One of those arhhhhhh f#?k moments

Fired up the X1000 today. it was time to get some of the software updated and I thought it would be enjoyable. Instead, I ended up with one of those sinking stomach feeling moments and cursing myself for the last 20 minutes.

I had decided to use Ignition (native spread sheet programme on the Amiga) to catalogue a few items. I remembered there was a Libre Office plug in for it which allows saving/loading .ods files and I thought it would be a good chance to install and try it out, along with the dropbox/google storage application available for AmigaOS4 (Yay, sharing files easily). One of the requirements for the Libre Office plugin is zip/unzip so I proceeded to extract the binary only for them, opposed to the whole archive from their respective archives and then install the plugin.

The installer was not happy and claimed zip was not available so I fired up a shell and had a look. Yup, I had extracted the zip/unzip binaries but it placed it within its own directory within the C: assign, so with my mind elsewhere I copied the binary to C: and proceeded to delete the directory it had left behind.

Next thing I realise is that my shell is scrolling off the screen with the below messages ad-nauseam:

unzip Deleted
zip Deleted
unzip-5.52-bin Deleted
zip-2.31-bin Deleted
MountDiskImage Deleted
fc-scan Deleted
fc-validate Deleted
LhA Deleted

What I was seeing took a minute to sink in but by then it was to late, I realised the entire contents of my C directory was gone.

The first thing I did was copy and paste the output of deleted files to a text editor before doing anything else, sat back and was like well…. f#?k. To those who don’t know AmigaOS, C: is a logical assign as in it acts like a partition but is actually a directory on the Sys: partition. C: itself holds a number of critical and important AmigaOS commands so losing the contents of this directory was not a nice experience.

The next thing I did was look for my AmigaOS4.1 FE install CD. I thought I could potentially copy the C: files from it or worst case, re-install over the top of the existing partition. During this find and seek exercise, I remembered I have an older backup of my Sys: partition and decided to see what undelete options were available bfore going to extremes. Hello .recycled directory!

I am running SFS as the file system on my Sys: partition, it has a .recycled directory. It apparently remembers the last ~360 deleted files and sure enough, there they were. So I grabbed my copy of the deleted output, did a bit of find/replace on the text file to use the backed up C: directory and copied everything back from .recycled into Sys:c/ and so far so good (Currently typing this up on said Amiga X1000).

Mental note it’s not “delete #? zip-2.31-bin/all” it should be “delete zip-2.31-bin/#? all”.  Wow, that was truely a brain fart moment.

New Graphics Card for the X1000 and Other Guff

So I have the next week off. I finished work for for the company I worked for and start at a new one in a weeks time and have decided to get a few things in order.

One of the things which has been bugging me is my AmigaOne X1000 and so I plan to do a re-install of AmigaOS4.1 FE in conjunction with the enhancer pack I just recently purchased as well. One thing which has been causing me to hold back was the fact that the graphics card I bought for the X1000 when initially purchased is an ATI HD 6870. I went for the better of the cards available at the time since I thought it would be a better long term investment ie. would not need to upgrade as soon as if I can a less powerful card. Unfortunately things didn’t quite work out the way I had hoped. A new version of Warp3D was released some time ago for the new AmigaOne computers and it didn’t support the card I have. At the date of the launch, support for the Northern Island (HD 6000) series was promised so I have been holding out but I have seen no hint that it will ever appear so I have given up on that idea.

Now I have the time, and it appears the bearings in my current card may be on the way out, I decided to get myself a new AMD R9 270x off EBay. I was looking at the R7 250x which a local shop had for sale but except for the fact it is supported by Warp3D, grunt wise it is pretty comparable with the ATI HD 6870 so without paying to much more, I found the R9 270x on EBay and look forward to it turning up.

If I remember, I will do a benchmark to compare the old 6870 with the R9 270x and publish them.

HDAudio driver is complete! | Hyperion Entertainment Blog

As a X1000 owner this is good to hear for a number of reasons and I get a PCI slot back as well!

Caution, technical content does follow and if you want the pretty pictures, please go to the parent Hyperion site as linked to below.

via HDAudio driver is complete! | Hyperion Entertainment Blog.

I am happy to announce the release of the finished HDAudio driver for the AmigaOne X1000!

The driver now supports recording as well as playback. It also now supports S/PDIF optical output.

There have been questions about whether full “32 bit” audio really makes a difference. I’d like to dig a little deeper to better understand the technical specifications.

There are two primary factors that contribute to the quality of a digital sound recording. One is resolution, or how many bits per sample, and the other is sample rate, commonly 44100 or 48000 samples per second.

As you look at the waveform of a sound recording, these two numbers determine the vertical and horizontal resolution of the wave.

I’ll begin with the “bit width” or vertical resolution.

The original Amiga’s sound output supported four channels at eight bits of resolution. Eight bits means there are two hundred and fifty six possible vertical “steps” that can be used as the wave is generated. Now we spread those steps across a -2 volt to +2 volt span and we get 0.015625 volts per step.

At the time of the Amigas introduction, that was a pretty fair sound playback. But only 256 steps is not as “high fidelity” as we might like. As a comparison, Compact Disk Audio is reproduced at 16 bits per sample. This makes for a big improvement in resolution. 16 bits offers us 65536 possible “steps” to spread across the -2 volt to +2 volt range. Now the step size is 0.0000610351562 volts per “step” of vertical resolution. So 16 bit audio is a HUGE increase in accuracy.

Getting back to our driver, AHIPrefs offers both 16 Bit HiFi and 32 bit HiFi modes. But I’ll bet that neither of those modes gives exactly what you might expect. As AHI mixes lots of different sounds together, possibly each sound with it’s own volume and pan settings, it can be useful to have more resolution available to work with. Here’s the clue: ALL AHI modes that say “HiFi” are sending 32 bit data out to the sound device! The “16″ and “32″ only describe what goes IN to the AHI mix routines. if it says HiFi, you WILL get 32 bit output to your card!

Or will you? In truth, while AHI is making it’s calculations using 32 bit registers and 32 bit math, it only promises 24 bits of accuracy. Is this anything to be concerned about? Not at all. I’ll tell you why. 24 bit samples will resolve to a “step size” of 0.0000002384185 volts per step. Wow! That is about one quarter of a microvolt. Those with an electronics background can probably tell you, that attempts to accurately work at those levels are just ridiculous. We have reached an accuracy that is beyond the ability of our amplifiers and speakers to reproduce. Put simply, 24 bits is the reasonable limit of current technology, or at least affordable technology.

So our 32 bit samples are flying out of AHI and in to the HDAudio codec. While the ”container” is 32 bits wide, even the “high definition audio codec” that we have in the AmigaOne X1000 only resolves the top 24 bits. So it seems that in the end, both AHI and HDaudio agree that 24 bits is the reasonable limit for now.

And how about sample rate or the “horizontal” resolution?

How rapidly a sound is sampled and played back can also have a BIG impact on sound quality. It all starts with the Nyquist-Shannon sampling theorem or more commonly the Nyquist theorem. It’s pretty simple. As you record an audio signal, you must sample at at least twice the frequency of the highest pitch being recorded. Any sound that is higher than half the sampling frequency will be converted to noise and nasty noise at that.

So how high do we need? It is generally held that human hearing range is from 20 Hz (cycles per second) up to 20000 Hz. So any frequency above 40000 should be great right? Well Yes and No.

One simple problem is that we still must filter out all sound above half the sample frequency, and most frequency dependent volume controls (graphic equalizers) work with gradual slopes. There is no “hard cutoff” at a certain frequency, so we need a bit of headroom.

But there is another reason. As a high frequency sound approaches the Nyquist rate, we are only sampling about once per half-cycle. While this will reproduce the frequency of the original, it will do it at a bare minimum of accuracy. In other words, as frequencies get higher, they get less detail.

So what does it really matter?

Audio CDs play back at 44100 Hz. Not bad at all.

Television/DVD audio is usually at 48000 Hz. Nice.

With the HDAudio chip in the X1000 we support both of those frequencies.

We also support 88200, 96000, 176400, and 192000.

So we can double or quadruple the sample rates of common media!

At first, I really thought it was all a numbers game, but when developing the driver, I can actually hear the noise decrease noticeably as the playback rates went up!

And that is where I’ll leave off. This was enough of a lesson for one day. I am very happy that I could contribute to the completion of this driver. And the chance to “raise the bar” regarding sound capability was really very nice icing on the cake.

Like many of us, I have been using Amigas for a long time. Today, right here in front of me is an Amiga that supports high definition audio, a modern high performance video card. It uses standard, off the shelf keyboard, mouse, monitor and many USB accessories as well. Most of these we unheard of in the classic days. But with all the new and shiny, it is still AmigaOS to the core.


via HDAudio driver is complete! | Hyperion Entertainment Blog.

AmigaOne X1000 in the House pt2.1

Well, the AmigaOne X1000 is still with FedEx customs and has been since last Thursday. The estimated delivery date has been changed from ’23/04/2013′ to ‘N/A’ and its status appears to be both ‘Clearance in progress’ and ‘Shipment exception – Package part of incomplete shipment’ which is a bit disconcerting.

I guess I will have to see what its status is tomorrow morning before I head into work.

UPDATE: (26/04/2013)

I ended up calling FedEx when I got into work in the morning. Looks as though the number they were calling to contact me was getting fast busies. I ended up paying the import fee on the phone and so they went to ship it to me on Wednesday but since I was at work, I couldn’t accept it. I ended up getting the AmigaOne X1000 today but I haven’t had a chance to do anything with it due to real life getting in the way but I do have all weekend to play with the new machine.

I would also like to mention that when I checked my EMail, I found EMails sent to me by AmigaKit warning me of the situation and encouraging me to call FedEx to get it sorted. Good to know there are still shops out there that look after their customers.

AmigaOne X1000 in the House pt2

….. in the country anyway.

Well, this is exciting. I got a message at the beginning of the week to tell me the order had been shipped and over the last few days have been watching the X1000 slowly inch its way toward me.

As can be seen below, it has hopped through a number of countries making its way towards me and is now residing in the same city in which I am. So close yet still so far away.

Travel History
Date/Time Activity Location
4/18/2013  –  Thursday
9:04 am
Clearance in progress
9:04 am
In transit
Package available for clearance
4/17/2013  –  Wednesday
1:23 pm
In transit
5:44 am
In transit
5:03 am
Departed FedEx location
4/16/2013  –  Tuesday
11:18 pm
Arrived at FedEx location
5:42 am
In transit
4:24 am
Departed FedEx location
3:24 am
In transit
2:21 am
Arrived at FedEx location
12:13 am
In transit
4/15/2013  –  Monday
8:57 pm
In transit
6:44 pm
Left FedEx origin facility
4:39 pm
Picked up
Package received after FedEx cutoff
10:23 am
Shipment information sent to FedEx

AmigaOne X1000 in the House

… or oh crap, I didn’t did I?

So, I have been using my little AmigaOS4.1 machine quite a lot over the last few years since its purchase and have found myself pushing it more and more and finding the little Sam440ep@533MHz was a little lacking on the power side. A lot of people will think to themselves ‘well der it’s only 533Mhz’ and while there is that, it is amazing what I was able to do with only 533MHz.

The main areas I found the lack of speed being a problem were the heavier 3D applications and the classic Amiga emulation.

So while I found the whole X1000 First Contact announcement interesting, it was still effectively a beta product, albeit a beta at a very advanced stage and polished. I was just not willing to spend the money on the chance there may be a problem with it.

Now, once the people who did order the X1000 started to receive their new toys and relay their experiences via the various Amiga forums out there, I have to admit, I did get a little jealous. At this point, I was starting to consider getting the Sam460ex to replace my existing machine but at the time, the sound driver was still being developed for it so I decided to adopt a wait and see attitude. Well, during the wait and see period, there was an announcement back in March 2012 of a second batch of AmigaOne X1000 and if you were interested to register your interested so I did and about a week later I received an email notify myself that my interest was registered.

Anyway, 2013 roles around, I have been watching people receive their AmigaOne X1000’s but since the first ones to be sent out where to be for the First Contact people, I am not to stressed but by March, I was really starting to get bugged by the limitations of my existing machine since I was finding myself using it for more demanding tasks.

Since I had not seen anything to tell me I had missed out on the AmigaOne X1000 I decided to see if I can get information from the horses mouth about my personal situation. I had seen people being told on the Amigans forum to PM AmigaKit to find out your current position in the list so I decided to do the same. Long story short, about a week later I get an email informing me that they had reached my name in the list and I was encouraged to choose my configuration and order.

I thought about it for a day. I spoke to the other half about it who turned out was less worried about the cost than I was and encouraged me to get it since, ‘If you don’t, you will not get a chance again for this particular system’ and so I placed my order.

So, the deed has been done, the machine has been ordered. While it was a bit more than I would have preferred I know by past experience it will receive constant use. The other point is while I know it is a hobby/niche market, without support it will die so I suppose you could say I also put my money where my mouth is.