Well, members of the Amiga community, for the first time I can remember, I really don't have any single pressing issue to discuss here. It's just that the state of the Amiga community has been relatively stable lately. Not that nothing's going on -- after all, the Phase 5 PowerUp PowerPC boards should be right around the corner, the Siamese System has been under seemingly constant development, new products and updates are becoming available, and so on and so forth. But there just isn't really a single Earth-shaking issue to discuss.
Which means, of course, that I can take this opportunity to discuss something a bit less time-critical.
It's a question of utility.
Yes, utility. Just how far a product can go towards serving its intended purpose and meeting your needs, and also tied in with its cost-effectiveness and effort-effectiveness. This issue is one which Amiga users frequently must face, as the rest of the computer world is driven by market forces that tell people that anything more than X number of months old is obsolete, and that anything not conforming to certain "standards" is useless.
Now, I will digress for a moment in order to make a confession. Yes, it's true. Sitting next to my Amiga on this desk is...a PC. And a fairly good one, at that, with enough memory to run Windows 95 comfortably (as well as that can ever be done). Among other things, it gets extensive use helping to put The Amiga Monitor together. Now, just last week, I replaced its aging processor (which generally seemed about equivalent to my Amiga's 40MHz 68030) with a 133MHz 586 upgrade processor, because it was just a bit pokey under newer applications.
Some would think that such a PC would leave my poor old souped-up A500 in the dust, and easily meet all my needs; that it would supersede the mostly-1985 technology sitting beside it, and bring me into a "whole new era" of computing. Actually, the PC pundits would have said that when I first got it in 1994. Anyway, the PC certainly has gotten a good deal better at handling the Weight of Windows, and it makes quick work of Descent and other flashy PC games that used to slow it to a halt. And I have to admit that Netscape now scrolls like wildfire, and makes quick work of the cache. Yet oddly enough, IBrowse still seems faster at retrieving and displaying data, even if it is in 16 grainy colors, and "scrolling" is hardly the word for what it does.
Yes, despite all the money at Microsoft, they couldn't make the great MS-Works as user-friendly as Final Writer, something regarded as "low-end" by PC word processing standards. And forget the advanced capabilities of DPaint -- I can create a simple smiley face much more easily there than in Windows Paint. And for all the speed of its 133MHz 586 and 32-bit SVGA controller, nothing I have seen on the PC can even dream of keeping up with CygnusEd on a 68030 and "ancient" ECS for even displaying and scrolling text. Yes, somehow, I had confidence in my good old Amiga, and sure enough, it pulled through.
I could give many more examples, but the point is well-established enough. No matter what the computer-oriented companies and media try to tell you, it is not the technology that defines utility; it is how it is implemented, and what you do with it.
In that sense, no matter what happens from here, the Amiga will never "die." There is simply nothing out there like it -- nothing that can combine power and capability with intuitiveness and good old common sense, and forge such an impressive legacy in the process. And nothing that can bring people the world over, so disparate in origins, lifestyles, and beliefs, together, unified for such a cause. Because, my friends, the Amiga actually gives more than it demands. It caters to a good sense of logic. It embodies everything that computers were truly meant to be, before things got so hopelessly confused.
So as is often said in reference to the human tendency to take things for granted, enjoy what you have, and recognize it for what it is; for once you let it slip away, you will never find anything quite like it again.
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The Amiga Monitor: 1996-1997, Excelsior Digital Publishing The Amiga Monitor's home site is at URL http://ourworld.compuserve.com/HomePages/MikeWebb/