Prevue Guide software located

Discussion in 'Technical Discussion' started by LocalH, May 21, 2010.

  1. LocalH

    LocalH

    roxoring your soxors Tech Member
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    Short history of this:

    There is a cable channel in the US called TV Guide Channel, that shows upcoming programs in a scrolling grid fashion. This concept was started back in the late 80s, in a form called EPG Jr. EPG stands for Electronic Program Guide, and the Jr. ran on an 8-bit Atari (I forget which model). The company later released an EPG Sr. that had the same functionality but instead ran on an Amiga 1000. Both of these pieces of software ran fullscreen, with scrolling guides and text ad capability (the Sr also had a one-line demoscene-style scroller at the bottom of the screen).

    After this, the company began a service known as Prevue Guide (this is where some of the older US members will start remembering). It was basically a direct upgrade of the EPG Sr. software that made full use of the Amiga's genlocking and video overlay capabilities. It reduced the listings to half-height and ran promos and other ads in the upper half, with graphics on one half of that half detailing what time and channel the program being advertised on the other half was on. The satellite feed actually fed two videos at once in the upper half, and both sets of audio - the software was able to choose which video and audio to use based on region. Quite a nifty system, and one that I longed to gain access to, being an Amiga-head and all. Later still, they upgraded once again and overhauled the visual style of the channel, still running on the Amiga. This is where this thread comes in.

    Recently, a disk was found that contained this later version of the software, after they had been bought and were renamed TV Guide Channel. This software boots under WinUAE, and will most likely work on any real Amiga that has 1MB of chip RAM and 1MB of fast RAM - nothing else is absolutely required (sure, there was a lot of support hardware, but that was just for getting guide data into the system and overlaying the graphics on top of the satellite feed).

    <a href="http://ariweinstein.com/prevue/viewforum.php?f=2" target="_blank">Here is the forum where most of the hacking is taking place</a>. We have already figured out quite a bit in terms of operating the software (for example, I think we already have most of the keyboard functions, and I'd say about 75% we actually know the meaning of the options). We are currently trying to figure out the format of the guide and control data (which was fed to the software via RS-232, thanks to a demodulator that took the satellite signal and pulled data from the VBI). If it helps, we're fairly sure the software was written in C, so if anyone is good at decompiling C-based 68k code, feel free to head over there and help if you feel like it.

    Another sub-forum over there contains a thread detailing their efforts at reversing the Atari-based EPG Jr software (which is also dumped). I'm not so much helping with that because my knowledge is based on the Amiga, but it's there. Here's a screenshot of when I found how to get the text ads to actually display on the top half:

    <img src="http://img243.imageshack.us/img243/6748/prevue001.png" border="0" class="linked-image" />

    It's sort of a weird thing for me, but this software is something I've wanted to fuck around with for like 15 years, so you can imagine why I'm so gung-ho about it. Anyone wanna help out? I don't have the ADF uploaded anywhere, but if you ask the guy who runs the forum (AriX), he'll be happy to give you a copy.

    This honestly feels like the early days of the Sonic scene to me - so little was actually known that there was a lot of mystery and unknown shit. I don't expect anyone else to have this same feeling for this, but if you're a big Amiga-head then by all means feel free to help out.
     
  2. O hai.

    Might try this on my A4000 once I finished building my display device...
     
  3. LocalH

    LocalH

    roxoring your soxors Tech Member
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    Bad news for that then - I just discovered that there are major visual glitches if the software is running under Kickstart 3.1, even on an ECS configuration. It does seem to work with a 2.04 ROM on an AGA setup, though (but this configuration is based on an A500+ with an '020, I just changed the chipset to AGA for a quick check). Have not tested it on an "authentic" A1200 or A4000 emulator configuration, but you might want to prepare to softkick 2.x to get it to work.
     
  4. LocalH

    LocalH

    roxoring your soxors Tech Member
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    Ok, the guy who gave it to me said it was cool to spread the ADF. <a href="http://prevueguide.com/Amiga/PREVUE.ADF" target="_blank">Get it here</a>. Minimum specs are located <a href="http://prevueguide.com/index.php/Prevue_Grid" target="_blank">here</a>.
     
  5. LocalH

    LocalH

    roxoring your soxors Tech Member
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    Oerg or anyone else: I have got this software to successfully boot on my A2000, and I have also modified the disk to check whether or not it's running under 3.x or 2.04, and softboot 2.04 from DH0: if necessary. Let me know and I'll give you the necessary files and startup-sequence, and tell you where to put them. It won't boot under 1.x due to the disk being FFS, so I don't even take that into account. Let me know if your primary HD partition isn't DH0:, and whatever the device name is, I'll further modify the startup-sequence for your specific machine. This is only necessary for people running actual Amigas with a 1.x or 3.x ROM - if you already have 2.x on your machine in hardware then it will boot directly. It does require at least 1MB of chip RAM and at least 1MB of fast RAM, so if you don't have that then it won't run, regardless of what Kickstart you have.

    If you're running an Amiga that uses an IDE interface as the primary hard drive (1200, 4000), then it might be slightly harder, as the 2.04 ROM has no support for such. An A3000 with it's bonus code should be no problem as the softkick can be done with a 2.x A3000 ROM. If you need such support, let me know and I'll try to figure it out. It might still be possible as no hard drive support is required past actually getting the disk booted under 2.x, so it might still work once the 2.x ROM is softkicked (although I might have to put SetCPU on the floppy, so that it's accessible after rebooting with no IDE driver).

    Everyone: Once I modify some graphics and add a few more text ads, I'll be making a YouTube video capped from my A2000. One of the text ads I already have on the disk is for Sonic Retro, and I plan to add one for Sega Retro too, so if nothing else it'll halfway be worth watching. We haven't figured it out yet, but the software still keeps track of the "real" time even if you reset the Amiga clock, so it might require keeping a "master" disk with the modified startup, and keeping the <b>df0:local.ads</b> file so that any ads you create won't be obliterated when restoring from the master. As a test, I just power-cycled my A2000 and it still recognized what time it "really" was, even after restoring from my "virgin" master with only a modified startup, and then recopying local.ads.
     
  6. So does the glitches apply to Kick 3.0 too? My A4000 has 3.0.

    I couldnt get all necessary parts to finish my display thing so it'll have to wait until next week, sorry.
     
  7. LocalH

    LocalH

    roxoring your soxors Tech Member
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    <!--quoteo(post=461094:date=May 29 2010, 09:16 PM:name=Oerg866)--><div class='quotetop'>QUOTE (Oerg866 @ May 29 2010, 09:16 PM) <a href="index.php?act=findpost&pid=461094"><img src="public/style_images/retro/snapback.png"></a></div><div class='quotemain'><!--quotec-->So does the glitches apply to Kick 3.0 too? My A4000 has 3.0.

    I couldnt get all necessary parts to finish my display thing so it'll have to wait until next week, sorry.<!--QuoteEnd--></div><!--QuoteEEnd-->
    Unsure, as the glitches were different on my A2000 and an emulated A500+ with 3.1.