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

20Mar/18Off

We are Amiga!

I can't believe it's already March, just where has the time gone? I suppose a trip to Athlone to attend the Amiga Ireland 2018 Meetup in mid January helped to soak up some of the time. 😉 Once again, Jarlath and his crew made us feel very welcome, although the stories of drinking horse's milk took on an entirely new meaning thanks to a few pints of Guinness and some good Amiga company (MsMadLemon you know who you are).  David Pleasance, former Commodore Managing Director and I gave a couple joint Q&A sessions and during one of them I talked about the special bond that we all share as Commodore and Amiga enthusiasts, which without all of us keeping the dream alive there would be no Amiga. Kenny Gaughan recorded my "We are Amiga" comments and posted them on his Sensible Blogger YouTube channel. I was quite pleased with myself, thinking I had invented a new inspirational Amiga slogan on the spur of the moment but, on checking later, I found someone else had already beaten me to it a few years ago! Such is life. 😉 However, while I was in Europe I managed a quick side trip to AmigaKit's offices in Cardiff to pick up a shiny new motherboard to take back with me to New Zealand.

Daniel Müßener in gaming mode

Towering Achievements
Over the past few months I've had fun helping to test beta versions of Daniel Müßener's Amiga based port of Tower 57,  a dystopian, steampunk top-down shooter game with 16-bit inspired pixel art and destructible environments being developed by Pixwerk. Although the game was being developed for PC, Mac & Linux machines additional stretch goals were included for game ports to AmigaOS4, MorphOS and AROS. I backed the Kickstarter campaign in the hope that the stretch goals would be achieved and fortunately the campaign raised enough funds to realise this aim. Daniel Müßener took on the task of creating the Amiga ports and has worked really hard to make the Amiga version very special indeed. The PC and Mac versions were officially released in November last year and, as a Kickstater backer, I've played the game on Steam on my PC. Yes I actually have a PC. 😉 However, I have to say Daniel's Amiga ports are very impressive. Using his advanced coding skills he has gone above and beyond in his attempts to optimise the game making it eminently playable, even on least powerful machines. He provided a special benchmark reference saved game to show how his Tower57 game port staked up against the official Steam release.

As I have a few Next-Generation Amiga machines (*understatement*) I decided to perform some of my own Tower57 benchmarks. Although as I have often said, I'm not a great fan of benchmarks, it was good to be able to test the Amiga Next-Generation systems against mainstream computers. The results are quite remarkable. Unfortunately, I could not get the AROS version to run on my machine because I need to update my version of Icaros Desktop, a job I put aside for another day. Fortunately I have a good selection of AmigaOS and MorphOS machines to keep me busy. I used the full true colour version of Tower 57 rather than the reduced 16-bit version for lower powered machines for my benchmark comparisons. The model of graphic card also has an effect on the frames per second (fps) performance of Tower57. As you might expect, more powerful graphics cards produce better results. So in all of the tests with my AmigaOne machines, I used a middish-upper range passively cooled 1Gb Radeon HD7750 graphics card. All of the MorphOS based Apple machines used the standard built-in graphics cards they were supplied with.

Tower57 benchmark - PowerBook/MorphOS

It's probably no surprise that the AmigaOne X5000/20 comes out on top by quite a margin. The AmigaOne X1000 was no slowcoach either and pushed the G5 PowerMac into third place in my tests. It was also really good to see the AmigaOne A1222 giving the 2.5 Ghz PowerMac a run for its money. However, the really good news is that all of the Amiga Next-generation machines compared favourably with the commercial Steam release and were all very playable. Now what was that about benchmarks? I've always absolutely believed in them! 😉

Tower57 benchmark - AmigaOne A1222/AmigaOS4.1

The good news is that Daniel has now officially released the game for all Next-Generation Amiga systems so there is no excuse for not trying out the game yourself. Even better, Daniel has now included an auto-updater which checks online to see if a new version of the game is available for your hardware. If it is, you have the option of downloading the Tower57 executable. If you don't have a suitable Next-Generation machine (shame on you ;-)) you can always try out the Steam version on a PC.

Read all about it!

I finally received my copy of Commodore The Amiga Years book by Brian Bagnall. Having contributed to the original Kickstarter project I was a little peeved to see the book for sale on Amazon four months ago and long before I received my Kickstarter reward package. In fact some of the attendees at Amiwest 2017 in October last year already had a copy of the book. Brian did post an apology to all Kickstarter backers which read, "The one painful part of this for me is that places like Amazon got the book before you, the backers. I’ll trace back how this happened right to the start. As you might guess, the book printer prints all the books at the same time. They won’t print your Kickstarter books first, then print the books for the public at a later time (two book printings would be inefficient and excessively costly)." Anyway, enough of my moaning.

My Amiga Years Kickstarter reward bundle

My Kickstarter pledge level entitled me to several eBooks and I received the download link on Christmas Eve, which was a nice present. In late January I finally received my signed copy of the book and a number of extra goodies including another copy of his earlier Commodore book, a FAT Agnus poster, two nice Amiga Years bookmarks and a couple of Amiga Corporation business cards revealing me as the Director of Hardware Engineering. OK Brian you are forgiven! 😉

I suppose the real question is: was the book worth the wait? I read Brian's original book, On the Edge - The Spectacular Rise and Fall of Commodore when it was first released way back in 2005. So thirteen years on does his latest book, which concentrates on Commodore's Amiga years, but not necessarily just the Amiga of course, provide any more information compared to his original book. If you go by the number of pages one would have to say it certainly does.

Future Amigan - start them young I say!

He has split the Amiga years into two volumes, the first of which is just over 500 pages and covers the period 1984 to 1987. Assuming the second volume, entitled The Final Years, is a similar length, then this is almost double the length of the original On the Edge book which was approximately 560 pages and covered the period 1974 - 1998, including a short one page prologue about Jack Tramiel. Irrespective of the length of the book, the important question that needs to be answered: is the book worth reading? Like Brian's original book, it is very well researched, contains lots of first hand interviews and inspiring stories and should appeal to anyone who has an interest in Commodore and the Amiga. If you did not participate in the Kickstarter campaign you can still order the book from Amazon.

Talking about Commodore books, David Pleasance will soon be releasing his own inside story of his life and times at Commodore. His book, entitled Commodore : The Inside Story was funded by another Kickstarter backed campaign. David spent 12 years at Commodore in several senior managerial and international roles. He has promised to reveal all the dark secrets behind the company that dominated the 8-bit computer revolution, created the world's best selling personal computer and launched the revolutionary Amiga before declaring bankruptcy in 1994. His book was originally intended to be his own true recollections of his time at Commodore but the project has grown and now includes chapters from other key Commodore individuals who have promised to share their own personal Commodore tales. Again if you did not contribute the original Kickstarter campaign don't despair,  you can still pre-order a copy of the book directly from David's website.

Polaris - the Amiga's new North Star

Commonly known as the North or Pole star, Polaris is the brightest star in the constellation of Ursa Minor and is located almost at the North Celestial Pole, the point in the sky where all the stars seen from the Northern Hemisphere appear to rotate. Actually, the North Star is not a single star but a combination of several stars which add to its brightness and was used by early explorers in the Northern Hemisphere for navigation. It's probably quite apt that AMD called its 4th generation graphics architecture Polaris and produces a series of graphics cards in its Radeon RX 400 & 500 range. Even SONY's PS4 Pro is powered by Polaris graphics technology. With graphics card technology advancing so fast in the mainstream computing world, AMD's Radeon Southern Island graphics cards were rapidly becoming obsolete and difficult to find. Even the newer Oland based Radeon R7 240 variants are becoming increasingly scarce. In order to have a supply of readily available cards for our new AmigaOne hardware it was vitally important to create drivers for the Polaris based Radeon RX cards as soon as possible.

We are really fortunate to have a talented developer like Hans de Ruiter working on projects for A-EON Technology. For the past six months he has been hard at work creating the new Radeon RX graphics driver for AmigaOS 4.1 to support our AmigaOne hardware. It has been a long and difficult task and, as Matthew Leaman commented, made more difficult by "non-existent hardware documentation and endianess issues."

Radeon RX graphics cards

After a number of beta test releases, Hans has now issued version 1.6 of the RX driver to the Enhancer Software beta-test team. This is the pre-release version which has full 2D hardware acceleration and compositing implemented.

Tower57 - AmigaOne X5000 with RX580

As a double test, I installed a Radeon RX580 (Polaris) card in my AmigaOne X5000 and ran the Tower57 game. I'm pleased to say the card and game performed very well. I also tested a passively cooled RX460, along with an RX550 and RX570 and all of the cards performed well in my AmigaOne X5000. When the RX driver is finally released it will also fully support 64-bit VRAM, breaking the 256 Mb graphics RAM barrier, and Warp3D-Nova.

The Golden Child makeover

Cast your mind back to mid 2011 and the ongoing beta test programme for the yet to be released AmigaOne X1000. While the other 95+ beta testers were having fun helping to test the AmigaOne X1000, I had delayed receiving my Nemo board. The delay was all in a good cause. It allowed Varisys to use my board to perform all of the system tests and health checks over an extended period of time on the new Rev 2.1 design. More importantly for me at least, it allowed all the other beta testers to receive their boards as soon as possible. Varisys shipped my board to AmigaKit in August 2011. When Christopher Follett, AmigaKit's technician, opened the shipping carton he discovered that Varisys had wrapped the box containing my board in gold wrapping paper to denote its unique status. He immediately nicknamed my board the Golden Child. AmigaKit installed my Nemo board into a nice Boing Ball modified white Fractal tower case and, for several months, continued to use my X1000 as their in-house test system. Eventually, AmigaKit shipped my system to me in late 2011 just before the AmigaOne X1000 'First Contact' edition was commercially released. Several months after I received my machine, I started having issues with the main case PSU until eventually it died altogether. Fortunately I was able to trace the fault and after a quick soldering job my X1000 was back up and running. My AmigaOne was fully loaded with six HDD's, a CDROM together with a RadeonHD graphics card, Sound and Ethernet cards as well as a Catweasel Anniversary edition. Every so often I would experience problems with certain devices not recognized on power-up. At the time I put it down to AmigaOS 4.1 beta updates I was installing but when I started to test various PowerPC Linux distributions the problem still occasionally arose. Fast forward to 2018. Actually it's hard to believe that seven years have passed by so quickly.

The Golden Child - AmigaOne X1000 - 2018

I finally decided to replace that dodgy PSU unit in my X1000 tower. On checking the Fractal website I discovered that they had a special limited edition White and Gold Define R5 tower case for sale. It just had to be. Didn't the Golden Child, the motherboard that proved the Nemo Rev 2.1 design, just deserve to have that case? 🙂 Fortunately the limited edition case was available to buy in New Zealand so I ordered it along with a new PSU.  As soon as it arrived I quickly reassembled my AmigaOne X1000 system and on first power-up she immediately booted to the Workbench screen. I'm pleased to report that all of the previous PSU problems have disappeared and my Golden Child looks really good in her new surroundings. Apparently Nemo can be a girl's or boy's name so my AmigaOne X1000 is definitely feminine.  😉  After a couple of weeks of almost continuous use I have to say my AmigaOne X1000 has never performed or looked better! 🙂

Keep talking

The recent death of Dr. Stephen Hawking, the preeminent theoretical physicist, cosmologist, author and all round genius got me thinking about the first time I read his book, A Brief History of Time when it was published in the late 1980s. I read the book twice and could still not get my head around some of his intricate mathematical concepts about life, the universe and everything! It wasn't until my wife bought me the illustrated version complete with colour pictures, published in 1996 that a I finally started to understand some of his advanced theories about space and time. 😉 I also remember a very iconic British TV commercial in which Hawkings appeared in the early 1990s to promote BT (the leading UK telecommunications company). The advert was part of BT's It's Good to Talk campaign which, while obviously aimed at promoting the company's business, had it's central theme that we, as human beings, have accomplished our greatest technological achievements by talking and our greatest failures by not talking. His message was clear, "All we need to do is make sure we keep talking". The commercial inspired English rock band Pink Floyd to compose the song Keep Talking for their 1994 album, The Division Bell which included Hawking's distinctive synthesized voice sampled from the BT advert. Pink Floyd again used his voice on the track “Talkin’ Hawkin’ ” in  their final studio album, The Endless River, released in 2014. With all the miscommunication and mayhem happening around the word today, we really need to make sure we keep talking, listening and communicating. RIP Stephen, the word will miss your brilliant mind.

AmigaOne A1222 update

Talking about communicating, I receive a lot of requests for information about the release date for the AmigaOne A1222. At AmiWest 2017 and Amiga32, in agreement with Hyperion Entertainment, I was able to present the first public showing of the AmigaOne A1222 running a pre-release beta version of AmigaOS 4.1. I was able to demonstrate that AmigaOS4.1 is very stable on the A1222 which also fully supports the latest RadeonHD 3.x, including the new 64-bit VRAM feature, along with Warp 3D Nova and Warp3D-SI. However, I did reveal that work was still ongoing on the Audio and Ethernet drivers and well as FPU optimsation. The A1222 has not been totally cut-off from cyberspace since the AmigaOS 4.1 beta iso included a driver for an inexpensive USB-to-Ethernet device which allowed the A1222 to connect to the web. A number of the beta testers, including me, have been using the device for online access and I even wrote and posted an earlier blog using the device/driver. The USB-to-Ethernet device was a good stop-gap measure but obviously not suitable for the final AmigaOne A1222 release.

Remote Desktop on AmigaOne A1222 to Windows PC

I'm actually writing this blog using a combination Odyssey and Remote Desktop on my AmigaOne A1222 to test out a new on-board Ethernet driver written by AmigaOS 4.1 developer Rene' Olsen. 🙂 .

I'm pleased to report that Rene's driver appears to be very stable and works well. I've downloaded multiple copies of the latest Enhancer Software v2.x beta archives and installed numerous programs and utilities from AMIStore and transferred gigabytes of data over my LAN without any problems.

Running OWB on AmigaOne A1222

Even better the driver appears to be on par and perhaps a little faster that the standard OS4 network driver for my RTL8139 Ethernet card. Incidentally, Rene' also wrote the driver for the USB-to-Ethernet device so I suppose it's no surprise that the initial release of his Ethernet driver works so well. I've attached a couple of screengrabs showing Remote Desktop and Odyssey on my A1222, two programs which are always a good tests of network performance. The driver has now been issued to the A1222 beta testers for thorough stress testing. Rene' received some help from Justin Hibbits who was recommended to Steven Solie by Alex Perez. Alex is another A1222 & X5000 beta tester who has a particular fondness for Linux. Justin is a committer at FreeBSD who, according to Steven, is looking for help with the FreeBSD port. If any Linux motivated A1222 beta testers want to help Justin complete FreeBSD for Tabor/A1222 please make contact and I will pass on your details. We already have the Atlantis and Pathfinder Tabor boards working 24/7 building Debian SPE thanks to the work of  John Paul Adrian Glaubitz.

Portable Portia

Hans with PORTIA proof-of-concept prototype

Not only is Hans de Ruiter a graphics wizard, he is also a fully fledged member of the modern maker culture. 😉 Not content with helping to drive AmigaOS graphics development, in his spare time he is working on a special DIY Mini-ITX laptop project. He is using his Tabor beta motherboard as the trial basis for a portable AmigaOne laptop which we have codenamed PORTIA (PORtable Tabor Inspired AmigaOne). Of course, as Amigans you will know that PORTIA was also the name given to the original Ports and Audio custom chip in the very first Amiga. Later its functionality would be expanded and the chip would be renamed PAULA. In true Amiga spirit, Hans is developing his DIY laptop kit for people who enjoy making stuff and who would like to build a laptop from parts they choose themselves.

Portia prototype keyboard & screen

The PORTIA variant is especially for AmigaOS 4.x fans who want a fully-featured portable machine that runs AmigaOS 4.x natively and includes full 3D graphics acceleration via Warp3D Nova 3D which, according to Hans, "will be the fastest path to a true AmigaOS laptop within an acceptable time-frame and cost". While Hans is in full control of the project, A-EON Technology has agreed to assist him with commercialisation to help minimise the production cost of the DIY kit parts. Hans demoed his proof-of-concept PORTIA prototype at AmiWest 2017 last year.

If you want to find out more about Hans' DIY laptop project, please visit his Kea Sigma delta website. You can also subscribe to his mailing list to receive regular video updates from Hans as he progresses along his PORTIA journey. His latest video describes his complete redesign of the laptop battery holder.

Into the Blue

Frank Mariak - MorphOS 3.10 - AmigaOne X5000

At the AmiWest 2017 and Amiga 32 shows in October last year I saw demonstrations of MorphOS running on the AmigaOne X5000/20. Fresh from a major operation, Paul 'Acill' Rezendes still managed to travel to Sacramento to demo a beta version of MorphOS 3.10 on his AmigaOne X5000. He was scheduled to give a presentation on the main screen but unfortunately, due to an incompatibility with his graphics card and the hotel's AVS, he was unable to use the hotel's large screen. All was not lost however as Bill Borsari used his hand-held video camera for a closeup one-on-one Paul's MorphOS demo. A week later in Neuss, Frank Mariak demonstrated the latest beta version of MorphOS running on the X5000. Unlike the traditional MorphOS screen and icons that Paul showed at AmiWest, which date back to 2005, the new version sported a much cleaner and modern look. More importantly, it appeared to run very well on the X5000.

MorphOS 3.10 beta - Live mode on my AmigaOne X5000

Recently I got the chance to try out the latest beta version of MorphOS 3.10 on my own AmigaOne X5000/20. First of all I had to remove the Radeon HD7970 graphics card that I had installed and replace it with another Radeon HD card that MorphOS fully supports. I tried a couple of cards before settling on an MSI R6670 (HD6670) which seemed to work OK. After that, the installation process was quite fast and painless. I do like the MorphOS CD Live mode that lets you try MorphOS before you install it. The Live mode allows you to set up networking and audio from the CD which enables you to browse the net with OWB or play tunes with Jukebox. A very nice feature indeed. I haven't had a lot of time to try out MorphOS yet but in general it seems to run very well on my X5000. I don't know when MorphOS 3.10 will be available for general release so please don't ask me. 😉

RetCon - retro gaming festival

If you are going to be in the London area on Saturday 16th of June why don't you make your way to the Greenford Community Centre to attend the RetConFestival, a retro gaming festival organised by the Greenford Computer Club. Former Commodore UK MD, David Pleasance will be at the show and by that date he should have copies of his book for sale and signing. I will also be attending the show and will be talking about my Commodore and Amiga passion (hey who said obsession?). Tickets are currently on sale through Eventbrite and according to the organiser, Steve Bennett, even at this early stage they are already selling well. So come along and meet David and me and let's have some Triple-A fun! 😉

....and finally Boing Ball pictures of the week

The Boingcaster

The Boingcaster by Thomas "Rocking" Frieden, our own resident AmigaOS software genius, rock guitarist and artist! Who would have known?  🙂

Cool Boing Ball warmers 😉

And if that is not enough for you, Jamie Krueger, the owner and developer of BITbyBIT Software Group LLC presented me with a great selection of Boing Ball warmers (or coolers), knitted  by his wife, when we met up at AmiWest 2017 in October last year.

Jamie has a very interesting Amiga history and is of course the owner and developer of BITbyBIT Software Group LLC. He is well known for AVD, his SDK Browser for AmigaOS4 and even spent a short time working under under Bill McEwen at Amiga, Inc. What I did not realise is Jamie is also an avid Amiga collector and has a fine collection of Classic and Next-Generation Amiga machines. He was an original AmigaOne X1000 beta tester and is currently working on both the AmigaOne X5000 and A1222 machines. A freeware version of Jamie's SDK Browser for AmigaOS4 is available on AMIStore for download.

..........until next time

 

 

31Dec/17Off

2018 countdown

As 2017 draws to a close I wish all Amigans a very happy, prosperous and most of all, safe 2018.

AmigaOne A1222

AmigaOne A1222 video link

AmigaOne X5000 - Happy New Year

New Year countdown from New Zealand video link

Happy New Year & Tau Hou hari from New Zealand

26Dec/17Off

What a story!

In disguise on my way to the Commodore story

What a year it has been! I can't believe it has passed so quickly. Having just returned from attending the Premiere of the Commodore Story documentary in London I've just booked my flights to attend the Amiga Ireland 2018 Event in January. It's a hard life being an Amigan but as the saying goes, "someones got to do it!" 😉

All that remains to be said is: Merry Christmas and Season's Greetings to all Amigans everywhere.

15Oct/17Off

A Doubleheader

I'm not talking about two back-to-back baseball games but the upcoming AmiWest 2017 and Amiga32 shows which I will be attending this month in Sacramento, California and Neuss, Germany. I'm pleased to say that, once again A-EON Technology is a major sponsor of both Amiga shows. I leave the shores of New Zealand on Wednesday evening next week and arrive in San Francisco on Wednesday morning. I'll let you work that one out. 😉 I'll be meeting up with Paul Sadlik and Matthew Leaman at SFO airport for our now traditional drive to AmiWest. Hopefully this year we will arrive unscathed and I will still be in possession of my passport and A.L.I.C.E. Laptop. After AmiWest I'll be winging my way to the UK for some business meetings before flying over to Dusseldorf with Matthew Leaman where we are being met by Amiga32 show organiser, Markus Tillman. For me Amiga shows are not really about the hardware or software on display but about the people I get to meet and the triple-A (After Amiga show Activities) fun and games we get up to at the event. If you have never visited an Amiga show before you are really missing out. You get a chance to meet up with many of the people you seen posting on the Amiga community forums and for some strange reason they are just so much friendlier in person. 😉

AmigaOne A1222 Update

AmigaOne A1222 at Amiga30th Anniversary in 2015

It's been a while coming but we hope to present the AmigaOne A1222 at both the AmiWest and Amiga32 shows later this month. Actually, the A1222 has been displayed running Debian PowerPC Linux at numerous Amiga shows over the past two years. The machine also made a sneak appearance in the Amiga family group photo taken at the Amiga30th Anniversary celebrations at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California in 2015. I even had a video of AmigaOS4.1 running on the A1222 playing under Linux on the A1222 at VCF SE 5.0 retro show in Roswell, Georgia in April this year. This time however, the plan is to show AmigaOS 4.1 running on the AmigaOne A1222 in a live public demonstration for the first time. Although there is still some work needed to done on audio and Ethernet drivers before the AmigaOne A1222 can be commercially released, the FPU optimization appears to be progressing well.

AmigaOne A1222 running AmigaOS 4.1 Beta

As a test, I decided to write this blog on my AmigaOne A1222 using the latest version of the Odyssey web browser. Odyssey handles the WordPress dashboard quite well although not everything works perfectly. Resizing images after they have been inserted is a bit problematic under Odyssey but apart from that, most other operations appear to work OK. Was the A1222 up to the task? Apart from the hassle resizing images, which is common to all AmigaOS 4.1 machines, I was pleasantly surprised by the A1222's performance. I even managed to grab a short video of the AmigaOne A1222 in action. Now let's just get the commercial version released!

An Amigan's tale

As I've mentioned on several occasions, I frequently receive unsolicited emails from satisfied Amigans thanking me for keeping the Amiga dream alive by helping to produce new Amiga hardware and software. The other day I received such an email from Paul 'Acill' Rezendes. He wrote, "I am having a lot of fun with the (AmigaOne) x5000 and its changed my feelings drastically on Amiga NG. Its been my new go to machine now for all my Amiga needs. Its VERY nice, and I hope to see it continue to advance." I have to admit, when I receive emails like this, especially from someone like Paul who is so knowledgeable and active in the Amiga scene it really does make it all worthwhile. I contacted Paul and asked asked if he could provide his Amiga backstory for my blog and this is what he sent back:

"I grew up in Santa Clara, Ca. and was exposed to computers at an early age. My first Amiga was an A1000 back in late 1986. I saved up for it from doing yard work and money earned from delivering newspapers. Once I got a real job when I was 15 I started to upgrade it. The first thing was RAM and a 20MB SCSI drive, then I moved on to the Amiga 3000 when it was released taking advantage of the trade up program commodore offered. I had this Amiga 3000 all the way up to joining the Navy in 1991 and upgraded it heavily over the years. When I finally sold it for the money to get a Pegasus II machine and run MorphOS just before they were publicly released.

Paul's AmigaOne X5000 Pack

The Amiga has been a part of my life since the beginning of its release up to today. As a MorphOS user, I was never in the group of fans that caused trouble with the OS4 fans during the times when it got ugly several years ago. I have had an Amiga in my possession of some type from 1986 and have been a member of some spectacular Amiga users groups. The most known being SACC (Home to Amiwest) and in the past BAAUG (Bay Area Amiga users Group), FAUG (Fremont Amiga users Group), TOGA (The other Group of Amigaoids) and a few more I am sure I missed from the heyday of the late 80's and 90's. While I served in the US Navy from 1991 through 2012 I learned a lot of the current skills I have now that many of you know me for that helps to keep these great machines alive."

Paul with his AmigaOne X5000

"I met Amiga users from around the world and still keep in touch with many of them today. Currently I have a CDTV, A500, A600, A2000, A4000T, several MorphOS compatible Macintosh machine from G4 PowerBooks all the way up to the G5 PowerMac and my new pride and joy, the X5000! Not knowing what to expect for several years with OS4.1FE and not having the money to justify the expense of a machine that can run it I put it off to the side as just a novelty of the Amiga. The only real experience I had of it was with my 4000T, and it was painfully slow and not very usable over what 3.9 would run. Talking with Matt (Leaman) and watching it advance over the years at AmiWest I decided now was the time to get one. I was very mistaken in my belief that it wasn't a replacement for classic systems I love so much, in fact its now my main Amiga machine! Its replaced the 4000T that I have upgraded with nearly everything you can put it in, and it runs CIRCLES around it! Classic applications, games, productivity apps, web browsing and more all work better than 3.9 on what I believe is one of the fastest A4000T machines in the US with its 75Mhz 060 and 410Mhz PPC equipped CSPPC. Its truly remarkable."

Paul in AmiWest repair mode

"As a Navy trained electronics engineering technician I have developed a passion for fixing things. I used to repair Amiga boards and did upgrades on the side for close friends and club members up to about two years ago. While browsing various forums I came across a member that did work through eBay that admittedly didn't know the Amiga, but did recaps on them anyway. I saw the poor quality of the work and also read horror stories of people having machines killed by him. I was asked over and over by those that knew what I could do for some help and had requests to go public. So that's what I did. I now do several systems, game consoles and of course the Amiga on the side in my spare time. Getting them done can be slow since I travel a lot for my full-time job, but I treat every board I get as my own. They come out like new once I give them the "Acill" treatment and I love the praise and support I get for doing them. I try to keep my costs as low as I can so I can pass it on. Usually I break even on parts, but I love to do it and love the thanks in return!" Now that what I call a true Amigan. Thank you Paul for sharing your Amiga journey.

AMIGAAA! at SAKU 2017

Courtesy Finnish Amiga User group - SAKU 2017

I read somewhere that Finland has the best education system in the world and the most heavy metal bands per capita. Which only goes to explain why the Amiga scene is alive and kicking in Finland. One Amiga show I really must try to visit one day is SAKU event organised by the Finnish Amiga Users Group. I was contacted by Tapio Koivuniemi, an AmigaOne X5000 owner and one of the SAKU organizer who requested some A-EON posters for the show. Although I mailed the poster in plenty of time, as luck would have it, they arrived four days after the event. I guess it's a long way to Finland from New Zealand. I asked Tapio for a brief after- show report and this is what he sent me:

AmigaOne X5000

"Saku 2017 was held on 30th of September in Oulu. The event got good publicity with a local major newspaper showing Amiga 1200 on 'events this weekend' - page. The total number of visitors is hard to calculate as  the event was open from 2PM to 12PM so total 10 hours of Amiga. Anyway more than 70 persons wrote in the guest book, so probably the total amount of visitors was around 150 people. What was nice - lots of families and children enjoying classic Amiga games and of course latest demos of Tower 57 and Wings Remastered. Lots of new things were shown - the AmigaOne x5000 first time in a public event in Finland, new version of MorphOS (3.10) and FPGA powered MIST and Vampire V2+ on Amiga 2000.

A4000 driving 5 monitors

There was also an Amiga 4000 running five  graphics cards and five monitors, just awesome. Lots of children enjoyed games like Lotus2, Superfrog, Stunt Car Racer, Skidmarks and Sensible Soccer. The Sensible Soccer tournament was arranged later in the evening with really good prizes too (shirts). The tight tournament ended with challenges for a re-match for the next year (I lost the final 2-0 😉  What was especially nice was to see so many young players enjoying Amiga games.

Kids playing Tower 57 on an AmigaOne X5000

Especially Tower57 was successfully played as a 2-player for a looong time by two young girls. Other NG games that people seemed to enjoy were Voxel Bird and M.A.C.E. Beside the gaming, the Viva Amiga - documentary was shown, what a great movie, it's just like watching one hour long Amiga trailer 🙂 Lots of current and past Amiga developers were visiting the event, main organisers being jPV guy responsible of new RNO - apps and Mr. Octamed Teijo Kinnunen (who joined me for couple of beers after the event (was it called AAA on your blog ;-))."

Thanks for the SAKU show report Tapio. It's good to know that the Amigan triple-A effect is alive and well in Finland.

Dr AmigaDOS I presume?

Russell Island, Queensland, Australia

OK I admit it's probably a bit over dramatic! Traveling to Russell Island off the coast of Brisbane in Queensland, Australia to meet Colin Wenzel, the main AmigaDOS developer cannot be compared to Stanley's historic meeting with Dr David Livingstone on the shores of Lake Tanganyika in 1869. "Dr. Livingstone, I presume?" Livingstone responded, "Yes", and then "I feel thankful that I am here to welcome you." I don't think Tony Wyatt or me said anything quite so profound or memorable when we met Colin on his island retreat for the first time.

aerial view Russell Island

If you have followed the development of AmigaOS 4 you will know that Tony Wyatt is a very active developer and beta tester with a string of AmigaOS 4 developments to his name. Colin, on the other hand, has earned the deserved reputation as the leading AmigaDOS guru following the evolution of AmigaOS 4.1. What were we doing at Colin's island hideaway you might ask?. Tony came up with the idea that we should upgrade Colin's AmigaOS4.1 developer experience with a shiny new AmigaOne X5000 system. Like most AmigaOS developers, Colin set his system up years ago and does all of his development work on a very slow system compared to the AmigaOne X1000 & X5000 AmigaOS 4 powerhouses now available. This is not a unique phenomena. For many years Tony himself used an aging A1-XE system for all his development work, even after he acquired his AmigaOne X1000 system in 2012. However, a few years ago he finally moved his development over to the X1000 and was truly amazed by the transformation. So much so that he now claims the AmigaOne X1000 is the best Amiga ever made. (that is until he moves his development system to the X5000 in a couple of years time ;-)).

Colin 'AmigaDOS' Wenzel

Anyway, Tony knew that Colin would benefit from a similar AmigaOS developer epiphany. So we ordered a Cyrus Plus P5020 motherboard from A-EON and planned the trip to Russell Island. Tony made the long drive 922Km (523 miles) drive from Sydney to Brisbane in Maccas**, his heaving customised minivan which he has driven all over Australia. I had the shorter and less stressful four hour flight from Wellington to Brisbane and Tony met me at the airport for our short 45 minute drive to Redland Bay where we were picking up the car ferry for the ~1 hour trip to Russell Island.On arrival, our instructions were to drive directly to Colin's house. The Island is only 8 km long and 3 km wide and with one central road it was only a 5 minute ride to Colin's house set among native trees in a heavily wooded area. After we made our introductions we got straight down to Amiga business. Unfortunately, due to the "remoteness" of Colin's island, the DHL Express service could not guarantee the board would arrive before our visit and of course it didn't!

X5000 demonstration with Odyssey web browser

Tony had anticipated this outcome and had brought along his Cyrus Plus motherboard which he had installed in an old PC case to give Tony a demonstration of the X5000 in action. The internet speed and capacity on Russell Island is very low but Colin was keen to try the Odyssey web browser playing Youtube videos, something he can't really do with his current system. Having passed the Youtube test, Colin gave us an online tour of the Island's houses via several real estate websites. He followed that up with a drive around the whole island which of course didn't take very long and in the evening treated us to a very tasty Chinese meal and a few drinks while we chatted about the Amiga's past, present and future.

TV & VCR sales and service

Colin has a very interesting background. For many years he ran his own business, COL's TV Shop, a TV & VCR sales and repair center in Mooloolaba on Australia's Sunshine Coast about 100 km north of Brisbane. As an early Amigan he found himself setting up or repairing Amigas for his friends although it was not a part of his main business, it certainly grew over time. He got into AmigaDOS programming almost by accident and taught himself the coding skills which would prove so valuable later on.

Colin feeding birds with raw meat

Eventually, after a health scare, he decided to retire from his day job and move to the tranquil peace and quiet of Russell Island with its full time population of less than 2,000 inhabitants, although tourists and day-trippers like Tony and I swell those numbers. When he first moved, his was the only house on the block. He does have a few neighbors now but is still completely surrounded by native Australian flora and fauna and every day he feeds raw meat to the kookaburras, magpies and other birds who turn up for their daily treat. As a self trained coder, he became involved with AmigaOS 4 very early on and wanted a project he could get his teeth into. Someone (Olaf Barthel?) suggested AmigaDOS needed to be converted from 68K to PowerPC and the rest is history. 15 years later he is now the acclaimed OS4 AmigaDOS expert. Colin's skill does not stop at programming and as an electronics engineer he designs and builds his own circuit boards for marine fishing net locator buoys.

Tony's Maccas-chinations

I was really intrigued by Tony's do-it-yourself minivan with its homemade fuel injection and transmission systems so I asked for some background information and this is what he sent me:

Tony and Maccas

"Maccas was conceived in 1995 when we were on holiday in Alice Springs in a Nissan van (two-wheel drive) and I decided that I was going to build my own four-wheel drive campervan, since there were so many places in the outback that we could not go without four-wheel drive. I bought a long-wheelbase two-wheel drive van (fairly new) and an older short-wheelbase four-wheel drive van. With the advice, guidance and eventual approval of a local licenced engineer, I swapped the running gear between the two vans and sold the short-wheelbase van as two-wheel drive. The project was originally called "The Macrobus" (as distinct from a VW "Microbus"), but the name was soon abbreviated to "Maccas".

Maccas on the car ferry

Maccas took all of 1996 to build and was first registered in December 1996. Maccas has his own home-designed and built fuel injection (my hardware and software) and his own transmission (I had to join the gearbox and transfer case together with a custom adaptor section). His cabin section/living area runs off 24 volts, which feeds the lights, fridge, water pump, microwave and a DC-DC inverter to keep the vehicle battery charged. The fridge runs off 12/24/240V, auto switched. The microwave contains my own electronics. There is also a 1 kW 240 VAC inverter/24V 50A battery charger.

on the road again

There are several small computers in the bus - one for the engine control, one for the User Interface on the dashboard, one for the four-wheel drive actuator (electronically controlled, of course). Each device uses a Motorola 68HC11 micro. These micros are mounted on small PCBs and sold by a guy in New Zealand for minimal cost. I use them everywhere. I code for them in C or assembler, the compiler runs under Windows but I use my "luggable" Sam 440 to upload code to the CPUs and/or capture debug information."

When you scratch the surface of any Amigan you soon realise the unique and talented people like Paul, Tony and Colin who were drawn to the Amiga scene and, even better they are still contributing to its continued development and survival. Long may it continue.

Retro Planet Revival

Four years ago I was interviewed for the inaugural edition of Retro Planet, a new Greek language magazine completely devoted to retro computing.

Retro Planet 4th Birthday

I can't believe the last four years have passed so quickly. It seems only yesterday that AmigaKit shipped the first commercial AmigaOne X1000 system in December 2011 following a successful beta test programme. The AmigaOne X5000 began shipping late last year and the new entry level AmigaOne A1222 machine is not far behind. Over the same period the focus of A-EON Technology has shifted to include more software content to support the hardware that is being developed. The Retro Planet interview was probably the first really in-depth interview I had given up to that point. It ran to almost 6K words and covered may topics including a discussion about the high NRE costs associated with small volume development and manufacturing. Although the magazine is printed in Greek, an English language translation was later posted on the Retro Planet website. The new interview follows the same in-depth format as the original and again runs to over 5K words. If you don't speak Greek I'm sure the producers of Retro Planet will again post an English language version in the future.

Linux Corner

Just your usual Linux desktops?

I am just amazed by the sheer volume of work that the key members of our core Linux team get through. Almost every day they are generating new kernel builds for our hardware, creating updated Linux PowerPC distributions and contributing the greater Linux cause. While our AmigaOne hardware is designed for the AmigaOS it's good to know that it is also helping to support the ongoing development of Linux PowerPC distributions.

...and finally

A future Amigan on a C128

I'm writing this update as I await the arrival of my first grandchild. The birth was due last Sunday and, at the moment, it does not look like the baby will arrive before I leave for San Francisco on Wednesday. Fortunately I have a very understanding wife & daughter and they have given me clearance to travel to Amiwest and Amiga32. I would expect nothing else really as both my daughters grew up using Commodore and Amiga computers. They played learning games on the C64, completed their high school work on an Amiga A2000 and went back to playing games on an Amiga CD32. 😉 Rachel wrote the special boot sounds and music for the AmigaOne X1000 & X5000 as well as music and sound effects for several animations and demos.

.....until next time Adios Amigans

16Sep/17Off

Stalin’s Tears

Well AmiParty 21 in Poland lived up to all my expectations and then some. 🙂 The hospitality and warmth shown by Jeanot and the rest of the Chelm Amiga Legion team to David Pleasance, Amiga Bill and me was second to none. The strong Polish beer and aromatic home made vodka, known as Stalin's Tears, wasn't too bad either. I want to give a special shout-out to Leander who gave up his Sunday to give us a guided tour of historic Lublin. If you want to find out more, look out for my special AmiParty 21 visit report in the next issue of Amiga Future magazine.

AmiParty21 roundup - GuruMeditation

It you can't wait for the magazine you can always listen to AmigaBill and Anthony's Guru Meditation AmiParty21 podcast which covers the AmiParty and a lot of other cool Amiga news. AmigaBill has also posted a lot of photos from the event on the Guru Meditation Facebook pages as has Jack Swidnik and Stonego. If you only ever visit one Amiga show in Europe I can highly recommend the AmiParty event.

Amiga32 - Powered by A-EON

Following my brief trip to Poland I arrived back in New Zealand with the inevitable jet-lag coupled with a heavy cold. Not really a surprise I suppose. International air travel between winter and summer with the temperature of 36C the day I arrived in Poland compared to the "balmy" 8C now I'm back in the New Zealand winter. Such is the life of an Amiga traveller but to be perfectly honest I wouldn't have it any other way.

Celebrating 20 years of AmiWest

Fortunately, I have about 6 weeks to recover before I make my way to Sacramento, California to attend AmiWest 2017 and then over to Neuss in Germany for the Amiga32 show, both of which I'm pleased to report are once again being sponsored by A-EON Technology.

A.L.I.C.E. revisited

Talking about AmiWest 2017, it's been a long time coming but I'm pleased to be able to report that the A.L.I.C.E. laptop will be available for sale at the upcoming Amiwest show in Sacramento.

A Laptop Incorporating a Classic Experience

If you are a regular reader of my blog you will know that two prototype A.L.I.C.E. laptops were stolen from the trunk of our car while we stopped for coffee in Pinole on our way to the AmiWest show last year in Sacramento. I used the word trunk rather than boot since we were in the USA at the time. 😉

Although the theft did not stop the A.L.I.C.E. development effort, we delayed selling the Laptop until Ken Lester was satisfied that the A.L.I.C.E system recovery software was robust enough for general use. The delay in release of the commercial product has allowed Ken to incorporated a lot of new features and updates:

  • A.L.I.C.E. now supports screen resolution up to 1920x1080 for both AmiKit & AmigaOS 4.1 Classic (previously 1366x768)
  • AmigaOS 4.1 Classic OS4 now runs on top of WinUAE (rather than FS-UAE) and has native UAE graphics and access to the host system's hard drive (thanks updates to WinUAE by Toni Wilen)
  • The host system for AmiKit & OS4 is now Ubuntu 16.04 instead of the older Ubuntu 14.04 distribution
  • AmiKit & AmigaOS 4.1 F.E. are installed on Windows partition as well
  • AmigaOS 4.1 has the latest officially released F.E. updates
  • Now includes A-EON Technology's Enhancer Software Enhancer SE pack
  • In addition to the unique AmiKit Rabbit-Hole feature AmigaOS 4.1 Classic include easy access to the underlying Linux programs through the Looking-Glass (F11 button)
  • A.L.I.C.E. now has a reliable restore system via a bootable flash drive in the event that the system needs to be re-installed for any reason.
  • New A.L.I.C.E. wallpaper theme and icons

A.L.I.C.E. 2.0

To whet your appetite, Ken has posted a quick video of A.L.I.C.E. in action. Ken will be attending AmiWest along with Alex Perez of Inertial Computing who is the main distributor for A.L.I.C.E. laptop. So if you are visiting the show and want to a see A.L.I.C.E. in the flesh, come along and say hello. Even better, buy one of the A.L.I.C.E. laptops that will be on sale. 😉

Sitting on the fence?

A few months back I was contacted by Charles Paek who wanted to borrow an AmigaOne X5000 to use in a futuristic film-set he was creating for an advert he had been contracted to produce. I checked Charles' professional background and discovered he is a successful award winning filmmaker and storyteller.

Staging the film set

He started as a lead designer at CBS Broadcasting and later Digital Domain and over the past 12 years he worked as a Director, Visual Effects Supervisor, and Art Director on creative projects for Lexus, Target, Acura, Infiniti, Marvel, Paramount, Tanqueray and many others, winning a VES nomination and a Clio award in the process. All his projects sport a high end and photo-realistic design.

A close up of the AmigaOne X5000

How could I turn Charles down? To supply the hardware I enlisted the help of Bill Borsari, the driving force behind the highly successful Amiga30th Anniversary celebrations at Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California and the man behind the live streaming at AmiWest every year. Bill, who is also an AmigaOS 4.x beta tester, shipped his AmigaOne X5000 beta system to Charles in Los Angeles for the filming project. A-EON Technology and Hyperion Entertainment gave their permission to use the AmigaOne X5000 and AmigaOS 4.1 in the advert and Charles did the rest. He used his now trademark high end photo-realistic design to create his video advert featuring the AmigaOne X5000.

AmigaOne X5000 beta (in an X1000 case)

I must admit it was really good to see the AmigaOne X5000 and AmigaOS 4.x featured on screen in a mainstream advert from a talented producer whose impressive portfolio also includes the likes of the Aston Martin ‘Reverie’. After the shoot, Bill's machine was safely returned to him and I thought that would be the end of the matter. It was only then I discovered that Charles was actually a secret Amigan and had ordered his own pre-built AmigaOne X5000 system from AmigaKit with some additional parts form Amiga-On-The-Lake.

When he made the following post about his new AmigaOne X5000 on Amiga.org, "To my surprise, the computer is absolutely amazing. My main purpose of this was to avoid the habit of collecting a bunch of vintage machines (I own a 2000, 500 and 1200) and enjoy a bunch of games I played as a kid and not bother with setting up complicated emulators and conflicts when it comes to chipsets, kickstart versions etc. Basically, this machine has exceeded my expectations", I just had to contact him to find out more about his Amiga history. I will let Charles tell you himself:-

Charles Paek with his AmigaOne X5000

"As an 80's child, I grew up with Sega Genesis, Turbo Graphix 16 and the Super Nintendo. During that time, I also had an Apple IIc for school with a green monochrome monitor. I didn't discover the Amiga until the day my mother took me to the mall and I saw Flight Simulator running on the Amiga 500 at frames that blew my mind. On the Apple IIc it looked like was getting around 4fps on Flight Simulator, and what I saw that day was a full color rendering of San Francisco that to my young eyes looked completely and utterly smooth. That was the day the Amiga ruined my perception of what a powerful computer was supposed to be. A few months later, I actually convinced my parents to buy me the 500 and for those few short years when Commodore was still in business, I was in heaven. I lived for X-Copy and my friends and I would visit strangers homes and trade games for hours on end. Of course I would buy games too, but copying was our way of hacking and for middle school kids at that time, we felt like pirates. Then the PC revolution happened. Voodoo, Sound Blaster and the rest was history."

Charles' AmigaOne X5000 running AmigaOS 4.1 FE

I will  leave the last word to Charles, "If anyone is on the fence about the x5000, I would wholeheartedly recommend a buy. A-EON, Hyperion, AOTL, AmigaKit have all pulled off the impossible in my eyes. Trevor, (I)  also wanted to say thanks for keeping the Amiga dream alive. I've had so much fun customizing my machine to bring back so many memories I had as a kid. There is no way aging hardware that is full of compatibility issues would bring me the same joy. Waiting for the A1222 and will purchase on day 1." Thanks Charles, I could not say that better myself and a special thanks to Bill Borsari for supplying his precious machine for the filming.

Approaching Warp speed

Those clever people at EntwicklerX, Thomas Claus and Frank Menzel, are making good use of the latest Warp3D Nova and associated OpengGLES2 updates supplied with the Enhancer Software package.

Spencer WIP demo

They have released a new teaser video which demos Spencer, a new Warp3D Nova based game they are working on. I asked Thomas and Frank for a brief progress update and they sent me the following message and images.

"We send you some work in progress of our first small 3D game focused on Warp3D Nova. It will be a small platformer game, inspired on Qwak (Team 17). We have not yet a release date because it is much work to get running well on Nova (workaround for missing features and shader adjustments, sometimes “poor” performance if shader effects are used). Also the levels have to be finished.

The Enemy - WIP

It will contain 5 Themes/Rooms in a house, currently we have 7 Enemies but maybe we will add some more. We hope to get it finished within the next 1-2 month, it should really be a smaller game to finish the 3D engine and get a first needed 3D game because it is a new field for us (I had to learn Blender from scratch ???? )." Thanks Thomas and Frank for the update. All your hard work certainly seems to be paying off!

Hans de Ruiter, the talented developer who is working on A-EON Technology's Warp3D Nova roadmap added:

Spencer WIP demo

"I see per-pixel lighting, ambient occlusion, soft cast shadows; Entwickler-X are creating graphics effects that used to be impossible on AmigaOS. They also added depth-of-field to their X-Engine just a few months after I added the features they needed  to do that (render-to-texture & depth-textures). It's awesome to see Warp3D Nova's new capabilities being used, and I look forward to seeing more of this in future." Thanks Hans, so do we. Now get back to work on the next Warp3D Nova update! 😉

A new generation

Way back in 2002, the very first AmigaOne PowerPC next-generation system was released by Eyetech as the A1-SE model. Since AmigaOS 4 was not available at the time, it was sold as a developer board and supplied with the Debian Woody Linux PowerPC distribution. The A1-SE was actually based on a modified Teron CX reference board created by MAI Logic to showcase its ArticiaS Northbridge chip. Unfortunately the ArticiaS, which also powered the Pegasos I and AmigaOne A1-XE motherboard, turned out to be very buggy and would eventually lead to MAI's demise and Eyetech's departure from the Amiga scene.

My A1-SE

I have to admit I had not turned on my A1-SE system for a very long time until the other week when I received a plea for help from Olav Aanes Fagerlund, a Norwegian doctoral student attending the University of Tokyo in Japan. He had just acquired an A1-SE board and wanted to install the latest AmigaOS 4.1 F.E. update. He was experiencing memory problems and could not get the board to recognize a HDD attached to the on-board IDE port. Although he had no prior AmigaOS next-generation experience, I soon discovered he was a very capable individual. He started with an A500 as a youngster and, over the years, added a few other Amigas to his collection which now includes an A600 with Vampire v2, an A4000 equipped with a Mediator and PPC pci card and an A1200 with an Indivision, accelerator and Wifi card. He also has a Minimig and FPGA Arcade and MacMini G4 running MorphOS. I think he even has some Apple machines, but nobody's perfect! 😉

Anyway, I told Olav that the A1-SE was very picky about the RAM modules, that none of the on-board stuff really worked and to forget about on-board USB. I recommended he install an Audio, Ethernet and SATA PCI card and to help him I opened up my machine to see what actual PCI cards I had installed and provided him with the details. After that I powered up my A1-SE to show him the machine in action. I was really surprised when it booted straight into Workbench. Not too shabby for a machine that is almost 15 years old! I guess we Amigans are used to preserving our cultural heritage with some of our Classic machines now hitting 32 years and still going strong. 😉

Olav's A1-SE

Although the A1-SE did feel very slow compared to my AmigaOne X5000, I forgot how much fun it was using this piece of Amiga next-generation history. I ran the Odyssey web-browser and downloaded some software using AMIStore. I sent Olav a copy of my Uboot firmware settings and left the rest to him. Within a couple of days he has sourced the relevant RAM and PCI cards and shortly after that he had AmigaOS 4.1 Final Edition installed and up and running on his 15 year old A1-SE. If you want to find out more information about Olav's A1-SE experience check out my Soapbox article in the next edition of Amiga Future magazine. I will compare and contrast Olav's A1-SE journey with that of Michael Hayler (Outrun1978) who is a dedicated Amiga next-generation user who writes an excellent and very informative AmigaOne X5000 blog.

You've got a Friend (UP) - the world's first open source virtual computer

One of the benefits of travelling to international Amiga events is you get to meet a lot of clever and interesting people who, if you are lucky, will buy you a drink or two! 😉 Joking aside, I've made some really good friends through my Amiga travels and one or two interesting investment opportunities as well. 😉

FriendUP infrastructure - distributed network of computers

One of these new friends is Adam Spring of Remotely Interested Podcast fame. He has just written an intriguing and insightful article about FriendUP, the Friend Unifying Platform. I'm the first to admit that, although I am a very minor investor in the FriendUp business, I've never really been able to easily describe what FriendUp core business model is all about. Sure, I could appreciate terms like Liquid computing. I've read the hype about Web 4.0 and can appreciate the raw potential of the IoT. I have even come to terms with blockchain and cryptocurrency but just how does FriendUp interconnects with all these emerging technologies? After reading Adam's article I think I now have a better grasp of where FriendUp sits in the evolving world of the internet and a clearer understanding of its potential application verticals.

FriendUp - first open source virtual computer

Many of the FriendUp team have Amiga roots which has inspired the rich counter culture that they are developing. The company has just released a new Welcome to Friend video, which is narrated by Dan Wood and presents an excellent overview of the FriendUp's features and capabilities. All I can say is, "ain't it good to know you've got a Friend(UP)". (with apologies to Carol King and James Taylor, and if you have to ask who they are you are just too young but I'm still pleased you are here! 😉

Lie, damn lies and statistics?

Amiga-On-The-Lake

USA Amiga retailer, Amiga-on-The-Lake (AOTL) has a dual mission statement: "We are here to grow the AmigaOS4.1 user base!!! Sell and support the AmigaOne line of computers from A-EON". The company, which bills itself as, "The first 'AmigaNG only' Reseller on Planet Earth!", is certainly selling a lot of new AmigaOne X5000 systems. Aaron Smith, AOTL's CEO and co-founder, revealed an intriguing statistic to me about the customers who are buying the AmigaOne X5000 hardware he sells. According to Aaron, who personally chats to everyone who orders a system from his company, over 52% of the purchasers are new to AmigaOS 4 and have never used an Amiga next-generation computer before and even more surprising, of those people, over half have never used an Amiga computer of any kind in the past! At first he thought his findings were skewed by statistical aberrations associated the initial small number of sales but, as his volume of AmigaOne X5000 sales has steadily grown, the percentage of newly created Amigans has remained very consistent. Now that really is daring to be different. 🙂

AMIGAAA! (Finnish Amiga Users Meeting in Oulu 30th September)

There's me thinking that I had invented the AMIGAAA! battle-cry! Anyway if you are in Finland at the end of this month get yourself over to Oulu on September 30th to attend SAKU 2017, the  Finnish Amiga Users Group (officially Suomen Amiga-käyttäjät ry) annual Amiga Showcase.

SAKU 2017 Amiga Showcase

The event usually attracts around 150 visitors but Tapio Koivuniemi is expecting around 200 this year. He will be displaying his AmigaOne X5000 and games guru and OpenGL2 ES maestro, Daniel Müßener, has promised to supply the latest demo versions of Tower57 and Wings Remastered for the show. Tapio will also be demoing a range of AMIStore software he has purchased, including M.A.C.E. from EntwicklerX, AOrganiser by Andy Broad and A-EON Technology's latest Enhancer Software pack for AmigaOS PowerPC.

Have a break(out) have a Kitkat (lawsuit!)

If you think we have IP and trademark problems in our tiny Amiverse, spare a thought for confectionery giant, Nestle. It seems that a KitKat advert it ran on UK TV in 2016 has led to the company being sued by none other that Atari. Yes apparently Atari still exists, although a mere shadow of its former glory.


KitKat_breakout

In 2004, with its sales of KitKat falling, Nestle conducted research which showed that although most people knew the famous 47 year-old marketing slogan, "Have a break, have a KitKat", it did not encourage them to buy the chocolatey snack. So, to counteract falling sales, the slogan was replaced by, "Make the most of your break" and since that time Nestle have released numerous ad campaigns based on that general theme. The advert that Atari objects to, entitled KitKat: Breakout, shows a group of people sitting on a sofa playing a Breakout style game during their work break. The traditional breakout bricks have been replaced by horizontal fingers of chocolate KitKat which the players have to try and break with their paddle and ball in typical Breakout fashion.


KitKat breakout closeup

In its legal complaint which it filed in San Francisco, Atari claim that Nestle hoped to exploit "the special place [Breakout] holds among nostalgic Baby Boomers, Generation X, and even today's Millennial and post-Millennial 'gamers'" and that the "KitKat: Breakout advert is so plain and blatant that Nestle cannot claim to be an 'innocent' infringer". In reply a Nestle's spokesman said "We are aware of the lawsuit in the US and will defend ourselves strongly against these allegations. This is a UK TV advert that ran in 2016. The ad no longer runs and we have no current plans to re-run it." Of course as we Amigans know, there are literally dozens of similar Breakout games and clones.


Arkanoid by Taito

One of my personal favourites is Arkanoid by Taito which I remember playing for hours on my Amiga 2000. You can even play Arkanoid free of charge online along with many other breakout type games, if you are willing to put up with the adverts.

However, despite all these Breakout clones that are freely available, Atari still hopes to gain by suing the confectionery giant for its "blatant infringement", which only just goes to show that IP is only worth suing over if you think you can get a sizeable cash pay out. Perhaps the new Atari has taken a leaf out of the Jack Tramiel playbook, Business is war! I sometimes wonder why we Amigans are still at war with one another. Could it be for the sizable cash payout? Somehow I don't think so. 😉

Spot the 'Bowling' ball?

....and finally

The Boing Ball Image of the week!

Seen while walking in Wellington CBD yesterday!

next stop Sacramento for AmiWest 2017 and Neuss for Amiga32.


11Aug/17Off

To be this good?

First of all apologies for the relative silence. I started writing this update in late April while I was sitting in an airport lounge waiting for a flight to take me to another Amiga show. To be exact, the VCF SE 5.0 in Roswell, Georgia which is not only an Amiga show but celebrates the whole Retro computing scene in all it's glorious forms.

VCF SE Viva Amiga Panel

However, unlike most of the other computers on display at the event the Amiga is very much alive and kicking with new hardware and software in development. Adam Spring, of the Remotely Interested podcast fame, was one of the show organisers and was keen to promote Next-generation Amiga developments to a wider computing audience. He also a arranged special showing of Zak Wedington's Viva Amiga documentary after which I took part in a panel discussion moderated by Adam which included original Amiga developer, Glen Keller, Anthony Becker and “Amiga Bill” Winters of  the Guru Meditation Media Channel and Aaron Ruchetta, a video toaster specialist from the Atlanta Amiga scene.

Ken & Alex with AmigaOne X5000 & A1222

Thanks to Ken Lester who made the long 14 hour drive from Michigan with his precious cargo, I had the opportunity of displaying the AmigaOne X5000 and prototype AmigaOne A1222 system. We were unable to show AmigaOS 4.1 beta running on the A1222 but I recorded a video of my own A1222 beta system before I left New Zealand. I played the video under Linux on the A1222 in a surreal art imitating life experience. It was a bit confusing at times when I tried to use the mouse only to realise it was my A1222 AmigaOS 4.1 video running under Linux. Duh!!! Not only did Ken donate his valuable hardware he also helped me out with the A-EON display. We were joined by fellow Amigans and developers Alex Perez and Lyle Hazlewood and needless to say we all had a great time both during the show and into the wee small hours of the morning. If you want a more detailed overview of our VCF SE adventure please read the current edition of Amiga Future magazine.

Euro zone

A_EON DevCon 2017 participants

Carrying on with the global travel, everything is a plane ride from New Zealand. In June I made my way to the UK to attend A-EON Technology's AmigaDeveloper DevCon 2 in Cardiff. Unlike DevCon 1 which focused on Linux, the latest event was solely dedicated to AmigaOS, both PowerPC and 68k. If you want to hear more about my trip you need to read my DevCon 2 visit report in the next edition of Amiga Future magazine. Before this begins to sound like an advert for Amiga Future magazine, after the DevCon I made a quick trip to Brussels to attend the Hyperion Entertainment Shareholder's AGM.

Dinner at Yeti centre

It was good to meet up with the Hyperion Directors, Costel Mincea and Timothy de Groote along with AmigaOS contract Developers, Hans-Joerg and Thomas Frieden to discuss current and future strategy. In the evening we enjoyed a nice meal and were later joined by fellow Hyperion shareholder Ben Hermans for a few (too many) drinks at the Yeti centre in Eeklo. This time Timothy and I did not attempt any team building exercises in the Prison Island complex. 🙂

Linux Corner

Every now and then I like to provide an insight into some of the very talented people who contribute to A-EON's work and the current Amiga scene. It's probably no surprise that most of them cut their teeth on Commodore 8-bit and/or Amiga computers and the same can be said of John Paul Adrian Glaubitz who is an Debian specialist from Germany. Adrian, as he prefers to be called, has been running a Tabor board almost 24/7 for about a year, helping to build special Debian powerpcspe packages. We recently sent him a second Tabor board to help speed up the process and now both boards are working 24/7 churning out Debian powerpcspe builds. Of course A-EON created the Tabor board to run AmigaOS 4.x but it good to know that the hardware has being thoroughly tested over a long period of time. I'll let Adrian tell his you own Commodore/Amiga story.

John Paul 'Adrian' Glaubitz

My name is John Paul Adrian Glaubitz although my primary name is Adrian. I was born in 1982 in East-Berlin and grew up there until the wall fell. I have been interested in science and electronics since I can remember. So around at the age of 4 or 5. My first computer was a Commodore C64 in 1990/1991 (actually, it was my brother's but he'd let me use it) and it was shortly complemented by a Commodore Amiga 600. I have been an avid Commodore and Amiga fan ever since. In fact, I am still actively contributing to Debian's m68k port which targets the CPU found in all Amigas. When my parents finally bought a PC in 1997, I was very underwhelmed by the performance and the strange user interface design of Microsoft Windows, so it took not very long until I discovered Linux which was in 1998 with SuSE Linux 5.3. From this point on, I had both Linux and Windows installed on my Pentium II PC (266 MHz(!)) and I dual- booted into Linux. About 2-3 years later - around the time when WindowsXP was introduced - I stopped caring about Windows altogether and used Linux almost exclusively. After some distro hopping, I ended up installing Debian. When I entered university, I decided to study physics and was happy to see that the majority of workstations and servers were running Debian, so it didn't take very long until I got a student job in the IT department of the Physics department. Over the years, I grew experience and started hacking Debian myself which eventually resulted in me becoming an official developer of the Debian project which I still am. After graduating Physics, I first started doing my PhD in Oslo at the University of Oslo, but I wasn't really happy there so I returned to Berlin after a year to start working.

Debian powerpcspe build server

After first working at a systems administrator, I later joined a small startup company in Berlin called Endocode and, a year later, I joined SUSE. I enjoy learning languages, so I speak Norwegian, English and Japanese albeit my Japanese could use some more practice which I usually get when traveling to Japan twice a year. I enjoy programming and have contributed to various open source projects like Firefox, systemd, QEMU and the Linux kernel.

If you want to find out more about the two Tabor boards assisting with Adrian's Debian powerpcspe package builds, check out Atlantis and Pathfinder under Status - powerpcspe.

Interview times

Retro Plant Issue 1

I receive a lot of requests for interviews from Amiga webzines, journals and blogs etc. I always do my best to answer all the questions that are put to me, although I have to admit sometimes I am a little slow in finishing my replies.  You may have seen a recent interview I gave to Generation Amiga and I've just completed another marathon interview for Retro Planet, the Greek language magazine which is celebrating its 5th Anniversary. As I wrote in the interview, I could not believe it's been almost five years since they interviewed me for the inaugural edition of the magazine. As with the first interview, they again asked a lot of tough questions. Unfortunately Retro Planet is in only produced in Greek but hopefully, as they did last time, they will post an English language translation on their Retro Planet website.

New tag line

If you read A-EON's recent news item covering the v1.3 update of the Enhancer Software package, as dedicated Amiga enthusiasts you will have no doubt spotted our little play on words which harks back to the days when Commodore was poking fun at Sega after the release of the Amiga CD32.

The billboard

At that time Sega's used the reversal of SEGA and AGES to create its catchy marketing slogan "to be this good takes Ages, to be this good takes Sega". When Commodore released the Amiga CD32, they cheekily adapted the SEGA slogan and produced, “To be this good will take SEGA AGES” and plastered it on a billboard outside Sega’s UK headquarters. In case you missed A-EON's take on the slogan, "To be this good takes AEONS. To be this good takes A-EON." Pretty good, yes? The Enhancer Software v1.3 update is pretty good as well. I'm just waiting for some clever wit to reply with, "To be this good takes A-EON AEONS". Anyway you read it here first. 😉

Painting with colours (or even colors)

Tim's Vermeer film poster

Somehow I missed this story but, back in 2103, Tim Jenison the co-founder of NewTek, the company behind the amazing Amiga powered Video Toaster featured in a documentary film detailing his attempts to duplicate the painting techniques of Johannes Vermeer, a 17th Century Dutch master.  Vermeer was famed for his used of light in his highly photo-realistic paintings. Tim wanted to test and hopefully prove his theory that Vermeer used optical devices to help him paint. The documentary, entitled Tim's Vermeer, premièred at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival. It was produced by the illusionist duo of Penn & Teller who, back in the 1990's, created several Toaster publicity videos for NewTek. including the Penn and Teller's Guide to Toaster Etiquette.

In the documentary film, Jenison uses a special optical device which he created to aid his painting and to prove that Vermeer must have used something similar. It apparently it took him four years to painstakingly recreate The Music Lesson, Vermeer's classic masterpiece. However, because illusionists Penn and Teller were involved in the production some people have claimed that the documentary is an elaborate hoax as Tim is rarely seen actually painting with his optical device in the film. Hoax or not, it's still a good movie and has a rating of 89% on Rotten Tomatoes.

Vermeer's original        Tim's version

Of course, we Amigans will forever associate Tim with the Video Toaster, the device that completely revolutionised TV studios in North America and other NTSC regions. Unfortunately, for the rest of the Amiga world with our PAL and SECAM systems we could only look on longingly as our North American Amiga cousins had all the Toaster fun.

The Commodore Story - London Premier

Talking about films, I am an Executive Producer of the Commodore Story documentary being created and directed by Steven Fletcher of WavemStudios. He has set himself the very ambitious task of telling the whole Commodore story from the first 8-bit PETs, Vic20 & C64 through to the Amiga from interviews with managers, engineers, games developers and users. The movie is scheduled to be premièred in London at the 500 seater Genesis Cinema on December 9th, 2017. As an an Executive Producer I have 20 tickets to give away for the performance. So if you want to attend the London première and join me for some mid-Winter Amiga fun, please send me an email to contact(at)a-eon.com with "The Commodore Story Premiere" in the subject line. I will allocate the tickets on a first come first served basis to the first 20 applicants. I hope to see you at the première. I'll even let you buy me a drink afterwards. 😉

AmiParty..On

I started this blog as I was departing for an Amiga show and it's quite apt that I'm finishing it on the eve of another one. I've just landed in London and tomorrow I'm travelling over to Stansted to meet with David Pleasance. We are flying into Lublin on early Saturday morning to attend the AmiParty in Poland. We have been promised two days of wild partying serious Amiga discussions and some Triple-A fun. 😉

so until next time.

3Apr/17Off

Quantum Leap

Yuri van Geest

Recently I attended an informal talk by Dutch futurist Yuri Van Geest, the co-author of Exponential Organizations and Dutch Ambassador of the Singularity University. He talked about the disruptive impact that emerging technology and innovation would have on businesses and future job prospects. He claimed the key technological drivers of the "fourth industrial revolution", quantum computing, block chain, AI, robots, nano technology and neurosciences coupled with the convergence of the physical and digital world through the IoT (Internet of Things) would totally change the world for future generations with up to 80% of current jobs disappearing. To be honest it was all pretty mind blowing and made me yearn for the simpler days of my Commodore PET 4032. 😉 Fortunately for us humans, in this brave new work of super hot technology, there are some areas where he thinks will we still reign supreme. These include human creativity, emotional intelligence, critical thinking and the ability to handle complex problem solving. I knew I should have taken that Liberal arts degree all those years ago! 😉

Fake news?

With apologies to Donald, I've seen several comments on the web that the AmigaOne X5000 is not available for sale. I'm pleased to report that nothing could be further from the truth.

Cyrus Plus Boards - floor to ceiling

While most Amiga retailers are part-time or small businesses who operate on a build-to-order bases, one thing that you can be certain of, there is no shortage of Cyrus Plus motherboards in stock. I visited the AmigaKit warehouse in January and took a photo of their special Cyrus storeroom which is full from floor to ceiling with boxes of new Cyrus Plus motherboards. So if your preferred local Amiga retailer's website is showing the Cyrus Plus motherboards or AmigaOne X5000 systems as "out of stock" give them a gentle prod. 😉

I'm sure they will be only too pleased to build you a nice shiny new AmigaOne X5000 system to order or supply you with a Cyrus Plus motherboard together with all the components and software to help you create the AmigaOne X5000 system of your choice.

Cyrus Plus P5020 motherboard

On that note, I'm pleased to report that AmigaKit has recently posted details of its own Cyrus Plus motherboard deal on its website. Matthew Leaman has informed me that AmigaKit is supplying the Cyrus Plus board complete with a boxed version of the Enhancer Software Plus edition, together with an optional 4GB USB flash drive as a bootable emergency back-up to assist with system recovery in the event of a hard disk failure. Also included is a serial license key for AmigaOS 4.1 Final Edition Update 1 Pre-Release supplied by Hyperion Entertainment. This key will allow purchasers to register with Hyperion and download a digital version of the latest AmigaOne X5000 iso from the Hyperion Entertainment website. I also expect to see a full AmigaOne X5000 system's configurator on the AmigaKit website in the very near future. For more information about the AmigaOne X5000 or the Enhancer Software pack please check out the official AmigaOne X5000 and Enhancer Software wiki pages.

Updating the goods

Talking about the Enhancer Software Pack, a new feature that is currently being tested by our AmigaDeveloper team is the standalone AMIStore Updater utility.  Not only does Updater allow a customer to keep track of all their AMIStore purchases it also enables users to check for and download any new updates it finds. Better still Updater keeps a track of all the Enhancer Software system components and makes sure that all the latest versions are installed.

AMIStore Updater utility

Updater links to the user's unique AmiSphereServer ID and password. Once this is set-up, double-clicking on the Updater icon launches the utility which automatically connects to the AMIStore server and checks for new updates to software packages registered to the user. Updater also integrates seamlessly with the Ringhio Notifications Server which displays the download progress of any programs the user has selected to update.

Ringhio - download progress bar

The Updater settings can also be modified to check for updates when the utility is first launched or check periodically at pre-selected time intervals while it remains active. Expect to see the Updater utility included in the next Enhancer Software release along with a few other nice surprises. I think I'm going to need a UHD monitor. 😉

Don't call me vintage?

I will be winging my way to the USA at the end of this month to attend the Vintage Computer Festival Southeast 5.0  in Roswell, Georgia on the 29th and 30th of April. I actually have business in San Francisco on 26th-28th so the only way I can attend the VCF show is to fly overnight from SFO to Atlanta. So if you are planning to visit the show please be aware I just might me a little bit bleary eyed. 😉 Fortunately I'm being supported on the A-EON table by Ken Lester of Ken's icons fame. Not only is he a talented graphic artist he is also an AmigaOne X5000 owner and a member of the AmigaOne A1222 AmigaOS 4.1 & Linux beta test teams. Ken will be bringing both of his AmigaOne machines to the show, so if you have never seen an AmigaOne X5000 or A1222 in the flesh and you live in the Atlanta area this is your ideal opportunity. Alex Perez of Inertial Computing, is also bringing along an A.L.I.C.E. laptop and his SCSI2SD adapters which include a microSD card that is a drop-in replacement for a Seagate ST3550N hard disk drive. So come along and have a chat and talk Amiga or better still buy me a drink. 😉

Latest Update: original Amiga developer Glen Keller will be also attending the show. What are you waiting for? 🙂

Graphically Speaking

I don't know about you but I find graphics card terminology and specifications very confusing. You almost need a degree in hieroglyphics to understand the naming convention and marketing hype describing modern graphics cards GPUs.

Despite this I decided to test a few graphics cards in my AmigaOne A1222/Tabor beta system with the latest beta versions of the RadeonHD and Warp3D Nova graphics drivers which are currently under test. I have several half-height cards which go well with the small size of the Tabor motherboard. These included two low cost R7 cards and two cards from the HD5xxx and HD6xxx range. Both of the R7 cards are entry level and contain an Oland GPU. For comparison I also tested a full height RadeonHD 7750 card.

  • XFX R7 240D 2Gb, 64-bit version - Oland GPU
  • AMD R7 240 2Gb, 128-bit version - Oland GPU
  • Sapphire HD6570 1Gb DDR3 - Turks Pro GPU
  • Sapphire HD5450 1Gb DDR3 - Cedar Pro GPU
  • Sapphire HD7750 1Gb GDDR5 - Southern Islands GPU - full height, passively cooled double width card

I'm pleased to report that all cards appeared to work well with the latest RadeonHD beta drivers. Both of the R7 cards and the HD7750 also supported the latest Warp3D Nova 3D beta drivers. Of course, as would be expected, the best graphics performance was obtained with the more powerful and more expensive RadeonHD 7750 card. I do have other more power cards in the the Radeon HD series but the tiny pico PSU I have powering my Tabor board at the moment doesn't have the extra PSU leads necessary to drive these power hungry monsters. Note to self, I need to get a bigger case & PSU.

Trouble in cyberspace

When David Doyle transferred custodianship of the AmigaWorld.net community forum to A-EON Technology in October 2014 I was really pleased. As I wrote at the time, AmigaWorld was the first next-generation Amiga forum I signed up to and was always my first port of call for all my Amiga news, long before A-EON Technology became a twinkle in my eye. AmigaWorld.net is also one of the few Amiga community web forums that still works well with Classic 68k Amiga Browsers. I was really concerned when it went offline for a few days towards the end of March. As reported at the time by Sigurbjorn "sibbi" Larusson, a volunteer System Administrator on AmigaWorld .net, the problem was caused by a failure in the raid subsystem on the AmigaWorld server which took quite some time to repair and restore. Since Sibbi's day-job is a Senior Network engineer for Vodafone Iceland I'll let him explain the problem in his own words:

We're running on our server for various reasons, one of them being that we don't slot into a standard setup of any hosting company because we're using a lot of very old and customised stuff that still works with ancient browsers and quite a few custom made admin tools that are a big part of the day to day operations of the site.

AmigaWorld.net on IBrowse

The other being that we also run other services, such as the IRC network, the Services part of the IRC network, Radio Broadcasting services for AmigaWorld.NET radio and so on. (Note: including OS4-beta IRC etc) We don't easily fit into a simple hosting environment with that setup, so we'd have to give up some of that flexibility. We also obviously try to minimise the cost of operating the site since donations and ad revenue barely covers the operational expense as is. Right now the server is located on a fairly slow (by modern standards at least) server CPU wise, with a non-hardware based mirrored raid. We do take the backups off-site on a regular basis but the work in restoring the server was mostly getting the team at the provider to boot the server in recovery mode and work on restoring the raid to a working setup, which required a few attempts with long waiting periods between them.

Sigurbjorn "Sibbi" Larusson

Of course we could get a professional hardware based raid server with full KVM access and that would enable us to do all of this possibly even without downtime, it's just a matter of cost and who is going to pay for it. I'd also like to point out that we do all of this work on a volunteer basis and that I have a full time day-job that I'm actually paid to do, as well as raising 2 kids under the age of two, so there are other things on my agenda than just restoring amigaworld.net to a working setup. If we wanted to migrate to some CMS from this Century we probably could but we would lose a lot of the custom made tools that have been added over the years and the work of porting the site is significant. If you want to volunteer to port the site and all the admin tools to a modern CMS, please feel free to contact us, the other option is offering money to have someone else do it.

It is dedicated Amigans like Sibbi who volunteer their time and expertise to help keep our community alive and kicking and I personally wish to thank him for his continued support of AmigaWorld. One benefit of the enforced shutdown was to allow Matthew Leaman to finally fix an unrelated but long standing DNS issue that had been plaguing AmigaWorld for some time. Every cloud has a silver lining.

Just can't get enough!

Polish Amiga.User in English

No not the 1981 Depeche Mode song or even the unrelated 2010 Black Eyed Peas variant, I'm talking about Amiga news and information. In good news for English speaking Amiga enthusiasts. Amiga.net.pl, the publishers of the Polish language magazines Amigazyn and Retrokomp, have announced they are producing AMIGA.user, a new full colour printed magazine for English speaking Amigans. Poland has long been an active Amiga hotbed and Amiga.net.pl already publish a number of books and manuals in Polish and English.  According to their website AMIGA.users will cover the whole Classic and Next-Generation Amiga scene including emulation, gaming and the demoscene. I've just ordered the first paper edition which is supplied with a free e-book.  After i receive my copy I'll provide a brief review of AMIGA.user in a future blog update.

When you know you are a Commodore retro geek!

I don't know about you but apart from seeing Boing Ball's everywhere I also spot Commodore and Amiga computers in TV shows and Movies, much to my wife's amusement (or should that be despair ;-)). The other day we were watching Northern Exposure, an old USA TV series sometimes compared with Twin Peaks, which was quite popular in the early 1990s.

PET & C64 in The Americans

One of the characters, Chris accidentally runs over a dog which leads him to hooking up with its pet loving owner, a mathematician who is fixated on finding a solution for Pi. Coincidentally her name is Amy and she used an Amiga to do her Pi computations.

"Amy to Chris: I just have this feeling if I take pi, well past all this static, take pi to 10 million, 20 million digits, that I'll find something really incredible."

What is even more of a coincidence is that both TV shows were filmed quite close to Snoqualmie in Washington State, where 10 years later, Bill and Fleecy's Amiga, Inc would set up its headquarters.

We also watched another more recent show, the excellent Americans , a 1980's period drama set during the height of the cold war with Russian agent's living undercover as American citizens. The undercover spies use a Commodore PET in their travel agency and in another episode a Commodore 64 is used to write a fake suicide note. For some reason my wife did not like my constant comments every-time the PET appeared on the screen, she said it spoiled the tense story-line.

......and finally, to see ourselves as other see us

May the (Amiga) force be with you

I was sent a couple of contrasting images recently. One from Stefano Buonocore, of Dreams Art Studio indie games, the creator of The secret of Middle City, a point-and- click adventure game with a Twin Peaks parody theme, which is available for AmigaOS 4.1 on AMIStore.

The other photo was from an anonymous "admirer". 😉 I'm not sure if I'm supposed to be James Bond's nemesis, Doctor No or Doctor Evil, Austin Powers' crazy arch-villain? Although I particularity like the dueling scar and Boing Ball ring, I did once own a pale blue Mini Cooper with a Union Jack painted roof so I think I have answered my own question! Yeah baby! 😉

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

14Feb/17Off

Metamorphosis

My slice of cake! Yuumiga 😉

It's already mid February and so much is happening in our Amiga world. I've just returned from a whistle-stop Amiga focused business trip to London, Cardiff, Brussels and Dublin. While I was in Belgium, thanks to Timothy de Groote the Managing Director of Hyperion Entertainment, I saw the Tabor board booting a beta version of AmigaOS 4.1 Final Edition for the very first time.

I also managed to fit in a side trip to the Amiga Ireland 2017 Meetup in Athlone and ate some cake celebrating the 30th birthday of the Amiga 500, courtesy of Jarlath Reidy and his band of Irish Amiga enthusiasts.

AmigaOne X5000 at Amiga Ireland Meetup 2017

The cake was washed down with a few pints of Guinness too, quite a combination! Look out for my brief update in the next edition of Amiga Future magazine along with with the second and concluding part of my interview with David Pleasance & Colin Proudfoot, the former joint Managing Directors of Commodore UK.

Tabor becomes AmigaOne A1222

As I've already been heavily involved in two major AmigaOne next-generation PowerPC motherboard projects you might think the news that the developer pre-release version of AmigaOS4.1 Final Edition is now available for Tabor beta testers would not be a big deal for me? Nothing could be further from the truth. Our band of trusty Tabor beta testers have been putting the Tabor motherboard through its paces for over a year using versions of Debian PowerPC. However, although Linux is really good for testing the hardware, it's not the operating system that the Tabor motherboard was designed for. With release of the first AmigaOS 4.1 developer iso the Tabor is at last transforming into the AmigaOne A1222 and, despite what you may have read, it's promising to be a powerful little machine with an entry level price.

Tabor motherboard in Nexus psile case

My own Tabor motherboard sat idle for the past six months while I concentrated on my AmigaOne X5000 but over the weekend I built my AmigaOne A1222 system using the Nexus psile case from my first Sam440ep. I downloaded the latest amigaboot.ub module from the Hyperion Entertainment ftp site and "flashed" it to the firmware stored on my microSD card. I like the fact that the Tabor motherboard (and the Cyrus Plus board) have the firmware image stored on a microSD card which can easily be rewritten or replaced with little chance of "bricking" the motherboard. I then downloaded the AmigaOS 4.1 F.E, Update 1 beta iso and burned it to a CD using my AmigaOne X1000. Nothing like keeping it in the family! 😉

First Boot - AmigaOS4.1 beta - AmigaOne A1222

Of course I could probably have booted from a usb flash drive but I like to keep all the CD versions of the beta isos I use. For some reason the slimline CD drive was not recognised by my Tabor board so I replaced it with a Samsung optical drive and booted my AmigaOne A1222 for the very first time. It was a really great feeling seeing the familiar AmigaOS Workbench appear on the monitor. Of course it's only an early developer release but now the Tabor beta testers have something to get their teeth into. Bring on the next serving.

The cherry on the cake!

Talking about cake and food, in more AmigaOne A1222 news, an exciting revelation by Golden Code developer, Daniel Müssener, author of the Tower 57 AmigaOS 4.1 port.

Tower 57 running on AmigaOne A1222

Apart from his amazing game development skills Daniel is also writing the OpenGLES2 wrapper for Warp3D Nova for A-EON Technology. Anyway he contacted me to let me know he couldn't resist compiling a version of his Tower 57 game using native SPE code for his Tabor motherboard running AmigaOS 4.1 beta. And the result? I'll let Daniel tell you in his own words: "It works - and it runs fast! Much faster than on a Sam460. As you probably also know I constantly record & post progress videos. Now the question is: may I post such a video of T57 running on the Tabor?" I had the privilege of seeing the first public demo of Tower 57 running on Allan Ullmann's AmigaOne X1000 at the recent Amiga Ireland 2017 show. The fact that it also runs really well on the AmigaOne A1222 is really good to know. Oh! and did I give Daniel permissions to post his progress video? You bet I did!! 😉 If you want to support Daniel's work for AmigaOS 4, MorphOS and AROS please click on the donate button on his website. I made a small donation to his Amiga cause.

......and finally

Boing Ball in Thailand

It good to know I'm not the only one who see Boing Balls everywhere and brain-washes their children! Amiga Ireland event organsier, Jarlath and his wife Aisling went on a recent family holiday to Thailand. On leaving Chaing Mai international airport on their arrival in Thailand, their daughter Ana, who is about 10 years old, pointed to a red & white checked water tower and exclaimed, "look an Amiga ball". Jarlath just had to take a photo to celebrate his daughters advanced knowledge and intelligence! 🙂

Laying down the "Boing" floor!

... and just in case you thought I'd removed my "Boing Ball" tinted spectacles, I spotted this on a van parked near to Timothy de Groote's house when I was in Belgium.

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

18Jan/17Off

When Amiga eyes are smiling!

Apologies for misquoting the lyrics to the famous Irish song but I started writing this blog in an airline lounge as I waiting for my flight to Auckland and onward to England via Los Angeles. For some strange reason I'm leaving the warmth of a Southern hemisphere New Zealand summer for the frozen winter in Europe. 😉

Amiga Ireland Meetup 2017

Actually it's not really that strange since this time I will be devoting most of my trip to Amiga related activities. Apart from a visit to Cardiff and Brussels I will be meeting up with Amiga friends in London before I travel to the emerald Isle to attend the Amiga Ireland Meetup 2017 in Athlone on Saturday 21st January. I haven't been to Ireland for a few years and am looking forward to catching up with fellow Amigans. So if you are in the area and fancy a good "craic" come along to the show and buy me a Guinness, Murphy's or even a local craft beer. I promise I will be wearing my designer Amiga gear. 😉

A.L.I.C.E. Cooper (or A.L.I.C.E. on steroids)

No I don't mean Alice Cooper the godfather of "Shock Rock" but read on. With the news that Hyperion Entertainment had released Update 1 for AmigaOS4.1 Final Edition I decided to update the Classic version on my A.L.I.C.E. laptop.

A.L.I.C.E. AmigaOS 4.1 Classic with Enhancer Software SE

For everyone who thought "final" meant "last" think again. I bought a boat about 10 years ago and named it "Final Fantasy". When my wife joked it would be my "Final Fantasy", I referred her to the multiple releases of the "Final Fantasy" game, which at that time was up to Final Fantasy 11. This was a time long before the AmigaOne X1000, let alone the AmigaOne X5000 or AmigaOne A1222. 🙂

Back on topic - car enthusiasts will probably know the history of the Cooper Car Company which only began building racing cars in 1946 and in a few short years changed the face of Formula One and the Indianapolis 500. Their high performance Mini Cooper cars also dominated rally racing and today the legacy of the Cooper brand lives on in top end Mini Cooper models made by BMW in the UK. What has this got to do with A.L.I.C.E. you might ask? In an earlier blog I mentioned that I was going to install the new Enhancer Software SE on my A.L.I.C.E. laptop running the Classic version of AmigaOS 4.1 Final Edition under emulation. My x86 laptop can run "standalone" versions of AmiKit, AmigaOS 4.1 Classic and Windows. It also runs the latest version of WinUAE under Windows which opens up a whole new world for AmigaOS 4.1 Classic PowerPC emulation thanks to the excellent work of Toni Wilen. As a first test I decided to install the Enhancer Software SE v1.2 on AmigaOS4.1 Classic running under WinUAE/Windows. It was surprising easy and, although a little slow compared to installing on real PowerPC hardware, the installation proceeded without any errors. Of course the Classic version of AmigaOS 4.1 Final edition does not support many of the advanced features of PowerPC models like the AmigaOne X1000 or X5000. There is no compositing support or video support and the emulated version has limited RAM and graphics capabilities meaning games which requires compositing will be unplayable. However, despite these restrictions AmigaOS 4.1 is now quite usable on my A.L.I.C.E. laptop. I was pleasantly surprised that all of the Enhancer Software components I tried appeared to work out of the box. It was encouraging to see that the Enhancer utilities, MultiViewer, MultiEdit and Clipviewer seemed to mutltitask and interact seamlessly. What's more, AMIStore also works well and, in addition to the Enhancer Software SE pack, I was able to download all of the other Amiga software I had previously purchased. I used AMIStore to install SketchBlock, Personal Paint NG, Ranger and ZTools. I had some issues with the ZTools package but I was able to install the excellent SysMon utility. The Odyssey web-browser also runs now, although it is slow on more complicated websites and it is not possible to play YouTube videos.

Odyssey AmigaOS 4.1 Classic A.L.I.C.E/WinUAE

As a further test I continued writing this blog with Odyssey. It was a little tricky because the Airport Wi-Fi was quite slow and some of the WordPress features don't quite work correctly under Odyssey but it was usable nevertheless. I know some Amigans think that running AmigaOS 4.1 on a PC laptop is akin to shock rocker Alice Cooper but for me the ability to get my OS4 fix while I'm travelling away from my AmigaOne X5000 is really cool. There were a few glitches which will no doubt be ironed out in later revisions but, given this is an x86 machine emulating a relatively slow PowerPC equipped Classic Amiga under WinUAE, it's certainly more usable than the earlier implementation. So rather than the aged shock rocker, AmigaOS 4.1 Final Edition Update 1 Classic running under WinUAE combined with the Enhancer Software SE v1.2 has converted my A.L.I.C.E. laptop into A.L.I.C.E. Cooper. As for Enhancer Software pack, a little bird told me that v1.3 is already in the works.

Making me dizzy!

Anyone who reads my blogs will know I'm not a great fan of software benchmarks and prefer real world usage to determine system performance rather than synthetic tests that churn out arbitrary unintelligible numbers. Having said that, Alain Thellier has released a new version of his Cow3D benchmarking and testing tool for 3D on the Amiga which seems to be causing quite a stir on the Amiga forums so I thought I'd better check it out myself. The new version includes the Shader source code and now supports Warp3D Nova as well as the older Warp3D and Warz3D software renderer.

Dizzy cow benchmark (Cow3D)

So I decided to compare the Cow3D results for Warp3D Nova and Warp3D-SI on an AmigaOne X5000 with a RadeonHD 7750 graphics card installed. Under the test, which features a rotating 3D cow, Warp3D Nova delivered ~718 fps compared to ~300 fps for the Warp3D-SI driver, representing a speed increase of 240%. Looks impressive. Of course spinning 3D cows are one thing but the real benefit will come when playing 3D games which are specifically designed to take advantage of Warp3D Nova's advanced graphics features.

The Warp3D Nova project is part of a continuous structured development program to create modern 3D graphics for the AmigaOS. The latest update v1.34 was released with the Enhancer Software pack V1.2.

That's all for now, next stop Brussels then on to Athlone in Ireland for Amiga Ireland Meetup 2017. Hope to see some of you there. 🙂

.........Oh and it seems I left NZ at the right time as Wellington is being hit by a weather "bomb" bringing severe gales and heavy rain. It never rains but it pours!

31Dec/16Off

Happy New Year from the land of the long white cloud

As we are about to celebrate the start of a new year I thought I would quickly reflect on some of my experiences over the past 12 months. In many respects 2016 has been an excellent year for the Amiga community with the one exception being the sad passing of Dave Needle, one of the key members of the original Amiga development team, who died in March. Dave is joined by a whole host of international celebrities who unfortunately also passed away this year. This included Pat Clark who was my first real boss in my first real job. Pat may have not been an international celebrity but he had a profound influence on my early working life and I am equally saddened by his passing. R.I.P. Dave and Pat.

However it was not all bad news and I've listed a few of my personal Amiga highlights and other notable events in 2016.

January

Me and Darren

I flew from the warm New Zealand Summer to the winter chills of Durham City in the NE England to attend to some personal business.

Matthew & Andy

On my way back through a slightly warmer London I met up with Matthew Leaman and some fellow Amiga Developers & beta testers, Darren Stevens and Andy Broad.

I took my original A.L.I.C.E. prototype laptop with me on its first overseas outing but more on that later. Later that month Darren released a working Live Linux DVD with full 3D hardware acceleration for RadeonHD 4xxxx, 5xxx and 6xxx graphics cards for the AmigaOne X5000.

February

Playing Doom3 on AmigaOne X5000 under Linux

Continuing with the Linux theme, Luigi Burdo, one our beta testers and active Linux expert, demonstrated the power of his AmigaOne X5000 by "testing" the performance of bump mapping, normal mapping, and specular highlighting under Linux. Of course you know that means he was playing Doom 3. 😉

March

Unfortunately Dave Needle passed away this month. I had the privilege of attending his memorial service in Alameda, California along with many of the original Amiga development team and fellow Amiga enthusiasts who came along to pay their last respects.

(l to r) Adam Srping, Chris Collins, RJ Mical & Glenn Keller

RJ Mical and his wife Caryn graciously provided me with accommodation and we celebrated Dave's life into the early hours of the morning with Glenn Keller, Adam Spring and Chris Collins.

While I was in San Francisco, Adam Spring took me on a visit to see Greg Dykstra of Pixar fame. Adam was seeking Greg's advice on some technical issue related to 3D scanning and digital sculpturing and somehow I managed to gatecrash the meeting. 😉

Warp3D Nova running on an AmigaOne X500

A-EON Technology announced that Warp3D Nova, a native 3D Shader-based API which offered exciting advancements in 3D software for the AmigaOS4 platform was being developed by graphics guru and AmigaDeveloper.com team member Hans De Ruiter. To complement Warp3D Nova, we engaged Daniel Müßener of Cherry Darling fame, to create an OpenGLES 2 wrapper. Both Warp3D Nova and OpenGLES 2 have been regularly updated throughout 2016.

On the Linux front, Christian Zigotzky, one of the very active members of our Core Linux team, travelled to Cardiff to help set up the Linux installation for the Tabor motherboard.  This is made available to our Tabor/A1222 beta testers who wanted to test Linux on their board while they wait for the AmigaOS 4.1 port from Hyperion Entertainment.

April

I again travelled to the UK to attend the first ever A-EON Technology Linux Devcon in Cardiff, Wales. Several members of our Core Linux team travelled from overseas to attend the conference.

(l to r) Alex, Me, Darren, Matthew & Pat

The group included Pat Wall from Kilkenny in Southern Ireland, Alex Perez from San Francisco, California. Darren Stevens journey from Scarborough in Northern England was just a little shorter and of course Matthew lives in Cardiff. 😉 We also had the part-time Skype presence of Adrian Glaubitz, a Debian developer who is working on the official powerpcspe Debian Sid build for the Tabor motherboard. While in the UK I took the opportunity of visiting Ultra Varisys, A-EON's hardware development partners and even managed to squeeze in a meeting with David Plesance, the former Joint Managing Director of Commodore UK and now involved with FriendUp. I accompanied him on a meeting to Jagex's headquarters in Cambridge and he introduced me to Rod Cousens, Jagex's CEO and ex head of Activision, who he knew from their Commodore/Activision days.

May

A-EON announced v1.0 of Enhancer Software for AmigaOS 4.1 was available on AMIStore as a digital download.

Enhancer Software Pack v1.0

Two version were available. The Standard Edition which included the full RadeonHD V1.x drivers and a reduced Workbench CANDI selection; and the Plus Edition which included the latest RadeonHD V2.x drivers and the full CANDI package.

June

Libre Office on AmigaOS 4.1 - early boot

After an awful lot of work the first startup of LibreOffice on AmigaOS4.1. OK it was sluggish and barely usable but it was a major breakthrough nevertheless. The LibreOffice code base is truly massive.

July

A-EON acquired the exclusive ownership of the RadeonHD source and binary code for AmigaOS 4.x.together with all existing and future RadeonHD intellectual property rights from developer Hans de Ruiter. Meanwhile Hans continued to work on the Warp3D Nova development for A-EON.

It just had to be!

I can't let this month go by without mentioning my 40th Wedding Anniversary. Who would believe it, firstly that I'm that old and secondly I got married before the Amiga was even a twinkle in Jay Miner's eye! 😉 and what do you think I spotted on my short weekend trip up to Russel in New Zealand's beautiful Bay of Island area?

August

A-EON released the first major update to the Enhancer Software Pack for AmigaOS 4.1 systems. The v1.1 upgrade included a lot of new content in addition to the customary bug fixes and was available as a free download from AMIStore for registered users.

ESP V1.1 with Warp3D Nova & OpenGLES 2

The full v1.1 package could also be purchased as digital download from AMIStore or as a boxed CD from selected Amiga dealers. In August I made another short trip to Europe and found some time to meet up with the Hyperion Entertainment team in Brussels, Belgium, on my birthday no less. Who said the 13th was an unlucky number? 😉

September

While on business in Sydney, I made a side trip to Adelaide in South Australia to give a presentation to AAUG's (Adelaide Amiga User Group) at the invitation of Epsilon (of Epsilon's Amiga blog fame).

October

Amiga twins?

I made a quick dash to the UK to attend the LAG's (Lincolnshire Amiga Group) 10th Anniversary bash in Northern England before travelling to California for my annual visit to Amiwest in Sacramento. At AmiWest I announced the commercial release of the AmigaOne X5000 complete with a pre-release version of AmigaOS 4.1 Final Edition Update 1 supplied by Hyperion Entertainment.

AmigaOne X5000

I also announced the upcoming release of the Enhancer Software-SE edition, a special light version for older AmigaOne and compatible models that do not support modern RadeonHD & Rx graphics cards. I also revealed the imminent release of Prisma Megamix, a multi-format dual interface music card for all 68k Amiga computers fitted with a Zorro II or Clockport. On the drive to Sacramento my bag was stolen containing my original prototype A.L.I.C.E laptop plus passport & cash etc. Suggestion that the contents of the emails stored on my Laptop had any effect on the US presidential election results have proved unfounded! 😉

Thanks to the initiative of A1222 beta tester Domagoj Ozanic the AmigaOne X5000 and AmigaOne A1222 made the front page news on www.bug.hr the biggest and most famous mainstream computer magazine in Balkan region.

November

Tabor booting

Hyperion Entertainment posted an early development video of the AmigaOS 4.1 Workbench booting on the Tabor motherboard for the first time. Tabor is finally evolving into the AmigaOne A1222.

Minor Quake damage

In the same month New Zealand was hit by a severe 7.8 earthquake which was centered around Hanmer Springs in the North of the South Island. It cause a lot of damage and destruction around the quake's epicenter and even Wellington, where I live, sustained a lot of structural damage. Fortunately, I only sustained relatively minor damage but my G5 iMac is toast. However, there is no truth in the rumour that the two events were related. 😉

December

there is only 1 Amiga

Another update to the Enhancer Software package was released for AmigaOS 4.x PowerPC systems which again included a lot of new features. Version 1.2 now included the SE version for older AmigaOne machines as well as the usual Standard and Plus editions. After all the disruption caused by the quake and numerous strong aftershocks I decide to trade my car in for a newer model. You only live once!

Well that is all I have time for as midnight is fast approaching in New Zealand so all that is left for me to say is:

Happy New Year CANDI - AmigaOne X5000 running AmigaOS 4.1 Final Edition Update 1 & Enhancer Software

Happy New Year to all Amigans from Summertime in New Zealand