A punter's view of the South East showBy John-Mark Bell. Published: 18th Oct 2003, 22:24:16 | Permalink | Printable
John Bell recounts his day in GuildfordThe big news for this year's South East RISC OS show was the appearance of DVD player Cino and the revealing of network aware VirtualRPC-SE. John Bell writes in his own words what today's show in Guildford did for him...
The show was noticeably quieter than last year, though the extra space available may have added to the effect. There didn't seem to be all that much new (excepting Cino of course, see later). What was noticeable was the number of Iyonixen on the stands - most had one, if not more. I only attended the RISC OS Limited theatre presentation so that is all I've covered.
It appears Cino has only had 5 weeks of development and it has to be said that it's fairly impressive given that. There's no denying that it seems slow at the moment but there's lots of room for improvement. The video can be played at close to real-time (assuming B-type frames are dropped) but the audio will skip. The converse is also true (i.e. audio playing fine but video skips). I was shown some onscreen profiling output which showed that up to 40% of CPU cycles were being wasted due to waiting for data.
It uses the DMA features of the XScale to put frame data into the screen memory but the PCI bus is a bit of a bottleneck.
RISCOS Ltd Theatre Presentation
Paul Middleton gave a similar presentation to the one he gave at the AGM (even using the same slides). Pretty much of what he said has already been reported so I won't repeat it here. Essentially, he gave an overview of ROL's development plan for RISC OS - Select in ROM, rewritten filing system (with the possibility of moving to unix-style filenaming) etc.
The issue of Select on RISC OS 5 was raised by a number of people during the question and answer session. ROL was accused of lacking interest in the issue by one questioner due to the fact that no survey of Select subscribers had been taken on the issue of Select for RISC OS 5. Another issue raised was the alledged "mixed messages" coming from ROL. Some members of the audience admitted that they were holding back from buying an Iyonix because of the lack of Select on it.
Paul Middleton explained that Select on RISC OS 5 was not as simple as rebuilding the Select components to be 32bit neutral. There are marked differences in the kernels of the two OS variants which would need to be rationalised before Select was fully available on OS 5. The major sticking point seems to be who should do the work (ROL or CTL). The CTL/Tematic engineers are reportedly focussing on embedded systems so a kernel rewrite would be low on their priority list. It seems, however, that there is some determination to produce Select features on OS 5 although no timescale has been given. ROL may even produce their own 32bit RISC OS in order to circumvent these issues.
Overall, it seems ROL are intending to try and provide some of the things users want, though Select on RISC OS 5 certainly doesn't appear imminent from here.
The show was much more down beat than last year. The Iyonix no longer seems to be pulling in the crowds, though this is to be expected. The prospect of Cino makes the software market look rosier than I feel it really is. Excepting MW-Software's valient efforts, new products don't seem to be anywhere near the horizon.
The divergence of the CTL and ROL OS variants seems to be preventing real impetus as many are holding out for Select on RISC OS 5. The situation with Omega isn't helping either. It was claimed by Paul Middleton in his presentation that the Omega is faster than the Iyonix for certain tasks, although I'm skeptical about that.
Overall, I was quite disappointed with the lack of interesting new things on display as I'd hoped that the software market would have picked up by now, given the new hardware available. 32bitting old applications is all well and good but the market really needs new products and there are too few of those at present.
The show was well organised and I'd like to thank the organisers for all their hard efforts in ensuring everything ran smoothly.
South East show website
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