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The Press sucks says MicroDigital

By Chris Williams. Published: 23rd Jun 2003, 18:09:32 | Permalink | Printable

We're in it for the money, apparently

Analysis A lot of eyes were on the European Expo2003 show last Saturday, all hoping for some kind of development news or hints at things to come. Archive editor Paul Beverely was present during the first half of the MicroDigital show presentation, which can only be best described as The Show Theatre Presentation That Went Wrong.

"There's not much to say because Omega is 'basically finished'. They are still working on networking and SCSI, but 'other issues are pretty much squared up'", Paul told us earlier today in a email, reporting on what was said by MicroDigital to the present RISC OS public.

Paul reports that MicroDigital did indeed start shipping Omegas the week after Wakefield as they sort of promised, but only to a select few customers who were "technically aware of what it is they are dealing with". MicroDigital have been receiving end user feedback from these lucky Omega owners. To prove that they are 'shipping' systems, MicroDigital Europe's Frank Kraaij and MicroDigital's Managing Director Dave Atkins handed out Omega and Alpha computers to users who had their names read out.

On the subject of the Alpha portable, MicroDigital launched at the show the 'Alpha Professional Notebook', which has an improved specification and the expected newly weds Virtual RiscPC and RISC OS 4. MicroDigital claimed that "the vast majority of [Alpha] sales is to people who used to use RISC OS".

MicroDigital also faced some critical questioning from the floor.

"In reply to questions about whether XScale would actually work with Omega, David Atkins said that XScale is absolutely central to the whole design of Omega and so they wouldn't have poured huge amounts of money into the project if they hadn't known for certain that XScale would work", Paul continued in his email. MicroDigital then dismissed fears on the technical practicalities of employing an XScale processor in the Omega design.

The accusations
Here's where we woke up and took notice.
  • Paul reported that MicroDigital claimed that the Press are not technically competent enough to write about MicroDigital. At Drobe, if we can't explain something technical, we've found a system called 'email' and another called the 'telephone', both of which put us in contact with experts who can explain. And by the way, where's the white paper on the ARMTwister technology?
  • MicroDigital made more comments about the Press including the claim that the Press "are only doing it to line their pockets".
  • MicroDigital's official policy is that they won't communicate with the Press at all. Seeing as the various RISC OS magazines and websites act as a lifeline between end users and companies, we're just plain confused now by MicroDigital's actions.
  • Finally, MicroDigital's Dave Atkins remarked, "I'd be able to say more if the Press were not present". At which point Paul offered to leave and did so although we've learnt that other members of the Press remained.

Whenever we, or anyone else in the RISC OS Press, strongly accuses a third party of wrong doing, we triple check everything to ensure our claims are accurate and fair. We all know the price of publishing untrue allegations and depending on the seriousness of the claims, it can end in the loss of readers' trust and litigation.

So we're keen to see MicroDigital's facts behind their accusations. We're mostly concerned about the full time employed RISC OS Press, namely the magazines, who work hard to keep all informed whilst maintaining admirable balance and fairness. These people are the ones MicroDigital are attacking. We are the ones being ignored. You are the ones being left in the dark.


MicroDigital. Give them a call, then email us.
Archive Magazine Archive Magazine compares Iyonix and Omega

Previous: Omegas, Alphas in users' hands?
Next: StrongARM last orders passes


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I'm sorry but I thought this was the RISC OS market. Isn't this where most magazine and news web sites hang by a thread trying to scrape in the cash to publish their news for their relatively small reader base? Most people are volentiers and yet MD are accusing you of lining your pockets. I think everyone at Drobe does an excellent job at getting the news to me, and I'm sure everyone else does to. I certainly know that I wont buy any products from MD in protest, and I expect they lost some of their market by insulting them! This is a small market - how do they expect to sell anything if they insult the most influencial people in it. Let's also not forget that these people are RISC OS users! I'm sure the 'press' make up a fairly large portion of the RISC OS user base. Sort it out MD! ----------- Smiler - :D Alex Melhuish

 is a RISC OS UserSmiler on 23/6/03 8:05PM
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I really despair, I do.

If MD had something to say of substance they should have done so (irrespective of if the press were there or not). They owe that to their depositors - irrespective of how MD feel about the press.

If on the other hand MD have nothing to say using the press as a "scapegoat" is unbecoming and unprofessional.

But then that's par for the course isn't it.

-- Annraoi McShane,

 is a RISC OS UserAMS on 23/6/03 8:41PM
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It seems clear to me that MD are basically incapable of doing anything they say and are merely trying, and apparently succeeding, in conning folks out of great wads of cash. It's quite sad, rude and rather disgusting the way they continue to be rude to customers, press and basically anyone that isn't on the warped wavelength of Davey Adkins.

I'm pretty sure that a (fully working) Omega will *NEVER* appear now. Shame, really - means we're stuck with the equally questionable Ironix and CTL who're stupid enough to try and work against ROL as the future for RISC OS hardware. Alas.

I really don't understand why they'd do this. It's utterly bizarre behaviour.

 is a RISC OS Userimj on 23/6/03 9:32PM
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imj: Am I allowed to ask why the IYONIX is equally questionable? Not trying to start an argument; just interested in your reasons.

As for MD: I think I slagged them off quite enough yesterday :)

 is a RISC OS Usermoss on 23/6/03 9:55PM
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One clarification I would make, is that Paul Beverley said loudly, "would you like me to leave, then?", and David Atkins replied loudly, "Yes." And then Paul Beverley left.

That is almost exactly the same as what Chris/Peter have already written, so some may think it superfluous that I mention it. But it gives you a better flavour of that particular moment. (It is one extra detail).

Chris rightly mentions other representatives of the press remaining after Paul had left. I myself (writing for Acorn User and reporting to Drobe, Archive, TAC and others) and Tom Hughes (presumably writing things for The ARM Club, and reporting facts to Drobe and at least some others) both stayed.

Doubtless there were also a wide variety of press from German, Dutch, French and Belgian user group magazines and websites, who may or may not have left when Paul Beverley did. So I'm not really sure about the purpose of the MicroDigital demands about the "press" leaving.

David Atkins did speak to me before his presentation about what I would be reporting, but I refuse to allow the rather curious culmination of that conversation to influence anything I write publicly... either way.


 is a RISC OS Userdgs on 23/6/03 10:11PM
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Personally, I'm glad to be "stuck" with the "equally" questionable IYONIX, safe in the knowledge I have working USB, UDMA and 600 million Hertz. ;o) -- Simon Wilson, Boulder, Colorado

 is a RISC OS Userksattic on 23/6/03 10:11PM
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imj: I think that Castle possibly issued ROL with a smart kick up the arse, rather than working against them. PM stated publicly that there would be no HAL nor a 32-bitted RISC OS without someone putting cash upfront. Now it's happened, and ROL have put Castle's Printers app up on their download site. Sounds fairly chummy. And PM was being quite positive about things last time I spoke to him.

 is a RISC OS Usermikeg on 23/6/03 10:12PM
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The press are the way those of us unable to get to the Big Ben show get to hear what was said. I don't doubt that Drobe (or Paul and Archive, for that matter) do their best to report the facts.

Not saying things because the press are present in an otherwise open forum seems bizarre. Most publicity is good publicity, especially if you're handing out new systems.

imj: I wish CTL would work with ROL but CTL are actually doing a great job (IMHO). The Iyonix here is superb, I don't think there's anything questionable about it. The only thing I don't understand is why my RPC has slowed down so much :-)


 is a RISC OS UserTonyStill on 23/6/03 10:17PM
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Just for the record, there's no problem wrt ROL/ CTL - ROL have stated that they want to do Select for all machines (read Iyonix), and need only for users to subscribe.

-- Sendu Bala

 is a RISC OS Usersenduran on 23/6/03 10:32PM
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The report of Mr Atkins presentation is horribly similar to his visit to DARC (the Derby Acorn group). Paul Beverley was present there too - offered to leave, and did so. Mr Atkins then launched into an hour-long rant about how the Omega delays were absolutely everyone elses fault. I think we may have been better off asking DA to leave, and getting Paul Beverley to do a talk on something. At least he had the good manners to turn up on time. Dave Atkins arrived 45 mins late, no apology, sat down and said "Right, what do you wanna know then?" No presentation, no slides, no script. He did not endear himself to the club members, anyway.

 is a RISC OS UserNudeLooney on 23/6/03 10:43PM
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And I'm extremely happy with my Iyonix, by the way.

 is a RISC OS UserNudeLooney on 23/6/03 10:44PM
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No doubt discussions like this will be twisted round to be Drobe's fault, as well ;)

 is a RISC OS Usermoss on 23/6/03 11:12PM
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I'm curious about why there are negative comments about the Iyonix. As I understand it the major omissions (UDMA and USB drivers) have been solved , so the only complaints can be lack of select (which I am certain WILL be solved - if not, we might as well all give up native hardware and buy alphas) and software compatibility (if you rely on old unmaintained software, then you'll need to keep an RPC, if aemulor won't do)

My only complaint about the Iyonix is that it is more than I can afford/justify. :( :(

-- Jess

 is a RISC OS Userjess on 23/6/03 11:21PM
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epistaxsis sometimes makes comments that he doesn't really mean. Such as his comment about the Iyonix not having working PCI ? :-)

 is a RISC OS Userdgs on 23/6/03 11:50PM
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PCI does work with the iyonix - but so far it is 2 cards.

Graphics & USB (cos the motherboard stuff doesn't (yet?) work).

Well at least it does have a working floppy drive and working network...


I hope that it will have decent SCSI (adaptec ultra320) and 2048x1536 @32million colour graphics (oh and an OpenGL port?).

However it may be that cos Iyonix is using a PC graphics card, even if it is 64MB RAM, the top RAM (the other 32 MB...) is only available to 3D stuff... :-(


However - hows about this?

A full 3D RISC OS desktop?


Oh and + the fact that Iyonix is a too small mother board...



Yes we now have advancement but exactly how far?

 is a RISC OS Userepistaxsis_RISC OS on 24/6/03 12:17AM
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The Omegas on the ROL stand next to the theatre were working a bit better than the one we won - which we have been unable to get ANY support for.

However he graphics are still very flakey and way below that offered by even a ViewFinder 1 card. It just about manages 1600x1200x16M at 62Hz, where as the VF1 could do 72Hz, and both my VF2 Risc PC and Iyonix are doing 2048x1536x16M at up to 70Hz and 85Hz. It also slows down at anything over around 1280x1024x16M - and to think at one point they actually accused the Iyonix of being a jumped up A7000.

No sign of networking or floppy support yet. How can you even think about selling a machine without networking in this day and age?

-- ---druck [link]

 is a RISC OS Userdruck on 24/6/03 12:21AM
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Druck - I didn't realise the Omega's graphics were sooo bad - so does it even feel like treacle like VF, or is it fast, but not so hires/refresh?

I'd have to worry if it was slower than VF1, as even VRAM/7500FE is faster IME!

I agree completely about networking, that's just absurd - do we all have to buy a RiscPC with CD-RW to copy software onto this thing?!

Sorry lads, the Omega is a joke.

-- #include "sig.h"

 is a RISC OS Usersimo on 24/6/03 12:46AM
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I was also there and can confirm the general tenor of the presentation from DA. All rather embarrassing but I didn't find it a surprise, as I expected something to happen. However I have never seen angry Dutchmen at the Expo before, it usually is a relaxed and pleasant show.

My partner came up with the old saying of 'a drowning man clutching at straws' to try to explain it.

To take the metaphor a bit further, it is more like watching a man drowning knowing it is his own fault that he is drowning and knowing that there is nothing you can do or *want* to do to save him.

P*****g existing/potential customers off is not a good business plan for a small company, certainly not one in the RISC OS market.

"Duh what does this big red button marked SELF DESTRUCT do?" --

 is a RISC OS Userblahsnr on 24/6/03 12:55AM
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epistaxsis: 1)The demo Omega at the Expo with the exception of hard disk speed does not appear to be a great advance on a SARPC with a Viewfinder. 2) On the downside tell me how you get a podule card to work in an Omega? 3)Screen redraw on the same demo Omega makes a Mk1 Viewfinder on a 200MHz RiscPC look nippy. 4)How many PCI cards are there for the Omega? 5) Exactly how much advancement do you want? Try chucking galleries of 90 700k JPEGs (2048x1536) round on a SARPC with Viewfinder on a regular basis and then try it on an Iyonix (not forgetting that you need to buy a USB card for your RiscPC whereas you just plug your camera into the Iyonix via a USB cable).

BTW I am a happy Viewfinder owner probably the best upgrade I bought for my RiscPC, but the combination is alas no match for an Iyonix. -- S Williams,

 is a RISC OS Userblahsnr on 24/6/03 1:19AM
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The whole thing's starting to remind me of a thing PCW used to do, in the dim dead days before Microsoft dominated everything and the mag became a brick full of ads. Anyone else remember their "Bushlit Micro", which was always coming soon and had amazing specs beyond your wildest dreams?

I suppose we sould say that MD are a British computer company following the tradition of Sinclair, Camputers, and the Enterprise...

 is a RISC OS Usermikeg on 24/6/03 7:41AM
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You know, if you rearrange the letters of the "Bushlit Micro" a touch, you may home in on their actual intention :)

 is a RISC OS Userjonix on 24/6/03 10:07AM
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I say we dust off and nuke drobe.co.uk from orbit, it's the only way to be sure.

 is a RISC OS Userflibble on 24/6/03 11:08AM
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So scathing. ;)

 is a RISC OS Userpiemmm on 24/6/03 11:08AM
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The radiation burns my eyes.

-- Peter, drobe.co.uk

 is a RISC OS Usermrchocky on 24/6/03 11:11AM
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jonix: Gosh, no!

 is a RISC OS Usermikeg on 24/6/03 2:59PM
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Sorry, difficult to fathom sarcasm in a textual world :-/

 is a RISC OS Userjonix on 24/6/03 4:26PM
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How about a funny names for MD competition? I'll start off with:

[I thought you said funny? These are not. Edited - Chris]

 is a RISC OS Usersimo on 24/6/03 4:33PM
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You mean something like

"Why did the chicken cross the road ?"

"Because of MD"

No, I know it ain't funny - but then neither is the current situation....

-- Annraoi McShane,

 is a RISC OS UserAMS on 24/6/03 7:33PM
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I'm sure there's something hilarious you could do if you called MD 'VD' instead. But I can't be arsed.

 is a RISC OS Usermoss on 24/6/03 8:03PM
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Think you have to use "STD" rather than "VD" these days... Oh bugger, that's a real RISC OS TLA... (:-) -bald smiley breaks silly graphic...

 is a RISC OS Usermikeg on 24/6/03 10:45PM
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Waht was I gonna say?

ah yeah.

The real enemy is not MD, it is MS. Give MD a chance please. I nearly ordered an Omega once, and would have done if they had replied to my email. Iyonix was announced two days later, and I bought one at the Midland show. I'm told mine was number 20. Close thing that!

I guess MD are having problems, one of which is that they aparrently can't match the performance of the Iyonix. Hardly surprising since they are trying to do it with a StrongARM.

You can't expect comparable performance until their XScale arrives. Meanwhile, Iyonix has had many months of beta testing by the early adopters like myself, and is now fast and stable. It was flaky to start with, but Castle sorted it out with amazing speed, considering how long it took Microsoft to get a stable version of Windows!

MD ought to come clean. They would get far more understanding and sympathy that way. Folk would be prepared to help sort out Omega in the same way they did Iyonix I'm sure. All this secrecy is not helping at all, and simply damages the reputation of the company and future sales.

The press would be on their side if they were honest about the situation. To some of us, it was always obvious that there were technical problems that weren't being talked about, but if MD came clean about them, they might actually get some helpful suggestions instead of the constant carping. David and David, you are not alone! Even I, as an Iyonix owner, would like to see Omega succeed. It all adds strength to our platform.


 is a RISC OS Usermrtd on 24/06/03 11:23PM
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> MD ought to come clean. They would get far more understanding and sympathy that way.

Indeed. I absolutely agree. But they aren't doing so - instead, they're lashing out. Until they stop this, I just can't "Give MD a chance". They've had too many from me already, and until they show a bit of good faith, they'll get no more.

 is a RISC OS Usermoss on 24/06/03 11:36PM
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Maybe the Iyonix is part of the reason why it's delayed, I mean before the Iyonix they could have released a small improvement over the RiscPC, and we'd all have been happy. Now they have to beat the Iyonix, which is a far higher target, coupled with the fact that the StrongARM it's based on will shortly not be available to buy.

On a different note, the tone of posts here and everywhere else seems to be that people are sick of hearing from DA. We never hear much from David Prosser, as I get the impression that it's him that designed much of the Omega, maybe his voice would be a calming influence. And maybe a bit more credible.

 is a RISC OS Userthegman on 25/06/03 10:09AM
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I had a strange exchange of emails with DA following my submission to him of my report on his Wakefield talk for Foundation RISC User (not yet published). I just sent it to him out of courtesy so that he could check it for accuracy and omissions.

The exchange was private, though, and not for publication.


 is a RISC OS UserMartyn Fox on 25/06/03 1:41PM
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You rumour-tease!

 is a RISC OS Userthegman on 25/06/03 1:43PM
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"You rumour-tease!"

That must be because I suffer from "rumour-toid" arthritis!


 is a RISC OS UserMartyn Fox on 25/06/03 7:30PM
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 is a RISC OS Usermoss on 25/06/03 7:37PM
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Bloody hell.

 is a RISC OS Userthegman on 25/06/03 7:41PM
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"I was also there and can confirm the general tenor of the presentation from DA."

As Castle's HAL might say, "I don't think this is right, Dave".

Martyn (who remembers the Space Oddysey)

 is a RISC OS UserMartyn Fox on 25/06/03 7:42PM
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Did DA say anything we have not heard elsewhere, anything about the hardware acceleration for MPEG/Mesa?This was on their website, but they seem to have gone quiet on the issue.

 is a RISC OS Userthegman on 26/06/03 10:39AM
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Maybe has DA from MD something in his sleeves, which he do not and cannot tell yet to that f*cking PRESS and to us, as end users, there is always a explanation about this matter. Don't be a moaner, just wait and see. Maybe he is coming with a far more exiting news about those Omega computers and other computers as it is now.

 is a RISC OS Userdatawave on 16/06/05 01:31AM
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doesn't look like the MD is coming back

 is a RISC OS Userriscosmad on 01/02/06 7:04PM
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