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iljitsch
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Posted Thu Mar 31, 2022 7:02 am

McTrinsic wrote:
Wed Mar 30, 2022 12:10 pm
I’ll try to translate that for me 😆.

I’d be interested in a device that could on one side access my server via NFS or smb.

On the other side, it would be accessible from retro computers and offer a telnet-/terminal- compatible interface that would translate the network access to smb to the terminal emulation.
Yes.
I’d start with a raspberry to provide this kind of software. If, for example, you have an Amiga with plipbox or similar, you could connect the Amiga to this device.

Once that runs stable, you could offer expansions for serial or parallel or whatever.
Yes, you could connect to it over the network if your Amiga is networked in some way. But what if it isn't, but you want it to be? On the A600 and A1200 this is relatively cheap, as there are drivers for both Wi-Fi and Ethernet PCMCIA network cards. (Although I had a good deal of trouble with Wi-Fi because my old card won't do the new security stuff. In theory the drivers can do this, not sure how much of the time that is true in practice.)

So I think having an option to connect to the box through the serial port is an important feature that I want to support from the start. That could work with a standard USB-to-serial adapter plugged in the Pi.

Then the Amiga (or any other system with a serial port, such as an Atari ST or an old PC) could either use the terminal emulation interface, or use the Pi as a dial-up modem to connect to the internet.
And while we‘re at it: it would be awesome to be coupled with a local http->https translator. So that I could go browsing with my 030 Amiga again 😍.
Hm, my 1200 can handle HTTPS by itself with the latest IBrowse and I think AmiSSL to handle the SSL/TLS that powers HTTPS. Downside is the limited native AGA graphics (although the Indivision at least allows for workable resolutions). On my 3000 browsing the web would be better with its Cybervision card, but there RAM (8 MB fast) and speed (68030) are the limiting factors.

But the good news is that it should be easy to run a standard web proxy that browsers can connect to over HTTP, and then the proxy handles the HTTPS.

Extra credit: intercept images and scale them down to a more reasonable size if they're too large. And perhaps even convert 24-bit JPEGs to 256/128/64-color PNGs that an AGA Amiga can display quickly and easily.

(Although what we really need is a browser that displays JPEGs in HAM8.)

So I guess I just have to order a Pi and start tinkering. 8-)

I've done some research the past week and there are so many tools out there. Many are open source, so could be included in a box like this. There's also some very good commercial tools, such as SD2IEC (as opposed to sd2iec, the open source software) that will pretend to be your Commodore 8-bit floppy drive, and SVI-CAS, that can act as a cassette drive to all 8-bit computers known to mankind. The downside of those is that all the data is on SD cards so you have to swap those in and out if you want to transfer data between a retro computer and a modern one. I want network access! But duplicating the level of functionality of just these two devices would be a ton of work.

Anyway, it's important to separate the cool ideas from the realistic ones. After watching How Fast Can We Load From Tape? on the Noel's Retro Lab Youtube channel, I started thinking of a way to supercharge tape loading speeds (well, loading from some kind of a computer, not actual tape)... but it seems unlikely that something new, no matter how great, would gain widespread use.

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intric8
Seattle, WA, USA
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Posted Thu Mar 31, 2022 8:02 am

that an AGA Amiga
Or ECS, to keep your A3K in the mix! :)

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iljitsch
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Posted Thu Mar 31, 2022 9:02 am

Converting a JPEG to something that works on ECS...?

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intric8
Seattle, WA, USA
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Posted Thu Mar 31, 2022 9:51 am

My ECS machines can handle JPG conversions. I would think trying to offload the processing of graphics conversions is a road to nowhere (for me personally - this is just my opinion). It would be a cool engineering achievement, though.

My A3K with RTG cards can do JPG conversions, but man - it's so slow. Even with an 060 it's kinda like, I should just move over to my Mac if I want to do something totally basic like rotate an image or scale it or whatever. The Amiga creaks and groans like an old wooden-masted ship in a storm, waves lapping over the sides. Offloading those tasks to a Pi or whatever makes a lot of sense. But then... I sort of lose the point. The Amiga basically becomes a terminal window at that stage like an old Sun machine where the processing is done elsewhere and you're left with a monitor and keyboard.

Honestly I think the "browsing the internet with my Amiga" like I said before is technically interesting but folly. Your original idea of simply creating a cool file-sharing bridge seemed much more of a really useful tool that most any Amiga user could benefit from regardless of horsepower or chipset or OS. That's going to get a lot more traction across a wider audience.

If I could plug in your device and quickly move files I find on my modern machine over to the Amiga w/o any real technical expertise or "time to do this project" feelings - sign me up.


Epilogue


A few years ago my friends and I were talking about how sucky trying to get online with vintage hardware is these days now that everything moved to https. Even for a 500Mhz Mac laptop 99% of websites were locked out. Browsers sucked and had lost support, but were at least usable. But it didn't matter because the networks were incompatible.

A friend of mine pondered that, "Oh, it would be easy to take something like a Raspberry Pi and run a local decryption proxy outside of your old computers and use the internet as if it's 1989." I was like, OK that sounds very cool but I have no idea what you just said.

Then he said, out loud, "Seems like someone could just set those little machines up and sell them as off-the-shelf plug-and-play devices for folks who don't have the time or skill to do it themselves." I said at the time I'd be willing to pay $50-$60 easy for a device like that if it was pretty easy to set up once I got it.

I realize that whole 3 short paragraphs up above probably makes me look a bit dumb, but when it comes to networking and Raspberry Pis I really am rather technically ignorant and I'm willing to bet I'm not alone.

This has nothing to do with a cool online file management solution like you are pondering. It's more sideways related since the topic of browsing online with old computers came up in the topic.

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McTrinsic

Posted Thu Mar 31, 2022 1:30 pm

Can you use multiple (stacked) shields on a raspPi ?
To me it sounds like you should use a RasPi as a base and offer shields for specific uses. Like, an RS232 as standard and different add-ones like a C64/IEC shield and so on …

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iljitsch
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Posted Thu Mar 31, 2022 11:57 pm

McTrinsic wrote:
Thu Mar 31, 2022 1:30 pm
Can you use multiple (stacked) shields on a raspPi ?
To me it sounds like you should use a RasPi as a base and offer shields for specific uses. Like, an RS232 as standard and different add-ones like a C64/IEC shield and so on …
I think they call them "hats". ("HATs"?)

The various Pis have a bunch of "general purpose input/output" (GPIO) pins. Similar to the user port on a C64 but, much more capable and faster. :mrgreen: Parallel (printer) ports on computers like the Amiga are also generally largely powered by GPIO pins, that's why it's possible to hook up an audio or video digitizer or PLIP networking to that port.

The simple version of these pins can be set to either input or output, and then you communicate by connecting the pins from two devices where one is set to input and the other to output so the input reads what's on the output of the other device. Additional protocols may be supported, such as the serial shift register in the C64/C128 CIAs that can transfer a byte of data over a pin on the IEC port (and an extra pin for a clock signal) which lets the C128 load from a 1571 drive so much faster.

The Pi can do a whole bunch more with some of these pins.

Anyway, what I was thinking was to combine a serial port, cassette-like input/output and a control wire and then a 25-pin connector that can attach to an (Amiga) parallel port using a standard cable.

Then for additional stuff like the Commodore 8-bit IEC serial bus for disk "emulation" and to connect to the non-standard C64 serial port, use a cable with the Commodore specific connectors on one end and the 25-pin printer connector on the other end.

The idea being that one adapter that does a bunch of things is more economical to build than several different single-purpose ones, and where possible/necessary, use special adapter cables with are a bit of a hassle to make, but anyone who knows which end of a soldering iron is the business end and knows how to test for shorts with a multimeter can do that without knowing anything about electronics.

The adapter card would still be quite simple but would need some components for adjusting voltages between 5 V on the retro side and 3.3 V on the Pi side and from 3.3 V to the -9 / +9 (or so) V for the RS232 port. And also some stuff for the cassette connections. I could probably make that if my life depended on it, but I'd prefer having someone who actually knows electronics to design it.

The Pi Zero 2 W is only $15 and could support such an adapter card and connect to Wi-Fi. But maybe for now I'll get a slightly more expensive but more powerful Pi to experiment with using a USB-to-serial adapter to connect to the Amiga.

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iljitsch
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Posted Fri Apr 01, 2022 1:12 am

About web browsing on the Amiga in the 2020s: I agree, it's pretty painful. Just have a look at AmigaLove.com in iBrowse. You first need to scroll several pages to get past the menus that are turned into a narrow list running down the left of the window. Then it loads the images, which actually look fairly good, but nothing is left of the design.

On many websites, IBrowse is dead slow. Part of this is pushing a lot of pixels through chip mem for a relatively high resolution AGA screen. But it's also obvious that MUI is not doing anyone any favors, with double redraws and generally slow window updating. But the biggest issues are Javascript and large images, as far as I can tell.

For instance, on my own website almost all the images are 1500+ pixels wide so they look good on high resolution screens. So those load slowly and then don't fit inside the browser window on the Amiga. If it doesn't run out of chip memory first.

You can tell that IBrowse can actually do some useful stuff if you point it to aminet.net, which uses HTML from the 1990s, I think. :-) And that's not a criticism: still works on modern browsers and you actually get colors and the images are small enough to load without issue. And surprisingly, the Google homepage looks pretty good.

However, although it's great that all these years in, the author(s) is/are still improving IBrowse, I think they're focussing on the wrong things. On my recent PETSCII typer pretty much nothing works, except just typing in the text box using the standard font. And... changing case! It doesn't work properly, but it does do something. But how useful is it to support 10% of the Javascript on a page like that?

Even on modern browsers Javascript slows down many pages, let alone on a machine that may be up to 1000 times slower that must surely be running a relatively simple and thus slow Javascript interpreter. And Javascript is still a moving target, gaining more complex capabilities every year.

At the same time, IBrowse doesn't seem to support CSS at all, as far as I can tell. So unless a website is either quite old or doing a lot of extra work to be compatible with pre-CSS browsers, you lose colors and layout/positioning and web pages look nothing like intended.

So I'd rather have some basic CSS support rather than basic Javascript support. Even just body { bgcolor } would be an enormous improvement.

Anyway, I'd say that for day-to-day web browsing you really don't want to turn to the Amiga. When I got my Indivision AGA two years ago I started tinkering to get IBrowse to look as good as possible, but I think I just convinced myself to configure the older version of IBrowse (for which I actually have a license so it doesn't run in demo mode) to be fast and optimized for quick trips to Aminet. For that sort of thing it's still useful to have a browser on the Amiga itself so I don't always have to switch computers and perform extra steps to copy over downloaded files.

One thing I'm thinking is that in the 2030s, we're probably going to see new takes on things like browsers for systems like the Amiga, as retro enthusiasts retire and can write new software for their old hardware full-time. :P





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