Wednesday, January 28, 2015

ABC iView TV with AmigaOS 4.1 FE on X1000

In Australia, our free national TV broadcaster ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) has a internet tv viewing service called iView. Today I want to take a look at iView v2.4 for AmigaOS4.1 Final Edition on the X1000.

The iView v2.4 program for AmigaOS4.1 is written by my fellow local Adelaide resident Michael "MickJT" Trebilcock. It is available to download from here.

UPDATE 25/5/2015:  ABC has now upgraded the final legacy iview client for PS3 that allowed this AmigaOS iView client to work. Unfortunately this means that this tool no longer works and MickJT doesn't know if it can be upgraded to work with the newer methods :-(

This program is needed as the ABC iView functionality on their website requires Adobe Flash, which is not available on AmigaOS4.1, and likely will never be. Hopefully ABC will upgrade their website to use HTML5 to view such content in the future and then this program will no longer be needed!

For now though, iView for AmigaOS 4.1 is essential to view ABC iView programs!

I did some new version 2.4 testing on this program this past week as there have been some changes to the ABC iView service since the previous v2.3 AmigaOS4 program was released, that affected the programs ability to download content - this has now been corrected in 2.4 and works well.

I should caution that this iView program is only really useful if you live in Australia or use an Australian proxy, since iView does active geoblocking of almost all of it's internet tv content to Australian based viewers only.

It is a Shell based program utilising AREXX to run, but it is easy enough to use - I will describe how to use it in this blog post.

Extract the archive to the drawer of your choice. I recommend putting it on a drive with lots of space since tv programs will be downloaded to the drawer while iView is running.

Here is the contents of the iView drawer, it can run on AmigaOS4.1 or AmigaOS3.X also - hence the 68k and PPC folder are visible - but here I will focus on AmigaOS4.1 only:

There is also a iView.readme which is extracted separate to this folder, which explains the features and how to use the program.

Open a Shell and cd to the iView drawer. Then type RX iView and press Enter. (I used tab complete so it automatically added the .rexx but you don't need to type that part). It will attempt to connect to the iView service on the internet. All going well, After pressing enter again to accept the terms and conditions you should then see the following prompt:

You can choose to download the ABC News 24 live stream, or choose from the available tv programs to download from iView. Here we will choose the second option, which gives us the menu of which tv program category we want to view. I select 3. Comedy, which then loads the list of available tv programs:

There are quite a few shows to choose from:

I am a huge fan of the Show no. 28, so I select this option. It then prompts me below with a list of available episodes to download:

I select Option 1 to view the first episode in the list (which is the most recent). It then starts downloading to the iView folder as below:

Once it is downloaded the program will go back to the Episode list menu to download the next one if you want, or you can go back to the previous menu or Main Menu. For now I leave it there.

In our case, we now want to view the show we downloaded, so I fire up MPlayer-GUI and select the file downloaded:

Of note is that the subtitle track is also downloaded, so you can also specify that in MPlayer-GUI  in the SubTitle field if you want subtitles on the program while you watch - great stuff! The downloaded show works well:

 I then went back to the category menu in iView and went into Option 8. Lifestyle to download another show I really enjoy:

Again, I choose the first one in the list and then it starts to download it:

A progress indicator at the bottom of the screen shows the progress and the download is quick.

Having completed the download, I then open MPlayer-GUI and select the downloaded file in the iView drawer:

I then hit Play in MPlayer-GUI to get things underway - It works perfectly, and I laughed all the way through the episode as normal! :-)

I also tried out a few other shows, like the Local news bulletin and some other programs - it works well:

For the last part I went back to the Main Menu in iView and chose to view the ABC News 24 Live stream. Now this is a little bit different to pre-recorded programs since it is a live stream. I also need to choose the resolution of the video stream, matched to my internet connection speed - I have ADSL and high bandwidth works ok for me:

When it starts downloading the file, it will continue to do so until you CTRL-C the program in the Shell. To view it as a stream, run MPlayer-GUI, select the live stream flv file in the iView folder and hit play - it will continue playing as long as the download stream continues to download via the iView program running in the Shell. You can see this below:

The iView 2.4 program works great, although It would be nice to see a proper GUI written for it at some stage.

Also be aware that live show streams contained in the pre-recorded show category listing in iView do not work at present with iView for AmigaOS. (eg. Live Sports broadcasts)

The addition of the extensively re-worked menu system in iView 2.4 for AmigaOS (I tested this for the author) makes iView a very useful program for me now!

There are more features in the pipeline for the next version of iView for AmigaOS and I am looking forward to them!

The program is free, and it works well - I am glad to finally be able to watch live tv streaming from the internet on my X1000. :-)

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Dockies with AmigaOS 4.1.6 and Final Edition on X1000

Today I want to take a look at some Dockies using AmigaOS 4.1 Final Edition on the X1000.

So what are Dockies? Basically they are an interactive object that appears in an AmiDock toolbar on your Workbench screen. They can perform a lot of different functions as we will see.

By default, AmiDock has one Dock defined called MainDock, which is the one that appears at the bottom of your Workbench screen when you install AmigaOS4.1 Final Edition (or AmigaOS 4.1.6):

You can drag normal icons into the Dock to launch programs by clicking on them, or drag and drop files onto them to launch a file using the requested program. Eg. Dragging a music file onto AmigaAmp, a picture file onto Multiview or dragging a text file onto Notepad to edit it.

Dockies can provide interactive information above this basic functionality of icons in the AmiDock toolbar. Some like the Subdocks are well known to AmigaOS4.1 users already - for example the Extras and Internet sub docks shown below - which allow additional icons to be added to them (via drag and drop or through prefs) which expand when clicked on in a Dock (click to expand).

Some examples of more advanced dockies are the AmiUpdate Docky (which animates a processing animation when searching for updates for your system), TuneNet App Docky (which displays the current song being played and basic control functions in the dock like play, stop, rewind, fast forward):

The Mixer and NemoSound docky allow you to quickly control the volume levels on input and output of sound through the sound card in the X1000 from the Dock.

There are more too of course - I am just scratching the surface here.

In addition to the ones above, the Z-Tools suite of programs by Zzd10h (available for purchase on AMIStore) has a number of useful tools that uses various Dockies to place information about your system, network, and graphics card at your fingertips on the Workbench.

The Z-Tools dockies go one step further by supporting MiniDock mode of operation. This requires a little more explanation.

MiniDock mode means that the objects used are resized to a much smaller size than a standard AmigaOS icon size used in a normal Dock, making it possible to size a AmiDock Dock to fit snugly inside the Workbench Title Bar at the top of the screen (or elsewhere).

This is similar functionality to the Mac OS X Finder title bar, where icons are made available in a similar manner, unlocking extra information when clicked on. An example MiniDock I have setup in AmigaOS4.1 Final Edition is shown below (CPUDock is showing in this case - click to expand):

In the AmiDock preferences (available from clicking the down arrow and selecting Edit Preferences  - next to the Amidock default MainDock on the Workbench) you can add additional Docks, which you can configure for use in MiniDock mode.

In the example below I am adding a new Dock called TitleDock that I plan to use for the MiniDock icons in my Workbench title bar space - Below I have created the New TitleDock on the Left (Click Add to do this) and then added the various Objects (Dockies) I want installed in the Objects heading (again, click Add to add them in individually).

Note I have included Separator.docky dockies (which are in Sys:Utilities/Dockies) between each object for cleaner appearance in the Titlebar. This is not required, but I think it looks better with it - personal choice though!

Important thing if you want the toolbar to exist in the workbench Titlebar is to uncheck the option in AmiDock at the bottom of the Preferences screen above to Respect screen titlebar. This then allows Docks to be positioned in the titlebar - otherwise this is not allowed.

Moving on to the Layout tab for my new TitleDock, I then change some of the default options as below: no Snap to defined, and Dock is Borderless checked on. For the Orientation option, use Horizontal. Ensure Placement option is set to Always on top. In this tab, ensure the Dock has drag bar option is kept initially until the new TitleDock is positioned where you want it and saved - then remove it as below for a clean look. You can always put the drag bar back from this screen if you need to move it again because you added another dockie(s) to it:

Moving to the Appearance Tab, we need to ensure the TitleDock Icon Area option is fully transparent so it looks right on the titlebar it will be placed on top of, as below.

I didn't change the Misc tab but it is included for completeness:

Note that back in the Contents tab you can use the up and down button below the Objects section to move icons order around in the new Dock until you are happy with their location before hitting Save:

This is not the end of the configuration though. Next, we need to edit the Information on the individual Dockies - to activate MiniDock mode of operation - at the moment the icons will appear normal size until these next steps are done. For each of the Z-Tools docks, modify them as follows:

RamDock.docky, CPUDock, NetDock and GFXDock need MINIDOCK=ON and INFO_WINDOW_DISPOSITION=BW set in the respective docky icon Information > Icon Tab > Tool types section - which tells the docks to display the information for the dock just below the Workbench title bar and use MiniDock mode for the objects displayed in the Dock:

Note that after changing these settings - the resulting TitleDock may not be aligned as you want in the Title bar - it wasn't for me either. This requires a bit of mucking around with positioning on the screen with the drag bar enabled to get it where you want it. Once you have it where you want it - uncheck the drag bar option as mentioned before and Save it's position.

Remember also that the drag bar is included in the position of the Dock. When removed it shifts the dock that distance from the position you had before - allow for that when positioning prior to saving it without it so it is where you want it.

CPUDock is the first docky in the TitleDock that results from all the settings above - it shows the CPU usage as a percentage and current running tasks when the minidock icon is double clicked on:

RAMDock is the next one - showing detailed look at the memory used, free and total available, and a updated historical graphical view of the usage:

The GFXDock docky is next up, showing the current Graphics card screen resolution, memory usage and total available.

The NetDock shows the data uploaded/downloaded amount and speed, total uptime and the historical data transferred in graphical format.

I also added SmartDock.docky, which I downloaded from here, which allows you to report on the health status of your SMART enabled hard disk (assuming your hard disk is SMART enabled).

I configured it as below for my SMART reporting enabled Western Digital Hard Disk only - my other hard disk is not SMART enabled:

Below is the resulting TitleDock on my Workbench TitleBar with SmartDock added in:

Note that the time clock on the right is not part of the dock, but a separate program I run in my wbstartup called Digiclock (download from here). I positioned the TitleDock so it fitted nicely with it on the right hand side of the Workbench title bar and looks more integrated.

Here is the SmartDock extra information when moving the mouse over the icon in the TitleDock - click to expand:

I then added WinBar.docky (download here), utilising a new Dock I created in AmiDock preferences (similar to the above TitleDock (but using Vertical Orientation instead of Horizontal) to allow me to scroll through and select the active programs and screens from what is currently running on my Workbench - click to expand:

Here is a closeup view of the WinBar docky running on the Workbench - you can see that the DOpus 5.9 screen running on the other display is switchable from here with a simple mouse click:

I then moved the dock to the bottom right corner of the screen to keep it out of the way, but easy to get to when I want to easily switch screens or programs (click to expand):

Previously I had looked at the LittleBrother Docky too on my blog here under AmigaOS4.1.6, which is another example of an interesting docky, for live webcam views on your Workbench from sites around the world! This docky is now available as part of the Z-Tools Suite on AMIStore. The blog post I linked already covers the detailed configuration of Little Brother, so I just include some of the images of the setup here for interest of what it looks like:

There are plenty more dockies out there to explore, and investing some time in the readme for each dock is worthwhile, to get them working for you the way you ideally want them to!

Dockies can add a lot of functionality to the Workbench, with information and programs quicker to access, and more detailed information available too.

I hope this information is useful and inspires you to try out more dockies on AmigaOS4.1 Final Edition or 4.1.6 on your X1000!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Adelaide Amiga Meeting Jan 2015

Last night (January 19th) I attended the Adelaide Amiga Meeting, held at Clarence Park Community Centre from 7:30pm. It was a great night!

Above is Andrew Wilson and George (AmigaMan101) preparing the room with a big Amiga banner! Andrew Wilson is an Adelaide-based developer of the Phoenix A1000 Motherboard replacement and memory expansion modules.

The Adelaide Amiga Meeting was held in the Black Forest Room. There is a regular user group meeting each Monday evening at 7:30pm at this venue too, apparently with a mix of PC, C64 and Amiga users present:

I brought Michael (MickJT) along, and he brought his Sam440ep-flex 800mhz AmigaOS4.1 system with him to display:

In addition, George had brought along his Amiga 500 and Amiga 1000 for the meeting:

Melanie (from the Play it Again Project) was also present, keen to chat to us about our memories of Australian made games in the 1980's as part of her ongoing project. It was very interesting to hear her talk about her project in detail. You can read more about that project on her website here.

I brought along my AmigaOne X1000, which proved quite an effort to pack, unpack, repack and unpack again! But it was worth it because it certainly received a lot of attention from attendees on the night.

I also brought the latest Amiga Future magazine for attendees to flick through to see that Amiga is still very much alive in 2015.

We had plenty of questions about this strange new AmigaOS 4.1 Final Edition version - who is Hyperion, can we run Amiga games on this new system, why do we still muck around with Amigas in 2015 - and so on! It was great to see people's genuine enthusiasm and interest in the Classic and Next Gen Amigas on display.

MickJT was certainly busy showing off what his Sam440ep-flex system could do!

Not since AmiWest 2014 have I been surrounded by so many Amiga systems so I was very glad to talk Amiga with fellow enthusiasts again, this time in my home city!

This Amiga 1000 has a Phoenix Memory expansion module attached - you can see an Amiga 1200 in the background too:

Cameng and MelbourneBen talking about the Amiga 1000:

The Amiga 1200 was rather special, being one of the Amiga 1200's Petro has personally signed - it is in perfect condition:

At the meeting an ACA1231 accelerator was fitted to the Amiga 1200 - it also has a CF card installed which was purchased from AmigaKit.

Ian (below, left) is also an AmigaOne X1000 owner based in Adelaide (wow, there is more than one!), and was very keen to discuss the latest developments and setup hints and tips for the X1000:

Another view of my AmigaOne X1000 on display at the Meeting:

I was surprised that there was a mix of attendees, young and older:

Andrew Wilson and George:

As mentioned, Andrew Wilson, Adelaide-based developer of the Phoenix A1000 Motherboard replacement and memory expansion modules was at the meeting too.

Andrew explaining the features of the Phoenix A1000 memory expansion board:

It was very interesting to hear about the development of the Phoenix A1000 board, it's expandability and features.

The Phoenix Motherboard up close:

My AmigaOne X1000 got plenty of interest and I fielded lots of questions from Amigans curious to know more about modern Amiga systems, AmigaOS4, Amigakit and A-EON too:

I also opened up the X1000 so people could take a look at the Motherboard and setup internally:

Also set up at the Meeting was an Amiga 1000 and Amiga 500:

Here, MickJT explaining some of the finer points of AmigaOS4.1:

Andrew was very kind to give a lot of his technical knowledge of the Amiga Phoenix motherboard.

He also explained a bit more about the story behind the approach from members of A1K forum to purchase some Phoenix Motherboards (PCB only) from him back in 2005 to turn into full functional Amiga boards again.

Andrew also brought along some flyers and club magazine from the original Adelaide Amiga user group from back in the day:

MelbourneBen had brought along some Amiga 2000 expansion cards he recently got, including this OpalVision card (made in Australia) which I hadn't seen before:

This second A1000 brought to the meeting was a bit unwell, but thanks to Andrew and some work on the night, it was brought back to life again:

The Adelaide Amiga Meeting 2015 was a lot of fun and I really enjoyed spending time with other Adelaide based Amiga enthusiasts. We probably had about 15-20 people during the evening (wasn't counting) which was great to see. I think if it were held on a weekend you would see even more come!

The show wrapped up around 10:30pm when we packed up and headed home. I had almost lost my voice after so much intense Amiga discussion during the evening!

I want to thank George (Amigaman101) for his work to get this Adelaide Amiga meeting off the ground, Andrew for his interesting presentation of the Phoenix Motherboard, and of course all the other attendees who brought their Amiga's along for a fun evening!