Update to my blog entries on app stores

Okay, there were a few comments on both Amistore and IndieGo! Appstore blog entries that may clear up some issues I had at the time (I plan to revisit each when they are out of beta).

For AmiStore, I had an issue with being redirected to PayPal and my system defaulted to using NetSurf 3.2. This version of NetSurf 3.2 had limited javascript support and Paypal was complaining about it.

Two solutions were suggested:

1) Change the default URL handler in the system prefs to use another browser, such as OWB
2) Completely disable javascript in Netsurf and Paypal would fall back to a non-JS method of processing the payment.

For IndieGo! I had a few concerns and the author of the program left suggestions for each:

1) When selecting the platform, I could only scroll using the arrow keys. Apparently, if the mouse pointer is over the list, the wheel should work. He said selecting more than a single platform selection will be supported in the future.

2) The download speed after purchasing an item was unbelievably slow. This turned out to be a buffer size setting that he said was easy to fix:

Open with a thext editor the file
Edit the line nr. 10:
[SIN]dlchunksize =
And replace the 64(Kb) of buffer with a higher value like 128 or 256 to speedup the download

Full re-review when final versions come out.

WinUAE with Toccata emulation

Audio cards were a luxury in Amiga computer. Apart from a few clockport models, it was the Zorro slot machines that gave the real high quality option.

One of the oldest and most supported cards for Amiga was the Toccata soundcard. The sound controller IC is well documented. Someone pointed this out on the EAB WinUAE support page and Toni Wilen (fresh off the release of v3.0 of WinUAE, with PowerPC Support) decided to add Toccata emulation support.

Why do this when the UAE sound support is already well handled? Well, why not? I downloaded the v3.1.0 beta 1 WinUAE on that support site and set out to see how it worked.

The link to the thread where the latest version can be found is –> here <–

Then, I looked around to find some driver software. I found that amiga.resource.cx had some links to some diskmasher format installer disks. So I fired up Amikit (v8) on this latest WinUAE and included the toccata 1.1 dms file as a floppy:

and then got into the Workbench and opened the floppy icon to start the English installer:

and it was the standard Commodore installer:

but I ran into my first problem: The toccata.audio driver for AHI wasn’t included in the standard AHI that was part of AmiKit v8 (and I think it isn’t installed by default).

So, after a bit of digging around, I found that I had to head over to Aminet.net to get supplemental AHI drivers:

I manually pulled out the toccata.audio file for the DEVS:AHI folder and another settings file for the toccata card and put it into the right folder.

I then had to download v12 of the toccata library from –> here <–

Then, after a reboot, I set up the AHI Preferences to use Toccata stereo 16.

I then ran into a problem trying to run AmigaAmp. It was complaining that it couldn’t open AHI device. I eventually had to go redownload and reinstall ahiusr_4.18.lha from Aminet.net and this fixed that.

Then, AmigaAmp wanted to use the stereo++ version of the output:

I had tried to set up Toccata as unit 1 and leave the UAE sound device as unit 0. I eventually had to set Toccata stereo++ as unit zero and change AmigaAmp settings to use AHI unit 0.

I was then able to get some sample mp3’s I’d downloaded to play using AmigaAMP.

So, what is the advantage of using emulated Toccata? Not sure yet for a WinUAE user unless there exists some software the specifically uses the Toccata, but I thought it was cool to use.

Amiga App Store Review part 3 – IndieGO! AppStore for AmigaOS4.x

Okay, so now we are here at part 3 of the Amiga App Stores, see part 1 (AMIStore by A-Eon), and part 2 (Jack for Amiga AppStore).

I downloaded this from a post on Sept 7 from AmigaWorld.net. I also found that there is a link to both this GUI version and a command line version from the official IndieGO! website.

This software is the product of the same team that is working on AEROS, a software distro that has a Linux base with a hosted version of AROS running on top. The x86 version will allow the use of Linux, Windows (via WINE) and Amiga software all in one. An interesting combo that I hope to try one day.

The IndieGO! store will eventually (once it comes out of beta I’m sure) use AmiCoins/IndieCoins, an new form of payment supported by this software and maybe more in the future. These coins will be purchased in their online store. I’m not sure if other payment services like Paypal will be available. Using a virtual coin system like this is similar to how many of the recent free2play games do their in-app purchases. I would think that changing the value (and therefore profitability) would be easier by using an interim virtual currency that is completely controlled by one group (as opposed to bitcoins which have a value based upon market demand). It will be interesting to see how this works out for them.

Anyway, back to the AppStore in question.

The client download extracted out and didn’t include an installer or Icon launcher. That’s okay, this software is still in beta. I’ll assume the final version will include these. For now, I had to launch by going to the extraction folder, setting the window to show all, then double clicking the default icon with the name AppStore:

Oh, before I did this, I read a readme file that indicated that slower systems (such as my low-RAM WinUAE OS4.1 install) would benefit by lowering the resolution, so I found the global config file, and opened it to find the screen resolution settings and changed the width and height values from 0.85 (85%) to 0.5 (50%). This controls the width and height of the AppStore window to be 50% of the entire screen.

I was first prompted to accept the terms:

I was then presented with a login screen, which also had a register button:

Clicking register, I was able to set up a new account within the app, without having to go to their website. This was a nice addition over AMIStore I reviewed earlier. I was also allowed to use the username I chose instead of a generated one like AMIStore. I did, however, have to go check my email to confirm the registration.

After the confirmation email, the app successfully logged in:

Then, the the default AppStore menu is shown. The upper left icon is slightly discolored to indicate that it has focus. This is the entrance to the real AppStore. Other items include: User Profile, Settings, Log Out, Exit, News, download manager, etc.

Clicking the upper left AppStore icon, you get into the subsection where you have News, Special offers, Sales Items, App Search, redeem coupon, and filter by Platform.

Clicking the filter Icon to show only apps for a particular platform brings up a scrollable list:

The strange thing here is that you can’t currently use the mouse to scroll this list. You have to use the arrow keys. Also, you can only filter on a single platform. It would be nice to be able to include more than one platform (like Amiga OS3.x and Amiga OS4.x).

Then, after setting the filter by platform, going into the Catalog Browser brings up various category icons. This beta version still has most of them showing the default icon, so you have to hover over them to get the subcategories (like utilities, office, games, etc).

The top left button goes back a step in navigation. Clicking the Games category brought up a sublist showing game Genres:

I clicked the Action genre (the one with the ABUSE cover) and got a crash:

This memory-related issue may have been due to running AmigaOS4.1 on WinUAE, which is limited to 128MB when using the CyberStormPPC (I should convert to BlizzardPPC as I read that you can go up to 256MB). I had other things running so I reset WinUAE and was careful to not start anything else and only run the IndieGO! store.

After restart, I got into the Action Game Genre okay:

I can also scroll down, but only via the arrow keys to see the rest of the entries (please ignore the graphics garbage, this is a WinUAE config issue, using 2900b24):

I selected Alien Breed – Tower Assault demo for Amiga OS3.x and was presented with a buy screen:

Clicking the BUY button on the right brought up the confirmation screen:

Since this beta had a price of ZERO for everything, the purchase went through without having to purchase AmiCoins right now:

Now, it shows that it is “owned”:

and now the downloading can be started by clicking the Download button (which changes the button text to say Downloading…):

I had NetSpeedometer running and the downloading was unusually slow. Not sure what was going on as I’ve seen speeds ten times faster in the WinUAE environment. Also, it was downloading chunks, then nothing, then more chunks. I have no idea what server it was connecting to but I hope it is faster in the future:

Finally, the tiny file was downloaded and this window was presented:

Here’s where things got a little strange again and I am not sure if it was the app or my WinUAE environment. I saw the highlight flickering between “Execute the Package” and “Do Nothing”. I also couldn’t click anything so I finally, forcibly ended the app and found the downloaded file under the install folder in a user / download folder. It was just an LHA archive in this case. I could then manually take over if I wanted to.

    Conclusion:

So, this is really the main competitor to AMIStore. Both are not in a state of being ready for the general public. It appears that the AMIStore by A-Eon may be slightly ahead in terms of readiness for final release.

Things I liked about AMIStore:

  • Full Installer and launch Icon
  • Ability to Use Paypal
  • More finished feel to the category browser
  • Auto download and extract after purchase

    Things I didn’t like about AMIStore:

  • It didn’t have an in-app registration mode
  • It didn’t allow me to use the username of my choice
  • It didn’t detect and show my local currency
  • Euro-VAT tax for non-Euro customer (not sure of the customs rules)

    Things I liked about IndieGO!:

  • Register for an account in the app, instead of another website
  • Can login using my choice of username
  • Support for other platforms
  • Might have a larger catalog at the moment
  • Coins? (maybe, or maybe not… do we get charged VAT when buying coins?)

    Things I didn’t like about IndieGO!:

  • No installer or launch Icon
  • UI is a bit slow and had a memory issue
  • Switching between mouse and keyboard for navigation
  • Didn’t auto download/extract (would be a nice option setting)

    So, there you have it: Amiga AppStores (as of December 2014). Both are showing promise. At the moment, if I had to choose, I’d choose AMIStore, but I’ll definitely also have IndieGO! as I feel it will eventually get the kinks worked out.

    Good job everyone. Let’s Keep Amiga relavent in this day and age!

  • Amiga App Store Review part 2 – Jack for Amiga Appstore

    So, here’s the 2nd of the 3 “App Stores” for Amiga. It’s actually part of a much larger utility called Jack for Amiga. I can’t help but think “Jack” is short for “Jack of All Trades”. This utility does a LOT of things. However, I’m only looking at the App Store for now.

    Installation was a bit tricky. I downloaded the app, extracted to the RAM drive and proceeded to start the Installer Icon. I was then presented with a helpful splash screen, which had to be closed to proceed:

    Closing this then opened a CLI (command line interface) for IconX which must have been running an install script. However, the window output only showed a 0 the whole time, so I wasn’t sure if it was working or was stuck. Something a little more verbose would have helped.

    It ended by asking if I wanted to add a dock image, which I agreed to. It was installed in SYS:Utilities

    I then had the chance to choose the language:

    It then informed me that I needed to choose a Home Directory for Jack. I’m thinking this will be a central download location and will be prompted later. I also get an exit install splash screen (not shown).

    Here’s where things got a little strange. I am then shown an error message:

    So, I go digging into the installation folder for Jack and see a Welcome to Jack file. I open that and read that I must have some other items pre-installed for things to work right, plus a few recommended items. So, I’m off to download thebar.mcc and AISS and install them both:

    AISS:

    (Something descriptive like this would have been useful when installing Jack)

    thebar.mcc:

    (traditional installer, used for Amiga 3.x and 4.x, autodetected which)

    So, then I thought I had enough to start, but was warned that the version of textEditor.mcc needed (15.44 or newer) wasn’t found. Off to Aminet and I found it and installed it:

    I also downloaded and installed Push4Dock and Wordnet (both recommended in the Welcome to Jack file). Wordnet installed okay but Push4Dock’s installer wasn’t set up right and I eventually had to read the install script and manually do the install by hand via CLI.

    So, at this point, I’ve been warned multiple times that a reboot may be necessary. I did so and upon reboot, I start getting AmiDock warnings that images weren’t found. These pointed to an error (probably on my part) about Push4Dock. Anyway, I was able to start up Jack. I was first asked to find the Home Directory folder, so I made one and pointed to that.

    So, Jack’s initial window is a calender:

    Clicking the Dashboard button gives this window:

    So, then, with App Store highlighted, I click the Configuration button in the lower left. This launched a sync/download window:

    Finally, this finishes and I get a window where I can click the icons for the categories:

    I clicked Games and it took a while to parse the file it downloaded and build the list. Clicking an item and selecting the Info button at the bottom gave this two-tabbed window with info and reviews/comments:

    I noticed a tab in the main appstore window for Games, so I clicked that and got what I’m guessing are featured games with complete cover artwork.

    This appstore appears to be just a fancy front end to OS4Depot files. I checked other categories and found a lot of entries. The addition of the comments/reviews was nice. Also, there is a button called Donations. The list that comes up is for developers that have registered that donations are accepted for their work:

    You have to sign up / login for Jack to be able to donate (and I’m assuming to use the comment system).

    There are buttons to tweet and make facebook posts about the app, email a friend and check for updates on an existing installed app.

    I wanted to test what it did in terms of download and install so I choose Office category and selected AOrganizer. It was added to the download window (a queuing system it appears):

    It says “downloading…” while in progress, then the downloading disappears and you have to double click that item in the list. This opened the downloads folder (probably under the Home Folder):

    It didn’t offer an autoinstall. Not sure if this is due to Jack or the app in question. At this point, I just double clicked the icon and used unarc to extract to RAM. The app itself appeared to not have an installer so I just copied the folder to my WORK: drive and ran it directly:

    Conclusion:

    The app store in Jack isn’t quite in the same category as the AMIStore reviewed previously

    It’s more of a way to interact with the OS4Depot software repository. It does offer a handy way to queue up downloads, read and leave comments and donate to the developer. I’m assuming the update functionality works too. This is more like Grunch (review coming soon) than AMIStore.

    I can see this being handy. I have the feeling I’m not using it the way it was intended. I’m also assuming the other, massive functionality that Jack Provides is part of the attraction of this software. I may review other portions of Jack in the future.

    Anyway, Jack itself is worth the download but I hope you install thebar.mcc and AISS before hand and avoid the issues I had!

    Amiga App Store Review part 1 – AMIStore

    Okay, there are multiple App stores that now exist for the Amiga, and I’d like to compare them all (3 so far). The first one up is the one getting the most publicity so far: AMIStore – the cooperative effort between A-EON (Maker of the AmigaOne x1000 and x5000) and AmigaKit (one of the last, biggest Amiga Online retailers around).

    My tests were performed using the OS4.1 version using WinUAE 2.9.0.0b23 and Amiga OS4.1 Classic.

    First things first: Check out their introductory preview:

    Pretty impressive!

    To use AMIStore, you have to register and get an AmiSphere Account. Do that by going to http://amisphere.net/register, which redirects to an a-eon site. You’ll see this form:

    Then, download the initial installer here –> http://amistore.net/install/ <–

    Running the file that gets downloaded just starts a broader webinstaller:

    And then you’ll have a new folder (I installed under the System/Utilities) which has the App icon and a downloads folder:

    Starting up the app shows the banner (the graphics garbage line is from my WinUAE environment. I haven’t yet gotten the visuals totally cleaned up).

    Then, you are presented with rolling adverts for the items available on the store:

    The Category view shows the categories and the current count of entries in each one:

    The games category has yet to fill out but already has several entries:

    You will have to log in using the amisphere account set up earlier. The login is the amisphere ID (“as” + 6 digits). Then, you’ll see how much you have in pre-purchased credits:

    I added a few items to the “bag” (most websites would use the term “cart”) and it showed the updated total (in GBP by default, even though I’d prefer it detect my location and use USD)

    Clicking on Checkout will autolaunch a URL to get to the website to finish the checkout. Unfortuantely for me, it started Netsurf:

    It showed my total and gave me the option to go to paypal to finish the check out:

    Like I said, unfortunately it started Netsurf 3.2, and the javascript support wasn’t up to the standard needed by Paypal. So, I had to shut it down. I did have OWB and Odyssey installed but the default was to use Netsurf. I know there is a setting to change the default browser but I haven’t changed it yet.

    I came back to my tests two days later, and logged in and it still showed the items in the bag. I decided to remove CANDI and just go for zTools and I manually copied the URL for checkout from Netsurf to OWB and finished checking out.

    When that happened, it started downloading the installer via AMIStore:

    The installer started up:

    And finally, I had the install folders for zTools available:

    My experiences with AMIStore were pretty good for something still in beta-phase. I did experience a little instability but that may have been due to the WinUAE environment more than the app.

    The fact that it stored my bag contents between sessions was nice. I would like to be able to use a login other than the amisphere account ID as that is just one more login I have to remember.

    Overall, it was a great job and I liked the interface.

    I hope to test IndieGo! store next.

    Updated Prices from Acube: New motherboards even cheaper than reported

    Okay, so the early numbers showed that a new SAM460cr (not sure of the speed at the time) was being listed at 620 Euros (nearly $800USD).

    Now, the link to the Shop page on Acube’s website shows the updated pricing to be even better than before:

    A 1Ghz 460cr board is 469 Euros ($600USD), and the 1.1Ghz board is 539 Euros ($689 USD). If you read my post on the x5000 the other day, you’ll see that the SAM boards are low on the CPU performance so I’d recommend spending the extra if you can afford it.

    So, again, it’s getting (slightly) less expensive to enter the world of Amiga OS4.x. It’s about time!

    The only problem right now is that it is listed as Out Of Stock. I’m not sure if this is because they haven’t produced them yet or, more likely, the few they have received were probably sent out to cover back orders and system builds – like Relec and their Big Red One.

    Here’s the picture they are showing on their website, even though it says 460ex, the 460cr is probably about the same, minus the few pieces they removed:

    Pondering the AmigaOne x5000

    So, it was about a year ago that we heard about the forthcoming Cyrus motherboard and the new machines that would be the successors to A-Eon’s x1000: The x5000 (5040 and 5020). The new motherboards would start with the dual core 2.0Ghz P5020 and allow the installation of the quad core 5040 2.4Ghz processor later when they became available.

    What kind of performance are we looking at here? It’s hard to compare to Intel/AMD equivalent, and even with other Amiga computers. Regardless, the x1000 is currently the most powerful PowerPC machine supported by the AmigaOS4.1.

    MIPS comparisons are not the best but lets look at a few to see what they look like (sourced from various documents on the web). These could be totally off as well. Don’t take my word for it.

    (These assume all cores in use, which Amiga OS4.1 cannot do – 4.2 will supposedly support 2 cores)

    The x1000 uses the PA6T 1.8Ghz dual core, rated about 8000 MIPS (2.2 DMIPS * 1800 Mhz * 2 cores)
    The x5020 uses the P5020 2.0Ghz dual core, rated about 12000 MIPS (3.0 DMIPS * 2000 Mhz * 2 cores )
    The x5040 uses the P5040 2.4Ghz quad core, would rate about 28000 MIPS (3.0 DMIPS * 2400 Mhz * 4 cores )
    

    (the core used in the P50x0 line achieves 3.0 DMIPS per Mhz as opposed to the 2.2 DMIPS per Mhz that the PA6T does)

    For comparison, a PowerPC 2.0Ghz dual core G5 PowerMAC is rated at 7584 MIPS. If this is a linear calculation a 2.7 dual core could achieve 9480. A quad core, assuming all cores engaged at the same time, running at 2.5Ghz (the fastest Apple produced), would be just under 19000.

    Another note here, I looked up the MIPS ratings for the CPU used in the Acube motherboards. The 440ep could achieve 1334 MIPS at 667Mhz, and the 460 could hit 2400 MIPS at 1.2Ghz (I think the SAM boards top out at 1.15 Ghz though, which would be more like 2300).

    Also as a side note, the AMD FX-8350 is rated just under 100,000 and the Intel i7 4770k is about 127,000

    So, for either the A-Eon machine to achieve it’s max potential, AmigaOS4.2 will have to support every core available. The PowerPC G5 is also not fully utilized as MorphOS is also only a single core OS.

    But, these are far and away faster than anything the Amiga OS had in the past. The best a Classic machine (non-PowerPC) could achieve with a 68060 was a little over 100 MIPS (110 at 75Mhz according to Wikipedia)

    So, we learned at AmiWest 2014 that the boot menu will have a Classic Amiga boot option. No word yet on the mechanics of this (is is some linux with UAE or something else?)

    So, if the Amiga OS4.2 can take advantage of the cores, then x1000 and x5000 users will see much better performance in the future. Here are a few other pictures, thanks to Epsilon for taking them: