This year marks the 40th anniversary of the release of the Atari 400/800 computers, and to help celebrate this event, the Atari Museum has been working with one of the original Atari 400/800 computer engineers, Joe Decuir, to put on an exhibit at the annual Vintage Computer Festival East. This year's show takes place May 3-5, 2019 in Wall, New Jersey at the InfoAge Science and History Center. Each year the science center hosts a myriad of vintage computers from 8-bit home computers to mini and mainframes of all shapes and sizes.
The Atari Museum exhibit hosted by Curt Vendel and Joe Decuir will feature every piece of hardware ever produced for the 400/800 series, as well as unique prototype equipment. But the 400/800 exhibit is just one small part of the overall Atari exhibit, which will also be a tribute to Jay Miner. Peter Fletcher, Bill Lange, Amiga Bill, and Dean Notarnicola will also be on hand, displaying Atari computers from the XL, XE, ST and Falcon series in this huge overall exhibit. The Lorraine will be there as well – Jay Miner’s amazing Amiga 1000.
Thanks to Evan Koblentz, executive director of the Vintage Computer Festival (VCF), Joe Decuir will be giving a formal speaking presentation at VCF covering the Atari 400/800 computers, from their beginnings as an improved design over the Atari 2600, to the final production computer designs. Evan and Jay will then discuss the follow-up 68000-based computer that the Atari’s could have further evolve into, a design that would eventually see reality years later as the Amiga “Lorraine.”
This is a rare and special opportunity, not just for Atari enthusiasts, but for anyone who loves the Atari 2600 to the Atari computers to the Amiga to see and meet the man who was involved in all three product designs. Please visit the Vintage Computer Festival website to learn more!
Pictured above is the The Atari Home Computer Demonstrator, which will be on display as part of this exhibit.
I have the main site running on the new server, although I am not finished with all the work I have to do on that front. However, I should be able to finish that up with a few full-time days of work.
The forum upgrade isn't going as smoothly, though. I still have not been able to complete an upgrade of the forum database, and I'm waiting on Invision to take a look at it. May also try to solve it myself as I'm not sure how long it's going to take them to investigate, as this is outside their normal support since this is on a test server. However, there's no way in hell I'm going to try and perform the upgrade on the live server without being secure that it'll work!!
So, this is a bit annoying and is stopping me from doing a ton of work that is required on the forum. I can't do squat with it, though, until I can successfully convert the forum database. I did copy some 250GB of attachments from this server to the new one, though! I also need to get the store up and running on this new server.
I also moved several other classic gaming websites that were being hosted on this server to another, as I intend to only have AtariAge.com running on the new server..
Turns out that after six hours, that conversion process hung and never moved beyond what I posted a screenshot of above. So I filed a ticket and am waiting for Invision to respond (which probably won't be until sometime tomorrow since it's the weekend). I expect to run into various issues like this.
This is awesome news, thanks for sharing the process with us. If there's any user-facing functionality that needs testing, just shout!
I'll definitely ask some people to help bang on the new forum once I get to that state. I can't wait for people to freak out given how different the new software is relative to what we're running now. It will help to have some members become familiar with the updated forum, as well as try out all the features to make sure nothing is broken (and this includes with the custom theme).
For a while now I've mentioned in various topics that I will be upgrading the forum soon to a significantly newer version. The current version of the software is now about four years old, which is roughly when Invision released a completely rewritten version of their Invision Power Board software (4.0). I held off upgrading initially for many reasons, for instance, at first they dropped support for third-party search engines, which is something we use here in order to greatly speed up searching. This was finally addressed last year, and over the course of four years version 4.x of the forum software has matured quite nicely, with lots of great features and improvements having been made during that time. The current version is now 4.4.1, and we are running 3.4.8.
I've also had to rewrite nearly all the software on the main site (hosting the games database) as it was originally written in 2000-2001 by Alex and myself and hasn't seen many changes since then. That has been great...fun, but I've made significant progress and have completed most of the difficult files. Everything remaining I'll be able to churn through relatively quickly. This was a requirement before I could begin on the forum upgrade.
This weekend I have leased a new, more powerful server to host the AtariAge web server (the database server lives on another server). My plan is to get the main site, forums, and store running on this new server and then "flip the switch" over to this new server once everything is working properly on it. However, the forums will still be down for a significant period of time when this happens, as I will need to take the forums down, copy the database and any new/changed files to the new server, then begin the time consuming upgrade tasks to convert the database to the latest version of the forum. I'll have a better idea of how long this will take after I've done a few test conversions.
I am paying a professional skin developer to convert the existing AtariAge theme over to the new forum. I'll also be purchasing new versions of most of the skins we have available on the current forum, at least where upgrades are available (forum themes had to be rewritten from scratch for IP.Board 4.x). Some do not have upgrades available, so I'll probably purchase a few new skins as well.
I also have some custom modifications to the current forum that I will need to rewrite for IP.Board 4.x. This includes things like being able to give people the ability to indefinitely edit certain posts. And there are various third-party apps/hooks/plugins I'm currently using that I need to ensure I have equivalents for with the new software. And I will be enabling new modules for the updated forum, such as "Downloads", which homebrew authors will be able to use to post their game binaries, and versioning is supported (among many other features).
In short, I really have my work cut out for me. I'll post updates here as I progress..
Right now I'm working on doing the first test conversion on the new server..
This particular step is simply changing the character encoding of the entire database, which is necessary before the actual conversion can take place.. This step alone is going to take hours, but it may be something I can do to the live forum before I do the final conversion (which would save time when the site needs to be converted over). I have to be careful, though, as I don't want to cause any problems on the live forum.
I'll get into some of the new/changed features of the upgraded forum as I have time..
On one hand I'm the last person to be concerned about upsetting collectors. On the other hand a promise of "Limited Edition" was made and now it will be broken.
Yeah, this is why I rarely do releases like this, as I don't like having my hands tied. My goal is generally to make games available indefinitely, I don't like creating artificial rarities, and I don't really care that much about the "collecting" aspect of the hobby regarding homebrew games. I want people to be able to enjoy the games.
It would be nice to make more copies of Boulder Dash available, as it's something I get asked about periodically. I still have a TON of manuals and posters for the game, so I wouldn't need to get those reprinted. I would have to print more boxes, and i would prefer to sell it with a box (or at least as an optional box). I wouldn't want the game altered in any way. However, it would be fun to do Boulder Dash II using the same engine, and that could be done regardless of what happens with the original Boulder Dash.
And it would be fun to see other games developed using that engine, since you and Thomas did such a tremendous job with it.