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Floppy disk sleeves & magnetic media stamps

A Drift in Juiced.GS

Over the years, I’ve received little feedback on what Juiced.GS does right or wrong. But never have I heard so many comments, and especially on one feature of our magazine, than I did at KansasFest 2012.

What was it that got everyone talking? Drift, the demo disk that was mailed to subscribers with the June 2012 issue. Everyone was agog that, 35 years after the Apple II was released, they received in the postal mail a magazine with an actual 5.25″ floppy disk in it. “That is so cool!” I heard time and time again. “It doesn’t get more retro than that!”

To make this disk’s inclusion possible, Drift’s developers and the Juiced.GS staff bandied several ideas about how to package the disk and magazine. Staples, tape, glue, cardboard inserts, and more were considered. The final approach was made possible by one important component: the floppy disk sleeves, hand-crafted by Melissa Barron.

The disks themselves, purchased from Vesalia Online, came “naked” with no sleeves. Artist Melissa Barron rectified that oversight with her mastery of origami, a process she has documented on her Web site.

A Drift in Juiced.GS
A Drift in Juiced.GS. Photo by Melissa Barron.

The final touch was a rubber stamp I had made that read “MAGNETIC MEDIA: DO NOT X-RAY / DO NOT BEND” with which to stamp the issue’s envelopes. I remembered ordering a copy of ProSel from Apple II vendor Charlie’s Appleseeds a few decades ago and receiving a 3.5″ floppy disk that did not work. I asked him to send it again but this time mark the envelope with the above request. The second disk worked, and I took this anecdote as evidence of the necessity to label software appropriately for handling by the United States Postal Service.

Magnetic media: do not x-ray / do not bend
Magnetic media: do not x-ray / do not bend. Photo by Peter Neubauer.

Is such caution still necessary? Perhaps not. A discussion a few years ago on the KansasFest email list suggested that floppy disks can safely travel through airport X-ray scanners without harm, and the USPS tells me their scans these days are no more powerful than that.

Even had I known that, I still would’ve marked the envelopes, as it was part of the larger, nostalgic experience of receiving a floppy disk in the mail. It’s a touch that did not go unnoticed by Peter Neubauer, who commented on how archaic the warning seemed:

You’re walking down a dark alley. Rats, scratching for a bite, scurry behind the overflowing dumpsters. Somewhere in the shadows there’s a raspy breathing sound. A windowless padlocked door has an old handwritten sign: “Magnetic Media” Beneath that, barely visible under rust brown splotches: “Do Not X-Ray | Do Not Bend”. A cold mist has settled on the ground.

My thanks to everyone who made this collaboration possible, and for the feedback we received that let us know to keep finding ways to reward and surprise our Apple II fans!

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A Drift in Juiced.GS

Drift demodisk

Once upon a time, Juiced.GS was complemented by an exhaustive library of 3.5″ floppy disks. With software releases and updates then a regular component of the Apple II scene, we offered subscribers a way to get these programs as a physical product. For readers whose Apple II computers weren’t connected to the nascent Internet, it was an excellent way to get their hands on the latest Apple II wares.

These disks, which were eventually collected into the Friends For Life CD, were always sold separately — with one exception. When readers received Volume 3, Issue 4 (December 1998), they found it came with a bonus: a free, limited version of GSoft BASIC, the new programming language from The Byte Works. This 3.5″ floppy was at the time an exclusive bonus to Juiced.GS subscribers and was an example of the collaborative opportunities available between our print publication and the Apple II community’s vendors and members.

In June 2012, Juiced.GS went way retro and did the unprecedented. Along with the magazine, subscribers to Volume 17, Issue 2 received a 5.25″ floppy disk with a copy of Drift, a demodisk originally released at the PixelJam demoparty in early 2012. A collaboration across three continents, Drift contains the music of Daniel Kruszyna and Wade Clarke, the code of Antoine Vignau, and the ASCII art of Melissa Barron. With the exception of Daniel, all have contributed articles to Juiced.GS — but Daniel made up for that oversight by sponsoring and coordinating this bonus, which Melissa Barron made even more invaluable with a limited-edition, hand-crafted, numbered floppy disk sleeve.

Drift demodisk
Real software calls for real hardware! Photo by Kay Savetz; used with permission.

This disk was distributed exclusively to subscribers of the first run of Juiced.GS‘s June issue; those who subscribe late or buy the issue as part of a back volume can instead find the disk image available online as a free download. For those who received the floppy: may it inspire you to explore your classic Apple II hardware with the latest, greatest software!