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South East 2007 show report

Published: 21st Oct 2007, 20:01:22 | Permalink | Printable

News, views, gossip and photos

Update at 20:02 21/10/07 - complete report published.

Half-moist brown leaves miserably crunched underfoot as a sharp October wind blew all round under a diamond clear sky; the scene was set for this year's RISC OS South East show. Held at the Guildford technical college in leafy Surrey, exhibitors were greeted by what appeared to be a few hundred punters - some eager to get their hands on the just-announced upgrades and others oblivious to any pre-show news. Here's a round up of what we saw, heard and overheard at the event.

Show news motifThe most astounding piece of news on the day was the almost unbelievable tale of how Louie Smith has solved her printing problems for her magazine RISC OS Now. At first, we thought someone was pulling our leg until it was confirmed by various punters who heard the same story and later by Louie herself.

Her publication had been delayed because she was finding it hard to produce PostScript files of the magazine's pages that could be suitably opened by printing firms and printed en-mass. Various attempts to solve the problem on RISC OS were made to no avail. Then her partner Paul Vigay, who is also the magazine's webmaster, cryptically revealed he had produced some software that will do the job exclusively for RISC OS Now. At the show it became apparent what this software was.

Louie has bought her own printing press. It was made by Xerox. It cost "several thousand pounds". It takes up all of her dining room and requires a PostScript printer driver written by programmer Paul. Louie said: "It's all down to Paul, who did all the work. This is a long-term investment for me. When I said this magazine was something I really wanted to do, I really meant it."

The printing hardware means she can now turn out her magazine when she wants - copies of issue three in A4 and A5 format were available at the show, and issue four is ready to be dropped in to the machine. Louie may now have the option of offering mass printing services to RISC OS users. An article explaining the magazine's setup is due to be published in issue four.

One chuffed reader said: "It is certainly above and beyond the call of duty."

A another batch of RISC OS sources are available online, and on CD at the show, thanks to RISC OS Open. The full-list of components includes Acorn's legacy web browser Browse and its (limited) JavaScript-capable cousin Phoenix. The batch also features Alarm, ChangeFSI, Maestro, the Toolbox editors and modules, WebServe, the Window Manager and other core desktop modules, the Font Manager, the filing system modules, the printing system, some support libraries including a JavaScript package, and various other bits and pieces.

ROOL and Castle also gave a joint-presentation; the first half centred on the current Iyonix range while the latter half was aimed at developers hoping to get involved in the RISC OS 5 sources. ROOL's Steve Revill said he was pleased at the number of people who turned up for the technical discussion, where his team were able to demonstrate how to easily build the OS components.

ROOL staff used a Windows PC laptop running VirtualAcorn to show off their build system, which Steve said he hoped other programmers would employ for their own projects. He also said changes and updates submitted by third-parties to the filesystem modules would be expected to be thoroughly tested and peer reviewed before being accepted.

ROOL has released pre-built copies of the components they have turned out the source to, allowing all punters to get their hands on RISC OS 5 components effectively for free.

RISC OS Ltd turned up with a draft of its new Programmers' Reference Manual. The company had previously produced a RISC OS 6 PRM, which documented all the underlying features for developers to make use of in ROS 6, but this new PRM is set to replace all of the Acorn PRM volume 3.

The 470-page tome covers the Window Manager in every detail, from the latest changes all the way down to the base stuff that hasn't changed since RISC OS 2 and 3. The book is laid out in the classic Acorn PRM design. ROL's Paul Middleton was taking advance orders for the book and hopes to bring an initial print run of 50 with him to the Christmas show. A copy will set you back 35 quid.

He also added development of RISC OS 6 for RiscPC-class and A9home machines is progressing in tandem, although the project has been hit by illness and personal problems across the contributing team. The next ROL release, Select 4i3, is expected to be mainly bug fixes to ramp up stability of the OS.

During his theatre talk, Paul said there will not be another ROM-based product until late 2008 or early 2009. Anyone holding out for RISC OS 6 to be committed to silicon will have a "long wait", according to Paul, who said the OS will remain a 'softload' until then. He also explained that Select 4 and onwards is now a vehicle for getting RISC OS 6. S4i3 is likely to be powered by ROS 6.08.

Paul demonstrated the usual RISC OS 6 features set, from monitor detection to Filer thumbnailing. He also said he'd like to see RISC OS computers configured through web browsers, much in the same way people can set up their routers, print servers and wifi base stations from a browser. This would involve building a web server into !Configure to allow punters to manage their machines over the network or Internet.

On Monday night at ROUGOL, Paul allegedly told a gathering of users that there will "never" be a release of Select for the Iyonix platform and that it is unlikely another company, like Ad6 and Castle, will step forward to offer a piece of hardware that can natively run RISC OS - the costs are now too great, he reportedly explained. Paul stopped only just shy of saying this at the South East show.

ROL simply does not know enough about the Iyonix hardware to produce a port, Paul said, and the magic start-up code has yet to be released by RISC OS Open. Accessing devices once the hardware is up and running is fairly straightforward and the Iyonix Linux port proves this. However, it's believed code in ROM on the Iyonix motherboard is executed before RISC OS (as we know it) begins to prepare the hardware for the operating system.

Paul said without these technical details, a port is much more difficult. He also said the amount of cash required to pay someone to produce a port divided by the number of people willing to buy a copy of Iyonix Select is too great a figure - it could see prices of at least 300 quid for a copy of Iyonix Select, according to Paul.

He told the audience: "I don't think Castle, Tematic and now RISC OS Open have realised just how far RISC OS 5 and 6 have diverged. The work required to produce an Iyonix version of Select will cost far more than people can sensibly pay for through subscriptions."

R-Comp was selling new copies of database application DataPower 3 and Internet connectivity package NetFetch. The next version of NetFetch is expected to include improvements to RSS fetching and handling. The publisher also hopes to get a new major release of UniPrint ready for next year's Wakefield show.

This milestone will have a vastly improved and reorganised user interface and a new top feature, according to R-Comp's Andrew Rawnsley. Andrew wouldn't let slip precisely what this new functionality will be, but it will be along the usual lines of using a Windows PC to achieve something otherwise difficult or tricky on RISC OS.

UniPrint, at the moment, allows users to print and scan documents via a networked PC. Also, web pages and other files can launched be from RISC OS and viewed and edited by suitable software on a PC. The next instalment of UniPrint is expected to therefore follow these lines.

VirtualAcorn had a new beta version of its commercial RiscPC emulator for Apple Macs. It's understood VA are still unwilling to produce a Linux version for fear of having to support a myriad of system configurations. The possibility of VA producing a LiveCD with the emulation software, allowing the company to support a known package list, was also ruled out.

Following the news of a PhotoDesk upgrade, CJE Micros said it had sold out of update CDs and ran out of blank discs on to which staff burned the upgrades at the show. CJE boss Chris Evans added he had spoken, just hours before the start of the show, to the programmer responsible for putting together the next FlashROM release for the A9home - progress has been made but no timescale can be given.

It's understood Matt Edgar of AdvantageSix, the firm that brought about the A9home and produced the RISC OS version for it, wants Flash release 3 to be perfect before it is shipped. Two or three show-stopping issues need to be addressed before the update is sent out, a close source told us.

Mike Glover of Icon Technology may be consider retiring by the end of the year or next, it is believed. If this is the case, he is expected to hand over the reins over to Martin Wuerthner, who has been beavering away on the TechWriter and EasiWriter family. The upside of this would mean more cash for Martin, who can collect takings directly.

MW Software's Martin is meanwhile working away on a new release of ArtWorks for next year's Wakefield show, although he hasn't decided what will be the new headline features yet. Martin may run a poll to gauge users' views, similar to the survey conducted on TechWriter users. That exercise revealed most people wanted Word 2000 export, although a style editor (which came in second place) was implemented instead.

Martin explained the poll was undertaken to find out what people generally wanted the most, rather than as a promise to develop whatever came out on top. Word 2K export is expected to be added later, but Martin is more interested features that add a lot of new functionality, such as the style editor. Also, some features cost a lot of money to implement while others do not, and the TechWriter family has to remain economically viable and sustainable.

A MathML-capable version of TechWriter exists but has yet to be released.

Other exhibitors at the show included NetSurf, Archive, and MathMagical. Stand owners we spoke to reported a good trade although the crowds appeared thinner than last year's event.

Pictures by Peter Howkins and published under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Licence (2.5) - many thanks to him. Click on a thumbnail to see a larger photo.

RISC OS Open's Steve Revill double-takes at the FileCore source code.
Paul Vigay, wearing that I've-been-up-all-night-printing-a-magazine look.
RISC OS Now editor Louie Smith seemed pretty relieved.
A battle of the RISC OS paparazzi
RISC OS Open's Andrew Hodgkinson climbs over a big stack of ROOL source CDs.
ROUGOL's dgs had mischief in his eye.
ARM Club's Dave Ruck does an audio impression of his aeroplane to a punter. 'Rrrrpfft rrraarrner rrooownn'.
NetSurf's John-Mark Bell practices crushing this Browse/Phoenix uprising while plotting world-wide web domination.
RISC OS Six running on an iMac.
MW Software's Martin Wuerthner captures his own record of the day's proceedings.
Castle's Jack Lillingston compensates for the sloping hall floor.
Show co-organiser David Lane.
ROL's Paul Middleton prepares to tell us the exits are located here, here and here.
Archive magazine's new editor Jim Nagel (left) is shown how to fold up the pint-sized publication by ex-editor Paul Beverley.
The Fortran Friends appeared to be enjoying themselves.
Icon Technology's Mike Glover has a brief moment of amnesia with a punter.
The R-Comp crew find the time to grab a snack.
The Z88 on the charity stall stand was the size of a dinner plate.
The VirtualAcorn stand tries out some product placement advertising by running ArtWorks on Windows via VirtualRiscPC.
A lone Apple iMac strays too close to the charity stand, where it could have been sold for a fiver.
Chris Evans on the CJE Micros stand runs out of Photodesk upgrade CDs and salt'n'vinegar crisps.
ROOL's Ben Avison and Steve Revill contain their shock at a show visitor's glorious face carpet.
The ROOL source CD doubles up as an attractive spinning top.
John Cartmell's talk on Qercus was extremely popular.
ROOL's Steve Revill quickly changes the subject from Martin's PostScript driver project to his new shoes.
This is the face of a man who has seen first-hand the inside of CDFS.
An A9home on the CJE Micros stand.
APDL's Dave Holden is proud of his stand. And that's quite possibly Harriet Bazley on the left.
Occasional newsdesk contributor Liam Proven, in the C64 t-shirt, on the charity stand.
Not the most busiest of shows, it would seem.
The Icon Technology stand.
Castle's Jack has perfected the concerned look for shows.


Send us your news and pictures Thanks to the news moles for their help and post-event pub antics.

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Any news/views about the show yet?

 is a RISC OS UserCol1 on 20/10/07 3:07PM
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Just sorry I can't be there this year - last years was a hoot.


 is a RISC OS UserAMS on 20/10/07 4:03PM
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Same as AMS here. Looking forward to attending the Christmas show.

 is a RISC OS Usersa110 on 20/10/07 5:15PM
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You missed a good show!

ROOL had the next batch of sources and new versions of !Paint built from code submissions, there was a new !TechWriter, chance to meet the new editor of Archive, new version of PhotoDesk, new editions of Qercus, Riscos NOW, and RISC Domain, new version of VirtualAcorn for Mac, Netsuf outlining new developments and all the usual suspects. Martin was aiming for a new version of Artworks for next year.

 is a RISC OS Usermarkee174 on 20/10/07 6:47PM
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You can download the latest ROOL sources, and the binaries, from here:


If you want ready-to-run applications, then dowload the binaries-one.zip and binaries-two.zip

The updates to Paint (e.g. drag and drop; rename by alt-clicking) are very welcome. There are other cool things too. for example, I'm typing this in Phoenix (Browse). Nice ;-)

A BIG thank you to everyone at ROOL, and to Colin Granville for the updates to Paint

 is a RISC OS Userwibli on 20/10/07 11:03PM
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I really wished to be there, my first since my belated return to RISC OS, but due to an unexpected hospital stay it was not to be . . .

 is a RISC OS UserRickCB on 21/10/07 12:09AM
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I arrived just after 10am, just behind two guys holding everyone up. Went first to Louie's RISC OS Now with the intention of not asking "the when question" and was glad to see issue 3 on the desk. But what's this? A4 and A5? Louie asks me which I prefer. I like the A5, but also say that the A4 looks good too (which it does). Issue 4 is apparently nearly ready too. I am given an A5 issue to take away with me. Customers may get given the A5 option in future. The EFF stall is empty. Oh no! I bought 3 of Dave Holden's APDL/4D games CDs. Some of the games on there I had long ago, but most are new to me and will hopefully work as I'm assured by the man. I also took the supportive plunge and bought RISC OS 6 to go on my SA Turbo RPC 700 with RO4.39. Hopefully the APDL games will work on it. I picked up the latest Qercus as a subscriber. Apparently there's one more issue due out this calendar year. Watched the "Paul and Jim Archive show" in the theatre at 11am - some pleasant nostalgia - I too remember Jim's Computer Shopper Acorn column as one of my favourites. Judging by the latest issue of Archive all is very well indeed!

 is a RISC OS UserTimDWest on 21/10/07 12:40AM
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"two guys holding everyone up" Guy Fawkes highwaymen at SE2007? How could this happen? I don't remember seeing this...

Monika has left EFF.

Great to see so many of you at the show, and even introduce some of you to each other :)


 is a RISC OS Userdgs on 21/10/07 1:48AM
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Tell us more about Phoenix and paint please :)

 is a RISC OS Userhighlandcattle on 21/10/07 7:50AM
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Phoenix is Browse - am using it to do this.

I never used browse due to the fact that by the time I got connected to the www acorn were dead.

so its quite interesting for me.

screenshot of Netsurf and Phoenix doing drobe here:


Its not quite as fast as Netsurf and as you can see doesn't format quite so well.

It also takes some fiddling to get it running adn the buttons are too big! ;-)

 is a RISC OS Userepistaxsis on 21/10/07 8:36AM
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!Paint has had some fixes that deleting rows/columns works properly, you can now drag select sprites and save out, when you highlight pixels, the selection always starts in the centre of the pixel so you can easily see what is happening. Phoenix has a save as PDF, draw option for pages and better javascript. There are also improvements to pinboard.

 is a RISC OS Usermarkee174 on 21/10/07 8:44AM
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Are the ROOL components meant for Iyonix only? I've tried Phoenix and it says "decompression failed".

What did Castle say in their presentation? Any news about future plans?

 is a RISC OS UserAW on 21/10/07 10:10AM
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In reply to AW: Same here on the A9home

In reply to expistaxis: Browse always had big buttons. Long live the big buttons in Browse! I always used to enjoy using Browse too.

 is a RISC OS Usersa110 on 21/10/07 10:18AM
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Well the sources are for RO5.1X (Iyonix) - but if the error is coming at the decompression stage then it's happening long before you'd get an error running the code (as the code hadn't been unsqueezed yet). Either the form of compression is different and it needs a different program to "unsqueeze" things or possibly your download was corrupt.

Bear in mind if you're using select if you *could* (and I don't know if you can) use the RO5.1x version of !Paint you'd probably lose the changes introduced by Select - that's of course assuming that ROL haven't changed things so radically in their version of RISC OS that the updated ROOL one won't work on it.

 is a RISC OS UserAMS on 21/10/07 11:34AM
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I stayed from 10 am till about 2.15 pm the show seemed quite lively to me. I bought my Techwriter upgrade and other items. ROOL was interesting and generally very encouraging. I will definitely support the Postscript initiative. I think the ROOL strand has quite a lot going for it. I know the talks were video'd will they be available at all, I got caught up with other stuff and missed most of the developers talk. The combination of Iyonix and ROOL I think does hold out interesting low power green computing opportunities, for the 'desktop' but also other commercial applications.

 is a RISC OS UserStu on 21/10/07 12:40PM
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ROOL did the demo on the laptop running virtualAcorn so they are not only Iyonix, but more likely to work on Iyonix...

 is a RISC OS Usermarkee174 on 21/10/07 2:54PM
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As I had never used browse - I'm sticking to my guns.

Those buttons are too big :-p

I might try phoenix on my A9 when i get to work tomorrow...

...After I've upgraded Techwriter and installed UniPrint of course! :-D

 is a RISC OS Userepistaxsis on 21/10/07 4:06PM
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If "decompression failed" take David Pilling's Freshen ([link]) and decompress !RunImage with xpand in the CLI.

 is a RISC OS Usersolrac on 21/10/07 4:57PM
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solrac - sorry I don't understand, can you elaborate? What has Freshen to do with it - the RunImage is not compressed AFAICT.

 is a RISC OS UserAW on 21/10/07 5:10PM
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Oh, it's in the Library directory. I've tried it: no trap for stack handler, not enough memory. :(

 is a RISC OS UserAW on 21/10/07 5:32PM
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right - I've updated


To include firefox.

Interestingly it looks as if this version of phoenix doesn't do SSL.

 is a RISC OS Userepistaxsis on 21/10/07 5:34PM
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epistaxsis: Now try a site that uses heavy use of CSS, like Slashdot. :)

 is a RISC OS Userrjek on 21/10/07 6:07PM
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Righty ho:


But of course due to its age Phoenix won't support CSS

 is a RISC OS Userepistaxsis on 21/10/07 7:24PM
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Thanks for the great show report. I live in New Zealand and it is a little bit far to travel so these show reports are always of great interest. Lots of good reasons to feel positive too.

Some really encouraging stuff like updates to a number of important applications including Techwriter, Data Power, Photodesk is good to hear. Amazing news about RISC OS Now! If that isn't total commitment I don't know what is! Beta version of VirtualRISCPC for Mac. Some news about Flash 3 for the A9home. ROOL releasing more code and more importantly news that people are making use of it.

Well done to anyone and everyone involved in organising the show and bringing new along stuff to show off!

Cheers Steve

P.S Nice to hear that CJE underestimated the demand for Photodesk. I bet they are kicking themselves!!

 is a RISC OS Userstevek on 21/10/07 9:40PM
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Shows like this rely on a team of helpers, to get the stands up, get power to all of them, help the exhibitors bring in their kit, set up the 'theatre' and serve refreshments. Then after it's all over, clear everything up. I was one of that team - 2hrs on Friday plus 2 hours set up on Saturday. Then 2 sessions during the show and and about 1.5hrs clearing up.

I still found time to buy upgrades for Easiwriter, Photodesk, Datapower as well as an improved version of VA - the Sa one.

Glad everyone enjoyed it. But a special very big thank you to those on the catering stand.

 is a RISC OS Usercharles on 21/10/07 9:49PM
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Thanks to all for putting this show together. We all enjoyed this one and are looking forward to next time.

On the subject of Browse/Phoenix vs Netsurf, I have used Phoenix for years now and I do like a lot of things about it but I have to say I primarily use Netsurf on RISC OS, only to fall back to Phoenix when I want to do certain things which Netsurf doesn't do. Hopefully it will give the NS guys a few new ideas.

 is a RISC OS Userriscosopen on 22/10/07 3:48AM
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...Like direct PDF export with links... Go on guys, you know you want to :)

BTW, if anyone feels like pulling the Draw to PDF converter out of the redraw engine in Browse, it might be of interest to some people as a stand-alone application.

 is a RISC OS Useradh1003 on 22/10/07 9:53AM
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Ooops, almost forgot - we have our own show photos up on the ROOL site now. Not as nice as the ones above, but they give a stand-by-stand overview which could be of interest for people who weren't able to attend.


A list of all released components to date is available from the site too, but hidden away a bit. To save hunting around, here's the link:


 is a RISC OS Useradh1003 on 22/10/07 9:58AM
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An excellent show. It was very upbeat with lots of interesting new things going on. Our takings were up nearly 30% on last year - which says a lot about the current confidence in the market. I think the organisers deserve a round of applause for their sterling efforts.

Oh and that Z88, it's sitting next to me :-)

 is a RISC OS UserVirtualAcorn on 22/10/07 10:40AM
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Did Mac VA sales help this year? It's only a beta but I can certainly recommend it, having lost Sunday to playing around with the thing... Just what I've been waiting for. I can finally decommission my failing RPC and reply on the Iyonix for hardware.

 is a RISC OS Useradh1003 on 22/10/07 10:45AM
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in reply to adh1003:

Funnily enough I had expected that we would mainly be selling the Mac version, with a few PC versions thrown in. In fact we sold roughly the expected nunber of Mac copies, but also sold a much larger number of brand new PC versions. As you would expect we also sold a number of PC upgrades, mainly SE to AdjustSA. We ended up being so busy that I had to grab another batch of Adjust licences from Paul just after lunch :-)

 is a RISC OS UserVirtualAcorn on 22/10/07 11:11AM
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Is ChangeFSI supposed to be with binaries two , as a standalone app ?

 is a RISC OS UserHairy on 22/10/07 4:49PM
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Although we published the sources to ChangeFSI, it won't currently build due to a library which is currently not present in the BBE. There are a couple of other components in the Batch Two release which are known to not build - these will also not be found in the pre-built binary archives.

Clearly, getting more libraries into the BBE is one of the things we're working on, as well as getting the sources to those libraries out, too, so less and less of the BBE will be supplied as a binary and more and more will be supplied in source form so you can build your own build environment (if you follow me).

We have to balance decisions like the above against the desire to get sources out there. For example, some components in Batch Two which are known not to build simply aren't a priority for us but you're more than welcome to fix them yourselves and feed the fixes back.

 is a RISC OS Userriscosopen on 22/10/07 6:13PM
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Yes, it was a very good show from my point of view (MathMagical). The best thing about any show is it really drives forward the efforts made to get new releases of software sorted - In the two week's running into the show my computing hobby, seemed more like double shifts full time employment.

 is a RISC OS Usermartin on 04/11/07 2:31PM
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Now its the next one.

The SASAUG RISC OS SE Show (2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007 and now 2008), at Guildford


 is a RISC OS UserPete on 06/10/08 10:51AM
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