Would you believe back in 90s that your Netscape browser may be capable of, yeah, running a future revision of your beloved AmigaOS?
I cannot say I follow all the things that have been happening in the Amiga and post-Amiga world in the last years. Time is the most limited resource we have, indeed. Thanks to the Old School Game Blog however, I learn about Icaros, an amazing AROS distribution.
Some time ago I installed Icaros v1.4.5 on top of the KVM emulation stack and was simply amazed. What the both AROS and Icaros guys did is a pure, wonderful hack in an old meaning of this word. Since I don’t have a spare machine (and neither money after my wife got her iPad this Christmass ;), I could not install it on a bare hardware. Whereas Icaros was barely usable on my Thinkpad T60 (single core :), T410 is enough to try stuff.
Today (after midnight actually) I found out that Icaros 1.5 has been released. List of enhancements is impressive. I decided to give it a try. On T60 first. This post is a proof that it works reasonable well! I write these words using OWB, on Icaros 1.5, hosted on VirtualBox this time (it looks like a better choice), launched on Linux Mint. An interesting stack for a single core, 3 GB RAM pretty rusty machine, isn’t it?
From time to time, things get frozen but I am not shocked with that. System looks great, Janus works out of the box (I tried only two sample games shipped with Icaros), the overall look&feel is better that in 1.4.5 I would say. The hours the dev team spent on the new release were a good investment. Great stuff. Bravo!
An alternative OS for masses? Maybe not now yet, but the direction is a right one. Time to get involved?
By the way, Happy New Year to all of you!
I don’t know if this is a bug in OWB or something wrong in the middle, but I cannot copy&paste the URL. It simply does not get copied to the buffer. Ah, also the OWB spell checking does not work for me.
Few months ago I was searching for Amiga e-books on the Amazon. One of the search hits was “The Future Was Here (Platform Studies)“. It did sound pleasant to my ears. I decided to get a sample. And immediately I got a message that due to customers complaints, it was withdrawn from the catalogue. Luckily rest of the announcement was saying that after some improvements, the ebook will be available again.
After two or three weeks, a next attempt to download the sample was successful. I must say that the formating was not the best I’ve seen on the Kindle. Too much free space on the left side, some words glued to each other (you cannot use the dictionary then), few minor issues with navigate through pages, but all in all, it was not so bad. I can imagine how screwed it was be in the first edition… Lets put the formatting issues aside, move to the meat.
What convinced me to purchase that ebook was pure Amiga-enthusiasm of the author (Jimmy Maher) and his attention to details (The Boing!). Oh, man! It was a weird experience to read something you would write yourself actually, if you only were technically able to do so :) The same feelings, observations, point of view…
The great value of “The Future Was Here” is its broad scope. You’ll get *very* technical details on how the Boing was made, how Deluxe Paint and HAM modes do their magic, how genlock works, but on the other hand you can learn about business aspects, major companies that made Amiga successful and the Scene. Just take a look at the contents table: “Boing”, “Deluxe Paint”, “SSG and Sculpt-Animate”, “NewTek”, “AmigaOS and ARexx”, “The Scene”, “Cinemaware and Psygnosis”. Isn’t it impressive?
Sometimes the advantages are disadvantages at the same time. Here is somewhat like that. Lots of threads and topics make you feel like scratching the surface. The bad thing is when you’d wish to read more about a particular subject, whereas it has been treated superficially in the book. But you simply cannot write a detailed book about everything.
It is really hard to say what I like most (I have to read it one more time:) about that book, but for sure I love the entire story about the Boing Ball. All the fragments about the R.J. Mical’s team are brilliant – you can literally feel the energy and passion they were working with. What I realize too is how the Amiga was cut down on resources such as memory and peripherals before it eventually hit the market. It was great to read though about Scene as something that had been keeping Amiga alive so many years, despite all the business bad moves and missed ideas (I wish someone else acquired Amiga…).
Despite the small issues, it was a good purchase. A recommended read, no doubt.
Here is an on-line addendum to the book: Materials to accompany the Platform Studies volume
It’s been an awful long time since I wrote here the last time. Reason being simple, as simple it can be – daily routine I swamped by… And yes, lack of motivation, topics, time, energy, ideas… You name it :)
Alright. Amiga 1200. My old friend. Decomposed but powered on, and working. With that ‘click’ floppy sound. This is where I was.
Keyboard was my primary struggle. I knew it was not functional anymore, but… Maybe you know that feeling, when you count on, literally, magic. It did not happen though. Only few keys were able to break through and say “hello” on the screen. What a shame. Magic does not exist…
So… no much you can do with no keyboard. On the disks I found there were no games. OK, maybe two or three, but… they refused to start. I had no zeal to investigate further. Maybe they are remains of A500 I had before, or have failed due to Motorola 68030, or Fast RAM, or weather, or my bad mood. Who knows.
Nevertheless, there was one component I had to check still.
Motorola 68030, with MMU, geared with devilish 28MHz. And 8MB on-board… M-Tec T1230/28. Yeah, it was a low-end even that time I was buying it, but it is always better to have something than nothing, right? I spent a noticeable amount of money on it. I was working for a month or so during my vacations… It was a dedication! I wanted to see the demos that complained about my bare A1200.
And here I got a lesson how volatile human memory is…
Believe it or not, but I had a really hard time making the expansion card working :) I couldn’t find the user guide, and the labels on the card was rather cryptic. I ran few cycles before I found THE RIGHT combinations. Like in an adventure game…
Here is the place my story ends. At least for now. I am not sure which direction I should pursue. To pump time and money to the real vintage, meaning Amiga 1200, or keep it as it is and buy Mimig or other FPGA replica. What I found for sure is that I am not a vintage guy, and I am not interested in renovating old stuff, for sake of having it working. What I am looking for is the feeling, the spirit of those days. If it is possible at all, it is more likely, at least to me, to find it coding and developing any kind of software. And I can do this with Mimig, or… even on a machine running AROS.
Amiga spirit lives on.
Get back to my parents-in-law house and my little, yellow and somewhat decomposed Amiga 1200. Not yet rotting, but not booming either. I mentioned non-so-responsive keyboard (I recall it has stopped working 10 years ago…), the mouse with no ball and a broken hard drive. Enough to be disheartened, but not now. Fight!
The thing I was certain about was the power supply. My brother did a great job in renovating it and I was sure the current is fine. I plugged the power cables, attached the keyboard (even though I knew it’s useless) and mount the floppy drive. As for the video output, I connected an old SVGA CRT monitor via the scan-doubler. The deficient mouse was also in place. Deficient but faithful :) Time to power on the stuff. With no fear.
Bummer. No famous fdd ‘click’, no video output, LEDs dark as hell. Not a good sign at all. Time to handle issues like a support engineer shall do.
I started with video. I searched vigorously for a tv cable, and luckily found one inside a box under closet. I connected an old tv to the modulator port and…
Hooray! Beautiful animation appeared on the screen. Scandex is dead apparently. And LEDs as well. Now what is wrong with the floppy drive… No ‘click’? How come? I’ve inserted a disk anyway, but nothing happened. Another dead horse?
Or maybe something wrong with the ribbon cable? I took a closer look but with no conclusion. Let’s try to invert connector then. Power off, power on… And it clicked again! What a relief.
One more episode to come…
This blog is suppose to be dedicated to programming. To little bits and pieces of things I do professionally or to stuff I would like to do in a near future. Two weeks ago, out of the blue, I wrote a post about Amiga however. Sounds like a different kind of stories, doesn’t it?
Not so different. Since Amiga was my third computer, I was not so in games anymore, like when got my first Atari XE. Instead, I was in a total love in all the demo-scene stuff. Back then I could watch demos, intros and cractros for hours. Like hundreds other Amiga folks, I wanted to be a coder. A 68k assembler hero.
Long story short, it did not happen. At least not to an extent I could recognize as a success. Soon I switched to C and the system stuff. It was fun too, but not the dream I wished to come true. Hold on for a second. Where were I? Ah, yes, resurecting Amiga 1200.
Yes, I did it! :) I powered my Amiga 1200 on again. I could not say it is fully functional (it is far away from that point actually), but it works! I loaded some stuff from floppies (looks like they are more reliable then cd…), watched a demo or two, and listened to fantastic music… Not much, huh? There are reasons for that, unfortunately.
Lets start with what I have on the stock. The body parts are as follows:
- Amiga 1200 with broken keyboard
- M-Tec 1230 68030/28MHz with 10MB Fast RAM
- a dead hard drive
- a mouse without ball (more close to a real mouse then…)
- Scandex scandoubler
- a customized PC power supply
- lot of floppy disks
Two complementary items are a standard SVGA monitor and an old-fashioned TV. Rather priceless when comes to making use of any computer, including Amiga.
It does not look impressive, I know. Broken or dead items are not of particular use, nor interest. But do not lose faith. My story of a pile of old hardware pieces becoming a working Amiga 1200 is a long one, however has a happy-end. I wished a happier one (all these not working things, especially the keyboard…) but it is good to have what I’ve managed to (re)assemble.
More to come.
I have a pretty “yellish” Amiga 1200. I’ve been trying to resurrect my old girlfriend since two years or so, but with no success. Her hard drive is dead, keyboard does not work well (that horrible tape…) and the PSU not so healthy anymore. I cleaned the floppy and besides the mainboard and expansion card (full 68030 with 10MB RAM) it is the most shiny part. I’ve promised to myself to spend some more time on that stuff during the upcoming vacations…
Truth be told, this is an old stuff (sorry dear Amiga) anyway. It may work for some time but who knows for how long. I love the stuff people have done for that hardware, especially the demoscene productions (I used to collect even the cractros…) and need a way to watch them from time to time. I don’t plan to expend big money for a new one too. Emulation then.
I am a Linux user, and unfortunately I suffer a bit from lack of WinUAE (I know, there are options…). However, even WinUAE on a native Windows, not mentioning WINE, behaves strange (did you see the fullscreen mode? this is a bad joke) and I don’t like it much. Another hardware I possibly could make an Amiga is Playstation 3. This is not so easy anymore though. You jailbreak it and Sony says Game Over to you. Even though I use PS3 once in a blue moon, I don’t want to hack it. So what’s then…
Looks like Nintendo Wii could be the best candidate. I am not familiar with that console, but it’s cheap and has some great looking emulators. I would have to buy a keyboard (yes, coding in AsmOne :) also, but this is an acceptable cost. Maybe the emulation is not so sexy, but it is more likely to get some fun with less effort and money that way. I’ve just started to research about it and I am not sure if Wii wouldn’t require a hardware hack to install 3rd party software, but from what I saw, it does not look so. Maybe I miss something, we’ll see. The real Amiga is waiting anyways.
Resources to investigate more: