krpalmer: (apple)
It might have been just possible the thought of upgrading what computers I have that can run macOS Mojave didn't intimidate me as much as it could have the last few times around. Whether this came from not poking into those online sites I suspect may concentrate "change can only upset things now" complaints, I don't know. Still, I can think a few ambiguous thoughts about "fussy command-line tools" and whether things might have wound up honed to comprehensible perfection had they stuck with fitting assembly language into the 64 kilobytes of memory directly accessible by 8-bit microprocessors, and just what sort of applications however many people would be running in that case.
In any case... )
krpalmer: (apple)
The rumour mill started rolling a little while ago about an upcoming Apple event; the hopes circulating seemed to be that not just new iPads but updated Mac models would show up. I watched as a spectator, supposing my current iMac would have to serve for a few years more before I'd have used it as long as my previous model (which is now doing work for my parents); still, updated hardware might do a little to calm down that ever-bubbling subtext of concern about "the company going where the money is right now, not where I want it to."

Then, I started hearing different artistic takes on the Apple logo were being attached to the invitations to the event. A few of them being interpretations of the historical "six colours" logo did get my attention; then, I saw somebody had posted hundreds of images in a single location. My digital packrat instincts kicked in and I headed off to save the images to my own computer, sure they'd make fine desktop artwork.

Saving over three hundred images took a while, though, and in the midst of that I did get to thinking that much effort might cast whatever got announced at the event under a shadow. When I looked up a bit of news afterwards, however, I saw indeed not just new iPad Pros but also a much-modified MacBook Air (although the model that's become a largish, cheapish portable still seems to be on sale for now) and even an updated Mac mini after the previous model had been on sale for geological eons in computer terms. My brother had pondered buying that old Mac mini when his older MacBook Pro had started malfunctioning, only to settle on an iMac newer than mine. I do know "there's always room for improvement," and for some people there's a lot of room there, but at least I can say I have a new folder full of potential desktop images.
krpalmer: (apple)
Looking through a used book store I've visited before but not lately, I managed to notice a book I'd had a used copy of before but given away a while ago. Since then, though, I had got to wondering if I'd ever happen on the chance to read John Sculley's Odyssey: Pepsi to Apple again. I am quite aware of the conventional wisdom that paints him as the CEO who, after completing (with the help of a co-author) his inspirational "how I moved from soft drinks to computers, found my company in trouble, then steered into safe waters" tale, let Microsoft catch up to Apple as he daydreamed of "the Knowledge Navigator" without considering how to get from then to the future until it was easy enough to proclaim his company had been passed (to say nothing of having been there for the accusations of the Apple II being left to dry up on the branch.) Still, I could consider if I'd be able to read carefully enough to recognise a few new details.

Sculley talked with what seemed fond memories about his rise through the ranks at Pepsi as the company developed from "one of several competitors to the colossus of Coca-Cola" to "one of two firms dominating the soft drink trade." He then worked hard at presenting being enticed into a new line of work as "it wasn't that utterly foreign to me." Following the first months at Apple where everything seemed on its way up, things shifted into crisis, and I did get to wondering if this was presented less as a thread of the conventional wisdom, "we thought in our technological arrogance we'd created a fully adequate product," than as "we were spending too much on advertising chasing a consumer market that didn't actually exist." The Apple Computer Sculley describes shaping (once Steve Jobs was out of the picture) seemed more business-focused (which does have me thinking of how, as I go through the PC Magazine archive queuing up covers on my side-project Tumblr, by 1985 the IBM PC seemed very much presented there as "a serious business machine for people in suits and ties"), with the Apple II acknowledged as "having kept us afloat" but still seemingly retargeted as "an education machine." I suppose this impression may be shaped by recent opinions in "The Digital Antiquarian" about how, as MS-DOS based computers continued their incremental improvements through the beginning of the 1990s, they became more usable "at home" at a moment when all the other options were either aimed away from there or at best targeted ineffectively, but I was at least willing to consider it. I even noticed Sculley include a comment I'd seen in period Macworld magazines that Apple had a two-year head start on the graphical user interface and would of course build on it. That, of course, still raises the question of what happened with the company's software efforts, even if there have been comments since the book The Mythical Man-Month that "software is hard."
krpalmer: (apple)
Along the endless road of fiddling around with old computer games and programs via emulation, my thoughts began bending back to a destination I'd touched on before. It wouldn't be long until The Digital Antiquarian got to 1993; he might cover the CD-ROM game Myst, and that coverage might even be positive. While I don't often "play along" with the games that site visits, I could imagine making an exception in this particular case. The only problem was that as I contemplated doing that, I knew I could almost manage playing "the game as first released."
One challenge after another )
krpalmer: (apple)
I've known for a while now a clock is ticking until older "32-bit applications" will stop working after a future update of macOS. While I understand this won't happen altogether with this year's macOS 10.14 "Mojave," supposing next year will mark the end has had me looking with a little concern at the older applications I've seemed dependant on. I've already moved from Textwrangler to the "Free Mode" of BBEdit to compose these posts in plain text (just as once upon a time I moved from "BBEdit Lite" to Textwrangler), I bit the bullet and paid the fee for a new version of the picture browser Xee, and I've tried replacing an old version of Vox with VLC to play those music files I haven't made the seemingly demanding commitment of adding to my iTunes library. With those three frequently used categories taken care of, though, I began to dwell on what might seem just an occasional software amusement...
Atkinson dithering within )
krpalmer: (apple)
After a few experiments with text entry on an iPad, I discovered a quicker way to type apostrophes and quotation marks on its standard keyboard. Convinced this was a useful trick not widely known, I made a presentation about it at the local Apple users group (back when it was still meeting.) In the time since then, though, I have found myself not typing very much on my iPad any more, even with an upgrade to the keyboard offering more access to the punctuation.

By no means have I got away from using an iPad nowadays, however. In fact, around the new year I was getting to think that I'd had my iPad Air for "long enough" and could stand considering getting a new one. At first, it was just a matter of knowing they now have fingerprint sensors built in; tapping in the same four-digit unlock code over and over could start to get to me. I decided to pay attention to the next announcement of an iPad update.
Sooner than I'd expected )
krpalmer: (apple)
It's easy enough to say "I'm more likely to play an old computer game than a new one," but in trying to lay out my explanations for that I do seem pushed to the further admission "but I can't find the time for much of even that; instead, I just seem to read about those old games." While reading, though, I did happen to learn about a crowd-funded book about games on the Macintosh, which very much caught my attention. Given the cost of having a printed copy shipped across the Atlantic, I was happy to settle for an electronic version. Once I'd made my pledge, however, it was a wait for the book to be finished and edited, and when I did have my copy I was trying to tie up a loose end by reading another book on a similar subject, if one about a computer I hadn't played games on. The release version of Brian Bagnall's Commodore: The Amiga Years (the middle volume of a promised trilogy) had at least taken out the barbed anecdote in a preliminary draft made available to Kickstarter backers about the disk-swapping that would have set in had someone tried loading an application on a single-drive Macintosh from a disk without a System Folder; while strictly true, I'd been inclined to insist there was supposed to have been space for the system and application on a single disk. Once through that book, though, I could move on at last to Richard Moss's The Secret History of Mac Gaming.
Not so distant after all )
krpalmer: (apple)
I've supposed that having kept posting to this journal for over ten years means "anniversary" posts aren't as easy to make up as they once were; there might very well be comparable thoughts a decade back in my archive. Noticing a few comments about the first iMac having been announced twenty years ago today, though, did have me reflecting once more on how amused I remember being on seeing the first pictures on the Apple Computer web site with the hopes this might keep getting past Steve Jobs shutting down the Macintosh clone program, and how I'd been paid some money in the summer for nailing shingles (even if it was a family project), only to spend it in the fall on the last Power Macintosh G3 All-In-One in my university's computer store instead of one of the first iMacs...
The first iMac and beyond )
krpalmer: Imagination sold and serviced here: Infocom (infocom)
Delving into "old computers" may be no better or worse than any other form of "catching up now on what you missed out on at the time," but I can suppose it doesn't have to be as expensive as something like collecting old toys. The only problem there is that it doesn't have to be as expensive because one way to find documentation and applications is to dig into obscure archives for scans and disk images instead of the more upright method of buying actual products from whatever sources there may be. Still, when one archive being updated right now with new "cracks" of Apple II disks made before their physical media demagnetizes altogether had one of the very first versions of Zork I show up, I saved a copy of the disk image. In the process of realising there'd been one version even before it for the TRS-80, looking through the older archives for that computer, and pondering if the specific "Z-Machine" data files for those versions could be extracted and played outside of hardware emulation (it took looking in a third, interactive fiction-specific archive for patch files and installing a command-line interpreter), I did get to contemplating what else I might have missed in the first archive. When I searched for a particular piece of software, all of a sudden I'd completed another quest that had been going on for a while already.
Choosing adventure )
krpalmer: (apple)
An Apple news site linked to a old photo of Susan Kare, the bitmap artist most associated with shaping the on-screen look of the original Macintosh (although she was also later hired to design icons for Microsoft Windows 3). The link was promoted with the comment the picture was at a high enough resolution you could get a good look at details in the background of Kare's office, so I followed the link to the photo. Taking in the clutter behind Kare (who, sprawled back in her desk chair, did fill most of the frame), I first noted the artwork and design books, then looked at the upper left of the picture. All of a sudden, a different bit of 1980s trivia kicked in. A red toy robot on the shelf looked familiar; I could put a name to it at once as Inferno, the Autobot fire truck from the Transformers.
A feedback loop of history )
krpalmer: (apple)
The name of the latest Macintosh operating system has changed each year for a good number of years now, but putting those changes into practice by upgrading my computer's software always seems to take a lot of personal nerving. I suppose it's summed up by the uneasy feeling online sites that would seem at first glance to be about working better with macOS have dark undercurrents in their comment sections of "never upgrade under any circumstances." It might be nothing more than my cowardly imagination fixing that in my mind, but I admit it can affect me.
With a special appearance from OS X 10.4 'Tiger' )
krpalmer: (smeat)
Driving to the library in the next town over for the monthly meeting of the Apple users group I'd managed one way or another to hear about a fair while ago (at least somewhat before the first iPhone was announced) and have been going to since, I wondered a bit about the "silent auction" I'd seen mentioned in the latest meeting notice. I've long supposed myself to have had a lot of poor luck in the raffles at the meeting (although managing to win an Apple IIe was a big change from that, even if afterwards the club president contacted me and said the club had managed to come into a second IIe system, which they were just offering me to take); for all that I'd stopped at the bank to withdraw some money just in advance of payday, I suppose I was just intent on seeing what would happen.

The agenda on the screen in the meeting room, though, left me with a first premonition the club president was soon explaining. As the group had warned a few meetings before, most of the executive had got to the point where they had to lay down the burden, and hardly anyone had offered to take their place. For that reason, the club was preparing to shut down; the silent auction was to sell off some of their video connection equipment. People kept explaining things were different now than they'd been when the club had been founded thirty years before with information readily available online; for that matter too, most of the people in the club did look as if they matched what some did say and could have been going to it since the beginning. (One older gentleman seated beside me during the meeting was playing Pokemon Go on his iPad, though.) I suppose I've not picked up on too many computer hints I was unaware of before, although I did make a presentation not that long ago about the iPad screen keyboard hints I'd stumbled on. It was rather just getting out once a month (save for summer and December) in a context different than work or church, and maybe a bit of thinking that asking for help online risks replies delivered with the curl of contempt "you shouldn't have upgraded in the first place" (although I can imagine that being proclaimed twenty-five years ago during the System 6-to-System 7 transition). Still, the group dispersed at the end of the meeting in decent spirits, and while it once more took a while before my raffle ticket number was called I did manage to pick up a second club T-shirt for posterity.
krpalmer: (apple)
It had been a while since I'd last looked at the site where I had found a large collection of Macworld magazines scanned. The thought had returned to me every so often that the gaps later on in the magazine's run might have been filled in, but perhaps I'd got to the point where I was just checking to see if the site was still around. On navigating from my bookmark to the front page, though, I saw there had been an addition, and a formidable one. Along with the Macworld magazines, a good number of MacUser magazines were now available.
Two different Johns )
krpalmer: (apple)
The small shopping mall in my neighbourhood, trending downwards for years even before Target moved in to close down two years later, is scheduled to be demolished and replaced by a self-storage facility, squeezed out of existence by changes in retail. (There are promises the grocery store attached is going to stay open as a standalone building, anyway.) Just about all of the handful of stores left open when I saw that in the newspaper this spring have cleared out, but one of the cell phone stores that were the last new developments is still open, its future location not quite ready yet. One day, I decided I'd look in it on my way to the grocery store to see if it had iPhone 8s on display, and if those phones had iOS 11 running on them. Knowing that new revision of the operating system would mean having to give up some of my oldest games did add just a little bit of reluctance towards upgrading.

On seeing the new phones did have the new operating system, I looked into their "Settings" to see what backgrounds were available; every major revision does seem to mean just about everything there being replaced. As I looked down the list of thumbnails, some rainbow stripes caught my attention. Then, I realised the colours weren't "ROY G. BIV," but rather "green-yellow-orange-red-purple-blue," the order of the stripes in the Apple Computer logo of the 1980s. After that, upgrading my iPod Touch just as a beginning was much on my mind. I was at least a little conscious this had some element of "being influenced by emotions," but "clinging to a different past out of concern" might be being influenced by emotions too.

I did wonder a bit how many other people would make the connection I had, it having been almost twenty years since the stripes were phased out around the time of the very first iMacs. There was the ambiguous thought that at least some of the people who'd used Apple IIs as particular machines with six-colour logos must have clung to their embitterment over the impression that platform hadn't been eked along as long as it could have and found philosophical objections with the Apple products that followed. Still, I can remember a "Macintosh thirtieth anniversary" tribute and a commercial about putting stickers on MacBook Airs that had alluded to the six-colour logo before. I can suppose the next revision of the operating system will take out those backgrounds (I know you can keep an "obsolete" background, but only so long as you don't change it to anything else), but even this much is a small but interesting bit of history returned.
A small bit of evidence )
krpalmer: (apple)
I'm cautious about invoking "political content" on this journal, but when I saw some "Apple commentators" bring up a Twitter post on the account of the Prime Minister of Canada, my thoughts veered in a direction I did want to say something about. Seeing Justin Trudeau promote with enthusiasm (and in both official languages) an article about the Macintosh emulation now available on the Internet Archive got me supposing that while there are people who were using Apple computers in the 1980s and people who've seen themselves as having "bought into a story" afterwards (as I suppose I was, just earlier than some), they don't amount to a constituency to be talked up in an analytical fashion. I was therefore willing to suppose Trudeau had used a Macintosh back when the game Dark Castle was a standout on it, and from there I could wonder if Pierre Trudeau had bought one of the computers (although this does bring to mind all those smirking juxtapositions of "the computer for the rest of us" and Apple's pricing strategies, along with how the elder Trudeau had been well-off before becoming Prime Minister) after retiring from office, and if he'd used it himself or supposed himself "too old for this sort of thing" even with its much-promoted graphical user interface and left it to his sons. Of course, the computer could also have been in a school lab with games floating around.

In any case, I was already aware of those Javascript emulators, but can admit to thinking I'd rather stick with files saved on my own computer for use with the self-contained Mini vMac emulator, especially given its recent push from the small black-and-white screen of the original Macintosh towards the larger, more colourful screen my own family's purchase not that far into the 1990s provided us with. (There was a comment in the article wondering if the author's return to MacWrite could be extracted from the emulator; I can do that with Mini vMac, even if I don't do that often.) After a first bit of difficulty that had me supposing the PCE Javascript emulator demanded disk images formatted in a way Mini vMac couldn't do anything with, though, I did find at least some of the files from the Internet Archive can be put to that offline use, and that before this somehow amusing bit of unexpected attention paid to the whole thing.
krpalmer: (apple)
When iTunes announces there's been another iPad operating system upgrade I tend to be pretty quick giving the okay to download and install it, but I can be a lot slower when it comes to the operating system of the iMac that first program runs on to begin with. I guess I always feel I have to fight past a miasma of "fear, uncertainty, and doubt" and the lurking presence of those people who've refused to upgrade for half a dozen major revisions by now. It does so happen I have a black plastic Macbook bought used that can't be upgraded much past system 10.6.8, but the awareness of the recent programs that can't be run on it is now getting to me. I did get around to setting up a double-boot system on it with a version of Mint Linux (which does seem to get more updates than some hypothetical scenario of "settling on perfection to be followed by lots of security updates" might seem to have it), but the unfortunate feeling of not being clever enough to really get things configured and installed just the way I like it gets to me in turn.

While last year I "upgraded" to "El Capitan" by the expensive method of buying a new iMac with the operating system pre-installed on it, I knew I'd have to resort to a more typical method when it came to "Sierra." The one thing I did pick up on was that the interactive fiction programming language Inform, and all the major text adventure game engines, weren't working properly with the new system. After a few months of waiting (and the peculiar awareness that "Sierra On-Line" had been a historical force in the however-ambiguous rise of graphic adventures), though, I'd heard about the language and some of the interpreters being revised in turn to work. Waiting just a little longer turned up one more point revision to the system, and I stepped off the deep end.

After making several backups of the old system, I ran the installer in place to save on having to reload old files, and yet it all started up again. So far I've only used the new operating system for a few days, but even so things do seem to be working and I'm settling in. I might not have noticed but for creating some custom folder icons that the regular folder icons are just a shade darker than they'd been in the system previous; I've begun a bit of work on that with another program that continued to work afterwards.
krpalmer: (apple)
I delve back into enough old computer systems that I do seem to let them lie fallow and then return to dig deeper. A big part of this depends on contributions made by other people, though, whether in the form of scanned documents or emulator programs. Pushing past the early 1980s, three different emulator programs for the Macintosh can get me to the end of the 1990s. One of the jumps between them is a bit bigger than the other, though, and it just so happened one single thing fell into that space to get my attention.
A gradual process )
krpalmer: (apple)
With just a bit of practice, I found that typing on my iPad's "glass keyboard" didn't seem "that" different from using a more physical input device. (I can suppose that for those who've grown accustomed to entering short notes and posts on the keyboard of a smart phone, there might be that much less of a deal to be made about something larger.) With a small collection of text editors and a Dropbox account, I can "pat out" quick-and-dirty rough drafts and transfer them to my computer. (This might not be that different from how the TRS-80 Model 100 was used by many. I suppose the Model 100's keys had more "travel" than indeed just about any portable computer keyboard available these days, but then in at least some circumstances I can see more than eight lines of forty characters each on an iPad's screen, and "filling the memory" doesn't seem to be an issue the way it might be with just thirty-two kilobytes to work with...)

However, if there was one thing that could slow me down, it was how there are only four punctuation marks available on the iPad's regular keyboard. To keep from sounding like one of those science fiction cultures that never use contractions, I'd have to reach down, call up the "punctuation keyboard," and type an apostrophe. To type any other punctuation mark, I also have to "put that keyboard away" once I'm done with it; adding HTML tags to a comment can be pretty involved. After a while, I began looking for alternatives. Considering keyboards sized to fit into an "iPad cover" kind of cramped, I bought a very cheap black-plastic Bluetooth keyboard (with a suspicious resemblance to the layout of the more solid Apple Bluetooth keyboard of the time) from a local surplus store; it was easy enough to carry it as well on a typical sort of day in a regular messenger bag. However, putting the batteries back in the keyboard and getting it connected did always seem to be just a bit of a production. I then managed to find a "third-party software keyboard" that was actually a "stylus input area," which at least brought thoughts of how these "keyboardless devices" were "once" supposed to work; however, writing on the screen seems just a little more involved than writing with a pen on paper. Doing a bit more searching, I happened on a software keyboard that squeezes skinny punctuation keys in around the regular screen keys; it was possible to get used to it, but I did get to thinking there was a slight air of lessened aesthetics about it, and that there could be something to "leaving keys out to fit in limited space" after all.

There were enough options to that new keyboard, though, that in exploring it I began to pick up on how you could "tap and hold" some keys and have extra characters pop up, the way I already knew to produce accented letters. All of a sudden, though, I was thinking about just where the apostrophe and punctuation mark are on the punctuation keyboard, and if there might be a trick to the regular iPad keyboard after all... Switching back, I found I really could hold down the comma to get an apostrophe, and hold down the period to get a quotation mark as well. This feels useful enough that I can wonder if it was my fault I hadn't seen anyone else notice it until now, but then there's always the chance someone else might yet hit on this tip for the first time here.
krpalmer: (apple)
On my way into the once-a-month meeting of the local Apple user group meeting, I looked at the table where the raffle prizes are set out only to be hit with a sudden thrill of recognition. Among the assorted bits of hardware and envelopes with software licenses in them, I could see the iconic shape of an antique Apple II computer, complete with Apple-branded monitor and two Disk II drives. It would be a rare and unusual prize, I thought, and yet I was stuck remembering. Every paid-up member of the user group gets one raffle ticket a month, but for all that I have won a software license or two for programs I've found useful I've been very aware of sitting and watching as number after number not my own is drawn and people go up to the front of the room to claim prizes as big as old Power Macintosh G5 towers. (I've seen three of those metal-cased "cheese graters" won, although I have wondered if they were the same computer every time, returned by people who had got to wondering if they really needed another old computer.) This time, I took a picture with my iPad's camera of what I could now tell was an earlier Apple IIe to leave me at least a little proof the prize had been there.
The picture, and a bit more )
krpalmer: (apple)
A link on an "Apple news weblog" to "the very first issue of Macworld" caught my attention. That the link was to the Internet Archive raised my interest that much higher; as soon as I'd followed it, I knew I'd been pointed to quite a bit more than that first description might have said by itself.

Quite a few long-folded computer magazines for old systems have been scanned and placed in different corners online, but in noting the Commodore and Atari and even Tandy-specific magazines, and as even some Apple II sources filled in, I suppose I took it for granted that since some important Macintosh resources had kept being published until just a few years ago, they wouldn't be found. I did say a while ago how the thought had crept up on me that it might be interesting to learn something about the early years of the Macintosh from sources biased towards it, but the only thing to do had seemed to be to look for the online auctions that weren't charging too much for sets of old magazines. Now, though, someone has got around to scanning those early issues, and indeed all the way to the end of 1995, just when the biggest crisis of the saga was really setting in. (I suppose I have noticed issues of MacAddict magazine online before, which started in that darkest hour only the next year.) In taking that in, I also happened on a nice selection of books about the Macintosh, going all the way from the introduction days when they couldn't do much more than rewrite the Apple manuals to the dawn of OS X. That other people may not have to spend the money I did matters more than the magazines I now have stacked on a shelving unit in my basement.

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