Omega MIDI, ethernet progressBy Chris Williams. Published: 15th Mar 2004, 23:18:32 | Permalink | Printable
What's next on the to-do list? [Updated]Archive magazine editor Paul Beverley has this month revealed a couple of interesting developments emanating from the otherwise silent MicroDigital corner of the RISC OS world: reportedly the Omega's on-board MIDI system now works and also the Omega's ethernet networking is being beta tested by users.
The availability of the on-board MIDI will have ears of more musically inclined users perking up, especially since the Omega's rival, the Castle Iyonix, currently has no usable MIDI facilities. The progress in the ethernet side of things will also surely raise a marked sigh of relief. Last month, MicroDigital partner Desk expressed concerns regarding the amount of time MicroDigital were allegedly spending on each shipped motherboard, time which could be spent on addressing missing features, like ethernet and USB support.
The next issue of Archive will also feature an Omega progress report article, written by Paul following his own investigations. Fearing a potential backlash from MicroDigital apologists, he informed Archive readers last week: "I did try to find something positive to say, but if you think the article comes over as being 'anti-MicroDigital' I do hope you will write in and say some nice things that I can print."
Paul is also anxious to find out how many Omega units have been shipped to end users. Using RISC OS 4 serial numbers, printed on stickers affixed to each unit, Paul has estimated from user reports that there are less than 100 Omegas in the wild. The highest serial number he's been able to find is 300053, which belongs to the Big Ben Club. The MicroDigital online support forum also currently claims to have 98 registered users, but this includes Mico and Alpha users plus what looks like 29 'fake' accounts.
Despite the (toasty) warm reception Microdigital has given the RISC OS press in the past, we have to admire the way Paul's strived to be as unbiased and objective as ever. Paul also stressed: "I'm simply trying to find out the facts (isn't that a journalist's job?), and letting people draw their own conclusions."
Update at 18:31 19/3/2004
Paul Beverley has emailed in an update, commenting: "The max and min serial numbers are now 300003 and 300097, so it doesn't need an expert in statistics to work out how many MicroDigital-RISCOS Ltd licences there are."
Paul also clarified that his guess of less than 100 Omegas being in circulation actually included Alphas and Omegas. He adds: "What is more, the numbers of Alphas, relative to the numbers of Omegas seems to be in the ratio 2:1 and so this suggests, statistically, that there are probably in the region of 25 (min) to 45 (max) Omegas out there."
It's best that we point out that drobe.co.uk can't confirm Paul's findings, so while we're certain Paul is working in good faith, we'd welcome any correction and evidence from a knowledgable third party. While Paul's investigative work may alarm some of you, it will probably explain other users' concerns as to the apparent small online presence of Omega users.
Another interesting argument is exactly why should we be concerned about how many Omegas have shipped? An established userbase ensures that there's enough users to provide informal support to others (for example, on newsgroups and mailing lists), otherwise the burden of support is left solely to the developer (MicroDigital in this case, who are already overworked by the sounds of it). Also, how many of these Omega users are active software and hardware developers, primarily capable of writing software to take advantage of the Omega's promised features - namely, USB, PCI and MicroDigital's graphics system?
Perhaps it's just plain curiosity that we want to know how Omegas have shipped, journalists are by nature very nosey people. So moving swiftly on, how many Iyonixes have been shipped?
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