fredag 11. august 2017

Atmospheric 5 Years SAM460ex Anniversary

AmigaOS 4.1 Final Update 1 Enhanced Version
Welcome to another new Amiga blog after a good while. Now there was time to write a new blog, so here we start.

As most of you already know, I own an AmigaOne 500 aka SAM460ex, which I bought from GGSData in Sweden back in 2012. Exactly 5 years ago on 12th of September! Pretty amazing, isn't it?

I therefore thought it would be nice to celebrate a 5 Years Anniversary for my AmigaOne 500 computer, running latest AmigaOS 4.1 Final Edition Update 1, with latest Workbench Enhancer from A-EON. But sometime in 2018, hopefully with AmigaOS 4.2, I plan to buy a complete A1222 Tabor.

Atmosphere - Progress on my Amiga Music Album

Cover for my Atmosphere collection
Sometime in early 2017, I began work on a new personal Amiga Music album, using OctaMED SoundStudio to compose the tracks, then convert them from AIFF to FLAC using CodeAudio on SAM460ex.

The album bears the name "Atmosphere", and will contain 20 new songs when completed. 7 songs are already available as "singles" on SoundCloud. I will provide a direct link as we progress further this blog. We will get to that soon enough.

Some of the songs were changed in later time to better fit the "Atmosphere" album.

Many songs are Ambient, especially using guitars and other more lifelike instruments, while other songs are more rhythmical and exotic. What is cool is that there will be many different styles, making it a truly awesome album, full of fantastic modern Amiga music! Amiga being 32 years old this year and STILL going strong! This awesome work proves that the Amiga is STILL capable of making great creations, like wonderful music! I'm very proud of this!

Cover for the song - "Different Man"
The song "Different Man" is the replacement for the first song of the "Atmosphere" collection. A great 5-channel Up-Tempo Dance song opening, reflecting the man I have changed to become, in both good and bad. The song is deep indeed...

A lot of hard work has been spent on planning and composing this excellent FIRST song of the "Atmosphere" collection. "Different Man" is that song, worth listening to! A great opening!

One of the best songs on the "Atmosphere" collection, is simply the title track "Atmosphere". This is a 6-channel Ambient masterpiece with wonderful guitar riffs! This song shows why the album deserves the title "Atmosphere". And it just gets better as more work is coming!

Cover to the song - "Midnight Sun"
The song "Midnight Sun" is the 7th addition to the "Atmosphere" collection, composed & written by me - Helge Kvalheim of Bergen City Of Norway, composed on my AmigaOne 500 aka SAM460ex.

"Midnight Sun" is a 7-channel, very beautiful Ambient Ballad. Some elements are even inspired by asian music, hence the motive for the song is not to be asian at all, but simply a melodic, ambient ballad that want your hair on your body to rise! Yes, THAT impressive!

The song is a great inspiration of the beautiful midnight sun, often seen in
places like Lofoten, further north of Norway, close to North-Norway.

As I personally never have seen a TRUE midnight sun in my life, i wanted
to create a song that was deeply inspired by it, so the result simply became
the song - "Midnight Sun". Hear the beautiful harmony of guitars and pianos!

Hope you'll love this song! As always, hard work has been spent into this song!

You'll find my "Atmosphere" collection on SoundCloud under my nick HKvalhe.

Plans for my 8th Amiga song for the "Atmosphere" collection are under work. The title for the 8th song is to be "Donuts Cops". When completed, it will be added as the 8th song with information about the song. Just like the other songs on the album. Stay tuned ;)

Well, this completes the blog for this time around. Hope you will enjoy it :)

Written by
Helge Kvalheim, Norway

mandag 8. mai 2017

Bringing Back Great Music On The Amiga

AmigaOS 4.1 Final Update 1 Enhanced
After a long delay from Amiga blogs, it's now time to return active to my Amiga blogs again. Here we go!

We're now greatly into 2017, and Amiga is still alive and kicking as never before! Great things are happening!

It might be surprising to read me saying this now, despite all the frustration that has been with Hyperion Entertainment earlier...

Speaking of Hyperion Entertainment. There has actually been a huge, important change in management inside the company, owning all rights to AmigaOS. The controversial Ben Hermans is no longer in charge, but stepped down to maintain other things within Hyperion Entertainment. In January 23th of 2017, two persons filled the position as director managers of Hyperion Entertainment. They are:

Timothy De Groote
Costel Mincea

During a recently done interview with Timothy De Groote, he revealed interesting views the company have to different CPU architectures Amiga could use, stating that the company are not "married to any CPU architecture". Read interview here:

The interview was very positive and surprising to read, knowing that Ben Hermans used to have a "weird" view of sticking just to PowerPC (shorted PPC), even that PPC still got a lot to show, but the new directors of Hyperion Entertainment seem a lot more open-minded about different CPU architectures Amiga could use...

ARM and x86 could turn up as CPU of choice for the future of Amiga?

ARM could be a CPU of choice for the Amiga
Now that the new directors of Hyperion Entertainment have expressed their open views of other CPU architectures for Amiga, the term ARM and x86 would be brought up again as potensial candidates.

x86 is challengig enough to support fully under AmigaOS. Although, this has been proven possible in AROS, as AROS is both available to x86 and PPC with full SMP and OpenGL support. Should also be possible for the native AmigaOS as well, when that happens. Time will tell...

ARM is these days a very interesting and promising CPU architecture! Personally, I don't know much about ARM, other than that it's very fast, powerful and uses extremely little power. ARM has dominated the embedded mobile market for a couple of years already, and is now heading its' way to the PC desktop market!

A bit off-topic, but Microsoft have actually succeeded in bringing ARM support to Windows 10, and new ARM-based PCs will house the ARM-version of Windows 10 in new PCs for 2018, which itself is quite interesting (just to give you the idea)!

So where does this leave the Amiga? While the directors of Hyperion Entertainment didn't say anything about supporting other CPUs in AmigaOS now, they are in fact very open to support other CPUs when that time comes. Who knows? Possible after AmigaOS 4.2 has been completed, and it gets the features that are needed for a modern OS, to be considered ported to other CPU architectures...

This is where ARM could fit nicely as the best choice for Amiga, being very fast, powerful and using very little power! The best choice for the Amiga? No doubt!

The possibility is undoubtly there, so it would be very interesting to see ;) But for now, we're eagerly waiting for AmigaOS 4.2. Lets hope it will be finished this year!

Bringing great music back on the Amiga!

Amiga can still create great music!
Many of you might already know that I have spent a lot of time, in almost half a year now, to create wonderful, instrumental music on the Amiga again, using OctaMED SoundStudio.

It still works nicely under latest AmigaOS 4.1 Final Update 1 on my AmigaOne 500 aka SAM460ex, using TheMaestrix AHI tool in conjuction.

The collection (or album to call it) "Atmosphere" is the title for my new collection of great Amiga music. I have currently released 6 great songs to SoundCloud for my "Atmosphere" collection. All that have been composed and written with OctaMED SoundStudio! Songs vary from 4, 6 and 8-channel in 16-bit Mix mode, using the high-quality Walkabout Music Instruments Samples! Then the songs are further recorded-directly-to-disk in 16 bit, with SMOOTHING, in AIFF-format. Really a great possibility to do!

CodeAudio converting AIFF to FLAC
Another great program i use to record my final Amiga songs, is the program called CodeAudio. Fully registered, CodeAudio can convert AIFF files to highest quality MP3 formats, like FLAC, which is the case with all my songs!

Then the songs can be played in any MP3 players, like AmigaAMP, which also supports FLAC format.

AmigaAMP playing various FLAC songs
With these different Amiga programs, they just prove what is possible on the Amiga, even in 2017, which is amazing! Amiga is more alive than ever, and that's no lie, but the truth!

Amiga STILL makes it all possible! It's easy, cool and fun all at the same time!

The songs are then further uploaded to my HKvalhe channel at SoundCloud.

The link is the following seen here:

"Atmosphere" is currently my best and newest collection of great instrumental Amiga music composed by myself. Many of the songs have amazing realistic guitar riffs! Check out the following songs in this collection on my HKvalhe channel at SoundCloud (see link above)!

Songs to look especially for, are the following:

* Different Man
* Alone Again
* Funk It Up
* Children Of The Future
* When White Does Black
* Atmosphere 

Other songs are from my earlier collection called "Julia's Diary". They are various so-called mood songs. Not with guitar riffs, but other cool rhythm effects.

This ends the blog for now. In 2018, i hope to buy the new AmigaOne A1222 (also known as "Tabor") from A-EON. This new AmigaOne will be my main computer in 2018, and will also use it to produce music with brand new PPC-AHI native OctaMED SoundStudio. We might get to know more later this year!

Thank you for reading my blog! Amiga truly makes it possible ;)

Written by
Helge Kvalheim, Norway

lørdag 6. august 2016

Defending My Character To AmigaWorld

The failure of Hyperion continues...
Greetings everybody and welcome to my Amiga blog again. I felt the need of answering the community of AmigaWorld, after different reactions on my last Amiga blogs criticing Hyperion Entertainment for their 2 years of extreme silence...

The threat has grown to become very boring and annoying, as we can all agree on that, but not because of me mentioning it, but because Hyperion Entertainment themselves have chosen a situation that is no longer acceptable by most...

1. Helgis has mental issues?

A question raised by some in the AmigaWorld, especially from members whom had bad experiences with me, wondered if i had or have mental issues. It's easy to think such of people you don't like without even knowing them in real.

Without revealing too much of my private life, i can say i never had any mental issues and still don't. I have been to my doctor now and then just like anyone, and never had such issues. Instead, i was suffering from depression many years ago for a very long time. Because i lost too many people i love in my life to death. My life has never been easy and i had to suffer for it...Medicines i take today are for high blood pressure and colesterol. Nothing else. Health is just fine and normal in general.

I'm known to be rather tough in the way i speak and write. Words can truly be sharper than the sharpest sword and they can do either a lot of damage, being very charismatic, straightforward or simply leave people thinking...So there you have the explanation to the fact that i don't have any mental issues, simply because it's NOT true at all. There is absolute NO edvidence of me having mental issues!

2. The choice of CPU not the main problem with Hyperion Entertainment

A member of AmigaWorld pointed out that the situation with Hyperion Entertainment is not about what CPU we want to focus on, but on the fact that the company possible only publish about 2 posts a year, compared to A-EON being very active by always letting the community know what they do and what they are up to. This is very true, and i couldn't agree more on that. So forget the focus on PPC or x86 at least, and rather focus on the main problem with Hyperion.

Another thing everybody have to understand is something i have said the whole time. NO company acts unprofessional by being extremely silent and peeing on their "customers" or "clients" that way, leaving them worried and unsure about what the company is up to. Such information can be published without breaking the NDA. Just look at how well A-EON handles such things the whole time. Regular news updates, joining interviews now and then, posting blogs (especially by Trevor himself) and even uploading videos to YouTube, both from certain Amiga shows and to demonstrate/announcing their new or upcoming products.

So what do Hyperion Entertainment do in such situations? Maybe they publish just about 2 posts a year and then making an excuse that they are working behind the scene. Perhaps they actually do, but there is absolutely NO EXCUSE of being so silent that people could wonder if the company is about to fade away or something!

There you have it. NO professional company behaves like that! You have to ask yourself how a company like Hyperion can be professional in any possible way, when they have a background as a former game company, and when analyzing how it poorly handles the Amiga situation today by being deadly silent. Yeah right!

3. ARM might the the best choice as the CPU of the future for Amiga

Well, this is actually very interesting. Personally i don't know much about ARM, but i know this has become extremely popular in the mobile and otherwise embedded market. It's increasingly making a huge impact, and the computer industry is opening their eyes for supporting ARM technology even more. ARM is known to be extremely low power consuming, very fast and extremely cost-effective.

So what does it mean for the Amiga? For Amiga, this can mean a whole lot, and it's probably the best way to secure the future of the Amiga. Nobody truly expected Amiga to be number ONE again. That's not the point. The point is to allow the Amiga to be on THE PAIR with the best out there, which are Windows and MacOS. To allow Amiga to finally break free from its' hobby limitations and to become a serious working platform as well, supporting the most of state-of-the-art components being industry standard today. All based on modern technology.

What is however interesting, despite having different means about me and my motives with Amiga blogs, is a common agreement that Hyperion Entertainment lacks the right vision, courage and probably resources, to ever make such things possible for the Amiga. It is said that Hyperion had the chance of making it happening, but actually ended up SCREWING it all up, as we see the situation now.

4. A-EON can do what Hyperion Entertainment doesn't manage to do

Personally, i wouldn't be surprised if A-EON Technology actually ends up taking over all AmigaOS development, if Hyperion Entertainment doesn't really "pull itself together". A-EON always impress greatly, and they seem to have a hell lot of money than Hyperion Entertainment ever had! We see edvidences of that from products A-EON releases and projects revealed. These are much more than we can say about Hyperion Entertainment in general. It's not hard to see that being the case.

As of today, A-EON seems to be Amiga's best chance to secure its' future, and to develop AmigaOS further. Time will show what actually will happen.

5. AmiWest 2016 will finally let us know what will happen

No doubt, the upcoming AmiWest 2016 show will finally allow us to know what will happen with Amiga and AmigaOS. It's also a show that will be very important, and it will undoubtly somehow "forces" Hyperion Entertainment out of their "self-imposed, dark exile", either they want it or not...As always, time will show what will happen...

This ends the blog, clarifying the whole thing based on my own point of views. All this has been written in a professional attitude without anger and shit-throwing.

Written by
Helge Kvalheim, Norway

tirsdag 12. juli 2016

An Uncertain Future

Unhappy with Hyperion Entertainment...
Hello everyone and welcome to another Amiga blog to read.

Just recently, i was tempted to write an unreal Amiga blog in an attempt to force Hyperion Entertainment out of their extreme silence. The blog was more of a direct attack against Hyperion Entertainment.

Unfortunately, i realized soon enough that doing personal attacks to cause a reaction, isn't the smartest thing to do, so i deleted that blog right away, and decided to write a far more professional blog without any form of personal attack. A straightforward, professional blog telling the truth, even from my own personal point of view.

AmigaOS 4.1 Final Edition Update 1 and Hyperion's Silence

Rumours say that Hyperion Entertainment will release the first true Update to AmigaOS 4.1 Final Edition, which has some certain, annoying bugs that need to be addressed. AmigaOS 4.1 Final Edition Update 1 is believed to be the update that will not only bring some new improvements, but also fix the bugs that still remain.

As we all know, Hyperion Entertainment have seemed to go into a self-imposed exile and have been very silent for the past 2 years. Beta testers and developers might know that they are supposed to work on AmigaOS 4.2 and supporting new A-EON hardwares like AmigaOne X5000 and AmigaOne A1222 Tabor.

Users are unfortunately left in the cold with NO information about what Hyperion Entertainment are up to, without breaking the NDA. It's not the first time Hyperion leave users in the cold with lack of proper communication. This is a very bad business strategy from a small Amiga company that struggles to be serious and professional in any possible way. It's surprising that the company is still running, despite having little money, especially after they spent money on the trial case against Amiga Inc back in September 2009. A case Hyperion Entertainment won, but at a great cost, which made them loose a lot of money. I say a LOT of money.

Hyperion Entertainment differs very much as a company in which they remain deadly silent about what they do and are up to. A-EON Technology in the other hand are very supportive against the whole Amiga community. They spend time posting news about their projects and plans when ready, without breaking the NDA, they join certain interviews and write blogs (especially the CEO - Trevor Dickinson), and they even upload video clips to YouTube, demonstrating their projects and/or even announce them, like in Amiga shows like AmiWest and such! Hyperion Entertainment don't even do HALF such work of informing the community!

It's clear that Hyperion Entertainment would need a great "kick-in-the-arse" and really start pulling themselves together, if they want to gain their lost respect and faith the whole community once had into the falling company that is Hyperion.

AmigaOS - Where will it go from here?

Uncertain Future For AmigaOS

The biggest question might be what direction AmigaOS is to take forward.

Okay, we know that AmigaOS 4.1 FE Update 1 is coming. We might know work continues on the mystical AmigaOS 4.2. After all that, it's logic to ask what direction AmigaOS will take into the future. A future most of us don't know about.

With the whole computer industry already long ago, gone x86 and increasingly supporting ARM, even MorphOS is heading into that direction. Only AmigaOS remains as one of very few OSes still choosing to support the expensive, unsafe PowerPC platform based on POWER architecture. Technically, it might be more advanced than x86, but it's also far more expensive to produce and support. Two important reasons why PowerPC is not used for desktop computers of today.

Of course, some Linux distributions also support PowerPC, so it's not completely left out. Generally, the truth is that PowerPC has long lost the battle against x86 and the new upcomer - ARM. Both x86 and ARM are extremely cost-effective, being ultra-cheap to produce and support in massive scale! An unbeaten truth, actually.

AmigaOS would be completely on the pair with Windows and MacOS of today, if AmigaOS only were natively ported to x86 and ARM, and still keep legacy with PowerPC for applications and games to run, in virtual emulation mode.

Such a modern AmigaOS having "everything a today's OS has" on ultra-cheap x86 hardware, would be extremely attractive and fun to use! Deadly-easy to buy just about any place everywhere, and have the advance of being the coolest OS on the market's cheapest x86 hardwares out there! A completely win-win situation!

If that only was the case, things wouldn't seem so dark in Amiga land as things tend to do in such a small world of Amiga. Hyperion love to spend time criticing Amiga Inc for that old trial case, which cost Hyperion Entertainment a lot of money, despite they actually won the case back in September 2009, at a great cost.

But one could probably ask if Hyperion shouldn't blame themselves for not only being extremely silent about what they do or plan to do, but also in how they actually handle the overall Amiga situation these days, while A-EON handle the situation with great success, it's almost ridicilous to see Hyperion fail to impress.

Simply put, all this values Hyperion Entertainment to be more or less DEAD, until they decide to come out from the dark, learning the lesson so many of us have tried to teach them for years...

Permanently banned from Hyperion Entertainment Support Forums

Believe it or not, but it's actually true. The strange thing is that i wasn't even rude when it happened. I replied to a user about a situation he had with his Amiga system at some point, and i replied saying it wouldn't be any surprise if it was the case that Hyperion Entertainment wouldn't be able to give what the community expect from them. That caused the admin of the support forums to react in anger, and as a result, i was permanently banned from using these support forums. I can download updates from the main site and control my account, but not in the forums. Well well, shit can happen whereever and whenever you go...

For more than 20 years ago, i would probably be very sad and frustrated of such a ban, and being very upset about it. Today, i feel i don't really care. I know i spoke my point of view. I'm very clear to what i think about the way Hyperion Entertainment handle things these days in Amiga land. It's like i have become their "enemy". One of many, i would guess. One should know that the company have lost faith and respect from almost the whole Amiga community. An undeniable truth, really.

As we are close to the end of the blog, you probably want to ask where does all of this leave me. I'm not really sure. I might still use my AmigaOne 500 aka SAM460ex, alongside a cheap Windows 10 PC i have next to my Amiga system.

I will get AmigaOS 4.1 FE Update 1 and take it from there when it's ready. Other than that, i don't know. I'm not even sure i will ever be able to forgive Hyperion Entertainment, both for how they handle the general Amiga situation, the lack of proper communication with the whole Amiga community, including users, and for what they did to me. They embarrashed me by threating me as a fool, just because i dared to stand up against them, telling them that their silence methods are NOT acceptable, and what they need to do differently, if they want to gain their lost respect and faith from the whole Amiga community. A task difficult for them...

While we all wait...again, i will try to spend time on other, more important things and watch the whole thing from distance. The rest is up to Hyperion Entertainment. Either they do the wise things, or they start digging their own grave for real.

This ends the blog for now, and it's a blog that is far more straightforward. No personal attacks, no breaking the law or something like that. Completely clean and probably one of the most professional Amiga blogs you might have read.

This is the Amiga blog meant to be...

Written by
Helge Kvalheim, Norway

torsdag 9. juni 2016

Basic Tutorial With GIMP

New darkness rising in The Force Awakens
Hello everyone and welcome to the basic tutorial of using GIMP. We are taking a close look on how GIMP can improve your photos in easy ways.

First we need to upload a photo from a good camera. I have two different compact photo cameras. One is a 14.1Mpx Casio Exilim Z-2000 with many different scenaries, the other one is an 18.1Mpx Panasonix Lumiz TZ40, also with many scenaries, including HDR (High Dynamic Range). A feature that has also become very popular with Ultra HD TVs and new Ultra HD Blu Rays for fantastic use of colours and black level. A holy grail for movie lovers like myself. In term of photography, HDR can vastly improve a unique photo with many different colors. Say if the scenary was of an old tree house and the heaven full of different colors. You want to make that photo more "alive", so HDR is the thing in that situation. Multi-exponation.

An original photo before editing in GIMP

GIMP - The Basic Tutorial

You hopefully have a nice photo you want to edit, making the photo more alive and beautiful, without affecting the excellent quality of the photo.

You can also improve a poor-taken photo in easy ways. I will explain the basic procedures using GIMP, based on my own self-taught experience.

As you see to the right, there is an original photo ready to be edited. Right after it has been uploaded, i choose Image from the menu and move the pointer to "Scale Image". From there i choose to scale it down to 800 x 600 resolution, as the original size of over 4000 x 4000 becomes way too big. 800 x 600 is the most supported resolution most sites want to use for showing off high quality photos.

Scaling the image to 800 x 600 with GIMP
After scaling the photo to the decided resolution, it's time to adjust levels and curves to balance the colour and brightness. This to make the photo more alive and beautiful without affecting the quality of the image.

From the menu, you go to Colours and choose Levels first with the pointer. I usually adjust the levels to 20, giving the right balance of colours to the image, and choosing "Set Levels as Curves" from the same window. The long button near the end of the little AmiCygnix window. See screenshot.

Here you adjust the color levels in GIMP
The screenshot to the right shows you how to adjust the color levels to make the colours match the image more correctly. Before adjusting, the original photo can look a little weak in colours. You want to make the colours clearer, then you adjust the color level. Here i set it to 20, and you notice quite a difference in colour strength.

At the same time, you click "Edit these settings as Curves", which takes you directly to the Curves menu, as seen on the screenshot below. My advice here is that you slightly adjust the middle point of the curve as close to the center of the lines. That should give the right level of brightness to the photo. You will notice improvements.

Here color curves is balanced in GIMP
Soon there will be time to do some other small improvements. This time you click the menu with the right mouse button to "Colors", and move the pointer to "Auto", and another sub menu shows up. There you choose "Color Enhance", and GIMP will scan the image to see if it will need the Color Enhance to improve the image or not. 

This one greatly improves the image and makes it more alive and realistic.

You are now ready to save the image into your destination. I have a drawer called Foto on the partition called Diverse, formatted with latest SFS2, just like my other partitions. 

Same image after some editing in GIMP
Now go to the menu saying "File" and choose "Save As". I save my photos as JPEG, which is used mostly by photographers around the world.

I should point out that i use WarpView to compress images into Progressive JPG format, with 100% quality. Makes life easier with big photos, keeping the file size as low as possible. Cool, eh?

Now you have learnt something cool the basic ways with GIMP. Excited yet? There is more to come. Lets now try with a portrait of a person. The procedures are the same using Scale Image, Levels, Curves, but NOT Color Enhance. Instead we are going to use the Beautify Plug-in tool in GIMP.

Here you choose how to save an image

Beautify and Skin-Whitening with GIMP

The greatest features i love with GIMP are what i would call "make-up effects". You might wonder what Beautify, Skin-Whitening and Simple Border do.

Beautify is the most impressive feature, which is a powerful plugin for GIMP with many impressive effects, especially useful for portraits, macros and old photos, giving them new life.

Skin-Whitening is used for portraits. It's like putting on a little brighter mascarena on your face. This can be chosen in three levels of white or pink.

Portrait after using Beautify and Skin-Whitening
Beautify has many cool effects to really give a different or improved look of an image. Everything from basic color effects to Studio effects, and more.

In the section called LOMO (no, it's not a Gay-thing), you will see several unique effects. Two impressive effects are HDR and Classic HDR. While they are so-called "Pseudo" effects, they can truly improve old rather "weak" photos with new perspective!

You can also give an old image a more retro-style look, depending on your taste. Back to portrait. As seen on the portrait of myself above, it's in an ordinary situation, so no Elegance here.

Beautify has numberous cool styling effects
Seen on the snapshot just below, it shows Beautify's many unique styling effects. Here i went into the Studio section and chose "Little Fresh".

This was AFTER i chose to use Skin-Whitening with moderate pink color to make the color of my skin more natural looking in suitable situations.

The Elegance effect, as you will come over when using one of many different styling effects with Beautify, is a styling effect suitable for "party-like" images, or in portraits where you are dressed in very beautiful clothes in beautiful situations. It could be a portrait from a wedding, an important meeting, a romantic date or simple a nice, cool party. Elegance is perfect for such situations, and truly gives such an image a luxurious look, if you know what i mean? Try yourself!

Skin-Whitening in GIMP
We're now close to the end of the tutorial. Perhaps you want to put a nice, simple border on your beautiful portrait? How to do that, you think?

Very easy, go to the menu called "Filters" and point at "Beautify". A sub-menu should show up. Choose Border - Simple Border. From there you can choose what kind of border you want to put into your portrait. Very nice, isn't it? It will be like having a true portrait hanging on a wall.

Give you portrait a nice border 
VOILA! You have made your first steps into the basic of photo editing in GIMP!

Exciting, isn't it? Now that you have learnt the basic, you should try to take some really good pictures and edit them. Perhaps you even have some old photos you want to improve?

With GIMP and its' plugin Beautify, you get a really powerful photo editing tool, able to use many impressive effects to give you the kind of look you want in your pictures at highest possible quality. Better still - it's 100% FREE!

It should be noted that GIMP can only be run if you have AmiCygnix installed. AmiCygnix is a Linux-like environment that can be installed into AmigaOS4.

See Elipson's blog about installing AmiCygnix, to learn how it's done if you haven't.

This ends the basic tutorial for GIMP. Next blog update, we'll take a look at how to manipulate two different images into one. A feature very popular in the Amiga scene where we love to put the beautiful Amiga Boing Ball into different images!

Thank you for reading. I hope this tutorial will be very helpful. Happy editing ;)

Written by
Helge Kvalheim

fredag 6. mai 2016

A Slow Comeback

My new little home office ;)
Hello everyone and absolutely good to see all of you, dedicated Amiga users.

Earlier, i said i was to leave the Amiga. I did for a while, due to Hyperion Entertainment's inactivity of updating AmigaOS 4.1 Final Edition. Especially for the last 12 months, but now i'm back to stay. Albeit a rather slow comeback, as i'm more careful watching the Amiga situation.

Despite slowly coming back to Amiga, i must say i have changed a lot during my insight into Amiga, after being a die-hard Amiga fan for more than 27 years now. Things have changed, and also in my life at the age of nearly 41. Been through far too much in life and one will always discover that there are far more things to life, usually far more important things, than one would think in the beginning. Perspectives change, personality changes. You get the picture. Life changes. I'm definitely a different man than i used to be when it comes to the Amiga. The simply word i would use is being more realistic.

Alongside using my AmigaOne 500 aka SAM460ex system, i'm also using a Windows 10 PC for more serious photo-work. Especially if i want to scan and print photos, then i use the PC, or if something happens with the Amiga and i would be forced to wait while problems with Amiga get fixed, then i can use my PC next to it. Hypotetical referance, of course. Having two different computers is useful.

The Force Awakens background
Now recently, i have finally downloaded and installed the new Workbench Enhancer Plus Edition bundle from A-EON, with success, so i am relieved!

Workbench Enhancer is a new bundle, containing a couple of improvements to AmigaOS 4.1 Final Edition. It's meant to fill the "void" of Hyperion Entertainment's inactivity of updating AmigaOS 4.1 Final Edition's many bugs, which they haven't for more than a year. A-EON are to have credits for their outstanding work on bringing new software, hardware and functionality to the Amiga. I would go so far as saying that A-EON are delivering a great blow directly up the face of Hyperion! YEAH!

Most improvements from the bundle are "hidden stuffs" that happen in the background. Like a brand new updated version of SmartFileSystem V2, many new classes and Warp3D Nova. You will notice this in play if you have the newer RadeonHD cards. I only have RadeonHD 6670, so this is not yet supported.

Warp3D Nova is a long-expected more modern 3D graphic system for AmigaOS4. At least until AmigaOS 4.2 is out, with Gallium3D and hopefully Vulcan - the open source successor to OpenGL. Time will show, of course. But for now Warp3D.

Otherwise, there are some new versions of Format and Multiviewer. Now it's easier and better ways to format SFS-partitions, along with a new version of Partition Wizard. What more, there are some new tools as well. MultiEdit replaces NotePad with much more editing features. ClipViewer and ExChanger are two new Commodities that run in background inside WBStartup. Multiviewer that replaces the old Multiview with more features, has also been updated. I left it out to update, due to some erros when trying to install everything from the Workbench Enhancer bundle. So i left it out, along with CANDI. I'm very happy with my setup.

Another interesting new thing is X-Dock. A more future-proof dock system to replace AmiDock in the future. In the bundle, it's very new and lack several of the flexibility that AmiDock has, but X-Dock has potensial, so it will be interesting to see how the new stuffs will progress further in the future, which is good news.

The new MultiEdit replacing Notepad
Like i said, Workbench Enhancer can be assumed to fill the "gap" Hyperion Entertainment left with a more or less buggy AmigaOS 4.1 Final Edition. At least until AmigaOS 4.2.

The bundle might not solve all of the problems with AmigaOS 4.1 Final, as it's not an update Hyperion Entertainment were meant to do, but bringing in a couple of new and updated stuffs, so it makes the AmigaOS4 more useable at least, which of course is good, so we should be grateful for that and have fun with it.

Amiga's excellent Tunenet Internet Radio!
A great welcome introduction in the bundle is Tunenet - The great Amiga Internet Radio Player. A-EON have taken up the development of this player. One of many excellent projects A-EON are working on. From the bundle, Tunenet has been greatly updated and is back on track!

With it, you can listen to broadcast music from internet on radio channel all over the world! All kind of music to small radio talks! With an audio card handling 32 bit audio, you get fantastic audio quality! Add that to a true digital home cinema equipment with great speakers, and you enter a wonderful world of music!

My ultra home cinema at home
All in all, i am happy with the Workbench Enhancer bundle, so again a great congratulation to A-EON!

Another product that has seen some improvements, is Odyssey Web Browser 1.23r3. A patch (which is an ongoing project and now at version 7) that allows Odyssey Web Browser to log into sites like Blogger and YouTube with ease! I'm actually writing this blog with Odyssey! Cool, isn't it?

This update of Odyssey Web Browser is really nice to have, until version 1.25 is released for AmigaOS4. It's now currently only available to AROS, but will make its' way to AmigaOS4. Patch 7 surely helps version 1.23r3 a lot! A great welcome! A great thanks to Kas1e for working on this patch, making Odyssey truly useful!

Odyssey loggin into Blogger with Patch!
Amiga might again feel a little more modern, and it's all due to instant work from A-EON and several developers.

Hyperion Entertainment are mostly these days more or less blamed for their inactivity of bringing important updates to the more or less buggy AmigaOS 4.1 Final Edition. It is believed they are working on AmigaOS 4.2. I'm sure they do and that is great, but it would help a lot to update AmigaOS 4.1 Final Edition, erasing annoying and critical bugs, maybe even improve some visual look while we are waiting for 4.2.

A-EON end up to be the true HERO for Amiga these days. They seem to have done more (with many developers) for the community than Hyperion Entertainment have done for the past 5 years! No kidding! Lets hope Hyperion Entertainment learn they lesson and start doing some serious stuffs with AmigaOS 4.1 Final Edition, until we get AmigaOS 4.2, that's it. I'm at least watching the Amiga situation carefully.

As we are ending this blog for now, i would like to say i'm really happy to be back to the Amiga. Albeit not quite like before and not as active as i used to be, but still hanging around and using both Amiga and PC now and then. I'm still part of the Amiga community, and i will keep watching what direction Amiga takes into future.

The best thing with all these good Amiga news is that Amiga again is more useful to use, even as a "pathetic hobby" with some limitations, but if you have both an Amiga and a PC (or Mac for that matter), then you can always switch between the two of them or run both at the same time. If you get tired of the Amiga, then you can use the other one, until you get tired of using the other one, and then be using the Amiga. Best from both world, and no need to feel bored or limited.

Amiga blogs won't happen as often as earlier, but the wait will never be long. Until next time, enjoy reading this blog and have fun with your Amiga. I'll try to do too ;)

Written by
Helge Kvalheim, Norway

onsdag 30. september 2015

x86 Amiga term becoming more important

AMD64 could save Amiga
As you know from my previous blog stating my dropout from Amiga, this blog indicates the term "x86 Amiga" is becoming more and more important, due to the fact that the whole computer industry is using it, both because of its' modern technology, being very cheap to use and manufacture, and because it's easily available everywhere.

This isn't going to be quite a long blog, so lets try to get straight to the point. Ok, here goes, so read carefully.

PowerPC as a CPU platform has since 1995 to the early years of 2000 been the ideal CPU platform of choice. We had names like Motorola, Apple and IBM to do these CPUs, and yes they have been and still might be technically more advanced than other CPU platforms out there, even today with Freescale and IBM producing these CPUs based on POWER architecture - the successor of the old PowerPC. But sadly, modern PowerPC of today are also more expensive than others, and so it leaves both ARM and x86 (like AMD64) as ideal choices, since the whole computer industry are fully supporting both CPU platforms. They are both extremely cost-effective solutions using very low power! Two very important facts.

We know Apple left PowerPC sometime in 2007, and moved to Intel's x86 CPU. It's pretty obvious that x86 is the easiest to support, since everyone is using it. Everyone but the Amiga. Even consoles like Playstation and XBox dumped PowerPC and went x86.

Where does it leave the Amiga in all this? Amiga is still using PowerPC as the CPU platform. AmigaOS4 is PowerPC-based and we have Amiga hardware like SAM460, AmigaOne X1000 and the upcoming AmigaOne X5000. Freescale are making great PowerPC CPUs, we know that, and they might be extremely advanced, but can they compete with modern x86-based multicore CPUs not only in speed but also price? No, i don't think they can, and PPC will sadly loose that battle. That's the truth, like it or not, but it doesn't have to be a bad thing. Modern x86 is actually a really great CPU!

In term of legacy with Amiga software, i can understand that PowerPC still has an importance, but in order for the Amiga to catch up with technology cycle, it has to be prepared for the future. A different future that is not different but logic for the entire computer industry, and that is to move away from PPC as the main CPU and go ARM and x86 like AMD64. It's the only logical way forward for the Amiga, no matter what the excuse must be. I don't buy the crap that money is the only issue. There is more to this than just money. Lack of view and clear perspective might be one.

Think of this, as Microsoft manage to do it. This is slightly off-topic but they managed to bring XBox 360 backward-compatibility into XBox One, by implementing a VIRTUAL software-based PowerPC-engine that housed the real XBox 360, into the x86-64 engine housing the new XBox One. If Microsoft could do that, wouldn't it be ideal for AmigaOS4 to do the same? It would mean a lot would have to be sacrified to create such an AmigaOS, but i would say it would be necessary to do it. Valuing the Amiga only as a hobby system with its' great limitations anno 2015 is not good enough anymore. We know that, Amiga Inc knew that, and i am sure companies like ACube, A-EON and Hyperion Entertainment know that, either they admit it or not. Why? Because it's true.

MorphOS to support x86 hardware?
If you didn't know already, rumours have gone wild claiming that the AmigaOS clone MorphOS, is to be ported to x86 hardware, just like Apple did with MacOSX moving to x86 CPU.

If that is true, it rises the suspection with the question: Why not AmigaOS4, too? That is a very good question and it's an important term that can't be ignored, as it's getting more and more important. Something to take seriously.

We know from earlier that Amiga Inc damaged Hyperion Entertainment greatly with a trial case. A trial case that was both unnecessary and insulting. Even that Hyperion Entertainment prove them right, they also lost a lot of money. Still, we have to applauze them for the devoting spirit in keeping the Amiga alive, but they can't save the Amiga alone. Being a "stubborn" company not taking help from other companies is not going to save the fact that Amiga needs an important change in CPU direction, which is quite obvious, without mentioning it over and over again. We all know this.

It was also made clear from many users in a debate at the "troll-famous" AmigaWorld forums where they mostly spoke about the upcoming X5000 hardware from A-EON, that they don't want to touch such an expensive hardware as long as AmigaOS4 remains as incomplete and limited as it is, not having an AmigaOS that fully support such hardware...yet, and then again you have the question of supporting PPC, if that is worth it or not. Yes, it's probably fine as a hobby and brings some modern nostalgy, but most of us don't really want features to be just nostalgic, right? We want to be able to use all modern features we find on computer and consoles of today. Yes, that's right we want, and Amiga can't bring these as the situation with the Amiga is today. Sad but true.

Therefore it's pretty clear what most users and die-hard Amiga fans actually want from the Amiga, and they realize Amiga would have to move to ARM and x86-64 like AMD64 for the future. To catch up with the technology cycle and also be supported by the entire computer industry, not left out in the shadow as a pathetic hobby system where you can't even connect any printer you like. Amiga is simply left with no other choice.

It's either to go ARM and x86-64 with the Amiga, or to let it die. It has been said many times before and it is said again. It's up to the Amiga companies where they want the Boing Ball to roll. Can only hope that they kick that ball into the RIGHT direction at last...

Until then, i'm not holding my breath. I gave 27 years of my life for the Amiga, dreaming, hoping and begging for the Amiga to become on the pair with the best out there again, even as ARM and x86-64 based harware and AmigaOS. I have to say i LIKE that idea, and it would be very cool and pretty cheap, too! If MorphOS is believed to be able to move to x86, then AmigaOS should, too! AROS already is, MorphOS seem to start doing it, so it's only AmigaOS left. The term Amiga x86 is therefore becoming more important than ever, no matter how much we like it or hate it, and if you look closely at the possibilities, it's not a bad thing at all having Amiga to support x86.

Think about it closely, and you will realize what i am trying to say here...

AmigaOS4 on x86 would be a saving grace!

Written by
Helge Kvalheim