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Return to adamcon.org | Adam News Index | Volume 97
Recollections and Ramblings from AC 09---------------------------------------------------------------
As most of you know by now, ADAMCON 09 is a piece of the American history scene. A small part, yes, but nevertheless, a part. We started this venture without the slightest clue of what to do or how to accomplish the feat, but things have a way of working themselves out if we just take one small step at a time. Well, after a few missteps, and more than a few baby steps, we arrived at the official conventon startup time, and these are my recollections from that point on.
The whole event began with the arrival of the very first delegate, Mr Ron Mitchell.
A rather uneventful arrival at Kent County International Airport were it not for the late hour of arrival - 11:45 PM on Wednesday the 13th. After a very surprised and happy look, we found our way to the luggage carousel to await the arrival of Ron's miscellan- eous luggage, MIDI keyboards and all! By now, it was a half hour into the 14th of August, the first official day of ADAMCON 09. After retrieving the luggage, or was it a load of rocks.... ..sure was heavy Ron, (you must have have lots of parts and sup- plies along, eh?) ; we took a short drive to the hotel to show Ron his new digs.
WRONG!!! Murphy was working overtime already!"I'm sorry, sir. We rented your room to someone else because you didn't show up by 6PM." That was the long and short of the hotel visit that night. Good thing we had an extra bed! Next morning the hotel had a little egg on their face as they called and couldn't find Mr Mitchell....hmmm. NOT a good way to start things off.
Thursday.....after Ron entertained Judy for the morning, we headed to the hotel after a quick lunch. Funny how friendly they seemed then........must have had something to do with losing Ron Mitchell. A few of the delegates were already checked in and in their rooms, and more arrived all afternoon. When Faye Deere arrived late afternoon, they "found" a room quite soon after an irate Judy headed to the front desk.....another strange coincidence. During the course of the afternoon, Ron, myself and Jerry Vranks (hope I didn't miss some other help) set up the hospitality suite with 9 computer setups of various configurations for use on sessions and just for fun use.The "official" start of ADAMCON 09 occurred that evening with the reception in the hospitality suite and spilling over into our connecting hotel room. We had a nice sitting area with a few chairs and a sofa along with a counter from which flowed coffee and some goodies while the counter in the hospitality suite offered soft drinks, hard drinks, refrigerated and cooler "beverages" as well as snacks. The "family reunion" had begun!
Friday began bright and early with breakfast - most made it, we only lost 3 or 4 people. Ron Mitchell opened after breakfast with the address (you will find on this ANN disk as Keynote.txt) of the day in which he encouraged us to fight for our ADAM. Frances Clee took us through some tricks and tips on ADAMCALC first; then Gene Welch demonstrated the ADAMnet clock and how to build one for yourself as well as discussing how to set up a hard drive on the ADAM without spending a fortune. Next up; LUNCH!! After lunch Ron Mitchell had us on the Internet with the ADAM; not a simple project, but nevertheless easy enough to do IF you can find the right connections into the internet world. Next came a session with Herman Mason and myself on Harddrive setup and repair..........would have worked a lot better IF the zonker would have left his blankety, blank HD home! As it was, we blew the entire session trying to get Zonk's HD moving only to finally give it last rights, which you guessed it, took the time slot for the session. Oh well, nobody called us names or anything, so they must have liked the socializing. REALLY! it is fairly easy to set a HD up, just get a good HD! (Don't buy from Zonk!)Friday evening was a free for all in the hospitality suite with Dale showcasing a new program of his, an imprompto session of ADAM BOMB 2 going on, Compuserve and Internet phone checks, etc.
Saturday morning brought all hungry conventioners to breakfast followed by Rich Clee's address on the comparison's of the "dosbox" and the ADAM. Saturday morning sessions were devoted to Powerpaint by PJ Herrington and Gene Welch. After lunch, the Zonker (Bart Lynch) took us on a video journey thru the utilities to use when transferring TDOS to EOS (this year it worked!!!) and Gene Welch demonstrated and explained the MultiMedia Utilities that Chris Braymen gave us.Saturday evening found us glued to the computers once again to chat with a few ADAM friends on YAHOO chat on the internet; Bob Sebalist and Rich Cassaboon among them. Later, we had the traditional chat on CompuServe, BUT seems like most everybody was at the convention and we chatted with ourselves!
Sunday brought a quieter morning with a continental breakfast in the hospitality suite followed by Ron Mitchell and the MIDI interface for the ADAM. Sunday brunch......what can I say ..... the experience was mind blowing! The entire bar, dance- floor and all, was devoted to food! Every item on the menu for and entire day was available, plus every cute and fancy little desert you could imagine, right in front of your eyes to eat! Alas, we should have had the banquet Sunday noon right then and there. Sunday afternoon (on full stomachs I might add) we had Rich Drushel show us some of his ADAM trivia including his LEGO university project with the ADAM influence and Dale Wick showing a new compiler for Basic albeit in the TDOS arena at present. Sunday evening started with a cocktail hour in the hospitality suite followed by the banquet and accompanying doorprizes, banner passing ritual, etc. Some of the doorprizes included Jean Stone's afghan (handmade) won by Kathi Vrancks, Gene Welch's demo ADAMNET clock, various subscriptions to newsletters, and ADAM memorabilia including autographed copies of instructions for JKL Utilities and Splat provided by Rich Drushel via the developers of the utilities .We finally passed the banner to the Herrington's for passage back to Florida for ADAMCON 10 (or however you spell 10 in computerese), then headed back to the hospitality suite to outdo ourselves on the ADAM one last time. Mr Bob Bair was quite involved, shall we say, in the ADAM BOMB 2 game; he basically had to be asked to leave every night. Finally the night "died" at about 12:30 PM (or AM?) and he headed to bed.
Monday morning found many stopping in for last goodbye's for the year and plans to meet again in Florida next year (October???). We do hope that you can ALL plan to be there. We offer SPECIAL THANKS to those who helped out with promotional materials, sessions, keynote addresses, raffle sales, setup and take down! And thanks to the delegates who came also! We NEED more involvement from the ADAMites we have left! A rearward look at this year effort.......we took a realistic look after AC VIII and based our efforts on that number, but were overjoyed to exceed that number this year. We had a total of 30 delegates plus spouses, and an unknown to us visitor who heard about the convention on the internet and showed up.....GREAT! NOW, we need to use any resource we know off and get the rest of the world involved again! There are ADAM users and ADAM interested individuals out there we can reach if we try.
The ADAMCON 09 Committee
Bob & Judy Slopsema
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by Ron Mitchell
ADAMCON 09, now in the books was probably the first where I didn't take detailed notes. Normally I come home with pages and pages. This time I wrote down everything Bob Slopsema said at the ANN meeting, more or less, but otherwise just got plain lazy. So best we get this report down quick like. It's now only a week after the close of our Grand Rapids meet, and already memory is beginning to fade. Combination of age and inertia as usual. They say it gets worse.
Grand Rapids, and more particularly Kentwood boasts the busiest street in the State of Michigan. 28th (Ave. or Street Bob?) is wall to wall traffic day and night. One impression that jumped out at me right away was the complete absence of sidewalks. Another impression that jumped out at me right away was that the boulevard grass is either exquisitely kept or completely torn up, depending on how close you get to where the sidewalks should be. The final first impression, more of a lesson than an impression really, is that it's worth your life to cross 28th on foot, not at all for the faint of heart. That might just have something to do with the absence of sidewalks. 28th is made for cars and cars rule. There are parking lots, strip malls, eateries galore, and lots of places to shop. Perfect for an ADAMCON.
And so for that reason we gathered at the Best Western Midway hotels on 28th in Kentwood Michigan between August 14 and August 17 for ADAMCON 09. It was special for a variety of reasons, but mostly because it was 09. For nine years we've been doing this, and many attending have been to all nine. That's really special!
Bob and Judy Slopsema organized ADAMCON 09, and despite being hard at it late Wednesday night when my plane greased on to Grand Rapids Airport, they found time to meet me around midnight. Just as well. The hotel had me registered as inbound earlier in the day, but had trashed my record at 6pm when I didn't show, this despite the conversation that certain of their staffers had with Bob about my projected late arrival. Had it not been for Bob and Judy's kind generosity, Wednesday night might have been a long one out there on 28th. The hotel was full. As it was, I enjoyed the comfort of their spare bedroom for a few hours, and I'm certainly thankful for that.
Suitable words were of course said Thursday morning and various hotel officials got the point. All I had to do was stand there and look suitably menacing while Bob Slopsema did the growling. They let me in, thank Heaven. The balance of the morning and afternoon were a bit of a blur. There was a lunch at Wendy's somewhere in there, and I think I managed to make myself useful for the balance of the day setting up equipment, retrieving cable, wires, and parts from boxes and making room 157 ready for the onslaught. Somewhere along the way I wondered if Coleco ever had any idea that some of their product would be transported so much, set up so often, or have to spend so much time aboard airplanes. It also occurred to me that this our little orphan is really quite sturdy, and able to stand up to bad packing, crunching against bulkheads, squashing inside suitcases, and a wide variety of other mistreatment. My own equipment made the trip in good order, with one exception.
Each year I succeed in busting something. This time it was a left slot MI serial card which emerged from its cardboard cover minus a crystal. The latter, bent almost double, tumbled out onto the floor leaving me wondering how I was going to communicate with the outside world. Fortunately I also had one of GMK/HLM's serial ports with me, and following a little re-configuration, it served my purposes quite well. Nevertheless, there was a lesson there in the proper care and packing of printed circuit boards.
By early Thursday evening, there was time for a swim and the Best Western hot tub. Patricia Herrington and her husband Bob had discovered the hot tub first. There was a yell from PJ across the rather vast indoor expanse containing a courtyard, swimming pool and hot tub. It stopped me dead in my tracks, and I was soon joining them in the water.
People drifted in all through Thursday night, and by the end of the evening some 34 ADAMites had gathered, sharing stories, enjoying refreshments, and talking eagerly of the few precious days ahead. All too early, we were into day 1.
Friday, August 15, 1997
Someone named Mitchell gave a keynote speech, and that can be read here as a separate file. As usual, any relationship between what I said there and what was actually written is pure coincidence.
The sessions over Friday, Saturday and Sunday followed in scheduled order, and the schedule is a matter of record so I won't repeat that here. What follows are capsule sketches of the sessions and a few personal impressions. There were one or two pieces of trivia that came to light that I wasn't aware of, and these are the things I'd like to share.
The ADAMcalc and PowerPaint sessions scheduled for Friday morning were delayed somewhat by the length of a certain party's keynote speech, but once underway, provided a solid start to the day. These two major pieces of ADAM software always generate user questions, and this year was no exception. Frances Clee, describing ADAMcalc, stayed with the basics and managed to embed something in my mind about the proper syntax for adding a column of figures. I concluded long ago that if I knew nothing else about spreadsheets in general, and ADAMcalc in particular, I should really at least know how to add a column of figures. Once again it was clearly explained to me.
Gene Welch demo'd Powerpaint, featuring some of the larger font sets that are part of Patricia Herrington's "Glory B". The session on hard drive setup and repair didn't unfold quite as planned. We were in fact provided with an opportunity (suppose that's one way of putting it) to watch Herman Mason's attempts to resurrect a non-functional hard drive that Bart "Zonker" Lynch had brought with him. I believe that Zonker actually expected the drive to be fixed, although I'm not completely sure. One thing is certain however; by the time efforts concluded an hour and a half or so into Friday afternoon, the hard drive wasn't the only thing that was non-functional. At one stage, I wasn't sure who was doing what to whom, but it became clear the hard drive would never work again, not on an ADAM, not on an IBM, not anywhere. You win some, you lose some.
The Internet session that followed was another "good news/bad news" affair. The good news was that this year we actually succeeded in getting online with not too much effort. The bad news was that once again, we showed up the disadvantages of the 80 column display in these demo situations. Unfortunately most of the ADAMites gathered were unable to see what was happening on the screen. So while the session went well enough, it lost something in viewability. At least we were able to get on line and use the LYNX web browser with the ADAM.
Friday evening featured Rich Drushel and some ADAM trivia that proved most enlightening. Rich has recently been in touch with Joel Lagerquist, one of the programmers who worked for Laser Micro Systems when ADAM software was being developed. Many ADAMites will recognize Mr. Lagerquist as the author of JKL utilities.
Rich received some interesting items from Joel and some information that was probably not common knowledge at the time.
Item: a pair of circuit cards that plug in (one at a time)
to the ADAM game cart slot and boot up CP/M along with a set of programmer utilities.
Item: Documentation for JKL Utilities autographed by the
Item: Documentation for Splat, the EOS debug utility
autographed by the author.
Item: An original wire wound memory expander produced
Rich reported that Laser Micro Systems was bought out some time back, but still produces programming for small control systems. Apparently nobody currently at Laser's successor company can recall anything about SmartBasic, versions 1 or 2, ADAMCalc or any other project they were involved in for the ADAM. The same applies apparently, to LCSI, Logo Computer Systems Inc. in Montreal. Unfortunate.
I see that Richard has provided full detail of his detective work in the latest "This Week With My Coleco ADAM" (97.08.24), so you can read all about it there.
Saturday August 16, 1997
Rich Clee started the day with his keynote speech describing most everything you could want to know about the transition between the ADAM and DOS worlds, but were afraid to ask. It all rang a few familiar chords with me. Richard's experience of starting a DOS box for the first time, sounds quite familiar indeed. His address will also be on the ANN disks.
Saturday morning was devoted to Powerpaint sessions by Patricia Herrington, and a session by Gene Welch on the ADAM keyboard clock. Patricia managed to find a limited quantity of her booklet, "Oh Yes You Can". I was even able to grab one. I remember well the series of articles she produced a few years back based on the premise that any user who puts just a little work into mastering PowerPaint can produced some impressive graphics work.
Gene's description of the ADAMnet clock was based on work done last year by Chris Braymen. Chris produced an article and accompanying circuit diagrams that were published in 463 ADAM in the spring of 1996. Anyone who wants to build this clock will, as Gene Welch explained, require a spare ADAM keyboard and a number of other parts available from most electronics supply stores. Total cost, Gene estimated, was around $40.
The ANN meeting took place on Saturday afternoon right after lunch. A separate set of minutes will be produced for that, so I'll not deal with it here. Suffice it to say that we're alive and financially well, and Bob Slopsema has agreed to serve another year as your ADAM News Network Editor. That is indeed good news. The group present at the meeting all agreed that the ANN disks are back on track and regularly issued thanks to Bob's hard work.
A point worth mentioning relative to the ANN meeting deals with appropriate uses for our 'cash on hand'. We've agreed that it would be desirable to investigate the possibility of supporting another run of IDE host adaptors for the ADAM. The availability of these boards from existing sources needs to be confirmed, but if required, we could fund the production of additional quantities, depending on user interest. Given the increasing availability of smaller IDE hard drives (20 and 40 MEG) and given that the host adaptor is all that is required to physically equip an ADAM with a hard drive, we believe that the source of supply for these adaptors should be maintained if at all possible. Bob Slopsema will be reporting further.
Following the ANN meeting, Bart Lynch took the floor to present a session on conversion of files between TDOS and EOS. Many ADAMites shy away from using CLONE.COM, IMAGE.COM, TRANS.COM and FC.COM. These 4 programs provide the user with tools required to move text files between ADAM's two operating systems, and to make sure that the formatting is correct for Smartwriter, Speedywrite, VDE and Wordstar. Once again Bart remembered the contribution made to our world by Guy Cousineau, author of these programs.
Bart used an interesting technique during his presentation. He had prepared the actual computer screens for his talk on a video tape, which took the audience step by step through the file conversion process. The 80 column display made it a little difficult to see from the back of the room, but it was nonetheless an effective tool. Even Bart's hard drive failure was fully documented (intended or not) as part of the presentation.
Bart's session was followed by a Gene Welch's presentation on ADAM Multi Media Sound Drivers. We spent some time exploring Chris Braymen's programs for adding visuals and music to BASIC programs. While these drivers make it easy to produce some impressive multi- media effects on the ADAM, they are not easily explained. Despite some difficulties in getting the demo's to work, Gene did a pretty creditible job of making sense out a complex topic. We need more people using this stuff, and hopefully Gene's demo will help users to understand just what they can do and how to do it.
After supper on Saturday, Dale Wick presented sessions on a Beta version of his newly written TDOS compiler. I want to call this a BASIC compiler, but right at the moment it most certainly is anything but. It involves elements of PASCAL, C, DBASE, and BASIC language syntax, and yet its sheer simplicity makes it quite attractive even for the newest of users. The compiler provides an elementary set of tools for writing compiled Z80 code under TDOS, and even in its present format performs much faster than current forms of interpreted basic. Using simple english-like syntax statements, you can actually produce a COM file that ADAM will run under TDOS.
Dale says that future incarnations of this product will be for sale commercially, and will offer an implementation of the BASIC language for use with ADAM. For purposes of his ADAMCON 09 session, Dale provided two excellent sessions introducing the BETA version of the compiler and leading the group through programming exercises with it. It was interesting stuff. Just as a side note, I also bought from Dale his latest game called PlayUtah. Some sample scenes from this game were included in the compiler exercises, enought to whet my appetite toward purchase of the whole game. Review to follow.
Later Saturday evening, there were two online conferences, one via YAHOO chat and the other via Compuserve. We were able to link up with Dave Cobley from Vancouver Island, Rich Cossaboon in Delaware, and Bob Sebelist in Maine via the Yahoo chat, and with Rob Friedman in Long Island via Compuserve. The balance of the evening was spent doing that, as well as a goodly amount of socializing in the hospitality suite. Gene Welch and I finished the evening (much later) re-acquainting ourselves with Sid Carter's Dynomite Sound Digitizer in preparation for my presentation first up Sunday morning.
Sunday August 17, 1997
The last day began with sinful sticky buns and a cold fruit plate. With brunch slated for after 11am, there was a light breakfast followed by my second session on MIDI and sound for the ADAM. In my own humble view, this one did not go well. It was way too short, and somehow I missed the main point of the whole exercise which was to demonstrate the production of MIDI files on the ADAM. I had prepared a disk of songs for presentation at this session, but when I heard the content being played in public for the first time, I couldn't stand the sound of it. So I let that part of it go, resulting in my being about an hour short of content.
You win some, you lose some. Next time hopefully, I'll be better prepared.
A presentation by Rich Drushel, following brunch, dealt with the conversion of colour PowerPaint screens into the IBM environment. This work has been the subject of articles recently part of Rich's TWWMCA series. Rich explained the process he uses to convert pictures developed on ADAM into colour GIFs, JPEGs, BMP's or whatever picture format in the IBM world. I will not attempt to re-create those explanations here, except to say that using the process, Rich was able to port the existing PowerPaint screen from the ADAM environment to his IBM where he made changes with his graphics drawing program of choice (CANVASS) and then return them to the ADAM for use with a Server implementation of PowerPaint. If you missed the TWWMCA articles on this topic, you can pick them up along with the companion programs on Rich's FTP site. Impressive stuff.
Dale Wick's second compiler presentation followed Rich Drushel's session. By then we'd progressed passed the placement of simple character strings on the screen and were playing around with While /Wend constructions and For/Next loops. The results of some timing tests on this compiler highlighted the improvements in processing speed that are possible with compiled code versus interpreted code. A compiler converts English like program statements into machine code only once. It converts the entire program which is then run. There is no further reference to the original source code. An interpreter, on the other hand, tokenizes the original source code, and runs it one line at a time. The result is slower running time. Dale's compiler ran code 10 to 15 times faster than an interpreted program written to do a similar job. In this case, we simply asked the computer to count to 10,000 and inform us when it was done. There was a noticeable difference in processing speed.
Later Sunday afternoon, it was time for the ADAM store. This year we had MTAG, Howard Pines, GMK/HLM, Gene Welch's L&G enterprises, and Faye Deere (ECAUG) all with goods to sell. Rich Clee's ADAM Services had put out the word in advance of the Convention that goods could be orderd prior to ADAMCON 09 and would be delivered there. All of that was impressive enough, but when Bob Slopsema started putting price tags on all his ADAMCON 09 equipment, it became quite clear we were winding down. It is certainly to be hoped that people in attendance bought something from our suppliers. My wallet was somewhat lighter when I left the store, and I managed to pick up a number of items I'd been looking for. It was good to see the ADAM store back again after a year's absence. Hopefully it will once again become a permanent fixture at ADAMCON's.
Sunday evening traditionally is banquet time, and a time to wrap it all up. This year there was a good meal, somewhat slowly served, but it's to be assumed that the hotel staff did the best they could with the people they had. The food was great and worth waiting for. The prize awards following were conducted in such a way as to ensure that everyone came away with something. My haul included a spare ADAM keyboard, and an updated edition of Jason Brown's Hypercard for the ADAM.
It was then time for Gallery of Honour presentations. Our congratulations go to this year's 4 new inductees:
Eric Danz Ed Jenkins Bob Slopsema Gene Welch
All of these individuals are deserving of our recognition. They have each contributed in their own way to the ADAM community. And thanks must also go to Jerry and Kathy Vrancks who did yeoman service in getting the vote in and tabulated.
Finally, the banner for next year ended up with Patricia and Bob Herrington for transport to Orlando. And so it is that I get one more chance to attend an ADAMCON in Florida, having blown 2 so far.
I don't intend to blow the third.
To conclude, there were some things quite evident at ADAMCON 09 that perhaps hadn't jumped out at me before.
1) The Stones were conspicuous by their absence. Jean has just had á hið replacemenô anä jusô couldn'ô makå it® Wå kno÷ shå wanteä to be there, and we missed them both.
2) The kids are growing up. Case in point, Doug and Mandi Slopsema this year provided invaluable support to their mom and dad. Doug served well as equipment manager for the entire 4 days, and Mandi got to run all over everywhere driving people (me and others) delivering this, picking up that. Our thanks to be sure goes to you guys.
3) It was great to see Faye Deere back again. We all know that the last couple of years have been tough ones for Faye. She's come though them, and she's back with us. I know that she enjoyed the conference, and she made quite a contribution by setting to work and producing a detailed attendees' list which will no doubt appear on this ANN disk. It comes complete with snail mail and E- mail addresses for everyone and will be an effective tool as we all try to maintain contact with one another.
4) We have people developing expertise that is nothing short of delightful to see.
I have to give Dale Wick full credit for actually teaching me something this year. Last year he did too, but this year's handouts were neatly typed, and the compiler session was particularly interesting in that I didn't realize that compiler syntax could be drawn from so many places. No, I'm not being sarcastic. Dale undertook to write a compiler, and he's done it using a rather unique blend of borrowing from various high level languages. Some didn't like the result, but I thought it was cool. I feel like I've had a complete review of high level language syntax as a result. Pascal, C, BASIC, you name it; it's there.
This young man has presented ADAMCON sessions before. It's now quite evident that he's had instructional methods training and is putting it to good use. We are going to benefit strongly for as long as Dale is around.
5) And then we have the Bair. Robert Bair. Robert serves not only to keep the ANN financial scene orderly, but now it seems has assumed another primary role as resident expert for ADAM Bomb 2. During the 4 days of ADAMCON 09, Bob provided all comers with detail about how to survive in Steve Pitman's world of alien invasions. It became quickly obvious that Robert has acquired considerable expertise as a mapper of screens and a survivor of the game.
ADAM Bomb 2 got you beat? Who ya gonna call? The Bair?
6) And last but not least, I've said it before, and I'll say it again. Bob and Judy Slopsema deserve our heartfelt praise. Not only did they give a wandering stranger refuge from one of Kentwood's bumbling hoteliers, they put together an ADAMcon that was well run and memorable. Their status in the ADAM world has gone up to a new level. And I say well done.
28th St would have been a terrible place to spend the night. I just know it!
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What are we, NUTS?!?!? A tale of Adamcon Nine
I mean it; what's wrong with us? Here we have a computer that has been D-E-A-D for more than ten years, yet a hard core band of us seem to think nothing of ditching work (and in some cases abandoning families!) to run away to some far off location to meet and greet and otherwise hobnob with our fellow Adam users. Nuts, that's what I call it!
All right, all right....I got that off my chest. I feel much better now. Yet the question remains. I'm not sure I can answer it for any one else. For me, it's a time to see, actually and in the flesh, that the rest of you out there still exist. You all have become more important to me over the years than I care to think. For those who have never been to an Adamcon, there is absolutely no way to explain. (Believe me, we who have been have been TRYING to ever since day one.) And for those of you who have been and continue to come, there is no need. Suffice it to say, it was wonderful to be back in the bosom of my extended family once again!
Have no doubt, though, that I went to Michigan with my eyes wide open. Beyond question, this wasn't going to be an Adamcon like those of days gone by. There simply aren't that many of us left any more. (I do wish that those who have left would stop in every now and then, just to say a quick howdy.) A "small" 'con would be what I was to expect. But I was quite pleasantly surprised to find that some 35 of us showed up. (I can't wait to see the final official figure. Wonder if it's more or less?) This included some wandering sheep who have missed one or two in the past. It was a genuine pleasure to see them again.
It was quite a spread that Judy,Bob and even son Doug put on for us. While Bob seemed to spend a good deal of his time complaining about the hotel staff, I myself didn't have much to gripe about. They certainly treated me right. Except for the propensity to take as long as possible to get the food to the table, all else was fine. And when that food got there! Yummmmm! I especially enjoyed the Sunday Brunch. I don't believe I've ever seen that much food (and that kind of variety!) at any hotel brunch I've ever attended. Well done!
Well now that we have the most important support function of any hotel hosting an Adamcon out of the way, we can now concentrate on other matters. I arrived thinking that other than seeing this motley crew, I probably wouldn't take much away. I DID "know" that I was going to have my hard drive worked on. Herman Mason was to give a session on how to ressurect a dead hard drive. Unfortunately, the one I brought was deader than dead, if such a thing could be. (Leave it to me to be the exception that proves the rule.) Long story short, Herman, through no fault of his own couldn't breathe new life into it. Sorry about that Herman! (But imagine how I felt!!)
However, all was not lost. Doug Slopsema said he was pretty sure he could lay hands on a substitute hard drive "for cheap". Being his old man's son, he couldn't resist teasing me, telling me that it would be "well, kinda cheap". What he came up with was a 40 meg Seagate which was much more than I expected. So I was more than happy to pay him the fifteen bucks. (I want to go on record here as saying that Herman DID get this hooked up to my Adam and running in very quick order!)
So that was ONE of my personal goals taken care of; just had a couple more and all would be well. Next up....I wanted to make sure that the video I had slaved over would work properly. You may recall, dear reader, that last year I managed to break the tape and had to end up doing it all by hand. I'm proud to say that this year, it actually worked. I've got to say that if one is to do a session, THIS is the way to go. No persnickity Adam takinga nose dive right in the middle of showing folks something. Much easier as you can pause, rewind or fast forward depending on how things go. While that part worked, I'm not sure I got the information across. The session was on IMAGE files, a very dry and boring topic. I'm sure I saw quite a few glazed eyes out there!!
The last personal goal for me was rather tied in with that hard drive mentioned above. See, I was paying keen attention back a few years ago when Rich Drushel talked about the impending demise of Adam do to the fact that the main processor is going quite literally die of old age. (I won't go into this here, it has been well published else where.) What I was considering was, up to a point, abandoning Adam. I figured I could use either Adam Serve or DOS software Adam Emulator to carry on with my future Adam activities, saving wear and tear on my poor beleagured Adam. Alas, as near as I could determine from the questions I asked at the 'con, the limitations I'd have to live with would be far too limiting. (At least, present day limitations.) Adam Serve can't, at this time, handle tdos. Much to my surprise, I found Adam Emulator CAN handle tdos, but can't write to the IBM hard drive. It can only write to the disk drives. (BTW, if anyone reading this spots any of this as wrong, could you PLEASE let me know?)
That's why I went ahead and got that replacement hard drive for my little ol' Adam. An investment of fifteen bucks will keep me going for at least a year or so more and perhaps I can stave off the demise of my machine for that long. At any rate, while I went to the convention thinking I wouldn't get too much out of it, as you can see, it was quite the opposite. All around me, I could see signs that others were learning and sharing information as well. Situation normal at Adamcon.
While I take plenty of pictures at these gigs, it seems I don't always capture on film what I see going on there. Each year, I bring back with me a vivid mental image. It's something that sums up each year for me. For some reason, this year, it was the fact that almost every time I turned around, there were Judy Slopsema and Bob Bair, huddled in front of the Adam. Just what was so fascinating? It seems Bob has mapped out Adam Bomb II and was taking Judy step by step through the screens. Even while sessions were going on, where valuable high level discussions were going on, there sat Bob and Judy, playing that same game over and over again.
See what I mean? We travel thousands of miles, go through long inspections at airports, and we end up "just" playing games. What are we? Nuts?
Yeah.....I guess we are. And I wouldn't have it any other way.
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A.N.N. minutes for the annual meeting held during ADAMCON 09, August 15 1997 in the Hospitality Suite #157 of Midway Hotel, Kentwood, MI.----------------------------------------------------------------------
A.N.N. staff in attendance:
Bob Slopsema, Bob Bair, Ron Mitchell, Bart Lynch, Jerry Vrancks and Gene Welch
All delegates of ADAMCON 09
Reading of last convention's A.N.N. minutes
Report by Bob Slopsema on progress made to keep ANN afloat. Reported that no new and innovative ideas are being employed, but that the ship is still afloat, not leaking and we intend to keep it operational and moving forward.
Bob Bair reports that we have a balance in the checkbook of $1809.73. Motion made, supported and passed to change the names on the checkbook to include the names of the current editor and the treasurer.
The subject of hardware for the ADAM was broached, especially the availability and feasibility of manufacturing hard drive interface cards and possibly others hardware cards. At this point we know Terry Fowler of ADAM'S HOUSE has "some" stock. Bob Slopsema will contact him and find out how many he has AND if he has the copyrights and facilities to remanufacture them while Dale Wick is to contact Mark Gordon and find out about copyright issues and whether Mark is willing to sell any design OR possibly manufacture a limited run of some of his hardware designs.
We discussed (again this year) the problem of availability of some software, such as Richard Scarry titles, David White titles, etc. The problem lies in copyright holder status, not necessarily any monetary value or moral dilemma. No one wants to get tied up in a legal battle over a few dollars - least of all the ADAM community. There appear to be some titles still available here and there; it may take some time to dig them up, BUT all involved; MTAG, A.N.N., A.D.A.M. Svcs (Rich Clee), HLM/GMK Software/Hardware (Geo K and Herman M) along with any ADAM owner will have to check inventory to see if they have that extra copy available. The last resort would be to contact A.N.N. -AFTER- an exhausting search of all dealer inventory and then A.N.N. would put it's vast network of information to the test to find a copy for the customer. That should bring one out of the woodwork! :)
Finally, a motion was made, supported and passed to use ANN funds to pay off any financial shortfall incurred by the ADAMCON 09 committee.
(Be at ADAMCON 10 to put in your 2 cents!)
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Saturday August 16, 1997
Bob Slopsema, George Koczwara, Herman Mason, Ron Mitchell, Bart Lynch, Robert Bair, Tom Ozretich, Richard Drushel, Neil Wick, Dale Wick, Joe Alford, Gene Welch, Maurice Kendrick, Rich Clee, Patricia Herrington, Judy Slopsema, Jerry Vrancks, Guy Bona, Doug Slopsema.
1) Order at 1:35 pm - Bob Slopsema chairing. Minutes of ANN meeting held at ADAMCON VIII read.
2) Unsolicited and out of order (but nice) comments by Bart Lynch:
Thanks to Bob Slopsema for service as ANN editor over the past year plus organizing ADAMCON 09, plus walking on water and making sure the ADAM universe unfolds as it should.
Thanks to Ron Mitchell for not disappearing completely from the face of the earth (unlikely that Ron Mitchell could disappear anywhere) and continuing to contribute.
Thanks to Dr. Richard Drushel for the TWWMCA series of articles. They may not be completely understood, but they are appreciated.
3) Financial Report:
Treasurer reports that the current bank balance stands at $1809.73. Income: return of ADAMCON float, income from Sale of publications held by Rich Clee.
4) Review of current mailing arrangements:
Review of specific detail on who is doing mailings, who is being mailed to. Reconcilliation of records between Robert Bair and the mailers.
5) Signing Officers - ANN account.
Moved by Maurice Kendrick, seconded by Rich Clee that signing officers for the ANN account be Bob Slopsema and Robert Bair. (Carried)
6) Production of Additional IDE Host Cards
Should ANN financially support the production of a run of centre slot IDE Host cards? Is this an appropriate use of ANN funds? Noted that the physical circuit card would be the most expensive item in this production process.
Resolved by vote that this constitutes an appropriate use of ANN funds.
Decided that Bob Slopsema be empowered to further investigate production costs, present availability of existing stock, and to enter into transactions as appropriate if supporting a production run of these cards is economically desirable.
Noted that MTAG is proposing to proceed with an order of 10 IDE host cards for their membership. This quantity could serve as a base. Other ADAM owners in attendance indicated interest in purchasing the cards.
7) Copyright Considerations - ADAM Software No Longer Available
Noted that there are now instances where legal copies of certain ADAM programs are running out and may no longer be available from ADAM suppliers unless new copying arrangements can be made with the author. Tracing and contacting certain authors has difficult if not impossible.
Resolved that ALL suppliers and users will have to keep in contact and help one another in order to keep existing supplies in the hands of users. Also try to root out all
existing sopies that may be not used at this time.
8) Financial Coverage from ANN funds for ADAMCON 09 Operating Deficit - (if required)
Moved by Ron Mitchell, deconded by Bart Lynch that ANN funds be used to cover any loss incurred by ADAMCON 09 organizers.
at 3 PM
(Minutes prepared and submitted by Ron Mitchell - former editor)
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News from AdamCon09 By Dale and Neil Wick
There is quite a bit of news and new products at AdamCon09.
First the new products. For the first time at an AdamCon a full Coleco Adam emulator was shown running on a PC. Neil ran it on his laptop computer and got several disk images transfered over. He was able to run AdamCalc and see the secret screens (see the news section), and also got SmartBASIC, and TDOS running. Also Smart WRITER is built in. Additionally he showed some ColecoVision cartridges, and a new super game (talked about later).
The authors of the emulator have written a new game called Cosmic Fighters which is available as both a cartridge game and a super game. Both work great under the emulator. This was also displayed at AdamCon for the first time.
Also at AdamCon, Gene Welch (who was a Gallery of Honour recipient this year) showed off a new ANN disk-a-zine which is an EOS article reader which includes the ability to play music in the background, and possibly include pictures in the article. Gene also had a session on how to make an AdamNET clock by converting a regular Adam Keyboard controller chip and buying a few components.
Rich Drushel showed the latest version of AdamServe and demoed it with AdamCalc, PowerPaint, and SmartBASIC 1.0 and 1.X. With AdamCalc it auto detects an AdamNET serial port and parallel port (for a printer), and this is suppo rted by the PC parallel port and serial port. He has also comple tely patched File Manager, and HardDisk 3.9 for use with Adam Serve.
AdamBomb 2, which was introduced at last AdamCon was much talked about, and Bob Bair (our Games Expert) taught impromptu sessions on AdamBomb techniques to all of the gamers who were stuck. The version of AdamBomb was 1.2 which has some fixes that allow the White Key to work, and some other minor problems resolved.
Dale finally got out version 1.0 of his GIF viewer for TDOS. Also Dale has finally finished his AdamCon 05 killer demo. In it, he displays an animation flying through the mountains to the site of AdamCon in Salt Lake City. The player, called PLAYUTAH, was written in another new program called MIC. MIC is v.77 of a compiler for a DOS QBASIC-like language. The information about it is on the Web.
ANN is now publishing their disks on the Web, thanks to Bob Slopsema (also a Gallery of Honour inductee this year).
Now for News. On the Internet, Alan Neeley (formerly of AdamLink of Utah) has just shown up on the the email discussion list. He has been working at Dell for the last 3 years as a Tech Support expert. He still has an Adam setup andis would like to catch up on what's happening on the Adam. Jean Stone has just had her hip replaced, and so couldn't make it to this AdamCon, but she made up a beautiful afgan as a raffle prize. Kathy Vrancks won it finally, after buying 30 tickets. Last year, she dearly wanted to win it, but the Slopsema's won it instead. This year, it was close. The first ticket that was drawn was for the blank seat beside Dale. The next ticket that was drawn was for the blank seat beside Bob Slopsema. Finally a real winner was drawn and it was Kathy.
AdamCon 10 will be hosted by PJ and Bob Herrington in Orlando Florida in October of next year.
Although there are a few people on the Fidonet echo, but it is suprising to read about the people who are on there. The Winnipeg group is ever strong holding a picnic with well over 50 people.
We also discovered in the "Hard drive Setup and Repair" session that Herman can break anything. Or at least so it seemed.
We also saw at AdamCon the prominent role that the Coleco Adam has in the Slug research world. In a paper published by Rich Drushel, he used a Coleco Adam to time syncronize two videos of a slug feeding. These videos needed to have a regular time flash (1/2 second on, 1/2 second off), and the Adam did the trick losing only 1/30 of a second over 15 minutes. In the paper, a Coleco Adam is included in the experimental apparatus setup fig- ure. He gave out autographed copies of the paper. Rich Drushel is teaching Engineering students how to make robots using LEGO. They make robots controled by the latest version of the 6801 chip that is the same as the one found in the keyboard, disk drive, tape drive and SmartWRITER printer. Rich brought one of the robots and demonstrated it to the delight of all. Even the housekeeping staff were impressed. They said 'The blocks that it is made of look like LEGO blocks' 'They are LEGO blocks.' 'Oh.'
The regular online conference was done two fold this year.
Both the usual CompuServe conference in the CLUB forum CO 18, and one at chat.yahoo.com on the World Wide Web. Bob Sebelist and Rich Cossaboon attended remotely on the Web, and Rob Friedman chatted for a while through CompuServe.
That's all for now. -- firstname.lastname@example.org Ask me about my Coleco Adam. It does tricks Maintainer of the Coleco Adam list. Mail email@example.com Adam homepage at CompuServe Mail http://www.csclub.uwaterloo.ca/u/dmwick/adam.html
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This is a transcript of Ron Mitchell's address on the first morning of ADAMCON 09. In it he brings out some good ideas AND gives the entire ADAM community some food for thought, such as: being a positive force to be heard, communication with others on this planet who seem to have a similar interest in "classic" systems. Read it thoroughly and give ti some long thoughts!
Keynote Speech - Friday, August 15, 1997
by Ron Mitchell
My good friends:
A few years back, my good buddy and fellow keynote player, Rich Clee, ended his address by expressing the hope he would see us all at ADAMCON 0E. For those of you who don't know it, that's the hex value for 14. At the time, I can remember thinking, yeah - right.
Now, here we are at NINE, and I'm beginning to believe we might just make it. If we can hornswoggle a few more unsuspecting ADAMites using the same advanced railroad technology that worked so well on Bob and Judy Slopsema last year, it might just happen. I must say that I've never seen anyone look quite so surprised as Bob when suddenly realized that he'd inherited maximum power in the ADAM world. He certainly deserves credit for the fine job he's done as ADAMCON organizer and ANN editor. Let's give him a hand.
Right off the top, I want to add that these conferences don't just happen. They happen because people like Bob and Judy are willing to do the work to make them happen. There are others in this room who have also done that work in other years, some more than once. We all know who they are.
When Bob asked me to speak to you once more, I spent some time wondering what I would speak to you about. We've already covered the future of ADAM, the past of ADAM, and a variety of debatable topics about ADAM. So it is indeed difficult to know what to add. This year's "State of ADAM" address might possibly include some new factors such as the arrival on scene of the ADAM emulator, which can make a pentium or a 486 perform well beyond Bill Gates' wildest dreams. I suppose we could talk about the perennial lack of communication between ADAMites and how it continues to cause us problems. We might once again deal with new formats for the ANN disk to see if we can come up with something that might be more appealing to ADAMites. That's not to say that we don't now have a good product. Bob Slopsema, in his spare time this past year has succeeded in re-tracking that whole operation and making it credible again. He's done a superb job.
In our "State of the ADAM" address, we might also talk about issues of sustainability and consider whether or not, for how long, and in what manner we are going to carry on with our ADAM activity. Some could quite conceivably argue that, hey, we've made it this far, why stop now. Others might counter with 'quit- while-we're-ahead' arguements in favour of quietly drifting into the sunset. We might deal with some magic way of coming up with some new activity, new software and hardware, new projects aimed at keeping us somewhere on the map.
There is certainly no shortage of things to talk about.
But I'd like to take a few minutes here to go beyond that just a little. Because right at the moment on a personal level, I've been spending some time wondering just what the heck I'm doing with all the equipment I've acquired. I have to answer the question for mother occasionally, and it's becoming increasingly more difficult for me to answer it for myself. Believe it or not, there are nights where I actually hate computers as much as I hate deadlines, priorities and golf clubs.
Sometimes it's difficult to keep things in perspective, relating the computing activity to the meaning of life, the universe and everything. There has to be some sense of direction, which can frequently get lost in the shuffle.
Lately, I've been acquiring a lot of software and hardware. Thank heaven's for tax refunds. I've got Visual BASIC 5, I've Turbo Pascal 6, I've got Microsoft Works 4. I've got Quicken 4 and 5 with and without Windows. There's a assorted variety of browsers, some with HTML editors, some without. I've got video cards, mother boards, serial ports, empty cases, and 50000 unread books ....that's about all of it.
I can now store 50 times what I could store when I bought my first hard drive. My latest processor does it's thing 30 times faster that ADAM can do. I can transfer E-mail to you and surf the net 112 times faster than I could when I bought my first modem. My current MIDI setup can process 5 times as many tracks as the first one I bought from Chris Braymen. I can process pixels at such a rate that my Windows 95 wall paper features pictures of Zonker and Herman Mason. Imagine that.
I could go on and on, but the point is this: while the hardware and software have changed, what I'm doing with all this 'stuff' has not. I am still, essentially, learning about computing. I am still, essentially, doing what I can in some small way to share what I learn with anyone who will listen, and sometimes a few who don't care to. I am still, essentially, using my computing equipment to maintain contact with some wonderful friends whom I've known for years. Some are here right now, and that's what really makes it worthwhile.
When you come to the essence of what we're doing here, it's not the widgets that are important, it's the people.
Bearing that in mind,
I'd like to spend a few minutes this morn ing not only contemplating the meaning of life, the universe and everything, but also trying to relate it to some areas we as a community need further work on. I'm speaking, of course, from a user's point of view because in this game I have no other. So from a user's perspective, I'd like to ask some questions about where we are going, and then to propose some answers, not necess arily the right answers, or even serious answers, but possible answers. If you can stay awake long enough for that, I'll then finish and be quiet, leaving you with my own version of the annual 'top ten list', this year entitled "Wouldn't it be nice if....".
How many of you have logged onto Bob Sebelist's home page?
The man is really quite incredible, is he not? The music takes me back to ADAMCON IV, the graphics are all things that he has produced for our world, and yet it also appears quite obvious that Bob has mastered HTML, JAVA and everything else it takes to produce a pretty slick looking home page for all of us to enjoy.
I found one rather telling comment on Bob's page. It was from a young person in Alaska, who said (roughly paraphrased) that he'd think about coming to ADAMCON if it weren't for the pesssimists there. He'd been reading some of the keynote speeches, and men tioned no names, but did offer the suggestion that we leave ADAM to the younger people who are beginning to take a renewed inte rest in our old computer.
It's an interesting point, which leads me to my first question:
1) Is there life on other planets?
For the past year or so during my Internet travels, I've been reading some material about ADAM provided by people who have never set foot near an ADAMCON. I say that not in a critical sense, but only out of a sense of curiosity of a sort. I'm talking about the people who are currently tracking classic computer games, including ADAM games. I'm talking also about some of those who helped to develop the ADAM Emulator package. I'm talking about a group in Winnipeg who just held their 5th annual picnic and who still persist in attracting more than 100 people every year. And believe me, no offence to Keystone's President, Paul Elshoff, but some would consider Winnipeg as part of another planet! I've been there, I know....
What I'd really like to know, is - why aren't they here?
While some of these people, such as Paul, are aware of our presence, it seems that the vast majority have little knowledge of the work and effort that went into running the user groups and producing the newsletters that we are all so familiar with. It's much like waking up one morning and reading your own obituary in the newspaper, knowing full well that rumours of your death are greatly exaggerated.
Writes one gent from Williamsburg VA, "There seems to be a Coleco ADAM cult."
I guess that's one thing you can do after you're dead; you can form a cult and get away with it.
1a) Sub question:
Who are James Carter, Joe Huber and Jeff Frohwein? If you log onto some of the Coleco home pages, you're going to see some of these names mentioned, and mentioned in a way that creates the impression they have taken some sort of lead role in tracking Colecovision games and documentation. Why do we not hear from them with articles for the ANN disks?
What does this have to do with the meaning of life, the meaning of ADAM life? Only this: given our dwindling numbers, wouldn't it be better if we all worked together?
I don't have much in the way of answers to this first question.
About the only thing I can offer is something of an experiment that I've been trying over the past few months. When something is written for Compuserve, I put it up on FIDO, and Dale Wick's Waterloo broadcast address, and anywhere else I can stick it. Some ADAMites don't have access to Compuserve, some don't have an Internet account. Some live only on FIDO, or on Compuserve.
2) Is there life after death?
Some would argue that we're already dead. We might have gone from talk about the evil Bill Gates empire to being unwittingly sucked into the evil Bill Gates empire. Ok, so let's accept that, but only with the proviso that some of us retain the right to go on living long after the corpse has been buried because we don't know what else to do.
Again, I have no answers, except to say that it's quite possible I've already reached this phase without realizing it. There seem to be degrees of death, and it's only just occured to me on a personal level that rigor mortis is beginning to set in.
For example, I recently decided to reduce the number of personal computing devices set up in my basement bedroom workshop/living area place (My mother made me do it.). As a result 4 living breathing computers have been banished to the adjacent work room where things tend either to get broken if they aren't already, shoved into storage cupboards, or packed away in boxes covered with scotch tape.
One of those computing devices is my original ADAM, with an original Minnie Winnie hard drive.. It now sits there untouched on a mobile work table while my attentions are drawn increasing ly, day by day, to Windows 95.
Now if this isn't life after death, I don't know what is.
3) Why are we here?
Another philosophical chestnut to be sure, but this one has an answer. We love each others' company, and from what I see going on right here, right now, I think that's an absolute in this universe. At this point, it's pure speculation, but perhaps, just perhaps, by letting the universe unfold as it should, we might just get to ADAMCON 0E.
If nothing else, our coming here to this place will result in renewed friendships, a more common sense of purpose, and a whole lot of fun that might just be sufficient to keep momentum going for another 12 months. Who knows, PJ just might get me to try her home made Salsa, and that would indeed add to the meaning of life.
Or at least so she says.
Actually, it's a private joke... you had to be there.
4) Where are we going?
This is indeed the ultimate question. We've been asking it since 1986 or thereabouts. Like so many ultimate questions, its answer depends on each one of us as individuals. It's going to depend a lot on our willingness to keep in touch with one another. Now we have Rich and Frances Clee on E-mail, and that was indeed the final frontier, so what we have to do from here on in in my humble estimation is to use the facilities available, whatever they might be, to circulate as much information about ADAM as we can to wherever it falls in this universe. You never know who might be listening.
5) And the final philosophical 'meaning of life' type question is, quite bluntly,
Does anyone really care?
It is indeed a tough question to answer.
I'm associated now as a volunteer with 2 separate community information services operat ing in the area where I live. For one I write news articles, and for the other I Secretary of the Board of Directors. In both cases, we're using leading edge technology to provide internet access to people who wouldn't otherwise be able to afford it, and to non-pofit organizations. The service for whom I'm doing community news input boasts 1500 paid up members, and yet.... after three years of operation, when they canvass the business community for information, four out of five people contacted don't even know about their own Information Network. In my own area, only 7% of 40,000 residents know enough about the Internet to feel comfortable with any kind of activity there, and by any kind of activity, I'm talking about turning on a home computer and using a modem to make contact in some basic way with the Information Highway.
Most people that I know - present company excepted - consider computers to be an area of human activity intended for geeks, adicts, and people with no other life to speak of.
Maybe they're right.
So much for the meaning of life, the universe and everything.
You know, why we're here really isn't a big thing with me any more. I stopped seeking approval from my IBM friends long ago. Most of them have now come to accept that there's a part of my life that they don't even ask about any more. When I have visitors in my snake pit, they pay little attention to the 16 other computers that are there. Occasionally I'll get the question, does all this stuff work? And that will be about it. They leave me along, I do the Windows thing when they're there. And that's that.
Finally, the top ten list - or my somewhat 'tongue-in-cheek' perception of the way things really should be in the ADAM World.
Entitled - "Wouldn't It be Nice If. "
10) Would it be nice if Rich and Frances Clee really enjoyed E-Mail, or better yet, wouldn't it be nice of Ron Mitchell rep lied to snail mail within a reasonable period following its arrival on his doorstep? It's communications my friends, and I suppose I'm somewhat typical. I simply don't reply. Each time I don't reply, communication suffers.
9) Wouldn't it be nice if we could find a workable way of supporting the few suppliers we have left?
8) Wouldn't it would be nice if those of us who were left writing things in the ADAM world could focus their output on ADAM products that some newcomers might not know anything about? To elaborate just a little, there are people online, not many but some, who have no idea what's available for ADAM, and who regularly ask questions. If they don't get answers to their questions, they don't come back.
7) Wouldn't it be nice if the computer community at large recognized that there are still people in the world using 8 bit computers, and that you can indeed use the Internet with a Coleco ADAM?
6) Wouldn't it be nice if ADAMites found one channel of communication and used it? Seriously folks, we do really need to find an more effective a way of keeping in touch with one another.
5) Wouldn't it be nice if the ADAM community recognized that paper is a diminishing resource and made a greater effort to survive electronically, online? That's everyone...shy, fearful or otherwise.
4) Wouldn't it be nice if we could find a way of making our activities more relevant to more ADAM users? I'm thinking of our young friends who see more pessemists than optimists in our ranks. How can we bring them on board?
3) Wouldn't it be nice if we could get more programmers working on our behalf, writing more new software?
2) Wouldn't it be nice if if Jerry Vrancks went on producing 463 ADAM forever. Alas, even Jerry is running out of things to print.
1) And finally, the number 1 "Wouldn't it be Nice". Wouldn't it be nice if we really could make it to ADAMCON 0E?
Thank you all. I wish you a good and productive conference. May our friendships be renewed and strengthened so that we can conti nue to be who we are for another 12 months, and longer.
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I can't believe I got it to work, the surfnazi thing.
At ADAMCON 09 Rich Drushel re-acquainted us with a particular programming device often included in the work of professional programmers to show beyond reasonable doubt that they were indeed involved in a particular project. The device, known as the Easter Egg, takes various forms in different programs, but can be seen if one knows where to look, and how to find.
Case in point: ADAMCALC.
According to Rich, if you boot ADAMCALC and at the screen asking
whether or not you want ADAMCALC's online help file you hit the
<UP ARROW> and <RIGHT ARROW> together and then type in the word
"surfnazi", you get a hidden screen showing the monogrammed initials of all the ADAMCALC programmers. Works for me
Now my next question is, why did JKL choose a bicycle to accompany his initials?
I really think we ought to do a trivia book to preserve these things. There could be a book, followed by a video game and a fantastic resurgence in ADAM interest. Imagine.
Report Goes to Editor
I've just finished my ADAMCON 09 report. Eight pages give or take were sent to Bob Slopsema by fast pigeon just a few minutes ago along with my notes from the ANN meeting. Holding as I do the view that not everything needs to be read online without delay, I've decided that recently posted descriptions produced by Rich Drushel (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Dale Wick (email@example.com)
will do a more than adequate job of satisfying those who need to know everything NOW. Hopefully the extra 20-odd K of verbiage will be worth waiting for.
Meanwhile, I've come back from Grand Rapids with some goodies that need to be written about. I don't want to get into the detail just yet, because at this point the order of presentation is still somewhat in doubt. Suffice it to say that there is something new to write about, an agreeable suprise in itself, and that there are still a reasonable number of ADAM users out there who might be interested in reading.
Our Newest ADAMite
Before going on with additional ADAMCON business, I want to talk about David Ramsey. David is a complete newcomer to ADAMCON anything. He turned up quite unannounced on Friday afternoon in Grand Rapids, having read somewhere about ADAMCON 09, and having been situated within driving distance (Lansing Michigan). I think we were as surprised to find David as he was to find us. There are still new people out there to be reached out to, and judging from David's enthusiam for anything we could tell him, we'd do best not to forget that. David bought some hardware, asked a pile of questions, and picked up a few contact addresses. If anyone wants to say hello, and welcome, you can reach David at: firstname.lastname@example.org Handouts at the Con
There was some good handout material this year. Here's a list: -
BASIC 1.0 Multi-Media Drivers and Utility Software This is Chris Braymen's documentation on the multi- media drivers. It was provided as part of Gene Welch's presentation. - Sample SmartBASIC program incorporating the drivers useage as above. Multi Media Utilities and Drivers by Gene Welch This is Gene's session outline. He provides some tips based on his own experience -
Micro Compiler V0.77 by Dale Wick Dale explains his newly produced TDOS compiler. There are useage notes that you pretty well need in order to understand and use the compiler
L@G Enterprises Product List - Gene Welch
Oh Yes You Can! - A PowerPaint Primer by Patricia J. Herrington. This one was distributed in limited quantity, but it's still around and very much worth reading. -
Rich Clee's ADAM Services Price List -
The ADAMnet Clock by Chris Braymen This documentation was printed in the spring of this year in 463 ADAM. But just in case you missed it, it's here. -
PowerPaint Pics on Screen by Gene Welch This is Gene's session outline containing explanatory notes on how PowerPaint screens can be converted to HGR format for use with Chris Braymen's multi-media drivers. -
Introduction into MIDI - obtained from the Internet- http://www.eeb.ele.tue.nl/midi/intro.html
In support of my MIDI presentation. -
MIDI Home Page - obtained from the Internet In support of my MIDI presentation and available at: http://www.eeb.ele.tue.nl/midi/index.html -
Introduction to the World Wide Web Using LYNX obtained from the Internet at: http://www.cats.ohiou.edu/~acatec/internet/intermediate
/lynx.html This document is 13 pages of speaking notes for a LYNX tutorial. Contains good info on the format for URL's and a number of other basic items. Most of these documents will no doubt appear in 463 ADAM or on the ANN disks over the next few months. One more item. Those who attended ADAMCON 06 will recall that Chris Braymen made a tutorial video on the use of Sequel. Some body was good enough to send me a copy of that video, and I've come to understand through talking to people at ADAMCON 09 that there may be people out there who haven't been able to get a copy. The video explains the process of music composition using SEquel, and does so from the point of view of a trained musician and composer, Chris Braymen. He does a GOOD job. If anyone would like a copy of the video, send me a blank tape and mailing money; I'll fix you up.
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AC09 My views of ADAMCON 09 as I look back a short time.
AC09Ron Rom Mitchell's recollections of ADAMCON.
ANN1997 My version of the ANN minutes this year.
ANN97RM Ron Mitchell's official version of the meeting.
DaleW Dale Wick sends his reaction to the convention.
DaveR An idea from Dave Ruff on acquiring lonely ADAM's.
Gene.img this file is only on the TDOS version (EOS version's
have it on side #2 in ready to use form). This file will need to be uncrunched, then cloned over to an EOS disk with at least 120k free space. The "file" or files, is a disk full of material that Gene Welch used for ADAMCON and contains a readme called "FileDescp" explaining all the files! :-)
Keynote The keynote address of the mighty Mitchell!
Mitch#1 Ron's week with the computer world on Aug 25th
NeilW Neil Wick gives an insight into "zip" drives for the ADAM computer ! ? !
RichD Announces that the source code for CPM is released!
Richwk#1 Rich Drushel's week with computers on Aug 25th
Rich#2 Rich Drushel's week with computers on Aug 32nd?
AC09zonk Zonker's rather colorful commentary on ADAMCON!
Readme This here file! Enjoy!
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Technology Note. This week's TWWMCA is being composed using a rare (but not valuable) IBM PC/XT clone from 1983, a TAVA PC (made by TAVA Co., whoever or whatever they are or were). There must have been enough of them around at one time to make it worthwhile for Norton Utilities version 4.5 to specifically detect them in the SI (SYSINFO) program. Externally, it's a dead ringer for the original IBM PC; internally, however, aside from having an ISA bus and the same arrangement of DIP switches for setting the memory and video configuration, it's totally different. I got this as a freebie from a lab postdoc when I was in graduate school. Mostly it has been used as an MFM hard drive formatting/testing system, and also to house the interface card for my EPROM burner. But after ADAMcon 09, my wife Joan (email@example.com) decided that she wanted to start looking at USENET newsgroups for some 60s rock-n-roll groups she's interested in, using the Cleveland Freenet. I have ADAMs in abundance that I could have used, but this PC system was already set up, would already do 80x24 screen and VT100 terminal emulation. So, until such time as I can make a turnkey system using an ADAM, TDOS or CP/M, and my genuine H19 serial terminal, I guess I'll let her use this system.
Those who remember the door prize giveaways at the ADAMcon 08 banquet will remember the Hayes SmartModem 2400 I won from HLM-GMK Co.; this is the modem that I'm using now.
The other reason for using this TAVA system is that I still have been too busy/lazy to unpack my travelling box from ADAMcon 09, which has my 486 system in it. Right now, this TAVA PC is the only computer I have operational in my basement.
I. ADAM Operating Systems
Most of what I want to do in this issue of TWWMCA is think out loud and hopefully bounce some ideas off of other people's heads, regarding a topic that was my initial interest in the ADAM, and which has occupied most of my ADAM programming efforts: enhanced ADAM operating systems. To review, the ADAM has currently 4 operating systems for which user software is available: OS-7 (the ColecoVision video game operating system), EOS (the Elementary Operating System developed by Coleco), Digital Research's CP/M (ControlProgram/Microcomputer), and an enhanced CP/M clone called TDOS (Tony's Disk Operating System, named after its author, Tony Morehen). OS-7 and EOS are present in ROM on every ADAM (OS-7 only on ColecoVisions, and EOS only on Expan sion Module #3s). CP/M and TDOS must be run from tape or disk (though former B.A.S.I.C. member Ron Collins had an ADAM in which the Smart Writer word processor ROMs were replaced with TDOS, so this ADAM would boot to TDOS in the absence of an external disk or tape; I saw this system myself so it's not folklore). Here is a table summarizing the circulating versions of the different ADAM operating systems:
operating system version date ======================================================== OS-7 7PRIME 28 December 1982 EOS 5* 8 October 1984 EOS 7** September 1984 CP/M 2.2 1984 TDOS 4.59 1992
Notes:* This is the value found at REV_NUM (FD60 hex) in all existing ADAM EOS ROMs. However, the actual version of the operating system is 6, not 5. This is explained in the following comment from the EOS-6 source code:
EOS_REV EQU 005H ;current EOS revision number
---NOTE--- this is actually rev;06 but to match the production ROM; it was labeled rev. 05 we fudge; just a bit (two bits actually) (For the binary-impaired, the joke in the comment is that 5=0101, t 6=0110; two bit positions must be changed to go from 0101 to 0110.)**
EOS-7 was distributed on disk with the Disk Manager software, as well as with the abandoned SmartBASIC 2.0. EOS-7 was a total internal rewrite with several additional functions, including (1) the ability to trap a keypress as a "hotkey" and jump to a user- supplied service routine, and (2) the ability to have as many files open simultan- eously as desired, provided the user allocated sufficient memory for disk buffers. The major liability of EOS-7 is that it uses only 2-byte instead of 4-byte disk blocks, thus limiting disks to 65,535 blocks or 64 megabytes, instead of 4,294,967,296 blocks or 4 gigabytes.
III. Limitations of ADAM Operating Systems.
All 4 ADAM operating systems have significant limitations which have hindered the development of new software (and hardware):
The operating system itself is quite well-designed, being object-oriented and flexible. The chief hindrance has been lack of programmer docu- mentation and suitable development tools, espe cially for creating background graphics screens and composing songs and sound effects. I have a 20th-generation photocopy of the ColecoVision Programmer's Manual (obtained in 1992 from A.N.N. founder Barry Wilson), which I have restored and made several copies of for interested parties; as well as the OS-7PRIME source code listing from the ADAM Technical Manual set. To my knowledge, since the ADAM/ColecoVision were dropped from the market, no new cartridge games have been written except for Marcel de Kogel's Cosmo Fighter, which appeared in spring 1997; this was a byproduct of Marcel's ColecoVision and ADAM emulator projects.
The biggest limitation of EOS is the sequential file system, which requires that the blocks of each file be contiguous; there are no EOS functions to "squeeze" out holes left by deleted files. There is no direct support for subdirectories or for partitioning large physical media into smaller logical drives. Finally, the ROM version present on every ADAM leaves unimplemented (i.e., just a RET instruction) the _POSITION_FILE function, which is supposed to be used to move a read/write pointer around in a file, to provide random access file I/O. Because of this deficiency, most existing EOS programs bypass EOS file I/O func- tions and read/write raw blocks of the files--ick. Third-party hardware can only be supported by (1) applications including their own driver code, or (2) direct patches to EOS after it is loaded from ROM to RAM.
CP/M: Pre-existing CP/M programs run fine under ADAM CP/M 2.2, except that the CP/M world assumes your screen is 80 columns by 24 rows; the ADAM screen is 32 columns by 23 rows, so you're stuck with an annoying, horizontally-scrolling window as a poor man's 80 column screen. While CP/M supports I/O redirection to and from serial devices (like modems and terminals), the ADAMnet serial/parallel card never left the prototype stage, so there is no serial/parallel access. (The routines to access the prototype are present, but useless in the absence of the actual hardware.)
TDOS is modelled after ZCPR2 (an early CCP replacement for CP/M) and contains built-in support for all available 3rd-party ADAM hardware (non-ADAMnet devices like serial cards, parallel cards, hard drives, floppy drives larger than 160K, and memory expanders larger than 64K), so it's possible to replace the ADAM video screen with a real 80x24 serial terminal and use all the existing CP/M soft- ware without the moving text window hassle. The chief problem with TDOS is that its creator, Tony Morehen, is no longer active in the ADAM community and is hence unavailable to maintain the code. The TDOS source code is an unmanagable mess of uncommented spaghetti, full of confusing conditional assembly directives, scattered over too many non-modular source files. You must assemble a new version of TDOS from source for every possib le hardware configuration, and the source is in such disarray that it's no longer expandable to accommodate new hardware. (The source is probably not yet freely-distributable, either; there's been no recent word from Tony about what he wants to do with it. Binaries are supposed to be freely-distributable, however, and have been.)
IV. The Future is the Past.
Progress in the realm of ADAM operating systems is limited by the same issues which retard progress on Wintel and MacOS platforms: namely, the large installed base of existing software which needs to be supported, because of the economic clout of the users of that software.
This is also known as "the backward compatibility problem". In short, it doesn't matter how nifty a new version of the operating system is; if switching to it means that everyone has to get (i.e., buy) new versions of their existing application programs, then very few people will switch. There are other contributing factors, but much of the internal disarray of Win3.1 and Win95 is due to this economic pressure to continue to support DOS software from the early and mid 1980s--software which did "bad" things like take over all the system resources, modify its own code, take advantage of undocumented features (which perforce become "documented" as the need to retain the existing behavior becomes paramount). Win95 makes few concessions to DOS programs, and generally tries to make their continued use unpleasant; but most Win3.1 programs still run under Win95--with the penalty that they destabilize the system for the true-blue Win95 applications. A totally-from-scratch Win95 might have been "better" from a computer science viewpoint (and maybe from a user viewpoint as well, in that the system would be more stable), but a certain financial disaster in the real world.
The backward compatibility problem is acutely worse for an obsolete system like the ADAM, for which 98% of all the software that will every be written *has* already been written. Unless someone (or a team of someones) is also prepared to provide a suite of compatible applications, writing a new and improved operating system from scratch is a mere academic exercise. The result will be interesting, but nobody will actually use it, because none of the existing applications people have a large investment in (over 10 years of active use in some cases) will run.
On the CP/M side, there is a lot less to worry about; CP/M was designed to be portable to many different hardware architectures (all using the 8080/Z80 CPUs, of course), and there is a great conformance of CP/M applications to the operating system standards. The trick, then, is to have a suitably conforming version of CP/M running on your own hardware; then you will never have to patch applications (except in very precise ways, such as escape codes for terminal programs). TDOS with a serial terminal for display does this adequately for existing hardware, but cannot now easily be altered to accommodate new hardware. Many TDOS users have been waiting since ADAMcon 06 for a TDOS-compati ble version of my ADAM serve serially-linked device driver program (which lets an ADAM control PC drives and other hardware via serial link). In theory, it should be simple: replace the BIOS- level I/O routines with the ADAMserve protocol. Alas, the TDOS BIOS is not really a well- encapsulated BIOS module; it is inline spaghetti all over the place. Disentangling it would take more ADAM time than I have available at present.
On the EOS side, the applications are really more important than the operating system. The Smart[fill in the blank] applications were designed to completely take over the machine. EOS itself is little more than a program loader with some minimal system ser vices. In the EOS world, you put in the program disk/ tape, pull the reset switch, and run the program; to switch programs, you put in another disk/tape and pull the reset switch again. There is no concept of a shell, of programs exchanging information with each other except perhaps through files, and especially of sha ring hard- ware resources. The worst offense in this regard is in the use of expansion memory. Just about every EOS program that finds a memory expander appropriates it for itself. Ironically, the contents of XRAM remain intact across system resets (as long as you don't turn off the power, just pull the reset switch), so the idea of an expansion RAMdisk to share data between applica tions is attractive. Unfortunately, there are several RAMdisk implementations, all require patching of EOS in order to fun ction, and the patches are incompatible.
V. Escape Through the Universal Application?
The guiding design principle in my enhanced SmartBASIC 1.x inter preter (released 1991) was that all available ADAM hardware should be supported with high-level commands, and something sim ple like editing an ASCII text data file should be sufficient to change hardware configurations. Since I included all the driver code as part of SmartBASIC 1.x and didn't try to patch it into EOS, I was completely successful. I was literally creating my own independent programming environment, from which escape was not necessary because everything you needed to write anything you wanted was right there :-) But while I have sold 50-odd copies of SmartBASIC 1.x over the last 6 years, I know of only one program mer besides me who used SmartBASIC 1.x that way, i.e., for every thing. The ultimate failure of SmartBASIC 1.x was that it could not directly run existing SmartBASIC programs which were full of PEEKs, POKEs, and CALLs. I had provided high-level functions which made all those PEEKs, POKEs, and CALLs unnecessary; yet rather than write new programs with the new tools, people wanted to run their old ones unchanged. Perhaps if I had taken a year to write a suite of applications in SmartBASIC 1.x...but I didn't, and so now I imagine that I am the only one still using SmartBA SIC 1.x for anything (I do still use it for everything).
VI. The EOS-8 Project.
Before I had come round to this rather pessimistic viewpoint, I had considered that I could extend EOS in much the same way I had extended SmartBASIC. Why not make EOS user-configurable? Design overlay areas at defined locations in EOS RAM so you could swap in the driver for whatever serial card you had, or hard drive, etc.; provide pointers with which you had the freedom to change the internal organization of EOS, yet still provide user access to global data; protect the video routines from reentrancy during interrupts by building a defer- ral queue; use the ADAMnet device interface to non-ADAMnet devices by emula tion. After ADAMcon 04, I started work on this project, which I called EOS-8 (since the last official version of EOS was EOS-7). This was ostensibly to be a group effort involving me, Chris Braymen, Guy Cousineau, and Bruce Walters, with the programmer's forum on Mark Gordon's Micro Innovations BBS to be our means of communication. Other than getting a few comments from the others, I did all the work. (No flames intended.)
The EOS-8 project achieved some interesting proofs of concept. The ADAMnet emulator idea (with its logical-to-physical device mapping table) was quite workable, and it survives today in ADAMserve EOS. Using my own commented disassemblies (from 1988, before I knew that there was a broader ADAM community) and the source listing from the ADAM Technical Manual I bought at ADAMcon 04, I regenerated a commented, assemblable source listing of EOS- 5, then optimized away all the junk and spaghetti and waste; the freed-up space was filled with new EOS-8 features. One version mapped an Orphanware serial board to the prototype ADAMnet serial device, and a PIA2 printer card to the prototype ADAMnet parallel device; when ADAMcalc was booted under this EOS, the icons for the prototypes showed up on the device detect screen--I was probably the first person outside of Lazer Microsystems to see them actually work--and I had 3 printers to print from instead of just the ADAM printer. SmartBASIC 2.0 also could talk to the serial/parallel card as IN #3/PR#3 and PR #4; under EOS-8, I could use a serial terminal in place of keyboard and screen. Yet another EOS-8 version had drivers for both the MFM and IDE hard drives loaded simultaneously; I could read/write both hard drives and copy between them. These were exciting times for me, because I felt like some kind of software archaeologist, finding fossils of things which actually did exist once, and would again if awakened in the right way. But the EOS-8 project could not achieve its intended goal of being a universal, all-in-one, support-everything-out-of-the-box operating system, because of one fundamental limitation: it had to fit into the 8K of EOS RAM beginning at address E000 hex. EOS provides no top-of-memory function (i.e., the address of the highest free memory address available to a user program without colliding with the operating system). Thus, all of Coleco's EOS software assumed that E000 hex was the top of memory, because that's where EOS-5 started. All the extra functionality I wanted to put into EOS-8, *working* functionality as demonstrated in tests, could not fit into that 8K limit, no matter how much I squeezed and optimized. If I spilled below E000 hex, my code would get clobbered by the applications. And in practical terms, there was no hope of disassembling every single Coleco program to figure out its memory map and change it (either by patching--very lucky--or by wholesale rewriting/reassembly--a huge job with no source).
A possible solution to the space problem would be to write a bank-switched EOS; that is, use XRAM as additional storage and either swap needed routines in and out of intrinsic RAM, or else transfer control directly to code located in XRAM. The difficul ties with this solution include (1) applications (like SmartWriter and File Manager) which usurp XRAM for their own use, regardless of what's there already; (2) handling interrupts (especially non-maskable) during XRAM bank switching; and (3) determining the current memory configuration (including application XRAM usage) so that the correct configuration can be restored at exit.
(2) and (3) are especially problematic because the Video Display Processor (VDP) registers and all the memory map control ports are write-only; you can't read them back to find out what their current value is. Thus, unless the program saves the contents of all these write-only registers somewhere for its own reference, there's no way to tell what they are; and if the bank of RAM containing the copies gets switched out, there's no way to read it. The only foolproof way would be to add hardware (latch chips on every write-only control port) to allow reading back of cur rent VDP and memory map status. Of course, anything which re quires new ADAM hardware can never have widespread use; so again, what's the point? This last objection can be overcome if I switch to Marcel de Kogel's ADAM emulator; I can modify the emulator code to save any I/O port data I want, without having to actually build the hardware. But I'm not quite ready to discard the physi cal ADAM in favor of a virtual version.
VII. Future Directions for ADAM Operating Systems.
I think that the most promising avenue for ADAM operating system advancement lies in the adaptation of CP/M 3.0. Now that Caldera are giving away the source to both CP/M 2.2 and 3.0 (http://www.caldera.com), it is becoming tempting for me to think about porting CP/M 3.0 to the ADAM. Why 3.0 instead of 2.2? For starters, 3.0 supports lots of the command shell enhancements that the TDOS users are accustomed to, as well as time/ date stamping of files. The biggest attraction for me, however, is that CP/M 3.0 was designed to accommodate a bank-switched opera ting system. Some of the crufty optimizations of TDOS (in order to maximize the Transient Program Area, TPA, effectively the memory used by programs) could go away if some of the operating system could be moved to XRAM. I have not yet obtained the CP/M 3.0 source; but I'd like to, soon. As for EOS, I don't think that much can be done beyond what already has been implemented as part of the HARDDISK shell and its ADAMserve variant. There are just too many existing "must- have" programs which are not maintainable/modifiable in their current state (such as PowerPaint and all the patches-to- SmartBA SIC-type "applications"), and the requirements of backward compatibility are too extreme. I would, of course, like to hear other opinions on this topic. My views are just that, mine, and not necessarily correct or the definitive word on the subject.
See you next week!
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Caldera (the final copyright holder to all the Digital Research software) have finally authorized the release of the source and binaries to the DRI CP/M software, including CP/M 2.2 and 3.0. Everything which is extant (see below) is available for download at http://cdl.uta.edu/cpm The reason I say "everything which is extant" is that Novell (which originally inherited all the DRI software) managed to lose *all* of the original source magtapes which DRI had handed over to them! All that is left is what people had (surreptitiously) managed to copy over the years. Caldera has declared an amnesty on this material, so that collectors could come forward with the stuff without fear that it was a troll to nail them for piracy. I intend to look at the CP/M 2.2 and 3.0 source files. People who have been interested in an ADAMserve version of TDOS will have to hope that the CP/M sources are in a better state of internal organization than the TDOS sources (which IMHO are totally non-maintainable), which would allow me to port CP/M to ADAMserve.
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Hello, everyone! After a long hiatus (since January 1997, I think), I am finally able to resume writing these weekly articles about what I've been doing with my Coleco ADAM computer. My topic buffer is fuller than ever; my personal buffer is also fuller than ever, but I'll try to set aside enough time each week to keep these articles coming out. The general reaction to the TWWMCA series has been, "We don't always understand what you're talking about, but we like having the articles around to read; we've missed them this spring and summer." I can't promise that you'll understand them any better, but I do hope to have them around. Since tomorrow begins the first day of classes at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio (where I'm teaching 5 days a week this year), and I'm still trying to get a few last- minute things ready, this article will be somewhat short. Future articles will be longer, I'm sure
The Ninth International Coleco ADAM Computer Convention. ADAMcon 09 was held 14-17 August 1997 in Grand Rapids, Michigan, hosted by Bob and Judy Slopsema, representing the Southern Michi gan ADAM Users Group (SMAUG), which has no non-Slopsema membership, I believe :-) I heard Bob conclude that there were 30 official delegates, and a few more walk-ins and non-delegate spouses. Though I don't have rigorous historical attendance figures at hand, my impresssion is that this was the best showing since ADAMcon 06 in Sarasota, Florida (October 6-9, 1994). As an aside, I think it would be nice for someone to collect and pub lish the complete attendance lists for all the ADAMcons; then we could put an end to the bickering I've heard between various past ADAMcon chairs about who had what attendance.
Until the end of July, I wasn't sure whether or not I'd be able to attend ADAMcon 09 at all. Some emergency travel expenses, as well as the need to save money for a new car, were significant constraints. Fortunately, I was able to do some consul ting work in July which provided the necessary funds. As it turned out, my going was what enabled 2 other people to go--Jean Davies and Pat Williams from our Cleveland B.A.S.I.C. users group. Jean and Pat had originally planned on going together in Jean's van, sharing the driving (it's about 5 hours from Cleve land to Grand Rapids). Unfortunately, a few weeks before the convention, Pat broke her right foot and was unable to drive; and Jean felt that 5 hours of driving was too much for her to handle alone. Since now I was able to go, we all decided to travel together in my minivan (which we did, with me doing all the driving).
Dale Wick (firstname.lastname@example.org) has already written a nice objective summary of all the sessions at ADAMcon 09 (posted to the Coleco ADAM Mailing List, email@example.com), so you might want to check that out to get an overview of the convention. I'm just going to write about a few personal things of the sort that don't make it into the "official" histo ries.
All throughout ADAMCON 09 I was *tired*. My brain just wouldn't wake up. Part of it was the killer work schedule I had in the weeks before the convention, but it was aggravated by the weather and the hotel air conditioning system. The weather outside was coldish and rainy, but inside the hotel it was war mish and humid. The air conditioner kept my room cool tempera ture-wise, but it didn't dehumidify the air, so it still felt stuffy and warmish. Put 30 people and 12 heat-generating ADAMs into one session suite and it was really stuporous. This isn't an especial knock at the hotel; I think every hotel air conditioning system is the same way. In any case, I felt myself dozing off during sessions, much to my embarrassment. I was also extremely frustrated that I couldn't clear out my head enough to do any serious programming. I had intended to finally put the user configuration module into the PC-based server side of my ADAMserve serially-linked device driver system (currently the hardware configuration is static, compiled-in). Aside from about 30 minutes of clear thinking, in which I laid out a configuration datafile format and put the necessary hooks into the server code, I just couldn't concentrate enough to write any code. This was to the great disappointment of several people, I'm sure. This is the first ADAMcon of the ones I've been to (04 through 09) that I didn't get any useful programming done, and i'm not happy about it.
I gave 2 sessions at ADAMcon 09. The first session was on Friday night, talking about ADAMserve and some of the inside history and artifacts I had obtained from Randy Hyde (founder and president of Lazer Microsystems, the company which wrote SmartBASIC, ADAM calc, the the ADAM part of CP/M 2.2) and Joel Lagerquist ( a programmer at Lazer Microsystems, who worked on the above three programs). For those of you who remember the TWWMCA articles from Fall 1996, Randy Hyde is my "mystery man". I still have to write up the text of our E-mail correspondence; it should appear in TWWMCA this fall.
The second session was Sunday afternoon, talk ing about converting PowerPaint image files to RGB TIFFs, the ColecoVision and ADAM emulators by Marcel de Kogel (firstname.lastname@example.org), and my LEGO robotics course at CWRU. The latter seemed to be of greatest interest to the audience, since I had brought with me an actual autonomous LEGO robot capable of robust obstacle avoidance, and I demoed it in the hallway outside the session room. The tenuous link of my robot course to the ADAM is that the robot controller board is a 68HC11, a later relative of the 6801 microcontrollers used in ADAMnet peripheral devices; and thus, in principle, one could write suitable software for the 68HC11 board such that it could function as an ADAMnet device (meaning you could control a robot from an ADAM, a nifty thought). The audience seemed appreciative of my sessions, but I personally was quite worried about them, because (unlike previous sessions at previous ADAMcons) I had not rigorously prepared the presenta tions ahead of time. I sort of just winged it. Dale Wick said that was okay, that the material lent itself to a more informal presentation (unlike assembly language programming, which needs considerable forethought to manage the complexity in a beginner setting). I, however, felt like a one-legged tightrope walker over Niagara Falls without a net. If the audience never picked up on my anxiety, though, it must mean I'm getting to be a better teacher :-)
I must comment on the food at ADAMcon 09: it was uniformly out standing, in quality and in quantity. Anybody who went to bed hungry, especially after the sumptuous all-you-can-eat smorgas board for brunch on Sunday, has only himself to blame. I can't speak for ADAMcons 01-03, but my vote is that 09 had the best food of any ADAMcon 04-09. I also have to mention the fine work done by the de facto equip ment manager at ADAMcon 09, Bob's son Doug. Doug kept all the ADAMs (and some of the PCs, too) running at peak form, had any needed cable or adapter or software ready at hand, and didn't break anything that I saw :-) At the banquet Sunday, I asked that he be recognized with a round of applause for his efforts, and I repeat that request here. Nice job, Doug! Jean, Pat, and I left for Cleveland Monday morning about 7:30 AM. We made it back safely and in time for me to see my wife before she had to go to work that afternoon. My "travelling box" (which has attended every ADAMcon since 05, the "hard" one to get to in Salt Lake City, Utah) is still sitting in my basement with ADAMs unpacked. Hopefully this week I'll be able to get my ADAMs set up again (we'll see how busy classes are this week).
See you again next week! Rich Drushel
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