Kfest ’99 Keynote Address
July 21, 1999
Avila College, Kansas City, Mo.
By Max Jones
Editor and Publisher, Juiced.GS
© Copyright 1999 — All Rights Reserved
I would like to join Cindy, Steve and the rest of the Kfest committee in welcoming you all to Kfest ’99, the 11th annual festival that feels more like a family reunion than a computer conference.
I actually think that my experiences so far this summer qualify me to speak more about family reunions than about computers.
About 2 1/2 weeks I was part of an entourage of 21 people who left Indianapolis, Ind., en route to Los Angeles for a week-long family reunion with a branch of our family that we had not seen, at least not all at the same time, in about 36 years.
The last time we had all been together was in the summer of 1963 when we were all kids. For our 1999 reunion, we spent the week in Manhattan Beach and were joined by yet another branch of the family from Alaska. It was great to be with people who came from such distances to be part of such a special family gathering.
I think that’s why so many of us keep coming back to Avila College year after year, from such faraway places, to be part of this celebration of community that has grown up around Apple II computer.
I would like at this time to give special recognition to those who came the farthest. We have, of course, Ewen Wannop from the United Kingdom and Richard Bennett from Australia. And we two international newcomers this year, Giselle Schnaubelt from Austria and Jeff Blakeney from Ontario, Canada. In appreciation and recognition for coming so far to Kfest for the first time, Juiced.GS would like to present Giselle and Jeff these stylish Juiced.GS T-shirts.
The presence of our international contingent here makes this experience so much richer for everyone, and I welcome you.
As many of you know, there is another big computer conference going on this week in New York City, and by virtue of that particular event, I now understand that Steve Jobs and I have something in common. With that said, let me quickly acknowledge that all similarities between Steve and me end at that point. Apple’s iCEO usually speaks for about two hours in his keynotes. Rest assured I only plan to speak for only a fraction of that time. The entire computer industry will be hanging on every word from Steve Jobs’ prolific mouth when he delivers his keynote. My goal, on the other hand, is to try to get through my presentation without anyone falling asleep.
Don’t laugh ….. I’ve given several presentations at past Kfests. If no one falls asleep in the next, oh, 30 minutes or so, it will be the first time I will have deprived a Kfest audience of sleep.
Truth be told, I’m not at all concerned this week about Steve Jobs, MacWorld Expo or New York City.
I’m thrilled to be attending my fourth Kfest in Kansas City.
It is an honor to stand before such a distinguished group of friends and colleagues. As a newsletter publisher, I’m pleased be able to contribute to the Apple II community in some small way, and proud to be invited to address Kfest attendees as their keynote speaker.
There are a couple of things I want to do with my time at the podium tonight, but none is more important than what I want to do right now.
There are a number of components to the Apple II community that keep it alive and vibrant. We have Kfest, of course, and we have Delphi as the center of the Apple II online universe. I believe our publications also play a role, whether it be Joe Kohn’s Shareware Solutions II, Ryan Suenaga’s The Lamp, or Juiced.GS.
But there is one group that I rate as a particularly key component, and that group is made up of our software developers.
Although our pool of developers is relatively small, it is astounding to me just how productive and creative they are.
Some of those developers (actually a majority of them) are here tonight. They include Eric Shepherd, who has been extremely active on the development front; Ewen Wannop, who brings us Spectrum and COG; Geoff Weiss who teamed up with Ewen to produce Spectrum Internet Suite; Richard Bennett, who changed the face of Apple IIgs telecommunications by writing Marinetti; and Mike Westerfield of the Byte Works, who is not here this year.
Many of you were here last year and experienced what was an absolutely remarkable Kfest. And the reason it was such an incredible event was due in large part to the work of a handful of software developers, who labored tirelessly in the months, weeks and days before Kfest ’98 to make the event a showcase for unveiling their latest software.
By the time the week ended, we had more than a dozen new software titles, with titles such as GSoft BASIC, NiftySpell and WebWorks GS leading the parade accompanied by eye-popping upgrades to such important products as Spectrum, GraphicWriter III and Marinetti.
It was an unforgettable week, and before we move full speed ahead with Kfest ’99, I would like all of you to join me in showing Apple II developers how much we appreciate their continuing contribution by giving them a big round of applause.
One of the remaining Apple II hardware developers is not with us this year, though he is definitely here in spirit. He would very much like to be here, and has been lobbying persistently for a change in the dates of Kfest from the latter weeks of July to the first week of August so he can attend again.
I’m talking about Steve Buggie, an associate professor of psychology at the University of New Mexico in Gallup.
Steve has also been a contributor to Juiced.GS through the years, and he asked me to introduce the Kfest audience to some of his newer creations, which leads me into a little show-and-tell portion of this keynote.
Many of you already know about Steve Buggie’s BUGG-POWER external power supply, which is available directly from Steve. What I want to show now, for the first time I believe to an Apple II audience, is the new BUGG-POWER internal power supply.
This other item is the BUGG-Drive, a 5.25 drive that has been refurbished and reconstructed with Steve’s particular design.
One of the more common questions I’m asked by friends and family is how I became an editor and publisher for a computer magazine — and more specifically, an Apple II magazine.
I acquired the fundamentals for publishing long before the first personal computer was built. As many of you know, I’m a journalist by trade, having worked now for almost 25 years for small and medium-size newspapers in west-central Indiana. Small newspapers gave me the opportunity to learn all facets of the publishing business, from writing to page design to paste-up.
We got our first Macintosh at the newspaper where I now work in 1986. I soon began dabbling in desktop publishing after I took a non-credit course in PageMaker on the Mac at Indiana State University.
But that background alone did not lead me into newsletter publishing. Rather, three specific developments pointed me in that direction.
The first came in 1989 when my wife and I decided to purchase our first personal computer. Although I liked the Macintosh, I was not at all fond of the tiny screen and black-and-white display. Great for the workplace, but pretty boring for home use.
A friend of mine had just been named technology director for the local school district, so I gave her a call and sought her advice on purchasing a home computer. After explaining to her what we wanted in a personal computer, she gave me a few suggestions, but strongly recommended I take a close look at the Apple IIgs. It satisfied our desire for a Mac-like interface with a color monitor, and the Apple II name inspired a lot of confidence as well.
We visited the local Computerland and immediately fell in love with the IIgs, which we bought along with a copy of AppleWorks GS. That is a purchase I have never regretted, and that original GS is still the one I use for the majority of my computing work, including telecommunications and desktop publishing.
The second thing that propelled me toward my destiny as an Apple II publisher came when I decided to upgrade my IIgs and increase its power and usefulness. That all happened in 1993-94. I was committed to getting all I could out my IIgs rather than discarding it, but I was not exactly sure how to go about it.
Luckily, our newspaper’s systems manager was an old Apple II guy, and had actually cut his teeth as a IIgs technician for Computerland. He guided me through the steps of adding a 4-meg RAM card, a SCSI card and hard drive, and eventually an accelerator and modem.
He gave me a lot of encouragement, and seemed to get a lot of amusement out of my transforming a stock ROM 3 GS into a power-user’s dream machine. And he loved to tell everybody about my little project. He got a big thrill out of walking into the newsroom, spotting me at my desk, and proclaiming, “There’s the guy with the Juiced GS!”
The third development for me came during 1995, a year of great transition in the Apple II marketplace. Resource Central ceased publication of its disk-based magazine, II Alive was dying, and Softdisk was beginning to wilt.
That left Shareware Solutions II and GS+ to carry the banner. I was particularly fond of GS+ because it was dedicated specifically to the IIGS and really made me want to learn more and do more with my computer.
In the spring and early summer of 1995, I began tinkering, mostly for my own enjoyment, with a prototype for a new magazine. In fact, I used a portion of that prototype as an entry into a desktop publishing contest Joe Kohn was running in Shareware Solutions II.
And then came August, and the news I really did not want to hear. GS+ was ceasing publication, and a bad year for the Apple II got considerably worse.
In the next couple months, I began toying with the idea of using the prototype I had developed to launch a new magazine to help fill the void left by the loss of so many of our great publications. I had decided by November to go for it, and on Jan. 1, 1996, “The guy with the Juiced GS” jumped head first into the Apple II publishing business, and Juiced.GS was born.
And on Feb. 15, 1996, the first issue of Juiced.GS, Volume 1, Issue 1, was mailed to subscribers.
Well, enough of the past. Let’s talk a little bit about present.
Juiced.GS has done, and continues to do, remarkably well in the shrinking Apple II marketplace. First year subscriptions reached 340, the second year topped out at about 315, and last year hit 270. Subscriptions dropped off more than I had anticipated this year, but it has slowly inched its way up to around 220.
Perhaps the greatest asset Juiced.GS has going for it right now, in addition to its loyal base of subscribers, is an outstanding staff of contributors.
Ryan Suenaga has been with me from the start, producing a column for each issue. He is currently writing a series of articles about IIgs emulation and Bernie ][ The Rescue.
The only person with me longer is Greg Nelson, who is here taping the event tonight. Greg counseled me early on during the magazine’s development phase, and actually printed the proofs for the first two issues on his Hewlett Packard DeskWriter.
I guess that makes Greg Employee No. 1. Hey, there’s another thing I have in common with Steve Jobs. If Greg is Employee No. 1, that must make me Employee No. 0!
Tony Ward has been writing a quarterly column on telecommunications, and in recent issues we’ve been treated to some interesting articles from Geoff Weiss and Tony Diaz. It has been great to see both of their bylines in the magazine.
And, of course, Juiced.GS has been the home publication for an ongoing GSoft BASIC tutorial by software programmer/developer Eric Shepherd. Juiced.GS and its readers have been extremely fortunate that Sheppy has devoted so much time and effort to helping programmers, or programmer wannabes like me, become more familiar and proficient with this new terrific software language.
I appreciate the contributions of all these guys. More importantly, readers appreciation their contributions.
So, we’re talked about the past and present. But what about the future?
I don’t pretend to see the future, but I would like to comment briefly on the future of the Apple II in general, and Juiced.GS in particular.
First, the Apple II …
You know, it is remarkable that we can come together like this, in 1999, 22 years after the Apple II was created and 13 years since the IIgs was made, to talk about the future.
In recent years, the reason, the reason there WAS a future, as noted in previous keynote speeches by Gary Utter (1996) and David Kerwood (1997) was the strong Apple II community and the ability of the community to stay together through telecommunications.
This year, it’s time to add another component to our future: Emulation.
Apple II emulators exist for almost every important computer platform. There is an excellent emulator for the Power Mac — Bernie ][ The Rescue — and for PC users there is Sweet 16 for the Be operating System.
Yes, Apple II hardware will be around for a long, long time. Lots of people, including me, will continue to use original machines. But many of us will also use emulators, as I do now with a Mac Powerbook 1400c, or on my iMac at work.
In essence, emulators are important to the Apple II community’s future for these reasons:
— A faster development environment. Programmers might not be doing what they’re doing now without the speed and performance they get on the Virtual GS.
— A way to keep people using Apple II software, even though they’ve moved to other platforms, by choice or by chance. Let’s face it, some of our original hardware is wearing out. Many parts are increasingly hard to replace. Yet new computers such as the iMac or G3 Mac, or the newly announced iBook, are so inexpensive, a computer use can now spend their money on, and enjoy, state of the hardware while still running their Apple II software in an environment that gives them the best performance ever.
Emulation is indeed a part of the Apple II’s future, and I encourage you to embrace it.
OK, then what about the future of Juiced.GS?
Well, I’m happy to announce tonight that it is my intention to publish Juiced.GS in the year 2000.
It is also my pleasure to announce that Juiced.GS will soon be publishing a CD-ROM containing the entire Juiced.GS Collection of software and files compiled since 1995. We had hoped to have it ready for distribution by Kfest ’99, and although we got very close to achieving that goal, I decided to take a little extra time to make sure I had the CD arranged in the best fashion possible. About the only thing left to do is to add a few more pieces of software to the collection.
It will be called, appropriately, the Juiced.GS Collection “Friends for Life” CD-ROM in honor of this wonderful Apple II community. Ryan Suenaga is assisting me in this project, and if all goes well, the CD will be available this fall.
I am also pleased to invite you all back at the dorm in a few minutes for our Juiced.GS reception. We’ll have drinks and snacks available, so please stop by and spend some time with us as we kick off another wonderful Kfest.
I do appreciate the opportunity to deliver the Kfest ’99 keynote, and thank yoo all for the tremendous support you have given me and Juiced.GS in the past four years. I am thrilled to be part of the Apple II community, and look forward to many more years celebrating this computer love.
Copyright © 1999 by Juiced.GS. All rights reserved.