I was in Empoli yesterday, and I thought to do a report after I come home. If you're interested in it, you can...
First impressions. |
Well, the fact that we found a lot of place to park the car just in front of the usual event site in Empoli was something "disappointing", to start with. Probably this year's edition had the lowest number of attenders in 7 years. In 2002 there were more people than the year before, and I was hoping for the continuation of this trend. Dunno about Saturday, surely on Sunday it was disappointingly empty...
AmigaOne and AmigaOS4.
They were designed to be the kings of the show. Actually, the organization was focused on this two products, and everyone was really curious about them. The big new, which was confirmed just Friday night, was that we would have been able to see AmigaOS4 on an AmigaOne board! Really, you could feel the excitement and enthusiasm.
Well, AOS4 was shown on a G4@933MHz AmigaOne board at Soft3 stand. The Frieden bros were able to boot into WB just Wednesday, therefore you can understand the presence of the usual glitches that hit every young software. Overall the impression wasn't very positive, though: I'm not mentioning the bugs, I said I can live with them, I'm saying that it felt really sluggish, and we are talking about a 933MHz CPU. OK, graphics.library was still in 68k, as well as the gfx driver (the Prometheus driver was used). But I was told that JIT emulation was used... I couldn't believe it (because I've used it on various PCs, with UAE, which is emulating the Amiga original chipset in addition, and on similarly specced machines performance are at least one order of magnitude better), so I asked more than once to different people. Anyway, it seems that system routines still use the interpreted emulator, while only the voxel demo used Petunia JIT engine. But I gathered this information today, not at the show (so anyone reporting differently can't be blamed, yesterday I was under the same impression)! Anyway, a 040 with an RTG system and a gfx board (any gfx board) would have been faster, and so would have been UAE with a 500MHz CPU, even using interpreted emulation...
But I don't think you could expect much more from the A1 version, considering the hurry in which they prepared it in order not to miss the show. What really surprised me, in a negative way, was the classic PPC version. Even this one was really slow on moving and redrawing windows, or opening them (you could count the icons while they appeared)... and you couldn't do much more with it. There wasn't much software installed, and even many OS components (USB stack, AmigaInput) were present only under the form of an icon: a double click on it caused exactly nothing (and I red on some italian sites I was not the only one to experience this). I'm not saying they don't exist, I'm saying that when me and someone else tried them, well, nothing happened. In different moments of the show. I would have expected that at least the CS version was demoed with quite a lot of programs installed: I know WUP support isn't there yet, but I couldn't try 68k programs as well. After all we are told that Petunia has been integrated: why weren't we shown the compatibility?
The AmigaOne: well, there were half a dozen runnig Linux and MOL, in various configurations, but this isn't really what I'm looking for at an Amiga show, so I'll pass...
Pegasos and MorphOS.
Michele 'miky060' Magliocca and Elena Novaretti were showing off their Pegasoses, with the aid of Sebastian and Bertrand (AKA Frodon) who brought two additional machines from Paris. The two Genesi machines were normally configured, with MOS1.4 (someone was hinting about the fact that they might have had some newer files installed, though) and Ambient. And they were accessible to anyone to try. Michele had DOpus Magellan configured as "Work...", ehm, "Ambient Replacement", while Elena had her own mix with the original WB3.9 (guess she's the only one in the world) on show, and she was showing some High Quality prints of her fractals as well, as usual.
Those systems weren't fast: they were *damn* fast. They almost reacted before you clicked on something. I was impressed because I didn't think they could accelerate last year version this much. I sat down in front of a Genesi machine and played for 1:15'h with it. No crashes. Last year it would have rebooted every 5 minutes if you were lucky. Tried FxPaint Lite, FxScan Lite, Pagestream 4 68k (JIT is fast), VoyagerPPC, APDF, MPlayer (nice overlay support on the Radeons means realtime scaling without crippling performances), Kaya, one of the WinAmp clones (note: I didn't have to worry about the fact that the .exe was 68k, MOS, PUP or WOS at all - in fact I don't know what version I was using), MysticView with 1+MBytes .jpgs and more I don't remember... As for the entertaining side, I played a bit with the Knights and Merchants demo (I know I could pass the whole day with this, as I did in the past with The Settlers - really nice!) and Software Tycoon (when exiting I noted that the version I used - labeled PPC - was not the Pegasos one - labeled Pegasos, strangely enough - so I used the PUP or WOS one without noticing: so much for the transparency). MAME supported overlay as well, and ran very well. I tried Quake2. When I switched the resolution to 1024*768 a guy on my back said: "It's software only, it can't handle it!". Then, when I started the game, and I was playing it at something like 30 or more FPS apparently (no glitches, no slowdowns...), he turned his back and went from were he arrived (the AmigaOne stand...) with his tail between his legs: I'd be curious to know whom he was. Anyway, I was as impressed as him and the people on my back: SW renderer on a 600MHz machine? Astounting work, Bigfoot (I'm supposing it was his port)!
I had a brief chat with Frodon about the status of Radeon 3d acceleration status. Guess what? "When it's done!". I woder why I keep asking questions I already know the answer to. Nice chat and nice guy nevertheless. If I understood right, I gathered the information they are working on a driver to let accelerated programs run on unsupported gfx boards (a sort of wrapper). I might have understood it wrong, but it would be a nice idea.
There was something I didn't like with them, oh yes: WipeOut 2097, two Mawi demos and a strange thing called glquakemos were all installed on these two machines: but a requester kept saying something on the lines of "No right Rave3D driver installed". Next time bring at least a VooDoo equipped machine! Altough it seems, reading ZioAok report, that at some point someone had the chance to see them. Unlucky me, then.
As usual, the biggest booth was the VirtualWorks one. They had quite a lot of hardware and software on sale as usual - and that CW Mk3 looks really tempting for my Pentium IV. Maybe one of these days... They had a lot of A1s on sale: really nice packaging! Sadly this year the stand seemed less crowded than in the past, people are in the now common "wait state".
There was Soft3 which was showing not only AOS4, but also a C-One board: nice piece of hardware, really sweet, something everyone agreed, for one time in this community. Jurgen Schober was there as well.
The Italian BeOS user group was present this year as well, and they attended the show in the past editions, too.
Other presences were Darkage (who were apparently giving away t-shirts and CDs: obviously I missed them!), Ikir Sector (an italian news site with forum), cip060 (an italian user who has always shown his own 'monster' A1200 at past PA editions), Morrigan Development (a Mac developer, with some background on Digital Photography, Video Authoring and so on...) and POP COMPUTERS (who had some old and not so old HW on sale - not necessarily all Amiga related).
There was also the usual second hand market desk... but it wasn't as good as in the past, to say the least.
The italian printed magazine (subscription only) BitPlane was present as well. They were selling back jussues and the latest, the eight. I took mine there, so I won't have to wait for the magazine to appear in the postbox.
It was sad to see the situation of the Amiga community this year. It's shrinking, probably, and there's a lot of hatred in this moment. Everyone seems to have made up his own mind: and it wasn't nice to see some people that didn't even give a try to MOS because "it can't be Amiga". But, honestly, although I haven't bought any of the new HW yet, I have seen what I like more. Actually I saw it at PA 2001, and it convinced me at PA 2002. I was there to change my mind, eventually, but I didn't see anything that could do. Actually, what I saw reinforced my beliefs.
So I won't give any conclusion myself. But I went to Empoli with my father and a friend. My father wasn't at PA since the 2000 edition, and lately he's been using only WinXP and WinUAE. He doesn't follow any Amiga related news site. But he was curious about AOS4. He came out quite convinced of buying a Pegasos instead... If it might mean something. The other friend, well, doesn't even have an Internet connection, so he knows nothing about the hatred community of today. But at the end of the day he was wondering why everyone is waiting for AOS4 on an HW that costs almost like two PegasosII... and why AOS4 can't run on a Pegasos when it'll be ready. And why waiting at all at the moment. It is possible that I influenced them. But unlikely, since I spent most of the time playing myself, not speaking with them...
Disclaimer: English is not my native language. So I beg you pardon in advance for any sintax/grammar error I might have made. Forgive me.
Disclaimer2: I expressed my opinions, I reported what I saw. It's as simple as that. I didn't want to be inflammatory at all.
Andrea 'guruman' Maniero