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hmbrew
November 28th, 2009, 04:40 PM
I am hoping to get online with my //e and an uther card, as soon as I can afford one.

I'm aware of the limitations of the contiki browser including the inability to compose emails.

I was wondering if this is due to the way it interprets the input fields. I think I read somewhere that it only interprets input fields that are one line in length and would ignore the larger fields used to compose a gmail message.

I'm hoping that browser development for the Apple // line will not stop here and that a more full-featured browser will be released to take advantage of the uther card's full usefulness. Does anyone know of such a project that already exists? I do not intend to offend anyone affiliated with the Apple // contiki project, just to point out an opportunity for improvement.

-If this thread is in the wrong place or something, I apologize in advance.

Edit: I did some more reading and learned that the "read email only" limitation refers to the included email client. However, would the browser limitation I mentioned before still prevent me from using gmail? Has anyone tried it? (I know that the basic html gmail works in the lynx browser)

Drken
November 29th, 2009, 05:31 AM
I for one wish you, sincerely, the best of luck in your endeavors. Getting back to my Apple II roots made me realize that there is a sad cycle of ever-growing resources sucking up ever-bloating code that is totally unnecessary. Take a rather simple example of a word process & spreadsheet. In today's world, they require a CD to fit on, megabytes (if not more) of hard drive space to install on, and GHz processors to allow them to run with reasonable speed. Yet Visicalc and the early spreadsheets (my favorite was ScreenWriter ][) fit onto floppy disks and the Apple ][ processor speed was more than ample to run them with reasonable speed. Yeah, I know that today's spreadsheets and word processors have far more functionality that those of my Apple II days, but then again, who really uses most of that additional functionality? I sure don't use even 5% of Word's and Excel's functionalities.

Many folks these days probably don't use their home computers for more than simple word processing, simple spreadsheets, and accessing the internet for email, web browsing, etc. Point is, if there was a truly functional web browse for the Apple II, it would provide many folks a sufficient platform for their daily simple tasks.

Unlike a lot of folks who run Apple II emulators on their Macs, I prefer using my real Apple IIe Platinum & IIGS systems. I find the design of the IIGS to be especially enthralling in it's simplicity. You can disassemble the entire system without even a screwdriver. Need to replace the power supply? Pop it out and pop another in, no tools necessary. The CF drive I purchased from Reactive Micro is wonderful, and coupled with a SCSI hard drive, it provies ample space for all the software I need/want, and then some! I love the old graphic adventure games. And the fact that, today, all of the software is $FR.EE is amazing! The only thing I can't do that I wish I could do was work on the net with my Apple IIGS.

So, I for one sincerely hope you or someone else is successful in developing a web browser for the IIGS that doesn't require a Ph.D. in Geek, Assembler as a Second Language, or a pocket protector and slide rule to use. And yes, I would be willing to pay for it.

hmbrew
November 29th, 2009, 05:54 AM
Yes! I completely agree with your point of view regarding these fantastic old apples. I would love to see them useful even 20 years from now!

Unfortunately, I know little about programming at this point. What language would I best use to write something like that?

Really all it would need to be is a browser that fits on a single 140k floppy for convenience and works well in text mode. It should target the un-enhanced 40 column //e platform for the best features/compatibility balance. (with support for the addition of 40 col. display card)

I haven't personally used contiki yet, and I lack an uther card, but it would be great if someone with a better familiarity with programming would start on something, you know?

If it lacks any real os and is simply a browser with drivers for the uther card, it should be easy to make a good one fit on a 140k floppy.

Anybody got any hints on how to get started on such a project? I'm in college and pretty busy, but I would be willing to contribute some of my time to getting this off the ground. (as long as others can contribute as well)

mbbrutman
November 29th, 2009, 06:52 AM
I have a little insight into what it takes to squeeze Internet apps onto old machines. I wrote a TCP/IP stack from scratch for the IBM PC and clones, and it fits within 192K of RAM comfortably. (I was targeting the PCjr with 256K so that I could run a telnet BBS.)

First, I find Contiki on the Apple ][ (or the other 8 bit platforms) to be simply amazing, even with the limitations. The machine is much smaller than what I normally program for, so the TCP/IP stack has to be much smaller too. The TCP/IP stack in Contiki isn't very high performance, but it is good enough and it fits within the machine while leaving room for apps.

Getting something simple like a Telnet, FTP or IRC client onto a machine like this is challenging enough. Working with only 64 or 128K of memory is tight, but those three apps in particular were formulated at a time when apps were that small, even on the bigger machines. On the other hand, a web browser is a tremendously complex piece of code. You have the following components to deal with:


XML parsing
HTTP protocol processing
Screen rendering


None of these are trivial. Getting a browser that can read even simple web pages takes a lot of code and memory, and that is before you get into complexities like Javascript.


I haven't personally used contiki yet, and I lack an uther card, but it would be great if someone with a better familiarity with programming would start on something, you know?

I find this point of view fascinating. If we all wait for somebody else to start on something, then how would anything ever get done? You've got a great start with the TCP/IP stack that Adam Dunkels provided for Contiki. I would think of other apps that are more feasible for the machine, rather than starting for the top with a very complex web browser project.

If you do start something, I imagine that C or Pascal would be the languages of choice.

hmbrew
November 29th, 2009, 07:32 AM
I find this point of view fascinating. If we all wait for somebody else to start on something, then how would anything ever get done? You've got a great start with the TCP/IP stack that Adam Dunkels provided for Contiki. I would think of other apps that are more feasible for the machine, rather than starting for the top with a very complex web browser project.

If you do start something, I imagine that C or Pascal would be the languages of choice.

I don't want you to think I'm just being lazy. I just outright lack the skills to understand how something like that even works, let alone improve upon it at this time. My extent of programming knowledge is limited, but I have expressed that I am willing to learn and try something.

I agree that contiki is amazing. My point it that the contiki floppies include an os, telnet, and much more than just a browser. If that is possible, it should be possible to strip away all but the browser, and make a better browser. (One that recognizes input fields longer than one line) Such a browser would greatly enhance the //'s functionality.


All I'm talking about is the contiki browser with some minimal enhancements. It will be awhile before I can start it, so I meant to suggest that someone else could start in the meantime while I try to learn about this stuff and try to aquire an Uther card. (I intend to contribute, or start it if no one else will, but I will be awhile before I am able to)


I'm just making a suggestion from the perspective of a college student without any money to buy an uther card and limited time. I'm not lazy.

mbbrutman
November 29th, 2009, 08:22 AM
My apologies - I didn't mean to imply what you think I did. But the comment remains the same .. waiting for somebody else doesn't work.

If you don't have the skills to tacke the problem (yet), have you considered asking the Contiki developers directly about your suggestions?

hmbrew
November 29th, 2009, 08:42 AM
Apologies accepted. I jumped to a conclusion too easily. :blush:

Would the guy I want to talk to be Adam Dunkels? The official contiki website makes no mention of the Apple // port that I can find. I have contacted nobody at this point.

I'll probably do that as my next step. (but who specifically do you recommend I talk to?)

magnusfalkirk
November 29th, 2009, 08:55 AM
Apologies accepted. I jumped to a conclusion too easily. :blush:

Would the guy I want to talk to be Adam Dunkels? The official contiki website makes no mention of the Apple // port that I can find. I have contacted nobody at this point.

I'll probably do that as my next step. (but who specifically do you recommend I talk to?)

Oliver Schmidt would be one of the two people you could contact about the Apple port of Contiki. The other being Glenn Jones, the man behind the Uthernet card. You're best bet to get hold of Oliver would be to post on the comp.sys.apple2 newsgroup about Contiki. To get hold of Glenn you could probably go to his Uthernet page, I'm sure he has an e-mail link there somewhere.

mbbrutman
November 29th, 2009, 08:56 AM
According to the Contiki web site the author of the Apple ][ port is Oliver Schmidt.

I think the proper way to get involved is to subscribe to the appropriate mailing lists first and do some lurking. I would want to know as much as I can about the current state of things before making suggestions. The web site has a link to the mailing list.

hmbrew
November 29th, 2009, 09:06 AM
According to the Contiki web site the author of the Apple ][ port is Oliver Schmidt.

I think the proper way to get involved is to subscribe to the appropriate mailing lists first and do some lurking. I would want to know as much as I can about the current state of things before making suggestions. The web site has a link to the mailing list.


That sounds like a good route to take. I'll figure out who's doing what before I try anything. In the meantime, I'll keep educating myself on how this could work.

magnusfalkirk: Thanks, that will make it easier for me to contact those people. I'll probably do that once I know what's currently happening.

Raven
December 14th, 2009, 08:26 AM
I skipped the last 3 posts or so, so excuse me if this is a redundant idea.

I haven't tried Contiki yet, and don't have an Uthernet card yet, but I plan to in the future.

Anywho, with that said - I'm sure there are RAM expanders for the Apple II, and HDD units for it, but barring expansions, you could implement some scheme to do some swapping to a floppy. I.e., only load code on an as-needed basis - if you were to implement a JS engine, only load it up (or parts of it, depending on space) when a page that requires it is encountered - etc. This will greatly degrade performance (unless someone runs it from a HDD unit of some kind) but will allow you to write a much larger program within the same RAM constraints. If you're patient enough to let it load and swap floppies, you could potentially write a limitless program this way.

arfink
December 14th, 2009, 04:40 PM
Or, if it's usable web connectivity you're after and you don't feel a burning need for an Uthernet card, go find an older model Lantronix device server and use that to telnet to a shell account using Proterm 3.1. I do this regularly, and it works very well.

hmbrew
December 26th, 2009, 03:54 PM
Specifically what model do you use? Sounds interesting, but I can't find any really cheap ones. (I'm probably only seeing the newer ones though)

Edit: would the Lantronix WB2100 "wibox" work? It seems the cheapest on epay, despite the fact that it seems to provide wifi access through serial ports.

I'm rather confused about the nature of the device to begin with. Any tips would be appreciated.

arfink
December 26th, 2009, 05:20 PM
Yeah, as long as it's a Lantronix serial device server, you can probably use it. I use one called a Lantronix MSS-VIA, which has two serial ports, an ethernet port, and a cardbus slot. What I do is, connect to the serial port using the proper baud/parity/bit/etc. and then I can enter commands for the Lantronix, which then serves the data to my computer. I use Pro-Term, and then issue a telnet command to the Lantronix, and then my computer acts just like a normal terminal would. The commands are slightly different for the newer ones than the old ones, but I suspect they'd all pretty much do it. Be sure and get on the Lantronix website and read the manual of the model you'd be interested in, and make sure you can establish outgoing connections with it. That's the part you'd be interested in.

EDIT: and the wibox looks quite good, actually. Go for it!

hmbrew
December 26th, 2009, 05:27 PM
Thanks very much for the quick and thorough reply. I'll have to wait for funding, but now I know what to look for.

With the wibox, I would effectively be able to set up an apple //e with wifi in the basement! (sort of/not really) At least I wouldn't have to run cables to the basement yet! :)