Friday, March 1, 2019

Flying to Ski - Ground Transportation

There’s great skiing a 1-3 hour flight away from L.A., but once you’re on the ground at the airport, how do you get to the slopes? Right now, the slopes are looking good:

Back-to-back winter storms this year have blanketed California’s mountain ranges with snow, making this a banner winter for skiers and snowboarders.
The storms have covered Mountain High Resort in Wrightwood with more than 8 feet of fresh snow this winter, while Big Bear Mountain Resort has received more than 10 feet. This season has provided the best conditions for snow sports in roughly a decade, said John McColly, vice president of sales and marketing at Mountain High, who added that it “feels like a real winter this year.”
(A February to remembrrr in L.A.: It never even reached 70 degrees, LA Times, Feb. 28, 2019.)

Mammoth (MMH)
Per the customer service folks at Hot Creek Aviation:
Rental car is the most dependable and fast way, you'll want to call well ahead Enterprise (760)924-1094 or Hertz (760) 934-7004.  They will deliver the car straight to the ramp for your arrival.  If you have issues getting a rental car you can let us know on the Unicom when you are 10 min out (122.8) and we are happy to get a cab coming for you.  It costs around $35 each way.  If you are leaving after 6pm, you can park the rental car out front and leave the keys under the visor.  There is field access and you will get the code when you arrive, there is no call out :)
And they’re not kidding; trying to book a car at either Hertz or Enterprise for Sunday, on Thursday, everything was sold out already. (On a Friday, booking for the next Saturday, I was able to get an SUV reserved, but the price went up slightly from the morning when I first checked, to the afternoon when I actually made the reservation.)

A small SUV was about $55/day, with the “all in” price being about $65, so, not significantly cheaper than a cab, but likely a lot more convenient!

Big Bear (L35)
My most likely destination for a day trip. Per the operations folks at Mountain Transit:
It is possible to catch a bus to Snow Summit the bus stop is located at Blue Water Dr. across from the Circle K on the Blvd. The route 11 bus picks up there on the :40 of the hour Starting at 5:40 am until 6:40 pm. You would take this bus to the transfer point Sandlewood stop behind the Vons and transfer to the route 1 bus at :03 after the hour that will take you to the corner of Big Bear Blvd and Summit Blvd. There is also a Dial A Ride service this is a shared ride service that must be booked in advance and is $5.00 per person. If you would like this service the phone number is 909-878-5200 and I would advise booking a day or two in advance the more time the better.
Route 11. Route 1. Google Maps says it’s a 3 minute, 0.1 mile, walk from the airport to the bus stop, and a half-mile, 12 minute walk from the bus stop to the Snow Summit ski area. There are lockers at the base of the mountain and an area where ski boots and outerwear can be donned. Not the most glamorous or convenient way to arrive, but for a quick day trip, not that bad.

I’ll update this later with other destinations. I’m going to be using the IKON pass, so Big Bear, Mammoth, and maybe Squaw Valley, are likely to be my primary destinations.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Apple IIgs Redux

I brought my ROM 3 IIgs back from St. Louis after the holidays. It was a bit more yellowed than I remembered (especially the space bar on the keyboard). Installed was a C.V. Tech 4MB RAM card (populated with 1MB) and a V-Tech UDC card, and an intact (phew!) battery.

I left those cards in St. Louis, and moved everything from my ROM1 machine to this ROM3. So far it's equipped with:

The only other thing I could see myself adding to this box would be an accelerator, and maybe a Wombat ADB/USB bridge, to use a more modern keyboard / mouse combo. (I love the GS-era stuff, but also kind of want to preserve it, if that makes sense?)

I have the Uthernet talking to the network, and I'm able to telnet to my NAS box with an NDA Telnet client so far; next up will be using the NAS box (a Linux server) with the GS natively, using, probably with an assist from the work done with A2SERVER.

Sun Flyer 2 Completes First Flight with Siemens Electric Propulsion Motor


Sunday, August 26, 2018

The Apple IIgs

My History with the Apple II

Apple //e

My first computer was an Apple //e, which started off as the "family" computer but, when a blended family brought an Apple //c into the fold, moved into my room for late night hacking sessions. (I was 9 or 10.)

That machine was pretty nicely equipped, for the day. It had an Apple IIe Extended 80-Column RGB Card that boosted the RAM from 64K to 128K, a DuoDisk unit with dual 143K SS/SD floppy disk drives, an AppleColor 100 RGB monitor, an Apple ][ Mouse Card and mouse, an Applied Engineering Datalink 1200 modem, a SuperSerial Card, and a Kensington System Saver (fan/surge protector/front-facing power switch). It was a pretty bomb little machine, running AppleWorks 3.0 with Beagle add-on software, Publish It!, etc. I also hacked out a lot of AppleSoft BASIC and 6502 assembly code on that thing. It was eventually "enhanced" with the 65c02 chip and updated ROMs. It's still in boxes back in Missouri.

Apple IIGS

Also back in St. Louis, I still have an Apple IIGS. It's a ROM3 machine I picked up at a hotel sale (mislabeled as a ROM01 machine), with a RAM expansion card that took 30 pin SIMMs (IIRC) and boosted it to 2MB with room for another 3MB (I think it was the Harris Laboratories GS Sauce). It had a mismash of connected drives; (2) 800K 3.5" and (1) Laser-brand 5.25", again if memory serves. I think I swapped the stock A9M0330 for the Apple Standard Keyboard off my brother's Macintosh LC (somehow his Mac didn't come with the stock M0487). It has the standard AppleColor RGB monitor, and a System Saver IIgs.


Hit with nostalgia, a while ago I joined the Apple IIGS Enthusiasts Facebook group, and a few weeks ago saw a post from a college student unloading his ROM01 IIgs, already setup with a CFFA3000 (v1.0 Rev C) mass storage controller, GBS-8220 video adapter, etc. The asking price was reasonable, so I bit. (Eventually I'll probably bring "my" IIgs back out from St. Louis and transfer a lot of the tech over.)

I want to use it for some light retro gaming, but also to write. Towards that end, it needed to be connected to my network somehow, to get documents off of it and into the modern world.


Raspberry Pi

First thing I did was pick up a Raspberry Pi 3+ B board and associated kit, and loaded Raspbian Stretch Lite (June 2018), a/k/a Debian 9.4, onto a 32GB MicroSD card.

Serial Terminal

To get my IIgs talking to the Raspberry Pi via a serial link, I started with a Gearmo FTDI2-LED USB RS-232 Serial Adapter with LED Indicators (I wanted the blinkenlights):

Plugged it into the RPi and it was immediately detected:

[  304.651328] usb 1-1.3: new full-speed USB device number 6 using dwc_otg
[  304.808870] usb 1-1.3: New USB device found, idVendor=0403, idProduct=6001
[  304.808884] usb 1-1.3: New USB device strings: Mfr=1, Product=2, SerialNumber=3
[  304.808893] usb 1-1.3: Product: FT232R USB UART
[  304.808901] usb 1-1.3: Manufacturer: FTDI
[  304.808909] usb 1-1.3: SerialNumber: AL01N92J
[  304.854945] usbcore: registered new interface driver usbserial
[  304.855018] usbcore: registered new interface driver usbserial_generic
[  304.855077] usbserial: USB Serial support registered for generic
[  304.867085] usbcore: registered new interface driver ftdi_sio
[  304.867162] usbserial: USB Serial support registered for FTDI USB Serial Device
[  304.867641] ftdi_sio 1-1.3:1.0: FTDI USB Serial Device converter detected
[  304.867794] usb 1-1.3: Detected FT232RL
[  304.869297] usb 1-1.3: FTDI USB Serial Device converter now attached to ttyUSB0

This was connected to the IIgs via this Apple IIgs, IIc+, LC III null modem cable. 

Next, I setup serial utilities; slirp will easily create a SLIP or PPP link, and the rz / sz utilities enable sending files via XModem (etc) until I can get FTP working:

pi@raspberrypi:~ $ sudo apt-get install slirp lrzsz

Made sure the 'pi' user was in a group that could use the USB serial device:

pi@raspberrypi:~ $ ls -l /dev/ttyUSB0
crw-rw---- 1 root dialout 188, 0 Aug 22 07:49 /dev/ttyUSB0
pi@raspberrypi:~ $ id
uid=1000(pi) gid=1000(pi) groups=1000(pi),4(adm),20(dialout),24(cdrom),27(sudo),29(audio),44(video),46(plugdev),60(games),100(users),101(input),108(netdev),997(gpio),998(i2c),999(spi)

So, Raspbian Stretch (Debian 9.4) is, unsurprisingly, a systemd distribution, which I don't fully grok yet:

pi@raspberrypi:~ $ ps -p1

  PID TTY          TIME CMD
    1 ?        00:00:05 systemd

Modified the serial getty service definition file to limit the speed to 19200 (I may try to make this 38400 later), which is where the IIgs seems to natively top out (e.g., in the control panel; in the communications module for AppleWorks GS):

pi@raspberrypi:~ $ sudo vi /lib/systemd/system/serial-getty@.service

#  This file is part of systemd.
#  systemd is free software; you can redistribute it and/or modify it
#  under the terms of the GNU Lesser General Public License as published by
#  the Free Software Foundation; either version 2.1 of the License, or
#  (at your option) any later version.

Description=Serial Getty on %I
Documentation=man:agetty(8) man:systemd-getty-generator(8)
After=dev-%i.device systemd-user-sessions.service plymouth-quit-wait.service

# If additional gettys are spawned during boot then we should make
# sure that this is synchronized before, even though
# didn't actually pull it in.

#ExecStart=-/sbin/agetty --keep-baud 115200,38400,9600 %I $TERM
ExecStart=-/sbin/agetty 19200 -J %I $TERM


Activated the terminal within systemd:

pi@raspberrypi:~ $ sudo systemctl daemon-reload

pi@raspberrypi:~ $ sudo systemctl enable serial-getty@ttyUSB0
Created symlink /etc/systemd/system/ → /lib/systemd/system/serial-getty@.service.

pi@raspberrypi:~ $ sudo systemctl restart serial-getty@ttyUSB0.service

Was then able to login to the terminal from the IIgs using the communications module for AppleWorks GS. Files could be transferred between the systems using 'sx' for XModem transfers or, more conveniently, 'sb' for batch transfers where the filename(s) get set automatically, e.g.:

pi@raspberrypi:~ $ sx gshk.sea

pi@raspberrypi:~ $ sb Marinetti3.0b1.SHK PPPX.1.3d4.SHK safe231.bxy

Getting Software onto the IIgs

I tried repeatedly to get software transferred over to the GS over the serial link, but it mostly failed. For whatever reason, even after massaging with tchange, etc. (e.g., to set the type of a downloaded file to $B3), the executables tended to be unusable. So I used AppleCommander (requires an old Java version to run) to create a disk image and put that image on the USB drive to mount using the CFFA3000 control panel. Software I needed (by the way, explore all of the Asimov FTP archive, lots of gems there):
In AppleCommander, click the "Create" icon to start the Disk Image Wizard. You're creating a disk image for the ProDOS operating system, and 32MB is as good as size as any. I used "Install" and "Install" as the name for the disk image, and the ProDOS volume name. In the Disk View window, use the Import... button to bring in the files (e.g., tchange.bin, gshk.v1.1.sea, etc), and then the Save icon to write the disk image (Instal.hdv). (This will be a block device that the CFFA3000 can use natively; the file size is an exact multiple of 512.)

To make the SEA file executable, open the ProDOS command line (BASIC.system on the IIgs system disk) and:




Connecting the Raspberry Pi to the Network

At first I just hooked up an Ethernet cable, which, as you'd expect, worked immediately. But I wanted it WiFi connected, too, which turned out to be as simple as running raspi-config:

pi@raspberrypi:~ $ sudo raspi-config

pi@raspberrypi:~ $ ifconfig wlan0

wlan0: flags=4163<UP,BROADCAST,RUNNING,MULTICAST>  mtu 1500

        inet  netmask  broadcast
        inet6 fe80::2345:a074:9292:41f7  prefixlen 64  scopeid 0x20<link>
        ether b8:27:eb:b3:cd:4a  txqueuelen 1000  (Ethernet)
        RX packets 46  bytes 8849 (8.6 KiB)
        RX errors 0  dropped 0  overruns 0  frame 0
        TX packets 33  bytes 5745 (5.6 KiB)
        TX errors 0  dropped 0 overruns 0  carrier 0  collisions 0


Note that telnet is inherently insecure and shouldn't be used, yada yada, but I'm hooking up a 30 year old 16-bit Apple II computer to this system, I'll take what I can get.

First, installed the telnet client:
pi@raspberrypi:~ $ sudo apt-get install telnet

Then, installed the server software:

pi@raspberrypi:~ $ sudo apt-get install telnetd
pi@raspberrypi:~ $ sudo /etc/init.d/openbsd-inetd restart


On the IIgs, the TCP/IP stack is supplied by the Marchetti software suite, which is relatively straightforward to configure:

The username and password are the standard pi / raspberry Raspbian ships with. Not secure, but by using the dialog box username and password, they can be easily changed without mucking with the connection script (below).

SLIP via slirp.

For whatever reason, I wasn't able to get the 'ppp-scripted' link layer working with slirp, but SLIP is working fine. (I did have to troubleshoot the connection script by running 'minicom' on the RPi to see what was being output - turns out the double quotes are important if your string has any whitespace).

Here's the script I use to connect to SLIP (via slirp on the RPi):

speed 19200
send cr
* username$ represents the username entered into the Setup connection dialog
send username$ cr
wait 600 assword:
* password$ represents the password entered into the Setup connection dialog
send password$ cr
wait 600 pi
send "slirp -b 19200" cr
wait 600 'Your address is'
getip 300

And here's the script used to disconnect (the five zeros tells slirp to quit):

send 00000 cr
send exit cr


Ideally, I want to use SAFE2 for FTP purposes, but it requires "a minimum of 1Mb of free memory" and I don't have that in the current configuration. So for now, I'm just using the SOS.FTP NDA, which works well enough to upload files, but doesn't provide any indication when a transfer fails (e.g., when you mistakenly run it before connecting to the network).

IIgs Shopping List

This ROM01 machine came with a CFFA3000 card, 128MB CF drive, USB cable, 128MB USB thumb drive, and remote switch, so I was already starting ahead of the pack. It also arrived with a RAMWorks GS card populated with 1MB, for a total of 1.25MB (including the 256MB on-board on a ROM01 GS motherboard). It had the original keyboard and mouse, in good condition, and arrived with a GBS-8220 V3.0 VGA adapter board and a IIgs RGB -> HD15 cable, but no power supply.
I'm using the GS with an old Dell 2007WFP I happened to have, which so far seems to work well enough...

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Samsung ML-1740 on OS X

I have an ancient Samsung ML-1740 I've had forever, but it's been gathering dust for years. Samsung dropped support for Macs after Tiger (10.4), and while I kept it going for a while with the samsung-gdi package, for some reason that stopped working a few years ago and I never bothered to figure out why. (I had by then picked up an awesome Ricoh Aficio SP 3510sf.)

Anyway, after I picked up a Canon MF632Cdw (DOA 😡), I cleaned out the carcass of the MX870 ("Code B200") and the ML-1740 to make room for the big color laser all-in-one. Last I checked the Samsung was still working, so I figured I'd see if I could get it working with a reasonably modern Mac OS X version - specifically, Yosemite, the version I have running on the black MacBook4,2 I'm keeping in the hangar for Garmin GPS programming duties and other light work.

Set up Yosemite under VMware and found this package: SpliX Works perfectly.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Headphone happiness

So Amazon put the Bose QC25 headphones on sale during Prime Day, $125 (down from $249). I’ve been meaning to upgrade from what I was using at the office (>10 year old Altec Lansing headphones), so, done:

My office setup makes cords off to the right kind of awkward:

Also, I wanted to be able to easily disconnect the headphones to use the AX510 sound bar under my Dell U2412M monitor (which is connected to the “headphone” jack of the MacBook Air) ... Long story short, I picked up the SoundBlaster Play 3 to hang off a USB port on the monitor (there are a slew of < $10 trinkets on the market that purportedly do the same job, but all had mixed reviews). The SoundBlaster Play 3 is a separate audio device the Mac can be set to automatically switch to when inserted:

The Play 3 also has a TRRS jack for the headset allowing the microphone on the Bose to work with VoIP-type applications (it also has a separate microphone jack, if you want to use a headset with both pigtails). The final piece of the puzzle is this cheap, simple, nifty hanger, that lets the headphones sit out of the way when not in use.

So ... It may not be “audiophile quality,” but it sounds pretty f’ing alright for office use. Even with just a casual listen of, e.g., Jack White and Alicia Keys’ Another Way To Die, exposed notes and dimensions I’d never noticed before. And the headphones do a great job of isolating me from the noise of the office (even with a private office, there’s distraction aplenty; loud coworkers, phones ringing, etc).

I’m a happy geek, especially at this price point. Bose may not be the greatest things ever, but they’re far and away more than “good enough,” especially for casual / office listening. (The Soundlink Revolve+ that came “free” with my A20s is likewise just the thing for BBQ tunes on the balcony, without firing up the home theater system loud enough to hear out there - which the neighbors don’t necessarily appreciate. Condo living. Meh.)

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Garmin updates the G500/GC500/G5...

This could be a game changer. “Aircraft owners can soon pair the economical GFC 500 autopilot with the G500 TXi or G500 flight displays, offering a fully-redundant, all-glass cockpit when paired with the G5.” Suddenly, the SkyView HDX isn’t the only game in town (assuming both get Mooneys added to the AMLs for the respective STCs...)