2013 Retrochallenge Winter Warmup, Retrochallenge

2013 Retrochallenge Winter Warmup – Post 05

Testing (Part 2)

(This is part five of the chronicle of my 2013 Retrochallenge Winter Warmup submission. The mediocrity starts here.)

Having modified the initial design and successfully recorded a program from the Apple IIe to the iPhone, the next step was to wipe the Apple IIe clean and load the program back into memory. So I…

  • booted the Apple IIe to the BASIC prompt
  • connected the cable between the iPhone and IIe
  • launched the Voice Memo app on the iPhone (with the recording made earlier)
  • type “LOAD” at the BASIC prompt
  • pressed “PLAY” in the Voice Memo app
  • waited for BASIC to return to the prompt, and…

Nothing.

It never returned to the BASIC prompt. It would still be waiting if I let it.

So, Snag #2

I thought…”obviously a volume level problem”. But I tried every possible volume level available on the iPhone and…

Nothing.

I thought…”maybe the audio out cable is not working”. So I connected the iPhone to the AUX input for my car’s audio system, turned on the stereo, and…

The mind-numbing 770 Hz tones and warbles were being played as originally expected.

I thought…”So maybe the waves are being chopped at the peaks and valleys during recording or playback”. The Voice Memo app doesn’t provide any options for recording level, etc. Maybe I should try a 3rd party app. So I downloaded a handful of free apps:  SpeakEasy, Voice Record HD, iTalk. There were many others I didn’t try. Most offer some way of posting recordings to cloud services or ftp servers. That might be pretty cool.

Some Success

Eventually I discovered that the recordings made with the Apple Voice Memo could be successfully loaded if played from an email attachment. But not from the app itself. I know. Makes no sense at all.

The SpeakEasy app didn’t provide much in the way of options, but it was the first to be able to successfully save and load a simple BASIC program. So it holds a special place in my heart. But I found its interface to be somewhat contrived. Its four main icons rotate on a turntable and I found myself constantly hitting the “record” function when I thought it might be the “play” function. Oh…red vs blue. Yeah, thanks. Also there was one screen that I swear had no obvious way of exiting.

Screenshot of SpeakEasy app

Voice Record HD wins points for style. It was also able to successfully save and load a program from the Applesoft BASIC interface. Some of the features such as interfacing with DropBox and Google Drive are promising, but it looked like, while you can assign a title to a recording, the filename for the audio file consists of nothing more than a timestamp with an .mp4 extension. That would cause confusion later if the file were transferred to another system.

For example, notice below the title is “retrochallenge”, but the filename is “20130123-215432.mp4”. Oh, snap! calls to Guatemala for 12 cents per minute. Awesome. Maybe I should re-enable targeted ads in my preferences.

Screenshot of Voice Record HD

The iTalk app had the simplest interface of the three and no mistaking what you press for “record”. It was able to successfully save and load the test program (with the output volume set around 90% during playback). The paid version integrates with DropBox and includes sharing via email (though email may be in the free version; I’ve upgraded since these snapshots were made).

iTalk record screen
iTalk playback screen
iTalk recording attributes

So. Yea! Some success.

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