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The ALEX VAN STARREX Website


AMIGA INTRODUCTION


INTRODUCTION

I hope this section will continue to be of use to people - even as I wind up my Amiga operations and shift over to the immensely popular Windows environment. To the continuing dedicated Amiga users around the world, I can only offer my condolences. I've already received my first accusation of 'selling-out', though a look around this section of the site will show that I've done everything that is possible both with and for the Amiga over the last ten years. It's time to start playing for the winning team.

SPECIFICATIONS

For those readers who are unfamiliar with the Amiga range of computers, there really isn't space to give a comprehensive overview. Needless to say, however, there are a few important facts which are work mentioning about it:

  1. It is a GUI or WIMP - windows, intuition, mouse, pointer - based computer, but is not DOS or MAC-compatible - though it is cabaple of running emulator-style programs to allow simulation of MS-DOS/Windows and MAC-type environments (as if most Amiga-users would really want to!). So unless an Amiga is running an emulator, you can't expect it to use PC or MAC programs. There are, however, several file-types that it can recognise and use - so that (with the current exception of shockwave and other high-end facilties) most medium to high end Amigas are quite happy on the WWW.
  2. It is somewhere between an Apple and a Windows-machine in terms of layout and features, but has several unique modes of operation as well. Compared to most PCs, Amigas are fast, efficient and accessible (internally and externally). Compared to most Amigas, PC's are lumbering dinosaurs. An Amiga can do anything a PC can do (and more) faster, more efficiently, more stably, with smaller code and tons more style.
  3. Since the collapse of Commodore Business Machines (the original supplier of the Amiga platform) around 1993-94, the Amiga has been struggling to keep alive. Most of its point-of-sale outlets for hardware and software have dried up. Only the fanatical enthusiasm of its supporters and evelopers - and the chaotic infrastructure of the WWW - are doing anything to keep it going. There has been the promise of new machines and upgraded operating systems for over five years. Some machines are even starting to appear, but the future for the Amiga as anything but a 'fringe' computer/system seems certain to continue.

There is talk, with the latest round of Amiga 'resurrection' news, of various changes to the Amiga system - Power PC processors and/or RISC technology, advanced graphics and sound capabilities and so on. Fine - all they'll need then is a 30% plus market share to recoup the development costs.

wbscape FILE-FORMATS AND BROWSER COMPATIBILITY

Since the advent of Workbench 3.0, Amigas rely on on a combination of datatypes and sophisticated programming to allow various types of file-formats to be read, either on the computer itself or through a web-browser. Modified Amigas (and new machines on the drawing boards) sometimes incorporate things like graphics- and sound-cards, but most machines must rely on native hardware and software to reduce any incoming signals to more manageable levels.

For example, my 1993-98 Amiga can read the following IBM/Windows/Mac files:

- Animations: some .avi, most .fli, .mpg, .qt;
- Archives: ,arc, .zip;
- Disks: 720k (double-density - NOT high-density, Zip, Jaz, or CD-ROM);
- Graphics: .bmp, .gif (including animated), .jpg;
- Sound & Music: MIDI, some MPEG3, ST3, .wav;
- Text files: ASCII, .htm/.html, .txt.; and
- Web-pages: the above files, plus frames, some Java and most HTML.

Compatibility increases all the time, especially with updates to browsers and their related MIMEs and plug-ins. There a couple of programs to allow low-grade RealAudio to be accessed, and VRML support is promised soon. But, in the meantime, any website with VRML, Shockwave, streaming video, masses of icons and graphics, and/or sophisticated Java-scripts is likely to crash my machine. This also means that I think twice about vising such sites.

There's nothing wrong with my machine, just because it can't access such things. They are, in fact, contrary to the original spirit and intentions of WWW-development in the first place. But, I suppose, one can't stand in the way of progress.

MY AMIGA

I bought my first Amiga - a 500 - in 1988 and my second - a 1200 - in 1993. My latest system was/is as follows:

HARDWARE

A1200, 6 meg of RAM, 52Mhz 030 "Viper" expansion board with FPU, second DD floppy disk-drive, 1084S monitor, Canon BJ200 printer.

INTERFACES

MIDI interface (for my Roland E-35 keyboard), SuperSound sound-enhancer (rarely used), VIDI-Amiga (the original version) with VIDI-RGB, ProSound sampler.

MAIN SOFTWARE

- FILE & PROGRAM MANAGEMENT: DirWork 1.62, MUI 3.8, ToolsDaemon
- DIAGNOSIS: FixDisk, DosTrace, AmiBack, Quarterback Tools
- CODING & PROGRAMMING: HiSoftBasic, Zap
- TEXT & DESKTOP PUBLISHING: CygnusEd, KindWords3.0, PageStream2.3
- TEXT CONVERSION: Heddley, AGWrite, FormaText, GuideML, HTMLess
- GRAPHICS & ANIMATION CREATION: PersonalPaint 6
- OTHER GRAPHICS PROGRAMS: PPShow, MPega, FJpeg, convertpic
- MUSIC & MIDI: Bars&Pipes Pro, SoundStudio, TigerCub, DeluxeMusic 2
- OTHER SOUND PROGRAMS: MidiPlay, MPEGA, SoundMachine, AudioMaster Pro
- WEB-BROWSING: TermiteTCP/FTP/Mail, IBrowse1.2, AmiIRC, WebTV
- OTHER ONLINE PROGRAMS: Voyager 2.7 demo, NComm
- WEB-PAGE CREATION: CygnusEd, VR_WebS, Web Design, WebMaker
- TALKING PROGRAMS: FileReader, PrinText, SayMore
- PLUS: Hundreds of smaller programs, too numerous to mention

All the above programs are installed on my tiny 40 megabyte hard-disk, together with the operating system and a 2 megabyte+ book I've been writing. I've always had a good laugh reading how much disk-space the latest Windows-based software takes up.

The downside of all this is that I had to store the balance of my 10-year software collection on over 1000 floppy-disks - but, apart from the small number of disks that I use at any one time, most of the rest are largely forgotten. Given an Amiga dealer that actually existed within a 30 kilometre radius, I could have upgraded the machine (1 gigabyte hard drive, CD-ROM and whatnot) but there's little point if the machine is headed into obscurity.

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URL: http://homepages.tig.com.au/~avanstar
EMAIL:
avanstar@tig.com.au
Alex Van Starrex