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Epsom Show Theatre Highlights

By Chris Williams. Published: 25th Oct 10:43:48 | Permalink | Printable

If you missed the talks given at Epsom, still called 'theatres' from the AcornWorld days, Stephen Scott reveals the theatre highlights and offers his views of the show in general exclusively to drobe.co.uk readers.

The Epsom Show Theatre Highlights
For the Castle talk, their background to Castle was interesting, plus as well as the information about the areas of business that we don't know very much about, such as RISC OS in the TV industry. Obviously, Who Wants To Be A Millionaire is given some exposure, thanks to Chris Goss' and Millipede's efforts, but I did want to hear a bit more on these 'unknown' areas. RISC OS in Turkey, Africa, and the Far East, perhaps even China - Jack even mentioned Turkey.

The talk itself was well structured, and Jack went into some detail about the Kinetic Risc PC and expansion card, using his red laser beam to illustrate the position of the various enhancements that make the card such a must-have.

I was hoping for a better glimpse into the future from Castle though, but it seems the scourge of NDAs suggested otherwise. On this occasion, Jack did not have to put up with so many questions like at Wakefield. The show was filled to capacity, with several people having to stand for the 45 minutes or so that it lasted.

As for Andrew Rawnsley's R-Comp talk, having worked for AcornUser myself, Andrew turned up a few times while I worked there and was particularly proud of how he gets on with the big boys of game development, in order to produce games conversions for RISC OS. However, for the talk, his concern was for R-Comp's new releases of Internet and email applications.

Time was short - his talk was Sunday's last, and the previous speaker had run over by a wide margin. However, he managed to cover a lot of ground in the 30 minutes he did have, showing the audience the latest version of Messenger Pro, which was garnered great reviews in independent magazines outside the RISC OS platform, but the lack of Internet connectivity prevented Webster XL from running, so I don't know how much improved it has become.

The new Dialup software is a major advance for RISC OS, an easy to use way of getting on the Net, stringing together all of your freeware, shareware or commercial apps under one roof. Andrew commented that although Windows is a complete pain to use, one area in which it excels is Internet dialup. !Dialup addresses this, and Andrew demonstrated how easy it is to setup. It can even use the Windows Dialup Networking .DUN files to get you connected, giving access to many more free ISPs than before. The software includes the dialup files of the most popular services. It's a seriously great package that should have come out years ago.

I asked Andrew a general question about how plug-in development was progressing, mainly due to my concern about the Flash plug-in getting out of date (Flash 5 is now out, and the C++ source code is freely available from Macromedia). I understand now that the plugin copes with the majority of files on the web (up to Flash 3 I believe). All in all, the summer at R-Comp was very productive and the talk was well presented for such a short amount of time.

From a web-designer's view point..
R-Comp's SiteMaster 2 package, provides the sort of search and replace features that come in Dreamweaver 3, which I'm now using extensively at work as well as at home. Like it or loathe it, Dreamweaver is the killer app of web design and RISC OS developers would do well to take a look at it and learn a thing or two from it.

I took the opportunity to test my homepage and my work site on the new version of Oregano (version 1.10 I think it was, dated sometime in August). Previously, I tested my sites at Wakefield, when Castle's browser had just been released. Javascript support has greatly improved, although I found that my simple back buttons didn't work, whereas a rather complicated piece of script, for a dynamic form on my work site, worked perfectly!

Although style sheets are apparently supported, all the sites I viewed did not display styles when they should. It was nice, however, to see anti-aliased text - I forgot how much better the display quality was on RISC OS. Apart from a couple of rendering problems (caused by certain table widths being specified in percentages) the output is a lot better than before. I wish Oregan and Castle all the best with the development of this browser - the market needs it so badly.

The new machine from Microdigital looks lovely and could be a possible future purchase. My old boss, Steve Turnbull, reported huge business on the Saturday for the Acornuser Magazine. They had run out of cover CDs for the newly released December issue. I think his experience was shared with all the stands at the show. People were happy, and the general atmosphere was far more positive than even last years, which I know was a great success.

I'll definitely be back next year.

Stephen Scott

Stephen Scott is a webdesigner for Medix UK and the opinions expressed here are his own only. He is not connected in any way with drobe, Castle, Rcomp or Microdigital. We thank him again for his help.

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