It's been quite a while since I've updated my blog. Unfortunately, there are just not enough hours in the day at the moment. Apart from my Amiga passion (hey who said obsession) I enjoy helping young companies start their business and, as a founding investor in Lightning Lab, I'm in the fortunate position of working with some of the best young talented entrepreneurs and companies in New Zealand. I also get to see some pretty cool and unique technology.
I recently visited a small factory in Petone, near Wellington, which manufactures a seamless polycarbonate mesh, a modern version of chainmail, which is designed for the architectural and lighting sectors where it is used for facades, screens, curtains and designer lighting. Of course chainmail is nothing new and has been around for centuries so what makes this polycarbonate chainmail so special. Well the inventor, Kayne Horsham worked as an art director for Weta Workshop and had the tedious task of creating a lightweight, robust and authentic looking chainmail to be worn by Aragorn and other characters in "The Lord of the Rings" movies. It was a slow and laborious process with each chainmail costume created one link at a time.
Also, like traditional chainmail, the costumes had an inherent weakness because the rings have a join where they are interlocked. Kayne's team spent hours laboriously creating and then repairing the costumes by hand and it wasn't long before the actors started calling his costumes "Kayne-mail".
After the filming was over Kayne starting thinking about ways to develop a method in which the chainmail could be made by machine in one continuous process, eliminating the slow and laborious work. After being told by toolmakers it was just not possible he taught himself the rudiments of injection moulding. He and his partner then set about designing a machine that could produce a 2D continuous mesh of components with none of the inherent weaknesses of the traditional chainmail design.
After a lot of hard work they finally created a machine that could injection mould a continuous sheet of seamless polycarbonate mesh. However, because of the inherent strength of their product they soon realized it had a much wider application that just creating special chainmail costumes for movies. They established a company called Kaynemaile to manufacture and market the product. It is fully recyclable and has a carbon footprint of less than one-quarter of an equivalent stainless steel product. Because of its strength and flexibility it has been used in building projects throughout the world including, New York's Cornell University and Hard Rock Cafes throughout the United States. The mesh is so strong it is also approved as a safety barrier and has been used to make shark nets, and coming full circle, rolls of Kaynemail were used on the set of "The Hobbit" films. Kaynemaile has received several prestigious international design awards and according to Kayne uses for Kaynemaile are still being discovered. Anyone for polycarbonate chainmail Amiga case?
From small acorns - little miracles grow
About 23 years ago I acquired a Miracle Keyboard Piano teaching system for my Amiga 4000. I decided that my family would learn to pay the piano using the Amiga, keyboard and the Miracle software. Unfortunately, no miracles happened for me as I struggled to play such classics as, "twinkle, twinkle little star" and "row, row row your boat", although I could manage a passable "god save the queen". However, we discovered very quickly that my daughters, who were aged 12 and 9 at the time, were both very musical and it did not take long before they outgrew the excellent Miracle teaching software. Following a succession of piano, tuned percussion, saxophone, clarinet and voice lessons over the next 6-9 years, both of them went on to study Music at university. I often wonder whether this would of happened if I had not bought the Miracle Teaching System in the first place. I would like to say, "only the Amiga makes it possible" but the Miracle system was also available for other hardware including the PC. Still there was a certain symmetry when my youngest daughter wrote the music and sound effects for Danny and Steven Fellner's "Amiga animation" which is supplied with every copy of AmigaOS 4, and for the start-up boot sound of the AmigaONE X1000 and AMIGA one X5000 systems.
As I'm writing this blog I'm waiting for the delivery of my new AMIGA one X5000 tower from AmigaKit. The package is in the county and was supposed to be delivered yesterday. It didn't arrive and is supposedly being delivered today.
If you didn't know, I'm signed up as a Cyrus+ beta tester and, as with the AmigaONE X1000 beta programme, I delayed shipment of my board towards the end of the distribution run to allow all other beta testers to get their boards first. Hey who said I'm just waiting for all the bugs to be ironed out! Our core Linux developers have had their boards for several months and have already produced a stable Linux distribution with full 3D graphic acceleration for the Cyrus+ board. The AmigaOS 4 port has continued apace but was slowed for a while by a tricky little CPU bug which was hidden in the Freescale Erratum.
Freescale had detected the bug and effected a kernel level fix for Linux. Fortunately fellow beta tester and all round hardware guru, Eldee Stevens found the Freescale information and it didn't take long for Thomas Frieden to then apply the approved Freescale workaround. Since then the AmigaOS 4 Cyrus+ port has become a lot more stable, allowing other key developers to work on the necessary drivers. Just need to get my AMIGA one X5000 box so I can join the party!
May the 4th be with you!
Apologies to all Star wars fans. The core Linux developer team have been working overtime testing our new Freescale 64-bit multi-core PowerPC based motherboards. Although, the boards have been designed specifically for the AmigaOS they also support a whole host of PowerPC Linux distributions. We use PowerPC Linux to thoroughly test and prove the new hardware to ensure there are no nasty surprises. This worked well with the Nemo motherboard in the AmigaONE X1000 which, since its release in late 2011, has proved very reliable. Given that we used the same hardware team to develop and design the Cyrus+ motherboard we expect similar excellent reliability and performance.
You might think with new PowerPC boards on the way that work will have slowed down on Linux distros for the AmigaONE X1000. Well you would be wrong. Our Linux team aided and abetted by several enthusiastic AmigaONE X1000 owners continue to break all barriers. Thanks to the work of Christian Zigotsky, Pat Wall, Darren Stevens and Alex Perez the AmigaONE X1000 continues to support the latest Linux kernels and many of the new PowerPC Linux distributions.
It seems Linux godfather, Linus Torvalds, wants to get in on the numbers game. Rather than continuing with the numbering sequence which would see the next Linux kernel named 3.20 he has suggested jumping straight to Linux 4.0. In his own words, "We're slowly getting up there again, with 3.20 being imminent, and I'm once more close to running out of fingers and toes. I was making noises about just moving to 4.0 some time ago. So, I made noises some time ago about how I don't want another 2.6.39 where the numbers are big enough that you can't really distinguish them. But let's see what people think. So - continue with v3.20, because bigger numbers are sexy, or just move to v4.0 and reset the numbers to something smaller?"
Whatever Torvalds decides to call the next kernel the good news for AmigaONE X1000 owners is that Christian is way ahead of the game. He has already released a sixth alpha version of the 4.0 Linux kernel (or 3.20 if you prefer the original numbering sequence). It's early days but Christian has already successfully tested the new kernel with Ubuntu 10.04.4 LTS, Lubuntu 12.04.5 LTS, Fedora 17, MintPPC 11, Debian Sid and many more PowerPC Linux distributions on his AmigaONE X1000 including Ubuntu Mate 15.04 and OpenSUSE 13.1-1. I just don't know where he finds the time. With MorphOS also approaching the magic version number 4.0 it seems that the AmigaOS and the Linux kernel are in good company. Who am I to argue with Linus?
A wolf in troll's clothing?
I receive a lot of emails and PMs from Amiga well-wishers who view but prefer not to post in public on the Amiga community forums. I do remember my own situation, way back in 2004, when I first started posting on AmigaWorld.net and Amiga.org. It was a little intimidating at first, even for me, but it did not take long before I was sharing my Amiga passion with like minded individuals. Unfortunately all open community forums seem to attract a few posters who have no real interest in the forum they visit but take delight in causing disharmony and spreading FUD! You will be unsurprised to learn that this phenomena is not restricted to the Amiga community forums. A recent scientific study reported that "trolls are by far, more likely to have narcissistic, Machiavellian, psychopathic, and sadistic personality traits". The report also suggest that such people are "characterized by being vicious and degrading toward others, sometimes physically and in the most extreme cases are sex offenders and serial killers". Ooooeeerr! According to the research, it seems that letting certain people vent anonymously in public forums they are less likely to do something much more destructive in person. So next time you see a troll on an Amiga forum just ignore them and remember you are providing a greater public service.
Meanwhile after A-EON purchased the exclusive right to OctaMED we received a message from Yerzmyey , "Hmm, maybe it is a good idea with the OctaMED. It was surely the best editor EVER, for Amiga 500. If I had Amiga One (RULEZ!!!) some new version of OctaMED would be surely the first thing to buy. If it used full capabilities of A1 (surely powerful like hell, I suspect it would be with 32 channels without any problems) I could make really good stuff with such a combo (A1 + OctaMED). But meanwhile I have only A500, so I (still!!) use it with my standard OctaMED 4.0, making stuff like this. Good luck guys!"
It's really good to receive messages of support from a long time Amigan like Yerzmyey and even better to see that 27 year-old Amiga technology is still being put to good use.
Where's Wally, Waldo, Harvey?
A friend came round the other day and brought along his brother who was vising from England. He has heard about my "small" Commodore and Amiga collection and asked if I could give him a quick tour of my "man cave". Never missing a chance to talk about computers and the Amiga I started with the Kim-1, worked my way through the early PETs and on to the 8-bit games machines, the Vic20, C64 (and variations), the c128 and then Commodore TED series before moving on to the "Porsche" PET's. Of course this was followed by the Amiga 1000 and the other 16-bit and 32-bit Amiga models and finally the Next-generation Amigas finishing up with the 64-bit multicore AmigaONE X1000. I even had a couple of Power Macs running the latest MorphOS version and AROS/Icaros Desktop running on an x86 PC and, for good measure, had the latest version of Live Ubuntu Remix iso running on my second AmigaONE X1000.
He was very impressed, but no doubt thought I was a little mad? As a demonstration, I had my other AmigaONE X1000 running the System-Window workbench CANDI animation and playing movie with MPlayer. He was impressed, but even more so when I dragged the WB screen down to reveal the Boing Ball Composite 3DDemo animation running smoothly in the background. Perhaps I've seen the original Amiga launch video too many times! However, he was even more impressed when I then unlocked the WB window and began dragging it left and right across the screen. The Composite 3DDemo played smoothly in it's own screen while the CANDI bubbles continued to waft gently upwards in the imaginary breeze and the movie played on without a pause, all while the WB was being dragged around the screen. He asked me if this was the latest version of Windows 10! He did mange to leave my house undamaged! (he was much bigger and a lot younger than me anyway ) I have to admit it's been a while since I've shown a non-Amigan the current state of the AmigaOS and I'm pleased to say he went away very impressed.
To celebrate the Easter period the talented developers and graphics artists (aka EntwicklerX and Kevin Saunders) have produced a Workbench CANDI theme for the season. At the same time, Workbench CANDI has been upgraded and is now even simpler to use. Several new features have been added including the following:
- Automatically switches between CANDI animations by double-clicking on a CANDI icon.
- Double clicking on the same CANDI icon switches the Workbench animation off.
- CANDI animation goes to sleep if Workbench goes behind another active screen.
- New tooltypes to select LOWCPU option for less capable hardware (removing the need for a LOWCPU CANDI version).
- ResetWB option now works when CANDI is running.
- Each CANDI can now be controlled by an external program/utility (coming soon).
By the way, no prizes for working out the relationship between, Wally, Waldo and Harvey!
No one's April fool - Warp3D update
Keeping with the graphics theme, it's no secret that A-EON have been working on Warp3D for RadeonHD 5xxx & 6xxx series graphics cards equipped with the Evergreen GPU. While this work is continuing, after purchasing joint ownership of Warp3D late last year, AmigaOS graphics specialist Hans de Ruiter was commissioned to work on a version of Warp3D for the newer Southern Island chip-set.
The Southern Island GPU includes many cards in the RadeonHD 7xxx series and a whole host of cards in the newer Rx cards in the R7 and R9 series. A core group of AmigaOS4.1 beta testers have been busily testing our latest version of Warp3D and have reported excellent 3D performance with compatible Southern Island RadeonHD and Rx graphics cards.
Here is a list of some of the games, utilities and applications that have been tested so far:- Quake III Arena, VoxelNoid, Dragon Memory, Supertux Kart, VoxelBird, Speed Dreams, Torcs, and Blender.
Also Descent 1 & 2 reportedly work fine, even at the highest resolutions. A Warp3D beta tester even reported that Open Arena ran fine at 1600x1200 at the maximum quality setting on his Sam460 with a Radeon R7 265 card. A-EON's RadeonHD driver already supported full 2d acceleration for the the RadeonHD and Rx series. With the new Warp3D upgrade true 3D hardware performance is now possible with Southern Island equipped graphics cards. For all users with RadeonHD 5xxx or 6xxx graphics cards do not despair work is continuing on the Warp3D Evergreen driver for cards in this series.
As all Amigans know 2015 is the Amiga's 30th Anniversary. Many Amiga User groups and enthusiasts are planning to celebrate the Amiga's 30th birthday with parties all over the world.
Some will be small gatherings, while others, like the Amiga30 in Amsterdam and the Kickstarter backed Amiga 30th at the Computer History Museum in California promise to be massive affairs, with Amiga celebrities both past and present. Whatever way you decide to celebrate the Amiga's 30th birthday, make sure you do it with style and panache and be proud to be associate with the world's first multimedia computer, whatever your current Amiga flavour.
Got to go now, there is a delivery man walking down the drive with a big parcel.