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27.Jul.2003
Daniel Miller live from AmiWest 2003 (ANF)


Daniel Miller's Amiwest 2003 Show Report Part II
Before I leave a necessarily critical report of the MorphOS and Pegasos presentation on Saturday morning, I will do the single courtesy of stating that it was a setup-type problem that caused things to go haywire. As the presentation started there was an awkward several moments as the Pegasos which had just been hooked up to the projector failed to cooperate, requiring multiple reboots and typing in the open firmware command line. The presenters were unable to improvise effectively in the absence of stuff on the screen to click on and the presentation limped painfully on for about 15 minutes before ending rather prematurely.

A speaker came energetically up to begin the presentation at first but the problems started when Voyager was clicked on but failed to load. There was a reboot, and then another but the Pegasos wasn't finding the hard-drive or something. There was a lot of feverish typing from different people at the command line but thins just weren't going right. The speaker wasn't improvising very well. Other guys fom the Genesi team were running back and forth to get CDs or check things or fleeing for their lives or who knows what. In all it was less than professional and it's a good thing they presented early in the day so there weren't more people present to witness all the problems. After 10 or 12 minutes of pain the machine was booting MorphOS 1.4 off the CD and Bill Buck himself got up to try to rescue the show. He demonstrated just a couple things, Voyager running a very pretty Flash or Shockwave animation of butterflies and a new "Zoom Feature" of MorphOS in which any little part of the screen may be blown up in a dynamically updated resizable window. You can open a bunch of zoom windows and they all display very quickly. If you set the focus of the zoom window on a video, you see the blown up section of the video displayed in the window just as fast as the video plays. You can magnify to 2 or 4 or 8 or 16 times or whatever and open as many zoom windows as you want.

Bill stated that last week Genesi had obtained Marvell's approval to start using the G-4 in the new Pegasos 2 boards. Stated that he realized that MorphOS needed to be a bit farther along before being marketed to the average computer user. In this case however I felt that MorphOS was working fine. The problems in the presentation didn't have a whole heck of a lot to do with MorphOS. One of the presenters had commented that MorphOS 1.4 wasn't officially released, it was beta, and this was just the public introduction, but what little I saw looked fine to me.

I should mention that it was Nate Downes who appeared to be the one that finally got things going off the boot-CD. This presentation didn't go well at all, we'll see how they do on Sunday.

The OS4 demo on Saturday: this was a wonderfully executed presentation. Ray Zarling, graybearded Doctor of Matematics and long time Amiga believer conducted it, showing several Workbenchrelated features like window gradients, opaque window movement and right mouse click menus. Dr. Zarling was clearly a big Amiga fan, stating that "I waited 12 years to see the new OS. We can all see that it is real. I just can't wait for it to be finished."

The window gradient feature had a lot of options and the user can also set the thickness of the window title bars and so on. He showed the opaque window movement, moving the windows very slowly to make the effect look good. If you move the windows quickly I think you would see unsightly updates. As Dr. Zarling pointed out, that is because this is on a 200 MHz PPC and might not be a problem on a 800 MHz processor. Dr. Zarling stressed that configurability was a key part of OS4. He stated that there much of the upper level stuff (like Workbench) which runs emulated now will be rewritten for the shipping version of OS4. He stated that "OS4 is the official Amiga PPC OS."

He stated that what we were seeing did not use the 68K processor at all, it was all on the PPC. In question and answers after, I asked him to tell us about the machine running the demo. He stated that it was an Amiga 4000, I think he said with Cyberstorm PPC card. I asked about the use of the 68K processor and he said it was not being used at all except during the boot process to load up OS4 PPC..He stated that a brave owner could physically yank out the 68K processor after OS4 loaded and OS4 would continue to work, but he did not demonstrate this capability.

This presentation was conducted toward the back of the convention hall at the stand of Computer Connection where Amga Ones were for sale.

One of the best illustrations of te spirit of the Amiga community at Amiwest was the "Mr. Zoil" booth, where Glenn Fuller demonstrated the Amiga work of his son Ben, who died in 2002. Ben Fuller was known mainly for Project D, a disk coper, backup program and multipurpose tool which had some success during the Amiga's heyday in the late eightes and early nineties. Mr. Fuller stated that the last known version of Project D was from 1994. He said that Ben went on to do work on other computer systems but never gave up on what he considered "the Amiga vision."

Mr. Fuller explained that he and Ben attended Amiga conventions as a father and son activity,and he came to enjoy them very much. He said that if this were to be the last Amiwest owing to fading interest, he wanted to be here. But I told him what the event organizers told me, that things were going better than last year and interest seemed to be increasing, so it should not be a worry that ths is the last.

This will probably be my last report, because I am losing hotel Internet access at noon. I should touch on a few things, here and there. First, Mr. Hardware came all the way from New York City to sell Amiga wares. It was a brilliant move because they turned out to be the only all-around vendor here, and they are doing a lot of business. Umm, it was great of Jens Schönfeld and Ben Hermans and Bill Buck and Raquel Velasco to come all the way from Europe to support the show. Although I was critical of Saturday's Pegasos presentation I should point out that the Pegsasos stand is getting a lot of visitors, and people really enjoy sitting down and using MorphOS and playing BirdieShoot and Quake and Software Tycoon. The Super Bundle has been released and I got my free copy (thanks). Unfortunately I will have to wait until I get home in 8 or 9 days to see what all is on this three CD set.

Everyone seems to get along very well at these conventions, in spite of the online flaming that we see so much of. Bill Buck sat next to Ben Hermans at the panel last night and said how coexistence was possible even when there was no cooperation, unfortunately the two men didn't hug. ;)

The banquet was delicious and the Sacramento Amiga user group SACC really did a fine job of everything. I would like to thank those who edited and translated my reports, I would do this myself but the connection and software here at the hotel is not really suited for smooth work. There is another Amiga Show next month, a minishow at Computerfest in Dayton Ohio next month and we have something coming up in Washington DC area in October. These shows are a lot of fun and I recommend interested people to come check them out. Tschüss! (ps)

[News message: 27. Jul. 2003, 19:19] [Comments: 0]
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