Irritating Frequently Asked Questions
by Warren Block (
Version 1.0 (08/02/96) Q. What is this? A. Irritating questions are those asked over and over. They can be answered a thousand times, and the next day somebody will ask again. While asking questions is a time-proven way to gather information, many long-time Usenet users get sick of answering the same old thing. So here's this FAQ. Odds are pretty good that you'll get this instead of a custom-written answer; don't take this personally. In fact, the next time you see somebody ask that question, you can do the same thing. Q. You seem to write a lot of these FAQ things. Why? A. Because so often a question is asked, and never gets answered, or worse, gets a wrong answer. That really bugs me. It's a big waste of time; for instance, look at how much time has been wasted in discussions of MaxTransfer, and it's still widely misunderstood. It would be nice if I could do this type of technical writing for pay. Anyone at Viscorp or other Amiga companies are welcome to contact me for that type of thing.
Q. Is there an Amiga emulator that runs on PCs or Macs? A. Yes. See Q. Can PCs read Amiga disks? A. Short answer: No. Get over it. Longer answer: While the Amiga does use PC-type floppy drives, it uses the custom Amiga chips to control them, and writes entire tracks at a time with *no sector gaps*. A PC with special floppy controller hardware might be able to copy them, but so far no package that can read or write Amiga floppy disks is available. (There's supposed to be a FFS filesystem for Linux; with this, you could read Amiga hard disks, but the hardware problem still keeps you from reading floppies. Deal with it.) Q. Could my MaxTransfer rate be too high? What should it be? A. My initial reaction to questions about MaxTransfer is usually a shout of "Bite me! Arrrrrggggh!" This usually frightens off everyone except the really serious. MaxTransfer has almost nothing to do with transfer rates. It sets the maximum transfer SIZE, and is needed to deal with many IDE drives that are built assuming that they'll be used in rock-stupid PC hardware. If you have an IDE drive, 0x1FE00 will work in most cases. Q. What should I do to people who keep associating MaxTransfer with speed? A. Make up bizarre explanations. See if you can get them to try every value from 0 to 256K in increments of four bytes. Or you can just have them try DiskSpeed with various values, but that's not nearly as much fun. Q. Will PC parallel-port devices work on the Amiga? A. No. PC parallel-port devices like tape drives, Ethernet adapters, and storage devices (like the parallel version of the Zip drive) are operated by tiny ants, and the Amiga doesn't have ants. Okay, so maybe it's not ants, but two major problems: some of the lines on the Amiga parallel port are not software-controllable, and most of the manufacturers of PC parallel-port devices will not reveal details of how to program these devices. This is no great loss, since an adapter and software would probably cost about the same as a low-end SCSI interface, and would only operate at 30-50K per second. Q. Do the Zip and EZ drives work on the Amiga? A. The SCSI ones, yes. You don't need custom software to use them, but there are both commercial and PD utilities for using the custom features of the Zip. Q. Can I use 3.5-inch hard drives in the A1200? A. Yes, although you might have to slightly modify the internal shield and heavily modify the IDE cable. And you might very well need to replace the power supply to cope with the drives higher power needs. And set the MaxTransfer value to 0x1FE00 for all partitions. Other than that, it's simple. Q. Will EIDE drives work in the A1200 or A4000? A. Yes. Plug it in, set MaxTransfer to 0x1FE00 for all partitions, and go. Q. How big can a partition be? How about a whole drive? A. Safe limits: 2G per partition, 4G per drive. You might safely go with a 4G partition, but why? Or you can use an alternative file system (AFS) or a patch. Q. Will a CGA monitor work on an Amiga? A. Yes...barely (only 16 colors). There are those of us who say that even a color composite monitor is better. Q. Will the 1084 monitor work on a PC? A. If you have a genuine CGA board in the PC (not a VGA board emulating CGA), and are willing to build an appropriate adapter cable, yes. It'll be mostly useless with modern PC software. Q. Can I use a VGA monitor on the Amiga? A. A multisync-type VGA monitor that syncs from 15 KHz and up will work with all Amigas, but most recent monitors don't sync that low. The A3000 has a built-in deinterlacer port that will work will all standard VGA monitors, and equivalent boards can be added to the A2000 and A4000. The AGA machines (A1200 and A4000) have custom hardware that allows some screens to be displayed at adjustable higher sync rates, from 23 KHz and up. This will work with most VGA monitors.
Warren R. Block * Rapid City SD USA