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Interview with Daniel Jedlička
(Interview conducted by David Brunet - July 2022)


Here is an interview with Daniel Jedlička, a musician but also AmigaOS 4 developer who recently released Rave, his new audio editor.

- Hello Daniel, could you please introduce yourself to our readers?

My name is Daniel Jedlička, I'm 48 years old, and I live in the Czech Republic. I've worked in the sphere of education for over 20 years - first in the private sector, then I taught at a university, and now I work for the local Secondary School of Technology and Design. I teach English and Czech Literature. My Amiga activities include programming, tracker music and blogging.

Daniel Jedlicka
In the Amiga man-cave

- Where does your pseudonym "Trixie" come from?

Oh, there's a story behind that. When I started my activities in the Amiga demoscene in the early 1990s, everybody had to choose a nick, or "handle" as it was called back then. It's an inherent part of your scene identity, and I chose "Triox" because I mistakenly thought it sounded cool. In those days I often used to visit two of my closest Amiga allies in their house, but their mother could never remember my nick and whenever I popped over, she would say "Boys, Trixie's here to see you". We laughed at it but the name stuck, and everybody started calling me Trixie in the end.

- When and how did you discover the Amiga?

Towards the end of the 1980s, the Czech computer press would have an occasional feature on the Amiga, which was exciting but unfortunately the computer wasn't available for sale in the country because of technological embargo. I think the situation was similar in other Communist countries. So the Amiga received something of a cult status locally, where 8-bit computers were the thing of the day. After the fall of the Iron Curtain, my first journey abroad was actually a shopping trip to nearby Germany, where my father bought me an Amiga 500. That was on 3 August 1990, a date I've celebrated as my personal Amiga Day ever since.

- What are your current Amiga configurations?

I have an AmigaOne X5000/020 with a Radeon RX560 graphics card and an ESI Juli@ soundcard. This is my main Amiga system at the moment. I also have a Sam440ep-Flex, which I used for about six years before getting the X5000. It's still a very reliable machine but I only use it for testing my software. I'm not a great fan of emulation, but I sometimes run AmigaOS 4 on WinUAE when I'm away from home. Good for testing, too.

- In the 1990, you were in the demoscene. Could you tell us the story of your demo group Vectors?

Vectors were the brainchild of brothers Human Factor and Jofa, the guys whose mother gave me my nickname. They weren't the very first demo group in the former Czechoslovakia but they played a major part in bringing the local demoscene to life. At that time I was in a group called Sauria, and Vectors were "competition". We lived in the same city, by the way. Sauria only made one intro, and when Vectors lost their musician because he switched to an Atari ST, I was offered to become a member. No dilemma really because they were much better than us, and moreover, our coder was already losing interest, so I happily disbanded Sauria and never looked back.

Soon after I joined Vectors, that was in 1993, we started publishing Exit, a diskmagazine for the Czech demoscene. I was the editor-in-chief. Producing the mag turned out very time-consuming, and soon it became the group's main output. We only made few demos after 1995 because life started kicking in: the coder Jofa got married, I moved to another city to study at university, and the group's organizer and graphician Human Factor went on to realize his potential in game-making. I took over and tried to keep the group alive for about five years. We produced a few more issues of Exit, and in 1999 we released Ten, a 64K intro to commemorate the group's 10th anniversary. A switch to the PC followed at the turn of the millennium, but UpUp was to be our only production for the platform. The group went dormant soon after.

In 2019, I initiated a small reunion to celebrate the upcoming 30th anniversary of Vectors. The party was a huge success and a few members got enough spark to sit down and make a new demo, Mindsurfin', released the following year. This was largely thanks to our coder Defor, who kept the flame burning and kicked our lazy butts into action. We're currently working on a new demo, but things have got a little quiet recently - I need to ask how we're doing. :-)

Vectors
A Vectors logo by Human Factor

- For our readers who have not read your progress reports on the development of Rave, can you introduce your software?

Rave is my pet project at the moment. It's a modern sound editor for AmigaOS 4, and it's the biggest piece of software I've ever worked on. Funnily enough, I had never planned such a thing, it came out of necessity. While working on the Mindsurfin' demo tune I realized how dated and limited the existing Amiga editors were - they wouldn't open much of my sample library because the industry had moved on. So I took the challenge and began to do something about it.

- What parts of the development were the most complicated?

In software, the hardest parts are usually the ones that the user cannot see. Rave allows opening a theoretically unlimited number of projects, which run on separate DOS processes and share resources such as the program window, the progress bar, the clipboard, and so on. Any project may potentially access any of these resources at any time, so I had to devise an underlying management system to ensure that everything is shared in a safe and orderly way. I would surely have made my life much easier by allowing only one project to perform a task at a time, but then Rave would lose a lot of its flexibility and charm. I didn't want that.

- Were you helped by other persons in the development process?

I owe a lot to Fredrik Wikström, who goes by the nick "salass00" in Amiga circles. About a decade ago, I looked at the source code of his program AmiSoundEd, which he had abandoned. I was curious if I could possibly pick up from where Fredrik left off, but I found that it was way beyond my skills at the time. Many years later, when I was already working on Rave and got to the point where my program had better start displaying something, I took another look at AmiSoundEd and decided to reuse its waveform display and manipulation code, to save development time. Since then I've turned it into an independent program module, added a lot of new functionality, and fixed a few bugs the original code had. Fredrik also ported several cross-platform audio libraries for me. Really, there would hardly be any Rave without him, or it would have come out much later.

- Does Rave have any features not available on AmigaOS? If yes, which ones?

Many Amiga sound editors are old and can't even open 24-bit WAV files, which is pretty much the standard file type in the audio industry today. Contrary to this, Rave supports almost two dozen formats out of the box, sparing you from using a sample converter to get your file in. Even if it's something as uncommon as 24-bit FLAC data sampled at 350 kHz. Rave really is quite versatile in this respect.

A feature I sorely missed on the Amiga was the possibility to preview the sounds from the file requester before you load them. The editors I use on Windows can do this and it's extremely useful, so it was high on my To-Do list. I had to adapt my playback code to support direct streaming from files, but otherwise the implementation was relatively straightforward, so the feature found its way into the recently released version 1.2. The users seem to love it as much as I do.

Rave
The Rave audio editor

- Are you going to make any plugins for Rave? If yes, which ones?

There are still a few things I need to sort out in the main program before I dive into creating plugin modules. But yes, I expect that a few will turn up later this year, and more in the months to come. After all, the plugin infrastructure is one of Rave's greatest strengths, so I surely want to make use of its potential.

- It seems that Rave's file requester is different from the usual one with ASL. Can you explain why?

Very simple: the ASL requester is a general-purpose system component that, unfortunately, cannot provide features needed specifically for a program like Rave. I mean, things like displaying and configuring audio properties, preview playback, and so on. So it was clear right from the start that I'd have to develop a custom requester, which you could say has now turned into a program of its own, given the features :-). But I tried very hard to make it resemble and behave like the ASL requester, so that users feel at home with it.

- Rave could very well be an ideal companion to OctaMED. Do you know where is the promised AmigaOS 4 version?

Frankly, I have no idea. At last year's AmiWest show, I was mentioned as a member of a team allegedly working on the AmigaOS4 version of OctaMED, but that must have been some kind of communication noise because I've never even seen the OctaMED code. And I wouldn't have the time to work on the program anyway, so...

- A long time ago, you also participated (indirectly?) in the development of SoundFX, another audio editor for the Amiga. Will Rave be more complete and functional than SoundFX?

Oh, that was a long time ago! And yes, my involvement merely boiled down to providing ideas and beta testing, I didn't work on the code - it was all Stefan Kost's work. SoundFX is a unique piece of software: it's the only Amiga editor I know that can modulate effect parameters, meaning that they change over time as the effect is being applied. This can be used for some very original sound manipulation. But the program is quite complicated to use, and has always reminded me of a scientific tool rather than a productivity app. Also, SoundFX is now over 15 years old and is showing its age, especially under AmigaOS 4. So back to your question: yes, I'm pretty sure that at one point Rave will replace SoundFX as the preferred tool for audio work.

- A-EON Technology will soon release Enhancer Software V54. You are one of the developers. Can you explain to us what it is?

I'm no longer directly involved with the Enhancer effort, due to time constraints and working on my own projects. So sorry, I can't answer this question.

- Besides the ToolBar Gadget class, which elements of Enhancer Software V54 are your own?

I also wrote the InfoWindow Class, which is an advanced BOOPSI class for creating sophisticated information windows, and the Exchanger tool, which is a commodity and application manager. Sort of a mixture of Exchange and AppManager by Vicente Gimeno.

- Will the development of AmigaOS 4 be affected by the departure of developers to A-EON Technology/Enhancer Software V54?

I don't get a feeling that system developers are leaving AmigaOS 4 to work for A-EON Technology. There's certainly an overlap, with some devs working on both AmigaOS 4 and Enhancer. But to the best of my knowledge, work is continuing on AmigaOS 4 despite the current legal situation. At least, I know that I've recently found and reported a bug in the CD filesystem, and Colin Wenzel is fixing it at the moment.

- Do you think that Enhancer Software V54 will be seen as a new Amiga split (like AmigaOS/MorphOS in 1999/2000) or that the conflict with Hyperion will eventually be resolved?

Of course the Hyperion vs. Cloanto conflict will be resolved one day, you can't stay in courts forever! What remains to be seen is how AmigaOS 4 comes out of the situation with regard to ownership or licensing. The legal stalemate is what is choking the platform at the moment.

As for the upcoming new Enhancer, which A-EON Technology calls System54: it's beginning to be obvious that their long-term goal is a replacement of AmigaOS 4, free of the legal mess that plagues the platform. The idea makes good sense, but ideas are one thing and market adoption is another. Amigans have more than once showed the power of the emotional over the rational, so in the end, they might not be as thrilled at the idea as A-EON Technology would perhaps like them to be. Especially as alternatives exist already in the form of MorphOS, AROS, and of course AmigaOS 3.x.

- ADRipper was an audio tool originally developed by CentaurZ and you took over its development. What improvements have you added to it? Do you plan to continue its development?

ADRipper could originally grab and convert CD tracks into three formats only: MP3, Ogg Vorbis, and the quite useless raw PCM. I added plugins for WAV, AIFF, AAC and FLAC. When the program's author left the Amiga and I took over following his request, I rewrote a lot of the GUI code and modernized the app in general, making use of the latest system developments in AmigaOS 4. I also updated the CDDB database code to improve the handling of track metadata.

I'm tempted to create a similar program that would use the Rave I/O module for saving tracks, instead of the dated plugins in ADRipper. But I doubt I'll have time for that any time soon. :-(

- Do you have any news from CentaurZ? Is he still a developer on AmigaOS 4?

No, Adrien quit a long time ago. Pity, because he was a very talented developer! Every time I update ADRipper (which I haven't done in a while) I drop him a line to let him know, but otherwise we're not in touch.

ADRipper
ADRipper

- You are also a musician. Where can we find your best musical compositions?

It's hard for me to rate my own music, and even harder to publicly present things I made 25 years ago. Above all, the sound hasn't aged gracefully, so I can't listen to most of my old Amiga songs without some cringing. The Mindsurfin' tune is quite presentable because it's recent, and I think that the music in UpUp is not too bad, either (By the way, it's the only demo-tune I've made in DigiBooster rather than ProTracker). Oh yes, and I still have a soft spot for the music I composed for Vectoria, perhaps because it was my very first production as a Vectors member.

If you're feeling adventurous, have a look at the Amiga Music Preservation project website, where most of my ProTracker modules can be found for downloading.

- With all the audio tools on AmigaOS 4, do you have or do you plan to compose music again?

In fact I'm doing it at the moment, working on music for our new demo. My wife would kill me if she found I bought all this music hardware and then never put it to use! :-) Unfortunately, the progress is slow because Rave eats up most of my time and energy. But I certainly want to return to composing on a more regular basis once the program gets all of the priority features.

Music Software
A selection of music software for AmigaOS4 running on Workbench

- Do you have other projects related to the Amiga?

I run a blog called Rear Window, where I write about various things related to AmigaOS 4, but I also cover general Amiga topics from time to time.

- What is the situation of Amiga in the Czech Republic?

It's pretty much Classic-only, the adoption of Next Generation Amiga systems has been very low around here. I guess there are about five AmigaOS 4 users in the Czech Republic? There were a few dozen MorphOS users in the noughties, but I have no idea what the situation is now. The local demoscene is represented by the group ArtWaY and the occasional activity from Vectors, but otherwise it's basically dead, or at least it doesn't function as a scene in the sense of the word. Still, there's a lot of retro sentiment: many people have bought an Amiga again or refurbished their old one, they meet at forums and parties; it's becoming quite vibrant just like in other parts of Europe.

- You are a teacher. Do your students know that you develop/use an unusual computer like the Amiga? If so, what are their reactions?

I work for a school that is a wonderful mixture of technology-oriented and art-oriented study programmes. The IT students are very introverted, methodical, and they love to tinker with stuff like the Raspberry Pi or the Arduino. On the other hand, the arts students are more free-spirited, unruly, and they often come from difficult family backgrounds. The differences bring a challenge, which I like because it makes me try out different teaching methods and approaches. My job never feels boring.

From time to time I mention retro computers (and the Amiga in particular) in class, but the students have no idea. When I say "a retro computer", they think a PC with Windows 95 :-). Which is fine by me, I don't expect young people to live in their parents' past.

This year I was nicely surprised to see that two of my students developed a computer game as their final project. I expected a 3D shooter or something with a sci-fi flavour, but instead they went for a 2D action-adventure platformer. The game is called Gedaria, it's really cute, and will remind you of old Amiga games because of its atmosphere and the hand-drawn graphics. You can get in on Steam for a few euros, so if you'd like to support the talents of 19-year-old Viktor and Lea, please go and get it!

- What is your opinion about MorphOS and AROS?

I have a lot of respect for MorphOS, it's in many ways ahead of AmigaOS 4. It's also going through a better period right now, but I chose my system by heart and have no second thoughts. As for AROS: it never sparked enough interest in me to try it out, perhaps because I've had a working Amiga system for many years now, so I have no need to look for alternatives.

- A last word for the Amiga community?

Enjoy your Amiga hobby and let others enjoy theirs!


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