Quantum Leap

Yuri van Geest

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

Fake news?

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

Cyrus Plus Boards - floor to ceiling

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

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

Cyrus Plus P5020 motherboard

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

Updating the goods

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

AMIStore Updater utility

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

Ringhio - download progress bar

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

Don’t call me vintage?

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

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

Graphically Speaking

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

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

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

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

Trouble in cyberspace

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

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

AmigaWorld.net on IBrowse

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

Sigurbjorn "Sibbi" Larusson

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

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

Just can’t get enough!

Polish Amiga.User in English

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

When you know you are a Commodore retro geek!

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

PET & C64 in The Americans

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

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

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

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

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

May the (Amiga) force be with you

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

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

Until next time…………………………………………..