Commodore Amiga documentary

I just found this Commodore Amiga documentary on HULU and watched it last night. You can find more information on the official website:

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For those too young to remember, the Amiga was the most advanced home computer ever sold. It was incredibly ahead of its time, especially compared to any of the competing systems that were sold when it was released in 1985.

Us old timers recall the early days of home computer with systems like the Apple 2, Commodore PET, Atari 400/800, and TRS-80. There were many other systems, like the Timex Sinclair ZX81, Texas Instruments TI99, VIC-20 and then the massively popular Commodore 64 (and later less successful 128). Thanks to the internet, I have learned about dozens of other competing systems that I never even heard of back then.

The next generation of computers were things like the 1984 Apple Macintosh and the Atari ST. The Commodore Amiga blew everything out of the water. It had multitasking and amazing color graphics (back when a PC produced only 4 awful colors on a “high resolution” screen). It had 4-channel STEREO digital sound. It was just amazing.

I recall seeing an Atari ST in a shop in Houston, and really wanting one, but it was just too expensive. Sure, my CoCo setup ended up costing way more as I added more and more components, but I could do all of that gradually. The entry level cost of an Atari ST (or Amiga) and the required monitor was simply out of my price range.

But I had Commodore 64 friends that moved on to the Amiga, and I remember getting to see one of the first time (probably in late 1987). The bouncing ball demo brought tears to my eye. I had simply never seen anything like that on a home computer screen.

This documentary gives some of the background of the creation of the Amiga, and how it ended up at Commodore (and almost ended up at Atari).

It’s a fascinating look at what was truly an amazing piece of hardware.

The movie is streaming on HULU if you have a subscription, and can be rented or bought on many other services. I recommend it, though I wish it were about 10-15 minutes longer so it could give a more complete timeline of the various models that came out and why they were created (especially things like the CDTV and CD32).

Enjoy…

Apparently I can’t trust anything I remember.

I have a few dozen different websites, but none for a subject like this, so I’ll just post it here. Maybe you will find it interesting.

Since a big portion of this site is topics from my 8-bit computer days in the 1980s, I now find myself wondering if I remember any of the stories I tell correctly. Most of the things I think I recall, I think I recall correctly … but now I am wondering if anything I say here is accurate. Join me on a quick detour and let’s have some fun with memories…

On December 22, 2015, an e-mail newsletter I receive from DIGG had a subject that caught my attention. It said:

Your Memories Aren’t Real

The newsletter usually contains around a dozen links to articles on other sites, but the first one was titled “The Movie That Doesen’t Exist And The Redditors Who Think It Does“.  The description talked about hundreds of people remembering a cheesy 1990’s movie called “Shazaam” and that no such movie exists. I initially shrugged this off because I was well aware of a movie called “Kazaam” that started the basketball player Shaquille O’Neal.

I was curious about how this could be “a thing” so I read the article. Here it is:

http://www.newstatesman.com/science-tech/internet/2016/12/movie-doesn-t-exist-and-redditors-who-think-it-does

This article discusses something called the Mandela Effect, named after groups of people who incorrectly remember Nelson Mandela dying in prison in the 1980s. Some news or event must have happened back then that confused many people the same way.

I had previously heard references to Mandela Effect on Free Talk Live, a liberty-minded syndicated talk radio program. They occasionally brought it up, using the example of how the children’s book is Berenstain Bears and not Berenstein Bears like many recall. I always heard it as “stein” so I had repeated it incorrectly my entire life.

This led me to do some quick web searches to see if there was anything more to it than that, and I found all kinds of amusing posts and YouTube videos. Most of them are in the same league as “misheard song lyrics” and made me think of a book a former coworker friend of mine, James, had pointed me to ages ago. A quick search right now shows that there is even a website dedicated to this:

http://kissthisguy.com/

(That’s a reference to the Jimi Hendrix song, which some mishear as “Excuse me while I kiss this guy!”)

I went through various lists of movie quotes everyone seems to get wrong (“NO, I am your father!”, “Life WAS like a box of chocolates”, “MAGIC mirror on the wall”) and even TV items most of us heard hundreds of times if we grew up in the 70s (“It’s a beautiful day in THIS neighborhood”). I was stunned at how many I was wrong about.

The Mandela Effect folks say this could be a sign of parallel worlds/dimensions/etc. and folks slipping between them, noticing something is off in a product logo, or song lyric or something they swear they remember and know.

It’s quite entertaining.

One actually hit me pretty hard. When I was first getting involved with Renaissance Festivals in the late 1990s, I had some smart friends that would often explain some of the historical inaccuracies these events propagate. (No, pirates like you recognize don’t belong at a typical Renaissance festival – they are closer to the Wild West era than medieval times.) One of these items was turkey legs and how turkeys were from the New World and didn’t even exist in Europe until they were brought over at a much later time (1500s?).

So how did turkey legs become so popular? I was pointed to a painting (which I always thought was of one of the King Henrys). It showed him holding up something that looked like a turkey leg. My friend explained it was likely some other type of meat. I remember looking the picture up (a color painting) back in those dial-up internet days.

Over the years, I’ve mentioned this to other festival newbies, and you can certainly find tons of references to such a painting, as well as find the pose parodied all over the place.

But there is no such painting. At least, not of King Henry.

I am confident such a painting exists, tho for all I know it was painted in the 1960s (the first Renaissance festival started around 1963 in California). It may have even been a parody painting, making fun of the King’s gluttony.

One this is for sure … it apparently was not King Henry.

And although there’s alot of science theory lately about parallel dimensions, I somehow think it’s just that my memory is crap.

Here’s a fun graphic showing various product logos and names. How many of them are you wrong about?

Enjoy!

Drobo 5C for $279 on Amazon

(Cross posting from my Appleause.com website. Over there, I post things related to Apple, Mac, iOS, etc.)

The Drobo 5C was introduced in October 2016 for $349. There has already been a $50 discount code ($299) and a one-day Amazon.com sale (also $299). Yesterday, the price tracking site, Camel Camel Camel, alerted me of a $279 price on Amazon:

http://camelcamelcamel.com/Drobo-5-Drive-Attached-Storage-DDR4A21/product/B01LWNHFBR?context=tracker

By the time you see this posting, the price may no longer be valid, but you might consider activating a Camel Camel Camel account to do your own tracking. You will receive an e-mail alert when the desired item (anything on Amazon) reaches the price you want. It also shows a historic graph of the price the item has been since tracking began.

Merry Christmas.

Giroptic announces new 360 camera for iOS devices

If you have an iPhone or iPad, and want to take 360 photos like the Ricoh Theta does, you may soon be able to do so with a $249 add-on from Giroptic:

https://www.giroptic.com/us/en/giroptic-io

This Giroptic IO connects via the Lightning port and has two lenses. It allows the recording of 360 photos or video which can then be uploaded via the iPhone or iPad.

The device has its own rechargeable battery (charged by a second port).

It’s an interesting product, though it seems it would be easier to just carry a Ricoh Theta with you instead of a clip on camera. It also does not look like it would connect to phones in thick protective cases.

But, it’s still neat… I’d love to get one to do a review of.

Nested ternary operators in C

I started learning C programming back in the late 1980s. I was using the original Microware OS-9 C compiler on a Radio Shack Color Computer 3. It was a K&R compiler, meaning it was the original version of C that was before the ANSI-C standard. Back then, I recall reading a magazine article that claimed C would be “the language of the 80s” so I decided to see what the fuss was about.

A Commodore-using friend of mine, Mark, was helping me learn C. He loaned me a Pocket C reference guide. That, and the Microware documentation, was all I had for reference material. At the time, Mark had moved from his Commodore 64 to a powerful Amiga computer. He would dial in to my OS-9 BBS system and upload source code he wrote on his Amiga and then compile it on my machine to see if it ran there, too. It was amazing that this was even possible, considering how non-portable BASIC programs were from machine to machine.

It was a fun time.

Over the years, I learned much about C from books and friends and just general experimentation. One thing I learned was this weird conditional assignment operation:

a = (b == 10 ? 100 : 200);

It is basically doing this:

condition ? value_if_true : value_if_false

The value of a would be set to 100 if b was 10, otherwise it would be set to 200. It was a shortcut to writing the code like this:

if (b == 10)
{
  a = 100;
}
else
{
  a = 200
}

…or…

switch( b )
{
  case 10:
    a = 100;
    break;
  default:
    a = 200;
    break;
}

I have used this many times over the years, but don’t even know what it’s called. I asked a coworker, and they told me it was a “ternary operator“. Here is the Wikipedia entry on how it works in C:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%3F:#C

It is a great shortcut for response strings. For instance, turning a boolean true/false result in to a string:

printf( "Status: %s\n", (status == true ? "Enabled" : "Disabled" );

This will print “Status: Enabled” if status==true, or “Status: Disabled” if status==false. What a neat shortcut.

Recently, I saw a nested use of this ternary operator. It never dawned on me that you could do this. It was something like this:

char *colorStr = (value == RED) ? "Red" : (value == BLUE) ? "Blue" : "Unknown";

It was using a second ternary operator for the “value_if_false” condition, allowing it to have three conditions rather than just two. I realized you could nest these in many different ways to create rather complex things… Though, readability would likely suffer. I think I’d just stick with simple if/then or switch/case things for anything more than two choices, but in this case it seemed simple enough.

I thought it was neat, and decided I’d share it here in this quick article.

360 photos in 2005

I bought my first digital camera in 1996. Back then, no one knew what the term “digital camera” meant, so I would have to call it a “computer camera” for people to understand it was some kind of camera you hooked up to a computer.

I originally wanted it so I could take and post photos during visits to Disneyland and Walt Disney World. Over the years, I created a massive archive of theme park photos at my site DisneyFans.com and Renaissance festival photos at AtTheFaire.com. Between my various photo archive websites and personal photos, I expect I have easily taken several hundred thousand digital photos.

And I still don’t claim to know a thing about photography. I just point and click.

I also got involved with video editing back in the early 1980s using my dad’s VHS editing equipment. I bought my first digital camcorder in 1999, as well as an iMac DV to do digital video editing.

Over the years, I have experimented with many types of photography and videography.

Around 2004, I purchased a NuView 3-D adapter for my camcorder, and records many hours of 3-D video at Disneyland and a local Renaissance Faire.

I was also interested in Apple’s QuickTime VR, where you could have a photo that enabled you to look all around (and sometimes up and down). Taking such photos was labor intensive (requiring taking dozens of photos in different angles and “stitching” them together with special, and expensive, computer software). But, there were some “one shot” solutions being offered that involved shooting against a circular mirror that would capture a panoramic image 360 degrees around.

Back around 2004-2005, I had a web page listing the various lens systems I had found:

http://os9al.com/oneshot360/index.shtml

The mirror system I wanted cost almost $1000, so I never bought one, but I did purchase a cheap knockoff called SurroundPhoto. It was a plastic lens with marginal optic quality, but at least I could afford it. I picked one up for around $130, and then picked up a Nikon Coolpix 5400 camera to use with it.

I took the 360 setup with me on a trip to Disneyland during  a trip in December 2005. I wanted to take 360 photos of Main Street and create an update to an old 1996 virtual tour I created using normal photos.

I also took the camera to the Kansas City Renaissance Faire, and to the future construction site of the Des Moines Renaissance Faire.

Beyond posting a few sample photos, I never did anything else with the device.

I recently discovered the photos I took, and thought I’d share a look at what 360 photography was like back in 2005.

The camera shot upwards, pointing to a circular curved mirror. The raw photos looked like this:

360 Disneyland in 2005.

360 Disneyland in 2005.

Special software for Mac or Windows could then convert this circular image in to a panorama:

Panorama of Disneyland  2005

Panorama of Disneyland 2005

Special viewing software could then be used to pan around in this image, with a tiny bit of up and down.

Today, this type of image would be taken with a single 180 degree wide angle lens (like the Kodak PIXPRO SP360) or with multiple lenses like the RICOH THETA or Giroptic 360cam.

One of my winter projects is going to be to finally build this Disneyland 2005 panoramic tour. The picture quality is pretty horrible by today’s standards, so I present it mostly as a look back at the humble origins to 360/VR photography that is so common today that even Facebook natively supports it.

More to come…

2016 HBO Westerworld versus 1973 Westworld

I couldn’t figure out which of my existing sites would make sense for discussing the new HBO series, Westworld, so I decided to put it here. Because robots.

This article will contain updates of easter eggs and other references/links between the new HBO series and the 1973 original movie.

References to 1973 Westworld

  1. There is a reference about how you could tell the original robots were fake by a handshake. In the 1973 movie, the hands were the giveaway.

Much more to come… I wanted to post something now to get it in the search engines.