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Midlands 2006 show photos and news

Published: 26th Nov 2006, 16:08:23 | Permalink | Printable

Firefox 2, Select 4, SMS A9home fun, and more [Updated]

The Midlands 2006 show has been and gone, and in the best possible tradition, it was a small and laid back affair. Organised by Ralph Sillett of the ARM Club, the event saw roughly 40 to 50 people through the doors - generating a more intimate environment for punters and exhibitors to natter away. The two big pieces of news were that RISC OS 6 Select 4 Preview is now available, and Firefox 2 was demonstrated in public by David Ruck. RISCOS Ltd handed out CDs of their newly released beta-OS for paid up Select subscribers, and also amusingly dangled CDs from a Christmas tree as decorations while playing opera music. Playing Phantom of the Opera. Loudly.

Moving right along, Firefox 2 was demonstrated on an Iyonix after port developer Peter Naulls slipped a copy into the hands of David Ruck. Calling for feedback from punters who had a chance to play with the port, Peter said: "I'd appreciate it - both good and bad. I'm not going to endlessly defend obvious flaws [the Firefox 2 port] has; I have better thing to do."

NetSurf team member Rob Kendrick saw Firefox 2 in action and said: "At the glance I had of it, it didn't appear to be significantly or obviously different from the version 1.5 port. It crashed several times while doing something trivial, too. But this is not surprising considering it appears to be a very early effort.

"It was still too slow in my opinion to be usable, although Dave said that his Iyonix did appear to be running slowly that day."

David, who collected 200 quid in donations for the port on the day, said: "I'm sorry I was not able to give a better demo, but without an Internet connection at the show, I was only able to show a few pages saved with NetSurf's full save option.

"People did seem to be impressed that the Firefox 2 port was already up to, if not slightly beyond, the state of that 1.5 reached, rather than being a less complete port of the new code. So the good news is all the work from now on will be improving the usability, stability, and implementing missing features from the versions running on other platforms."

Finally, on another stand, an Acorn Atom was loading software tapes from an A9home - the tape audio was stored in MP3 format and played back using AMPlayer. AdvantageSix were also demonstrating an anagram game on a black A9home, where players send their answers in text messages to the machine.

Update at 00:20 28/11/2006
The Firefox 2 website has updated with extra FAQ entries about https support and other details. Four people donated 50 quid each to the Firefox porting project at the show.

Gallery
Photos taken by Rob Kendrick. Click on a thumbnail for the full image.

Retro Acorn kit at the show. This is what appeared to be a BBC Master in a 'portable' case with its own monitor
An A9home playing back software tapes to an Acorn Atom, which loads them as programs. The tapes are stored as MP3s on the A9home
The portable BBC Master's keyboard
RISCOS Ltd decided to hang CDs of RISC OS 6 Select 4 Preview from a Christmas tree as decorations while playing Phantom of the Opera to passers-by
RISC OS Now editor Louie Smith and partner Paul Vigay of Orpheus Internet
Punters gathering around the NetSurf stand. Apparently many were shocked that the open source web browser is completely free
Louie double checks no one has sneaked a few copies of Qercus in amongst her pile of RISC OS Now issues
Nope, all there
Stuart Tyrrell in shock as Ad6's Matt Edgar blows A9home sales cash on blackjack and hookers
ArtWorks and TechWriter developer Martin Wuerthner plays down rumours that the proposed TechWriter feature "Export document as MP3 sung by Professor Stephen Hawking" actually won the recent user survey
Users playing Rob's new word game on the NetSurf stand
Dave Ruck, seen holding camera and invisible club, fends off users hoping to grab a copy of Firefox 2 from his Iyonix
Electronic copies of Archive on CDs
Multiple copies of Zarch running on an A9home
The anagram game running on the black SMS-enabled A9home. The game is written in BASIC
"You are feeling very sleepy, Mr Lillingston, very sleepy indeeeed"
The countdown clock to the full Select 4 release?
Rob's clone of the word game Boggle
The latest issues of Qercus. In it editor John Cartmell says the Egyptians waged war which each other when their leader said there is only one God while his priests worshipped many. In other words, John wants Castle and RISCOS Ltd to kiss and make up
The "Naming naming of names" is a deliberate pun, we learn
Manuals for Graham Shaw's programming toolkit on sale
John Cartmell fails to evade our snappers


• In unrelated news, forum and news site Iconbar are merging with sister site Acorn Arcade to relaunch this weekend with a new design.

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Discussion

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Thanks for the report. I always enjoyed the show in the Motorcycle Museum days but couldnt make this one.

 is a RISC OS UserTonyStill on 26/11/06 6:02PM
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I have to say it was good Birmingham show - I didn't have any idea/expectations of how it would go, because of the shift in venue and terrible weather. Anyway, it turned out to be very well worth going, and I hope it is possible to repeat the event next year. Historically Birmingham shows have been a bit up'n'down, especially as it comes right after the big southeast show, but this was definately a good'un! Many thanks to Ralph and the rest of the Arm Club for all their efforts - they are much appreciated.

 is a RISC OS Userarawnsley on 26/11/06 11:05PM
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Hmm, I used portable Masters just like the one pictured, but they had a logic analyser board tucked in the box as well...

 is a RISC OS Usertweety on 26/11/06 11:08PM
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I think the best picture caption is the one about "blackjack and hookers" - I laughed out loud. :-D

I also love the set up with the Atom and A9Home - the integration of old and new equipment is ingenious. Why haven't I ever seen an Atom at an Acorn show? Particularly impressive that it is still in working order.

 is a RISC OS Userthesnark on 27/11/06 1:47AM
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ROL's X-Mas tree and playing "Phantom of the Opera" is a nice one! Oops, hold it here. Isn't a "Phantom" something not really there but just in your imagnination or the like? Fits well, indeed :-)

 is a RISC OS Userhzn on 27/11/06 6:18AM
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Thanks to Ralph, it was a very enjoyable show. I suspect a few people weren't able to make it along due to the torrential rain and flooding in the morning, and an accident on the M5 which resulted in an hour and a half delay for one visitor.

Sorry I was not able to give the sort of demonstration FireFox2 deserved, but we didn't have an internet connection at the show. I discovered the reason why FireFox2 was running slowly, I had only chance to save out a few example web pages the night before, and they all contained external links which FireFox attempted to resolve, making it wait until they timed out. Once back home and plugged in to the world, it performed far better, as it had the night before. Peter hopefully is now working on the cause of the crashes, which were due to one of the images on drobe, and closing windows before rendering was complete.

 is a RISC OS Userdruck on 27/11/06 9:46AM
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Ooo, Zarch! Who's got that running? I want to be able to play Zarch again. Gimme gimme :-)

 is a RISC OS Userhelpful on 27/11/06 2:10PM
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helpful: Multiple copies of Zarch have been running on A9s for some time now. I think the bidding for a copy has reached four figures. ;-) arawnsley: Agreed. Good show and good support from MUG. Thanks to everyone involved.

 is a RISC OS Userjc on 27/11/06 5:57PM
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It was a good show and I am glad I went.

What also was nice was that they had a bar there and it was open.

 is a RISC OS UserRevin Kevin on 27/11/06 8:17PM
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It was the first show I've been to that had a bar since Epsom. Excellent choice of location :) I'd like to thank everybody who came up to the NetSurf stand and offered their support and thanks, as well as all the other exhibitors, which it was good to chat to. My special thanks to Advantage 6 for lending us an A9 Home to demonstrate NetSurf. (My old and tatty 40MHz RiscPC isn't all that good for doing demos...)

 is a RISC OS Userrjek on 5/12/06 11:03AM
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