Wakefield 2004 show guideBy Chris Williams. Published: 14th May 2004, 05:53:05 | Permalink | Printable
Show 'news' and what else to expect this weekendThe annual Wakefield event tends to cause most developers to announce some last minute, late breaking and out of the blue news, or as close as possible to your preferred definition of "news". It's a time when the comp.sys.acorn.announce moderators cancel their hot dates, call off all other social engagements and don snorkels to avoid drowning in announcements, whilst editors pull out their hair in the rush to bang out articles in time, organise rolling, live coverage of the show weekend and delicately pick out the news from the blatant spin.
Rather than spreading out releases over the year, announcements and other publicity machines tend to be annoyingly concentrated around a particular weekend in May. So, whether you're going to this weekend's show or not, here's the lowdown so far and what punters and the RISC OS public at large can expect to be treated to at Wakefield and beyond this year.
Advantage Six, aka Stuart Tyrrell Developments, have announced their new A6+ machine (pictured), which is another Windows PC that utilises VirtualRiscPC to intermingle RISC OS Adjust and Windows. Compared to the A6, the A6+ has a faster processor and memory, faster large hard drive and more powerful graphics card - hence the plus. One lucky show visitor will also win an A6+ in the weekend's grand prize draw. STD will also be showing off their ARM7500 ruggable kit, and for every purchase at the show, STD will hand out a free key-ring made from a genuine, straight-out-of-1992-genuine ladies and gentlemen, RISC OS 3.11 ROM chip - spun ingeniously as a "Pocket RISC OS". It goes in your pocket, see. And it's RISC OS, and oh, you get the idea.
Denbridge Marine will be demonstrating a "radar digitisation system running on the Iyonix, and a fully featured radar display, also running on RISC OS", thus illustrating the variety of applications that RISC OS tends to rear its head in. Denbridge use RISC OS in radar transmission, target tracking and radar control systems, and expect to see at the show a radar source feeding data into a digitisation and analysis system, running on an Iyonix with a PCI card performing the digitisation, and an operator console with the final radar display.
"We use RISC OS on our remote systems because it's reliable, fast, and suitable for soft real-time applications. Hardware interfaces are easy to design, and the software is easy to build in a modular fashion. The radar transmission system uses around 60 applications that all work cooperatively to produce a stunning result," Denbridge's Colin Wright told drobe.co.uk this week.
"Our current production units run on Kinetic machines with RISC OS 4, we are soon to produce an Iyonix version running RISC OS 5."
Castle tried impressing us with a new Iyonix case: the limited edition Panther (pictured, or here's a bigger photo). It's the same Iyonix motherboard, but with 512M RAM, 120GB hard disc, no podule backplane option and a lot of space inside the sleek, black housing. If you blamed Castle's decision to use a bland PC case for the Iyonix to decide against buying one, then perhaps by now you're all out of excuses. As Castle aren't known for pre-announcing anything and at the time of writing the show hasn't opened yet, Castle still have time to surprise with some real news. Fingers crossed.
RISC OS friendly ISP Argonet will be present at the show. Freedom2, Argonet's other trading name, recently told its Argonet subscribers that it'll be restructuring to create a new business unit that will cater more for RISC OS users - more details on this as soon as we can.
Archive magazine will be offering a 200th issue bumper deal, where if you take out a subscription, you can get the past 200 issues on a CD for 15 quid. Eureka magazine, from the ARM Club, will be selling a CD containing their past 50 issues for a fiver. Meanwhile, Qercus will have the Acorn Publisher back catalogue on special offer, as well as bundles of their PhotoDesk tutorial series, Qercus binders, graphics clip art CDs and FD games for sale, at show prices.
IC Software will be selling, for the first time for Wakefield, the ArtWorks 2 Quick Guide, produced with MW Software and now includes documentation on the features new to Artworks 2.2. IC Software will also be selling WebWonder and ProCAD, as developed by David Snell. IC Software's Ian Chamberlain, a drobe.co.uk correspondent, will also be handing out Drobe and Netsurf flyers - feel free to ask him any questions or otherwise chat about either of these RISC OS institutions. He's a friendly chap, trust us.
Another drobe.co.uk writer who'll be at the show is Martin Hansen, for the MathMagical Software Company stand. Martin'll be bringing his new commercial TurtleChalk software with him to the show - essentially it's an educational package for schools that includes worksheet viewing and authoring facilities, a graph plotter and turtle graphics. He also recently lent Serious Statistical Software his Iyonix so SSS could make their software 32 bit compatible - said statistics software will be available at the show too.
Speaking of MW Software and Artworks, Artworks 2.2 will be on sale, as well as copies of Gimp-Print on disc.
The Unix Porting Project will also be exhibiting at the show, led by Peter Naulls, a drobe.co.uk editor. Peter will also be promoting his Debian ARM Linux resources at the event, too.
R-Comp have been extremely busy, it would seem. First, they announced the RISCube Ultra, a Windows PC running VirtualRiscPC. Then, in time for the show, they sprung on us an "Internet Suite for VirtualRiscPC" and new versions of UniPrint, MusicMan and WebsterXL. We weren't quite sure what the aforementioned Internet suite was supposed to do, and having checked with R-Comp, it appears that the suite makes it easier for users to use the Internet with RISC OS, when using VirtualRiscPC, especially for those on dial up connections.
Surely, VirtualRiscPC allowed networking and Internet access to begin with? "On broadband yes, provided you were already familiar with doing it," an R-Comp spokesperson explained. "And you'll find that there are problems with browsers and other things. VRPC implements its own version of the Internet module, you see, which is highly compatible, but of course there are things that aren't quite the same.
"Also, hostfs has a number of filename idiocyncracies which don't affect filecore filing systems. Serial modem users are in even more of a jam - there's no serial port access in VRPC. So, our CD version is designed to help address all the above."
The WXL update includes six month's worth of bug fixes, mostly addressing problems with sites reported by users. The updated UniPrint now supports printing to Windows shared network printers and includes updated configuration software.
APDL will of course be at the show, as you can't have a RISC OS show without these show veterans present, and they'll be bringing with them a new version of DrawWorks. DrawWorks is now RISC OS 3 to 5 compatible, includes a new library tool, can split up large drawfiles, import and export PNG files, and provides user design-able toolbars. Existing users should bring their DW CD with them to the show if they want to upgrade. APDL will also be selling a 32 bit compatible Sleuth 2 and 3, the popular OCR packages, Topologica on CD and their famous DataSafe product.
As for Icon Technology, their man Mike Glover told us: "We will be releasing a new versions of EasiWriter and TechWriter that have ArtWorks support plus other new features such as Auto-Save to be announced at the show. Upgrades will be available to registered users of EasiWriter, TechWriter and to users of Writer and Writer+ supplied with RISC OS 4 and the Iyonix. The new versions will be 32 bit and 26 bit compatible. Also included on the CD will be a fully licensed copy of Citation, the premier bibliographic reference manager for users of RISC OS computers."
Xat will be travelling all the way from the mainland to sell HID, the USB support software for the Iyonix, and release a new release of Blockdrivers which makes use of the Iyonix 2nd serial port and Intelligent Interfaces' dual serial podule. While there will be no Impression-X release for a while, Xat did have some interesting information on their Enigma-E project.
"Some time ago, we released the Enigma application as freeware," Paul Reuvers told us, referring to his software simulator of the wartime coding machine used by the German army during World War II. "Whilst Enigma is still available and remains free, we've also produced a self-build kit of an electronic equivalent of the Enigma, called Enigma-E, which is available, amongst other places, from the Bletchley Park Museum in Milton Keynes."
Xat will have Enigma-E kits for sale at the show, and one attached to an Iyonix via a serial port. Xat have sold hundreds of kits worldwide now, especially after they were slashdotted and reviewed in this month's Discover magazine. Xat will also be demonstrating the bitmap tracing app Tracer Professional, which they took over recently, made 32 bit compatible and added other features to.
Ray Favre will be selling his popular and relevant programming books, Starting Basic and Dr. Wimp's Surgery. All profits will go to charity, according to Ray, with nearly 2500 quid donated to date. Ray will also be demonstrating the BASIC programming library and development suite Dr. Wimp. Graham Shaw will also be at the show to talk about and demonstrate RiscPkg and promote his RISC OS Toolkit, a class library for developing RISC OS application programs in C++. Graham will also be selling a new book, Programming with the RISC OS Toolkit.
The Fortran Friends will be in full swing, as Kate Crennell explained: "In addition to our support for the Fortran programming language including the GCC compiler, we will be showing our popular polyhedra display programs, useful for art, design, mathematics and ICT." The FF will have a new version of their church bell ringing educational software for the show.
Brian Jaques will be touting his Web Writing CD, which according to Brian, will include "a quite large off-line site about the use of the new style StrongED application in web writing."
Finally and certainly not least, although Warm Silence Software can't make it to the show, CJE will be there on WSS' behalf, carrying stock of WSS products: PhotoFiler now supports Artworks files and is 32 bit compatible, while LanMan98, Win95FS and CDROMFS are also now 32 bit compatible.
And if you can't get to the show, we're told that there's always Monday night's ROUGOL affair, which'll be entertained with the presence of Castle's Jack Lillingston and John Ballance (with a Panther Iyonix in tow) and Aemulor's Neil Spellings.
Wakefield show website - 15th and 16th May, Yorkshire UK - pricings, details, prize draws, full exhibitor list and show theatre timetable
Going to the show? Don't forget to tell us what you saw and heard
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