data preservation, mostly: virtualising an old amiga 4000

I’ve spent the last couple of days working on getting my old Amiga working (I finally have a functional keyboard again!) and then virtualised under a modern emulator/VM, and WOW SO BORING but I wanted to document it somewhere.


Yes, yes, the student has become the master, etc.

Plus it’s kind of hilarious to see these old network configuration files again. lol murkworks.seattle.wa.us what even. Does that system still exist anymore? I honestly don’t know.

Hoo, where to start? Okay, first, I’m running FS-UAE, which emulates Amiga hardware. FS-UAE is good because it’s open source, multiplatform, and all versions use the same disk image files, which are really basic raw drive images that you could literally write back out to a physical drive with dd and use in a real machine.

You need Kickstart ROMs, of course. There tools out there to image your own old ROMs if your Amiga is working, but if not, Amiga Forever is the best place to get those, because they’ll see you every ROM ever for like US$30, and a bunch of (again, legal!) OS versions on floppy disk images.

You’ll need to have a Windows PC to run Amiga Forever on once, because the download is an .msi file, and you’ll need to unpack that mess. Or, if you don’t mind waiting, you can buy the “deluxe” edition for $10 more, and they’ll mail you a DVD, eliminating the PC requirement.

If you go with the download, then once you have it/install the .MSI file, it’ll let you make a DVD-R ISO which you can burn. That’ll produce the same DVD as the deluxe edition would give you, only as DVD-R instead of DVD but whatever. If you’re using a USB drive, you can just have Amiga Forever write out all the files to a standard directory structure there, as well. FS-UAE will work with either to import the ROMs.

In my case, I was able to get my old hard drives viewable under Linux. (That’s because A4000 used IDE instead of SCSI rives, and EIDE cages talk to them.) That meant I could make .img files just using the linux dd command. If you want to virtualise your old machine pretty much intact, you’ll want to image the whole drive to a file – not the partitions individually.

If you have a SCSI controller and can hook your old Amiga drive(s) to it, you can do the same trick there.

Dara Korra’ti You can also mount your old hard drive partitions under linux, though they will be read-only. This still will let you copy things off, and on any modern file system, FS-UAE will let you use a directory as root of a virtualised Amiga hard drive. I’m doing this as drive … four now on my newly virtualised Amiga. That gives me unlimited access to the host machine’s drive space, which is cool, and both my OS X host and my Windows 2000 VM can read/write that directory so all three OSes can share files freely now, which is definitely handy.

Sometimes people apparently have problems mounting the Amiga partitions individually; here is a helpful page on that. The most important part of it really is that fdisk doesn’t recognise Amiga partition tables and that can confuse things, but parted does, and even if you have to get super-squirrley (I did not) then you can make it work with data you can extract via parted.

The reason I’ve been concentrating on OS X is because the Linux version of FS-UAE wants PulseAudio, which I do not want on my DAW, which is my main linux machine. But since I’m using standard dd-created disk images, I can migrate later if I have an appropriate Linux machine for this task.

If you do not have an existing Amiga hard drive, FS-UAE will happily let you create a virtual one and install whatever Workbench versions you want to it.

Anyway, once I had the virtualised machine booting at all to my old system (albeit as an Amiga 4000 with 68020 processor, how the hell that was supposed to work I can’t tell you but it did), I then booted to an Amiga Workbench 3.1 install floppy image instead of the hard drive, and installed 3.1 as an upgrade on my old (now virtualised) drives. After that, everything behaved a lot more normally and I enabled PPC-acceleration-board emulation – which was another advantage of Amiga Forever, since the extra ROM needed was also in the Amiga Forever image.

(Though I did have to rename it. But it asked for the file by name, so it wasn’t hard to figure that out.)

Anyway, that should get you started. There are lots of app floppy images floating around you can use for things too. Lots of legal ones, even. FS-UAE and Amiga Forever will both point you at those and will even include some of them.

Oh, if you have old Amiga floppies and a working/workable Amiga and floppy drive to read them, you’ll want TransADF, which lets you create ADF files out of Amiga floppy disks:

http://aminet.net/package/disk/misc/TransADF

It runs on the Amiga side of things and creates .adf files that fs-uae will use. It’s not really for copy-protected stuff tho’. As far as I can tell, it is about the easiest way to get files off Amiga floppies and onto a machine while preserving all their attributes and such.

Finally, if somehow you have a working Amiga but it doesn’t have LHA, this will help:

http://ale.emuunlim.com/guides/lha-unpack.shtml

I have used a spell to rip this walkthrough from Amiga’s decaying floppy disks, and
sealed it in one of the servers floating in the Furthest Ring. The gods may
disperse the signal throughout the cosmos as they wish. Perhaps it will be of use
to past or future species who like us have been ensnared by crazy-ass antique operating systems.

I see another drive has filed. Pardon my egress. You’re on your own now.

oh look, the feet… ran. and computer case feet should not do that.

This is what’s left of the rubber feet of my 1994 Commodore Amiga 4000/040.

Yep. That’s a viscous tar-like residue that ran along the bottom of the case and into the gap between the bottom case and the cover. It’s very sticky and resistant to detergent, but, fortunately, not to citrus-based sticky tape removers. Isn’t it gross? I mean, seriously, doesn’t this look like some sort of OOZE OF SATAN special effect?

Oddly, the stickytape used to hold the rubber feet on was intact! And, as far as I can tell, fine. This actually saved me a lot of cleanup, because the cores of the old feet were pretty solid? The further I removed down, the more like rubber it became. The thickest material had an actual rubber-like consistency.

Fortunately, all the rubber that ran could be cleaned up pretty easily with an old spudger and a lot of orange oil. But goddamn.

I’ve repaired tube equipment from the second world war and this is the most bizarre materials degradation I’ve ever encountered.

goin’ to the movies

We’re going to the movies tonight, so here’s a question that was fun on Nick Mamatas’s account: name three movies you love that “everybody” just hates. Or loathes or whatever.

My three: Brain Candy (tho’ that’s at least partly “nobody saw it” I think); it’s a bit of a stretch to say “love,” but I do at least legitimately like The Magic Christian; and Speed Racer. Absofuckinglutely Speed Racer.

and some days things don’t work

I wanted to post about the cool second-generation crystal microphone today BUT NO IT’S ALL STUPID AND NOISY AND I DON’T KNOW WHY but it sounds like either a really bad cold solder joint (please be that) or a bad transistor (@&*$&!!! special orders please don’t be that) and I don’t know which.

It’s too bad because I came up with a nice little jury-rig jig (say that five times fast) and so the backplate of the housing came out really well and I was looking forward to showing that off. Fingers crossed this is some sort of Surprise It’s Easy! fix – that would indeed be a surprise, to be honest about it, but a pleasant one.

In the meantime, enjoy this video of Overwatch players in custom game mode making some genuinely gorgeous Genji Beams. These are effects created by lining up opposing teams of Genji players opposite each other, in continuous-shot-deflection mode, and hitting them with various weapons. The shots bounce back and forth between the teams, and you get some really neat graphics interactions. It’s pretty cool and occasionally hilarious. Enjoy:

cyberrrrrrrr mondaaaaaaaay

It’s Cyber Monday, apparently, which means LET’S PUT EVERYTHING ON SALE. I’m doing my part – I’ve put out four singles this year, so I’m putting all of them on pay-what-you-like.

It’s funny, but the most recent one – We’re Not Friends (The Future Has a Place) – has really changed on me since the election. Particularly with Mr. Pence involved, it’s stopped being a celebration, and has turned into a declaration of defiance.

Fortunately, I’m real good at defiance.

Here’s the 2016 tracks. I think they’re real good. Pay what you like – and thanks.

i did forget one orycon thing

In soundcheck, setting up for my Sunday concert, we were setting up the octave mandolin, and really, there are “folkier” instruments than an octave mandolin? But not many.


Greensleeves, anyone?

So when I’m plugged up and the sound crew ask for some chords and it comes out roaring with that metal sound straight off the pickup, and they actually jump in shock because wow not expecting that… it’s really satisfying. 😀

orycon 38

Back from Orycon 38! They certainly kept me busy – panels on building microphones, on orphaned lyrics, on building a recording studio, a bunch of others. I was in fact so busy that I only managed to take one photograph. It’s from the green room balcony, and here it is:

But I’ve seen some other photographs around. Sadly, so far, they aren’t public – if you find any, link ’em in comments! Also, thanks to everybody who turned out for a Sunday afternoon show at checkout time, that takes some goddamn dedication. Cramming six songs into a half-hour set doesn’t sound that tricky, but I wasn’t simplifying anything for anybody, which is why I showed up like two hours early to set up before anyone else. (Setlist: Supervillain For I Love You, Thirteen, Coyote, Shout at the Desert, Kaiju Meat, We’re Not Friends/The Future Has a Place.)

I’m definitely going to keep performing Kaiju Meat as if it were actually a hiphop song, which it’s not really? But that performance approach really helps it work live, so I’m doin’ it. We also did USSR later, in the band scramble, and that nearly started a goddamn riot. EVERYBODY SING ALONG IF YOU KNOW WHAT’S GOOD FOR YOU!

I really only got to one panel I wasn’t running, the hilariously fun Overwatch meetup, wherein… okay, so, there’s a meme, Everyone In Overwatch Is Gay? Because EVERYONE IN OVERWATCH IS GAY. And at the meetup, literally everyone was queer, we actually checked.

It was hilarious.

So, yeah! Thanks again for having me, and special thanks to the createspace crew for the use of their sewing supplies – very much appreciated – and let’s do it again next year. ^_^

hark, a schedule!

Hey everybody! Heading down to Orycon this morning. I’m bringing the carbon and crystal microphones and we’re going to do what we did at Clallam Bay Comicon and let people record themselves all old-timey. It’ll be fun!

My schedule, as of the latest revision received:

FRIDAY:
5pm – Choosing & Learning a Musical Instrument – Mt. Hood (2)
6pm – Building Old-Technology Microphones Because You Can – Belmont (2)

SATURDAY:
2pm – Group Home for Abandoned Lyrics – Belmont (2)
6pm – Building a Home Studio on the Cheap – Belmont (2)

SUNDAY:
12:30pm – CONCERT! – Mt. Hood (2)
2pm – Band Scramble – Mt. Hood (2)
3pm – Jam In The Key of C – Mt. Hood (2)

See you there!

today was supposed to be about music

Today was supposed to be about music and about this weekend at Orycon. Today was supposed to be talking about the little demonstration circuit I’ve put together to improve my panel on building antique-technology microphones because you can. It was going to be fun.

But no. Not now. Because it’s been one fucking week since this savage election and Trump surrogate Carl Higbie is already talking about concentration camps as positive precedent on Fox News.

THIS IS NOT NORMAL.

TRUMP
SURROGATE
CARL HIGBIE
TALKS UP
CONCENTRATION
CAMPS

Fascism is right fucking here, kids. Right here.

THIS IS NOT OKAY. THIS IS NOT NORMAL. FIGHT IT. FIGHT THEM.

oh and yes, this is going to be a thing for a while

Like everyone else, I wanted all this to go away for a while after this hellhouse of an election was over. And historically, I’ve kept most of my political stuff off the band blog, only getting into it when it was specifically within and about geek culture.

But given the fundamentalist policy influx I’ve already discussed, now supplemented by newer and creepier moves like ideological tests for higher education:

I actually have something I would use the Department of Education to do,” Carson explained. “It would be to monitor our institutions of higher education for extreme political bias and deny federal funding if it exists.

…and bringing in people like Peter Thiel, who famously kinda hates elections and democracy and thinks everything has gone to hell since women started voting:

I must confess that over the last two decades, I have changed radically on the question of how to achieve these goals. Most importantly, I no longer believe that freedom and democracy are compatible. … Since 1920, the vast increase in welfare beneficiaries and the extension of the franchise to women — two constituencies that are notoriously tough for libertarians — have rendered the notion of “capitalist democracy” into an oxymoron.

…and the inclusion of white nationalist anti-semitic misogynists like Steve Bannon at the top level of the new administration:

Now, you may be asking what I would have women replace the [birth control] Pill with, since it’s obviously so awful. Condoms? Vasectomies? The answer is: nothing. We need the kids if we’re to breed enough to keep the Muslim invaders at bay.

The solution to online ‘harassment’ is simple: women should log off. Given that men built the internet, along with the rest of modern civilisation, I think it’s only fair that they get to keep it. I, Donald Trump and the rest of the alpha males will continue to dominate the internet without feminist whining.

…that’s not really an option anymore.

I mean, Mr. Bannon in particular is a vicious piece of work. It’s not just that he made Breitbart a propaganda vehicle for the “~~alt-right~~” clusterfuck of racism, anti-Semitism, and misogyny, but if that wasn’t cartoonish enough, he literally has the endorsement of the literal fucking American Nazi Party, NO, REALLY:

Chairman of the American Nazi Party, Rocky J. Suhayda, who wrote a post after Trump’s election night victory celebrating it as a call to action, said he was surprised at the pick of Bannon, but said it showed him Trump could follow through on his campaign promises.

And it’s not like Trump and Bannon don’t know the arc of this path either. Bannon in particular wants to destroy everything so they can take over:

Trump: “You know what solves it?” [Mr. Trump] said of America’s sorry state. “When the economy crashes, when the country goes to total hell and everything is a disaster. Then you’ll have a [chuckles], you know, you’ll have riots to go back to where we used to be when we were great.”
 
Bannon: “I’m a Leninist,” Bannon proudly proclaimed… “Lenin,” he answered, “wanted to destroy the state, and that’s my goal too. I want to bring everything crashing down, and destroy all of today’s establishment.”

I should’ve paid more attention when the fundamentalist right started quoting Stalin without irony a few years ago. That should’ve twigged me more than it did. I thought it would marginalise them completely, and talked about it like that, saying, “wow, they’ve really gone off into the woods,” but goddammit, instead they’ve found their white supremacist leadership cadre, have allied with actual fucking Nazis, have taken the offer the devil offered Jesus (by 81% – they didn’t even hesitate), and are going for it.

DON’T NORMALISE THIS. DON’T LET THIS BE NORMALISED. THAT WILL BE TRIED, DON’T LET IT HAPPEN. THIS IS NOT NORMAL, THIS WAS A DECLARATION OF WAR.

And unless you’re heading overseas, you don’t get to opt out. And maybe not even then.

Am I scaring you? WRONG. I’m not scaring you, the facts are scaring you. The situation is scaring you. And go ahead, be scared. That’s fine.

But do not be intimidated. Do not be paralysed. Fear is a great motivator if you don’t let it control you, and now is the time when you need to control it – and translate that energy into action.

I’ll talk more about that soon. We need to go after media that tries to pretend this is normal, and provide “balanced” coverage of THE ACTUAL FASCISTS, like they’re already doing with Bannon. We need to go after politicians who try to deny the white supremacy, the misogyny, the anti-Semitism, like Trump transition team leader Reince Priebus, who says, “I haven’t seen any of these things” out of Mr. Bannon. (HEY REINCE, I’VE GOT A HANDY LIST.) When they start the sweeps going after people, don’t call that normal either.

“If [Mr. Trump] wants to deport two to three million people, he’s got to rely on tactics that will divide communities and create fear throughout the country,” said Kevin Appleby, the senior director of international migration policy at the Center for Migration Studies of New York. “He would have to conduct a sweep, or raids or tactics such as those, to reach the numbers he wants to reach. It would create a police state, in which they would have to be aggressively looking for people.”

Fight this police state bullshit; completely refuse to co-operate on any level, and tell your cities and states and schools to do the same. Fight it, fight everything like it, fight everyone who is for it, because in the end there is no middle ground with fascists, with white supremacists, with proud misogynists, because there is no civil discourse with people who have decided that you are not people. In dispensing with the idea of ‘loyal opposition,’ they’ve run themselves all the way to the brink, so far along the crumbling edge of the cliff that they’ve made their with-us-or-against-us vision of the world actually come true.


this is the neofascist “alt-right”‘s vision for you

Ally with anyone who backs off that precipice. Try to peel off the underinformed, the automatic party-identify voters, the low-information, the unaware. Pull back everyone you can. But the true believers, the Trumpian alt-right base?

It’s them, and it’s everybody else. If they can fling us to our deaths off that cliff, they will. And they’ll enjoy it.

Fight.

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The Music

THE NEW SINGLE