Monthly Archives: March 2017

Preservation: To have floppy-disks in 2017 is normal?

I Received bunch of Apple II (5.25″) and IIGS (3.5″) floppies from Germany, bunch being an about 66 kg of them in total! In year of 2017 to receive floppies in mail, is perfectly normal isn’t it? Feels very much like  golden days of 8/16-bit piracy in 1980’s in a bit larger scale however. Not all 80’s software pirates used BBS’s, specially in europe..

floppies_s
5.25″ floppies for Apple ][

3_5-floppies-from-germany_s
3.5 ” floppies for Apple IIGS

My estimation is somewhere around 600-700 of 5.25″ and 1600-2000 for the 3.5″.
To my amazement 99% of the 3.5″ floppies had printed labels with numbers and excat listing what was on them. This is precise!  Not just typical, common home pirate there. However the 5.25″ floppies were more of a mess (like often they tend to be).  Not everytime anything written on the label, or some had an paper note inside the sleeve to indicate what the floppy might have written to.

karateka_floppy_label_in_box_s
Every collection must have atleast one copy of “Karateka” and rare “Loadrunner” 🙂 (Typo: Loderunner).

3_5_floppy_labels_s

For the 3.5″ floppies, some of the software seems to be even for the 8-bit Apple as they’re listed as “IIe Spiele” (IIe games). Those game collections were made with using “UniDOS” by MicroSPARC Inc. which allowed you to use 800k disk space on 8-bit computers and of cos, you then needed the UniDisk 3.5″-drive or Apple //C Plus or GS. This was very handy.

I am aware most likely big persentage of the material on floppies is already preserved, but that doesn’t stop me. It’s too temping to go thru them all to find hopefully, something that is not preserved yet. There are probl. lots of Cracks made out of Apple II software in specially Europe, which are not preserved yet. Maybe crack made by neighbor kid who happened to use name “Krackman” or “WarezLord5000”. Who knows. It’s history and it needs to be preserved.

WHY TO PERSERVE? WHY BOTHER?
For some, obtaining old-obsolete floppies may sound like crazy, but there are valid reasons for doing this, unless you’re preserving your own personal AppleWorks floppies from the 80’s with your personal data:

-Not all Software is preserved.
-Not all Versions of the software is preserved.
-Not all Cracks of the software is preserved. No, they are not.
-We are running out of time. The magnetic media is on it’s end of it’s lifecycle, not much longer they are readable by decent way, or at all.

-And for me, to find local, Finnish Apple II software is the holy grail of it all. As Apple II wasn’t very popular in Finland, finding anything programmed or released in Finland, is very important and interesting for me.  But i am interested as well anything published in Europe.. or elsewhere.

kid-niki-crack-screen-green_jpg

I recently scanned bunch of game manuals from Taiwan, them being in Chinese of cos. Those are not scanned to my knownledge so it just had to be done.

THAT’S WHY.

 

As our community’s favorite archivist, Mr. JASON SCOTT would put it :
“The House is on Fire, the Fire Trucks are on Fire, The Fire is on Fire.”

 

SO THE GUESTION IS, HOW TO PRESERVE THESE?
I’ve used few different ways to preserve software in the past, but in this case, there’s most likely, not much of a problem with different copy protections so basic setup is enough. In this way you can name the file already what’s there for easing up the post-image processing. There surely is more ways to do this, specially when using GS, but let’s focus here on these options, specially on 5.25″ floppies. Basicly the same workflow works for preserving the 3.5″ disks.

HARDWARE FOR PRESERVATION WORK:
destop_of_apple_iis_2_s

You can use just Apple IIGS if you want for preserving either format. But i don’t have 3.5″ disk controller for my Apple //e so i am forced to use GS for 3.5″ preservation.

HARDWARE FOR THE 3.5″-DISKS:
-Apple IIGS + 3.5″ floppy drive(s)
-ADTpro + Uthernet II -> ADTPro host on modern computer (in this case, OSX) to receive & save the floppy to image file.
-Cleaning 3.5″ floppy + bottle of isoprophyl alcohol for cleaning the drive head. Essential.

HARDWARE FOR THE 5.25″-DISKS:
Either:
-Apple IIe + 5.25″ floppy drive (Disk ][)
-Apple IIGS + 5.25″ floppy drive
disk_ii_open_s
..just keep it open. You need to clean the R/W-head often anyway.

Options:
-CFFA3000 -> read directly to .dsk image (USB/CF)
-ADTpro + Uthernet II -> ADTPro host on modern computer (in this case, OSX) to read the floppy to image file.
-Sometimes the need is to save up an .nib file from problematic disks.
-Bottle of isoprophyl alcohol and cotton stubs for cleaning the drive head.

 

SOFTWARE:
ADTpro v2.0.2 (Client on: Apple II, /// and Host (server) on: Windows, Linux, OSX etc).
http://adtpro.sourceforge.net

-Automated cleaning program for cleaning the 3.5″ and 5.25″ floppies for Apple II & GS:
“You, Dusthead!” by Brutal Deluxe Software.
http://www.brutaldeluxe.fr/products/apple2/dusthead/index.html
It’s available in 140k (5.25″) and 800k (3.5″) disk images as download.

CLEANING THE R/W-HEAD:
Cleaning the drive’s read-head is important.
bad_floppy_s
Old floppies vary in quality, they can have mold, dirt, whatever which really doens’t belong there.

dirty_floppy_read_head_s
When the floppy rotates inside the sleeve, the dust, dirt stucks on the head and blocks the readout results. Sometimes the whole inner disk can stuck inside the whole sleeve and cause the whole drive to slowdown in speed.
disk_ii_cleaning_drive_head_s

MY WORKFLOW:
For 5.25″ floppies my workflow is pretty easy and straightforward:

Reading the disk images:inside_apple_iie_s-I use the Apple //e platinum with Disk ][-drive(s), CFFA3000 and USB-memory or ADTPro.
cffa3000_import_floppy_s
-Read the floppy with CFFA3000 to -> .dsk in USB-memory, name accordingly. I usually use some prefix-for the job, i.e. GERMAN001~
cffa3000_reading_floppy_bar_s
cffa3000_reading_floppy_bar_errors_s
Sometimes the reading fails. Either: adjust your drive speed closer to optium, the disk is bad, or it’s copy protected. Just put it aside and look at it later.

OR:

adtpro
Read the floppy with ADTPro -> your modern computer. Name accordingly. ADTPro allows you to read .nib files from the floppies as well. Sometimes that’s needed to get working image from the floppy.
adtpro_select_connection_type_s
I am using Uthernet-II card.

adtpro_configure_sSettings for the network:

adtpro_send_image_choose_drive_sChoose the volume and then you can choose either standard (S) .dsk image or (N) nibble .nib.

adtpro_send_image_sAnd send the image.

adtpro_sending_file_s
Transfering the image.

-Sort the actual real-life floppies:
-If the floppy is non-readable, it gives too much of errors when reading, i place it in “to be checked”-box.
-Good ones i put aside so long i’ve tested the images in emulator/real hardware to be working.

 

POST-IMAGE PROCESSING?

Working or not?virtual_ii_s
-To check the image that it works, what’s on them, it’s easiest to use an Emulator.
-Either one will do, but basicly i’m using Virtual II (OSX) and AppleWin (Windows or OSX under Wine).
-So, test in Emulator. Name the file. Sort accordingly in folders on your HDD (sorted, upload etc. your call here).

What is on them?ciderpress_s
-For checking the contest of the created image, easiest way is to use Ciderpress (Windows, OSX under Wine) wich allows you to take a look of the files in the disk image- if it’s in normal DOS 3.3, ProDOS-format.

ciderpress_new_image_s
-Sometimes if the image wont boot, you can just copy-paste the files to new empty disk image (.po/.do).

To upload or not to upload?
-I dont upload images with personal information on them, so check the image thru before uploading please. Somebody’s business records or loveletters from the 80’s really doesn’t belong to the internet.
-Upload non-preserved images for the community to be enjoyed.

 

SOFTWARE/LINKS:

Ciderpress v4.0.1 (Windows)
http://a2ciderpress.com
-Tool to process the disk images. Sometimes you can just copy the files off the image and put them in a fresh new image and save it up.

AppleWin v1.26.0.6 (Windows)
https://github.com/AppleWin/AppleWin/releases
– Emulator for Windows.

-Virtual II v7.5.4 (OSX)
http://www.virtualii.com
-Emulator for Mac OSX.
-Limited (free)
-Full licence 40€, limited 18€

-OpenEmulator (OSX)
-Now supports Apple //e (128k)!
-Also supports .fdi files made from .edd files (Paul Hagstrom’s python script).
-Download: (not released yet)

The Internet Archive : “Where everything belongs”
http://www.archive.org

Textfiles (Jason Scott)
http://www.textfiles.com

 

 

SPEND YOUR TIME WISELY AT 4AM :Crash-course to: Preservation for Copy-Protected floppies?

These can be either original floppies or just badly cracked/bit copied floppies you have obtained.

passport_menu_1Where you absolutely need to start this with is, to try running Passport by 4am first to the disk.
Either using some CF/USB/SD-card solution as bootup device or just plain floppy-to-floppy solution. Note: Picture from Emulator so Slot 6 is been used only.

What Passport does is it reads up the original and if the protection scheme is supported by the Passport, it uses the disks own RWTS-routines to read up the floppy and write the resulting disk image (.dsk) without the protection. Easy. Quick. Perfect!

With CFFA3000 you can easily do it as follows:
-CFFA3000 in Slot 7
-Disk II interface card in Slot 6
-Empty virtual floppy image (.dsk) in Slot 5

-Boot up the latest Passport from S5,D1 and have an empty .dsk image in Slot S5,D2.
-Check the Slots are chosen correctly at Passport (S6,D1 -> S5,D2)

passport_verify
-You can run verification to the original floppy by pressing “V”.

passport_crack-If the floppy is ok, you can try cracking it with pressing “C” for Auto-Cracking.
-If the protection scheme is supported by Passport it’ll report the result on screen and produce an unprotected .dsk file.
-Also if the protection scheme is not supported, it’ll report the result on screen.
-Boot the cracked .dsk with CFFA3000 or in emulator to see if it works.

If the Passport can’t crack your floppy, then you have to manually crack it, which then requires more knownledge, time and coffee. Sometimes such help can be found from the community..

LINKS:

Passport by 4am:
https://archive.org/details/Passport4am

Apple II software library by 4am:
https://archive.org/details/apple_ii_library_4am

 

> I ACCEPT APPLE II FLOPPY DISK & HARDWARE DONATIONS. <

 

Get your Retro Apple ][ – products from :a2heaven_logo

 

 

Floppies, who could live without them in 2017?

Obtained literally thousands of 3.5″ and 5.25″ floppies lately for Apple II and Apple IIgs and this  where it ends to. Total chaos in desktop which is perfectly fine and normal. I love floppies!

This time it’s basicly all non-originals so there’s not much work for 4am’s absolutely stunning preservation software “Passport”. I’ll write an post later with more details about the process i use.

overview_invasion_of_floppies

Passport by 4am:
https://archive.org/details/Passport4am

CFFA3000 by R&D Automation, LLC.
http://dreher.net/?s=projects/CFforAppleII&c=projects/CFforAppleII/main.php

ADTPro by David Schmidt:
http://adtpro.sourceforge.net

Ciderpress (Windows):
http://a2ciderpress.com