My blog - UGH! - What a word, B.Walker, G0LCU. ---------------------------------------------- Why I Choose to Use An Ancient AMIGA In Preference To Current Platforms. ------------------------------------------------------------------------ Part 1, The General Hardware. ----------------------------- I have been asked many times why I use an ancient AMIGA A1200 for my tool of preference when it is clearly not up to the capabilities of current technology and speeds... Well I hope this and future articles will clear a few things up, perhaps open up a few eyes and get people to start laterally thinking again and also using their old ~Commodore AMIGA~ machines for, a HUGE word -> FUN. Before I start I will explain what I have as computer gear up and running:- 1) HP Pavillion dv2036ea notebook, dual core, 1GB RAM, 1.66GHz with several USB add-ons; serial, parallel and games port, external floppy, 1GB memory stick plus loads of other extras, dial up Internet access only; (MY CHOICE... :). This runs Windows XP, Knoppix and WinUAE. Switched on regularly. 2) P4 machine with 512MB memory, 2.66GHz, with almost every add-on both internally and externally added, used mainly by my teenage daughter and wife using ~broadband~. This runs Windows XP, and occasionally WinUAE as a test tool. Switched on daily. 3) P2 machine with 80MB memory as a test tool only, running Windows ME, UGH! Knoppix and WinUAE, Switched on as required. 4) A600HD, 2MB ChipRam, (plus optional 4MB ~CC0:~ Ram), 4GB-HDD partitioned accordingly, and switched on 24/7. This is my main test tool for my AMIGA related stuff. 5) BOG STANDARD A500, Workbench 1.3x, used daily without any third party add-ons for proof testing, switched on daily. 6) MY MAIN MACHINE, an A1200 with the ability to run 2MB, 6MB and 10MB memory modes, (note normally 6MB), external HD floppy, 5.25" floppy, 4GB-HDD, PCMCIA CDROM, external modem, endless home built peripherals and coupled to an even older Brother M1109 printer now 23 years old. Switched on 24/7. See attached photo'. 7) Finally a Amstrad/Sinclair Spectrum +3 up and running, switched on occasionally. 8) Last but not least many other Amiga's and computers boxed up not in use. Now that we have established my hardware, the software for any one tool is really immaterial, as I, like most of you, run probably the same EXCEPT THAT I DO NOT USE MS Office AT ALL on my HP notebook and P2 machines as ~Wordpad~ OR ~Works~ is more than good enough for me for general use. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------- HW == Hardware. SW == Software. It is a fact that greater than 90% of the computer populas only use less than 10% of the capabilities of computer HW/SW and/or peripherals, or for that matter, ANY man made material item. My microwave oven for example has dozens of facilities and all three of us in our family use only two of them, ON/OFF and fixed timer at MAXIMUM output; the other facilities may just as well NOT be there. Similarly our washing machine, video, DVD, etc... etc... I think we are all being brainwashed into BELIEVING that we need all of these whistles and bells, when in reality we probably don't even need the ITEM in question AT ALL... We now come to my computer related rant!!! As a GENERAL user, (Joe Public), do WE REALLY NEED:- A) Speed? Hmmm, this is a area that most people don't really take into account OR even understand as advertising says the faster the better. BIG DEAL! Speed is relative and is always ONLY as fast as the slowest item and/or bottleneck that slows the system down CONSIDERABLY - the fastest machine can be STUMPED by a computer virus/worm/etc FORCING YOU into protecting your system and hence slowing it down anyhow! HUGE bloatware installs along with their respective own and often USELESS FONTS you can't see cause more problems than they are worth. IGNORING DRM AND OTHER ISSUES, IT SEEMS A CONTRADICTION IN TERMS WHEN A VAST INCREASE IN HW TECHNOLOGY PRODUCES NO NOTICEABLE CHANGE IN ~SPEED~ WITH A NEWER OPERATING SYSTEM, (NO NAMES MENTIONED), FROM A USERS POINT OF VIEW, MAYBE I'M A CYNIC... :/ No virus's, (virii), world wide web bound for my AMIGA so it never slows down, yet it is fast enough for my use. The default font for the AMIGA is and HAS ALWAYS been ~topaz 8~. Easy to read even on an old TV! B) Colours? Hmmm, this is one major bode of contention!!! Let's see, (no pun intended), who NEEDS 32 bit or greater colour.? OK, let's narrow it down shall we - WHO wears eye assistance then?, glasses, contact lenses, etc, (monocle... He he :), [probably ALL of us sooner of later]. Well 60% af the worlds population WILL NEED OR ALREADY HAVE some sort of eye assistance by the time they are 50 years old... HANDS UP those who can see the difference on ANY monitor between an image of 24 bit, (or GREATER), colour depth to the same image, the same size in 16 bit palette(d) colour bi-directionally FLOYD dithered? COME ON - DON'T BE SHY ALL OF YOU WITH ABSOLUTELY PERFECT EYESIGHT - HANDS UP WHO CAN!!! Also glasses lenses produce strange colouring and blurring to the ~sharp~ edges of ANY image displayed which defeats the object of high colour depths because greater errors are produced by these lenses. VARI-FOCAL lenses are a real PITA. Amiga's Workbench is just as useful in 4 colour mode as it is in 256 colour mode AND IS STILL CAPABLE OF VIEWING images in HAM8, (260000+ colours WITHOUT HAVING TO CHANGE THE VIDEO MODE OF THE OS AT ALL... C) Resolution? Ahhh, yes resolution... :/ I'm being constantly told that my almost new HW is no longer of any use as we are being ~steered~, (polite term of ~forced~), towards a ~standard~ image size of 1024x768 32 bit minimum, (or as in the case of my HP notebook, 1280x800 32 bit colour), - WHY??? PLEASE SOMEONE TELL ME WHY??? - Just like in the above section I wear glasses AND I CAN'T SEE THE FONTS VERY WELL!!! If I HAVE TO increase the font size THEN I may as well run in a lower resolution; BUT the minimum is now defined as 800x600 in 16 bit colour and on my HP notebook looks absolutely dreadful. The Amiga's standard font is designed to be readable using the DEFAULT resolution on a standard colour television set. As the BB Bandwidth, (BB == Base Band), of a TV is around DC-6MHz then this produces a soft pleasant image that does not give headaches after prolonged use. Those people who have worn glasses for at least 30 years will know EXACTLY what I mean... My mum and dad each have current ~Windows~ PCs with Flat Screen Monitors and both say their eyes feel ~sore~ after a couple of hours, BOTH wear glasses and the PCs run high resolutions!!! D) Sound? Pardon? I SAID SOUND??? PARDON SPEAK UP I'M PARTIALLY DEAF!!! I am inundated with sound card technical data telling me that I MUST have several audio channels to get the most realistic copy of an original recording... WHAT??? In my untidy cluttered living room, HUH!?! WHY??? PLEASE TELL ME WHY??? - there are no egg boxes on my walls to make the room an-echoic AND it ain't empty by any manner of means either!!! My HP notebook boasts ALTEC speakers... AGAIN BIG DEAL! They are about 1+ inches, (25+mm), in diameter(ish) and about as much use as fart in a spacesuit. The audio quality is dreadful; my daughter has a new cellular phone and has a 2GB uSD card fitted and she uses it for her MP3 music tool also... Again this sounds ABSOLUTELY dreadful, my cheap'n'nasty Japanese 5 transistor wireless of early 60s vintage, (remember those :), sounds much better, so much for technology... :/ I wrote a light hearted poem about this subject when in discussion about analogue or digital audio on a particular mailing list that I am a member of... Here it is, (it's on AMINET also):- Analogue Or Digital. -------------------- I decided to nip this in the bud, Before it comes to court m'lud, Digital or analogue I ain't sure, But this discussion is now a bore. Who cares if its 14, 16 or 24 bit... Digital encoding on modern kit, All that matters is your pleasure, Not the things we seem to measure. Let me see now, who is old, Over 50 and going bald, Deaf in one ear like a lot of us, Or maybe suffering from tinnitus. What about over 40 and going grey, When your audio bandwidth starts to stray, Spiralling downwards towards 10 Kilo-Hertz, Because your ears are blocked with all the wax-works. Now lets try 30 where line scan rings, Upsets your hearing on other things, This whistle drives you totally mad, And distorts all the quality from your Hi-Fi pad. How about 20, with cash to spare, You buy your GHETTO BLASTER without a care... In the world, to whom you might upset, With loud ~BOOM BOOM~ music? I would like to bet. So I've now reached 10 and all kids bop, To anything that plays modern pop, Compressed to the limit to make them ~jive~, They start doing it from the age of 5. Who cares whether a recorded piano is correct or not, All that matters is the pleasure you've got, From listening on your wind up player, With 10 Inch 78s, what a slayer. Digital noise or analogue flutter, To listen for these you must be a nutter, Phase distortion far or near, Why worry when you're deaf in one ear. Beat note and IM products are a thing of the past, So I'm told by the wide and the vast... Majority of experts in this field, When Amp's are ~linear~ and give lots of yield. So many formats past and present, To make your listening very pleasant, CDs, DVDs, and Mini Discs are but a few, LPs, 78s and Tapes ARE in their too. People still listen to their ~Glenn Miller~ sound, On 78 records that sounded nice and round, Also on their valve wireless sets, Of 40s vintage or on their Dansettes. During the 60s playing 45s, Was more than enough to make our lives, Happy and content with what we had, An HMV radio-gram, when I was a lad. No one cared about harmonic distortion, All they wanted was the main portion... Of the music that they could recognise, Not the scratches in the background that create many ~lies~. There is the matter of when you're pissed, You certainly won't want to listen to Liszt, Good or bad quality you don't care, Any sound will make you go spare. As I have never heard ANY digital jitter, Is it on a re-mastered Gary Glitter... Album so I can get some inclination, Of what to STRAIN for in relation. Accuracy is not the prime mover, Just like vacuum cleaners are NOT a Hoover, No one person's hearing's the same, Most hear quite well, but some ~hear~ lame. Frequency bandwidths from 20 down to 8... Kilo-Hertz from youth until late... Age when your hearing becomes impaired, And you know it can never be repaired. Your stereo separation starts to wane, And your stereo balance now becomes a pain, No amount of adjustment from your digital stack, Will ever be able to bring that all back. So even with the best gear that one can buy, And accuracies of conversion that do not lie, Measured with the best test equipment to allay our fears, REMEMBER!, it is always down to the individuals ears. (C)2005, B.Walker, G0LCU. It seems a contradiction in terms to me when the recording industry keep forcing SO CALLED high quality music to ~Joe Public~, WHEN ALL HE/SHE wants is MP3 quality - my teenage daughter and ALL of her friends are classic examples of ~Joe public~ in this case. I have a 1949 vintage ETRONIC valve wireless set that is used every weekend. This sounds wonderful and my daughter has even said how nice it sounds see attached photo'. It therefore seems to me that this sound quality is good enough for the majority of all present generations, my parents, (76 and 78), my wife and I, (50 and 56), and my daughter, (16). So let's see, (erm hear? :), who suffers from tinnitus/noise/pops/bangs in either or both ears, 24/7? Who is deaf, (or partially deaf), in either or both ears?. Who suffers a rasping sound in either or both ears at certain frequencies?. Erm, NO let's start from the other end, hand's up, who has perfect hearing!!! I SAID, HAND'S UP, WHO HAS PERFECT HEARING!!! (Whispering), what about the dynamic range?. (Squeaky voice), How about the absolute bandwidth?. How about the stereophonic balance? AND, last but not least, the stereophonic accuracy? Well sooner or later the majority of people WILL BE/OR ARE, SUFFERING hearing deficiencies due to many reasons and this means that...... My AMIGA A1200 stereo sound capabilities are more than man enough for the job of general audio sampling and sound output for my use. I DO suffer tinnitus 24/7 and my left ear is down by at least 10dB(m) to my right ear and bandwidth has dropped like a stone over the years to around 8KHz from 19.5KHz when I was 17... E) Storage. Hmmm, where do I start with this one, Eh?!? The de-facto ~storage~ for a computer for 2+ decades was a 3.5 inch floppy disk. Most OS installs, NOTE INSTALLS, were done via this format whether the disks were DD, (double density), or HD, (high density), this matters not. Note that various 5.25 inch disks and densities can be included here also. I know of NO other MASS PRODUCED OS, in 1985, out there that could and can still run on one floppy disk AND drive ONLY, AND, give a full GUI controlled pre-emptive multitasking MULTIMEDIA station WITH SPEECH SYTHESIS FOR THE BLIND IF NECESSARY except for the AMIGA family, AS STANDARD... If there is another OS please tell me and I will bow to your superior intellect... I await abuse/replies to the magazine. I am now being told that floppy disks are no longer of any use and are being slowly phased out of production along with the drives... We, (well, not me anyhow), are gripped in the SO-CALLED technological revolution that is spiralling out of control as there seems to be an ever changing ~STANDARD~ means of storage. HDDs have gotten to sizes that has gone from the sublime to the ridiculous, there are umpteen different memory sticks/cards, ever changing optical storage facilities; ~credit card~ storage devices - et al, NEED I SAY MORE!!! This results in unnecessary ~upgrading~ and expenditure to ~Joe Mug~, erm, sorry I mean, ~Joe Public~ who is constantly fighting to keep his system up to date... WHY??? I HAVE NO CONCEIVABLE IDEA. OH, THE POWER OF VISUAL ADVERTISING!!! My AMIGA had reached the end of its development years ago BUT it can still do things I take for granted that I CAN'T DO on current HW and OSs - From ONE floppy I can generate two other ~drives~ RAD: and RAM:. RAD: is unbelievably useful for my project testing; THE AMIGA CAN ALSO REBOOT FROM THIS RAD: as it is NON-volatile on softboots, to leave the floppy drive free for any app's to be run. RAM: is a volatile temporary store. This to me is still staggering as there is nothing that comes close to this facility. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------- Next magazine issue I will RANT further about Hardware issues that wind me up, keyboard, mouse, bootup-times and others... ============================================================================ Contact:- --------- Mr Barry Walker, G0LCU. Email:- URL:- Author of the ~TestGear?~ projects in the ~hard/hack~ drawer of AMINET. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------- A very useful HardWare related site, (C) Anthony Hoffman, for modifications, schematics, repairs and the like is:- ============================================================================

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