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Wakefield 2002 lowdown

By Chris Williams. Published: 22nd May 2002, 11:48:12 | Permalink | Printable

All the interesting bits served up just for you. USB, need we say more?

Welcome to drobe.co.uk's take on the Wakefield 2002 show. You wanted it. You got it. If you have a problem with it, there's two things you can do about it: nothing and love it. First things first, drobe.co.uk was the first to bring you photos taken from the show as well as show events as they unfolded. A big thank you goes to drobe photographer Peter Naulls and his trusty Vaio sidekick for the show pics, drobe editor Ian Jeffray for captioning photos and writing up the show's events as they happened, the NetBSD crew for being friendly and letting us hog their net connection for a while and to the WROCC for bringing the whole weekend event together.

RISC OS shows are always manic affairs and this year's Wakefield was no different with users hoping for new developments, dealers pushing for punters to part with large sums of cash and news people coming up with new ways to bribe developers. Ahem. Plus you get to bump into and say hello to fellow RISC OS users and avoid the ones who you've slagged off over the past year. If you ever want to meet this drobe editor, all you have to do is look out for the infamously ironic Microsoft baseball cap adorning my cynical head.

Enough with the warm up banter and on with the show events.


USB emerges.
Trust Castle. Castle, the hardware company that sprung the 300MHz Kinetic upon us at Wakefield 2001, were happily giving USB cards away to developers and charging normal users around 90ukp for the same priviledge at the show. The USB card is a standard RiscPC podule and carries no less than four USB 1.1 ports. USB, if you don't know, is a modern high speed interface that allows computers to connect to a large range of devices. Currently, the only device driver available for the Castle card is a beta USB keyboard driver, making this the most expensive keyboard interface drobe.co.uk has seen to date. 3rd party developers are expected to cook up drivers for a full range of devices whilst Castle concentrate on developing device drivers for their own range of hardware, notably their range of scanners. Yes folks, USB is finally here.
drobe.co.uk has learnt that Castle and Simtec, another hardware developer working on a USB card, will be using two different APIs for their USB cards. This means software written for one card will need modifying to work on the other; this could lead to the unfortunate situation of users needing one card for access to one set of devices and the other card for the other set of devices.
Despite this little hitch, this is a terrific development and drobe.co.uk looks forward to seeing many new technologies opened up to the RISC OS world through USB.

Castle USB cards

Device driver APIs for programmers

Of Mice and Portables
There's been a lot of hype surrounding the long awaiting and funky looking Riscstation RISC OS Portable. If it's not Paul F Johnson, rather Riscstation Software Support, posting from a Riscstation laptop to usenet or the numerous photos emerging on the Riscstation website, it's the continually retreating deadlines. Hey, at least it keeps the iconbar forums happy. drobe.co.uk wanted in on the mobile RISC OS action so we were naturally excited when we found out a working Riscstation laptop was at the show. Riscstation had indeed brought with them a cool little shiny laptop and it appeared to be running RISC OS 3.11 with 16MB of RAM. However, when this editor had a play on it, pressing Alt + Enter on the slim black keyboard revealed that it was just VA5000, a commerical RISC OS 3 emulator, running under Windows98. Oh the horror. A quick look in Control Panel confirmed it was a PC laptop running on an Intel processor. Drobe.co.uk quickly sought a Riscstation representative to find out more and it was explained that the ARM based motherboard, that will fit inside the portable casing to run RISC OS natively, hasn't been finalised yet so instead a PC motherboard that conveniently fitted inside the case was used. Wipe that sweat away, calm down, it's ok. I mean, they told you the same thing, right? Despite the illusion shattering discovery that it was a Windows PC laptop pretending to be RISC OS, it did demonstrate the immediate benifit of using an ARM processor in such a mobile device. The Intel processor driven laptop was very hot, certainly too hot to sit on your lap given the slim design of the case. With an ARM processor on board, the portable should run nice and cool in its thin case. When pushed for a production timetable, drobe.co.uk was informed that production is expected to start in around 3 weeks time.

Earlier that day, whilst drobe.co.uk was distracted elsewhere in the show, Simtec -the clever people engineering Riscstation's hardware- made a brief appearance with an RS7500 developmental motherboard with USB and an LCD fitted on top and demonstrated RISC OS 4 running natively on it. If you don't believe us compare these two photos; an RS7500 motherboard and the development system fresh out of Simtec's labs. Anyway, a yay for Simtec although despite what Riscstation claim, in our personal opinion we don't think it's very portable but it's a start. See you in 8 weeks.


Riscstation Portable specs

TEK joy
Not only did we see TEK running and being playing, drobe photographer Peter also bought two copies of the new strategy game from Artex. Sadly, drobe.co.uk was informed that no demo version is on the cards as the Artex coders are expected to be working on network support and other things within the game.


We heard about this on the Grapevine
R-Comp's new commercial internet communication software Grapevine, which allows users to chat to other internet users in real time using IRC and the MSN instant messaging system, appeared to be a huge sucess. A fair number of new Grapevine users have appeared on the RISC OS IRC channel since the weekend and the more the merrier :-) It was also nice to meet Alan Wrigley, a Grapevine developer who was on hand to demonstrate the application, as Alan was co-author of the programming book that this editor first bought to get into desktop application development on RISC OS.


Other bits
Here's some things that didn't quite make the full headlines..

  • Martin Würthner of MW-Software, following on from his sucessful Crystal has the following goodies in store for Artworks users this year: SVG export, proper vector clipping, bitmap fills and more besides. More information later.
  • Cerilica are hoping to focus their efforts this year on enhancing their flagship design apllication, Vantage. Drobe.co.uk is sad to report that Cerilica have discovered that pirated copies of Vantage have found their way into people's laps and as a result are not best pleased.
  • RISCOS Ltd. were previewing AMFiler, their funky and animated AMPlayer driven MP3 jukebox running on RISC OS.
  • As reported by iconbar.com, in the wake of Grapevine emerges yet another chat program for RISC OS, in the form of natter. Nice website, more details as they come.

Show entrance, the pearly green gates of Wakefield
Castle's Oregano webbrowser
CTA Direct selling Phoebe cases
Cerilica Vantage price slash
NetBSD machines we borrowed. Phear the red daemon.
RISCOS Ltd. stand, get your RISC OS Select CD whilst it's hot
TEK and a dynamic Jan Klose
More TEK!
Mr. CJE himself
Peter's Vaio, the miracle that uploaded the show pictures
ARM Club people, spot the Druck!
More cameras than you can shake a stick at on the Photodesk Ltd. stand
The APDL stand
STD's stand
Artworks magician, Martin Wuerthner
Acornuser's Steve Turnball
We like Tek :-)
Alan Wrigley demonstrating Grapevine animatedly
CJE Showing the wonders of ViewFinder
Get your Viewfinder here!
John 'cvs port' Tytgat gets a fright
Castle's USB podule!!!
Our Drobester Chris is confused. "Who the hell is that freak?"
Lunch. Peter was shocked to discover that drobe.co.uk would not cover his expenses.
Overview of the hall, showing the throngs at lunchtime. Note the CJE stand, far right
That's a pretty MP3 jukebox
Paul Middleton demonstrates the ease of Select installation
Cerilica's Nucleus... it's actually a Kinetic RiscPC inside!
Cerilica Vantage comments from some website called drobe.co.uk
Grapevine. It helps you become a better person.
"Bad Chris! TEK is not for your consumption"
CD-Burn's Steffen Huber and MW Software
Caption wanted! Email Chris with your best attempts
Charity stall
Visitors queuing just before show open on Sunday morning
'Some old junk on sale', says Ian. If you say so Ian ;-)
  • More show pictures can be found here, courtesy of ARM Club member Matt Cook.
  • Also, iconbar.com have a nice show writeup and photos, which can be found here.

Previous: Brush up on your Photodesk
Next: Wakefield show aftermath


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