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Alpha, VirtualRiscPC revisited

By Chris Williams. Published: 16th Aug 2003, 02:19:54 | Permalink | Printable

More detailed end user report

Thumbnail of MD AlphaAs a follw up to a previous article reporting end user opinions of the MicroDigital Alpha portable, Alpha user John McCulloch has written up his own report on the MicroDigital laptop solution. John 'recently' grabbed the headlines by publishing a set of RISCOSmark benchmarks of RISC OS running on the Alpha. The benchmarks showed that the Alpha significantly outperformed a 200MHz StrongARM RiscPC in the memory and harddisc access tests.

We know that any reviews or reports on the Alpha are largely going to be reviews of Virtual RiscPC. The Alpha is a disturbingly average 2GHz Celeron WindowsXP non-badged laptop with all the standard expected features and interfaces. The important point is that Alpha features Virtual RiscPC to emulate a RiscPC in order to run RISC OS 4 on it. Virtual RiscPC is brought to you by the same people who developed and marketed Virtual A5000.

Emulation is a bit of a taboo subject and it's probably something we just might have to get used to. Is it better to run RISC OS over emulation on some gigahertz wielding i686 hair dryer, or should we remain purists and stick to the ARM cores? What if emulation speed overtakes top speeds attainable by the latest ARM cores? One of our own pet niggles against emulation is seeing people running legacy versions of RISC OS 3.x on their PCs.

desktop screenshot from an Alpha
Screenshot from John's Alpha

However, VRPC has shown that it's possible for RISC OS 4 and Select to be properly licensed and run over emulation. VRPC is unfortunately tied down to the Alpha and a standalone version of VRPC doesn't appear to be arriving any time soon. VRPC also unfortunately doesn't allow RISC OS to talk to the laptop's network interface and a solution to this, we've learnt, is beyond the horizon too.

On with the report. John writes,
As you may recall I submitted benchmarks for my MicroDigital Alpha, just after I took delivery of it. At the time I promised that I would report more fully on the machine once I had got to know it better. I have read with interest and not a little dismay, the ramblings of the many who no doubt feel that it is wrong to use emulation to achieve a workable RISC OS Laptop. Well I can only say that the product is living up to my expectations and has encouraged me to keep up to date with RISC OS developments.

I have since upgraded from RISC OS 4.02 to RISC OS Select 3i1. I wish that I had done this from the start. As I backed up my files and programs to CD ROM using !CDBurn on my StrongARM RiscPC and copied over the files and programs, only to realise that RO 4.02's CDFS does not preserve the file names in upper and lower case - thus causing me to have to convert oodles of files and applications from uppercase only to mixed case. I would suggest that if you intend to acquire an Alpha, and have a RiscPC or A7000, make sure they are all upgraded to Select before transferring files across with CD ROMs.

A fair amount of the last 5 weeks have been spent learning about Windows XP Professional and optimising it and making it as efficient as can be achieved. It loves filling harddrives. The 15GB harddrive was nearly two thirds full when I realised that Windows generates back up copies of itself called restore points, these have to be deleted and limited in size, in order to protect your drive space.

There are advantages in having Windows there all the time. Access to the internet is achieved using Internet Explorer and email/usenet using Outlook Express. I did download Gemini but couldn't seem to get the news side to work.

As far as Windows software, in general, is concerned I won't be hurrying to migrate. All of the photo retouching applications I have so far tried on Windows would make the proverbial dog yelp. The user interfaces are pathetic. I have downloaded Sun Microsystems StarOffice 6.0, but only as I need access to an Excel workbooks type spreadsheet as most of my pals are dyed in the wool Windows users.

Ok, Windows plus points above, negatives far out weigh the advantages. Its file handling is a joke. File saving is naff. When it comes to my other hobby amateur (Digital) photography, RISC OS shines. All my work in touching up and editing of images is done firmly in RISC OS and will continue to do so for the forseeable future. Yes, the Alpha allows me to download images from my Fuji FP602 Zoom to it via USB, but from then on its RISC OS all the way.

I have found that the speed of the IDE bus has transformed applications like !Studio_24Pro and !Photodesk. They no longer stall when loading large JPEGs. I routinely save 6 mega pixel images as 2.4MB JPEGs and load them into the above for processing. The machine's speed, as far as RISC OS is concerned, is a selling point on its own.

It well out performs my much loved and upgraded RiscPC. I still have retained it, as it has the advantage of being able to display large 24bit graphics on emormous resolutions thanks to a ViewFinder card. But with this upgrade, the Alpha positively appears to fly. According to the User Manual, the Alpha is capable of displaying up to 1920 x 1200 x 24bit natively on a suitable monitor. This I haven't as yet tried.

I would encourage anyone who is wondering about an Alpha to visit a local dealer and see one demonstrated. If anyone in the West of Scotland wants to see one in operation, email me I am willing to arrange a suitable demonstration. I am not a dealer. I have no axe to grind, just a well pleased owner.

Word of warning though: the Alpha should really be seen as a mains powered laptop. Yes, it will perform with the battery only, and there are a raft of battery saving schemes that destroy the performance of the Windows side as much as the RISC OS side. In maximise battery usage mode, the RISC OS machine is more like an A5000 than a StrongARM powered RiscPC.

John later told us that he can contact his local dealer for technical support. MicroDigital also offer a one year return-to-base guarantee if a major fault occurs. Incidentally, we pointed out to John that he could have zipped up his files before he transfered everything to the Alpha (and therefore escaped the upper case name problem).


MicroDigital - tell them we sent you

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Your choice of course but with the total contempt that MD have for you and the press in general I don't see why you continue to advertise their products for them. Cheers!

 is a RISC OS UserThe Doctor on 16/8/03 7:51AM
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One of the implications in the piece above is that the author bought Alpha as a means of getting a RISC OS laptop. Trouble is VARPC/Alpha make it *difficult* for anyone intending to produce a laptop - think about it their sales would be relatively small (maybe just enough to justify doing it at all) then along comes VARPC/Alpha and now the (hypothetical) manufacturer is faced with competition. End result no real RISC OS laptop will be made (ROL/Virtual-Acorn and MD please take a bow).

The irony is that with RO5 and hardware abstraction out there it would have been *more* technically practical to produce a new RO laptop using later ARM processors (ARM9/xScale) - now well what's the point ?

The other thing is the *bulk* of the money spent (allegedly) supporting RISC OS by buying the above package is going "outside" the RISC OS Market. Firstly to the no-name probably Taiwanese laptop manufacturer, then a big swagdge to Microsoft and then finally MD/VA and ROL fight over the scraps that are left.

In fact I think I recall MD offering upgrades from XP Home to XP Pro (so now they're selling Microsoft products).

Do remember to patch that XP John (MSBlast is still doing the rounds you know ;)

-- Annraoi McShane,

 is a RISC OS UserAMS on 16/8/03 11:02AM
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The Alpha is an "average" 2GHz Celeron? I'll think you'll find it's a horribly cheap and nasty one, and is *not* representative of PC laptops.

 is a RISC OS Usernunfetishist on 16/8/03 11:09AM
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Doctor: Surely it is Drobe's duty as a news site to cover as many topics as they can, putting any personal feelings about companies aside? I think they do a marvellous job.

 is a RISC OS Userhutchies on 16/8/03 11:13AM
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What you are doing in the first alinea is a lot of speculation. Who is this (would-be) manufacturer of the new risc os lap-top?

I have a much more optimistic point of view about the Alpha :" Something is bettter then nothing".

It gives risc-os users a chance to use their favorite system on a laptop.

I do agree with you though that a "native" risc os laptop is far more favourable.

But since there isnt any, the alpha is "the best next thing"



 is a RISC OS Userrdenk1 on 16/8/03 12:04PM
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-- Mail:john@jcmcc1srp.freeserve.co.uk Call :GM1SRP Com:MicroDigital Alpha 2.0 GHz Celeron OSs:MS Windows XP Pro/RISC OS Select 3i1

 is a RISC OS Userjcmcculloch on 16/8/03 12:25PM
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Sorry about the blank message above, finger trouble. I have read the comments above, some of which are the kinds which I averred to in my review, with dismay. I think however I should reiterate for the benefit of those who describe the Alpha as a poor cousin of the current draft of Windows Laptops. This is most definitely not my view. I did a fair bit of research, both on paper and in person with all the usual dealers of PC Laptops and have been extremely impressed by the build quality, features and set up of the Alpha. yes it is at the budget end of the PC Laptop market, but never the less it is well built and extremely reliable. Yes I paid a premium going this route, I could have purchased the self same machine ex VRPC for about 900. But as RISC OS was a major requirement I thought the MD Alpha was well worth the extra. I too would have loved to see a native laptop......but we have only had one ever, Acorn's venerable A5000 clone the A4. RiscStation seemed to have stalled an awful long time ago. I wonder what would happen should MD ever consider a 3.6GHz processored Desktop system running VRPC....it might even be faster than Castles Iyonix, or their own Omega. I cannot see with my experience of VRPC why we maintain the aversion to Emulation. Yes it would be nice if there were native ARM processored machines. But they are always going to be twice the price of PC technology because of economies of scale. To those who must have RISC OS for everything. I think it is really time you tried using PC technology to see how back in the dark ages some of our hardware has returned. I personally would not consider much of Windows as an improvement on RISC OS, but in the use of the Internet, and Networking it is streets ahead of anything we have or are likely ever to have access to. If you want a laptop, get one now. Preferably one with RISC OS on it, either VRPC the MD route or VA5000. You will not regret it, and you will enjoy the benefits. 73 de john -- Mail:john@jcmcc1srp.freeserve.co.uk Call :GM1SRP Com:MicroDigital Alpha 2.0 GHz Celeron OSs:MS Windows XP Pro/RISC OS Select 3i1

 is a RISC OS Userjcmcculloch on 16/8/03 12:45PM
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This is a very short sighted view of a maket in decline. the main reason we are in this position, is that acorn would not let any company produce hardware to run Risc OS, so without competition there is no incentive to drive the market forwards.

Acorn produced a large number of technicaliy very good product demonstrations like the newspad, the stork and the pheobe (cost a very large amount of Money) but did they go into production NO the accountants said that they would not be economically feasible, windows had already beaten them with better marketing. Pc's where allready making inroads into there core education market, so without a thought they packed up their stall and left all of their so called loyal users & Dealer network in the S*** without a paddle.

After this exodus by the almighty Acorn we are left with a handfull dealers like myself, three or four companies that produce computers, motherboards and components some software developers and a company that is not interested in the desktop computer market at all, but for some twist of fate now owns the OS. we all know the names.

So the remaining hardware companies invests a large sums of money to produce a product or products that we need to keep the Risc OS market alive.

Over the Next few years we see a small amount of development of the computers we all aspire too. We lose dealers & devlopers by the bucket load.

With each company theading their own path to their ultimate goal. The production of a New computer that can run RISC OS & all of your current software on So all of you loyal user out there can replace their ageing designed in the eighties,living in the past systems.

With brand new state of the art systems that can do all the wizzy things that a standard run of the mill PC will do without braking sweat.

So the upshot of this is that we now have a computer that is based on a PC but will also run everybody favourite Risc OS.

Will any of the other hardware developers put the money up to fund an ARM based alternative.

Or will they just say their is not a market because all of you loyal customers have moved away.

So if you have to sleep with the devil to fund further development to keep the risc os market alive then that is fine by me.

 is a RISC OS Usermicrobits on 16/8/03 3:01PM
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jmccullough> No a 3.6GHz VARPC desktop pc would *not* be faster than an Iyonix. PC's do not scale linearly with clock rate (and are even less likely to do so when emulating foreign hardware). Bear in mind each new generation of Windows also slows them down (when .NET fully comes in where code may well be interpreted or JIT compiled expect a further big performance hit).

If you're figures are right the bulk of the money you paid went to an unthanked anonymous Far Eastern PC manufacturer and Microsoft (much as I suspected).

microbits> I find it utterly incredible that you're inferring that Castle have *no* interest in the desktop market (I note you don't even have the guts to name them). What justification do you have for this assertion ?

I can if I wish buy an Iyonix (is that ahem a desktop machine YES), they *have* updated RO5.XX several times since launch, their documentation shows fundemental changes to the OS that would not simply be accounted for by being used in an embedded device.

And by the way I would *not* consider the selling of a PC laptop with XP a means of supporting RISC OS.

As to the simple minded notion of sleeping with the devil, what ever happened to Stac Electronics ? Yep they supped with Microsoft, and well it was all very sad what happened to them wasn't it (do a google search and see what you find ;) )

-- Annraoi McShane,

 is a RISC OS UserAMS on 16/8/03 3:35PM
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rdenk1> Yes I was speculating, but one thing for certain a fair number of people *did* put money down (as deposits) on a portable with RiscStation.

In effect there was a demand - that may well now be satisfied by a PC and Windows XP (and VARPC etc.,). That means anyone even contemplating a laptop RISC OS/ARM based machine *wont*.

If RiscStation or anyone else was considering doing a portable they'd now have a more difficult time justifying it.

The big winner in all this is Microsoft, much as usual.....

-- Annraoi McShane,

 is a RISC OS UserAMS on 16/8/03 3:40PM
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Hutchies:- Yes, Drobe do a marvellous job. But, whilst you could look at things from that point of view (and I'm not saying you are wrong to do so), you could also look at things from another point of view.

That view being that the RISC OS press get nothing but contempt from MD and yet the press continue to give them coverage and in so doing, advertise their company and their products. For free.

Obviously it's up to each member of the press to decide for themselves if they wish to be used in this manner, or even if they see the situation in this way. Cheers!

 is a RISC OS Userfwibbler on 16/8/03 4:28PM
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AMS:- I think Microbits was reffering to PACE, not Castle. I could be wrong though.

 is a RISC OS Userfwibbler on 16/8/03 4:33PM
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@annraoi : Yes , a fair number of people did. But where is the portable ? Still on paper. I doubt it will ever see the daylight..

Personally i do not think that any other comapny might be intrested in developing a portable with risc os on it. Even riscstation...

The effort done by MD is a step forward for the Risc Os Community . It fills a gap which no other company filled.

And they used a pragmatic solution ( not a pretty one in mine pov) and we have a portable with risc os....

And it is indeed a shame that one guy in Redmond fills his pockets with every sale...

But maybe the sales of the Alpha prooves that there is an "extensive" market for risc os laptops. So who knows it will bring MD to the idea to develop a real risc os laptop. ( wishfull thinking)

regards, Rick

 is a RISC OS Userrdenk1 on 16/8/03 4:43PM
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I think it is a great pity that you can't by VRPC stand alone. :( I would have thought they would be able to shift more copies if they did. Obviously licences and cess pits get in the way.

 is a RISC OS UserSnig on 16/8/03 10:59PM
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woo Snig,

what has MD got to gain from standalone copies of VRPC? -- Spriteman.

 is a RISC OS UserSpriteman on 17/8/03 1:32AM
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A better public image? No, wait a sec. Maybe they could open more PC users eyes to what a wonderful OS RISC OS is so they will all go out and buy an Iyonix. No, wait a sec. That's not right. If I'm correct, and I'm probably not, MD are probably hoping to make mega dollar from the Alpha. Its production costs are bare minimum so it can start to pay back all the debt they've undoubtedly put themselves in by developing the Omega. What I'm trying to say is: The Alpha is probably holding Omega development up. It's all a bit of a joke really.

 is a RISC OS UserSnig on 17/8/03 7:33AM
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@snig: If VRPC would be avaible stand-alone what's left for MD to sell?

And about the rest you are writing, its pure speculation. It would be better to stick to the facts.

We have nothing to gain with wild speculations.



 is a RISC OS Userrdenk1 on 17/8/03 8:17AM
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Surely the future of RISC OS does not rest on wether MicroDigital has anything to sell or not? So far they've done very little to earn my sympathy and honestly I don't think the RISC OS market has any need for MicroDigital any more, the Omega saga is one huge example of how not to present things - even after it's "public availability". If it really is available to buy why doesn't anyone know where to get one or at least why isn't it possible to get one? Do all the people that paid money in front have one ? Doesn't seem like it.

Don't get me wrong though - the RISC OS market doesn't need Microdigital but it would be good if they got themselves together and started working with the rest of the market and get things going. Unfortunately, so far there's no indication of that happening.

VRPC might give me a chance to get back to using RISC OS to some level, if only to give some support, buying the occasional piece of software and such. I will not be buying a low spec portable to do so. Wether or not one company will lose sales because of that I simply couldn't care less!

-- Gunnlaugur Jonsson, Copenhagen, Denmark

 is a RISC OS UserGulli on 17/8/03 9:21AM
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No one has stated that the future of the risc Os market is in the hands of MD. The fact that you think that the risc os market has no need for MD is , with all respect, your opinion. I , and others , do not share that vision.

The omega can be bought. At this moment they are producing the Omega in batches. Since there is a waiting list new buyers simply have to take their place in the queue. First come First serve....

And why " should they start to work with the rest of the market?" What that got to do with running a bussiness? Modern market-economy is (also)based on beating the competition, not working together with it....

The alpha is sold with a fixed VRPC and Risc os on it. It cannot and may not be used on any other computer. Thats also a part of the licence given by Risc OS ltd. So talking about VRPC as a "stand-alone" product is besides reality at the moment.

If one doenst like the specs of the alpha.. dont buy it or wait for a better deal. There is a Alpha available with a 2.4 gig P4 processor at the moment.. To call that low spec.....



 is a RISC OS Userrdenk1 on 17/8/03 9:53AM
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jcmcculloch> Yes you certainly did pay a big premium bying that laptop from MD. Laptops of similar spec (sometimes branded) can be had from around Eur 800-900 (gbp 600) including the obligitary Windows licence.

jcmcculloch> Your comments about the performance whilst running on the battery are interesting. Especially as my A4 will do about 3 hours on a full charge, and has often been used on long train journies. How long will the Alpha run RISC OS at full chat on the battery and how long at A5000 speed.

rdenk1> The main thing that Alpha proves is that there is extensive demand for Windows machines that can run a RISC OS 3.7+ emulator.

rdenk1> <hypothetical> If your comments about the 'free market' are true and co-operation is not needed then it seems you would agree that it would be logical for Castle to have the RO4+ licence for MD revoked? After all that would guarantee that the Iyonix would have no competitors. </hypothetical> Regards Stan -- S Williams,

 is a RISC OS Userblahsnr on 17/8/03 11:21AM
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The quote of note from rdenk was "Modern market-economy is (also)based on beating the competition, not working together with it...."

Now let's get down to it, Castle have made available C/C++ Development tools which *everyone* can use, has updated various software components in RISC OS which they've made available to all. They've (as far as I can tell) been open and evenhanded even with the competition.

What has MD done ? Well, sold Windows and PC's to people, produced a machine that costs more than the faster Iyonix and which still has a some bugs to be removed (have a look at the Omega article in Eureka).

Has sales of PC's and Windows to people damaged the RISC OS market - yes of course it has - people don't have fathomless pockets, there are limits to how much they can spend. Once they've bought an Alpha they're hardly likely to be in a position to buy either Iyonix *or* Omega after that ! Likewise they'll be unlikely to invest much in software (in the short term when it's needed) ... so the whole RISC OS market will be hit.

The notion that supporting Alpha is somehow supporting RISC OS is blatant rubbish (the *bulk* of the spend goes to a far eastern laptop manufacturer, to Microsoft and then a *very* small bit goes to MD, VA and RISC OS).

blahsnr> Yes Castle *could* revoke the license for RO4 from MD, or raise the royalty payments that ROL must pay (which would be passed onto MD).

Trouble is it would make it appear to some that Castle was vindictive and get MD some symphathy. It could also be fashioned into a useful excuse for why Omegas are so expensive/late or unavailable. I'd say let's not provide that excuse.

An alternative would be to prohibit sales of licenses for emulation use (but again that would probably irk some and would cost more than it saves). Yes the current situation *is* an unholy mess - and one we could have all done without methinks.


-- Annraoi McShane,

 is a RISC OS UserAMS on 17/8/03 2:42PM
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As if to prove my above point have a look at the article on Drobe EtherY (I quote "The EtherY driver was quietly sneaked out into the public under the GPL by Castle earlier in the year."

So who's trying to advance RISC OS more MD or Castle ?

-- Annraoi McShane,

 is a RISC OS UserAMS on 17/8/03 3:14PM
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Because it was based on GPL code and therefore had to be released I assume.

Trying to crush your competitors doesn't work that well if you can't sustain a market by yourself, we've already seen factions emerge only supporting Castle or Other stuff, usb, 32bit. Amusing that it's always Castle on one side though

 is a RISC OS Usermavhc on 17/8/03 4:13PM
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"(the *bulk* of the spend goes to a far eastern laptop manufacturer, to Microsoft and then a *very* small bit goes to MD, VA and RISC OS)."

Which is better than nothing at all, for those people who don't intend to buy an Iyonix, Omega etc, but still want to use and support RISC OS in some manner

 is a RISC OS UserWalks on 17/8/03 4:47PM
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@blahsnr : Yes, your hypothism can be correct. But here comes the catch: The only way for castle to do that is by "putting pressure" on Risc Os ltd. They have to try to persuade ROL of not doing any bussiness with MD. But thats not in the best intrest of ROL, since its a good client of them. Futhermore it will put ROl in a position as an "department " of Castle. So they will loose their indepence.

ROL has an contract with the owners of risc os that they can do bussiness with everyone they want as long as they are developing risc os/ exist as a company. Futhermore it would be very tricky to do so for castle since they have made an investment in obtaining risc os. And they want to earn their money back. "Return on investment" as its called.

So IMHO, following your hypothism, Caste isnt going to do anything like that on the Risc front. Following their strategy i would go for the usp ( unique selling point) of the Iyonix. Meaning getting ROL asap in the 32 bits market and leading their attention away from the 26 market and thus cutting of a stream of lifeblood for the Omega. *Thatswhy* the talks about a 32 bits select version. But thats playing on the card that MD hasnt got a Xscale working.But it will undermine one of the strongest point of the omega, the soft upgrade to 32 bit.

But its just following a hypotism of course.



 is a RISC OS Userrdenk1 on 17/8/03 5:17PM
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@annraoi: Caste made c++ development tools available? I must have missed something. From what i have learned it will cost me 199,- . So hardly philantropic.....

No one knows what deal is made with the "far eastern " company. Maybe the laptop are sold at cost price? You dont know it and neither will i. So we are all guessing at it.

If you screw a Iyonix open you will see proberly fancy names like siemens or phillips on the chipsets. They dont care about the risc os market. They only care about their sales. And how about the companies who made the hard discs , floppy discs cd-rom etc...? They all dont care about the risc os market.

So they all earned money too when someone buys an Iyonix..... Also money leaking out of the risc os market...

And i never ever wrote:"supporting Alpha is somehow supporting risc os" I wrote " something is better then nothing".And Thats an opinion.



 is a RISC OS Userrdenk1 on 17/8/03 5:47PM
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Check out www.fortunetechnology.co.uk The Alpha is the 2700D model -- Tank

 is a RISC OS Usertank on 17/8/03 6:38PM
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rdenk1>Of course the C++ were sold but the point is they built nothing in that would preclude that systems use on older RISC OS hardware (including Omega) or newer style 32bit systems - which was my point (they weren't trying to "stiff" the competition).

As to the precise cost of the laptop MD are selling - yes I don't know the price - but I am sure it will cost *something* and I am also sure Microsoft will charge for Windows, both being the case that's money that's left the RISC OS market.

As to the "fancy chips" argument, chips cost a lot less than whole systems (even fancy chips like the Xilinx ones or ALi southbridge in the Omega), so not as *much* money leaves our market.

Such chips are bought in bulk for substantial discounts - generally laptops manufacturers don't offer the same degree of discount. So in building a machine Castle and Microdigital spend *less* money outside the market than they would if they simply bought in some other companies laptop and then sellold it on.

The money that "leaks" out of the RISC OS market paying for machines like Iyonix and Omega at *least* gives us native hardware we can use *without* putting more money into microsoft - the same can't be said about Alpha.

Kind Regards

-- Annraoi McShane,

 is a RISC OS UserAMS on 17/8/03 7:04PM
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rdenk1: "Something is better than nothing".

It may be a sad fact, but I would be very surprised to see a StrongARM based laptop released at a roughly comparable price at all, so this is true.

If people want a RISC OS laptop then unfortunately this is the way it's going to have to be. If there was a *choice* it would be a different argument altogether.

 is a RISC OS UserSimonC on 17/8/03 8:18PM
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@annraoi : So we agree that c++ was/is sold as a normal product.

Castle will never built in a code-piece to exclude "older systems" for three obvious reasons: a. they will loose sale with that b. If it comes out they have to do quite some explaining. c. Its unsportmanship-like, or better sooo microsoft to do so.

About my "chips" arguement: the point is that it isnt a relavant discussion wether 10 cents is earned or 600 UKP. The conclusion is : Money is made with every sale by "outside-companies".

The height of the buying -price of components ( or complete machines) is feed for book-keepers, managers and sales persons, not us.

Our "power" lies in the fact wether we like a product or not or, even better, wether we buy a product or not. If sales are low then MD knows that this concept isnt a sucessfull one. If sales are high, well, then they have a winner.

Again we do share the same idea of that is better to have "native risc/arm machines". But having the risc station portable debacle in mind, i see the alpha as a step forward. Thats the pragmatic part in me saying that. The principal part in me prefers the risc/arm laptop idea. But you cant allways get what you want :(

As i am writing this its raining,for the first time in eight weeks.... Huurah ! (sorry, off topic)



 is a RISC OS Userrdenk1 on 17/8/03 8:31PM
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rdenk1: Maybe I didn't word it quite clearly enough but my comment about the future of RO and MD was an answer to your comment of: "If VRPC would be avaible stand-alone what's left for MD to sell?" A better wording would probably have been: WHO CARES?

I said that "I don't think the RISC OS market has any need for MicroDigital any more". I'm clearly stating my personal opinion and not the opinion of others though some may share my opinion.

"And why " should they start to work with the rest of the market?" What that got to do with running a bussiness? Modern market-economy is (also)based on beating the competition, not working together with it...."

The rest of the market isn't just Castle as you seem to think. The rest of the market also means software developers, magazines, news sites, respected high-profile users and the average user. When you are running a business, having the good-will of the press is always good business. When developing and selling a computer it's always going to be good business to have software developers on your side. Pissing off potential buyers, press and developers is never going to be considered good business. All of this has everything to do with running a business.

"So talking about VRPC as a "stand-alone" product is besides reality at the moment."

But that was the original complaint that my comment descended from! Snig said: "I think it is a great pity that you can't by VRPC stand alone." To what you answered: "If VRPC would be avaible stand-alone what's left for MD to sell?" Which is what I was answering! The fact that VRPC is not available as a standard product is THE reason for our discussion.

 is a RISC OS UserGulli on 18/08/03 02:09AM
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Who cares ?: I do. And others. I believe in a vived market.

About your statement that the risc os market doent need Md anymore, i clearly wrote that i think otherwise.I also wrote that i see it as your opinion.

About the market piece: I didnt mention Castle. I didnt even hinted in that direction. So i do not know were this idea came from , not from me thats for sure..

I am a Omega buyer. And i am not pissed off by MD as you say we are. Personally i never heard that story from any omega buyer.And i know quite a few of them. But , to be honest, i cant speak for all of them.

About pissing off the press : Let MD defend themselves. I am not going to sit in their chair. The only thing which i noticed is that the "pissing off" seems to come from both sides.Futhermore MD hasnt spoken directly to the press in the last few months.

About having the goodwill of the press : Even negative publicity is (good) publicity in the eyes of a marketing man. And it works. See how long the threads are...

Pissing off the developers ? Why should they ? The Omega works with existing software......


Your remark :"VRPC might give me a chance to get back to using risc os to some level, if only to give support, buying the occasional piece of software and such.I will not be buying a low spec portable to do so."

I responded to this remark. I was trying to tell (short) that the Alpha is a package deal. VRPC has a key position in that deal. There is no way that MD or ROl will approove a stand-alone version of it ( in a short time). Most likely there is an paragraph in the contracts about this subject. And thus protecting the intrest of ROL and MD.

So if you do want a laptop with risc os on it, there is only the alpha at the moment. We, as users, can buy it or not. And i agree, it would be intresting to see how the Alpha-sales would develop when a "real arm/risc " laptop enters the market. I think that most users would choose the "real one". But thats theoretical. Since there isnt any competition.



 is a RISC OS Userrdenk1 on 18/08/03 08:33AM
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Quoting Rick "There is no way that MD or ROL will approve a stand-alone version of it [VARPC]".

Now exactly what does MD have anything to do with whether VARPC is available stand or lone or not ? I mean Virtual Acorn bring their emulator, ROL bring RISC OS Version 4.02 (under license from Castle), so what does MD actually do ?

Ok, they provide a laptop PC, but *any* laptop would do, and the company (with respect) whose permission for distribution is required is CASTLE *not* MD. If Castle chose to they *could* authorise ROL/VA to sell the emulator to end users directly *without* a laptop.

From my point of view I am *not* in favour of RISC OS being emulated on a compeditor's (Windows), but if it has to happen I'd consider a software only VA/RISC OS 4 bundle a less damaging option (as some people may already have a PC laptop and buying VARPC by itself will not cause another PC to be sold). The less the package costs (preferably by unbundling it from the PC) the more money the purchaser will have left to spend (hopefully) on RISC OS software.

Still any form of emulation puts at risk any development of a native (ARM based) RO portable (this, sadly, does not seem to bother MD/VA or ROL which I find rather sad).



 is a RISC OS UserAMS on 18/08/03 7:10PM
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Annraoi : Sometimes is the idea the business. Maybe it was MD who came up with the idea and brought VA and ROl together behind the table. Rol the Os , Va the emulator, and MD the hardware.And a good (and above all, shrewd) businessman makes the deal.

You are absolutly right when you are saying that the laptop could be any laptop. But i think that MD made water-proof contracts. (excluding other laptops/ hw companies).

As a part of the deal made by MD ROL and VA i think that in the contract there is a clause which states that VA is not allowed to bring out a stand-alone version of VRPC for a specific period of time.

About Castle's permission: from what i have learned is that ROL have a very good contract ( from a legal POV) They have the right to sell, market and develop Risc Os any way they want. So if ROL wants to do business with MD there is no way that Castle can do anything about that (purely looking at the contract). When Castle aquired Risc OS they were also bound to the contract which was closed between Pace and ROL. The problem for Castle is that they cannot "force" ROL to do anything. (ie. by threatening to end the contract with ROL, which will costs Castle a huge fine, since i think that the contract will have a fine-clause)

What does Castle exactly own then? The intellectual rights of Risc Os.And maybe some extra bonusses. And of course the yearly money-transfer from ROL....

What i would like to know is the real reason why pace sold it....

About the emulation: O yes, we do agree on that. I would even go a step futher. Emulating a Os is the first foot in the grave. But there is no alternative, i have to say pragmatictly :(



 is a RISC OS Userrdenk1 on 18/08/03 9:12PM
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"About the market piece: I didnt mention Castle. I didnt even hinted in that direction. So i do not know were this idea came from , not from me thats for sure.. "

Hmmm - you said that "Modern market-economy is (also)based on beating the competition, not working together with it..."

As we were talking about the RISC OS market, where there's only one company producing a competing product to MDs and that's Castle, it's quite difficult to read anything else out of this.

"I am a Omega buyer. And i am not p***ed off by MD as you say we are."

I never said that you are pissed off! Read what I wrote: "Pissing off potential buyers, press and developers is never going to be considered good business." You are an Omega buyer - therefore you are no longer a potential buyer, you've already bought!

"About p***ing off the press : Let MD defend themselves. I am not going to sit in their chair. The only thing which i noticed is that the "p***ing off" seems to come from both sides.Futhermore MD hasnt spoken directly to the press in the last few months."

That is how MD is pissing off the press! That and the reason that they accuse the press of "misinterpreting press releases" even when they were quoted directly! If a company gets pissed off by the press - pissing the press off is NEVER the answer if they want to continue to be in business. Not unless you have such an amazing product that will sell no matter what. The Omega may be great - but in a tiny market like the RO market, it's never going to do well if all the press turns their back on the company.

 is a RISC OS UserGulli on 19/08/03 01:06AM
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Sorry, was answering rdenk1 - forgot to put that at the top of last post.

 is a RISC OS UserGulli on 19/08/03 01:08AM
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@Gunnlaugur: Modern market : i ment it in general. It could easily be used in the wonderful world of microwaves ;-]

In the risc os context : Castle, Risc Station and MD are competitors. Competitors compete with each other. They do not drink coffee with each other. Brussels isnt so fond of that idea, especially Mr. Bolkenstein....

P.. off potential buyers : I was a potential buyer, 6 months ago.And in my "potential days" i wasnt p.. off. Futhermore i know some potential buyers at the moment and from what i have learned from them is that they certainly do not feel p.. off by Md at the moment. But again, i can't speak for everyone.

I agree that silence can also be a statement. But intrepreting that statement is allways done by others and not by the one that doesnt speak.... MD have stated over and over again in the last few months that " we dont deal with the press" (literal quote). Can you interpret that as p... off ? I can't. I can only conclude that they ignore the press.

If the press p... off MD and they respond to that, and someone accuses MD of "P.. Off", he or she should also complain about the press. And its quite biblical to retaliate... An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth....;-] IMHO there are two parties to "blame", MD and some members of the press. To use a roughly translated Dutch saying:" In a fight there are two to blame".

Best thing which should be done is that MD and the press should talk with eachother on a "equal level base". Simply because this is not a healthy relation ( for both sides). But i do not see this happening. To use confucius his words:" It takes a wise man to admit his mistakes" and "Man does not stumble over mountains, over mole-hills" .

You suggest that maybe the press turn their backs to MD. I would bring in mind that "banning" a "product" brings ussually the opposite. Remember Frankie goes to Hollywood with "Relax"? Because of the ban number 1 all over the world. Remember the Bennton commercials? Sales skyhigh for Benneton. And i can go on and on. It pays off to be a "naughty guy" in our modern world.



 is a RISC OS Userrdenk1 on 19/08/03 12:03AM
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The second confucius quote should be :" Man does not stumble over mountains, only over mole-hills".


 is a RISC OS Userrdenk1 on 19/08/03 12:07AM
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 is a RISC OS Userarawnsley on 19/08/03 12:42AM
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I was rather interested to read the comments regarding the Alpha and networking. This message has been sent from Browse running on VirtualRPC-SE (on a P4 with WinXP) using a beta version of the new VirtualAcorn networking system.

 is a RISC OS Useranon/ on 19/08/03 3:02PM
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So, when does it get out of beta and into production?

Dave Ruck said that although a beta exists, he has no time to develop it further and test it (for the moment). Is this true?


 is a RISC OS Userdiomus on 19/08/03 3:13PM
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It will get out of beta and into production when it is finished and has been tested. I don't like giving out release dates until products have been through the QA testing phase.

This isn't the same plugin as Dave Ruck produced previously.

 is a RISC OS Useranon/ on 19/08/03 3:33PM
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"In the risc os context : Castle, Risc Station and MD are competitors. Competitors compete with each other. They do not drink coffee with each other. Brussels isnt so fond of that idea, especially Mr. Bolkenstein...."

RiscStation and Castle are not the rest of the RO market. They do represent a part of it, that's true. There are other companies and parties in the market, RISC OS Ltd. for example, various other software developers, dealers, hardware developers, magazines, websites and not forgetting the users. MD doesn't have any products competing with these parties (except for monitors) and therefore shouldn't irritate Brussels at all "drinking coffee with them." So far MD doesn't SEEM to have any interest in working with any of them.

"MD have stated over and over again in the last few months that " we dont deal with the press" (literal quote). Can you interpret that as p... off ? I can't. I can only conclude that they ignore the press."

MD has done more than saying they don't deal with the press, quoting from this article: [link]

- Paul (Beverly) reported that MicroDigital claimed that the Press are not technically competent enough to write about MicroDigital. - MicroDigital made more comments about the Press including the claim that the Press "are only doing it to line their pockets" - 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.

To the last point dgs commented: "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."

Now I don't know about you but this doesn't sound to me as "not dealing with the press", they publicly claim that the press is not compitent enough to do their work - sounds like p...... the press off to me.

Further down NudeLooney comments: "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."

P..... off potential customers? I think so.

"If the press p... off MD and they respond to that, and someone accuses MD of "P.. Off", he or she should also complain about the press."

Why should I complain about the press p... MD off? I'm just saying that MD is being extremely immature about the press quoting MD's press releases and have started p.... just about everyone off (except for you of course)

"And its quite biblical to retaliate... An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth....;-]"

Don't care if it's biblical or not - being an atheist.

"It pays off to be a "naughty guy" in our modern world."

Hmm, sorry but in the tiny RISC OS market that is not exactly a smart thing to rely on.

 is a RISC OS UserGulli on 19/08/03 11:39PM
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About the Alpha supporting 1920x1200 screenmode, does the RISC OS side support it, in 24 bit, or just Windows?

 is a RISC OS Userthegman on 20/08/03 11:04AM
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The Alpha project contradicts what you are writing. In that project MD is working together with Va and ROL.... And beta testers and dealers...

Besides this there is no need for working "very close" with developers since the Omega supports existing software. So they can work on a normal level with them.

The Paul beverly incident was something which was provoked by Mr Beverly. Mr beverly has for quite some time a very bad relation with Mr ATkins so the fact that this happend is not more than normal ( in the light of their relation). Some media blowed the story out of proportion. See iconbar for a more nuanced version of what really happend. This is also much more close to what i recalled what happend that afternoon. ( www.iconbar.com/news/expo2003/md/orginal.html) So IMHO the words and writings of Mr Beverly can hardly be seen as unbiased...

And as i wrote earlier let MD speak for themselves if they wishes to do so. We are not talking here about a serious disagreement on a technical detail. No, we are talking here about a provocation which was responded. I cannot call that a mature /proffesional attitude of Mr Beverly. (And to be honest i have to say this for Mr Atkins as well) So i think by only blaming Mr atkins of this one shows a nice case of "tunnel vision" instead of having a "helicopter view"

And again, i know quite some people who dont have any problem with MD what so ever. The simple fact that they dont feel the need to respond to stories like these doenst mean they are not out there. They are there.. Remember what i wrote.... silence is also a statement.

The fact that you are an atheist , well everybody makes mistakes in life ;-] But being that doesnt mean that certain "golden oldies" of the bible are not familair...

And yes being a naughty guy can be dangerous. It can make you world famous or blow you to oblivion. That's the roll of the dice you take...



 is a RISC OS Userrdenk1 on 21/08/03 9:06PM
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rdenk: I disagree that the Atkins vs. Beverley event at the Netherlands was blown out of proportion. It's generally noted that you don't insult the very people willing to promote your stuff.

The iconbar.com write up differed from ours because we simply didn't want to give front page space to a company that claimed the RISC OS press are only trying to line their own pockets. The iconbar.com's editors are free to publish whatever they want and it was nice to see someone willing to present an alternative view. In this instance, iconbar.com felt MicroDigital deserved a verbose write up, although that's probably got nothing to do with the fact that Phil's an MD apologist.

Bias doesn't just appear in the written word. It's in the the selection, editting and presentation of articles too.

And then there's making us all wait three years for a machine and then when it's ready, not telling anyone. It takes frustration to a whole new level. Rick, your defending of MD is admirable but really, it shouldn't be dealers and friends of MD to argue their case.

Chris. Just me.

 is a RISC OS Userdiomus on 21/08/03 11:54PM
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Chris :

Every member of the press can write whatever they want. That's one of the cornerstones of European society. But he or she should also realise that even members of the press do need to have a certain ethical and professional attitude. When certain members of the press start to provoke others and thus creating a "news" story i believe that a journalist crosses the line between professional and unprofessional. A journalist covers a story and is in this an impartial bystander. Thats a proffesional attitude. And surely he or she can give his or hers own opinion in an editorial piece. But even then one should realise of its very important and vital task : Keeping other people informed. That means trying to go in-depth were possible and , most of all, write with nuance... Personal feelings like being frustrated should never play a part in news-coverage. Even when a journalist is insulted. Let the reader judge instead of the journalist.

The distrust from MD towards the some members of the press is high. Thatswhy they have choosen not to speak with the press for a certain amount of time.That's IMHO a wise disission since every word from them brought up more dispute. Then its wise to keep silence, to avoid more disputes. Futhermore it was announced. They did it in Wakefield and in Nieuwegein. But their announcement was for the users and not specifically for the press. Some members of the press choose to be sceptical about this. Some did even claim that these machines were pre-production machines....

Dont get me wrong here, i am not a dealer or a friend.I have no involvement with MD what so ever other then that i bought an omega. If a simular thing happend to Castle or in fact any other company, my opinion is the same , and i will stand up and speak.



 is a RISC OS Userrdenk1 on 22/08/03 09:08AM
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Rick: So basically, you are saying you read something that you disagreed with? Everyday I read articles online or from newspapers that I disagree with - that doesn't always mean they are written unprofessionally or they are biased. I might simply disagree with the editorial opinion or the angle the writer took. Or maybe the truth hurts?

Iconbar.com's write up was verbose and detailed, which is fine. We concentrated on what was most important so the article was shorter and of a different tone.

Have you actually sat through a presentation by David Atkins? Have you watched the recording of him speaking at Wakefield? Who really cares about his company's relationship with far eastern developers? What about networking and USB, technical support and documentation? What about things that end users care about?

Oh great, Dave's very insistant to tell us that the Omega is expandable. How exactly is it expandable if they won't release docs on how to write drivers for it? Are MD going to do all the drivers, even though they're still fiddling with basic USB and networking?

You can disagree with us until you're blue in the face. I can argue for every single sentence in the drobe.co.uk articles you mention. I'd write more, but then we'd sound like a broken record and we could spend the time on more positive things.

Chris. Just me.

 is a RISC OS Userdiomus on 22/08/03 6:57PM
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Chris: I read newspapers and magazines too. Like you i do sometimes not agree with some articles. But these articles are based on facts. Most of the time the jourmalist acts as an impartial bystander and are not "provoking" the story. When i disagree with these kind of articles , i disagree over facts or knowledge. In this case the "disagreement" is simply because it crosses a ( professional) line. And thats something completly different.

The truth is a relative value . Confucius said a nice thing about that. "Truth has a 1000 faces". So what truth is absolute in this case?

And yes , i was there in Nieuwegein. So i watched and enjoyed the prestation of Mr Atkins. Apart from two provoked incidents (one by an employee of XAT and Mr Beverly) it was really great.

And why are you keep going on and on about the suspected things which might not work at the moment? As i recall the iyonix is far from complete either. But i don not hear you say anything about that. In that light i must say you are telling one side of the story. Thus not with nuance.

In you reply it is not difficult to find your personal dislike of Mr Atkins. If you are a journalist or act as one you should realise that letting your personal feelings get in the way is not proper journalism. Since drobe is the most important risc-os news-site on the net is means that those people who do the job need to realise that they have a very important job. Noblesse oblige.

For all "serious" journalists it should be their credo.



 is a RISC OS Userrdenk1 on 24/08/03 09:04AM
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So you are now accusing us of not sticking to facts, but you've yet once to describe precisely where we have not done so.

Futhermore, you are claiming the Iyonix is "far from complete". Which is ridiculous, as it clearly is complete, and makes your claims plain hypocrisy. I'm willing to bet you can't justify this statement.

 is a RISC OS Usermrchocky on 24/08/03 11:20AM
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Rick: well, ok, I respect your comments and I like people giving us feedback. This argument is going now where because it boils down to..

- We say the article was fair and deserving. - You say the article wasn't fair and was undeserving.

A deadlock I doubt we'll see resolved.

I don't have a personal dislike for David A. as such, I'm just extremely frustrated by the way MicroDigital publically present the Omega. We enjoy telling people about RISC OS and writing about it yet it's difficult to do so with MicroDigital being so overly defensive.

And if the Iyonix is apparently unfinished, I'd like to hear more about this because this is news to us. Post here or drop us an email.

Chris. Just me.

 is a RISC OS Userdiomus on 24/08/03 12:58AM
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Peter : Where did i actually accused Drobe of not sticking to the facts in this thread? And as i recall the Acorn a5000 had ( major)problems after the first where sold. The risc Pc had initially no 16 bit which had to be upgraded later on.And remember the cd rom drivers on the RPC? So acorn had (also) startup problems.

Every new product has, when it enters the market, has startup problem. The Iyonix too. Thats no big deal. As long as the company works on getting those problems fixed.

So the fact that some things arent working correctly at the moment isnt the end of the world . As long as MD are working on it. And they do. So going on and on about the things that dont work doesnt add anything to any discussion. One can also talk about it from a different angle:" It doesnt work yet but they are working on it". Feel the difference?

Futhermore, i do not like words which carry a negative emotion in it. It shows lack of respect for your discussion partner. And it adds nothing to the discussion.



 is a RISC OS Useranon/ on 25/08/03 11:14AM
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Chris : You are right when you are saying that everything is pretty much said about this subject. I do appriciate your way of respecting others.

I can understand that you are saying that your frustration comes from Md and not DA. But frustration can be a bad advisor. As i wrote before Drobe has a difficult, yet a rewarding task as the main news site in the risc os world. That brings also the obligation to inform people as neutral as possible. I do understand (in the case of MD)that sometimes its diffcult to do so but not impossible. To clear a misunderstanding : I should have written that the iyonix wasnt "complete" when it was introduced. So i am not stating that the Iyonix isnt complete at this moment. Again the fact that a machine need to have some bug-fixes , updates/upgrades shortly after it is introduced is in my eyes perfectly normal.



 is a RISC OS Useranon/ on 25/08/03 11:47AM
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Rick: I bet if we praised MicroDigital, we wouldn't be having this discussion.

Being negitive about something doesn't automatically make you biased - it seems some people think that if you write positively, you can't be biased.

We were being neutral when we wrote the articles, it's purely your opinion if you believe differently. If you have some quotes from the articles or other facts to back up your statements, we'll be pleased to hear them.

Chris. Just me.

 is a RISC OS Userdiomus on 25/08/03 7:22PM
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rdenk: So now you have retracted your false statement that the Iyonix is far from complete. Good - and understand that I am completely justified in harsh words against you if you spread such misinformation.

So presumably your above complaint now is that we have not talked about the Iyonix upgrades and fixes - despite plenty of evidence otherwise. Please clarify your allegation or withdraw it.

 is a RISC OS Usermrchocky on 26/08/03 11:14AM
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Peter : I'ts the tone that makes the music. Think about that. I do not respond to this kind of verbal agression.

 is a RISC OS Useranon/ on 27/08/03 07:50AM
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Chris : What i wrote about writing neutral it was and still is a general remark. I didnt wrote " *you* have to bring the news as neutral as possible". I wrote " that brings the obligation to write as neutral as possible". I didnt judge wether you did or not. Thats up to the readers to decide.



 is a RISC OS Useranon/ on 27/08/03 07:58AM
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Rick, look. Just face it.

If you take both IYONIX and OMEGAWD and compare the functionality they both had when they started 'shipping' then it's quite obvious that IYONIX was light years ahead of OMEGAWD at that point. (floppy drives, networking, etc)

Also the IYONIX has customer support. You know - you can ring people like castle up on the phone and actually speak to someone who will try and help you.

I have *unofficially* heard horror stories of omeags customer support.

If you would also care to look into, the IYONIX turnaround from castles saying they were working on it, to actually delivering was *very* short indeed. As I understand, Omega announcement was ~3 years, from start to 'shipping'.

This is not a viewpoint. It is a FACT.

So, to round things off, given that IYONIX is working, and the OMEGAWD is still lacking, which would you get?

Also, drobe.co.uk does it'd damndest to stay neutral in reporting *all* news. The only thing that makes us biased is free pizza. (btw, I still have a RISC PC, and no IYONIX or OMEGA. But if I were to upgrade I know which one I would be getting. You see, actually *using* the computer matters to me, with the minimum amount of hassle).

 is a RISC OS Userg0tai on 27/08/03 4:22PM
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Ian: Floppy disc is working at the moment. Networking is something which they are working on. For me , personally, is the fact that the omega has a "soft" ugrade is very important. I do not like emulation. Wether is called the Alpha or the iyonix ( aemulator). If i had no objection against that i could have stayed on a Ipc and bought VA5000 or a successor.

Again, i have the highest regards for the people of Castle (In fact i use oregano as my main browser). So the fact that they take good care of business makes them a solid company in my eyes.

The fact that you heard *horror* stories of the omega support is something which does not apply to me. I live in the Netherlands and i have to deal with MD europe. My experience is that they dont care how long it takes but they will help you and solve the problem. And i have not heard any story from the UK telling that MD didnt take care of their customors.

About the development time : i heard *unofficial* rumours that Castle didnt develop much about the Iyonix. Pace did allmost all the work and sold it to Castle. If thats the case then the r+d cannot be compared. Could anyone clearify that?

I have chosen for the Omega for a good number of reasons. And yes, i have also looked seriously at the Iyonix. If that answers your question.

I dicriminate in editorial pieces and covering news. An editorial can have a personal viewpoint. Covering news not. It would be a nice thing to watch the newsreader from the BBC stating his/hers personal opinion about a news item.... Again, its up to the readers to decide wether Drobe is biased or not.

You say that you want a computer with a minimal amount of hassle. And thus ( following your story) you are implicitly saying that you are going to buy an Iyonix. Have you heard "bad" reports from omega users ?

regards, RIck

 is a RISC OS Useranon/ on 28/08/03 08:39AM
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Hello again.

firstly I'll address your reply where you state: " And i have not heard any story from the UK telling that MD didnt take care of their customors." by saying:

[link] [link] (a 2 second search on google). A 60 second search on google didnt reveal any 'excellent/good/brill' customer support messages. or bad ones regarding castle.

Please, tell us exactly the reasons you had for chosing the Omega over the IYONIX. We would be very interested to hear them.

Oh, and I'm saying that I use a computer to do stuff, not spend ages 'getting it working'.

heard *unofficial* rumours that Castle didnt develop much about the Iyonix. Pace did allmost all the work and sold it to Castle.If thats the case then the r+d cannot be compared. Those rumours are wrong. Pace did not develop the board. tematic did, - a small company who just happen to employ a lot of ex-pace people.

Have you heard "bad" reports from omega users?

Let me see, "The floppy doesnt work", "The USB doesnt work", "Awful customer support", "No telephone answer after my Omega stopped working",.... (These are all on c.s.a.* or drobe comments from *users*, if you would care to spend the time looking).

So, I guess the answer to your question would be a 'Yes' then.


 is a RISC OS Userg0tai on 28/08/03 11:17AM
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Oh, should we bring the mico support (sound, usb, etc) woes into this as well? Apparently lots of people have had crap customer support with that, too.

 is a RISC OS Userg0tai on 28/08/03 11:28AM
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Rick, I can understand enthusiasm for the Omega, but I think it's fair to say that the Omega is somewhat less advanced than the Iyonix right now. Maybe in a years time that situation will have turned on it's head, but right now we only have MicroDigital's word on when problems will get fixed and features will be released. I do not own either machine, but I wrote to both Castle and MicroDigital with some questions about their respective machines, only Castle actually wrote back. You could argue that MicroDigital only gives out info via the phone, but this is very inconvenient if people are at work all day, and it is certainly very unprofessional to publish an email address and apparently ignore any emails which are sent to it. It's also a little odd, given that this is 2003 and MD are supposed to be at the cutting edge of technology, that they do not seem to use one of the most popular methods of communication ever made.

If, for arguments sake, let's say Drobe *are* biased against the Omega/Microdigital, it would not be without reason. I've said it before, MicroDigital can resolve this situation any time they like by just answering emails and co-operating with the press, who are after all, like it or not, the voice of most of the userbase. If MD feel the press are unprofessional or whatever, why not be the bigger man and call a truce, agree some terms about how MD's news should be handled and get MD back to being a serious player.

As for stuff not working on either the Iyonix or Omega, IIRC the Iyonix had sound problems and disk problems, and that was pretty much the worst of it, now both resolved. The Omega at present does not have networking, which to my eyes is a bit more serious, imagine what we would say about Apple, or Dell if they released a computer which did not have networking. I know many users only have one computer, and do not use broadband, but to the rest of us, no networking would mean a totally useless computer.



 is a RISC OS Userthegman on 28/08/03 5:51PM
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Ian :

Your first weblink is something which happend in 2001. And with a mico. To use this as an example in 2003 is , if i may say it with a dutch expression :" Pulling dead cows out of the canal." ( we do use a other word here simular to canal but there is no english word for it.)

Your second weblink is Mr P. Naulls defending himself against the accusation of being "biased" !

So tematic developed it. Castle ,apperently bought it. Thats , for castle, a complete ( and very short) r+d path. Who developed Risc Os 5 ? Castle or Tematic?

How can anyone compare this to the r+d of the Omega which has been done completly by Md themselves ?

And the floppy is working. www.drobe.co.uk/riscos/artifact777.html Usb and networking are the last two major hurdles which have to be taken. Again, i see no complaints from omega users in your reply. Not even on Drobe... And i did looked ;-]

But then again, i must have overlooked it.



 is a RISC OS Useranon/ on 28/08/03 9:04PM
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Gary : When i pick up the phone and call MD , i get them and they answer my questions. MD Europe that is. So i cant "judge" over the Uk situation.

And yes , you are completly right when you are saying that when one compares the two machines, it is obvious that the Iyonix is the most advanced. But its strongest point is also its weakest. Meaning that "old" sw might work or not with aemulator. And that there is a growing list of sw which is Iyonix ready. But sadly there is a lot of sw which will never be updated for Ro5. I use some of those sw. I like some of them. So in that light the "most advanced" isnt for me a arguement which will shift the balance in favour of an Iyonix.

About drobe biased or not: Someone who is a journalist or acting as one should never ever let his or hers personal likes or dislikes in the way. i agree that the way Md sometimes responded , represtend by Mr Atkins, can be called "questionable " as well. Or even unprofessional sometimes. But a journalist must stand above that, and do his/hers job properly.

And yes i do agree that the current situation isnt healty. lets hope MD can be the "bigger man".

Being a broadband user for quite a number of years, networking is very important for me. As you described Castle have resolved their problems with the Iyonix. Their start-up problems. I do not doubt that MD will do the same in a short amount of time with theirs. I am patient.

If Apple or dell would do something like that, they would make head line news. But can you compare or use the same standards ? My personal opinion not. Apple and Dell are two of the biggest HW-Companies in the world. MD is a small, local developer. Different, so different standards But thats an opinion off course.

But would Apple or Dell not make headlines when they brought a computer on the market with disk problems and sound problems?.........



 is a RISC OS Useranon/ on 28/08/03 10:01PM
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Hi Rick, I get your point about software and aemulor, I think any software not ported to 32-bit could be considered discontinued, and maybe alternatives should be sought. But I too do not like the idea of running 26-bit software under emulation, but RISC OS will need to completely drop 26-bit eventually, may as well be now. It has the added bonus of singling out committed developers too.

Your comments about journalism are totally right, I'm not personally bothered about who is wrong/right, as long as it gets sorted.

I think RISC OS companies should be held to the same standards as other companies if possible, RISC OS is already quite behind other platforms in most technical regards. It's not going to catch up if we *expect* worse from them, and it's certainly never going to attract new users with problems like no USB or Ethernet.

Yes, the same could be said about the Iyonix, I don't favour one over the other, Castle have made mistakes also. But without wishing to sound biased in favour of Castle, I would rather have slightly slow disk access for a bit rather than not be able to connect to my home network, or indeed the Internet.

I think it's sometimes better to seperate the product from it's maker, for example, I like SGI computers, but I think the company is run pretty badly. It does not affect my view of the computers they make. Similarly, many of us here do not think a lot of MD's PR, but we should not let it colour our view of their product. And by the same token, those who like MD should not simply ignore the problems their product has, and brush aside legitimate concerns about support and future development.


 is a RISC OS Userthegman on 29/08/03 01:01AM
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And the floppy is working.[Web link]

I couldn't give a stuff about the floppy working or not in the omega. that was NOT the question you asked. You asked: "Have you heard "bad" reports from omega users?" to which I gave you several examples of what I (and others) have heard. [link] (comments) [link] (comments) [link] (comments). You didn't look very hard, did you?

I'm not going to bother repeating myself about drobes neutrality between Iyonix and Omegawd.

"Usb and networking are the last two major hurdles which have to be taken." Apparently, the Mico, being some years old now, STILL has issues with the Sound hurdle (and USB, but that was never 'promised'). What does this mean for Omega support? 'Buy one now, get it working several years later'?

Oh, another url for you on the 'Microdigital Support/Service levels': [link] Again, I'd like to point out this is a quick search on google. If you want to trawl through drobe comments and peoples opinions of Microdigital you will find much of the same. (Iconbar too).

"Their start-up problems. I do not doubt that MD will do the same in a short amount of time with theirs. I am patient." I like this one. You obviously don't know the Mico's history . Go read c.s.a.a for a bit, please.

So, to summarize, Microdigital are constantly brought into the spotlight by users of their machines and people that have had experience with their support. Perhaps this means something. Perhaps support for devices on Omega might go the same was as support for stuff on the Mico.

There is a saying here, I don't speak dutch so I'm not going to bother translating it. It goes: "A leopard doesn't change it's spots". There is also another saying, but I'm not going to bother saying it.

I'm bored of you now, goodbye.

 is a RISC OS Userg0tai on 29/08/03 08:23AM
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Gary: Yes you are right about the status of 26 bits sw. But sometimes there isnt a good alternative for it.I agree that the only way forward is to 32 bit. But the "cold turkey" method of going forward may be too much of a shock for many risc users.

Forward in such a small community as the risc os world means also leaving negativity behind us. I wholeheartedly underwrite the comments written by Julian Zimmerle. We cannot explain the current situation to any newcommer or returner to this platform. The situation as it is will only make people walk away. And if we want to see this platform to grow, we must close the ranks. Meaning respect for Castle,MD and ROL. Simply that without these companies this platform is dead.

Closing the ranks does also mean leaving the trenches. Members of the press should step forward and reach out their hand to MD. And MD should accept that hand. Simply because they both need us. We are the ones buying and reading . So we need to be informed. Unbiased. Thats the menage a trois, platonically of course..

About the standards i mean that one has to be pragmatic. Both Castle and MD are "little" players, with limited resources. Molochs like HP or Apple or Intel are a whole different ballgame.But thats no excuse for everything. Both companies do have certain standards to live up to. But they have more credit from me then other companies, because i realise that their enthousiasm is sometimes bigger then their wallet.

The Omega hasnt got working usb and networking at the moment. But seeing the pace in which MD is solving the problems i do not doubt the they will tackle this problem shortly.

Yes, Castle did made some "mistakes" ( if you can call it that). But in the light of what they brought us,one cannot fall over that. The same with MD , allthough it will cost some people more effort to say that. We must let the past being the past and look for that greater goal: two great computers to choose from

Your last alinea: I agree with the most of what you wrote. But concerns should have a foundation in signals. Meaning that i havent seen or heard signals about bad support , so therefore i do not assume from a negative point of view but from a positive one. But you are right when you are saying that we all have to keep our feet on the earth...


Rick, who is going to watch "Two towers" on video now . Yeaah !

 is a RISC OS Useranon/ on 29/08/03 09:26AM
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Ian :

I quote you :"let me see, the floppy doesnt work" I responded :"And the floppy is working". I merely replied your statement, with evidence.

Your first weblink : Its doenst contain any bad user reports. Its "the sharing candy article".Which gives an impression of the Expo.

Your second weblink : A "news item" about the incident in Nieuwegein. Again no bad reports from omega users.

Your third weblink : Is Stewart Brookes review of the omega, which is positive. Again no bad reports from a omega user.

So where are youre bad reports of omega users?

Dragging the Mico into this arguement isnt usefull. Since it has nothing to do with the Omega. And if you have read the report of Stewart , sound is working on the Omega...

O... and your last weblink is contribution to a discussion by Mr P Naulls. In which he shares his point of view about the omega and Mico.....

If you do a google search, please be thourough and dont present weblinks that doesnt support your case.



 is a RISC OS Useranon/ on 29/08/03 10:09AM
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I said read the comments, not the articles.

 is a RISC OS Userg0tai on 29/08/03 3:40PM
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Ian :

I have read the articles and all the comments. In the comments are no reports from omega users complaining /reporting negative about the Omega/ Omega helpdesk.

Again : Were are the complaints/ bad reports of omega users? You said they were out there...and easy to find...



 is a RISC OS Useranon/ on 29/08/03 5:25PM
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RDenk> "...comments are no reports from omega users complaining /reporting negative about the Omega/ Omega helpdesk"

Odd, you're right there seem to be no Omega users there alright.

Isn't it remarkable that for a machine that is (supposidly) in production since May that there aren't swarms of Omega users here pointing out how great it is ?

Perhaps there are fewer Omega users/machines shipped than we thought, or perhaps the users don't really want to comment one way or the other (curious that isn't it ?).



 is a RISC OS UserAMS on 29/08/03 7:01PM
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Annraoi : This may come as a shock to you but i actually know people who own a Omega at this very moment...

Some of the omega users/buyers stopped reading Drobe a long time ago. And the ones left dont want to comment. Thats not curious, thats sad that such a thing happens...



 is a RISC OS Useranon/ on 29/08/03 7:48PM
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Rick> "i actually know people who own a Omega at this very moment"

Perhaps you could get these people to comment on their Omegas, ok it may not qualify as a review by an independant magazine - but at least we'd hear something.

As to Omega users having stopped reading Drobe, there are other forums for them to air their views (Iconbar, the csa newsgroups) yet *still* we hear little or nothing.

I've never used an Omega (all the show's I've attended seem to have been missed by MD), so I can't go and try one, I also can't read reviews of complete hardware (because MD won't co-operate) and now apparently MD Omega owners *don't* talk either. So I have *nothing* to base a purchase decission on.....

I can't ever recall an instance where hardware was sold by hiding it, never releasing it for review and where it's users won't admit to having one (never mind commenting on it).

This is all far to weird....



 is a RISC OS UserAMS on 29/08/03 8:46PM
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Annraoi :

I quote Stewart Brookes :" Thankfully the omega is finally shipping! Ive had my omega for about three weeks now..."

No-one noticed this sentence. No-one asked questions about it. After three weeks of owning one of the first Omegas Stewart decides to go public. Isnt that strange ? What would you do when you are one of the first with a new computer? Shout it from the roof-tops, thats for shure. But Stewart waited three weeks. And didnt post anything after that.....

That should have rang a whole set of bells. But no, remarkable as it is no-one noticed....

Four Omega's and Alphas were handed out in Nieuwegein. Delivery started quitely after the Expo. Yet not one of the new users has taken the time to share his experiences publically.....

How many people do you know who have actually openly admitted that they ordered an Omega? Yet with a little deduction you can figure out that there are enough out there to economically justify the development and production of the Omega.

Weird? Yes, but sad as well that the risc community has come to the point that one group of users have choosen to be silent.



 is a RISC OS Useranon/ on 29/08/03 9:36PM
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Hi Rick.

You said, "Yes, but sad as well that the risc community has come to the point that one group of users have choosen to be silent".

Well, sorry, that's unacceptable. The RISC OS platform is too small for people to start forming secret societies.

I'm sure people haven't waited 3 years for a machine (and I'm not just talking about deposit holders) that when it's released, everything goes quiet. The Omega and MicroDigital rely on RISC OS and therefore very much in the public interest and therefore our interest.

If we can't speak to MD, we'll speak to dealers and users because that works and it also means we get real people writing about their real machines.

I can't believe, in 2003, things have turned out this way. It's shocking. Call me biased and whatever else you feel like claiming in order to attempt to extinguish my view. This is how, as an independant editor thinking in the interests of the userbase and developers and dealers alike, I see the situation and I don't like it. That's informed editorial opinion. That's what sets the tone of our articles and the direction of our reporting. If you don't like it, then.. a) email us with some facts and urls to where we were wrong and we'll follow it up; or, b) find another news outlet.

I can see us arguing this over and over and over and going nowhere purely because we each hold different views. Is that so bad? Your opinion is welcome, I hope you treat mine and others in the same way.

Chris. Just me.

 is a RISC OS Userdiomus on 29/08/03 11:30PM
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Your opinion holds as much value as mine for me. The simple fact that you think different is only pleasant. What a boring place it would be if we all think alike. I do not have a problem with that as long as there is mutual respect.

You find it unacceptable that a group of users appear to have chosen to be silent. I agree completly with you. This is unacceptable. But yet it seems to be the case.

The Omegas are delivered through dealers. And besides Stewart not one single user stood up and told his/her expericiences.... And again no one , besides me, has openly admitted that he ordered an omega.

The current atmosphere on the net isnt one which gives people the idea that they can speak up freely and contructive. A small group of people is responsible for this. Burning everything to the ground with their sarcasm and dis-believe and , sometimes even sheer hate. The problem is that this is a very verbal group,active in newsgroups and all the news /risc os websites.

If i only look at the insults ,arrogant,harsh words i have met in the past few months i can only understand why other people do not want to speak.

I hope everyone who is reading this understands what is going on. And that the community starts to look in the mirror and ask themselves questions.Its time, gentlemen.

Chapeau to you all !


 is a RISC OS Useranon/ on 30/08/03 07:53AM
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Oh dear. Great support from MD there.


That was a bit easy to do. I wonder how many apps out there do that as well.

 is a RISC OS Userg0tai on 30/08/03 08:58AM
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No doubt you think you're in some way clever for sitting on your high horse and stating that everyone can have "opinins". No doubt you also think yourself blameless in regard to the people you condemn. And no doubt you think you also include myself in that condemnation. I'm willing to bet you'll once again consider that I'm being "harsh" or whatever other label you want put on it to avoid my unfortunate habit of pointing out facts.

The truth of the matter is that much of the current climate has been engenered by spread of misinformation. Precisely the misinformation that you YOURSELF have repeated in several places above (see your claims about the Iyonix) in pursuit of whatever obscure point you've been trying to make (no, so far as we can gather). MD themselves have been far from blameless in spread of this misinformation.

Rick, if you've got something to say, say it. Don't try and drown us in drivel about points of view. And don't expect not to be seen with the contempt it deserves when you do spread misinformation.

 is a RISC OS Usermrchocky on 30/08/03 09:08AM
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What misinformation? The fact that i said that even the Iyonix had start-up problems? May i quote thegman:" As stuff not working on either the Iyonix or Omega. The Iyonix had sound problems and disk problems..."

So more people aknowledged the fact the Iyonix had start-up problems. As i wrote before that no big deal. Castle solved it. But for you it seems like swearing in the church. Why Peter?

Futhermore you accused me of acusing drobe from not sticking to the facts. I asked you to come with proove that i said that. Till now you havent delivered.

And obscure points? Yes for you maybe but i thought it is loud and clear that i called for respect. Respect for castle, Md and users of both products. Thats something which you seem to have overlooked. Maybe my fault.

The climate change was started a long time before i entered debate. So accusing me of doing so is rather ridiculous.

Futhermore i you have read my words i didnt condemn anybody in person. Not even you.

 is a RISC OS Useranon/ on 30/08/03 10:50AM
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Ian :

Twice the same weblink? In which a normal technical problem is discussed?

Should that be the proove of your statement?

 is a RISC OS Useranon/ on 30/08/03 10:55AM
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'Normal' problem? You mean 'My computer does no longer work and MD won't help me'???

What planet are you on? If I bought a 900+ukp computer and it broke, and I couldn't get it fixed from the manufacturers there would be fucking hell to pay.

You prove yet again you are stuck in the clouds and not listening to the bad side of MD.

 is a RISC OS Useranon/ via on 30/08/03 11:33AM
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Hi Rick, I think both sides of this argument accept that both computers had problems when first released. TTBOMK the Iyonix problems are gone now, and to be fair, were not as severe as those that are still present in the Omega.

I don't know why we have not heard from more Omega owners, if indeed there are any more, and as MD have not published any fiqures (as is common in many computer markets, not just RISC OS), we just don't know why this is.

I agree that there is a lot of anti-Omega/MD feeling around the place, not just the news sites but it would be far better if MicroDigital took some responsibility for /why/ there is so much negative feeling. I also agree that you should not have take some of aggressive comments you have, but the rabid anti-MD opinions formed by some were not formed without reason.

 is a RISC OS Userthegman on 30/08/03 3:23PM
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Gary : Gosh.... i have nothing to add... can i buy you a pint ? no just kiddin.... :)

I do agree that MD should stand up and speak, and trying to get things into normal proportions a bit. When i read what some members of the press are writing i can hardly call that without knowledge or profound anti-MD. So Maybe MD should focus their media-attention to these members. Again the current situation cannot be considered as healthy.Its a pity that others should step forward in their defence and in the defence of the Omega users.

I do sincerely hope that some of the anti Md -lobby realise that it is time to bury the battle axe.... Yes, Their feelings are not without reason , i do realise that. But sometimes one has to step besides its own feelings and carry on.Thats the only contructive way forward.



 is a RISC OS Useranon/ on 30/08/03 9:44PM
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Rick> I know you're trying to be constructive, but unfortunately MD have already said too much of the wrong things.

Just have a look at the Google cache of the Newsdesk articles that MD actually put up (it's them in their own words). A lot of it was either down to "over-optimism" on their part about schedules and what they'd acchieve or (some less charatible types) might say were downright lies.

Have a look see how closely MD predictions match with reality. MD still say that Omega is "the most powerful RISC OS computer yet built" - wrong it isn't, they also say it's the first "softcomputer" - what was Imago then ?

MD's credibility is *very poor*, if they want to have people to believe them they *HAVE* to allow third parties review their hardware.

I'll be buying a new RISC OS computer this month or next, I (at the moment) can't take the Omega seriously. I believe Chris said MD is not attending the Guildford show (like probably the biggest of the year), so I won't even get to try one. Given MD's past history I simply *can't* trust them, MD really need drobe or Iconbar or Acorn user or someone other than MD or their agents to review it.

If they don't I will consider the Omega a closed issue not worthy of any further attentions, as I think will many others.



 is a RISC OS UserAMS on 31/08/03 2:25PM
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MD won't like it but Alpha will have some competition soon!

Bigger screen, faster processor.


 is a RISC OS Useranon/ on 17/09/03 11:21AM
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