Subject: On Creation and Evolution
These last two accounts are interesting, in that they claim to be academically enlightened practitioners of the scientific method - and they seem to enjoy nothing more than arguing with inferior fundamentalist intellects in 200 character at-a-time exchanges.
I guess I must not be that smart. I don't find it at all enjoyable arguing with fundamentalist zealots who argue in circular logic, can't be reasoned with and resort to ad-hominems immediately as their arguments slowly erode - which is why I've decided to blog a response to them rather than to continue to engage these two directly on Twitter. Arguing with those who refuse to argue in good faith is futility unless you're enjoying simply trolling your opposition.
For three days these accounts have responded dutifully to every post that challenges their orthodoxy - which is that the random chance of the universe is responsible for all of creation everywhere, including the rise of sentient intelligence that can contemplate creation on Earth. Any disagreement with that position is ignorant blasphemy and must be attacked and exposed for the affront to the Temple of Science that it is. If these two really believe in the futility of their arguments against Doug and I, yet they continue to argue, one must conclude they are either not smart enough to recognize the futility of their efforts, or they're trolls. Either way, they really exclude themselves from being taken seriously.
This conversation stems from an observation by Doug that science has never found "the missing link."
Now, of course we've heard all the usual counter-arguments, "there never really WAS a missing link, that was just a layman's invention," from Creationist and Innominate.
No. That argument is a post-hoc adjustment to the hypothesis that a missing link fossil would surely be discovered. It came about when decade after decade, it did not materialize. The TEMPLE of Science does this a lot. They make post-hoc adjustments when their predictions didn't pan out and claim the adjustment was always what they claimed.
Let's not confuse the TEMPLE of Science with actual science. The Temple of Science practices Doctrines and Dogmas of an Orthodoxy of SETTLED Science and attacks anyone who dares step out of line with the teachings of their church. If they could, the High Priests of the Temple of Science, Pope Dawkins, and his clergy of Bill Nye, Neil Tyson Degrasse, Stephen Hawking (May Oblivion be his Pascal's Wager,) and other celebrity "Scientists" would surely revel in holding inquisition style torture of the heathen masses who reject the doctrines of the Church of Science.
The thing about the members of the Church of Science is that they're dogmatic and evangelic and at root, fanatic fundamentalists. Science isn't science for them. It is religion. They could justify killing for their faith, if they believed it was threatened by the forces of the non-believers.
There is also almost always a partisan political agenda and ideology driving members of the Church of Science. Not always - but so frequently it can almost always safely be assumed so. There is something they identify as an even more core level than their membership in the Church of Science - and that is the Cult of the Left.
My position in this argument is that there are three possibilities:
Humanity was created by divine, metaphysical creation in whole.
Humanity was created by cosmic accident.
Humanity was created when cosmic accident gave rise to life, and some other intelligence came and modified it to give it the spark of sentience, reason and self-awareness.
I don't actually have a position on which one is right, because none of them have conclusive evidence in my opinion - or even a reasonable amount of evidence to indicate that one is more likely than the others.
The same people who would quote Sagan that we require extraordinary evidence to establish proof of extraterrestrial intelligence:
- and they mean, "show me an alien or a UFO, and it better be something that is verifiable not a hoax,"
...think that the claim that sentient life occurred by the random throw of a universal die is fine, that no additional evidence is necessary, and if you question this at all, you're "irrational."
The problem is, they're so locked into the binary nature of their doctrine, they can only see it from the perspective of a fanatic fundamentalist. It is either wrong or right, and they cannot be wrong - so all their evidence is circular. Everything confirms their dogmatic belief, and anything that challenges it is dismissed, violently.
The modern theory of plate tetonics did not emerge until the 1950s through 1970s. I know because when I was 5 I asked my teacher if all the continents locked together and she told me,
"Of course not dear. They look like they would have, don't they, but they're too big to move like that."
Now - she was a Kindergarten teacher, not a geologist - but the concept of continental drift had first been proposed in 1912 by Alfred Wegener - and many, perhaps most, mainstream scientists of the day thought he was an irrational crackpot. It was well into the 70's before the idea of continental drift and Pangaea became mainstream well-known and accepted scientific hypotheses.
Likewise, in my lifetime, paleontologist Robert T. Bakker faced withering criticism in his field for proposing that some dinosaurs were endothermic. Bakker is an interesting figure because not only is he a scientist, but he is also a Pentecostal Ecumenical Christian minister.
Who believes in evolution.
Meanwhile, Creationist Misconceptions and The Innominate One argue with straw-men and ad hominem attacks on Twitter, 200 characters at a time, all day long - that the science they accept is settled. New Atheists of the Dawkins model are such jerks even the Left doesn't really like them. They somehow expect to be taken seriously by anyone outside of their own insular little cult of groupthink.
The nature of their argument belies how little they understand the actual philosophy of the discussion on the table. For example, Creationist Misconceptions asks,
"perhaps you can address the telomere to telomere fusion on human chromosome 2. Doug refuses to even acknowledge the question."
Doug's argument is metaphysical. His world allows for an all-powerful God who can alter the physics of the universe at any time on a whim, transparently, without any living soul being even the slightest bit aware that the rules have changed. If Doug is right - then the question literally doesn't matter. It is a distraction, put here to mislead. For what reason? The amusement of God? I don't know. It doesn't matter. There is a philosophical possibility that Doug's argument is correct - and wagering against Pascal's Wager is a fool's bet. To win, you have to lose and not even know it. You don't have to be a scientist, or philosopher, or particularly smart to see there is only one bet in Pascal's Wager that has any payoff if you win, and there is no cost if you lose. So, why would people like Creationist Misconceptions and Innominate One put their money on the wager where if you win you get nothing and won't ever even have the pleasure of knowing you won? That doesn't seem very smart to me for rational people to do.
My argument is that it is possible that apes evolved, and then were intelligently engineered into humanity, I believe there is evidence that supports this claim, in many ancient traditions and archaeological sites that exist today - in the echos and shades of forgotten segments of humanity's history that dispute the conventional wisdom of the scientific community about the rise of mankind. Folks like Misconceptions and Innominate refuse to even acknowledge this data much the same way they claim Doug refuses to acknowledge their "questions" about genetic features they believe link humanity to primates. The evidence I believe in is as controversial now as evidence for continental drift and plate tectonics or warm-blooded dinosaurs may have been in the past, as much at odds with the conventional wisdom and consensus of the mainstream scientific community. But the reason I used those examples is because they're evidence that this happens, time and time again, in the scientific community. It decides something is "settled," and acts dogmatically and derisively towards people who refuse to accept that - only to discover later that it had things completely wrong. Evidence that this has happened in the past is evidence that it is likely to be happening right now, and likely to happen in the future, on things we're certain we have right in the moment. This hubris is the great weakness of the scientific method - and it is well documented to be just that by peer-reviewed scientific research.
If I am right, then certainly we would share basic genetic code, perhaps most of it, with lesser creatures. It would, in fact work a lot like any object oriented language - where there were master-classes that define reusable objects that can be put together to create related, but uniquely different end-results. The example that Intelligent Design employs isn't strictly creation or evolution, but a combination of the two.
The interesting thing is how the Evolutionists want to have their cake and eat it, too.
They dismiss evidence supporting creationism, either metaphysical or by Intelligent Design - by claiming that there is an absence of evidence.
Yet where they have no evidence (the lack of a definite evolutionary missing link between proto-human and modern human,) they claim that isn't important - that the idea is more of a "concept" to help ignorant laymen imagine the evolutionary process that took place to turn monkeys into beings that create rocket ships and space stations.
Makes perfect sense, doesn't it?
The absence of evidence for a phenomenon (the evolution of apes into humans,) is no reason to posit that it must be true, then, certainly?
In a nut-shell, with a lack of strong supporting evidence, you can neither accept or dismiss an idea. The disagreement between Creationists, Evolutionists, and Intelligent Design Theorists comes down to the idea that none of the sides can really agree on the "evidence" of the other side, and when one side sees a "lack" of evidence, the side that applies to think that lack of evidence is trivial and easy to dismiss. Inevitably.
Ultimately, the arguments of Evolutionary Evangelicals are faulty - but to a depth that can't be accurately addressed on Twitter in 200 character exchanges at a time. So, I'm posting this once, and then not wasting any more time with these trolls. They are the ones actually engaging in pseudo-science and quackery.
Subject: When The Challenge Is More Than Half The Fun - Macintosh Edition
|Click Any Image To View Full Size|
I had never verbalized it that way - but I understood there was a basic honesty in his assessment. I like "winning" against technology. I frequently see it as a battle. The machine doesn't want to do what I want it to do and tries to make it as difficult as possible - but at the end, when you've forced the machine to bend the knee and swear its fealty to you - that is a great feeling.
I've been on a big retro-gaming kick - and it started when my wife was in the middle of a remodel of our home that had all my retro-gaming equipment boxed in storage. My study was unaffected and in that room I had an old Mac PowerPC 8500/180 hooked up. My motivation at the time was to finally finish the game of Ultima 3 I had started in 1986 when I bought my first Commodore 128. Doing research indicated that the best version of the game today is a $5 reboot of the game by Lairware. I had copies for emulators on Amiga, Atari ST and Commodore 64, and I have those emulators set up - but something about playing the game on real hardware from 1995 seemed more authentic. So I ponied up my five bucks and downloaded the full version.
Here is my confession - there was a "game hack" on the C-64/128. If you lost a character in battle, or your entire party, if you just rebooted - it didn't update your characters. You would lose all experience and treasure since your last save - but your party would be alive. Unfortunately, if your party was onboard a ship and it was sucked in by the whirlpool that travels the oceans in the game - the text that described the event made it seem as if your entire party had died. Every time this happened, I'd pull the disk out and reboot.
But going down that whirlpool is key to finishing the game. You don't die, you go to a secret continent where you visit temples and gain attributes. I didn't find that out until years later - and then decades later still, I decided to sit down at a 25 year old Mac and finish what I had started.
The Lairware version is gorgeous, by the way, and I became every bit as immersed in Ultima III as I was with Skyrim on my Xbone.
|Ultima 3 for Mac by Lairware|
And then I completed the game, and realized that I'm running out of classic Macs. They're all slowly dying on me - and my finished copy of Ultima 3 with a 42nd level character is now stranded on this old machine with numbered days. It wasn't keeping me awake at night, but it was a vague concern.
|MiSTer FPGA Platform|
FPGA stands for "Field Programmable Gate Array." Basically there is an array of "gates" and they can be programmed to physically re-create a wide variety of circuits. In practical terms this means that your FPGA device physically becomes a C-64, or Amiga, or Atari ST, or NES.
|MiSTer Core Selection Menu|
Or a classic Macintosh.
One of my surviving Macs is an old Mac Classic that only boots intermittently and requires me to play around with the debugging buttons on the side to get it to finally work. It is getting to a point beyond my ability to repair or maintain - and I'm going to have to find a good home for it with someone more skilled with electronics than I am. But I keep old Macs around because there are a couple games from my youth on the original Macintosh that entertain me. One is a simple game called Glider. Your job is to guide a paper airplane through rooms avoiding obstacles and riding air currents.
|A Mac Classic II, actually.|
The programmable routines that define what kind of machine the MiSTer configures itself as are called "cores." I knew that the MiSTer supported a Mac 128 core that could be configured up to 4mb of memory (making if effectively a Macintosh Plus).
|Mac Classic FPGA simulation on MiSTer|
I installed the Macintosh Core for MiSTer and began my journey down the rabbit-hole of Classic Macintosh preservation.
Classic Macs had a funky file system that broke files into data and resource forks. I'm not going to go into great technical detail - but it has always made dealing with Mac files a pain in the ass. If you're not careful - moving files between a PC file system and back to a Mac can make them useless on the Mac. In order to store and transfer files outside of the Mac world - Apple came up with all kinds of compression and archival solutions. Disks were changed into .sit.bin files, to .image files, to .img files, and to .dsk files. These files could be moved around and written back to physical media - but things get a little challenging when you're trying to feed that data into an emulator or MiSTer core - that doesn't actually have physical floppies. Like other platforms, Amiga, Commodore and Atari - the old floppy media can be made into disk images - but it isn't as straight forward as on those other platforms. MiSTer's Mac Plus core requires a disk image that is exactly 400k or 800k.
I had a lot of trouble tracking those down. Links are expired, people who were active in the Mac Classic restoration/preservation community have moved on, and Apple has less and less interest in providing any support for Macs that came out between 1984-1995. When I found a set of the right Mac System disks (System 6.0.8), they were actually on .image files designed to be written to physical media and were 816k in size. The MiSTer emulator would not recognize them.
That led me to install a Mac Plus emulator Mini vMac, on my PC.
|Mac Classic Simulation on MiSTer|
From there I was able to mount the System 6.0.8 floppies, then copy the contents onto a virtual hard drive I created on Mini vMac. There are virtual blank 800k floppies available for Mini vMac. I mounted those, then copied the folders back from the hard drive onto the floppy media. Once that was done, I transfered those 800k floppies back to the Mac core directory on the MiSTer. I was then able to boot the MiSTer as a Mac with the included boot disk and mount the included hard drive, then install OS 6.0.8 on that drive and make it bootable. I followed a similar process to move the files, like Glider - from Mini vMac on the PC to the MiSTer core. It was a lot of work - but by the end of it - it was as much about "winning" as it was about having the Mac Plus on MiSTER, anymore. The challenge of figuring out how to bend these machines to my will and make them do what was far more difficult than it needed to be was my motivation.
|RetroPie Splash Screen|
|RetroPie Macintosh Emulation Selection Menu|
But it didn't stop there. In for a penny, in for a pound, I decided to set up Mini vMac for my RetroPie. After doing that, I decided to look into Basilisk II, a more powerful emulator that emulates 68000 based classic Macs, but includes support for the later, more powerful color Macs that came after the original Mac 128, 512 and Plus. The link above will lead you to all the files you need to get started, and an easy to follow walk-through. In no time at all I had a real color Macintosh running in emulation on my i7 Surface Pro 5. It is arguably easier to get programs installed on Basilisk II. There are more disk images out there, there are a number of ways to get them into the running emulator, and it is all well documented. But I didn't want to just download and install titles on this particular Mac - I wanted to move over the copies I already had installed on my physical PowerPC 8500. I wanted to move my full, licensed copy of Ultima III and Links Pro from the 8500 to the emulated system.
|Basilisk II on Windows 10|
Which would be easy - except that my Windows is a 64 bit OS - and Basilisk II is itself far out of date and only has driver support for CD and network on 32 bit systems.
|G4 Quicksilver PPC|
My solution was to pull of my Mac G4, running OS X 10.4.11, the last universal (PPC and Intel) version of OS X ever. It is itself a dinosaur - but the newest Mac I own since my core-2-duo Mac Mini bit the dust. Seriously, as I was struggling with this, I considered just picking up a refurbished Intel core Mac Mini. They're available for $100 - and would have solved a lot of the headaches. Although it took me a while, I figured out how to get all the machines to do what I wanted.
|The Modern Mac Mini died a decade before any of the classic Macs 20 years older than it.|
The first problem I encountered is that while I can map from the Mac to my Synology NAS and Windows machines via Windows SMB file sharing, none of my Windows machines can map the shares on the Mac anymore. This is something I see. Old versions of SAMBA do not support the right encryption methods for passwords and so verification fails. The PPC 8500 sees the G4 fine, and an old Debian core-duo I have that still runs the Compiz Cube was able to map the shares too - just my modern Windows machines refused.
|G4 Quick Silver Desktop|
The way I was first approaching it, I was copying the entire folder from the 8500 to the G4, then from the G4 to the Synology NAS. I was using a utility called HFVExplorer.exe - that can mount a hard-disk image file and allow you to drag and drop files from your PC into the hard drive image file. This works fine if you're copying .image or compressed archive (.sit, .sit.bin, or .zip files) from your PC to the Mac hard drive image. In this case I was copying the files and folders from the 8500 to the G4, then from the G4 to the Synology. I tried zipping them up on the Synology before using HFVExplorer - but the minute the files were copied onto a non Mac FS, the resource fork was lost, and when I uncompressed them in Basilisk II they were no longer recognized as Macintosh binary executables. By this point I had been working on the Mac issues an entire day and it was late and I was getting tired and making sloppy mistakes, so I called it a night.
|HPVExplorer with the Sysem 7.5.3 Hard Disk Image Open|
As I was drifting off the sleep I realized that I was approaching it wrong. What I needed to do was to archive the files and folders on a Mac. This morning, I tried using DropStuff 10 to create .sit archives of the folders I wanted to transfer to Basilisk II. I coped those .sit files to the Synology NAS, then used HFVExplorer to move them onto the hard disk image. I booted Basilisk II, and dropped the SIT files on my installed copy of Stuffit Expander - and it promptly failed. Stuffit Expander 5.5 can't read archives compressed with DropStuff 10. I ran out of time and had to leave for work.
On the drive there I realized that I needed to use Dropstuff 5.5 on the PPC 8500, copy that archive to the G4, then to the Synology, then use HFVExplorer to move that .sit archive onto the hard drive image, then boot Basilisk II and use Stuffit Expander 5.5 to uncompress the folders.
After work, I came home, went through these steps, and it worked perfectly. It sounds like more work than it is. If I simply had a modern Intel based Mac - I'd be able to map a share from my Windows machine to the Mac, then use HFVExplorer to copy the folder, uncompressed, from the Mac, into the Mac hard disk image directly - bypassing all of these other hoops I'm jumping through to avoid spending $100 on a Mac Mini. But the point is to avoid buying new hardware. My goal is to prepare myself to have access to the games and data from my old systems on new hardware as those old systems die. So the G4 and the PPC 8500 make a perfect bridge to get the data I want from them onto emulators and FPGA based machines so that I can slowly phase out the actual physical machines to be replaced by emulators and FPGA simulation. The key to setting up an "alternative" Macintosh platform in this case, regardless of if you use FPGA simulation or software emulation - is to have emulation set up on your PC at least - and if possible to have classic Macs available, 680x0 and PPC ideally.
So, which is better, emulation or FPGA? You'll get a lot of opinions on that and people tend to favor one or the other. My opinion is a little more complex. I plan on getting into that deeper in future blogs - but both FPGA and Emulation have advantages and disadvantages, things that are made easier and more difficult by the different approaches they take to delivering old computing experiences on modern hardware. I'm not a Mac guru, but the challenges with setting up a Classic Mac in either FPGA or emulation are not trivial, and having a decent familiarity with both Mac OS Classic and OS X is helpful, and knowing a bit of Linux and Unix won't hurt either. With that said, it isn't impossible to do, and the process is pretty well documented at the links I included above. Honestly, unless you have a particular nostalgia or fondness for the Mac platform - there isn't a whole lot here that isn't available on other, easier to emulate platforms, most likely done better. Other than a handful of unique and quirky games, the Macintosh has never been a dominant platform with gamers. But if you are interested, it isn't all that difficult to get set up.
If you have any questions, let me know and I'll be glad to help if I can.
Subject: Retro Gaming Emulation and Android, Why it Sucks, and Why it Shouldn't Have To
So, recently we've been watching Cheers, the early 80's Ted Danson sitcom about an alcoholic former baseball star turned into Boston bartender. Whenever I watch this show, I get an irresistible urge to bust out my Atari 5200 and play some old-school home video games circa 1982-83.
My wife recently did a home remodel, and so all my retro-gaming goodness is boxed up and put away until we can find custom display cabinets that satisfy my need to have multiple consoles hooked up to old school TVs and my wife's need to have our entertainment room free of a bunch of 80s woodgrain TV sets disrupting our open-concept floorplan.
To that end, I started working on a master-plan to turn one of my many spare systems into an emu-gaming console. I already have a soft-modded original Xbox in my warehoused collection of old-school gaming gear.
I looked at Raspberry Pi and RetroPie - and while I find the idea cool - spending another $100 to build an ARM core system as *another* Emulator box seems like a bad use of resources. I have all kinds of old Android devices lying around - and they're *basically* the same hardware as a Raspberry Pi, right? So my plan was to re-purpose one of the 2012 Nexus 7 16GB units I own. I really loved my Nexus 7 tablets in the day - and I would love to find a use for them. Unfortunately, there are some real execution obstacles on Android that make the dream far more accessible than the reality.
While emulation and mapping to different keyboard layouts (like the Commodore 64) or different D-pad or joystick configurations on a PC can be a challenge - it is absolutely infuriating on Android devices.
Game Stop Red Samurai and the 8-Bitty. As you'll see from those links - the main problem with these devices is limited support. Both the 8_bitty and the Red Samurai have a little switch that toggles between "keyboard" and "gamepad" on them. This kind of duality seems to confuse development by giving programmers a couple of different choices on how their application is going to see and interact with the interface. I think it was originally intended to make it easy to make an app the most widely supportable by an I/O device - but in the long run, I think it just causes a lot of confusion and poorly interfaced I/O solutions.
This is a lot of words so far to basically get to the point that for a number of reasons - getting your emulator to work with a d-pad and keypad is difficult in the best case, and terrible in most examples on Android in particular.
The 8bitdo is an awesome little bluetooth 8-direction d-pad controller with 4 "action" buttons (XYAB), two center buttons (think Start and Select), and two shoulder buttons. The problem with the Red Samurai and 8-Bitty was both were "full console-sized" d-pads. Not easy to put in a pocket and take with you. The 8bitdo is this perfect balance of being small enough to be pocketable but not too small to be comfortable to play on. There are some very fancy models, but I just bought the basic "Zero" model. It also dispenses with the choice between a Keyboard or a Gamepad mode.
Here is the thing - for NES emulators, the 8bitdo works almost universally. You may need to enter settings and assign the buttons and directions - but everything is assignable in the way you would expect and want it to be. What I mean by this is that you can go through and assign the d-pad directions to Up, Right, Down and Left to the D-pad. You can assign the buttons to their corresponding positions on a NES, SNES, Gameboy, DS. You can assign the center buttons to Select and Start. At the end of it, things will work just like your muscle memory remembers the controller working on the real hardware - making the game experience awesome.
And if NES was the primary retro-gaming platform I was interested in, that might be enough for me. Honestly - if you're trying to recreate every Nintendo platform from the NES to modern DS portables - the 8bitdo and your Android tablet or phone are a hard-to-beat combination.
But that is what makes all other emulation applications on Android so frustrating. I've tried multiple different solutions. I've used the Nexus 7 with an OTG USB cable, a hub, and a Logitech Unifying Receiver keyboard. I've used my Galaxy Edge 7 with this foldable bluetooth keyboard. I've used the 8bitdo, the Red Samurai, and a Logitech F310. Everything kind of works in some cases for some things, and fails horribly in deal-breaking ways in others on Android devices.
To that end, I've tried multiple different application solutions. I've used Retroarch, I've used ViceC64 and Frodo C64 I've used Hataroid and UAE4ARM and Kat 5200 and Colleen.
And ultimately what I discovered was that for my portable emulation needs - an ASUS Vivotab Note 8 with Windows 10 was far less hassle than any Android based machine, apples to apples. Paths are easier to navigate, set up and configure, controllers and keyboards work better, and copying files around is easier on a Windows 10 device. Ultimately, the emulators available for Windows are more mature, robust and reliable.
Ultimately the problem came down to controlling and keyboard mapping in almost every case.
I don't logically understand this - because the joystick mapping in every Nintendo emulator I have for Android is flawless. But... if there is a PC version and an Android version of an emulator, say, Vice64 or WinUAE vs. UAE4ARM - the Windows I/O mapping works fine and the Android version is unlikely to.
I've tried to make excuses for this in my mind - blaming Android and Google, blaming the non-standardization of the I/O devices for Android, and blaming the developers. The truth is probably that it is a combination of all 3 of these things. But the bottom line is - if you're planning on re-purposing that older Android device as an emulator platform - you're probably better off to buy a Retropie Raspberry Pi package or to use an inexpensive ATOM based Windows 10 tablet.
You can do it, if you're patient, and flexible, and you really want to out of either being stubborn or a masochist. With the BT foldable keyboard and the 8Bitdo Zero and my Samsung Edge 7, I brag that I own the world's most portable SX64 - and it is true. But the fact that I can play Ultima 3 fine on ViceC64 but I can't get the 8Bitdo and the keyboard to get along so I can play Gateway to Apshai is infuriating - especially when these problems just don't exist on the Windows platform. It also drives me nuts that I run into problems on almost every emulation platform on Android that isn't a NES property - and all the NES properties run without a hitch. I'd like to challenge my generation - we're the 1st generation that invented hacking, cracking and phreaking. Every cracked C-64 ROM image you download, some trailblazing geek code-warrior cartel was responsible for. They stripped the copy protection, made the intro demo, and distributed it across the country by black box from BBS to BBS.
So, why are the Nintendo kids (our little brothers, sisters, nephews and nieces,) making better emulators for Android than the emulators for our generation of machines? How come all the NES emulators are better than the Commodore and Atari 8 and 16 bit emulators? It isn't that we can't do it - because the Windows versions are all excellent. It is that we're *not* doing it for Android.
The thing that remains elusive to me is - how is this all working on Retropie on a Raspberry. That is an ARM platform, with a Debian based Linux variant running IA32/34 based emulator ports on it.
It may just be that if you're *serious* about this - *that* is the way to go. But I don't know if I want to spend a Benjamin to build an entire other machine to test it out when I've got the above-mentioned ASUS Vivotab Note 8 which was just lying around doing nuthin' - and it works just great in this capacity. In the meantime, if any of you retrogamers out there are interested in a couple of old Nexus 7 2012 laptops, one with 3G - drop me a line. Maybe you can flash them with a new ROM, even Debian, and make them live up to their full potential.
Addendum: 1/21/2019. Over the next 90 days, with a crash course re-acquainting myself with emulation on Android and Windows 10, RetroPie on Raspberry Pie, FPGA systems, and modern hardware solutions on original 8 bit hardware - I've been mostly successful at doing everything I wanted to do on Android with emulation. It isn't the best platform for emulation, and the Nexus 7 in particular has some hardware performance challenges that a newer system (like a Nvida Shield TV) would resolve. I suspect that the Nvidia Shield TV is actually the easiest way for the casual user to get a full suite of 8 and 16 bit emulators running on their television. My goal headed into this was really to complete Ultima III, which I had gotten close to back in 1985 but never finished. By the end of it, I had finished Ultima I, II and III, as well as the NES title Dragon Warrior, all on my Samsung S7 Edge with a keyboard, the 8bitdo controller, and a BT mouse. The trick is, while you can do it software free as in free beer free on Windows - ultimately on Android I had to pay for the commercial versions of a couple of emulators. It wasn't just that to be ad-free. The paid emulators are superior for Android. In future blogs I plan on discussing this in more detail as well as my choice for a modern FPGA based solution to read Commodore disk image files using an original Commodore 128 computer and how I ended up with two RetroPie boxes, why I love them - but why they frustrate me. I've also ended up rebuilding a bunch of old Slik Stik joysticks, ended up buying the more expensive 8bitdo F30 bluetooth D-pad, and I'm waiting for a Collectorvision Phoenix FPGA Colecovision console pre-order to arrive, along with an Amiga 500 style Raspberry Pie case. I plan on writing some HowTo: docs for setting up emulators on Android and RetroPie, as well as reviewing some of the products I've purchased recently and the vendors I bought them from. Of course, I've got to fit all this in between reliving my 8-bit glory days - which is why this article is 90 days late.
Subject: SJWs Define their Fandom by Personal Identity - Not by Love for the Franchise
In it, a 6' tall plus TG with shoulders like a linebacker threatens women and a cowering little clerk behind the counter with violence repeatedly because "she" feels "she" was "misgendered" by patrons and staff.
Listen - whatever floats your boat. I have no problem with the fact that this individual wants to be referred to as a female. But the reason that the individual is so hostile and aggressive is because "she" has too much testosterone in her system - because she isn't a biological woman. She is a man. No matter what she believes in her head, her body chemistry is male. Which is why she is 6' tall with a receding hairline, a 42 double A bra-size, and shoulders like a lumberjack. I think it is safe to assume, all other things being clearly true, that she probably also still has a penis. Instead of expecting the rest of the world to play along with her reality distortion field - maybe what she needs to do is to learn to ignore when people assume the obvious and call her "Sir" instead of "ma'am." She needs to accept that on "transparently becoming the woman she feels like inside the body she is trapped in," she isn't doing a very good job at it from an outside perspective. Even if she were a biological woman, looking as she does, she would probably be confused with a man frequently.
That all being the case, acting out violently when someone else doesn't want to play along with her mental health issues is unacceptable. It isn't intolerance that people in the store have misgendered this individual - it is dangerous pacification of a serious mental health issue with someone who poses a physical threat to the general public - to allow them to think that acting this way in public is ever appropriate. The only way she gets away with it is because she is so much bigger than everyone else that she can bully everyone around her. Acting out like this isn't helping her cause.
|Like a Snarky Tyler Durden with a yamika.|
Shortly thereafter I saw a picture of some Retrogamers and they just had that look of urban white Millennials. Beards and retro print shirts and knit scarves... two men and a woman. I may be wrong. I am totally judging the people in this photo by superficial appearances with absolutely no evidence.
But, the judgment is based on previous experiences.
Since the politically correct social justice movement has caught steam, I keep encountering this in online groups and communities. It doesn't matter what group.
Comics and other escapist fantasy groups.
Gaming groups, both video and FRP.
Pretty much anything related to what would traditionally and broadly be called "nerd culture" has seen an influx of radical Cultural Marxist oriented Social Justice Warriors.
The irony is that they tend to show up on the scene and claim to want to be a mechanism of inclusion. Ask them about it, and they'll tell you that they want to put an end to gatekeeping in nerd culture, that they want to see a more diverse, inclusive community in comics, fantasy, cinema and gaming genres that have traditionally catered to white and Asian male nerds.
Their method of achieving this is almost universally by driving white and Asian male nerds out of the community if they will not accept being shamed into second class citizens in the cultures they've created and nurtured for the last 50+ years.
I see it in the AD&D and other FRP groups. I see it in the way that the mainstream media, film and comic industry attacks the Starwars fandom and Comicsgate community. Although it has been shot down repeatedly when seen in classic Retro Gaming groups, it still shows up there and runs the same plays from the same playbook. It is predictable - and frequently seems most driven by militant and radical LGBT+ agenda. I'm not sure why this is true, but it is. Most militant SJW activism seems to be a front for militant LGBT+ activism.
The more obscure and older the demographics of a nerd community, the safer it is. GammaWorld communities seem fairly immune from this trend so far - Advanced Dungeons and Dragons communities, as the most mainstream FRP in the world with a much younger audience, are infested with it.
And the thing is - in general I don't care if you want to include gender fluid elves in D&D and I don't care if there is a gay individual in Star Wars. But the whole premise that the white male patriarchy in nerd culture is the problem is patently false. The idea that we're threatened by having our dominance eroded and therefore clinging onto these old ideals that exclude diversity are a lie.
The difference is a simple one.
I have no problem with a nerd who is into retro-gaming or fantasy role playing games or comics or super heroes or any other aspect of nerd culture as their primary defining identity FIRST and who is concerned about social justice issues as a secondary aspect that further defines who they are.
But what I encounter - what we see in the video linked at the top - is people who insist that this unnecessary and unrelated quality of their personal identity be acknowledged as a primary characteristic as a member of the geek communities they want to identify with.
All of this while claiming that they are being oppressed and excluded because of that personal identity from a group where that identity is irrelevant.
These people are not involved in ComicCons and gaming and retro-communities because of a primary love of those things. Star Wars and Commodore 64, Conan The Barbarian and Doctor Who are not their real passion that brings them into the communities that exist to celebrate these escapist traditions.
They aren't content to be acknowledged as a fan of Star Wars or Anime or Comics or Gaming. They have to be acknowledged as an LGBT fan, or a female fan, or a minority fan. The division by IDENTITY arises not from the community excluding them, but by their instance that their fandom be defined by their personal identity first.
If you want to be accepted as a gamer, or a comics fan, or a retrocomputing enthusiast, stop calling yourself a GAY gamer, a female retrocomputing enthusiast, a black comics fan. Just be a fan. We're all just fans, until you start adding something in front of YOUR fandom that identifies you as different than me because of skin color or genitalia or sexual identity or preference. I didn't do that. You did.
Oh, and if a white guy who has been a fan in these communities forever says this to you, don't tell him it is his white male privilege that allows him to think it is OK to say this in public.
An Athiest, a Vegan and a Social Justice Warrior walk into a ComicsCon. How do I know?
Their goal is to be militant political activists disrupting these communities to change the focus from the love of the thing to a platform for Social Justice agendas and Cultural Marxism. Their goal isn't to create more unity and inclusion and tolerance. It is to create division - to generate hostility and to create a class of oppressors and victims - and then justify treating the oppressors exactly how they claim the victims have been treated.
And then when those identified as the oppressors raise their hands and politely say, "Wait... I think you've got us wrong, and worse yet - I think you're treating US exactly the way you say you don't want to be treated..."
They shout those voices down and call them the voices of homophobia, racism, misogyny and xenophobia - with the fanatical mob mentality of a group of Puritans on a witch-hunt.
|This just for saying I wasn't a fan of Into the Spiderverse?|
The hypocrisy of this is that transparent and mind boggling.
For me, one of the most annoying parts of this experience is that these are often in communities I've been a part of since I was a kid. 40 years of group membership and experience. I've got comics that have a $.15 cover price that I bought from the 7-11 with my allowance money when I was 6. I saw Star Wars in lines that wrapped around the theater in the summer heat of 1977. I played Atari 2600 games on brand new heavy-sixers and watched the world go from Pong to Fallout in Virtual Reality, there for every step of the way.
The people lecturing me and telling me how I don't belong frequently seem to be people who just "dig" the aesthetics of 8 bit Retro gaming or who set up their dad's old NES and fell in love with it. They're very passionate about whatever they've discovered and like all nerds, they've become compulsively obsessed with whatever they've identified as the core of their fandom and they've studied it to where they frequently DO know more pedantic details about it that they've studied and read up on than I have. But what they don't get is that reading about it and getting a historical view of it and knowing every obscure detail is not the same, and never will be the same, as actually being there.
Ultimately, that is the conclusion of this entire article. No matter what you think - if you are a Millennial Social Justice Warrior trying to disrupt nerd culture to drive out the white (and Asian) male patriarchy because of your professed claim of love for the franchise or experience - you'll never experience it like I did. First hand, brand new, when it happened. No matter how you destroy the franchises of Star Wars or Dcotor Who or The Masters of the Universe or any other geek community, no matter how you try to rewrite history - you can't. You can't have the original experience, and you can't change it, and you can't make it go away. The fact that it happened and the way it happened are immutable.
So the heritage of comics, of golden age books by Kirby where men had square jaws and women had large breasts and impractical outfits is mine. Dungeons and Dragons is mine. The gamut of Japanese fiction from Speed Racer and Ultra-man forward is mine. Their history, their first hand experience, being part of something deeply counter-culture and outside of the mainstream... like Heavy Metal Magazine - is mine.
You're just a guest, just a tourist, someone who arrived after it had been bought out by soulless giant global corporations and turned into a family friendly theme park property.
|You'll never experience REAL Las Vegas|
Ultimately - you're the actual problem, the real problem - all of the things you believe you are fighting against, not me. So you don't even have the moral high ground. Like online trolls, you don't join communities to be part of them. You join them to destroy them, because you aren't happy with yourself, and you are only ever really happy when everyone else is as miserable and isolated and lonely as you are.
Subject: In defense of Robbi Rodriguiz
I have only seen censored versions of these pictures, and have not tried to dig deeper (no pun intended) to see the uncensored versions - but my understanding is that the images contain pictures of Robbi Rodriguiz's nude, hairy taint and possibly his anus.
The accusations that have resulted have frankly, been blown out of proportion. Robbi has been accused of tweeting unwanted gay porn, of sexual harassment, and the images have been called "bizarre, unsolicited graphic images."
I'm not sure I disagree with this last description - but ultimately I feel like people in Comicsgate are intentionally distorting and exaggerating the intent of the tweeted image. I believe there is a reason for this, which I'll get to in a minute. I think the images were crass, unprofessional, gross, offensive, adolescent and sophomoric. I think the behavior was unacceptable. But I think calling them unsolicited gay porn or sexual harassment crosses a line.
I think the people doing this are doing so for a specific reason. They're the same people who might get called "pro-rape" while being perceived as "explaining away," a similar situation where the victim was a woman or LGBT. I think they're adopting a "fight fire with fire" approach, and I think the Identity Politic activists deserve this kind of retribution. They use the same technique against their political opponents all the time, stretching the boundaries and definitions of what is "inappropriate and unwanted sexual attention," to try and shame people they disagree with politically, and claiming that anyone who doesn't agree is promoting and advocating sexual harassment and abuse. When the #MeToo movement broke out, we saw this happen time and time again. This is the problem I keep describing with the dirty tactics the Left uses in cases like this. Once you set the bar low, there is nothing preventing your opposition from using it back against you if you make a mistake that can be twisted out of context, and you almost certainly will, some of you, anyhow - whoever you are, whichever side you're on.
The danger is that by adopting this same technique, the ComicsGate movement normalizes this behavior and makes it "just how the game is played". That we assist in moving the bar on the definition of sexual assault in a way that many, maybe most of us, don't agree with. Diminishing the definition in a way that disrespects actual victims of real sexual harassment. The Political ID Left likes to weaponize issues that are hard for the accused to defend themselves against without sounding like exactly that the Political ID Left accuses them of being. They don't support victims, they manipulate them for their own political agendas. We see it every time the Left claims to be pro-LGBT and then implies that there is something unmanly and homoerotic about Donald Trump and Putin. We see it when they hire a Chinese journalist with terribly racist tweets and then ban a black journalist from Twitter for retweeting those same tweets, replacing the target ethnicity (whites), with a minority ethnicity (Jewish). They're not on the side of diversity and inclusion. They manipulate these things like pawns to achieve their political goals - and they only support those minorities and sexual preferences when those "victims" are of their political ideology. If it is a minority member who supports their opposition, they attack them in exactly the way they claim the Right is guilty of.
I want ComicsGate to be better than the Far Left at every opportunity. In this case, that means realizing and acknowledging that what Robbi Rodriguez did was disgusting, childish, unacceptable behavior that had nothing to do with sexual harassment and everything to do with trying to be as shockingly juvenile and asinine as possible. It is the dumb shit a Middle School boy does to another Middle School boy he doesn't like. In this sense, the fact that Robbi Rodriguez is an adult male professional working in a high profile industry with a public social media presence and acted like this is potentially more troubling than simple sexual harassment. This isn't just inappropriate sexual behavior it is clinically and chronically arrested development and terribly bad judgement. Maybe Robbi Rodruiguez just needs to stay away from social media after ingesting mind and mood altering substances and get himself into a 12-Step program - or maybe there is a serious mental psychosis on display here that needs professional clinical treatment - but a man his age in his position shouldn't be sending butthole pics to his enemies on Twitter. Really, accusing Robbi Rodriguez of what he is actually guilty of is far more damning of his character and mental stability than accusing him of simple sexual harassment. Adults sexually harass people fully understanding the potential consequences of such behavior. Adolescents send butthole pics to one another without a fully formed adult understanding of the variety of personal consequences that may result. When an adult man acts like an adolescent, shows the reasoning and personal accountability of a high school kid who just does things for the LOLZ - this is an adult we should be very concerned about.
The ComicsGate movement should take the adult, responsible reaction this this and instead of trying to distort it into something it isn't, point out that what it actually is - is probably more troubling still than the thing it could be twisted into. The community should take the high ground and ask what kind of company would employ someone so clearly suffering from delayed maturity and arrested development, someone lacking the basic adult judgement to understand how what he was about to do was a career ending decision of epic stupid proportions. Robbi Rodriguez's shame isn't that he acted like a sexual harasser - it was that he acted like a child who didn't know better - about what any reasonable adult would have seen as a line clearly too far beyond the pale to cross. Rodriguez isn't a predator. He is a child. That is who his side circles their wagons around - adult men who act no better than unreasoning children.
Realizing that my blog is available as an .RSS feed and that I could have it all show up here has been the high point of my day.
Wed Feb 17 2021 15:39:37 MST from ParanoidDelusions
Realizing that my blog is available as an .RSS feed and that I could have it all show up here has been the high point of my day.
I especially enjoyed your take on the whole creationism debate.
I really need to create a separate blog for politics and philosophy and one for Retrogaming - because the first two alienate half the audience for the second one.
But they'll find the Politics and Philosophy blog and it will alienate them anyhow - because they can't share passion for something with someone they disagree with politically.
Thu Feb 18 2021 12:28:56 MST from TheDave
Wed Feb 17 2021 15:39:37 MST from ParanoidDelusions
Realizing that my blog is available as an .RSS feed and that I could have it all show up here has been the high point of my day.
I especially enjoyed your take on the whole creationism debate.
On the other hand, I need to stop *providing* so much content and force you guys to CREATE more content. Maybe the problem is you're so busy *reading* all the stuff I'm providing, you never get around to POSTING conversations. :)
Also - the problem with a site full of people who mostly agree on almost everything is, they don't have anything to argue about. :)
Thu Feb 18 2021 19:40:30 MST from ParanoidDelusions
Also - the problem with a site full of people who mostly agree on almost everything is, they don't have anything to argue about. :)
This is the dilemma of any forum. You need enough new blood to keep conversations going but don't want to overwhelm the old guard with jackasses who haven't yet learned how to think with their brains instead of their social media bubbles.
Subject: Using Web Rendering Proxy to Surf on Retro Computers
Web Rendering Proxy, or WRP offers an interesting solution to this challenge. WRP is a small executable program that you install on a host machine. It is available in Mac, *nix and Windows versions as well as being available for Intel/AMD or ARM architectures. It is executed from the command line and there is no GUI front-end.
It is kind of an illusion. You've got a more powerful, modern computer doing all the actual work - but it is a satisfying way to enable your classic machine to reach more of the modern web. You may be thinking now, "if I have a modern PC doing all the actually surfing, why not just sit at that machine and cut out the middle man?"
|Online BBS displayed via WRP on IBrowse on V4|
You're probably right in many cases. The practical use models for this method are relatively limited - and just surfing that page on the more powerful machine is usually faster, more reliable, and offers features that WRP currently doesn't. But the wow factor of brining up modern pages on your ancient web browser is still pretty cool. Honestly, WRP would make more sense as a web-hosted public server that anyone with a Retro computer could use without needing their own modern PC. Even then, there are limits.
The biggest limitation I've encountered so far is that WRP cannot proxy for file downloads. I'm not sure what happens if you go to a site and click on a file-transfer link - but WRP does not download that file and then transfer it to your retro-browser. That would honestly be the killer application for this concept - allowing people with a classic machine, classic browser, and Internet connection to bypass a lot of jumping through hoops necessary to get software from the modern world into their ancient systems. Unfortunately, it does not work this way.
I tested WRP, both the server and as a client, from several different machines and configurations.
As a server I ran it on an Surface Pro 5 i7, a Pi400, and a Linux Debian Buster i5 NUC.
I accessed it from a V4 and a MiSTer, using AWeb and iBrowse Demo.
In this case, if you are in Coffin and run the versions of iBrowse installed for Coffin the the Programs:internet/ path - iBrowse will not correctly display .png images.
On the other hand, if you navigate to Work:Internet/ - the path where ApollOS has iBrowse installed - launching from there launches a script that requests you unload Zune and load MUI. I'm not sure that doing this does anything in Coffin - but launching iBrowse this way, I was able to view PNG format imagemaps generated by WRP - and they look better and render faster than GIF imagemaps.
I had issues with aWeb being unable to connect, so I focused more on iBrowse. Unfortunately, iBrowse performed consistently better with WRP, resulting in my first time using iBrowse that 15 minute time limit became an issue. This is normally where I'd suggest that if publishers are charging an unreasonable price, that some things aren't theft, they're social protest. Instead, I'll just suggest that charging $59 for software that is only truly useful if you've installed a proxy that is FOSS seems kind of pointless. I'd donate to the author of WRP before I'd give a dime to the authors of iBrowse.
On the retro-platforms themselves, I noticed something interesting. It might be a misconfiguration on my part somewhere in my stack - but running a classic AGA Amiga 68ec020/100 using AOS 3.1.4 and MiamiDX as my stack on Minimig on MiSTer - rendering was painfully slow.
Changing that to an AGA/RTG Amiga 68ec020/100 using Coffin and MiamiDX - things improved significantly. It was still slow, but not as maddeningly slow as with the other configuration. I did not have time to test pointing my actual OCS/ECS 68ec020 accelerated Amiga 500 systems at WRP. I suspect they would be slower than the worse MiSTer config.
|Coffin on MiSTer connected to web BBS|
On the V4 - things were significantly faster. Again, this isn't any real surprise. In this manner, the V4, running iBrowse, pointed at WRP running on the i7 posted the best and fastest results of the various combinations I tested.
How does it work? You don't set up an HTTP proxy in your browser settings. Instead, WRP acts as a webserver on port 8080 on the host machine. You point your URL at that address http://machineIP:8080. This loads up a simple webpage that has an address bar and some other settings as a menu bar. Enter a web address and generally WRP goes to that address, downloads it, generates an image map, and updates to display that imagemap in your browser. All further browsing is done from within the WRP page. It is kind of difficult to explain - but once you connect to WRP, all navigation is done from within WRP. You don't use the back buttons or scroll buttons or URL button in the browser. It is basically running a REMOTE browser within your local browser, and all navigation is done within that remote browser. If you've ever created a remote session to a RDP or VNC host and launched a browser on that remote server - that is similar to what is happening here - just stripped down.
What could I do? Well, I was able to search and browse almost every page I requested, and I was able to download images by right-clicking and "saving as". But as noted, any kind of file download didn't work.
I was also able to connect, log into, and enter and save posts on my Citadel BBS. The way this is handled is kind of janky. The server window for WRP has a URL, with buttons for "go" and "bk" (back). After that are width and height fields that allow you to set the resolution of the page being rendered to match your browser. Next is a field titled "S" where you can set the scale/zoom of the page. After that is a field titled "c" where you can set the colors, which is 256 by default.
Next is a field labeled "K". This field allows you to generate text input to send through WRP to the website.
In order to log-in, I had to follow these steps.
Enter the website URL and click "go", wait for it to request, transfer, render and display the imagemap of the website.
Click the "login" button and click "go". Wait for it to request, transfer, render and display the imagemap of the website updated with the login prompt.
Click the "username" field and click "go". Wait for it to request, transfer, render, and display the imagemap of the website updated with the login prompt with a flashing input cursor.
Enter my username in the "K" field and click Go. Wait for it to request, transfer, render and siplay the imagemap of the website updated with the login prompt with my username updated into that field.
Then repeat the process for the password, then repeat the process to enter "OK" to actually log in.
It is a very indirect and clunky way to manage input in interactive websites - but it works, and is probably the only way it could really be done.
I had to repeat this process to open a new message input form, enter the message, and save it.
It honestly isn't something you would want to do frequently or for any serious input. I certainly wouldn't use this method to compose an article for this blog. But as a proof-of-concept that this can be done and does work, it is a pretty cool idea.
Ultimately, WRP is something of a novelty that falls just short of being a very useful utility. If you could click on file downloads, it would then download to WRP and transfer to your Classic Machine's browser - WRP would be an essential application for any Retro Platform capable of running an old web-browser. As it is, for now, it is just a cool way to be able to see a site like Gmail or Facebook displayed correctly on an old browser on a classic Retro computer.
Ideally - the Apollo V4 would have enough power to actually run a modern, full fledged browser and some developer is hard at work creating a modern browser for it. I think this is unlikely on several levels. Barring that, maybe someone will take this proof-of-concept and design a more robust public proxy that works on a similar concept. Until then, this is the best, maybe the only way to see and navigate a modern website from your retro-computer running a classic browser.
This is so awesome. :)
Subject: Apollo Continues Aggressive Development on Amiga OS Alternative
The Apollo Vampire team, responsible for a line of FPGA accelerators for the Amiga as well as the Vampire V4 stand-alone FPGA Amiga computer continue to aggressively develop their ApollOS fork of the AROS platform as an Amiga OS 3.x alternative.
AROS is a multi-platform desktop OS intended to be AmigaOS API compatible. Most Amiga users are familiar with AROS as the alternative built-in kickstart bundled with UAE that they replace with a real Kickstart ROM image in order to actually get UAE working.
AROS is a somewhat obscure platform that doesn't generate a lot of interest or discussion in the broader Amiga community - but has ambitious goals. The adoption of AROS by the Apollo team has made AROS a much more interesting platform.
The Apollo team has some valid criticisms of Cloanto and Hyperion, their long running legal battle over the Amiga IP and trademarks, and the affect that has on the Amiga community. In part because of that, it seems that they've decided to adapt the AROS project, which is open-source, and make it the default operating system for their Vampire FPGA devices. It isn't a bad idea. By adopting an alternative Kickstart BIOS and Amiga API compatible operating system as their official platform - they avoid any entanglement with the legal teams of either of these litigious companies trying to squeeze any last drops of profit out of the corpse of the Commodore Amiga brand and properties.
|ApollOS Amiga Desktop|
But AROS is really an "alpha" platform. Part of this is an ambitious scope, and part of it is in the nature of trying to reverse engineer compatibility without reusing any of the code or design of the original you are trying to clone. For most users, in practical terms this means - AROS is not highly compatible, stable or tuned for peak performance. Apollo responded by forking AROS into the ApollOS platform - allowing them to concentrate on fine-tuning ApollOS for their Vampire "68080" FPGA architecture, stripping out code for alternative architectures and making the OS more efficient and less complex.
Lead developer/engineer Gunnar von Boehn announced today on the Vampire Discord that he has had a major breakthrough with IDE performance under AROS. This has been a persistant complaint of Vampire users of the ApollOS platform - and may be part of the reason that the alternative Amiga OS 3.9 based Coffin OS distribution remains probably the most popular OS platform used on Vampire based systems. In fact, Coffin is so popular that despite being designed for the Vampire, versions have been "ported" to MiSTer and for UAE.
Gunnar claims that in some disk functions AROS IDE performance is up to 30% faster than the same activity on Amiga OS 3.x
|Traditional speeds on Amiga OS 3 are about 12-13 MB/Sec. This is AROS delivering 17MB/Sec on a Vampire.|
The Vampire accelerators are so much faster than anything else available in the realm of physical Amiga equipment that disk performance is easy to overlook. This improvement may address other more subtle issues, like frequent write errors with large file transfers on the V4. Improved disk performance may have benefits in increased stability and compatibility also.
There are still outstanding issues with the AROS kickstart and ApollOS.
WHDLoad saves are apparently not currently working - reducing the V4 to an Amiga that can't save high scores or be used for games that require save points.
There are some strange issues with PAL/NTSC modes that affect many popular titles. I discovered that "Firepower," a classic "capture the flag" overhead, Combat style tank game wouldn't run at full speed on my system. After reporting this, several other users reported issues as well. Strangely - the issues were not consistent. Some users had no problems, some had intermittent issues, and others couldn't get the game to load at all. Issues with PAL/NTSC and possibly related to the EBM and having V4BL installed all seem to contribute to the issues experienced.
Part of the challenge here is that there are a variety of different official, semi-official, and "not really supported" configurations possible with the V4 - and different peripherals, including monitors, and different international electronics standards all come into play here. On top of the ambitious goals of Apollo to create a "next-generation" Amiga instead of merely replicating the classic Amiga platform faithfully - that creates a daunting challenge for the Apollo team to confront.
Fortunately, the V4 has generated the interest of many developers who are actively working to contribute to improvements to this platform. The ability to boot from .ADF and SD card are both in active development and should show up in future releases of the V4. These will both be major steps forward for the Vampire platform.
For now, Coffin R58 remains my recommended platform and daily-driver OS for the V4, and MiSTer remains a more compatible classic Amiga if you're solely interested in recreating the most faithful traditional 68xxx Amiga experience. But there can be no doubt that ApollOS is committed to developing a modern evolution of the Amiga that maintains high levels of backwards compatibility while moving the platform forward with a vision that will make Amiga less complicated, free of legal complications, and more powerful than ever before. Apollo, ApollOS and the V4 remain the most interesting parts of the Amiga community with the clearest vision of what its future should be - and the clearest progress and roadmap toward achieving their goals.
Subject: Firepower Work-Around for Vampire V4 and Coffin R58
Firepower is a classic, top-down, Atari 2600 Combat-style, capture the flag Tank game on the classic Amiga. It has a great single player mode and an even better head-to-head mode where you race against an opponent to find the flag in their bunker and return it to your base. If you haven't played it, I highly recommend it.
But if you have a Vampire V4, you may encounter difficulties. Many V4 users report no problem running this title, but for others, it may refuse to load completely or run with such terrible slow-downs during intense screen activity that it is virtually unplayable.
I may have a solution for you if you're in the latter category and running V4BL.
I've tested this fix on my system under Coffin R58 and AOS 3.1 and 3.9. I can't get the title to work with ApollOS yet.
It seems like the V4 can get confused about what video mode it is in, PAL or NTSC.
These steps may help resolve this issue:
Boot your V4 into Coffin OS. Reboot using Ctrl-Amiga-Amiga (CTRL, Windows Key, Windows Key). Do not use the reboot option from the pull down menu. If you do, I don't know why, but this will not work. As soon as the system restarts, hold down the Left and Right mouse buttons to enter the EBM.
In the EBM click the Display Options button.
The Radio Button next to PAL should be selected.
Hit the SPACE key a single time. You'll note a lighter gray bar at the bottom of the Display Options EBM screen.
This works for me every time. There may be other titles exhibiting the same issue, and it will probably work for them as well. It took me quite a while to narrow this issue down and come up with a repeatable solution. I hope you find it helpful. Please share, leave comments, or contact me if you have anything to add. I can be reached quickest at The Sanitarium BBS.
Subject: Persistent FTP Mounts using SMBMount on Coffin R58
So, regardless of if you use MiSTer, PiMiga, Vampire V4 or other solution to revisit classic retro platforms - a common method of getting started is to use a "pre-rolled" hard drive "image" file, like Coffin or ApolloOS. This is a convenient solution where someone else has built an OS, bundled in useful software, and created an image file that your emulator, FPGA device, or even genuine hardware boots. It is a huge time-saver over rolling-your-own hard drive image solution - and frequently saves you hours of effort tracking down, installing and configuring countless apps, utilities, and enhancements to your operating system.
The liability of this solution is that you generally do not have any documentation describing the applications installed on your system, and often don't even know what is there. Sometimes images will contain a folder of installed application documentation - but there is no context or reference. The manual may be there - but in pieces and it is up for you to put it together. Other times you may be using a piece of software with no idea that it has features far beyond those you are using. Directory Opus is a program that many Amiga users think of as simply a file management utility. I only recently discovered, because of ApolloOS - that it actually can serve as a direct Workbench replacement. But that isn't what this blog is about.
Recently I was in a discussion on the Vampire Discord and the topic of SAMBA file sharing came up. If you're not familiar with SAMBA, it is just a cross-platform method of allowing dissimilar machines to access Windows File Shares. I use SAMBA, or SMB - to connect my Amigas to a NAS. Another V4 user was having difficulty, and I was explaining my experience. He asked if I was able to mount a "root" share. I had not had any luck with this, only having success with mapping shares off the root directory.
As we talked, I booted up the V4 and loaded the included SMBMounter app that I use to navigate SMB shares. In the Quickmount field, I typed the FTP://Synology and hit enter. This failed, unable to find the host. I then tried the FTP: mount by IP address, knowing that AmiFTP also could not find my Synology NAS by name.
A requester popped up that read,
"Error - QuickMounts should be entered in the format //hostname/service or ftp://hostname."
I had seen this error before working with SMBMounter and busy trying to finish other tasks. I'd kept forgetting to play around with it when I didn't have anything else going on.
For FTP, I had been using AmiFTP, a program I use on my genuine Amiga and am comfortable with. The truth is, I've been too lazy to install, setup and configure SMB on my real Amigas, where I built the OS from scratch rather than using a pre-rolled image. SMB can be difficult to configure and older systems generally do not support the encryption standards necessary to mount modern SMB file shares - so it felt like a lot of work for possibly no pay-off. I only use SMB with the V4 because it was pre-installed and configured and it just works.
I wondered what the FTP mount on SMBMounter would work like - so I followed the instructions in the requester, and entered ftp://synology (the network name of my NAS) into the QuickMount field and hit "Go!"
Another familiar requester appeared, asking me for my username and password. I entered these and hit "Connect".
And instantly got an error alert. "FTPMount startup error - USER environment variable not set Anonymous login with unknown@localhost used as your address." I clicked "continue," here and got another error alert, "Host Synology is unknown." I hit "OK" here...
And then noticed a new Drive Volume icon titled "FTPMount" on my desktop.
Intrigued, I opened this mount, and inside it I found titled "aminet," "localhost" and "grandis.nu."
Still unsure of what exactly was going on, I opened the "grandis.nu" "drawer" and received a "connecting to grandis.nu" notification.
From that point, I got a window that looked like a terminal window with ASCII art. I clicked through a series of other notifications - and soon found myself in a directory structure full of a great collection of Amiga software, including TOSEC images and even collections for Atari, Comodore 64 and others. I had no idea this site existed - and it was kind of like falling down the rabbit hole discovering this site. There is a lot to explore there.
Distracted by this "drawer" - what I missed was the scrollbars in the drawer window I had opened. On closing the grandis.nu folders, I noticed these, and scrolled over to find a drawer titled with the IP address of my server. When I clicked the folder matching the name of my NAS, I received an error alert "Host <hostname> is unknown."
I rebooted, and this time, instead of connecting by the server name - I used the server's IP address.
Everything worked the same, but now there was a folder named the IP address of my NAS.
Clicking this folder I got a dialog that read, "User logged in".
Because there are no .info files, the drawer shows empty - but if I open up Directory Opus or FileMaster Pro and point that app at ftpmount: I can access all of my shares beneath the root share, and all of the files located on the NAS.
This is a pretty useful discovery to me, and is another step forward in making it easier to download, copy, and install software on my V4. In fact, it is such a useful utility I'll probably look into installing it on my actual Amiga systems also - which may mean installing SMB for Amiga as well. While FTP doesn't require SAMBA in order to operate, I believe I've read something about SMBMounter requiring SMB to be installed. In any case, an additional, familiar way to be able to mount, browse and manipulate files - via FTP or SMB, on my Amiga systems - in a File Manager seems worth the effort to me.
The problem, though - is discovering what programs are installed and what they can do. I can't really figure out how SAMBA is installed and configured on Coffin. Trying to "find" the files I expect in a SAMBA install doesn't return anything. Downloading the SAMBA package from Aminet and expanding it was no more enlightening. While digging around in the System: volume looking for SAMBA, I did find "tinylauncher.exe" in the C: folder. This is an interesting front end for loading games, music and demos, and if you didn't know it was installed, or don't know what it does, you should check it out.
There are probably a lot of other programs installed on Coffin that would enhance my experience - but either I don't know what they are, where they are, or what they do.
If you have any tips, on ApolloOS, Coffin, PiMiga, or other pre-rolled OS distribution leave a comment, contact me on The Sanitarium BBS or hit me up on the Discord channel.
Subject: Amiga, FPGA, Open Source and Tribalism
Unpopular opinions follow:
I think there is a lot of disinformation and misinformation about the Vampire FPGA stand-alone and accelerators and the Apollo team - and a lot of it is repeated by people who are not part of the Vampire community and/or do not own a Vampire product.
|Just because you don't English well, doesn't mean FPGA is emulation.|
It isn't an argument about technology, it is one about clear language, logic and definition.
(...and GIF has a hard G, I don't care how the guy who came up with the three letter acronym to describe his graphic interchange format pronounces it. He pronounces it stupid. While I'm at it - Oooh-bun-two, Deb-eon and Lynn-nix. In some cases, simply to piss off pedants.)
I was talking with some other Vampire owners last night - and we all have criticisms and complaints about the Vampire - but they're based on first-hand experience as owners. Unfortunately, some people hear these complaints and criticisms and expand them with a lack of actual experience. They extrapolate that we're dissatisfied, unhappy and regret our purchases. Some Vampire owners in fact may feel this way. You can't please all the people all the time - and some people you can't ever please.
The vast majority of Vampire owners are very happy with their purchase, though. But Vampires aren't for everyone. Those buyers sometimes do not understand what to expect with a Vampire, become frustrated with it, and ditch it for a traditional accelerator or a MiSTer and find themselves more satisfied. I'll say this, the problem isn't the Vampire - it is them. It is good that there are products out there that meet their expectations - but it seems to me that the majority of Vampire owners are overall highly satisfied with their purchase.
If you have a marginal power supply, bad caps, or other underlying problem with your physical Amiga that isn't apparent in typical use - a Vampire accelerator is likely to make demands of your Amiga that it can't meet. Your Amiga was already failing - the Vampire didn't cause an issue - it most likely exposed one that was going to manifest sooner or later, anyhow.
The V4 stand alone is a cutting edge evolution of the 68xxx CPU, and there are incompatibilities on a genuine Amiga even with the same CPU only different KS/Workbench installed. The V4 sometimes crashes or GURUs inexplicably. So do real Amigas. All AmigaOS platforms remain a multi-tasking OS without memory management. It was never a super stable OS to begin with. A V4 running a reverse engineered Kickstart solution (AROS) and a reverse engineered OS (AROS/ApolloOS) is:
A 68080 CPU that never actually existed, running a Kickstart that was never intended to run a genuine Amiga OS, running an OS that isn't a genuine Amiga OS.
The fact that it is compatible at all is fantastic - the fact that it is highly compatible is amazing.
The fact that it isn't perfect should not be surprising. If you want something with higher compatibility and better stability, something more familiar - stick to a real Amiga or a MiSTer. Nobody is trying to hide this or misrepresent the Vampire in this regard. Nobody is forcing you to buy a Vampire.
But there has always been controversy about the Vampire. "It isn't a real Amiga, it is FPGA."
I'm sure everyone knows my opinion on this argument. FPGA is more Amiga than Amiga.
|And the V4 and MiSTer are Nexus Sevens. Far more advanced in many ways to the previous generation of Tyrell Replicants.|
I'm not a Vampire cheerleader. I don't think Gunner is particularly fond of me. I've also warned him that the popularity and accessibility of MiSTer and Minimig, along with the buzz of the Vampire 4 means that they're going to get a flood of far less savvy buyers than they are used to - both far less savvy about FPGA and about Amiga. I think that the Vampire community is already seeing that. I've also been openly critical of the V4, ApolloOS and the Apollo team where criticism is deserved. The V4 core is currently not as developed as Minimig, and needs improvement. But, it is also the most promising FPGA Amiga available right now. That could change, and that is OK. At one point, MiST was the most promising FPGA device available. One day, something better than the V4 or MiSTer will come along.
I know there are exciting developments with using ARM to accelerate genuine Amiga systems and the MiSTer inexpensively. Frankly - the idea of using an ARM core to accelerate a genuine Amiga or an FPGA Minimig core seems counter intuitive to me - especially if it is coming from those who claim Vampire Accelerators are "not real Amigas, they're FPGA". It seems somewhat redundant to me to have an ARM emulating a 68xxx accelerating your Amiga or your MiSTer. Why not just cut the middleman out and emulate on a Pi 400? I understand the technical differences between doing full system emulation and just emulating the CPU, with having dedicated memory - how it theoretically removes issues with sequential versus parallel subsystem processing. I hope it works out and we all have access to inexpensive, authentic-feeling ARM based acceleration on MiSTer and on genuine Amigas. I hope it creates more competition and innovation in the Amiga community. But until we see it in action and widespread accessibility - it is all vaporware. As I said above, I'm no cheerleader for the Vampire - but I'm certainly not cheerleading the Buffee or using the MiSTer's ARM core as a Minimig accelerator until I see them in action and compare them to what I already own. Especially considering my opinion that while in theory emulation crushes everything, in actual application, often it struggles to keep up with a stock Amiga 500.
I am an FPGA evangelist and an Amiga advocate, though - so I'm excited about anything developed for the Amiga and FPGA that increases my satisfaction and enjoyment with that experience.
I'm seeing a lot of criticism of the Vampire and Apollo based on the ideology of Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) versus Closed Source code. I'm not an evangelist for either. Both have their strong points and weak points in my opinion - and if you disagree, you're welcome to your opinion. You'll never convince me one is inherently superior or moral to the other as a model of code distribution - and the more you evangelize on this issue - the more likely you are to alienate me toward supporting your preferred model. I get it - that some of us have a religious conviction about one model or the other. You're welcome to have your faith. Once I tell you I don't agree, please don't continue to try and convert me. It is as unwelcome as Jehovah's Witnesses showing up on my porch and shoving their literature in my face. I don't want your salvation.
With that said - a lot of the criticism of Vampire for being "closed source" is second-hand and out of context.
ApolloOS is open source and the code is freely available. Any improvements made can be backported back to AROS. ApolloOS is not renaming or rebranding AROS. It is identifying it as a unique *fork* of the OS intended specifically for Vampires, the V4 in particular. Apollo isn't designing it as a replacement OS for non-Vampire Amigas - and in fact, it would probably cause confusion if it were simply called AROS, because - it isn't. AROS is a multiplatform Amiga API compatible OS designed to run on X86, PPC, 68k and other platforms. ApollOS is an AROS derivative designed *solely* to run on Vampires. But - the code is open source and freely distributable if you would like to make it run on your Amiga, or your PC, or your ARM, or anything else.
The Vampire FPGA core is proprietary and close sourced. There are a team of people making at least part of their income off the work and design of this core, and creating professional, retail, supported consumer products. They're making ApolloOS because they believe it is the best way to achieve the potential of the custom FPGA core they've developed. FOSS licensing explicitly allows this, so long as any FOSS components remain FOSS licensed - and they do.
They deserve to be compensated. Demanding that the Apollo Team should release all of their proprietary code under FOSS licensing is like demanding that all software developers should do the same thing. It isn't reasonable.
If you believe in Open Source, that is fine. If you feel that you're being compensated for your open source contributions fairly - awesome. But you have no right to expect other people to trust in the good will of people to voluntarily support their labor, effort and creation in this community, or in any other. I understand your arguments about collaboration and how open sourcing projects benefits the entire community and avoids the kinds of issues that plague the Amiga community - but the argument that Closed Source hurts consumers and hurts communities is a pretty busted point. Google, Facebook, Twitter and Amazon are all built on FOSS platforms and technologies. Maybe it isn't the licensing model that is the problem - but people.
And attacking the Apollo team and accusing them of hurting the community certainly isn't going to win them over. Insulting them isn't going to make them see the light and go,
"You know what, they're right. We'll just open up our code and release all our secrets because now that you've accused us of being selfish and greedy and stealing the work of others and calling it our own, we realize the only way to redeem ourselves is to release all our hard work into the public domain."
On the other hand, I've seen a number of high profile contributors to the Amiga community leave or discontinue their FOSS based projects recently because they felt like people in the community were abusing their generosity. Licensing models aren't the problem. People are the problem.
I've been hearing the claims about Apollo, about Vampire Accelerators, and about the V4 Stand Alone for almost 4 years now. From what I've seen - almost all of them are exaggerated, misrepresentations, distortions, out of context, or outright lies.
Part of the problem, and it always has been the problem, even in the original Commodore scenes going back to the Mid 1980s - are insecure nerds who are very bright and have huge egos and under-developed social skills and emotional intelligence. Chip Gracey of Sacramento invented the ISEPIK - one of the original memory dumping carts that cracked software for the C64, in high school. He used the profits from that to create Parallax, a company that sells the BASIC stamp, one of the earliest "DIY Maker" technologies. I know him personally - and he is brilliant and successful. He is also sometimes awkward and can come across as arrogant, impatient, and condescending.
He isn't the first guy like this, or the last one that I'll meet with roots in the Commodore community, and nosce te ipsum - part of the reason I get along with so many people with Commodore roots over the years is because, "birds of a feather flock together."
|And thus being it follows, how can thou then be false to any other man?|
Honestly - what is happening is the same kind of tribalism within the Commodore community that has always existed, going all the way back to 80's Cracking, Demo and Warez crews. A lot of shit-talking, a lot of bravado and bragging about being so much better than the Lamerz in some other competitive crew - crews forming alliances with other crews. The computer nerd's version of the Crips and the Bloods, dealing in zeroes and ones instead of crack, hos, and illegal guns.
Stop that shit.
Maybe if you put a quarter as much effort into being positive about all the projects that are enriching the community, rather than picking ones you disagree with to focus your negative energy on, that would be a huge step into making this community grow stronger and become better. I think they're all interesting, and I think there is more than enough pie to go around to support all of these projects. But all your bitching about Hyperion and Cloanto and the damage they've done to the Amiga community seems pretty hypocritical when you're engaging in basically the same behavior with some rival Amiga project. You're doing the same thing. Nobody developing projects for the Amiga thinks they're going to get "Bill Gates rich" from doing it. It is a labor of love and passion - and their licensing model doesn't change that. Recognize that and encourage it - and you'll probably find that they'll return the favor and recognize the same about the project you support. That mutual respect may lead to collaboration, may lead to sharing information and help overcoming challenges. We're all in this together. The amount of in-fighting in our own community is ridiculous. It is like politics, when we run out of enemies from outside our community to fight with, we start eating our own.
It certainly has a better chance of improving the Amiga community for everyone's benefit than hurling insults and accusations at one another.
Subject: The Easy Way to Copy files from Amiga/V4 into Minimig on MiSTer FPGA
Recently I rediscovered the Amiga game Sidewinder on the V4. I had forgotten about this title, and found it by accident while actually looking for the title Silk Worm.
Unfortunately, the version of Sidewinder included on the Coffin R58 image is a conversion of a version made for the arcade. Like MAME titles, it has a mapped key to insert a "coin" and another to hit "P1 or P2".
That wouldn't be so bad, but this particular adaptation has tremendous flicker - your craft is basically a phantom that phases in and out of visibility.
It had been a long time... probably nearly 30 years, since I played this title - but I remembered having a disk based version that was designed specifically for the Amiga. I recognized the game, especially the frenetic music, but the arcade elements were new to me. So, I fired up the MiSTer, dug into my games, and found the same WHDLoad title there.
That title was in fact the original Amiga version. I wondered why it wasn't included on Coffin, and decided to move it over.
One of my MiSTer configurations is a customized Workbench built on a few .HDF files. I've generally stuck to FTP or moved the SD card to my PC and mounted the image there in WinUAE in order to get files into or out of the image. I avoid SAMBA on older machines because inevitably they require you to configure newer devices to SAMBA V1 security standards. There are a number of reasons why I don't mind an insecure FTP server on my internal network but insecure SMB shares make me nervous. This isn't a security blog though - so I'm not going to go into those details here.
But my recent experiences with SAMBA on the V4 made me think that I needed to bite the bullet and install SAMBA and SMBMounter on this MiSTer Minimig image. It seemed like the easiest way to achieve my goal.
In fact, I ended up using WinUAE configured with the same images as my MiSTer to move the folder for Sidewinder off to my NAS, and then back via FTP to my V4. There I discovered that this Amiga specific version of Sidewinder runs far too fast on the V4, making it impossibly difficult. That answered my initial question.
One of the most frequent challenges people ask about when working with virtual hard drive images is how to get files into and out of that image. There are a number of ways to achieve this. WinUAE, either mounting the image from the physical media as a local volume inside an emulated Amiga, or by copying onto .adf files, using AExplorer from Cloanto, or via FTP are common methods.
But, I started thinking about what I was seeing on the MiSTer configured with Samba. I started testing on my V4 and realized I was actually seeing similar results. The difference was that SMBMounter will mount persistent FTP shares on my V4. It can't seem to do that on the MiSTer.
On the MiSTer, though, In the SMBMounter GUI, next to Quickmount, I hit the "?" button, which the SMBMounter readme file informed me would generate a browse list of network shares.
The only server this saw was the "MiSTer" Samba share. After some fruitless troubleshooting, thinking it was maybe that the MiSTer could only see itself on the network... I hit the same button on the V4 in SMBMounter - and was surprised when it also saw the MiSTer SMB share.
More interesting, both were failing to mount with security errors, leading me to believe that it was the Samba V1 issue causing authentication to fail. Quickly reading up on SAMBA on MiSTer - I found that this is a known problem, as well as a fix.
After changing the SAMBA server on MiSTer to V1 - not only could my V4 connect to the MiSTer's Samba folders - but Minimig on MiSTer could also connect to it as well.
|Here is MiniMig with MiSTer-fat mounted as a remote volume.|
And this makes things a lot easier when trying to move files from the Internet and your PC or Mac to the MiSTer, into Minimig, and to a V4.
|And here is the V4 with the same share mounted.|
In fact, this works so well, it would be worth adding SAMBA and SMBMounter to a genuine Amiga or a Virtual Amiga running emulation of UAE on your network too. In effect, you're setting your MiSTer's FAT partition up as a small NAS specifically for the Amiga (although this would work with other systems using virtual hard disks too, as long as you set up SAMBA on them).
Prerequisites: I'm assuming most of these concepts are familiar to you - so I'm not going to do the kind of in-depth, screen by screen walkthrough I normally write up. At least not now. If there is any demand for a more detailed walkthru, maybe I'll do one of those later.
First you'll need to get things set up. On your MiSTer, you'll need a TCP/IP stack. I tend to use MiamiDx - it works the best for me. You'll need SAMBA. You can get it, as well as instructions how to set it up, here. That link also includes links to SMBMounter.
Once you set it up, you need to configure your MiSTer to accept SAMBA V1 connections. This link describes how to do that. Note that you have to edit your SAMBA etc/smb.conf file. They describe doing it from Notepad++ remotely from a Windows machine. I just connected to MiSTer via SSH and used "vi" to make the smb.conf changes right on the MiSTer.
Once you've done this, you'll be able to mount a share in Minimig on MiSTer to the MiSTer fat directory, as well as mount and access the MiSTer fat directory from a V4, your PC or Mac, or another Amiga (provided you've set up your Amiga following these instructions too).
That means you can copy anything from inside Minimig on the MiSTer out to the fat, and to your V4 or your Amiga, or copy anything from your V4 or Amiga to the MiSTer fat, and then into your hard drive image on Minimig.
And that should make your life a lot easier.
You may also find browsing my previous blog on Persistent FTP Mounts on V4 using SMBMounter, here, helpful.
Subject: V4BL (Vampire 4 Boot Loader) Turbo preload instructions
The Apollo Computers Vampire 4 Stand Alone FPGA Amiga has an internal CF slot, and isn't designed to switch platforms, cores, or kickstarts repeatedly like the MiSTer and Minimig - which makes it difficult to change between different Kickstarts and OSes "on the fly". Willem Drijver created the Vampire 4 Boot Loader (V4BL) - a utility that allows you to configure a CF card with multiple OS instances and kickstart images and switch quickly between them. It is an indispensable (and free!) tool that increases the utility of the Vampire V4 tremendously. If you're struggling with the documentation provided with the V4BL download, I hope these more visual, step by step instructions may help you.
SWV4BL Turbo preoload instructions:
These are stand-alone instructions for creating a V4BL CF card for the Vampire V4. You should be familiar with UAE and basic operating system navigation in order to do this. The instructions are easily adapted to Linux or OS X.
(Note: I've included the images in full size - you can click on any image to see it full size.)
Install WinUAE (or FS-UAE on Mac or Linux).
You’ll need the following files:
The version of V4BL-xxG-Card.img.zip that matches the size of the CF card you intend to install V4BL on.
(e.g., to create a 64GB V4 CF card, download V4BL-64G-Card.img.zip)
There isn’t actually a SD-Card-3. When creating the V4BL from SD cards, you would create this card and copy Coffin_r58_32gb.7z there.
I downloaded these files to an external drive in the directory J:\V4BL and then unzipped them into folders built on their archive names:
SD-Card1-Install contains the contents of the SD-Card1-Install.zip and your own Amiga OS source files (AOS 3.1, 3.2, 3.9, 1.33).
SD-Card-2-ApollOS.img contains an ApollOS image – and may not be necessary for a Turbo Preload install, but I unzipped it here, anyhow.
For SD-Card-3 I unzipped Coffin_r58_32GB.zip to a folder of the same name
SD-Card-4-EmuTOS.img contains the EmuTOS image.
Copy your Amiga OS disks to the appropriate folders you’ve created:
Each folder in V4BL-SD-CARD-1-Install\ will have a .rtf docment that explains what files need to be copied to that folder to prepare for installation:
Copy as instructed:
You’re AOS31 folder should look like this:
Repeat to copy the Kickstart:
And like this when the correct Kickstart has been copied over:
Repeat for each AOS version you want installed with V4BL
It should look like this. (Unclear if both Amiga-os-130.rom and amiga-os-310-a1200.rom will work here, if both or just one or the other is necessary?)
Repeat with Each OS that you want V4BL to install on your V4:
Repeat for OS 3.9
Should look like this:
(Note : “coffin_r58_32GB.zip was unzipped from a different folder to this directory as “coffin_r58_32GB
You can name the directories whatever you want on the Turbo Preload – as long as they have the right files in them and you point WinUAE to the right directories, the V4BL builder will find the files and won’t care. It is easiest just to unzip the files to directories that take the .zip file name as their root directory folder.)
Now navigate to Driveletter:\V4BL\V4BL-SD-Card-1-Install\UAE (or wherever you’ve put and whatever you’ve named this when you unzipped it).
Right click V4BL_Turbo_Preload.uae and select “COPY”.
Navigate to where your WinUAE configuration files are on your system, and PASTE the V4BL_Turbo_Preload.uae file there.
(Hint – if you’re not sure, load up WinUAE , go to Paths in the Settings menu, and the “Configuration Files:” listing will display your path.
I do not have AmiKit XE – but you would repeat the above steps in the AmiKit directory, as well, to add it to your V4BL menu options.
Now you’re ready to boot WinUAE.
In WinUAE Settings, select “Configurations”. Select the V4BL_Turbo_Preload (UAE Default Configuration) and click Load:
In settings, Select “CD & Hard Drives” and change the path for each device to the appropriate path you’ve created on your hard drive:
Note – UAE:0 = Path to your V4BL-xxG-CF-Card.img
UAE:2= Path to your V4BL-SD-Card-2-ApollOS.img
UAE:3= Path to your coffin_r58_32GB.img
DH3_0 is named Volume SD0 and points to the path where your V4BL-SD-CARD-1-Install file is. If you’ve copied the included UAE configuration file, all you should have to change are the paths to your files.
In my case, I’ve already built a 64GB CF, but I am building a 128 GB image this time, so I need to change the first path:
double clicking on the path – “J:\V4BL\V4BL-64G_CF-Card.img\ V4BL-64G_CF-Card.img brings up the “Hardfile Settings” dialog.
Click on “…”
At the “Select a hard disk image file…” dialog, browse to the directory where your .img file is, select the .img file, and click “Open”.
You’ll return to the “Hardfile Settings” dialog. Verify that the path and filename are correct, and select “OK”.
In settings, select “ROM” and verify that the System ROM Settings “Main Rom File” is set to AROS KS ROM (built-in) (1024k)
And that “Board type:” is set to New UAE (128k, ROM, Direct).
At this point it is a good idea to return to the Settings\Configurations menu, highlight “V4BL_Turbo_Preload (UAE default configuration)”, and click “Save” to save your modified configuration.
You should now be ready to start WinUAE. Start UAE virtual Amiga and wait for V4BL PreFlight Check Module.
Stage-1: Check UAE Mounts * ApollOS + Coffin _ SD-Card-1 sources
Stage-2: “Migrate to Coffin” which is mandatory for V2.6
(I did not get this on my second run of V4BL – so I do not have screen shots of Steps 7, PreFlight, Stage-1, Stage -2, etc.)
Close the UAE virtual Amiga machine
Change the UAE ROM settings: SD0:Kickstarts/Coffin.ROM
WinUAE only: Set Board type back to “Original UAE”
V4BL made a copy of Coffin.rom from the Coffin image to this directory on SD-Card-1
I like to save the configuration is V4BL_Turbo_Reload_Ste2.uae here, in case anything goes wrong:
Restart the virtual Amiga on UAE
Select the OSes you want installed on the CF card image you are creating:
Install will proceed:
When your first OS install is finished, hit Enter to return to the V4BL menu:
Continue until you have completed installing each OS you want on your image:
Shut down, insert your CF card, and start your Image Writing utility:
Select “Select Image”
Browse to the folder where the image you created resides, select the image, and click “Open”:
You’ll see a “Missing Partition table” warning. This is normal and expected. Click “Continue”.
Click “Select Target”
Select the CF drive. Be careful to ensure you select the right device – it will be completely overwritten in the next step. Once you’ve selected the correct drive, click “Continue”.
You’ll get an “Attention” dialog that the drive is unusually large. Click Continue and the image will be written to your CF drive.
On Windows you may get a Windows Access Control message. Click OK to continue.
Allow the Flash to complete, then remove your CF and insert it into your V4.
Subject: New Life for Old Macs with MorphOS?
MorphOS is promoted as an "Amiga-like" operating system designed for PowerPC systems, that includes an integrated JIT 68k emulation compiler with the goal of allowing Amiga legacy applications to run transparently. It is probably one of the better known Amiga related projects in the Amiga community.
This is an idea that a few different OS distributions are attempting right now, through various different approaches and with varying degrees of success.
Apollo Computers has an ambitious roadmap with the Vampire V4 Standalone FPGA Amiga and ApolloOS.
Aros, like MorphOS, is an OS intended to be a multi-platform Amiga-like OS for modern hardware - while being AmigaOS compatible at the API level. In fact, Apollo-OS is built on the AROS OS framework. Another important distinction is that while the MorphOS wants €79 for a machine-specific license for their OS, AROS - and ApolloOS are both free.
The concept of MoprhOS is interesting - and there is something appealing about leveraging Macintosh or other PowerPC platform systems as the spiritual successor of the Motorola 68k line of CPUs.
The famous "I'm a PC/ I'm a Mac" advertisements always seemed to have it backwards. Mac has never had a reputation as a gaming platform, as a entertainment platform. It has always been expensive, with a limited library, and with entertainment titles that tended to perform better on more easily upgradable, inexpensive PCs. Like the Amiga, the Mac may have suffered by having such a small market than many titles that the Mac eventually received were simply ports of PC titles that didn't leverage the Mac's superiorities.
|This is a lie|
It is just that overall - the Mac is actually a very buttoned-up business machine aimed at very specific niche industries. I understand that among developers, creative and graphic artists, and other industries Mac users are very devoted and feel that the WinTel platform is terrible - and, for those folks, they're almost certainly right. I was never very interested in coding or in graphic arts or most of the things Macs excel at. Word and Excel and Access don't excite me either. Intel PCs have always just been a superior gaming platform.
10+ years or so back - MorphOS would have been a very cutting edge platform attempting to bring a very Amiga-like experience back to consumers on fairly powerful, recently modern computers. Today, the market for machines that redeliver the Amiga experience is far more crowded. FPGA devices like the MiSTer and Vampire 4 deliver hardware level recreation of the actual Amiga architecture, emulation solutions like Pimiga offer a transparent, powerful UAE (Universal Amiga Emulator) experience, and new hardware arrives to enhance actual Amiga hardware every day.
Unfortunately, MorphOS has not kept up with the competition. It is a brilliant idea, that may have once been innovative, but today the execution seems somewhat unpolished, clumsy and dated - at least as far as backwards Amiga platform compatibility is concerned. That seems to me to be a critical component of any OS that tries to position itself as an heir to the Amiga legacy.
Installation is easy enough - and the presentation of the OS is professional, polished and very OS X like. Icons are well rendered, backgrounds have rich depth, layout is logical. It looks a lot like OS X on a PowerMac, and OS X on a modern machine looks a lot like OS X on a Power Mac.
|Keep in mind though, that Apollo OS is a very aesthetic OS, and it runs on a true 68k architecture. The playing field has changed.|
At the same time, it will also feel very familiar to Amiga users. Just about everything you expect from an AmigaOS workbench is here, where you would expect it - even drawers like C:, S: Libs: and Devs: are there, (though because they do not have .info files, you must change the view from "icons" to "All Files" in order to reveal these drawers - which is also actually a nice touch. You can read more about that here.
You do get the instant impression that if the AmigaOS had continued to be commercially developed, it would have inevitably looked and acted a lot like MorphOS does. Open a shell and you'll feel at home navigating around the file structure. Familiar commands work as you would expect. If you know AmigaOS, MorphOS is very intuitive. For example, I was quickly able to download files from Aminet to RAM:, use lharc to decompress them, and copy them to the drawers where I wanted them to live, using the CLI and the desktop.
And, the built in JIT 68k emulator means that some Amiga programs can be installed right on MorphOS, and when launched - they will execute nearly transparently in emulation. This is unfortunately where the experience starts to fall short of expectations.
Trying to install several Amiga programs, almost all of them failed - either failing to install with unmet dependencies, failing to run, or failing to run correctly. Among the first, simple applications I tried to install were BTCE (The Bards Tale Character Editor), Filemaster, and Directory Opus. All of these failed - although I was eventually able to find a version of Directory Opus for 68k that did work ( V 4.16).
Now - there is a version of Directory Opus ported specifically for MorphOS - but on launching I receive the error, "Needs version 1 of popupmenu.libary and version 1 of xadmaster.library".
I spent a little time browsing around Aminet.net for these libraries, but I wasn't sure the files I found were what I needed - and I didn't want to spend a lot of time researching native MorphOS versions of Amiga software. My initial focus was more on how MorphOS competes with current offerings that offer legacy Amiga title support.
I haven't really tried any additional native 68k programs using the JIT compiler. I can't think of ones I'd like to try in this mode that are likely to work.
The MorphOS page linked above has the following to say about compatibility:
In a nutshell, most of the things you probably would want to run "bangs directly on the hardware," and doesn't just launch seamlessly on the built-in JIT emulator in MorphOS. But the MorphOS version of UAE, "E-UAE" - doesn't come preinstalled on MorphOS. You've got to track it down, install and configure it.
|Which creates a bit of this.|
And E-UAE is pretty much emulation as it existed 10 years or more ago. E-UAE is a command line emulator. There is a front-end for it, rhLaunch. Calling it a GUI Front end would be generous. It is more of a "CLI wrapper" that gives you a GUI interface for configuring the command line settings for E-UAE. UAE on PC, Linux, Mac and ARM now has very sophisticated menu driven configuration through front-ends like FS-UAE Launcher, WinUAE and UAE4ARM. Even then, the options and technical details can be overwhelming.
rhLaunch doesn't have global settings. In the Configs tab you set up settings on a "per-configuration" basis - by adding a list of commands and often entering the data variables by hand in a text field. I'm not going to go into great detail - but it is a lot less user friendly and difficult to configure.
|rhLaunch - my install above, Chrysalis install bottom|
I was aware that there was a mechanism to launch native Amiga files in E-UAE relatively transparently. A little more research and I discovered a path in the UAE 1.0 drawer bonus/ambient/filetypes/
There are drawers there called /application and /internal - you can copy them to system folders and they become context-sensitive menus. Add them, and then you can right click on a native-installed 68k Amiga program and select to launch them in UAE under a specific configuration.
It takes a lot of effort, and you've got to become familiar with UAE and its settings and configurations at a much deeper level than most casual users to get it all set up. The E-UAE engine may not be as well developed as UAE on other platforms - or it could just be the complexity of getting the settings right through the rhLaunch and E-UAE interfaces - but it certainly is more difficult to get a 68k game or title to run right on MorphOS than on more modern choices. You'll spend a lot more time on Google, doing your homework, reading various pages - to get MorphOS to this point, compared to say, writing the image to Pimiga to an SD and popping it in your Pi400.
But there have been attempts to make the MorphOS platform more accessible. On the Vampire Discord - some helpful MorphOS users suggested I give a package called "chrysalis" a look.
|These emulators are installed with Chyrsalis. ROM images not included.|
Chrysalis is an almost 1gb .iso that you mount and load over MorphOS that is "preconfigured". It is something like Coffin for the Vampire 4 in that it is bundled with what you would spend a lot of time searching for, installing and configuring - except that you're going to have to bring your own kickstart roms, .adf images and whdload titles. It changes the look of MorphOS, making an already attractive OS look even better. It also addresses the issue that it isn't exactly easy to track down sites with libraries of MorphOS native programs - by installing a larger suite of those titles than the base OS image comes with. It includes E-UAE. I wouldn't call it "preconfigured", but it is mostly configured. You're going to have to figure out where it expects hard and floppy images, where it expects kickstart roms - modify the configs if your roms have a key file - or modify those paths to where you've put these files - so you're only saving yourself a marginal bit of work compared to tracking down E-UAE and installing it yourself. It will configure your context menus to launch .adf files in a1200 or a500 configs for E-UAE - but you'll have to modify those configs to recognize your preferred input unless you want to play games from the keyboard. Either way - you're probably going to get more familiar with the "under the hood" mechanics of UAE than you were at the start, unless you've been playing with emulation for a decade or more.
|MorphOS after installation of Chrysalis|
The OS itself has the features and performance you would expect of an early 2000s Power Mac. The web browser, OWB (Odyssey Web Browser) is modern enough to connect to Facebook and be detected as a browser that while incapable of displaying the full web-app, instead rendering the mobile Facebook webpage. I was able to render and log into my Citadel *nix based web BBS. Discord, on the other hand, failed to load. Network autoconfiguration was simple, and the bundled FTP app, "Transfer" allowed me to connect to my NAS and download Amiga files from there. Instead of a native Amiga trying to do modern tasks and falling just short, this is a "relatively modern" PC trying to seamlessly be an Amiga and falling just short.
Ultimately the problem is the price and the "test-drive" model of MorphOS. At €79 (~$90 USD depending on the exchange rate that day,) Morph-OS runs in a trial mode where it slows down after 30 minutes. That makes getting a good feel for it as you struggle to configure it relatively difficult. Every 30 minutes you have to disrupt your workflow and open windows and file copies to reboot the system or it slows to a crawl. It probably would have been better to give you a 2-4 week trial unlimited trial period and then have it slow every session after 30 minutes thereafter. It is hard to get hooked a 30 minute trial at a time.
Even at a 1:1 exchange ration - $80 is a lot to run an OS on a PowerMac that is itself almost 20 years old. Coupled with that, unless you're a classic Mac expert - it is hard to divine exactly what Macs MorphOS really runs on. I have a Mac 3,5 "Quicksilver" that I've had for about 15 years now. I had frequently considered trying MorphOS on this machine - but I knew that MorphOS didn't like Nvidia GPU based Power Macs - and that is what this one is. A friend had a spare G4 Graphite 3,3 that he couldn't get running. He knew I am somewhat of a Mac guy and so we did a horsetrade - his untested junk for mine. I managed to get that working - but only after installing did I discover that audio on MorphOS is only supported on G4 models 3,4 through 3,6.
If you're not a Mac fan - that probably sounds confusing. It is like BMW guys who refer to their 3 series BMWs as "e30s" or "e36s". It may be perfectly normal to people deeply in the culture of Macintosh computers and their obscure numerical models for their PCs - but if you're not a Mac guy - it means that before you can figure out what Mac actually works with MorphOS you're going to have to immerse yourself in understanding things pretty far in the deep end of Macintosh/Apple culture.
In a nutshell, what this translates to is that if I want a fully working MorphOS system with audio - I would have to pull the AGP video card out of the Graphite Mac and put it in the Quicksilver Mac. Either that, or I could just hunt down a Mac better configured to run MorphOS. I hear Mac G4 "minis" work very well. That is another $25 - $50 - but like all things in the Amiga community, those Macs have become rarer and more expensive as people wanting to check out MorphOS have snapped them up and gotten in bidding wars on eBay when they become available.
And, even though MorphOS has officially released a developer's kit as recently as Feb, 16, 2021 - it isn't clear that there is any real development roadmap for MorphOS as a PPC platform based OS.
Like most independently developed projects, the development team isn't really interested in the complaints from end-users about what doesn't work or making projections on when, or if those things will be fixed. This if from the official MorphOS FAQ page:
All of these things combined make MorphOS an interesting novelty that is probably only worth registering for a small handful of the people who would be really interested in what MorphOS delivers. I suspect if MorphOS is a good fit for you, you already know it and why. If you're not sure, you should probably give it a pass.
If it were cheaper, if it were $20 - I'd register in a heartbeat. A meal for me and my wife at McBurgers costs $20 these days and then I could feel good about myself for supporting independent Amiga development. But an entire Pi400 costs $115 and honestly - Pimiga is probably more of what most of us are after from an Amiga computing experience than MorphOS, anyhow - not to mention I can just run Raspian with FS-UAE and get a far more powerful ARM "modern PC experience," than a 20 year old Power Mac can deliver, anyhow. Literally, all someone has to do is integrate Amiga 68k programs so that they can be loaded and launched from the Linux OS - and they would transparently launch FS-UAE, exiting back out to Linux once you're done - and a big part of the MorphOS "value add" would instantly be pretty redundant.
For the rest of us, it is a fun test drive but probably not worth the asking price to make into a practical Amiga alternative. You would honestly be better off saving that money towards a V4, or even a MiSTer - to scratch your Amiga itch with a powerful "fantasy Amiga," capable of doing more modern things than a true classic Amiga could ever have done. I think ApolloOS has more possibility of doing exciting things to revitalize the Amiga community on a larger scale than MorphOS currently seems capable of achieving.
There are rumors that MorphOS intends to move toward supporting x86 architectures - and that probably isn't a bad idea. As much fun as the idea of running MorphOS on a Power PC Mac is - the fact is that the PPC architecture is itself a line as dead as the 680x0 family. Whatever advantage the PPC may have had when MorphOS was conceived and began has evaporated. Unfortunately - this is another reason why spending $80 on a current license of MorphOS probably isn't the best idea. The MorphOS team may continue to provide legacy support for the PPC version, and possibly could allow transfer to an x86 license from a PPC license - but it seems better to wait and see what future developments from the MorphOS team bring.
MorphOS would probably be fun to tinker around with as a curiosity and would breath new life into an old PowerPC Mac if the licensing price were more down to earth. Like iBrowse - the publishers asking price just doesn't seem in alignment with what you're getting. While I can justify the (significantly more expensive) price of the V4 despite its somewhat developmental nature - as a value proposition, MorphOS seems priced too high. With AROS pursuing a similar path on abundant, more powerful x86 architecture - it is likely I'll eventually look at that on an Intel PC. It is possible that I'll give in and send them their $80 extortion fee to unlock a timeout-free MorphOS experience - mostly because I just like having the various Amiga experiences around to compare and play with. Maybe that is what they're counting on. It just seems that they would probably capture a lot more buyers if they brought their asking price for a license down to a more realistic price. It isn't a matter of the affordability to me, it is a matter of the price seeming unreasonable and not a fair value. I like to avoid the politics of the different Amiga branches - but I've heard the developers aren't getting rich off of this exorbitant license price for MorphOS. Frankly, I can't imagine anyone is making very much money off MorphOS though - because I'm certain that they're not selling a boatload of licenses at their current asking price.
|There is a fine balance between getting paid for your work and alienating your potential buyers.|
I am surprised there isn't a bootleg keygen for both iBrowse and MorphOS, to be honest. I firmly believe that when software or media is priced fairly compared to its value - people prefer to buy - but if the price is unrealistic, they tend to feel justified in stealing a copy. Both iBrowse and MorphOS seem to be taunting software Privateers to practice social protest. Frankly, I don't think it is worth it. It is kind of like the risk of stealing an old PC from the local e-waste recycler. It is simply a product that really doesn't have a place, anymore - yet still thinks it commands top dollar.
|Not of course, that I would encourage nor condone|
such behavior at any rate.
Simply that it would not surprise me, were it to happen
Subject: Delete Unwanted/Broken FTP Mounts in SMBMounter (Amiga) (Coffin R58)
So, recently I've discussed setting up persistent FTP Mounts using SMBMounter on Coffin R58 on the Vampire V4 FPGA Amiga, and the easy way to copy files from an Amiga or V4 into the Minimig core on MiSTer.
During this process, I fat fingered addresses and made other mistakes as I muddled my way through getting familiar with these programs, and I ended up with a lot of unwanted/non-working persistent shares that were showing up whenever I invoked an FTPmount share using SMBMounter.
I had made matters worse by going into my FTPMount drive on the desktop and "deleting" those drawers that pointed to incorrect addresses. This deleted the .info files for those drawers (which were actually FTP addresses,) but did not delete the actual entries. Going into a File Explorer like Dopus or FileMaster I was unable to delete these drawers. If I highlighted them and tried to delete them, instead it would try to connect to them. Because they did not exist, it would simply time out, without deleting the actual drawer. I was uncertain how to remove the unwanted entries from showing up every time I mounted my NAS using SMBMounter.
|It was a mess|
Trying to unmount from SMBMounter failed - with a window appearing with, "FTP Mounts cannot currently be unmounted by SMBMounter, Please use the FTPMount commodity to disconnecct FTP mounts."
Perplexed, I ran Exchange - and killed "FTPMount Status" commodity. That removed the entire FTPMount icon from my desktop, but the mount was still mounted in SMBMounter and the bad FTP mounts were still there.
This got me looking around, and in the Programs: volume on Coffin, in the Internet drawer, I found the FTPMountDir drawer. Evidently, SMBMounter works in conjunction with a separate program, FTPMountDir, to allow mounting FTP servers as mount points using SMBMounter. The documentation probably explains this - but I didn't really understand the explanation - in part because it was all set up for me in the Coffin image.
The following steps will help you resolve this issue if you are experiencing it and unsure of what to do to fix the issue.