22/06/2018: Miscellany Menagerie

Apologies to everyone who's submitted new and interesting items to What is the Apple IIGS? and only now seeing them being included. No more delays – let's get down to it!

Qkumba's been busy as always and has most recently created ProDOS compatible versions of classic 8-bit games Thief and Track and Field, as well as an uncompressed version of Prince of Persia, which includes all original Easter Eggs (an included a text file details how to reveal them) as well as the ability to hack the game engine or saved games. Find them all in the ProDOSHackGames folder and their relevant alphabetic folder on the  8-bit Games 32meg disk image. Qkumba's also been going through the back catalogue of his ProDOS conversions and creating new versions that are compatible with the Apple II+. These newer versions will mean they're actually larger in file size, and I won't be updating the older versions on my 8-bit games collection, because they still work fine on the target platform here, the IIGS, as well as the IIe, IIc and IIc+.

Bertrand Lee, owner of the remarkable online diary rediscovering the Apple II since 2015, has let me know he has a newer version of the Harmonie printer driver collection – version 2.11b, includes 600x300 DPI support for HP DeskJet/DeskWriter plus new drivers for Apple StyleWriter (M8000), DeskJet/DeskWriter 520 & 560. There's so much to explore on Bertrand's site, it's quite a journey!

Frank Rossi wrote in to say he's found an interesting key press for the unofficial conversion of Plotting, excellently done by Leclercq Philippe, aka 'Teaser'. Pressing the 'M' key will toggle between the music tracks without having to advance further in the game. Now, the music in the IIGS version of Plotting isn't the music from the arcade version – it's from Sensei, the karate sparring game by Miami Beach Software. It's great music...but it's always sounded so wrong when playing Plotting to my ears. I've since found Amiga MODs that were ripped from that port of the game and the good news is – the instrument data for them is below 64k, making it easy to convert to SoundSmith or NinjaTracker format. However, I couldn't figure out how the existing music was included in the data for the original game – it looks like it was compressed together into a single data file, so I couldn't just swap out the existing tracks replacing them with these actual Plotting music tracks.

But I've put together an additional disk with the Plotting disk image .zip that includes the original MODs and NinjaForce's MODConvert v2. The breakdown of the MOD tracks is this:plod.d.mod - short music played at the beginning of a level, although this MOD's tempo seems to be incorrect - it's slower than it should be.

plot.f.mod - short music played after successfully completing a level (tempo seems correct)

ploting.1.mod - this music isn't present in the arcade version.
ploting.2.mod - this music isn't present in the arcade version.
ploting.3.mod - this music isn't present in the arcade version.
ploting.4.mod - this music isn't present in the arcade version.

ploting.5.mod - this is the standard music played during a level in the arcade version of Plotting. It should loop infinitly, until the level is over. When you're running out of time during a level, the music is sped up to emphasise the player needs to hurry before time runs out.

None of the music is for the arcade versions of the High Score music or Game Over music.

You can compare these MOD tracks with the original arcade soundtrack on VGMRips.

Frank's also done some amazing amount of work representing the IIGS on the Hyperspin front-end for emulators.

For anyone who's used Iomega Zip drives with a SCSI card on a IIGS and wished you could change Zip disks without having to reboot, you MAY have a solution at hand after a conversation on the Apple IIGS Enthusiasts Group on Facebook came about. Possibly having the Tulin tape drive SCSI drivers installed MAY allow you to eject Zip disk volumes without a restart. Thanks to Antoine for finding these drivers amongst his collection. If they don't help with Zip drives, well, we've now got drivers for a Tulin tape backup drive! I've also put together Floptical drivers and a CDA that probably won't work for ejecting volumes of Zip drives. Anyway, it's now all on the  Hardware Apps 32meg volume.

Bulletin Board Systems (BBSs) are gaining in in popularity again – it's a fun distraction from social media when we can remember the good old (more private?) days of online communication. Similar to what I discovered using the IIGS emulators KEGS/GSPort or GSPlus, you can now also access the world of BBSs via telnet with the new(ish) hardware device, the WiFi232, which you can plug into your modem port (with an DIN25 adapter) and use any terminal program that once used a modem to connect to servers. The WiFi232 interprets and converts old Hayes compatible commands so your old terminal programs are none-the-wiser about actually connecting via telnet rather than a direct connection over the phone line, modem to modem. Another alternative to accessing BBSs is using an Uthernet I or II, or the even rarer LANceGS card, in tandem with Marinetti, the TCP/IP stack for the IIGS, along with Spectrum, you can relive the good old online days. You can explore BBSs quickly on the IIGS if your have one of the hardware options above with this self booting 32meg ProDOS volume I've put together that includes every communications app imaginable:  Communication Apps

But where to visit? Todd Holcomb wrote in to say he has a dedicated Apple II BBS which you can enjoy – Captain's Quarters BBS. It features Apple II and IIGS downloads, thousands of text files, online games including the popular Masters of Trivia, and forums. Access it via telnet://cqbbs.ddns.net:6502.

There's also the BBS Guide. You'll find other Apple II dedicated BBSs, but also any BBS hosted by other computer platforms. I like to find the most impressive ANSI graphics based BBSs to really put Spectrum through its paces and to see the state of the art of online graphics up to the mid '90s.