November 1995 MAGazine Volume 11 Number 10

The March General Meeting of the Memphis Amiga Group will be held Saturday, Novermber 11, 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 sysop.

From the President's CLI

by Scott Pitts

We have recieved the latest version of Directory Opus V, which we will be showing this month along with the usual "Disk of the Month" and much more.

PPage and PDraw by Gold Disk has been purchased by another company. The word it that there are NEW manuals for both the 4.1 PPage and the 3.0 PDraw. We are looking further into this rumor to see what the new company has in store for these products.

The new Amiga 4000T will be shipping by the end of November with an advertised price of 2595 US approximately. The full specifications, pertaining to the ram, hard drive space, etc, were not specified.

ELECTIONS: Nominations for officers will be taken at the November and December meetings for the election in January. All nominations will be taken and published in newsletter.

I would like to invite everyone out to the to the business meeting and lunch at Gridley's at 11 am Saturday before the meeting.

Scott Pitts President

MINUTES

The Board Meeting was was held at Gridleys, at around 11:30. The primary topic of discussion was the whether or not Amiga's were shipping. The PC User's group was contacted about how they managed to utilize the facilities without charge. The person for their group responsible for their meeting place was unavailable. Hopefully there will be more news next meeting.

The Group Meeting started at about 1:00, and a demo of Professional Calc, one of the few Amiga based spreadsheets was given. Bill Bowers had a demo of the disk of the month, and a ISDN ethernet router was also displayed. As before, we are working on an alternate meeting place, or acquiring the current facilities at no charge.. If you have any suggestions, please contact one of the officers.

Keith Burns, Secretary

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 meeting at Gridley's BarBQ beginning at 11:00 A.M., Saturday, November 11 (before the general meeting). For more information call Scott Pitts at (901) 854-1987.

Memphis Amiga Group Officers for 1995

President
Scott Pitts
(901) 854-1987

Vice President
Steve Echols
(901) 756-9261

Secretary
Keith Burns
(901) 756-8514

Treasurer
Terry Campbell
(601) 393-4864

Librarian
Bill Bowers
(901) 360-0003

MAGazine Editior
Paul Stokes
(901) 867-8417

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

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 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.

Aminet Set 1

PRODUCT NAME

Aminet Set 1, January 1995

BRIEF DESCRIPTION

The Aminet Set 1 is a snapshot of (nearly) the complete Aminet, the worldwide Amiga file network. Snapshot date was December 18, 1994. The Aminet Set 1 consists of four CDs.

AUTHOR/COMPANY INFORMATION

COMPILATION LICENCE

Urban Dominik Mueller (umueller@wuarchive.wustl.edu)

MANUFACTURER

Name: Stefan Ossowski's Schatztruhe GmbH
Address: Veronikastrasse 33 45131 Essen Germany

Phone: +49-201-788778
Fax: +49-201-798447

EMail: stefano@tchest.e.eunet.de

DISTRIBUTION

The main places to buy the Aminet Set 1 currently are:

Germany: Stefan Ossowski's Schatztruhe GmbH and GTI GmbH
Denmark: Fribert Consult, v. Kenneth Fribert
Italy: C.A.T.M.U. s.n.c.
USA: Amiga Library Services

You can order also from any bookstore: ISBN 3-86084-253-6

(I have given only a short overview. More information is found in the text file docs/misc/CD-Orders.txt on Aminet.)

LIST PRICE

Suggested retail price is DM 59, or $39.95 (US).

Street prices may vary. The cheapest offer I have seen here in Germany was about DM 39,-. That is approximately $26 (US).

SPECIAL HARDWARE AND SOFTWARE REQUIREMENTS

HARDWARE

A computer (Amiga highly recommended) equipped with a CD-ROM drive.

512KB RAM is required. 2MB RAM (or more) are recommended.

A hard drive is not required, but some of the software packages are intended to be used from a hard drive.

An Amiga with the AGA chipset or a graphic card is recommended for accessing the pictures via the included picture database.

Some of the archived software packages that are on the CDs may need other special hardware in order to operate.

SOFTWARE

AmigaDOS 1.3 or higher required.

AmigaDOS 3.x is highly recommended, but 2.x works as well for basic usage.

To access the picture database, you need Amiga OS 3.x.

A suitable CD-ROM filesystem (like AmiCDROM) is required. (The Commodore 3.1 CDFS is known to have some bugs, but problems may only occur in very rare cases.)

COPY PROTECTION

None.

MACHINE USED FOR TESTING

Amiga 3000, 2 MB Chip RAM, 12 MB Fast RAM
Toshiba XM-3401B CD-ROM drive
Several hard drives
AmigaDOS 3.1 (Kickstart 40.70, Workbench 40.35)
AmiCDROM 1.15

REVIEW

Well, why did I write this review? The idea came from Urban D. Mueller, who asked me if I would like to make a review about his new Aminet Set 1. I said, yes, why not.... Some days later I received a copy of the Aminet Set for reviewing, and here we go.

First, I will give an overview of the content of each CD. I will critically look at the user interface of the Aminet Set and the compilation in general and of course say some words about pricing and what new things users of previous Aminet CDs will get.

INSTALLATION

There is no installation required. The CDs are pure archive CDs with specific setup required, but it is possiblt to change the default archivers, viewers, players to your personal likings.

USED FILESYSTEM

The Aminet Set CDs are mastered in the ISO 9660 mode 2 format with RockRidge Extensions. Handling on other platforms should be no problem. The filenames of the CDs are '8.3' (MS-DOS format) and unique when used with an ISO-2 compliant filesystem under PC-DOS (I quickly tested this on a friends PC equipped with a Sony double speed CD-ROM drive running Windows/MS-DOS). The CDs of the set are not bootable.

CONTENTS

As mentioned before, the set consists of about four CDs. Every CD includes a part of Aminet. The Aminet Set is NOT a bundle of the former released Aminet CD volumes 1-4.

The different directories of Aminet are spread over the CDs as follows:

CD Directory Size in MByte Contents
A dev 135 development software
util 97 utilities
B docs 37 documents
gfx 127 graphics software
pic 322 pictures and animations
text 84 text software
C comm 82 communication software
demo 318 graphis/sound deomos
games 151 games
hard 6 hardware related files
D biz 59 business software
disk 12 disk/HD tools
misc 104 miscellaneous files
mods 339 music modules
mus 28 music software

total: 1901 (1.86 GByte) of archived files

(Note: The sizes are given in MByte, which means 1024^2 byte. All sizes published by Urban Mueller are in million bytes, so please note the difference. Urban Mueller promised me that on future Aminet CDs it will be marked whether million bytes or MBytes are used.)

As you can see, on disk A are only the directories 'dev' and 'util' which makes about 232 MB. Due to this, the rest of the CD was filled up with the newer files from the other directories. Additionally all '.readme' files are on disk A, which allow you to search and list all archives that are present on the four CDs. To avoid problems with BBS software that work with '.readme' files they are not stored in the normal Aminet directories, but in an extra directory. On disk B you find the 'pix' directory with lots of pictures and animations. To survey all the pictures, a thumbnail database is included. To get an overview about the games, demos, and mods found on disk C or B, several index guides can be found on the according CDs. On every disk are various index guides and tools which occupy approximately 35 MB per CD

USER INTERFACE

The Aminet Set 1 is 'yet another archive CD' set, but there is one thing that makes it different from other archive CDs - the user interface. The Aminet Set uses the same access software as the Aminet CDs 3-5. Various search tools and index guides can be used to access the files on the CDs.

The Find tools output an AmigaGuide window with all files that matched the search string. In the leftmost column of the guide, you find the filenames, and in the rightmost column you find a short description of the file or archive. In the middle, you find information about the directory, size and age of the archive and on what CD of the set you wll find it. If you click on the file description, the readme file is displayed, and a click on the filename pops up an extraction tool where you can specify a destination directory for extraction. For pictures, texts, mods, demos and games, an extra gadget in the extraction tool appears that gives you the possibility to show, play or run the files directly.

Via a prefs program, the user can specify a default path for extraction and what LHA archiver should be used. Utilities for viewing texts, JPEGs and other pictures can be defined separately and also the player that should be used for playing the modules. The 'Inspect' tool tries to be as smart as possible, but sometimes a 'direct' access is not possible, due to one or more 'unexpected' files in an archive.

On disk B, we find a picture database that can be accessed with the program PicZoo (ready to run from the CD). With PicZoo you can browse through the different thumbnail databases and a click on a picture brings up the external viewer showing you the full picture.

Besides the normal guides mentioned above, we find two special guides for games and demos on disk C. The guide for the games has three index types. One with 150 of the best games, one for compatible games (tested with an Amiga 4000) and of course one with all games. The same applies to the guide for the demos.

On disk D you find a special guide about the mods. The first index is a module list with ratings by Christian Marz, the second index are the module charts by Oliver Bellmann (ratings are based on public votes), and last but not least an index with the personal favourites of Urban Mueller. Additionally you can select one of the random play modes, you can choose what kind of modules you would like to hear. These are techno, pop, jazz, instrumental or any.

COMPILATION

As said before, the Aminet Set 1 is a compilation of nearly all files that can be found on the Aminet FTP servers. Maybe I should explain why I said 'nearly all'. When uploading files to Aminet the uploader can restrict the distribution of the file with the 'NoCD' keyword. This means that all files that have this keyword set are not included on an Aminet CD. Urban Mueller told me that so far are 15 files found on Aminet that forbid distribution via CD (e.g., the MovieDataBase).

Furthermore the directories 'util/crypt' and 'pix/irc' are not part of the Aminet Set. 'util/crypt' was left out, because it is not allowed to export cryptographic technology from the United States and Canada. 'pix/irc' was left out to avoid problems with people who might not want a picture of themselves on a CD (this may happen if the person was not the uploader of the picture). But this is only a very small part of Aminet that was left out. On the Aminet Set 1 we find a total number of 12482 different files or archives.

Apart from the files in the various Aminet directories, the search tool and the guides, we find some installed tools and utilities. For example MultiPlayer, DeliTracker, PS3M, Movieplayer, BigAnim, Viewtek, FastJPEG, AmiCDROM, Degrader, TrashMaster, ToolAlias, ARCHandler.

As said before, you get 2 GByte of files with the Aminet Set, but what is new on the set if one already has one or more of the other Aminet CDs?

Urban Mueller published the following table:

If you already have... You get an additional...
Aminet CD 4 1425 million bytes
Aminet CD 3,4 1088 million bytes
Aminet CD 2,3,4 743 million bytes
Aminet CD 1,2,3,4 701 million bytes

Since Aminet CD 4, 270 million bytes of new files were uploaded to Aminet. But notice, that these files will also appear on Aminet CD 5 (available early March)!

USAGE

You can start to browse through the entire stuff, but likely you will get lost in the depth of directories, archives, pictures, games, demos, modules, guides... :) You get more than 2 GByte of archives, but what to do with such an immense source of software? Archive CDs are more or less a kind of backup or storage media, but through the 'user interface' of the Aminet Set these CDs may get CDs for everyday use (i.e., listening to modules or playing games from the CD).

If you are searching a particular archive you can use one of the various search tools or one of the guides. If you prefer CLI usage you can check up one of the index files in the Aminet directory.

The CDs of the Aminet Set 1 are ready to make available on BBS systems that work with 'file.BBS' files or directly with the '.readme' files.

PRICES

I don't want this review to become a discussion about CD prices, but let me nevertheless say a few words here.

The former Aminet CDs 3 and 4 were/are available as 'Gold' ($19.95 US) and as 'Share' ($11.95 US) versions. As one may know, the word 'Share' is an abbreviation of the word 'shareware', which means that the person who bought the CD should pay a small shareware fee for it. But Urban Mueller dropped the 'share' concept, because he said that too few people supported the concept. Neither the Aminet Set 1 nor the Aminet CD 5 (and likely all future CDs) are released as shareware. In an interview Jason Compton (Amiga Report editor) held with Urban Mueller, he claimed that most people bought the Share CD and 99% of those people have not paid shareware fee for it.

I'm very upset to see such a good concept for the Aminet CDs dying! I can only encourage people to support other share CDs that hopefully will come out in future!

The Aminet Set is shipping for about $39.95 (US). In my opinion, this is a 'fair' price for four CDs, although other people may say that this is too much. Indeed, Urban Mueller will earn lots of money with the CDs (he didn't tell me how much, but estimations are going up to $4 per set), so if you don't want him to earn money through the CDs then do not buy them. But if you want him to get a compensation for his work in creating the Aminet CDs then buy it. You must decide yourself! (Note: The price of the Aminet CD 5 will be $17.95 (US).)

LIKES AND DISLIKES

I really like the user interface of the CDs. In most cases you can easily find and access files you are looking for, 'directly' start games, demos, playing modules.... It is really good and easy to use.

One has lot of different ways to get a view of the files, not at least with the SaarAG and Fish index. Of course it was a good idea to include all '.readme' files on disk A for searching purposes.

But with the guide interface, some problems are left. First of all, if you click on a file that is not on the current CD you must start changing CDs. Until a file is successfully loaded/extracted one has to change the CDs several times. To avoid this you can drag the appropriate search kit to your Ram or hard disk (this clue is found in several ReadMes on the CDs).

The various random play modes for the modules are very nice, but currently skipping of a module doesn't work correctly. Due to last minute changes a better random play scheme with ARCHandler was removed, because the first version of ARCHandler had problems with some system configurations. Probably this will be fixed in future CD releases.

The direct access for games and demos is good, but it is impractical if they have no exit back to the operating system. And even 'compatible' demos or games need not to work with special user configurations. But the interface tries to be as smart as possible to avoid problems.

It is nice that you have, depending on the content of the archive, the possibility to choose if you want to extract the archive to a specified destination directory or to view/run the files 'directly', but maybe it would be a good idea to implement hotkey selection for the gadgets of the extraction tool and the prefs program are designed very frugally.

On some configurations, the AmigaGuide interface seems to have some problems with certain archives, maybe due to bad links in the guide. For example, if you try to extract/view 'AmigaFAQ.lha' your system will definitely crash when you have an Amiga with OS 3.1 (whether using MultiView or AmigaGuide).

I really like the supplied picture database. It is nice to browse with PicZoo through the different databases. Clicking on the thumbnail brings up the full picture, but I recommend to view pictures from collections (several pictures in one archive) not via PicZoo, because the archive must be extracted for every picture that should be displayed. PicZoo needs a HAM screen in order to work. We have an AGA and an ECS version of PicZoo, but I didn't get it run correctly with an ECS Amiga. The screen looks a bit weird; on the upper part of the screen the thumbnails are more or less correctly displayed, but the rest is a mixture of gadgets, listviews, text.... Urban Mueller already knows about these problems, and I hope that they will be fixed in future releases. Unfortunately, PicZoo stays only partly usable for browsing through the databases. Users who are not familiar with the German language will sadly notice that PicZoo has only a German doc file.

The preferences program is nice, but at least not perfect. One can specify a 'JPEG viewer' and a general 'Pic viewer', but is it not possible to define extra viewers for ILBM or GIF pictures. The program defined as 'Pic viewer' is used for all pictures formats (except JPEG) as well as for IFF animations and MPEGs. A module player can be defined, but defining a sample player is not possible (as default DSound from CD is used). Furthermore it is not possible to define an DMS extractor (the version from CD will be used). Anyway all DMS archives can only be extracted to DF0:, but Urban Mueller told me that this will be fixed for Aminet CD 5.

The 'search again' gadget in the AminetFind-guide does not work. Deja vu! Wasn't this already a problem on the Aminet CD 3?

Self-extracting '.run' archives are not correctly handled, but this problem will be fixed for Aminet CD 5.

During my tests I sometimes tripped over duplicate files or archives. Some examples are ReKeyIt versions 1.2, 1.2a and 1.3 and BootX versions 5.23 and 5.23a. Normally, all older versions of a program are deleted, but in some cases this wasn't done. Other examples are identical modules, but I must agree that it is sometimes not easy to check up duplications or older archive versions, especially if the archives have very different names.

COMPARISON TO OTHER SIMILAR PRODUCTS

Other multi-volume CD sets are GoldFish 1/2, GigaPD and Ultimedia. With GoldFish you get two CDs, one with the programs in unarchived form and once with them in archived form. You can use many of the programs directly from the CD, but you get less software compared to the Aminet Set (relative to the number of CDs). GigaPD is a three CD set with a significantly higher price and it covers less (up to date) software than the Aminet Set. GigaPD is in my opinion mostly just 'yet-another-archive-CD'. The same goes with the Ultimedia set. It is a two CD set for about the same price as the Aminet Set, but it gives you no kind of user interface for viewing pictures or playing sounds.

VENDOR SUPPORT

Contact Urban D. Mueller if you have questions or comments about the Aminet Set. You can reach him via email at umueller@wuarchive.wustl.edu or umueller@amiga.icu.net.ch.

CONCLUSIONS

You get nearly a complete collection of all files and archives found on Aminet. If you really need them all is an other question, but you will surely find lot of interesting stuff on the CDs.

The price for the set is acceptable, but you must decide yourself if you want to invest the money, especially if you already have one or more of the old Aminet CDs. On the set are newer files than on Aminet CD 4, but these will also appear on Aminet CD 5.

I wouldn't say that the Aminet Set 1 is a must for every Amiga user, but it would be a good deal for people who haven't bough any Aminet CD yet (e.g., people who just purchased a CD-ROM drive).

The compilation -- or better say 'the presentation' of the files and archives -- is for the most part successful.

Indeed, the user interface has some bugs and restrictions, but in general its usage is good.

The Aminet Set 1 is a very good product. I rate it 4.75 out of 5 stars. The last quarter can be obstained by enhancing and fixing the user interface of the CDs, especially better preference possibilities must be given to the user. I must admit that currently no better user interface, like the one found on the Aminet CDs, for an archive CD exists, but if improvement is possible (and needed) it should be done. Urban Mueller promised me that enhancements will be made for the Aminet CD 6.

And last but not least we have one question left: Will there be an Aminet Set 2 in the future and what will it be? I don't know... even Urban hasn't yet concrete ideas about it. An addendum CD for the set? A new double-CD? Again a complete snapshot? Let's wait and see...

All typos made in this review are mine. All mine! ;-)

This review represents my personal point of view. (Don't hesitate to contact me, if you have any comments about my review.)

If you would like to re-publish this review in any way, the author requests at least a copy of the used media. (Thanks to AmigaGadget who did this in the past.)

Copyright 1995 Lars Eilebrecht. All rights reserved.

Author address:

Lars Eilebrecht
Glueck-Auf-Strasse 23
57223 Kreuztal, GERMANY

email: SFX@appl1.hrz.uni-siegen.de
irc: Shadowfox

[FIXME: Pages 9 and 10 need to be transcribed.]