South East 2007 show reportPublished: 21st Oct 2007, 20:01:22 | Permalink | Printable
News, views, gossip and photosUpdate 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.
The 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."
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. |
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