With the end of another year in sight it's time to reflect on the past twelve months and look forward to the coming year. As all Amigans well know, 2015 is the 30th Anniversary of the Amiga's birth and the occasion has been celebrated and commemorated around the world by parties both large and small.
I think it's fair to say that as we approach the end of the year it definitely has been a good time to be an Amigan, whatever your flavour or passion. I've had the pleasure and privilege of sponsoring and attending many of the Amiga30th events that took place around the world. I've mixed with icons of the Commodore and Amiga community and spent time talking and drinking with numerous Amiga enthusiasts. I've written a personal account of my Amiga30th globe trotting experience which will appear in the next edition of Amiga Future magazine.
As 2015 draws to a close I'm pleased to report that, if my Amiga30th experience is anything to go by, the Amiga spirit is still very much alive and well. A couple of Amiga30th shows in Italy and Poland had to be delayed until next year so all that remains to be said is: Here's to continuing the Amiga party in 2016. PS Where is my invitation?
It's an Amiga Jim (Sachs) but not as we know it!
When I attended the Amiga30th event at the Computer History Museum in California in July, on the first day of the show I had the privilege of meeting with the great Amiga artist Jim Sachs. As all Amigans know, Jim is a leading computer artist whose talented graphics adorned many iconic C64 and Amiga games such as Saucer Attack and Defender of the Crown. His distinctive artwork and style graced many other Amiga games and productivity titles, including the user interface and start-up animations for the CDTV and CD32 Amiga models.
Shortly after we talked he came back to the A-EON Technology booth and asked me if I'd like a virtually unused Amiga CD32 which was still in its original box and packaging.
It was a PAL version that Commodore sent him to check the start-up animation he created for the machine. When he originally received the CD32 from Commodore he powered up the machine once to check the animation worked OK and after that, having no need for a PAL machine in the USA, he placed it back in the box and it has been sitting unused for the past ~21 years.
Needless to say I quickly agreed to take the machine off his hands and the next day, true to his word, he came back to the show with the Amiga CD32. Unfortunately, I did not have enough room in my case to carry the boxed CD32 back home to New Zealand but SACC's Brian Deneen, graciously offered to keep it safe for for me until I returned to California for my annual trip to Amiwest.
On my return to Sacramento in October I made sure that I brought along a large, nearly empty, case to allow me to take the machine home. I am pleased to report that Jim's Amiga CD32 is now safely back with me in New Zealand and works just fine. My only disappointment is that I didn't ask Jim to autograph the CD32 box. Duh!! Maybe next time I'm in the USA I will take the CD32 box cover for Jim to sign!
Puzzling times - Amiga style
During my trip to Neuss to attend the Amiga 30 Germany show I had the chance to visit the Internationale Spieltage SPIEL show in Essen with RJ Mical, Dave Haynie, Michael Battilana and Marcel Franquinet. SPIEL is the biggest board games fair anywhere in the world. It is a massive annual four-day game fair with 910 exhibitors from 41 countries and this year a record 162,000 visitors attended the event.
The large cavernous halls were filled with companies selling a myriad of simple and intricate board games with tutorial gaming sessions for the masses of people wanting to test the latest games. Amongst the vast array of board games and gamers we found a stall selling a selections of metal and wooden puzzles which we just had to try.
If you read my blog you will notice that I tend to spot Boing Balls everywhere and I was immediately attracted to a Red and White wooden cube "snake" puzzle which I just had to buy. I took my new Boing Cube to the Neuss show and offered a special prize of an Amiga.org mouse mat for anyone who could solve the puzzle in under 5 minutes. Only one person actually managed this!
Grass roots community gaming
If the SPIEL Essen show was the largest board game show in the world, on the Sunday after the Neuss event Marcel drove RJ, Dave and me over to the World of Retro Gaming (3rd edition) show which was held in a tiny community centre in Stevoort-Hasselt, Belgium. We were joined by Paul Hamer who came along in his own car.
It was a small show devoted entirely to Video game consoles and included a vast collection of game cartridges for Atari, Ninento Sega and Sony game machines. We did manage to find one CD32 game. As we walked around the tiny venue which consisted of 4 or 5 rooms crammed full with various console games it did not take long for some of the other visitors to realise that two of Amiga's finest were in their midst. No, I'm not talking about Marcel and me but of course Dave Haynie and RJ Mical. The cameras were soon out for the obligatory photographs and it was nice to see people thanking Dave and RJ for their contributions to computing and video gaming history.
We did not buy any video games but when we came across a stall selling Video Console T-Shirts, RJ insisted on buying one for me. They did not have any Amiga CD32 T-Shirts so I selected one with an image of the 16-bit Sega mega drive. Not that I had one of these machines but because of Commodore UK's famous bill-board advert placed outside Sega's London headquarters. "To be this good will take Sega ages". Ah those were the days!
After the show Marcel had the job of driving us from "pub to pub" before taking us to his home in Sittard in the Netherlands to meet his family and visit his man cave (at the top of the house) to see his Amiga collection and drink even more beer.
Afterwards he drove us back to our hotel in Neuss. It's only when you drive around this part of mainland Europe your realise just how close all the counties are together and within a few miles (or Km) the language changes from German to Dutch and French.
A blast from the past
While I was vising Marcel's man cave he presented me with a pristine copy of Issue Zero of AMIGA.org Magazine which was published in October 2003 by "AOWorks". Kees Witteven and Cindy Hoek are listed as the joint Publisher/Editor and it was printed by Vanderheym/Computer City in the Netherlands. The list of writers and GFX artists includes Wayne Hunt, Greenboy, Andreas Loong, Andre' Siegel and many others. The issue is only 20 pages but the Editorial by Kees Witteven suggests that the magazine was planned as a professional monthly magazine along the lines of CUAmiga and Amiga Format.
Reading through the magazine was like taking a step back into Amiga's next-generation history. The News sections included articles about the Pegasos II, which was due to be released along with the MorphOS SuperBundle software package, and the first public demonstration of AmigaOS4 running on an AmigaOne at the Pianeta Amiga show in Empoli, Italy. MorphOS 1.4 was about to be released and Eyetech had revealed pre-prototype pictures of its new AmigaOne Lite, which would eventually be released as the Micro A1-c. There was even mention of Melancia's MCC computer but it was still uncertain whether this would turn out to be vaporware. (It did). There are not many adverts but the Advertisers index included Elbox, Genesi, GGD-Data, Hyperion, Individual Computers along with LiveWire Systems and Anachronism Industries. The existence of the magazine, which is written in English, was a complete surprise to me. It obviously did not last very long so I contacted Kees Witteven to get an update on what happened after the release of the first issue. He provided the following information:-
"Right we started it as we thought it would be a great asset to the community and at the time there we're not many magazines left. After we announced it and got together a team of enthusiastic volunteers; writers, gfx artists, editors etc, we printed issue Zero. However, a few days later Fleecy Moss from Amiga Inc threatened us with lawsuits and demanded huge sums of money since we used the Amiga name. That gave us such a bang in the face that some of the volunteers decided not to work with us anymore because they felt threatened as well and where afraid of being sued. We thought about changing the name into PPC Magazine or something but since everything gfxwise and lay-out wise was ready to go and the fear of being sued it all just fell apart ... Only issue Zero was printed ... we had content ready for 3 more issue's or something."
Kees also said they signed up a few subscribers but had to return the funds after the Magazine was cancelled. However, there was one still one person who worked for Bill Buck in France who they could not contact to return his money. So if you are that person, Kees said your money is still here waiting for you.
Winter CANDI is coming!
Apologies to the House of Stark and all the followers of The Game of Thrones for the misquote but I can think of no better way to announce the latest Workbench CANDI backdrop for RadeonHD equipped AmigaOS4.1 machines.
Once again A-EON has commissioned the magicians at EntwicklerX to create a new CANDI theme to celebrate the Winter season (err Winter? - it's Summer here down-under!) They rose to the challenge and created a beautiful CANDI background with a rotating Boing Ball centrepiece and gently falling snow flakes which truly captures the Winter season. As with all the other CANDI backdrops, the Winter CANDI animation integrates seamlessly with the AmigaOS Workbench and is controlled with the CANDI preferences utility. Registered owners of of Workbench CANDI will be able to download the new CANDI version free of charge from AMIStore in the near future.
Talking about AMIStore, a new version (0.663) has just been released which adds a whole host of features and improvements. The update includes better Amiga Menu support together with Sales & Promotions, Special offers and reworked multi-currency support. EntwicklerX is the first developer to take advantage of the new Special Offer feature and, from the 19th December through to the 1st of January 2016, are offering a special AMIStore Christmas discount on all their AmiBoing games. If you already have AMIStore installed on your AmigaOS 4.1 system you can update to the new version when you start the program.
Retro Petro - Amiga hero
As I mentioned in an earlier blog, I managed to miss Petro Tyschtschenko at the Amsterdam Amiga30th show but I knew I had a second chance to get a signed copy of his book since he was delivering the opening address at the Neuss show. I bumped into him in the car park in Neuss as we were unloading the equipment to set up our respective booths. I could immediately tell Petro was very skilled and practiced trade show professional. All of his computers were neatly contained in matching packing cases which fitted perfectly into his car. He also had a small trolley which allowed him to wheel all the cases into the venue in one trip. Ah, German planning and precision. Petro again displayed his Walker prototype and was extremely busy posing for photographs and signing posters and copies of his book. However, I did managed to slip away from the equally busy A-EON booth to catch up with him for a couple of minutes during the show.
He signed his book for me and wrote a nice dedication on the inside cover and also gave me an original "Keep the momentum going" signed poster. To my surprise and gratitude he thanked me for helping to keep the Amiga dream alive and refused to take any money for either the book or poster. Thank you Petro you are a gentleman!
A.L.I.C.E. in Amiga-Land
Thanks to Jan Zahurancik and other members of the the A.L.I.C.E. team (Pat Wall & Ken Lester) I was able to demonstrate a beta version of the A.L.I.C.E. laptop at both the Neuss and Amiwest shows. I have to admit that my A.L.I.C.E. laptop has since become my mobile workstation of choice. Thanks to A.L.I.C.E.'s "Rabbit Hole" feature, I can run my mainstream Linux applications from my AmiKit desktop while at the same time have access to my favourite Classic Amiga programs.
The combination is the best of both worlds and the lightweight emulation environment is very speedy indeed and, if I really want to, I can also boot into Windows or Linux. Now that Hyperion Hyperion Entertainment, in collaboration with Cloanto of Amiga Forever emulation fame, have made the Classic version of AmigaOS 4.1 Final Edition available for purchase as digital download this should mean emulating AmigaOS 4.1 on an x86 PC has official approval.
It's a good job, since A.L.I.C.E. also supports AmigaOS 4.1. Classic. Of course the Classic version of AmigaOS 4.1 does not really compare with the PowerPC version. It lacks many of the advanced features of the PowerPC version and has graphics and memory limitations but if you are interested in seeing a cut-down version of AmigaOS 4.1 in action then this a good chance to try it out.
Once you have Amiga OS4.1 Classic on A.L.I.C.E. you can of course download and install AMIStore to gain access to the growing list of Classic and PowerPC games, applications and utilities that are available to purchase. If AmigaOS 3.x is more to your liking you will be pleased to know that a beta version of AMIStore is being tested for AmigaOS 3.x. When this is ready you will be able to run AMIStore under AmiKit (and Amiga Forever) to select from the many 68k programs that are now being uploaded.
Real life imitating art? - A1222/Tabor style
When AmiKit was released, way back in 2005, I was really impressed with the Classic Amiga distribution that Jan Zahurancik and his team had created and immediately wanted run AmiKit on my next-generation PowerPC based A1-XE. Eventually I donated an A1-XE to Jan to enable him to create a version of AmiKit for that machine.
Unfortunately, at that time the A1- XE was really not up to the job of emulating a Classic AmiKit environment as any reasonably speed. These were the days before RunInUAE and JIT for E-UAE and the project proved more difficult than expected. Fast forward to 2015 and Christian Zigotzky, our Core Linux Wizard has done just that with his Tabor/AmigaOne 1222 beta board.
Not only has Christian managed to get AmigaOS 3.5 & OS3.9 running in emulation under Linux he has also managed, with some help from Jan and Almos Rajnai (the author of E-UAE JIT for PowerPC) to get AmiKit working as well.
It's really good to know that the Tabor board has the power and performance to handle Classic AmigaOS emulation under Linux. Now I'm really looking forward to using AmigaOS 4.1. Over to you Hyperion Entertainment.
Cup of good cheer
At Amiwest this year I had the honour and privilege of receiving the John Zacharias Memorial Award for 2015 from SACC (Sacramento Amiga Computer Club), the organisers of the Amiwest event. I felt doubly honoured as I think I am the first non SACC member to receive the award for "outstanding technical assistance in matters Amiga to the worldwide Amiga community".
In another nice surprise, Darren Stevens, who was visiting Amiwest for the first time with his wife, presented me with a hand-painted mug incorporating the AmigaOne X1000 anniversary badge design and Kevin Saunders' Warp3D flying saucer artwork. I think the mug was hand-painted by his mother-in-law. Not only is Darren an active AmigaOS beta tester he is part of A-EON Technology's Core Linux team and specialises in generating Linux kernels for the AmigaOne X1000, AmigaOne X5000 and now the new Tabor motherboard which powers the AmigaOne A1222. Thanks for the gift Darren, it's now sitting safely beside my Amiga 25th Anniversary and Amiga.org mugs.
In the slow lane?
I finally did it! I needed a DVD player for the sleep-out at my daughter's small farm. It's not really a farm but an animal sanctuary with rescued cows, goats, pigs, chickens, cats etc but that not really relevant to the story, except that she also writes music and boot sound for A-EON Technology. The sleep-out is for the "rare" periods when I am enlisted to look after the animals when she and he husband go away! Anyway, a new electronics store opened up nearby and was offering an excellent deal on a Playstation PS4. Rather than buying a simple DVD player my daughter convinced me to get the PS4, especially as it could also play blue-ray disks in addition to regular DVDs. A couple of games were supplied with the machine and, as I had not played any Playstation games for many years, I was eager to test the capabilities of the new machine. I immediately discovered how slow games are to load and startup on the PS4. OK I realise that a lot of graphics and data is being transferred from the CD but it is still so slooow! I will never complain about boot speeds on my AmigaOne machines again. I did enjoy playing with testing the PS4 for a couple of hours however.
AmigaOne X5000 update
Thanks to everyone who has contacted me asking for a release date for the new AmigaOne X5000. Matthew Leaman is in control of the delivery schedule for A-EON Technology . Given the post Commodore history of broken promises and vaporware he is loathe to take anyone's money for pre-orders until Hyperion Entertainment give the final green light on AmigaOS 4.1.
However, the Cyrus+ motherboards are already in stock and he expects a special "Close encounter" model to be released in the very near future. He assures me that he will make an announcement once the pre-order page goes live. Just to whet your appetite here is a short video of the AmigaOne X5000 in action: AmigaOne X5000 Close Encounters System
Wishing you, your family and friends a very Happy and Peaceful Christmas
As most Brits of a certain age will know, that is a corruption of a well know and well worn catch-phrase from one of Britain's longest serving entertainers. However, I could think of no other way to "subtlety" announce my imminent departure for Germany to attend my fourth Amiga30th Anniversary event of the year. Hey, who said I was a glutton for punishment. The Amiga30 event in Germany is being held in the town of Neuss which is situated in the North-Rhine Westphalia region of Germany, just across the Rhine River from Dusseldorf. Neuss is one of Germany's oldest Roman settlements and was founded in 16 B.C. as the military colony of Novaesium. The actual show, which A-EON Technology is sponsoring, is taking place on Saturday 10th October, but attendees can also sign up to watch a private extended viewing of Zach Weddington's poignant Viva Amiga documentary on the Friday night before the main event.
For my sins I will be manning the A-EON Technology display area and will be ably assisted by Dennis Zweedijk, an AmigaOS 4 beta tester, who will be demoing his own AmigaOne X5000 & AmigaOne X1000 machines. Also on the A-EON booth will be Core Linux team member and AmigaOS beta tester, Christian Zigotzky who will been demonstrating a special version of Debian 8 Jessie PowerPC SPE on some interesting hardware. A late addition to the A-EON show team is another of our Core Linux team members, Pat Wall, who we think is bringing A.L.I.C.E. along to the show.
Just to get into the spirit I recently attended an Oktoberfest Beer festival. OK if I'm honest the event was actually in Auckland, New Zealand in late September and the Oom-pah band were a mixtures of Kiwis and Irish playing traditional English drinking songs. Still the beer was German and the Steiners were very very large. My German friend, Daniel was wearing his lederhosen and many of the women wore traditional Bavarian costumes. My Irish friend Peter even got volunteered onto the stage (by me and his partner) to help sing one of the drinking songs. His Irish dancing was even better.
After the Neuss show I'm winging my way to Sacramento for my annual Pilgrimage to Amiwest.
I hope to meet up with many of you in Neuss and Sacramento.
After my trip to the Amiga30th in Amsterdam last month and my subsequent visits to California and the UK to attend two more Amiga30th Anniversary events, I'm now safely back in New Zealand. I have just about overcome the triple-whammy of three time zones, jet-lag and late nights coupled with a slight over-indulgence of alcohol. The shows at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California and the Amiga30th Charity event in Peterborough in UK were two very different gatherings but, like the Amsterdam Amiga30 show, were bound by a common theme - the coming together of true Amigans to celebrate the Amiga's 30th Anniversary. In each case the events were backed by a lead organizer(s) and a supporting team, and despite some minor teething problems, they all somehow managed to deliver three very successful and enjoyable Amiga shows.
Amsterdam Amiga30th: A Dutch treat - was organized by the incomparable hosts, Marcel and Marvin. They somehow managed to cram almost 450 people into the tiny Lighthouse venue although there was also a separate marquee for all the Amiga exhibits and displays. The Dutch weather was kind and the after-show VIP canal cruise was very special.
Apart from the joint performance of the 3 Amigos (RJ Mical, Carl Sassenrath and Dave Haynie), the other highlight for me was walking the streets of Amsterdam at 4:30 am on Sunday morning with Marcel, Marvin, Dave Haynie and Matthew. My only disappointment was not getting a signed copy of Petro Tyschtschenko's book.
When I finally managed to get some free time to visit the marquee display area he had already left. Hopefully I will be able to get a copy of his book at the Neuss Amiga30th event in Germany in October. Hey who said I don't read German? OK it's true but at least I can look at the pictures. Having organised the Amsterdam show, Marcel and Mavin caught the Amiga30th bug and attended both the California and UK events.
Computer History Museum, Mountain View, California: A family affair - Bill Borsari aided by a team of organisers and volunteers which included such Amiga luminaries as Dale Luck, Carl Sassenrath, Dave Needle, Sam Dicker and many, many others put on the most ambitious 30th Anniversary event in the spiritual home of the Amiga computer. What can I say about this show? I met so many of the original Amiga family it felt that we had gatecrashed their special Amiga, Inc reunion party.
Almost the entire team was present, apart from the few people like Jay Miner and Dave Morse who, sadly, are no longer with us. I had the privileged of mixing and talking with many of the original Hi-Toro team including Don Ressinger, Amiga marketing & sales and even Bill Hart, the original Amiga Corp VC. It was very moving to see the special bond that still exists between these people after all these years. Many former Commodore employees were also present, including Colin Proudfoot, the joint MD of Commodore UK who now lives in California. Their combined presence added to the overall feel-good factor at the show. And of course there was the premier of Zach Weddington's Viva Amiga movie which was shown to the banquet audience. I sat at a table with many of the original Hi-Toro/Amiga founders and staff and there was barely a dry eye at the table as the movie played. It was all very emotional.
Peterborough VIP Charity Dinner: For the common good - The brain child of Steve Crietzman and his team of volunteers (plus his dad) which combined the UK Amiga30th party with a VIP charity dinner to raise money for the BBC "Children in Need" charity appeal.
The event also highlighted the special effect the UK games industry had on the Amiga and included luminaries such as Tim Wright (aka CoLD SToRAGE), Allister Brimble, Mike Clarke, Andrew Barnabas, Jon Hare and Bjørn Lynne who represented the combined talents of Team 17, Bitmaps Brothers, Sensible Software and Pygnosis. The presence of former the Commodore UK joint MD David Pleasance and the irrepressible RJ Mical added to the overall vibe of the event. The show was a great success and Steve raised a lot of money for charity with a raffle and excellent after dinner auction. Unbelievably, I won a Boing Ball beach ball in the raffle. Even I shouted out "fix". Oh, and I bought a CDTV T-Shirt in the charity auction.
Each Amiga30th show had it's own very distinctive theme and flavour and I felt really privileged to be able to attend and sponsor all of the celebrations and show that Next-generation AmigaOS systems are still being developed and sold. Although I was a little dismayed to find out I am actually 2 years older that RJ Mical.
To see ourselves as others see us! (DirectX and the Amiga)
I have mentioned in an earlier blog that in my in role as a business angel I get to see a lot of cool technology and ideas. Well the other day while looking at another impressive young startup I had the pleasure of meeting Alex St. John, one of the creators of DirectX, the skunk-work project at Microsoft which was incorporated into Windows95. What really surprised me was that, according to Alex, it was his Amiga lineage which had a real influence on the DirectX development. On hearing this I almost forgot the reason for the meeting and we were soon talking animatedly about the good old Amiga days. I asked him if he could provide some information for my Amiga blog and this is what he sent me:
"I started programming when I was quite young (11) on the University of Alaska Honeywell mainframe. My first and most beloved computer was the Commodore Vic-20 which I got when I was around 13. I immediately took to making games for myself on it. My first game was a game I called Dungeoneer which involved a dot running around a line maze fighting red dot monsters and avoiding X traps. It was practically World of Warcraft to me back then. By the time the Commodore Amiga arrived in 1987 I was a hopeless Commodore fan. I couldn’t wait to get one.
It was one of the most remarkable computers ever made.
A multitasking consumer OS running hardware accelerated audio, sprite graphics, and displaying thousands of colors in an era when PC screens were green and a state of the art Apple Macintosh looked like this;
This was what Amiga graphics looked like back then! And unlike the game consoles of that era, I could program the Amiga!
As a kid who loved writing and playing Commodore-64 games, the Amiga was a dream come true. I had never dreamed of having access to program such amazing media features. You could make games that were better than anything the leading edge game consoles of that era could match. Exposure to the Amiga early in my career turned out to be a pivotal influence later on as I moved on to learning 3D graphics. Tragically Commodore with its unequivocally superior product and technology for that era managed to go out of business in 1994. The same year myself and a couple friends began developing the DirectX media architecture at Microsoft…
At the time that I joined Microsoft Windows supported 8bit color displays and had no hardware support for accelerated sound or video. A windows media file in that era used a fixed 8bit color palette to display an entire video of any length. If you watched a video of more than a minute in length the audio would drift out of synchronization with the imagery until it was like watching a bad English dubbing job of a German movie. I had been given the job of helping hundreds of DOS game developers migrate their DOS games to the forthcoming Windows 95, which was only marginally better at graphics. I secretly seethed at the idea that Microsoft was going to ship a new state of the art multi-tasking OS in 1995 that was inferior to a 1987 Commodore Amiga. My two nerd friends and I from Microsoft’s Windows 95 evangelism team conspired to introduce Amiga like media capabilities to the PC platform.
We designed the early DirectX media API’s. DirectSound which enabled real-time hardware mixing of dozens of hardware accelerated audio channels. DirectDraw which enabled Amiga like video hardware accelerated sprite animation, DirectInput which enabled digital game pads on the PC for the first time, DirectVideo to enable hardware accelerated 24bit color video with proper audio synchronization and DirectPlay to enable the first real-time Windows based multiplayer games. It was too late to ship the technology with Windows 1995 so I persuaded the hundreds of DOS game developers I was working with to adopt it and ship the first DirectX libraries with their first Windows games. Because Windows 95 couldn’t support the new DirectX capabilities, we modified Windows 95 to enable us to disable most of the OS when a DirectX game was running thereby creating the illusion for the consumer that it could really run such games. A year later we designed and shipped Direct3D and Amiga lived again in Windows 95!
SuperBubsy was the first hardware accelerated, sprite animated DirectX demo running at 500fps at 640x480 in 16bit color in Windows 95. ATI (Now AMD) supported the very early efforts to enable Amiga like graphics in Windows by porting games like SuperBubsy to the early DirectX API’s.
At the time it was a huge deal, Windows 95 became the most popular and widely adopted consumer OS Microsoft had ever made and Apple’s market share collapsed through 1997 as PC’s enabled with Amiga like audio and graphics accelerators swept the consumer market. Nolan Bushnell (Atari’s Founder) came to visit us at Microsoft and said told us HE was OUR fan. We did the deal with Sega a year later to port DirectX to the next generation Sega Dreamcast but when Sega failed, Gates decided he wanted to make a console of his own. Today the Xbox or the “DirectXBox” as I knew it is the direct descendant of that early attempt to return amazing Amiga like media capabilities to consumer computing. DirectX, which was bolted on to Windows 95 is now the underlying OS architecture for all Windows media and graphics. 20 years later I’m sitting in my garage office programming away in CUDA on a 5 Teraflop GPU from Nvidia that evolved from the early success of DirectX and the timeless influence of the Amiga OS on computing. More importantly, DirectX is the reason a Windows PC can run an AmigaOS emulator today."
I suppose Alex's story should come as no real surprise. During the Amiga30th events people regularly approached one or more of the Amiga founders and thanked them for creating the Amiga and influencing their career paths. Who said, "only Amiga makes it possible?" Oh, and did I invest in Alex's new startup? What do you think?
It was not only former Commodore and Amiga people who visited the Californian Amiga30th show. Several major Amiga 3rd-party hardware and software developers also turned up to help celebrate the Amiga's 30th birthday.
This included Amiga artist Leo Schwab, complete with his trademark ruffled shirt, hat and cape and Video Toaster God, Tim Jenison who, unfortunately, I did not get to speak to. However, I did managed to catch up with ASDG founder Perry Kivolowitz who was a fellow presenter at the event. I managed to watch Perry's presentation in which he talked about his Amiga history and after the first 10 minutes, I realised I could have written his speech myself! In fact, in many ways I already had .
If you are a reader of Amiga Future magazine you may know that I write the Classic Reflections series in which I review the contributions a person or company had on the Amiga scene.
In issue 97 of Amiga Future I wrote about ASDG, and as luck would have it, I had a copy of the article text on my laptop. So, after Perry finished his presentation I approached him and suggested I could have been his speech writer and, with some trepidation, showed him the first page of my ASDG article. This is the first time I've ever shown one of my articles to an actual subject. Fortunately, I'm happy to say he was both surprised and pleased with what I written. He even said "I don't know why I bothered to prepare a speech, I could have just read out your article!" Anyway, I provided him with a copy of the full text and promised to send him the complete article with photos when I returned to New Zealand. He in turn promised to read through the article and correct any mistakes he found. The good news is Perry has now sent me his (small ) list of corrections/comments and has promised to provide me with and interview and more in-depth information for an ASDG reprise article. Look out for this update in a future edition of Amiga Future magazine.
You can now be Cyrus - version 2.2!
With the release of the AmigaOne X5000 fast approaching, our manufacturers have started shipping the Cyrus+ production motherboards to our supplier. The production board is designated version 2.2 and is equipped with a silent CPU cooling fan and improved CPU fan control firmware. A new "Boing Ball" case design is also being released for the AmigaOne X5000 system.
My backyard is bigger than yours!
While helping to prepare for the Amiga30th at the Computer History Museum I got roped into volunteered to help prepare some of the exhibits for the Amiga history display. This involved working in Dale Luck's yard/workshop helping to clean monitors, computers and keyboards in preparation for the show. (A note to all Amiga collectors out there, someone has always got a bigger collection than you!) Dale's collection is not just impressive, it's mind boggling.
At every turn there is another piece of Amiga memorabilia and history. Whether its parts of Lorraine, "War & Peace", an SX-500 or a A500 based arcade game machine there are amazing pieces of unique Amiga hardware everywhere you look.
Of course Dale has worked for many other companies and also has a particular fondness for arcade machines and these can be found all over his property.
However the real hero of the piece was SACC's Dan Kloczko who had spent weeks sleeping out at Dale's place helping to prepare all of the machines for the Amiga30th show.
Darren Stevens and Pat Wall, two active members of our Core Linux support team attended the Amiga30th Charity event in Peterborough. Pat flew in from Eire while Darren managed to squeeze the show in between his work commitments. Pat is our distro guru and is the talent behind our Live Ubuntu Remix distribution while Darren is one or our Linux Kernel experts making sure that our hardware supports the latest kernel updates. Meanwhile, fellow kernel specialist Christian Zigotzky and new Linux team member Julian Margetson continue to fine tune our "special projects" Linux distribution. More on this later.
And if that is not enough Christian has just released the Linux 4.2-rc7 Kernel for testing. All indication are if this goes well Linus Torvalds will be issuing the full 4.2 kernel within the next week or so. Our team continue to support many PowerPC Linux distributions and are forging close working relationships with many of the PowerPC support groups.
You know you're getting old when.....
Part 1........I was helping to set up all the Amiga computers for the Amiga family group shot at the end of the California show.
This entailed carrying all of the computers from the Amiga history area to the stage in the main lecture hall. I had already carried a couple of smaller machines and decided to pick up an Amiga 3000T which has got to be the heaviest Amiga on the planet. I knew this already as I have an A3000 tower in my own collection but I was taken aback when I first attempted to pick up the machine. Yes, they are very heavy. Honest! As I looked at the A3000T and mentally prepared myself for the second attempt to pick it up, former Commodore engineer (and SACC member) Beth Richards offered to carry it to the stage for me. She was surprised when I refused her gracious offer and manfully picked up the A3000T and struggled with the machine to the staging area. To the greate amusement of my fellow (male) volunteers, AmigaOS Team Lead, Steve Solie starting whistling the tune to the American sitcom Two and a half men which goes something like, "Men men men men, manly men, oo hoo hoo, hoo hoo, oo!"
Part 2........ After the California show I travelled to the UK to attend the Amiga30th Charity event in Peterborough. I arrived at Heathrow airport after the overnight transatlantic flight feeling a little disheveled and took the tube to central London. I changed at Green Park station to pick up to the Victoria line and, with case and bag in hand, looked up at the long flight of stairs which would take me to the correct platform. A young man in running shorts who had obviously been exercising took one look at me and offered to carry my case up the stairs! All I need now is for a teenager to offer to give up their seat to me on a bus and I know it's all over!
Favourite phrase used at all the Amiga30th shows, "What happens at the Amiga 30th, stays at the Amiga30th!".
I'm writing this blog a few days before I travel to the Netherlands for the Amiga30th Event in Amsterdam. Who would have thought that the Amiga would be celebrating it's 30th birthday this year?
Although I did not get my first Amiga until 1988, a full 3 years after the Amiga's launch, the Amiga computer has been part of my life from the first day I purchased my original Amiga 2000. OK I know it's "just" a computer but that doesn't mean I can't get a lot fun and enjoyment from my special "hobby".
During my recent visit to Europe, not only did I meet up with ACube in Cardiff, Matthew Leaman and I also had time for a gathering with some other familiar Amiga faces in London. Michael Battilana of Amiga Forever fame, flew in from Italy while the Hyperion Entertainment contingent of Ben Hermans, Timothy DeGroote and Costel Mincea came in from Belgium and Germany. We were also joined by free-lance AmigaOS developer and musician Andy Broad (Sketchblock, Personal Paint 7.3 and now MultiViewer & MultiViewerNG) together with AmigaOS stalwart Simon Archer, who finally received his AmiWest 2013 Developer award for his excellent work on Codebench, the development project management tool for AmigaOS 4.
Contrary to all the rumours, the Hyperion Entertainment team appeared to be alive and kicking, although after a night out in London's West End some of them did look a little close to death the next morning. I suppose going to bed at 5:00 AM in the morning after a night on the town will do that to a person? Still some of them were only 30 minutes late for our prearranged meeting. You know who you are!
Smart people like Amigas
Sometimes I tend to forget that Amigans are really very clever people. No, not just because they think the Amiga was the most ground-breaking personal computer ever released or because they still like to use Classic and or Next-Generation Amigas - although that does tend to indicate a higher level of intelligence and independent thinking IMHO!
The other night I bumped into Lance Lones, a former rocket scientist and astronomer who morphed into a film producer, cinematographer and digital effects specialist with numerous blockbuster film credits to his name such as Avatar, The Lord of the Rings - Return of the King, X-men and King Kong and many more. Drawn to New Zealand to work for Weta Workshops this digital specialist-come-entrepreneur is now the founder and chief scientist for his own company L2VR and is designing Virtual Reality Cameras and software for film makers.
Despite his impressive resume' within a few minutes of meeting we were talking about Amiga computers. Hey who said that's my only topic of conversation these days! Way back in the early 1990's, when Lance was a research assistant at UCSD Solar Heliospheric Research Group in San Diego, he was using Amiga computers to display the results from Interplanetary Scintillations and Coronal Mass Ejection/C3 Coronagraphs. According to Lance they used the Amiga to display the results because of is superior graphics abilities and, after a couple of drinks, he agreed with me that the Amiga was truly a computer ahead of its time.
.... and then we have AmigaOS developer Stephen Fellner, a design engineer and a micro bluetooth specialist who in is spare time is a freelance AmigaOS developer and the author of DvPlayer, an advanced multimedia player for AmigaOS 4. In his day job he has worked on a number of confidential projects for smart sensor technology with special emphasis of micro bluetooth applications and extending battery life. He is now using his skills to create a new slim form-factor Smartwatch which threatens to disrupt current models.
If you like Smartwatches, you might want to check out Stephen's new website, lune-digital. Unlike current Smartwatch designs, with their bulky form factor and limited battery life of a few days, Stephen's sleek, revolutionary, optimised design promises up to 6 months battery life from a single recharge. I've actually played with an early prototype of Stephen's Smartwatch but I am sworn to secrecy. Stephen is now inviting visitors to his website to help shape the Smartwatch's future design and features. Anyone for a game of Galaxian?
Summertime ......and the living is easy, or so the old Gershwin classic jazz song goes.... and to celebrate Summertime Amiga-style we challenged German software magicians, Thomas and Frank of EntwicklerX to create the ultimate Summertime CANDI theme to capture those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer. (Hey, who said enough with the song lyrics already?)
And did they manage to pull it off you might ask? I'll let you be the judge but with Summertime CANDI running on my Workbench I can almost hear the waves gently lapping on the shore with screeching seagulls flying overhead while yachts slip silently by on a turquoise sea as crabs scuttle over the hot sand past discarded sandcastles crumbling in the warming summer breeze. Did I mention that the flag fluttering on the sandcastle as the dune grass wafts gently in the breeze. Ah summertime......... it's just a pity "winter is coming" down-under. Summertime CANDI will be available from AMIstore in the near future. Existing Workbench CANDI owners will be able to download a copy free of charge. I'm reliably informed that more CANDI treats are also in the works.
Linux Corner (or our man in Montserrat!)
I would like to welcome Julian Margetson to our very active Core Linux Support team. Julian, aka Spectre660, hails from the Emerald Isle of Montserrat, a tiny volcanic Island in the Caribbean which is part of the Leeward Islands and a British Overseas Territory.
Julian has worked closely with our fellow Core Linux team member Christian Zigotkzy (xeno74) over the past year or so to ensure that the Sam460 supports the latest Linux kernels and many Linux PowerPC distributions. Julian's first Amiga was A500 which he got in 1988. He still owns two Amiga 1200s but they haven't seen much use since he acquired his his first Next-Generation Amiga, a Sam440ep-Flex, in 2009. He pioneered the use of PCIe to PCI adapters in his Sam440ep-Flex and was active user of higher end graphics cards becoming a beta-tester for early RadeonHD driver development.
Following a major eruption of Soufriere Hills volcano in 1995, which continued on and off for the next four years, over two thirds of the islands population was evacuated. Today the volcano is relatively quiet but is still considered active. The population has recovered a little but still only about 5,000 live on the island and are confined to the northern area. The south, including the old capital of Plymouth, is part of the volcano Exclusion Zone and is too dangerous for human habitation. Julian says he is probably the only Amiga user left on the island as the other two Classic Amiga users he knew left the island in 1997 and he has never met another Next-Generation Amiga user in person. Julian lives near Brades in the Northwest of Montserrat and according to him, "We have our challenges as the rebuilding process goes on. The small population results in high costs for goods and services. Electricity services are a challenge as emergency generators are still in use. A period of power outages at the end of 2013 led to a power supply failing and destroying my first Sam460ex board. I now have all my computers on UPSs. A new power station is being constructed with proper generators and geothermal energy is being evaluated."
Although an experienced Amigan, Julian didn't get involved with Linux until September 2013. However, in a few short months he was patching and compiling his own Linux kernels and solving Linux installation problems on his Sam440ep. He was instrumental in RadeonHD 6xxxx graphic card support under Linux for the Sam460ex and more recently he has been delving into the Linux-ppc-dev mailing list and performed his first git bisect (sounds painful! ) which solved a Sam460 issue with Kernels up to 3.19 and Radeon HD 7xxx graphics cards and above. According to Julian, "I cross compile my kernels and do Ramdisk work under Virtualbox on a PC so that I can use My Sam460ex as much as possible.". His current machine is a Sam460ex but, as part of our Core Linux support team, he is about to receive his first A-EON Technology hardware, unfortunately he is sworn to secrecy so don't ask! His addition to our Core Linux team has already paid dividends as his contribution helped Darren Stevens solve a tricky RadeonHD issue that was bugging us for quite a while. Welcome the the team Julian, you must have one of the most unique and intriguing Amiga back stories. Unless someone else has a better one! Now there's a challenge.
Linux kernel 4.1 imminent
With Linus Torvalds announcing the release of the final Release Candidate (RC) for the upcoming Linux kernel 4.1 which will be released on the June 28th, it was good to see that our other Linux dynamo, Christian Zjgotkzy, has just issued RC4.1 Update 8 kernel for testing on the Amiga One X1000. This final RC includes a whole host of new features, including Debian 8 and Btrfs (file system) support.
It also includes KVM_BOOK3S_64_PR which adds support for running guest kernels in virtual machines on processors without using hypervisor mode in the host. According to Christian, this works on machines where hypervisor mode is not available or not usable, and can emulate processors that are different from the host processor, including emulating 32-bit processors on a 64-bit host. It also adds support for Mac-on-Linux, network support for AROS hosted, 4 serial ports, Bluetooth USB dongle, Kernel tracing with ftrace and Ubuntu MATE 15.04 and of course Linux kernel icons created for AmigaOS 4.1 by AmigaOne X1000 beta tester Tommysammy.
If you been following the A-EON news releases you will have noticed that, over the past seven months we have been busily acquiring many Classic and Next-generation AmigaOS software titles. These include many iconic programs such as Personal Paint, Image FX, Aladdin4D, Octamed Sound Studio and more recently TuneNet and DvPlayer.
However, we have also been establishing close relationships with a number of key Developers and are working on a range of new software and utilities for both Classic and Next-Generation Amigas. All of this hard work is now starting to bear fruit and along with Warp3D-SI and MultiViewer & MultiViewerNG there are another 7 or 8 titles in the works in addition to the one listed above. So expect the flow of software updates and new content to continue over the next year. This should really come as no surprise after my presentation at Amiwest last year when I revealed that A-EON would be focusing it's effort on delivering quality software content for our hardware. Since it's launch in November last year, AMIStore has proved extremely successful with both developers and customers alike and we are slowly building up the number of titles that are available for download. There are still a few issues to be resolved, one being the ability to reliably download large software files >1 GB but this is being worked on and should be resolved in the near future, or so Matthew Leaman assures me Actually, the AMIStore app, which was developed by Matthew, is a massive coding job and it's a tribute to his dedication and skill that he has managed to create a highly functional AmigaOS app store in his spare time, while running a business and looking after his young family. Now Matthew about those AMIStore updates and bug fixes ..............
Getting a C64 Fix
Gamelab have developed a mobile html5 based game engine called Gamefroot which they are using in their Gamedash2d initiative to demonstrate its efficiency by creating a complete playable game within 48 hours from start to finish. CEO Dan Millward said that apart from having a lot of fun, he hoped to use the engine as a learning resource for high school students to encourage more kids to take up programming. So far they have publised 9 games most of which have a distinctive retro feel and are available free of charge on the Google Playstore. Their 10th Game, Space Invading has just been submitted to the Playstore and is pending release.
Remarkably, one of their games, Celebrity Breakout, which is a rather gruesome variation of whack-a-mole, is trending in Poland and had already received almost 70 thousand downloads within a few days of being posted on the Playstore. Instead of whacking those pesky moles you have to prevent spots and zits spreading and erupting on a celebrity's face by whacking the spot when they are small red blemishes or squeezing them if they turn into a zits...before they burst and splatter gunk on the screen. Just lovely! Unsurprisingly, given the subject matter, it has received terrible ratings but the download total just keeps going up!
It perhaps no surprise that most of the games they have developed so far pay tribute to their gaming roots, particularly the Commodore C64 and the Amiga 500.
Just as I was about to leave Dan showed me his pride and joy, an "ancient" C64 which he bought on TradeMe (NZ's unique version of eBay). Unfortunately, he didn't think it worked and thought it had been damaged in shipping due to poor packaging. It was missing the C64 logo strip and had a few small scratches which presumably happened during shipping but, other than that, it looked OK. However, he did not have a C64 PSU so he had not being able to check whether it worked or not.
I told him I knew just the person who could test it for him! When I got home I hooked it up a Commodore monitor and C64 PSU I just happened to have lying around. On power up it booted instantly to the C64's iconic blue welcome screen. Apart from a couple of sticky keys it appeared to be in full working order but as more complete test I inserted a Commodore International Soccer cartridge and attached an Arcade Evolution joystick I purchased from AmigaKit. I set the skill level to maximum (Level 9) and took on the CPU....and the result? Well, see for yourself! I'd forgotten how much fun it was using real C64 hardware. Much better than emulation on a PC. As for the C64, I told Dan it was damaged beyond repair and offered to dispose of it for him free or charge. However, for some reason he did not take me up on my kind offer?
Gone but not forgotten
If you are coming to the Amsterdam show I'm afraid to say I have retired my checkered Boing Ball shoes that I've worn to the last nine Amiga shows I've attended. They were half a size too small and by the end of a two day show like Amiwest my feet were really suffering. However, don't despair, although I've hung up my original Boing Ball shoes I've managed to find a nice new pair which are just the right size. So if you are visiting the Amiga30th show in Amsterdam at the end of the month just remember, I'll be the one wearing the nice new Boing Ball shoes along with my Boing Ball tie and belt! (sad or what?)
You might think with some of the comments you read on the Amiga community forums that all is not right with the Amiga world, then you receive an unprompted *email like this out of the blue:-
"I am a new owner of the AmigaOne x1000 and AmigaOS 4.1 FE since the beginning of May. I have a classic A500 and A3000. I would like to take the time to express my sincere gratitude for such an amazing Amiga computer. I haven't enjoyed a computer like this in over 23 years of owning the classics. I appreciate all the hard work from all to get the AmigaOne where it is now and I am proud to be part of the A-EON and Hyperion Entertainment family of computers. I do remember when computing was fun when I bought my first Amiga. You all have made it fun again. I have also passed on my appreciation to AmigaKit as well. You all are great. Thanks, John Dupuis, Baton Rouge, Louisiana USA" (*reproduced with the permission of John Dupuis)
Many thanks John, I couldn't have said it better myself.
Next stop Amsterdam.................................
It's been quite a while since I've updated my blog. Unfortunately, there are just not enough hours in the day at the moment. Apart from my Amiga passion (hey who said obsession) I enjoy helping young companies start their business and, as a founding investor in Lightning Lab, I'm in the fortunate position of working with some of the best young talented entrepreneurs and companies in New Zealand. I also get to see some pretty cool and unique technology.
I recently visited a small factory in Petone, near Wellington, which manufactures a seamless polycarbonate mesh, a modern version of chainmail, which is designed for the architectural and lighting sectors where it is used for facades, screens, curtains and designer lighting. Of course chainmail is nothing new and has been around for centuries so what makes this polycarbonate chainmail so special. Well the inventor, Kayne Horsham worked as an art director for Weta Workshop and had the tedious task of creating a lightweight, robust and authentic looking chainmail to be worn by Aragorn and other characters in "The Lord of the Rings" movies. It was a slow and laborious process with each chainmail costume created one link at a time.
Also, like traditional chainmail, the costumes had an inherent weakness because the rings have a join where they are interlocked. Kayne's team spent hours laboriously creating and then repairing the costumes by hand and it wasn't long before the actors started calling his costumes "Kayne-mail".
After the filming was over Kayne starting thinking about ways to develop a method in which the chainmail could be made by machine in one continuous process, eliminating the slow and laborious work. After being told by toolmakers it was just not possible he taught himself the rudiments of injection moulding. He and his partner then set about designing a machine that could produce a 2D continuous mesh of components with none of the inherent weaknesses of the traditional chainmail design.
After a lot of hard work they finally created a machine that could injection mould a continuous sheet of seamless polycarbonate mesh. However, because of the inherent strength of their product they soon realized it had a much wider application that just creating special chainmail costumes for movies. They established a company called Kaynemaile to manufacture and market the product. It is fully recyclable and has a carbon footprint of less than one-quarter of an equivalent stainless steel product. Because of its strength and flexibility it has been used in building projects throughout the world including, New York's Cornell University and Hard Rock Cafes throughout the United States. The mesh is so strong it is also approved as a safety barrier and has been used to make shark nets, and coming full circle, rolls of Kaynemail were used on the set of "The Hobbit" films. Kaynemaile has received several prestigious international design awards and according to Kayne uses for Kaynemaile are still being discovered. Anyone for polycarbonate chainmail Amiga case?
From small acorns - little miracles grow
About 23 years ago I acquired a Miracle Keyboard Piano teaching system for my Amiga 4000. I decided that my family would learn to pay the piano using the Amiga, keyboard and the Miracle software. Unfortunately, no miracles happened for me as I struggled to play such classics as, "twinkle, twinkle little star" and "row, row row your boat", although I could manage a passable "god save the queen". However, we discovered very quickly that my daughters, who were aged 12 and 9 at the time, were both very musical and it did not take long before they outgrew the excellent Miracle teaching software. Following a succession of piano, tuned percussion, saxophone, clarinet and voice lessons over the next 6-9 years, both of them went on to study Music at university. I often wonder whether this would of happened if I had not bought the Miracle Teaching System in the first place. I would like to say, "only the Amiga makes it possible" but the Miracle system was also available for other hardware including the PC. Still there was a certain symmetry when my youngest daughter wrote the music and sound effects for Danny and Steven Fellner's "Amiga animation" which is supplied with every copy of AmigaOS 4, and for the start-up boot sound of the AmigaONE X1000 and AMIGA one X5000 systems.
As I'm writing this blog I'm waiting for the delivery of my new AMIGA one X5000 tower from AmigaKit. The package is in the county and was supposed to be delivered yesterday. It didn't arrive and is supposedly being delivered today.
If you didn't know, I'm signed up as a Cyrus+ beta tester and, as with the AmigaONE X1000 beta programme, I delayed shipment of my board towards the end of the distribution run to allow all other beta testers to get their boards first. Hey who said I'm just waiting for all the bugs to be ironed out! Our core Linux developers have had their boards for several months and have already produced a stable Linux distribution with full 3D graphic acceleration for the Cyrus+ board. The AmigaOS 4 port has continued apace but was slowed for a while by a tricky little CPU bug which was hidden in the Freescale Erratum.
Freescale had detected the bug and effected a kernel level fix for Linux. Fortunately fellow beta tester and all round hardware guru, Eldee Stevens found the Freescale information and it didn't take long for Thomas Frieden to then apply the approved Freescale workaround. Since then the AmigaOS 4 Cyrus+ port has become a lot more stable, allowing other key developers to work on the necessary drivers. Just need to get my AMIGA one X5000 box so I can join the party!
May the 4th be with you!
Apologies to all Star wars fans. The core Linux developer team have been working overtime testing our new Freescale 64-bit multi-core PowerPC based motherboards. Although, the boards have been designed specifically for the AmigaOS they also support a whole host of PowerPC Linux distributions. We use PowerPC Linux to thoroughly test and prove the new hardware to ensure there are no nasty surprises. This worked well with the Nemo motherboard in the AmigaONE X1000 which, since its release in late 2011, has proved very reliable. Given that we used the same hardware team to develop and design the Cyrus+ motherboard we expect similar excellent reliability and performance.
You might think with new PowerPC boards on the way that work will have slowed down on Linux distros for the AmigaONE X1000. Well you would be wrong. Our Linux team aided and abetted by several enthusiastic AmigaONE X1000 owners continue to break all barriers. Thanks to the work of Christian Zigotsky, Pat Wall, Darren Stevens and Alex Perez the AmigaONE X1000 continues to support the latest Linux kernels and many of the new PowerPC Linux distributions.
It seems Linux godfather, Linus Torvalds, wants to get in on the numbers game. Rather than continuing with the numbering sequence which would see the next Linux kernel named 3.20 he has suggested jumping straight to Linux 4.0. In his own words, "We're slowly getting up there again, with 3.20 being imminent, and I'm once more close to running out of fingers and toes. I was making noises about just moving to 4.0 some time ago. So, I made noises some time ago about how I don't want another 2.6.39 where the numbers are big enough that you can't really distinguish them. But let's see what people think. So - continue with v3.20, because bigger numbers are sexy, or just move to v4.0 and reset the numbers to something smaller?"
Whatever Torvalds decides to call the next kernel the good news for AmigaONE X1000 owners is that Christian is way ahead of the game. He has already released a sixth alpha version of the 4.0 Linux kernel (or 3.20 if you prefer the original numbering sequence). It's early days but Christian has already successfully tested the new kernel with Ubuntu 10.04.4 LTS, Lubuntu 12.04.5 LTS, Fedora 17, MintPPC 11, Debian Sid and many more PowerPC Linux distributions on his AmigaONE X1000 including Ubuntu Mate 15.04 and OpenSUSE 13.1-1. I just don't know where he finds the time. With MorphOS also approaching the magic version number 4.0 it seems that the AmigaOS and the Linux kernel are in good company. Who am I to argue with Linus?
A wolf in troll's clothing?
I receive a lot of emails and PMs from Amiga well-wishers who view but prefer not to post in public on the Amiga community forums. I do remember my own situation, way back in 2004, when I first started posting on AmigaWorld.net and Amiga.org. It was a little intimidating at first, even for me, but it did not take long before I was sharing my Amiga passion with like minded individuals. Unfortunately all open community forums seem to attract a few posters who have no real interest in the forum they visit but take delight in causing disharmony and spreading FUD! You will be unsurprised to learn that this phenomena is not restricted to the Amiga community forums. A recent scientific study reported that "trolls are by far, more likely to have narcissistic, Machiavellian, psychopathic, and sadistic personality traits". The report also suggest that such people are "characterized by being vicious and degrading toward others, sometimes physically and in the most extreme cases are sex offenders and serial killers". Ooooeeerr! According to the research, it seems that letting certain people vent anonymously in public forums they are less likely to do something much more destructive in person. So next time you see a troll on an Amiga forum just ignore them and remember you are providing a greater public service.
Meanwhile after A-EON purchased the exclusive right to OctaMED we received a message from Yerzmyey , "Hmm, maybe it is a good idea with the OctaMED. It was surely the best editor EVER, for Amiga 500. If I had Amiga One (RULEZ!!!) some new version of OctaMED would be surely the first thing to buy. If it used full capabilities of A1 (surely powerful like hell, I suspect it would be with 32 channels without any problems) I could make really good stuff with such a combo (A1 + OctaMED). But meanwhile I have only A500, so I (still!!) use it with my standard OctaMED 4.0, making stuff like this. Good luck guys!"
It's really good to receive messages of support from a long time Amigan like Yerzmyey and even better to see that 27 year-old Amiga technology is still being put to good use.
Where's Wally, Waldo, Harvey?
A friend came round the other day and brought along his brother who was vising from England. He has heard about my "small" Commodore and Amiga collection and asked if I could give him a quick tour of my "man cave". Never missing a chance to talk about computers and the Amiga I started with the Kim-1, worked my way through the early PETs and on to the 8-bit games machines, the Vic20, C64 (and variations), the c128 and then Commodore TED series before moving on to the "Porsche" PET's. Of course this was followed by the Amiga 1000 and the other 16-bit and 32-bit Amiga models and finally the Next-generation Amigas finishing up with the 64-bit multicore AmigaONE X1000. I even had a couple of Power Macs running the latest MorphOS version and AROS/Icaros Desktop running on an x86 PC and, for good measure, had the latest version of Live Ubuntu Remix iso running on my second AmigaONE X1000.
He was very impressed, but no doubt thought I was a little mad? As a demonstration, I had my other AmigaONE X1000 running the System-Window workbench CANDI animation and playing movie with MPlayer. He was impressed, but even more so when I dragged the WB screen down to reveal the Boing Ball Composite 3DDemo animation running smoothly in the background. Perhaps I've seen the original Amiga launch video too many times! However, he was even more impressed when I then unlocked the WB window and began dragging it left and right across the screen. The Composite 3DDemo played smoothly in it's own screen while the CANDI bubbles continued to waft gently upwards in the imaginary breeze and the movie played on without a pause, all while the WB was being dragged around the screen. He asked me if this was the latest version of Windows 10! He did mange to leave my house undamaged! (he was much bigger and a lot younger than me anyway ) I have to admit it's been a while since I've shown a non-Amigan the current state of the AmigaOS and I'm pleased to say he went away very impressed.
To celebrate the Easter period the talented developers and graphics artists (aka EntwicklerX and Kevin Saunders) have produced a Workbench CANDI theme for the season. At the same time, Workbench CANDI has been upgraded and is now even simpler to use. Several new features have been added including the following:
- Automatically switches between CANDI animations by double-clicking on a CANDI icon.
- Double clicking on the same CANDI icon switches the Workbench animation off.
- CANDI animation goes to sleep if Workbench goes behind another active screen.
- New tooltypes to select LOWCPU option for less capable hardware (removing the need for a LOWCPU CANDI version).
- ResetWB option now works when CANDI is running.
- Each CANDI can now be controlled by an external program/utility (coming soon).
By the way, no prizes for working out the relationship between, Wally, Waldo and Harvey!
No one's April fool - Warp3D update
Keeping with the graphics theme, it's no secret that A-EON have been working on Warp3D for RadeonHD 5xxx & 6xxx series graphics cards equipped with the Evergreen GPU. While this work is continuing, after purchasing joint ownership of Warp3D late last year, AmigaOS graphics specialist Hans de Ruiter was commissioned to work on a version of Warp3D for the newer Southern Island chip-set.
The Southern Island GPU includes many cards in the RadeonHD 7xxx series and a whole host of cards in the newer Rx cards in the R7 and R9 series. A core group of AmigaOS4.1 beta testers have been busily testing our latest version of Warp3D and have reported excellent 3D performance with compatible Southern Island RadeonHD and Rx graphics cards.
Here is a list of some of the games, utilities and applications that have been tested so far:- Quake III Arena, VoxelNoid, Dragon Memory, Supertux Kart, VoxelBird, Speed Dreams, Torcs, and Blender.
Also Descent 1 & 2 reportedly work fine, even at the highest resolutions. A Warp3D beta tester even reported that Open Arena ran fine at 1600x1200 at the maximum quality setting on his Sam460 with a Radeon R7 265 card. A-EON's RadeonHD driver already supported full 2d acceleration for the the RadeonHD and Rx series. With the new Warp3D upgrade true 3D hardware performance is now possible with Southern Island equipped graphics cards. For all users with RadeonHD 5xxx or 6xxx graphics cards do not despair work is continuing on the Warp3D Evergreen driver for cards in this series.
As all Amigans know 2015 is the Amiga's 30th Anniversary. Many Amiga User groups and enthusiasts are planning to celebrate the Amiga's 30th birthday with parties all over the world.
Some will be small gatherings, while others, like the Amiga30 in Amsterdam and the Kickstarter backed Amiga 30th at the Computer History Museum in California promise to be massive affairs, with Amiga celebrities both past and present. Whatever way you decide to celebrate the Amiga's 30th birthday, make sure you do it with style and panache and be proud to be associate with the world's first multimedia computer, whatever your current Amiga flavour.
Got to go now, there is a delivery man walking down the drive with a big parcel.
With the Christmas season almost upon us it's time for a little Winter/Summer cheer. Those clever developers at EntwicklerX (Frank Menzel & Thomas Claus) have worked their magic once again to further optimise the composite engine driving the Workbench CANDI animations.
The result is an improved graphics performance at a much lower CPU load. Better still they have added special Christmas and Space themes to the WorkBench CANDI package. Check out the video link for a quick preview of all the Workbench CANDI animations. All registered owners of the current version can obtain the new version free of charge from AMIStore.
Video link: Workbench CANDI compilation
Getting Personal (Paint)
In keeping with the Christmas spirit I am pleased to reveal that Andy Broad has completed the first update to Personal Paint 7.3 for the AmigaOS and AmigaOS 4.1. Following Cloanto's tradition of adding a letter to designate the update status, the new version, Personal Paint 7.3a squashes a few bugs and adds a couple of new features. Personal Paint 7.3a will be available for download via AMIstore and of course registered owners of version 7.3 can obtain the upgrade free of charge. Staying with Personal Paint AmigaKit is now including a fully licensed copy of Personal Paint 7.3 for AmigaOS 3 computers on its 4GB IDE CF Hard Drive package and don't forget the earlier version of Personal Paint 7.1c is still available to download free of charge from PPaint.com.
One of Personal Paint's strong points is its ability to easily create GIF animations. Now YouTube is getting in on the act and is launching an experimental GIF maker which allows you to create a 6 second GIF animation from a YouTube video and share the animated GIF you have created. There was a beta sign up page for users with channels to test the new feature but this has been fully oversubscribed and YouTube are no longer accepting applications. Of course there are already a lot of websites dedicated to creating a GIF animation from YouTube videos but it looks like YouTube's new GIF maker will become the future standard. Fortunately Amigans don't have to wait for YouTube and can make full use of Personal Paint's superior GIF animation compression algorithms which are designed to provide maximum compression without sacrificing compatibility with the most popular browsers. I wonder what Personal Paint GIF animations you will make? Now there's a challenge!
Unblocking your creative talent
As well as updating Personal Paint, Andy has been adding more features to Sketchblock, his own 24-bit graphics program. To demonstrate Sketchblock's advanced features he has created a festive video of Sketchblock Lite in action running on an AmigaONE X1000. Check out Andy's video to find out who is that person behind the beard.
Expect to see updated versions of Workbench Candi, Personal Paint and Sketchblock available to download via AMistore in the near future, as well as a lot of other cool software for the AmigaOS and Amiga-inspired systems.
All that remains is to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and Happy & Prosperous New Year from EntwicklerX, A-EON Technology, Andy Broad, Genie and me.
Amiwest has come and gone for another year and I'm now back in the New Zealand as the Southern hemisphere heads towards Christmas. I don't think my Northern hemisphere imprinted brain will ever come to terms with "winter" being summer time down under.
As several other attendees have already have posted excellent blogs I decided not to write an Amiwest report this year, but I do have a few Amiwest highlights/tidbits to share:
* I really enjoyed listening to Colin Proudfoot's stories about his time as Joint CEO of Commodore UK, particularly the failed bid to acquire the Amiga's assets after the Commodore bankruptcy. When he and David Pleasance turned up on auction day they discovered that the manufacturer they had lined up to make all their new Amigas had, with some inside help, switched sides and aligned themselves with the ESCOM bid. The rest as they say is history. According to Proudfoot, Commodore UK was one of the most profitable divisions of Commodore and at it's peak had an installed user base of 4,000,000 Amiga users. However, what many people do not know, including myself, Commodore was also the second largest PC manufacturer in Europe.
* Eldee Stephens excellent in-camera sneak peek of the new features in AmigaOS 4.1 Final Edition. Apparently his presentation was supposed to be off-camera, for the benefit of the Amiwest attendees only, because Hyperion Entertainment had granted Amiga Future magazine exclusive rights to release details of the Final Edition update. However, no one told Bill Bosari who was in charge of the live video streaming and when the presentation finished he admitted, somewhat sheepishly, that he had streamed the presentation live over the net. Ooops!
* The Amiwest catch phrase: Every year there is a saying or phrase which seems to to catch on during the show. Last year it was, "That's not what you said last night!", which was actually exported from the AmiJam show in Calgary which took place a month earlier. I won't say how the phase was started (blame me) but pretty quickly everyone was saying it in reply to someones comment or statement. This year, Eldee Stephens was surprised to learn some obscure technical detail which was only known to the inner circle of AmigaOS developers. When he exclaimed, "I did not know that", Steven Solie, the AmigaOS Developer Team Lead replied, "You're not on the list". Needless to say that became this years' phrase!
* Hearing Andy Broad singing the blues and playing his acoustic guitar. Not only is he an excellent software developer he is also a superb musician, who when performing, transforms from a quietly spoken Englishman from Portsmouth into a charismatic blues player from the deep south.
Houston we have lift off!
OK maybe it's not quite as exciting as a NASA space mission but the launch of AMIstore on November 10th was a massive achievement for Matthew Leaman, the M.D. of A-EON Technology and the main developer of the AMistore software. Following several years of planning and 18 months of coding he finally released a working RC1 to an unsuspecting Amiga public. He had hoped to sneak AMIstore out for a soft launch while he worked out the last few bugs, but the response has been overwhelming with registrations and downloads exceeding our most optimistic expectations. If you want to find out more about AMIstore please check out Epislon's pre-launch sneak peek and post-launch review blogs. Meanwhile, expect continuous improvements and more content over the coming months.
The power of Amiga Emulation
Thanks to the excellent work of Toni Willen and Frode (FS-UAE) it is now possible to run the Classic version of AmigaOS 4 through emulation of Classic PPC hardware using QEMU under WinUAE PPC. At the moment the emulation is slow and quite buggy and is limited by RAM size and Picasso IV screenmodes but it is a real tribute to the developers and I have to say it quite impressive seeing AmigaOS 4 running on my Windows 7 PC.
However, for the ultimate in Amiga-on-Amiga emulation, it has got to be ChrisH's RunInUAE turbo charged by Álmos Rajnai (Rachy) JIT running AmigaOS 3 68k through emulation on an AmigaOne PowerPC machine under AmigaOS 4. It really should come as no surprise since Rachy is the author of Petunia, the 68k JIT task based emulator that provides backwards compatibility for 68k applications under AmigaOS 4. Rachy has just released his latest PPCJIT Beta o5 and is counting down to the final version 1.0 release. In other good news ChrisH has implemented support for the JIT beta in RunInUAE and it is now possible to turn the JIT emulation on from the menu. Rachy has even produced an optimised a version for the AMIGA one X1000. The full RunInUAE Beta 3 package including the PPC JIT Beta 5 can be downloaded from this link. You will probably not be surprised to learn that Epsilon has already written a blog on the subject.
My wife has decided, since reading about the Amiga curse, that I need to live a little longer and has put me on a healthy vegetable juice diet. She creates the juice herself by juicing a mixture of raw vegetables, fruit and ginger which usually results in a brightly coloured but nevertheless tasty liquid. I told her I would give it a try as long as it was in my favorite glass and the colour of the juice was red!
Up in smoke!
Unlike one AmigaOS 4 developer, who shall remain nameless (hint: think of the bearded developer in a dress) who keeps his AMIGA one X1000 powered up 24/7, I tend to switch mine off when it's not in use. So when I powered it up the other day I suddenly became aware of a very faint electrical burning smell. I had about four machines running at the time, testing the AmigaOS 4 "Final Edition" iso, so I quickly checked them all only to discover that a faint burning smell was coming from my X1000. I powered down the machine and opened up the case. All seemed OK inside and the smell was not particularly strong. However, when I checked my front-loading removable HDD drive rack there was that unmistakeable smell of burning electronic components. I removed the drive carrier unit and slid off the plastic lid and the acrid smell was almost overpowering. The last time smelt something that bad was when I plugged my 110v A2000 into a 240v supply a few years back, fortunately the only damage done, apart from to my pride, was to the A2000 PSU which was totally fried - so much for slow blow fuses. Anyway, I took the HDD out of the carrier and found what looked like a tiny metal ring which had shorted out one of the components on the base of the HDD. I've no idea where that came from and can only think it was left in during the manufacturing process. Luckily, apart from the now dead HDD, no other damage was done. What more surprising is that I've been using the HDD in the carrier for at least 6 months. Very strange!
While I was finishing my blog a gentle rumble reminded me that New Zealand is located in the Pacific Ring of Fire. Fortunately the quake epicenter was quite deep and offshore to the North East and although my computer shelving swayed for about 30 seconds nothing was dislodged or damaged.
I can't believe we are only a couple of weeks away from another Amiwest show. It seems like only yesterday I was packing my red suitcase for my now annual pilgrimage to Sacramento. A lot has happened in the past year both in the Amiga world and my personal life. My youngest daughter got married and I finally received my New Zealand permanent resident's visa, oh and we developed the AmigaONE X5000 . As usual A-EON will use the Amiwest show to announce a lot of cool new projects with continued focus on adding new content and capability. From recent speculation it seems that everyone is keen to find out what A-EON has in the works but you will have to wait for Amiwest for a full update about projects that are coming to fruition. One development that is not a secret is the new AMIstore for Amiga developers and enthusiast which will be launched officially launched after Amiwest.
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away (apologies to all Star Wars fans). Actually way back in early 2005, I was a recent and late convert to the next-generation Amiga scene. As a long-time Amiga enthusiast I didn't acquire my first "next-generation Amiga" until 2004.
It was a Micro A1-c supplied with a pre-release version of AmigaOS 4. I was totally amazed what this little machine could do but, coming from a Classic Amiga background where I used a range of big-box Amigas for video, DTP and graphics work, I quickly discovered that the new breed of Amiga One machines were sorely lacking in quality software applications. In early 2005 I tried to drum up support on AmigaWorld.net for a special software development fund to encourage talented developers to create much needed software for the AmigaOS. Unfortunately, it did not create a lot of traction at the time. Instead, I decided to create and fund a Developer hardware donation programme and began buying and donating "next-generation Amiga" hardware to Amiga developers all over the world. Eventually I became one of the founding moderators of AmigaBounty.net and, although I think it served an important role, I still felt there was a need to help talented developers benefit from their work and encourage more quality AmigaOS software development. In 2009 I discussed outline plans with Matthew Leaman of AmigaKit for a special "website" which could provide a "shopfront" where developers could offer and sell their software.
By 2010, these plans had morphed into the idea for a dedicated App which would run under AmigaOS and AmigaOS 4 and so the plans for AMIstore slowly evolved. However, unlike other digital stores, the aim of AMIstore would be to encourage talented developers to create quality native applications for our platform...and more importantly benefit from their hard work, without all the administrative and financial hassle. With the ground-work laid, Matthew began the coding work and aided by a small team of dedicated beta testers he has honed and fine-tuned the product over the past 18 months. However, don't take my word for it check out Epsilon's AmigaONE X1000 blog for his AMIstore Sneak Peak Review. It has taken nearly 10 years for AMIstore to evolve from my original vision in early 2005 but, as the saying goes, better late than never.
Incidentally, Epsilon's AmigaONE X1000 blog is probably one of the best AmigaOS 4 related blogs on the internet and always well worth a read.
You can't be Cyr-i-us?
OK it's probably one of the worst puns ever but I'm pleased to report that AmigaKit is in possession of all of the Cyrus+ revision 2.1 motherboard destined for the beta test team. Over the past couple of months boards have began trickling out to developers and experienced beta testers.
Meanwhile, based on our specifications to provide the user with a much more "Amiga-like" early start-up experience, Ultra Varisys have been customizing the Cyrus+ UBOOT firmware. It's all coming along very nicely. Meanwhile our core Linux team have also been very busy and we already have a working Linux distribution up and running on the Cyrus+ motherboard, complete with 3D hardware accelerations for a range of RadeonHD graphics cards.
Darren Stevens created a video of Linux and AmigaOS 4 booting on his Cyrus+ board. He used the ubiquitous Supertuxkart racing game as a test of the machines 3D capabilities under Linux after which he shutdown Linux and booted a debug version AmigaOS4.1 off a USB pen drive. Now that's just showing off.
Fellow beta tester Alex Perez, used a FLIR thermal infrared camera to photograph the thermal characteristics of his Cyrus+ board under power. The result was a pop-art psychedelic image which shows our Cyrus+ board is one cool dude! Party on Man!
It still amazes me that 20 years after the death of Commodore there still a number of Amiga printed magazines available to purchase. OK they are not mainstream and are usually created by a local Amiga user groups but the quality and content is in no way diminished.
I was recently sent a copy of the 50th Anniversary issue of Amiga Power by Mehdi Boulahia (aka K-L) who is the Editor in Chief of Amiga Power and Webmaster of AMIGA-NG.org. Amiga Power is a French language Amiga magazine that covers all Amiga-inspired flavours. Mehdi assured me that the 50th Anniversary Edition, which was actually released in February 2013, is sure to be a collector's item. I wonder why he sent a copy to me?
Meanwhile, at the other end of the spectrum, Retro Planet, the Greek language Retro magazine which is a relative new comer to the scene, is celebrating it first Anniversary. Retro Planet, is a glossy magazine created by Amiga Planet which covers all retro computers but has a heavy bias towards the Amiga and next-generation Amiga-inspired systems.
Crystal (Boing Ball) Gazing
In the (Re) mix
Our core Linux support team have also been very busy supporting the AmigaONE X1000. One man dynamo Christian Zigotzky has continued to update the AmigaONE X1000 Linux kernel while increasing number of Linux distros that the AmigaONE X1000 can support.
Just as Linus Torvalds has announced the latest stable release of version 3.17 of the Linux kernel, Christian has been diligently keeping the AmigaONE X1000 kernel bang up to date. He has also created a long term version of the 3.13.15 kernel for the X1000 which is based on the 3.13.0-36.63 kernel developed by the Canonical Kernel Team. This will be used by Pat wall is working on an updated Ubuntu Live Remix iso which is based on the 12.04.5 LTS (long term support) distribution. Not only does it include the long term kernel it comes with version 32.0.3 of Firefox and several new Desktop images created by Kevin Saunders and of course the latest version of SuperTuxKart 0.8.1. Pat is also working on Xubuntu flavour based on Xubuntu 12.04.5 LTS.
I occasionally I see comments that no self respecting "Amiga" should run anything other than the AmigaOS. While I can understand that opinion, after all none of us would still be Amigans if we did not continue to support the AmigaOS or the other AmigaOS-inspired operating systems. However, let's not forget that the original Amiga also supports several non-native operation systems. The Amiga 2500 & A3000 both supported Amix, an early versions of Unix released by Commodore and who can forget the Emplant board and Mac OS emulators which turned the Amiga into a faster machine that Mac it was emulating, much to Apple's annoyance at the time.
Talking of MacOS, Christian has now managed to get MOL (Mac On Linux) up and running on the AmigaONE X1000 so there is another OS to add the growing list that the AmigaONE X1000 supports. Christian reports that MOL on the X1000 requires the latest 3.17 kernel (RC1 or above) and it supports both Tiger and Panther MacOS X PPC versions. It's good to see history (sort of) repeating itself and I'm pleased that X1000 owners are able to benefit from all the OSs and software that is available to them. Having said that I am keen to increase and improve the content for all AmigaOS and AmigaOS-inspired flavours.
As some of you may know I am an avid Commodore and Amiga collector, although these days I don't have a lot of time (or space) to add to my collection. Every now and again I'm tempted to add a small item to my collection especially if it's something a little special or unique. Having written an article about GVP for my Classic Refection series in Amiga Future magazine I jumped at the chance to acquire a GVP A3001 Upgrade kit that was still in its original shrink-wrapped packaging together with a pristine A2000. Unfortunately, due to inadequate packaging and the heavy handedness of international couriers the previously pristine A2000 arrived damaged! The front fascia had snapped off, the FDD cover was broken and the metal case was dented and badly distorted. Surprisingly the A2000 board itself was undamaged. Fortunately, the GVP A3001, which was well protected by it's original packaging, was completely undamaged.
Rant mode on: It is a real shame that an Amiga 2000 that was almost 25 years old and in obvious excellent condition should be damaged through a combination of poor packaging and heavy handed couriers. If you are thinking of selling your Amiga hardware make sure it properly packed and protected for shipping. Rant mode off!
Talking about Classic Reflections, look out for issue 111 of Amiga Future magazine for episode 18 of "Classic Reflections" and find out "What really happened to Village Tronic Marketing GmbH?" If you enjoy the Classic Reflections series and would like me to write about one of your favourite Amiga hardware or software suppliers who had a major impact on the Classic Amiga scene please send me an email to contact (at) a-eon.com with your suggestions.
Out of sync?
One of my computer monitors began playing up several months ago. It was a flat-screen 22" Samsung SyncMaster 226BW with a native display of 1680 x 1050. It was not my main workstation but I liked to use it because it included both DVI and RGB ports which enabled me to connect both a Windows PC and the second Radeon graphics card installed in my AMIGAone X1000.
On first power up the display would flicker ON/OFF continuously for a period of time before finally displaying the Workbench screen. The period of flickering got longer and longer every time I switched on the monitor until eventually it failed altogether. Prior to this problem the monitor had been a very reliable and I was reluctant to just consign it to the rubbish bin. I am am Amigan after all and I'm loathed to part with any hardware. I trawled the web for possible repair solutions and was surprised to find that my monitor's failure mode was a very common problem shared by many of the flat-screen models in the Samsung monitor range.
According to the reports, Samsung used some very low quality capacitors in the monitor power supply unit which begin to break down after about 3 to 4 years of use. The problem is so common and widespread that special capacitor replacement kits are available from a number of web suppliers for all of the models of Samsung monitors that are affected. Several web tech gurus have even posted online videos showing you how to disassemble the monitor to access the PSU unit and replace the faulty capacitors. I immediately purchased a SyncMaster 226BW capacitor repair kit from eBay which cost me around US$8 plus shipping to New Zealand. If you have a basic electronics background you can of course source your own capacitors for much less but, as my electronics skills are quite rusty, I wanted to make sure I had all the correct components. My soldering skills are also fairly primitive so it was with some trepidation that I dissembled the monitor to carry out the repair. Despite my meager soldering skills it was quite an easy repair. After reassembly I powered up the monitor and was pleasantly surprised and quite relived to see the display fire up normally. Although I'm obviously pleased that my monitor is now working again I find it quite surprising that a massive international company like Samsung could manufacture a whole range of substandard products. I shall never complain again about the faulty audio capacitors in my 20+ year old Amiga 4000, not to mention the issues with my A1-SE and Pegasos I, etc., etc. Naaa! I'm an old time Amigan, it's my right and duty to complain!
Talking about Samsung, their Smart TVs are getting ever closer to doing what both Commodore, Gateway and many others failed to do, sneak computers into the living room. Way back in 1991 Commodore released the CDTV which was really a re-boxed Amiga 500 with an added CD player encased in a hi-fi enclosure. The CDTV and the Philips CDi attempted to make computing part of the family entertainment centre. Gateway went one step further with it's Gateway Connected Touch Pad, an internet appliance device that was based on the low-power, x86 compatible Transmeta Crusoe CPU which evolved from the scrapped Amiga MCC project. The Touch Pad ran an AOL client ported to Linux, using the Mozilla/Netscape "Gecko" browsing engine. While none of these early attempts were successful they paved the way for today's technology. Of course "we" are now all hooked on a vast range of mobile computing devices such smart phones, tablets and net-books which have become almost an indispensable part of our daily existence. However, the TV has remained the essential part of the family entertainment and information centre and, with the growth of high speed and relatively inexpensive broadband internet services, it is once again vying for our entertainment hours with SVOD and TVOD offerings from iTunes, Netflix, Hulu, Quickflixs and a host of others. IMHO the Smart TV offering is still a little clumsy. Trying to navigate a web page with a TV controller is an exercise in frustrations but.......
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away...........Part 2
C64 enthusiast, Rocco Di Leo (aka actraiser), recently sent me a link to his dustlayer.com blog. Apparently a good friend of his started a new company in Hong Kong and moved into premises alongside offices which housed the former Commodore and Amiga production line. His friend got his hands on a CD with some old photos from December 1992 which were taken by Robert Baker who was in production engineering at Commodore in West Chester, PA. Baker was one of two Commodore test engineering employees sent to Commodore's Hong Kong manufacturing plant in December of 1992 for the pilot production run of the Amiga 600 computer system. The photos show images of the surface mount line, various assembly lines and test equipment as well as the manufacturing engineering office and lab areas. Rocco obtained permission from Baker to post the photos and even obtained some of Baker's old Commodore business cards.
........next stop Amiwest 2014.
It's been a while since I posted to my blog, but that doesn't mean I haven't been very busy over the past six weeks. Sadly, and contrary to popular belief, I do have a life and interests outside the Amiga realm. Although I've not had much time to try out the latest versions of MorphOS 3.6 and AROS, or even AmiKit 7 or Amiga Forever 2014 for that matter, I've still had fun testing some interesting new programs and updates which should be available in the not too distant future. Tease mode off!
You may have read that A-EON Technology recently acquired the rights to Amiga.org, the world's oldest English language Amiga community web forum which dates back to a time when Commodore was still in existence. Amiga.org is a great piece of Amiga history and has the potential to be a massive resource for all Amiga and Amiga-inspired enthusiasts (whatever the flavour) and as a fully signed up member I'm really proud to be associated with this Amiga community forum.
I was very surprised to discover that the current Amiga.org logo was created by the talented Australian Amiga graphics artist Kevin Saunders who created a series of logos and graphic designs for Wayne Hunt, who was the original founder of Amiga.org way back in 1994. Incredibly, 2014 marks Amiga.org's 20th anniversary. All I can say is here's to the next 20 years!
Sweet talk...Amiga style
I was recently contacted by Johannes Genberg, the editor of Amiga Forum, a Swedish printed Amiga magazine which caters for all Amiga inspired flavours, created by SUGA, the Swedish User Group of Amiga.
Issue #9 has just been released and if you want to find out what the fuss is all about you can download many of their back issues free of charge. OK they are printed in Swedish, but as Johannes pointed out if you can't read Swedish you could always use Google translate or Bing to read them. Endast amiga gör det möjligt (well that's what I hope it says! )
Following my recent trip to Tony's Wyatt's Amiga gathering in Sydney, Australia a few months back, I received many inquiries about one of the posters that was on display during the event. All I can say is the poster design was created by the Kevin Saunders who also created the excellent Amiga.org logo above and many other images and artwork for A-EON Technology. As for the Radiance itself, watch this space.......
I recently discovered that the Japanese have a term for people who are obsessed with computer technology. Apparently we are Pasocon Otaku (or computer geeks) and according to the definition, we are known to study hardware and software specifications in detail, enjoy discussing the latest devices and spend large amounts of time configuring and customizing hardware and software. In the most extreme cases we become experts at computer programming or network security. That probably describes 99.9% of the Amiga community. So what's the problem with discussing pre-emptive multitasking and metadata stack overflow anyway? However, don't worry we are in good company, the Japanese also have eleven other main Otaku "types" ranging from Manga Otaku to Tetsudou Otaku. Now I'm worried.
If you are lucky enough to be an AmigaONE X1000 "First Contact" owner you will have heard the special boot-up sound written, as a homage to the original Amiga 1000 boot sound, by free-lance music composer RayneLeafe. She has also written music and sound effects for a number of Amiga-related videos as well as the new boot sound, entitled Close Encounters, for the AMIGA one X5000 models. What you may not know is that she is also the creative influence behind Stomp it Out Productions whose movie, Undercover, has just won the Jury award for the best documentary at the annual Cinema at the Edge film festival in Santa Monica, California. Not only did she direct and edit the movie, she was also the camera person and composed all the music and sound effects as well. Talking about boot sounds, RayneLeafe has just finished all the editing on her next movie, entitled Stomp it Out, which is a documentary about a group of young people from the slums of Soweto in South Africa who take their unique form of gumboot dancing on a brief tour of China. Money to help support the project was raised via a successful Kickstarter campaign which included contributions from some generous members of the Amiga community.
Gaming (re) generation
In addition to directing movies, RayneLeafe has written all the sound effects, music and soundscapes for Gamefroot, a free web based "drag and drop" game creation tool for artists, storytellers, junior game developers, “noobs”, and people (like me) who just can’t really code. Gamefroot provides all the gaming elements such as graphics, sprites, backdrops, music, sound effects and soundscapes etc for you to easily create your own platform game.
All you need to do is add your own imagination and creative genius. Of course you can also create your own game elements if you prefer but the choice is totally yours. The Gamefoot community has expanded rapidly and there are now over 25,000 games which have been published using the Gamefoot game creation tool, with hundreds of new games added every day.
Unfortunately, for us Amigans, Gamefroot is flash based but the next version promises to support kiwi.js, an advanced open source html5 game framework for serious game developers and web designers. kiwi.js offers professional level support with game blueprints and plugins such as in-app purchasing and impressive particle effects.
The development team behind kiwi.js are now working on the tech to automatically convert the flash based Gamefroot games to run with kiwi.js under html5.
That will mean that any web browser which supports html5 should be able to play the Gamefroot created games. Why is this of any interest you may ask? The good news for MorphOS and AmigaOS 4 users is that, although not perfect, some of the simple kiwi.js html5 game demo blueprints already run with the latest versions of the Odyssey web browser which have support for html5. The blueprint demos also work in Timberwolf under AmigaOS 4 which also includes some html5 support.
Recently I had the opportunity of playing (and losing) one of the first, very advanced, two player html5 strategy games created for the iPad using kiwis.js. The other evening I went to the pub cough, attended a recent beta testing session with some of the creative designers and developers of the game.
With two people simultaneously playing the game on the same iPad device, it was truly an interactive social gaming experience. The beer was pretty good too! Unfortunately, I am sworn to secrecy about details of the game but, suffice to say, it looks like html5, hardware independent gaming, powered by kiwi.js, is finally coming of age. Hopefully, in the future this will open the door to a whole host of playable games freed from most, if not all, hardware constraints.
I hope the Timberwolf and Odyssey developers (Fab and Kas1e) are reading this?
Of course playing Flash or html5 YouTube videos is not such a big deal on other mainstream computer platforms. However when you consider the massive resources behind mainstream systems it's really no surprise. I sometimes read comments comparing the speed of Linux development with that of AmigaOS 4 and other next generation Amiga-like operating systems like MorphOS and AROS. What some people seem to forget is that even Linux is financially backed by some of the worlds largest and most profitable corporations and that includes IBM and Google. Over the past eight years over 10,000 developers have contributed to the Linux kernel and in fact, in 2010, it was estimated that 75% of Linux kernel code was contributed by paid developers.
IBM itself has poured over $1 billion into Linux support for its hardware. Although we Amigans do not have access to such resources we are fortunate that we can use our next-generation AmigaOS and MorphOS machines to freely benefit from the work of these Linux developers.
Using the Live Ubuntu Remix DVD I have been able to watch html5 and Flash YouTube videos in Firefox via ViewTube and even play HD videos. There is also MiniTube, an excellent standalone programs which also plays most YouTube videos.
So while I prefer to use AmigaOS or MorphOS and have been known to run AROS once in a while , I still like to take advantage of running Linux on my AmigaONE X1000. I hope to do the same on my Cyrus+ based AmigaONE X5000 when it's released. Just to whet your appetite here is a recent photo of Debian X running on the Cyrus+ test-bed at Ultra Varisys.
I don't believe it!
If you are a regular reader of my blog you may recall that just over a year ago I posted a link to TAWS, Micahel Rupp's amazing "Amiga in a browser" simulation. Well that link no longer works but that does not mean Michael has stopped working on his TAWS project. His latest implementation has a very realistic, if a little slow, version of AmigaOS4.1 complete with the initial AmigaOS 4.1 splash screen.
Windows transparency works as does screen-dragging and if you are nostalgic for one of the Classic Amiga Workbench displays, he has included a number of pre-sets Workbench modes and, at the click of an icon, you can change to the iconic blue, black, orange and white display of WB1.0 or the cool grey, blue, black and white of WB 3.1. In total there are eleven Workbench modes to choose from. He has even included some classic Amiga images to make you feel at home. OK, it's not really AmigaOS 4.1 and you can't run your AmigaOS software but it is a cool to see it running on my Windows PC.
I can even runs TAWS on Firefox with Ubuntu on my AmigaONE X1000 as well as under Timberwolf and Odyssey under AmigaOS 4.1 Now that's just too weird.
However, if you want to see a "real" emulation of a Classic Amiga in a web browser take a look at the Amiga 500 Emulator, created for the Chrome browser, by Christian Stefansen who works at Google. Unlike the TAWS simulation, the Amiga 500 Emulator, which only works in the Chrome browser, allows you to run Classic Amiga programs.
The emulator, which is descibed as a portable native client demo includes Commodore's original First Demos together with the Amiga ROM and Operating Systems files which are provided under license by Cloanto, the developers of the Amiga Forever package. If you want to run your own Classic Amiga programs you will need to purchase the Amiga Forever Essentials ROM licence from the Chrome webstore. (which in New Zealand is listed as NZ$1.19). The emulation feels a little slow on my PC but that could be because it's running at true A500 floppy disk speeds and I tend to turbo boost the FDD when I run Amiga emulation under Amiga Forever/WinUAE.
Never-the-less it's another good example of what can be achieved in a modern web browser.
The Wizard of Oz
Well perhaps not quite that Wizard, but AmigaOS developer and all round beta tester Tony Wyatt, also known as the Pieman following my revealing pictures of him at last year's AmiWest , is organising an Amiga bash in Sydney, Australia around the weekend May 10th & 11th. Watch out for more news on the Amiga forums and come along to meet fellow Austral-amigans. I have already booked my flights.
Tony has also recently completed the AmigaOS 4 drivers (cfide.device) for the AmigaONE x1000 Compact Flash port. The CF port, which can already be accessed by CFE, the AmigaONE X1000's firmware, and Linux, can now be accessed under AmigaOS 4.
I tend to use the Compact Flash card on my X1000 to store all the the Linux test kernels so it good to know I can now copy updates to the CF card without have to boot up Linux. I'm please to report it recognises all of my CF cards which include 2GB, 8GB and 16GB models. The driver is currently undergoing beta testing and will be released to AmigaONE X1000 owners in the future.
Sometimes new does not mean better. Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining about the speed or capacity of SATA hard disk or optical drives but give me a good old IDE connector any day.
OK perhaps they are large and clunky and it is easy to install them the wrong way round even though the connector is keyed, plus the added confusion over 40 and 80 wire cables but, once they are connected they stayed connected, even when you are rummaging around inside your Amiga installing the latest Zorro card or just trying to make your Classic Amiga boot for the umpteenth time by jiggling a few loose boards.
Not so with the delicate little SATA connector. Just look at it and it seems to fall out! Although the connectors are keyed so you can't install it the wrong way round, it's almost impossible to determine which is the correct orientation in the first place, unless you use a magnifying glass to find the little notch on the signal or PSU connector. You can get SATA cables with a right angle connector and others with a retaining clip which are a little better but overall they are just plain flaky! I apologise if I'm starting to sound like a grumpy old man. I suppose SATA connectors are designed for hardware which is never opened or upgraded, which is certainly not the case with the average Amigan.
Linus Torvald, the father of Linux, has just released version 3.14 of the Linux Kernel and I'm pleased to report that, thanks to the dedicated work of the Christian Zigotzky, there is already a version for the AmigaONE X1000. Christian has also produced a 3.14 kernel for the P.A. Semi Electra board that we acquired recently. This board is being put through its paces by Alex Perez, the newest member of the A-EON core Linux support team. Alex is based in the San Francisco Bay area, the Amiga's original birthplace, although he did not get his first Amiga until 1985, a "new" old-stock A1200 purchased from Vesalia. His interest in retro-computing began almost as soon as he started computing. According to Alex, " I started tinkering with Linux and SunOS/Solaris back in the mid-90s, on some hand-me-down hardware. Compiling Linux kernels on a 386DX33 and an 80MB SCSI drive wasn't exactly fast, but I sure learned a lot." Alex also also made up for lost time with his Amiga passion and has since acquired a 68040 based A3000, a few A2000's and a couple of A1000's, one which served as the basis for his GBA1000 project. He also own a fair amount of esoteric PowerPC hardware (reference boards, etc) and even a Dec Alpha AXP based machine. A regular visitor to AmiWest, in his day job he works in systems operation for a bay area start-up, where he in charge of planning, building out, and maintaining a Linux-based production server environment across several geographic locales. He has a lot of experience with a variety of Linux distributions, system/block level internals of the Linux kernel, packaging formats, building packages (both deb and rpm-based). Alex is the first US citizen in the A-EON Linux support team which also includes members from Germany, Eire, New Zealand, Australia and the UK. Alex is also a member of the Cyrus+ beta test team where he is looking forward to doing comparative testing under both OS4 and Linux, and possibly other supported BSD Operating Systems. All that is left to be said is: Alex, welcome to the team By the way, thanks TommySammy for creating the Linux X1000 icon.
Beware the Ides of ....April?
On April 8th Microsoft is officially ceasing all support for its Windows XP Operating System which is being retired. XP, which was released in 2001, was the first really stable version of Windows and helped Microsoft maintain and expand its world domination as the most popular desktop operation system. After April 8th Microsoft will stop issuing security updates for the estimated 500 million XP systems that are still up and running. It the short term this may not be an issue but over time these system will become at risk from the plague of viruses, ransomware, worms, Trojans, keystroke-loggers and anything else written to hack, infect, snoop or steal from users running Windows XP.
If you think this problem is none of your concern it is estimated that US Banks still run Windows XP on 95% of their ATMs and cash machines. I'm sure the figures are similar in the rest of the world. So even if you are not an Windows XP user its long shadow will continue to loom over you for several years to come. And what does Microsoft advise it customers to do after April the 8th? Check to see if their current PC will support Windows 8 and if not buy a new Windows 8 PC!
By the way if you think times are bad for Microsoft, its Windows OS in all its flavours still controls over 90% of the desktop OS market and, while the number of desktop PCs sold may be dropping in favour of tablets, smart phones and other devices, it still estimated that over 280 million units will be shipped this year. If only 0.1% of the machines were Amiga's............
Look out for issue #108 of Amiga Future Magazine. Apart form all the usual Amiga goodness you will find an update on the Cyrus+/AmigaONE X5000 progress and be able to read about what really happened to Digital Creations and Progressive Image Technology.