Apologies for misquoting the lyrics to the famous Irish song but I started writing this blog in an airline lounge as I waiting for my flight to Auckland and onward to England via Los Angeles. For some strange reason I'm leaving the warmth of a Southern hemisphere New Zealand summer for the frozen winter in Europe.
Actually it's not really that strange since this time I will be devoting most of my trip to Amiga related activities. Apart from a visit to Cardiff and Brussels I will be meeting up with Amiga friends in London before I travel to the emerald Isle to attend the Amiga Ireland Meetup 2017 in Athlone on Saturday 21st January. I haven't been to Ireland for a few years and am looking forward to catching up with fellow Amigans. So if you are in the area and fancy a good "craic" come along to the show and buy me a Guinness, Murphy's or even a local craft beer. I promise I will be wearing my designer Amiga gear.
A.L.I.C.E. Cooper (or A.L.I.C.E. on steroids)
No I don't mean Alice Cooper the godfather of "Shock Rock" but read on. With the news that Hyperion Entertainment had released Update 1 for AmigaOS4.1 Final Edition I decided to update the Classic version on my A.L.I.C.E. laptop.
For everyone who thought "final" meant "last" think again. I bought a boat about 10 years ago and named it "Final Fantasy". When my wife joked it would be my "Final Fantasy", I referred her to the multiple releases of the "Final Fantasy" game, which at that time was up to Final Fantasy 11. This was a time long before the AmigaOne X1000, let alone the AmigaOne X5000 or AmigaOne A1222.
Back on topic - car enthusiasts will probably know the history of the Cooper Car Company which only began building racing cars in 1946 and in a few short years changed the face of Formula One and the Indianapolis 500. Their high performance Mini Cooper cars also dominated rally racing and today the legacy of the Cooper brand lives on in top end Mini Cooper models made by BMW in the UK. What has this got to do with A.L.I.C.E. you might ask? In an earlier blog I mentioned that I was going to install the new Enhancer Software SE on my A.L.I.C.E. laptop running the Classic version of AmigaOS 4.1 Final Edition under emulation. My x86 laptop can run "standalone" versions of AmiKit, AmigaOS 4.1 Classic and Windows. It also runs the latest version of WinUAE under Windows which opens up a whole new world for AmigaOS 4.1 Classic PowerPC emulation thanks to the excellent work of Toni Wilen. As a first test I decided to install the Enhancer Software SE v1.2 on AmigaOS4.1 Classic running under WinUAE/Windows. It was surprising easy and, although a little slow compared to installing on real PowerPC hardware, the installation proceeded without any errors. Of course the Classic version of AmigaOS 4.1 Final edition does not support many of the advanced features of PowerPC models like the AmigaOne X1000 or X5000. There is no compositing support or video support and the emulated version has limited RAM and graphics capabilities meaning games which requires compositing will be unplayable. However, despite these restrictions AmigaOS 4.1 is now quite usable on my A.L.I.C.E. laptop. I was pleasantly surprised that all of the Enhancer Software components I tried appeared to work out of the box. It was encouraging to see that the Enhancer utilities, MultiViewer, MultiEdit and Clipviewer seemed to mutltitask and interact seamlessly. What's more, AMIStore also works well and, in addition to the Enhancer Software SE pack, I was able to download all of the other Amiga software I had previously purchased. I used AMIStore to install SketchBlock, Personal Paint NG, Ranger and ZTools. I had some issues with the ZTools package but I was able to install the excellent SysMon utility. The Odyssey web-browser also runs now, although it is slow on more complicated websites and it is not possible to play YouTube videos.
As a further test I continued writing this blog with Odyssey. It was a little tricky because the Airport Wi-Fi was quite slow and some of the WordPress features don't quite work correctly under Odyssey but it was usable nevertheless. I know some Amigans think that running AmigaOS 4.1 on a PC laptop is akin to shock rocker Alice Cooper but for me the ability to get my OS4 fix while I'm travelling away from my AmigaOne X5000 is really cool. There were a few glitches which will no doubt be ironed out in later revisions but, given this is an x86 machine emulating a relatively slow PowerPC equipped Classic Amiga under WinUAE, it's certainly more usable than the earlier implementation. So rather than the aged shock rocker, AmigaOS 4.1 Final Edition Update 1 Classic running under WinUAE combined with the Enhancer Software SE v1.2 has converted my A.L.I.C.E. laptop into A.L.I.C.E. Cooper. As for Enhancer Software pack, a little bird told me that v1.3 is already in the works.
Making me dizzy!
Anyone who reads my blogs will know I'm not a great fan of software benchmarks and prefer real world usage to determine system performance rather than synthetic tests that churn out arbitrary unintelligible numbers. Having said that, Alain Thellier has released a new version of his Cow3D benchmarking and testing tool for 3D on the Amiga which seems to be causing quite a stir on the Amiga forums so I thought I'd better check it out myself. The new version includes the Shader source code and now supports Warp3D Nova as well as the older Warp3D and Warz3D software renderer.
So I decided to compare the Cow3D results for Warp3D Nova and Warp3D-SI on an AmigaOne X5000 with a RadeonHD 7750 graphics card installed. Under the test, which features a rotating 3D cow, Warp3D Nova delivered ~718 fps compared to ~300 fps for the Warp3D-SI driver, representing a speed increase of 240%. Looks impressive. Of course spinning 3D cows are one thing but the real benefit will come when playing 3D games which are specifically designed to take advantage of Warp3D Nova's advanced graphics features.
The Warp3D Nova project is part of a continuous structured development program to create modern 3D graphics for the AmigaOS. The latest update v1.34 was released with the Enhancer Software pack V1.2.
That's all for now, next stop Brussels then on to Athlone in Ireland for Amiga Ireland Meetup 2017. Hope to see some of you there.
.........Oh and it seems I left NZ at the right time as Wellington is being hit by a weather "bomb" bringing severe gales and heavy rain. It never rains but it pours!
As we are about to celebrate the start of a new year I thought I would quickly reflect on some of my experiences over the past 12 months. In many respects 2016 has been an excellent year for the Amiga community with the one exception being the sad passing of Dave Needle, one of the key members of the original Amiga development team, who died in March. Dave is joined by a whole host of international celebrities who unfortunately also passed away this year. This included Pat Clark who was my first real boss in my first real job. Pat may have not been an international celebrity but he had a profound influence on my early working life and I am equally saddened by his passing. R.I.P. Dave and Pat.
However it was not all bad news and I've listed a few of my personal Amiga highlights and other notable events in 2016.
I flew from the warm New Zealand Summer to the winter chills of Durham City in the NE England to attend to some personal business.
On my way back through a slightly warmer London I met up with Matthew Leaman and some fellow Amiga Developers & beta testers, Darren Stevens and Andy Broad.
I took my original A.L.I.C.E. prototype laptop with me on its first overseas outing but more on that later. Later that month Darren released a working Live Linux DVD with full 3D hardware acceleration for RadeonHD 4xxxx, 5xxx and 6xxx graphics cards for the AmigaOne X5000.
Continuing with the Linux theme, Luigi Burdo, one our beta testers and active Linux expert, demonstrated the power of his AmigaOne X5000 by "testing" the performance of bump mapping, normal mapping, and specular highlighting under Linux. Of course you know that means he was playing Doom 3.
Unfortunately Dave Needle passed away this month. I had the privilege of attending his memorial service in Alameda, California along with many of the original Amiga development team and fellow Amiga enthusiasts who came along to pay their last respects.
RJ Mical and his wife Caryn graciously provided me with accommodation and we celebrated Dave's life into the early hours of the morning with Glenn Keller, Adam Spring and Chris Collins.
While I was in San Francisco, Adam Spring took me on a visit to see Greg Dykstra of Pixar fame. Adam was seeking Greg's advice on some technical issue related to 3D scanning and digital sculpturing and somehow I managed to gatecrash the meeting.
A-EON Technology announced that Warp3D Nova, a native 3D Shader-based API which offered exciting advancements in 3D software for the AmigaOS4 platform was being developed by graphics guru and AmigaDeveloper.com team member Hans De Ruiter. To complement Warp3D Nova, we engaged Daniel Müßener of Cherry Darling fame, to create an OpenGLES 2 wrapper. Both Warp3D Nova and OpenGLES 2 have been regularly updated throughout 2016.
On the Linux front, Christian Zigotzky, one of the very active members of our Core Linux team, travelled to Cardiff to help set up the Linux installation for the Tabor motherboard. This is made available to our Tabor/A1222 beta testers who wanted to test Linux on their board while they wait for the AmigaOS 4.1 port from Hyperion Entertainment.
I again travelled to the UK to attend the first ever A-EON Technology Linux Devcon in Cardiff, Wales. Several members of our Core Linux team travelled from overseas to attend the conference.
The group included Pat Wall from Kilkenny in Southern Ireland, Alex Perez from San Francisco, California. Darren Stevens journey from Scarborough in Northern England was just a little shorter and of course Matthew lives in Cardiff. We also had the part-time Skype presence of Adrian Glaubitz, a Debian developer who is working on the official powerpcspe Debian Sid build for the Tabor motherboard. While in the UK I took the opportunity of visiting Ultra Varisys, A-EON's hardware development partners and even managed to squeeze in a meeting with David Plesance, the former Joint Managing Director of Commodore UK and now involved with FriendUp. I accompanied him on a meeting to Jagex's headquarters in Cambridge and he introduced me to Rod Cousens, Jagex's CEO and ex head of Activision, who he knew from their Commodore/Activision days.
A-EON announced v1.0 of Enhancer Software for AmigaOS 4.1 was available on AMIStore as a digital download.
Two version were available. The Standard Edition which included the full RadeonHD V1.x drivers and a reduced Workbench CANDI selection; and the Plus Edition which included the latest RadeonHD V2.x drivers and the full CANDI package.
After an awful lot of work the first startup of LibreOffice on AmigaOS4.1. OK it was sluggish and barely usable but it was a major breakthrough nevertheless. The LibreOffice code base is truly massive.
A-EON acquired the exclusive ownership of the RadeonHD source and binary code for AmigaOS 4.x.together with all existing and future RadeonHD intellectual property rights from developer Hans de Ruiter. Meanwhile Hans continued to work on the Warp3D Nova development for A-EON.
I can't let this month go by without mentioning my 40th Wedding Anniversary. Who would believe it, firstly that I'm that old and secondly I got married before the Amiga was even a twinkle in Jay Miner's eye! and what do you think I spotted on my short weekend trip up to Russel in New Zealand's beautiful Bay of Island area?
A-EON released the first major update to the Enhancer Software Pack for AmigaOS 4.1 systems. The v1.1 upgrade included a lot of new content in addition to the customary bug fixes and was available as a free download from AMIStore for registered users.
The full v1.1 package could also be purchased as digital download from AMIStore or as a boxed CD from selected Amiga dealers. In August I made another short trip to Europe and found some time to meet up with the Hyperion Entertainment team in Brussels, Belgium, on my birthday no less. Who said the 13th was an unlucky number?
While on business in Sydney, I made a side trip to Adelaide in South Australia to give a presentation to AAUG's (Adelaide Amiga User Group) at the invitation of Epsilon (of Epsilon's Amiga blog fame).
I made a quick dash to the UK to attend the LAG's (Lincolnshire Amiga Group) 10th Anniversary bash in Northern England before travelling to California for my annual visit to Amiwest in Sacramento. At AmiWest I announced the commercial release of the AmigaOne X5000 complete with a pre-release version of AmigaOS 4.1 Final Edition Update 1 supplied by Hyperion Entertainment.
I also announced the upcoming release of the Enhancer Software-SE edition, a special light version for older AmigaOne and compatible models that do not support modern RadeonHD & Rx graphics cards. I also revealed the imminent release of Prisma Megamix, a multi-format dual interface music card for all 68k Amiga computers fitted with a Zorro II or Clockport. On the drive to Sacramento my bag was stolen containing my original prototype A.L.I.C.E laptop plus passport & cash etc. Suggestion that the contents of the emails stored on my Laptop had any effect on the US presidential election results have proved unfounded!
Thanks to the initiative of A1222 beta tester Domagoj Ozanic the AmigaOne X5000 and AmigaOne A1222 made the front page news on www.bug.hr the biggest and most famous mainstream computer magazine in Balkan region.
Hyperion Entertainment posted an early development video of the AmigaOS 4.1 Workbench booting on the Tabor motherboard for the first time. Tabor is finally evolving into the AmigaOne A1222.
In the same month New Zealand was hit by a severe 7.8 earthquake which was centered around Hanmer Springs in the North of the South Island. It cause a lot of damage and destruction around the quake's epicenter and even Wellington, where I live, sustained a lot of structural damage. Fortunately, I only sustained relatively minor damage but my G5 iMac is toast. However, there is no truth in the rumour that the two events were related.
Another update to the Enhancer Software package was released for AmigaOS 4.x PowerPC systems which again included a lot of new features. Version 1.2 now included the SE version for older AmigaOne machines as well as the usual Standard and Plus editions. After all the disruption caused by the quake and numerous strong aftershocks I decide to trade my car in for a newer model. You only live once!
Well that is all I have time for as midnight is fast approaching in New Zealand so all that is left for me to say is:
Happy New Year to all Amigans from Summertime in New Zealand
At this time of year with mid summer fast approaching in New Zealand my Northern hemisphere imprinted brain has a difficult time coming to terms with warm weather, sunshine and Christmas. Not that Wellington has been particularly seasonal in the past few weeks, with earthquakes, storms and flooding. Still the calendar shows that today is the 25th December in New Zealand so I suppose it's time to say Season's Greeting to all Amigans. The A-EON Technology Christmas card this year is dedicated all the Amiga developers, translators and beta testers who contributed to a successful year.
Classic Reflections Update
If you read my Classic Reflections articles in Amiga Future magazine you will know that I write about companies and key individuals who contributed to the Amiga's rich history. Sometimes, after the article is published, I get to meet the people I write about and and for some reason a few of them even agree to a follow-up Classic Reflections Special interview.
My first Classic Reflections Special interview was with Perry Kivolowitz, the driving force behind ASDG the creator of Art Department and MorphPlus, the forerunner of Elastic Reality, whom I met at the Amiga 30th Celebrations at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California last year. Perry graciously agreed to give me an in-depth interview about his life and Amiga experience, even after reading my article about ASDG.
I've just finished another Classic Reflections Special interview with David Pleasance and Colin Proudfoot, the ex-Joint Managing Directors of Commodore UK. Prior to Commodore's bankruptcy, CBM UK was Commodore's most successful division and sold more Amiga computers than any other operating unit. After the parent company's bankruptcy the two men managed to keep CBM UK trading for another 16 months and even made an attempt to perform a management buyout of the whole Commodore company before being thwarted at the eleventh hour when their Chinese partners changed sides and joined forces with ESCOM who eventually became the Amiga's new owners. There is so much content from the interview that the article is split into two parts which will appear in the next two issues of Amiga Future.
If there are any companies or individuals who you think made a valuable contribution to the Amiga scene whom I've not yet covered in my Classic Reflections series please send an email to me at contact(at)a-eon.com. I can't promise to write about all suggestions but I will certainly take a look.
Shaken and Stirred
You may have read that New Zealand was struck by a 7.8 magnitude earthquake just after midnight on Monday 14th November. If you are interested you can read about my experience in the upcoming issue of Amiga Future Magazine.
Although I suffered some damage to a Phillips Monitor and a G5 PowerPC iMac other people in Wellington city were hit much harder. A friend of mine sent me some pictures of her apartment which is on the 9th floor of a modern earthquake resistant building. Although the building was not damaged in the quake, the contents of her apartment were another matter. Fortunately the damage was mostly cosmetic and no one was injured in her building which is the main point anyway.
However, spare a thought for the people of Kaikoura, a town on the North-East coast of the South Island which is very close to the quake's epicenter and suffered serious damage and some fatalities and was cut off by land slips to the north and south. At least the frequency and strength of aftershocks have lessened and life is slowly getting back to normal.
Enhancer Software Triple Play
On a much brighter note, the A-EON software developers and beta testers have been hard at work creating and testing the latest update to the Enhancer Software Pack. The new release, ESP V1.2, is a major upgrade and includes many new exciting features and additions which further enhance the AmigaOS experience. It is available in three distinct feature-rich editions, Standard, Plus and the new SE Edition, a special light version for older AmigaOne and compatible models, including Classic PowerPC and PowerPC emulation which do not require or support RadeonHD/Rx graphics cards.
Registered owners of the Standard and Plus Edition will soon be able to download a free V1.2 update from AMIStore. All three editions are available to purchase as a digital download from AMIStore or as boxed sets from authorised Amiga retailers. Check out the official A-EON Technology's News Release for full details of all the new features and updates. In the meantime I'm going to install the SE Edition under AmigaOS4.1 Classic on my A.L.I.C.E. laptop. I will report back later.
A Boing attitude revisited
Continuing with my Boing Ball theme. I spotted the following "Boing pole" on the Wellington waterfront. Now bring me some figgy pudding!!
Merry Christmas to one and all.
I was going to entitle this blog "Showtime" to highlight the three Amiga shows I attended in the last 2 weeks but changed the title due to an incident while driving from San Francisco to Sacramento. Paul Sadlik, daytime architect and night-time beta tester extraordinaire, was driving me to Amiwest along with AmigaOS developer Tony Wyatt and my business partner Matthew Leaman. About 50 miles northeast of San Francisco airport we stopped at an In-N-Out burger in Pinole to grab a coffee and a quick bite to eat.
We sat in a window booth with our rental car in full view. Unfortunately that didn't stop someone smashing the car's back window and making off with two of our laptop bags. Paul lost his laptop and his car & house keys along with several other items. My bag contained two A.L.I.C.E laptops. The white prototype I've had for about a year and a new black model which had been specially acquired and set up for the Amiwest show. My Amiwest presentation and A-EON News Releases were on A.L.I.C.E. laptop and backed-up to a USB HDD which was also in the bag. Did I mention the bag also contained my passport, all my emergency cash and my prescription glasses and sunglasses? At least the incident led to one of the popular quotes at Amiwest this year, "I had it with me but it was in my bag".(© Paul Sadlik )
Despite the stolen bags, Amiwest itself was great fun. There was an excellent buzz to the show this year and even the late Friday night pre-show session had around 26 people in attendance including former Amiga developer Bob 'Kodiak' Burns and former Commodore UK Joint Managing Director Colin Proudfoot with his partner Anneke Leigh. As usual Robert 'Goody' Goodlett brought along a selection of tasty real ales and we also managed to polish off a bottle of Hazelwood, an 18 year old blended Scotch whisky I brought along to surprise AmigaOS developer, Lyle Hazelwood.
Unfortunately, Lyle was unable to travel to Amiwest due to a last minute change to his work schedule and Hurricane Matthew grounding flights in his area. Although Lyle could not attend in person at least he was there in spirit (boom boom) and we were able to toast him with the Hazelwood scotch.
Old LAGs and Boing sculptures
The two other shows I attended could not have been more different and far flung. I was invited by Epsilon (of Epsilon's Amiga blog fame) to attend the AAUG's (Adelaide Amiga User Group) monthly club night in Adelaide, South Australia. About 40 people of all ages turned up to hear me talk about my Amiga passion and I was very pleased to see youngsters playing games on Epsilon's AmigaOne X1000. He also had his AmigaOne A1222 on display running Linux along with an 'Amiga' FPGA box. AAUG is part of the Adelaide Retro computer club which was only founded in 2015. The club is thriving and celebrates all forms of the Amiga and retro computing.
On the way to Amiwest I took a (slight ) detour to Lincoln in the UK to help LAG (Lincolnshire Amiga Group) celebrate its 10th Anniversary. Darren 'Kernel' Stevens, an active AmigaOS4 beta tester and member of our core Linux support team sent me the invitation and I'd arranged for David Pleasance, former Joint M.D. of Commodore UK) to also attend the show. Unfortunately, David was admitted into hospital with a bad leg infection and had to cancel at the last minute. I'm pleased to report that he is now out of hospital and on his way to a full recovery.
The show had a distinctly Classic Amiga theme although many of the machines on display had been highly customized in true Amiga fashion. I bought myself a Workbench 1.3 inspired club T-Shirt so now I'm officially and Old LAG! Hey who said if the cap fits!
Close encounters of the X5000 kind
It's been a long time coming but I was pleased to be able to announce at Amiwest that the AmigaOne X5000 is now officially available for sale. The first commercial version, the AmigaOne X5000 ‘Close Encounters’ Limited Edition is supplied with a fully licensed pre-release advanced copy of the latest AmigaOS 4.1 FE v1.1 update developed by Hyperion Entertainment. The AmigaOne X5000 can be ordered directly from A-EON Technology or from one of the approved Amiga retailers in the following countries:
- UK: AmigaKit
- USA: Amiga on the Lake
- Germany: Alinea Computer
- Italy:ACube srl
- Switzerland & France: Relec
- France: AMedia computer
- Scandinavia: GGS Data
- Worldwide: A-EON Technology
In addition special, OEM bundles of A-EON software can also be purchased with the Close Encounters system. Anyone who previously registered their interest in purchasing an AmigaOne X5000 will be contacted by A-EON Technology or their approved Amiga retailer. If you are not contacted please send an email to: email@example.com and if your local retailer is not an official distributor tell them to contact A-EON at the same email address.
Parlez-vous français - Les réflexions classiques
If you are a reader of Amiga Future magazine, you will already know that I write the Classic Reflections series of articles which reviews the contribution made by companies and key individuals to the Amiga's rich history. I research the company's foundation, together with the Amiga hardware and or software it developed. I also try to find out what happened after the company (or person) exited the Amiga scene. Amiga Future is printed in both German and English so it already covers much of the Amiga user base but if you don't speak either German of English you probably have never read any of my "Classic Reflections" articles. Well now there's some good news for the French speaking Amiga world. David Brunet, the editor of Obligement the French language Amiga webzine, has undertaken the task of translating my Classic Reflection's series into French. The first two articles have recently been published on the Obligement website. The first covers Gold Disk the developers of Professional Page and Professional Draw and many other fine Amiga productivity software titles. The second highlights the contribution of Electronic Arts which, under founder Trip Hawkins, created Deluxe Paint, the Amiga's first killer application.
The webzine version has a couple of advantages over the printed magazine version. It has much more space for pictures and images to go along with the text, unlike the magazine which is limited to five pages. Also, if you can't read French (or German/English), the Obligement website includes a quick Google translate option with 8 pre-selected languages available at the click of a button. Or if you prefer you can select the translation of your choice from the extended Google menu of 100 languages. Swahili anyone? Unfortunately, I looked for but could not find Klingon in the google list. If you are an Amiga Future reader look out for the second and concluding part of my article, 'Whatever happened to Eyetech Group?' in the next edition of the magazine.
French care package
Staying with the Gallic theme, I recently received a "care package" through the post from Philippe Ferrucci containing all manner of French edible products from the Montelimar region of South-eastern France. The goodies included two types of nougat, a chestnut spread and some delicious honey which somehow managed to evade New Zealand strict biosecurity check. Also included in the package was a Speedball 2 poster, based on the game of the same name developed by The Bitmap Brothers and a Powered by Amiga sticker which Philippe received from Randy Hughes of Amiga, Inc back in the day. You are probably wondering why Philippe sent me the food parcel and poster? It was a 'thank you' for sponsoring last year's Alchimie Amiga 30th show which was run by the Triple A association in the nearby town of Tain L'Hermitage. Many thanks Philippe, the nougat was excellent and has already been eaten.
Let there be (ESP) Lite
I'm talking about the special lite version of the Enhancer Software pack for PowerPC machines. Matthew Leaman hates that name so the upcoming 'lite' version has been re-named Enhancer Software-SE Edition. where 'SE' represent Special Edition. It has been configured for older/less powerful AmigaOne & compatible models, including Classic PowerPC Amiga systems and Classic PowerPC emulation, that do not require or support the RadeonHD or Warp3D-Nova drivers that are included with the full Enhancer Software package. The Enhancer Software-SE Edition is compatible with and recommended for the following AmigaOS 4.1 Final Edition based systems:
- Micro A1-C
- Pegasos II
- Classic Amiga systems equipped PowerPC accelerators
- AmigaOS 4.1 Classic PowerPC Emulation
Apart from the graphics and 3D drivers, the Enhancer Software-SE Edition contains the same powerful collection of productivity, utility software and drivers that are supplied with version 1.1 of the full Enhancer Software package and delivers a welcome boost to the AmigaOS 4.1. Best of all it comes with a light special edition price too!
Go daddy - X500 plus style
You may recall that Loriano 'The Daddy' Pagni ran a Kickstarter campaign to create the X500 Plus, a special computer-in-a-keyboard case design inspired by the Amiga 500.
I supported the campaign and had my X500 Plus case sent to Amigakit where it has remained for the best part of a year while I decided what to do with it. When I was in England attending the LAG 10th anniversary show, I made side trip to Amigakit's offices in Cardiff and while there I decided to unpack my X500 Plus case which was still sealed in the original shipping box. I managed to persuade Christopher Follett, AmigaKit's technician, to test a Tabor motherboard with the X500 Plus case.
To be honest it did not take much persuasion and in a very short time Christopher had installed the motherboard and had Tabor booting to to the early startup screen. I was impressed by the quality of the X500 Plus keyboard which had a very Amiga-like feel. The case also included a flexible PCIe cable which allowed the RadeonHD graphics card to be installed horizontally. The case is designed for a Pico PSU and as we did not have one we powered the Tabor with a tradition desktop PSU.
The X500 Plus is also overloaded with case fans which I don't think will be needed for the Tabor board but better safe than sorry I suppose.
So was it a success? Are the Tabor motherboard and the X500 Plus a good match? Most decidedly yes and I can't wait to get AmigaOS 4.1 running on my AmigaOne A1222/Tabor system.
Prisma Megamix lives
While I was visiting AmigaKit I also got to see Christopher testing a batch of Prisma Megamix sound cards on his A1200 test rig with the latest Prisma drivers.
He connected the Prsima card to the A1200's clockport and had both tower and keyboard case versions of the backplane. With the Zorro and clockport drivers also finished the Prisma Megamix card is finally ready to ship. Hey, who said about time too!
Happy 25th birthday Linux
In case it passed you by, August 25th, 2016 was the 25th anniversary of the Linux project. It was on the 25th August 1991 that Linus Benedict Torvalds posted the prophetic words. "Hello everybody out there using minix - I'm doing a (free) operating system (just a hobby, won't be big and professional like gnu) for 386(486) AT clones. This has been brewing since april, and is starting to get ready. I'd like any feedback on things people like/dislike in minix, as my OS resembles it somewhat." Torvalds when on to write, "PS. Yes - it's free of any minix code, and it has a multi-threaded fs. It is NOT protable (sic) (uses 386 task switching etc), and it probably never will support anything other than AT-harddisks, as that's all I have ."
As you can tell from what Torvalds wrote he probably had no idea back then of the impact that his free operating system would have on the computing world. It just goes to show what one talented person can achieve if he or she really puts their mind to it.
My Boing Ball image of the month spotted while taking off from a damp and rainy Hamilton airport in the Waikato region of New Zealand's North Island.
Until next time.............
I started writing this blog on my A.L.I.C.E. laptop while I was sitting in Sydney Airport waiting for my flight home to New Zealand after a short business trip to Australia. Although the visit was not Amiga related I still found time to meet up for a lunch with long-time and very active Amiga developer Tony Wyatt and his wife Evelyn. It was good to catch up with them both and we tried not to talk too much about Amigas during lunch. Well almost! Tony and Evelyn treated me to a tasty Vietnamese meal and we promised to meet up again at Amiwest in a couple of months.
In recent weeks I have watched two excellent but very different documentaries about Commodore and the AMIGA. "Growing the 8-Bit Generation: The Commodore Wars" a film written by Tomaso Walliser and narrated by former Commodore engineer Bil Herd and another from the Bedroom to Billions Team, "The Amiga Years".
Both documentaries have their merits and are worth watching if you can spare the time (and cash). Look out for my review on both documentaries in the next edition of Amiga Future magazine along with my thoughts on the "Viva Amiga" movie which is finally due for release in the coming month. Also in the same edition is my next installment of Classic Reflections and features the contribution made by Alan Redhouse and the Eyetech Group to the Amiga's success.
The X5000: an AmigaOne Odyssey
Sometimes I receive a few comments that I don't include enough AmigaOS4 content in my blog. With the recent announcement that the AmigaOne X5000 registration of interest page had gone live I thought it would be good to put my AmigaOne X5000 through its paces.
So I decided to continue writing this blog using the Odyssey (1.23r4) web browser and the latest beta version of the AmigaOS 4.1 distribution for the initial "Close Encounters" AmigaOne X5000 release. Odyssey is of course the AmigaOS4 compatible web browser ported from Fabien Coeurjoly's MorphOS Webkit browser by Thore, kas1e & Deniil. I thought writing this update with Odyssey would be a good test of both the new Odyssey version and the X5000's latest AmigaOS 4.1 beta update.
As a side test, I decided to amuse myself by running a combination of software while I continued writing my blog in Odyssey. In all I ran the following productivity, games, utilities and demos:-
- AmigaOS 4.1 latest beta iso (Hyperion Entertainment)
- Odyssey (v1.23r4) web browser
- Workbench CANDI backgrounds
- BubbleShooterDX game by AmiBoing/EntwicklerX
- M.A.C.E. shoot'em up game by AmiBoing/EntwicklerX
- MPlayer playing the digital download of the Commodore Wars documentary (HD720 video format) in windowed and full screen resolution 1980x1020
- Personal Paint - latest 7.3b update
- Warp3D NOVA logo and gears demos
- OpenGLes2 demo
- TuneNet v2.4 streaming internet radio
- AmigaAmp3 playing the specially commissioned "First Encounters" composition written for the AmigaOne X5000
How did it all work out, I can almost hear you asking? Watch the video to see how much hard work and effort I put into writing my blog and playing with testing my AmigaOne X5000 system. I'm also pleased to report that registrations of interest in the AmigaOne X5000 are coming in thick and fast. Of course not all will convert into system sales but it's still gratifying to see the amount of interest that the AmigaOne X5000 is generating.
Everyone needs a little ESP
No I don't mean extra sensory perception, although I think my wife has too much of it for my liking I'm talking about the recently released Enhancer Software Pack for AmigaOS4.1.
Since my last blog Matthew Leaman and the A-EON developers have been hard at work on the version 1.1 update which includes a number of cool new features as well as updates to many of the programs and utilities. Also included are the latest version of Warp3D Nova (v1.28) and OpenGLES2 (v1.2) which performs 30% faster than the earlier version. In fact as I was typing this blog Warp3D v1.29 update came through for beta testing from developer Hans de Ruiter and shortly afterwards Daniel Müßener posted details of OpenGLES2 v1.4 which now supports stencil functionality and general mipmapping.
Both updates will be included in the final ESP v1.1 release. Registered owners will be able to download the ESP v1.1 free of charge from AMIStore and again both Standard and Plus editions are available. Work is also continuing on the 68K ESP version and release information will be provided in the near future.
While I was writing this blog I logged into the AmigaWorld.net OS4beta channel on IRC using my AmigaOne X5000 and found myself discussing the merits (or otherwise) of Brussels sprouts with AmigaOS4 Team Lead, Steven Solie.
I had to admit that when I lived in Texas many years ago, sprouts were very hard to come by and both my wife and I developed a craving for these strong tasting vegetables. However, it was a little surreal talking about Brussels sprouts on IRC while at the same time discussing the intricacies of the latest update to Steve's P5020 sata driver. Who would have thought a couple of weeks later I would be driven around Brussels to my own Boing Ball destination! Only Amiga.............
If you have seen any of A-EON's news releases over the past few years you will know that much of the superb artwork in our adverts and posters have been created by Amiga graphics artist Kevin Saunders. What you probably don't know is that Kevin is also an AmigaOne X5000 beta tester and recently set up his AmigaOne X5000 (with the help of fellow Australian Tony Wyatt).
He has been using his AmigaOne X5000 to test the new version of Personal Paint NG (v7.3b) which was recently released via AMIStore. In particular he has been experimenting with Personal Paint's animation feature to create full screen animated gifs. He has also been dabbling with SketchBlock, the 24-bit digital sketching tool developed by Andy Broad to create his first AmigaOne X5000 masterpiece. I asked Kevin for his thoughts on using his first ever Next-Generation AmigaOS system and this is his reply:-
"Since joining the X5000 Betatester team I have been very keen to install both PPaint and SketchBlock. It is the memories of the past using my second favourite computer the "Amiga A1200" and dabbling with pixel work way back in the early 90's. To have a choice of 24bit painting or Indexed palettes at high resolutions is fantastic. Can't wait to push a few more pixels on the Amiga once again. Running at HD resolution of 1920x1200 is a dream."
I know exactly what Kevin means and can recall my own reaction when I used a µA1c (Micro A1-c) for the first time way back in 2004. At the time it was supplied with a pre-release version of AmigaOS 4.1 but I was really amazed by the speed and power of that little machine which easily outperformed my A4000 tower system equipped with a Cyberstorm PPC233/060 accelerator. Although I think Kevin may have been a little spoiled with his AmigaOne X5000.
Amiga enthusiast and Tabor/A1222 beta tester Domagoj Onazic, knowing of my tendency to see Boing Balls in normal everyday objects, sent me a nice surprise parcel of goodies through the post. It contained every manner of red & white checked objects from T-Shirts and flags to car wing mirror covers. There is even one object which I can't identify! It helps that Domagoj hails from Croatia whose national football team was competing in the recent European championship which led to an excess of red & white checked mania.
Until next time......
Boing Ball Vision
If you are a regular reader of my blog you will know that I have a tendency to see "Boing Balls" in everyday objects. A few days prior to my recent trip to California to attend Dave Needle's Memorial service I took part in a football practice session for the first time in about 12 years. You are probably wondering what has this got to do with "Boing Balls" but bear with me and read on. I arrived at the football pitch at the set time only to find the practice session already under way. I quickly put on my football boots and joined the short game. Some 45 minutes later, with cramp in both calfs. I managed to get back to my car to drive home. When I got home I had to telephone my wife from our garage to help me out of the car, much to her amusement! This was on a Tuesday and by the time of my flight to San Francisco on the Friday my legs had more or less recovered and I was walking almost normally. Since the day starts in New Zealand, I was able to leave Wellington on Friday evening and arrive in San Francisco on Friday morning.
As I was staying with RJ Mical, who is of course an original Amiga developer and life long friend and workmate of Dave Needle, I bought a small present for his wife Caryn and a bottle of malt whisky for RJ. Fellow Amiga developer Glenn Keller was also staying along with technology blogger Adam Spring. Dave's Memorial service took place on Saturday morning and was followed by an afternoon reception and then evening party at The Gate where Dale Luck streamed videos of Dave and RJ being interviewed by EA Founder, Trip Hawkins on release of the 3D0 video games console which Dave and RJ jointly developed. Glenn drove Adam and me back to RJ's house and we talked and drank into the early hours, finally crawling off to bed at 5am on Sunday morning, after finishing off the bottle of whisky I bought for RJ (sorry RJ). I managed to get up at 12 noon to find that everyone else had also risen late as well, apart from RJ who is always an early riser. We had volunteered to help move all the ground floor furniture into storage containers to clear the area in preparation for RJ's upcoming birthday party (and for the major house remodelling project which is due to take place after that). So myself, Adam and Glenn together with Chris Collins, who stayed over after the all-night session, began moving the furniture into a number of small container located outside the front of the house. Most items were quite easy to move, but some like a table top video game machine were very heavy. It was going quite well until we began moving Caryn's prized dining table. We dismantled it as much as possible to reduce the weight and with Adam at the front and me in the middle and Glenn at the back carried it on its side, carefully navigating the obstacle course to the waiting containers outside the house. All was OK until Adam, who was walking backwards, tripped on a brick steps and fell slowly backward, losing his grip of the table which was heading for the edge of the step. Instinctively I thrust out my right leg and caught the table with my foot preventing it from hitting the edge of the step. Fortunately Adam was relatively unhurt and the table was saved and no harm done, or so I thought.
The next day I was flying back to New Zealand and as I was striding through SFO airport towards my departure gate I felt a sudden twang in my right calf accompanied by an sharp intense pain and I immediately began limping like an old man (hey who said if the cap fits!). Eventually I made it to the gate and when the call went out for people who needed a little extra time to board the plane first I was tempted to put up my hand and limp to the front! Anyway, I arrived safely back in New Zealand but was still limping badly.
A week later the leg was still no better so eventually I decided to visit my doctor. He had moved to new premises since my last visit 3 or 4 years ago and as I walked through the door the first thing I saw was a painting on the wall of a "Boing Ball" rocket. It just had to be! What about the leg did I hear you ask? The doctor said it was just a calf strain and will heal all by itself. He was right within a week I was walking normally again but as for me seeing "Boing Balls" in everyday objects, apparently there is no cure and if proof is required I was walking through London last month when I spotted a theatre poster advertising the Thriller Live musical. A "Boing Ball" jacket anyone?
Only in Silicon Valley?
One thing that always impresses me when I visit San Francisco is the sheer amount of innovation and ground breaking development that appears to be happening on every street corner.
On first glance it seems like everyone is either working for Google, Apple or Facebook (or one of the dozens of other high-tech digital businesses headquartered in the Valley) or has just joined a new disruptive startup company looking to displace the digital behemoths from their lofty perches. If you have ever watched Silicon Valley, the US TV sitcom, you will get a feeling for the technology, brains, competition and money that is focused in the Santa Clara Valley which accounts for one-third of all venture capital investments in the USA. It was interesting therefore to attend Dave Needle's evening memorial party at The Gate, a 750,000 ft2 creative space for the Art, Tech and Maker community based at the West Gate Center in San Leandro, which forms part of a 24-acre property transformed into a unique accelerator and incubator hub.
One of Dave's most recent projects was working with his long time friend Tracy McSherry, the CEO of PhaseSpace whose company just happened to be located at The Gate. PhaseSpace are leaders in highly accurate real-time motion tracking and position sensing technology.
Since Tracy had organised the evening memorial party at The Gate it also meant that we got to test some of the latest 3D VR technology that Dave Needle had helped to create.
I, along with Michael Battilana, Adam Spring and Chris Collins got to try out PhaseSpace's Head Mounted Display (HMD) and tracking technology by shootings swarms of alien space bots in a 360 degree 3D virtual world. It was great fun, extremely impressive and best of all I experienced none of the usual motion sickness I get when I've tried VR headsets or HMDs in the past. I don't think Adam was too impressed though when I decided to stop shooting the space bots and began targeting his 3D virtual Avatar. According to Tracy, "The whole point of VR is to make things that were impossible come to life. The actual reality has been a bit slower than hoped, but after working on this for 30 years, I'm very happy to see it's all coming together." It's good to know that Dave Needle had contributed to this effort prior to his untimely demise.
While I was in San Francisco I also managed to tag along with Adam Spring on a visit to see Greg Dykstra of Pixar fame. Adam, apart from being an active technology blogger & podcaster, is a pretty smart guy in his own right. He is working on a project for Duke University and was seeking Greg's advice on some technical issue related to 3D scanning and digital sculpturing. Greg of course is known for his amazing sculpting talent and has created many of the clay models for various Pixar Movies such as Finding Nemo, Brave and The Good Dinosaur etc.
However, what many people probably don't realise is that Greg, through his startup company PaleoMill, is also an expert in 3D scanning and printing of dinosaur fossils. He uses using 3D-scanning technologies to digitally assemble fossil material and uses 3D-printers to create scale-model reproductions of fossils.
However even more unusual, Greg also has connections with Star Trek Continues, the multiple award winning, fan-created web series both as a writer and actor. Star Trek Continues is a non-commercial web series which continues the 5-year mission where the original TV series left off and has no affiliation or connection with the Star Trek franchise.
Greg wrote the script for Come not between the Dragons and played the part of Dr Heath in the Divided we Stand webisode. There is no financial rewards and the series is created purely for entertainment and fun, and they say we Amigans are crazy! . By the way Greg is a really nice guy as well. He gave us a brief tour of the Pixar facilities and while we were being shown around we bumped into one of Greg's colleagues who just happened to get started in 3D animation using an Amiga. He saw my CDTV T-shirt and it wasn't long before we were discussing our favorite Amiga models. His was an A3000.
AmigaOS 4 is going critical captain!
Following on with the Star Trek theme, if you have been following the recent Amiga news you will know that Warp3D Nova, A-EON Technology's advanced 2D/3D shader based graphics system for AmigaOS 4 is now out in the wild. It was supplied in the recently released Enhancer Software Package (ESP) along with an updated version of the RadeonHD driver for selected RadeonHD 7xxx and Radeon Rx graphics cards with Southern Islands series GPUs. News of its release even made the OSNews website, although I think the editor, Thom Holwerda, has had a soft spot for the Amiga ever since I sent him that cake and saved him from having to eat his socks.
If you haven't seen the news item, Warp3D Nova is a huge leap forward over earlier Warp3D and MiniGL implementations. It delivers shader-based 3D graphics acceleration along with per-pixel lighting and fluid rendering of larger vertex arrays as well as many other advanced graphics features. The addition of programmable shaders gives AmigaOS 4 developers an exciting new world of graphics possibilities. A-EON has also commissioned Daniel "Daytona675x" Müßener to develop the complementary OpenGL ES 2 wrapper and several developers are now working on new games to utilise the raw power of the Warp3D Nova graphics subsystem. Apart from Warp3D Nova, the ESP bundle also includes many other utilities and commodities including MultiEdit, ClipViewer and X-Dock as well as updated versions of MultiViewer, AmiDVD, Tunenet, Partition Wizard and SmartFilesystem2 and a whole host of other gadgets, classes and datatypes. ESP is available to purchase as a digital download from AMIStore and for Amigans who prefer physical media, a nice CD boxed version will also be available to purchase in the near future from ACube Systems, ALINEA Computer, Amedia Computer France, AmigaKit, RELEC and other participating Amiga dealers. For all you 68k Amigans, don't despair, a Classic 68K version of ESP is also in the works. Look out for more news on this later.
If you saw my presentation at Amiwest you may have heard my "Content, Content Content" speech about the desire of A-EON Technology to create more quality software content for both PowerPC and 68k AmigaOS systems. As part of this commitment we purchased many Classic and Next-Generation AmigaOS titles and utilities with a view to upgrading and improving them. Some like Personal Paint, Tunenet and the Ringhio Notificatons Server etc, have already been updated and released. Others are still very much WIP. We are continuing to fund the development of many new applications and at the latest count we now have 18 developers engaged in paid development working on dozens of software projects.
However, we are still looking for experienced Amiga developers to work on our existing applications and create new content for both the 68k and PowerPC platforms. If you are interested please visit: AmigaDeveloper.com for more information. Of course the person who has the the job of coordinating the developers and delivering all this new software content is Matthew Leaman. When I saw this cartoon in a magazine I immediately thought of Matthew, our very own "Director of Content Delivery". Cheers Matthew.
Hooray for Hollywood!
No, not the song which featured in the 1937 movie Hollywood Hotel, but the excellent Hollywood cross platform multimedia oriented programming language created by Andreas Falkenhahn of Airsoft Software. Version 6.1 was released on March 13th, both as a digital download and on CD. As I prefer to have the physical media, call me old-fashioned, I ordered the CD which I received at the end of March just before I left on my international travels so I didn't get a chance to install and test the new version.
Long gone are the days when Hollywood was limited to the AmigaOS. These days Hollywood runs on pretty much every platform and OS. There are versions for AmigaOS 68k and PowerPC, AROS, MorphOS and WarpOS as well as Android, Windows, MacOS and Linux. Best of all, when you buy Hollywood you get a license for all the platforms that Hollywood supports and you can cross compile native executables for most of the platforms even if you don't own them. For example you could create your multimedia extravaganza in AmigaOS 4 and cross compile the executable to play on a Windows or Mac device or vice versa. A list of the new feature in v6.1 can be found on the Hollywood website.
AmigaOne X5000 Update
I've received numerous enquiries about the availability of the AmigaOne X5000 system. As you probably know the Cyrus boards have been in stock for quite some time with new shipments of boards arriving from Ultra Varisys almost weekly. We are just waiting for the final release version of AmigaOS 4.1 from Hyperion Entertainment and then we will be good to start shipping new AmigaOne X5000/20 systems. As with the AmigaOne X1000 "First Contact" system we will release an "early bird" model, this time entitled "Close Encounters" which we be supplied with the first version of AmigaOS 4.1 specifically configured by Hyperion Entertainment for the AmigaOne X5000.
Again, as with the AmigaOne x1000, regular updates of X5000 specific drivers and other software bug fixes will be released for download as soon as they become available. So if you are an experienced Amigan and like to tinker with your AmigaOS installation then the "Close Encounters" release of the AmigaOne X5000 is definitely one for you. Matthew has promised that the "registration of interest" page will go live soon. So Matthew & Hyperion Entertainment it's now over to you. No pressure boys.
A-EON Technology at DevCON 1
I must admit that does sound a little scary! No, I am not talking about maximum readiness for a nuclear war or other imminent threat but the first ever developer conference featuring A-EON's core Linux support team which took place in Cardiff over the weekend of the 23rd/24th April. Key members of the team travelled from all parts of the globe. Alex Perez flew in from San Francisco, California while Pat Wall caught the relatively short flight from Kilkenny in Southern Ireland. Darren drove down from Scarborough in Northern England. I flew in from Wellington, New Zealand and of course Matthew lives in Cardiff. We also had the part-time Skype presence of (John Paul) Adrian Glaubitz, a Debian developer, who has volunteer to work on the official powerpcspe Debian Sid build for Tabor. Unfortunately two key member of the Linux team were unable to attend. Christian Zigotzky had work commitments, although he did travel to Cardiff in March to help set up the Linux installation on the Tabor motherboard for supply to the beta testers. Julian Margetson couldn't travel without closing the family business which is an essential service in the tiny island of Montserrat. As it turned out it was an action packed weekend which saw progress with Cyrus, Tabor and A.L.I.C.E. projects. It was also a lot of fun.
The Devcon itself was split into formal meetings and practical sessions with a special celebration dinner on Saturday evening at the St David's Hotel restaurant situated on the waterfront overlooking a very wet and windy Cardiff bay.
Following the formal session, Pat Wall worked on the A.L.I.C.E. configuration for the new x86 Laptop that has been selected for the first commercial release. Alex and Darren set up a standalone Tabor server to allow 24/7 remote internet access to speed up support for powerpcspe package builds. The server is now up and running and combined with Adrian's Tabor machine it has really helped speed up the build process. Alex actually brought his Cyrus tower system to Wales in his suitcase and amazingly it survived the journey to the UK and back home to the USA. After the serious work, the team even found some time to play around with some interesting Cyrus hardware.
One of the aims of the core Linux team has been to help get A-EON's hardware supported by the mainstream Linux PowerPC developer community. Thanks to the efforts of Alex Perez, the Cyrus+ motherboard is now officially supported in the Linux PowerPC kernel build. Again thanks to Alex the AmigaOne X5000 is now a supported architecture under FreeBSD.
Although the Welsh weather was not the best, a great time was had by all and in addition to the sumptuous dinner at St David's Hotel the team enjoyed eating traditional British fish & chips and Dominos pizza. It was agreed by all that the Devcon1 was a great success. It was also decided that Devcon2 will be an AmigaOS event. The location and date are still to be decided.
Once upon a time.....
After Defcon1, Matthew Leaman and I visited our hardware developer Ultra Electronics (Varisys) as they are now called, for our annual review meeting with Paul Gentle and Marcin Kukielka. We discussed the status of our current hardware development projects along with manufacturing and delivery schedules. I'm pleased to report from a hardware perspective we appear to be in very good shape with some exciting times ahead. Over lunch, after the formal part of the meeting, Paul revealed a special "Steve Jobs" story that I had not heard before.
Cast your mind back to 2008, to a time before the AmigaOne X1000 or the Nemo motherboard. If you have followed the development history of the AmigaOne X1000 you will probably know that Varisys were commissioned to design a new AmigaOS 4 motherboard, code-named Nemo, which was based around the PA6T-1682M CPU, a high performance, power efficient 64-bit dual-core PowerPC CPU created by Palo Alto Semiconductor (PA Semi).
You might even know that the motherboard's development was almost scuppered when Apple purchased PA Semi. Shortly after the acquisition Apple announced the PA6T CPU would only be sold to preexisting military and industrial customers who already had orders in place and after that the line would be discontinued. Apparently Apple purchased PA Semi for its low power electronics skills and not for its CPU architecture. What you probably don't know is that Paul Gentle wrote a personal message to Steve Jobs asking him to reconsider the decision not to supply the PA6T CPU for the Nemo development. He received a one word reply from Jobs which was short and to the point which simply said "Sorry". Gentle refused to give up and wrote an impassioned email to Jobs stressing the future success of Varisys, a small British development company, depended on the supply of the PA6T CPU for the Nemo development project. This time Jobs sent a more lengthy but still negative reply saying that if the future of Varisys depended on the supply of PA6T CPU for one project then their business model was broken. It looked like the end of the line for the Nemo motherboard. However, not too long afterwards the PA Semi CTO contacted Gentle to say that he had been given approval to supply the PA6T CPU for the project and the Nemo development was back on track. Whether Jobs intervened on our behalf or not we will never really know. Who would have thought?
While I was in London I managed to catch up with Michael Battilana of Cloanto for a nice vegetarian Indian dinner. Since the photo I took of Michael on a canal boat in Amsterdam during the Amiga30th Anniversary caused a bit of stir in some quarters, here is another one with Michael flexing both muscles! For all conspiracy theorists there is no hidden meaning in the photo. Wait, why is his left arm bare? Just kidding!
I also had time to take a trip to Cambridge with David Pleasance, the former Joint MD of Commodore UK, to visit Jagex Games Studio, the developers of RuneScape, a successful fantasy massively multiplayer online role-playing game.
We met with Saumitra Ganguly, Jagex's VP of Technology and afterwards I was introduced to Rod Cousens, Jagex's CEO and ex head of Activision. David and Rod are old friends from their Commodore/Activision days and it didn't take long before we were discussing the good old days of Commodore and Amiga gaming! Rod said that back in the day Activision always launched its new games on the Amiga first. Ah, those were the days.
Boing Ball footnote.......
While attending a recent meeting in Wellington I just happened to look out of the window and spotted a red & white checked tower on a rooftop in the distance and if that was not enough when I was walking back to my car I spotted this image of a Tiki riding on a red and white checked skateboard. Now I've seen everything! Is it just me or are there really Boing Balls everywhere?
I don't know, but perhaps it's my new glasses?
Until next time.
I can't believe it's already March 2016! Just where does the time go these days?
As I write this blog I'm preparing for a whirlwind trip to California to attend Dave Needle's memorial service and big farewell party. No doubt it will be a bittersweet event but a chance to celebrate Dave's life and work with his close family, friends and extended Amiga family. Thanks to the advantage of living in the future, I am leaving New Zealand on Friday evening and arrive in San Francisco on Friday morning. I'm only staying for a couple of days as I need to be back in Wellington for the middle of next week. Many thanks to RJ Mical for offering me a place to sleep for my short stay in California. Strangely, it seems like only yesterday I was chatting with Dave Needle at the Amiga30th Anniversary in Mountain View, California, listening him tell fascinating stories about the early days of the Amiga.
All Amigans will know about Dave's valuable contribution to the Amiga's birth. Most are probably aware of his work with RJ Mical on the Atari Lynx, the first hand-held games console with a colour LCD display and the advanced but ultimately unsuccessful 3DO game console. However, I don't think many will know, including me until I did some research, that after Dave left Commodore he worked for Apple on a new 5 MIPS RISC low-cost prototype processor. When he was finished he took his new processor design to the silicon manufacturer who made Apple's chips.
On seeing Dave's design they pointed that it was very similar to another processor from a British company which was at a much later stage of development. After Apple signed the required NDA, Dave got access to the new CPU chip layout and discovered the design was not only very similar to his but it was much further advanced and actually better. So he ditched plans for his CPU design and used the alternative processor for the new low cost computer. Within a short period of time his tiny but powerful little machine based on the new RISC processor was running Apple II software with full colour support. Ultimately, Apple management scrapped plans for the new computer and voted in favour of the Apple IIgs. The new processor that Dave used was none other than the Arm chip from Acorn Computers which has since gone on to dominate the world of smartphones. If you want to find out a little more about Dave's life and achievements I've just finished writing a short article for the next edition of Amiga Future magazine. R.I.P. Dave, you will be missed.
I was driving along the road the other day when I notice what looked like an Amiga ship docked at the oil terminal in Seaview, near Wellington. I just had to stop and take a photo but what looked like "Amiga" turned out to be "d'Amico". My wife thinks I need to seek medical help!
I made a quick trip to the the NE of England in January on personal business. When passing back through London on my way home to New Zealand I took the opportunity of meeting up with Matthew Leaman and two of our active developers, Andy Broad and Darren Stevens.
We took in the the traditional tourist sights of Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, London Bridge, the Houses of Parliament and planned and schemed outside of MI6 and quickly scarpered after taking the obligatory selfie. (Have you seen the latest James Bond film?)
After walking for over 10 miles (>16 km) according to my smartphone fitness app we then retired to a traditional London pub and later a nice little Italian restaurant in Pimlico called 2 Amici (looks vaguely like Amiga to me) which I used to visit when I lived in London. The company, beer and food were all good. Although Matthew was a little surprised to find he had been made a saint. I know he is good, but he's not that good!
From little acorns
I received a pleasant surprise in my email inbox this morning from AmigaOS Kernel developer Thomas Frieden.
All the email message said was, "Hi, I'll let the image speak for itself." Attached to the email was a photo of a vaguely familiar image of a Boing Ball, Hyperion copyright notice and an "insert floppy disk" graphic. I wonder what it could all mean? On second thoughts I think it means my Tabor board will be mighty pleased and before anyone says it, yes the Hyperion copyright notice needs updating. One step at a time. What was my simple two word email reply to Thomas, "Thank you".
Can one billion Indian consumers be wrong?
Ringing Bells, a new and previously unheard of Indian electronics company, has just announced its Freedom 251 phone which is set to become the world's cheapest smartphone. If you are wondering about the strange numbering system, 251 refers to the actual sales price of the phone which is set at 251 rupees and is equivalent to an eye-watering low price of $3.67. I suppose if it was sold US$ it would be called the Freedom 3.67 or even 3.295 Euros in Europe
The phone, which runs Android Lollipop 5.1, is powered by a 1.3 GhZ quad-core SoC processor, sports a 4" (10.2 cm) qHD IPS screen and has 1 GB RAM together with 8GB internal storage which can be expanded to 32 GB. It also has 0.3 mega pixel front camera and 3.2 mega pixel rear camera and comes with a 1450 mAh battery. If you are the type of person who queues up for days to buy the latest Apple iPhone product, the Freedom 251 is not for you. India is the world's second largest mobile market with over a billion mobile phone users and the Freedom 251 is targeted at the mass-market of low cost handsets. Bizarrely, as of 2016, India has recorded more selfie-related deaths than any other country. With over one billion mobile phone users I suppose it's not surprising.
Apparently the Freedom 251 was developed with support from the Indian government as part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's flagship Make in India scheme and according to the publicity has the potential to realise the ‘Digital India’ vision. The phone was officially launched by Indian Defense Minister Manohar Parrikar at an event in New Dehli and is already causing controversy in India with industry experts claiming that "even using the cheapest components possible, a phone with the Freedom 251’s specifications should cost at least Rs 1,000 or more to manufacture and that doesn’t include advertising and distribution" costs. Also, the Ringing Bells company itself is only a few months old. Hopefully this is not some elaborate scam and the Freedom 251 doesn't turn into the Freedom 451. (I'll let you work that one out! ) Personally, I think Freedom 247 would have been a better name and allow for future price variations.
There was a booking page to pre-order your Freedom 251 but this is presumably reserved for India resident consumers only? Anyway if you live in India and wanted to take the risk, it's already too late as pre-order for the phone only ran from 6:00 AM on 18th Feb until at 8:00 PM on 21st Feb 2016. Delivery is anticipated 30th June 2016. I'm sure this story will continue to run and develop.
That's all for now, my bags are packed and A.L.I.C.E. is in my hand luggage. Next stop California.
(Dave Needle photograph credit: Bart Grantham)
To celebrate the upcoming New Year festivities we commissioned EntwicklerX to create a special CANDI animated Workbench to count down the hours, minutes and seconds to New Year's Eve wherever you are in the world. As usual Thomas and Frank have outdone themselves and the result is the Fireworks CANDI countdown theme. All registered Workbench CANDI owners can download the Fireworks CANDI free of charge via AMIStore.
Workbench CANDI Seasonal review: Video - grabbed from an AmigaOne X1000 equipped with a RadeonHD 7xxx series graphics card using an Elgato HD60. Original music and remix courtesy RayneLeafe.
Wishing all Amigans, whatever flavour or persuasion, a very happy, prosperous but most of all, peaceful New Year.
With the end of another year in sight it's time to reflect on the past twelve months and look forward to the coming year. As all Amigans well know, 2015 is the 30th Anniversary of the Amiga's birth and the occasion has been celebrated and commemorated around the world by parties both large and small.
I think it's fair to say that as we approach the end of the year it definitely has been a good time to be an Amigan, whatever your flavour or passion. I've had the pleasure and privilege of sponsoring and attending many of the Amiga30th events that took place around the world. I've mixed with icons of the Commodore and Amiga community and spent time talking and drinking with numerous Amiga enthusiasts. I've written a personal account of my Amiga30th globe trotting experience which will appear in the next edition of Amiga Future magazine.
As 2015 draws to a close I'm pleased to report that, if my Amiga30th experience is anything to go by, the Amiga spirit is still very much alive and well. A couple of Amiga30th shows in Italy and Poland had to be delayed until next year so all that remains to be said is: Here's to continuing the Amiga party in 2016. PS Where is my invitation?
It's an Amiga Jim (Sachs) but not as we know it!
When I attended the Amiga30th event at the Computer History Museum in California in July, on the first day of the show I had the privilege of meeting with the great Amiga artist Jim Sachs. As all Amigans know, Jim is a leading computer artist whose talented graphics adorned many iconic C64 and Amiga games such as Saucer Attack and Defender of the Crown. His distinctive artwork and style graced many other Amiga games and productivity titles, including the user interface and start-up animations for the CDTV and CD32 Amiga models.
Shortly after we talked he came back to the A-EON Technology booth and asked me if I'd like a virtually unused Amiga CD32 which was still in its original box and packaging.
It was a PAL version that Commodore sent him to check the start-up animation he created for the machine. When he originally received the CD32 from Commodore he powered up the machine once to check the animation worked OK and after that, having no need for a PAL machine in the USA, he placed it back in the box and it has been sitting unused for the past ~21 years.
Needless to say I quickly agreed to take the machine off his hands and the next day, true to his word, he came back to the show with the Amiga CD32. Unfortunately, I did not have enough room in my case to carry the boxed CD32 back home to New Zealand but SACC's Brian Deneen, graciously offered to keep it safe for for me until I returned to California for my annual trip to Amiwest.
On my return to Sacramento in October I made sure that I brought along a large, nearly empty, case to allow me to take the machine home. I am pleased to report that Jim's Amiga CD32 is now safely back with me in New Zealand and works just fine. My only disappointment is that I didn't ask Jim to autograph the CD32 box. Duh!! Maybe next time I'm in the USA I will take the CD32 box cover for Jim to sign!
Puzzling times - Amiga style
During my trip to Neuss to attend the Amiga 30 Germany show I had the chance to visit the Internationale Spieltage SPIEL show in Essen with RJ Mical, Dave Haynie, Michael Battilana and Marcel Franquinet. SPIEL is the biggest board games fair anywhere in the world. It is a massive annual four-day game fair with 910 exhibitors from 41 countries and this year a record 162,000 visitors attended the event.
The large cavernous halls were filled with companies selling a myriad of simple and intricate board games with tutorial gaming sessions for the masses of people wanting to test the latest games. Amongst the vast array of board games and gamers we found a stall selling a selections of metal and wooden puzzles which we just had to try.
If you read my blog you will notice that I tend to spot Boing Balls everywhere and I was immediately attracted to a Red and White wooden cube "snake" puzzle which I just had to buy. I took my new Boing Cube to the Neuss show and offered a special prize of an Amiga.org mouse mat for anyone who could solve the puzzle in under 5 minutes. Only one person actually managed this!
Grass roots community gaming
If the SPIEL Essen show was the largest board game show in the world, on the Sunday after the Neuss event Marcel drove RJ, Dave and me over to the World of Retro Gaming (3rd edition) show which was held in a tiny community centre in Stevoort-Hasselt, Belgium. We were joined by Paul Hamer who came along in his own car.
It was a small show devoted entirely to Video game consoles and included a vast collection of game cartridges for Atari, Ninento Sega and Sony game machines. We did manage to find one CD32 game. As we walked around the tiny venue which consisted of 4 or 5 rooms crammed full with various console games it did not take long for some of the other visitors to realise that two of Amiga's finest were in their midst. No, I'm not talking about Marcel and me but of course Dave Haynie and RJ Mical. The cameras were soon out for the obligatory photographs and it was nice to see people thanking Dave and RJ for their contributions to computing and video gaming history.
We did not buy any video games but when we came across a stall selling Video Console T-Shirts, RJ insisted on buying one for me. They did not have any Amiga CD32 T-Shirts so I selected one with an image of the 16-bit Sega mega drive. Not that I had one of these machines but because of Commodore UK's famous bill-board advert placed outside Sega's London headquarters. "To be this good will take Sega ages". Ah those were the days!
After the show Marcel had the job of driving us from "pub to pub" before taking us to his home in Sittard in the Netherlands to meet his family and visit his man cave (at the top of the house) to see his Amiga collection and drink even more beer.
Afterwards he drove us back to our hotel in Neuss. It's only when you drive around this part of mainland Europe your realise just how close all the counties are together and within a few miles (or Km) the language changes from German to Dutch and French.
A blast from the past
While I was vising Marcel's man cave he presented me with a pristine copy of Issue Zero of AMIGA.org Magazine which was published in October 2003 by "AOWorks". Kees Witteven and Cindy Hoek are listed as the joint Publisher/Editor and it was printed by Vanderheym/Computer City in the Netherlands. The list of writers and GFX artists includes Wayne Hunt, Greenboy, Andreas Loong, Andre' Siegel and many others. The issue is only 20 pages but the Editorial by Kees Witteven suggests that the magazine was planned as a professional monthly magazine along the lines of CUAmiga and Amiga Format.
Reading through the magazine was like taking a step back into Amiga's next-generation history. The News sections included articles about the Pegasos II, which was due to be released along with the MorphOS SuperBundle software package, and the first public demonstration of AmigaOS4 running on an AmigaOne at the Pianeta Amiga show in Empoli, Italy. MorphOS 1.4 was about to be released and Eyetech had revealed pre-prototype pictures of its new AmigaOne Lite, which would eventually be released as the Micro A1-c. There was even mention of Melancia's MCC computer but it was still uncertain whether this would turn out to be vaporware. (It did). There are not many adverts but the Advertisers index included Elbox, Genesi, GGD-Data, Hyperion, Individual Computers along with LiveWire Systems and Anachronism Industries. The existence of the magazine, which is written in English, was a complete surprise to me. It obviously did not last very long so I contacted Kees Witteven to get an update on what happened after the release of the first issue. He provided the following information:-
"Right we started it as we thought it would be a great asset to the community and at the time there we're not many magazines left. After we announced it and got together a team of enthusiastic volunteers; writers, gfx artists, editors etc, we printed issue Zero. However, a few days later Fleecy Moss from Amiga Inc threatened us with lawsuits and demanded huge sums of money since we used the Amiga name. That gave us such a bang in the face that some of the volunteers decided not to work with us anymore because they felt threatened as well and where afraid of being sued. We thought about changing the name into PPC Magazine or something but since everything gfxwise and lay-out wise was ready to go and the fear of being sued it all just fell apart ... Only issue Zero was printed ... we had content ready for 3 more issue's or something."
Kees also said they signed up a few subscribers but had to return the funds after the Magazine was cancelled. However, there was one still one person who worked for Bill Buck in France who they could not contact to return his money. So if you are that person, Kees said your money is still here waiting for you.
Winter CANDI is coming!
Apologies to the House of Stark and all the followers of The Game of Thrones for the misquote but I can think of no better way to announce the latest Workbench CANDI backdrop for RadeonHD equipped AmigaOS4.1 machines.
Once again A-EON has commissioned the magicians at EntwicklerX to create a new CANDI theme to celebrate the Winter season (err Winter? - it's Summer here down-under!) They rose to the challenge and created a beautiful CANDI background with a rotating Boing Ball centrepiece and gently falling snow flakes which truly captures the Winter season. As with all the other CANDI backdrops, the Winter CANDI animation integrates seamlessly with the AmigaOS Workbench and is controlled with the CANDI preferences utility. Registered owners of of Workbench CANDI will be able to download the new CANDI version free of charge from AMIStore in the near future.
Talking about AMIStore, a new version (0.663) has just been released which adds a whole host of features and improvements. The update includes better Amiga Menu support together with Sales & Promotions, Special offers and reworked multi-currency support. EntwicklerX is the first developer to take advantage of the new Special Offer feature and, from the 19th December through to the 1st of January 2016, are offering a special AMIStore Christmas discount on all their AmiBoing games. If you already have AMIStore installed on your AmigaOS 4.1 system you can update to the new version when you start the program.
Retro Petro - Amiga hero
As I mentioned in an earlier blog, I managed to miss Petro Tyschtschenko at the Amsterdam Amiga30th show but I knew I had a second chance to get a signed copy of his book since he was delivering the opening address at the Neuss show. I bumped into him in the car park in Neuss as we were unloading the equipment to set up our respective booths. I could immediately tell Petro was very skilled and practiced trade show professional. All of his computers were neatly contained in matching packing cases which fitted perfectly into his car. He also had a small trolley which allowed him to wheel all the cases into the venue in one trip. Ah, German planning and precision. Petro again displayed his Walker prototype and was extremely busy posing for photographs and signing posters and copies of his book. However, I did managed to slip away from the equally busy A-EON booth to catch up with him for a couple of minutes during the show.
He signed his book for me and wrote a nice dedication on the inside cover and also gave me an original "Keep the momentum going" signed poster. To my surprise and gratitude he thanked me for helping to keep the Amiga dream alive and refused to take any money for either the book or poster. Thank you Petro you are a gentleman!
A.L.I.C.E. in Amiga-Land
Thanks to Jan Zahurancik and other members of the the A.L.I.C.E. team (Pat Wall & Ken Lester) I was able to demonstrate a beta version of the A.L.I.C.E. laptop at both the Neuss and Amiwest shows. I have to admit that my A.L.I.C.E. laptop has since become my mobile workstation of choice. Thanks to A.L.I.C.E.'s "Rabbit Hole" feature, I can run my mainstream Linux applications from my AmiKit desktop while at the same time have access to my favourite Classic Amiga programs.
The combination is the best of both worlds and the lightweight emulation environment is very speedy indeed and, if I really want to, I can also boot into Windows or Linux. Now that Hyperion Hyperion Entertainment, in collaboration with Cloanto of Amiga Forever emulation fame, have made the Classic version of AmigaOS 4.1 Final Edition available for purchase as digital download this should mean emulating AmigaOS 4.1 on an x86 PC has official approval.
It's a good job, since A.L.I.C.E. also supports AmigaOS 4.1. Classic. Of course the Classic version of AmigaOS 4.1 does not really compare with the PowerPC version. It lacks many of the advanced features of the PowerPC version and has graphics and memory limitations but if you are interested in seeing a cut-down version of AmigaOS 4.1 in action then this a good chance to try it out.
Once you have Amiga OS4.1 Classic on A.L.I.C.E. you can of course download and install AMIStore to gain access to the growing list of Classic and PowerPC games, applications and utilities that are available to purchase. If AmigaOS 3.x is more to your liking you will be pleased to know that a beta version of AMIStore is being tested for AmigaOS 3.x. When this is ready you will be able to run AMIStore under AmiKit (and Amiga Forever) to select from the many 68k programs that are now being uploaded.
Real life imitating art? - A1222/Tabor style
When AmiKit was released, way back in 2005, I was really impressed with the Classic Amiga distribution that Jan Zahurancik and his team had created and immediately wanted run AmiKit on my next-generation PowerPC based A1-XE. Eventually I donated an A1-XE to Jan to enable him to create a version of AmiKit for that machine.
Unfortunately, at that time the A1- XE was really not up to the job of emulating a Classic AmiKit environment as any reasonably speed. These were the days before RunInUAE and JIT for E-UAE and the project proved more difficult than expected. Fast forward to 2015 and Christian Zigotzky, our Core Linux Wizard has done just that with his Tabor/AmigaOne 1222 beta board.
Not only has Christian managed to get AmigaOS 3.5 & OS3.9 running in emulation under Linux he has also managed, with some help from Jan and Almos Rajnai (the author of E-UAE JIT for PowerPC) to get AmiKit working as well.
It's really good to know that the Tabor board has the power and performance to handle Classic AmigaOS emulation under Linux. Now I'm really looking forward to using AmigaOS 4.1. Over to you Hyperion Entertainment.
Cup of good cheer
At Amiwest this year I had the honour and privilege of receiving the John Zacharias Memorial Award for 2015 from SACC (Sacramento Amiga Computer Club), the organisers of the Amiwest event. I felt doubly honoured as I think I am the first non SACC member to receive the award for "outstanding technical assistance in matters Amiga to the worldwide Amiga community".
In another nice surprise, Darren Stevens, who was visiting Amiwest for the first time with his wife, presented me with a hand-painted mug incorporating the AmigaOne X1000 anniversary badge design and Kevin Saunders' Warp3D flying saucer artwork. I think the mug was hand-painted by his mother-in-law. Not only is Darren an active AmigaOS beta tester he is part of A-EON Technology's Core Linux team and specialises in generating Linux kernels for the AmigaOne X1000, AmigaOne X5000 and now the new Tabor motherboard which powers the AmigaOne A1222. Thanks for the gift Darren, it's now sitting safely beside my Amiga 25th Anniversary and Amiga.org mugs.
In the slow lane?
I finally did it! I needed a DVD player for the sleep-out at my daughter's small farm. It's not really a farm but an animal sanctuary with rescued cows, goats, pigs, chickens, cats etc but that not really relevant to the story, except that she also writes music and boot sound for A-EON Technology. The sleep-out is for the "rare" periods when I am enlisted to look after the animals when she and he husband go away! Anyway, a new electronics store opened up nearby and was offering an excellent deal on a Playstation PS4. Rather than buying a simple DVD player my daughter convinced me to get the PS4, especially as it could also play blue-ray disks in addition to regular DVDs. A couple of games were supplied with the machine and, as I had not played any Playstation games for many years, I was eager to test the capabilities of the new machine. I immediately discovered how slow games are to load and startup on the PS4. OK I realise that a lot of graphics and data is being transferred from the CD but it is still so slooow! I will never complain about boot speeds on my AmigaOne machines again. I did enjoy playing with testing the PS4 for a couple of hours however.
AmigaOne X5000 update
Thanks to everyone who has contacted me asking for a release date for the new AmigaOne X5000. Matthew Leaman is in control of the delivery schedule for A-EON Technology . Given the post Commodore history of broken promises and vaporware he is loathe to take anyone's money for pre-orders until Hyperion Entertainment give the final green light on AmigaOS 4.1.
However, the Cyrus+ motherboards are already in stock and he expects a special "Close encounter" model to be released in the very near future. He assures me that he will make an announcement once the pre-order page goes live. Just to whet your appetite here is a short video of the AmigaOne X5000 in action: AmigaOne X5000 Close Encounters System
Wishing you, your family and friends a very Happy and Peaceful Christmas
As most Brits of a certain age will know, that is a corruption of a well know and well worn catch-phrase from one of Britain's longest serving entertainers. However, I could think of no other way to "subtlety" announce my imminent departure for Germany to attend my fourth Amiga30th Anniversary event of the year. Hey, who said I was a glutton for punishment. The Amiga30 event in Germany is being held in the town of Neuss which is situated in the North-Rhine Westphalia region of Germany, just across the Rhine River from Dusseldorf. Neuss is one of Germany's oldest Roman settlements and was founded in 16 B.C. as the military colony of Novaesium. The actual show, which A-EON Technology is sponsoring, is taking place on Saturday 10th October, but attendees can also sign up to watch a private extended viewing of Zach Weddington's poignant Viva Amiga documentary on the Friday night before the main event.
For my sins I will be manning the A-EON Technology display area and will be ably assisted by Dennis Zweedijk, an AmigaOS 4 beta tester, who will be demoing his own AmigaOne X5000 & AmigaOne X1000 machines. Also on the A-EON booth will be Core Linux team member and AmigaOS beta tester, Christian Zigotzky who will been demonstrating a special version of Debian 8 Jessie PowerPC SPE on some interesting hardware. A late addition to the A-EON show team is another of our Core Linux team members, Pat Wall, who we think is bringing A.L.I.C.E. along to the show.
Just to get into the spirit I recently attended an Oktoberfest Beer festival. OK if I'm honest the event was actually in Auckland, New Zealand in late September and the Oom-pah band were a mixtures of Kiwis and Irish playing traditional English drinking songs. Still the beer was German and the Steiners were very very large. My German friend, Daniel was wearing his lederhosen and many of the women wore traditional Bavarian costumes. My Irish friend Peter even got volunteered onto the stage (by me and his partner) to help sing one of the drinking songs. His Irish dancing was even better.
After the Neuss show I'm winging my way to Sacramento for my annual Pilgrimage to Amiwest.
I hope to meet up with many of you in Neuss and Sacramento.