Trains, Amigas, Japan and Czechia
Well, first up, my apologies for such a late first blog post for 2023. To say this year has been crazy busy has been an understatement.
I have been travelling overseas since after Christmas 2022 in Japan and Czech Republic, and only really came back to some normality around 2 weeks ago when I finally returned home.
For the last two weeks since I returned home, (when not working) I have been busy working on beta testing the upcoming AmiKit 12 release, across Windows, MacOS, Linux and Raspberry Pi 4B/Pi400 platforms. I will hopefully be able to reveal more about the new version on this blog once it is released.
This AmiKit 12 testing work is very interesting, but has sadly left me very little time to blog!
I tried out a new Amiga game called Connect from LogicalByte, which I first read about in the K&A plus magazine I got last year. I was surprised I didn't see it before. It is an interesting challenging puzzle game:
Sadly I couldn't buy the physical box version they sell on their website, as they don't ship to Australia.
So I bought the digital download version instead which runs on a standard Amiga 500. I wrote out the ADF file to a real floppy disk as I have recently been a kick to use real floppy disks rather than ADF files and goteks on my Amigas.
I realise that eventually the disks or drives will fail, which makes me more determined to use them while they still work. Gotek can be used when I need to use it. For now, it is floppy disks all the way.
The instructions are included in the game itself and simply enough to understand.
There are a certain number of connections between chips and you have to create the connections, without exceeding the allow number of connections for each chip.
I have to admit, I really enjoyed this, and the game presents quite a challenge to solve each board presented.
I also played around with the new version of Hippoplayer (available on Aminet), that now supports playback of MP3 audio as well as mods! I can use the MHI driver from my ZZ9000AV card on my Amiga 2000 to have perfect Mp3 playback via hippo player with no cpu load to decode the mp3's. Fantastic!
In the process of testing this version for AmiKit 12, I also found an issue with the vertical blank screen refresh that Hippoplayer uses, and this causes window slowdowns on AmigaOS 3.2 when using a newer ZZ9000 RTG screenmode and the original Picasso96 drivers.
I was lucky enough last weekend to pickup some old Amiga software from a local seller, which I will need to find some time to try out:
I was particularly happy to get another x-copy hardware device, as I only have one. Now I can use it on another Amiga to copy disks.
I quickly tried out Super Space invaders on the Amiga 500, and it runs well and is a lot of fun - and oldie but a goody:
While I was in Japan in January, naturally I stopped by Beep, a retro computer store in Akihabara in Tokyo. They had some Amiga games available too which is rare in Japan (bottom shelf in the photo below).
I decided to pick up Arkanoid for Amiga from Beep, which I have never owned before, and comes in this beautiful fold up case that opens out with beautiful game instructions printed inside:
I also picked up the new A Pig Quest game digitally, which I need to find some time to try out soon, as from the reviews it appears to be an amazing game. I have also pre-ordered Lykia on floppy disk which is on its way to me, another exciting new game for the Commodore 64. You can download digitally for free here.
Picture we took above is from the Tokyo Skytree, showing the dense Tokyo city, looking towards Mt Fuji at sunset. There are over 35 million people living in Tokyo, making it one of the largest cities in the world.
You can see and try new cool things in Tokyo every time you come here, and this time I wanted to try out the gourmet Strawberry shortcake in a can, which you can buy in local vending machines! It was delicious - sweets and desserts in Japan are next level delicious and beautiful.
I also went to Shinjuku to see the well publicised 3D advertising billboards there. They have this giant 3D cat looking out over the Shinjuku area and it looks amazing and lifelike when moving around.
I always visit Yodabashi Camera's massive 12 storey shop in Akihabara every time I come to Tokyo, and fitting the popular retro movement happening across the world, I noticed they are now selling new release boom boxes. Yep, the 1980's boom box is back in 2023.
I enjoyed watching Twitch streamers playing Among Us in 2022, a game for Windows. Primarily subscribed and following CDawgVA streams as he is based in Tokyo and I enjoy a lot of his content which he also uploads in full to YouTube later if you don't use Twitch.
On the "only in Japan" vibe, you can buy these dubiously named web cameras called "Wanc". Errr, ok...
I can't imagine the sales meeting in Tokyo where the marketing guys announced to the sales team that their latest new product would be called "Wanc". I would be rolling on the floor laughing.
I also visited the Team Labs Planets event in Tokyo, an amazing experience I recommend everyone to see if you can get to Tokyo in 2023. They extended the event through the rest of this year.
Japan has been busy during Covid lockouts for foreigners, and alongside multiple new skyscrapers all over the city, has also built some more stunning new trains for me to try out, including this one called Saphir Odoriko:
The seats are amazingly comfortable, and the view from the train itself is great, thanks to the extra viewing windows at the top.
There is also a restaurant car where you can have a freshly prepared meal cooked on the train to enjoy on trip down. It was delicious.
I have this cool wallet my wife bought me for putting my travel suica card in (used to travel in Tokyo), and my Shinkansen Nozomi train ticket to Kyoto. The wallet is designed to make the suica penguin look like it is riding the train - I think it is cool :-)
If you look out the right side window on the Shinkansen on the way down to Kyoto, on a clear day, you can see Mount Fuji. On this day, the weather was perfect and the views of Mount Fuji from the train were simply spectacular:
Given it is winter in Japan, we can get a lot of use from these under table heated tables at night - so comfortable!
For those unfamiliar with Japan bathrooms in houses or apartments, there are no taps or plugs for the bath. Instead you get this electronic controller to do everything - it automatically fills the bath to preset temperature, and keeps it warm also. Knowing Japanese is kinda essential unless you want to go without...
Exploring Kyoto is always fun - we went to Kiyomizudera temple first, a world heritage site, which is on top of a mountain and looks spectacular at the top.
Definitely explore Nishiki market during the morning if you are in Kyoto like we did - there is so much to eat, see and do there, and all undercover.
I also tried another new train I wanted to experience while in Kyoto, called Aoniyoshi.
Very pretty artwork on the train itself:
You can also choose these funky green seating carriages too, which looks pretty cool also:
On the train back to Kyoto we got off, took a local line and enjoyed Fushimi Inari - another world heritage site in Kyoto, which countless tourists have photographed themselves in the long passageway made up of Tori gates.
The views of Shinjuku from the restaurant are spectacular, and the food is amazing as well, even if quite pricey.
More normal but still delicious food can be got from salaryman district Yakitori bars, where I went with some former work colleagues one night after their work finished.
Atmosphere was incredible and the sumo really enjoyable to watch.
I am jealous that people living in Europe can travel from one side of Europe to the other in two hours by plane! But I love living in Australia so, it is what it is.
During the work week, I was lucky enough to try out some Curling while in Prague as part of a team building event one evening. It was a lot of fun.
It is the first time in my life to be on ice, and I was nervous as hell naturally. But I got the hang of it eventually and had a great time curling.
On my one day off during my work trip to Prague, I decided to take another new train I hadn't been on, this time from Prague to Cesky Krumlov, a well known tourist attraction in the Czech Republic.
In Prague they use an local phone App you purchase tickets on, and a timer to activate them when you need to use it. The timer has a purposely implemented 2 minute delay so you can't just board for free and activate only when a ticket inspector comes along to check you activated it...
Once at the main train station in Prague, you can see the timetables for the trains - there are plenty of platforms here, with trains travelling in Czechia and all over Europe.
Today we are staying in Czech Republic, travelling to Cesky Krumlov, a world heritage listed site in the Czech republic.
There is one train per day that goes to Cesky Krumlov and return to Prague direct, using the trains normally used for inter country train services to Austria and Germany, etc.
My train is waiting on the right side of the platform:
Inside the carriage - I chose the first class carriage as the price difference is negligible, and allows you to get food served to your seat with nicer seating.
There is free wifi on the train too, and power at every seat to keep my phone and iPad charged up for the 3 hour trip to Cesky Krumlov.
Interesting we soon arrived at a station called Tabor - which is also the name of the AmigaOne A1222 motherboard! Any relation?
The snow increased as the trip went on, the temperature expected in Cesky Krumlov that day was -15C so I expected it to be very cold indeed!
I thought the train themed sweets looked cool and grabbed some of those, and the Svickova of course.
Seeing some of the local rolling stock in some railway storage yard along the way was pretty cool to see:
Česky Krumlov is a beautiful town, and well worth seeing if you are in the Czech republic - it was very quiet when I was there, since it is winter and it was freezing.
Definitely come here in Spring/summer though - I think it would be a very different feeling and filled with people. This walkway entrance is part of the castle, with the high level overpass walkway offering stunning views.
Prague gaming shops are similar to the ones we have in Australia - this one is in a shopping mall called Palladium: