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Old 26 August 2009, 20:52   #1
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New imaging method?

I was rather frustrated to learn that many of my games could not be archived in a form that could then be restored. In archived, I mean that the disk would be imaged as true to the original as possible (copy protections, strange DOSes, etc...) With my many copiers, I could copy most of them successfully (they seemed to play and run just fine, and seemed to retain the original copy protections as well.) I just couldn't make an image of them.

However, while doing an unrelated search, I came across an interesting article for another system with this problem. The solution mentioned there was that the programmer found a copy program that worked on just about everything they were interested in, examined the code, then re-wrote the program to break/restart in the middle. What would happen, is that the copier "nibbled" the tracks, but when it came time to write those tracks to the copy, it would instead dump the data into a formatted file. You could then tell the program (later,) to take that data file, and continue where it left off, writing it to the new disk.

Obviously, that program was a little limited, in that it could only do this with software that the original copier could copy in the first place. From what I've seen, there isn't a single Amiga copier that can copy everything, but maybe several such could be made, allowing the end user to chose the one that will work with what they are trying to archive. Though that could mean a lot of work.

I had an alternative idea that "might" be easier, but I'm not sure. This would actually be a special DF?: replacement program that would save a special instructional file. You would then load your copier, and it could be anything, even a special game specific copier (such as Lemmings in Maverick v5.) You would put your original Lemmings disk in DF0: (for example,) and select DF1: (again, an example, the program could be limited to drives that don't exist physically, or could "kill" the physical drive while it is in place.) As Maverick (in this example,) writes to DF1: the program would save the exact commands & data that Maverick is using. It could then (again, later,) take that data and perform the same exact commands & such that Maverick was using to write it out to a disk. Even to such details as a HW based copier would be sending commands to it's dongle or whatever.

Now, obviously, in the second example, the copier either couldn't have any sort of verification, or else the program would have to be intelligent enough to know how the verification "read" would return to the copier. One possible way to handle this could be to write the basic tool, then have selectable add-ons to cover different copy programs. Also, if the game specific copier also removed the protection, then the need for this would be totally unnecessary, as the resulting "copy" could then be archived normally. But the entire purpose of such a tool would be to archive with copy protection in place.

I do not think I am the only one that desires archives of their games (and apps too,) that are as true as possible to the original, and can be performed without specialized (ie. expensive,) hardware. You would just need an Amiga capable of running both the archiver program and the original copy software (at the same time.) Ideally, it should run in an unmodified A500 (A1000?.) Though, that would necessitate a lot of disk swapping, and the "data" file would almost certainly span several disks. I imagine that it is probably more realistic to accept that a HDD equipped Amiga would be necessary.

p.s. I thought long and hard before posting this here.... I just wasn't sure if it should go into App requests or into Amiga Coders. If it is in the wrong one, could you please just move it over? If not, let me know and I'll re-post there. Thank you
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Old 26 August 2009, 20:57   #2
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You might find this interesting? http://eab.abime.net/showthread.php?t=40959
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Old 27 August 2009, 05:41   #3
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Low HW Requirement.

The main thing I was looking for was something with a HW requirement that is as low as possable. I am deffinately interested in what he is building, and I would love to buy one if anyone ever starts building the finished product at an affordable price. But there are probably quite a few people who may never really be in a position to use this.

I do love his vindication of my side of many an arguement in my computer classes/groups. I've always said that the easiest (note - not necessarily the best,) way to defeat copy protection was to build a pure anolog copy system. Everyone always responded that "no, we're talking about a digital medium here." They never accepted it when I tried to explain that only the data was digital, the medium itself was analog (like tape drives only faster, better, smaller.) They always responded by claiming that tape drives were digital as well. I was never able to convince them that modems were an analog signal processor either.

As far as I can tell, purely digital mediums are very recent. Non-Volatile Ram drives, maybe even CD's & DVD's. I Don't know enough about how storage is done on those, but what little I've read on them leads me to believe that they are, indeed, purely digital in nature.

****drags self back onto topic and off of soap box****

I know that a software only system would not be able to cover everything, but maybe the uncovered percentage could be shaved down. Especially considering that there is really no archival/restoration system/format at all right now. Just like MNIB for the C64, there would be games that couldn't be imaged or re-mastered. But an ongoing open source project may be able to start making a sizable increase in what is currently a total of 0% right now.

The problem is that, while I think I have some good ideas, I don't know the first thing about serious programming. I don't even know enough to accurately determine if my ideas really are good or not.
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