November 23, 2009 · Comments Off on Letter to the Editor: Name that software

The following letter to the editor ran in Volume 14, Issue 3 (September 2009) of Juiced.GS. It has to date received no responses. If you have any suggestions on this topic, could you please comment on the blog or email the editor?

Dear Juiced.GS

I've been trying to track down a game from my early youth that ran on an Apple II, and was wondering if you could help me.

Neither a game nor a drawing tool, this program was more like a Print Shop in which you build a creature (arms, legs, head, etc.), put it before a number of backdrops (such as a moonscape), then print it out. I encountered it in grade school, so it must've been an 8-bit program, circa 1988. In my quest to find this classic title, I've tried Creature Creator by DesignWare, Print Shop Companion, and Newsroom, all of which looked promising—but none of them was the program I remembered.

Asi Lang
via the Internet

Asi,

Unfortunately, this one doesn't ring a bell among the Juiced.GS staff. Since you tried the program in school, maybe it was part of an edutainment compilation, like Scholastic's Microzine, instead of a standalone application.

Do any readers recognize this title? Please email us if so!

–Ken Gagne

September 18, 2009 · Comments Off on Stamp of approval

A typical issue of Microzine.

A typical issue of Microzine. Image courtesy NeighborhoodValues.com.

I grew up with an Apple II in the classroom, where I regularly enjoyed Scholastic's Microzine, a sort of edutainment version of Softdisk. One Microzine game (perhaps Math Mall on issue #22) put players in the role of the proprietor of a a galactic pet store, where they needed to fulfill customers' orders. Shoppers weren't picky about how many or even what kind of pets they wanted — as long as they collectively had the exactly right number of eyes, feet, tails, and other appendages. It might take three space monkeys, two Martian blowfish, and a cosmic coonhound to accommodate their expectations.

Though I haven't seen an issue of Microzine in decades, I don't have to miss this particular game, as I play it every year with the United States Postal Service. With each postage rate increase, I have to determine what stamps to buy to mail an issue of Juiced.GS. For example, it costs $2.92 to send an issue to Australia, but there's no single stamp with that value. What lesser stamps can I combine to come closest to that number? It can't be less than $2.92, but the greater the total is, the more cents are lost. It's an inexact but demanding science.

There are enterprise alternatives to this chore: both Stamps.com and a Pitney Bowes mail meter would let me purchase and apply postage from my own home office. But both require a monthly fee, making them more suitable to companies that mail products regularly. That describes Juiced.GS's former publisher, Syndicomm, which markets a variety of Apple II hardware, software, and publications. But for Gamebits, whose sole product is Juiced.GS, paying monthly for something I'd use quarterly is not economical.

And besides, it's not a great burden to manually address and stamp envelopes four times a year. But it does explain why your issues will be arriving this month featuring lauded authors and wedding cakes. It's not a hidden message so much as it's a manifestation of skills I learned on an Apple II.