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The New Apple II User's Guide Paperback – June 6, 2012
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What made the Apple ][, ][+, //e, and //c so special is the charm of its esoteric hardware. This book is clearly aimed at the beginner. However it misses revealing the secrets of the hardware that kept us Apple ][ fans glued to our screens for so many years!
For example, in HGR mode, there are 2 whites and 2 blacks. Beagle Bros's "Silicon Salad" had an "amazing" program that showed how Black + White = Color. There is no mention of this demo, nor the equivalent demo given.
i.e. This program should be added to the "Color Quirks" section in Chapter 8:
20 C=3:Y=100:GOSUB 88
30 C=7:Y=120:GOSUB 88
40 S= 0:E=50:C=0:GOSUB 99:C=4:Y=100:GOSUB 99
50 S=51:E=100:GOSUB 99:C=0:Y=120:GOSUB 99
88 HCOLOR=C:HPLOT 0,Y TO 279,Y:RETURN
99 HCOLOR=C:FOR X=S TO E STEP 2:HPLOT E+X,Y:NEXT:RETURN
It is these type of interactive investigations that can be used to as a starting point for an interesting discussion and as a natural springboard to figure out _why_ things were done the way they were on the Apple. i.e. Why does White 1 not equal White 2? Why does 2 adjacent colors equal white? Why are there different color fringes on the leading edge and trailing edge of HGR white pixels? etc.
Sadly they are missing in this book.
I grew up with the fantastic "The Elementary Apple" by William Sanders. It had funny comics sprinkled through-out and didn't take itself too seriously. It was the perfect blend of information + humor. This book, in contradistinction, doesn't have the same "magic", sadly.
Moving on, a lot of us cut our teeth learning the Apple with Beagle Bro's famous "Peeks, Pokes, and Pointers" chart. While there is an Appendix H the information is listed rather dryly. Part of the reason the Beagle Bro's chart stood out is that it was a work of beauty. You can see an example here:
The book feels like an sterile unofficial updated "version" of the "Apple II User's Guide" by Poole, McNiff, and Cook without mentioning all of the modern changes happening.
Since a person will be typing in these programs I'm also curious about the quality of some of the Applesoft programs.
1. The question mark '?' can be used as a short-hand for PRINT and this "trick" is completely missing. It is not listed in the index.
2. Also it is not necessary to label the variable in a NEXT statement; little tricks to save typing are not told to the reader.
3. The much larger looming problem then the nitpicking above is seen in this program given on page 294 to display all the Lo-Res colors:
20 FOR C=0 TO 39
30 FOR R=0 TO 39
40 PLOT C,R
50 NEXT R
80 NEXT C
This is WAY more verbose then it needs to be. This program appears to make programming appear FAR more complicated then it really needs to be. It is much more straight forward to just write this program in a much simpler fashion:
20 FOR C=0 TO 39
30 FOR R=0 TO 39
50 PLOT C,R
It is exactly this type of "sloppiness" that extends throughout the whole book and my biggest criticism with it.
The first rule on the Apple is K.I.S.S. That is, Keep It Simple, Silly. This book doesn't keep the "spirit" of the Apple: Minimalism, Inquisitiveness, and Inspiration. :-(
Also extremely depressing that Bob Sander-Cederlof, who provided an _excellent_ reverse engineering of Applesoft Basic is not mentioned in the index. See: http://www.txbobsc.com/scsc/scdocumentor/
That's not to say there aren't some great parts here. There most certainly are!
+ First, the sheer size is awesome!
+ The appendices make a good 1/5th of the book! Appendix D using ADTPro to transfer Disks is much appreciated!
+ Programming the mouse is covered!
+ Networking is covered! Nice!
+ There is even an appendix on repairing & troubleshooting the hardware.
However, that is over shadowed:
- AppleWin is barely mentioned. There is no mention that you can use Shift-Insert to "paste" text into the emulator.
- There is no mention of Ivan's "MAGIC GOSUB", nor "MAGIC GOTO." See: http://appleii.ivanx.com/magicgoto/
- The graphics section is weak. Double High Resolution (DHGR) is glossed over which is a great disappointment.
- The sound section is weak and tacked onto Chapter 8. There is no mention of fake two voice music used in "Karateka" or "Nibble Duet". No mention of how the Apple was one of the first computers to have 1-bit digitized voice with "Sea Dragon" and "Castle Wolfenstien." There is no mention the ability to sample voice from the cassette port which is similar to Sony's Super Audio CD (SACD): 1-bit at 2.8224 MHz.
- Appendix E is extremely weak. It doesn't list Normal, Inverse, or Flashing characters. Also missing are the MouseText characters. Note: They ARE listed rather _inconveniently_ back in Chapter 6, Table 6.5.
- Appendix H is far too short. It is a far cry from of all the interesting peeks and pokes that we've come to know and love. :-/
- While it does mention the Ctrl-Y user-defined command in Chapter 11, "Ctrl-Y" is missing in the index. It should also link to page 692, the built-in self test. A toy example is given instead of a more practical way to move bytes from main memory to aux. memory for showing DHGR pictures. :-(
- Also in Chapter 11, C600G isn't mentioned in "Booting a Disk". Strangely enough the lesser known 6 <ctrl-p> is.
What I would like to see in the 2nd edition:
* At the end of each chapter a description of existing Apple II software that a person could explore more with. It could be labeled "Explore More: Classic Software". e.g. The chapter on sound/music could end with: " See 'Music Construction Set'". The graphics section with "See 'Alpha Plot', 'Fantavision', and 'Dazzle Draw'."
* More internals about Applesoft Basic. The appendix B lists all the Applesoft tokens. It should also list the hex token # next to it.
* A program to reveal Microsoft's encrypted signature hidden in Applesoft Basic.
* An updated ASCII Chart equivalent to the Beagle Bros chart: http://www.lazilong.com/apple_ii/bbros/ascii.jpg
* Tables for TEXT, and HGR that lists the memory address for each scan line.
* A demo, such as the "Rainbow" Applesoft + Machine language demo showing simultaneous mixed-modes of GR and HGR.
* One page in full color showing all the Apple GR, HGR, and DHGR colors.
* Links do the excellent demoscene group "French Touch" who's recent releases such as "Ansi Story" and "Unlimited Bobs" shows just what you can do with the machine that you didn't think possible!
The author means well but I find the book lacking an amount of depth that would intrigue the reader to delve deeper into the mystery and joy of the Apple ][ //e //c. It is an OK modern book for the beginner.
Hopefully it will be updated to regain that "lost magic" and intrigue the new user.
AppleWin, Co-maintainer specializing in the Debugger and Video
I just brought my old Apple ][+ out of the basement after a 20+ year hiatus, and I have found David Finnigan's book to be extremely useful. Just reading his book has changed my own attitude towards my computer, from a dusty relic (maybe fit for playing a few games) to a machine that is still viable and relevant.
The author takes an exciting, fresh perspective on the Apple II computer. Rather than rehash old history, or wax nostalgic about the good old 8-bit days, the book takes the approach that this is a "new" computer. It may be 30+ years old, but nevertheless, if you just acquired an Apple //e off of ebay, or dug your old ][+ out of the basement, it's still "new" to you. David Finnigan starts off with a chapter entitled "Meeting Your Apple", and then leads you through setting up your Apple, BASIC programming, mouse and game controllers, the file I/O system (DOS and ProDOS), graphics & sound, printing and networking, a brief intro to assembly language, and finally the Apple IIgs.
Finnigan does a great job at blending both the old technology with newer advances. For example in the chapter on networking, he talks about using a Super Serial Card (old tech), but also explains how to use the Uthernet card (new tech) to hook your Apple up to the internet and even use a twitter client. Some of the most useful sections are the Appendices, where you will find tables of commands, special locations in memory, how to transfer disk images to/from a Mac or PC, and a repair & troubleshooting guide.
Overall, I would highly recommend Finnigan's book for anyone who owns an Apple II or is thinking of buying one.
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