November 1993 MAGazine Volume 9 Number 11

The November General Meeting of the Memphis Amiga Group will be held Saturday, November 13 from 1:00 pm until approximately 3:00 pm in the Farris Auditorium on the Campus of State Technical Institute at Memphis.

The newsletter is published monthly for distribution to the members of the Memphis Amiga Group. MAGazine contains meeting announcements, hardware and software reviews, video and book reviews, and other information of interest to Amiga and computer users in general. Contributions are welcome and may be submitted in hardcopy or via disk in ascii format at any meeting or you can upload to Operator Headgap BBS - 3/12/24 - (901) 365-1583 or V.32bis hi speed ONLY! (901) 367-0744. Be sure to leave a note to the sysop.

From the President's CLI

by Bob Nunn

GATEWAY SHOW

The Gateway Show that was held in St. Louis was a success for the Memphis Amiga Group. We attended as a visiting user group and manned a table. While the show was small as some shows go, it was the only Amiga show in the Midwest in a while.

The Gateway Amiga Club was the main sponsor and roughly 25 or so vendors participated. The New Members packet that you previewed in the last meeting was made available for $10 a packet (show special) we sold 13 packets (we only brought 12) which raised a bit of revenue for the club and gained us some recognition among the other user groups. The other user groups thought that the packet was such a good idea that they wanted to duplicate it, and they were the main customers.

Working a table doesn't always allow you much time to visit the other vendors, but I did manages to get out and look around some. We picked up product literature and a video and will make it available to you at the next meeting.

A few MAG members made it down. Steve Echols even helped staff the table. I think most of them enjoyed themselves, even if that 5 hour down and 5 hour back probably got to some if they did it in the same day.

My family spent Friday and Saturday in one of the recommended motels, from which we were able to walk to the show.

I thought it was a nice show, especially for one put together by a user group and look forward to next years show. Since they had a good turnout and pretty good vendor participation next years ought to be even better.

Bob Sharpe, President of the Gateway Amiga Club, and his wife were excellent hosts, and made us feel very welcome. They even met us for dinner Saturday evening after the show along with other members of the club. All those from the Gateway Amiga Club who helped Bob organize the show were extremely nice folks.

HAMFEST & THE BIG WINNER!

I hope you made it to the Ham Fest this year. Many thanks to Bill Bowers, Ron Montgomery, and Terry Campbell for helping with the booth Sunday. Also many thanks to Wayne Moore with MCCU for watching the table while we held the meeting Saturday. Computers-4-U held the drawing for the Amiga 1200 that some of you may have purchased tickets for. Well guess who won?? Boy was I surprised when they drew out my ticket! I never win anything. As soon as I get a hard drive and some more memory I will bring it up to demo with.

OCTOBER'S MEETING NOTES

Charles Williams (our new newsletter editor) was going to demo Pro Page 4.0 but was unseccessful in getting it to work on the clubs 500. Kevin Browne was kind enough to step in and show off the New Members Packet. Kevin played a big part in putting together some of the disks and helped with program selections. I am excited about us being able to offer this as additional incentive for new people to sign up.

CLUB SPONSORED BBS

We agreed to sponsor one of the lines for Scott Pitts. Scott ran the Amiga Pitts here in Memphis and it was well known for the quality and quantity of available materials. Scott has the Fred Fish CD ROM Library online and it is available to you as a member. You have unlimited download credits when you identify yourself as a current MAG member and your name appears on the roles. There are also special MAG only boards for news and discussion about club activities. Power up the modem and log on! Call MAG BBS at 753-9992 (HST 16.8), 753-9719 (Supra 14.4) or 753-8744 (9600) 14,400 BAUD v.32bis.

MODEM!

You don't have a modem? Well, I think that everyone that owns a computer should own one. It is absolutely the fastest way to learn more about using your computer. It gives you instant access to free or almost free programs. You also can glean through text files, messages from other users, get help, sell something and much more. MacWarehouse has a modem (made in the US by Prometheus) for only $99. It is called the LineLink 14.4 and the stock number is BND0249.

Mine cost the $99 plus $3 for shipping and I got it the next day. It will not have a terminal program for the Amiga or a cable. You will need a regular DB25 cable available in most computer and office supply stores for around $10 and a good term program (available through the club librarian). I bought one for the office and have been using it regularly. While it is a stripped down model with only 5 lights and a plastic case it is Hayes compatible. It also has fax capabilities and I have been told that the GP Fax program works fine with it.

To order at this price call 1-800-622-6222 ext 2936 and speak with Rich Dupont. Remember this is a Macintosh dealer and won't be able to answer Amiga questions. Rich is expecting to hear from a few Amiga users though, so he won't be surprised when you call.

NOVEMBER MEETING

We hope that Charles Williams will be able to demo Pro Page for us this meeting and our plans are to have better equipment available. We will also make our New Members packets available. They are free to first time members signing up. They are $10 to regular members and are $15 to non-members.

Don't forget to Call Operator Headgap BBS - 901-365-1583 or 367-0744 both v.32bis lines. See you at the next meeting.

MAG Meetings

The Memphis Amiga Group (MAG) holds general meetings the second Saturday of each month in the Farris Auditorium on the campus of State Technical Institute at Memphis (see map at left).

There will be a board of directors lunch meeting at Gridley's in the formal dining room beginning at 11:00 A.M., Saturday, November 13 (before the general meeting). For more information call Bob Nunn at 901-795-0461.

Memphis Amiga Group Officers for 1993

President
Bob Nunn
(901) 795-0461 voice

Vice President
Cheryn Nunn
(901) 365-1583 data

Treasurer
Terry Campbell
(601) 393-4864

Librarian
Bill Bowers
(901) 360-0003

MAGazine Editor
Charles Williams
(501) 655-8777

MAGazine Printing & Distribution
Terry A. Campbell
(601) 393-4864

Disk Sales & Video Rentals

MAG library and Fred FISH disks are $2 each.
($5 each for non-members)
Quality blank disks with labels are 65¢ each.
($1 each for non-members)
Rental of Amiga related videotapes is $3 per week.
(not available to non-members)
For all this and more contact club librarian
Bill Bowers (901) 360-0003
OR see Bill at the next MAG general meeting.

Advertising Rates

Full Page $20.00
1/2 Page $11.00
1/4 Page $7.50
1/8 Page (or business card) $3.00

(contact Terry Campbell at 601-393-4864)

INFO

The Memphis Amiga Group (MAG) is non-profit organization whose purpose is promoting and encourageing the use and understanding of the Commodore Amiga Computer. Memberships are open to all those who share a common interest in the Amiga computer and its many wonderful and unique features. Monthly meetings are open to the public and visitors are welcome.

Annual membership dues for new members are $25.00 with an annual renewal rate of $20.00. Associate memberships are available for $15.00 per year, renewable at the same rate, to those who must travel more than 45 miles one way to attend general meetings. All memberships are family memberships and dues are nonrefundable.

EGS Spectrum 28/24

a review by Bo Najdrovsky

PRODUCT NAME

EGS Spectrum 28/24

BRIEF DESCRIPTION

The EGS Spectrum is a high performance Zorro II/III graphics adapter for the Amiga series computers. It provides users with high resolution and color depth capability.

AUTHOR/COMPANY INFORMATION

Name: Great Valley Products, Inc. Address: 637 Clark Ave., King of Prussia, PA 19406, USA, Telephone: (215) 354-9495, Fax: (215) 337-9922.

LIST PRICE

$599.00 (US) for the 2MB RAM version. I paid $540.

SPECIAL HARDWARE AND SOFTWARE REQUIREMENTS

Amiga with Zorro slot. AmigaDOS 2.04 or greater. Minimum of 2MB of RAM.

COPY PROTECTION

None.

MACHINE USED FOR TESTING

My current setup: Amiga 3000/25 with 2 CHIP 4 FAST, rev 11 Super Buster chip, IV24 frame buffer/genlock, D2000A single frame controller, EMPLANT Macintosh emulation card (deluxe version), Mitsubishi Diamondscan 1381A multisync monitor, Texel DM5024 CD-ROM drive. OS 2.1 and 3.1.

REVIEW

Dan read my initial post on comp.sys.amiga.graphics regarding this card, and suggested that I submit it as a mini-review. Therefore, I'm including my original posting, and some further experiences I've had withthe board since I got it.

On Friday, October 8th, I received my EGS Spectrum 28/24 2MB version. This card is GREAT! I shall never yearn for AGA again. It came with the EGS system software (obviously), and some miscellaneous EGS toys like Tetris, a function plotter, and a dock program (a la ToolManager). The installation was totally painless. I just double-clicked on the install icon which invoked the C= Installer program, and away I went. A note here for those getting the board: be sure to select the Advanced User option, so that you can select between 68030 and 68000 versions of the libraries. In the intermediate user setting, it will install the 68000 version by default. Once the installation is done, you just reboot, and POOOF!: your Amiga has a bunch of new screen modes.

Some of the preset modes that GVP provides tend to flicker a bit too much for my taste. This is because they are designed to fit a wider range of multisync monitors (hence, smaller scan rate number). Since I have the Mitsubishi Diamondscan 1381A monitor, I used the included EGS program for designing your own screen modes, and created a virtually flicker-free 1024x768 90Hz screen mode. The included 800x600 24 bit mode is noninterlaced, but the refresh rate is something like 45Hz, so it looks worse that PAL. So, I created my own 800x600x16 mode which is rock solid. This mode is great for running EGS paint. Speaking of which, I've played with it a bit, but not enough to really give you guys an in-depth overview. All I can say is that my first impression was very favorable. I also had a PC clone owning friend here when I installed the stuff, and when I brought up EGS paint, and loaded the included 24 bit picture, he just said "Wow, my PC sure can't do that!" I gotta tell ya, I don't usually get into these stupid MCIBTYC ("My Computer Is Better Than Your Computer") wars, but hearing that statement sure made me fell warm and fuzzy.

Finally, I want to report one annoyance. When I select any of the EGS screen modes as the default workbench screen and reboot, all I get is a white screen, I know that Workbench is loaded because my hotkeys work (If I hit Alt- F1, a shell gets loaded). The Workbench functions just fine if I switch into the EGS mode AFTER the whole system has booted into Amiga screen mode. This problem disappeared when I switched from AmigaDOS 2.1 to 3.1 (I work for a registered developer).

Here is some new information since I posted my original review in c.s.a.graphics. Since then, I've installed OS 3.1 on my system as I said. My Amiga now boots directly into 1024x768 256-color Workbench. Note that I was not able to use 256 colors under 2.1, though some folks Emailed me and told me that they got it to work. I should point out that the 256-color Workbench is MUCH faster than what I've seen on an A4000 using AGA. Moving windows around is as fast as 2 bit (4 color) regular Amiga screen. I noticed that using WB Pattern Prefs or a background picture slows the redraws down considerably, so I decided not to use it.

On software compatibility side, thus far I have tested Final Copy II, PageStream 2.2, Term 3.3, Postview 1.1, and EMPLANT. All of these programs work flawlessly in EGS screenmodes. FCII needs to run on the Workbench, but it handles the 256 colors very well. PS 2.2 also runs on the Workbench, but it does not take advantage of the color. However, it most certainly benefits from the high resolution. Term 3.3 seems like a different program. I've always used VLT because there was nothing faster. I tried Term once before, but stopped using it, because it was slow--well, no more. Using the screen database, I selected a 640x480 VGA screen, and it runs as fast as it normally would on a 1 or 2 bitplane screen. Postview also uses the screen database, so it was able to open its own 1024x768 screen without any problems. Finally, there's my EMPLANT. This was one of the reasons I got the card in the first place, and I am not disappointed. The Mac display emulation seems faster than our Mac IIci at the office.

CONCLUSION

After only owning the card for less than a week, I can confidently say that it's the best Amiga purchase I've ever made. This card is fast, well integrates into the current Amiga system, and truly delivers what it promises. Originally, I was a bit jealous of my AGA equipped friends, however now I'm glad I've kept my A3000. This card really does take the Amiga "beyond AGA" as the adverts state.

This review is Copyright 1993 by Bo Najdrovsky.

Civilization AGA

a game review by Mike Bromery

PRODUCT NAME

Civilization AGA

BRIEF DESCRIPTION

A strategy game based on the history of the world.

AUTHOR/COMPANY INFORMATION

Name: Micropros, 180 Lakefront Drive, Hunt Valley, MD 21030 USA.

Telephone: (410) 771-1151.

Name: Kompart UK Ltd., 20 Guilford Road, St. Albans, Herts, AL 1 5JY.

Telephone: (0727) 868005.

Fax: (0727) 845202.

LIST PRICE

I paid approximately $54.00(US)

SPECIAL HARDWARE AND SOFTWARE REQUIREMENTS

An Amiga with the AGA graphics chipset.

COPY PROTECTION

There is a manual lookup copy protection. This is done once while you play.

MACHINE USED FOR TESTING

Amiga 1200 with 2 MB Chip RAM, 60 Meg hard drive and 2 floppy drives.

REVIEW

Civilization is a game based on the history of the world. You start off as a leader of a small neanderthal, nomad tribe which is looking for a place on this planet to start its first settlement. From here, you try to build an empire that can last through the ages. You have scientists that try to achieve new discoveries or new technology which you can then use. Your decisions on what the Scientists can research make very large changes between one possible future and another. Not only that, but you have to handle properly what ideas your tribe knows now.

You start with only two types of people you can send out from your town or towns. You can send out Militia (cheap and fast to make, are pretty weak fighters, but still are your only chance at defense at the beginning of the game). You can also send out Settlers (these are pretty dynamic), which can do one of several things. The settlers can go out and

  1. Try to find a place to build yet another town.
  2. Irrigate plains so that they reap more food.
  3. Change plains to forest or vice versa.
  4. Build roads so that any unit (types of people or machines; we'll call them units from now on) can move 3 times as fast. Roads, obviously, are best built from town to town.

The main 2 screens that you use the most are the Main Map screen and the Town screen. In the Main Map, you manipulate your units, look aroung your known part of the world, and control main game functions. In the Town screen, you control aspects of the town and choose what the town builds (it'll show you how many turns it will take to finish the project too). You can also manipulate how the town farms, and how much food, water, fish, oil, diamonds, gems, and ore that the town brings in. Much food comes from ripe and irrigated lands, especially if those lands have Game in them. (Game means animals that can be hunted for food. Australian Aboriginals politely go for game like certain deer to survive, for example. I'd like to visit them myself -- they seems like nice blokes.) OK, back to the game.

You do this, and manipulate troops for fortifications or scouting around. You usually will use troops to discover new parts of the world. At the beginning, you can only see a small square around your first group of settlers (which you start with), but as you move around in the map, those black unknown squares become known territory. Beware, there are other civilizations out there trying to do the same thing. Game play changes (much like Dune) as you discover more things, then makes a drastic change when you meet other civilizations.

When you meet other civilizations, things come to war, peace, treaties, spies, Diplomats, stealing technology, encouraging other civilization's cities to go under revolt, political chaos, restoring or making new order, and more. Soon, you have a magnificent empire (if you last that long) with all sorts of towns that you have to worry about; and the way the game leads you in the comfortable learning curve, you are surprised that you could prabably remember specific things about all of the 50+ towns that you have.

Technology goes with learning the alphabet, establishing writing, and building literacy which gives birth to messengers and diplomats. There are also the wheel, automotion, and mathematics... in which the first and the third would allow the use of catapults, because your men need mathematics to understand the true theory of projectile motion. When you learn those, you can have catapult units attack other towns and such, but are easily taken out by decent ground troops. Some discoveries make others obsolete. The game goes on and on, getting more complex as it goes, even to the age of the space race (if you lived that far, or any other civilizations lived that far while you are there).

Yes, for those of you who are into nuking people, they go as far as nuclear weapons and a bit past them.

Now the sound. Well, who asked for sound in Civilization anyways? Well, don't fret. The music is as nice as it gets for this kind of game. It's decent, but not earth shattering, but the music is very appropriate during the beginning and introduction sequences. You also have the main theme of your tribe or civilization play when certain special events happen to you. Otherwise, no in-game music (which is nice, because in-game music can be annoying with this kind of game, and the authors know it). There is a sound in the game, as you hear a digitized sword clashing sound when two units fight, or the sound of workmen and woodworkers when a new development is built in a city for example.

AGA VERSION INFORMATION

Well, the first difference is the title. It's not just called Civilization: it is actually called Civilization AGA. It seems they really wanted to make note of the difference. Technically, I can say this is probably one of the best IBM ports ever made. The 256 color screens often show some nice graphics in which they were directly converted from the IBM original and some look like they were touched up a bit. To enjoy the graphics truly, you need a real monitor. Though, they look great on a television, but they look very sharp and refined on the monitor.

Now the speed. It looks like they decided to not make the same mistake they did with the first Amiga (old chip set) version of Civilization. They decided to Amigatize the game to bring more enjoyable fulfillment of this work. The graphics look good and the game doesn't run slowly at all, even with my stock A1200 system. Civilization AGA multitasks with the operating system. It runs on an intuition screen which you can use your AMIGA keys and M, N or the mouse to screen-flip, or drag down screens to use other programs in the process. Even with just 2 megs of memory, you can run certain software while playing Civilization, so it is a boon and a plus for the game.

Another great thing about the speed is, though you see the Civilization screens normally animate things, you are not restricted: it is all done strictly in the Civilization AGA Intuition screen. The speed at which you can handle other things in the background makes Civilization AGA seem that it is hardly using the CPU at all.

The scrolling at the beginning isn't smooth, but it wasn't meant to be that way. This was coded that way so it would move slowly enough to match the music that plays with it. Even a pixel by pixel smooth scroll on the Amiga would be too fast because you need a certain frames per second inorder to have a smooth scroll (still too fast). It's just neat to move the screen around while it does this. Planet generation is pretty swift, when you choose to start new game or choose to have your own custom made planet. You can even hit the spacebar or Enter keys so that it skips part of the animated introduction when the planet generation is finished. Even on a stock A1200, you never have to go through the whole introduction to wait for the planet to be constructed.

DOCUMENTATION

The real explanation of the game takes up 70+ single-spaced typewritten pages. Sounds daunting, eh? Well, when I first saw the IBM original of this game, when someone was already up to developing the train, concepts were going around in it that I couldn't comprehend. But if you play the game from start to finish, you seem to never lose your place. It has a great learning curve that guides you through history. And as the game and your civilization get more intelligent, so does the player.

The game also includes the full Civilization Encyclopedia, which tells you about all aspects of the game, aspects of the various technologies and things people can learn, often with picture illustrations (some which look quite nice with a gradient blue background) and comparisons to how this was achieved or what significance this had in Real Life Earth History.

LIKES AND DISLIKES

Dislikes: This game is well done, but I have one small gripe. The gripe is the special effect of the fade between some screens. They do the smooth color fade for transitions between the Main map and the Civilopedia, or when you want the Bird's Eye view of the city. My gripe is that it is faster to simply jump to the next screen that do a smooth color fade (which is probably faster on A1200s with Fast RAM or accelerated AGA machines; e.g., A4000 or 68030/040 accelerators). I don't like to wait a second to flip between screens, though it looks neat: I would like the choice to do without them. When on the town screens and you click on a part of the screen that doesn't do anything, it will redraw the screen. It redraws quick as a jumpjet, but the redrawing is unnecessary, especially since the Amiga mouse is a sprite. It is the smaller of my two gripes.

Likes: Probably the best IBM conversion to date, and they even were nice enough to improve over that original in Civilization AGA. It adheres more to the AmigaDOS standard except for the way you use the menus (in which the left mouse button and the right mouse have the same function). It's comfortably fast for any AGA machine, and takes up just 1.1 megs of memory for those who like multitasking. And it is the best educational program for the High School/College-level student while being one of the most addictive games of the century.

This game broke in a lot of gameplayers who, before, didn't like strategy-style games. Having this kind of stuff and animation in a standard Intuition screen is neat as it is nice. It'll have you playing for ages and has randmoly generated maps, and has gameplay that changes based on your decisions in a tree-like structure. The more decisions you make, the more branches are on the gameplay tree.

BUGS

I have found no bugs at all with the program itself. It seems to clean up resources cleanly after exit. I've tested it with Hires/Lores Mice, various Workbench screenmode setups, but haven't yet been able to screw up the program. The only bug seems to be running it after some other Buggy program that doesn't clean up its resources well. The program may hit a vector that the other program trashed, but made open for other prorgam use. I can't blame Civilization AGA for that though. I have managed to run something that must've caused Civilization's graphics to get a bit garbled, but you can tell it straight from the beginning. If the title of Civilization looks OK at the beginning, the rest of the graphics will too. You may need to do an 'avail flush' command or flush the libs in the debug menu when your Workbench is invoked with "loadwb -debug". This is, if you use buggy programs.

CONCLUSIONS

If you have an AGA machine, and don't have Civilization AGA, I'd suggest you go for it. Well, that's my review. Happy Civilizing. Mike Bromery. - President of UMAUG (The University of Maryland Amiga Users Group).

DPS Personal Animation Recorder

mini review by Michael B. Comet

Hello to all in Renderland! I have just gotten my DPS PAR a couple days ago. Since I know other who read this are thinking of getting one, I thought I'd post my view of it. I will try to keep if brief. I am not affiliated with DPS.

MANUAL AND INTERFACE

The manual is very good, and is nice and compact. The user interface is equally friendly and has the look of a traditional VTR for playback. The software takes up very little room on the standard amiga drive, though it requires at least 1 Meg of RAM to run at all times.

STILLS AND ANIMATION PLAYBACK

In my Amiga 3000/25 with the recommended Seagate 500 Meg drive, I obtained true 30 fps playback. Very smooth, very good quality. I have heard that there are problems playing back at slower speeds, though I haven't encountered that. You can also drag the frame bar back and forth and move one frame at a time with a mouse click. using the latter (i.e, Rewind and Fast Forward) the frames actually go by faster than 30 fps!

Those that use AREXX will will be happy to know that the software has an AREXX port so you can sequence playback and so on using it.

The quality at the highest level Q23 is essentially identical (to me) to the original image. For stills, the storage benefits alone are remarkable. For animations, the program sets the Q level for you. I have seen it work at around 19 to 14 depending on the image. 14 is pretty acceptable for video using both composite and SVHS (sorry, I can't test MII/Betacam output). However, JPEG type artifacting is still slightly noticeable. The NTSC composite output is very good, and the SVHS was almost identical to the RGB from my Firecracker board.

DEFICIENCIES

There are not really too many deficiencies in the device. However there are some things that are important to know. One item is that animations, while they can be looped on playback, do not loop without a pause. That is, if you have a 30 frame anim and play it, there will be about a 1/2 second pause on the last frame. To do a perfect pause-free loop you must append the animation to itself some number of times. The software can do this quite easily so it is not really a problem, though more device space gets eaten this way.

Also relating to projects, there seems to be no way in the software to rename projects. Also, with merging of animations in different projects, I have not been able to find a way to split together anims from different subdirectories.

Playback speed is normally 30fps; however there is a button to select slow playback. As far as I can tell, you can set it only to preset values: from 30fps to 15fps, then 7.5fps, and some more down lower. I would like to see user adjustable settings here.

OVERALL

In all I have to say the PAR is great for 24 bit animations. There is no longer any hassle of single framing with tape, etc., and it enables the animator to view the anim easily and cut, paste, splice and mutilate anims into a final piece. It also has great capacity for still frame storage.

One really great thing is that everything happens with just the click of a button. No longer do you have to wait to decompress JPEG images to show as stills. No longer do you have to wait to load up animations. Just click on a still frame and it appears on the output. Click on an animation, and the first frame is shown. Hit play and it goes. Really nice.

For those looking for a single frames alternative at a reasonable price, this is a great product.

CONTACT INFORMATION

Digital Processing Systems
11 Spiral Drive, Suite 10
Florence, KY 41042 USA
Phone: 606-371-5533
Fax: 606-371-3729

Board Meeting Minutes

The October 9 board meeting was held at Gridley's. Present were Bob and Cheryn Nunn, Charles Williams, Bill Bowers, and Terry Campbell. The meeting was called to order at 11:45 A.M. A finished version of the Member's Packet was shown to the board members. Approved pricing as follows: with new Membership, free. $10 to members, $15 to non-members. Bill and Terry offered to man the table some Sunday at Hamfast. We also discussed plans for the Gateway show. Meeting adjourned at 12:15 P.M.

Respectfully submitted by
Cheryn Nunn,
vice president