January 1995 MAGazine Volume 11 Number 1

The January General Meeting of the Memphis Amiga Group will be held Saturday, January 14 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 - (901) 759-1542 V.32bis hi speed operating CNET PRO v3.05c software. Be sure to leave a note to the sysop.

From the President's CLI

by Bob Nunn

LOOKING BACK

I have enjoyed the two years I have spent as President. I have learned much and appreciate the time, devotion and patience that you spent. I only had a few months experience with the Amiga when I first took office.

The club hasn't made any major in-roads the last few years. For that I accept some of the responsibility. I think that we barely stayed ahead of what was happening to the Amiga market. While we were able to make the club somewhat higher profile perhaps those efforts should be doubled in the future if the club is to maintain a healthy headcount.

LOOKING FORWARD

I was very pleased that we had enough volunteers for a complete club roster. I was very concerned about the future of the club. I want to encourage our new club officers to do whatever they can to advertise the club. With the Commodore bankruptcy thing still stuck on high ground it may be a while if not forever before production of the machines begin again. Perhaps by the time you read this the courts will have accepted CEI's latest bid and things will begin to roll again.

LEARNING

is what a club should always be about. Our attempts at demo's were sometimes less than we had imagined. Hopefully what you took from our club meetings, and what you will continue to take, is different perspectives about how and why other people use their computers for work or play. It should also help you identify who has the knowledge that you are looking for. Those are the people you should be visiting with on break or after the meetings. I used to say that I don't really come for the meetings, I come for the breaks. This club has so many talented individuals that are happy to share their knowledge with you if you ask.

YOU DO A DEMO?

You really do get more back than you put in. Volunteer to show off your favorite program, or a program you would like to learn more about. You don't have to be a "expert". The time you take to prepare, the time you take to do the demo, and the time you take to answer what question you can, will teach you. Call your new officers and let them know that you want to learn and are willing to participate.

WHERE WILL I BE?

My plans for the present are to continue to run my BBS. I enjoy working with people and will continue to support Amiga and the Memphis Amiga Group via my system. I hope that you will consider my system as a source for advertising as well as using it to keep in touch with all club activities. I also volunteer part of it's resources so that you may continue to use it to submit newsletter articles. I have taken pride in the fact that while most bulletin boards come and go, my system has been online consistently for over 9 years. While it may not feature all the latest bells and whistles it is always up.

MY CURRENT PROFESSIONAL INTERESTS

are in desktop publishing. We are close to doing all of our catalog work completely digital. Prior to this we were paying a substantial amount of money to have pictures of our product professionally scanned. We are now doing a great deal of this work in house. With many of the problems I faced, my club connections helped me aquire the expertise necessary to make sound business decisions. While we are using Mac's to do this work, what I have learned via the club has given me that knowledge.

A BAR & GRILL

off the information highway is what I hope you consider OPERATOR HEADGAP BBS. No annoying 10,000 new messages since your last visit or 16 messages from some nerd in Waukegan. When you just want to pop on local FREE system to catch a new program or two and see what is happening locally, I hope you'll stop by and see me. It's also a great way to learn a few navigational skills that will help you explore nets and pay information services at a much lower price (FREE). Stop by and see if Santa left any new things under the tree. I am not sure what to expect after trying to convince my wife that the 17th wedding anniversary was magnetic media. Call 901-759-1541 - 300-28,800 BPS.

EARLY CHRISTMAS

Santa came a little early this year and brought me a third CD-ROM drive. I now have available over 4 gigabytes of storage. As of this writing, the CD-ROM's on-line are Frozen Fish 1-1000, Fresh Fish Nov/Dec, and the Ultimate MOD collection.

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 BarBQ beginning at 11:00 A.M., Saturday, January 14 (before the general meeting). For more information call Bob Nunn at 901-759-1541.

Memphis Amiga Group Officers for 1994

President
Bob Nunn
(901) 759-1541

Vice President
Thomas O'Brien
(901) 872-6962

Secretary
Cheryn Nunn
(901) 759-1514

Treasurer
Terry Campbell
(601) 393-4864

Librarian
Bill Bowers
(901) 360-0003

MAGazine Editior
Charles Williams
(501) 655-8777

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

Disk Sales & Video Rentals

MAG library and Fred FISH disk 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.

For Sale

VLab framer grabber card for
Amiga 2000/3000/4000 - $200

Fargo color printer
w/ribbons for dye-sub, mono, & wax - $550

Amiga 3000/25mhz with 52 meg hard drive
includes 13" Panasonic Panasync monitor.
Has dual floppy drives (one is high density drive)
and 3 megs RAM - $800
Call Ken Winfield at (901) 383-9559

INFO

The Memphis Amiga Group (MAG) is a 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.

Board Meeting

Secretary's Notes Dec. 10, 1994

The General Meeting began at 1:10 PM. The Secretary, Cheryn Nunn, reviewed the list of volunteers for next year's officers. Terry Cambell, Treasurer, Bill Bowers, Librarian and Steve Echols, for whatever position we needed. This list was insufficient for the club to continue in operation. Additional volunteers were requested from the membership present. No one volunteered. However, prior to the meeting, Scott Pitts and Keith Burns had stated that they, as well as Paul Sokes would be willing to serve if absolutely no one elese could be found to fill the vacant positions. The following line up was accepted by a motion and vote of the membership present as the candidates for next year's officers.

Scott Pitts - President
Steve Echols - Vice President
Keith Burns - Secretary
Terry Campbell - Treasurer
Paul Stokes - Newsletter
Bill Bowers - Librarian

The official election will be held at the January General Membership Meeting. Nominations will be accepted prior to taking a vote if any other member wishes to serve.

Respectfully submitted,
Cheryn Nunn

Castle Incinerator

by Game Review Eyal Teler

PRODUCT NAME

Castle Incinerator

BRIEF DESCRIPTION

A full version of Castle Incinerator, similar to Incinerator, but with different graphics. The demo version of Incinerator has bee reviewed by me in the past. [8 November 1994, file software/games/IncinerplexGames in the c.s.a.reviws archives]

AUTHOR/COMPANY INFORMATION

Name: Incinerplex Games
Pete W Storonskij
Address: 200 A Street
Lincoln, NE 68502
USA
E-mail: pqs@cse.unl.edu

LIST PRICE

$5 (US), or $10 for five games, including Castle Incinerator. See my review of the shareware versions of Pete's games if you want more information.

SPECIAL HARDWARE AND SOFTWARE REQUIREMENTS

Should work on any Amiga, although Enforcer hits have been mentioned for some other game. Pete's games are written using Blitz Basic 1, so use them at your own risk. :-)

COPY PROTECTION

None.

MACHINE USED FOR TESTING

Amiga 500, 1MB Chip RAM, 2MB Fast RAM; Fujitsu 100MB SCSI hared disk in A590, 1084 monitor, Kickstart 1.2, Workbench 1.3, ARP.

INSTALLATION

The game arrives ready to run from diskette. By dragging the files into the directory of your choice, you can install it anywhere. Dragging a Files drawer and the game icon is all need to do.

REVIEW

Castle Incinerator is similar in nature to the old Missile Command game, only this time that's a medieval twist - you protect a castle form incoming flying horses, plus the occasional giant bird - a dangerous creature that fires bolts at your castle. In addition, you get the opportunity to attack your opponent's castle.

The castle is protected with the aid of two magicians who fire bolts at the horses that seem to be catapulted at the city (although a different explanation of their nature is given in the docs). You aim the bolts using the mouse, and the left and right mouse buttons cause the corrsponding wizard to fire a bolt.

The wizards get their energy from "mana" generated by villages on the sides of the castle. When there's no need to recharge the wizards' energy supply, the mana supports a shield above the city. The shield gets depleted by hits from horses. If the villages are destroyed, you're in trouble.

You also get the ability to use Wrath of God to destroy all the horses that are on the screen. There's a limited supply of these.

When attacking your enemy's city, you just click the mouse where you want the horses to fall.

The game is supposed to support a two play option - see the DISLIKES and BUGS sections below.

DOCUMENTATION

The documentation is similar in nature to the documentation of the demo versions - in short, it stinks. Well, it does explain a few things about the game, but it certainly can't be considered good.

LIKES

The graphics are nice. The cute horsies, the nicely drawn castle with the livestock around, and the reasonable 3D affect of incoming horses.... In short, there's not more you'd want in terms of graphics from such a game.

The game is will implemented and highly playable, and it should keep you occupied for about half an hour (see DISLIKES).

DISLIKES AND SUGGESTIONS

The first major fault of this game is that it's just too easy. There are three levels (Easy, Medium, Hard), and indeed Hard is more difficult to win that Easy. The problem is that even at the Hard level I managed to win in about six rounds (three for each side). While I did get some damage to my castle, unlike with the Easy level, the computer's city was easily destroyed. (And I wasn't even cheating, which is very easy even without using the cheat mode - not that you'll need it.)

I now tried it again, just to see that it wasn't some kind of once-in-a-lifetime thing, and I beat the computer at the Hard level in 8 rounds, without getting hit. It would have been faster, but it seems that hits made at the very end of the round don't get registered.

The second dislike is the non functioning two player mode (see BUGS). A two player mode might have made this game longer lasting.

The last dislike is the inability to quit a game. Once you start a game, you are stuck with it. This is expecially bad if you started a two player game, since this is virtually impossible to finish.

I wouldn't mention the documention... Well, I would. Couldn't it mention that in two players mode one player uses the mouse, and the other used a joystick? Well, actually the attacker uses the joystick while the defender uses the mouse, which means that the two players have to alternate controllers each turn. Frankly, I would have liked a two mouse option. I do have two mice, and it's much easier to control a cursor with a mouse than with a joystick. (This is all theoretical - see BUGS.)

BUGS

Two player mode is nice and all, but the attacker just doesn't seem to have any effect on the game. You can move the attacker's cursor using the joystick, and you can even press the fire button, but unfortunately this does absolutely nothing (that I could see). Perhaps there's some esoteric control mechanism to this, but I doubt it - the controls are quite logical in this game.

I thought of mentioning another small bug, but that one is enough. It means that you have to make do with your horses falling only on the middle of the castle, which makes it nearly impossible to destroy it (unless you have luck with the giant birds).

VENDOR SUPPORT

He seems to be a responsive guy, but I wouldn't know about his support for the game.

CONCLUSIONS

Warning: use these ratings at your own risk.

Graphics - 9

All that you need from such a game. Cute and cuddly.

Sound - 4

Minimal sound effects.

Playability - 9

Easy to get into and control.

Lastability - 2

I finished the three difficulty levels in half an hour (or so), and the two player mode doesn't work.

Value for money - 5

That's $5 for a nice picture and half an hour of fun. Go to the arcades instead, and pay $1 for a disk of PD pictures (or rather load some from Aminet).

Conclusion - 3

If I could beat it that easily (and I'm not that much of an arcade player), then unless you're very slow, you'll just want to format the diskette and use it for something else. I didn't out of respect for Pete - after all, he did include nice labels on all the disks.

Copyright 1994 Eyal Teler. All rights reserved.

World of Amiga '94

Report by Andy Dean

The World of Amiga show is the first major Amiga show here in the UK since the demise of Commodore. We visited the show on the last day of the three (Sunday), and after walking around most of the Wembley complex we happened upon Exhibition Hall 1 and went in...

The whole show took place within one large hall, with the centre being dominated by the large "Amiga" stand. Here lies the main difference between this show and those that have been held previously - there didn't really seem anyone in charge of the main exhibit. Previously Commodore owned the centre exhibit and had at lest a small booth manned with people giving out Commodore literature. This time, nothing. The Amiga stand itself was home to many CD32s, a wall of TVs and a car but no "Amiga" employees. Needless to say, there wasn't any new Comodore hardware on show at the stand, although Workbench3.1 and some new A1200s could be found on nearby stands.

The story gets stranger though, as upon walking in everyone was presented with a genuine Commodore bag (complete with Commodore chicken-head logo) and there was a stand selling "official Commodore merchandise". Even the less observant visitor couldn't help but notice that there was something a bit strange afoot in the Commodore household. Attendance seemed healthy, not so busy that you couldn't move and not deathly quiet; I don't know how this compared to the previous two days.

Newtek were one of the first stalls you saw as you entered, and were showing a looping video of various industry graphics gurus extolling the virtues of Lightwave. No actual machines were to be found on the Newtek stand though, Amiga or otherwise. Next to Newtek were DPS, showing their Personal Animation Recorder as well as demonstrating some of the Video Toaster's realtime video effects, something which we don't see too much of in the UK.

Lightwave itself was to be found amply demonstrated elsewhere though, none better than on the RAMIGA / ACE stand. Here John Allerdyce was showing off the Tower Assault intro and outro animation sequences (no need to play the game, now I've seen how it ends) while John's Raptor stood menacingly by.

Staying with graphics, Almathera were demonstrating and selling their new "Photogenics" image manipulation package. This really does look like an excellent program and at a price of 49pounds (show price) it seemed to be selling like hot cakes. Photogenics allows the loading and saving of many common file formats, real media painting tools (Chalk, Felt tip, Crayon ...) and special effects (Emboss, Distort, Rub through ...). The image is show in either HAM8, 256 colour or greyscale and the program seemed fairly fast even on a standard Amiga. This program is entirely modular with loaders, savers, effects and painting tools all loaded externally - it looks a little like a baby version Adobe's Photoshop. The downside to the program are its requirements - Workbench3.0 or later, an AGA Amiga (although third party graphics cards are supported) and a fair amount of memory (they suggest that it can be run in 2MBytes, but I'd say 4MBytes was a more sensible minimum). Coming somewhere between a paint package an an image processing program, this program is going to do very well.

Incidentally, I saw Photogenics running on a A4000/040 equipped with a Cybervision64 graphics card - now that's really fast!

Jim Drew was showing off the new EmplantPC software, proof that it really does exist and it really does work. The presentation of the setup software seemed very similar to the Mac emulator and Jim had it running some simple test based and CGA software. Apparently the VGA graphics drivers aren't finished yet so Windows was not shown running, which was a pity as it's difficult to judge the speed of the emulation with text based applications. the Mac emulator was also being shown, this now looks like a very polished product. Emplant boards were being sold by Blittersoft at the show (Emplant Deluxe, 299pounds) so with the cost of the PC emulator being 99 pounds the possibility of having both usable Mac and PC emulations, SCSI port and AppleTalk for less than 400 pounds this seems like good value. Jim also had strong views on which of the 2 main players in the Commodore buyout he supported - I'll give you a clue, it wasn't CEI.

PC Task 3.0, Christ Hames's entirely software PC emulator, was also on display and I saw it running Windows on a A4000/030. A fine achievement, but to my mind it was running too slow to be usable for anything but the simplest of tasks.

Digita had a large stand, where they were apparently showing their new database "Datastore". Unfortunately, I can't get excited about either (i) Digita products or (ii) databases, so Digita database program had me heading straight away.

Attendance by the UK Amiga magazines was good, with most of the major magazines being represented. It was also good to see some of the minority magazines like "JAM" also present; incidentally, the show programme was produced entirely on an Amiga by Jeff Walker of JAM magazine. I expected more PD houses to be present (I only counted tow) - I can remember the PD houses being very popular previously.

I can't really comment on the new games being shown, as I didn't really pay much attention; it was noticeable though that there were considerably less game-playing youngsters at the show than previous shows.

Most of the software on sale was slightly cheaper than could be obtained normally (ArtDeptPro 115pounds, Lightwave 415pounds, PageStream3 175pounds, VistaPro3 22pounds) but there were some bargains on older software (DPaint4AGA 8pounds, Lemmings 1pound). Hardware could also be obtained slightly cheaper (IDE hard drives were about 10percent cheaper than normal) and again some bargains could be found (a hand scanner for A500 only was 30pounds).

Well you can't go the a show and not buy anything and so we came away with Photogenics and VistaPro3. All in all, a pleasant day and I hope that in next year's show the main stand will actually belong to someone.

MORE World of Amiga '94

Report by Mat Bettinson

World of Amiga Show at Wembley London '94

The sysops entourage including yours truly, arrived at the show on the first day, early so we had some time to wander around before the crowds arrived. Still there was a considerable cue outside of die hard Amigans who'd travelled to Wembley from all over the Europe and beyond. Inside most of the exhibitors had set up early too and I was initially surprised at how many companies had turned out to exhibit their wares to the eager for re-assurance Amiga owners. Largely we weren't disappointed but later I heard of people who were. Each to his own.

Eighty Eight exhibitors turned out but after the initial wonder around I saw it still wasn't enough to fill the Wembley Exhibition Hall leaving it look like the small show that it really was. Still its quality, not quantity. Perhaps the first thing that surprised us was that the entrance fee was just a pound. Most welcome, I would guess, as many of the people turning out to the event would be prepared to pay extra for entrance and found they had a few more pounds to spend inside the show.

Walking straight in, the first stand I saw held a few computers that the public could use demonstrating some software. YOWZA! It was DOPUS 5! Yep and the kindly fellow Australian demonstrating it was non other than Jonathan Potter himself. They system is now multi-window and you can run Dopus 5 as the default public screen. Displays your drives as icons; when first seeing this I thought it was on the workbench screen and I have to say, I wouldn't have thought much improvement COULD be done to Dopus but this is revolutionary! Needless to say I hit Jonathan up for for a review copy... With luck you'll see a full review in AReport early in the new year.

Moving on, Ramiga International were displaying the Raptor Plus rendering at some ridiculous rate. Multi-processor MIPS RISC RS4600/133 Mhz beast... Sigh. They'll soon have these on a Trapdoor card for the 1200. Some more VERY interesting products are the Ramiga Tower Systems: The Z7 A4000 Tower features 7 Zorro III slots, 6 5.25" Drive bays and 4 3.5" bays. The Z5 A1200 Tower comes with 5 Zorro II slows and 3 5.25" bays and 5 3.5" bays. Power supply and cables provided. Not clear on extra details or prices. You can be sure I'll find out ASAP!

Ramiga were also displaying the Mongoose 50Mhz '030 1200 Trapdoor unit. Go-faster boards for the 1200 were in great proliferation around the show and getting cheaper.

The Silicon Studio was also on display at Ramigas stand. Being a full workstation kit based around the A4000T it's puzzling to know what they're going to DO for A4000Ts since just a few were made. Still THEY had one and very nice it looked too! :-) Seriously though, it consists of a fully configured system being a 4000T with a Warp Engine, 16 MB of RAM, about 3GB of storage etc but the actual card is capable off 20bit audio, 120dB dynamic range and 128x oversampling. These sort of figures indicate the whole shebang is aimed at the professional studio being able to mix 16 channels at once. Nice to see yet more serious Amiga hardware. Looks like a winner.

The front part of the show seemed to be dedicated to the serious aspect of the Amiga and it has to be said... There was a greater presence in this area than the low-end market that many are afraid C= UK will doom the market to.

Opposite, Village-Tronic were shifting copies of OS 3.1 at a rapid rate of knots when I walked in... Reason? All the other show exhibitors were buying them to re-sell at the same show! I kid you not! The same was occuring with the Picasso II-RTG 24 bit graphics boards which are back with a vengeance after a disturbing dry spell in their production. Practically half the exhibitors had a stock of OS3.1 kits and Picassos so unfortunately there were NO deals to be had with the Picasso going for 300 UK Pounds. Most disturbing since they sold out of the entire first production run, selling more units than an equivalent PC manufacturer might sell VGA cards and yet the price is STILL nearly TEN TIMES the cost. I feel that if they had been 150 pounds or even 200 they would have shifted them ALL. I asked the director if they are considering making a Zorro III unit. 'Maybe... We are seeing what happens to the Amiga.' which is fair comment, I guess, but then the other manufacturers aren't holding back. <growl> Still they DID have 'Ariadne' a new Ethernet card which will be greeted with whoops for joy. Sana-II compatible and complete with Commodores Envoy, it's sure to be a seller... Again I couldn't get a price out of them at the time. ?

Am-Power were demonstrating Aladdin 4D compiled with the Inmos Parallel C compiler running on a mini-tower of Warp-III Inmos units. Mr Ambigabathy (!), the director, claimed that it was possible to reach 12,000 MIPS with enough boards. The rendering times with 6 CPUs were in order of 10 times quicker than an A4000/040. He said deals were being made with NewTek to port Lightwave to the Warp-III platform. Looks very promising and cost effective. TVI Interactive systems showed the teleview home-banking product that uses a custom 2400 baud Modem and remote and a CD32 to provide a plug and go solution... Rumours were that words were being said to UK companies to bring the unit to Europe.

Hi-Soft had a very pleasant surprise for the A1200 owning public. They demonstrated a prototype of 'The Squirrel' a SCSI-2 Interface for the A1200 that fits into the PCMCIA slot and is capable of hitting 3MB/s with an '030 accelerated unit. It's a normal PCMCIA card with a cable flowing out the side sporting a 50W SCSI connector on the end. Not sure exactly where this unit will fit in the market as for the 69 UK pound asking price, SCSI interfaces for the leading accelerator boards can be purchased and not tie up the PCMCIA slot. Still it's a nice unit based on the nippy 5380 controller chip and should be available early in the new year.

Power Computing, one of the largest Amiga hardware companies in the UK, were selling their entire range including The Warp Engine, the 28 or 40Mhz '040 accelerator for the A4000. The price for this unit was astronomical and at twelve hundred UK pounds it's a JOKE compared to the Phase 5 Cyberstorm I'll cover a little later. The Tandem IDE/CD interface card for Zorro equipped machines was shifting with many Amiga users opting to buy el-cheapo PC CD-Roms rather than SCSI units. They were also showing the Power Super XL drive which can store 3.5MB of data on a High density floppy disk. At 100 UK Pounds it's not cheap but making backups on such a drive could work out quite cheap. I expect it'll use the same Power buffering technology since the Amiga can't handle the data rate the stock mechanisms produce. The full Viper range were shown but in my opinion, they should be keenly avoided having a very bodgy logic interface leading to disappointing performance.

One stand I spent some time at was the Phase 5 stand. Phase 5 are an innovative German company responsible for the Blizzard range. They've been known to offer good value for money and their recent products are NO exception. The item that drew me to the stand quicker than Saddam to a Scud was an obtrusive logo on a large PGA chip. 060 Yep... It was THERE and I TOUCHED it. If I die tomorrow I can rest at ease knowing I forfilled my fantasy. :-) Yep the Cyberstorm '060 is ONE HELL OF A BEAST. Currently fitting only in an A4000, I hassled the Phase 5 blokes (who were real cool guys) whether if I hacked apart my A3000, it would work. They said 'probably' so... Now to find the 950 quid to grab one quick smart! 82 MIPS <froth> You read correct. The Cyberstrom '060 is CHEAPER than ANY 40Mhz '040 based board so I don't think a great deal of Warp Engines were purchased that day! The units are to be available in February and the CPU can be quickly and easily changed from the 50Mhz to a 66Mhz when it becomes available. It can be run now with an '040 at any rate. Impressive.

Apparently Motorolla are to manifacture a 90 MHz unit before too long. Ouch! However, the bad news is that the CPU is missing 64 bit multiplication and some other key intructions so a new exception library is needed but Phase 5 have come to the rescue with some brilliant code patching software. First time that the CPU hits some unsupported instructions they are patched to ones the '060 DOES support. This was demonstrated on the AIBB beach ball render test. First time it ran there was a noticable pause in the middle of the render but subsequent executions blistered by without the pause. Neat. Fast? Hell this thing was rendering the beach ball before my machine would have STARTED. I WANT ONE NOW! Sigh.

Also due in February is the Cybervision 64. A Zorro III 64-bit graphics card available in 2 or 4MB of RAM. Hardware Planr-to-Chunky pixel conversion using RoXXier chip, proper electronic switching of Amiga video output. Digital shared memory/video bus so that MPEG and JPEG cards can be added later. Seemless Monitor installing into the OS display database etc. This card looks NICE and the best bit? It's the SAME PRICE AS THE PICASSO! Phase 5 are doing the card for 285 UK Pounds NOW if you'll wait for delivery until February... Sheesh. Is the Pope Catholic? I could really get to like these Phase 5 blokes!

BitterSoft and Utilities Unlimited were demonstrating their latest pride: in fact Jim Drew himself was demonstration the e586DX emulation module for the famous Emplant card. It was shown running Windoze software which seemed a bit odd... Surely they want someone to BUY the thing? Seriously, it's claimed that you can run DOS, OS/2, NT, Windoze and even Chicago on the board but it wasn't possible for me to tell if the demonstration was working at a useable spped.

Almathera is another sucessful and diligent UK based company that specialises in CD compliations of PD, CD32 projects and ripping my ideas off. (oops!) released Photogenics at the show. This looked VERY impressive indeed and a couple of friends walked off with copies. It's a very good 24-bit paint program and image processor that's very impressive in it's speed of operation and ease of use. Something I'm going to look at more closely though it's aimed more at users of HAMB rather than 24 bit board users. Has a potentially massive market with it's real time HAMB paint modes. It cause quite a stir and it wasn't the only Almathera stir. They were selling Nakamitchi 7 CD changers for 350 UK pounds and sold the lot very quickly. Instantaneously would be more accurate... Interesting.

Naturally NewTek were there, pushing stand-alone Lightwave 3D. Difference is the pamphlets are saying "MULTI-PLATFORM" with words like PC and SGI written on it. Ouch. I guess it had to happen. NewTek moving into the real world. Brings a tear to your eye doesn't it? Still luckily there's the usual group of pamphlet pushing VERY lovely girls to comfort me.

Digital Processing Systems were showing the PAR DPS doing amazing things like playing live video off HD. Their stall was packed all day which is no suprise considering the fantasic animations they were displaying... The Studio 16 was also present but not being on demo as far as I could see. Of course all the UK Amiga magazines turned out in force for stands being CU Amiga, Amiga Format and the bevvy of Pargon publications but Internet and Comms Today was conspicuously missing. JAM, the amateur Amiga produced Amiga fanzine was there and attracting some attention amongst the Amigaphiles who didn't know it existed. It SHOULD be ON the shelf in my most humble of opinions.

It was noticed by some aquaintances that they weren't approached by a single UK magazine during the duration of the show. Dave Collins of the Multi-media machine stand said, 'Sales were fairly slow on Friday but on the Saturday the French arrived and promptly bought everything we had'. The Multi-Media Machine provides a CD authoring service entirely for the Amiga market and also makes custom Multi-media presentations in stand-up cabinents plus pub games machines. A young company that's thriving on the Amiga scene primarily because they've diversified using Amiga technology to the full. Seemed that it took some time for everyone to realise they were flogging CDs loaded with Amiga games for a fiver each. When they DID...

Not one English magazine approached us but many of the French magazines came to see us and the other exhibitors' said Dave. This seemed indicitive of the attitude of the English Magazines. Aimed squarly at the low-end of the market showing no interest in the higher end. The large turn-out of professionals investigating the high end hardware explains why the American Amiga World magazine is regarded as the best choice in such circles. ICPUG, the Commodore user club, statshed right next to the door; displayed a linear progression of Commodore models with the PET taking the most prominent position with many people peering closely at the ancient item of Commodore history. I was surprised how many people didn't KNOW what it was. Maybe I'm getting old?

The show Theatre held a variety of public demonstations and seminars by various companies throughout the day though I didn't have time to see them. Finally the central Amiga stage held a variety of performaces throughout the day but just as they were firing up, the sysops retired to the bar and began to drink themselves senseless before embarrasing themselves at the Developers Conference... Which is another matter entirely.

All in all, I feel it was a good show. Good turn out of exhibitors with new products dispite the uncertain future of the platform. There was certainly no lack of confidence to be seen. These companies wouldn't bother if they didn't think that everything wasn't going to come though.

Star Trek - The Amiga Generation

by Eyal Teler

[This episode deals mainly with Picard's attempts to come to terms with the reveleation that Q is his true, long lost, mother, adopted by the Continuum when he was but a child, and still had hair. However, to prove that this is not just a space soap opera, but actually a highly technical futuristic series, the crew will also have to deal with a world on the verge of disaster. When we join this episode, the Enterprise is hovering above a solid yellow planet which is similar in looks to many other planets.]

Sitting down with a cup of Earl Jones tea, for that deep voice effect, captain Gen-Lock Picard listened to the summary La-Forge has prepared. "...planet Commodore is therefore completely dry. The ecological disaster brought by president Ali could cause the death of the entire Amigan population. Natural reproduction has stopped completely, and there isn't even enough water for a floor scrubber to work."

Shock registered on the faces of all scrubber loving crew members.

"Are there any large under ground water deposits? We could then use the phasers to solve the problem, as we did in the past."

"I'm sorry, but we just can't use the same solution in two episodes. We'll look as if we learn from experience.

"On the other hand, work had already started more than half a year ago to produce water using a concept similar to the one used by our replicator. By using the Liquidators, as they are called, the Amigans have hoped to solve the problem. Unfortunately, the process is taking longer than anticipated."

"Ohhhhh," cried Deanna suddenly, clutching her head.

"Deanna, are you okay?"

"I just felt a fluctuation in the Force, Lock, as if millions of people have suddenly lost the will to be creative individuals, and decided to join the great unwashed masses."

"With this lack of water, it is no wonder they cannot get bathed, captain."

"Oh, shut up. Data. This is a serious matter. What does it mean, Deanna?"

"Oh no, the voices, the voices, oh, what a world, what a world!"

"I know what's happening."

"Guinan, what are you doing here?"

"I felt that disturbance in the Force, too. It's the Borg."

"What have they done this time? Destroyed another couple of worlds?"

"It's worse. They are life long enemies of the Amigans. The Amigans' slogan was 'have an Amiga, have a friend', while the Borg's one was 'assimilate or die'. This battle of the slogans has gone on for ages.

"Now with the weakening of the Amigans, the Borg manage to assimilate people much more easily, with the use of their new slogan 'join the Incredible Borg Monopoly world, and get built-in networking'."

"That's terrible. Perhaps my mother will be able to do something."

[The episode continues with Picard trying to find out whether the records about his mother confirm what the Q had so convincingly claimed, and talking to his step mother, simulated by the holo-deck. Eventually, his love-hate relationship with the Q convinces him that the Q is really his mother.

At the end of the episode we find out that the whole episode was staged by the Q, including falsifying records, and simulating Picard's mother simulation. Commodore's problems were just added by the Q so that he doesn't get completely bored.

Not much of a conclusion, is it? But then, what do you expect from Star Trek - The Boring Generation?]