Wakefield 2006 theatre previewBy Chris Williams. Published: 27th Apr 2006, 01:45:29 | Permalink | Printable
A9 Bluetooth in Manchester appearance
The Wakefield show presentation timetable was published yesterday, outlining what punters can expect to hear from leading RISC OS companies and developers. The theatre talks give speakers a chance to tout their products and hype up their business for the eager crowds.
Announcing the list, show organiser Chris Hughes said: "Each presentation will be 45 minutes long, approximately. Entrance is free, but there will only be approximately 80 seats available."
At 10.30am, AdvantageSix will be demonstrating their A9home which is hoped to be ready for an official public launch in time for the event. The product has so far been released to a select number of paying beta testers. Ad6 expect to do a short introduction on the status of the ARM9-powered device and take questions from the floor, including testing applications suggested by punters. This evening, Matt Edgar of Ad6 practiced his talk at a user group in Manchester, knowing that his previous talk at Wakefield 2005 was somewhat deflated by what Matt describes as nerves and a lack of sleep following last minute show preparations.
During the user group presentation, Matt showed off a A9 machine with Bluetooth support. The custom A9 unit, designed for a specific OEM client, was housed in a painted red box of similar size to the A9home but with extra slots and an aerial for the radio based Bluetooth chipset. The lucky handful present this evening saw Matt demo the machine with a wireless Bluetooth keyboard; the system is eventually expected to work with mobile phones, potentially tying into the suggestion of A9s being employed in museum exhibitions and similar situations where people can interact with them. The desktop A9home won't ship with this functionality, unless there is a demand for it from the RISC OS userbase. Supporting Bluetooth dongles is a possibility, although Ad6 fear that manufacturers could vary the chipset in Bluetooth dongle models without noticeably altering the packaging - causing RISC OS driver software to suddenly become incompatible when new electronics are subtle introduced. By fixing a known Bluetooth chipset to a A9 motherboard, Ad6 can be sure the driver software will always been compatible.
Matt said earlier today the A9home was going through the final stages of testing, and that they are close to launching the product provided no show stopping bugs are discovered. Any remaining faults fixed between now and the launch will go out to testers in a second Flash ROM update.
He said: "As far as I'm concerned, the A9home is finished and ready. However, I'm too close to the development process to say otherwise, so it's down to our beta testers to give it the green light. Also, our retail partner, CJE Micros, have to approve it too.
"There won't be any tears if the A9home isn't launched at Wakefield - it will be available when it's ready and we've always said that."
RISC OS 5 developers Castle will at 11.30am be doing their usual presentation of Iyonix cases and add ons - although CTL's Jack Lillingston promised to do something different to avoid boring people. His talk will otherwise cover the range of Castle products available at the moment, and if there were any new items planned for release at Wakefield, he certainly wouldn't reveal the details ahead of time. The company recently moved premises to Suffolk, after the year long lease on the Cambridge offices once used by Tematic ran out.
Jack said a formal update to the C/C++ compiler tools is due shortly, drawing on project work for commercial customers. Castle's engineers are understood to be working on RISC OS on a freelance basis, while Castle continue to support what they call the "enthusiasts market".
At 1pm, RISCOS Ltd's Paul Middleton will be running through details of the state of Select 4 and 32bit RISC OS 4; the former being ROL's belated update to the Select scheme, and the latter being the operating system on the A9home. Paul described publishing a release of Select 4 in time for the show as being "very tight", and punters shouldn't assume there will be CDs ready to take away from the event. His company had earlier hoped for a release in May.
He said: "It's likely we'll have a basic working version at the show for people to try out. We can only make do with what resources we have; we sadly don't have the luxury to assign, say, five or 10 people to a particular feature and tell them to get on with it."
"This is a completely new version of RISC OS 4, what with the 32 bit conversion work and the kinds of protections [against a badly behaved program taking out the whole system] that we've wanted in the OS since day one."
The complete Select 4 feature list is yet to be fully drawn up, as various components are finished and tested although parts of the confirmed list have been previously reported on Drobe. Earlier, ROL told its Select subscribers that the RISC OS 4.39 Adjust ROM will be the last ROM chipset release for RiscPC and A7000-class machines.
Paul said: "This is because the availability of suitable ROMs is now very limited, and the expected lifespan of the remaining RiscPCs has to be limited. All future updates for 26 bit machines will be softloaded ROMs."
Paul went on to say: "A new full set of programmers' reference manuals for RISC OS 4 and Select features has been in production for some time, however as may be expected, it is a considerable undertaking.
"Our policy with PRM information on RISC OS 4 features is that a number of documents have been released on the Select web site and we really expect that developers who want to use Select features will actually have a copy of Select on which to test them. We try to deal with all enquiries from developers who want specific information about the inner workings of Select."
At 2pm, Martin Wuerthner of MW Software will be demonstrating his recent development work on ArtWorks 2. The vector graphics software is expected to include real time graduated fills by the time of the event's opening, and Martin is known for his lively presentations of his work.
He said: "Most proabably, the theatre talk will be another tutorial-like session that shows how to use ArtWorks 2 to create an illustration, plus of course a demonstration of both newly released and yet-to-be-released features."
Finally, at 3.15pm, Qercus editor John Cartmell will be giving a presentation titled 'Back on track' - which we assumed referred to his attempts to bring his magazine back onto a monthly schedule after disappearing for six months without leave. However, John intends instead to wax lyrically about the state of the RISC OS market, specifically its future and how, presumably, it's 'getting back on track'.
When we spoke to John, he refused to comment on the likely contents of his presentation ("stonewalling", by his own definition), although later cracked that he hasn't prepared anything for it specifically as yet. John says he has watched how the platform has evolved over the past three years, and therefore has a few ideas on the directions in which it's heading. The next issue of Qercus will be out in time for the show, although it won't cover what he plans to talk about at the show. In John's words, "you'll know what my talk is about when I start talking."
• If you plan on going to the show and want to contribute to drobe.co.uk's coverage of the event, drop us an email.
Wakefield show website
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