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Festival of Engineering

23 October, 2017 in Computers, Games

Paolo Cattani speaking about videogame programming

I was honored to speak at the Festival of Engineering of Lodi about the fine art (and science) of videogame programming.

It was very interesting, especially for my colleagues engineers… many people don’t know what’s behind the development of a videogame, the advanced mathematics required to build a 3d engine or the complex physics behind a modern simulation of a racecar or an aircraft. An engineer is, nowadays, an essential part of a videogame development team!

GT86 Fun

5 May, 2017 in Cars

GT86 car

I like my GT86.

While the GT86 isn’t the most powerful car in her class, I like how the engine begs to be revved, and how she offers “just enough” performance for my needs and driving style. The lightweight body and well balanced rear-wheel-drive layout make her a very good handling sports car; yet, she’s not something “extreme”, the GT86 can easily be used as an everyday car!

All in all, I’m very happy with her!

Recovering Amiga HDs

22 February, 2017 in Computers

Amiga HD

Some time ago I had the idea to recover my old Amiga’s hard disks. I still own ALL my old Amigas, and both the A4000 and the “towerized” A1200 are still here, along with their HDs full of my hard work of the “ol’good days”. But how could it be possible to import all files on my Linux HD?

Both the A4000 and the A1200 are AGA machines and are equipped with IDE drives, so it would be possible to make them at least available to modern systems using those IDE-to-USB adapter. Unfortunately, the ones I tried were unable to correctly recognize the drives, as they are very old (circa 1992) and (probably) not compatible with the controller. The only solution would be to find a motherboard “old enough” to be compatible with them and mount them there.

Luckily, I have a Pegasos II system lying around (such a mobo was donated to me by Genesi so that I could port my F1 game “VGP2” to MorphOS); the PegII would be the ideal solution, as it is “old enough” to read those old HDs, “new enough” to support modern media (USB sticks), and – most important of all – MorphOS should immediately be able to read the Amiga file system.

Problem was: PegII didn’t turn on! Again, luckily, the problem was simply the power supply; by just replacing it with a brand new one, the old mobo turned on, kicking and alive, fully recognizing the old Amiga HDs! Throw in a USB stick, copy everything over there, WAIT a lot (PegII is just USB 1.0!), and…

…well, now I can boot my virtualized A4000 (with FS-UAE) again on my Linux workstation!

Welcome, Linux!

29 April, 2016 in Computers

I’ve got a brand new workstation. And, this time, my main OS will be Ubuntu Linux (16.04).

My first, real “serious” OS was the AmigaOS, back in the ’80s. It was a real-time, preemptive 32-bit multitasking OS, coupled with GUI and multimedia capabilities. But Commodore declared bankruptcy in the ’90s and the Amiga entered her ill-fate, so I eventually switched to the Mac OS (X) platform, mainly because it was the only other alternative to the Wintel duopoly. Macs were PowerPC based and NeXTStep (ehr… OS X) was quite an interesting environment.

Linux was there, but it was not a real alternative, for me. Not very user-friendly, few applications (of the ones that I needed) available, you must always resort to the terminal for quite anything… it was not for me.

But then, things changed.

Using OS X I began to be acquainted with a Unix system, and when Apple ditched the whole PowerPC thing and embraced Intel chips, there was simply no reason anymore to buy (expensive) Apple hardware. In fact, my last Mac was a PowerMac “Quad”, and then I continued to use OS X on assembled PCs (“Hackintoshes”), with very good results and performance (I must say). Meanwhile, many more applications begin to be available for Linux, and what was not natively available could easily be used through virtual machines or (even better) Wine… so, I took the final decision: let’s “switch” to (Ubuntu) Linux, and see how it is.

Well… for now, it seems quite a good decision!