Community Service

As per the official WOzFest 18 announcement, the theme for the upcoming event is Community Service.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about giving back to our retrocomputer communities – it’s something I’m passionate about because of the significant help and support I’ve received not only from my own local community especially, but also from the wider community online.

I was never much involved in “the community” back in the day, and it took some time from when I first started getting back into Apple ][s in 1998 to when I found and became a part of the local retrocomputer community (in 2013/14). (I was, however, quite involved in the Mac community, which ended up seeing me start my Mac consultancy in 1997.)

But in the short time since I found the local retrocomputing community, here I am in 2021 planning four WOzFests and Skyping/communicating with some of the current leading lights of the Apple ][ retrocomputer scene!

I engage with the community in other ways, sometimes just participating in conversations, but, more importantly, also trying to find ways to give back to the community that has given me so much.

This is not to big note myself – many people are doing much, much more than I, but even a schlub like me can make a positive contribution to the community, and I’d like to share some of the ways I have done so over the years.

I hope this post will serve as inspiration to others and give them ideas on how they might be able to contribute to their retrocomputer community – every little bit really does count.

Offer help

First up, I’d say if you see a request for assistance you can answer, answer it! It doesn’t get any easier than that. Try to keep all contributions positive. This is most especially applicable when dealing with new members of the community.

You might know the answer immediately, or know which manual you have to open – you might even find yourself firing up some equipment to check behaviour. But it’s amazing how strange the path to helping might be.

For example, a question was asked on the KansasFest 2020 Discord about converting a vector PICT file – modern programs were having issues interpreting it. I also found none of the graphics or DTP programs I had on my macOS Catalina iMac wanted to convert the file.

However, I remembered one semi-modern (or at least able to run on semi-modern macOSes) program which I thought might have the legacy parsing code in it, even though it’s the worst page layout program I have ever used: MYOB AccountEdge. And guess what? Under macOS Mojave (10.14), MYOB AccountEdge v11.5 was able to load the PICT into an otherwise empty invoice layout screen, and print to PDF the file in its full vector glory!

Just jump right in and try things out when helping your fellow enthusiasts – in and of itself, overcoming such technical challenges can be rewarding.

Specialist skills – Silentype font

As a long-time desktop publisher and user of vector-editing programs, I’ve always been interested in fonts. In several DTP jobs, this led to using Fontographer to create bespoke fonts for customers to simplify logo and symbol use in their work.

When I started getting back into retrocomputers, I wanted to recreate the feel of one of my first printers, the Apple Silentype. I didn’t have a Silentype, but I was able to source a full character output “rainbow” printout via a request online.

With that in hand, I released the original version of my Silentype font in March 2004. Because of character rendering changes in OS X, I had to tweak the font and released v2 in December 2012. I released it under the Open Font License so that others could work on it if they wish.

Chris Torrence has done something similar with another font I always intended to work on, Motter Tektura. Not wanting to duplicate effort, I now just use his font and am happy to see it available before I got a chance to work on my own version.

Specialist skills – Proofreading

Once again utilising my experience in publishing and editing, I have proof-read a few items for different projects, most significantly early versions of the .woz file spec for John Morris’s Applesauce and more recently passing my eye over John Snape’s reprint of the Beneath Apple DOS/Beneath Apple ProDOS books.

I don’t always bring a deep technical knowledge to such a task, but I am very details-focussed, and often pick up slight inconsistencies otherwise missed. This helps the community as the documents have had more review, and being non-technical is in some ways an advantage as I will request details to try and make sure technical material is clear to cater to all levels of readers.

Grunt work – BBS Crackscreens

Sometimes the work is much less glamorous and/or much less interesting in its actual undertaking.

Many retrocomputer enthusiasts know of Jason Scott, who not only works at the Internet Archive but also maintains his own archives of information from and relating to BBSes.

He maintains a list of BBSes – including the dialin number, sysop, date/s in operation, etc. His tweet sought volunteers to scour old text files looking for such details, and as a follower of the Apple II Crackscreen Twitter account, I knew the details available in such crackscreens would need special attention as it wasn’t just text – it would all need to be manually transcribed.

With the bot owner’s permission, Jason provided all 8,000+ source images to me. On Jason’s suggestion I removed the screens without details, then went back and transcribed the details for all the BBSes I could find in the remaining images.

I ended up with about 750 screenshots with details to transcribe, which had about 1,450 BBS listings (many of which were, of course, duplicates). Jason is incorporating these details into his main list, and many Apple ][ BBSes will now be findable. On and off, this took me three months to complete.

Twitter image bot

Speaking of the Apple II Crackscreen Twitter image bot, it inspired me to create my own image bot, the Applesauce Fluxes bot, which tweets random flux .pngs from the Internet Archive’s Flux Capacity collection several times a day.

I just love the variety and beauty of the Applesauce flux images, I felt I had to share them with the world!

While I’m not regularly updating the bot’s image collection, there were over 20,000 images at the time of my download – this will keep things fresh for quite some time to come!

Preservation/digitisation

This is one which gets more critical every day as bits rot, pages moulder, collections are trashed upon death (bleak, I know), and knowledge and expertise fade.

I have an Applesauce I make available to WOzFest attendees, and others are brought to spread the load. Attendees bring scanners for scanning at WOzFests, and many attendees are scanning while at home, too.

While some preservation/digitisation requires specialist knowledge or specific equipment (not always cheap), even allowing others to undertake the preservation of your own items is a contribution to the community.

Reach out to other enthusiasts and find out how you can contribute material, time or effort to this very worthy cause.

non-eBay sales/disposal

Even when I didn’t have WOzFest HQ available to me, I acted as a clearing house for old tech for customers, family and friends.

With a reduction in e-waste collections generally in Sydney, I continue to offer to hold material for people, including WOzFest attendees, and will periodically visit the local Community Recycling Centre, which accepts e-waste and is only 5 minutes drive away. Occasionally, I’ll even offer items to Freecycle before e-wasting if they seem still usable.

I am diligent, however, in ensuring this “service” does not lead to accumulation of bulk material as I very much savour the free space I have available to me and I work tirelessly against the strongest of my hoarding inclinations (and I will always want to be able to meet my preferred definition of “collector”).

Society membership/volunteering

The Australian Computer Museum Society is trying to establish a national computing museum here in Oz – I recently became a Committee member (I like the fact that several WOzFest attendees are also Committee members or volunteers).

The Society has had a checkered past, and the new Committee is trying to get things back on the rails, which I think is well worth my time.

Beyond Committee matters, I also help out as they’re moving their massive collection to a single storage location, which involves pushing heavy, dirty computers on and off trucks – but it has to get done.

I’ve previously been on local and national Committees for APANA (an Australian community-based ISP), and was co-editor of (and contributor to) the Club Mac club magazine MACinations for a few years.

WOzFest

And, of course, I host WOzFests! I’ve enjoyed the 5+ years of WOzFests tremendously.

Product releases, Skypes to international luminaries, interesting technical discussions all feature at WOzFests, and I am also building up tools and resources for attendees to use (and perhaps borrow) including books, manuals, and test/repair equipment.

Providing space and motivation for attendees to work on projects has proven very rewarding and instructive, and I can now offer storage space for frequent attendees who can’t complete projects in one sitting but are space-constrained at home.

This is the hardest volunteering role for me to recommend to others – not because it’s hard work (it can be), but because it relies on a reliably-available venue. I would find it very hard to commit to hosting an event without the 42 m² (360 sq ft) in WOzFest HQ.

An alternative would be to get involved in the running of other events like Oz Kfest, KansasFest, VCF events, or just local gatherings of like-minded retrocomputer enthusiasts. I’m pleased that regular WOzFest attendee Murray now holds a generalist gathering called Nozfest.

Give it a go!

I’m sure others have more ideas for what they can do for their community – focus on things that “spark joy” for you, and it will make it that much more enjoyable. That said, grunt work can also be rewarding as there is a definite physicality to the contribution you’ve made.

Please add your own suggestions in the Comments below – it may even give me other ideas on what I can do, and hopefully will do the same for other enthusiasts.

WOzFest COLOR=15 Update

Wow, what a month! When I announced WOzFest COLOR=15 I was looking forward to another fun get-together of fellow Apple ][ enthusiasts, and I’d already started planning to stream the day for those who couldn’t make it.

Now, communities around the world are in lockdown (Australia is heading down that path) and people’s lives are being turned upside down.

By mid-last week, I decided to go stream-only for WOzFest COLOR=15. While a difficult personal decision, it’s nothing compared to what some people are experiencing.

I love hosting WOzFest and I love having enthusiasts here at WOzFest HQ – but for the next short(?) while, we all have to pull our head in.

I still need help, though – while I won’t have physical attendees, I’d like to do Skypes during the day. If you’re tinkering, if you have something to share or say, if you’re releasing a new product, if you’re lonely, whatever – let me know what time suits between 01:00-11:00 UTC 4 April 2020 and I’ll try and schedule you in. Let’s go around the world, let’s go around Australia, let’s show this stupid virus it won’t dampen our enthusiasm for the Apple ][!

On a practical level, I’ve been able to utilise some donated equipment for my streaming setup – a recently donated iMac 27” with 32GB RAM and 2GB VRAM is powerful enough to do the video processing. Two donated cracked-screen iPhones are acting as webcams, a donated webcam is being used above my Applesauce Disk ][, and a donated Airport Express is creating a dedicated WiFi network for the iPhone webcams.

But I have had to purchase some items – three camera mounts, two extra long USB cables to keep the iPhones running, a USB hub – all up, I’ve spent about AU$140.

I’m passing the hat around via Ko-Fi and asking if you’d like to support the stream please consider a small contribution to this. Large contributions welcome, too, of course!

The intention is that all future WOzFests will be streamed, but I expect this expenditure to be a one-off.

So, via Skype or Twitch chat, I’m looking forward to talking to some of you on 4 April and sharing some of the work I’ll be doing on the day. If I can I’ll try and draw up a schedule – for example, I wanted to do an Applesaucing session and discuss usage tips, etc.

WOzFest COLOR=15 Announcement

I’m very happy to announce the date for the next WOzFest, WOzFest COLOR=15 – Saturday 4 April 2020, starting around midday Sydney time (UTC+11:00).

The theme for WOzFest COLOR=15 is the Apple ][’s support for colour graphics via colour monitors and TVs. I’ve got a surprise lined up for WOzFest COLOR=15, but all I can say for now is…stay tuned!

I will also be continuing to work on software preservation with the Applesauce. Applesauce is John Morris’ phenomenal USB interface for Apple ][ disk drives which takes Apple ][ software preservation to new heights by capturing magnetic flux-level images of disks.

I’ve completed most of the imaging of disks sent by Alex of the What is the Apple IIGS website – I have a few disks to try re-imaging after cleaning, but what I have done forms the basis of WOzFest.flux, my Internet Archive item of fluxed disks, which forms part of the larger collection of such Applesauce flux image items, Flux Capacity.

I’ll add titles over time – the next bunch of disks is the one Steve from Brisbane brought to WOzFest 14.25045MHz. Javier from America also kindly donated 3D-printed disk cleaning rigs which I used with great success on some of Alex’s disks, so those which need a bit of TLC will get a good buff.

I’m expecting possibly three Applesauces to be on hand, mine, Russell’s, and Michael’s (from The Retro Computing Roundtable). Michael has continued to acquire software titles which he’s hoping to prepare flux images of, and has previously preserved Sunburst titles (such as Learning to Cope with Pressure) at WOzFests.

I expect Applesauces to feature reasonably prominently at WOzFests for the foreseeable future. Not only on the strength of how many disks I have to image, but also based on the interest so far expressed by attendees and other members of the community.

Attendees are welcome to bring as many disks as possible for imaging – I’m not sure how many we’ll get done, though, at 3-5 minutes each (including entering metadata). I think I have about a thousand which need processing – and I don’t think that’s an exaggeration!

Existing projects are more than welcome to be brought along as well – whether it be repairs, upgrades, show and tells of new acquisitions…whatever you want to work on. If I get a chance, I’ll be testing a new troubleshooting/repair product I received this week which will help with my europlus refurbishment project, and will aid others working on pre-Apple //e machines.

I’ve not yet organised any Skype calls – I’ll give it some thought over the next few weeks.

As always, it will be held at my place at Wollstonecraft, on Sydney’s Lower North Shore – contact me for the address. Start time is 12:00(ish), with an expected finish time of around 21:30.

No lunch provided, but nibbles, soft drinks and Apple cider will be provided (I ask for a small contribution towards snacks), and we’ll all chip in for delivery pizza for dinner whenever we notice we’re hungry.

With WOzFest COLOR=15 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 tin to help me to run WOzFest moving forward.

I hope to see you there!

WOzFest 14.25045 MHz Announcement

I’m very happy to announce the date for the next WOzFest, WOzFest 14.25045 MHz – Saturday 23 November 2019, starting around midday Sydney time (UTC+11:00).

The theme for WOzFest 14.25045 MHz is the Apple ][ europlus, my favourite Apple ][! More generally, international Apple ][s (including the j-plus, which I have just secured a sample of) and clones will be the sub-theme – changing the PSU voltage and crystal frequency to allow (monochrome) PAL output is just the start of what Apple and international clone manufacturers did to get their machines suited to international markets.

I will also be continuing to work on software preservation with the Applesauce. Applesauce is John Morris’ phenomenal USB interface for Apple ][ disk drives which takes Apple ][ software preservation to new heights by capturing magnetic flux-level images of disks.

I’ve unfortunately not achieved much imaging since WOzFest 13 Sector, so I am hoping to really ramp up, with Alex from the What is the Apple IIGS website sending me four boxes of original software disks to image. It’s also looking like another set of disks will be personally delivered from interstate by a new attendee!

I’m expecting at least three Applesauces to be on hand, mine, Russell’s, and Michael’s (from The Retro Computing Roundtable). Michael has continued to acquire software titles which he’s hoping to prepare flux images of, and has previously preserved Sunburst titles (such as Learning to Cope with Pressure) at WOzFests.

I expect Applesauces to feature reasonably prominently at WOzFests for the foreseeable future. Not only on the strength of how many disks I have to image, but also based on the interest so far expressed by attendees and other members of the community.

Attendees are welcome to bring as many disks as possible for imaging – I’m not sure how many we’ll get done, though, at 3-5 minutes each (including entering metadata). I think I have about a thousand which need processing – and I don’t think that’s an exaggeration!

Existing projects are more than welcome to be brought along as well – whether it be repairs, upgrades, show and tells of new acquisitions…whatever you want to work on.

I’ve not yet organised any Skype calls – I’ll give it some thought over the next few weeks.

As always, it will be held at my place at Wollstonecraft, on Sydney’s Lower North Shore – contact me for the address. Start time is, appropriately, 12:00(ish), with an expected finish time of around 21:30. I may be a bit fuzzy after an early supplier Xmas party, but I reckon a room full of Apple ][s and Apple ][ enthusiasts will be a better hangover cure than hair of the dog!

No lunch provided, but nibbles, soft drinks and Apple cider (OK, I will be utilising hair of the dog as well) will be available (I ask for a small contribution towards snacks), and we’ll all chip in for delivery pizza for dinner whenever we notice we’re hungry.

With WOzFest 14.25045 MHz I’m trying something new – funding 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 tin to help me to run WOzFest moving forward.

I hope to see you there!

WOzFest 13 Sector Announcement

I’m very happy to announce the date for the next WOzFest, WOzFest 13 Sector – Saturday 20 July 2019, starting around midday Sydney time (UTC+10:00).

I’m very happy to announce the date for the next WOzFest, WOzFest 13 Sector – Saturday 20 July 2019, starting around midday Sydney time (UTC+10:00).

I haven’t set a theme for WOzFest 13 Sector – however, I have organised the usual Kansas Fest video hookup we try for each year. The Skype call is slated to start at around 14:00 local time (23:00 Friday Kansas City time).

While there is no theme, I will be continuing to work on software preservation with the Applesauce. Applesauce is John Morris’ phenomenal USB interface for Apple ][ disk drives which takes Apple ][ software preservation to new heights by capturing magnetic flux-level images of disks. Since WOzFest 12:00, I’ve been able to capture 25 original disks which I don’t think have been captured elsewhere.

I’m expecting at least two Applesauces to be on hand, mine and Russell’s, and hopefully Michael from The Retro Computing Roundtable will be able to locate his in the 8bit Bunker. Michael has recently won an auction of 2 dozen Sunburst titles which he’s hoping to prepare flux images of at WOzFest 13. Michael has previously preserved a Sunburst title (Learning to Cope with Pressure) at WOzFest PR#6.

I expect Applesauces to feature reasonably prominently at WOzFests for the foreseeable future. Not only on the strength of how many disks I have to image, but also based on the interest so far expressed by attendees and other members of the community.

Attendees are welcome to bring as many disks as possible for imaging – I’m not sure how many we’ll get done, though, at 3-5 minutes each (including entering metadata). I think I have about a thousand which need processing – and I don’t think that’s an exaggeration!

Existing projects are more than welcome to be brought along as well – whether it be repairs, upgrades, show and tells of new acquisitions…whatever you want to work on.

As always, it will be held at my place at Wollstonecraft, on Sydney’s Lower North Shore – contact me for the address. Start time is, appropriately, 12:00(ish), with an expected finish time of around 21:30.

No lunch provided, but nibbles, soft drinks and Apple cider will be available (I ask for a small contribution towards snacks), and we’ll all chip in for delivery pizza for dinner whenever we notice we’re hungry.

I hope to see you there!

QFest 12 Announcement

I am very happy to announce QFest 12, to be held in Brisbane on Saturday 27 April 2019, concurrent with WOzFest 12:00 and GORF, starting around midday Brisbane time (UTC+10:00).

UPDATE: Due to unforeseen circumstances, I unfortunately have to postpone WOzFest 12:00 – the new date is Saturday 25 May 2019, all other details remain the same. Steve in Brisbane has decided to also postpone QFest 12 to the same date.

From our Northern Apple ][ Compadres comes the following announcement:

I am very happy to announce QFest 12, to be held in Brisbane on Saturday 27 April 2019, concurrent with WOzFest 12:00 and GORF, starting around midday Brisbane time (UTC+10:00).

As with previous QFests, there will be projects to work on, and an Applesauce on hand. We will enjoy video hook-ups with our Apple II brothers and sisters at other events around Australia. All food and drink will be provided.

If you wish to attend, please email me privately and I will provide the address.

I will see you there!

Steven Kazoullis

I’m pleased that there’s another Australian Apple ][ gathering happening on 27 April – it’s going to be quite a weekend for retrocomputer enthusiasts along the Australian Eastern Seaboard, it’s quite unprecedented!

WOzFest 12:00 Announcement

UPDATE: Due to unforeseen circumstances, I unfortunately have to postpone WOzFest 12:00 – the new date is Saturday 25 May 2019, all other details remain the same. Steve in Brisbane has decided to also postpone QFest 12 to the same date.

I’m very happy to announce the date for the next WOzFest, WOzFest 12:00 – Saturday 27 April 2019, starting around midday Sydney time (UTC+10:00).

The primary theme for WOzFest 12:00 is “time” – encompassing, among other things, time-related hardware and software, the ravages of time and what we might (or might not) do about them, and strategies for finding time to have fun with our retrocomputers.

Something new this WOzFest is a theme-related hardware project for attendees – it’ll be a treat to have the first WOzFest-branded product for attendees to work on, and the first product release at a WOzFest for some time. It’s an international collaboration which spans the timezones, and all I can say about the release of this particular product is: it’s about time!

For several reasons, there’ll be a secondary theme this time, and one not unrelated to prior WOzFests – preservation with the Applesauce. Applesauce is John Morris’ phenomenal USB interface for Apple ][ disk drives which takes Apple ][ software preservation to new heights by capturing magnetic flux-level images of disks. My interest in such devices goes back a way.

I’m expecting several Applesauces to be on hand – I’ve ordered a second-run unit for use by WOzFest attendees which arrived a short while ago, Michael from The Retro Computing Roundtable podcast received the upgrade board for his first-run unit and will be bringing it, and new WOzFest attendee Russell is expecting to be on hand with his second-run unit as well.

Attendees are welcome to bring as many disks as possible for imaging – I’m not sure how many we’ll get done, but it’ll be interesting to see how Applesauce works with a variety of disks. I think I have about a thousand which need processing – and I don’t think that’s an exaggeration!

Existing projects, related to the themes or not, are more than welcome to be brought along as well – whether it be repairs, upgrades, show and tells of new acquisitions…whatever you want to work on.

I’m still to organise any Skype calls but I am hoping we’ll be able to organise some sort of video hookup to GORFThe Great Oz Retro-Technology Festival – being held in Melbourne 24-28 April 2019 and organised by frequent WOzFest attendees Melody and April. There’ll definitely be another video hookup, which I hope to share details of shortly.

As always, it will be held at my place at Wollstonecraft, on Sydney’s Lower North Shore – contact me for the address. Start time is, appropriately, 12:00(ish), with an expected finish time of around 21:30.

No lunch provided, but nibbles, soft drinks and Apple cider will be available (I ask for a small contribution towards snacks), and we’ll all chip in for delivery pizza for dinner whenever we notice we’re hungry.

I hope to see you there!