South West 2006 round upBy Chris Williams. Published: 20th Feb 2006, 01:31:30 | Permalink | Printable
Observations, rumours and other news bites from the weekend's eventThe South West show kicked off this weekend and you'll be forgiven if you missed it. The shy event played host to a good range of exhibitors, although there were no great surprises as most companies preferred to bring developments previously showcased during the December road show. The overall atmosphere was described as being quiet to begin with, but picking up later and being generally more upbeat than previous affairs in Somerset. The more older bearded punters also noticed a few new youngsters; warming the hearts of those terrified that their platform of choice will literally die out before it's London's turn to host the Olympics.
R-Comp brought with them CDs of Messenger Pro 4. This new version of the email and usenet client features a friendlier installation system and foreign language spellcheck facilities along with updated documentation and hints'n'tips on using the application. The publisher also had new versions of UniPrint and Hermes to show off. Archive continued to sell its compilation booklets. David Snell was seen flogging design application ProCAD+ and website creator WebWonder. Icon Technology were proudly selling copies of TechWriter and EasiWriter, the latest versions of which can export pages as drawfiles and have been built using StubsG.
Alongside Aemulor and Geminus, Spellings Software demonstrated a planned addition to Geminus which can accelerate the speed at which RISC OS handles JPEGs. Adrian Lees's code can plot JPEG images to the screen up to 300% faster than the operating system's built in SpriteExtend module, apparently.
Advantage Six spent the day pushing the line that their A9home is ideal for people who want to carry a computer to and from an office and home, or otherwise on the move between locations where there are monitors, keyboards, mice and network ports ready and waiting. Ad6's Matt Edgar explained to the crowds what works and what doesn't work, and that there's no formal release date set. The team wants to ship the device to end users once everything is known to be working in order to avoid costly product recalls or the issuing of patches as after-sales band aids. The machine is currently in the hands of paying beta testers.
Aside from the view that ROL and Castle just refuse to get along, RISCOS Ltd told users at the show that there are two issues holding back a Select for Iyonix port: money and information. The 100 Iyonix owners who pledged to subscribe to Select are not enough it's reported, and ROL are hoping that cash from the share investment scheme will raise the money to pay for programmer time to finish off the Select Iyonix project. The other point, we understand, is that ROL are not aware of how the underlying components in RISC OS 5 inter-communicate, which makes the job of re-using said components - mainly driver modules - in Select difficult because of the differences between the RISC OS 4 and 5 kernels. We gather that it's not quite as straight forward as simply loading the Castle modules over a 32bit RISC OS 4 kernel during boot up, for example, however ROL are now willing to release bits and pieces of Select for the Iyonix as an 'interim' package. It also appears that A9home users will have to subscribe to Select in order to get all the latest features in the OS when they buy the machine, and that Advantage Six worked on the drivers and low level code specific to the ARM9 powered computer, leaving the job of Select 4 and 32bit RISC OS to ROL. ROL apologised for being around 18 months late with Select 4 and meanwhile crossed their fingers so that their user base will resubscribe to the scheme.
Castle were back to offering DIY kits of their XScale Iyonix computers, dropping the price of an Iyonix further if one doesn't need the bundled software and can find hard discs, RAM and other hardware elsewhere cheaper and can build a computer singlehandedly. It's believed that the production of A7000s stopped recently too; the last of the ARM7500 powered computers have been shipped overseas. When asked if the two streams of RISC OS will ever come back together again, the answer from Jack boiled down to a 'no' according to the opinion of some show attendees. The Merlin project is on hold too, we understand. The Castle stand and presentation was said to be virtually the same as what was shown last year, although some people noticed that many other exhibitors now have Iyonixes on their tables. CTL boss Jack Lillingston, who was manning his company's stand, was spotted nipping into the ROL presentation to catch speaker Paul Middleton for what appears to have been a chat, it's been claimed.
R-Comp, APDL and CJE Micros all enjoyed crowds flocking to their displays, while MW Software made using ArtWorks 2 look easy, apparently.
A full report of the show theatre presentations to follow.
|Entrance to the event in North Somerset. Cream teas all round?|
|Those familiar R-Compsters in their red R-Compster tops and matching R-Compster chairs and table cloth|
|The Castle stand with Jack Lillingston (middle) admiring the sheer physical speed of one punter|
|Young woman (front right) double takes at prices on one dealer's stand|
|So peaceful, so quiet|
|Ah, that's more like it. Fight for those bargins|
|'Spot the ball' type competition: Where's the A9home in this pic?|
Heard anything interesting? Taken photos?
Special thanks go to Dave Symes for the news tips and photos, Richard from the Classic Acorn website and other scouts
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Liquid Silicon •
Chris Why's Acorn/RISC OS collection •
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