FCUG Meeting Reports Page 2

These are the informal reports on meetings of the Fresno Commodore User Group. Not really minutes, and not exactly news, we started this just to have a record of decisions made, attendance, etc. Notes are co-written by President Robert Bernardo and Treasurer Dick Estel, unless an individual byline appears.

The latest report will always be at the top, after that they appear in order with the oldest years at the top. Don't know what year or month you want? Start with the newest and read a few recent reports; then go back to the oldest and see what was different. Some months are missing and will be added if and when they become available.

  

Latest Meeting Report     Older Meeting Reports          Commodore Links

2017          2018          2010 - 2016 are on Page 1

    

Latest Meeting Report

February 2018

By Robert Bernardo & Dick Estel

Good attendance is now the rule for the Fresno Commodore User Group. Members in attendance at the February meeting were Robert Bernardo, Dick Estel, Dave Smith, Roger Van Pelt, Brad Strait , Mike Fard, and Bruce Nieman. Guests included Raymond Ciula, who brought in some software and equipment to donate, and Duncan MacDougall of The Other Group of Amigoids in the San Jose area, who demonstrated a few demos on his PAL C128DCR (converted from a NTSC C128DCR).

The official meeting and the pre-meeting discussion covered a wide range of subjects, mostly computer-related. The group wished Robert a Happy Birthday, only one day late.

The star of the show was a set of VR64 virtual reality goggles which Robert had purchased from Jim Happel for $80. He loaded up Jim's game, “Street Defender,” although it took some swapping of equipment to find a Commodore that worked properly. The club C128 would not work, and Mike Fard diagnosed the failure being due to a blown internal fuse in the power supply. They then tried to use Mike's C64 which he had picked up from the free equipment of Raymond Ciula. It powered up, but the keyboard did not respond very well, if at all. Finally, they had to run the game on Duncan 's PAL C128DCR.

The game showed the dual image on the computer monitor, with a reasonably good 3D image in the goggles. With the goggles preventing actual view of the keyboard, the big challenge was firing weapons against the attacker by use of the F keys and turning the view within the goggles by use of the Left Arrow and number 1 key. The club's summarized opinion of the gameplay was that it was clunky, because there was no use of a joystick.

Duncan then ran a very smooth shoot 'em up from his 1541 Ultimate drive, entitled “Enforcer.” It was very advanced with smooth, sideways-scrolling and lots of on-screen objects. He said that it was the best one out there and that it had been developed in 1992. On the 1541 Ultimate directory, Robert saw a game with the name of “Clystron,” and he thought that with such a name, it must be good. He was wrong! It had screen after screen of documentation before it even came up to the game. Forget it! Then they tried a new game called “My Life.” Though it had just one screen – a view of a bedroom – Duncan liked it, because it was a copy of the classic game, “Mikey.” Because the club members did not know the object of the game, they were not so enamored with it. Finally, Duncan bought and downloaded the new, commercial C64 game, “Sam's Journey,” from Protovision. It was a smooth and cute platformer, with Duncan saying it was the best one ever made.

   

Older Meeting Reports

Below this point, reports are in chronological order, oldest first

  

2017

January     February     March     April     May     June

July     August     September     October     November     December

 

January 2017

We had our biggest attendance for many months in January, thanks to a new member and the appearance of one we haven't seen for four years. Brad Strait not only made a long overdue appearance, but he paid his dues and said he would probably be able to attend more often. Meanwhile Bruce Nieman, who attended his first FCUG meeting in December, joined the club. Welcome!

Others in attendance were Greg Dodd, Louis and Vincent Mazzei, Roger Van Pelt, Robert Bernardo, and Dick Estel.

Dick presented the annual financial report. The treasury was down slightly from last year, but we have had very few expenses, so there will be enough for any costs that are likely to come up during the year.

There was a lengthy discussion of CommVEx. With the Plaza Hotel unable to guarantee a room until April, Robert booked the nearby California Hotel. There were certain limitations, including no Friday set-up and the need to remove all equipment at the end of the day on Saturday. This did not go over well with a number of people who have attended in the past, and a "rebel force," including members of our now former co-sponsor club in Las Vegas, are apparently planning a competing event for the same weekend. CommVEx will proceed as planned, and time will tell how things work out.

Robert discussed several possibilities for demos at CommVEx, including some that would be on video if the demonstrator is not able to attend.

Louis and Greg reported that they are discussing the formation of a new user group, one that will support all the many orphan computer platforms, such as Radio Shack, Texas Instruments, Atari and others. The tentative name is Classic Platforms United (CPU), and details will be revealed as they are developed.

Robert showed a section of a new Brian Bagnall book, "Commodore - the Amiga Years." The .PDF file was only available to Kickstarter backers, Robert being one of them.

Also we saw the first 12 minutes of the new film, "Viva Amiga, the Story of a Beautiful Machine" which had Amiga engineers and historians talk about the history and current state of the Amiga computer. It is available on Hulu and on iTunes, disc formats coming later this year.

Members watched as Bruce booted up his Amiga 2000 for a quick look. This demo was very short since he had to leave early, but we were able to discover that it had a 68040 processor and a graphics card. Bruce said he will be it back for the next meeting.

Roger displayed a collection of updated Commodore games on a flash drive. They have been configured to be as much like the arcade versions as possible. We saw Frogger, Donkey Kong and Jr. PacMan, while Greg demonstrated his proficiency, rarely getting "killed."

 

February 2017

Driving from Stockton, president Robert arrived to the meeting 20 minutes early. He started setting up the equipment. V.P. Roger arrived later, and both of them set up their various computer hardware bits. Roger helped Robert set up the two Dell 2001FP monitors Robert had recently bought from the East Bay Area. The Dell’s had VGA, DVI, s-video, composite inputs, and a stereo headphone jack/stereo speakers. The Dell’s were not your ordinary flat screen LCD monitors, because they could scan down to 15 KHz and thus were usable with classic Amigas with the appropriate RGB-to-VGA adapter. Also under s-video and composite modes, they were NTSC and PAL-compatible.

Eventually, members Brad, Louis, Vincent, and Greg came in, and everybody started ordering their food. While everybody waited for their food, Robert informed the group that Maker Faire was coming to San Mateo in May, and once again, an application was put in to have a classic computers’ exhibit. He also said he would be traveling to the Pacific Northwest in April so that he could check up with the Living Computer Museum, the venue for the June Pacific Commodore Expo NW. As for July Commodore Vegas Expo, he reconfirmed with Louis about the presentation on modding the Plus/4.

Just as the guys finished lunch and started seeing part 2 of the video, “Viva Amiga: the Story of a Beautiful Machine,” member Bruce dropped in, and Roger and he went out to bring in Bruce’s Amiga 2000 system.

As they were setting up, Robert showed the new Ray Carlsen power supply for the VIC-20 (early model) and the Canadian 3D-printed, VIC-20 cartridge case for the Final Expansion 3, Rev. 11.

Back to the A2000, Louis and Robert verified that it was running OS 2.0. Then Louis opened up the machine so that everybody could see what was in it – an A2320 scandoubler board for VGA output, a Progressive Peripheral & Software 68040 28 MHz. board with 16 megs of Fast RAM, a Supra board with 4 megs of RAM, a MegaChip for 2 megs of Chip RAM, and a Trumpcard SCSI board with a 120 meg. hard drive. It was a very capable machine.

However, on closer examination, Louis discovered corrosion “fuzz” on the legs of the old Ni-Cad clock battery. Both Robert and Louis urged Bruce to have the battery replaced as soon as possible so that no more damage could be caused. Louis even offered to replace the battery at the next club meeting, a task that would not be easy to do because the various boards and the internal power supply in the Amiga would have to be removed.

Then Robert and Roger concentrated on Commodore 8-bit business. Without JiffyDOS in the Vincent’s VIC-20, Robert couldn’t figure out the long commands to open the .D64 files on the Compactflash card in Robert’s uIEC-CF. Oh, well, the VIC-20 programs of $B, Maxi-Edit, and Cask Jumper would have to wait for another meeting.

For the final part of the meeting, Robert and Roger tried to make sense of the C64 educational program, “Bear Jam”, for the Chalkboard Powerpad. In past meetings Robert had brought what he thought were all Chalkboard Powerpad programs – Leo’s Links, MicroMaestro, and Leo’s Lectric Paintbrush. However, he recently discovered that Bear Jam was available for download, but he didn’t discover where the instructions were. Thus, Robert and Roger were poking at the Powerpad, trying to make Bear Jam do something for some purpose. They found some pressure points on the Powerpad which activated some graphics on the screen, but what did they mean? After many minutes of trying to discover the meaning and the manner of the program, they both gave up and promised to make a concerted effort to find the instructions on-line.

  

March 2017

By Robert Bernardo

For the March meeting, Robert and Roger were joined by Brad and two of his children, William and Charlotte. The last time we saw William was back in 2013, and back then Charlotte was just born. The older sister, Katelyn, was not present at the meeting, because she was at dance class, according to Brad. Robert reminded the family of the SX-64 commercial that he had filmed, starring Katelyn and William. Brad hadn't remembered that it was posted to YouTube, and Robert showed him where it was. Brad popped up the video on his cellphone, and the family enjoyed the commercial. Robert reminded William that he was now famous.

Robert and Roger had their usual two-item combination lunches, while Brad ordered the easy-to-eat and fun cheese quesadillas for himself and the kids. As lunch neared the end, Robert started with club old and new business. He talked about the upcoming shows – the May Maker Faire, the June Pacific Commodore Expo NW, and the July Commodore Vegas Expo. Just as he finished his summary of the shows, a visitor came in – Alex Lewandowski.

We tried to view part 3 of the newly-released film, "Viva Amiga: The Story of a Beautiful Machine, " but Robert couldn't find the external speakers for the laptop which was to play the movie, and so, the movie was delayed until the next meeting.

In hardware, Robert showed the Final Expansion 3, Rev. 11, for the VIC-20 – this time with the board and 3D-printed case all assembled. However, he was without his usual VIC-20, because it was under repair by Ray Carlsen. In a few days, he was to go to the Washington state and pick up the VIC from Ray. Robert then showed the new SwinSID Ultimate. For about $34 from Austria , the SwinSID U was advertised as a very proficient replacement for the SID chip. Robert couldn't decide which Commodore computer would receive the SwinSID U. Though he had a few PAL C64's with burned-out SID chips, he was leaning toward installing it in his B128 which runs its SID chip at 2 MHz. With the chip running that fast, the SID would run hotter (than its usual hot temperature) and be prone to failure.

Brad borrowed Robert's Kim Uno (KIM-1 replica), and he actually knew how to use it, except for discovering how to use its built-in Chessmate.

At the February meeting, Robert and Roger flailed around with the Bear Essentials and the Chalkboard Powerpad for the C64; they had no instructions nor the Powerpad overlay for the Bear Essentials, and so, they were just poking at the Powerpad without knowing what they were doing. This month Robert brought back the Bear Essentials and Powerpad, but this time he had the instructions and a color printout of what the overlay was supposed to show. Roger had more success in finding the particular pressure points on the Powerpad and had the Bear Essentials respond a bit more. However, without the exact-fitting overlay, Roger was still estimating where the points were and was not able to find all of them. All in all, getting to use the program was partially successful. Robert had the idea that the color printout of the overlay would have to be enlarged and proportioned to the size of the overlay and be printed on something like acetate.

Robert had brought in the A2000 which will be at the May Maker Faire and at the July CommVEx. Refurbished by Duncan MacDougall, this one was loaded with a Blizzard 2060 50 MHz. board, 128 megs of Fast RAM, 2 megs of Chip RAM due to MegaChip, SCSI controller board with 8 megs of RAM, NewTek Video Toaster, Digital Processing Systems Personal TBC, A2065 Ethernet card, Digital Processing Systems Personal Animation Recorder (PAR), OS 3.1, SCSI CD-ROM drive, 4 gig SCSI main hard drive, 500 meg SCSI hard drive for the PAR. Robert brought up a few windows to show what was in the computer, but mainly he had brought it to show how Duncan redid the cabling and cards inside the computer. With Alex's help, he then tried to install more memory onto the Blizzard, but the eBay SIMMs he had bought were too thick and wouldn't fit the SIMM slots. He would have to buy thin-line SIMMs. At the end of the meeting, when all other members had departed, he and Alex carried on with a far-ranging discussion about classic Amiga and Amiga NG issues.

 

April 2017

We started small but finished big as far as attendance was concerned. Robert, Roger and Dick were present for the opening of the meeting. Robert noted that a free condo room is available in Las Vegas for the CommVEx weekend, to be used by a club member or a special guest.

Robert also reported on his trip to the Pacific Northwest , where he visited repair guru Ray Carlsen, and checked out our location for the Pacific Commodore Expo Northwest, scheduled for June 10 and 11 at the Living Computer Museum in Seattle .

There was preliminary discussion of the future of CommVEx. This year's show will go on as planned, on July 29 and 30 at the Plaza Hotel in Las Vegas . With the increased room cost and the movement of a number of regular attendees to another show, it's not certain that we can continue with the show in Las Vegas . A small room is now about $1,900 for two days, and the large rooms that we have become used to the last two years are over $3,700. A final decision will not be made until we see how things go at this year's event.

As he has done for several years, Robert will be attending Maker Faire on May 19-21. He will be displaying a collection of vintage Commodore machines. Due to the conflict with our meeting date, the May FCUG meeting will be May 7.

We started watching the next segment of the film "Viva Amiga: The Story of a Beautiful Machine." During this time we had an infusion of guests, in the form of Roger's parents, Mary and David Van Pelt, and his brother Aaron. During the early years, David made use of computers in his work, and he was interested to see the new hardware that has been developed for Commodore.

For the second time, Robert brought the new Final Expansion 3, Rev. 11, the cartridge for the VIC-20, with custom-made 3D-printed case.  With the help of its manual, he and Roger figured out its RAM options and DOS wedge.  Then they tried to run a new program, the "CGA emulator" which needs 35K RAM, the maximum attainable on the Final Expansion.  They did see a high-resolution, 320x200 screen, but the graphic was corrupted, probably due to the fact that the picture was for PAL video and not for NTSC.  Then they tried to run Doom for the VIC, a program which also needed 35K RAM.  The opening title screen ran, but then when the next part of the program was called, it crashed, probably due to the fact that the SD card in the FE was not a real disk drive and the program expected to load from a real disk.  Robert and Roger decided that next time a real disk with Doom would have to be used.

Five programs from OS4Depot.com were installed in the AmigaOne G4, but the two games - Tux Football and Fighter - would not run.  The successful programs that did run were the demos, Ballfield and Etch-a-Sketch, and the emulator, ViCE (Virtual Commodore Emulator). In C64 software, the newly-made Bruce Lee II was tested.  In this part-platformer, part-fighting game, movement was smooth and the music was nice, but both Robert and Roger couldn't figure out how to escape out one of the beginning levels.  Then they turned their attention to which two-player game would be used in this year's CommVEx game competition -- Way of the Exploding Fist or World Karate Championship. After looking at both of them, Robert and Roger decided that neither of the games had the smoothness or the responsiveness required of a karate game.  The search would have to continue.

 

May 2017

The May meeting took place on a day with fluctuating weather. It had been 99 degrees the Thursday before our May 7 gathering, 69 two days later. Sunday started out with a cold rainstorm and ended with temperatures heading back up.

However, everything was just right inside Bobby Salazar's Cantina, with a small but lively group. In attendance were Robert Bernardo, Dick Estel, Brad Strait, and the latter's two youngest kids, William, 7, and Charlotte, 4. Bruce Nieman came in later for a while.

At first it seemed to be stormy inside, when several pieces of equipment failed to work. Equipment Manager Roger was ill, so Robert had gone to his storage facility and pulled out a 1084-S monitor, which he connected to his VIC-20. Although the monitor had been working recently, on this day it displayed nothing but a narrow horizontal line, leading to a couple of lame, flat-lining jokes.

No problem, we thought, as Robert set the VIC and the monitor aside and moved his SX-64 into its place. However, the SX monitor produced nothing but a plain, light gray glow, so it also was banished to the corner. Using the BenQ VGA monitor, Robert set up his tower AmigaOne G4, and finally we had a working computer, just as our food arrived.

Equipment matters were set aside as we enjoyed lunch and started the official business meeting. Robert will be attending Maker Faire in San Mateo later in May, an event that draws around 100,000 people. A fair number of them always stop and ask about the old computers he displays, which this year will include a C64 and an A2000.

On June 2nd Robert will be at the William Shatner Weekend in southern California , where he will ask the one-time VIC 20 spokesman to autograph a piece of Commodore equipment.

The big event in June is the Pacific Commodore Expo at the Living Computer Museum in Seattle , an event Robert is producing with the help of other Commodore enthusiasts in the area. We had been told there could be no selling at the event, but it has been determined that commercial activities are allowed under certain very stringent circumstances, including the completion of tax forms for three different jurisdictions and obtaining a business license. In other words, we will not be selling.

In CommVEx news, Robert reported that he will be putting advertisements for the show on Craig’s List in several areas.

There will be a time change for our June meeting, scheduled for June 18, Father’s Day. Another group has booked the room we use at 2 p.m. that day, so we will start our meeting at 10 a.m. , and be out of the restaurant by 1:30 .

At the conclusion of business, we watched the final segment of the movie “Viva Amiga: the Story of a Beautiful Machine,” this part focusing on music creation, and a few minutes of the follow-up movie, "Viva Amiga: the Bil Herd Story."

There was not much in the way of hardware and software demos, due to malfunctions. William sat at the AmigaOne and wrote a short story about Fire Monsters, and the rest of us discussed all kinds of things, many of them computer-related.

 

June, 2017

By Robert Bernardo & Dick Estel

The meeting started earlier than usual -- 10 a.m rather than the usual 11 a.m. -- because another group had booked the restaurant room at 2. We were to be out of there by 1:30 or so. We had three of our long-time regulars - Roger Van Pelt, Robert Bernardo, and Dick Estel, plus two special guests. Dave Smith was a member more than 22 years ago, and he joined the club that day. He is now retired and is thinking of getting a Commodore system set up. Alex Lewandowski, a Visalia resident originally from Poland , had attended one of our meetings in the past, and this time he brought in a special piece of equipment for our enjoyment. His involvement with Commodore and Amiga began when he was about seven years old in the 1980s.

During the business meeting, Robert reported on the Maker Faire in May, where he set up several systems. Hundreds of thousands of people attended this event and hundreds came through the Vintage Computer Festivalers exhibit where Robert was. Many had questions for Robert. The items that drew the most interest were the KoalaPad and Flexidraw Lightpen. People were surprised that such items had existed for the Commodore.

In June Robert hosted the Pacific Commodore Expo at the Living Computer Museum in Seattle , now known as the Living Computers: Museum + Labs.There were between 10 and 20 people at the various presentations, plus the casual drop-ins from regular museum visitors, making the total between 50 and 60. The event will be back in 2018 on June 9 and 10.

CommVEx is coming up, and everything is ready to go. Paul Armstrong of Las Vegas will have sales tables, and Al Jackson will provide computer systems as usual. Although it will not affect our plans, the rival event planned for the same weekend has not yet locked up its venue, and their funding may be in question.

For the hardware part of the meeting, Alex showed us his Amiga A600 installed in a MacroSystem Casablanca case. This looked very much like a standard VCR and was originally an Amiga in a case for video-editing. Alex had installed a Vampire 600 accelerator and was continuing to work on the machine. He also brought a Vampire 500 accelerator, this version to go in an Amiga 500 or 2000.

Alex tried to run several Amiga game .ADF's (Amiga Disk Files), but they weren't being recognized by the HxC Floppy Emulator he had installed in the machine. He admitted that he had to tweak the system some more. Near the end of the meeting, the restaurant waitress said that the afternoon group had cancelled their reservation, so we did not have to rush out at 1:30 . Even with the more leisurely departure, we were packing up by 2:15 so that Robert could get to Father's Day festivities in Stockton .

 

July 2017

by Robert Bernardo

For the July meeting, members Robert, Roger, Brad, and David were present. They talked about the upcoming July 29-30 Commodore Vegas Expo v13.  Brad was not prepared to film any presentation for the expo, but Roger was ready.  After the meeting, Roger and Robert would go to Bernardo Studios, a.k.a. the University Inn Hotel, and Robert would film Roger's two C64 software presentations.  As the meeting progressed into old and new business, Robert showed the website that had an auction listing for Admiral Kirk's Commodore PET 2001 from the movie, "Star Trek II: the Wrath of Khan!".  For the movie, the computer had been beautified with a chrome and gloss black finish.  It sold for over $5,000 and with the auctioneer's profit margin, taxes, and shipping, the computer came out to be about $8,000.

Though there was no Amiga content in the meeting this time, Amiga fan and FCUG member Bruce Nieman came to visit for about half an hour in the middle of the meeting.

For the hardware part of the meeting, the members helped David relearn the C64 and 1541 disk drive that he was buying from the club.  They helped him to load up disk programs and run them.

Later on, Robert showed off a few new programs for the VIC-20. Meteor Wave was an interesting Missile Command clone in which you had to stop the missiles from dropping on the city by touching a lightpen in front of the path of the missile in order to destroy it.  Robert remarked that it's the only VIC game program he knows that uses a lightpen.  He then showed a nicely-rendered screen called VIC McKracken, a play on the C64 game, Zak McKracken.  The screenshot looked so good that a person could mistake it for a screenshot from that C64 game.  As usual, Robert couldn't make any headway in an adventure game, this time the new Legend of the Lost Catacombs, though Roger seemed for willing to figure out its command parser and map.  Finally, using the full memory of the Final Expansion 3 cartridge, Robert tried to run VIC-20 Doom.  He got as far as showing the title screen but after that, nothing. VIChaos

Instead of the meeting going on until 5 or so, Robert adjourned the meeting an hour early, because he and Roger had to film the CommVEx presentations.  After the everything had been packed up, the two went off to the University Inn Hotel where Robert proceeded to check in.  The hotel had been the site of previous CommVEx films, and this year Robert got a ground floor room -- no lugging equipment to an upper floor.  After moving much C= equipment and film gear into the room, Robert and Roger went to a nearby sandwich shop for dinner.  Afterwards, they returned to room for a night of filming, and it went on until 11! Not only did Roger do his two presentations, but Robert also filmed a Commodore “commercial” for CommVEx.  Roger left because he had to work the next day, but Robert filmed a few more shots until he was satisfied.

 

August 2017

Although we lost some long-time members this year, we have added at least as many new ones, and several of them joined the other “old-timers” for the August gathering at Bobby Salazar’s Mexican restaurant.

Brad Strait was present with both his daughters, Katelyn (9) and Charlotte (5). Katelyn had attended meetings now and then since she was five. Charlotte was born after Brad became a member, and made her first visit while still an infant, so the club has sort of watched them, as well as brother William, as they have grown (part way) up.

Also on hand were Robert Bernardo, Roger Van Pelt, Dick Estel, fairly new member Dave Smith, and Mike Fard, who joined the club before the meeting ended.

Robert gave a report on Commodore Vegas Expo, held in Las Vegas at the end of July. Although attendance was down, those who were there had a great time, and the show will continue next year. We didn’t quite cover expenses, and the room rates have increased, so we will return to one of the smaller rooms for 2018. We may also consider moving to a different city in the future.

Michael Battilana from Italy was in town for DefCon and visited during the off-hours of CommVEx. He gave a C64 Forever package and an Amiga Forever package for the raffle and also a web address which allowed CommVEx attendees and FCUG members to receive a free download of Amiga Forever and C64 Forever.

The September meeting date was moved to the tenth, since Robert will be leaving for Europe shortly after that. He will visit Germany , Sweden , the Czech Republic , Wales , and England , attending Commodore and Amiga events and meeting with international friends from years past. In Bensheim , Germany he'll search for the Mega65 computer (C65 clone) at Maker Faire. In Stockholm and Gothenburg , Sweden he'll meet with Commodore and Amiga programmers. In Cardiff , Wales he'll visit AmigaKit. In England he'll attend the meetings of the Lincoln Amiga Group (in Lincoln ) and the Amiga North Thames group (in Enfield ).

Entering the wonderful world of hardware and software, Robert had on display a Commodore PC20-III, a MS-DOS computer. The computer came from the Sacramento Amiga Computer Club, and Robert was warned not to power it up until it had its internal power supply thoroughly cleaned of dust. Mike opened up the machine and discovered that it came from 1987.

Robert loaded up a C64 Forever 2017 CD on his Windows XP laptop, and we explored its Commodore emulation capabilities. The same process was followed with Amiga Forever 2017 DVDs.

Meanwhile at the club C128, Katelyn took on all comers in Ringside Boxing, the two-player, two-joystick Compute!'s Gazette C64 game that was used in competition at CommVEx.

Later, Robert and Roger tried to run VIC Doom with its stiff memory requirements on the VIC-20; unfortunately, they only got to the opening screens and were not able to enter the game proper. They had more success with the simple but fun VIC-20 game, Meteor Wave, which required use of a lightpen to stop the falling meteors.

 

September 2017

Because Robert was traveling to Europe on September 13, the meeting was held on September 10, the second Sunday of the month. In attendance were Robert, Roger, David, Brad and his children, William and Charlotte; and new member Mike Fard.  Under old/new business, Robert reported on what occurred at the Commodore Vegas Expo.  He was grateful that members of the Southern California Commodore & Amiga Network had come to support the show and that newcomers had come from the Defcon hacking show that was going on during the same CommVEx weekend.  He reported that Roger's filmed presentations had done well with the CommVEx audience.  He also had a date for CommVEx 2018 – August 11-12.  All he was waiting for was confirmation from the Plaza Hotel, the CommVEx venue again.

He mentioned the October 21-22 Sacramento Amiwest Show and asked the members if they needed anything from Europe .  No one needed anything, though Robert joked that Duncan, his friend from The Other Group of Amigoids, was urging him to buy British computers, like a Spectrum.

The Educator 64 and Commodore PC20-III, which had been exhibited at CommVEx, were shown at the meeting.  Brad was most interested, and so, the E64's “hood” was opened and the PC20 was opened so that he could peek inside.  The PC20 was not working, and Robert would visit repair tech Ray Carlsen in September to see if Ray could fix it.  Robert showed the new Vampire 500 board for the Amiga, and he showed the new Vampire 500-to-Amiga 2000 CPU slot adapter board from Paul "Acill" Resendes.  He remarked that now he has to install that hardware into an A2000 and get the blazing speed promised from that set-up.

Everyone at the meeting, especially William and Charlotte, tried out Computes' Gazette C64 Boxing game that was popular at CommVEx.  In fact, it was hard to tear the kids away from the game.  Even when the game was not running, William still liked to type on the keys and see his letters up on the screen.

As the meeting drew to a close, Robert tried to run VIC Doom as he had tried at the previous meeting.  This time he used a PAL VIC-20 with the Final Expansion 3 cartridge set for full memory.  As with the previous outing, he did not get it to run.  A bit more successfully, he (with a lot of help from the ever-patient Roger) ran VIC Music Composer cartridge for the VIC-20.  Certain keys did not work with the program, and Roger and Robert did not know if it was a fault with the cartridge or with the use of a PAL VIC-20.

 

October 2017

by Robert Bernardo

Every October the club has its annual “picnic” lunch, in lieu of a regular meeting. This year the members went to the new Dave and Buster's Restaurant in north Fresno . Dave and Buster's is famous for having dining combined with a huge game arcade.

They were one of the first ones to show up when the doors opened that Sunday morning. Those who attended were David S., Mike F. and Sherry, and Robert B.. The first table that they were shown was near the arcade games, but because there was a great deal of noise, they moved to another table as far away from the arcade as possible. They ordered off the well-stocked menu, but they did not go overboard in ordering food.

After lunch, they wandered through the vast arcade. They were most interested in the giant Space Invaders arcade game which stood 12 feet tall!

Though picnic lunches had not been known for being C= related, afterwards everybody wandered off to Robert's car to pick up some C= gear that he had brought in.

 

November 2017


By Robert Bernardo & Dick Estel  

With plans to take a new cover photo for our website, we had a nice turnout in November. Brad Strait was present with his two youngest kids, William and Charlotte. Also on hand were Robert Bernardo, Roger Van Pelt, Dick Estel, and Dave Smith. The members all had a Commodore shirt or logo as part of their attire, and we managed to get a pretty good shot.

Robert announced that the room in Las Vegas has been reserved for CommVEx V14, which will take place August 11 and 12, 2018. Closer in time, Robert will be visiting Commodore repairman Ray Carlsen in early December, and took requests to pick up one of Ray’s Computer Savers for Brad and Dave.

Robert told us of a C64 sighting – a scene set in a missile silo control room in the TV show CSI: Los Angeles featured a bank of what were clearly brown C64s, with the logo taped over.

During his recent trip to Europe , there was a serious break-in at Robert’s house, so we discussed what was taken, what was left behind, and various security measures that are now in place.

Moving to our demonstrations, Robert had brought a pile of new Commodore games from England , and set them up for testing by William and Charlotte. Titles included Honey Bee, Jam It (basketball), and Snake. All the programs worked well, although the kids had limited success with some of them.

Robert set up his newest toy, an A.L.I.C.E. laptop, with dual boot system – Windows 10 or Linux with Amiga emulation.

During the last part of the meeting, Roger, Dave, and Robert ran various VIC-20 programs, including some new British games also from England .

 

December 2017

By Robert Bernardo & Dick Estel

We had one of the best turnouts in a few months for December. On hand were President Robert Bernardo, Secretary-Treasurer Dick Estel, Board Member Brad Strait, Brad’s youngest daughter, Charlotte; Dave Smith, Mike Fard, and newcomer Randy Stoller, who joined the club before the meeting was over. Vice President Roger Van Pelt came by briefly to drop off the equipment.

It was time for elections, with one vacant position to be filled, the board members slot previously held by Louis Mazzei. Dave Smith was elected to the position, and all other officers were re-elected.

Before we got down to business, Robert told us about his latest mishap, getting rear-ended near Salem , Oregon . Before they could get their vehicles towed to a repair shop, he and the guilty driver had to wait some time for tow trucks to get through the heavy traffic that had contributed to the accident. Robert’s tow truck driver went above and beyond the call of duty, giving him a ride to the Trail Band concert venue which was his destination. Though stuck in Oregon a few days longer, he was able to drive his car out of the collision center and visit Ray Carlsen in southern Washington . Robert dropped off four, flat C128's for him to repair and picked up items left for him to repair back in September – a PET 2001-4, a CBM PC20 keyboard, and a SX-64. He also picked up a couple of Ray's Computer Savers which the FCUG members had ordered at the November club meeting.

At the December meeting, Robert distributed the Computer Savers to the members, and he spread out a large pile of free programs that came from a member of The Other Group of Amigoids (Amiga club) in San Jose . Of note were some 2-packs of Kodak-brand blank 5.25” floppy disks with the original price of $9.95, marked down to $2 (and now free).

Continuing the Christmas giveaway, Dave had brought in a package of reusable plastic water bottles, available to whoever wanted one.

In keeping with a long-standing club tradition, we voted to make a $50 donation to St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital in Memphis . The institution has an enviable record in treating children with cancer, all services provided at no charge.

Robert loaded up a series of games for Charlotte to try. Brad and Mike joined in from time to time.

As the meeting came to a close, Robert and Dave tried out more of the new, commercial game disks from BinaryZone.org.

  

2018

January     February     March     April     May     June

July     August     September     October     November     December

 

January 2018

Although we lost some long-time members in 2017, we had even more new ones joining us, most of whom were present at the January meeting. Those present included Robert Bernardo, Roger Van Pelt, Dave Smith, Brad Strait with daughter Charlotte, Randy Stoller, Mike Fard, Bruce Nieman, Alex Lewandowski, and Dick Estel.

The centerpiece of the pre-meeting random discussion was the latest episode of the TV comedy, “Young Sheldon”, which shows "The Big Bang Theory’s" Sheldon Cooper as a nine-year old. In the January 18 episode Sheldon got his first computer, a Tandy 1000, and demonstrated some of its uses to his family.

In official business, Dick asked the members to begin thinking about backup plans in case someone in a key position is no longer able to carry out his duties. No decisions were asked for at this time, just that members give it some thought.

Dick presented the annual financial report, which will appear in the newsletter, and noted that our total assets increased by a small amount in 2017.

Robert was preparing once again to bring Commodores for the Classic Computers' exhibit at Maker Faire, May 18 – 20 at the San Mateo Events Center . The Classic Computers' exhibit has always drawn a great deal of attention with our old computers, computers that many people had thought were completely forgotten.

Other future events included Vintage Festival Seattle in February and Pacific Commodore Expo in June, both in Seattle. None of the club members had an interest in traveling to Washington in the winter.

Robert fired up his laptop and showed segments of the new documentary, “The Commodore Story”, which will have it first public showing at the Computer History Museum on February 23.

Though Christmas had come and gone, C= "gifts" were still arriving -- more software from John Yaccarine of The Other Group of Amigoids (San Jose) and computer chips from Rolf Miller of the former CIVIC 64/128 club (Ventura). The club members grabbed many of these free items.

Once again we loaded up some of the BinaryZone.org games Robert had brought back from England for testing by Charlotte and the other gamers in the club.

 

February 2018

See above

 

March 2018

Meeting date March 18

 

April 2018

Meeting date April 15

 

May 2018

Meeting date May 20

 

June 2018

Meeting date June 17

 

July 2018

Meeting date 15

 

August 2018

Meeting date August 19

 

September 2018

Meeting date September 16

 

October 2018

Meeting date October 21 (Annual club lunch)

 

November 2018

Meeting date November 18

 

December 2018

Meeting date December 16

   

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Updated February 28, 2018