The FloppyEMU – Apple Floppy Drive Emulator

Floppy emu in a clear translucent case with 20 pin Apple floppy ribbon cable.

In true Jeff fashion, I finally got around to building my Floppy Emu emulator, only a year or two or three after actually buying it, which emulates many various Apple and Mac floppy drives as well as even some hard drives.

Web Site:

I’ll admit, I’m NOT an Apple nut. I’ve had some experience with them over the years, including picking up various Macs, usually via dumpster dives and curb finds over the years, but they never appealed to me like the IBM compatibles did.

That said, I do have a Apple IIe I got from Craigslist a few years ago, and gave it some love. I had to replace a broken key and switch on the keyboard, and oddly enough, you can actually do so as each individual cherry switch is soldered on. Once I got it working, I had to learn how to use it as that generation Apple is foreign to me. One challenge was that I had zero floppy disks for it, despite having the actual drives, so no way to actually boot it to anything. After some research, I found a VERY neat program called ADTPro that actually bootstraps the Apple via the serial port. It does this in two steps; the first step literally does a dump of assembly language into the built in monitor, runs the code which is really the ADTPro “client”…which then uses the same serial port to request disk images from the server software running on a Windows or OSX computer on the other side of the serial cable. I was thoroughly impressed with this and it worked awesome. I used it to boot up the Apple, then transfer a few disks images to new floppies so I could not only boot it, but do other important things, like playing Oregon Trail. All….night.

Back to the Floppy Emu, rather than needing serial cables and a laptop or desktop to run the ADTpro server program, this little device simply emulates either an Apple floppy drive, or depending on the model of computer, even an Apple hard disk (the ones that connected via the Floppy plug, such as the HD20).

Sadly, my Apple needs a little more love as the monitor seems to blow the fuse often. It likely needs to be capped, so look forward to an article on that some time in the future. Anyhow, I bought the Floppy Emu a couple years ago in hopes that I’d just likely leave it inside the IIe and use it more often, but as always it fell by the wayside and sat unassembled in a drawer. Due to me recently cleaning out my office and finding it again, I finally assembled it as I’ve now decided to try to compile all my various vintage computer tools and gadgets into one big toolkit, so it’ll be used not only for my IIe, but any future Macs or other fruit-based computers that happen to hunt me down.

Lastly, if you’re looking for something similar for IBM compatible computers, there are several out there, including the HxC2001 and the Gotek. I do have a Gotek hiding in a drawer somewhere as well (they’re actually fairly cheap), but I may also buy an HxC as well to round out my floppy emulation gadgets. HxC also makes updated firmware for Goteks to add compatibility and features to them, which you can get for $10.

If your a Commodore nut, you likely already know about the ZoomFloppy, and if not, now you do.

There’s even emulators forSCSI drives, and while there’s only a couple projects in the works for IDE drives, you can find cheap compactflash to IDE adapters or use a modern sata solid-state drive with an ide/pata adapter.

Stay tuned for future articles or videos on actually using the Floppy Emu as well as other floppy drive emulators. For ADTPro, you can find a video of that in action right on their web site or on Youtube.

Making changes to DFS Namespaces in Windows Server

One thing I always seem to dread and battle is making changes to DFS Namespaces and shares. In addition, I also seem to struggle with the simple concept of reboot or even restarting a service, but that’s a topic for another day. (Or is it?)

In this case I was doing some minor file server cleanup at the end of a day, and moving data around. Part of this process was to delete a couple DFS namespaces and re-create them pointing to the new locations.

I ran into issues deleting the namespaces where the DFS console reports that the share must be manually removed. I believe this may have been caused by the shares/files being open by existing users (in this case its just templates and small files that aren’t mission critical.) Even though it reports this, I do see the DFS namespace gone from Active Directory (confirmed via ADSIEdit), the registry entries gone from the DFS key in the registry, yet on the server, when I try to delete the share from the folder I’m trying to move, it errors with “The share must be removed from Distributed File System before it can be deleted”.

Naturally I go down the path of doing some googling, and looking at blog posts talking about how to verify your DFS target was removed from active directory, from the file server registry, etc. This is all good practice anyway as it does verify things are cleaned up after a dirty removal of a namespace, but in my situation, the error still happened and I couldn’t un-share the old folder.

Simple answer: Reboot. In my case, after going down the AD and registry rabbit holes, I was able to restart the server service and let it restart any dependency services, and in doing so, it let me remove the share, re-share the new location, and create a new DFS namespace. I’d be willing to bet simply rebooting the server itself would have worked as well, but as we all know that’s not always an option when the workaholics are still plugging away at 7pm and I’m literally moving 15 files.

So definitely not a bad idea to check registry entries and AD objects when making DFS namespace changes, but start with a simple reboot, and get to go home 30 minutes sooner 🙂

Already Missing Radio Shack

Yes, Radio Shack may still be around in some minor form and via web site, most of the stores, including all the ones in the PA area, are gone. Walking around the mall a couple days ago, I was reminded of what was once my favorite store, likely the only store I would really “shop” at in the mall….Radio Shack!

While in recent times, Radio Shack struggled to keep up with my massive need for all things technology, I did still frequent the store just to see what they had that was new, and especially what was on clearance. While they were all around, the one I remember and likely visited the most was the store at the Plymouth Meeting Mall, in Plymouth Meeting PA. Every now and than I would manage to find a connector, a weird battery, or some other oddball item that I could use.

Radio Shack – Plymouth Meeting Mall, Plymouth Meeting, PA Feb 2015

That said, I remember fondly growing up where I was cutting my teeth playing with TVs, VCRs, boomboxes, and other stuff, where most of the time I needed batteries, or usually some “RCA to (some other plug) adapter”. We’d always mess around with the computers, and make sure we got our free battery from the free battery club! (While the club is long gone, Rat shack’s web site has t-shirts themed on it!)

The distinctly fond memories I have though, going back to the late 80s and early 90s, would be checking out the computers in the back of the store, and playing a game called Thexder on a TRS-80. I also remember the robotic arm called the Armatron they had at the counter that I’d play with while waiting in line. The one with the constantly-grinding gears that felt like it was going to break at any moment.

Lastly, I also remember the newer computers, one of which my parents finally bought me the family for Christmas, and the look of horror in my dads face when I told him we needed a “VGA” monitor, and when we went back, the $400 price tag that monitor had (after dumping over $2k into the actual computer). It was a Tandy 2500 SX 386, and I still have it!

Soon after I got the 386, a friend of mine also got a new computer, a Tandy Sensation 486, complete with the new MULTIMEDIA speaker sound system! Oooh!
(Yes, still jealous!)

I’ve had lengthy discussions with friends over what Radio Shack could have done to save themselves, and honestly from what I heard, they sorta knew. In reality though, having quick access to nearly any kind of component within a couple days certainly put a hurting on them, and I think its ironic that they really died off at a time when the Maker movement was really starting to take off. I realize more and more that malls have become mostly havens for clothing and jewelry, with Sears gone (the “other” store I’d shop), its somewhat difficult to actually buy hard goods at a mall anymore, especially anything having to do with “repair”.

Oh well…I’m just glad that with the writing on the wall, I learned to take the initiative to take a pic of the store before it closed up. The pic above was taken by me in February 2015. I have a couple other pics and videos of the Plymouth Meeting mall dating back to the mid 90s, so stay tuned for more nostalgia posts!

If you’re a nostalgia nut like I am, there’s tons of Radio Shack media out on the internets, including commercials, catalogs, other blog posts, and more. One example I found was this web site that has tons of Radio Shack catalogs. Cool!

IMAP Protocol in Office 365 bypasses MFA

Recently saw this article mention IMAP attacks against Office365 mailboxes due to IMAP bypassing MFA rules:

My suggestion is to bulk disable IMAP and POP of your organization doesn’t use them. You can use Powershell to disable these protocols en-bulk in seconds, however if your firm is larger, make sure those protocols aren’t in use first by various systems, especially IMAP.

You may also want to look at Activesync and OWA as well, not every mailbox likely needs those as well, especially system mailboxes.

Gets all IMAP enabled mailboxes
get-casmailbox | ? imapenabled -eq $true

Gets all IMAP enabled mailboxes and disables it

get-casmailbox | ? imapenabled -eq $true | set-casmailbox -imapenabled $false

Gets all POP enabled mailboxes

get-casmailbox | ? popenabled -eq $true

Gets all POP enabled mailboxes and disables it

get-casmailbox | ? popenabled -eq $true | set-casmailbox -popenabled $false

Edit: Heres another article about how to set defaults for the protocols. Remember to disable OWAforDevices if you don’t allow the Outlook IOS/Android app.

You can disable OWAforDevices for existing users using the same set-casmailbox cmdlet:

get-casmailbox | ? owafordevicesenabled -eq $true | set-casmailbox -OWAforDevicesEnabled $false

The Academy of Natural Sciences

Hard to believe I’ve passed this place a million times driving up the Ben Franklin Parkway, yet this weekend marked the first time I’ve been there since a grade school field trip in likely 6th or 7th grade. Pretty cool to see the dioramas and all the detail they put into them. Worth a visit if you’re in Philly!

Franklin Institute Map from 1934

Recently came across this on Ebay and had to have it. Franklin Institute map and exhibit list from 1934 (going by the included Planetarium card with a 1934 schedule).

The crazy part of this map is the description of the basement, which has always been off limits as far as I remember. I would LOVE to see whats still down there!

From boxes of photos to boxes of disks…

This is actually based on a post I did on another blog eons ago. In doing a lot of cleaning lately, I’ve been coming across random, usually unmarked CDs and DVDs from my old computers and desks. Apparently I used to lose my sharpie often as many of them are literally unmarked, but I can tell there’s data on them.

I actually get excited when I find these, because there’s a small chance its an old backup of some photos or files from yesteryear.

This makes me often think what happens to all this digital media we collect over our lives. I’ve been on a push to re-organize everything and make sure its archived in multiple copies and media, but I’m sure a lot of other people have their life history on a single drive that’s merely a ticking time bomb.

Back in the day when people took photos with traditional cameras, there was a cost involved not only buying film but also developing it, so people often were very picky about what pictures they took, and took time to frame and align it to try to get the best shot in the first or only try. Now, with digital photos, its practically free or very low cost to take as many pictures or videos as you want, so many pics are often just garbage shots, with little regard to quality or setup. This also means the quantity of actual pics being stored is substantially higher than when people took traditional photos or even the old film videos.

I know very often I find tons of vintage and personal pics in junk shops, likely due to the lack of next of kin, or perhaps someone just not wanting or caring to go through them or store them anymore. What will happen to the vast hoards of digital photos, videos, and other media we’ve taken in our lifetime? Should we make sure we store them where others can find them? Are there pictures of importance, like important events, places, people, etc that may not be specific to a person or family? Should they be encrypted or protected somehow, less they end up on a 3.99 Hallmark card some day?

I recommend putting some thought into what you do with your pics, media, files, and other digital ephemera, and perhaps archiving them on multiple copies of long-term storage that could be passed down to further generations. Make sure that storage is both air-gapped (not online where a virus or malware can delete it), as well as environmentally sound and not stored in a musty basement or hot attic. Label things very clearly with dates and names if you can, and something I’ve started to do, is even putting plain note.txt files in photo folders with information about the subject of the pics. Talk to your kids or loved ones about what you have, where it is and how it should be handled once you’re gone. I feel the next generation may be the ones to skip this step, only to find that our era of media is gone forever with the trash. They’ll learn and use their digital media differently than we do, and will likely have a lot more of it!

Lastly….while taking pics can be an interesting way to save memories for later in life, remember to live in the moment and put the camera down sometimes. Watching thousands of screens take the same video at a concert, the same pics at an event, and so on makes me wonder how many will regret living out these events through a screen the size of an index card.

Franklin Institute W3TKQ QSL Card from 1958

Being a Philly native, I have fond memories of the Franklin Institute from class trips and family outings. Growing up in the 80s and 90s I remember there being a new-ish ham radio station on the 4th floor where the telescope still is. Sadly like many things there it’s long gone, but I happened to find and acquire this old QSL card from the original station in 1958!

I do collect some FI ephemera, especially looking for ANYTHING from when they had the Futures center in the 1990s. Hit me up if you have any!

The ham radio station at the Franklin Institute was a partnership with a local ham radio club called the Philmont Mobile Radio Club. You can read more about the history of the station on the site here: . On a side note, I’ve hung out with the guys at Philmont and even got my ham radio license via their monthly testing sessions. If you’re looking for a local club, they’re a good one to check out!

I purposely left the rear of the card off as I have to censor some of the data, but the operator at the time was Nelson Schurr, W3DYP who filled and sent the card.

Stay tuned for more cool Franklin Institute stuff!

Heathkit H89 Acquired!

Recently picked up a new to me Heathkit H89 computer. It actually dons the H19 tag on the back, which means this started life as an H19 terminal, and was updated to a full blown computer by adding an internal motherboard and disk system. This computer runs a Z80 and can run CP/M, H-DOS, Basic, Fortran, and likely anything else a Z80 can do. Since the monitor and keyboard are technically an internal “terminal”, its mostly limited to text and some crude graphics.

Its in great shape, and turned on and worked right away. I did give it an internal once-over to make sure things were seated good and no loose parts rattling around.

More info here:

It came with all it’s original books and disks, including Microsoft Basic, CP/M and Fortran. It does boot but it seems to be struggling with accessing the floppies, so it prob needs a good cleaning. Its actually immaculate inside and out.

One interesting part of this computer is it’s floppy system – its one of the few I have that actually uses “hard sectored” floppy disks. What this means is that it actually uses timing holes in the disks themselves to time when a track begins and ends. Unfortunately this means it takes “special” floppy disks, and normal “soft sectored” disks aren’t gonna work, and reading/writing images to floppies for this may be a challenge.

Here’s a few links to some techy info about the H89:

Floppy Format info:
More info about Heathkit 8-Bit computers in general:

Flashfloppy Firmware Discussion: