środa, 4 listopada 2015

AMIcast - Text Interview 2 - Guillaume ‘zzd10h’ Boesel

I'm glad that I can provide you a second text interview. My guest is well known in AmigaOS 4 community. His work is used by a lot of us, let me introduce you an author of zTools: Guillaume ‘zzd10h’ Boesel.

Hi, first, thank you for this interview, I am truly honored.
I’m not sure to have interesting things to say but, let’s go anyway!
Here is my background: 39 years old, living in a very small town in the middle of a forest in the center of France with my beloved wife, our child and our dog. 
Working as z/OS system engineer on IBM Mainframe computers (OS older than AmigaOS, but still really alive, and where REXX was created in the first place) for a big french firm. Therefore, I'm not at all a developer!

1. Your first contact with computers. And was it Amiga or something else?

Amiga was not my first contact with a computer.
In the early 80's, my father, a Mainframe computer scientist too, introduced us to a Tandy TRS-80. He learnt us, to my twin brother and me, the basis of BASIC and the love of computing very early. 
Later, we "learnt" video gaming on a CBS Colecovision at home and on some french computers at school (Thomson MO-5 & TO-7
It’s certainly an ordinary computing experience for many of us, old Amigans geeks. 

2. Your first Amiga. Type and configuration? There were some other models too?

Around 1990, if I remember correctly, we welcomed a stock Amiga 500 at home. We used it exclusively for gaming, but, what great memories were these sessions of North & South, Speedball 2 and Kick Off!
Therefore, again, it’s a very usual experience, like many of us, a simple A500 plugged on a TV.
However, near 1994, my brother and myself were impressed by the quality of PC games. We bought a Pentium and gave our A500 to a friend. 
End of Amiga story (or so I thought...)!

3. When and why you switched to NG systems? Which Amiga are you using now?

I always kept a discreet look on french Amiga forum Amiga-Impact and finally, around 2011, certainly because of the approaching midlife crisis, I wanted to find again the feeling of my computing youngness and bought a Classic A1200 to play with it.
Playing again to the games of my childhood was fun, but Classic is too much limited for "serious" things.
During my long PC-Mac exodus, I tried a lot of geeks OS, like BeOS or even Aros in VM but I was not convinced with it (I admit that I didn't tried any of the recent Aros distros). 
With MorphOS, I was happy to find a usable alternative to mainstream OS. Therefore, I bought a Mac Mini and later a Pegasos 2.
On this Pegasos 2, I discovered AmigaOS 4 and I liked immediately very much this OS. Finally, I found a very good alternative OS, the feeling of freedom, the look and feel and above all, the Amiga OS 4 community... 
Because I'm using exclusively my AmigaOne X1000 as main computer, every day since at least 3 years, I decided to sell all of my Classic and MorphOS compatibles computers monhs ago, 
Occasionally as well, I use a MiST, mainly to have my young son to play on old games, thanks to all the different systems available (including AGA)   

4. Tell us something about your work? You have created a lot of useful application. The most known I think is zTools package. ;)
Your inspirations? From where you get ideas? 

Thank you, I'm glad if somebody consider that my programs are useful.
Yes, zTools should be my most known package, it's the only one ;)
Starting to seriously use MorphOS and later AmigaOS 4, I missed some basic tools.
I started to try to fill this lack by using ARexx and rxMUI but all my needs couldn't be satisfied using REXX only. Therefore, since summer 2012, I started to learn C, MUI and how to use CodeBench on AmigaOS 4
I'm still learning of course :)
I missed several kinds of programs as well, like an auto-updatable system monitor (an habit from my work), an easy to use contextual menu file compressor "à la Windows", a musical files manager, dockies system monitors...
That's why I began to work (and still work) on SysMon (first release 3 years ago !), FastCompress, aTunes, zDockies, WebReplay to stream/download web videos, FastView because MultiView doesn't fit pictures, etc.

See here for a description of all the programs included on zTools package

As I'm new to programming and above all to AmigaOS programming, I'm aware that my tools are not very complex, there are not AmigaOS killer apps (like a video player, a web browser,...) but I made it primarily for my own needs. It's why I'm so happy that others amigans use them too ! 

5. Do you have plans to port some of your software to other Amiga like systems?

No.
At first, when I used MorphOS and AmigaOS 4 on the same computer, I thought that it will be easy to port my first program, SysMon, to MorphOS as it used MUI.
But I soon realized than SysMon used some proprietary AmigaOS 4 functions and that it will be too much work to adapt it. As I already didn't used MorphOS often, I considered that my time will be better spent to continue to develop for AmigaOS 4 rather than to port SysMon to MorphOS.
For Aros, as I wrote earlier, I never seriously used it and didn't even try to compile a simple program on it. 

6. How did you start with AmiStore?
I believe you cannot live only from your software that you created for AmigaOS. But are you happy with sell of zTools?

My programs were available for free ("donation-welcomare") from 2012 to late 2014 on OS4Depot and often updated.
In November 2014, A-Eon/AmigaKit made public announcement about the imminent launch of their app-store AMIStore.
And they accepted to bundle my existing programs in a single package at a very low price. 
I wanted really that the price was very low, the goal to sell previous-free programs was not to earn “a lot of” money but to show if my programs were used and if they deserved a little coin. 
I know that some amigans only bought it to support Amigans productions but if someone bought it to use my zTools really, it's nice !
Despite that zTools are only available on AMIStore, I continue to update them regularly. Maybe that you noticed that more than 10 zTools more or less important free updates were published since november 2014 ? zTools reached 2.1 recently !
The sales of zTools are higher than I expected. Of course, the today sales are less important than at launch time but the number of packages sold is very good regarding AmigaOS 4 "ecosystem" and estimated active users. 
Hopefully, I have a real job and overall a real monthly salary, zTools don't make live my family of course. 
But don't hesitate to buy it, if you didn't !    

7. Is it worthy to using AmiStore to sell and share software? AppStore, Google Play show that this direction is correct. Can AmiStore help Amiga NG to grow?
Should our developers try to sell for small amount of money apps/games (like you did) to get some cash for hobby? In my opinion yes. What do you think about this?

I doubt that AmigaOS (every color mixed) will significantly grow. We are on a hobby system but AMIStore (or others stores) can help to keep users interested in their beloved systems by keeping alive the software side.
I speak for me but I think that it's similar for many amateurs developers, we are happy when some people say "Thank you for your program" on a forum, it's motivating. 
It's even more motivating to know that the same guys really support/use your program by sending you a symbolic price. 
These stores should be a showcase of all actively maintained programs. Regarding AMIStore, the interface looks nice, it's easy to find/buy/download programs. At least, it’s far better than isolated websites.
I hope that all amateurs developers will put their programs in a Amiga web store, a store full of products attracts more consumers than an empty one ! 
Finally, it could delay the shipwreck of our OS a little bit ;)   

8. Your biggest successes in development? zTools or SMTube. Or maybe there is something else? 

"Successes" in Amiga world and for an amateur like me is exaggerated but I'm satisfied of zTools, there are my "babies". 
I don't know which one of my programs is the most used (at OS4Depot time, SysMon was the most downloaded, now, I don't know) 
Regarding SMTube, it's not my program, I made just a quick port thanks to Alfkill QT (what a very huge work he has completed!).
SMTube is the wonderful and very useful program of Ricardo 'rvm' Villalba   
If you use and like it :


9. Our community is divided: AOS4, MOS, AROS and classic Amiga? This is not so good for Amiga future, can be something done? Can we reunite again?

No, I don't think, I'm very pessimistic about reunification because we are all old geeks convinced to have made the right choice (me included).
Many of us, even if we are all adults, see their OS of choice like a religion. 

10. In this divided situation how we should develop software? For example MUI is different for AmigaOS and MorphOS, AROS has Zune. Maybe we should have one core team for MUI/Odyssey etc., and then port software for tree main systems?

Yes, it is a good idea but utopic considering that MorphOS and AmigaOS 4 MUI are closed-sources.

11. Lack of time = lack of software or development. For example Odyssey. Great browser, but for AmigaOS and MorphOS not developed for two years. Operating system without good browser is not useable at all. What you think about this?

More and more websites are hardly usable these days with Odyssey 1.23, at least under AmigaOS 4. I'm afraid that the day will come where it will be impossible to navigate on the web from an AmigaOS system. 
Regarding SMTube example, few months ago YouTube changed radically his system and all external YouTube clients were obsoletes. Hopefully for us, Ricardo 'rvm' Villalba reworked totally his program for Windows/Linux
If the same kind of incompatibility problems occurs for WWW, I hope that Fab, Kas1e and others will still be actives in Amiga world to work again on Odyssey
Odyssey, a concrete example of global Amigans participation! 

12. Again example of Odyssey: AROS has better OWB with JIT. I read that it is a matter of processor (Intel not PPC). Is it true?

Sorry, I don't know.

13. AmigaOne X5000 is coming. What do you think? Is it worth about 2300 Euro (in pre-orders)? Or we should jump into Intel world (or support AROS)?

2300€ is a lot of money for a computer where only one core can be used, it’s true… 
But as an AmigaOne X1000 user myself, I know that it’s the only way to use AmigaOS 4 at a very good speed (I used a Pegasos 2 and a SAM440 before).
I don’t know the usability status of Aros but regarding architecture, x86 or ARM for AmigaOS 4 will be cheaper but we have to be realistic, how many OS devs will be needed to make the transition?

14. A lot of Amiga user said: ports are not solution. Are you agree with that? Isn't better to use QT and port modern browser instead of developing all from scratch?

Of course, no, I don’t agree ;) 
Qt port is a very good example. Speaking for AmigaOS 4, Alfkill Qt port bring us some very good programs. 
Nobody had the interest to make a native YouTube graphical interface or no one replaced the old AmiPDF under AmigaOS 4
Natives GUI (MUI, Reaction) are better for AmigaOS but, again, we have to be realist. Ports are a chance for us, without them, no MPlayer, no SMTube, no QPDFView
Regarding AmigaOS 4 Qt web browsers, unfortunately, QT Webkit is a very big CPU consumer (like Timberwolf port) and is not usable. 
   
15. For newcomers. What Amiga can you advise? Classic or maybe NG? Or emulator?

It depends, in my opinion, if it’s only to play to his childhood games, a simple MiST/A1200 is largely sufficient.
If it’s to use an OS to replace Windows/MacOS/Linux, a system that allows to test both AmigaOS 4 and MorphOS could be a good choice. The problem is that this kind of hardware (Pegasos 2) is rare. I don’t know the level of support of MorphOS on SAM460 & X5000.
Regarding AmigaOS 4 emulation, I can’t recommend it. I tried AmigaOS 4.1.6 for Classic on a powerful i7-4770 and on a “old” MacBook 2006.
Technically, it’s splendid, AmigaOS 4 starts well but is practically unusable due to very low graphical memory and limited RAM. Not a solution for the moment… 
And sorry to don’t speak about Aros, I don’t tried it… 
In every cases, if a newcomer want to switch to a NG system, he has to be aware that he will use a geek system with a lot of lacks and frustrations but a lot of fun too (yes, it’s a strange masochism).

16. AmigaOS 4 under WinUAE is a great success. Instead of PPC hardware maybe better solution is powerful Intel with emulation?

Sure, if AmigaOS 4 was emulable with a lot of graphical memories and RAM, it will be amazing. 
It could fill the lack of an AmigaOS 4 laptop. Waiting for the recently announced ALICE project to see if these limits will be raised…  

18. Future plans? What you want to create for Amiga?

Nothing new is planned for the moment except a program on which I’m working since few months. This program should be available soon (in Amiga terms). It’s not a big program but as it is asked by A-Eon, it is interesting to work with a sort of specifications, with little bit more pressures than my own zTools. And overall, I’m discovering Reaction programming. 

19. Our future? Community and future of Amiga? We are getting older, is there any chance to put Amiga in more usable form?

It’s still unbelievable that Amiga still exist but I don’t think that Amiga will survive to the current Amigans. No new blood and even worse some users are leaving (speaking about AmigaOS 4 side).
Currently, I can just regret the lack of communications of Hyperion OS4 development. We are a very small group of AmigaOS 4 users but we are splitted between beta-testers and standard “consumers”. 
The AmiUpdate of standard users is unfortunately silent since AmigaOS 4 Final Edition release around one year ago. Despite numerous bug reports, and certainly bug fixes to beta testers, no update was released…
Hoping that Hyperion will mimic AmigaOS 4 MUI dev team that allows all users to try beta version of MUI at their own risks. But it seems that it will never happen.
I know that OS4 beta-testers (and the vast majority of OS4 devs) are volunteers too, but it could help users to feel considered and maybe to be less frustrated… 

20. Which software would you like to have on the Amiga? Dropbox, Spotify or Skype?

Skype, without hesitation but I don’t dream anymore considering that it doesn’t even exist on LinuxPPC and that we don’t have webcams drivers.

21. Greetings.

Yes, a lot of thanks to all the Amigans that have patience to answer my coding questions, tested/translated/made graphics for my programs and bought/sent feedbacks about zTools.
A few have became friends !
And to you, of course, Radzik for this interview.

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