peekbot is an attempt to make vintage computing artifacts visible to the modern intarweb.It is a web proxy that allows navigation through online collections of disk images. For disk images in formats which peekbot understands, the file system contained on that disk image can be explored.
Many of the common file types found in the file systems can be converted to a format that can be viewed in a browser.For example, tokenised BASIC files can be listed as ASCII, or (some) old graphic formats converted to PNG.There is also a track/sector viewer, and any file found on a disk image can be viewed as a hex dump.
peekbot is based on ripxplore, a ruby library for identifying and extracting data from disk images [ripxplore is a substantial reworking of dsktool – I have attempted to make it much more modular, to allow plug-ins to be developed for different file systems and file types. It also now understands C64, Atari and TRS80 disk images and file systems, whereas dsktool was Apple 2 specific]
here’s some simple steps to try it out:
0) go to the peekbot home page – http://peekbot.jamtronix.com/
1) click on "Apple 2 image collections mirrored at apple2.org.za" from the list of disk image archives
2) click on "ftp.apple.asimov.net/" under "Navigation Options"
3) click on "images/" under "Navigation Options"
4) click on "communications/" under "Navigation Options"
5) click on ‘explore’ to the left of ‘hacking_construction_set.dsk.gz’ (under ‘Peekable Images’), to get a list of all files on that disk.
From that files list, you can
– click on ‘PNG’ to the left of ‘HCS Title’ (under "files") to see the HCS Logo as a PNG
– click on ‘LISTING’ to the left of ‘HCS BOOT’ to see the Applesoft BASIC listing
– click on ‘TEXT’ to the left of ‘HCS DOCS’ (under "files") to see the HCS AppleText docs as ASCII
peekbot is very much a work in progress. I am putting this version out now as a ‘proof of concept’, and to see if anyone finds it intersting enough to help work on it.
Areas where assistance would be most valuable:
1) web design. peekbot uses camping, with markaby + css for layout, so hopefully someone with css chops could make it look much slicker without too much effort. I’m sure the UI and navigation could be much improved as well – I am a humble backend hack so would be very happy to work with anyone who knew how to make a web app easy to use.
2) plug-ins for image formats (especially .sdk), file systems, and native file types. My goal for ripxplore is to have everything in 100% native ruby for maximum portability, and the framework is convoluted and not yet well documented, so it’s probably a bit early for anyone but a masochist ruby freak to try writing a plugin unaided, but I would be happy to work with anyone interested, or else if someone has some images they’d particularly like to see peekbot interpret, and can give specs or source code i can convert, that would be great too. There is a heap of opporunity for the C64 particularly, including converters to detect various image formats and render as PNG.
3) disassemblers. Currently ripxplore includes a 6502 disassembler, and I am debugging a Z80 diassembler for a future release. However it is not a very intelligent disassembler, and makes no attempt to determine what parts of a program file are code and what is data.
4) documentation – how to use the website, how to use ripxplore for specialised conversion and extraction tasks (e.g. I have a ruby script that generates a PDF map with room names & contents for a "Sword Thrust" disk) & how to write a plugin.
if you’re interested in helping with any of the above, send an email to jonnosan at gmail dot com