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.
After my trip to the Amiga30th in Amsterdam last month and my subsequent visits to California and the UK to attend two more Amiga30th Anniversary events, I'm now safely back in New Zealand. I have just about overcome the triple-whammy of three time zones, jet-lag and late nights coupled with a slight over-indulgence of alcohol. The shows at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California and the Amiga30th Charity event in Peterborough in UK were two very different gatherings but, like the Amsterdam Amiga30 show, were bound by a common theme - the coming together of true Amigans to celebrate the Amiga's 30th Anniversary. In each case the events were backed by a lead organizer(s) and a supporting team, and despite some minor teething problems, they all somehow managed to deliver three very successful and enjoyable Amiga shows.
Amsterdam Amiga30th: A Dutch treat - was organized by the incomparable hosts, Marcel and Marvin. They somehow managed to cram almost 450 people into the tiny Lighthouse venue although there was also a separate marquee for all the Amiga exhibits and displays. The Dutch weather was kind and the after-show VIP canal cruise was very special.
Apart from the joint performance of the 3 Amigos (RJ Mical, Carl Sassenrath and Dave Haynie), the other highlight for me was walking the streets of Amsterdam at 4:30 am on Sunday morning with Marcel, Marvin, Dave Haynie and Matthew. My only disappointment was not getting a signed copy of Petro Tyschtschenko's book.
When I finally managed to get some free time to visit the marquee display area he had already left. Hopefully I will be able to get a copy of his book at the Neuss Amiga30th event in Germany in October. Hey who said I don't read German? OK it's true but at least I can look at the pictures. Having organised the Amsterdam show, Marcel and Mavin caught the Amiga30th bug and attended both the California and UK events.
Computer History Museum, Mountain View, California: A family affair - Bill Borsari aided by a team of organisers and volunteers which included such Amiga luminaries as Dale Luck, Carl Sassenrath, Dave Needle, Sam Dicker and many, many others put on the most ambitious 30th Anniversary event in the spiritual home of the Amiga computer. What can I say about this show? I met so many of the original Amiga family it felt that we had gatecrashed their special Amiga, Inc reunion party.
Almost the entire team was present, apart from the few people like Jay Miner and Dave Morse who, sadly, are no longer with us. I had the privileged of mixing and talking with many of the original Hi-Toro team including Don Ressinger, Amiga marketing & sales and even Bill Hart, the original Amiga Corp VC. It was very moving to see the special bond that still exists between these people after all these years. Many former Commodore employees were also present, including Colin Proudfoot, the joint MD of Commodore UK who now lives in California. Their combined presence added to the overall feel-good factor at the show. And of course there was the premier of Zach Weddington's Viva Amiga movie which was shown to the banquet audience. 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. It was all very emotional.
Peterborough VIP Charity Dinner: For the common good - The brain child of Steve Crietzman and his team of volunteers (plus his dad) which combined the UK Amiga30th party with a VIP charity dinner to raise money for the BBC "Children in Need" charity appeal.
The event also highlighted the special effect the UK games industry had on the Amiga and included luminaries such as Tim Wright (aka CoLD SToRAGE), Allister Brimble, Mike Clarke, Andrew Barnabas, Jon Hare and Bjørn Lynne who represented the combined talents of Team 17, Bitmaps Brothers, Sensible Software and Pygnosis. The presence of former the Commodore UK joint MD David Pleasance and the irrepressible RJ Mical added to the overall vibe of the event. The show was a great success and Steve raised a lot of money for charity with a raffle and excellent after dinner auction. Unbelievably, I won a Boing Ball beach ball in the raffle. Even I shouted out "fix". Oh, and I bought a CDTV T-Shirt in the charity auction.
Each Amiga30th show had it's own very distinctive theme and flavour and I felt really privileged to be able to attend and sponsor all of the celebrations and show that Next-generation AmigaOS systems are still being developed and sold. Although I was a little dismayed to find out I am actually 2 years older that RJ Mical.
To see ourselves as others see us! (DirectX and the Amiga)
I have mentioned in an earlier blog that in my in role as a business angel I get to see a lot of cool technology and ideas. Well the other day while looking at another impressive young startup I had the pleasure of meeting Alex St. John, one of the creators of DirectX, the skunk-work project at Microsoft which was incorporated into Windows95. What really surprised me was that, according to Alex, it was his Amiga lineage which had a real influence on the DirectX development. On hearing this I almost forgot the reason for the meeting and we were soon talking animatedly about the good old Amiga days. I asked him if he could provide some information for my Amiga blog and this is what he sent me:
"I started programming when I was quite young (11) on the University of Alaska Honeywell mainframe. My first and most beloved computer was the Commodore Vic-20 which I got when I was around 13. I immediately took to making games for myself on it. My first game was a game I called Dungeoneer which involved a dot running around a line maze fighting red dot monsters and avoiding X traps. It was practically World of Warcraft to me back then. By the time the Commodore Amiga arrived in 1987 I was a hopeless Commodore fan. I couldn’t wait to get one.
It was one of the most remarkable computers ever made.
A multitasking consumer OS running hardware accelerated audio, sprite graphics, and displaying thousands of colors in an era when PC screens were green and a state of the art Apple Macintosh looked like this;
This was what Amiga graphics looked like back then! And unlike the game consoles of that era, I could program the Amiga!
As a kid who loved writing and playing Commodore-64 games, the Amiga was a dream come true. I had never dreamed of having access to program such amazing media features. You could make games that were better than anything the leading edge game consoles of that era could match. Exposure to the Amiga early in my career turned out to be a pivotal influence later on as I moved on to learning 3D graphics. Tragically Commodore with its unequivocally superior product and technology for that era managed to go out of business in 1994. The same year myself and a couple friends began developing the DirectX media architecture at Microsoft…
At the time that I joined Microsoft Windows supported 8bit color displays and had no hardware support for accelerated sound or video. A windows media file in that era used a fixed 8bit color palette to display an entire video of any length. If you watched a video of more than a minute in length the audio would drift out of synchronization with the imagery until it was like watching a bad English dubbing job of a German movie. I had been given the job of helping hundreds of DOS game developers migrate their DOS games to the forthcoming Windows 95, which was only marginally better at graphics. I secretly seethed at the idea that Microsoft was going to ship a new state of the art multi-tasking OS in 1995 that was inferior to a 1987 Commodore Amiga. My two nerd friends and I from Microsoft’s Windows 95 evangelism team conspired to introduce Amiga like media capabilities to the PC platform.
We designed the early DirectX media API’s. DirectSound which enabled real-time hardware mixing of dozens of hardware accelerated audio channels. DirectDraw which enabled Amiga like video hardware accelerated sprite animation, DirectInput which enabled digital game pads on the PC for the first time, DirectVideo to enable hardware accelerated 24bit color video with proper audio synchronization and DirectPlay to enable the first real-time Windows based multiplayer games. It was too late to ship the technology with Windows 1995 so I persuaded the hundreds of DOS game developers I was working with to adopt it and ship the first DirectX libraries with their first Windows games. Because Windows 95 couldn’t support the new DirectX capabilities, we modified Windows 95 to enable us to disable most of the OS when a DirectX game was running thereby creating the illusion for the consumer that it could really run such games. A year later we designed and shipped Direct3D and Amiga lived again in Windows 95!
SuperBubsy was the first hardware accelerated, sprite animated DirectX demo running at 500fps at 640x480 in 16bit color in Windows 95. ATI (Now AMD) supported the very early efforts to enable Amiga like graphics in Windows by porting games like SuperBubsy to the early DirectX API’s.
At the time it was a huge deal, Windows 95 became the most popular and widely adopted consumer OS Microsoft had ever made and Apple’s market share collapsed through 1997 as PC’s enabled with Amiga like audio and graphics accelerators swept the consumer market. Nolan Bushnell (Atari’s Founder) came to visit us at Microsoft and said told us HE was OUR fan. We did the deal with Sega a year later to port DirectX to the next generation Sega Dreamcast but when Sega failed, Gates decided he wanted to make a console of his own. Today the Xbox or the “DirectXBox” as I knew it is the direct descendant of that early attempt to return amazing Amiga like media capabilities to consumer computing. DirectX, which was bolted on to Windows 95 is now the underlying OS architecture for all Windows media and graphics. 20 years later I’m sitting in my garage office programming away in CUDA on a 5 Teraflop GPU from Nvidia that evolved from the early success of DirectX and the timeless influence of the Amiga OS on computing. More importantly, DirectX is the reason a Windows PC can run an AmigaOS emulator today."
I suppose Alex's story should come as no real surprise. During the Amiga30th events people regularly approached one or more of the Amiga founders and thanked them for creating the Amiga and influencing their career paths. Who said, "only Amiga makes it possible?" Oh, and did I invest in Alex's new startup? What do you think?
It was not only former Commodore and Amiga people who visited the Californian Amiga30th show. Several major Amiga 3rd-party hardware and software developers also turned up to help celebrate the Amiga's 30th birthday.
This included Amiga artist Leo Schwab, complete with his trademark ruffled shirt, hat and cape and Video Toaster God, Tim Jenison who, unfortunately, I did not get to speak to. However, I did managed to catch up with ASDG founder Perry Kivolowitz who was a fellow presenter at the event. I managed to watch Perry's presentation in which he talked about his Amiga history and after the first 10 minutes, I realised I could have written his speech myself! In fact, in many ways I already had .
If you are a reader of Amiga Future magazine you may know that I write the Classic Reflections series in which I review the contributions a person or company had on the Amiga scene.
In issue 97 of Amiga Future I wrote about ASDG, and as luck would have it, I had a copy of the article text on my laptop. So, after Perry finished his presentation I approached him and suggested I could have been his speech writer and, with some trepidation, showed him the first page of my ASDG article. This is the first time I've ever shown one of my articles to an actual subject. Fortunately, I'm happy to say he was both surprised and pleased with what I written. He even said "I don't know why I bothered to prepare a speech, I could have just read out your article!" Anyway, I provided him with a copy of the full text and promised to send him the complete article with photos when I returned to New Zealand. He in turn promised to read through the article and correct any mistakes he found. The good news is Perry has now sent me his (small ) list of corrections/comments and has promised to provide me with and interview and more in-depth information for an ASDG reprise article. Look out for this update in a future edition of Amiga Future magazine.
You can now be Cyrus - version 2.2!
With the release of the AmigaOne X5000 fast approaching, our manufacturers have started shipping the Cyrus+ production motherboards to our supplier. The production board is designated version 2.2 and is equipped with a silent CPU cooling fan and improved CPU fan control firmware. A new "Boing Ball" case design is also being released for the AmigaOne X5000 system.
My backyard is bigger than yours!
While helping to prepare for the Amiga30th at the Computer History Museum I got roped into volunteered to help prepare some of the exhibits for the Amiga history display. This involved working in Dale Luck's yard/workshop helping to clean monitors, computers and keyboards in preparation for the show. (A note to all Amiga collectors out there, someone has always got a bigger collection than you!) Dale's collection is not just impressive, it's mind boggling.
At every turn there is another piece of Amiga memorabilia and history. Whether its parts of Lorraine, "War & Peace", an SX-500 or a A500 based arcade game machine there are amazing pieces of unique Amiga hardware everywhere you look.
Of course Dale has worked for many other companies and also has a particular fondness for arcade machines and these can be found all over his property.
However the real hero of the piece was SACC's Dan Kloczko who had spent weeks sleeping out at Dale's place helping to prepare all of the machines for the Amiga30th show.
Darren Stevens and Pat Wall, two active members of our Core Linux support team attended the Amiga30th Charity event in Peterborough. Pat flew in from Eire while Darren managed to squeeze the show in between his work commitments. Pat is our distro guru and is the talent behind our Live Ubuntu Remix distribution while Darren is one or our Linux Kernel experts making sure that our hardware supports the latest kernel updates. Meanwhile, fellow kernel specialist Christian Zigotzky and new Linux team member Julian Margetson continue to fine tune our "special projects" Linux distribution. More on this later.
And if that is not enough Christian has just released the Linux 4.2-rc7 Kernel for testing. All indication are if this goes well Linus Torvalds will be issuing the full 4.2 kernel within the next week or so. Our team continue to support many PowerPC Linux distributions and are forging close working relationships with many of the PowerPC support groups.
You know you're getting old when.....
Part 1........I was helping to set up all the Amiga computers for the Amiga family group shot at the end of the California show.
This entailed carrying all of the computers from the Amiga history area to the stage in the main lecture hall. I had already carried a couple of smaller machines and decided to pick up an Amiga 3000T which has got to be the heaviest Amiga on the planet. I knew this already as I have an A3000 tower in my own collection but I was taken aback when I first attempted to pick up the machine. Yes, they are very heavy. Honest! As I looked at the A3000T and mentally prepared myself for the second attempt to pick it up, former Commodore engineer (and SACC member) Beth Richards offered to carry it to the stage for me. She was surprised when I refused her gracious offer and manfully picked up the A3000T and struggled with the machine to the staging area. To the greate amusement of my fellow (male) volunteers, AmigaOS Team Lead, Steve Solie starting whistling the tune to the American sitcom Two and a half men which goes something like, "Men men men men, manly men, oo hoo hoo, hoo hoo, oo!"
Part 2........ After the California show I travelled to the UK to attend the Amiga30th Charity event in Peterborough. I arrived at Heathrow airport after the overnight transatlantic flight feeling a little disheveled and took the tube to central London. I changed at Green Park station to pick up to the Victoria line and, with case and bag in hand, looked up at the long flight of stairs which would take me to the correct platform. A young man in running shorts who had obviously been exercising took one look at me and offered to carry my case up the stairs! All I need now is for a teenager to offer to give up their seat to me on a bus and I know it's all over!
Favourite phrase used at all the Amiga30th shows, "What happens at the Amiga 30th, stays at the Amiga30th!".
I'm writing this blog a few days before I travel to the Netherlands for the Amiga30th Event in Amsterdam. Who would have thought that the Amiga would be celebrating it's 30th birthday this year?
Although I did not get my first Amiga until 1988, a full 3 years after the Amiga's launch, the Amiga computer has been part of my life from the first day I purchased my original Amiga 2000. OK I know it's "just" a computer but that doesn't mean I can't get a lot fun and enjoyment from my special "hobby".
During my recent visit to Europe, not only did I meet up with ACube in Cardiff, Matthew Leaman and I also had time for a gathering with some other familiar Amiga faces in London. Michael Battilana of Amiga Forever fame, flew in from Italy while the Hyperion Entertainment contingent of Ben Hermans, Timothy DeGroote and Costel Mincea came in from Belgium and Germany. We were also joined by free-lance AmigaOS developer and musician Andy Broad (Sketchblock, Personal Paint 7.3 and now MultiViewer & MultiViewerNG) together with AmigaOS stalwart Simon Archer, who finally received his AmiWest 2013 Developer award for his excellent work on Codebench, the development project management tool for AmigaOS 4.
Contrary to all the rumours, the Hyperion Entertainment team appeared to be alive and kicking, although after a night out in London's West End some of them did look a little close to death the next morning. I suppose going to bed at 5:00 AM in the morning after a night on the town will do that to a person? Still some of them were only 30 minutes late for our prearranged meeting. You know who you are!
Smart people like Amigas
Sometimes I tend to forget that Amigans are really very clever people. No, not just because they think the Amiga was the most ground-breaking personal computer ever released or because they still like to use Classic and or Next-Generation Amigas - although that does tend to indicate a higher level of intelligence and independent thinking IMHO!
The other night I bumped into Lance Lones, a former rocket scientist and astronomer who morphed into a film producer, cinematographer and digital effects specialist with numerous blockbuster film credits to his name such as Avatar, The Lord of the Rings - Return of the King, X-men and King Kong and many more. Drawn to New Zealand to work for Weta Workshops this digital specialist-come-entrepreneur is now the founder and chief scientist for his own company L2VR and is designing Virtual Reality Cameras and software for film makers.
Despite his impressive resume' within a few minutes of meeting we were talking about Amiga computers. Hey who said that's my only topic of conversation these days! Way back in the early 1990's, when Lance was a research assistant at UCSD Solar Heliospheric Research Group in San Diego, he was using Amiga computers to display the results from Interplanetary Scintillations and Coronal Mass Ejection/C3 Coronagraphs. According to Lance they used the Amiga to display the results because of is superior graphics abilities and, after a couple of drinks, he agreed with me that the Amiga was truly a computer ahead of its time.
.... and then we have AmigaOS developer Stephen Fellner, a design engineer and a micro bluetooth specialist who in is spare time is a freelance AmigaOS developer and the author of DvPlayer, an advanced multimedia player for AmigaOS 4. In his day job he has worked on a number of confidential projects for smart sensor technology with special emphasis of micro bluetooth applications and extending battery life. He is now using his skills to create a new slim form-factor Smartwatch which threatens to disrupt current models.
If you like Smartwatches, you might want to check out Stephen's new website, lune-digital. Unlike current Smartwatch designs, with their bulky form factor and limited battery life of a few days, Stephen's sleek, revolutionary, optimised design promises up to 6 months battery life from a single recharge. I've actually played with an early prototype of Stephen's Smartwatch but I am sworn to secrecy. Stephen is now inviting visitors to his website to help shape the Smartwatch's future design and features. Anyone for a game of Galaxian?
Summertime ......and the living is easy, or so the old Gershwin classic jazz song goes.... and to celebrate Summertime Amiga-style we challenged German software magicians, Thomas and Frank of EntwicklerX to create the ultimate Summertime CANDI theme to capture those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer. (Hey, who said enough with the song lyrics already?)
And did they manage to pull it off you might ask? I'll let you be the judge but with Summertime CANDI running on my Workbench I can almost hear the waves gently lapping on the shore with screeching seagulls flying overhead while yachts slip silently by on a turquoise sea as crabs scuttle over the hot sand past discarded sandcastles crumbling in the warming summer breeze. Did I mention that the flag fluttering on the sandcastle as the dune grass wafts gently in the breeze. Ah summertime......... it's just a pity "winter is coming" down-under. Summertime CANDI will be available from AMIstore in the near future. Existing Workbench CANDI owners will be able to download a copy free of charge. I'm reliably informed that more CANDI treats are also in the works.
Linux Corner (or our man in Montserrat!)
I would like to welcome Julian Margetson to our very active Core Linux Support team. Julian, aka Spectre660, hails from the Emerald Isle of Montserrat, a tiny volcanic Island in the Caribbean which is part of the Leeward Islands and a British Overseas Territory.
Julian has worked closely with our fellow Core Linux team member Christian Zigotkzy (xeno74) over the past year or so to ensure that the Sam460 supports the latest Linux kernels and many Linux PowerPC distributions. Julian's first Amiga was A500 which he got in 1988. He still owns two Amiga 1200s but they haven't seen much use since he acquired his his first Next-Generation Amiga, a Sam440ep-Flex, in 2009. He pioneered the use of PCIe to PCI adapters in his Sam440ep-Flex and was active user of higher end graphics cards becoming a beta-tester for early RadeonHD driver development.
Following a major eruption of Soufriere Hills volcano in 1995, which continued on and off for the next four years, over two thirds of the islands population was evacuated. Today the volcano is relatively quiet but is still considered active. The population has recovered a little but still only about 5,000 live on the island and are confined to the northern area. The south, including the old capital of Plymouth, is part of the volcano Exclusion Zone and is too dangerous for human habitation. Julian says he is probably the only Amiga user left on the island as the other two Classic Amiga users he knew left the island in 1997 and he has never met another Next-Generation Amiga user in person. Julian lives near Brades in the Northwest of Montserrat and according to him, "We have our challenges as the rebuilding process goes on. The small population results in high costs for goods and services. Electricity services are a challenge as emergency generators are still in use. A period of power outages at the end of 2013 led to a power supply failing and destroying my first Sam460ex board. I now have all my computers on UPSs. A new power station is being constructed with proper generators and geothermal energy is being evaluated."
Although an experienced Amigan, Julian didn't get involved with Linux until September 2013. However, in a few short months he was patching and compiling his own Linux kernels and solving Linux installation problems on his Sam440ep. He was instrumental in RadeonHD 6xxxx graphic card support under Linux for the Sam460ex and more recently he has been delving into the Linux-ppc-dev mailing list and performed his first git bisect (sounds painful! ) which solved a Sam460 issue with Kernels up to 3.19 and Radeon HD 7xxx graphics cards and above. According to Julian, "I cross compile my kernels and do Ramdisk work under Virtualbox on a PC so that I can use My Sam460ex as much as possible.". His current machine is a Sam460ex but, as part of our Core Linux support team, he is about to receive his first A-EON Technology hardware, unfortunately he is sworn to secrecy so don't ask! His addition to our Core Linux team has already paid dividends as his contribution helped Darren Stevens solve a tricky RadeonHD issue that was bugging us for quite a while. Welcome the the team Julian, you must have one of the most unique and intriguing Amiga back stories. Unless someone else has a better one! Now there's a challenge.
Linux kernel 4.1 imminent
With Linus Torvalds announcing the release of the final Release Candidate (RC) for the upcoming Linux kernel 4.1 which will be released on the June 28th, it was good to see that our other Linux dynamo, Christian Zjgotkzy, has just issued RC4.1 Update 8 kernel for testing on the Amiga One X1000. This final RC includes a whole host of new features, including Debian 8 and Btrfs (file system) support.
It also includes KVM_BOOK3S_64_PR which adds support for running guest kernels in virtual machines on processors without using hypervisor mode in the host. According to Christian, this works on machines where hypervisor mode is not available or not usable, and can emulate processors that are different from the host processor, including emulating 32-bit processors on a 64-bit host. It also adds support for Mac-on-Linux, network support for AROS hosted, 4 serial ports, Bluetooth USB dongle, Kernel tracing with ftrace and Ubuntu MATE 15.04 and of course Linux kernel icons created for AmigaOS 4.1 by AmigaOne X1000 beta tester Tommysammy.
If you been following the A-EON news releases you will have noticed that, over the past seven months we have been busily acquiring many Classic and Next-generation AmigaOS software titles. These include many iconic programs such as Personal Paint, Image FX, Aladdin4D, Octamed Sound Studio and more recently TuneNet and DvPlayer.
However, we have also been establishing close relationships with a number of key Developers and are working on a range of new software and utilities for both Classic and Next-Generation Amigas. All of this hard work is now starting to bear fruit and along with Warp3D-SI and MultiViewer & MultiViewerNG there are another 7 or 8 titles in the works in addition to the one listed above. So expect the flow of software updates and new content to continue over the next year. This should really come as no surprise after my presentation at Amiwest last year when I revealed that A-EON would be focusing it's effort on delivering quality software content for our hardware. Since it's launch in November last year, AMIStore has proved extremely successful with both developers and customers alike and we are slowly building up the number of titles that are available for download. There are still a few issues to be resolved, one being the ability to reliably download large software files >1 GB but this is being worked on and should be resolved in the near future, or so Matthew Leaman assures me Actually, the AMIStore app, which was developed by Matthew, is a massive coding job and it's a tribute to his dedication and skill that he has managed to create a highly functional AmigaOS app store in his spare time, while running a business and looking after his young family. Now Matthew about those AMIStore updates and bug fixes ..............
Getting a C64 Fix
Gamelab have developed a mobile html5 based game engine called Gamefroot which they are using in their Gamedash2d initiative to demonstrate its efficiency by creating a complete playable game within 48 hours from start to finish. CEO Dan Millward said that apart from having a lot of fun, he hoped to use the engine as a learning resource for high school students to encourage more kids to take up programming. So far they have publised 9 games most of which have a distinctive retro feel and are available free of charge on the Google Playstore. Their 10th Game, Space Invading has just been submitted to the Playstore and is pending release.
Remarkably, one of their games, Celebrity Breakout, which is a rather gruesome variation of whack-a-mole, is trending in Poland and had already received almost 70 thousand downloads within a few days of being posted on the Playstore. Instead of whacking those pesky moles you have to prevent spots and zits spreading and erupting on a celebrity's face by whacking the spot when they are small red blemishes or squeezing them if they turn into a zits...before they burst and splatter gunk on the screen. Just lovely! Unsurprisingly, given the subject matter, it has received terrible ratings but the download total just keeps going up!
It perhaps no surprise that most of the games they have developed so far pay tribute to their gaming roots, particularly the Commodore C64 and the Amiga 500.
Just as I was about to leave Dan showed me his pride and joy, an "ancient" C64 which he bought on TradeMe (NZ's unique version of eBay). Unfortunately, he didn't think it worked and thought it had been damaged in shipping due to poor packaging. It was missing the C64 logo strip and had a few small scratches which presumably happened during shipping but, other than that, it looked OK. However, he did not have a C64 PSU so he had not being able to check whether it worked or not.
I told him I knew just the person who could test it for him! When I got home I hooked it up a Commodore monitor and C64 PSU I just happened to have lying around. On power up it booted instantly to the C64's iconic blue welcome screen. Apart from a couple of sticky keys it appeared to be in full working order but as more complete test I inserted a Commodore International Soccer cartridge and attached an Arcade Evolution joystick I purchased from AmigaKit. I set the skill level to maximum (Level 9) and took on the CPU....and the result? Well, see for yourself! I'd forgotten how much fun it was using real C64 hardware. Much better than emulation on a PC. As for the C64, I told Dan it was damaged beyond repair and offered to dispose of it for him free or charge. However, for some reason he did not take me up on my kind offer?
Gone but not forgotten
If you are coming to the Amsterdam show I'm afraid to say I have retired my checkered Boing Ball shoes that I've worn to the last nine Amiga shows I've attended. They were half a size too small and by the end of a two day show like Amiwest my feet were really suffering. However, don't despair, although I've hung up my original Boing Ball shoes I've managed to find a nice new pair which are just the right size. So if you are visiting the Amiga30th show in Amsterdam at the end of the month just remember, I'll be the one wearing the nice new Boing Ball shoes along with my Boing Ball tie and belt! (sad or what?)
You might think with some of the comments you read on the Amiga community forums that all is not right with the Amiga world, then you receive an unprompted *email like this out of the blue:-
"I am a new owner of the AmigaOne x1000 and AmigaOS 4.1 FE since the beginning of May. I have a classic A500 and A3000. I would like to take the time to express my sincere gratitude for such an amazing Amiga computer. I haven't enjoyed a computer like this in over 23 years of owning the classics. I appreciate all the hard work from all to get the AmigaOne where it is now and I am proud to be part of the A-EON and Hyperion Entertainment family of computers. I do remember when computing was fun when I bought my first Amiga. You all have made it fun again. I have also passed on my appreciation to AmigaKit as well. You all are great. Thanks, John Dupuis, Baton Rouge, Louisiana USA" (*reproduced with the permission of John Dupuis)
Many thanks John, I couldn't have said it better myself.
Next stop Amsterdam.................................
It's been quite a while since I've updated my blog. Unfortunately, there are just not enough hours in the day at the moment. Apart from my Amiga passion (hey who said obsession) I enjoy helping young companies start their business and, as a founding investor in Lightning Lab, I'm in the fortunate position of working with some of the best young talented entrepreneurs and companies in New Zealand. I also get to see some pretty cool and unique technology.
I recently visited a small factory in Petone, near Wellington, which manufactures a seamless polycarbonate mesh, a modern version of chainmail, which is designed for the architectural and lighting sectors where it is used for facades, screens, curtains and designer lighting. Of course chainmail is nothing new and has been around for centuries so what makes this polycarbonate chainmail so special. Well the inventor, Kayne Horsham worked as an art director for Weta Workshop and had the tedious task of creating a lightweight, robust and authentic looking chainmail to be worn by Aragorn and other characters in "The Lord of the Rings" movies. It was a slow and laborious process with each chainmail costume created one link at a time.
Also, like traditional chainmail, the costumes had an inherent weakness because the rings have a join where they are interlocked. Kayne's team spent hours laboriously creating and then repairing the costumes by hand and it wasn't long before the actors started calling his costumes "Kayne-mail".
After the filming was over Kayne starting thinking about ways to develop a method in which the chainmail could be made by machine in one continuous process, eliminating the slow and laborious work. After being told by toolmakers it was just not possible he taught himself the rudiments of injection moulding. He and his partner then set about designing a machine that could produce a 2D continuous mesh of components with none of the inherent weaknesses of the traditional chainmail design.
After a lot of hard work they finally created a machine that could injection mould a continuous sheet of seamless polycarbonate mesh. However, because of the inherent strength of their product they soon realized it had a much wider application that just creating special chainmail costumes for movies. They established a company called Kaynemaile to manufacture and market the product. It is fully recyclable and has a carbon footprint of less than one-quarter of an equivalent stainless steel product. Because of its strength and flexibility it has been used in building projects throughout the world including, New York's Cornell University and Hard Rock Cafes throughout the United States. The mesh is so strong it is also approved as a safety barrier and has been used to make shark nets, and coming full circle, rolls of Kaynemail were used on the set of "The Hobbit" films. Kaynemaile has received several prestigious international design awards and according to Kayne uses for Kaynemaile are still being discovered. Anyone for polycarbonate chainmail Amiga case?
From small acorns - little miracles grow
About 23 years ago I acquired a Miracle Keyboard Piano teaching system for my Amiga 4000. I decided that my family would learn to pay the piano using the Amiga, keyboard and the Miracle software. Unfortunately, no miracles happened for me as I struggled to play such classics as, "twinkle, twinkle little star" and "row, row row your boat", although I could manage a passable "god save the queen". However, we discovered very quickly that my daughters, who were aged 12 and 9 at the time, were both very musical and it did not take long before they outgrew the excellent Miracle teaching software. Following a succession of piano, tuned percussion, saxophone, clarinet and voice lessons over the next 6-9 years, both of them went on to study Music at university. I often wonder whether this would of happened if I had not bought the Miracle Teaching System in the first place. I would like to say, "only the Amiga makes it possible" but the Miracle system was also available for other hardware including the PC. Still there was a certain symmetry when my youngest daughter wrote the music and sound effects for Danny and Steven Fellner's "Amiga animation" which is supplied with every copy of AmigaOS 4, and for the start-up boot sound of the AmigaONE X1000 and AMIGA one X5000 systems.
As I'm writing this blog I'm waiting for the delivery of my new AMIGA one X5000 tower from AmigaKit. The package is in the county and was supposed to be delivered yesterday. It didn't arrive and is supposedly being delivered today.
If you didn't know, I'm signed up as a Cyrus+ beta tester and, as with the AmigaONE X1000 beta programme, I delayed shipment of my board towards the end of the distribution run to allow all other beta testers to get their boards first. Hey who said I'm just waiting for all the bugs to be ironed out! Our core Linux developers have had their boards for several months and have already produced a stable Linux distribution with full 3D graphic acceleration for the Cyrus+ board. The AmigaOS 4 port has continued apace but was slowed for a while by a tricky little CPU bug which was hidden in the Freescale Erratum.
Freescale had detected the bug and effected a kernel level fix for Linux. Fortunately fellow beta tester and all round hardware guru, Eldee Stevens found the Freescale information and it didn't take long for Thomas Frieden to then apply the approved Freescale workaround. Since then the AmigaOS 4 Cyrus+ port has become a lot more stable, allowing other key developers to work on the necessary drivers. Just need to get my AMIGA one X5000 box so I can join the party!
May the 4th be with you!
Apologies to all Star wars fans. The core Linux developer team have been working overtime testing our new Freescale 64-bit multi-core PowerPC based motherboards. Although, the boards have been designed specifically for the AmigaOS they also support a whole host of PowerPC Linux distributions. We use PowerPC Linux to thoroughly test and prove the new hardware to ensure there are no nasty surprises. This worked well with the Nemo motherboard in the AmigaONE X1000 which, since its release in late 2011, has proved very reliable. Given that we used the same hardware team to develop and design the Cyrus+ motherboard we expect similar excellent reliability and performance.
You might think with new PowerPC boards on the way that work will have slowed down on Linux distros for the AmigaONE X1000. Well you would be wrong. Our Linux team aided and abetted by several enthusiastic AmigaONE X1000 owners continue to break all barriers. Thanks to the work of Christian Zigotsky, Pat Wall, Darren Stevens and Alex Perez the AmigaONE X1000 continues to support the latest Linux kernels and many of the new PowerPC Linux distributions.
It seems Linux godfather, Linus Torvalds, wants to get in on the numbers game. Rather than continuing with the numbering sequence which would see the next Linux kernel named 3.20 he has suggested jumping straight to Linux 4.0. In his own words, "We're slowly getting up there again, with 3.20 being imminent, and I'm once more close to running out of fingers and toes. I was making noises about just moving to 4.0 some time ago. So, I made noises some time ago about how I don't want another 2.6.39 where the numbers are big enough that you can't really distinguish them. But let's see what people think. So - continue with v3.20, because bigger numbers are sexy, or just move to v4.0 and reset the numbers to something smaller?"
Whatever Torvalds decides to call the next kernel the good news for AmigaONE X1000 owners is that Christian is way ahead of the game. He has already released a sixth alpha version of the 4.0 Linux kernel (or 3.20 if you prefer the original numbering sequence). It's early days but Christian has already successfully tested the new kernel with Ubuntu 10.04.4 LTS, Lubuntu 12.04.5 LTS, Fedora 17, MintPPC 11, Debian Sid and many more PowerPC Linux distributions on his AmigaONE X1000 including Ubuntu Mate 15.04 and OpenSUSE 13.1-1. I just don't know where he finds the time. With MorphOS also approaching the magic version number 4.0 it seems that the AmigaOS and the Linux kernel are in good company. Who am I to argue with Linus?
A wolf in troll's clothing?
I receive a lot of emails and PMs from Amiga well-wishers who view but prefer not to post in public on the Amiga community forums. I do remember my own situation, way back in 2004, when I first started posting on AmigaWorld.net and Amiga.org. It was a little intimidating at first, even for me, but it did not take long before I was sharing my Amiga passion with like minded individuals. Unfortunately all open community forums seem to attract a few posters who have no real interest in the forum they visit but take delight in causing disharmony and spreading FUD! You will be unsurprised to learn that this phenomena is not restricted to the Amiga community forums. A recent scientific study reported that "trolls are by far, more likely to have narcissistic, Machiavellian, psychopathic, and sadistic personality traits". The report also suggest that such people are "characterized by being vicious and degrading toward others, sometimes physically and in the most extreme cases are sex offenders and serial killers". Ooooeeerr! According to the research, it seems that letting certain people vent anonymously in public forums they are less likely to do something much more destructive in person. So next time you see a troll on an Amiga forum just ignore them and remember you are providing a greater public service.
Meanwhile after A-EON purchased the exclusive right to OctaMED we received a message from Yerzmyey , "Hmm, maybe it is a good idea with the OctaMED. It was surely the best editor EVER, for Amiga 500. If I had Amiga One (RULEZ!!!) some new version of OctaMED would be surely the first thing to buy. If it used full capabilities of A1 (surely powerful like hell, I suspect it would be with 32 channels without any problems) I could make really good stuff with such a combo (A1 + OctaMED). But meanwhile I have only A500, so I (still!!) use it with my standard OctaMED 4.0, making stuff like this. Good luck guys!"
It's really good to receive messages of support from a long time Amigan like Yerzmyey and even better to see that 27 year-old Amiga technology is still being put to good use.
Where's Wally, Waldo, Harvey?
A friend came round the other day and brought along his brother who was vising from England. He has heard about my "small" Commodore and Amiga collection and asked if I could give him a quick tour of my "man cave". Never missing a chance to talk about computers and the Amiga I started with the Kim-1, worked my way through the early PETs and on to the 8-bit games machines, the Vic20, C64 (and variations), the c128 and then Commodore TED series before moving on to the "Porsche" PET's. Of course this was followed by the Amiga 1000 and the other 16-bit and 32-bit Amiga models and finally the Next-generation Amigas finishing up with the 64-bit multicore AmigaONE X1000. I even had a couple of Power Macs running the latest MorphOS version and AROS/Icaros Desktop running on an x86 PC and, for good measure, had the latest version of Live Ubuntu Remix iso running on my second AmigaONE X1000.
He was very impressed, but no doubt thought I was a little mad? As a demonstration, I had my other AmigaONE X1000 running the System-Window workbench CANDI animation and playing movie with MPlayer. He was impressed, but even more so when I dragged the WB screen down to reveal the Boing Ball Composite 3DDemo animation running smoothly in the background. Perhaps I've seen the original Amiga launch video too many times! However, he was even more impressed when I then unlocked the WB window and began dragging it left and right across the screen. The Composite 3DDemo played smoothly in it's own screen while the CANDI bubbles continued to waft gently upwards in the imaginary breeze and the movie played on without a pause, all while the WB was being dragged around the screen. He asked me if this was the latest version of Windows 10! He did mange to leave my house undamaged! (he was much bigger and a lot younger than me anyway ) I have to admit it's been a while since I've shown a non-Amigan the current state of the AmigaOS and I'm pleased to say he went away very impressed.
To celebrate the Easter period the talented developers and graphics artists (aka EntwicklerX and Kevin Saunders) have produced a Workbench CANDI theme for the season. At the same time, Workbench CANDI has been upgraded and is now even simpler to use. Several new features have been added including the following:
- Automatically switches between CANDI animations by double-clicking on a CANDI icon.
- Double clicking on the same CANDI icon switches the Workbench animation off.
- CANDI animation goes to sleep if Workbench goes behind another active screen.
- New tooltypes to select LOWCPU option for less capable hardware (removing the need for a LOWCPU CANDI version).
- ResetWB option now works when CANDI is running.
- Each CANDI can now be controlled by an external program/utility (coming soon).
By the way, no prizes for working out the relationship between, Wally, Waldo and Harvey!
No one's April fool - Warp3D update
Keeping with the graphics theme, it's no secret that A-EON have been working on Warp3D for RadeonHD 5xxx & 6xxx series graphics cards equipped with the Evergreen GPU. While this work is continuing, after purchasing joint ownership of Warp3D late last year, AmigaOS graphics specialist Hans de Ruiter was commissioned to work on a version of Warp3D for the newer Southern Island chip-set.
The Southern Island GPU includes many cards in the RadeonHD 7xxx series and a whole host of cards in the newer Rx cards in the R7 and R9 series. A core group of AmigaOS4.1 beta testers have been busily testing our latest version of Warp3D and have reported excellent 3D performance with compatible Southern Island RadeonHD and Rx graphics cards.
Here is a list of some of the games, utilities and applications that have been tested so far:- Quake III Arena, VoxelNoid, Dragon Memory, Supertux Kart, VoxelBird, Speed Dreams, Torcs, and Blender.
Also Descent 1 & 2 reportedly work fine, even at the highest resolutions. A Warp3D beta tester even reported that Open Arena ran fine at 1600x1200 at the maximum quality setting on his Sam460 with a Radeon R7 265 card. A-EON's RadeonHD driver already supported full 2d acceleration for the the RadeonHD and Rx series. With the new Warp3D upgrade true 3D hardware performance is now possible with Southern Island equipped graphics cards. For all users with RadeonHD 5xxx or 6xxx graphics cards do not despair work is continuing on the Warp3D Evergreen driver for cards in this series.
As all Amigans know 2015 is the Amiga's 30th Anniversary. Many Amiga User groups and enthusiasts are planning to celebrate the Amiga's 30th birthday with parties all over the world.
Some will be small gatherings, while others, like the Amiga30 in Amsterdam and the Kickstarter backed Amiga 30th at the Computer History Museum in California promise to be massive affairs, with Amiga celebrities both past and present. Whatever way you decide to celebrate the Amiga's 30th birthday, make sure you do it with style and panache and be proud to be associate with the world's first multimedia computer, whatever your current Amiga flavour.
Got to go now, there is a delivery man walking down the drive with a big parcel.
With the Christmas season almost upon us it's time for a little Winter/Summer cheer. Those clever developers at EntwicklerX (Frank Menzel & Thomas Claus) have worked their magic once again to further optimise the composite engine driving the Workbench CANDI animations.
The result is an improved graphics performance at a much lower CPU load. Better still they have added special Christmas and Space themes to the WorkBench CANDI package. Check out the video link for a quick preview of all the Workbench CANDI animations. All registered owners of the current version can obtain the new version free of charge from AMIStore.
Video link: Workbench CANDI compilation
Getting Personal (Paint)
In keeping with the Christmas spirit I am pleased to reveal that Andy Broad has completed the first update to Personal Paint 7.3 for the AmigaOS and AmigaOS 4.1. Following Cloanto's tradition of adding a letter to designate the update status, the new version, Personal Paint 7.3a squashes a few bugs and adds a couple of new features. Personal Paint 7.3a will be available for download via AMIstore and of course registered owners of version 7.3 can obtain the upgrade free of charge. Staying with Personal Paint AmigaKit is now including a fully licensed copy of Personal Paint 7.3 for AmigaOS 3 computers on its 4GB IDE CF Hard Drive package and don't forget the earlier version of Personal Paint 7.1c is still available to download free of charge from PPaint.com.
One of Personal Paint's strong points is its ability to easily create GIF animations. Now YouTube is getting in on the act and is launching an experimental GIF maker which allows you to create a 6 second GIF animation from a YouTube video and share the animated GIF you have created. There was a beta sign up page for users with channels to test the new feature but this has been fully oversubscribed and YouTube are no longer accepting applications. Of course there are already a lot of websites dedicated to creating a GIF animation from YouTube videos but it looks like YouTube's new GIF maker will become the future standard. Fortunately Amigans don't have to wait for YouTube and can make full use of Personal Paint's superior GIF animation compression algorithms which are designed to provide maximum compression without sacrificing compatibility with the most popular browsers. I wonder what Personal Paint GIF animations you will make? Now there's a challenge!
Unblocking your creative talent
As well as updating Personal Paint, Andy has been adding more features to Sketchblock, his own 24-bit graphics program. To demonstrate Sketchblock's advanced features he has created a festive video of Sketchblock Lite in action running on an AmigaONE X1000. Check out Andy's video to find out who is that person behind the beard.
Expect to see updated versions of Workbench Candi, Personal Paint and Sketchblock available to download via AMistore in the near future, as well as a lot of other cool software for the AmigaOS and Amiga-inspired systems.
All that remains is to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and Happy & Prosperous New Year from EntwicklerX, A-EON Technology, Andy Broad, Genie and me.