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ZX Spectrum Vega+ blows a FUSE: It runs open-source emulator

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Re: FUSE?

Planet Computers stopped development last October, there has been no work on the firmware since then. Seems there was no money, no time due to the Gemini launch, or RCL and Planet Computers fell out.

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Re: FUSE?

I thought it was common knowledge that it was using FUSE.

Absolutely, there has been messageboard discussion with ex-insiders for months talking about this.

Does Reg think it got some kind of scoop?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: FUSE?

Retro Computers Limited- "Putting the FU in FUSE"

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Re: FUSE?

I was exactly the same, I decided to hold back as it had been funded expecting there to be more available once launched. I've seen instructables using a raspberry Pi and 3D printed parts available to download and the official Pi screen that would do the job. Probably a little more expensive than the indiegogo price but easy to put together.

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Re: FUSE?

Likewise. Very sad to see how this has all panned out. I didn't back it but was hoping that with all the apparently experienced people involved that it would be good enough to plonk down some cash in exchange for some nostalgia.

Sadly it looks like it's turned out as badly as so many other crowd funded projects, only this one was supposedly run by people who should have known what they were doing.

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Re: FUSE?

It was, until they left.

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Re: FUSE?

FU?

Prime Minister?

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But otherwise, all ok?

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If Reg HQ did have a micro USB OTG cable ( micro usb male > USB A female cable) kicking around, they could probably run a better Spectrum emulator experience than the Vega by connecting a gamepad to an Android phone.

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"If Reg HQ did have a micro USB OTG cable ( micro usb male > USB A female cable) kicking around, they could probably run a better Spectrum emulator experience than the Vega by connecting a gamepad to an Android phone."

I have a plastic clip that binds an Android phone to a PS3 SixAxis controller, and an app for mapping said controller to screen touches. It works via USB or Bluetooth. Works well for all sorts of games, but never tried a Spectrum emulator.

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In fairness you should've given it at least 4.5, or 5.

Your unit has a working MicroSD slot. A lot of the ones released don't.

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Frankly 4/10 seems vastly overrated.

I would immediately award a base score of 0 for the promised but missing games, then start subtracting points for the shoddy case and everything else which doesn't work.

I think we should be looking in the negative 200-300 range here.

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Anonymous Coward

@stephanh; I suspect the device was so bad that its score underwent negative overflow, became hugely positive, then got knocked back down to +4 again.

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Anonymous Coward

Pillage of the Open Source projects

The pillage of all open source projects is now a sad and common reality.

MacOS ? gcc -v in a terminal ?

Probably any modern TV.

Some backup software use GNU tar ...

This is the disgusting norm, now.

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Re: Pillage of the Open Source projects

A few years ago when Sir Alan of Sugar's Amsturd released version 3 of their eM@iler phone it used a version of Linux that was under the GPL, and they refused point blank to agree to the GPL.

Ironic really, in a way.

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Re: Pillage of the Open Source projects

Erm, I can't see any criticism of open source here?

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Linux

Re: Pillage of the Open Source projects

So people using open source software is bad?

Or is it just because they're charging money for it?

Apple use CUPS in OSX, in fact, they're actually the lead developers, does that make them even worse?

Practically all the servers where I work are running Linux, should I wipe them and install Windows instead?

FFS, the whole point of open source software is for it to be used. As long as companies are abiding by the license, what's the flipping problem?

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Re: Pillage of the Open Source projects

Apple took a LOT more than just gcc from the OS community to build OSX. They were dicks about it to, not contributing fixes back, or submitting patches with missing documentation etc. They did the bare minimum they could legally get away with - standard for a corporation really. They do make pretty boxes though!

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Re: Pillage of the Open Source projects @Stabbybob

Apple contributed all changes it made to GCC back to the community from the beginning, as well as redistributing all open source code it modified.

When it stopped using GCC and developed its own compiler, it open sourced that too.

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Re: Pillage of the Open Source projects

GCC has been used to build software in UNIX like operating systems for decades, way before Apple even had much of an operating system.

There is totally nothing unusual from seeing gcc in OSX seeing as its a UNIX. GCC was so popular that its was the compiler used to compile Linux before it was put inside the rest of GNU.

There is totally nothing unusual about any of it and the only time anyone needs to provide code for GCC used in their product is when they have actually modified it. Anyone can use GCC because it is Free Software. Its the whole point of its existence.

Note I said Free Software and not Open Source. Although Free Software is accepted as Open Source by the Open Source Initiative, its still Free Software licensed under the GNU GPL which is designed specifically to protect and enable the freedom of the user to use said software, for any purpose with or without modification and to distribute copies (for money even!) either verbatim or modified. The only restriction is on distributing modified copies, where you (the modifier) must provide access to the modified source code upon request.

"Pillaging" of Free Software projects is only possible if you take the code from said software and insert it into your own without licensing your project under a compatible license. It would be easier to pillage an Open Source project however as these projects can use licenses that do not provide or defend their freedoms, such as a BSD license.

Also, think about it. If they cant use Free Software like anyone else can, what do you want them to do? Give you more proprietary stuff? Or develop something that is Open Source but not Free Software (cough microsoft) where you can see the source code by all means, but dont you dare touch it?

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What's in a name...

"the Vega+ is the flagship product of Retro Computers Ltd"

If only someone in RCL had done a spot of historical research into early 1600's Sweden, they'd have known that giving their flagship a 4 letter name starting with V and ending in A might not turn out too well for them... Vasa, Vega, let's call the whole thing off.

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Re: What's in a name...

In their defence, they probably hadn't been planning on selling it on the early-17th-century Swedish market anyway.

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Re: What's in a name...

It turned all too well. Beyond their expectations even.

/my coat has a ticket to Vasamuseet in the pocket/

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1) Sky revoked the licences, there was a BBC article. They can't use the Sinclair or ZX Spectrum names at all any more as of a few days ago.

2) Even if it was amazing, their attitude to customers stinks. There are people on their 4-5 HUNDREDTH request for a refund, unanswered for years.

3) There's almost no way to sensibly add games easily to the SD card. It's missing the 1000's of games promised, because they can't secure rights.

4) The firmware is apparently (according to Lee Fogarty who worked for them) an old one, that was a revamp of one he had tested, and works WORSE than the one he tested. The company doing it didn't get paid so they never finished or progress and there's a huge bug list available that shows what bugs it has. Lots, is the answer.

5) These people have gone totally silent, but the various blogs publishing information from backers and insiders haven't. There's an awful lot of nonsense and politics that's pretty uninteresting and petty but there are some major issues over finance, dealing with people, lawyers and suppliers being unpaid, etc. etc.

6) IndieGoGo are doing nothing. Despite promises. There's literally nothing happening on either of their "deadlines", even after promising action "despite products shipping now". Steer clear of IndieGoGo as they are basically complicit at this point.

I never invested. I'm damn glad I didn't. You can pick up a second-hand GP2X for £50, and that can run all kinds of stuff (generations newer than the ZX Spectrum) and also run FUSE. It looks and works the same, pretty much. It's also 10+ years old, runs standard Linux on an ARM processor and runs off AA batteries and takes SD cards.

That these guys couldn't do the equivalent of stick a RPi in a case with buttons and load FUSE properly over the course of several years tells you quite what the quality of these products and people is.

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Indiegogo won't do anything, because they can't.

No promises were made, backers have to accept that there are no guarantees and they are taking a risk.

And most of all, RCL have shipped units and delivered other perks (hall of fame).

So while RCL may have screwed up massively, that was always one of the options. IndieGogo are not going to get anywhere with debt collecters, because the bones that are left after the solicitors have picked out some of what they are owed, will be worthless.

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An established legal case has already defined the IndieGoGo donations / pre-orders / pledges / whatever they are called as "orders", nothing less, in this exact case.

They can denounce the project.

They can seek a refund on backer's *ORDERS*.

They can throw the project off IndieGoGo.

They can retract all endorsement of it.

They can attempt to recoup their backer's money via the courts as they promised (if they get refused, meh, that's bad luck, but they could try!).

IndieGoGo have *literally* said they would do the latter, WHETHER OR NOT the products shipped after their deadline. They haven't.

It's not that there's something explicit and simple they could do legally. It's that they have promised things and then not even bothered to do them. That's enough to make them complicit and stop people doing business with them.

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@Lee D

I had the feeling that case was decided based on a backer of the original Vega receiving a direct email from RCL advertising the Vega+ and enticing him to place an order. The conclusion isn't necessarily transferable to generic backers.

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Re: @Lee D

http://retro-computers.co.uk/small-claims/

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FAIL

Indiegogo won't do anything, because they can't.

That didn't stop them saying they would do something when they couldn't.

I guess that offering of false hope was purely damage limitation, hoping to come out of this shitfest smelling of roses

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An established legal case has already defined the IndieGoGo donations / pre-orders / pledges / whatever they are called as "orders", nothing less, in this exact case.

That was a one off, special circumstances because of email correspondence. Since then that avenue has been firmly closed and you will notice a lack of follow up cases.

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From ZXVega.co.uk:

Some people have suggested that the fact that Rob received marketing literature prior to him ordering a ZX Vega Plus was vital to him winning his case. That is NOT true.

The specific conditions the judge referred to that made this case potentially different from others brought against Indiegogo in the future was the clarity with which RCL always wrote about backers’ ORDERS and/or PRODUCT rather than their perks. The judge explained that when all the documents were taken together – the invitation received, the IGG campaign page, RCL’s “updates”, social media comments and announcements and plenty of others – they made it VERY CLEAR that a contract of sale had been formed. The ‘invitation’ for backers of the original Vega was just one element that contributed to this, but happened to be the example he gave.

As every backer of the ZX Vega+ had a chance to read the campaign page prior to ordering, received an identically-worded receipt, and have been sent exactly the same updates as provided in Rob’s case, there is still more than enough evidence to prove that a contract of sale was formed in every case, whether an early invitation was received or not.

The reason the judgement was not a ‘catch-all’ solution for all crowd-funding in general was that the judge pointed out that not all campaigns would be so forceful in their announcements that the perk people paid for would definitely be delivered on certain dates.

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That will be the reason for the flood of similar cases that followed the precedent then.

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Small claims court = no precedent. Each claimant will/would have to persuade each judge of the merits in each case.

And RCL appear to have no money...

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Well it looks like crap but it least it exists in some form or another. I had serious doubts so i'm shocked some of them have been shipped.

In it's current form I will be sticking to my emulator.

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Trollface

Fogarty only got one point. What a dweeb!

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GPL

Not mentioning GPL on the web site is not yet necessarily a violation, but the customer who bought this should have received a copy of the license, and a written offer to provide the source code for all the GPL'd software in the unit.

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Re: GPL

IANAL, but I don't see how bundling a GPL emulator with some emulated games does not require the entire thing to be GPLed. This doesn't seem "mere aggregation" to me; the bundled games don't do squat without the GPL-ed code.

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Paris Hilton

Re: GPL

The games run perfectly well on other platforms. They don't need the GPL code if there's a Z80 CPU to hand! And the emulator works perfectly well without the games. They're entirely separate layers of code.

But if you're then expecting RCL to provide you with the source code to 1000 different games, many from over 30 years ago? Best of British to you there...

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Re: GPL

That's like saying if you put a sample image in with a GPL paint program, the sample images gets GPL'd.

No.

The games themselves are not critical to the operation, and any emulator could play them. They are merely *data* that the program acts upon, not the program itself. Sure, with an emulator it can be harder to see the line, but it's still there.

The Linux kernel is GPL but it also has non-GPL firmware binary blobs etc. It's not the same. There's a clear boundary where "the GPL program" and "data that it acts upon" are separated.

A TZX or SNA or Z80 or TAP file that could be replaced with any other in the world doesn't automatically bring that under GPL. And an emulator that can be used with any of those files.

It's like claiming that the licence for the source code for LibreOffice also affects the example Word document bundled with it.

The bundled games do precisely what they always used to without the GPL code. Proven by the fact that there's a trade and entire website in those files on their own before that emulator ever existed (e.g. World of Spectrum, and I have TAP files going to back to the 90's from Gerton Lunter's Z80 and WinZ80).

What you might be thinking of is MAME-style licensing that forbids bundling the games themselves.

The only question mark really is the Spectrum ROMs which are presumably licensed from Sinclair/Amstrad/Sky and ARE necessary to boot the emulator and run any ZX Spectrum game. However, even they can be under any license separate to the GPL because they aren't part of the build process, can be swapped out for alternate ROMs (e.g. Timex Sinclair, Russian clones aplenty, homebrew ROMs etc.), and aren't being distributed as source code.

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Re: GPL

IANAL, but I don't see how bundling a GPL emulator with some emulated games does not require the entire thing to be GPLed

IANAL, but I believe the convention is that Copyleft only applies to statically linked code, not separate executables.

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Re: GPL

You mean the copy of the license, clearly written in black on the black paper included in the box?

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Anonymous Coward

Nothing wrong with FUSE

The headline and dismissive tone appear to suggest that the use of FUSE just adds crap software upon the crap hardware. That would be an unfair interpretation: FUSE is actually very good - it's an extremely accurate emulator, well written and still under very active development.

Phil must be horrified that his project has become associated with this piece of rubbish. Please don't tar FUSE with this shitty brush.

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Re: Nothing wrong with FUSE

"....appear to suggest that the use of FUSE just adds crap software upon the crap hardware"

it suggested to me that the emulator they were developing was shite so just stole fuse and trying to hide the fact that they cant code....

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Re: Nothing wrong with FUSE

FUSE is good.

But it's good no matter what you put it on.

They were claiming to have a machine "better" in those respects than just slapping FUSE onto any random ARM-powered portable computer (e.g. RaspPi, GP2X, OpenPandora, etc.).

It's not FUSE itself that's the disappointment. It's that someone done what everyone else could have just done in the first place.

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Re: Nothing wrong with FUSE

The emulator developed by Smith and Andrews seems pretty good, at least on YouTube. When they left RCL, they took it with them.

RCL then had to find someone else, and went to Planet Computers. They took FUSE and hacked around with it but, for whatever reason, it wasn't finished.

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Cheap ... poor plastic .... atrocious buttons .... decal done on a laser jet ....

Are you *sure* this isnt an official Sinclair product?

Proud owner of a 35 year old C64.

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Anonymous Coward

Lemon

You know it's bad when there are no-name consoles made for Chinese market that look better than this POS.

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Anyone fancy sending me £513,000? I'll have them ready to ship for xmas ;D All joking apart, with 100k and no BS about 1 Million pre-installed titles this really should have been possible. PCB would have cost peanuts, case tooling pricey, but they clearly re-used some old tooling for the rear of the case and deffo that silly screen cover (me thinks thermostat display/button cover)

Ah well, if I can find the money down the back of the sofa tfw8b might do something in the near Future ;D

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I hear you Rod but you and I don't have the right connections.

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Coat

@Rod Hull

You could use an Emu-later?

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