The Champaign-Urbana Computer Users Group

The Status Register - July, 2000

This newsletter will never appear on CUCUG.ORG before the monthly CUCUG meeting it is intended to announce. This is in deference to actual CUCUG members. They get each edition hot off the presses. If you'd like to join our group, you can get the pertinent facts by looking in the "Information About CUCUG" page. If you'd care to look at prior editions of the newsletter, they may be found via the Status Register Newsletter page.
News     Common     Mac     Amiga     CUCUG

July 2000

To move quickly to an article of your choice, use the search feature of your reader or the hypertext directory above. Enjoy.

July News:

The July Meeting

The next CUCUG meeting will be held on our regular third Thursday of the month: Thursday, July 20th, at 7:00 pm, at the Bresnan Community Center. Directions to the Bresnan are at the end of this newsletter.

The July 20 gathering will be one of our split SIG meetings. The Macintosh SIG will be witnessing Edwin Hadley working with the Wacom Graphire tablet along with Freehand 9. The Graphire works with the PC as well as the Mac. Edwin may also get around to showing some of the sound software he uses and maybe even burning a CD or two. The PC SIG will be watching Ed Serbe put Flight Unlimited III through its paces. In short, an evening of fun and games.


Welcome New Members

We'd like to welcome the newest members of our group, joining us in the last month: Thomas M. Bisso (A4000), Greg Kline (Power Mac G3/266, Pentium III 500) and Tim Bogue (Mac 68K, PowerMac, iMac, Mac G3/G4, Powerbook, Windows PC Desktop, Windows PC Laptop).

We welcome any kind of input or feedback from members. Have an article or review you'd like to submit? Send it in. Have a comment? Email any officer you like. Involvement is the driving force of any user group. Welcome to the group.


Amiga Authorized Developer Workstation Released to North America

July 13, 2000 - Amiga Inc., Snoqualmie, WA, today announced manufacturing and distribution agreements with Wonder Computers International Inc. in Ottawa, Canada and Software Hut, Inc. in West Chester, PA. These agreements will allow the manufacture of Amiga Authorized Developer Workstations in North America.

Both Software Hut and Wonder Computers are well known and well regarded figures in the Amiga community. Their involvement dates back well over a decade.

Amiga, Software Hut and Wonder Computers share the same vision and strategy to establish the Next Generation Amiga as the preeminent media platform and operating environment for the future.

"It gives us great pleasure to have released the Software Development Kit (SDK) on schedule and to follow up with such excellent value to the community with the Amiga Developer Workstation. It gives us equal pleasure to have the support of Software Hut and Wonder Computers behind this release. Through this developer machine, we achieve our goal of providing excellent value in superior hardware to realize our cross platform binary compatibility promise for developers. This will no doubt come as great news to those in the community seeking value of their dollar as they develop for the great number of target platforms that Amiga supports," said Randall Hughes, Vice President, Sales and Strategic Alliances at Amiga Inc.

"We at Software Hut are extremely excited to have been selected as the official US Distributor for the authorized Amiga Developer Workstation. Many of our customers and dealer partners have been looking for a machine with all the specifications to run the Amiga SDK in one bundled package. Our combined efforts, along with Amiga Inc.'s and Wonder Computers', will ensure that all developers will have easy and affordable access to the tools needed to develop software that will revolutionize computing as we now know it," said Joseph Muoio, President of Software Hut, Inc.

"We are proud to be a part of this quantum leap forward in computing technology, and look forward to working closely with Amiga and Software Hut on this project in the weeks and months to come. The developer machine is more than just a tool. It represents the first significant opportunity for Amigans and former Amigans everywhere, to join forces and help bring about a real change in the way computers work. The developers machine can also be configured to run Amiga Legacy software through emulation, adding further to its potential value for anyone considering a purchase," extolled Mark Habinski, President of Wonder Computers International Inc.

The developer machine represents unparalleled value, uses brand name parts of the highest quality, and is bundled with a comprehensive warranty on hardware and an enhanced level of support from Amiga Inc. The workstation also includes the Amiga SDK. "We at Amiga are proud to have our name on the Amiga Authorized Developer Workstation," said Mr. Hughes, in reference to its significant value and competitive price. Such a price/performance achievement is not possible using clone hardware. If it does not have the official Amiga Boing insignia, it is not an authorized Amiga Developer Workstation. Please see for full details.

About Amiga, Inc.

Amiga's mission is to provide THE platform, architecture and tools for the emerging Digital Content Universe. In doing so, we will uniquely empower our partners and customers to create products that will deliver on the promise of the Digital Age. The release of our first products, the Amiga software development kit (SDK) and now, the Amiga developer machine, is enabling thousands of developers, tired of the old platforms designed for yesteryear's services, to come over to join with the tens of thousands of existing Amiga developers already working with Amiga to create the content of today and tomorrow, now. For additional information, please visit

About Software Hut, Inc.

Software Hut, Inc. started out as a small, family-owned business in 1982, specializing in Apple products. After the release of the AMIGA 1000, Software Hut, Inc. realized the market potential of this superior graphics system and has spent the last 12 years devoting all of its efforts into promoting and selling the Amiga line of products. The Amiga's popularity and incredible graphics applications has transformed Software Hut, Inc from its humble beginnings to one of the largest Amiga distributors in the world. For additional information about Software Hut, visit or email

About Wonder Computers International, Inc.

Wonder Computers International Inc of Ottawa Ontario Canada is now in its fifth year of business. From its humble beginnings as a two man sales team it has grown to become a multi-million dollar business employing twenty people. Wonder Computers assembles its own line of aggressively priced desktop computers, operates an ISP, maintains a full service department with off-site support capability, and sells retail and corporate solutions, networks, computers, and parts. Wonder's focus markets include the Amiga computer and related peripherals, Angel Notebooks, and all manner of non-linear video and multi-media computer solutions. Through its website, Wonder Computers also conducts a thriving mail order business shipping systems and related products across North America. For more information about Wonder Computers, visit or e-mail

From the Software Hut web site:

Software Hut, INC. is pleased to announce the availability of the AMIGA DEVELOPER SYSTEMS, d'AMIGA. Systems are now in stock and will be shipped ASAP. Please feel free to email us with any custom configuration requests at .

d'AMIGA consists of:

AMIGA SDK SOFTWARE BUNDLE **STAND ALONE**                   --     $ 97.95
d'AMIGA w/SDK and $1000 value in Tech Support (no monitor)  --     $899.00


RealNetworks Supports QuickTime


Apple Computer and RealNetworks have announced that RealNetworks has licensed QuickTime technology and that RealServer 8 will support streaming QuickTime content to Apple's QuickTime Player. Being able to serve QuickTime content is a plus for RealNetworks, whose love-hate relationship with Microsoft has fueled much of the industry battle over streaming media technologies. By licensing and supporting QuickTime, RealNetworks strengthens its hand by gaining access to the more than 50 million copies of the QuickTime 4 Player installed on Macintosh and Windows systems worldwide. Apple benefits by QuickTime becoming a fully supported media type on RealNetworks' media servers, which are widely deployed and used for a variety of online broadcasting applications. The agreement supports streaming QuickTime content to Apple's QuickTime Player - RealNetworks' RealPlayer client itself will not support QuickTime content. A preview of RealServer 8 with QuickTime support is available now; RealNetworks says the final version should ship in the second half of 2000. [GD]


Adobe Draws Up Illustrator 9.0


With the release of Adobe Illustrator 9.0, Adobe Systems is working to draw more Web designers to the vector illustration program by providing additional drawing and exporting options. The new version includes features for creating transparent objects, beefed up layer controls, a pixel preview mode for working on Web graphics, and the capability to export into Macromedia Flash and SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics) formats. Illustrator 9.0 requires Mac OS 8.5 or later with at least 64 MB of RAM. The full Illustrator 9.0 package costs $400; current Illustrator users can upgrade for $150. Registered users of Photoshop, InDesign, PageMaker, and competitive products can get Illustrator 9.0 for $250. [JLC]


Concerning Elbox "Mediator" PCI System for the Amiga

by Steffen Haeuser on 14-Jun-2000

To clear up some things about these soon-to-appear PCI Interfaces: Initially an A1200 version will be released. Some weeks after the A1200 version there will be an A4000 version. Elbox ( is doing Picasso 96 drivers themselves, which are progressing fast in development. Hyperion ( will do Warp3D Drivers. The Interface reaches around 22 MB/sec. which is slightly faster than the Cyberstorm PPC < - > CybervisionPPC Interface. When the interface is released, cheap PCI Cards will be already available for it. The main "problem" of current GFX Cards (which still are the best which the Amiga has currently) is the fillrate of the chips, not the bus bandwidth, which means 3D Games should *fly* on the new boards. Elbox plans supporting more PCI Cards asides from GFX Cards later then. (Check their Press release for details.)

On July 12, it was announced that Power Computing ( are now accepting pre-orders for the Elbox Mediator PCI-board for A1200, which should be out in middle of this month. At the same time, they'll make available a number of add-on cards with drivers like Voodoo3 & 5, Mpeg player, etc.

Mediator PCI Busboard For Amiga 1200

Main features:

NOTICE! Two versions available from August 2000

Cost-effective PCI add-on modules:

If you'd like to pre-order a Mediator PCI Busboard 1200 (Amiga), the price is listed at £129.95 on the Power Computing web site. On Saturday, July 15, 2000, £129.95 British Pound converted to $194.874 US Dollars.


Suitcase 9 Packs Plenty Into Upgrade


The Extensis Product Group of has released a new version of the venerable font management utility Suitcase, which was rescued last year from Symantec's pile of acquired-then-expired software (see "Extensis Rescuing Suitcase" in TidBITS-466). Suitcase 9 features a central dialog box with all of the program's controls, four font preview formats, and cross-platform support when Suitcase 9 for Windows ships in July 2000. The utility includes Suitcase Server, enabling groups of two or more to access a central font library; three free server connections are included in Suitcase 9. The upgrade also ties together a handful of previously separate add- ons, including Suitcase XT (which can automatically activate a font needed by a QuarkXPress document when the file is opened) and Suitcase MenuFonts (for displaying typefaces in Font menus). Suitcase 9 is available as a download from the company's online store and costs $100, though upgrades from previous versions are $50. Competitive upgrades from Font Reserve and Adobe ATM Deluxe are priced at $60. [JLC]


AirPort 1.2 Update Available


Apple Computer has released AirPort 1.2, the latest version of its wireless networking software for configuring AirPort Base Stations and enabling any AirPort-equipped Mac to act as a software base station. AirPort 1.2's base station software ships with a default configuration that disables AirPort-to-Ethernet bridging, does not assign DHCP addresses, or share a single IP address on an Ethernet network via Network Address Translation (NAT), but all these services can still be enabled from the AirPort Admin utility. We know that's a mouthful: in a nutshell, these changes make it easier to introduce AirPort base stations into existing networks without disrupting services. AirPort 1.2 also supports closed networks in which the name of the AirPort network is hidden; this provides an additional level of obscurity in that users must know the exact name of the AirPort network to connect to it. Apple also says the AirPort 1.2 software improves stability and performance. The software is a 4.5 MB download and requires at least Mac OS 8.6 or higher (with Mac OS 9.0.4 recommended). Apple has also released a PDF document called Designing AirPort Networks and is conducting an online survey of AirPort Base Station users so Apple can prioritize future development. [GD]


Ex-Viscorp finally closes

by Christian Kemp ( on 20-Jun-2000

Jason Compton writes in comp.sys.amiga.misc: "I haven't seen anybody mention this yet, which sort of surprises me. Amiga history completists may find it interesting. US Digital Communications, the company Viscorp became after giving up on interactive TV and trying to get into satellite telephony, has at long last gone out of business. The post-mortem is at or you can check your favorite stock info site by looking up the ticket USDI or USDI.OB."


amiga.topcool has interviewed Met@box

Czech Amiga News ( - June 23, 2000

amiga.topcool publishes in their first issue an interview with Met@box. Met@box explains why the amijoe will release in 6 months: there was a bug in the Memory/PCI Bridge Controller. Now the card will be redesigned and will cost less then 1000 DM (approximately $479.302 US Dollars).

Daniel Orth, amiga.topcool -
Met@box website -


NO A2/3/4000 version of AmiJoe ?

June 23, 2000

AmiJoe info is now on the amijoe (joecard) website! It uses flash and it's german only at the moment. In the News section state that there will be NO Amiga 2000/3000/4000 version of the AmiJoe... :-(((( H&P and Met@box has a reached an agreement about WarpUP port for the card.

Met@box website - page -


AmiWest 2000 to take place on July 29-30, 2000!

by John Zacharias (, AmiWest 2000

AmiWest 2000 is being held on Friday through Sunday, July 29-30, 2000. This is the all-Amiga show which is being produced in Sacramento, California, at the popular Holiday Inn, Sacramento NorthEast, 5321 Date Avenue Sacramento, CA 95841. The Holiday Inn venue proved to be such a hit for last year's show that we are again holding it there.

Eyetech will be coming to AmiWest 2000 and will be showing off the Next Generation Amiga Development Machine coupled with a Classic A1200. Eyetech Group Ltd entered into a strategic relationship with Amiga Inc. on June 6, to manufacture the first release of the Next Generation Amiga Development Machine. Eyetech is the leading UK developers and Worldwide mail order retailers of Amiga technology products for the home and for industry.

A buffet banquet will be held on Saturday evening, July 29th, with Bill McEwen, President of Amiga Inc., as the guest speaker discussing the progress made to date on the new Amigas.

Petro Tyschtschenko, Managing Director, Amiga Deutschland Inc., will be joining Mr McEwen in attendance at AmiWest 2000.

Classes and seminars will be held throughout the day on both Saturday and Sunday with the exhibit hall being open on Saturday, July 29th from 10 A.M. - 5 P.M and Sunday, July 30th 10 A.M. - 4 P.M.

Specially priced tickets for AmiWest 2000 are available in advance by mail. Prices are: two day admission tickets, $12 and one day admission ticket, $8. If you elect to purchase tickets at the door, the prices are: two day ticket at the door, $15 and One day ticket at the door, $10. If you are ordering a one day ticket by mail, please specify which day (Saturday or Sunday) you are attending.

Banquet tickets are $35 per plate and must be purchased in advance. They will NOT be sold on Friday nor Saturday due to the hotel needing attendance figures for planning the banquet.

Special hotel room rates are available at the Holiday Inn for those attending AmiWest 2000. Room rates are $ 79 (Single) and $ 89 (double) if reservations are made by July 7. You must mention that you are attending AmiWest to get the special rate. You can phone the Holiday Inn at 1-916-338-5800 or 1-800-388-9284 (Tool Free - Hotel directly) to make hotel reservations.

You can mail your requests for advanced admission and banquet tickets to:

      AmiWest 2000
      c/o John Zacharias
      10004 Vanguard Drive
      Sacramento, CA 95827

Make checks payable to "AmiWest".

A form for ordering tickets can be found on the AmiWest web page at

where you can learn more about AmiWest 2000.


Microsoft takes a swing at Java

by George on 23-Jun-2000

C-Net's has an interesting article about a new language Microsoft is developing called C# (pronounced C-Sharp) that has many things in common with Java and is intended for Internet programming. They also talk about a Virtual Machine that can can run many different programming languages on any hardware that Microsoft is working on.

C-Net's has an interesting article about a new language Microsoft is developing called C# (pronounced C-Sharp) that has many things in common with Java and is intended for Internet programming. They also talk about a Virtual Machine that can can run many different programming languages on any hardware that Microsoft is working on. Read the article at :


Microsoft Antitrust Case to Supreme Court


U.S. District Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson - who has been presiding over the Microsoft antitrust trial - has agreed with the Justice Department's request under the Expediting Act to send Microsoft's appeal directly to the U.S. Supreme Court, bypassing the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Judge Jackson has already found Microsoft guilty of violating antitrust law and, earlier this month, ordered both a series of restrictions on Microsoft's business practices and that Microsoft be split into two separate entities. The decision to expedite the case directly to the Supreme Court is a blow to Microsoft, which wanted to proceed to the Appeals Court, which has previously been friendly to the company and (in a controversial move) had already agreed to hear Microsoft's appeal with a panel of seven judges rather than the usual three. However, Judge Jackson's decision does have a silver lining for the software giant: the judge's divestiture order and conduct restrictions on the company are suspended until the ruling is overturned or Microsoft exhausts its appeals. The Supreme Court must now decide whether it will hear the case - a decision which may come quickly or could take months - and it could still cede the case to the Appeals Court. (For more background, see TidBITS's coverage of Microsoft antitrust issues.) [GD]


Clinton Signs Electronic Signature Bill


Quoting James Madison, who called the contract clause of the U.S. Constitution "a constitutional bulwark in favor of personal security and private rights," President Clinton last week signed into law the Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act. Clinton first signed the paper bill in ink (as is required for federal legislation), then symbolically affixed an electronic signature by inserting a digitally encoded card into a computer and typing a password, "Buddy." (No one told the President that using a pet's name as a password is lousy security.) Clinton went on to say that the new law "gives fresh momentum to what is already the longest economic expansion in our history" by enabling online commerce in the U.S. to take place without the delay of waiting for signatures on paper - online mortgages and other contracts have still required paper documents, even if all other steps are handled electronically. The legislation gives electronic contracts the same legal force as paper contracts and doesn't favor any one technology. The electronic signature provision of the law goes into effect on 01-Oct-00, and electronic record-keeping (where record-keeping is required by federal law, such as mortgages and financial securities documents) will be permitted starting 01-Mar-01. [MHA]


Connectix Continues to Prevail Against Sony


In the long- running legal battle between Sony and Connectix, makers of the PlayStation emulator Virtual Game Station, Connectix has scored two recent victories. In May of 2000, Judge Charles Legge of the San Francisco Federal Court dismissed seven of Sony's nine claims. The dismissed claims all centered around copyright and trademark infringement. The two remaining claims, which relate to trade secrets and unfair competition, will be reviewed by the court for possible dismissal on 01-Sep-00.

Then, last week, the day before Connectix's motion to dismiss would have been heard, Sony voluntarily dismissed its patent claims in a second lawsuit the company filed against Connectix after losing its preliminary injunction against Connectix shipping Virtual Game Station. [ACE]


GraphicConverter 3.9 Expands Image Support


Lemke Software has released GraphicConverter 3.9, updating its impressive graphics manipulation program. The new version now opens and displays QuickTime files, imports and exports LuraWave (LWF) files, improves AppleScript capabilities, adds basic ColorSync support, and more. People looking for an inexpensive alternative to Adobe Photoshop often turn to GraphicConverter, as do users who need to open multi-page fax files (see "Facts About Internet Faxing" in TidBITS-484). GraphicConverter is a 2.4 MB download, and is available in nine languages. The program is $30 shareware. [JLC]


Microsoft OEM deals ruled out in court in Germany

from Dr. Peter Kittel (
Date: Mon, 10 Jul 00 20:00:45 MEZ

Microsoft just lost big time here in Germany. The highest federal court decided, that Microsoft cannot forbid dealers to sell the "OEM version" of Windows separately. Once again: This was the last instance in Germany, only European courts could change this. "Unbundling" of SW and HW is now legal.

So the practice of Microsoft to sell Windows rather cheap when bundled with a PC, but much, much more expensive when purchased alone, is past here. This can mean a complete new, hopefully cheaper, price structure.

Tony Cooke ( added:

And, of course, with the 'freedom of trade' within the EEC that means that this will apply right across the whole European Market. Wow. For once bureaucracy works in our favo(u)r.


Common Ground:

Applied Materials sparks shift to larger silicon wafers

By Ian Fried, Staff Writer, CNET
July 10, 2000, 4:00 a.m. PT

It's been on-again, off-again for years, but the chip industry finally appears headed toward using larger wafers.

Applied Materials, the 800-pound gorilla of equipment makers, today is announcing 21 new pieces of equipment designed to process wafers the size of dinner plates, as opposed to the current salad-plate-size discs.

The move from 8-inch to 12-inch wafers allows up to 2.5 times as many chips to be produced per wafer, dramatically cutting the cost of making new electronics.

Applied is making its announcement at the start of Semicon West, the chip-gear industry's big trade show that kicks off today in San Francisco and moves to San Jose, Calif., later in the week. Other chip-gear makers, such as Novellus Systems and KLA-Tencor, also are expected to announce new gear.

It's not the first time Applied and others have tried to move the industry to the larger wafers. Applied has been working on the technology since the early 1990s and thought the industry was going to bite in the mid-1990s, only to find out no one would pay up.

"The main thing is customers are willing to spend money," Applied chairman Jim Morgan said in an interview. "In the past they were not willing to commit to buy."

Robertson Stephens analyst Sue Billat said this time the move is for real, predicting that about a dozen wafer fabrication plants (fabs) will be in production next year on the larger chips.

"It's here, and it is happening on an accelerated schedule," Billat said.

Money is the driving factor behind the move. Billat said the new tools will cost chipmakers between 30 percent and 40 percent more than the gear needed for 200-millimeter wafers, but they will deliver roughly 2.5 times as many chips.

Simple geometry dictates that there is 2.25 times as much area on a 12-inch disc as on an 8-inch one. But there is an edge effect because chips are square and wafers are round, meaning the larger wafers are even more efficient.

Billat, who has been in the chip industry since the transition from 2-inch to 3-inch wafers, said such moves are always difficult, but the time is right.

"Nobody wants to build the last 200-millimeter (8-inch) fab," Billat said. But at an average price tag of $2.5 billion, not every chip company will be able to afford to build a new plant to produce larger wafers.

That should increase the trend toward using foundries, contract firms such as Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing (TSMC) and Taiwan-based UMC Group, which handle the actual chip manufacturing.

"That's very good for Applied Materials," Billat said. "They have a pretty good market share in foundries."

Applied said its tools will cover about three-quarters of the steps needed to make chips using the larger wafers.

Billat said the big hole in the company's lineup is lithography. She expects ASM Lithography to talk at the conference about 12-inch tools that will ship this summer and said rivals Nikon and Canon are likely to outline their plans for 12-inch production as well.

The key question is whether the added capacity will push the industry into oversupply. Salomon Smith Barney analyst Jonathan Joseph shook up the industry this week when he suggested there are already warning signs that excess supply could hit within six to nine months.

Billat said she strongly disagrees with that assessment.

"I don't think we're anywhere near as close as that," she said.

Though the move to larger wafers will eventually lead to a dramatic increase in industry capacity, Billat said the move could actually slow the end of the up-cycle, as it could take twice as long to get the larger wafer plants into production.

Morgan said demand in the industry appears strong and could continue, with increased demand for new types of electronic gear and increased spending from new markets such as China and India. Even Japan, which had dramatically cut its spending on chip production in recent years, is showing signs of life, Morgan said.

"I'd expect the next couple of years to be a pretty good investment cycle," Morgan said.


The Macintosh Section:

Serving the Internet from a PowerBook 5300

by Ron Risley (

It has been a year since the seduction began.

I was an early adopter of ISDN, but years later I felt that it never lived up to its promise. Now that DSL is available in my area, and since I can hit the telco central office with a well- aimed pitch from my back yard, I figured I would get excellent results, since bandwidth available via DSL depends in part on the length and condition of the wires from the central office to your site.

My DSL installation was quick and practically flawless, in spite of complications caused by the conversion from ISDN. To keep the DSL line isolated from the rest of my network, Pacific Bell provided a PCI Ethernet card for my Mac. My downlink speed reached 1.5 megabits per second (Mbps), although PacBell throttled my uplink bandwidth down to 128 Kbps.

Spreading the Joy

I couldn't be happier, except that this new instant-on, super-fast connection worked only for my main computer. My wife Kim's iMac, barely two meters away, was still chained to a 56 Kbps analog modem (and since our voice line uses the same pair of wires as the DSL connection, she could no longer surf and talk at the same time). Other derelict machines scattered around the house had no Internet access at all. We needed a way to share this prodigious new bandwidth resource.

A quick search of the Web turned up some DSL routers. These devices connect to both the DSL line and an Ethernet network, and optionally share a single IP address among several machines using Network Address Translation (NAT). Just what I needed, except that both Kim and I are resident doctors, which means we make just over minimum wage. The $200 installation fee for the DSL line had already decimated my computer budget for a few months, and DSL routers from companies like Netopia start at about $500.

It occurred to me that there must be a software-based solution. Another search turned up SurfDoubler by Vicomsoft and IPNetRouter from Sustainable Softworks.

The Vicomsoft product looked friendly and polished, but it limited the number of simultaneous users to two or three. I liked IPNetRouter's approach of leveraging the considerable power already present in Open Transport. The interface was geekier and more flexible, and since I'm a geeky kind of guy, I downloaded the free demo.

IPNetRouter did everything its author, Peter Sichel, promised. I went seriously over budget by registering the $89 program (generous educational and competitive upgrade prices are available), and within minutes my wife's iMac was enjoying the same unfettered Internet access that I had. Unfettered, that is, as long as my machine was running. That presented a problem: I like to write low-level software, which means that I crash and/or restart my machine frequently while testing. I also hate fan noise and I hate wasting electricity. Leaving my SuperMac S-900 with dual fans and dual monitors continuously running when I wasn't using it was troublesome.

Full-Time Service

IPNetRouter, I'm told, doesn't use a whole lot of processor power. I had an old PowerBook 5300cs sitting around that had both a malfunctioning display and a broken trackpad. It wasn't worth the trouble and expense to fix it, but the processor still worked fine. It was fanless, sipped power, and even had built-in backup power in the form of its built-in battery. Could it be pressed into service as a router?

Indeed it could. I hooked up an external monitor and a mouse long enough to load AT&T's Virtual Network Computing (VNC) software onto it, which allows a remote machine to mirror the screen and send keyboard and mouse commands over the Internet. (See Kevin Savetz's look at earlier versions of VNC in TidBITS-441.) It isn't as stable or feature-filled as Netopia's Timbuktu, but it would do the job and, being free, it fit my budget. I bought a Ethernet PC Card from TidBITS sponsor Small Dog Electronics for $19, loaded IPNetRouter onto the PowerBook, and connected it to my Ethernet hub.

What had started as a simple switch from ISDN to DSL had grown into a small but significant LAN construction project. I now had a stable, fast, 24/7 Internet connection that could be shared by all the computers in my home. You would think I'd be satisfied.

But another problem quickly presented itself.

A Web of One's Own

I've had a Web presence for a long time, but I'd always been content to have my site served by my ISP. Why should I take on the hassle of keeping a server up constantly, when server space is included with most ISP accounts? The ISP I used for my old ISDN connection, however, didn't support DSL. That meant moving my site, which meant rewriting all of the pages that used server-specific resources (mostly CGI scripts to handle email forms) to be compatible with PacBell's servers. PacBell also limits DSL accounts to three megabytes of server space, which would be a tight squeeze for my site. Free server sites exist, but usually on the condition that you display ads, and I take pride in the fact that my site is free of advertising. I could buy more server space from PacBell or elsewhere, but there was that pesky overextended budget problem again.

I stared balefully at the 5300cs under my desk. Always on. Always connected. Static IP address. Hundreds of megabytes of free disk space. Why, it was the perfect candidate for a server!

With no previous need for a Web server, I had never paid much attention to the server software that was out there. I knew about StarNine's WebSTAR, but it violated the Prime Budget Directive. My brief search for a very low cost server was rewarded when I was reminded that Apple's Personal Web Sharing has been bundled with the Mac OS since version 8.0, and runs under Mac OS 7.6. [Another option is NetPresenz, the venerable shareware application which offers Web, FTP, and even Gopher servers, but its $75 price is higher than that of the free Personal Web Sharing. Ron eventually switched his server to NetPresenz, but later in his server odyssey than what's covered in this article. -Geoff]

I activated Personal Web Sharing, copied my Web site files onto the 5300cs, and I was hosting my own site! I was surprised to find that Personal Web Sharing even uses File Sharing to support basic authentication (password-protected Web pages) and CGI scripts. I soon discovered a wealth of AppleScript CGIs on the Web, and installed the venerable Email CGI to support my basic forms.

Why Not Email?

High-speed access for all my machines, a local Web server with hundreds of megabytes to play with, freedom to write my own CGI scripts... that should have been enough, but I'd been bitten by the server bug. I have always wanted to host some mailing lists to help my fellow residents communicate better, but never had access to a list server. I remembered Macjordomo, an long-standing mailing list server, and was surprised to find out that it was still free.

Macjordomo doesn't require your own mail server, but as I configured it I realized that I would need several addresses for each list, since I was thinking along the guidelines published in TidBITS for mailing list management (though I haven't set up all the headers yet).

Sure, I could get extra mailboxes from PacBell, but then that budget thing reared its ugly head again. The Macjordomo documentation, though, listed a couple of free Mac POP and SMTP mail servers. Those would provide me with all the mailboxes I wanted. First, I evaluated Eudora Internet Mail Server (EIMS) since I'm a big Eudora fan. The commercial version looks nice, but is way out of my price range. The freeware version also seems to work well, and has its adherents, but I couldn't get the anti- relay features to work as well as I wanted. I couldn't live with myself if someone were using my site to relay spam. So instead I adopted Stalker Internet Mail Server (SIMS), a flexible server with excellent anti-spam features.

Now I could create whatever email boxes I wanted, and in the process I had solved another problem: many of my patients prefer to communicate with me by email. Some encrypt their mail using PGP, but for others that is too complicated. I worried about their messages sitting, unencrypted, on someone else's POP server. Though messages can still be intercepted in transit, at least now they go directly to a computer under my control.

What's in a Name?

Surely that would be the end of things. I now had a server for email and the Web, a mailing list manager, and NAT-equipped router. I had done it all for about $200. The only problem was that the "friendly" DNS name PacBell had given my PowerBook 5300 was hideous - it was more than 40 characters long and contained a mishmash of letters, numbers, and hyphens. How was anyone going to remember an email address at a site with a name which looked like a random slap on the keyboard?

I admit it: I have always lusted after a vanity Internet address. Now I had my excuse, and with the opening up of the domain-name registration process, prices were falling. It would mean spending a little bit more money, but by then I had saved a bit by skipping meals while trying to get all this server software running. I registered with Network Solutions at $70 for two years.

Another catch, though: in order to register a domain name, you have to have _two_ separate domain name servers (DNS) - ideally on topologically distant parts of the Internet. Again, these services can be purchased from any number of vendors, but I needed a more budget-friendly solution.

Fortunately, there are two free name servers available for the Mac OS. But first a word of warning. With some perseverance and patience, most people could probably get this far. The free Web, email, and mailing list server software is of generally high quality, well-supported, and more-or-less easy to use. The DNS system, however, does not excel at user-friendliness. Understanding the arcana associated with DNS servers and their zone files can be a monumental challenge. If you're going to break down and pay somebody else to administer part of your site, or plunk down serious bucks for a friendly and supported commercial product (such as the $290 QuickDNS Pro from Men & Mice), DNS is where I'd start.

To their credit, Apple attempted to put a friendly face on DNS back in 1995 when they flirted with the idea of supporting Internet servers on the Mac. MacDNS makes it possible to get a domain name server online in minutes, though its capabilities are limited, its performance poor, and its stability is highly questionable (although some report using it without problems). It is still available as a free download from Apple, but has not been updated since 1996.

NonSequitur is an alternative for Unix geeks and others willing to tackle the mysteries of BIND-format zone files. It is a small, fast, streamlined name server that seems extremely stable. It is also free, and is my name server of choice. Since MacDNS's and NonSequitur's zone files both use BIND format, you could conceivably use the MacDNS front end to create a zone file for NonSequitur, though I haven't actually tried it.

Providing a secondary DNS proved more problematic. I only had one IP address, so my secondary service would have to be hosted elsewhere. For the short term, I solved this problem by recruiting a temporarily unused computer at my work. DNS is generally low bandwidth and can run in the background virtually unnoticed for low-volume sites, but this solution wasn't really satisfactory - even the scant few cycles I was using weren't really mine.

Ideally, now that high-speed access is becoming more commonplace, we could create simple DNS hosting partnerships: you provide secondary DNS for me and I'll provide it for you. Unfortunately, neither of the free Mac OS DNS programs support this concept. Most DNS programs can act as secondary servers by querying the primary, so zone files don't have to be manually synchronized between the two machines. MacDNS and NonSequitur will act as primaries, but do not support secondary DNS. A clever AppleScript could probably circumvent this limitation, but that project is currently languishing on my good intentions pile. The commercial QuickDNS Pro does offer secondary service, but when the budget had recovered a bit, I ended up buying secondary DNS service. Several providers offer secondary DNS for a dollar or two a month.

Share and Share Alike

Enough certainly should be enough, but there was just one more piece I wanted to put in place. I was involved in another project that needed some hosting services. Now that I had all the pieces in place, how hard could it be to add another domain to my server?

I soon became discouraged. There are well-established standards for sharing a single IP address among multiple Web sites as a way of conserving scarce IP address space - a practice called virtual hosting. Alas, virtual hosting implementations for the Mac OS seemed to be limited to WebSTAR plug-ins. I mulled over the idea for a few days before it occurred to me that a CGI script could do the job. When I went to create the script, I discovered that it was frighteningly simple. In its most basic form, Web server multihoming can be accomplished with just three lines of AppleScript! Even after I added some error checking and refinement, the script is less than a screen's length and supports an unlimited number of Web sites all hosted from the same IP address.

Mastering the Web Universe

We've all heard the A.J. Liebling witticism, "Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one." What is remarkable, to me, is the dramatic way in which the Internet has decreased the cost of press ownership. The one major piece of the puzzle was full-time access to the Internet, but the rest of the job of building a full-fledged Internet presence required little money, a scrap computer, and a chunk of spare time.

When I'd considered setting up my own server in the past, I'd always assumed I would run it under Linux. In retrospect, I am glad I took the Mac OS approach, unplanned though it was. It convinced me as nothing else could how viable Macintosh is as an Internet platform.

More information about setting up Internet services under the Mac OS can be found in the book Providing Internet Services via the Mac OS, by Carl Steadman and Jason Snell, available online. Although the book was published in mid-1996 and is now quite dated in places, it was comprehensive at the time and the basics remain as true as ever.

[Ron Risley could have been a dot-com. Instead, he closed his communications consulting practice in 1986 to pursue a new career as a psychiatrist and family doctor.]


Adventures In CD-RW

by Edwin Hadley (

I now have a working CD-RW (Yamaha 8424) and I have been burning a few CDs. I have been dumping sound material from a cassette player (Walkman) into my Mac via a male mini-jack to male minijack cable I got at the local Radio Shack. It plugs in via the microphone input jack, but then I go to the Monitors & Sound control panel to change the sound source from "microphone" to "line in". This engages a pre-amp in the Mac that boosts the sound levels. I have been recording the sound files using a sonicWORX® Artist Basic 1.0.0 demo because it doesn't automatically convert the files to MP3 format. If I wanted to record MP3s, I can use several applications, like SoundJam^Á MP Free or MusicMatch JukeBox that are shareware. I am using Toast 4.1 to burn the CD, but I am looking at Discribe because of a $40± "competitve upgrade price" that is appealling. (Their demo doesn't support my model of CD-RW, so I may have to buy it "on faith.")

sonicWORX Basic information - free sound design / audio editing software
      (different from the Artist Basic demo which costs money)

This sonicWORX Basic version allows you to work with your sound files and apply a limited set of DSP functions. This is no demo version, you can save your work and use it like you would with the full featured version. If you wish to try out all plug ins that come with the retail version, make sure you also download the demo version of the sonicWORX retail version from our web site.

  • Mac version, .hqx Archive, approx 1.4MB
          This software can be found at
          They also have several PC demos available, as well.

    Key features

    Minimum system requirements
          Apple PowerMacintosh with at least PPC 601 processor running @ 100MHz,
          256k 2nd level cache, 16 MBytes RAM, Audio In/Out, System 7.5.3 or
          higher. Apple Sound Manager 3.2 or higher.

    SoundJam MP application information can be found at

    MusicMatch Jukebox application information can be found at

    What I am currently looking for is a good cheap or free program that allows me to run effects on and/or clean-up the sound of my tapes. I haven't seriously started to look for this stuff, yet, though. I have downloaded some apps. but haven't had the time to play, yet. And I haven't started to incorporate the more sophisticated forms of production, like fade-ins, fade-outs and sound on sound, or things like adding filters or editing (read distorting) the sound.

    My adventure into sound production and CD burning has lapsed due to a Fourth of July parade float I was working on and a motorcycle trip I had right after the parade float was done. But I am back now and the sound will start to flow again, soon.


    The Amiga Section:

    New York Times: Return of a Desktop Cult Classic (No, Not the Mac)

    By Katie Hafner, The New York Times, June 22, 2000

    Long Revered for Its Powerful Graphics and Lean Operating System, the Amiga Is Re-emerging From the Margins

    It is the little computer that won't. Die, that is.

    Dan Lamont/ Corbis Sygma, for The New York Times

    Bill McEwen, president of Amiga, hopes to revive what has become a quaint but well-loved relic of the PC past. A half-million old Amiga computers are believed to be still in use.

    For years, the little Amiga, a machine regarded highly but not widely, has been considered all but extinct.

    But in a new chapter in the life of the Amiga's parent company, Amiga Inc., which spent years being shunted from foster home to foster home, the Amiga has finally found an owner who is determined not only to keep it alive but also to make it thrive.

    Last December, Bill McEwen, a 38-year-old former truck driver, bought Amiga's remaining assets, and earlier this month his freshly minted Amiga Inc. released a software developers' kit for programmers writing applications for a new version of the Amiga operating system. Those applications will run on a new Amiga that is expected to be on the market by the end of the year. Like the old Amigas, the new one promises a lean operating system (that boots up quickly) and good graphics.

    As Amiga loyalists go -- and they are a fanatical bunch who make Apple partisans look apathetic -- Mr. McEwen came late to the fold. But he is determined to see the Amiga operating system make its way onto computers, personal digital assistants and cell phones everywhere.

    "We refer to it as the VW bug," Mr. McEwen said. "It was so popular because it was functional, it did what it was supposed to do, and ahead of its time in so many ways, and then they brought it back."

    Since the first Amiga was introduced in 1985, when a memorable demonstration of "Boing," a red and white bouncing ball, showed off the machine's ability to handle color, animation and sound, it has been cherished by its owners. Andy Warhol was among its early fans. Lemmings, Sensible Soccer and Sim City games all started out on the Amiga.

    But the computer failed to attract a critical mass, and for years it has been considered a quaint relic of the personal computing past.

    Some 7 million Amigas have been sold worldwide (compared with the 475 million machines running Microsoft's Windows, and 31 million Macintoshes, according to Dataquest, a market research company). And of those, some 500,000 are still used, with varying degrees of ardency, said Andrew Korn, editor of Amiga Active, a British magazine that is one of dozens of publications dedicated to the topic of the Amiga.

    The computer has a small but fiercely loyal following, especially in Europe. Amigans, as they call themselves, hold up the computer, with its streamlined operating system, as the antithesis of today's PC's, which they consider to be bloated with code. While the Windows operating system takes more than 600 megabytes of disk space, the new Amiga's operating system takes only 5 megabytes.

    Mr. Korn said that at Amiga trade shows around the world -- attended by anywhere from 500 to 2,000 Amigans -- he had seen people with their heads shaved and dyed in the red-and-white checkered pattern of the original Boing ball, which has become the computer's de facto logo. He has seen people with Boing tattoos and people in double-breasted, custom-tailored red-and-white checkered suits.

    When it comes to raw computing power, the Amiga is an anemic little machine.

    Still, it continues to show up in surprising places. The actor Dick Van Dyke owns three. NASA uses them, and so does a small cadre of Disney animators.

    Mr. Van Dyke said he bought his first Amiga in 1991 and quickly became hooked. "I just plugged it in and turned it on and started doing animations," said Mr. Van Dyke, who uses his Amiga for 3-D animation and special effects.

    Mr. Van Dyke said he had Amiga bumper stickers on his car and regularly drove to Los Angeles from his home in Malibu to attend meetings of the small but active local users group. "We're rabid," he said.

    Mr. Korn said, "Like with car owners, there are a lot of people who love the machine, but the reason is because of what they can do with it rather than what it is."

    After Commodore, Amiga's parent company, folded in 1994, it sold its Amiga computer line to a German computer retailer, Escom A.G. But there, too, the computer languished and production stopped altogether when Escom went bankrupt in 1996.

    In 1997, prospects brightened when the PC manufacturer Gateway bought Amiga and promised to bring out a new, more powerful computer. Mr. McEwen said Gateway had mostly been interested in Amiga's 40 or so valuable patents, for video and sound card technologies.

    Gateway hired Mr. McEwen, a large, lumbering man who went into computer sales after leaving his family's trucking business in the mid-1980's, as its chief evangelist for the Amiga. Mr. McEwen had not owned an Amiga before but was immediately smitten and soon came to consider himself one of the clan.

    But after two years and a series of false starts, a new Amiga failed to materialize.

    Last August, it looked as though the end had finally come. That's when Mr. McEwen and most members of Gateway's small Amiga team lost their jobs and plans for resurrecting the computer were scrapped yet again.

    The Amiga did not fit with the company's "evolution and strategic direction," said John Spelich, a spokesman for Gateway.

    Mr. McEwen put a finer point on it. "Amiga was baggage to Gateway's main business," he said. "It wasn't an asset in their minds."

    So passionate had Mr. McEwen become about the computer that he quickly proposed to Gateway that he buy what remained of Amiga's assets. It took him a month to raise the money to buy the rights to the Amiga name; the remaining Amiga inventory, which consisted of some 17,000 machines in Germany; and a worldwide distribution channel already in place. Gateway kept the patents and licensed them to Mr. McEwen. The price for everything, Mr. McEwen said, was "in the millions."

    Mr. McEwen now has a staff of 20 in an office in Snoqualmie, Wash., east of Seattle. All but two employees got their start in computers with Amigas, he said proudly.

    Mr. McEwen recruited his director of technical support, Gary Peake, from the ranks of the most serious users. Mr. Peake, 48, who moved from Houston to work for Mr. McEwen, presides over Team Amiga, a vocal group of stalwart fans who provide technical support for other Amiga users and developers.

    Mr. Peake also owns one of the three Amiga computers that can be found at the Snoqualmie headquarters. The rest of the office has PC's, which can run with the new Amiga operating system.

    The spacious quarters leave plenty of room for expansion, and Mr. McEwen plans to fill every square inch. He is currently seeking second-round financing for his new venture.

    Mr. McEwen keeps a copy of the Bible on his desk.

    "Every so often a little inspiration helps," he said.

    He travels to Amiga trade shows around the world. At a recent show in Düsseldorf, where he went to show off the new software developers' kit, some 1,800 people attended his presentations.

    Mr. McEwen said he had no plans for Amiga itself to build a new machine. He is negotiating with a third-party hardware manufacturer that will build a new desktop computer by using readily available graphics chips, network cards and other components. The new machine, which Mr. McEwen said would be priced at around $700, will be called the Amiga One. "I'm starting over," he said.

    In the meantime, if you're in the United States looking for an Amiga to buy, you won't have an easy time of it. That is because most of the existing inventory conforms to European, not American, video formats.

    But Mr. McEwen said he was far more interested in promoting the Amiga operating system than any piece of hardware.

    To that end, he has teamed up with a software company in Reading, England, to overhaul the original operating system.

    Mr. McEwen said the new system was so versatile that it could be adapted to operate not only on desktop computers but also on Web appliances and cell phones. Mr. McEwen said a number of consumer electronics companies were interested in the new Amiga operating system.

    "It will run on a lot of different hardware," Mr. Korn said. "Software written for it will run on whatever the underlying hardware is."

    Amiga's new operating system also runs existing Amiga applications through emulation software.

    Wayne Hunt, a 34-year-old software engineer in Huntsville, Ala., who runs a Web site devoted to Amiga support, said the latest developments had inspired optimism but also caution among his fellow Amigans. "It's hard when you've been sitting here for 15 years, waiting for the thing to take off like you knew it could," he said.

    This time around, Mr. McEwen said, he is determined not to disappoint the likes of Mr. Hunt. "When the Amiga came out the first time, it was revolutionary and that's what we're setting out to do again," he said. "It will work. There's no doubt in my mind that it will work."


    Amiga President & CEO, Bill McEwen Interviewed on CNNfn

    Source: FDCH CEO Wire/Associated Press
    Publication date: 2000-06-30


    STEVE YOUNG, CNNfn ANCHOR, DIGITAL JAM: A computer company once on the endangered species list is making a comeback. Amiga, which won raves 15 years ago but not enough users, is finding a new life after a former truck driver bought the company. Just a few weeks ago, Amiga released a new operating system and a new Amiga computer is due out by the end of the year. But the company's chief has his sights on something bigger. He wants Amiga in computers, PDAs, cell phones, everywhere.

    Joining us now to talk about Amiga's rebirth is its president & CEO Bill McEwen. This really is a cult computer, isn't it?

    BILL MCEWEN, PRESIDENT & CEO, AMIGA: Oh very much so. There's quite an active following. In fact we've been very surprised to have the support of numerous people and even larger corporations wouldn't even know Amiga's existed in. It's been very exciting.

    YOUNG: I remember going to stores in the '80s that had Amigas. They were very advanced for the time with dedicated graphic chips. That was one of the big deals, right?

    MCEWEN: Absolutely. In fact, that's where, especially in the United States, it's still in use by many studios, Disney (Company: The Walt Disney Company; Ticker: DIS; URL: , Warner Brothers, Universal Studios. We even got words at some folks down in Atlanta CNN still use Amigas for doing some of the video production there.

    YOUNG: I want to bring in one of your debotees, Dick Van Dyke, who's in Malibu, California. And how many Amigas do you have?

    DICK VAN DYKE, CELEBRITY: At the moment I have four, Steve.

    YOUNG: What do you do with four Amigas, Dick?

    VAN DYKE: Well they all network together. I'm using also some of the better known computers, which I'll get rid of as soon as the new Amiga comes out. Hi Bill.

    MCEWEN: That's right, Dick.

    YOUNG: This new operating system, Bill, will be able to do what?

    MCEWEN: Well this is a different model than what we've traditionally. Most operating systems today are tied to a chip set. In other words, Windows is X86 based. Macintosh is PowerPC. Our new operating system is independent of the processor, so when a developer writes to the new Amiga software, it will automatically run currently on 14 different processors. And it will also run not only on our own operating system in a native format, but in a self host environment it will run on Windows, on Linux, on Windows CE, on OS9 and other products. In fact right now, the exact same OS runs the Motorola (Company: Motorola Inc.; Ticker: MOT; URL: P1088 JAVA SmartPhone.

    YOUNG: Dick, everybody of course knows you as a wonderful performer, comedian. Are you really a digital guy? Do you follow this tech talk?

    VAN DYKE: I cannot follow the tech talk. I'm a graphics artist, Steve, and I started out with the Amiga and it was the only game in town for the graphics back then and still as far as I'm concerned, the only one. But I'm not a technician, so I need a forgiving computer that will cut me a little slack, and Amiga does that.

    YOUNG: A graphics artist. Are you designing stuff for TV, for films, or for print or what?

    VAN DYKE: I do animations, composites, I do special effects. I've done a little work from my own television series. I'm really an amateur, but getting better.

    YOUNG: We need you to send us some files. We'll put them on the air and look at them.

    VAN DYKE: Oh, I'd be tickled to death to.

    YOUNG: Bill, it sounded to me, going back to the technical stuff a minute, as if there were some similarities to what that new company TransMeta is saying about emulating stuff in software and being able to run on any kind of operating system.

    MCEWEN: In many ways we can run on the TransMeta chip itself. What we've done is we're taking what made the Amiga so great in its multimedia capabilities, its library classes, everything that Dick enjoys with the Amiga, and we're extrapolating that from the chip set so that you no longer have to be bothered about having the latest, the greatest chip because the operating system takes care of all that for the individual. Folks at JAVA One saw the operating system running on a Sega Dreamcast, on an LSI Logic (Company: LSI Logic Corporation; Ticker: LSI; URL: set top box, on an X86 machine running Linux, on a Windows machine, and from ARM Computing, their new Prospector notebook computer, and the code was all identical across all machines.

    YOUNG: Dick, I saw in a research note that you leave your, I'm sure, ravishing house there in Malibu and drive into LA for Amiga club meetings. What are those like?

    VAN DYKE: Well we have people who have been with Amiga. Some people who've been with Tim Jenison's NewTek - the Toaster, which so many of us still use for our graphics, and to trade ideas, and to show each other our work. It's just kind of a social event.

    YOUNG: Is it a little weird, though, I mean, like a Star Trek convention?

    VAN DYKE: No. Not quite that nerdy, but we're bad enough, Steve.

    YOUNG: Bad enough. OK. Well thanks very much to both of you for joining us tonight on DIGITAL JAM. The Amiga is a cult thing that just won't go away. There are by the way something like 7 million. How many of them do you have in inventory?

    MCEWEN: Well there's an install base of 7 million, and then we still have the A1200 model that people can still go out and buy today. We've got about 17,000 of those in inventory now.

    YOUNG: OK. Well Bill, Dick, thanks so much for joining us.

    VAN DYKE: Thank you.

    MCEWEN: Thank you, Steve.


    To order a video of this transcript, please call 888-CNNFN-01 or use our secure online order form located at WWW.FDCH.COM (Federal Document Clearing House, Inc.).


    Is Amiga The Future Of Gaming? ... an Interview with CEO of AMIGA

    GD Feature: Exclusive Look into Amiga and Interview with CEO of AMIGA
    By Duane Pemberton & Marc Rigney

    Imagine a world where you can buy a game, install it, and play it on your Windows PC Ğ not too difficult, as it's what you do already. Imagine going to a friend that uses Linux on their home computer, installing the same game on their system, and having it run perfectly out of the box. Now imagine once again taking that same game that you purchased, and then installing it on a handheld device that uses a completely different type of processor than any desktop computer does, and it runs beautifully.

    This is the world we could live in, if the newest incarnation of Amiga has its way. The new Amiga is bent on no less than wholesale domination of computer multimedia.

    Many people had left Amiga for dead, a platform that had no future and no users. The thing is, Amiga never went away, with a U.S. presence in most television and movie production houses, many game development companies, and has been a favorite of old-school 3D animators since the beginning. In Europe, the users of Amiga have never wavered. They are now out-numbered by the PC mainstream, but the community there is strong. New software and new peripherals are developed for Amiga systems constantly. User groups and magazines abound in Europe for the Amiga. With a following that rivals or exceeds Macintosh users in fervor, Amiga could never truly die. With that in mind, however, things have to change in order for Amiga to travel into its next phase of existence.

    Most people think of Amiga as a hardware platform first, and an operating system second. The existing hardware epitomizes this, as the Amiga systems that are in use now have specialized co-processors for many of its sub-systems. This is what made the Amiga a multimedia powerhouse when it was unleashed, and still makes it an extremely flexible system for 3D animation and multimedia production to this very day.

    The new Amiga, Inc. is a software company, with no plans to produce a hardware product itself, however, there are plans for a third-party company to manufacture the next-generation Amiga system, called the Amiga One. The only part of it that Amiga, Inc. will produce is the operating system. In fact, Amiga wants to change the way you think about operating systems. The current operating systems in use are huge monstrosities of code, Windows being the most glaring example of this. Amiga OS has traditionally been a lightweight in terms of code bloat, an example of elegant simplicity. The new Amiga wishes to take this a step further, with complete portability of the Amiga OS, complete binary compatibility with any processor, and the ability to co-exist with most any "mainstream" operating system.

    Some of you may be familiar with operating system emulation, like the Mac OS application Virtual PC, which allows you to run Windows or any x86 compatible operating system on a PowerPC Macintosh. Using this as an example, emulation, or rather, interpretation of x86 instructions to PPC instructions is inefficient and costly in terms of system resources and speed.

    Amiga's solution is to use Tao Group's product called intent (that's right, intent with a bold "e" in the middle) as the Amiga Foundation Layer. The Amiga Foundation Layer is something to behold: it is a virtual processor that can be implemented over different families of CPUs for complete binary compatibility and does not carry the penalties of traditional emulation. The Amiga Foundation Layer also supports multiple levels of abstraction Ğ it can run on almost any processor available; this includes the x86 family, PowerPC, Alpha, ARM, StrongARM, and many processors used in the imbedded market (i.e. cell phones and handheld computers). It can run in a dedicated hosted environment, where the Amiga OS is visible with another operating system underneath like Linux, Windows, or QNX. Finally, the Amiga Foundation Layer can even be run as an application hosted inside of another operating system, allowing you to use both operating systems at the same time. Unbelievably, the hosted environments have little performance hit running applications as compared to running native directly over hardware.

    So how does this make the Amiga OS the universal game platform? When writing a game, most developers use a low-level language like C or C++ that is then compiled to create code that runs on a specific hardware platform, like a Windows PC or a Macintosh. With the Amiga Foundation Layer, you use a macro assembler language called VP. VP was designed to be very familiar to the programmer that uses low-level languages like C, so there should be a very short learning curve. The macro language code assembles into VP Code which is the final product that is distributed to the end user. When the end user installs this program and runs it, the Amiga Foundation Layer Translator optimizes and translates the code into the native machine language for the specific CPU that is in the host computer system. The program then runs like a native application, with very little penalty in performance, as the Translator is a very small piece of code. For example, the Pentium Translator used with the Amiga Foundation Layer is only 88K! For more detail on how this works, go to this address:

    This is a fantastic boon for game developers, who often need separate development teams for each platform they want a game to run on. With this system, as an example, you could develop a new 3D shooter once, then have it run on a Windows PC, a Dreamcast, or a next-generation handheld gaming device without completely re-writing the code or recompiling and porting. The Amiga Foundation Layer is smart enough to know what features are supported on the platform that you are using, and will maximize on those features to make the application run to its full potential.

    The Amiga started with games, and their hope at the new Amiga, Inc. is that gaming will still be a strong point for the platform. With their work, Amiga will enable gaming and game development to be an easier affair for everyone from the programmer on down to us game geeks who just want to get online and blow somebody up.


    When we first booked the time to meet with the fine folks over at Amiga, I started getting a lot of flashback memories of my first experience with the Amiga. It was about 14 years ago, and I remember being able to see, for the first time in a home PC, graphics that made everything else look antiquated. From that time on, I knew that the Amiga was special, and as time proved, even more so then I could've imagined. To this day it's still in use, although in a more behind the scenes scenario.

    Bill McEwen is now the man responsible for taking Amiga to even greater heights and seems to have both the vision and swagger it takes to accomplish such a task. There has been much speculation floating around ever since the announcement went out 6 months ago that he'd be taking over Amiga, and here's what he has to say now.

    GD: What made you, as an individual, want to seek out the Amiga platform and buy it from Gateway?

    Bill: I used to work for Gateway as the Director of Marketing and Evangelism for them. And that was my first experience with the Amiga, and had never owned one before that. Gateway didn't have any idea the potential or the livelihood in the Amiga community, and that's the main reason why they didn't do anything with it. However, what they did find was an extremely small, efficient OS, secondly a group of developers that knew how to write extremely tight code, in fact assembler was the main language platform. There were about 10-12 new applications coming out on a regular basis. Look at all the companies that got their start with the Amiga platform, for example, EA and 3DO. Thirdly was original content by production studios that use the Amiga like Disney and Warner Brothers. So this was a clue to me that there's a time coming for a tight, efficient operating system that is multimedia centric like for gaming. I knew this from my years at Gateway that this would be a very viable platform and OS. So when I heard they wanted to sell it, I immediately called them and asked them to buy it. Gateway paid $15 Million, I paid less than that. We were able to find a single funding source in the way of a venture capital firm called "Invisible Hand".

    GD: What is Amiga's future plans for bringing out new hardware for this platform?

    Bill: First and foremost we are a software company with an operating system that is cross-platform, making it easier for a developer to code a piece of software for one OS, and have it run on over 11 different platforms. We are in talks with several OEMs to get our OS installed on systems they're making, be it cell phones, game consoles, desktop PCs, or whatever. It's completely scalable.

    GD: What impact do you see your company having on the gaming industry over the next 3-5 years?

    Bill: Portability from the standpoint where you'll have the ability to run the exact same game on a hand-held device all the way up to a desktop PC.

    GD: Is there any performance hit running in a hosted environment?

    Bill: In a hosted environment, there is a slight hit, but not as much as you'd expect. You see, we code goes the other direction in the sense if I were to write a game for a handheld, it would only get better the higher you go up in hardware. It is completely scalable, and will detect the hardware it's running on and give you performance accordingly. This is what makes Amiga so unique.

    GD: Do you know of any mainstream developers that are making games for the Amiga at this time? I.e. id software or Valve software?

    Bill: There's a big list, most of them right now are people within those organizations, but not the organization themselves. We do have screen shots on our website for 6 upcoming games. We haven't even begun to go out and petition anyone to make games for us, partially because the SDK doesn't have everything in there yet like the sound library. Right now the SDK is more of a learning environment for developers to create to a virtual processor, so it's a stepping-stone. Once our new SDK ships this fall with the complete libraries in there, we'll go out and approach more companies about doing games. I know we have had several companies like Epic Games contact us, the overall support has been very encouraging. Since we run on the Linux kernel it's easy for them to jump on board.

    GD: Are you using the Open Source model?

    Bill: While we embrace open source in certain areas, we are not an open source. For instance, to help driver support and APIs we support that. However where I disagree with the Linux community is on complete open sourcing. With complete open sourcing how do you ever have a complete operating system if it's consistently in development? There are also companies who want us to support their product of choice so they dump all of their code on us and tell us to do something with it. However, right now we don't have all the resources internally to do that so we open source it and have the community help get it going.

    GD: What foreseeable future do you see the Amiga OS in the light of Microsoft's X-box which is entirely using Direct-X? What are you doing to "combat" this?

    Bill: That's ok we have two companies that weren't chosen to be a part of X-Box that are knocking on our door, saying, "What can we do to help you?" >From the Linux perspective, I think many look to us as a Direct-X alternative. While I can't say specifically about what's going on, we do have some very exciting things in the work, even our own version of OpenGL.

    GD: Do you see Amiga releasing new hardware in the future?

    Bill: We're not a hardware company, but we will have a new Amiga machine, built by a third party using off the shelf parts. We aren't giving the specifics out yet, however my personal favorite CPU is the DEC Alpha, and that's the way I'd go if I could. Expect an announcement forthcoming towards the end of the year.

    GD: Great, anything more you can tell us?

    Bill: No, the first rule of the new Amiga is that we don't talk about things that haven't shipped. While under Gateway, Amiga had 7 different product announcements in fewer than two years, and nothing ever shipped. We do have several prototypes in the works, and have our own hardware engineer. We have two chip manufactures "beating us up" almost on a daily basis begging us to make a decision. From a 'politically correct" perspective I know that most of the install base would prefer a PPC chip.

    GD: From a business perspective, is Amiga planning on an IPO?

    Bill: Of course, if you really want to get out there, you need to have the proper financial structure to do so. So for us an IPO makes perfect sense.

    GD: Do you think we'll ever see any kind of collaborative efforts between Amiga and Transmeta?

    Bill: I wouldn't go that far. The reality is, because we are a virtual processor in software, we can run on just about any hardware out there. It only takes us two months to be able to work on a new chip.

    GD: Do you think the biggest draw to your OS being hand-held devices or desktop PCs?

    Bill: I think it'll be a combination of both. The reason why I say that is because we don't think that it's enough just to work on the handheld alone. You should be able to have your handheld device of choice work with your desktop PC and vice-versa.

    GD: Do you have a graphics chip manufacture of choice? If so who?

    Bill: Yep! But I can't tell ya! What I can tell you is that what we look for is what product will let the end-user have the best experience. If I can hand an Amiga device and they can turn it on and have it do what they want to do, that's what is important to me. The future to us is hardware independence.

    There you have it folks, the message straight from the source. Will the Amiga OS rule the gaming world of tomorrow? Only time will tell, but if Bill and the folks at this company have any say things could change forever in the world of gaming as we know it today. The concept of having one multimedia-rich operating system might sound like a pipe-dream, however it does appear that the new Amiga is on the right path to possibly have that happen. Thanks Bill, for taking the time to give us all a sneak peak of what's in the works from the brains at the new Amiga. We all look forward to seeing what's next, and wish you continued success!


    Amiga SDK: First glance

    By Lars Thomas Denstad (

    Disclaimer: The contents of this document reflect the author's views only. The author is not affiliated with Amiga, Inc in any way, except for being a registered user of the Amiga SDK. Also, please note: this article makes no attempt to cover all of the SDK; there is a lot of software in the package.

    About the author

    I was previously a die hard Amiga enthusiast. Recently my favorite desktop OS has become Linux (most distributions will do, currently running Linux Mandrake, Turbo Linux and Red Hat Linux) running Helix GNOME.

    The SDK, as described in the sales ad

    The details section in the product information at Amazon.Com promises the following:

    Operating Environment

    The Amiga SDK is sold as a software development kit, but also contains the Amiga OE runtime environment for Linux. This means that you will be able to run current and future Amiga applications on your Linux box, at speeds that are likely to be quite similar to a 'Native Next Generation Amiga OS'. This is great news for all of you out there that really like your current favorite OS, if it happens to be anything but AmigaOS.

    A lot of people are asking about backward compatibility to the classic Amiga operating systems, and Amiga, Inc. is promising this through software emulation. While this is valuable, it's not what's really exciting about the design that's been chosen for the NG Amiga.

    Amiga, Inc claims to have around 40 platforms ready to run VP. These platforms range from handhelds to servers. Given the broad range of platforms implementing some kind of Amiga NG runtime environment, my guess is that Amiga Classic is/will be one of them. This means in fact that not only do you have backwards compatibility from Amiga NG to Amiga Classic though software emulation, you will also have forward compatibility so you can run Amiga NG software on Amiga Classic.

    It remains to be seen, however, how many of the media libraries are implemented on different platforms and in which ways the Amiga APIs will abstract the different facilities on a platform to see how instantaneously movable the code really is. The manual and supplied documentation files with the SDK does a fair job of describing the different abstraction layers, we'll look at that a little bit later.

    The bottom line of what they are claiming is that you will be able to run the software created with the SDK on any platform that has an Amiga Operating Environment.

    The package

    The sporty-red package contains one CD and one manual. The CD contains about 28 MB of data. The manual is a 298 pages softcover book.

    Installation: Red Hat Linux 6.1

    I am currently running Linux Mandrake, and no matter how much they claim to require Red Hat 6.1, my first attempt at installing the SDK will be on this platform.

    While firing up the installer was easy, and even though there was quite a lot of online messing around, the installation went smoothly. While it does install pretty easily, it does not run on Linux Mandrake 7.1.

    Installation on Red Hat Linux 6.1 went as smoothly as on Linux Mandrake and the SDK comes up pretty easily. Don't be misguided by the manual, however. The following command lines are (to my knowledge) the correct ways of getting the environment up.

     The intent shell: $ intent_shell
     Intent Media: $ intent_media

    The intent shell will give you a shell inside the current Linux terminal window, while intent_media will give you direct access to the graphical environment. Either one will work equally well, the Linux based intent shell will open the graphical window when needed.

    The C-compiler

    The C-compiler tool in the SDK is based on the GNU C Compiler. GCC is available for a bunch of different platforms. The Amiga SDK implements a new GCC backend, that is; instead of having GCC output Intel- or Alpha-binaries, it outputs VP code. The good thing about this approach is that you have a very thoroughly tested compiler that does the actual work; my guess is that the Amiga SDK-part mainly converts RTL (GCC's intermediate language) to VP.

    I am very pleased with the choice of using GCC as the first compiler to do the Amiga SDK, not only is it widely and freely available, it is also a highly regarded product, and has always been a part of my favorite development-setups in the past.

    Being how the Amiga SDK claims to have POSIX support, the natural first try-choice of porting effort had to be ddate, the Discordian Date command line utility.

    The source is shipped with most Linux distributions, if you want to look at it yourself, you find it in the util_linux-package.

    First tries at compiling gave some messages about missing include files, this was, however, not related to lacking POSIX compliance.

    After about 15 lines of tweaking and some crippling of functionality, the app runs the way I usually start it, as you can see under the screenshots section.

    The main reason I crippled some functionality was because of lacking random calls, this has similar functions in the Amiga API which they can be easily mapped to.

    All in all, getting the app compiled and running was surprisingly easy.


    VP code did look kind of scary in the beginning, I must admit. For being 'assembly', however, it's pretty packed with features and easy to maneuver, even for me, having little or no exposure to assembly the last five years.

    I wanted to write a little application that reads system clock, executes an application, reads the clock again, to see how long it took to execute.

    After messing around in darkness for a couple of hours, I decided on the lib/microtime call, which has a simple interface.

    VP allows you to work with the concept of both global and local variables. In this application, I wanted to store the start-time, the spawn-time and the end-time in global variables. The following codechunk 'declares' the variables I want:

         int64 start_time
         int64 after_spawn
         int64 after_exec
     size TIMER_DATA_SZ     

    Note that this does not allocate the space to hold the variables, space for global variables are part of the tool-declaration:

     tool 'app/timer',VP,TF_MAIN,1024,ARGV_DATA_SZ+TIMER_DATA_SZ

    As you can see, I also want some global space to store the arguments passed to the application. VP happily allows expressions in a lot of places where you'd think it wouldn't. This is obviously a good thing.

    As I wrote earlier, I decided to measure time with the tool lib/microtime. The code to call this tool looks as follows:

     cpy.p NULL, p1
     qcall lib/microtime,(p1 : i0)

    When this code returns, the i0 register holds an indication of lapsed microseconds. If you do successive calls to this tool, you can calculate deltas. As I will be doing at least three calls, and I also want to store the result in variables, I decided to make a function of it:

         ent p0 : -
         cpy.p NULL, p1
         qcall lib/microtime,(p1 : i0)
         cpy.i i0, [p0]

    This function takes one parameter in, as specified by the ent-line; ent p0 : - means that the first parameter should locally be assigned to the p0-register. You'll be happy to hear that during this call, the manipulation of p0 will not affect the 'global' p0, if you assign a NULL-pointer to p0 before the call, the p0 will still be NULL when the call returns. The dash behind the colon means that this function returns nothing. Now, to call it, you simply write:

     gos time,(gp+start_time:-) 

    This call will put the current time into the global variable start_time. You use gp+variable_name to refer to global variables, gp being the globals pointer.

    In the function time, surely you notice the use of hard brackets. In VP, they have the same function as the C-operator *, when used to follow a pointer. They can also be nested, so if you for instance have a pointer (p0) to an array of strings, printf "%s\n", [[p0]] will print the first.

    VP also supports controlling flow through high-level calls like while ... endwhile, for ... next, etc., as well as if- and switch-statements.

    The Amiga Foundation Layer

    The Amiga Foundation Layer consists of a big range of tools. The term 'tool', when you're talking about the new Amiga OS, means the same as a dynamically loadable function. If you consider the previous section about VP, the call to lib/microtime is a typical call to a tool.

    There is a distict difference between this, and the traditional 'shared library' (.dll, .so, etc). Tools are actually 'objects', that can be extended. People with some background from Object Oriented Programming, will feel right at home. The tools are also by definition both multi-threaded (thread-safe?) and re-entrant.

    The Amiga SDK ships with a lot of different tools, ranging from encryption to GUI programming.


    This is what it looks like when you do a $ intent_shell.

    UNIX-style $ ls. UNIX-users will be pleased to know that UNIX-toggles like "-alR" work as expected.

    The AMIGA ball bouncing happily on top of Red Hat Linux 6.1 with Helix GNOME. Please note that the artifacts in the screenshots are caused by JPEG-compression.

    The root-menu. The contents of the menu are easily changed adding files to specified directories.

    Running the gadget-menu. They look alright, and are pretty snappy, even on the machine that these pictures were taken on, which is a ~=200Mhz Pentium MMX with 128MB RM.

    Different gradients alphablended. Surprisingly fast.

    I've had some problems with eterm just not coming up correctly. This issue has been resolved with some help from our friends at Amiga Inc's support department.

    Image on the left is static, image on the right is animating.

    Demonstration of anti-aniased fonts.

    Nice effects, realtime demonstration of alpha-blending.

    Trying to cd to a directory that doesn't exist. Odd behaviour, but I'm sure it has some purpose.

    Update: The good folks at Amiga support de-mystifies: By allowing the user to cd to a directory that doesn't exist, you can later mkdir .. This is in many ways better than mkdir some_long_directory_name ; cd some_long_directory_name. Interesting.

    You can see how the screenshots I've been taking are being made available to the Amiga runtime environment.

    Two hung eterms and the soft keyboard, fully unfolded.

    Linux Netscape browsing the intent online-documentation.

    OK, with a little help from our friends at support, we have two eterms up, one just running the shell, one running the JOVE editor.

    Ah, it seems like it's all starting to pay off. Downloaded the Linux source for ddate, and a few minutes, and about 15 tweaked lines later, it's running on the VP. The POSIX libraries are going to make it easy to port a lot of software to this platform.

    Online support

    The online support from Amiga, Inc is so far both impressive and a let-down. The development site is not yet online at the time of writing, and the shipped documentation leaves a lot to be desired. The people answering email at are quick with so far a maximum 24h turnaround, and they've been able to resolve all my issues so far.


    Ok, ddate can be downloaded, but even though it runs nicely, I did just go ahead and remove some of the random-functionality as written before.

    C-source and VP bytecode. Have fun. And celebrate Bureflux.


    As a temporary conclusion, I must say, this is a fun package. Some shortcomings on the platform, documentation and especially (at the time of writing) web-resources for developers. But it looks very, very promising.

    Most of the graphical applications can be described as 'snappy' even on the Pentium 200Mhz I'm running it on. The eterm is, however, quite slow, I'm sure this will improve shortly. I'll write some more when I get the SDK up and running on my AMD K7 750Mhz, and when I finish some simple tools for timing operations.

    Amiga Inc should get online, and release some runtime-environments for different platforms, so we can get a taste on the portability of this thing.

    One thing's for sure, if you want to be doing Next Gen Amiga development, the time to get started is now.

    Related resources

    Amiga Active is giving away five copies of the SDK in their latest issue.

    Purchase the SDK online from Amiga, Inc.


    Gary Peake, Amiga's Director of Support, on the NY Times article

    Date: Thursday, 22 Jun 2000

    [Editor's Note: In response to a question from Marion E. Wyatt : "Was this article also in the print edition?" Gary Peake had the following to say. ]

    Yes, front page, above the fold, all editions of their regular Thursday technology edition. People everywhere must be buying the paper up. I just had a report from a source there who says the paper sold out all over the place.

    Our thanks to everyone. Because of the sales, the NY Times says there will be follow-ups for the Amiga computer in their tech section. This article has also spawned calls from several large competitors and non-competitors of the NY Times wanting follow-up information. We also have technology companies calling wanting to be a part of "The Dream" now.

    Bill told me almost three years ago at AmiWest 98 that he could sell the Amiga Dream if he ever had control. Damned if he isn't doing it! Kudo's to Pastor Bill McEwen, Church of the Amiga. I say this not as an employee, but as a friend and fellow believer in "The Dream".

    For all the hard knocks Fleecy sometimes takes about his nomenclature, he is most responsible for selling Bill on our collective Dream of what the Amiga could have been. Through all my friends here, I carried OUR version of that dream to Bill at AmiWest 98 and even after that through his keeping touch with Team AMIGA.

    What Bill has done is taken OUR version of the past and Fleecy's version of the future and melded that together into a very cohesive package we call the AmiVerse Operating Environment. I call this "The Dream". You will NOT be disappointed.

    Gary Peake
    Director Support
    Amiga Inc.
    425-386-5660 ext 233
    425-396-5671 fax

    The Amiga Dream Team


    The CUCUG Section:

    June General Meeting

    reported by Kevin Hopkins (

    The June 15, 2000 General meeting began with President Jim Lewis introducing the club officers, your contact people for help if you need any. Jim also introduced our guest for the evening, Greg Kline, a reporter from the News-Gazette. Greg had come to cultivate contacts for his "Circuits" column which appears every Monday in the News-Gazette.

    President Lewis then opened the floor for our Question and Answer Session:

    Edwin Hadley reported that he finally has a "working" CDRW. This sparked a discussion on the general subject of CDRs and CD burning. Jack Melby mentioned he knew of someone who was able to burn a CD through Virtual PC. Jack also reported a problem with Toast 4.1. It has trouble using USB drives, as there's not a single "Toast" extension for USB drives. Jack said he is using Charismac drivers. This fools Toast into thinking it's addressing a SCSI drive.

    On the topic of what to do with all those CDs once you've burned them, Jim Lewis recommended Walmart's CD binder, available for $27. One of these binders holds 200 CDs. Being an avid CD person, Jim highly recommended this binder.

    The discussion moved on to how to label your self-produced CDs. Several methods were put forth: write on them with a Sharpee marker, use "The Stomper" or "Neato" labeling system. Some of these are shipped with the burner drives.

    The conversation moved back to the topic of storage. In particular, jewel cases. Kevin Hisel reported that Best Buy has some of the "half-size" jewel cases. Both Kevin and Jim Lewis made it known that they are not anti jewel case, but state that they do take up far too much room.

    Next was MP3 players. Several members stated that the current crop of players are too limited in RAM memory to be really useful. After further discussion, the concensus was that CDs are they way to go.

    It was reported that the Apex AD-600A DVD players are back out at Circuit City, although no-one knew if they were the original, or revempted, models.

    Ed Hadley brought up the topic of how to get sound into a Mac. He said he uses a patch cable he got from Radio Shack to play his tape player into his Mac's microphone in. To prepare the computer, Ed said he needs to switch the Sound Control Panel setting from Microphone to Line In. Then, he uses the Artist Basic demo to capture his incoming audio, although you could use something like SoundJam for the same purpose. Once he processes his input, he uses Adaptec's Toast Deluxe to burn it to a CD. He said he has been eying Charismac's Discribe for this latter job, as they have an attractive upgrade policy.

    Jack Melby recommended the "Accelerate Your Mac" web site as it has many audio articles to reference.

    There was a discussion of PC printers and using the PowerPrint software and interface cable to make them work with a Mac.

    Harold Ravlin asked about USB hubs. Emil Cobb said that you have to make sure they're powered.


    The Macintosh SIG: Jack Melby shows Virtual PC

    reported by Kevin Hopkins (

    This evening, Mac SIG Chairman Jack Melby showed those assembled the versatility of Connectix's Virtual PC. Jack said there were several nice things about Virtual PC. For instance, with one copy of Virtual PC, you can boot up into Win95, Win 98, or Linux.

    Jack demonstrated Virtual PC on his 450MHz G3 PowerMac. He reported that Virtual PC runs at about a 200 MHz PC speed on this machine. Other features of Jack's machine are: he has 384 MB (!!!) of RAM. He also has two hard drives: a 12 Gig and a 28 Gigabyte drive. Of that storage, Jack uses a 6.42 Gigabyte partition for Virtual PC and all the OS flavors he uses: Win98, Win95, and Linux.

    Jack said the regular "active" desktop in Win98 runs slow - about half the speed of Win95, but that is a function of Windows. It views the desktop as a web page.

    One of the beauties of Virtual PC is that it allows you to save the state of the machine. Rather than having to boot up from a base machine, through all the hoops the PC crowd had to contend with, on the Mac, you can boot straight into the state of the machine where you left off. Virtual PC snapshots your machine and can return you right back to that point when you want to return.

    Virtual PC also allows you to use shared folders to pass information between Win98 and Win95. Windows views these shared folders as hard drives. You can Drag and Drop between the Mac and Windows, which is a feature new to the most recent version of Virtual PC. Jack was showing version 3.03. He had a little trouble demonstrating this, but Cut and Paste worked fine between the PC version of Word to Word on the Mac.

    Another feature of Virtual PC is that you can share the Mac's Internet connection with your Virtual PC.

    When asked if you could share peripherals like a ZIP drive between your two platforms, Jack said all you have to do is drop the ZIP drive icon onto your Virtual PC command bar "Folder" and then you can use it.

    For those that were interested, Jack recommended purchasing the DOS version of Virtual PC, which costs $49.95. Once you have that, you can install your own copy of Windows.

    One of the features that Jack found the most interesting is that versions of Virtual PC 3 and above are fully AppleScriptable. To demonstrate how extensively you can control a PC from the Mac, Jack ran an ApppleScript that started Virtual PC, then Windows 95, then Word, loaded up a document, and then made corrections within Word. In the discussion that followed that little tour de force, Jack recommended a shareware program called VPC Helper.

    So why would a Mac owner want a PC, virtual or otherwise? Well, Jack said, there are times when what you want can only be had that way. He showed "The Ring Disc", an interactive guide to Wagner's Ring Cycle, which is one of those specialty items that is only available in PC format. This disk costs $100. It contains Sholte conducting all 15 1/2 hours of the Ring Cycle, along with a wealth of score and historical data. If you want it, you have to have a PC. One of the nice things though, Jack said, is that this disk running on Virtual PC is much more stable than on Windows 95 on a regular PC. You gotta love that.

    In answer to some final questions from the audience, Jack said he allocates 129 megabytes of RAM to Virtual PC. He noted that Virtual PC is marginal as far as games go, but he really isn't a gamer. He then concluded by giving a short tour of some of Virtual PC's preference settings, including USB.

    Jack closed out the evening by showing some of the other programs he uses on his machine. When asked, he explained that Conflict Catcher was what labeled his Extensions when they come up at boot time. He went on to give favorable reviews of Installer Observer, Alias Helper, Auto Cache, and Switch, a super "Get Info".

    Thank you, Jack, for a demonstration worthy of emulation.


    June Board Meeting

    reported by Kevin Hopkins (

    The June meeting of the CUCUG executive board took place on Tuesday, June 20, 2000, at 7PM, at Kevin Hisel's house. (For anyone wishing to attend - which is encouraged, by the way - the address and phone number are both in the book). Present at the meeting were were: Jim Lewis, Emil Cobb, Jack Melby, Rich Hall, Kevin Hopkins, and Kevin Hisel.

    Jim Lewis: Jim stated that they had a pretty decent PC SIG at the last meeting. He said they discussed lots of things. Future programs will be coming from Bill Zwicky, Quentin Barnes, and Ed Serbe.

    Jack Melby: Jack talked a little about his presentation of Virtual PC to the Mac SIG at the last meeting. He talked about how he has been AppleScripting the PC through it. He said nobody but Microsoft supports the Windows Scripting Host which has been available from Win98 on. It is a subset of Visual Basic. Jack talked about a program called ListenDo! Check out the web site at . You can use speech commands to activate AppleScripts.

    Jack reported we had a little trouble with a member tampering with the demonstration machine prior to the presentation, which created several problems. It shouldn't have to be said, but "Keep your hands off the demonstration machine!"

    Jack concluded his segment by saying that Ed Hadley may do something for the next meeting.

    Emil Cobb: Emil reported 18 people in attendance at the last meeting.

    Rich Hall: Rich began on a personal note, mentioning he was looking for Visual Basic "sorta". A discussion followed on that topic - its availability, etc.

    Rich followed with his exemplary Treasurer's Report. It can be characterized as "Pretty good news."

    Kevin Hopkins: Kevin delivered the copy of the club's membership database for Kevin Hisel's use.

    Kevin passed on the rumor that apparently the infamous Terry Cooksey had died. This was primarily for Kevin Hisel's benefit, as Kevin had run across this "character" during his tenure running the Amiga Web Directory.

    Kevin made inquiries about the state of Greg Kline's membership. This was later resolved favorably.

    Kevin reported that the ZIP drive in the club's Macintosh had failed and needed to be repaired. He coupled this with the need to reduce the newsletter petty cash fund. So, Kevin will pay for the drives repair in lieu of paying down the petty cash funds advanced to him.

    Kevin, once again, brought up the "exorbitant rate" we are being charged for meeting room rent by the Park District. Divided over the number of members attending each meeting, the price is indefensible. Perhaps we should consider meeting in a public place, like a restaurant, for the general portion of the meeting, and then retire to someone's house for each respective SIG meeting. The only problem with this is that it projects a bad "appearance". Kevin concluded by saying, "It's not that we can't afford it, it's that we shouldn't have to afford it."

    Next, Kevin raised the suggestion of reducing or eliminating the "Social/Swap Meets." Attendance suffers during these meetings, those selling items have ceased to being things recently, and the raffle, being a thing of the past, makes them less attractive. This idea was batted around, but, in the end, Kevin said he advanced the idea as the Devil's Advocate, although the idea has some merit.

    Finally, as Newsletter Editor, Kevin reported that the closing of the AWD had negatively effected our exchange of newsletters with other users groups.

    Kevin Hisel: Kevin reported that PC Board, the BBS software we used for the old CUCUG BBS, is now gone. Clark Development, it's makers, seem to have disappeared.

    The official meeting ended, but was followed by a discussion of the various versions of Microsoft OSes and the verdict in the anti-trust case against them.

    There was another discussion about and Napster.


    The Back Page:

    The CUCUG is a not-for-profit corporation, originally organized in 1983 to support and advance the knowledge of area Commodore computer users. We've grown since then.

    Meetings are held the third Thursday of each month at 7:00 p.m. at the Bresnan Meeting Center in the Champaign Park District Headquarters (398-2550). The Center is located at 706 Kenwood, 1/2 block south of the corner of Kenwood and John Street, in west Champaign. Kenwood is the fourth north-south street off of John as you are going west, after crossing Mattis. The Center is in the northwest corner of Centennial Park, northwest of Centennial High School.

    Membership dues for individuals are $20 annually; prorated to $10 at mid year.

    Our monthly newsletter, the Status Register, is delivered by email. All recent editions are available on our WWW site. To initiate a user group exchange, just send us your newsletter or contact our editor via email. As a matter of CUCUG policy, an exchange partner will be dropped after three months of no contact.

    For further information, please attend the next meeting as our guest, or contact one of our officers (all at area code 217):

       President/WinSIG:   Jim Lewis                359-1342 
       Vice-President:     Emil Cobb                398-0149  
       Secretary/Editor:   Kevin Hopkins            356-5026     
       Treasurer:          Richard Hall             344-8687  
       Corporate Agent:    Jim Lewis                359-1342 
       Board Advisor:      Richard Rollins          469-2616
       Webmaster:          Kevin Hisel              406-948-1999           khisel @
       Mac SIG Co-Chair:   John Melby               352-3638
       Mac SIG Co-Chair:   Charles Melby-Thompson   352-3638

    Surf our web site at

    912 Stratford Dr.
    Champaign, IL