The readers speak out!

This month: Amiga Computing, the AAA chipset, VLab Motion, stories of PC's, and more.

Amiga Computing Magazine

How in good faith can you recommend Amiga Computing as a magazine when they have been ripping off and lying to US subscribers? I have been trying to get my back issues for 6 months. Neil Mohr promised to send them. Ha ha if you keep telling everybody about it they will get ripped off. It's on your head. Even Software Hut dropped them and I hear other US advertisers have too.

Stanley Young

For one thing, Amiga Computing has been having problems with their subscription database; I, too, experienced this. There is no reason to fear that they have done this to us out of some kind of malicious intentions. I am not, however, "letting them off the hook" for it; it is fully their responsibly to resolve the situation.

For another, I never recommended Amiga Computing. I can think of only one instance in recent history in which I said anything about them in print, and it was not any sort of a recommendation; rather, simply a mention. It was a list of magazines. Just because they're "ripping us off" doesn't mean they are not a magazine. Nowhere does my endorsement appear.

Michael Webb

The AAA Chipset...Continued

I wrote to your Feedback in the January issue. Your answer then and some of the comments both from you and other readers in the last issue, left me no other choice than to write in again.

You said it was hard to say if something is "too slow" or "fast enough". Well, let me explain what I meant by saying the AAA chipset was too slow. AAA would have improved on AGA, but is that good enough? The only way the Amiga can hope to be as successful as it was in the early 90's is to offer really superior performance at the same or lower price than the PC. Why should anyone choose the Amiga if it didn't? It's got very little software support, its future is uncertain, and very few retailers are supporting it. The AAA chipset will not make the Amiga outperform the competition, and certainly not beat them on price. As you know (you participated in Dave Haynie's online conference in March 1996) the 32-bit version consisted of 4 chips, while the 64-bit version used 6 chips. This is hardly very economic, and I question the wisdom in using it as the "basis of a new Amiga system" as you wrote in the last issue. AAA was never intended to be used in anything else than high end workstations. The Hombre was intended to be used as the low end "chipset". You also stated in your reply to me that it would not take anywhere near 6 months to introduce a "new powerful Amiga". REALLY!!!! When you write "new powerful Amiga", I guess you mean a new AAA Amiga, as releasing a new AGA Amiga before AAA hardly makes any sense. You expect me to believe that the new owner could finish AAA, adapting the OS to the AAA, building a new Amiga from the ground up in less than 6 months????? The reason AAA was dropped was because it would take too long to finish the OS (hardly the easy OS integration you are talking about). David Pleasance said it could take 18 months to write the remaining. This seems like a very pessimistic suggestion, but anyway, much less than 6 months....? Even if a 3rd party RTG program is used, I doubt this is possible. When the A1200 and A4000 were released in late '92, it took Commodore's 70 or so engineers 9 months to make the CD32. They had around *70* engineers. I doubt any of the bidders for AT got so many engineers. You also commented on what I said about Dave Haynie had written the AAA off publicly: "...although I respect him (Dave Haynie) and his legacy in the Amiga community, we can't assume that just because he says something, it's automatically correct." Well, who do you think we should believe, one of the key persons in the AAA project, or you who I bet doesn't have any other info on the AAA than what he has given you? Doesn't seem too hard to me! This reveals some of the paranoia in the Amiga community: Trust No One. If we all could cooperate we wouldn't be in the present position we are.

Some of your readers wrote in and pointed out that Dave Haynie didn't design the chips themselves. I know he didn't design the chips themselves, but the impression I got, is that the chips themselves were nearly complete, and the problem was getting them to work together, something I believe was Dave Haynie's job.

As I stated in my last letter, I believe the way forward is by using the Hombre as a graphics subsystem, and the PowerPC as the main processor. If desired there should be no problems in including some of the features found in AAA, and if needed the PA processor should be possible to upgrade to a more powerful one. As the original price target was $45, with 0.5 micron technology, with the addition of these, they should still be usable in low end machines. The original schedule was for an 18 month development, but listen to what Dr. Edward Hepler wrote in a mail to me: "If it were to be resurrected today, I might do things differently......."

In the meantime, I think the new owner should release some machines built upon the concept of the PowerUp cards. This will ease the integration of the PowerPC in the Amiga architechture, and ensure availability of software at the launch of the "real" PowerAmigas. The cost of 50 MHz 030's and 603e's aren't any higher than 060's, and it offers more power and a future.

On the other hand, I got to say I like your magazine, even with our difference in opinions.

Keep up the good work!!

Vidar Langberget

Some of your facts are questionable, and you have twisted the meaning of some of my words, so I will clear that up.

The AAA chipset would not just be an improvement on AGA; it would be a dramatic one. It has an impressive set of specifications, which I have mentioned many times before, and coupled with the efficient Amiga OS and a fast processor, it would form the basis of a very powerful system. The Amiga has a lot going for it, and we don't have to worry about beating PC's and Macs on every single numerical value to compete. Why? For one thing, the OS comes into play, and nothing out there is nearly as good a balance of power and efficiency as the Amiga OS. Also, any other graphics hardware would take much longer, and a good deal more trouble, to integrate into the OS than the AAA chipset. The AAA chipset would perform very well, and not entail a significant cost. When I say the Amiga does not have much extra time to get back on its feet, I mean it; we have to get new models out there as soon as possible. The delays imposed by a dramatic (and unnecessary) change in architecture would surely be the death of the platform.

Yes, I did participate in Dave Haynie's online conference, and although he said a great deal about the AAA chipset's specifications, I have also read about it in many other sources. I believe your chip numbers are not entirely accurate, but in any event, it is irrelevant; the reason the Amiga had three custom chips in the first place, rather than an integrated one, is because to build them into one unit would have been too expensive.

You completely lose my meaning by quoting my statement about Dave Haynie. I said nothing about "trusting" anybody, or "distrusting" anyone, for that matter. I simply said we can't automatically accept everything he says as the last word. Nor do I believe you should automatically agree with everything I say; people should weigh facts and arguments, and formulate their own opinions. To draw an analogy, do you agree with everything your government officials say or do? Even though they are the key people in the nation's political affairs? I certainly hope not. Surely you see what I mean; people have to think for themselves. Incidentally, I have a good deal more information on AAA than what Dave Haynie gave me.

Your statement about "lack of cooperation" leading to our present situation sounds inspiring, but it is unfortunately incorrect. Our present situation is due to incompetent mangement and a lack of marketing. The amount of cooperation and mutual support within the Amiga community is utterly unprecedented anywhere else. As far as paranoia goes, there may be a certain amount as a result of being stung so many times by ineffective companies, but certainly not so much in reference to this.

The idea of the AAA chipset being intended only for "high end workstations" is also incorrect. One of the great things about it is that it could be configured on a number of levels, from low-end (32-bit) to high-end (64-bit). It could be implemented throughout the Amiga line. The Hombre was a completely different animal.

The AAA project was not dropped due to anticipated development times. Commodore pulled out development funds because they just plain ran out of funds to allocate. The AAA chipset was under development right up until Commodore really started going downhill, and otherwise would have been completed. Also, new models using the technology were planned for later in the year, had Commodore survived. The AAA chipset would be relatively easy to integrate into the OS, but would be easier by a truly vast margin than other, 3rd-party systems, which also would offer no backwards compatibility.

Dave Haynie's job was to develop the Nyx prototype for testing the AAA chipset. When development of AAA stopped, development of Nyx probably did shortly thereafter. The chips were nearly complete, and were actually running in the labs, with the next revision supposedly being enough to boot the OS. The next revision, of course, was never given the opportunity to arrive.

I generally agree with you on the subject of processors; I think the PowerPC is the way to move. However, as I said before, moving completely to the PPC without first porting the OS could result in performance losses and numerous incompatibilities; therefore, the next models should still have 680x0 processors. I would agree with the idea of using PowerUp for some systems to ease the transition, but only as an option (standard perhaps on high-end machines), as it would add to the cost. Any new Amiga should also be able to accommodate a PowerPC anytime after purchase. In the meantime, the OS port to PowerPC code should proceed with all deliberate speed.

Michael Webb

AAA is the Right Choice, and the Power of the 68060

Several points. Simple first, the link to mail you at the bottom of Feedback appears to be a URL call and not a Mailto:

Next, I just read your comments in the preamble section of the IARS site. All I can say is Yes! Yes! Yes! a thousand times YES! The Amiga should remain an Amiga, the AAA chipset sounds great (I had never seen the general specs for it before); as a hobbyist user, it is as much power as I can conceive needing (at least for a good while) and it's backward compatible and that *is* important. As a long time Amigan I have a lot of software that would be a shame to have to replace because a new 'Amiga' wouldn't run it. I understand that with hardware upgrading you have to lose some compatibility, especially with games. I understood that when we went from 1.1 to 1.2 (well 1.3, I never did run 1.2 myself) and beyond that well written software should run with minimal help from mode promoters etc. I still have some old 1.1 demos around that work fine under 3.0 on AGA; having to run my old software on an Amiga emulator on a new 'Amiga' would not feel right. And yes, the 68060 is a good choice of chip; I think some people still read the 50MHz and think "one third the speed of a P166!" How untrue. Even less true in light of what I just read in Amiga Report about Massimiliano Marras' Tornado 3D (AR502 Articles/IPISA 96) with code "finely tuned for the 68040 and 68060, resulting in an impressive speed of the software: what other programs render in 10 seconds, Tornado can in a fraction of a second. The net result, almost miraculous, is that the user can manipulate the previews in real time with the mouse; and we are talking about colour previews (full colour or dithered), with flat or Gouraud shading, transparencies, textures and many other features!"

Last point, on the discussion about Dave Haynie and the AAA chips: even if he was not on the AAA's design team, as the designer of the system that was to house them would he not have some ideas about how to use them well? What's he got to say about this general line of thought (having some stake in resurrecting the AAA chips)?

Brian Jones

Yes, Brian, you're right; the link at the bottom of the page was malformed last month. Everything should be set straight now. Thank you for pointing out that error.

Indeed, the AAA chipset's capabilities are quite impressive, and would probably serve most computer users' (even some very high-end systems) needs more than adequately. And although the 68060 may not have the brute force rendering power some graphics professionals are looking for, some people may be a bit too quick to dismiss it. It has some impressive capabilities, particularly evident in the case of code optimized for its architecture and instruction set. As you indicate, a MegaHertz rating certainly isn't everything; there are other factors that help to determine a microprocessor's overall performance. In the case of either the processor or the chipset, compatibility, as you point out, is quite important. It would be a shame to flush everything ever written or created for the Amiga in the name of "progress."

Dave Haynie was, indeed, involved with the AAA chipset in the capacity of designing the prototype machine. He seems to be of the other point of view, that the Amiga would be better off with 3rd party graphics hardware. I don't know what he would say about possible future implementations of the AAA chipset.

Michael Webb

AGA Bandwidth Considerations

First I'd like to thank you for doing a great job with The Amiga Monitor! I especially enjoyed the article from Steve Duff "Becoming an Amigan". As a new Amiga-user he presented a refreshing look on what the Amiga offers a newbie, and what things that can be problematic.

As a long time Amigan, it can be hard to see these things. It would serve any new owner of Amiga Technologies well to read this article and address the things that can be corrected so it won't be so difficult to use/install for new Amiga owners.

You wrote about AGA in response to Jim Meyer's letter in AM1_7:

"Yes, AAA would, as I have said, be far ahead of AGA. I would have to say that AGA actually does quite well for itself in most ways, and if anything, has been hampered by the lack of chunky pixel modes, but little, if anything, else."

I would like to point out that in fact the problem with the AGA chipset does not lie in not having a chunky display mode, but rather the bandwidth limitation of AGA chip-ram which only supports max 7MB/s.

This is a limitation of the AGA hardware that is not easily rectified short of designing a new chipset. The AAA chipset would have had better bandwidth, but it will never be finished.

When you say the AGA chipset does quite well, I must say that I disagree. It was fine in '93 and even today functions reasonably well in lower col/res-modes. But it's extremely frustrating to use in anything above 64 colours, and that's the main gripe I have with AGA today.

It just doesn't cut it anymore.

Odd H. Sandvik

Thanks for the message and the comments. Part of the Steve Duff's motivation in writing "Becoming an Amigan" was to show some of the problems new Amiga users face so, as you say, the next owner of the technology can (we hope) address the issue. We will be hearing more from Steve in coming months.

On the subject of AGA, bandwidth is a limitation, and I probably should have pointed that out; still, though, I believe the biggest problem is the lack of chunky pixel display modes. Just compare the speed of a 2-color screen to that of a 256-color screen in any AGA mode, and you'll see the problem that arises from building screens by stringing a number of bitplanes together. The two factors are probably inextricably linked anyway. When I said that AGA does well for itself, I meant it in a relative sense. It does well in most low-resolution modes, and in high-resolution up to a certain extent. It has good animation capabilities, and the sound system compares favorably to even modern devices for other platforms. However, there is no denying that for many purposes, it is outdated.

The AAA chipset would cure both the bandwidth and the planar mode problems, and it just might be finished.

Michael Webb

A Quick Market Sketch

Thanks for publishing my letter (Games Support) last month. I was a little over-zealous perhaps in my 'incitement to e-mail' - I was on one of those tiredness-buzzes that you get sometimes and I apologize!

Perhaps I should wait a few days before mailing this, in anticipation of the sale of A.T. Your endorsement first of the official-Amigas is quite understandable and you are far from being alone. The Amiga name certainly has a great deal of influence which the A/Box will struggle to match. For this reason, I hope that should QuikPak be successful in their purchase of AT, they put a little cash into links with PIOS and Phase-5.

In buying the Amiga name, QuikPak have not just bought technology, but influence and responsibility and this should be quite enough compensation for not attempting to solely take on the job of advancing the Amiga. If QuikPak are sensible, they will produce a PowerPC Amiga OS and use PIOS and Phase 5 almost like a quango, handling many of the important tasks in bringing PowerPC Amigas to the market.

I think it extremely unlikely that QuikPak would have the humility to license the Caiphrinha chip for their Amigas, but this would be the flip-side of the ultimate solution in producing new, standardised PowerAmigas. Otherwise, custom extensions could be made to Amiga OS to support such chips.

Having said this, there are factors elsewhere in the computer world which could be equally important. While Motorola are clearly doing all they can to support their PowerPC range and the platforms which use it, there is talk of scaling down development of the range. Microsoft seems to be adopting a mixed policy towards the PowerPC range. While they inform us of their decision to phase-out production of PowerPC Windows NT, they also embark on an initiative to produce Windows-CE for the PowerPC range.

Their reasons, they report, are because of falling demands for the PowerPC range. This is not directly bad news for the Amiga-community - I mean who among us wants to use their crummy O/S's? - and is more likely to be due to poor sales of *Microsoft's own* PowerPC software or another example of a hidden agenda towards companies like Apple Inc.

I don't want to place too great an emphasis on this - the PowerPC is still a fine choice of processor - but it's worth keeping up to date on external concerns and may be, coupled with NewTek's direction, a factor in QuikPak's decision to support the Alpha MPU and relative silence on the subject of PowerPC.

Also, DEC have announced on their web-page ( that their next Alpha chip will cost less to produce than a PowerPC. But what policy will they take in pricing it? Keep it exclusive and expensive; or challenge Motorola and Intel with an unbeatable power to price ratio? I expect a tendency to the former, but they're certainly not making a secret of the production costs.

HiQ have announced that their plans with QuikPak will render the A/Box rendundant which could be linked with future Alpha pricing. Incidentally, HiQ seemed rather too keen to denegrate Phase 5 in the interview I read - kill the opposition may not be the best policy in the present circumstances.

Whatever the outcome of this speculation - and I may update my comments in light of any announcements made between now and the March Amiga Report - Amiga OS PowerPC remains important to the presentation of a new Amiga brand-image, since I'm not holding out for an Amiga OS 4, Siamese, and Caiphrihna combined standard!

As for games - I am glad that you agree with the need for a balance and understand that I am not advocating Commodore's disastrous policies. It was their bias towards games and the set-top box that prevented more gamers from discovering decent Amiga applications. They left the Amiga without accelerators, hard-drives and CD-ROMs; and most never got to see such wonders, let alone an A3000 or an A4000. I myself, through lack of funds, qualify for all but the hard-drive ownership.

Even Apple have changed their policy towards gaming, which has not changed since the Mac's launch, to win the home user to the platform. You are right to point out that current Amigas are capable of modern 3D games; the screenshots of Breathless and Alien-Breed 3D-II are a testiment to this, but don't expect any PC owner or influential developer, ex-Amiga or otherwise, to believe us. They're the buyers that need to be won and even if they DO believe us, they're going to need more than comparable graphics to make the change.

Here's to a sale this month!

Chris Owen

I can't say I'm entirely surprised that the February 28th "deadline" turned out to be incorrect yet again (incidentally, we received this message before February 28th). Let's all hope some resolution does come soon, and that the new owners do address many of the concerns and consider the ideas that you have brought up here, representative of what many people in the Amiga community have been wondering, and sometimes worrying, about these days.

Michael Webb

VLab Motion Comments

I've seen what a standard VLab Motion can do, and I think Bill is way too quick to encourage people to dump the Amiga for professional use.

Jason Compton

Since the VLab Motion is a 16-bit board, its throughput is limited to 3mb per second, and a SCSI-2 controller is needed to get that rate. I have the default controller in my 3000 with a VLab, and I get about 2.4 megs per second through. Considering that the VLab works with fields, the VLab has to move 60 images per second for video. Dividing 3 megs by 60 images gives you about 50k per image to work with, maximum, which is a lot of compression.

Since a VLab field is of a pixel size of 640x240 or so, that represents a typical file size of 400k (IFF24), or a compression ratio of 8:1 (JPEG). Remember, this is the max, with video only. In actual use, however, much more compression is usually needed due to limitations of buffer size, concurrent streaming of 16-bit audio, etc. This makes for typical ratios of 15:1 or higher. This level of image degradation is becoming unacceptable to most clients.

Since the PeeCee standard has long been 32 bits in video boards, with 64-bit stuff coming on line, this level of compression is clearly out of date. Most 32-bit boards do 3:1 compression as standard, equal to D2 quality video. These can be had for less than $1000. In addition, doing digital transitions and effects with an '040 or even an '060 can take all day with more than just a few seconds of video.

Saying that the VLab Motion board is obsolete is not the same as saying that the Amiga is no longer good for professional use. The Amiga is unexcelled for many things still, such as genlocking and titling, and for controlling analog editing equipment. MacroSystems was working on a VLab Motion II a couple of years back, which would have been a 32-bit board that would have essentially turned your 32-bit Amiga 3000 or 4000 into a Draco. They saw the writing on the wall, however, and decided to put their efforts into their Draco System.

It would be great to see the Amiga back into new development and marketing to match, and to see new, more modern hardware for the machine. The VLab Motion was ahead of its time four years ago when it was first released, but times have changed. I still use mine, mostly for grabbing video for conversion into MPEG's or presentation-type animations, but I could not in good faith recommend that someone buy one now, unless they could get it for a good price and were doing videos for a hobby.

Bill Graham
Graphics Editor

Hard Disk Transfer Rates and Video Boards

Reading AM1_7, I was really disappointed in the part of Editors@HelpDesk where Bill Graham replies to a reader's letter. There are NOT hard drives with "30 to 40 megs a second" transfer rate. Even a Seagate Cheetah with its 10033 RPM spin speed cannot touch more than 22.1 MBps INTERNAL transfer rate, that is, when data is transferred between disk surfaces and internal cache. For example, my Western Digital Caviar AC33100 also has 13 MBps internal transfer rate, but even via Bus Master DMA EIDE PIO 4 mode it has 9MBps peak and 4.5MBps stable transfer rates. I have a "not bad" Pentium-166 with Tomato PCI 2.1 motherboard. Maybe with Fast SCSI-2 internal transfer rates the real transfer rate will be closer, but 30 MBps is only our future. If readers found wrong information in AM, that can be followed with troubles, so keep your eyes open and filter wrong ones.

Victor Ulanov

You are right. The speeds and dataflow I was referring to in my answer to the other writer were referring to a 32-bit video board's throughput. It is not simply the amount of data written to and from the hard drive; it is the buffering capacity, time to decompress and recompress, and read/write speeds that determine a board's throughput. The VLab Motion is a 16-bit board, hence its 3 meg per second limit. That is the throughput limit of the board itself, not a hard drive consideration only.

Bill Graham
Graphics Editor

The Amiga Monitor, Amigas, and Binghamton, NY, USA

Hi Michael,

I've just discovered your magazine The Amiga Monitor and am very impressed with it. I'll now put it on my hotlinks to read regularly. I was also surprised to find out that you are based in Binghamton NY, as I spent about 10 weeks in that area (Hancock) last summer. I didn't see much Amiga activity there but I now know better. Are there many retailers in the town?

BTW, I live in Melbourne, Australia.

Thanks again for your work.

Randall Gillespie

Thanks for the comments, Randall. Unfortunately, there really isn't much Amiga activity in Binghamton these days. There's the Binghamton Amiga Users Group, I know a few people who use older Amigas, and some local TV stations used to use Amigas (I'm not sure if they still do), but that's about it. I don't know of any Amiga dealers in the area. There was one here for a number of years (Creative Computers, I believe it was...not to be confused with the one in California), but that's now long gone.

No matter how few and dispersed we are, though, we hold on to the Amiga dream as though it were the meaning of our lives (sometimes I have to wonder...). Let's hope this whole mess comes to a favorable conclusion soon. Nice hearing from you, Randall.

Michael Webb

AM, IARS, and a Commentary on Modern PC's and Just How "Great" They Are

Dear Mr. Webb:

I enjoyed your comments on the IARS page (I also thoroughly enjoy The Amiga Monitor and look forward to each issue). I agree that, if and when the Amiga is purchased, the new owners need to get the Amiga produced and for sale immediately and this means concentrating on the existing technology.

I am tired of the stale arguments in the newsgroups re: Amiga vs. PC. My husband and I have four Amigas (500, 2000, 3000, and a just purchased used 1200 and new AT 17" monitor, plus we use the 1084S with the 2000 and 1950's - all accelerated and with 8 to 16 megs of RAM and various enhancements like the Retina, DCTV, CD-ROM's, sound card, 540 to 1 GIG hard drives, etc.) and also have an IBM Aptiva with Pentium 100 running Windows 95, 80 megs of RAM, 3 and a half GIG's of hard drive space, a VESA graphics card, 17" Samsung SyncMaster, Sound Blaster Pro and Gravis sound card, a Smart & Friendly CDR, a Relysis flatbed color scanner, a 650C HP color inkjet plotter and a 660C HP color inkjet printer, a Casio QV100 digital camera and my old Wizard digitizing tablet from my Amiga 'cause I needed it to be able to draw anything at all on the PC. The PC was purchased so my husband could bring home AutoCad drawings from work to earn some overtime pay just about the time that Commodore was going out of business and he tried to convert me to the PC by enticing me with CorelDraw and Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, and Fractal Design Painter, and all this fancy equipment, but I kept doing most of my work on my Amiga and transferred the files to the PC for printing because of the lack of plotter support on the Amiga (TurboPrint 5 has allowed me to use my HP 660C with the Amiga again - I was disappointed with the last driver from Creative Focus and sold my HP 855C to try the 660 instead, but it still did not give adequate printouts). Quite the expensive printer driver I ended up with, wouldn't you say? And none of the printouts are as crisp and sharp as those from Final Writer - I have even tried outputting to Postscript using outrageously expensive Adobe fonts and was extremely disappointed with the industry "standard".

I have learned how to use all of those high-priced PC programs that have to be upgraded at least once a year (and run slower with each upgrade!) so I can speak with some knowledge about how they operate. First of all, as we all know, Windows 95 is not true 32-bit and it is most definitely not multitasking with memory-hogging graphics programs - multitasking must be disabled in CorelDraw 6 programs, for just one example, to do anything with text frames or even most graphics to avoid a crash. Yes, they do have true 24-bit graphics on PC's - but, try doing anything with a display of more than 65,000 colors! With 80 megs of RAM, I am lucky when I can work with a 7 meg 3 x 5" 300 DPI 24 bit graphics file displayed in 65,000 colors at 640 x 480 resolution without getting a "this program has performed an illegal operation and will be shut down error" or a system lock up - either way, all programs, including Windows 95, must be shut down and the computer rebooted (which takes approximately 7 minutes if all goes well and I could write a whole page about the horrors of turning off your computer when Windows 95 is still running!). As if this isn't bad enough, the memory management under Win95 is so bad that you don't dare run Photoshop after running Corel (or vice-versa) because all of the memory for their buffer is never cleared even with a purge, and none of the programs does everything that you need it to do, so this necessitates rebooting the computer again to clear up the memory so you can load the picture into another program. At least a warm reboot doesn't take as long as a complete shutdown. The memory problems also exclude having any success at all using OLE except between programs of a "suite" like Lotus Approach and Freelance, for example. None of the graphics programs on the PC perform the neat functions of HAM, of course, and it is impossible to do a true rubthrough for easy composites although it can be simulated with layers and a lot of extra work. The gradient fill options, even from Kai's Power Tools, are not as flexible as those on the Amiga. Our video camera does stills and the pictures brought in with DCTV look better than those done with the Casio on the PC so now that my husband has replaced the motherboard in the 1084S monitor we are going to hook up DCTV again and try it with the Casio, too (DCTV also produces less scan lines than their PC version, Snappy - my brother bought Snappy for his PC 'cause he always coveted our DCTV). Yes, AGA graphics take a long time to load but you get a true full screen display with over 260,000 colors in high res - PC graphics load in at 1/4 screen and the amount of time I spend zooming in and out for absolutely everything could be better spent on drawing and image manipulation like I can do on the Amiga with my full screen displays. Anti-aliasing also sucks on the PC - The Windows 95 logo screen is a disgrace!

PC's have 16-bit sound but they are not capable of utilizing it. If a MIDI track has more than 4 instruments you don't get to hear them all at once and those old (and new) Amiga mods sure do sound great in comparison. Read the docs for the Gravis sound card for a little boost...

And, hey, SCSI on the PC is a joke...we have two SCSI cards in ours because Windows 95 refuses to accept a second device on either card. Plug and Play? And can ISA SCSI cards really be SCSI or are they just a SCSI adapter for parallel input?

I read a lot of PC propaganda magazines and I have found nothing to convince me that the new MMX is worthwhile - it actually slows most applications and seems to benefit only games (I chuckled for days when the C64 emulations finally came out for the PC after the Pentium processors made the PC fast enough to finally handle them - and the Amiga was derided for being "just a game machine."). My husband is the resident computer guru at work, and they have several dozen Pentiums of various speeds, and none of them run faster than the Pentium 100 that he uses...some of the "faster" ones are actually slower - but that's because they are really just doubled 66's or 75's, etc. and unless every bit of hardware is optimized for the system everything slows down relative to the slowest component; what I call "the least common denominator" effect. This is why I cringe at the thoughts of common hardware/chips/OS a la PPC. The Amiga has always been unique and to reduce it to the least common denominator technology prevalent in the rest of the PC industry would destroy or eliminate all the quirky features that I have come to love, respect, and appreciate.

So...what is the Amiga lacking? Nothing much really as far as the computer itself goes, for the home user or even for most businesses, although I admit it would be nice to reduce rendering times in VistaPro and I've stayed away from Imagine and animations 'cause I already spend too much time playing with my computers. What the Amiga needs is a company that will promote it enough to "legitimize" it in both the retail outlets and with the computer peripheral industry so that we can get software drivers from manufacturers for printers, scanners, digital cameras, plotters, CDR's, etc. so I can dispose of that expensive computer I use for a peripheral interface. Granted, we do have excellent shareware support for a lot of products (after they have been out for a while) but I lack freedom of choice to buy new peripherals (I've been drooling over the Alps MD2010 printer and the printouts are beautiful, but...) and even people who are amazed with our Amigas and the work we do on them still turn around and buy IBM compatibles because of the ability to buy stuff locally in any computer department that will work with their computer without their having to be a programmer.

Thanks for being on the Internet and supporting the Amiga.

Audree L. Karlosky
Naples, FL

Thanks for the comments on AM and IARS, Audree, and also for your observations on PC usage. What many people don't realize is that PC's haven't really come so far in some ways. Some people are luckier than others, but many have to face performance problems, incompatibilities, and unreliabilities. These platforms have a long way to go in these respects, and the Amiga has quite a lot going for it, even if it is "outdated" in some ways. All it really has to do is to maintain the straight and true, and with a little support, it might just make it.

In the meantime, good luck with that problematic PC of yours, and I hope you continue to enjoy your Amigas for years to come.

Michael Webb

A Declaration?

Editor's Note: We have confirmed that the following message is most definitely not from "the" Dale Larson (whose middle initial is "L." and not "J."), i.e. the one well-known throughout the Amiga community as a former Commodore employee, "el presidente" of IAM, and the author of the book "Connect Your Amiga!" It would be an amazing coincidence to have two Dale Larson's within the Amiga community, so we were naturally a bit suspicious, but were not able to confirm anything else at this time. We thought it would be worth including here, however, so take it as you please. Because of the rather unique nature of the message, it has been left completely unedited.

Please spread this message. I will not be assimulated by Bill "The Borg Leader" Gate resistance is not futile. AMIGA IS STILL # 1!!!!!!!!!

Dale J. Larson

So what are we to make of this? A zealous reader? Somebody trying to make Dale Larson look strange? Or simply a frustrated Amiga user, strained to the limits by our platform's stagnation, angered by the apparent onslaught of the "Wintel" world, and driven to the point of saying something, anything, to carry forth the cause and show some hope of overcoming these obstacles? I don't know any better than you do. But in any event, it certainly isn't something you see everyday.

Michael Webb

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