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Omega welcome guide confirmed

By Chris Williams. Published: 6th Jan 2005, 07:20:43 | Permalink | Printable

Well, that's something good, then

Omega motifIt's been a while since we've heard from Microdigital. According to accounts from some sources, it's been a while since Microdigital's customers have heard from the Yorkshire based hardware developer too.

However, there has been some news: the company has reportedly sent out Omega Welcome Guides to their users, which are akin to the welcome guides that came with the Acorn RiscPC. The Omega is a StrongARM powered computer than runs RISC OS 4 and compatible software, and developed in-house by Microdigital.

"The last thing I got from them a few weeks ago was a short 'Welcome Guide', some 60 pages, but quite well written - explaining how to open the Omega, replacing and adding hard discs and CD drives, along with a 'support CD' which contains the promised bundled software (Masterfile, Ovation, Tablecalc, DrawWorks, Audioworks) - apart from the legendary 'Lynx Internet Suite' of course", says one source.

Microdigital are currently, we all hope, working on the Omega's USB, XScale and graphics sub-systems, although they've been very quiet since the Castle-RISC OS market dispute that kicked off during the summer of 2004.


Microdigital website

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Microdigital are a quiet lot.

I'm impressed with their range of computers and particularly the portable laptops.

It would be nice if at least one New Zealand computer outlet stocked a few of these machines to see them.

The cost of getting to the UK is about the same as the cost of the Omega laptop! Ouch!

 is a RISC OS UserSawadee on 6/1/05 9:08AM
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In the Netherlands it also seems very quiet, eventhough MD Europe are located here. At least I reckon we'll be hearing from them at the RO Expo show.

I'm quite curious as to how it performs and what it can do these days, but it is reassuring work still seems to be ongoing.

Btw Sawadee, their laptop is called the Alpha... ;)

 is a RISC OS UserhEgelia on 6/1/05 10:16AM
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Sawadee - Our [RCI] (and to some extent MD's) laptops have been covered in the RISC OS press on a number of occasions. I know it isn't quite the same as "seeing" them, but is actually probably as (more?) informative. Shipping of laptops from the UK is not as pricy as you might thing. Just make sure they have international warrantee.

 is a RISC OS Userarawnsley on 6/1/05 11:20AM
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Unfortunately, in the past 9 years of my RISC OS experience, I have only managed to get internet connection to my computer at school just 6 months ago.

Apart from having the internet now and the vanishing publicity or market exposure of RO here many years ago, RO news or local RO suppliers here are almost non existence.

Shipping costs never really concerned me, in my earlier comments I was meaning to say and point out that the general prices of the Omega (and most RO computers) is very close to my airfares to the UK!

What I was getting at, was that I would rather use the money for airfares to the UK on buying a new computer (why fly to the UK? If I were to view the range of RO computers to buy).

Otherwise I'm left with news press info, internet or catalogue shopping? I wonder how many RO users actually bought a RO computer without actually physically seeing it?

I am personally a very basic low skilled computer user compared to most that I see on Drobe, so I personally would prefer to see a RO computer in front of me rather than just reading the "Specs" before deciding which one to buy.

I have an A5000 on my XP laptop, but I must say the Omega range of Alpha Laptops certainly "looks" much nicer. Good to see we have choices within RO!

 is a RISC OS UserSawadee on 7/1/05 7:38AM
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I have only ever bought one computer without seeing one first and that was my original BBC B. This was some months before any machines were delivered, so not only had I not seen it, it was still vapourware! But I didn't regret it. But it's true you can be put off by seeing the machine and playinf with it. Doing that has certainly put me off buying a Windows PC (I'm actually typing this on one now, but don't tell anybody).

 is a RISC OS Usermrtd on 7/1/05 8:50AM
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I bought my A3000 and RiscPC without seeing them. Before them, my Electron was a gift but I was familiar with Beebs before I bought my B. More recently I bought components and built a PC without seeing anything first. Although my knowledge of computers have grown such that I was confident in doing so.

With modern RISC OS computers I'd trust I'd get what I expect from an Iyonix. The Omega is more expensive, slower and MD inspire less trust so if I really wanted one I'd want to see both it an an Iyonix first to see I was making the right decission. With the 'RISC OS' laptops I'd just buy my own laptop locally and a copy of Virtual RiscPC. If I was in NZ I think I might be tempted to have a holiday in Singapore and return with a cheap laptop :)

What do the rest of you think? Anyone holding back on a purchace until they actually see the machine they want? -- Spriteman

 is a RISC OS UserSpriteman on 7/1/05 9:37AM
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I bought my Iyonix as soon as I knew that a faster RO machine was available.

I paid for it at the Birmingham ARM Club Show and took it home with me.

I did not put a deposit on either the Omega or the RO laptop ;-).

 is a RISC OS Userron. on 7/1/05 3:46PM
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spriteman: "What do the rest of you think? Anyone holding back on a purchace until they actually see the machine they want?" Well, since you ask... ;) I couldn't give two hoots about actually touching a computer before buying it.


 is a RISC OS Useradamr on 7/1/05 4:32PM
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I must admit that I wanted to play with an Iyonix at the shows before I bought one. But in truth, the experience I had at the shows was too short to be useful and didn't impress me too much.

Nonetheless I knew I wanted to buy one, mostly because of what I'd read about them in reviews and e.g. on drobe (I wasn't disappointed). To me, much more important than trying it out was making sure that the software I wanted to run was available.

Strangely, the fact that Castle produced a Welcome guide was also important, because it implied they were serious about producing a computer for general use (rather than just for techies). So I think Microdigital have done the right thing by making a guide too, even if most Omega owners may not need one.

 is a RISC OS Userflypig on 7/1/05 5:18PM
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In reply to Spriteman I bought my Kinetic RiscPC having not touched or seen in the flesh any RiscPC what-so-ever. I had an A5000 at the time and almost bought into Windows. I've never regarded my Kinetic as anything other than a great machine.

 is a RISC OS Usermartin on 7/1/05 7:56PM
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As another living in the Southern Hemisphere we have the problem that unless we happen to travel to England and it coincides with a show (I've been fortunate enough to do that on 3 of the 4 times I've been that way) we must buy sight unseen unless someone else we know has made the jump before us. That is the way now. However there are a small number of RISC OS users with a range of skills ready, willing and able to assist each other as the recent "Chuditch" or Iyonix downunder venture showed. We are still in contact with each other and still referring one an other on to people best equipped/skilled to help. So Sawadee, you are more than welcome to contact us and don't let your perceived lack on hardware knowledge be a barrier. I'm sure you know far more about Sibelius than anyone else in our informal but helpful Iyonix downunder circle. This group would help any RISC OS user irrespective of machine or location.

 is a RISC OS Userrmac on 7/1/05 11:26PM
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I think about 70% of our customers buy without actually seeing in the flesh first, and go more on reputation and trust, after discussing their requirements first. This makes sense really, as no two machines are really alike - everyone wants something slightly different based on use/budget. Seeing a machine allows you to judge a concept, I guess, but beyond that unless you see *your* machine I'm not convinced the seeing really helps so much. However, we have had a couple of people who have refused to purchase *without* seeing, which is why I like to have a few on display at exhibitions.

 is a RISC OS Userarawnsley on 7/1/05 11:30PM
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rmac Yes I appreciate the fact that more than most RISC OS users anywhere in the world are very helpful towards one another. We are a close knit community but I "dream" that it would be nice if there were more RO users in the area. As for knowledge of computers, although I seldom use a PC I am regarded as very knowledgeable on computers here because of the ability I have acquired on RO.

That compliment goes to the RISC OS platform computer and all you helpful users more skilled than I am. With no computer training and very little RISC OS user contact, I still can achieve higher user level and skills on my RISC OS than most peer teachers after 2 years of MS training.

I wasn't meaning to quote my lack of skills, but in a better way of putting it I have always been proud using RO and associating with so many skilled computer users.

Yes there are a few skilled PC users too but a majority of them are well below the basic user level. I don't mean to be rude to PC users in any way, but I base this statement on observations during staff basic training sessions.

 is a RISC OS UserSawadee on 8/1/05 6:03AM
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Having used previous versions of RISC OS before, I am not really concerned with not trying a new machine before using it. However, because I also live in New Zealand, one of the main concerns for buying a new machine here is technical support. I live in Christchurch, and the nearest dealer is in Auckland (ESD) - a 2 hour flight away. I believe there is a private RO technician who operates in the city, but I cannot find any contact information. Although I would not mind shipping my computer to Auckland for repairs, I'm sure a lot of new users could not be bothered and just buy a PC or Mac.

After the split of the Acorn Group, New Zealand's RISC OS dealership network really suffered. For new users or those without much technical knowledge, I can see how they could become bewildered with the lack of dealers and support in the country. People without knowledge of computers would want to see and try out what they are spending NZ$4,000+ on, especially when the local PC importer can throw together a top-spec PC for much cheaper. Some of the main selling points are the nice GUI, the quietness an Iyonix can achieve - things which people may not believe over the internet.

The local primary school in my area, who had been using RO and BBC computers for 20 years, recently replaced their large network of RPCs, A7000s and A5000s with PCs mainly because the school could not find a technician to fix the RPC server.

It is understandable, however, that New Zealand only has one dealer, since the country is so small and the userbase of RO even smaller. It is good that there are sites like Drobe, Welcome Guides, user groups and forums to help people in remote areas.

 is a RISC OS Usertimephoenix on 8/1/05 6:49AM
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sawadee:"Yes there are a few skilled PC users too but a majority of them are well below the basic user level. I don't mean to be rude to PC users in any way, but I base this statement on observations during staff basic training sessions." I doubt that RISC OS users are inherently cleverer than Windows users. I *do* think that RISC OS encourages and helps it's users to understand the way their computer works. In the long run, this makes them better able to use the tools available to them. In contrast, Windows tries its best to *hide* everything from the user!


 is a RISC OS Useradamr on 8/1/05 11:33AM
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In reply to adamr: I think it is something else:

If you know nothing about computers, you buy a Windows machine, but you still don't know anything about computers.

If you now something more about it and are interested in it, you could buy a RISC OS machine.

So, on average, RISC OS user know more about computers then Windows users.


 is a RISC OS UserPeter on 8/1/05 7:07PM
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I am more fortunate than "Timephoenix", I am only 5 minute drive to ESD's office in Auckland.

I assume that the picture we try to paint of the RO existence this half of the world would be like saying we feel sorry for the UK and Europeans who cannot get service and support for their Aussie (Australian) Holden and Ford made cars? (Assuming there were virtually none available).

20 to 30 years ago, I used to own several motorbike in Australia. Before I purchased the last one I bought in about 1984 (Yamaha FJ1200), I saw the first Demo Model touring the Yamaha dealerships in the country before I bought it.

Could it be possible for Omega (ROD & CTL etc) to have a demo model of a new release do a tour of "Down Under" countries dealerships? If a raffle is possible then what's stopping a marketing promotion tour? What do you think?

 is a RISC OS UserSawadee on 8/1/05 11:03PM
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In reply to SAWADEE: A tour of dealers is limited by the fact that Australia doesn't have any - well none now publicised as such.

It might need a leap of faith for Castle et al to send a machine on a tour of enthusiasts in each state. The location of the machine could be advertised by internet and a local organising a venue and time for the display. Once that was over forwarding it on to the next state or region for a repeat. In Australia it is a long way from Denmark to the only dealer handling RISC OS who is in northern NSW. The informal network that we have may be the only way to ensure hands-on promotion in the immediate future.

 is a RISC OS Userrmac on 9/1/05 2:58AM
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I believe the crew at ESD (then Acorn NZ) were arranging a NZ roadshow for the Phoebe just before the project was cancelled and Acorn went belly up. However back then there were 10+ Acorn dealers across the country. As rmac said, there are not enough dealerships these days, in both NZ and Australia.

Ideally there would be some sort of united roadshow with several companies exhibiting, which could draw more crowds and make the long trip more worthwhile. Exactly who would organize the whole thing though, let alone pay for it, is another story.

 is a RISC OS Usertimephoenix on 9/1/05 6:18AM
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Peter (and others): What difference does it make wether an average RISC OS user knows more about computers than an average Windows user? Is that going to help selling the platform? Hardly. A "we are better than you" attitude is actually more likely to scare people from even checking it out.

I know a few people that actively avoid looking at linux as a viable platform simply because they've been scared into thinking that linux is only for computer nerds and has no practical use.

 is a RISC OS UserGulli on 9/1/05 1:40PM
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gulli:Yes, I agree - I specifically said that I do *not* think that "we are better than you". Adam

 is a RISC OS Useradamr on 9/1/05 4:26PM
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I was not intending to start a debate between MS & RO user skills.

I would agree as Gulli says it may not help sell RO but it is sure nice to see that most RO users are skilled above the average of MS users that I see in the schools system. Elsewhere I would not know the average skill level in your workforce and country?

Certainly I understand that the ESD roadshow went ahead a few years ago without Phoebe and they promoted their schools software programme (TAPS) and computer systems (including what Acorn they had) to impress school groups that they visited around the country.

The last paragraph in "timephoenix" comment says it all. In a catch 22 situation from what I see, the UK suppliers aren't rich to give out much for free promotions, local suppliers aren't rich enough either to buy stock to show to many would be potentials comparing MS to RO and too many times that is where it ends.

Back to the topic point, how do I get to "see" an Omega (or any other RO computer) to show it off to my peer teachers? :smile:

 is a RISC OS UserSawadee on 10/1/05 1:14AM
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in reply to gulli: It doesn't make any difference that, on average, RISC OS users know more about computers, it is just a logical..eh...observation (I don't think babelfish gave me the correct translation). And no, that is no help in selling the platform, maybe the opposite. If people ask you to help them fix there computer, they are not likely to think the computer you are using at home is simpler to use then there own computer. How can you help them is your system is simpler then there system? And no, it is not an attitude, it is: a: what Window users think (if they ask you to help them); b: a mathematical conclusion.

Back on topic: I bought my first computer without seeing it (BBC-B) and also the last (Iyonix).


 is a RISC OS UserPeter on 10/1/05 8:37AM
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Oeps, auto formatting kicked in. The In reply to a [colon] should just be a [colon]


 is a RISC OS UserPeter on 10/1/05 8:43AM
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Castle should send an Iyonix on a dealer/usergroup promotion tour through Australia / New Zeeland. I, for one, also believe it is important for people to see, touch and smell the Iyonix, because that would deliver far more realism and feel than simply summing up the specs on a webpage. Like arawnsley said "we have had a couple of people who have refused to purchase without seeing" what I find understandable.

I think there are quite a lot of people 'down under' who might well be interested in buying one or a dozen Iyonixes if properly approached and I get the feeling they have been ignored too much since the old oaktree fell. I believe there might still be many people around enthusiastic about RISC OS and wondering if it's really worth it buying a new machine, just because there is a severe lack of commitment by the Britain based developers and dealerships.

So, it's time for the Iyonix (and possibly even the Omega) to hit the road down under for an exclusive tour!

 is a RISC OS UserhEgelia on 10/1/05 3:17PM
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hEgelia: I do not think this works. I feel it is easy to say 'Castle should <blabla>'. I do not think it works in practice, and I do not think Castle should listen, unless they want to loose some money.

But I am willing to put my theory to the test. I am willing to donate money to buy a brand new Iyonix for this purpose. But you (or whoever else takes up the challange) can organise this 'promotion tour' of yours, keep statistics to find out how many people actually bought an Iyonix because of this tour.

You say 'Castle should'. This indicates to me that you feel this is a financially seen wise thing to do. If you can convince an independent part (I propose drobe) that this indeed should have been a financially viable thing to do for Castle, you may keep the Iyonix. Otherwise, you make sure it comes to me...

So... Any takers?...

(some disclamers here... Although I mean what I say, details have to be agreed on, so disclaimer, disclaimer, disclaimer! :-) )

 is a RISC OS Userjjvdgeer on 10/1/05 7:48PM
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I have actually considered whether there are ways of selling RISCubes/RISCbooks in greater numbers outside of the UK. However, the problem we have faced (which possibly deserves mention) is that on a number of occasions, people have approached dealers for RISCube/RISCbook machines, and been sold (or heavily preasured) into dealers' own self-built products. I appreciate that this is a problem to be faced by anyone not producing their own motherboards, but it does show the lack of appreciation of what goes into machines (speaking as someone who spends several days or more sometimes per machine). Indeed I have one distinct memory where a customer came to tell us that he had just ordered one of our machines from a dealer...you can guess he didn't end up with one of our machines! Some even come to us for tech support...!

Overseas this is, of course, compounded. Components are much cheaper locally of course, which makes it even more tempting for dealers to produce their own. And to be fair, why not? I'm still not really sure how to market the time/effort/optimisation/care/customisation aspects of selling a machine. And if you use dealers, they need to make their %age too... Answers on a postcard!

 is a RISC OS Userarawnsley on 10/1/05 8:46PM
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The answer doesn't appear to be an easy one.

Offering kits so that local cheaper sources could be used used to complete the units may be an incentive for overseas suppliers.

But then I don't think many suppliers "this side of the black stump" (the end of the Earth) would have time to assemble units unless there was enough money in it? May have to start with postcards?

 is a RISC OS UserSawadee on 11/1/05 6:26AM
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I think JJ has a good idea there. If the Australasian RO community could put together a tour of demo venues for a machine, surely one could be obtained? I imagine, given a credible exposure to potential customers, that Castle would offer one at a good price. If the European RO community then had a whip-round (as JJ suggests), the computer could be in the Antipodes for a very good price.

If it generates a decent number of orders then that should help shipping costs (or ask Castle to help yet again by shipping motherboards and get a dealer to assemble them locally). At worst, there's one more 32-bit RO user in the world.

Why should Castle help? Well, as long as they sell at cost or above then they are not losing out because these customers are otherwise inaccessible. Why should the RO community help? 'Cos we're nice people who value our friends down-under, of course :-)

I'll make a small donation if someone takes up the challenge...

 is a RISC OS UserTonyStill on 11/1/05 9:37PM
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Some good ideas here, but I sadly wonder how you persuade new customers to buy an Iyonix as against the new 340 Mac, (say) which comes bundled with some nice software...sigh

 is a RISC OS UserEddie on 11/1/05 10:06PM
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A roadshow arranged by user-groups would be a cost-effective way of organizing the tour, assuming there are enough volunteers available. I'm just afraid that the usergroups are now too small in number to make a sizeable dent on the amount of labour required.

Remember to keep in mind the large costs of organizing something like this. Buying the demo kit is just a portion of the costs. Venue hire, logisitics, security and event promotion are all awfully expensive. That's why I believe that a tour involving more than one company/product is more viable, since it gives the public a better impression of RO, could trigger more sales and makes all the costs worthwhile.

Sponsorship from manufacturer(s) and/or dealers is the most obvious source of funding.

 is a RISC OS Usertimephoenix on 12/01/05 00:29AM
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At our australian an New Zealand users:

Sending a parcel from Europe is cheaper then you might think. Eg: When you buy a diy kit from Castle i assume that the weight is between 5-10 kg. Sending that from the Netherlands to down under would cost me 31 euro. That about 25 UKP.. So the cost of sending cannot be an issue.

If you drop a mail to Castle i think that they would be glad to send you a list of all compatible hw.

And i think that there are enough people who can assist with building the computer, which isnt very diffcult to do.

So gentlemen......pick up the glove ;-]

Rick, an omega user.

 is a RISC OS Userrdenk144 on 12/01/05 08:10AM
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re: dealers in NZ

Although Webmonster don't deal in new RISC OS machines yet, we are a NZ RISC OS dealer. In fact if you search in NZ for "RISC OS dealer" or "RISC OS computer" via google, Webmonster comes up in the first 3 or so. In the meantime, before I get new RISC OS machines, I'm supporting and upgrading the RiscPC etc. - Unipod anyone? ;-)

 is a RISC OS Userwebmonster on 12/01/05 09:30AM
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The problem is, that mail between Europe and NZ often gets lost, so you have to have appropriate insurance. And normal mail, that is not the usual letter format, takes ages (as in months) anyway, so you would want to use an express service. Both combined can get very expensive.

 is a RISC OS UserJGZimmerle on 12/01/05 5:23PM
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Thats no problem.You can take an insurance for that. The costs are euro 49,50 and euro 2,75 per 450 euro insured value ( first 500 euro is in the 49,50). So still not so expensive than one might think. A roundtrip costs a lot more ;-]


 is a RISC OS Userrdenk144 on 12/01/05 7:42PM
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oops.. pressed the 'add this post' button too soon. For the 49,50 the delivery is worldwide within three days.

 is a RISC OS Userrdenk144 on 12/01/05 7:44PM
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As the experience of Iyonix downunder (Chuditch) showed small parcels are cost effective and quick. Around AU$70 for each Iyonix OEM pack compared to around AU$450 for a complete machine. There are other costs of course but should be smaller.

An exhibition doesn't have to be in the Exhibition Centre and catering for thousands (you won't get them) but can be in a Parish or School Hall and even a few volunteers can manage that. What would/could cost money is advertising. A simple invite through Archive-on-line, acorn.announce etc is no cost. Newspaper or magazine advertising is more expensive. Even making a machine available to Computer magazines and/or writers to get a lead-in article prior to the show may be effective.

In the case of press you may need two machines ie one travelling in advance for the press and another for the exhibition (or multiple machines if more than one company is involved)

We have enough skilled and resourceful people to make something happen. All we need is some company to take up the incidental costs (shipping, advertising and venue hire) even if a "nominal budget" was set for each location to work to. The keen user base that still exists would make it happen locally.

 is a RISC OS Userrmac on 13/01/05 07:03AM
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In my experience you can get lots of free good advertising from the local press through newspaper articles. When I organised the Omega the Omega road show event in Soest, all I had to do to get a 1/8th page article before the show, was to phone up the local newspaper, quickly explain what was so special about the thing, a bit of hype (British computer manufacturer coming to visit the local computer club...) and a photo of the organizers grouped around the computer (could be montaged in Photodesk).

 is a RISC OS UserJGZimmerle on 13/01/05 09:56AM
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