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Wakefield 2004 theatre talks

By Alex Macfarlane Smith. Published: 20th May 2004, 22:34:23 | Permalink | Printable

Photos and notes

Wakefield 2004 Alex Macfarlane Smith, of the Nettle development team, attended the second day of the Wakefield show, and having taken various photographs of what he saw, Alex has written up his account of the event from the wide eyes of an end user.

Aemulor and CinoDVD presentation
Thumbnail of Cino/Aemulor presentationThe theatre talk, lead by Neil Spellings of the Aemulor and CinoDVD team, kicked off with a demonstration of Impression Style running under Aemulor on the Iyonix - it looks like a fairly capable piece of software, and I think something like 270 out of the 310 bits of software they've tried runs under Aemulor Pro, so a large 'well done' to its programmer Adrian Lees for all his hard work. Someone in the audience asked as to whether or not it would be possible to run Aemulor on a RiscPC so that you could emulate ARM3 powered legacy kit to run all your old applications on. The answer was no, but Neil didn't know how much effort it would take to make it work. Of course, originally Aemulor was developed on a RiscPC to show that moving to a 32bit OS wouldn't be a problem in terms of running 26bit applications. I didn't actually get to see CinoDVD running, but it sounds like work is progressing on it, especially now that Aemulor Pro's had its first release. The new ADFS that they're working on for Cino sounds like it will basically allow the DVD player to do non-blocking I/O, so that it can request some data from a disc, and then carrying on doing video and audio processing of existing data until the new data arrives, rather than sitting idle waiting as it does at present. This, naturally, sounds useful, and raised the question as to whether it'll be Iyonix-only, or whether the changes might make it into other versions of RISC OS, as it might be useful for KinoAMP and Cineroma on StrongARM Risc PCs too.

RISCOS Ltd. presentation
Thumbnail of BootMenuThis presentation, hosted by RISCOS Ltd.'s Paul Middleton, opened with a look at the new graphical 'Boot Menu' (pictured left) in Adjust, which lets you boot from a CD, your hard disc, a floppy disc, or via a network by holding down the shift key as you start up and selecting the relevant option. It also lets you configure the machine if you cannot reach the desktop, or want to avoid loading the desktop. Paul then spent a while showing off a few of the features of Adjust that were first seen in Select, such as thumbnailing and 'active selections' in the filer, and mentioned details of Select 4 - including possibly abstracting the video layer.

Castle presentation
Thumbnail of PCITV in actionFinally, I went along to the Castle talk, where we were shown a video camera connected to an Iyonix Panther, and outputting live video to the projector screen using Simon Wilson's PCITV software - something that can only be described as 'cool'. Other things that Jack Lillingston, Castle's CEO, demonstrated included plugging a memory card reader into the USB port and showing thumbnailed JPEGs from the memory card of his Sony digital camera in the Filer, although I think the thumbnailer may have been Photofiler rather than being part of the OS like it is in Adjust. He also showed ImageMaster scanning a photo from a scanner plugged into the USB port, playing MP3s in AMPlayer, burning CD-Rs, and generally showing how quick the machine was. Someone in the audience asked about the size of the contracts Castle has with various companies, and Jack replied that they were generally between 10000 and over 50000 units, rather than the definite 50000 which has been reported previously, although no specific applications or customers were mentioned. Either way, it should still be a decent amount of income, and should hopefully fund development for years to come. The only thing that concerned me was that they didn't really seem to have any clear plan on what was going to happen with the development of RISC OS, and I got the impression they were concentrating on their embedded projects as that's where the money is. The real question is exactly how much of this embedded work is going to be useful for the desktop market? Jack also mentioned that Tematic had recently doubled their software engineering staff, so maybe that will mean developments on the desktop RISC OS 5 front may increase a bit. [Alex wrote this article before news of Merlin broke - Ed]

After thoughts and photos
I had a brief chat with Graham Shaw about the RISC OS Toolkit, as it sounded interesting. The example he showed me was basically 20 lines of C++ to do a simple "Hello World" type program, but that included generating the iconbar icon, the main menu from the icon, and the "About this program" Info window. If you're one of those people who hates designing window templates, then the toolkit also features a library to make that work much easier by essentially specifying a layout, and then defining what you want to be in that layout: the Info box in the "Hello World" example was 5 lines of code, 1 to specify which layout to use, and the other 4 for the content. It also handles a lot of the code for the saving of data between applications for you, as you just need to register an object with the save dialogue box, and it then calls you to get the data required to be written out to the file chosen by the user, thus dealing with all of the tricky RAMTransfer or Data messages for you. Provided you don't mind programming in C++, it's probably a very useful toolkit and well worth a look. It's also licensed under the LGPL, which means you can use it in commercial code if you want.

Thumbnail of a photo from Wakefield
drobe.co.uk's Ian Chamberlain demonstrating Netsurf
Thumbnail of a photo from Wakefield
Iyonix X100, the desktop Iyonix
Thumbnail of a photo from Wakefield
A picture of STD's A75 wee orange box thing
Thumbnail of a photo from Wakefield
Someone playing Botkiller 2 on one of the A6's on Stuart Tyrrell's stand
Thumbnail of a photo from Wakefield
An Omega running Adjust - the movie is a Replay movie of a Star Trek: The Next Generation episode, but it seemed to be running at a decent frame rate

I think my main regret was that I failed to notice the Oregano UK stand hiding in the corner, as I would have been interested to see how Oregano 2 was coming along, especially in terms of the rumoured updated Flash support. But overall I found the show quite interesting, and maybe I'll go back next year.

Speaking of Oregano, shortly after the show Richard Brown of OreganoUK told Oregano users: "We have been able to demo an alpha test version of Oregano2. This has bug fixes and one enhancement. The bug fixes will roll out in due course free of charge once they have been tested and proven. The enhancement was Flash 5, this also has to be tested and proven. No times or dates were given for future releases".


Show gossip
Iconbar's Wakefield show report

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The Cino demo that was running was still only about 50% of realtime. Certainly not watchable as a movie.

One of the funniest things at the show was John Cartmell trying to convince us to subscribe to Qercus and being unable to stop himself ranting against Archive's page count. ;-) Qercus just seemed a bit much like a pretty pamphlet to me, not 45quidsworth of magazine really - first time I'd actually seen it. Archive also stands clear as the more interesting and technical of the available magazines.

Nice to meet old faces and new ones at the show. Nice to finally get my hands on the elusive UniPod too! :-)

 is a RISC OS Userimj on 21/5/04 12:49PM
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Actually, I have to take that opportunity to praise STD's team on Unipod. It's a SUPERB piece of equipment which should be considered even with users who have an IDE, Net100 and USB. For starters, I've massively reduce the amount of stuff in my RISC OS box. The ATA part runs as quickly as Blitz (got the speed results somewhere) and appears really nicely designed. Net100 is significantly better than the 10/100 card I had previously. USB is as per the Simtec card. All in all a superb implementation.

 is a RISC OS Usermd0u80c9 on 21/5/04 1:01PM
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I'm getting around 3MB/sec off the UniPod IDE, but the drive map for the 2nd partition keeps changing its size randomly which scares me. (The map for an E+ formatted 9G partition is twice the size of an E+ 20G partition!) Ethernet is performing slightly slower than EtherH which isn't a problem, but a bit of a suprise given that it's 100baseT and certainly a *LOT* better than the Castle 100baseT NIC I have. It's really nice to be able to use USB keyboards and mice - those are certainly more solid than I'd previously seen from the Simtec USB-only card, albeit a while ago. I've got some issues with USB and MassFS which may be related to my devices or my machines and STD were pretty good at getting back to me to solve these too... I expect to be glowing about the whole card in due time. :-) I can also use my USB joypad after just a minor bodge-module tweak, which is great!

 is a RISC OS Userimj on 21/5/04 3:20PM
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Personally I'm dying to see some figures to quantify the performance of the Unipod. Especially comparisons with the internal ide and older 10Mb nics.

-- Spriteman

 is a RISC OS UserSpriteman on 21/5/04 5:24PM
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Doesn't Ian jeffray have an odd sense of humour? I don't know which show he went to at the weekend but it clearly doesn't seem to have been the RISC OS Show at Wakefield. Had he gone to our favourite show he might have heard me try to persuade the audience to buy RISC OS goods (not just Qercus) and celebrate the fact that RISC OS has survived - as it might not have done had Acorn still been around. I certainly talked about Qercus - and Acorn Publisher - and Acorn User - but I don't think I as much as mentioned Archive once. I certainly didn't rant about it! So next time you go to a theatre presentation, Ian, it might help if you turn your deaf aid up - or go to the right show...

... and as for your comment about Qercus - you're entitled - and maybe someday I'll do a review on your software after glancing at the file icon for 5 minutes... OK? ;-)

 is a RISC OS UserQ on 21/5/04 6:04PM
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I didn't go to a theatre presentation. You harangued me as I attempted to pass-by unnoticed. And if you even had any idea of what I work on these days, you'd know it doesn't have a file icon. :-) Nevermind.

 is a RISC OS Userimj on 21/5/04 6:59PM
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Hmm. I suppose I could run some tests and e-mail them to Chris@Drobe if he's interested.

All figures have to be taken with the large pinch of salt that they deserve of course.

 is a RISC OS Usermd0u80c9 on 21/5/04 8:27PM
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Actually - I lie. I can't test my Base10 card vs Net100, 'cos I removed it. Sorry. I could test the speed, but I couldn't compare them.

 is a RISC OS Usermd0u80c9 on 21/5/04 8:27PM
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NEVER attempt to pass by John Unnoticed! :grin:

 is a RISC OS UserThe Doctor on 21/5/04 8:28PM
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I think Ian missed the sarcasm! ;-) He examined the magazine that he criticised as much as I might examine the file icons of his work. At least Ian's comment about my theatre presentation (see the title of this discussion Ian) is clarified. It's based on what someone who didn't go to the presentation didn't hear! And at least I can place the comment now - I'm glad it kept Ian amused - as a reply to someone who asked if I could put past copies of Qercus on a CD like Archive and I had to reply that each issue of Qercus just about fills a CD.

 is a RISC OS UserQ on 21/5/04 8:41PM
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For Spriteman: We're testing aspects of the UNIpod at the moment and we'll get some figures in a future issue of Qercus. A related test was of !MassFS where we found that with just a modicum of work we could get a random (actually an Olympus) camera to link via USB having experienced problems linking it with a PC and an Iyonix. We'll report the latter as soon as we can work out what's going wrong.

 is a RISC OS UserQ on 22/5/04 12:24AM
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md0u80c9: hey, I'd be very interested to see some test results - drop me an email, when you're ready.


 is a RISC OS Userdiomus on 22/5/04 12:30AM
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Q: You will learn as your investigations continue, that USB is not an exact science. I'm successfully using three USB devices here with my Iyonix, that I've not had working with !MassFS.

It's my view that if someone sells a RISC OS USB card, or a RISC OS system that purports to support USB, support and development should be free. After all, I've paid for the hardware!

It's good to see that Iyonix USB development is proceeding with this in mind - setting an example for other RISC OS USB developers.


 is a RISC OS Userdgs on 22/5/04 12:41AM
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To dgs & Chris, I do know the problems of USB. I deal with such things at a very simplistic level - when I plug the lead in, does it work? - I know the technical gurus out there will scorn the approach but at least I'm reporting for real people who simply want things to work! And, if Chris is a Qercus subscriber, he will get the results delivered to his door! ;-)

 is a RISC OS UserQ on 22/5/04 12:59AM
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To Q: Actually some techies are on your side. I /hate/ having to put on my techie hat just to use something.

 is a RISC OS Useradrianl on 22/5/04 1:24AM
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Q: That's quite all right, getting the devices in question to work on my Iyonix did indeed just require "I plug the lead in".

If your "real people" can genuinely add something meaningful to that, then I look forward to their comments ;-)

What is the Qercus lead time, by the way? Six weeks minimum? Or more?


 is a RISC OS Userdgs on 22/5/04 1:32AM
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Please let's not descend into the ridiculous nonsense about "techies" and "users" and "gurus" somehow being distinct and alien species, who never communicate and can't understand each other.

Everyone prefers a plug and play solution, "pay for support" approaches don't necessarily make it easier for the end user.


 is a RISC OS Userdgs on 22/5/04 1:50AM
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Plug and Play Plug and play is what Microsoft aspire to for the entire computing experience. RISCOS Ltd too want users to unpack there new machines, connect, and the machine itself to then configure itself (in an ever watching fashion) to whatever else is around; monitor, printer, network, cameras, TV system etc. Paul Middleton even, half seriously, said (Sunday, Wakefield 2004) that life would be so much easier if users could not get into (and did not need to) ever go into !Boot except maybe occassionally and then only through the provided interface. I'm all for all of this so long as the techies and technical gurus and even those with just a passing interest can get through the protective layer when they want to, easily. Hopefully, this accesibility is an aspect of computing where RISC OS will remains different (and superior to) to M$ Windows.

Unipod Jeepers - I though Unipod was an April Fool - I guess that getting folks to think that was the April Fool. I fell for it.

 is a RISC OS Usermartin on 22/5/04 8:55AM
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Oregano2 mentioned at the end of this article - what does the enhancement Flash do in Oregano2? Also, I have only just gor Oregano2 a couple of weeks ago loaded up in my RISC OS 4.02 - each time I click to enable the media sound under the choices from the menu's icon bar it shows enable while in view, but click another choice and then return to the media sound only to find it is't staying on enable but it is "grey" as disabled. Are the choice settings in the Oregano2 programme Access Locked? Or have I not set it up to play through the computers speakers (or MIDI Card). I don't have a sound card only MIDI card. Any ideas? Cheers, Steve.

 is a RISC OS UserSawadee on 23/5/04 9:27AM
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