Trevor's Amiga Blog created for Amigans on the AmigaONE X1000, X5000 & now the A1222


Amiwest 2020 celebrating Amiga35

With the AmiWest 2020 show less than a couple of weeks away it's time to give a big shoutout to the traditional AMIWEST Broadcast which is even more important this year. Every year Bill Borsari live streams presentations and interviews to an expectant worldwide Amiga audience.

AmiWest 2020 - Amiga35

This year his role takes on an even greater significance as Covid-19 travel restrictions mean that international visitors will not be able to attend and out of state USA numbers will most likely be reduced. Unfortunately, due to New Zealand travel and quarantine restrictions I will not be able to travel to Sacramento so I will miss the show for the first time since I attended  AmiWest's Amiga 25 celebrations in 2010 to present the first public display of the AmigaOne X1000 in North America running a beta version of AmigaOS 4.1. Happy memories indeed. However, in case you thought you had escaped me this year I have supplied SAAC with a pre-recorded video presentation ;-). I am pleased to confirm that A-EON Technology is once again the show's Gold sponsor.

Fortunately for us Amigans, although most Amiga 35 celebrations have been cancelled this year due to the pandemic, Brian Deneen and his SACC team have decided that the AmiWest show must go on. AmiWest 2020 will be SACC's 23rd consecutive show, as Brian reminded me, AmiWest Broadcast has been streaming the show over the internet "long before Zoom was popular!"

Bill Borsari interviewing Daniel Mussener

If you are a US based Amigan and would like to attend in person, the show officially opens at 10 am on Saturday 24th August and closes at 4pm on Sunday 25th. But if possible, I suggest you try to arrive on the 23rd and join in some great triple-A fun at the casual Friday evening gathering.  Due to catering uncertainties in the time of Covid-19, the Saturday night banquet is a little different this year. The SACC organisers are recommending that attendees order their own food of choice online from their favourite delivery service or pick-up take-out and dine together in the AmiWest show hall.

For more details about the AmiWest 2020 and Bill Borsari's AmiWest Broadcast schdule check out the official AmiWest website for more details.

Viva Amiga to the rescue

Since my last blog post, the Kickstarter campaign for the new book, "From Vultures to Vampires", which I'm co-authoring with David Pleasance, easily reached its minimum target of £25K. David was looking for an attractive stretch goal which did not add to the cost of international shipping which is surprisingly quite expensive for a small but relatively heavy item like a book. I knew I had the very thing to solve his problem.

Viva Amiga Extended Remix on Vimeo

Late last year, in preparation for Amiga 35 celebrations, I commissioned Zach Weddington to produce an extended remix version of his Viva Amiga documentary. Although the original film was well received, at around one hour long it was just too short. The new remix version runs for 2 hours and 40 minutes and includes a lot more interviews and stories from key Amiga developers and other Amiga luminaries and enthusiasts. Since I have sole distribution rights I was able to offer David the options of supplying a digital download of the extended version as a free stretch goal for all of the Kickstarter backers no matter their pledge level. He set what I thought was an ambitious stretch goal of £35K but this was easily reached and he ended up raising £42,813 from 1,005 backers. As the video is very large at 5.83 GB for the 1080p MP4 version, David chose to deliver it through the Vimeo platform. All backers of his campaign can freely watch or download the standard 1080p version or choose the smaller but lower quality HD or SD version. The film being on Vimeo has an added benefit. Even if you did not back David's Kickstarter campaign you can still rent or buy Viva Amiga Extended Remix movie with all sales passing to David to help cover streaming costs and other expenses. As far as the book goes, I've spent a fair bit of time over the past few months researching and collating my Amiga articles. To help add more colour to the story we have also been reaching out to key individuals who have or are still contributing to the Amiga's post-Commodore story. I'm pleased to report that the vast majority have agreed to add their voice to the narrative.

Vampire 4 Raffle prize

As part of the Kickstarter campaign, playing on David's catchy book title, the Apollo Team agreed to donate one of their "Vampire 4 Standalone" FPGA based Classic Amiga compatible systems, valued at €570, to be offered as a raffle prize for everyone who pledged to the campaign. All backers, no matter what their pledge level were entered into the prize draw. A random draw from the 1005 backers was held live on Amiga Bill's Twitch stream and the lucky winner was Rudolf Petry from Germany. Rudolf was naturally very pleased with his prize and said, "I'm happy to be the winner of this wonderful Vampire V4. It was on my wish-list for Christmas, with the A1222.  The A1222 is on the list for 4 years (make it any sense to send you good German beer to speed things up?)."

I asked Rudolf whether I could mention him in my blog and he replied, "My 6 year old daughter, ask me last Saturday what I have played when I was young (I got my A500 when I was 14 years old). I showed her "The great Gianna Sisters" on YouTube and she ask me how could she can play this game . I said I must install it on my A1200 with (OS 3.1.4) and the we can try it. It's time to 'Amigarise' the next generation. I have two students that believe Apple have invented the GUI. They don't know Xerox PARC. For me its unbelievable why people think Apple is the best firm in computing. The Apple 1 & 2 was great machines for their time. But the Atari and Amiga were still miles ahead. Commodore missed in the USA so many opportunities with the Amiga, it's unbelievable. I would like to see this story on Amazon or Netflix. My personal dream is to revitalise  the genre  of  party games on the Amiga with EntwicklerX." Thanks for that Rudolf, I can see why you made a pledge for our book. 🙂

If you are wondering what happened to Stephen Marshall, the Canadian raffle winner of the A1222 from David's first book, Commodore - The inside story, read on. Due to the ongoing delay exacerbated by Covid-19, A-EON offered Stephen the option of a free upgrade to an AmigaOne X5000/20, valued at €2,000 or wait for his A1222 Plus to be ready. I'll let you guess what he chose. 😉 Look out for an A1222 Plus update in my upcoming AmiWest presentation.

Aussie Rules

In my Soapbox article for Amiga Future which will appear in the next edition of the magazine I wrote about Mark Falconer who had recently become the owner of one of A-EON's AmigaOne X5000/20 systems.

Mark and his X5000/20

Mark is an active member of the growing Amiga Retro Brisbane user group and like most Amigans is a pretty smart guy too. He contacted me with a couple of questions about his new X5000/20 but we were soon talking about our respective Amiga history. When he mentioned his CD1200 project I was really intrigued and asked for more information and he sent me this:

"Last year, I started to think about the A570 (it’s like the girlfriend that got away, ha!) and I tried to buy one, but after missing out on too many auctions I lost interest. In any case, the A1200 was the system I really wanted the CD drive for, as it had started to become my goto machine. Getting a lot of enjoyment out of problem solving, I started to research online how I could connect an external CD drive without hacking up the A1200’s case which most mod’s seem to involve.

Mark's Amiga CDnest prototype

The design of the Amiga CD1200 prototype, after seeing it on Dan Wood’s YouTube channel, inspired me. I set to work designing a case and interface on one of the 3D packages I use at work as an Architect. A friend of mine who is similarly enthusiastic about making and designing, printed a 3D case and my "Amiga CDnest" project based on the CD1200 case design was born. I created an Amiga CDnest Facebook project page to document the journey which has been a slow process largely due to how we turn a niche low volume, labour intensive prototype into a finished product.

Amiga CDnest in action

The case design has been the hardest and I am currently investigating changing over from plastic to powder coated metal for the body. The drive fully operates exactly how I want it to do, but I want to get all the other elements right and not sell a product that breaks or doesn’t work in some configuration. If someone else beats me to the Kickstarter or production then I’ll naturally be disappointed, but I can live with that. Developing for the Amiga is exciting but as a niche market the product has to be spot on as the user base is a lot smaller. I have a lot of respect for people who have had the vision, time and drive to undertake what is a very challenging task."

I have to say I totally agree with you on that point Mark and "maker projects" like yours is what makes the Amiga community so special. If you want to know more about Mark's Amiga passion you will have to read the next edition of Amiga Future magazine.

and finally

If you like to read my Classic Reflections series but are not a native German or English speaker you should check out Obligement magazine for the latest translations by David Brunet of two of my articles originally published in Amiga Future magazine about the major contributions made by two stalwarts of the Amiga scene, Haage & Partner and Phase5 (part 1), and what happened to them after the demise of Commodore.

That's all for this update.

Next stop AmiWest, I wish, but no use crying over spilt boing balls 😉





Kickstarting out of Lockdown

It's been a while since my last update but, with the Covid-19 pandemic still dominating world news and events, it looks like my plan to attend various international Amiga 35 events will definitely be cancelled this year. Most of the shows I was planning to attend have at best been delayed, or at worst cancelled altogether due to Covid-19. Flashback 2020 is the latest event to be cancelled which is now scheduled for June 2021. Not that it really makes much difference to me since New Zealand has imposed strict quarantine restrictions and if I could actually leave the country I would be held in a government approved quarantine facility for fourteen days on my return to make sure I did not have the virus. Such is life.

So what can an Amigan do when he can't travel the world visiting Amiga 35 events? I know, I can help write a book about the Amiga. 🙂 Of course that is nothing really new. Since 2007 I've been writing Amiga articles covering all aspects of the Amiga scene. First, a series of articles called Amiga Retrospective that began in Total Amiga magazine and transferred to Amiga Future magazine after Total Amiga ceased publication. The series, which ran for 20 issues, began as a review of the history and timeline of the Amiga computers produced by Commodore but morphed into the story of the Amiga in the post Commodore era. I've said on many occasions that the Amiga Retrospective series led me to developing next-generation Amiga hardware. 🙂 I also wrote a follow-up series of articles entitled, Classic Reflections, which told the story of key individuals and companies who contributed to the Amiga’s success and what happened to them after the demise of Commodore. That series, also published in Amiga Future, ran for 32 issues and is currently being translated into French by David Brunet for his Obligement webzine. His latest translation of one of my articles, Whatever happended to Micronik? was recently posted on Obligement. I've also written many other articles for Amiga Future covering a wide range of Amiga topics, including show reports, special reviews, Devcons, and regular Soapbox Articles. I've even penned an article entitled, What is an Amiga? which reviewed all of the wild, wacky and wonderful post Commodore Amiga inspired developments.

You might be wondering why I'm even mentioning this? Well it's quite straightforward really. I'm excited to be collaborating with David Pleasance on his second book entitled, From Vultures to Vampires which looks at the Amiga's fate in the post-Commodore years. If you read David's first book, Commodore: the inside story, you will know I had the privilege of writing the book's foreword. So when David mentioned his idea of writing a book chronicling the Amiga's post-Commodore years, I just had to be involved. David is the first to admit that, after his and Colin Proudfoot's failed attempt to acquire the Amiga assets following Commodore's bankruptcy, he departed from the Amiga scene. If you read David's book you will know he embarked on a very colourful life that did not involve computers in any shape or form. However, he was drawn back into the Amiga fold after his attendance at the Amiga30 show in Amsterdam.

Mike Rivers singing "The Chicken Lips Blues"

He was really suprised by the interest shown by Amiga enthusiasts desperate to hear more about his time at Commodore and the inner workings of a company that went from a billion dollar turnover to zero in just about three years, a less than impressive feat immortalised by Mike Rivers' song, The Chicken Lip Blues, in Dave Haynie's famous Deathbed Vigil video.

Anyway, back to the book. I've researched and collected so much detailed information over the past 35 years but, apart from a few in-depth interviews with people like Perry Kivolovitz of ASDG and even David and Colin about their time at Commodore UK, I don't have a lot of personal input from many of the key individuals involved. I like to believe that my two part interview with David & Colin for Amiga Future inspired David to write his first book. 🙂 In the new book, David and I want to include interviews with key players involved in the Amiga's post Commodore story. Of course I'm sure not everyone will want to contribute but I hope that most people will be willing to share their personal Amiga story, whether positive or negative. So if you would like to read about the twists and turns of the Amiga's post-Commodore journey, please support the Kickstarter campaign: From Vultures to Vampires. The pledges are building nicely and at the time of writing the Kickstarter campaign is over 70% of the way to its target of £25K with 16 days still to run. To be honest, as a long time Amiga enthusiast I hope we make it as I just can't wait to get started. If you want to hear more about plans for the book, check out The Retro Hour podcast and listen to David and me being interviewed by Dan Wood.

A1222 Musings

While the Covid-19 has certainly slowed the A1222 Plus Early adopter release schedule, work has continued despite the delays caused by the pandemic.

A1222 version 1.3

The project is being controlled by Matthew Leaman and he recently took delivery of the updated layout files from James Felix, the former Ultra Varisys engineer who was a key designer of the original Tabor board. The new motherboard, renamed A1222 v1.3, includes replacements for several obsolete minor components. Now Matthew can push ahead with producing a small batch of boards to ensure there are no surprises with the updated design after which he will give the green light to manufacture the Early Adopter batch. Over to you Matthew..........

and finally......

In a recent soapbox article for Amiga Future, I wrote about Sinan Gürkan, a long-time Amigan who has helped beta test AmigaOS 4 on the X5000 and A1222 as well as the earlier Sam460ex. His sixteen year old son, Atakan, designed a backplate for Sinan’s A1222 beta system which he 3D printed using PLA+ on a Creality Ender-3 3D printer.

Atakan with Sinan's A1222 beta system

Sinan has agreed that I can distribute the STL file to any A1222 beta testers who want to print their own backplate. His only stipulation is the file is supplied for personal use only. So if you are an A1222 beta tester and want to 3D print your own backplate please contact me for details. Sinan sent me a photo of Atakan with his A1222 beta system but unfortunately there was not enough space in the Amiga Future article to include the image. So here is the photo of Atakan with Sinan's A1222 beta system running Odyssey under AmigaOS4.1 Update 1. Apart from the nice widescreen monitor, Sinan's system includes a RadeonHD 7800 series graphics card.

......until next time, stay safe



In my previous blog update I wrote about the growing threat of the COVID-19 virus. I followed this with the contagion update in my Soapbox article which will appear in the next edition of Amiga Future magazine. Since writing both updates there has been an exponential growth in the spread of Covid-19, so much so that I'm writing this blog in week 3 of New Zealand's total country wide four week lockdown. Although the number of Covid-19 cases is still quite low in New Zealand at 1440 (confirmed and probable cases) and twelve Covid-19 related deaths at the time of writing, the county has gone into total hibernation with all non-essential businesses, restaurants, schools and even takeaways closed down.

New Zealand, a lockdown paradise?

People are restricted to their homes and required to stay within their family bubble. All non-essential car and air travel is banned. AirNZ, the country's award winning flagship airline has virtually shut down and our borders are closed to non-residents. The New Zealand lockdown is not unique of course and many countries have implemented similar isolation measures. Many other countries have shutdown all non-essential businesses which is having a massive detrimental effect on the economy. With many parts of the world also shut down because of the virus companies, both large and small, are facing a very uncertain future. If the pandemic is not brought under control you can expect to see a lot of companies, some household names disappearing from the scene.

AAA Bundle

Our Amiga community is not immune from these dramatic world events. The lockdown will delay the release of the A1222 Early Adopter edition with Matthew Leaman stating on it could be pushed back towards the end of the year. In better news, AmigaKit, as an online retailer, can still mail shipments to most parts of the world and Matthew has confirmed that the AAA Bundles will begin shipping in April/May. The AAA bundle was originally due to ship in February but the COVID-19 pandemic caused an unavoidable delay. However, Matthew has also confirmed that components of the AAA software bundle are being uploaded to Amisphere to allow registered AAA Bundle owners to start downloading titles. For news and updates on the A1222 Plus release please check the A1222 Plus Early Adopter website.

Amiga35 Celebrations on hold?

The year 2020 marks the 35th Anniversary of the Amiga's birth and many Amiga groups around the world were planning celebrations to mark the event. Needless to say the Covid-19 pandemic has thrown all plans into total disarray. The three Amiga35 events I'm involved with as a sponsor have either been postponed or cancelled. In the USA, was scheduled for early June in Santa Clara, California the spiritual birthplace of the Amiga. Unlike some parts of the USA, California has imposed strict isolation measures to combat the spread of Covid-19. As of March 19th and until further, all Californian residents are required to stay home except to get food, care for a relative or friend, get necessary health care, or go to an essential job. The hotel selected for the event in Santa Clara cancelled the booking and decided to bring forward a planned refurbishment programme. There are signs that the situation in California is improving and the organising team, headed by Bill Borsari and Dale Luck, are now trying to decide whether to reschedule for later in the year or delay the event entirely until 2021.  Likewise, in the Netherlands, Rene' van der Steen, Marvin Droogsma and Marcel Franquinet, the organisers of Flashback 20/20, an ambitious retro-computing party featuring an Amiga35 celebration, have postponed their event due to stricter measures imposed by the Dutch government on March 23rd. They have rescheduled Flashback 20/20 for September 12 and 13 and are currently taking bookings for the show in the hope that Covid-19 restrictions will have eased by then.

Meanwhile, the Amiga35 UK event, originally scheduled for October this year has now been cancelled altogether. The organisers, Johnathan Taylor, Paul Bridger, Katrina Taylor, Andy C. Spencer and Paul Hesford made the difficult decision to cancel the show after months of planning. Paul wrote, "Hi Trevor, it comes with a heavy heart and due to unforeseen circumstances and current climate out of our control we have decided to cancel Amiga 35 UK due to the coronavirus uncertainty and to avoid any disruption to the event, the venue and most importantly people's health especially those travelling." Their event included a charitable connection whereby part of the ticket sales and the proceeds from a special raffle/auction were to be donated to the Retro Computer Museum in Leicester. Although the show has been cancelled this year the organisers have put out a request for donations to the museum which is under threat of closure due to the Covid-19 lockdown. The organisers now plan to hold Amiga 35 UK some time in 2021.

With so many international borders now closed to non-residents, and international air travel decimated with at least half the world planes presently grounded, I think it will be increasingly difficult, if not impossible, for travel between certain countries. I hope these restrictions will be eased soon but I fear the various lockdowns and border controls will continue for much of this year. There is some hope. In China, where the Covid-19 outbreak is now abating, the amount of flights taking off has begun to increase. Hopefully we will see similar improvements in the rest of the world as the fallout from the pandemic wanes. Fingers crossed.

Does A1222 into A1500 go!

So what does an Amigan do when stuck inside during a pandemic lockdown? I was a backer of Steve Jones' Checkmate A1500 Kickstarter campaign and I received my case towards the end of last year. When Steve was planning the A1500 project I supplied him with the Tabor dimensions so he could ensure his case would support the motherboard.

Checkmate A1500 Plus computer case

Needless to say when my A1500 case arrived I eagerly unpacked the box only to discover that, although I could install the Tabor motherboard in the case, I needed an PCI-e extender cable for my Radeon RX560 gfx card which needed to be installed horizontally. I could not even install the gfx card vertically as a temporary fix since the case backplate prevents the card from being installed in the PCIe slot. Anyway, I ordered the extender cable online and waited for it to arrive. That was several months ago.

As the Covid-19 pandemic began to spread worldwide, I forgot all about the extender cable but, just before the New Zealand lockdown the cable finally arrived. So last week I removed the Tabor motherboard from the Fractal mini-tower case I originally used and set about installing it in my A1500 case. As you might expect, since Steve allowed for the Tabor board in his case design, the motherboard was a perfect fit.

Dennis' A1222 backplate

When I attended Amiga34 in Neuss last year, Dennis Zweedijk assited me with the A-EON Technology display along with Christian Zigotzky and his partner Nadine. Dennis is a long-time AmigaOS 4 beta tester and has helped beta test AmigaOS 4 on all of A-EON's AmigaOne machines to date: X1000, X5000/20, X5000/40 and A1222. Dennis created a 3D printed backplate for his A1222 beta system and brought a few extra backplates to the show to give away. I'm pleased to report that Dennis' 3D printing skills did not go to waste and the backplate was a good fit with the Tabor board and A1500 case. I installed my Radeon RX560 Polaris card horizontally and inserted the PCIe extender cable into the PCIe slot and connected the other end to the gfx card. The gfx card is two-slots wide and quite heavy. Although it installed horizontally without any problem, the whole of the weight of the card is being support by the gfx card backplate alone, since it is not supported by the PCIe slot. It not a problem for the moment but in the longer term I may have to install a prop to hold up the other end and take some stress off the card. Brings back memories of towering my A4000 motherboard all those years ago. 😉

A1222 board installed with Rx560 gfx card

A bigger issue is that the Rx560 gfx card requires additional power through a 6-pin PCIe connector. The connector is on the side of the card facing the left-side of the case and protrudes out the side of the case. With the connector in place it is impossible to install the case lid. I could replace the Rx560 card with a less powerful model that does not require an additional PSU connection and there are plenty of single slot Radeon cards available which do not require any additional power.

PCIe PSU connector issue

However,  I would prefer to keep my Rx560 card which plays 4k videos very nicely with A-EON's new video drivers. Searching online, I've tracked down some right-angle 6-pin PCIe mod connectors which just might do the trick? There might be enough space at the side of the case for the right-angle connector to attach to the gfx card and still allow me to install the case lid. It will be a tight squeeze but I'm hoping this will work. In the meantime I have no option but to leave the lid off the case.

I connected the Power and HDD LED cables and the Power On/Off lead to the motherboard along with a reset switch cable. I drilled a small hole in the A1222 backplate and installed the reset switch there. Out of the way but still easily accessible. The Tabor board has two additional onboard USB headers. Ideally I would like to bring them to the front of the case but that will require cutting holes in the plastic facia and finding a way to fix them in place. For the moment, I've connected a short USB cable to one of the onboard headers and run the USB cable out of the back of the case. I will need to replace this with a dual USB cable and socket solution in the future. Probably by cutting a hole for the USB connectors on the case's metal backplate. Finally, I connected the monitor to the HDMI connector on the gfx card. With everything connected, and the case lid off, now was the time for the acid test. I switched on the power to the external PSU, powered up the monitor and then pressed the power button on the front A1500 case.

A1222 powered with external PSU

The green Power and yellow HDD LEDs both lit up. After a short while the yellow LED turned off. After the kickstart files loaded the yellow HDD LED began flashing as the HDD was being accessed. It gave me a nostalgic feeling to see the traditional Amiga LEDs in operation once again. I'd read conflicting reports which suggested that not all PCIe extender cables work but I'm pleased to say that I had no problems and the Tabor board booted into the AmigaOS 4 Workbench at first time of asking.

So what's my opinion of the A1500 case? It's faithfully modelled after the elegant A3000 case design, although it's 6 cm wider and the height is approximately 0.5 cm less. It is very sturdily built and has the same depth as the A3000 case so there is plenty of room for the Tabor motherboard. In fact so much room it is almost too big. Even with a suitable internal PSU the mini-ITX Tabor motherboard hardly takes up much space. Of course the A1500 case was designed to take a variety of motherboards, many of which are much larger than the Tabor board. The issue with the gfx card PSU connector means I cannot install the case lid at the moment. I've ordered a slim line 300W internal power supply and I will try to track down a suitable right-angle PCIe power connector. At the moment though, it's not really an issue as I'm frequently testing different gfx cards and continually removing the lid, which takes a bit of practice, would be a nuisance. However, I do want to install the lid because I want to place the monitor on top of the case, just like in the good old days! 😉 So does the A1222 into A1500 go? The answer is yes and with a whole lot left over.

A nice pair: A1222 in A1500 with A3000

Update: the internal 300w PSU arrived just as I was about to post this blog so I quickly replaced the external PSU and installed the internal PSU in the A1500 case. The cable and PCIe PSU connector on the internal PSU are smaller than the connector on my external PSU and with a little bit of fettling (don't ask) I was able to connect the additional power cable and attach the case lid. I will need to create a special backplate to secure the internal PSU but for the moment it is OK. I placed the monitor on top of the A1500 case and, for comparison, put an A3000 desktop alongside it. The footprint of the A1500 is a little too big for my liking but the fact I can place the monitor on top of the case is a big bonus. I have to admit the A1222 in the A1500 case together with the original A3000 make a very nice pair. I created a short video of the A1222 playing a couple of HD videos simultaneously using a beta version of eMotion from EntwicklerX.

We are in the fourth week of lockdown in New Zealand  and the signs are the government might reduce the status to Alert level 3 this week. It won't make a lot of difference and I will still be mostly stuck at home. Maybe it's time to finally rebuild by A4000 Ateo tower system? 😉

Spring is in the air

If you follow the Remotely Interested podcasts you will know that Dr. Adam Spring, PhD is a closet Amigan, not that he really hides that affliction. 😉

Adam with Colin & Anneke Proudfoot & me at Amiwest 2019

In addition to his podcast work he is a regular contributor to IEEE Spectrum with articles covering Amiga 30 and the late Dave Needle. A self confessed technogeek, last year he was awarded his doctorate by Manchester Metropolitan University for his research into 3D documentation and digital heritage and recently he was elevated to IEEE Senior member status for his significant contributions to the profession. One of the people who nominated him for IEEE Senior member status was none other than Joe Decuir, who is an American fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers and, of course, one of the original Amiga founding developers.

Adam with Larry - Laser scanning The Alamo

It will come as no surprise to learn Adam  is an expert in applying 3D imaging solution for digitising cultural heritage sites. Last year he worked on a project with 'Laser' Larry Kleinkemper of Lanmar Services to help digitise, via laser scanning, The Alamo Mission in Santo Antonio, Texas.

Adam & Tim Jenison - laser scanned

Adam's friend Tim Jenison, yes that Tim Jenison the co-founder of NewTek, offered to come along and film them laser scanning The Alamo. Subject to receiving permission, Adam hopes to be able to release the short film and scan data in the near future. Adam even manged to laser scan Tim during the filming!

Anyway, congratulations on your IEEE recognition Dr Spring, you clever b****r! 😉

Lockdown viewing

If you are stuck inside during Covid-19 lockdown, apart from rebuilding that old Classic 68k Amiga you could always watch one of the excellent Commodore or Amiga documentaries that are available on the web. Two immediately come to mind. The first dates back to 2010. That year was the 25th Anniversary of the Amiga's birth. I attended AmiWest 2010 to present the first public display of the AmigaOne X1000 in North America running a beta version of AmigaOS 4.1. I was joined by AmigaOS 4 contract developers, Thomas and Hans-Joerg Frieden and even Ben Hermans made a brief cameo appearance on behalf of Hyperion Entertainment. It's hard to believe that the past ten years have flown by so quickly. At the show I was interviewed by Zach Weddington for the Viva Amiga documentary film. It would take another seven years before the film was officially released which by that time it would also contain footage of the Amiga30th Anniversary event at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California in 2015. An early version of the movie was premiered at the Amiga30th's Saturday night banquet and, as I wrote at the time, I sat at a table with many of the original Hi-Toro/Amiga founders and staff and there was barely a dry eye at the table as the movie played. One criticism frequently levelled at the film, apart from the length of time it took to release the final version, was that, at just over an hour playing time, it was too short. Well that is all about to change. With my support, Zach has been working on an extended version of the film entitled, funnily enough, Viva Amiga Extended Remix. I recently received my review copy of the updated documentary which is now over 2 hours and 20 mins long. The new version includes a lot more interviews and stories from key Amiga developers and other Amiga luminaries and enthusiasts. Apart from being longer it has a more upbeat feel compared to the original. It was my plan to offer the movie for screening at the various Amiga 35th events this year and hopefully this can still be achieved assuming the shows are able to go ahead. If not, there is always next year.

Arcadia - on Kickstarter soon

Meanwhile Zach has been working on another movie project in collaboration with Amiga Bill and a host or other notable Amigans. Arcadia, will travel through time to discover the secret history of arcade games. The people, the places, and the stories behind a century of gaming. As with Viva Amiga, the documentary will be funded through a Kickstarter campaign which should be launched in the near future. Click here for more details.

Steven Fletcher - Amiga 2020

The second documentary I can recommend is the The Commodore Story, released in 2018 by Steven Fletcher who directed and produced the film. The movie covers Commodore's 8-bit and Amiga machines with a heavy focus on the Jack Tramiel years. It is certainly worth watching if you want to find out more about the man and his often quoted philosophy that "business is war". Steven has another Kickstarter campaign running at the moment for a new documentary: Amiga 2020. Unlike the Commodore Story, his new film covers the post Commodore years and all the wild, wacky and wonderful Amiga developments and the Amigans who work hard to keep the Amiga spirit alive in 2020, 25 years after the demise of Commodore. The Kickstarter campaign has easily exceeded its minimum target of £12.5K with almost £30K already raised from 748 backers. Although all of the stretch goals have also been achieved you can still back Steven's Kickstarter campaign which (at the time of writing) has another 8 days to run. Personally, I really like the look of the Amiga 2020 baseball caps myself! 🙂

There are plenty of other excellent Commodore and Amiga documentaries available online if you find yourself with time on your hands during the lockdown. And if you are really bored you could always watch an Atari or Apple documentary. Yeah nah, as we say in New Zealand. 😉

ExecSG update from kernel Solie

Despite the Covid-19 pandemic the ExecSG Team has been quite busy over the past few months. I asked ExecSG Team lead, Steven Solie for a brief update and this is what he sent me, "The very first set of rebuilt kernels were produced in late August 2019. It took some time to get everything up and running smoothly so we didn't start adding new features until around November. Features like accelerated SPE copy routines for the A1222 and a brand new DMA engine API for the X5000 and A1222. There have also been many general bug fixes as we get ready for the release of the next update of AmigaOS 4.1 by Hyperion Entertainment. Of course, multi-core support continues to be a top priority and we've made significant strides with the first implementation targeted for the X5000 with the X1000 and A1222 to follow. The team has now grown to 15 members, including Trevor. I recently completed streamlining the build process for all supported AmigaOne platforms." Thanks for the update Steven, now get back to work! (Just kidding ;-))

Linux corner

While most of A-EON's development effort goes into supporting Classic and next-generation Amiga hardware and software it good to know our dedicated team of core Linux enthusiasts work hard to ensure that our AmigaOne machines continue to support modern PowerPC Linux distributions.

Christian in his Amiga cave

Although many people contribute to our Linux cause, I want to single out Christian Zigotzky who continues to ensure that A-EON's hardware is supported by the mainstream Linux kernel. He provides Linux support for all of A-EON Technology’s AmigaOne PowerPC hardware. This includes the AmigaOne X1000, X5000 and A1222. He is also an active member of the AmigaOS 4.1 beta test team and together with his wife Nadine has assisted me at every Amiga Germany show in Neuss. He is also very generous with his time, providing Linux support to other users including writing installation instructions and helping with installation problems.

Casey Cullen - Fienix Project

Christian also works closely with Casey Cullen who is the founder and maintainer of the Fienix project, a PowerPC Linux distro specifically designed for modern-day PowerPC machines. Christian provides Casey with kernels for his X5000/20 kernels and assists with debugging and help building several programs. Christian has posted screengrabs of Fienix running on his X1000 and X5000/40 and just to prove a point Casey has recently posted a video of his X5000/20 running Fienix steaming an HD video in youtube.

One good thing about Fienix is that Casey has pre-configured the distro to work out of the box with modern PowerPC hardware. As Casey, says in his video, "One thing I see online, quite a lot is that PPC can't stream HD YouTube videos", "Most definitely, if you have an AmigaOne system there's absolutely no reason why you cant stream an HD video from YouTube". Not only does Fienix allow you to play YouTube HD videos but it also allows video editing. In fact Casey has pre-configured Fienix to be a fully featured distro without the need to search for all those missing components to make it usable.

If you want to read more about Casey and his PowerPC Fienix distro check out this interview.

Some Boing cheer

Boing cheer to all Amigans

With all the negative news surrounding Covid-19 it's good to finish this update with a little Boing cheer. I think most people who follow my blog will know I'm always on the lookout for Amiga "signs" in everyday objects. Some might even say I was little obsessed! To feed my addiction people regularly send me their own Boing inspired photos so I thought I would post a few of the recent ones I recently received or spotted myself.

Until next time, stay safe...



Contagion edition

With the whole world worrying about the coronovirus threat, or COVID-19 as it's now officially called, I returned from my winter trip to Europe and have since come down with a heavy summer/winter cold! And before anyone starts worrying, I had the coronovirus test and I passed, well I think I passed, the result was positive! That was a joke by the way, quite a weak one I agree but in my current state of health its all I could manage. My trip to Europe was hectic and varied, covering both Amiga and non-Amiga business coupled with a great trip to Athlone to attend Amiga Ireland 2020, the first major Amiga show to celebrate the Amiga's 35th birthday.

Tripple_A fun Amiga Ireland 2020

Reflections - Amiga Ireland 2020

I've written a very short report about Amiga Ireland in my next Soapbox article for Amiga Future magazine so if you want to know more you will have to read the next edition. One thing I can say is Amiga Ireland is a great show and well worth a visit if you get the chance. The friendliness and socialising is "contagious" and this year Dave Haynie made a special appearance. A small group of us, including Dave, ended up talking and drinking through the night and most still made the opening of the show at 9am on Saturday morning. Mind you, international travel from Summer to Winter and back, little or no sleep coupled with heavy helpings of triple-A fun does have its consequences. Cough, sneeze!

A1222 Plus Update

While COVID-19 poses a threat to world health it has also had a major affect on international business which, according to a recent CNBC report could impact 5 million companies worldwide that rely on the output from Chinese factories and other businesses in the affected areas. According to reports, "Dun & Bradstreet analyzed the Chinese provinces most impacted by the virus, and found they are intricately linked to the global business network. The affected areas with 100 or more confirmed cases as of February 5 are home to more than 90% of all active businesses in China." There is a genuine concern that the coronavirus outbreak could damage the global electronics industry. Even A-EON Technology and AmigaKit have been affected with the supply of electronic components and circuit boards drying up. Matthew Leaman informed me that, due to factory shutdowns, several of his new classic Amiga hardware products have not been shipped or are now greatly behind schedule. A-EON Technology's A1222 early Adopter development and release schedule has similarly been affected and Matthew thinks the delays could push production into the third quarter of this year. Of course none of this compares to the concerns over the loss of life but it make you realise, in case you'd forgotten, what a global interconnected world we live in.

In better news, Serial Codes will be emailed to all AAA Bundle Customers next week which will allow them to register for the A1222Plus Early Adopter edition. Matthew also confirmed that the AAA Bundles themselves will now be shipped out the first week of March. For more information and updates check out the A1222Plus website.

 What the h*ll is Trevor's Axiom?

South Park's theory of online trolling

Continuing with the virus theme. While I was travelling in Europe I found myself in a hotel room with some time to kill. Hey, who said you should have watched the hotel's XXXX channel?  Anyway, I skimmed through Netflix's offerings on my ALICE laptop looking for something light and easy to watch. I spotted a more recent series of South Park being promoted. I haven't watched South Park for years and decided to watch "The End of Serialization As We Know It" from Series 20. About four and half minutes into the episode, a group of trolls explain Trevor's Axiom to Kyle, who immediately responds with, "what the hell is Trevor's Axiom?" I was thinking the same thing myself. According to South Park, it is a theory of online trolling in which one person can create a massive reaction on the internet. Their theory goes - Person A trolls Person B but it's not really about Person B. Person A wants to provoke a reaction from a third party, Person C. The intention is that person C's gross overreaction and self righteousness to the trolling of person B will elicit further reactions from persons D through F, who are not trolls but cannot help themselves from ripping on person C . Their reactions lead to outraged persons G through N and it keeps going like a fission reaction creating a fusion explosion bringing out the worst in humanity. Hmm, I may have seen this in action on one or two community websites?

Trevor the Troll

First and foremost, I categorically deny that I have anything to do with the Trevor's Axiom or trolling! Honest. 🙂 But the wacky theory put forward by the crazy, genius minds of Trey Parker and Matt Stone did get me thinking about trolling and the spread of misinformation and fake news on the interweb. An MIT study found that fake news travels faster that real news on Twitter. The research reported that, "falsehood diffuses significantly farther, faster, deeper, and more broadly than the truth, in all categories of information, and in many cases by an order of magnitude." Even worse, "the spread of false information is essentially not due to bots that are programmed to disseminate inaccurate stories. Instead, false news speeds faster around Twitter due to people retweeting inaccurate news items."

Is it a wonder that cyber-risk researchers at Stanford Engineering have been using tools for modelling the spread of infectious diseases like a deadly strain of Ebola to analyze the spread of fake news? Much like a virus, the researchers say that "over time being exposed to multiple strains of fake news can wear down a person’s resistance and make them increasingly susceptible. The more times a person is exposed to a piece of fake news, especially if it comes from an influential source, the more likely they are to become persuaded or infected."

Aint it the truth?

The European Union issued a JRC Digital Economy Working Paper on the digital transformation of news media and the rise of disinformation and fake news. It concludes that news from strong newspaper brands still attract large audiences to their newspaper websites and that real news consumption on these sites dwarfs fake news consumption. However, it also concludes that fake news travels faster and further on social media sites. Now there's a surprise. Not! Don't get me wrong, the Internet has become a vital and interwoven part of modern society and I for one would not want to return to a time before the birth of the WorldWideWeb and graphical web browsers. It impacts all of our daily lives and has brought positive benefits to education, business, communications, healthcare and government which still far outweigh the negative elements but, just like the Force in Star Wars, it does have a dark side.

As for Trevor's Axiom, I wondered where South Park got the name Trevor from? On searching the web I found a children's book entitled "Trevor the Troll" and various other Trevor trolling references. It's on the internet so it must be true!

An unexpected journey

Apologies to Peter Jackson for using the film title to the first movie in his Hobbit triology, but with Robert Bernardo shortly arriving in New Zealand I thought it was fitting. As many of you will know Robert is the President of FCUG, (Fresno Commodore Users Group) and every year attends AmiWest in Sacramento to capture videos of the Devcon sessions along with the AmiWest presentations and speeches which he posts online during and after the show. Although I used Jackson’s film title, Robert's journey was not totally unexpected. 🙂

Commodore Pentium Laptops

Robert retired from his teaching job a few years back and made the first of his round the world trips in 2016 to attend as many Amiga and Commodore user events he could find. He visited me in New Zealand and of course he wanted to see my Commodore and Amiga computer collection. He was very surprised to discover I had a couple of Commodore branded Intel Pentium 75 laptops which he and his fellow FCUG members did not know even existed.

Robert with Jane - Adelaide Retro Computing meeting

After his short stay in New Zealand we both travelled to Australia to attend the Adelaide Retro Computing meeting coordinated by Epsilon of  Epsilon's Amiga Blog fame. If you want to read Epsilon's excellent report of the event click this link. Robert also produced a video of my presentation at the meeting which should be available online. Safe travels Robert, see you soon in Wellington.

 Amiga 35 Events in 2020

I mentioned that Amiga Ireland was the first Amiga's 35th birthday event this year. There are many other 35th birthday celebrations in the planning stages. I know because I'm involved with and sponsoring at least three events around the world on behalf of A-EON Technology.

Amsterdam, Netherlands June 27-28

Some like Marcel and Marvin, the organisers of Amiga30 in Amsterdam, have already posted details of their event,  FLASHBACK 20/20, while others are in the very late planning stage and should be announcing information very soon. Anyway, watch this space. Viruses permitting, 2020 should be full of Triple-A fun for all Amiga enthusiasts whatever your Amiga flavour.

Until next time..........


Another sunny day

Christmas in NZ summertime

Summer has arrived in New Zealand. The sun is shining, the pohutakawa trees are beginning to bloom bright crimson so it must be Christmas time again. I think I've said this before, my northern hemisphere imprinted brain will never get used to Christmas in summertime! Fortunately, I will be heading to Europe next month to attend Amiga Ireland 2020 so I'm sure to get some traditional European winter weather coupled with a generous helping of great Irish hospitality. So if you are looking for something to do during the cold, dark winter days of January get yourself to Athlone in Ireland and have yourself some triple-A fun. I will be joined by Matthew Leaman, who will be selling a good selection of AmigaKit goodies, and this year, Commodore engineer supreme, Dave Haynie who will be making his first visit to the Ireland show. So what are you waiting for? Come along and enjoy some great company and be one of the first Amigans to help celebrate the Amiga's 35th birthday.

Amiga Ireland 2019

Amiga Ireland 2019

Amiga Ireland 2020, 17th - 18th January, Sheraton Hotel, Athlone, Ireland

The long and winding road

Apologies to the Beatles for plagiarising their song title but the development of A-EON's AmigaOne A1222 has certainly followed a tortuous path. Back in 2011 I gave an AmiWest presentation about the long development but eventually successful release of the AmigaOne X1000 computer. My intro slide showed an image of a winding road with multiple switchbacks which represented my feelings about the twists and turns that affected the X1000 development programme. While the development of the A1222 has not been so difficult from a hardware perspective, a series of unrelated events conspired to slow the development and delay the commercial release. The first A1222 prototypes were manufactured at the end of 2014 and since that time the A1222 Tabor motherboard has certainly been put through its paces. Initially by A-EON's core Linux team and then Hyperion's  AmigaOS4 beta testers. We've even had a couple of Tabor motherboards, code-named Atlantis & Pathfinder, running 24/7 helping John Paul Adrian Glaubitz with Debian SPE builds. In the future I will have to write about the A1222 development journey. It should make an interesting story. Anyway, getting back to the A1222, it gave me great pleasure when news of A-EON's A1222 Plus Early Adopter pre-registration finally broke.

Of course I already announced A-EON's Early Adopter plans at the recent Amiga 34 and Amiwest 2019 shows. I also revealed in my Soapbox article in the upcoming edition of Amiga Future magazine that Stephen Marshall from Canada was the lucky winner of David Pleasance’s special raffle prize. He will receive an A1222 Plus Early Adopter system donated by A-EON Technology supplied in a Checkmate A1500 case donated by Stephen Jones. The complete system will be assembled tested and supplied by AmigaKit, with Hyperion Entertainment providing the latest version of AmigaOS 4.1. Now that's what I call cooperation! Talking about the Checkmate A1500 case, my own Kickstarter backed case finally arrived in New Zealand a couple of weeks ago. I was planning to install my A1222 Tabor motherboard in the case but unfortunately I discovered I needed a PCI-e extender cable for my Radeon RX gfx card. Without the extender the card cannot be installed. I'm now waiting for the cable to arrive, so for the moment I will have to make do with my existing mini-tower case. So if anyone is planning to order a Checkmate A1500 case for your A1222 remember you will need a PCI-e extender cable.

AAA Bundle

Even better, Tony Wyatt, long-time and active Hyperion Entertainment developer is producing updated AmigaOS 4.1 isos which are being fully tested by the current A1222 AmigaOS4 beta test team. The newly formed ExecSG team, under the supervision of Steven Solie, is also working hard to optimise and maximise the A1222's performance. Meanwhile, Matthew Leaman has been coordinating with the original Varisys design engineers and together they have selected the company who are manufacturing the A1222 Plus Early Adopter run. Since posting the Early Adopter News Release, A-EON has been inundated with requests to purchase the AAA Bundle and for more information about the A1222 Plus. The number of hits on A-EON's Facebook page has smashed all previous records by almost 100%. As  a result we have decided to extend the Option 1 period until the January 31st.

The first hundred customers who purchase and register the new AAA package will have a limted time option to purchase the A1222 Plus motherboard at the special low introductory price. More information will be provided on the website which will go live in the next few days. By the way, if you are wondering what the Plus is all about, here is a short video entitled, "art imitating life, imitating art", brought to you by Enhancer Software V2.0 and the AAA Bundle and a nice little surprise from EntwicklerX. Oh yes, and its running on the A1222. 🙂

Croatian Amiga party 2019

Domagoj Ožanic

It seems only natural that a country which has a red and white chequerboard on its national flag would have an Amiga user group. So it was good to hear from Domagoj Ožanic, who is one of A-EON's very active A1222 beta testers, about the Croatian Amiga Party that was held in FER (Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computing) in Zagreb on the 21st of December. Domagoj sent me some photos and a brief report about their Amiga show. The event was by invitation only and was the first Amiga-only party held in Croatia since 2014. Fifteen people turned up for the party although twenty people were expected. According to Domagoj, most of the attendees were diehard 68k Amigans but there was a lot of interest in his A1222 system which he had set up with a selection of classic and next-generation games and demos. He did his best to answers questions from the attendees about availability, costs, status of drivers, boot speed and where to purchase the various games and demos he was presenting on his A1222 beta system.

Amiga Croatia 2019 reflections

Domagoj wrote, "People were interested in A1222, playing Tower57, Battle Squadron and other Next-Generation games and demos. I saw a sparkle in the eyes from most Amigans that cameIt was very important on Amiga party to show legacy software that Battle Squadron was a right thing to do. I showed also Final Writer and UAE JIT with AGA games. First I showed how the A1222 early startup control is the same, then legacy software, then next-generation software. All in 1920x1080 resolution.

Domagoj's A1222 beta system

I showed a lot of demos also. Of course - all those demos run this fast and are amazing on our new kernel that was made by our new ExecSG team! That was a first Amiga Party in Croatia since 2014. Now we are ready for the big one in 2020 that will be open for (the general) public."

Thanks for the update Domagoj and for keeping the Amiga passion alive and kicking in Croatia.

Sage advice

When I attended the recent Amiga34 Germany show in Neuss I came across the Sage II, another early 68000 based computer which was being displayed by Stephan Kraus of

Sage II 68000 PC

I'm ashamed to say I had no real knowledge of the Sage II machine and Stephan explained to me that the original Hi-Toro development team used 68000 based Sage computers in the early development of the Lorraine prototype, which would eventually become the Amiga computer. Needless to say I was impressed. Later that day I met up with Commodore engineer Dave Haynie, who was a VIP guest at Amiga34 and asked if he had ever used a Sage computer for Amiga development.

Me & Stephan with his Sage II

Dave confirmed that he had only used Sun workstations for Amiga development which were provided by Commodore after the Amiga, Inc acquisition. He suggested I contact Dale Luck or RJ Mical who would have more information. Last week I happened to be on a Skype call with Dale Luck to discuss possible plans for an Amiga35 Celebration next year. He confirmed that Hi-Toro/Amiga Inc used several Sage models for the early Lorraine development. Dale also confirmed that, following the Commodore acquisition, the Californian engineers were supplied with nice new Sun workstations. He also revealed he was unsure about the suitability of the Sun workstation for Amiga development and made Commodore buy him a Sage IV machine. However, he said he shouldn't have worried. The Sun machines worked out very well and the Sage IV was hardly ever used.

The true father of low cost 8-bit computing?

I read the sad news that Charles "Chuck" Ingerham Peddle, an early pioneer of the microcomputer revolution recently passed away. A lot has been written about the contribution that Chuck made to home computing. As the lead designer of the low cost 6502 Microprocessor he helped light the fire which dramatically changed the future of home computing and eventually allowed Jack Tramiel and Commodore to deliver computing to the masses. Chuck originally worked for Motorola and could see the benefits of creating a low cost CPU at a time when Motorola was having difficulty selling its 6800 design kit for $300. Unfortunately his bosses at Motorola did not agree with his vision so in August 1974 Chuck jumped ship with Bill Mensch and a small team of other like-minded Motorola engineers and joined MOS Technology in an attempt to realise their technical ambition. A move that would ultimately allow Commodore to acquire MOS Technology and turbo charge the 8-bit microcomputer revolution. Chuck and his team created the low cost 6501 CPU which was pin compatible with Motorola's 6800 (although actually incompatible with the 6800) which allowed hobbyists to use existing Motorola development systems. However, on the 6501's release in 1975, Motorola sued MOS Technology claiming the design was based on its 6800 CPU. In an attempt to circumvent the legal challenge, Chuck and his team made a few simple design changes to create the 6502 CPU which was pin incompatible with Motorola's 6800 and sold for $25, a fraction of the costs of other CPUs at that time.

Commodore MOS Kim - 1

No longer able to use existing Motorola development kits, Chuck created the KIM-1, a small single board computer to showcase the 6502 CPU. Priced at $245 for the Kim-1 kit, it allowed engineers and hobbyists to build their own computer for under $500 with the addition of a PSU, cassette tape player and a user terminal. However, Motorola was a massive company with deep pockets and faced with an expensive legal challenge MOS Technology eventually settled with Motorola in 1976. Coincidentally, MOS Technology also had a thriving calculator IC business and, just like Commodore, its business collapsed when Texas Instruments entered the market with its own calculator products. In late 1976 Commodore acquired MOS Technology for $12m and Chuck Peddle was appointed Chief Engineer. Peddle convinced Tramiel that the calculator business was a dead end and the new craze would be home computers. Fortunately, Tramiel agreed and the rest as they say is history.

Commodore PET 2001

Peddle designed the Commodore PET 2001 which was released in 1977 and the 6502 CPU, and variations of its design, went on to power a whole range of 8-bit machines fueling the microcomputer craze of the late 1970s & early 1980s. In addition to the PET, the 6502 CPU (and its variations) powered the Apple I & II, VIC20, the Atari 2600 and Atari 8-bit family, Nintendo NES, Oric, Acorn Atom, BBC Micro, Atari Lynx and the record selling Commodore C64 plus many others. The 6502 design was also licensed to other companies such as Rockwell and Synertek and in its CMOS form, developed by Bill Mensch who is a co-owner of the 6502 patent, continues to be used in hundreds of million embedded systems. Peddle left Commodore in 1980. My first computer was a Commodore CBM 4032 and Chuck's passing is especially poignant for me. RIP Chuck. You were a true pioneer of the microcomputer revolution.

Christmas Presents

If you are already the lucky owner of A-EON's Enhancer Sofware package for AmigaOS4.x you will already know that it includes advanced graphics drivers for a large selection of RadeonHD gfx cards together with Warp3D-Nova & Warp3D-SI 3D libraries along with many applications, utilities and commodities. This includes updated versions of TuneNet, AmiDVD, AmiPDF along with powerful interactive utilities like Muliviewer, MulitEdit and ClipViewer plus others like InfoWB, TimeGuard, and the ever popular Workbench CANDI. The Enhancer Software package also inlcudes additional datatypes, audio modes, gadgets and drivers along with the Amisphere Server and special Updater utility which ensures that, as long as you have registered your copy of the Enhancer Software, you can download all the latest freely available updates and bug fixes. Version 1.5 was the last major release although there has also been several smaller releases of key files.

The most recent free update includes new verions of the RadeonHD driver v3.7, Warp3D-Nova library v1.68 and ogles2 library v2.11, a must if you want to play some of the latest games ported to AmigaOS4 by Roman 'Kas1e' Kargin based on the excellent GL4ES work of Sebastien ‘ptitSeb’ Chevalier.

Kas1e game ports

Of course none of this would be possible without the hard work that Hans der Ruiter and Daniel Mussener perfom for A-EON on Warp3D-Nova and openGLES2 respectively. In other good news, Enhancer Software 2.0 is nearing release and includes support for the latest Radeon RX graphics cards and many new exciting features and a few surprises. OK Matthew (Leaman), my lips are sealed for the moment! 😉

Christmas Present two

You realise your family really knows you when your daughter & son-in-law buy you Debbie Harry's semi-autobiographic memoir, "Face It", for Christmas. Harry is best known internationally as the talented voice and face of "Blondie", one of the most successful early American new-wave punk bands of the late 1970's who went on to sell over 40 millions records worldwide and is still active today. But for Amigans, she will forever be remembered as the extremely beautiful and exotic face linked with the Amiga launch at New York's Lincoln Center in 1985. A publicity event, which according to Wired webzine, eclipsed even the launch of the Macintosh a year earlier. Wired wrote, "Forget the Apple Macintosh, Ridley Scott, and "1984." As computer launches go, we'll take the Commodore Amiga, Andy Warhol, and Debbie Harry. In January 1984—as the entire Western World is well aware—Apple unveiled the Macintosh with its Orwellian "1984" ad during the Superbowl, directed by Ridley Scott. But it was soon eclipsed by Commodore International, the company behind that seminal personal computer, the Commodore 64."  And you tell the kids today............... 😉 Fortunately for me, my daughter, who was brought up on Amiga computers, understands my Amiga obsession passion. 😉

Marilyn Monroe by Warhol

Way back in 1985, Warhol was the acknowledged eclectic king of American pop art, famous for his earlier paintings of Campbell soup cans and Marilyn Monroe montage prints. As every Amigan knows, for the launch of the Amiga, Commodore commissioned Warhol to use the Amiga to create a digital painting of Debbie Harry to demonstrate the Amiga's advanced graphics capabilities compared to the monochrome Macintosh and limited PC graphics. Working with an early buggy version of ProPaint he created the now iconic digital painting of Harry in the style of his earlier Marilyn Monroe portraits.

Debbie Harry - Warhol Polaroid 1980

What many people don't know, myself included until I did some background research, was that Warhol and Harry had been friends long before the Amiga launch. In 1980 he had already taken a series of Polaroid photos of Harry and had created several of his trademark mixed medium images of her.

Debbie Harry - Warhol 1980

I quickly flicked through the pages of the book to find out if Harry had mentioned the Amiga launch in her book. I was not disappointed. On page 194 there is a picture of Warhol sitting in front of the Amiga, holding an Amiga tank mouse in both hands, with Harry standing behind him leaning on the Amiga monitor with Warhol's now famous painting of her displayed on the monitor screen.

Debbie Harry, Face It memoir - 2019

Ah those were the days! Harry also writes about her friendship with Warhol and the Amiga launch but spoils it a little by labelling the famous image in her book, "Andy and the Amiga 2000 in 1985". Debbie how could you! 😉 If you want to see the original Amiga launch video search Youtube for the link or better still buy or rent a copy of the "Viva Amiga" movie which includes some video of the Lincoln Center event. Warhol later went on to experiment with graphics and video on the Amiga.

AmigaOne X1000 - 2013

Back in 2013, as a homage to Warhol's original Amiga painting, I created an updated version of Harry's image for the launch of the AmigaOne X1000. I've always thought that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. 😉

Another Super Nova?

Given my Amiga passion you might be surprised to learn that I do have other business interests. One of the companies I work with has created the Nova platform, an untethered VR motion simulator which they describe as the ultimate in virtual reality simulation. (Note: I did not choose the Nova name which has nothing to do with Warp3D-Nova).

Unlike other VR experiences which can cause mild to severe motion sickness symptoms, well they certainly do with me, Nova's unique design delivers full 360 degrees of motion from inside a spherical capsule so you can not only see the motion in your VR headset your body can physically experience it too.

Whether you are the fighter ace performing barrel roles over an airfield, or a jet pilot performing high speed, low altitude manoevers through the mountains or even driving a humvee over rough desert terrain the Nova sphere rotates, spins and judders as your body feels the motion that your eyes see in the VR visor.

I tested one of the early prototypes a while back and found myself flying upside down with coins and keys falling out of my pockets. My only excuse was it was a very early prototype and the interface and controls mechanism were still in their infancy. 😉 I know, a lame excuse.

Driving Nova

The latest model has ironed out most of the early kinks and Nova already integrates with a host of 3D PC games and simulators including DCS World (Digital Combat Simulator), X-Plane and the NoLimits2 roller coaster simulator. Apart from the hardware design, the real smarts are in the proprietary digital interface which links to the 3D software and controls the servo motors which drive the 360 degree motion of the spherical capsule. Applications include entertainment, flying, advanced driver training and so much more. Remember you saw it here first.

That's all for this update,

All that is left is to wish all Amigans a very Happy and Prosperous New Year


Only the shadow knows!

With Amiwest 2019 well and truly done and dusted and I began writing this update as I was about to leave the USA to fly to Europe. Amiwest started a day earlier this year to accommodate a full extra day devoted to the Classic Amiga workshop on Friday before the main event. This meant Steven Solie's tradition AmigaOS DevCom began on Wednesday.

There were several contenders for this year's Amiwest quote of the show, a tradition which has grown over the past few years but actually started at AMIJAM 2013 in Calgary with the, "that's not what you said last night" quote. It spread to Amiwest the same year. I blame the Canadians Steve! 😉 (Steve replied, "Hey, weren't you at both shows?) Another good phrase was to be heard a couple of years back, when Eldee Stephens was told, "you are not on the list!"

What a difference a year makes!

Last year's winner was Daniel Mussener with his, "I really can't say anything bad about that", when describing a light American beer which Mark Ritter had given him to taste. (he couldn't say anything good either! ;-)) This year there were several really good contenders. Robert 'Goody' Goodlett's, "Noted!", which apparently comes from the military and is usually said by a superior to a junior when the said junior has just make a stupid comment or suggestion. Close second was Mark Ritter's or was it Steven Soile's, "I was at that party!" But the clear winner was Solie's, "Only the Shadow knows!" A quote from a cult US fictional detective series created by Walter B. Gibson which first appeared on radio in the 1930's and later in magazines, books, TV series and movies. The Shadow was a mysterious masked invincible crime fighter. The quote was used to good effect throughout the show, usually when someone asked a searching question. Hey who said, when is the A1222 going to be released?, "Only the shadow knows". 😉 A more complete Amiwest show report will appear in the next edition of Amiga Future magazine.

Show me the money! or [m68k] backend support in the new GCC compiler

If you are a regular reader of my blog you will know that John Paul Adrian Glaubitz, or Adrian as he prefers to be called, is maintainer of Debian SPE using the 'Atlantis & Pathfinder' code-named Tabor motherboards.

Show me the money!

Adrian reached out to fellow Amigan Alex Perez, of Rabbit Hole Computing and Inertial Computing, to alert him that the GCC compiler was being upgraded and there was a real threat that future versions would not include [m68k] backend support. The m68K migration work required an experienced GCC developer and would need a minimum of US$5,000 to pay the coding work otherwise m68k support would be dropped. Adrian created a campaign on BOUNTYSOURCE to raise funds to pay for development work. Alex immediately donated to the cause and passed Adrian on to me to help promote the funding campaign. As there was still $1,378K needed to reach the minimum funding goal, on Friday evening, after the Amiwest Classic Amiga day, Alex and I made a plea to everyone who attended the traditional informal Friday night gathering.


Amiwest Amiga Community donation

We did a quick whip round and I agreed to make up any shortfall with assistance from Matthew Leaman of AmigaKit (although he did not know this at the time ;-)). Everyone in the room made a donation and we collected almost $500 in cash. We gave the money to Alex and he made the full donation of $1,378 on behalf of the Amiwest Amiga Community which ensured Adrian's [m68k] campaign reached its minimum funding goal of $5,000.

When we informed Adrian he responded with, "Wow, I'm speechless. Thanks so much and thanks to everyone to the community! You rock!" If you want to add your support to the [m68k] backend porting work please visit the BOUNTYSOURCE link. [Err, cough, ummm, Matthew we now need to pay Alex the difference. 😉 ]


ALICE (Ken Lester)

Talking about Alex and Rabbit Hole Computing, there were six ALICE laptops at the Amiwest show. This included one brought along by Ken Lester, one of the key ALICE developers and of course my own ALICE machine. In addition, Alex brought along 5 or six refurbished Lenovo ThinkCentre mini PCs which he has set up as mini ALICE desktop machines.

Alex and Ken demoing ALICE/ALEX to Michael Battilana

These tiny energy efficient PCs appear to work very well as a portable ALICE desktop and, just like the ALICE laptop, these mini PCs boot directly into AmigaOS or AmigaOS 4 Classic running on top of a Linux subsystem, complete with the cool "Rabbit hole" feature we developed for the original ALICE machine.

ALICE Desktop

The PC case even has a little red stripe on the front. I suggested Alex name his ALICE mini PC A.L.E.X. which stands for "Amiga Linux EXperience" but for some reason he did not appear to like my suggestion! 🙂

Euro travels

Amedia dinner celebration

Matthew & me with Laurent

After Amiwest I flew on to London to meet up with Matthew Leaman to discuss plans for the upcoming release of the AmigaOne X5000 Plus edition and Version 2.0 of the Enhancer Software pack. We also firmed up plans for the A1222 Early Adopter limited edition and a news release will be posted after I return to New Zealand.

Matthew and I then travelled to France and Luxembourg to visit Laurent and Frank of Amedia Computer to discuss future cooperation for European sales and distribution of AmigaKit's and A-EON's hardware and software products. It proved to be a very productive trip. We visited Amedia's offices and afterwards Laurent treated us to some traditional food from the Alsace region of France.

AmsteRJam frolics

While Matthew returned to Wales, I made my way to Amsterdam to attend RJ Mical's AmsteRJam 2019 party being coordinated by  Marvin Droogsma and Marcel Franquinet. Unfortunately RJ, who was visiting Ireland with Gary Koffler, before travelling on to the Netherlands, had to return to the USA for personal reasons. However, although the main event was cancelled a few intrepid Amigans, who had booked flights and hotels, decided to still travel to Amsterdam for an impromptu Amiga meetup.

Gary was loaded down with special RJ emblazoned T-Shirts created by RJ's boyhood friend Michael Schifferdecker, for everyone who was going to attend the original event. With RJ returning to the States, Gary rescued them from being donated to an Irish homeless shelter. Some were being picked up by a local Irish user group and Gary dragged the rest through London and on to Amsterdam where he passed them off to Marcel. Our perfectly formed little group of Amigans included Omar Cornut from France, Chris Collins and Robert Bernardo from California, Amiga artist and software developer Leo Schwab, and of course Marvin, Marcel and me.

AmsteRJam 2019 T-Shirt

I arrived in Amsterdam to a major traffic jam which had gridlocked the city. The major ring road system had been shut down for schedule repair works and my 25 minute journey to my hotel took over 2 hours. With the city in gridlock Marvin, Chris and Robert came to my hotel and we shared a meal, drinks and good company. The next day Marvin had arranged a Jenever tasting session at the Wynand Fockink distillery. The history of Dutch "gin" was very entertaining and the Jenever was very good too but drinking alcohol on an empty stomach is not recommended. (Don't worry your secret is safe with us :-)) Marcel booked a special Rijsttafel banquet for our little group. I had eaten Rijsttafel when I first visited the Netherlands almost 40 years ago. I had memories of a delicious multi-dish nasi Padang Indonesian meal adapted by the Dutch from Padang region of West Sumatra. Marcel managed to find a restaurant that could accommodate us on a busy Saturday night. I was not disappointed. The meal was very delicious and plentiful. Marcel and Marvin made our way back to my hotel, dropping off Robert at his hotel on the way. We chatted for a couple of hours solving the Amiga world's problems 😉 Unfortunately, I had to leave early the next morning for my flight back to London and onward to New Zealand. I want to thank Marvin and Marcel and my fellow team of itinerant Amigans for all the good fun and company. RJ we missed you but drank to your health on numerous occasions. Right that's it for this update. I'm sitting in London Heathrow waiting for my flight back to New Zealand.

Until next time..........................

AmsteRJam 2019 reflections





On the road again

I can't believe it's been four months since my last blog as I prepare to depart the shores of New Zealand again for some more "Triple-A" Amiga fun.

Olav Fagerlund and me in Tokyo

Just where does the time go? In the intervening months I've met up with Amiga Enthusiast, Olav Fagerlund in Tokyo, while I was visiting my daughter in Japan, before travelling on to Europe with my 18 month grandson to introduce him to his 92 year old Great Grandmother in North East England. If you are a regular reader of my blog you might recall that Finn was born in NZ while I was in Sacramento attending the traditional Saturday night banquet dinner at AmiWest 2017. I certainly had a few drinks to celebrate that night. 😉

Timothy, Ben and me in Brussels

When I was in Europe I visited Timothy de Groote and Ben Hermans of Hyperion Entertainment in Brussels before travelling to Cardiff to meet up with Matthew Leaman the Managing Director of AmigaKit and my partner in A-EON Technology. While I was in Cardiff we welcomed the visit of Laurent Zorawski and Franck "Sheldon" Bednarski from Amedia Computer France and discussed possible future cooperation to help expand the Amiga market.

Laurent & Franck with Matthew & me

I've even managed to squeeze in a meeting in London with Timothy de Groote and Michael Battilana of Cloanto & C-A Acquisition Corporation as we tried to find a mutually agreeable compromise to the current legal impasse.

Me with Michael & Timothy in London

London or a late 1990s PC tower?

Although not successful on this occasion, it was still quite an enjoyable day and at least I got to see the spectacular view over a very misty and rainy City of London from the heady heights of the new Shard tower. Does every cloud have a silver lining? I certainly hope so.

On the road again!

As I pack my bags for the trip, I can't help humming that old Willie Nelson song, "On the road again". My first stop is Calgary to attend AMIJAM 2019, run by the Amiga Users Group of Calgary, at the invitation of AmigaOS 4 developer Steven Solie. I'll also be staying with Steven and his family during my short stay in Calgary. It will be a good chance to discuss future development plans for ExecSG. After that it's onward to Europe for a short side-trip to Brussels before travelling to Cardiff to attend A-EON Technology's DevCon 2019 organised by Matthew Leaman. It's always good to catch up with active Amiga developers to discuss the finer points of AmigaOS over a beer or glass of wine (or in the case of Steven Solie a coca-cola as he doesn't drink alcohol). Finally, it's over to Cologne in Germany to attend Gamescom 2019 in Cologne at the invitation of Andreas Magerl of Amiga Future.

This will be my first visit to Gamescom, which by all accounts is a massive affair and probably the largest video games show in the world (based on the number or visitor and exhibitor space).

Last year 370,000 visitors and 1037 exhibitors from 56 countries attended the event. I'll be joined on the Amiga Future stand by Daniel Mussener along with his AmigaOne X5000 and A1222 and together we will help promote A-EON's AmigaOne hardware, AmigaOS 4.x and of course Daniel's excellent selection of Amiga OS 4 games.

Gamescom 2019

I will also have my latest ALICE Laptop with me, courtesy of Alex Perez of Rabbit Hole Computing, and will be able to demonstrate the Classic version of AmigaOS 4.1 Classic and the AmiKit version of AmigaOS 3.x with it's unique Rabbit-hole features which allows mainstream Linux programs such as Firefox and Libre Office to be run from the AmigaOS workbench. While I'm in Cologne I will be staying with Daniel and his family and will get to meet his new baby daughter.

Before I return to New Zealand I will also try to squeeze in some other Amiga related business. It's a very busy schedule but, as I've said several times in the past, it's a hard life and someone's got to do it. 😉 Of course the trip is not just about Amiga fun and I have to attend to some other non-Amiga business too.

Standing on the Soapbox

Talking Amiga Future. While my blog has been quiet of late I have continued to submit my regular Soapbox articles to Amiga Future magazine which is published bimonthly in both German and English language editions. The next issue to be released is number 140 which probably makes Amiga Future the world's longest running professionally produced Amiga magazine. It has already surpassed the once mighty Amiga Format which ceased publication in May 2000 after 136 issues. Of course the circulation numbers of Amiga Future are a fraction of Amiga Format's in its heyday but it's still hard to believe that 25 years after Commodore's demise a professionally produced full colour Amiga magazine is still being printed. It's a testament to Andreas and his team of editors, contributors and translators....and of course the Amiga community who continue to support the publication by buying the magazine. Long may it continue.

Right, that enough for now. It's a short update but I really need to finish packing my bags.

Until next time..................................



Homeward bound

What a week! It started with the Amiga Ireland 2019 meetup in Athlone and ended with SWAG's Workbench 2019 club event in Chipping Sodbury with visits to Cardiff, in Wales and Aberdeen in Scotland sandwiched  in between. As I'm typing this update in London, England I can truly say I've travelled to all the counties that make up the geographic area of Britain and Ireland.

Amiga Ireland 2019

Following an uneventful journey from New Zealand to London, even transiting through Los Angeles was relatively painless this time, I made my way to Cardiff by coach from Heathrow airport to meet up with Matthew Leaman of AmigaKit. When I'm in Cardiff I usually have the pleasure of staying with Matthew's parents, Helen & Terry and their Old English sheep dog Henry. After spending a day in Cardiff to catch up on recent A-EON Technology business and recover from my Summer to Winter flight, Matthew, Christopher Follett (AmigaKit's technician) and I flew to Dublin to attend the Amiga Ireland show which was being sponsored by both A-EON and AmigaKit for the third year running. We met up with David Pleasance, the former Commodore UK Managing Director, in Dublin airport for the 2-1/2 hour drive to Athlone. Unfortunately, RJ Mical who had planned to fly in from California to attend the show for the first time, had to call off at the last minute because, according to RJ, his doctors wanted to bring forward an important medical appointment for “patching his intuition library” and despite his pleading they refused to delay the treatment to let him travel.

Iarla Reidy - Amiga Ireland organiser

Matthew ferried us safely to Athlone and after checking into our hotel we made our way to the Silver Oak Indian restaurant where the traditional Amiga Ireland Friday night dinner is held. It was good to see many familiar faces from previous shows plus a host of new people who where attending for the first time. As Matthew will confirm, I really like Indian food (understatement) and, after I ate my usual Chicken Vindaloo, we returned to the conference room in the Prince of Wales hotel to continue with the Amiga fun. A few hardy souls continued talking and drinking into the early hours of the morning and it was almost 4:00 am when Christopher and I finally made it back to our rooms. Matthew was more sensible and sneaked off around 1:00 am. Hey who said wimp? 😉 On Saturday morning we still managed to get up reasonably early. I set up the A-EON display which included a Tabor motherboard and copies of the Heroes of Gorluth, the new AmigaCD32 game from AMIworx which is sponsored by A-EON Technology, while Mathew laid out his AmigaKit wares. Although Amiga Ireland has a very strong Classic Amiga flavour it was good to see several next-generation machines on display. Allan Ullmann was kept busy throughout the show demonstrating applications and games on his AmigaOne X1000.

Mike Clarke using Bars n Pipes - AmigaOne X1000

I'm sure Lyle Hazelwood will be pleased that Michael Clarke of Psygnosis fame composed a tune using Lyle's AmigaOS 4 version of Bars n Pipes. Even better, knowing my interest/obsession in all things Commodore, Mike presented me with a Commodore LED watch dating back to the mid 1970s.

Commodore LED watch

Neil online via wifi and X1000 hamper basket 😉

Meanwhile, driver wizard, Neil Cafferkey took the most unusual case prize for his AmigaOne X1000 wicker basket system on which he demonstrated the latest version of the A-EON sponsored wifi driver. Expect more news soon. Although the show was dominated by Classic Amiga machines there was good interest in the Tabor motherboard, especially from the Polish contingent at the show. Dan & Ravi from the Retro Hour Podcast gave a presentation and John Shawler of the Amigaos Podcast made the long trip from the USA. Michael Battilana of Cloanto also made another appearance.

After show wind down gathering

What can I say about Amiga Ireland? The show is an excellent mix of Amiga games, competitions, presentations and interviews. One of the best parts of Amiga Ireland is the Saturday night wind down after the show officially closes. It's involves a trip to the local kebab/fish & chip shop for a quick bite to eat before heading to a private room booked by Iarla in a traditional Irish pub for discussions about preemptive multi-tasking and custom chipsets washed down with a liberal dose of local brew. Unfortunately this year Matthew, Christopher and I had to leave a little earlier than we would have liked as we had a 6:00 am drive back to Dublin airport. However this time it was me dragging Matthew the ''party animal" back to the hotel. 😉

From it's initial inception four years ago the attendance has grown year on year and according to Iarla Reidy, the founder and organiser, the 2019 show officially attracted 99 visitors. While the attendance has continued to grow the event has lost none of its Irish warmth and charm which, when mixed with good Amiga people and fun makes it a winning combination.

Only Amiga Ireland 2019

The only complaint I have is the room was too small for the number of exhibitors and people who attended. 😉 It's a great problem to have and Iarla has moved the venue to a larger room at the nearby Radisson Blu hotel for next year's show which is set for the 17th & 18th January, 2020. I plan to attend again and hope to see many of you there too! 🙂 For more information please visit Amiga Ireland's website.

Joining the legions of the undead

Way back in August 2013 I posted news that Igor Majstorovi was taking pre-orders for  the Vampire 600, a new FPGA accelerator that he was developing for the Amiga 600. Fast forward to 2019 and not only is the Vampire 600 available but a version also exits for the A500 with an A1200 Vampire waiting in the wings. Sold under the Apollo Accelerator brand, the Vampire is a Classic Amiga Accelerator that uses the Apollo core which is a code compatible Motorola M68K processor which is claimed to be 3 to 4 time faster than the fastest 68060 CPU. As each Vampire board is hand built there is a waiting list of eager Amigans so when I saw that Marvin Droogsma had a Revision 2.0 Vampire equipped A600 for sale at the Amiga Ireland show I was keen to add it to my collection. You might remember Marvin was the co-producer and MC of the highly successful Amiga 30th Anniversary show held in Amsterdam in 2015. However, I did not want to deprive another potential Vampire purchaser so I asked Marvin to let me know if the system remained unsold at the end of the show. Lucky for me it was still available and so I am now the proud owner of a Vampire accelerated A600. Incidentally, the silkscreen on the A600 motherboard is labelled as the A300 rev 1, further proof that the A600 was originally intended as a lower cost entry level Amiga. From revision 1.3 onwards the "June Bug" motherboards were relabeled as A600.

The Northern lights

Flying into Aberdeen

After the Athlone show we made our way back to Cardiff and the following day I travelled to snowy Aberdeen in north-east Scotland  to attend the AGM of a small high-tech company of which I'm a minor shareholder along with some of my former business partners. I haven't visited Aberdeen since 2011 and there has been many changes in the intervening years. The Western Peripheral Route has finally opened and, although not fully completed, has significantly reduced traffic congestion in the "Granite' city.

Triaxial inclinometers and magnetometers

As the home to the UK oil & gas industry, Aberdeen has always been a prosperous city but the effects of the oil industry downturn are still very obvious. When the oil price plunges, motorists may benefit from lower petrol prices, but the international oil & gas industry reduces its costs by closing down operations and drastically laying off staff. It's a brutal industry! My taxi driver previously worked for a specialist core analysis company in Aberdeen but was laid off two years ago at the height of the oil industry recession. It was still good to catch up with my old partners and we shared a whisky or two and put the world to rights. 🙂

Tabor News

After my short Aberdeen trip I returned to Cardiff and joined Matthew and AmigaOS 4 Team Lead, Steven Solie, who had flown in from Canada, in a meeting with the representative from the PCB manufacturing company that is coordinating the next Tabor motherboard run.

Tabor - AmigaOne A1222

It was a good meeting and another step towards the production of the Tabor motherboards and the AmigaOne A1222's official release. The company will manage the PCB production and organise the board re-spin which is needed to replace a few onboard components that are no longer available. Coincidentally, the PCB company has several facilities in the UK including one in Irvine, a town in North Ayrshire, Scotland where Commodore had its European Amiga 600s manufactured by Samina-SCI. It's also the place where ESCOM set up a UK assembly and distribution base which supplied my first non-Amiga computer ESCOM PC, a very disappointing experience if the truth be told. Irvine was part of Scotland's booming "Silicon Glen" economy which took a massive hit after the dotcom bust. In 2002, Samina-SCI closed down its Irvine plant with the loss of 750 jobs. Even more coincidentally, as a child I lived and went to school for several years about 7 miles from Irvine and later, after university, the first company I worked for had its headquarters nearby and I moved back into the area for a few years before the company relocated to Aberdeen.

Keith with his AmigaOne X5000 and A1222

Meanwhile, getting back to Tabor. All round Amigan, Keith Dumoulin from Canada, has continued putting the AmigaOne A1222 through it paces. He borrowed Matthew's prototype Tabor board to demo at the Toronto WOC Show in December last year but so far shows no signs of returning the board which is giving him a lot of fun. 😉 Keith has fairly typical Commodore & Amiga background. He started with a VIC 20, then upgraded to C64 on which he ran a two line BBS with a friend. He acquired his first Amiga in 1987 from a friend whose parents bought him an Amiga 1000 when he really wanted a Dell PC. (There's no accounting for taste. ;-)) He bought the Amiga 1000 at a discounted price and the friend got the Dell PC he wanted. Keith became instantly hooked and after several upgrades eventually traded A1000 in for an A500. He put his A500 to good use, printing menus for a few local restaurant and got in digital signage. He upgraded and modded the A500 and, after he got his first credit card, purchased a brand new A1200 and external hard drive. He sold his A500 and used the funds to upgrade his A1200 adding a 68030 Accelerator and extra Fast Ram. He also purchased a second A1200 to provide digital adverts using a huge projector in a country music bar. Yee haw! Keith began acquiring and restoring Amigas for his own use and to help others and now has a complete collection of Classic Amiga models. For a couple of years he was a member of the core Vampire testing team but more recently has developed a passion for next-generation AmigaOne hardware.

A1222 running AmigaOS under AmigaOS 4.1

He acquired a Sam 460CR board to try out AmigaOS 4.1 and was very impressed with the performance of the OS. So much so that he is now the proud owner of an AmigaOne X5000 and a member of A-EON's Amiga Developer beta test team.

Keith has been fine tuning UAE to optimise the performance of AmigaOS 3.9 on the AmigaOne X5000 and A1222. More recently he has also been comparing the performance of his AmigaOne X5000 running UAE 060 against his A4000 equipped with an 060@96 Warp Engine and Merlin RTG and CF card by running some classic Amiga demos.

Demo running on X5000 (l) & A1222 (r)

His conclusion: the X5000 can emulate a classic Amiga 060 running AmigaOS 3.9 with perfection. Of course most of the demos can be run directly under AmigaOS 4.1 and do not require UAE emulation, so why does Keith do it? And the answer is because with the AmigaOne X5000 and A1222 he can! 🙂

The French Connection

While I was in Cardiff, Matthew and I also met with Laurent Zorawski and Jean-Luc of Amedia Computer who made the long journey from France to Cardiff to discuss possible future cooperation to help grow the Classic and next-generation Amiga market and user base in Europe.

The French connection - Indian restaurant

After our meeting I introduced Laurent and Jean-Luc to the joys of Welsh cuisine by taking them for an Indian curry! 😉 I think it was the first time Laurent had tasted spicy Indian food so we made sure it was a mild dish. I think they both enjoyed the meal but found my Chicken Vindaloo a bit too spicy. We tried an "interesting" locally brewed Welsh ale but they really enjoyed the Indian beer served in the restaurant. Anyway the meeting was really good and hopefully will lead to greater cooperation in the future.

SWAG Workbench 2019

My final mission before returning to New Zealand was to attend SWAG's (South West Amiga Group) Workbench 2019 mega club event in Chipping Sodbury, a short 25 minute drive north of Bristol. Unlike the Amiga Ireland show, Workbench 2019 was a special one-off double length club meeting running from 11 am to 10 pm for Amigans in the Bristol area of South West England. When I'm travelling around the world I always try to attend local Amiga gatherings if at all possible. SWAG's Brian Hedley knew I was attending Amiga Ireland 2019 and contacted me in June last year to see if I could also attend their Workbench 2019 event.

Me with Brian Hedley

Since I needed to be in the UK for other business I rearranged my schedule to attend their user group meeting. Once again Matthew drove Steven Solie and I to the show, although we arrived 30 minutes late because we missed our motorway exit as Steven and Matthew were in deep Amiga discussions. 😉

Mini Amiga - Speedball

Workbench 2019 had all the traditional Amiga elements: Recap surgery for ailing Classic Amiga motherboards; a Speedball tournament run by Dave Rowland; the complete range of Classic Amiga models including an Amiga 1500 with its original box in almost mint condition and an incredible mini Amiga with monitor and custom made packaging.

Speedball Tournament

There was even a SWAG HAM radio station which was manned by Steve Netting but it was under utilised due adverse ionospheric conditions. Steve, who now works for Redhat, had travelled from Finland to attend the show and presented me with a nice bottle of Koskenkorva Salmiakki , a black Finish vodka with a salty liquorice taste. It was extremely moreish. It was also good to meet Radoslaw "Ferin" Czernik one of our AmigaOne X5000 beta testers from Poland. I also recognised Andy Costin the deputy Chairman of ANT, the Amiga North Thames user group. Several ANT members like Chris Forrester are also members of SWAG and helped to swell the numbers at the Workbench 2019 event.

Me, Steven Solie & Tabor board

I gave a short presentation about my Amiga history and Steven Solie gave a brief overview of his long time involvement with AmigaOS 4 development, after which we jointly answered questions from the audience. During the Q/A session naturally I was asked for a Tabor update but it was question from Andy Costin which initially stumped me. He asked which Amiga would we rush in to save if our house was burning down. Steven said he had a fondness for his Sam460 and his AmigaOne X5000.

As I have a few machines I had to think long and hard but then I suddenly remembered the Kaikoura earthquake that hit New Zealand on November 14th, 2016. It was midnight and I had just got into bed. As I was trying to drift off to sleep the house began to shake. No problem I thought, it was just another earthquake and, like many others I had experienced since I moved to New Zealand, it would over soon. How wrong could I be! At a magnitude of 7.8 it turned out to be the second largest earthquake recorded in the last 150 years. Instead of dying down, after about 30 seconds the rumbling and shaking got more intense.

My house - X marks the spot

The house was now creaking and groaning and I could hear the metal shelves, in the room that housed my Commodore and Amiga collection, rattling loudly as the shaking became more violent. Books began falling off shelves and I heard a loud crash emanating from my office. I jumped out of bed and ran into my office and tried vainly to hold on to some the shelves as the whole house began to shake, twist and wobble. I knew it was time to get out when a Commodore 1942 monitor flew off one of the shelves. Realising I could not save any of the computers I ran back into the bedroom and grabbed my wife who, unbelievably, was still asleep in bed. We moved into the middle of the bedroom and like good Kiwis adopted the drop, cover and hold position. After about 2 minutes the noise and violent shaking reached a crescendo and then died down as quickly as it started.

Effects of the 7.8 earthquake

After the shaking subsided I discovered the power was out so I located a torch and went to survey the damage. Much to my wife's 'amusement' I went to my office first to check on my computers. Apart from the 1942 monitor and a few other scattered items, my PowerPC iMac G5, a used machine I purchased in the hope that MorphOS would be ported to it one day, had also taken a dive and the screen was damaged.  There was a nasty dent on the floor where the 1942 monitor had bounced but I later discovered it was still working. The rest of the house was OK although several glass and pottery items were broken. Our house is on the sea front and with the real risk of a tsunami we needed to get up to higher ground.

After the quake

Minor earthquake damage

With the power off we could not open the electric gates to drive the car up the hill so we had to walk along the beach before we could head up to higher ground. Fortunately the tsunami never arrived although in one part of New Zealand it was measured at 6.9m. According to GeoNet, the earthquake caused 25 different faults to rupture (a world record) and triggered the biggest local-source tsunami recorded in New Zealand since 1947. It also caused extensive coastal uplift, widespread landslides and landslide dams. It was the second largest earthquake in New Zealand recorded in living memory and in the week after the quake we experienced almost continuous aftershocks with over 4,000 recorded and, for a time, it felt like the ground was continuously moving. Although our house, which is mainly a wooden construction and is designed to flex and bend, escaped damage, several major buildings in Wellington city were damaged beyond repair and were later demolished. So my answer to the question of which Amiga did I try to save? It was either all of them or none of them depending on your point of view. In the end I decided to save my wife! 😉

4 musketeers or gang of 4? 😉

Anyway, back to the show. It was good to see both Victoria and Michael Battilana who also attended Amiga Ireland 2019 the previous weekend. I had a brief chat with 'Amiga Richard', another AmigaOne X5000 owner who is an integral part of the SWAG team. I know I often say this but I continue to be impressed by the sheer ingenuity and passion of the Amiga community and Workbench 2019 did not disappoint in that regard.

Classic Amigas

Unfortunately I could only stay for 4 hours as I was heading back to London to catch my flight home to New Zealand. The Workbench 2019 mega event was a great success with 45 people turning up on the day. It was supposed to be a one-off show but according to Brian the SWAG team are considering making it an annual event. I certainly hope they do. 🙂

Only Amiga SWAG Workbench 2019

That's all for now, back to New Zealand and summertime.






Amiga Ireland Meetup 2019

This will only be a short update as I'm about to leave summertime in New Zealand to fly to the frozen Northern hemisphere to attend the Amiga Ireland 2019 meetup and SWAG's (South West Amiga Group) Workbench 2019 event. I will be joined at both shows with Matthew Leaman who will no doubt be bringing along a fine selection of Amiga goodies from his vast AmigaKit catalogue. This will the third Amiga Ireland show that I've attended and sponsored and I'm looking forward to catching up with Iarla Ó'Riada and his team. This year he has managed to entice former Amiga developer and all round entertainer, RJ Mical, to make a first-time appearance along with ex Commodore UK Joint M.D., David Pleasance who will no doubt be selling and signing copies of his book, Commodore: The inside story. A week later I will be attending my first ever SWAG event and I'm looking forward to making some new Amiga friends.

SWAG - Workbench 2019

Before I leave New Zealand I need to finish the third and final part of my 'X1000 backstory', a series of articles for Amiga Future magazine which reveals the many challenges and obstacles that were successfully overcome bringing the AmigaOne X1000 to market. Over the past four months I've been digging back through my old emails and files dating back to 2004 to remind myself of the history and lead up to the roller coaster ride surrounding the birth of AmigaOne X1000. Whatever way you look at it, the AmigaOne X1000 it is truly a unique machine. It's built around the Nemo motherboard, which was custom designed from scratch to run AmigaOS 4 and is powered by the exotic PA6T-1682M CPU, a high performance and power efficient 64-bit dual-core PowerPC microprocessor designed by PA Semi as part of its planned PWRficient range of PowerPC CPUs.

AmigaOne X1000 Lineage

PA Semi was a fabless semiconductor company founded by Dan Dobberpuhl who had previously been the lead designer for the DEC Alpha and StrongARM processors. The company originally had plans for a series of single core and multi-core PWRficient CPUs, including a 16-core version but its acquisition by Apple meant only the PA6T-1682M was ever commercially released. The CPU was used for military and industrial applications because of its performance, low power consumption & low heat generation making it idea for applications in enclosed spaces. As far as I am aware, other than reference boards and system created by PA Semi to showcase its technology, the AmigaOne X1000 is the only desktop machine powered by the PA6T-1682M that was ever commercially released. It you want to find out more about the birth of the AmigaOne X1000 you will have to order the latest copies of Amiga Future magazine from your friendly Amiga retailer or, better still buy a subscription. and never miss a future issue 😉

Boing Mania

If you read my blog or have seen me at an Amiga show you will know I have an interest, some might say obsession, with red & whites checks for some particular reason? 😉 I spot red and white patterns in the most unusual places and quickly grab my smartphone to record the image.

It's gotten so bad that people now send me their own "Boing Ball" photos and I've even indoctrinated my own children. 😉 My oldest daughter, who lives in Tokyo, alerted me to a design she spotted recently on a Fukubukuro "lucky bag". Apparently every New Year, stores in Japan begin selling these special mystery "lucky bags" which essentially contain their old or excess stock which they want to sell off. It's become a big craze in Japan and thousands of people line up, some times days in advance, to buy their Fukubukuro "lucky bag" in the hope of getting a bargain. The bags are only sold during the few days of January or until the stock of bags sell out, which can happen very quickly.

Maybe I should pass the idea on to Brian Deneen of SACC (Sacramento Amiga Computer Club) who organises the AmiWest show in Sacramento every year. At AmiWest SACC always has a large selection of old Amiga hardware and software titles for sale as they try to reduce their massive storage problem. Anyone for a mystery "Boing Ball" lucky bag?

That's all for now.

Happy New year to all






I really can’t say anything bad about that……..

It seems like only yesterday I arrived back in New Zealand after a very enjoyable trip to California to attend the 21st AmiWest show in Sacramento. But with the summer in full swing down under and Christmas almost upon us I can't believe 2018 has flashed by so quickly. My trip to AmiWest always brings up a special phrase or saying that seems to resonate with that particular show. This year was no different and it was Amiwest guest speaker and developer extraordinaire, Daniel Müssener, who provided the words of inspiration this year when asked to comment on a particularly sensitive subject, he replied, "I really can't say anything bad about that", with the subtle implication that he could not say anything good either. 😉 I think he was commenting on the taste of an American beer, or could it have been the Scottish Malt whisky I brought with me to Amiwest? 😉 Anyway, we immediately picked up on the phrase, and used it at every opportunity during the show to great effect.

Smash and grab - déjà vu?

Waiting for Matthew before all the excitement

Unfortunately for Daniel, all of his clothes and laptop were stolen from our hire car in almost a repeat performance of the incident a couple of years ago when Paul Sadlik drove me, Matthew Leaman and AmigaOS 4 developer, Tony Wyatt to AmiWest. We parked our rental car at a busy diner in Pinole as we stopped for a coffee break on our way to Sacramento. Within minutes of entering the diner, with the car in full view about 40m away from our window seat, thieves smashed the back window and made off with Paul's briefcase and my airline carry-on bag. Paul lost his Apple laptop and car keys and a number of other items while I lost my passport, emergency cash, prescription glasses and two ALICE laptops plus my backup HDD and usb drive, all of which contained copies of my AmiWest presentation. Fun times indeed!

Smashed rear window of rental our car

Fast forward two years and Paul was once again driving Matthew and I to Sacramento, this time with Daniel Müssener, who was giving the traditional keynote speech at the Saturday night banquet. Paul picked Daniel and I up at SFO airport and we retired to a local bar while we waited for Matthew Leaman to fly in from the UK. Over a few drinks we solved all of the Amiga world's problems and Paul and I relayed our previous tale of smash & grab woe to Daniel. While we were waiting we received a call from Bill Borsari who invited us to have dinner with him and his son before we drove on to Sacramento. It sounded like a good plan so, after we collected Matthew at SFO, we drove to a nice restaurant in a quiet neighbourhood where we met up with Bill and his son.

Better safe than sorry - too late!

Bill warned us that car thieves were becoming more sophisticated and some were using RFID devices to detect laptops in the back of cars. I needed no second warning. Having been bitten previously, this time I left nothing to chance and took both my briefcase and suitcase into the busy restaurant with me. I must admit it did look a little strange wheeling my large red suitcase into the restaurant. Paul took his briefcase and, as usual, Matthew made sure he had his passport with him. Daniel had two bags, one which contained an old laptop which he needed for his presentation, and the other all his clothes and toiletries for his AmiWest visit. The neighbourhood looked safe with residential apartment buildings and lots of parked cars so Daniel decided not to take his bags into the restaurant.

Park Smart - a bit late for Daniel & Paul

We had a very nice meal in the busy restaurant but when we returned to our car we discovered the back window was smashed and both of Daniel's bags were gone. Deja vu or what? We reported the theft to the police, more for the rental car insurance purposes than in hope of recovering Daniel's stolen property, and made our way back to SFO airport to exchange the car. The rental car attendant who processed us said that there was an epidemic of car break-ins in the San Francisco area, with rental cars being particularly targeted. He said he had personally processed seven cars during that day for the same reason. As we walked through the car rental terminal we started noticing multiple warnings about "parking smart". We picked up a replacement rental car and Paul drove us to Sacramento without incident.

Dazzling Daniel

The next day Daniel bought some brightly coloured new clothes and a 'matching' laptop on which to recreate his Amiwest presentation and banquet speech. I really can't say anything bad about his choice of colours 😉 but his banquet speech was truly inspirational. Anyway, if you are planning to hire a rental car in the San Francisco area do not leave anything of value in your car. You have been warned! However, don't let that deter you from visiting the AmiWest show. It's a great celebration of all things Amigan and even thought Daniel lost all of his belongings he really enjoyed his first taste of the AmiWest experience. When I asked him for a comment, naturally his first reply was, "I really can't say anything bad about Amiwest" 😉 More seriously, he followed that up with, "The show was fantastic, the people were fantastic. I had lots of fun and really loved this very positive and familiar atmosphere. And I think I made some great new friends! Thanks a fortune to those who made it possible to get me there and to those who took extra care of me, especially Paul Sadlik, Bill Borsari and Trevor. Hope to see you all asap again!" He really can't say anything better than that. 🙂

Gearing up for Tabor

Last month, Adam Barnes, the former CTO of Ultra Varisys and several of his colleagues, attended AmigaKit's offices in Cardiff to help Matthew and his team prepare for production and support of the Tabor and Cyrus+ motherboards. In preparation for the work visit, Ultra Varisys shipped six pallets of stock containing a mixture of Cyrus+ motherboards, both tested and untested, along with prototypes and safety stock for both Cyrus+ and Tabor.

The A Team (L to R) : Neil, Adam, Chris, Thusy & Matthew

Also included were a selection of lab and test equipment and a small stock of broken motherboards for test purposes. Prior to the visit, the AmigaKit team of Matthew, Christopher and Joshua set up a dedicated laboratory to house all of the new test equipment. To compliment the equipment supplied by Ultra Varisys, they added bench power supplies along with several dedicated computers for diagnostic testing and flashing of FPGAs and firmware. The technology transfer meeting lasted almost five days and was wholly dedicated to A-EON Technology's AmigaOne hardware, including production issues and other technical matters. These included:

  • The motherboard bring up process for Tabor and Cyrus including firmware, software and hardware diagnostic techniques
  • Setup of test rigs on benches
  • Advanced fault finding procedures for Tabor and Cyrus
  • Overview of the internal documentation prepared by Ultra Varisys for each product line
  • Advice and support on production matters including recommended suppliers, sourcing BOM, CEM manufacturing, schematics and production data review

Keeping the faith?

To facilitate the technology transfer, AmigaKit suspended its normal daytime business operations to concentrate on the Tabor/Cyrus work. To make up for the lost time, the AmigaKit team worked overtime from 6pm - 11pm every evening to service and support its regular Amiga customer base. I would like to thank Matthew and his team for all their support and hard work and look forward to exciting times in the New Year.

Talking about Tabor, active AmigaOne A1222 beta tester, Domagoj Ožanic, sent me a couple of photos of road signs to Tabor, which is apparently a religious retreat about 25 Km east of Zagreb, the capital of Croatia. Could it be the church of the Amiga perhaps? Well Croatia does have a Boing Ball on its flag. 🙂

Developing the Amiga Network

Serving the Amiga community since 1994

Cast your mind back to March 1997. It had been a particularly difficult time for Amiga enthusiasts following the very short lived and ultimately fruitless ESCOM era. However, when the news broke that Gateway were the new owners it looked as though the Amiga had been saved once again but this time by a company with proven management and massive resources. On March 26th, Wayne Hunt the owner and webmaster of, posted the news that, supported by the North Alabama Society of Amiga Users group, was rolling out its newest web venture, the Amiga Developer Network. Wayne wrote that the new site "is dedicated specifically to all aspects of development for the Amiga Computer, past, present and future. We're still in the process of adding things on an almost constant basis but you can expect to find discussion bases, technical specifications, developer contact information and about everything we can find to post to help you develop for the best (and some would argue ONLY) multimedia personal computer in the world. All questions and constructive feedback is welcomed as we're working hard to make this effort a central point for the Amiga developer community." The Amiga Developer Network was not linked to either Gateway or Amiga International but Wayne had a close working relationship with Gateway's Darreck Lisle, and in an interview he gave to Obligement webzine in August 2009, he commented "Darreck Lisle was THE MAN as far as the site was concerned, and I lived and breathed the idea of becoming the community arm of Gateway's Amiga. Alas that was a short-lived dream as we all know."

A-EON Technology Amiga Developer

Gateway's brief flirtation with the Amiga is now a distant and fading memory but it's good to know that the soul of the Amiga Developer Network still lives on.

Amiga Developer Coding Weekend

With work on the Enhancer Software v1.5 update in full swing, in early December A-EON developers Andy Broad and Kevin Sherratt travelled to Cardiff for a long weekend of coding fun. Together with Matthew Leaman, they worked from Friday through Sunday on an intensive Enhancer Software coding jam.

Multiviewer and Warp3D Nova

In a ground breaking first, Andy integrated the power of Warp3D Nova into the Multiviewer utility allowing it to bypass Picasso96 and use the raw power of the GPU and the graphics card's video ram to display images and draw 2D graphics. MultiEdit was also upgraded and has now a restore option to recover a document in the event of a power failure or system crash while editing a document. On power up or reboot it offers the user the option to recover the document. AMIStore, which was migrated to a new server by Matthew over the summer, also received several updates. Expect to see Enhancer Software v1.5 released in the very near future.

Linux Corner

X1000 Fienix with 4.20-rc7 kernel (screengrab: Christian Zigotzky)

While A-EON's AmigaOne hardware has been developed to run AmigaOS 4, it good to know that it also runs other PowerPC operating system like Linux & MorphOS. Being able to run PowerPC Linux distros on our hardware is very important as it allows A-EON to fully test all the onboard components and validate the overall stability and performance of the hardware. It also provides AmigaOS 4 users with access to mainstream productivity software, applications and even games that are not readily available under AmigaOS 4. We are very fortunate to have a large and growing team of Linux enthusiasts who help to ensure that our AmigaOne hardware supports the latest Linux kernels. In the past few months the team has released the stable 4.19 kernel for the AmigaOne X1000 & X5000 and are currently testing the 4.20 and 4.21 kernels. Linux specialist Casey Cullen released Fienix, a new customised Linux distribution based on Debian Sid, which he created for PowerPC machines. Thanks to the efforts of the enthusiastic Linux team, Fienix runs very nicely on the AmigaOne X1000 & X5000.

Christian's Amiga mancave

Christian Zigotsky is a very active and key member of A-EON's core Linux support team who has written installation instructions and provides Linux support for all of A-EON Technology’s hardware including the AmigaOne X1000, X5000 and A1222/Tabor beta system. He has created numerous PowerPC Linux images for the X1000 & X5000. These include SUSE Tumbleweed 20170924 PPC64, Fedora 26 Server PPC64, Debian Buster/Sid PPC64 along with Debian Sid PowerPCSPE for the A1222. He also created the MATE PowerPC Remix 2017 distribution for the AmigaOne X1000 & X5000, a fork and unofficial successor of the dropped ubuntu MATE 17.04 PowerPC distribution. He ensures that A-EON's hardware supports all the latest Linux kernels and creates some Linux kernel patches as well as compiling and releasing Mesa for the X1000 & X5000. I asked Christian for a brief overview our recent Linux AmigaOne Linux highlights :

X5000 Ubuntu Mate 4.20-rc7 kernel (screengrab: Skateman)

  • Sound problem was fixed in SuperTuxKart
  • A non-altivec version of VLC, the streaming media player, was released for the AmigaOne X5000
  • New Linux  installation instructions completed
  • A new Mesa version was released for the X5000 and X1000
  • An updated MATE PowerPC Remix distro was released
  • Updated Linux installation instructions
  • Improved AmigaOne TV support  for Analog TV cards, DVB-C streams, TV sticks, TV software, radio, kernel support for various tuners, YouTube with ViewTube, game consoles connected to TV devices, etc.

I'm totally amazed by the sheer energy, productivity and enthusiasm of our Linux team. They devote countless hours ensuring that our AmigaOne hardware supports all the latest Linux kernels and PowerPC distributions. How they keep up with testing the myriad of kernel release candidates I will never know but I'm just glad they do.

Getting shirty!

If you've had a chance to get your hands on a copy of David Pleasance's book, Commodore: The Inside Story, you will have read the chapter written by Colin Proudfoot, Commodore UK's Joint Managing Director, on their shirt sponsorship deal with Chelsea FC.

 Commodore & Amiga sponsored Chelsea FC Shirts plus FA Cup Final special

In 1987 Commodore UK was one of the first companies to sponsor a major English football team when they paid to have the Commodore logo on the Chelsea football shirt. The sponsorship deal continued until Commodore's bankruptcy in 1994, although in 1993 the Commodore logo was replaced with the Amiga logo. According to Proudfoot, "Football sponsorship was an effective way to get name recognition and brand awareness, the cost per eyeball minute, as the media folks say, was very worthwhile." As part of the sponsorship contract Commodore had to pay win bonuses, depending on how successful Chelsea were each season. Winning the Premiership would cost Chelsea another $1 million with lesser amounts for high place finishes. Likewise winning the FA Cup was another $1 million, while finishing runner-up was $500 K and there were similar bonuses for success in the League Cup. To mitigate against the "risk" of Chelsea's success, Commodore UK usually took out insurance with Lloyds of London. In the 1992/93 season Chelsea did not win any sponsorship bonus for the League or FA Cup but they did reach the League Cup quarter-final which resulted in a bonus payment from Commodore UK which was covered by a small claim against their Lloyds of London insurance policy.

Colin Proudfoot wearing the Chelsea FA Cup Final shirt, with me and his partner Anneke at AmiWest 2014

Before the 1993/94 season, Chelsea appointed former England international Glenn Hoddle as its player-manager. The optimism surrounding Hoddle's appointment coupled with the previous year's insurance claim resulted in greatly increased insurance premium quote for the 1993/94 season. Rather than pay out the additional money Commodore UK took a unique approach to the problem and if you want to find out more you will have to read David's book which is available from all good Amiga retailers.

As it happens, Chelsea did not win any sponsorship bonuses for Premiership or League Cup in 1994 but they did reach the English FA Cup final losing 4-0 to Manchester Utd in the process. Although Chelsea lost, Commodore UK saved a lot of money with the unconventional insurance policy it adopted. Ah those were the days! Fast forward to 2018, Chelsea have recently announced a record 5-year sponsorhip deal worth £50 million with South Korean car manufacturer, Hyundai to have the car maker's logo on the sleeve of the Chelsea shirt. Chelsea already make £40 million a year from its main shirt sponsors, Yokohama Rubber and a further £60 million from its kit-maker Nike. How times have changed!

Libre Office update

As I revealed in my AmiWest presentation, the Libre Office 5 beta version for AmigaOS 4 is finally nearing completion. That might sound like a strange comment since the beta version of Libre Office 4 was released to testers almost a year ago. Unfortunately, a specific mechanism in version 4 was not possible, or rather, could not be fully implemented in AmigaOS 4. The result was instability and crashes which the developers could not hope to get under control. Fortunately for us, Version 5 of Libre Office, thanks to its need to run under Android, has refined this mechanism in a much more portable way allowing it to be implemented under AmigaOS 4. Therefore the decision was made to ditch version 4 and move on to version 5. It was unavoidable to do this step, and even though it took a good while (remember that this is a side project that is only worked on for a week each month if and when the developers have spare time) we're now back at more or less the same state as when we left version 4 behind.

Testing Libre Office 5

The UI works (minus some rendering errors that are being worked on), and you can actually type text and save and load documents. There are a couple of minor issues that still need to be addressed before the first Libre Office 5 beta is released and these issues should be addressed next month. It has been a long, challenging and expensive project but hopefully it will soon start to bear fruit.

Rapturous encounter?

Well no, not yet anyway. As I write this update, I'm sitting looking at a very expensive, heavy but at the moment useless lump of electronics and metal sitting in the corner of my office. Hey who said an AmigaOne! 😉 In August last year I ordered a Talos II Secure Workstation from Raptop Computing Systems.

Talos II Secure Workstation

You may have heard of Raptor as the company that launched a failed crowd funding campaign in October 2016 to create inexpensive low cost IBM POWER8 Workstations. By low cost I mean by mainstream POWER8 computing standards. The complete 12-core Talos workstation with 256GB of DDR3 ECC RAM, installed in a customized, heavy-duty chassis with a choice of an AM FirePro or nVidia Tesla graphics card and built-in 4TB RAID1 supplied with either Debian or CentOS plus pre-installed would set you back US$17,600. As the crowd funding campaign progressed, Raptor introduced  several 'lower' cost options including a desktop edition for US$7,100 and a motherboard for US$3,700. Neither options were supplied with POWER8 CPUs which had to be ordered separately. Their goal was to raise US$3.7 million but when the campaign ended on January 14th, 2017 it had attracted 268 backers (including me) but was only 14% funded. Having failed with the crowd funding, Raptor completely revised its approach.

My Talos II Certificate

In August the company announced it was re-launching the Talos II programme but this time with IBM POWER9 processors which it claimed would be faster, more affordable and consume less power. As IBM had not yet released POWER9 to the general public, Raptor decided to instigate a pre-order with full payment up front to help them actually develop and build the systems they planned to sell while they waited for the release of the POWER9 CPUs towards the end of 2017. Anyway, as I needed a secure independent server for all my technical and business data, what better than a new POWER9 based system. I ordered a crazily high specification machine, what do you expect I am a big box Amigan at heart. In addition to all the standard Talos II features it included two 18-core PowerP CPUs, 96 Gb of DDR 4 Ram, an LSI 9300 8-port SATA interface card  together with a Radeon Pro WX7100 Workstation graphics card and a 500 Gb Sumsung Flash storage drive. I paid my money and waited for the system to be developed. With the price I paid including shipping and NZ import duties I could have purchased 8 or 9 complete AmigaOne X5000 systems which can actually run AmigaOS 4, MorphOS and Linux.

Almost one year after I placed my order the machine finally arrived. It was very well packed and had survived the long journey to New Zealand. The machine is a very heavy beast and extremely noisy but seems to be extremely well engineered. It is a server of course so I suppose the noise is to be expected, although I might have to set it up in the garage or the garden shed IF I can ever get Linux installed.  I ordered the system with PowerPC Linux pre-installed but it arrived with instructions to download a WIP Linux image from the web.

Inside the belly of the beast

I suppose I shouldn't complain as the certificate supplied with the machine indicated my system was Order Number 1. It might explain why none of the installation procedures work. I have to admit trying to install the beta Linux makes my initial foray into the Linux world with the AmigaOne X1000, X5000  and A1222/Tabor seem like a walk in the park. OK I am the first to admit I am no Linux server expert, but I have installed various Linux distributions on multiple PowerPC and x86 machines in the past. I even supervised the Linux support for the AmigaOne X1000 and wrote the early installation guide before the first Ubuntu Live CD was produced by Pat Wall. The Talos II Secure Workstation is really aimed at a Linux administrator in a data centre and to be honest, I've been so busy with other pressing work over the past three months that I put the Workstation in the corner and forgot about it. However, it's now time to actually get it working as I need to create a backup SVN for some important source files. I've now written to Raptor Computing asking for assistance. So for the moment all I can say, is watch this space. 🙂

Scala WS500

If you followed my Classic Reflections series which was published in Amiga Future magazine, you will already know that one of my articles explored the history of Scala, Inc, a digital signage business founded by Jon Bohmer, a brilliant young Norwegian teenager. Scala was one of the most successful Amiga based businesses and is still recognised as the brand leader among companies providing digital signage software solutions. It is claimed that Scala almost single-handedly rescued the Amiga business market  in Europe and Commodore even agreed to let Scala re-box some Amiga models, starting with the A1200, to sell as a Scala branded machine. There were even rumours that Scala developers in Scandinavia were working to create a Workbench 4 operating system from scratch.

It some respects both rumours were true. Scala did re-brand A4000's and Amiga CD32s as Scala workstations and built A1200 tower systems to use as Scala InfoChannel Players but the company soon converted to PC based hardware following Commodores bankruptcy. After writing the article I became intrigued by Scala branded Amiga hardware and when Chris Collins, a friend and AmiWest stalwart, informed me that a Scala WS500 was listed for sale on eBay I just had to take a look.

Scala WS500 internals

According to the Big Book of Amiga Hardware (BBOAH) the Scala WS500 was designed for use as a kiosk and is based on a European PAL based Amiga CD32 with an SX-1 attached which are all installed into a rack mounted Scala branded case along with a PSU. A dongle is also supplied which is needed to allow the Scala presentation software to run. The eBay seller would not ship outside the USA so Chris kindly offered to place the bid on my behalf and take delivery of the unit if he won the auction.

I advised Chris of my maximum bid and left him to it. We did not win the auction but the seller contacted Chris to say he had another couple of units and I could have one if I was willing to pay my previous maximum bid amount. Chris paid the seller on my behalf and brought the Scala WS500 system to AmiWest. I displayed it on the A-EON table along with Chris' AmigaOne A1222 beta system. Both units generated a lot of interest.

The Scala Dongle

After AmiWest, with the help of Matthew Leaman, Chris arranged shipping of the Scala WS500 to me in New Zealand. As soon as it arrived I opened up the case and confirmed it included all the components listed on the BBOAH website. The CD32 itself appeared brand new and still had the protective plastic on the CD32 lid and case badge but did the unit actually work? I connected a monitor, mouse and keyboard and powered up the system. To my pleasant surprise it booted into the Info Channel player menu first time. So now I have a working Scala display system to add to my Classic Amiga collection. Whatever can I find next? 😉

Winter Showtime!

I'll be winging my way to the Ireland and the UK next month to attend the Amiga Ireland 2019 Meetup and the South West Amiga Group. I will be joined at both events by Matthew Leaman, the Managing Director of A-EON Technology and owner of Amiga Kit. If you are going to be in either area come along for a good honest chat about all things Amigan, but please remember no hidden recording devices. 😉 As the old saying goes, what happens at an Amiga shows stays at Amiga shows. All that remains to be said is:

Merry Christmas to all Amigans whatever your preference, generation or hue!