MicroDigital customers struggling to contact the Omega manufacturing company have hit yet another brick wall this week: calls to the company's telephone line are met with an automatic message from BT explaining that the number is no longer recognised. The company's web and email hosting has also been suspended by provider Co-Comp, leaving emails sent to them languishing in digital limbo for the time being.
The company is currently sought by bailiffs, on behalf of an ex-Omega owner who took MicroDigital to court earlier this year to obtain a refund for £1500.
hEgelia: It seems that MD already are unreachable. It's a sad state of affairs, but the best thing to do would probably be to forget about them, although Omega owners, or those trying to get their money back, will understandably feel differently.
The sad thing is, if MD hadn't a) behaved so ridiculously childishly, and b) actually *talked* to the press properly, all this might not have happened at all. I know a lot of people never went near them because of both those reasons.
I think even *I* could run a company more professionally. And that's saying something.
Yes, I think you are right. I must admit, as a recent returnee to the RISC scene after a while away, the reason I avoided them and went for a Iyonix from Castle and a RISC PC from APDL was a feeling of unease about their way of operating when I was doing my research over which route to take . . . still, it is such a pity though . . .
Why wouldn't Omega owners want to take control of their own future support issues? And if there's to be any driver development, etc, such documents will be important.
martin: I don't think so. They are likely to depreciate markedly (and probably already have done so). Compare with a much more well-known machine that was produced in only small numbers - the BeBox. They are a little tricky to get hold of, and despite their enthusastic following, still don't sell for large amounts (a few hundred dollars).
Omega's (sic) selling for the 1500 UKP or so it took to purchase them in future as a collector's item seems exceedingly unlikely.
The Omega you mentioned has been sold.
(actually it has been sold to me )
It was a few days before the hype started...
But I'm optimistic I would buy it again.
The only thing I should have done never is :
Trying to flash te machine ... it went wrong so I have a dead motherboard.
It needs reflashing and i hope it can be done some time...
If not I can always try to buy a Iyonix motherboard and put it in the OMEGA case.
( so that will be a unique RISC OS monster......)
It looks like MD UK is a dead end, but I don't think it is the end for support .
From a users point of view it would be great if a way could be found to Release the control modules under GPL so the last of the bugs could be ironed out. Also see if there is a way to get Stuart Tyrrell to finish off the USB. I also wonder how far along the Xscale development was, while ARMTwister is probably dead it may well be practical for someone to release the XScale option with RISC OS Adjust32 instead.
While I would agree a market outside the platform is limited, the Omega project still could be a good base for prototype development and small runs of specialist computer control systems so someone might take up the project. On the other hand the project is likely to be going cheep so it may be possible for another RISC OS related company to take on the Omega and sell it at a substantially reduced cost and still make money.
I'm afraid your hope is a pipedream. Other RISC OS companies already have their own solutions; taking on something like that would prove to be very expensive, and of no practical purpose compared to what they already have. The bottom line is that a company would have to make a worthwhile profit - there's no obvious way to do this from what remains an expensive piece of hardware. Also, small production runs are notoriously expensive. The Iyonix has managed to come down in price so much in part because of volume.
Additionally I can't imagine Stuart Tyrell wanting to give Omega owners a reason *not* to buy the A9. As to XScale development the version they probably would have used (given when it was originally announced) would have been the 80200 which by this stage is *very old hat*. Also simply replacing the StrongARM with an XScale (of that vintage or a newer one) would require a substantial board re-design - and that would not benefit existing owners.
Besides the raison d'etre of ArmTwister no longer exists - you *can* run 32bit and 26bit code on the one machine (as in Iyonix) and RISC OS has been 32bitted also by ROL so again no need. Besides with ArmTwister was never fully explained *how* you'd have a StrongARM and xScale interact in a way that both code would run without horrendous performance hits (I certainly can't remember any *clear* explanation and that inspite of queries from David Ruck and others).
The best one can hope for is that *enough* information will become available to allow Omega users to have their machines maintained or (if as happens in the case of EasyKees) that a "reflash" option will be available to revive their machines. Currently Omega owners are in a state of limbo - which is not a good situation - and I hope MD can be prevailed upon to help in at least leaving some sort of structure in place such that existing Omega owners *can* be supported (and if that means making information open then so be it).
I suspect reflashing can be done with JTAG; that's not too hard to arrange with the right setup, although I imagine it could take a day of fiddling to get the right bits sorted. If I were to come across such an Omega, I'd certainly have a go, although there are probably other people in a better position to do so.
Stuart Tyrrell agreed to do the USB work some time ago. I'm not sure how far they have got and if it was paid for though.
As for the XScale the motherboard has a socket for it already, it just needs a processor card to plug into it.
The reflashing does use the JTAG system. I did try to get Microdigital to supply me with thedata so I could use JTAG to do mine but unfortunately they wouldn't.
I kind of figured that Omega could be programmed through a JTAG interface (in fact I vaguely recall some article that mentioned that early Omegas demoed needed a PC to "program" the FPGAs prior to startup which I presumed at the time was via JTAG).
My original concern about the "reflashing" was *not* about the practicalities (e.g., could you use JTAG) but rather the availability of the appropriate image data in order to do it and as Ian you've confirmed they [MD] have not supplied you with the required data. The other issue is some FPGA's have a "Security" feature that prevents them from being read - if that's the case for Omega then either (a). MD have to provide the data (b). Someone who already *has* the data is prepared to share it.
It should not fall to MD's own customers to fix the computer or require the public spirited efforts of Peter Naulls - it's *MD's* responsibility. They should, IMHO, put structures in place so that they're customers are adequately supported.
The most relevant reference to USB work being done (or not) for the Omega was one I found from drobe [link] were in April 2004 Simtec denied doing any work on Omega inspite of MD apparently suggesting that they were. I don't know if that changed later - or if Stuart Tyrell was "roped into it" as it were (the clear inference from the article was that Simtec thought MD were implementing their own USB stack). Unless Stuart has committed publically to do it for them then I'd be sceptical about the likelihood of it happening.
That's a rather strange viewpoint, given the precise nature of the above article. There are lots of things MD "should" have done, but clearly haven't. You can wish all you want about what MD, Acorn et al might have done, but the important point I'm making is that if Omega owners want support, then they'll have to do something about it themselves, as has been the case with so many other areas of RISC OS after Acorn vanished. Sitting around hoping MD will now do additional support is going to be fruitless. On the other hand, there's already a knowledge base about the Omega, and more could be added through perhaps reverse engineering, etc. RISC OS users have already proved themselves proficient at providing such support - it just needs someone motivated.
Peter> I know you're right, but I was kind of hoping that some sort of appeal might provoke MD into being at least forthcoming to the extent of at least making the relevant infortmation available (in effect making more feasible what you're suggesting). And yes it is probably highly unlikely to happen but I thought I give it a shot anyway (in the mode of nothing ventured nothing gained....)
Regarding, who can do what with Microdigital code and hardware designs.
I was under the impression that when a limited company becomes insolvent that the creditors are intitiled to the assets of that company. I would assume in this case, that this includes the IP of Microdigital; therefore, anyone taking this knowledge and releasing it without the permission of the fiscals is performing an illegal act.
No, of course not. But before engaging in any more speculation, how about someone assemble what information _is_ known, and what would like to be known. Once that's determined, then people can start worrying about the consequences and methods of obtaining what isn't known. Doing so beforehand just seems like getting all worked up over theoretical situations.