#MARCHintosh 2024 – What a Ride!

First off, Happy St Patrick’s Day! Éirinn go Brách! 💚🤍🧡

This has been what I can only describe as an unexpectedly, heavily, Mac-flavoured March.

Yes, I know it’s #MARCHintosh – but I don’t have any retro Macs! What projects could I possibly contribute with?

Oh, boy, let me tell you!

My Project

It started out innocently enough, with a post from a Mastodon mutual indicating their project was classic Mac virus-related.

That triggered the memory of doing a “MacViruses” article for PC Support Advisor when I worked for Paul Zucker, and I knew I had the original PageMaker file for at least one of the two articles I wrote for that publication in 1991, and print copies of both.

So, I thought, my project (note the singular at this time, please), would be to find them, archive them, and have that info available online. I found the printed copies quick smart, and the PageMaker file (both PageMaker 4.2 and 5 versions) for the other article (“Macintosh Resources”) soon after.

As a proof of concept, I fired up PageMaker 5 in mini vMac, printed to the PostScript file printer I’d already set up, used GhostScript to convert that .ps file to PDF, and I ended up with a modern, clean, searchable copy of the resources article quick smart, which I uploaded it to The Internet Archive.

You might think I’d be happy about achieving 50% of my project, but then I considered the viruses article. With no copy of it in PageMaker, I was left with scanning, OCRing and uploading that to IA.

But that felt just plain wrong!

When I scanned the pages in colour as 600dpi TIFFs, they were 400MB each! The whole PDF of the resources article was only 200KB, and it had more pages and screenshots! Scanning two colour spot printing as a colour TIFF, even with a limited colour depth, was blowing out the file size. And I was worried about how good a job OCR would do, anyway, especially for the figure captions which were printed over a dot screen of the second colour.

So I considered my options and thought what I would do was just use the scanned pages to extract the text and graphics, and use the resources article PageMaker file as a template to recreate the viruses article, and inherit the file size and format benefits by converting that to PDF.

I embarked on this path and after a significant amount of fiddling (and advice from noted Australian digital image manipulatoreditor NanoRaptor), I was able to extract six “clean” 512 × 342 1-bit Mac screenshots identical to the originals.

The project stalled at that point because of an unexpected hurdle: I’d started taking notice of the GlobalTalk networking project, and wanted to get involved.

GlobalTalk started as an attempt by Paul Rickards and dan on Mastodon to get their AppleTalk networks joined across the Atlantic. While it looks nothing like the original proposal (it now uses Apple Internet Router [AIR]), to say it has taken off would have to be the understatement of the year! As of today there are roughly 60 zones intermittently showing up on GlobalTalk, with usually over 45 online at any one time.

But…I have no AppleTalk capable Macs, so what can I do to participate?

Well, emulate, of course! I (totally sensibly) down tools on Project 1 (temporarily, I assure myself), and enthusiastically join…

The GlobalTalk Revolution! (a.k.a. My Second Project)

It’d be pretty straightforward, I surmised – look how easy it was to use mini vMac to create a PostScript file from a PageMaker file almost 35 years old!

Okay, Houston…we’ve had a problem here…

First of all, my favoured classic Mac emulators are not currently being very co-operative.

SheepShaver and Basilisk II are both crashing for me immediately upon launch. I’ve tried changed settings, creating new settings, new downloads of the apps – nothing is working to get them going. I’ve subsequently seen that using OpenCore Legacy Patcher to run later macOS versions on officially unsupported hardware is at fault, but I haven’t seen any reasons why that is the case.

“But hang on,” I hear you ask, “what about mini vMac? You were using that just a few paragraphs ago!”

Indeed I was, but this is where I expose my selective laziness and technical chauvinism – when it comes to emulated systems, I like to use bridged networking (if the emulated systems are network-capable at all), whereby they appear as independent/peer network devices to the other devices on my network.

It means I can play with different network protocols (inbound and outbound) as if the emulated system was a physical device plugged into my network.

If necessary (and appropriate), I can easily forward ports from my router to those emulated systems for external access without funky TAP/TUN/SLiRP/BURP networking shenanigans (that last one is made up if you didn’t guess, but who could really be sure these days, eh?).

I seem to recall having bridged networking working with SheepShaver and Basilisk II, but they’re useless to me at the moment, so I couldn’t check and looked at mini vMac.

Every time I tried to enable AppleTalk in mini vMac, the boot system would crash on restart. I’ve even tried Beta Branch 37 with UDP enabled for LocalTalk by default (which I thought would do the bridged networking I was looking for) with no luck.

On looking around, however, I saw that another emulator, QEMU, can do bridged networking on macOS, and its Motorola 68k emulation can emulate a Quadra 800, which runs the OS version Paul Rickards’ instructions said I needed (System 7.1).

So I settled on QEMU as my fastest path to getting set up for GlobalTalk.

Famous last words.

QEMU to the Rescue…Eventually

I downloaded QEMU and a helpfully provided System 7.1 installer linked to from the QEMU download page on emaculation.com.

In the interests of brevity (ahem!), I’m going to take a deep breath and blurt it all out in one go: 3…2…1…

Download qemu-system-m68k; download System 7.1 installer disk; struggle for hours to get it right – both the blank image file I created and the installer disk have to be “scsi-hd” in the command file’s options; vmnet is mistyped on the Emaculation guide, so copy/pasting that killed networking for an hour until I noticed the typo; vmnet requires root privs (fine…I’ll just sudo the command each time); trouble mounting additional software installer images required for GlobalTalk!; more trouble mounting additional software installer images required for GlobalTalk!!; even more trouble mounting additional software installer images required for GlobalTalk!!!; Disk Copy 6.1.2 requires AppleScript (not on installer drive!); extract bare partition image with Disk Jockey; use mini vMac to mount System Update 3 images and bare partition (which probably won’t work if brought back to QEMU, but I’m desperate); won’t boot; try loading bare disk image after booting mini vMac with my usual System 7.5.3 boot image to import NDIF disk images mounted with Disk Copy to make net install folders, then use the QEMU disk converter to make it right again – will this even work?!; Disk Copy 6.1.2 on installer disk runs in System 7.5.3 in mini vMac, but importFl doesn’t bring any filetype information over (already lost?); assign filetype and creator code to .img – still doesn’t work; import suggested Apple Internet Router compressed archive to mini vMac with importFl; it’s a StuffIt! .sit file, and no expander is installed on my mini vMac boot disk; install Stuffit! Expander from mini vMac site; no filetype and creator code on AIR .sit file; assign filetype and creator code to AIR installer .sit – DOESN’T WORK!; download a different AIR 3.0.1 archive I find online – it includes 3.0 installer disk images!; they mount with Disk Copy, huzzah!; I’m able to make a network installer from the three disk images and install AIR!; I’m able to install the Router IP Extension and Network Software 1.4.5 Installers!; I’m ready to take this back to QEMU, but how should I do that?; I try Disk Copy’s “Create Image from Disk” feature, hoping it’s QEMU compatible…QEMU doesn’t boot with it!; I try Disk Copy’s “Create Image from Folder” feature, but choose the installer disk; I create Read Only, Read/Write and Compressed versions of the disk image; I try to mount them all in QEMU – none work!; Aaaaarrrrgggghhhh!

I feel so close! I have all the necessary software installed, I just need to find a way to load and run it on the compatible “hardware” in QEMU.

I’m not exactly sure what I did next (I’d stopped taking notes, just looking at them was stressing me), but somehow, soon after the above I landed on the necessary command options to load one of the pre-installed disk images I’d made in mini vMac as a Read/Write boot disk in QEMU with my modified installer disk as a second disk. Huzzah, indeed!

Most everything after that pretty well followed the script prepared by Paul Rickards (other than some port naming differences). I was soon on GlobalTalk with (by this stage) quite a few other zones.

I’d done it! I was online and my machine was connected to other AIR routers around the world!

I eventually got to packaging up my disk images for others, creating a Read Me on how to use them to boot QEMU with AIR pre-installed (with update installers ready to go beyond the base version used by Paul) or leaving it as an exercise for the user to install from scratch using my installer disk.

I could close off that chapter, and leisurely move to the next chapter, which was really the first chapter: finishing my original project, finally

Next Chapter: I Catch a Virus

Before I did return to Project 1, I thought I’d just quickly find the Quadra 800 icon the System 7.1 Finder’s About This Macintosh dialog. I thought I could use it as an avatar or something.

So, I dived into a copy of the Finder (where that icon was likely to be stored) with RedEdit, the trusty old resource editor from back in the day (you can read about it and icon resources in the above article!).

Almost immediately upon opening the file (even before opening any icon resources), my heart almost stopped. There, sitting in amongst all the innocent resources, was one I well remember as not being innocent at all – nVIR.

“$#!+”, I thought, “that’s the nVIR virus in the Finder from my boot disk! A copy of which I made available globally last night!”

I immediately cancelled the iCloud share of the packaged files and announced the problem on Mastodon and in the spreadsheet used to coordinate GlobalTalk admins.

I then rode the “find a disk image that works in QEMU” merry-go-round again (well, a much smaller version of it, “only” an hour or so this time) to install and run Disinfectant 3.7.1, an early Mac antivirus program I knew could deal with nVIR.

I ran it on the boot disk, but it couldn’t do a full clean while some infected system files were loaded. I also ran it on the installer disk, which it cleaned completely – so then I booted from the installer disk mounted in Read Only mode, cleaned the boot disk, and then mounted the distribution copies and cleaned those.

I then rebooted back into my usual system setup so it could get back to running AIR, amended my Read Me, and sent out links to a new version of my packaged files all fresh and clean.

Apparently, mine wasn’t the only distributed disk image which had a virus infection. Subsequent to my announcement, other GlobalTalk admins ran antivirus on their installs or disks they’d distributed, and at least one other infection unrelated to mine was found on someone else’s distribution disk. Welcome to 1993!

When trying to nail down the source of my infection, I revisited that helpful installer disk image Emaculation linked to – a fresh download was, indeed, already “helpfully” infected with nVIR, so I notified the admins there and they quickly cleaned it up, as well.

Thankfully, nVIR was pretty innocuous and easy to clean.

So, now I can get back to Project 1, right?!


Next Chapter: Get in the Queue!

There was still one GlobalTalk thing nagging me – printing.

So far, all I’d achieved in that area was a disastrous attempt to print two small SimpleText files, print jobs which I cancelled as nothing seemed to be happening at my end, but which actually resulted in hundreds of blank pages going through the printer, and every 20 pages or so my small one- or several-line messages would appear. Oops! Sorry, Eric!

What I wanted even more than sending print jobs was for people to be able to print to my printer, a nice Brother colour laser printer I’d only gotten mid-last year. However, it’s too new to understand AppleTalk, older Macs (pre-System 7.5) can’t properly speak lpr/lpd/ipp, and I didn’t want my printer just available to the wider Internet via port forwarding, I wanted GlobalTalk participants to be able to choose LaserWriter in the Chooser, go to my zone, select my printer, print, and have it appear in my printer’s physical output tray. Is that really too much to ask?!

I knew what I had to do – I needed to run, in Linux, netatalk 2, which understands old-style AppleTalk and IP-based AppleTalk, and which could present printers from the CUPS system as AppleTalk printers.

Now, you might think, here we go again, this sounds über-complicated, judging by the above, there are going to be numerous roadblocks here, how many words is he going to wring out of this part?

Well, the answer turns out to be (as it should) “42”:

I installed a small Linux virtual machine in UTM (a nice QEMU frontend for x86 virtualisation on the Mac), installed Webmin (my preferred remote admin console), CUPS, and netatalk 2, and had the whole thing installed and working in a single afternoon.

OK, well, actually, that’s not the whole story, as it turned out – I subsequently decided I also wanted people to be able to print straight to PDF from their GlobalTalk devices, so:

I installed CUPS-PDF, probably spent as long as I had on the above install getting CUPS-PDF to accept jobs as an AppleTalk LaserWriter queue, PDF them the right way up without mirroring, and allow users access to grab their PDF print files.

Oh! Look at that – only another 42 words, what an amazing coincidence! There must be some significance to that number – but I’ll have to look into that another day, maybe after a cup of tea, or after a few pints and peanuts down the pub with a good (or at least not unfriendly) friend.

A Pause, for WOzFest and Words

All the above was in place by 15 March, halfway through .

I’ve not yet returned to poor old Project 1, but I have two very good reasons:

  1. I had to host WOzFest 33 yesterday, and I had a ball, and even helped some others get on the GlobalTalk bandwagon (or should that be “the GlobalTalk bandwidth”? ::boomtish::), spoke to some International GlobalTalk admins, and successfully printed a colour JPEG to Jason Griffiths’ LocalTalk-enabled ImageWriter via his now-GlobalTalked WorkGroup Server 60, acting as an AIR host.
  2. I wanted to get all the above written down before it disappeared from my head, and before progressed too much further.

So, those are now done, and I still have two weeks to complete Project 1, and document its progress along with that of the other minor side-projects/quests I have omitted from the above, or which I will no doubt encounter in the next fortnight.

Interestingly, there’s been a lot of crossover between Project 1 and the GlobalTalk work through the virus infection, and the CUPS-PDF printing solution will actually allow Project 1’s PageMaker output to go directly to PDF.

So, as Dirk Gently might say, “There seems to be a lot of interconnectedness going on here.” (OK, you’re right: Douglas Adams would write that at least marginally better.)

While I work on the next stages and before I provide my next update, please look out for and posts on your favourite social media – yours truly is only posting/seeing them on Mastodon, I do hope to see you there.

So lastly, until my next instalment – keep on Maccin’!

Announcement of 2024 WOzFests (33-37)

Where did the last two years go?

Oh, that’s right

Things certainly stayed hectic at home and at work over that time and, while Dylan is no longer living with us, I don’t expect 2024 to be particularly calm.

So…2024, eh?!

2024’s first WOzFest, WOzFest 33, will be held on 16 March 2024 – start time is midday Sydney time (UTC+11).

While I’m using a basic pattern again this year (the fourth Saturday of the odd months), this will only apply May to November, as I needed to shift March a week earlier.

This means the full scheduled looks like this:

WOzFest 3316 March 2024
WOzFest 3425 May 2024
WOzFest 3527 July 2024
WOzFest 3628 September 2024
WOzFest 3723 November 2024

The changed timing for WOzFest 33 gives me a little more time to prepare for – drumroll, please – the due date of my first grandchild!

OMG WTAF GTFO!1!!!one!!

Time certainly is marching on, but 2024’s still got a few excitements in store for this old geek.

I’ve not set a theme for any of 2024’s WOzFests yet – themes are hard to maintain (especially when holding five a year!), so they’re usually pretty low key these days. If any themes pop into my head I’ll notify accordingly.

I’ve returned to Google Meet to stream/videoconference WOzFests, relying on my ACMS account – let me know if you’d like the link so you can connect up with us.

Run time is 12:00 to 22:00 local time – UTC+11 for WOzFests 33 and 37 and UTC+10 for WOzFests 34-36.

As always, I’m continuing to raise funds via Ko-Fi or PayID.

Ko-Fi allows small (or large!) donations to be made via PayPal – check out my intro post there for the lowdown, and feel free to drop anything you can in the can to help me to run WOzFest moving forward.

PayID is great for Australian donations as there are no processing fees – just reach out and I’ll send the mobile number to use.

Time flies…

I’m not getting to post here as frequently as I’d like to – real life really does get in the way. Looking for and starting a new job, having an 11yo living with us now, renovations, shopping for a new car (so many EV considerations!)…it all adds up so quickly!

That said, later this month (22 July), I will be hosting WOzFest 30! It’s hard to believe we’re up to 30+ gatherings (some minor ones between mainline ones) over the last 8+ years.

Attendee numbers have waxed and waned, but my enthusiasm has not – it’s still a lot of fun to just dedicate a day to not just my Apple ][‘s, but those of attendees (and virtual attendees – Steve in Brisbane is again simulcasting QFest on the same day) several times a year.

I recently scored four (yes, four!) europlus lids on eBay, which I’ll be allocating to my machines on the day, not sure what other work I’ll get to, but I’m sure we’ll have a ball.

We’ll also be trying to setup a video hookup with KFest 2023.

I retrospectively (is doing something on the day retrospective?) dubbed WOzFest 28 (held on 1 April) “WOzFest 28 Apple Fool’s Day“, and WOzFest 29 was held on 20 May 2023 – we had a good time mucking around with our gear, as always, and enjoyed the cider and pizza.

I had the pleasure of meeting (and hosting for a mini gathering after WOzFest 28) Ken Gagne, editor of Juiced.GS (amongst many other accolades) when he visited downunder. As my son is wont to say of good kids everywhere, “he’s a good kid”, and it really was a pleasure to shoot the breeze with him and show him some local sights.

I’m also excited that late October 2023 will see the return of Oz Kfest – the first one in 6 years.

The plan is to gather at the old Portland School of Arts just west of the Blue Mountains. The old SoA is the future site of local Apple über-enthusiast Adrian’s Apple museum. Adrian is also President of the Australian Computer Museum Society (see June 2023 Juiced.GS), which I volunteer for (as do many WOzFest attendees).

The last Oz Kfest, Oz Kfest 2017, still feels so recent in so many ways – it’s going to be great to catch up with some of my old Apple ][ friends who haven’t been able to get to WOzFests over the last few years.

But I do have to say, it won’t be the same without Tony, who attended Oz Kfests 2015 and 2017 and a few WOzFests (including WOzFest-1 in April 2015 immediately after Oz Kfest 2015). Gonna miss ya, mate.

But life relentlessly moves on, and I know Oz Kfest attendees are going to have a blast, just as Tony would want it to be.

WOzFest 23 Announcement (and 24, 25, 26, and 27!)

Wow, life sure is moving fast.

We now have frequent WOzFest attendee Dylan living with us (restarting Tween parenting in mid-late 50’s is proving…interesting), I have had to look for a job, and I found and started a new job – it’s just “Go! Go! Go!” here.

And, in two weeks I’ll have 2022’s first WOzFest, WOzFest 23 – start time is midday Sydney time (UTC+11), 2 April 2022. QFest 2022/1 will be held on the same day.

For the first time, I can actually announce the proposed schedule for all of a year’s WOzFests – after 2 April, the rest will be on the fourth Saturday of the odd months from May to November

This means the full scheduled looks like this:

WOzFest 232 April 2022
WOzFest 2428 May 2022
WOzFest 2523 July 2022
WOzFest 2624 September 2022
WOzFest 2726 November 2022

WOzFest 23 was going follow the “fourth Saturday of an odd month” scheme in March, but my son’s engagement party (!) is on 27 March, and we’re in voluntary pseudo-lockdown for the two weeks leading up to that to try and avoid being in isolation on the big day.

This means WOzFest 25 will align with KansasFest 2022, as has been the case with the July WOzFest for several years. In fact, this alignment is what I’m intending to use to determine the schedule moving forward for the 5 WOzFests I’m hoping to hold each year (which means, technically, I can announce the next year’s WOzFest schedule as soon as the next year’s KansasFest is announced).

I’ve not set a theme for any of 2022’s WOzFests yet – in the first instance, WOzFest 23 will just be a celebration of allowing attendees again into WOzFest HQ.

I will likely try to pick up some of my RetroChallenge 2021/10 projects, but may just be too caught up trying to catch up with my Apple ][ friends in person.

It’s highly unlikely there’ll be any government restrictions imposed between now and 2 April – however, if I get COVID before then and am isolating, I’ll have to postpone. There’s just no way I’m going to miss it!

Please note: even without a government stipulation on the vax status of visitors, I’ll be requiring WOzFest attendees to be double-vaxxed for the foreseeable future (don’t @ me).

WOzFest 23 or 24 will be the last WOzFest to use Google Meet to stream what I’m up to as Google is deprecating their free legacy edition I’ve been relying on – let me know if you’d like the link so you can connect up with us. I’ll be looking for an alternative as the year progresses.

I won’t be able to prepare the day before as I’ve not yet built up enough leave to do so, so for the moment I can just commit to the Saturdays being from 12:00 to 22:00 local time (if I can last that long) – UTC+11 for WOzFests 23 and 27 and UTC+10 for WOzFests 24-26.

As always, I’m continuing to raise funds via Ko-Fi. This allows small (or large!) donations to be made – check out my intro post there for the lowdown, and feel free to drop anything you can in the can to help me to run WOzFest moving forward.

Remembering Tony Diaz

Mid-afternoon during WOzFest Twenty BOO! 👻, frequent attendee Andrew, who had dialled into the Google Meet, announced in a shocked voice he’d just discovered Tony Diaz had passed away earlier in the week.

To say Andrew, Michael, and I were bewildered is an understatement. A real jolt, not only because Tony was only 54, but also because some of us had been in communication with him about a week before his passing.

Between then and now I’ve had time-consuming work and family matters to attend to, hence the delay in this post, but I was given the opportunity to contribute to the memorial for Tony published in the current issue of Juiced.GS, which can be found as a free download on the mag’s Samples page.

I’ve said much of what I felt I needed/wanted to say in that piece, so I’ll keep this short.

Tony was anti-exclusionary, loved to share his knowledge, and revelled in being around people who were enthusiastic about retro Apples and flying, his two great loves (actually, should extend that to three to include In-N-Out!).

I feel lucky to have met and known him, and to have seen him share his rare prototypes and knowledge, including at WOzFest-1 and WOzFest S7,D2.

He’ll be sorely missed at the next Oz KFest, and I’ll miss his virtual and occasional in-person WOzFest drop-ins. Take care, mate.

RetroChallenge 2021/10 Endgame, WOzFest Twenty BOO! 👻 Report.

What a month October was – while not a complete wash out, I certainly did not complete as much of my projects as I’d like (please put that on my gravestone). And I was subsequently swamped with work and family matters through into the New Year (Happy New Year, by the way!).

I’d pretty well done nothing between my last report and WOzFest Twenty BOO! 👻, so there are no missing updates to catch up on.

But progress is progress, so let’s get the lowdown on what progress there was last weekend…

  • europlus Refurbapalooza Resurrection – No progress. Work was just too busy to get to this one. I’ll have to save this Resurrection for another day (RetroChallenge 2022/04?!).
  • Lockdown WOzFests – Completed! Well, this was a sort of a cheat one, but I did get to chat with some people, which was especially comforting at WOzFest Twenty BOO! 👻 (see below).
  • Pirated software manual scans – Incomplete. The progress I made on this project was to finish removing all the hundreds of rusty staples holding each manual together. Now it’s just sheet feed scanning to follow – a pretty simple, if lengthy (there is a 13cm pile of paper to scan!), task.
  • Applesaucing – Incomplete. I did do some imaging at WOzFest Twenty BOO! 👻 for Call-A.P.P.L.E. of some of their original disks I had in one of my multitude of boxes which Bill Martens (a virtual attendee) suggested they didn’t have copies of, so at least what progress I did make on this was pretty targeted!
  • Citizen Science – No (effective) progress. I now have a funky magnetic field display film which I can use in conjunction with flux images of disks to get a sense of how the physical layout of magnets on modern devices relates to disk damage. When I get to work on this one, there’ll be some cool graphics to include in the findings.

WOzFest Twenty BOO! 👻, held on Saturday 30 October, was meant to see me get more done than staple removal and imaging 15 or so disks.

In my defence, the day was severely marred by the news received mid-afternoon that my friend, Tony Diaz, had passed away in America earlier that week.

I’ll leave my thoughts on Tony and his passing to a separate post, but sharing grief with other enthusiasts both locally and internationally was indeed comforting.

I had elected to keep WOzFest Twenty BOO! 👻 as (almost completely) virtual-only as my wife and I are keeping ourselves in an almost-lockdown for some time to come – only Michael from RCR was in attendance as he is in similar almost-lockdown circumstances at the moment, and he had a delivery for me. Sharing a 42m² room with one person who’s pretty well not seeing others seemed OK.

That meant I got to share pizza and ciders in real life, and remembrances of Tony in person and via Google Meet.

An additional project I took on for Saturday was setting up a 21″ iMac 2012 I’d been gifted the prior week – I have two 21″ iMacs I use for Applesaucing and scanning, and with the 2012 replacing a Mid-2010 machine, I was able to have the new one and the other one (2015) both set up for High Sierra and Catalina dual booting. This allows me to use 32-bit software (iWeb and scanner software) when needed, but also have more recent OSes on them.

Between OS installs and data and app migrations, that went on for much of Saturday, but the new machine is significantly lighter than the one it replaces, which makes puttering around in WOzFest HQ easier as I move things around for optimal placement when doing work.

I’m now trying to plan for this year’s five WOzFests – I think I have a schedule sorted, and will make an announcement as soon as I can.

RetroChallenge 2021/10 Days 2-3 Report: Progress, of sorts, and a WOzFest!

I’ll be honest – I didn’t get as much done during WOzFest RC 21/10 as I’d hoped – I did continue to set up WOzFest HQ for working on my projects, and I did get some Applesaucing done, but I hit a few roadblocks…

Firstly, I think one of my disk ][ drives with an Applesauce sync sensor is having issues, which I only fully appreciated after about 10 disks (with quite a few multiple attempts to capture some of them). At four plus minutes per attempt, well…

I put the “track 0 always coming up orange” as attributable to some sort of protection scheme Personal Software applied to the Visi* range of products, but I finally tried an unprotected disk and had similar issues.

Of course, that first unprotected disk I tried had actual track 0 issues when I tried a new drive, but fewer of them, and a second disk I tried worked first time.

And it wouldn’t be a RetroChallenge without further confounding issues – the first Visi* disk I went back to also had real issues on track 0! Gah!

Oh, and of course, in the mix was the drive’s head cable occasionally getting caught and making captures useless (the same data being captured as different tracks). Between all that, it took me a while to get in my groove!

Anyway, I was able to capture several disks, sometimes using multiple captures to create a single working image (a newer [and long desired] feature of the Applesauce software).

I still have a lot more disks to do, but am now feeling at least in a better position than mid-afternoon Saturday.

Today, I’ve just tided up a little and started to set up my second spare iMac so I can use my ScanSnap sheet feed scanner for the pirated software manuals. The scanner uses 32-bit software, so I’ve installed High Sierra and am just migrating the other spare iMac’s High Sierra apps and user so I don’t have to set everything up from scratch.

This will allow me to use either machine for Applesaucing or scanning, or a single machine for both in less busy times.

Google Meet worked OK once I installed and set up the “auto admit” extension – for some reason, even with the invite link, Google doesn’t allow attendees outside of the inviting domain to just enter the meeting. And the first “auto admit” extension I tried didn’t work. And you have to restart Chrome to make the settings stick.

For sharing my projects, I joined from the Applesauce-connected iMac to stream various windows as I captured disks, and from an iPhone above the disk ][ drive to watch the drive do its thing.

My first two attendees were international – RetroChallenge judge Eric and Josh “Get The Damn Batteries Out” Malone, both from the US, joined for a while at the start. We had a few Australians hooking in across the day and evening, and everyone just worked on their own projects or whatever and discussed whatever came to mind.

It was nice having the company throughout the day, and I can’t wait for WOzFest 22 when I’ll hopefully get a few updates on where everyone go to – and with the way our vaccine rollout is finally going, I’ll hopefully be allowed to have 10 attendees as well!

I also responded to a few posts on the Australian Computer Museum Society forums site in relation to our Team ACMS project – a AU$500 grant is up for grab for Australians who register an ACMS affiliation when entering RetroChallenge and post about their entry on the forum. There’s a large Aussie/ACMS contingent this RetroChallenge, which is great to see.

I can’t wait to get some more progress under my belt – the nice thing about the scanning especially is it’s pretty brainless for me to keep plugging away at (even during the week), while my other projects are more hands-on.

Catch up in a few days – will I be able to report useful progress?!

RetroChallenge 2021/10 Day 1 Report: Prep is all you need

Just spent the time after a morning work meeting prepping WOzFest HQ – mostly sorting and getting rid of rubbish.

Bought some chips and some booze, even if I will have to be a martyr and consume them myself!

Ready for a proper day or retro tomorrow during WOzFest RC 21/10 – DM me on Twitter for the Google Meet link.

WOzFest RC21/10 & WOzFest 22 Announcement

UPDATE: See details of a new project for my RetroChallenge 2021/10 entry below.

Firstly, an apology for forgetting to announce WOzFest ]20 HOME : GOTO 20 – life got in the way, and I just didn’t get around to posting here

And although it’s not far away, I’m very happy to announce the date for the next WOzFest: WOzFest RC 21/10 will be held on Saturday 2 October 2021, starting at midday Sydney time (UTC+10:00).

And, to top off the year, I can also announce that WOzFest 22 will be held on Saturday 30 October 2021, starting at midday Sydney time (UTC+11:00).

Why two WOzFests in one month? Well the name for ’21 should give the clue – I’m entering RetroChallenge 21/10, and it seemed a good way to bookend my efforts for the month.

The theme for WOzFest RC 21/10 and WOzFest 22 is, obviously, “RetroChallenge” – drop in, check out what I’m up to, and let me know your plans at WOzFest RC 21/10 and how you went at WOzFest 22.

My entry for RetroChallenge 2021/10 has four five parts:

  1. europlus Refurbapalooza Resurrection – my Apple ][ europlus refurbishment project has edged along since my last Retrochallenge entries, but I’ve started to kick up the pace. Can I get all my boards tested by the end of Retrochallenge 2021/10?!
  2. Lockdown WOzFests – to celebrate Retrochallenge 2021/10, I will schedule the next two WOzFests for 2 October and 30 October. Retrochallengers from around the globe should drop in to detail their plans at WOzFest RC 21/10, then describe the pain of how it went all awry at WOzFest 22! Share the love, pain, frustration, and triumphs!
  3. Pirated software manual scans – I have a 13cm pile of photocopied Apple ][ software manuals from WOzFest attendee Neville to scan and upload to the Internet Archive.
  4. Applesaucing – Similarly, I have a metric buttload of disks to image with my Applesauce, gotta just get back to it.
  5. NEW: Citizen Science – Floppy disks vs Magnets: I’ve seen discussion of magnets affecting disks, I’ve done it myself, and I jokingly place bad disks on WOzFest HQ’s fridge with HD magnets. But magnets are all around us now, and those into software preservation have to be careful. Join me as I test the effects of the various common (and maybe not so common) magnets in our modern lives on the media we’re here to preserve. If you have equipment to flux image a disk, and some magnets laying around, add your data to the pool so we can spread the warning far and wide – disks and magnets are not BFFs!

Yes, four five projects is a crazy an extra-crazy load to take on, but I’m crazy! Aim for the stars and you’ll blow up on the launchpad, I always say!

I encourage Australian entrants to also sign up at the Australian Computer Museum Society forums and detail your entries and progress in the RetroChallenge 2021/10 category there – a $500 grant is being offered by the Society for Aussie entrants to try and drive local engagement in the retro scene. Just make sure you tick the Australian Computer Museum Society affiliation tick box when entering RetroChallenge!

In addition, regular WOzFest attendee Andrew told me HacktoberFest 2021 is happening in October, so be sure to sign up to an open source project, and let us know what you’ll be working on during the month when you drop by.

Sydney is still in COVID lockdown, and will not see any easing of restrictions in relation to visitors until the Monday after 70% of the population 16 and over are double-vaxxed. This is currently due to happen towards the end of the first week of October, so WOzFest RC 21/10 will be a stream/virtual event only.

Once we hit 70%, five double-vaxxed visitors can attend, so that will be the minimum allowed for WOzFest 22 – but we’ll probably have achieved 90% double-vaxxed by 30 October, so the restrictions may have eased even further. Please note: even without a government stipulation on the vax status of visitors, I’ll be requiring WOzFest attendees to be double-vaxxed for the foreseeable future (don’t @ me). QR check in will be mandatory, as well.

I’ll be using Google Meet to stream what I’m up to and who I’m chatting to – let me know if you’d like the link so you can connect up with us.

As per recent WOzFests, I’ll be preparing the day before – the Google Meet link will work for all four days. Runtimes are Fridays from 11:00 local time to 17:00 local time (roughly), Saturdays from 12:00 to 22:00 local time (if I can make it that long) – UTC+10:00 for WOzFest RC 21/10 (and prep) and UTC+11:00 for WOzFest 22 (and prep).

As always, I’m continuing to raise funds via Ko-Fi. This allows small (or large!) donations to be made – check out my intro post there for the lowdown, and feel free to drop anything you can in the can to help me to run WOzFest moving forward.

I hope to (virtually) see you there!

WOzFest 19 Announcement

Hot on the heels of WOzFest 18 I’m very happy to announce the date for the next WOzFest: WOzFest 19 will be held on Saturday 1 May 2021, starting at midday Sydney time (UTC+10:00).

The theme for WOzFest 19 is “Freedom” – a good friend and frequent WOzFest attendee retires the day before, so I thought what better way to celebrate than to get together with Apple ][ enthusiasts?! I’ll leave it to attendees to interpret the theme as they see fit.

WOzFest 19 will be streamed on Twitch via WOzFest TV for the whole duration. I’ll be aiming to do some productive work to stream, and will have some Skype calls as well.

That said, I’ve not yet organised any Skype calls – but I’m sure I’ll be able to rustle up some Apple ][ enthusiasts from around the world to participate.

The COVID-19 situation has seemed to stabilise here. That said, all prospective attendees will need to pre-register their interest, and sign-in via QR code upon arrival. Masks are optional, hand sanitiser will be provided. I ask all prospective attendees to follow the NSW Government’s self-isolation rules.

Snacks and cider will be provided (I ask for a small donation for same), and those present at dinner time are welcome to join in our pizza order.

Lastly, for WOzFest 19 I’m continuing to raise funds via Ko-Fi. This allows small (or large!) donations to be made – check out my intro post there for the lowdown, and feel free to drop anything you can in the can to help me to run WOzFest moving forward.

I hope to see you there!

P.S. If you happen to be in Sydney and available on 30 April, drop me a line, I’m planning on taking the day off and will be in WOzFest HQ for much of the day.