onsdag 12. august 2020

My AmigaOne 500 8th Years Anniversary

DVPlayer playing Highlander 3 on SAM460ex!
On this day, the 12th of August 2020, my AmigaOne 500 aka SAM460ex celebrates its' 8th Anniversary! It's hard to believe it's actually 8 years old, but it's true. 8 years old and still good as new, but with many software and driver updates!

As known to most people already, my AmigaOne 500 is based on ACube's SAM460ex motherboard running an 1.15Ghz AMCC 32-bit PowerPC SoCs CPU with a floating point unit (FPU). It has 2GB of DDR2 fast memory with boost-feature in UBoot BIOS from 2015. It has an onboard 16-bit SM502 soundchip that is not used. My AmigaOne 500 is using a Radeon HD 6670 1GB PCIe graphic board and the 24-bit ESI@Juli XTe PCIe MIDI soundcard, replacing the onboard soundchip. On the PCI slot, a SATA 2-ways controller card is connected to my Samsung 500GB internal SSD harddisk, where AmigaOS 4.1 Final Edition Update 1 and Workbench Enhancer 1.5 are installed, along with partitions for Work, Diverse and Games as well. I also have a very fast DVD read-write drive.

Latest retro portrait of myself in GIMP
During all these 8 years of owning my AmigaOne 500, it has undergone a lot of updates and configurations. I remember all the AmigaOS 4.1 updates I had from Update 4 and all the way now to Final Edition Update 1 with Workbench Enhancer 1.5 from A-EON Technology.

So what do I use my AmigaOne 500 for? It's not like it's taking over my Win10 PC completely. Unfortunately not, as we know that the Amiga lost ground and fell behind the technology weel after the fall of Commodore in 1994. But the Amiga today is mostly considered more like a hobby. It still gets most of the job done, except for watching Blu Ray or 4k Blu Ray, advanced streaming and video editing. These things are done on PC and XBox.

My AmigaOne 500 aka SAM460ex setup
It doesn't all have to be bad. There's plenty of things the Amiga still can do. I still surf the net with my AmigaOne 500 using latest Odyssey Web Browser v1.23r5 Beta 7. It gives easy access to most sites, even HTML5 based, so it gets the job done. Same for my latest mailer called YAM. I can read, write and send any email to any contact I like. No problem at all! Oh yes, there's more! I even play some retro games through RunInUAE with free WHDLoad, allowing quick load and access to the classic Amiga games, as well as running some games from the eGame launcher (more on that later in the blog) and the ScummVM engine for different adventure games.

How the NSM-patched version of OctaMED SoundStudio v1.03c actually works

NSM-patched OctaMED SoundStudio v1.03c

For almost 2 months now, I have used the NSM-patched version of OctaMED SoundStudio v1.03c I received from the Norwegian ex-coder - Kjetil S. Martinussen. I found his email through Google and told him I was working on Amiga music, using OctaMED SoundStudio v1.03c. As so, I asked nicely for the NSM-patched version, so he was kind to provide me one. It was a simple replacement of the main OctaMED file in the SoundStudio drawer, so I just did.

My ESI@Juli XTe soundcard in 32-bit mode!
For those of you who wonder what the NSM is. NSM is like an Arexx script for OctaMED SoundStudio v1.03c, done by the Norwegian ex-coder Kjetil S. Martinussen back in 1997.

By hacking the binary code of OctaMED SoundStudio v1.03c, he managed to extend all standard features of the tracker, far beyond the standard limitations! It would actually mean that the tracker becomes more than 200.000 times more effective! The mixing routines, the DSP Echo effects, the speed of the tracker, stability, MIDI support and so much more, breathing "new" life to the old 68k based tracker, that is still very much useable today! I'm very happy!

As seen on the snapshot above, I have configured my ESI@Juli XTe 24-bit PCIe MIDI soundcard, which I call "Julia", to use 32-bit HIFI Stereo++ mode with 32-channels in 96Khz for all Units. Unit 0 is the same as Music Unit, so all Unit 0-3 use 32-channels in best possible quality at the highest possible frequency without slowdown!

You probably wonder how my Sound Prefs can be so clean and tidy? I removed unused audio drivers by making a copy of the AHI drawer from DEVS, bringing it to STORAGE. Then I moved over all unused audio drivers, except of HDAudio.audio and Envy24Th.audio, from DEVS:AHI to STORAGE:AHI. This might be a good idea to do, to prevent different audio systems to conflict with each other. Remember to make backup.

Speaking of channel settings in AHI/Sound Prefs, it has never been properly explained the true purpose of setting different channels for all these units. I'm not even sure my setting with 32 channels is correct. There is probably no "correct" choice to this, but at least I would be happy to know what the RECOMMEND channel choice for all unit is.

Because I use the Workbench Enhancer 1.5 expansion from A-EON Technology, you can see from the snapshot that the PPC version of AHI is intergrated into the Sound Prefs. It makes sense, considering it has to deal with different soundchips and soundcards.

When setting TheMaestrix, a unique tool that tricks AHI to think your soundcard is a MaestroPro 16-bit soundcard, to use AHI Unit 0 for music production, it allows TheMaestrix to use the 32-bit HIFI Stereo++ mode to get the very best 16-bit quality from the MaestroPro 16-bit emulation in 48Khz. It works marvellously, and even 16-channel Mix modes sound much clearer with both this setting in TheMaestrix information, together with the NSM-patched version of OctaMED SoundStudo v1.03c!

My very first 16ch Amiga track was "You Are Someone", from my Helgis collection of 10 personal Amiga tracks. It's a very good Synth Pop Ballad with very nice flow to it. The fact that all the channels are so clear to hear, makes it more exciting to do 16 channel Amiga music in the future. There actually seems to be an increased interest into that.

The OctaMED Music Club I created on Facebook earlier now has over 70 members and is still increasing. It's not that the club is reciving new members every day, but as for every month that goes, there seems to be at least 2-4 new members showing up.

This proves there is still a huge interest in using any OctaMED version for tracker music, even today, being on Amiga, Mac or PC that supports it. Originally, the club started with focus on the OctaMED for Amiga only, but realized that also PC and Mac users have the possibility to play around with OctaMED in a way or so, so therefore it was better to spread this group, or club we call actually, to PC and Mac users, in addition to Amiga.

These days, I'm working on 2 "charity" Amiga mods called "Pray For Beirut" and "Remember Hiroshima". So much happening in the world these days. The Covid-19, Trump vs Bieden, the explosion in Beirut and the 75th Anniversary or Memorial of what happened to Hiroshima and Nagasaki 75 years ago. Shows just how important life is.

I even have a Boya microphone to use for picking up new sounds to sample for my Amiga music. The one I have isn't the best for vocals, but it's possible to do most of the editing of samples with Audacity on PC, then test them out on the Amiga through OctaMED SoundStudio v1.03c. I have a lot of fun doing this. It's so very cool!

Checking updates with Updater and playing with AmiCygnix 1.6 stuffs

Latest AmiCygnix 1.6 environment is faster!
Recently, I got to download the latest AmiCygnix 1.6 from OS4Depot.net. The new update to the Linux environment to run on my AmigaOne 500 aka SAM460ex is a lot faster and more stable than before! It's using a newer GTK+ programming language done by Edgar Scwhan. I was one of his beta testers for new graphic drivers to use for his AmiCygnix environment and standalone applications like AbiWord and GIMP.

AmiCygnix could best be described as a Lite version of a Linux environment. You have the possibility of either running the AmiCygnix desktop (snapshot left above), or to run the standalone applications and games that run under AmiCygnix environment. Apps like AbiWord, Gnumeric and GIMP. I mostly run the standalone GIMP to edit my many photos and snapshots you see in this blog. Along with plugins like Beautify, it makes GIMP extremely powerful and flexible! Based on Layers might be annoying, but as long as you stick to photo editing with GIMP, you don't have to bother with Layers.

As AmiCygnix 1.6 is getting all its' stuff updated these days, there are also plans to port a newer version of GIMP to AmiCygnix. GIMP version 2.8. This one should be even better and more powerful to use. Hopefully, plugins like Beautify should be available also for this new version once it's ready for AmiCygnix. It all looks very promising! So in a way, you actually get quite a pretty advanced and modern office bundle from AmiCygnix!

Pidgin MSN with Facebook!
Another cool standalone app to use under AmiCygnis is actually the Pidgin Messenger, and now it has a new Facebook plugin that allows you to chat with your Facebook friends. You can also add your Yahoo Chat contacts, Twitter and ASL connections. Although, I limit myself just to Facebook here. As I happen to often have much to do, I rarely get time to chat a lot, so it's mostly limited to small talk now and then, and that's ok, really. I like it that way.

But when I really need to talk to someone urgently, like some people who are working on important updates to AmigaOS4 and hardwares, like Trevor from A-EON, then I can just send him an instant message through Pidgin, and just wait to see him connected to leave a chat with him.

All in all, Pidgin is very useful and is probably currently the only Messenger that is working on the Amiga. The snapshot to the right here should just make you excited to use it.

Latest Odyssey v1.23r5 Beta 7 running!
Aside updates to AmiCygnix, the native AmigaOS4 version of Odyssey Web Browser - the HTML5 browser based on WebKit, is now to be found in version 1.23r5 Beta 7. Kas1e is very kind to help updating this excellent AmigaOS4 browser, making it faster, more stable and more modern, more supportive as possible to use! Kas1e also has plans to port version 1.25 of Odyssey from MorphOS platform to AmigaOS4!

The browser is really fast and nice to use for most surfing purposes, and its' spoofing abilities has extended to spoof as more modern browsers and versions of these. The new additions is to spoof as Edge 80 from Windows 10 and Nintendo Wiiu. You can spoof as Firefox 74, Internet Explorer 11, Opera 67, Safari 13, Chrome 80, Nintendo Wiiu, IPhone 13 and IPad 13.2.3. Lots of choices!

Still, there are some sites that don't open up so well with Odyssey, no matter the spoofing or the default setting. Sites like Google and YouTube have done a lot of changes, so this would mean that new scripts for Odyssey have to be written in order to be able to access the changes the way they have become. It's a natural result of progress in technology and functionality, and Amiga needs to be able to handle them.

Fortunate, it's not all that hopeless, as things are certainly improving also for Odyssey. Did you know you can access Facebook with Odyssey? You sure can, but due to the limitations of the old Javascripts, running Facebook appears a bit slow with Javascript enable. There is a way around this, and that is to DISABLE Javascript. The look of Facebook won't appear pretty, but it will make it much more efficient to browse!

Odyssey 1.25 for AmigaOS4 shouldn't be so far behind, but when it's ready, then the real fun begins browsing more demanding sites, making your Amiga more of the main computer to use in your days. While waiting for 1.25, get yourself the Beta 7 version of 1.23r5 and make the best of it. It's a really fine, fast and efficient Amiga browser to use.

Updater from Workbench Enhancer 1.5
The Updater app from A-EON's Workbench Enhancer 1.5 is really helpful. It's possible to update a wide range of system files as well. Mostly files that are connected to A-EON's own bundle of upgrades, drivers, games and apps.

Version 2.0 of Workbench Enhancer is to be a FREE upgrade from the paid 1.5 upgrade. I paid for upgrade 1.5 by buying the Radeon Driver Upgrade around a year ago, so version 2.0 will be received for FREE when this one is ready, AFAIK.

It's a bit strange that Hyperion Entertainment didn't do these updates the way A-EON did. It gives a little impression of either a small "conflict" between A-EON and Hyperion, or just a matter of competition. Of course, it's a bit dangerous to speculate on something like that without evidence, but still you can hardly ignore the impression. Whatever the truth behind it is, it's still very nice that A-EON are able to provide something as important as the Workbench Enhancer, and other goodies for AmigaOS. They certainly improve AmigaOS a lot!

While the Covid-19 pandemi certainly complicates things, Hyperion Entertainment are still stuck in quite a limbo battle with Cloanto over Amiga rights, especially the Amiga brand. We all hope the trial between Hyperion Entertainment and Cloanto will end later this year. Until then, we have to be patience and just have faith. There's a lot going on behind the scene we don't know much about. A-EON are working on bringing their X5000 and A1222 out to market, and updating drivers and support for these in AmigaOS4.

Hyperion Entertainment are believed to help updating the core elements of AmigaOS4. Optimizing these as much as possible. The most important element to update is the ExecSG microkernel. It might now reach the third generation of the ExecSG kernel, supporting SMP multicore, memory protection and other modern features. Support for A1222's special SPE functions and the X5000, as well as improved support for all the other existing AmigaOne and SAM models, including Classic Amiga as well.

The future is looking good. The progress might be slow but steady. AmiWest 2020 might happen, but probably in a more digital way. The show will go live in October this year, and we should by then learn more what will happen with the AmigaOS4 and hardware.

This is probably wild speculation at the moment, but as Apple now have moved to use ARM CPUs for their new Mac systems, putting an end to x86, it is possible that Amiga might choose the new open source platform called RISC-V. RISC-V is like a successor to PowerPC, being backward compatible and based on much of the PowerPC and Power technology, pushing that technology as much forward as possible. The RISC-V foundation was established in 2010, so it's relatively very new and promising, as rumours say that all PowerPC development will end in 2020, completely fasing out all support for it by 2022. If that's the case, moving to RISC-V is the best for the Amiga! But only time will tell what will actually happen. For now, we enjoy PowerPC on Amiga!

Nostalgic and modern gaming on my AmigaOne 500 aka SAM460ex system

BlobWars from 2017 is smooth on SAM460ex!!!
Who remembers BlobWars? BlobWars is an excellent, smooth but modern 2D platform game to play! Version 2 is the latest, being released in 2017, ported from the Linux environment to AmigaOS4! It's quite smooth to play, even in full screen! I believe it's ported with SDL2 engine, but don't know for sure. Anyway, it's smooth and a lot fun to play. Music feels cool and modern, too! Never boring to play BlobWars! 

Graphic is awesome, and so is the sound effects along with the music that add atmosphere to the gameplay.

eGame launcher with many games
The eGame launcher is a handy little tool that allows all standalone games to be launched with a single click, as seen of the snapshot.

As the snapshot shows here, you can also see many of the games that run in RunInUAE emulator, but now with the FREEWARE WHDLoad, which allows the classic hardware-banging games to run straight from harddrive!

The WHDLoad based games allows you to jump straight into the classic Amiga games without waiting! Loading is lighting-fast, and if you run the 68040 support configured for UAE, most games should run very smooth!

Unfortunately, AmigaOS4's USB support for using joypads and sticks, could have been more like MorphOS's Poseidon USB system, so I don't really get to play the old games that demand the use of a joystick or pad in a way, but I can play some of the old adventure games using WHDLoad, so that's cool.

Latest ScummVM 2.1.1 based on SDL2 engine!
ScummvM is a very cool engine that allows you to play any 2D nostalgic adventure games on most platforms today, even AmigaOS4. Latest ScummVM is version 2.1.1, although there is a small 2.1.2 update, but not made for AmigaOS4 yet. It might be ported soon.

I have a wide range of different adventure games to play through ScummVM 2.1.1, that is based on a faster, more flexible SDL2 port with resizeable windows. The games are everything from Larry 1, 2, 3, 5 and 6, Police Quest 1-3, Space Quest 1-6, Indy Last Crusade and Fate Of Atlantis, Broken Sword 1 and 2, Monkey Island 1-3, DOTT, Quest For Glory 1-2, King Quest 1-6, The Colonel's Bequest, The Sorcerer 1-2 and some others. Many great adventures!

Broken Sword in latest ScummVM 2.1.1!
I always enjoy playing the Broken Sword adventure games. Both the first and the second game. The snapshot shows the first game near the end of the game. Very thrilling, very beautiful to play!

Both graphic and audio are awesome in Broken Sword. The voices are loud and very easy to hear. A really fine game to play. It plays quite smooth on my SAM460ex with Radeon HD 6670 card. It's even possible to stretch the window the way you want it, which is very useful!

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade Adventure
Indy 3 and 4 are other adventure games I love to play in ScummVM. The VGA version in 256 colours look very beautiful and modern. I think the snapshot speaks for itself. Very beautiful and exciting to play. You never get tired of these old adventure games! Certainly brings the nostalgic feeling back, and it's all possible on the Amiga! How cool isn't that, eh? I bet you think it's cool!

Indy 4 I play has the Voice version, adding more excitement to the atmosphere of the game. Indy 4 has more puzzles and an interesting story about discovering Atlantis - the lost city.

Monkey Island 3 running in ScummVM 2.1.1!
Another adventure game I love to play is Monkey Island. From snapshot to the right, it's Monkey Island 3, which looks very different from MI1 and 2. MI3 uses cartoon-like graphic and animation.

I remember. The game gave me a lot of laugh, with all these funny talk and play!

Simply another fine adventure to play with awesome graphic, sound and music!

Playing DVD movies with DVPlayer on my AmigaOne 500 aka SAM460ex!

DVPlayer playing The Ortagon DVD on SAM460ex!

DVPlayer is a fantastic handy movie player that allows you to play most DVD movies on your AmigaOS4 system! The snapshot here shows me playing the old movie The Ortegan with Chuck Norris. A Ninja movie, actually.

DVPlayer supports AC3 coding and subtitles. As you can see of the snapshot, I can view Norwegian subtiles and have great AC3 sound of movies supporting these. The Ortegan is a very exciting movie with a lot of action! If you like Ninja fight, this one is one to watch! It's believed to be Chuck Norris' greatest success ever!!!

It's such a nice thing to watch old DVD movies on your Amiga. Just simply turn off the lights, make yourself some good food or snacks, and something to drink. Lean back and play a good DVD movie in DVPlayer on your Amiga, and simply relax!

Highlander 3 The Sorcerer DVD in DVPlayer!
Highlander 3 The Sorcerer DVD is another great thrilling action movie by Christoffer Lambert back in the mid-90s.

Movie plays smooth as other supported DVDs on my AmigaOne 500 aka SAM460ex, with AC3 and subtitles.

All of this works as a charm, and playing old DVDs on your Amiga is just so cool!

In the future, the Emotion player, that is quite new, handling faster video playback in higher quality, might be used to play DVD, Blu Ray and 4k Blu Ray stuffs. Only time will tell, but it's exciting and very promising!

The Emotion player is to have a new update soon, that allows even 4k playback of movies! No kidding, really! New codecs make that possible, and with these Radeon GFX cards like the Polaris with Warp3D Nova support, it should be fully possible to playback 4k contents on your AmigaOne system!

Amiga's future is certainly very promising, and all the thing you have read from this blog is fully possible on the Amiga. Never a boring moment to use your Amiga system!

As this concludes my blog for now, I would like to point out that I'm very happy my AmigaOne 500 aka SAM460ex is still working as new, even 8 years later after I bought it from GGSData in Sweden and lives in Norway. I'm taking good care of my little baby!

Thank you all for reading my Amiga blog and supporting my Amiga music. There will be more music, as these days I'm working on "Pray For Beirut" and "Remember Hiroshima". After these, the funny parody, called "Who Let The Trump Out".

Enjoy the blog. It's a long read, but if you love the Amiga as I do, you'll enjoy it.

Written by
Helge Kvalheim aka HKvalhe, Norway

mandag 20. april 2020

Covid-19 Amiga Isolation

Dark wallpaper for my AmigaOS 4.1 FE Upd 1
Hello everyone! Been quite some time since I last wrote an Amiga blog.

Been busy doing some Amiga music and learning my way of the sampling with my AmigaOne 500 aka SAM460ex.

Since my last blog, my Amiga setup has undergone quite a lot of changes and improvements. More on them later in this blog, as you read on.

The most noticeable changes I have done to my AmigaOS 4.1 FE Update 1 setup with Workbench Enhancer 1.5, is that I have improved the look of the old AmiDock.

The users of the new X-Dock from Workbench Enhancer might wonder why still using AmiDock. Simply because most applications and functions in the AmigaOS4 are still greatly tied to AmiDock, and AmiDock still has a better look than X-Dock, in the way you customize the look. For instance, I have made my AmiDock look like a fully transparent, skinny black MacOS-dock, wich you can see on the snapshot below.

Black-styled fully transparent AmiDock

That not to say that the new X-Dock isn't great. I'm pretty sure it is, and it will improve and gain more support, but it might be difficult for X-Dock to fully replace AmiDock. My favourite is AmiDock and might always be.

Covid-19 Amiga Isolation

The Covid-19 Pandemi
We all know that the Covid-19 pandemi started with China in the end of December 2019 in Wuhan.

Since then, it has spread to just about all countries in the whole world. Belgia, Italy, Spain and USA were greatly affected by the virus. Also countries like UK, Sweden and Norway were affected as well. Many died as well, and others were hospitaled. Others in quarantine and those of us not infected, are in what we call a self-imposed isolation, to prevent infection by following the recommendations the world have gotten from WHO and governments in our own country.

So far, my family of my mother at age 76, my brother at age 47 and myself turning 45 in June, are NOT infected by Covid-19 but we have chosen to isolate ourselves as much as we can and to simply follow the recommendations from our governments in Norway.

Norway reacted a little late as a start. That's back in February, but since then, Norway has done an incredible job closing most of the country down, keeping the infection as low as possible. Some schools are opening up slowy these days. The children need to be able to see their friends and get some education, but in a limited way still keeping a clear distance between others, as already heard from the news so many times.

Still looking good in self-imposed Covid-19 isolation
While the Covid-19 pandemi certainly causes quite a different daylife, it also brings back a so-called "bedroom-creativity" that the Amiga had in its' golden years of the 80s. No kidding!

Where others are trying to do unique things from home, Amiga users are now also able to use the pandemi to create something again with their Amiga. To actually use the Amiga to its' absolute limit and create something straight from the bedroom! Being games, apps, design, coding, programming, music, animation, video, writing or anything.

All this is really possible if given time to be creative. The isolation itself from the pandemi is frustrating enough but necessary for survival. Rather than being frustrated and negative, why not simply do something good with this difficult situation, and what better there is to actually use your Amiga to create or compose something, both for the Amiga itself and for personal reasons? You see what I mean? The bedroom-creativity!

The more we all around the world follow the recommendations to avoid more infection and death, the faster and better we can get back to normal once the pandemi is over!

Odyssey 1.23r5 Beta 5 - The latest improvement of Odyssey Web Browser

My Aminet stuffs with Odyssey 1.23r5 Beta 5
As you see from the snapshot to the left here, I am now using latest Odyssey 1.23r5 Beta 5, which has been improved by Kas1e and 2 other guys working with him.

It was a great welcome to see the old browser version 1.23 from 2012, being improved and updated! 

This is another fine example of how you can use the pandemi-isolation to do something useful with your Amiga.

It doesn't stop here. Kas1e is even working on porting Odyssey 1.25 with latest Webkit to AmigaOS4! Odyssey Web Browser is the most modern browser the Amiga has, and it's really great to see this excellent browser being developed further. We certainly need that!

OctaMED SoundStudio v1.03c running a permanent NSM plugin

The OMSS NSM plugin in User_Startup
The snapshot to the right here shows how the NSM plugin for OctaMED SoundStudio v1.03c is set to always run, when running the tracker program. Allow me to explain.

The NSM plugin is an extremely useful and flexible plugin for OctaMED SoundStudio v1.03c, which I run on my AmigaOne 500 aka SAM460ex, along with the unique TheMaestrix AHI tool created by Damien Stewart, that tricks your AHI soundcard into thinking it's a 16-bit Maestro Pro soundcard. This one runs in WBStartup.

The NSM plugin is like an Arexx script of sort, but it far extends the features of OctaMED SoundStudio v1.03c, ways beyond its' standard limitations! For instance, what I have noticed when running OctaMED SoundStudio v1.03c with the plugin, is that it doesn't show a GR message anymore! Well, you can't quit the tracker within AmigaOS4, but that doesn't matter.

Even the mixing routines to use more than 4 channels in 16-bit stereo are greatly improved and feel more effective. Sound also seem to hear much clearer. Everything far more effective than what it was in standard form! I greatly recommend to put the NSM plugin to always run in the User_Startup, since it uses a RUN command anway. It certainly works great for me!

Atlantis 13ch track in OMSS with NSM plugin
To demonstrate an example. When playing multi-channel tracks like my Atlantis 13ch track, it sounds a lot clearer when NSM plugin is always running with the tracker.

No wonder that the NSM plugin brings new life to the old famous tracker!

It's now more fun to use OctaMED SoundStudio v1.03c to create music!

In addition, I have also learnt to do some sampling by using my Huawei 2019 Smart mobile as a digital audio recorder. It's really easy!

The mobile has a recorder app that I simply just can use to record any sound I pick up. Then I send them to my email and open them up with the Freeware application called Audacity on PC. From there, I convert to 16-bit stereo WAV samples, then I further edit them in OctaMED SoundStudio v1.03c's own Sample Editor on my AmigaOne 500. It's really cool!

If you got to listen to "Spirit Of A Reindeer", which is currently my latest Amiga mod uploaded to both Aminet and YouTube, you'll notice that it uses my sampled voice! Some whistling, some singing phrases and talking. The track is really nice. Short but nice.

In the coming days, I will jump into my very own Covid-19 Amiga project called "Isolated". A collection of 13 different Amiga tracks related to the Covid-19 situation. My first track from this collection will actually be "Covid-19". It's intend to be a Hip Hop track with some rap from myself and some fancy rhythms. More on that later on. Work starts this week as you read.

If you want to optain my Amiga music, you can go directly to these links below.

If you want to look at my Amiga videos, learning of my Amiga system and how I use it, then you can visit this playlist on YouTube: HKvalhe's Video

Well, that's all folks! See you in another blog in not too distant future.

Remember, keep safe, stay at home, and follow the recommendations to survive the Covid-19 pandemi, avoiding infection and further spread of the virus. God bless you all!

Written by
Helge Kvalheim, Norway

mandag 23. september 2019

A Norwegian Hard-Of-Hearing Amiga User

Watching the sunset on my AmigaOne 500 
Welcome to my new Amiga blog after a good while. In this blog, I want to explain how it is to be hard of hearing. I was bornt hard of hearing, but it wasn't discovered by the doctors before I was 6 years old. I'm a Norwegian Amiga user since 1987. I own an AmigaOne 500 aka SAM460ex, running latest AmigaOS 4.1 FE Update 1 and Workbench Enhancer 1.5. I mostly use my Amiga for photo editing and instrumental music, using programs like GIMP and OMSS v1.03c.

In Norway these days, there are nearly 1 million of people bornt with different variants of hearing problems. Around 8000 of these are entirely completely deaf people, not able to hear anything at all, but to only FEEL sounds through vibration to their body.

Being hard of hearing is something between being able to hear and to almost being deaf. For me as well, I am almost not able to hear anything at all, without hearing aid on both ears. With them, I am able to hear normal speech and almost anything, including music. For someone to talk to me, I also need the person to have eye contact with me and for me looking at the person's face. Yes, you got it. I read lips.

But with proper hearing aid, as the ones I have, I am able to hear most things quite well. It's when I have to take them off, I only hear dark sounds. So-called bass sounds. The light sounds are almost impossible for me to hear without hearing aid.

Hopefully, you now get a better understanding of my hearing problem. I don't consider it as a handicap. Such is a typical misunderstanding from people not in the same situation. I consider it as a "gift", because it strengthens other abilities, like sense and better focus on eye contact, which is extremely important. So yes, it's a gift, and I am honoured to be gifted to become a better person that way. To be able to read people in ways that are easily underestimated, and it makes me a better person.

New Ninja Remix music painted with GIMP
You might wonder how I am able to make music with my AmigaOne 500, using OctaMED SoundStudio v1.03c, and being hard of hearing? Well, it's not impossible, and as you might realize, I have been able to make both good and not as good music since 2018 now. With these hearing aid, it's fully possible for me to do so. But of course, no one is perfect and there's always room for improvements.

I don't expect everyone to like what I do, and in terms of trying to do new Ninja Remix music on the Amiga, I know it's a very sensitive subject to touch. It's okay to dislike something, but at least it's important to show respect for people trying their best. Because we're all in the same boat when it comes to the Amiga, and I believe it's important that we unite and help lift the Amiga forward the best way we can, rather than fighting each other and destroy the remains of the Amiga. We don't want that.

The problem I had with making Amiga music is that until now, I used to release a new Amiga track every week. I realize now that it wasn't normal to rush out so fast, so after many advices from music experts still using Amiga or at least supporting the Amiga, I got new insight and realized it's better to release a new track at least every month or longer, so I will just do that from now on. I think people will better appreciate that.

Also, doing pre-announcements is something I'm not going to do anymore. Of course, it's not much of a secret to know that I'm trying to make new Ninja Remix music. That much I can tell, but no more than that. What you only need to know is that good time will be spent for each track, which could take as much as a month or longer. Such will give me better time to look for errors and to improve where things can be improved.

Hand drawn painting, as the one you see of that Ninja Remix painting, is something I am also very interested in. It's certainly not easy, and better paintings demand more time. But if you love painting, you also realize you need to spend more time, and that's also what I'll try to do. It's very cool to be able to do good painting, scan them and then edit them digitally with a program like GIMP. The possibilities are many.

Come join OctaMED Music Club on Facebook

OctaMED Music Club On Facebook
About 2 weeks ago, I created a sub-group on Facebook, called OctaMED Music Club, and it's linked to the main AmigaOS group on Facebook.

The reason for creating the new music club is that I want people to realize that OctaMED is still very powerful and flexible to use on the Amiga, and to show Amiga users the wonder of creating cool and interesting music on their Amiga, using OctaMED.

The group also allows Amiga users, whom have never touched or are unfamilar with OctaMED and want to try, to learn using any version of OctaMED, including OctaMED SoundStudio v1.03c on their Amiga, and how they can make good music by starting to learn the most used basic commands. The typical commands to start with, would be tempo setting, volume control and some of the portamento and filter effects.

In aleady 2 weeks, the club has got nearly 30 members. It's quite a decent start and hopefully more will come in time. I'm very proud to have created that club and it's another gift from me to the Amiga community. Hopefully, more people will also realize the strength of both OctaMED and Amiga together. Come join the club today! Be part of a magic world of OctaMED and Amiga music, and create something you, too! It's fun!

Well, this should end the blog from now on. Now you have a better understanding of what it means to be hard of hearing, and what I do. And now you know there is an OctaMED Music Club on Facebook, if you wish to join and learn more about using OctaMED on the Amiga. Perhaps you already are using OctaMED, and want to share your OctaMED music with us? Come join, and enjoy the fun. You won't regret it ;)

Written by
Helge Kvalheim

mandag 12. august 2019

My SAM460ex 7 Years Anniversary

My updated AmigaOne 500 aka SAM460ex
Long time no see! Been quite a while since I last wrote an Amiga blog. Most of my time has been spent into making more different Amiga music,and I have continued to improve.

This time, I'll like to give my AmigaOne 500 aka SAM460ex a well deserved celebration. 7 years ago, from this very day, I bought my AmigaOne 500 aka SAM460ex from GGSData in Sweden.

Since then, it has been updated and upgraded with a Samsung 500GB internal SSD harddrive. The fastest possible harddrive one can get. In addition, it has been updated with the very latest AmigaOS 4.1 Final Edition Update 1 and latest Workbench Enhancer 1.5 bundle from A-EON Technology. My AmigaOne 500 also has a Radeon HD 6670 PCIe graphic card from Sapphire. 1GB of GDDR5 RAM and the very best audio card out there - a 24-bit ESI@Juli XTe PCIe audio card with MIDI support.

My AmigaOne 500 7 Years Anniversary Celebration

My AmigaOne 500 Summer Workbench

I certainly can't help feel impressed about how my Amiga system works, even today. It works just like it did when I bought it 7 years ago! It's the longest time I have ever had an Amiga, and it still works perfectly!

Speedwise, my AmigaOne 500 might not be the fastest you have experienced, but for me it is a pretty solid and stable system. The SSD drive with latest update of the SFS2 file system, allows my Amiga to boot into my Workbench setup somewhere between 5-10 seconds. That's certainly not bad, considering how modern PCs usually spend more time loading into Windows! But as you all can see, having a SSD drive with your OS to boot has a lot to say, and it really makes quite a difference! SSD is the fastest harddrive you can ever get! So you see, even AmigaOne 500 can impress greatly!

Continuing making music on my AmigaOne 500

Noche De Tacos Mexican Slinger in OMSS v1.03c

As several already might be aware of, I'm still making Amiga music. I really enjoy making music on the Amiga. With 16-bit stereo samples and playing the mods in best possible quality, it's just beautiful, especially when the mods are beautiful themselves. My Amiga mods vary in quality from average to pretty good. Some not as good, but all in all, improving and continue to improve. I suppose these are just normal results that happens to anybody doing music. There will always be good and bad music, and people really feel different about music. Nobody necessarily like or hate the same. We're all different.

These days, I'm mostly doing 18 Amiga mods for my Samplicity collection. You can take a close look on the screenshot below here, to learn what the title of these are and will be.

Using MultiEdit to create my song list
The next Amiga track I'm going to work on now is "Little Child. I plan to make it a happy, dreamy track. Something children will love to listen to before falling asleep.

Children are beautiful the way they are. Their innocense and unawareness of their surroundings when being little. The dreams they might have. The happiness. It's beautiful that way. You surely agree.

From an adult's perspective, looking at how children might be so happy and full of life, make you feel younger, looking at your own childhood. It's an interesting perspective and certainly much to learn from.

Some might wonder why I bother making Amiga music as late as 2019. Allow me to answer with a question. Why not? Amiga always had excellent music capabillites, and the Amiga continues to impress, even today. I think I have already proven with a great numbers of my Amiga mods what you still can do with a multi-tracker like that of OctaMED SoundStudio.

For me, personally, it's not just about showing what I can do, but rather to show the world what the Amiga STILL can do, and how important it will be to improve OctaMED SoundStudio and the Amiga itself. That's mostly why I'm doing all this. Because I care.

The bloody mess of the Cloanto

Well, what to say? The rumours about Cloanto yet again involved in what to happen with the future of the Amiga, is all true. As several points out, it has become quite a bloody mess for the Amiga and its' community. Already around half a year of 2019 has gone into wondering about what Cloanto is up to. The argument is so annoying that it overshadows the great things that are actually happening to the Amiga, including the great things the Vampire systems created by Apollo are doing for the Classic Amiga, to not mention the 68080 accelerators boosting new life to all classic Amigas!

In the end, I hope this evil circle of mess ends and that the Amiga will have the bright future it deserves. At least there are good news to know that A-EON and Hyperion will discuss the future of ExecSG development. The very core of the AmigaOS. We already know that AmigaOS 4.2 is to have SMP multi-core support and hopefully OpenGL graphic subsystem, among the things. And now that the classic AmigaOS 3.1.4 is out, perhaps better intergration of Classic Amiga emulation could be implemented in future updates of AmigaOS4, for better compatibility and speed emulating the classic Amiga? Who knows?

The Updater from Workbench Enhancer 1.5
While waiting, I'm doing the best I can with my Amiga system. Workbench Enhancer 1.5 is great to have on my AmigaOS 4.1 Final Edition Update 1, all running on my AmigaOne 500 aka SAM460ex.

Since I paid for this update of Workbench Enhancer when I bought the Radeon HD V3 Upgrade Pack, I received the version 1.5 update for free, as a discount.

Version 2.0 of Workbench Enhancer should come later this year, with even more improvements and a new Archiver, where you can both unpack and pack files in more than just the LHA format!

The Updater tool (seen from the screenshot above) is very useful, which allows you to update both the system files, games, apps and tools you bought through AmiStore. A very nice addition to the already AmiUpdate. Makes the Workbench feels quite modern!

That ends this blog for now. Hope you enjoy the read. Thank you all for your support.

Written by
Helge Kvalheim

tirsdag 29. januar 2019

Return Of Amiga Musicans

Amiga musicans are returning!
Welcome to another new Amiga blog from me! Welcome to 2019! Another hopefully great year for the Amiga!

2019 is going to be another busy year for me in term of some Amiga projects, like music and photo.

As several might already know, I have started work on doing brand new Amiga music for the game Ninja Remix, and I have almost completed all the music for that game! Several of the tracks are already available at YouTube. These are "Lin Fen", "Armakuni", "Hills Of Lin Fen", "Lin Fen Palace Gardens" and "Lin Fen The Dungeon". Work on 2 further Amiga tracks for Ninja Remix - "Lin Fen The Palace" and "Kunitoki The Shogun", start in February, as soon as I receive my left hearing aid from repair, then I'll be ready.

Amiga can truly look quite modern!
Apart from doing music and photo, I keep my AmigaOne 500, also known as SAM460ex, up to date as possible, and keeping a tidy Workbench as seen on the snapshot to the right here.

It's impressive that an AmigaNG system can look truly modern in 2019!

Amiga can STILL make it possible!

Walkabout Music Samples for FREE at Aminet!!!

Unknown to many perhaps, the high quality Walkabout Music Samples were part of OctaMED V6 and OctaMED SoundStudio v1.03c when RBF Software owned the rights. When Commodore went bankrupt, RBF Software disappeared from the Amiga scene and focused on making MED SoundStudio for the PC, with less of a success than OctaMED SoundStudio had on the Amiga. So what is different now?

I was lucky to optain these high quality 8-bit IFF samples from Walkabout Music, as I was forced to register the PC version of MED SoundStudio few years ago, in order to optain these samples. I therefore decided to do the Amiga community a great favour, by bringing up this sample collection in 16-bit stereo RIFF WAV format to Aminet, for FREE!!!!! For the very first time 32 years later! I think it's now time!

16-bit stereo samples used in OMSS!
You will get a huge variant of 16-bit stereo instruments like brass, choir, analog and digital bass, bass guitars, guitars, drumkit, different kind of loops, beats, african, american, oceania, far east, panflutes, violins, saxophones, cellos, pianos, sound effects, strings, normal flutes and more! All in 16-bit Stereo! Great, eh?!

I consider this gift to the Amiga community as very important, and it will help inspire several to do amazing and modern Amiga music, using 16-bit high quality samples instead of 8-bit samples. Long gone is the 8-bit, so 16-bit samples should mostly be used now, until we get a new OctaMED SoundStudio running in native PPC, supporting AHI and MIDI. Then perhaps we can use 32-bit (!) samples?!

Bear in mind that in order to use these 16-bit stereo samples once available, you will need a lot of FastRAM (or high-speed RAM), and not that ChipRAM thing. 16-bit samples take up twice the space as 8-bit, and even in stereo, a bit more. But in the end it will be worth it. 16-bit gives much better clearness in term of vibration and deep bass! You'll surely be able to hear the difference! It's truly impressive, really!

Return of Amiga Musicans

These days, I happen to read on several Amiga groups on Facebook I'm member of, as well as receiving several messages in Messenger from different Amiga users, that I have inspired them to either start doing Amiga music on their own, or that several ex-Amiga musicans happen to return back to the Amiga Music scene!

This is truly awesome to see that Amiga musicans are returning to the music scene, where the Amiga is the main focus and the key instrument in their own music work!

I remember the golden years of the Amiga when it was very popular, like late 80'ies to mid-90'ies. The Amiga rocked the scene with its' awesome music capabilities and on the demo scene as well! Beautiful, instrumental sampled music flowing through the speakers in glorious stereo, together with beautiful music videos or animation!

Those were clearly the time. The best time for the Amiga, and we had many great musicans in the Amiga scene, both doing their own personal music, bringing music to the demo scene and making Amiga music for many great Amiga games as well.

With the increase of popularity of using 16-bit stereo samples in the Amiga Music scene, and seeing that such a legendaric multi-tracker like OctaMED SoundStudio is still mostly used for music composition even today, simply prove that several Amiga musicans are returning back to the Amiga Music scene, as well as inspiring new Amiga users to start with Amiga music. This means a lot, both for the Amiga as a computer platform and for me as the core inspirator as well. Amiga was once a unique but brilliant music computer, and even today, it continues to amaze people!

Lin Fen The Palace Ninja Remix Cover
Speaking of Amiga music, my next Amiga track coming soon, is to be "Lin Fen The Palace" for the Amiga version of the game - Ninja Remix, coming in February. I'm truly looking forward to that. The cover itself however, is not made of myself. I wish I had the talent of doing such beautiful creations like drawing, painting or 3D-creation.

The cover was picked up from Google somewhere, and just added texts to it. Still, it means I have to very carefully not to get in trouble, when it comes to CR - also known as Copyright. That's the tricky part, but it has worked well so far...The Amiga music you hear on YouTube with these pictures, are of course my very own.

Kunitoki The Shogun Ninja Remix Cover
Another Amiga track coming soon in February once i receive my left hearing aid from repair, is the track "Kunitoki The Shogun" for the Amiga version of the game - Ninja Remix! This one will be more of a battle track. Pulsating and making the blood in the veins pumping faster and harder!

All in all, there's much to look forward to. The wait will truly be worth it!

Wazp3D Software Render with Nova3D mode!

Wazp3D Software Render with Nova3D mode!
Wazp3D Software Render is a unique program I'm experimenting a little with these days. The latest Beta 57 provides a unique mode called Nova3D. It means to emulate some Shader effects that Warp3D Nova provides. Although, I have yet to see that in full action. Still, it's very useful to have when not having the "right" 3D driver to run Warp3D Nova itself. Therefore, the Wazp3D Software Render instead. It's not that bad, really. It could be a smart thing to use, and might be handy.

When using GIMP, i first run the Wazp3D Software Render and turn on the settings, as seen in the snapshot. Then I run programs like GIMP. It's a smart way to use that software render. Otherwise, I use the Composite2D mode in Wazp3D for all other programs, being surfing the net with Odyssey Web Browser or playing retro adventure games in ScummVM.

Well, that covers just about everything I'm doing these days, so enjoy the read ;)

Written by
Helge Kvalheim