Tuesday, September 25, 2012

AmigaOne Emulation Madness !!!

  One of my very favorite things about the Amiga from the very first day I got my Amiga 1000 back in 1986 was the fact that it could emulate other computer systems. The Commodore Sidecar was a hardware box that attached to the Amiga to provide hardware level MS-DOS compatibility (remember, Windows 95 would not be available for another 9 years!). 
  But even better, there were software only emulators that could do an incredible job of completely emulating an entirely different computer system, even if it had a different CPU (processor). We soon saw C64 emulators, Coco emulators, Apple II emulators, PC emulators, and MacIntosh emulators for the Amiga. One fantastic thing about the MacIntosh emulator for the Amiga when it first appeared was the incredible fact that - because the MAC used the same CPU as the Amiga, namely the Morotola 68000 series processors, AND the Amiga also had additional co processors to offload graphics, audio, disk drive, and other tasks, the Amiga MAC emulator actually ran FASTER than an equivalent MacIntosh! 
  I remember using some of those Mac Emulators, and they were impressive. 
  So what about emulation for the AmigaOne with OS4.1? Well, there are even more emulators for the AmigaOne than there were for the Amiga 1000. Here is a picture of my Micro AmigaOne running 4 emulators simultaneously! Yes, that's right! Each in is very own window on Workbench.

   Here we have the Basilisk2 MacIntosh Emulator. It is actually a 68k MAC emulator that is running MAC OS 7.5.5. It can be found on OS4 Depot . Oh yes, you may notice that I uploaded this program ... I found a few minor issues in the source and fixed them and uploaded some new code that made it possible to use the MAC Internet Explorer, iCab and Netscape Navigator on the MAC emulator on the AmigaOne. 
  Next, we see WarpSNES - a super Nintendo emulator that can be obtained HERE. It runs very well and allows many SNES games to be played - it even snapshots the current state and saves it when you quit for every game so you can restart where you left off.
  Then we have DOSBox. DOSBox is a PC DOS emulator that allows you to run many old PC games that work in DOS mode. It can be obtained HERE. DOSBox is a lot of fun. Can anyone identify the educational game that I am running in DOSBox in this picture? I'll give you a hint - I wrote part of the Radio Shack Color Computer version of this game back in 1984. 
  Finally we have my favorite newest emulator - FPSE from Amidog. This emulator runs Sony Playstation games incredibly well. You can get it at AmiDog's Web Site. Many playstation ROMs are available for it - and it will use actual CD games as well, but from what I hear, rather slowly. Better to use .bin and .ISO files. One trick with this emulator - you will need to obtain a SCPH1001 ROM file for use with it to allow the loading and saving of games in progress to the simulated memory cards. Amidog has a whole database of games and programs that work with this emulator. 
  Emulation on an AmigaOne is really exciting. Interestingly, sevral 68k emulators also work on the AmigaOne - being emulated on the fly (JIT) with the AmigaOne's built in emulation software - Petunia. Such emulators as the Coco (Dragon) emulator, AppleII, AtariST, Atari 800, PC-Task and many more old 68k emulators work properly on AmigaOS4.1 with an AmigaOne.
  I hope you have fun emulating!


Sunday, September 23, 2012

How to allow your wife to enjoy your Amiga as much as you!

  So you got your new AmigaOne (or for some of you, classic Amiga system from eBay!), and now you want to have fun! You open the package and start setting it up, and before you know it, it is 3 days later! What happened! Time warp! 
  Because the Amiga is the best and most fun computer ever created, it is easy to slip into temporal inconsistencies ... and this can, sadly, lead to marital problems. Oh, its true! Your new Amiga (female friend) seems to get a lot more attention that your wife, and you may hear the sound of a voice in the background as you start using your new Amiga saying "honey! honey did you hear me?" 

  Well, if your wife doesn't become an Amiga fan soon, you are going to end up having to make a choice. Back in the day, when you were single, you might have spent days on end playing on your Amiga - trying new games, setting up cool tools or applications or staring amazedly at the awesome demos people were making regularly. Now, with your AmigaOne, you discover OS4Depot and other wonderful sites full of AmigaOne programs just waiting to be enjoyed! But how can you do that and keep your wife happy?
  I'll share my method .. this may or may not work for you... but at least I'm trying to help! There is an old adage "Happy wife, happy life!" It applies very much to AmigaOne owners. You see, if your wife sees the AmigaOne as something that distracts you and takes time away from her, and causes you to stop paying attention to her ... well, you are in for trouble! Before you know it, your AmigaOne might have a little "accident" wink wink, or worse, suddenly vanish into the attic or closet of unmentionable appliances! The horror!
  So how can you overcome this? Well, the answer is to get your wife as enthusiastic as you are about your new AmigaOne. Insane you say! That's absurd! No woman enjoys Amigas! Well, there are a few ... even to this day, like Cammy from Australia and Elena Novaretti who wrote the program ZoneXplorer which works just fine on an AmigaOne by the way!
  So here is the strategy.... first, consider, what sort of things does your wife enjoy? Does she like animals, cooking, puzzles, adventure, mystery? What? I discovered that my wife really enjoys puzzles, but even more so, things that require some long term strategy. Hmmmm... once you determine this, you have found the key! So I set up Dungeon Master on my AmigaOne and started playing it while my wife looked on. "What's that" she finally asked. "Oh, nothing" is the correct response. Don't let on how much you would love for her to become an Amiga addict too! A few days later I got the question "So, how do you start that dungeon game thing you were playing?" Success! At least initially. Soon my wife was spending time playing Dungeon Master, but it was over quickly... too quickly. She is rather smart, the puzzles were not much of a challenge.  On to Dungeon Master 2! That took longer, but still kept her interested in that "AmigaOne" computer. 
  Then I downloaded Battle For Wesnoth for Amiga OS4. Whoo hoo I thought, this will take a while! Oh no! Catastrophe! After playing for a while and getting very interested in the game, she began getting ISI errors! I tried desperately to get someone who was working on the game to understand my plight. "I must have these bugs fixed! It is crucial!" Well, needless to say, they didn't understand the nature of the importance of this situation. No quick fix was forthcoming (although I think it has been fixed since then). My wife's interest in the AmigaOne waned.
  My next strategy was to position the AmigaOne so that it wasn't off in a deep dark computer vault known as the "computer room" in most homes. Our family room is in the basement, and our nice new 32" LCD TV happens to actually be an ACER 32 inch 1080p high resolution computer monitor which we also keep in the basement for watching videos. Summer was coming, and my AmigaOne tends to get hot upstairs in our home, so why not put it in the basement, where it is cooler. While I am at it, why not connect it to that fancy 32 inch TV monitor we have instead of bringing my 17 inch LCD computer monitor down from the computer room?
  The stage was set! The AmigaOne made the transition from upstairs to basement family room, and got a bigger display to boot! Hmmm.... what good strategy games are there? 
  My rescue came from an unexpected source! Amiga OS4 user Amidog just updated his Sony Playstation emulator. Trying it out, I discovered that it worked wonderfully! Good work Amidog! I found a farm simulation game named Harvest Moon from a little site called Playstation ROMs ROMS for Droid and began playing it - unobtrusively of course, at times when my wife happened to come down to the basement. "What;s that?" she asked! Aha! Success!
Here is a picture of my lovely wife playing Harvest Moon on the AmigaOne Sony Playstation emulator on our 32 inch 1080p computer monitor ... uh ... TV. 
  Happy wife, happy life!

Now, if I can just figure out how to get some time on my AmigaOne myself. Hmmm... perhaps we need TWO AmigaOnes? 
  That AmigaOne X1000   sure looks nice! 

Saturday, September 22, 2012

My custom Micro AmigaOne 800MHz Amiga

  I got my AmigaOne motherboard in December of 2004. Wow, it seems so long ago! It came with the pre-release version of AmigaOS4 installed on the 80G hard drive. The motherboard and hard drive were tested and bought separately from the rest of the system. Here is what the motherboard looks like installed in my new case.
 What an exciting moment it was when I first connected everything together and powered up the AmigaOne and was greeted by the Amiga OS4 workbench! The first thing I remember thinking was how wonderfully amazingly Amiga-like it was! I was expecting OS4 to be sort of like the PIOS or BE-OS demoes I had seen, nice and fast and clean, but just not Amigas. 
  But this thing was as good and nice and fast and clean as those other OSes, but it was the real Amiga OS! It has all the same directory structure - S:, Libs: SYS:, L:, C: - everything I had learned from my original Amiga days on my first Amiga 1000 that I got back in 1986! 
  And then when I began starting programs from their icons on OS4's workbench! Man, this thing was unbelievably fast! The Amiga OS was always fast and efficient - but I had never run it on an 800MHz CPU before! It was like greased lightning! 

  Above is a picture of my AmigaOne system - it has an internal 80G IDE hard drive, a r/w DVD drive, and an IOMega 100M ZIP drive installed in the case. I also wired up the front and rear USB connectors and sound. Why an IOMega ZIP drive, you wonder? Well, I used a 100M ZIP drive on my A1200 Amiga system (the last classic Amiga system I owned) and stored copies of everything on ZIP disks, including my system backups, graphics programs, games, emulated MAC disks, programming tools and source code - everything. That's why I bought a case that had both a 5.25 inch AND 3.5 inch external drive bay. I also bought a SIL0680 IDE interface card and plugged it into my single PCI expansion slot in my icro Amiga One so I could use all 3 IDE devices. 
  It ended up taking me some time to figure out why the ZIP disks I had were not readily useable on my AmigaOne. People from the AmigaWorld.net forum gave me advice over the next few weeks and I learned that at some point, IOMega had started reserving portions of each ZIP disk for file system use on PCs. IDE ZIP drives therefore, unlike my old SCSI based amiga ZIP drive, reserved the first 2 sectors of each disk. I simply had to modify my devs/dosdrivers/ZIP information to exclude these two sectors, and also had to ensure that the ZIP drive jumpers were set correctly, and then, lo and behold, I was able to read my ZIP disks on my new AmigaOne that had been written a decade or so prior on my SCSI based A1200 ZIP drive. 
  The next trick was - I had to ensure that I could read all the different file systems I had used to format my ZIP disks. You see, the Amiga easily and readily accommodates the use of multiple file systems for any device seamless into the OS through the use of DOSdrivers, mountlists and library files. So you can insert a ZIP disk formatted on a MAC, and by having the crossMAC file system set up on the Amiga with the appropriate mountlist file, it is recognized automatically by the Amiga OS and Workbench. Similarly with DOS formatted disks, or older Amiga FFS disks, SFS, AFS and the new JXFS file systems used over the years on Amigas. 
  The question was - would old 68k based device drivers work on my fancy new PPC AmigaOne? At first I thought - "No way!" How could they make such low level things as libraries and device drivers work on a completely different processor without some sort of kludge or hack to the driver software? 
  But, being adventurous - I tried it anyway. Guess what! My old 68k device drivers worked perfectly in OS4 on my AmigaOne! I was amazed!
  Well, it was even better than I had imagined. Not only did the built in Petunia JIT 68k emulation on the AmigaOne OS4 system allow drivers to work just fine, it also allowed many many old 68k based Amiga programs to run just fine too, including most productivity software such as graphics programs, database programs, word processors, spreadsheets, money management software, all sorts of tools an utilities. It was unbelievable to me! 
  Man, was I enjoying OS4 and my new AmigaOne!

My first post!

  Well, I've finally decided to do it!  Yes, it is a blog site dedicated to my favorite computer, the Amiga! But even more specifically, to the next generation of Amiga Computers, the AmigaOne.
  I hope to add new blog entries periodically that give information about the AmigaOne computers that run AmigaOS4 and beyond. Amiga OS4, for those who do not know, is the next generation PPC based Amiga OS operating system licensed from AmigaInc to Hyperion, and is the original Amiga 3.1 Source Code updated to run on PPC AmigaOne Machines.
  What AmigaOne machines you ask? Well, in the past couple of years several new AmigaOne computers have been designed and released in a number of varieties. The low end of these machines sport a PPC 667MHZ CPU, while the high end, the AmigaX1000, uses a PA-Semi CPU that has Dual-core PWRficient PA6T-1682M 1.8 GHz PowerISA v2.04+ CPU! Wow - I wish I had one!
  You can find out more here: Amiga X1000 Wikipedia
  I bought my AmigaOne back when the very first new AmigaOnes were introduced by Eyetech. I got it on Christmas 2004 and have been using it almost every day ever since.