 value);
  • A 2017 subscription to Juiced.GS (a US$27 value);
  • Opus ][: The Software (as a disk image download – a US$25 value); or
  • Opus ][: The Source (as a disk image download – a US$25 value).

The aim is to have an Apple ][ select the winner via a random draw – details to be announced. The winner doesn’t have to be present when the prize is drawn, but only attendees on the day will be eligible.

Thanks, Ken, for helping someone get lucky at WOzFest ///!

We’ll have at least two out-of-towners attending, with Geoff and Jason flying up from Melbourne.

Although it’s a work day, I’ve settled on a midday start for those who can make it then. Product announcements and the prize draw won’t happen until after business hours when the bulk of attendees are expected to be here.

But it’s shaping up as a great gathering of Apple ][ aficionados – tinkering, soldering, reconfiguring, cider, pizza, prizes, video hookups, new products! If that sounds like your kind of thing, drop me a line.

WOzFest /// Announcement

In Sydney on 29 April, 2016?

Love Apples, especially of the ][ variety?

Join me (and around 10-15 other retro-enthusiasts) at WOzFest /// – an Apple-lovers’ gathering at Wollstonecraft (on Sydney’s Lower North Shore).

Bring your soldering irons, bring your projects, bring your discards, but most of all bring your enthusiasm for…

…an exciting new Apple ][ hardware product to be announced – and demonstrated – on the night!

It’s not my product, but I’m overjoyed to be providing the venue (and audience [i.e. attendees]) for the announcement. I’m sure quite a few Apple ][ enthusiasts’ buttons will be pressed by it – it’s a real game changer! Beyond that, I can’t say anything about it.

It’s not strictly an Apple ][-only affair – there’s plenty of crossover into early Macs (and sometimes other computer brands) as well. We’ll have a few out-of-towners attending, and apple cider and pizza are the refreshments of choice.

“WOzFest ///? What of WOzFest 1 and ][?”, I hear you say.

WOzFest 1 was a hastily convened after party for OzKFest 2015 to take advantage of the fact Tony Diaz, who had flown over from the States, was in Sydney, along with his huge collection of Apple and Apple-related prototypes and gear. It provided a great impetus to tidy up the man cave and continue the OzKFest spirit.

WOzFest ][, held in July 2015, was a little more organised, and featured an Apple IIgs sound card “sound-off”. It also saw testing of a prototype of the Universal Drive Adaptor for the Floppy Emu. A surprise was the fact that Steve and Karina Howell from the Carte Blanche II project were in attendance.

I have a few projects I haven’t been able to get to because of the renovations – including testing my Uthernet II and testing my two Silentypes now I have the appropriate interface card, so I’ll try and get to that on the night. I’m aware of other attendees’ projects which will be worked on as well.

Drop me a line if you’d like to attend – it’s going to be a great night!