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MicroDigital owners club sees light of day

By Chris Williams. Published: 18th Dec 2003, 09:21:40 | Permalink | Printable

Turn on, log in, drop out

Screenshot of MD forumsMicroDigital have earlier this month sneaked out an online support forum over at microdigital.info, proving that the original link from their main website was a cunning red herring.

Owners of MicroDigital kit can become forum members and join the MD end user community to discuss problems and ideas. For those of you who aren't MicroDigital customers, and don't fret - you're not in a minority, it's still a great opportunity to witness the level of support offered to customers and witness problems they face, if any. Ahem.

The usual Omega questions have bubbled out: where's USB and ethernet networking? And the answer is, nobody really knows. However, the next firmware update might address these concerns, in the same way that my next next lottery ticket will be a winner. A recently distributed Omega FPGA upgrade apparently increases system stability and enables sound for RISC OS Select users.


MicroDigital forums

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The website is very nice and reads well. It's good marketing and someone new to the market would be quite impresed. I don't own an Omega and so hesitate to comment on the products themselves ....

 is a RISC OS Usermartin on 18/12/03 9:35AM
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Really, what is the advantages to Omega ownership, to lets say, owning an Iyonix. `For there to be an owners club, there has to be a reason to buy :)

 is a RISC OS UserFedorenko on 18/12/03 10:36AM
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Well, some people like to buy computers wich offer a bit more ways to upgrade the machine than simply offering a few PCI slots. And there might be the odd person who wants to run the most advanced version of the operating system.

 is a RISC OS UserJGZimmerle on 18/12/03 11:20AM
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If only MicroDigital would actually advertise their machines to some degree....

(And sort out a decent website!)

 is a RISC OS UserThe Doctor on 18/12/03 11:22AM
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JGZ: I must be missing something, because the Iyonix has a variety of USB and PCI upgrades either available or in development.

The Omega, by contrast, has no upgrades currently available, indeed, it is still missing some which were supplied standard on Iyonix such as networking, which still isn't available 6 months after the machine's "release".

Was there some point here you want to regail us with besides promises of vapourware?

A strict interpretation of your comment along with "the most advanced version of the opertating system" would suggest you're talking about the RiscPC, which is indeed a highly upgradable machine.

 is a RISC OS Usermrchocky on 18/12/03 11:28AM
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Of course when the Risc PC came out, most of its potential upgrades were vapourware too. ARM710 cards? PC card? 16 bit sound?

 is a RISC OS Usermonkeyson on 18/12/03 11:50AM
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Only the PC card was initially promised (if memory serves), and in any case, that was developed by a 3rd party, the others came in the RiscPC 700 when that was released.

Even dismissing that, Acorn already had a long track record of new machines (around 10 by that time) and upgrades, so the comparison with MD isn't really relevant.

 is a RISC OS Usermrchocky on 18/12/03 12:06PM
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Well, if the track record of completely new machines is so important, then surely MicroDigital should have an advantage over Castle? But personally I don't think it is relevant.

The Omega has had a number of upgrades through firmware updates, wich, among other things, added new features and increased performance of the FGPAs.

And as for "more ways to upgrade the machine" in the form of daughter-boards: The Omega offers a high-performance bus wich can be used for all sorts of things, among them a replacement or complementary processor, like the planned Xscale and FPA. And very little (if any at all) glue logic would be needed on the daughter-board, as the northbridge can be altered to offer an optimised interface. So the Omega offers at least two ways to upgrade the machine, in addition to the PCI interface and simple firmware updates.

 is a RISC OS UserJGZimmerle on 18/12/03 1:35PM
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Does the Omega exist as a saleable product? My attempts to seek info on availability and delivery have been ignored.

 is a RISC OS Userrmacf on 18/12/03 2:42PM
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JGZ: it's fair to say you've completely missed the point all issues.

You're confusing the "ability to upgrade" with actual upgrades. The Omega keeps being touted as wonderous with respect to the former, but has precisely none of the latter.

You're right, the comparison of new machines _isn't_ relevant. The comparison which is, is Acorn's precendent for actually delivering products (and indeed upgrades, which is the topic of this coversation), and which Castle have continued (and ROL, just for completeness).

On the contrary, MD have failed with this on both their machines in timeliness and actual availability, the latter being my objection to your original point. So please refrain comparing upgrades which either don't exist or have only been seen by a precious few with those that are actually available to purchase.

 is a RISC OS Usermrchocky on 18/12/03 4:44PM
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Yes but Acorn could not deliver the replacement for the RISC PC, even with all there experince.

So Microdigital being a bit late does not look to bad in compariosn.

 is a RISC OS UserRevin Kevin on 18/12/03 6:47PM
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mrchocky: >You're right, the comparison of new machines _isn't_ relevant. The comparison which is, is Acorn's precendent for actually delivering products (and indeed upgrades, which is the topic of this coversation), and which Castle have continued (and ROL, just for completeness).

Hold on. Just who are the rightful heirs to the Acorn throne? After all, Acorn failed to bring us Phoebe, Stork (a portable) and the highly speculative, but rather nice Newspad.

 is a RISC OS Userdavidb on 18/12/03 6:51PM
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The Iyonix owners' smartgroup looks like it's had five or six thousand posts so far. (The RISC OS Select smartgroup has more, but has been running longer).

Given the tiny number of Omega owners, it might be a few centuries before the Omega group catches up :-)


 is a RISC OS Userdgs on 18/12/03 7:38PM
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@mrchocky: As I said above: Upgrades to the northbridge and graphics-chip have been supplied to Omega owners. The equivalent on an Iyonix would have been an exchange of the graphics card and the mainboard.

 is a RISC OS UserJGZimmerle on 18/12/03 9:27PM
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JGZimmerle: Are the network card or the X-Scale upgrade or the x86 card or USB functionality available for the Omega yet?


 is a RISC OS Userdgs on 18/12/03 11:08PM
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Its nice to read of Omega development, but I cannot see anything positive happening on the Mico front. Perhaps JGZimmerie has an answer?

 is a RISC OS Userjlavallin on 19/12/03 2:10AM
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No, but that's because MicroDigital know what their customers want. For most of them the first priority was to have Select working on the Omega. Now the next highest priority (the network card) is being addressed. I don't know about the x86 card, it might be that it is already working, but I have enough PCs and so I don't need one.

 is a RISC OS UserJGZimmerle on 19/12/03 2:11AM
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Excuse me if I am wrong, but the whole concept of the Omega is to retrofit as much sh@t to an upgraded RiscPC. Now, if they had an Iyonix like system, then they had allowed all of those seperate features on top of it, i dont think we would be having this arguement..

 is a RISC OS UserFedorenko on 19/12/03 5:14AM
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Actually what is most important about thius is it lets us count omegas...

That'll be 4 on the continent + that free one the ARM club won + stewy oh and the one that Liquid Silicon put in a rack mount

& the one RISC OS limited use + Microdigital's own one(s)

Funny how you can count this "in production" machine isn't it?

Have I run out of fingers yet?

 is a RISC OS Userepistaxsis@work on 19/12/03 6:56AM
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epistaxsis - How many fingers have you got - are there any left for me?

Not perfect yet but up and running with Select.

 is a RISC OS UserJohnV on 19/12/03 9:38AM
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davidb, RK: I'm not really interested in dicussions about intangible things like the "Acorn throne", and nor am I really interested in Acorn's failings in their last years, since this has long since been discussed to death.

Every RISC OS company has products that never made it to market, whoopy. The relevant parts are that Acorn had a track record of producing many products, even if some fell through the net, although that isn't particularly relevant to the RiscPC, for reasons I've already stated.

On the contrary, as I keep saying, MD has no such record of delivery of upgrades, so it's no good waving around promised upgrades to the machine, and saying the machine is upgradable, when it clearly isn't for the simple reason that upgrades currently don't exist.

 is a RISC OS Usermrchocky on 19/12/03 4:35PM
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jgzimmerle: I find that a rather specious argument. Firstly, your original implication of "upgrades" was clearly about hardware that added addition functionality, and one that's always used when talking about them - processor upgrades, expansion cards, peripherals etc. Those two examples certainly don't fall into that.

Secondly, no, they aren't the equivalent of upgrades of those items on the Iyonix, because Castle wisely chose industry standard parts, which _already_ worked properly, and therefore did not need field upgrades to perform at a level they should have at release.

 is a RISC OS Usermrchocky on 19/12/03 4:43PM
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 is a RISC OS Userstdevel on 19/12/03 5:18PM
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std: I'm well aware of the Iyonix firmware upgrade addressing reset problems. Was there a technical point you cared to make, or should I presume you just decided to post that randomly? It would extremely weak of me to argue that this was an upgrade in the class as the type of upgrades I've described above.

 is a RISC OS Usermrchocky on 19/12/03 5:25PM
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mrchocky: "(the Iyonix) did not need field upgrades to perform at a level they should have at release."


"I'm well aware of the Iyonix firmware upgrade addressing reset problems."

Which of your statements is correct?

 is a RISC OS Usergjs on 19/12/03 6:00PM
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gjs: only the second is correct, since the first is a misquote. In any case, the reset issue only affected a small number of users.

It would be fiction for me to claim that the Iyonix, or any machine was entirely bug free - I said as much in my review of the machine, but it's a totally different topic to the matter of upgrades (in the form I described above) being available.

 is a RISC OS Usermrchocky on 19/12/03 6:08PM
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dgs: "given the tiny number of omega users.." Hang on..Based on what evidence? If you have any sales figures of MD please share. If you dont have that you are spreading rumours. Very unwise to do so.

Epitaxis : Well, you seem to be even better informed than dgs.To know these numbers one should be working for MD...

Federenko: You seemed to have are rather odd idea of the Omega.retro-fit?Is that what you call using existing software? May i point out that most of the software made available for the Iyonix are Iyonix versions of what you call retro fit...


 is a RISC OS Userrick11 on 19/12/03 6:11PM
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informed, me?

No - I just was counting...

& see we have another -> JohnV...


 is a RISC OS Userepistaxsis@work on 19/12/03 6:35PM
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epistaxis: Counting? start all over again.Futhermore not many Omega users do comment here on drobe. So if that is your source of information it is not such a reliable one to draw any conclusions from....


 is a RISC OS Userrick11 on 19/12/03 6:44PM
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rick11: Where do they comment then? there aren't significant numbers (or even very many at all) of Omega users on usenet, TIB forums, Archive On Line list, ArcSite forums, what we've seen of MD forums, or as dgs has pointed out, user group meetings. If there's somewhere else I've missed where lots of Omega owners are posting, we'd be interested to hear.

Much as it might be nice to think there are lots of Omega users (for lots of reasons), the strong emperical evidence is that this simply isn't the case.

 is a RISC OS Usermrchocky on 19/12/03 7:02PM
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jeez man - all I did was count germans (I think - sorry if you're not) on the omega usergroup thing.

& then decided to cause trouble ;-)

can't help it.... ;-D

 is a RISC OS Userepistaxsis@work on 19/12/03 7:06PM
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peter: Why do we need to comment on Drobe or other sites? If you have spend any time looking on the .info site you would have found a login screen..

Behind that login screen there are the goodies... and the discussions... So Dgs's comments are more than a little bit premature

So not commenting on drobe is proof for you that they dont exist? That is a very dangerous assumption... Emperical evidence is no evidence as any lawyer can tell you if it is the only evidence.


 is a RISC OS Userrick11 on 19/12/03 7:15PM
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JGZ hmm you might have a point.

MD have indeed brought out two new machines. However they as yet do not appear even now to fulfill the lavish specifications presented on the MD website/brochures (*USB sound and microbus on the Mico, USB, graphics acceleration, networking, UDMA IDE interface X-Scale and X86 second processors in Omega etc etc) despite having several years to do so.

Castle have admittedly brought out only one completely new machine** which functioned as described out of the box a year ago, without pre-announcing it or asking for deposits.

A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. Stan * feel free to correct me on any of these. ** oh and two half new computers the Kinetic 233 upgrade and the Kinetic 300.

 is a RISC OS Userblahsnr on 19/12/03 7:31PM
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The Iyonix isn't without its problems. I understand that some users' computers suffer from freezes, possibly related to the audio (*audio off, anyone?) or writing to the screen memory (i've seen a simple non-desktop BASIC program that uses POINT x,y to generate a texture that can stiff a machine if the X loop is inside the Y, but is fine the other way around; I'm sure there are other examples).

So neither computer has reached perfection yet.

 is a RISC OS Usermonkeyson on 19/12/03 8:04PM
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monkeyson Where on earth did I say anything about perfection? The RiscPC is still not perfect even running Select they will freeze! I find in usage that the Iyonix is no less reliable than my RiscPC's. Pretty good for a completely new machine with PCI and all the other stuff that people have been screaming for for years now since Pheobe died a death.

As an example let's look at the situation with regard to USB. Please feel free to correct any factual inaccuracies.

My Olympus C730 worked fine directly with my Iyonix after the first release of the mass storage device drivers and my keyboard and mouse worked from day one. I have plugged a HP Laserjet 1200 series printer into the USB ports on the Iyonix and with Printers 1.67 it was usable within seconds without any operator intervention. I have tried a number of memory sticks that work.

The Iyonix is advertised with USB and has been from day one and it works (as does networking incidently). What types of USB devices should be supported has been clearly stated. Could I do the same things with a Mico or an Omega which have been advertised with USB from day one?

There is a difference between 'imperfect' and 'not working at all'. That was my point.

 is a RISC OS Userblahsnr on 19/12/03 8:51PM
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One can of course argue that one of the reasons we don't see many Omega users posting in various RISC OS related forums, is that their Omega networking is... not working. And that is somehow a limiting factor these broadband days (how many of use a accessing Internet via the serial port ?). ;^/

 is a RISC OS Userjoty on 19/12/03 9:04PM
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epistaxsis: Im not in the slightest case offendend by the fact that you think that i am a german ;-] So no need to say: sorry if your not.

I even like them ...but not during football matches :)

S Williams: Not working at all? Better is to use: not working yet...


 is a RISC OS Userrick11 on 19/12/03 9:13PM
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John: I do not think that your statement is correct. I am an Omega user and i am on the internet. Broadband...


 is a RISC OS Userrick11 on 19/12/03 9:17PM
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Rick heb je dus goed nieuws over de Omega en netwerkkaarten?

Vertel alles !! Ik hou van goed nieuws!

Ach 'nog niet werkend' ipv 'werkt niet'?! Erg positief denkend ;o)

Een voorbeeld; Ik heb een nieuwe auto gekocht de motor is fantastisch, de versnellingsbak werkt prima, jammer genoeg er is nog steeds geen kabel voor de koppeling......Maar een prima auto ik kan alle mijn ouwe spullen erin stoppen!

Mijn buren hebben een auto gekocht met alles inclusief een kabel voor de koppleing maar die kinderstoeltjes past niet.

Ik zou wel voor de tweede kiezen en nieuwe kinderstoeltjes kopen ;o)

Prettige Kerstdagen! Stan

 is a RISC OS Userblahsnr on 19/12/03 9:27PM
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"Erg positief denkend" doesn't sound at all complimentary :-)


 is a RISC OS Userdgs on 19/12/03 9:34PM
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Rick: care to enlighten us which precise statement of mine is not correct ? The fact that Omega networking is not working ? Or the fact that there aren't many (!) Omega users posting ?

 is a RISC OS Userjoty on 19/12/03 9:34PM
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It means roughly translated 'that's very positive thinking'.......either that of I have just insulted his grandmother.....can't really remember at this time of night after a working week behind NT4 machines trying to debug Cool:GEN programs ;o)

 is a RISC OS Userblahsnr on 19/12/03 9:39PM
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Stan, Ik ben een aards-positivist. (dat is een positieve optimist ;-]) Er zijn vele positieve ontwikkelingen geweest de afgelopen maanden rondom de Omega. En mbt het netwerk stuk... tja ik kan helaas niet alles vertellen wat ik op dat gebied weet. Dan zou ik een beetje voor de muziek uit gaan lopen.....

Prettige feestdagen daar in het westen ! vanuit een koud Noord'n


 is a RISC OS Useranon/ on 19/12/03 9:56PM
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>i've seen a simple non-desktop BASIC program that uses POINT x,y to generate a texture that can stiff a machine...

Did that program get sent to Castle? If it fails with any regularity it would be a godsend in tracking down any reliability issues.


 is a RISC OS Useradrianl on 19/12/03 10:19PM
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John: Your statement is :

"One can of course argue that one of the reasons we don't see many omega users posting in various RISC OS related forums is that their Omega networking... is not working."

My response is: Bullocks.. im a Omega user and i am on the internet with broadband. How much clearer must one be?

Futhermore the fact that you dont see many omega postings is something which i have explained earlier. Apart from Julian and myself most Omega users do not wish to meet the wolves-pack in the arena called drobe.


 is a RISC OS Useranon/ on 20/12/03 08:29AM
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Rick you could be using a serial connection to a linux box that provides the broadband connection. Technically using Broadband but NOT via and ethernet card.

Given MD's numerous 'information problems' you might understand why people won't believe it until someone says 'I am using an Omega with a working network card' and shows them it in use. Stan

 is a RISC OS Userblahsnr on 20/12/03 12:29AM
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Rick: telling people they're talking bollocks and providing exactly no explanation isn't going to win any arguments.

No, it is _not_ clear, that is why I am asking. Presumably you are using a PPP link, which will limit you to ~12K/sec. A bit tedious, as anyone who's tried it knows (and requires another machine), and certainly not a functioning network card.

You have not explained at all the reason why we don't see many Omega posts, apart from the simple answer that there simply aren't many owners. I've asked you which forums they do post on, which you've declined to answer.

If sticking to reasoned argument and facts makes drobe posters a wolf-pack, then that's a label that they're unlikely to escape.

 is a RISC OS Usermrchocky on 20/12/03 1:08PM
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Rick: Your comments are very interesting. Clearly you know something about the number of Omega owners out there, that we don't (which is surprising, because we've put a certain amount of effort into finding out).

Can you tell us, then, roughly how many Omega owners you think there are?

More than fifty? More than a hundred? More than two hundred?

Do you think they're mostly in mainland Europe?

Do you have any ideas as to why MicroDigital can't attend the largest RISC OS show of 2004 ?


 is a RISC OS Userdgs on 20/12/03 3:44PM
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"most Omega users do not wish to meet the wolves-pack in the arena called drobe" .. hehe, that's so going to be turned into the drobe quotes.

Chris. Just me.

 is a RISC OS Userdiomus on 20/12/03 9:50PM
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What sort of animal packs do Omega users find in arenas other than Drobe? And why do they not comment in those arenas either?


 is a RISC OS Userdgs on 20/12/03 10:01PM
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Dgs >Do you have any ideas as to why MicroDigital >can't attend the largest RISC OS show of 2004 ? Does anyone really care ;o)

 is a RISC OS Userblahsnr on 20/12/03 10:30PM
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No im not using a linux box nor a ppp link. My Isp is @home (cable). Thats ethernet. With tcp/ip.

Peter ,as i explained before, look at the .info site for the login box. Behind that there are the relevant forums for the omega users. You, quite obviously, cant look behind that. Thats where the discusions take place. So i gave you, and others , a straight answer.

The reason why i used the metaphor "wolves-pack" is that there are still people out there who still cannot accept that the omega is here and that there are regular users out there. I can imagine that the average Omega user is very reluctant to make him/her self known as an omega user. So the fact that some people cannot find an omega user is not very suprising to me. I know quite a few who are not in the least bit interested in commenting on drobe. To put it even stronger theve stopped reading drobe a long time ago....

Dgs: MD does the sale for the UK. MD Europe is doing the continent. Since i have limited knowledge of the situation in the Uk it would be rather speculative to say that most users are on the continent. Or in the UK.

I know is that, when i attend a show,as board member of the HCC Risc OS user group i meet on a regular base fellow-Omega users (and Alpha users). And we are most of the time are on non-riscos computer shows. Again estimating the numbers would be speculating.

Why MD isnt going to be on the largest Risc OS show? Ideas: yes. Are these ideas backed by statements of David Atkins? No. So again it would be speculating if i am going to say anything about this subject.


 is a RISC OS Useranon/ on 20/12/03 10:38PM
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blahsnr: Fair point.

However, yes people do care. MicroDigital presentations are generally very interesting! One never knows quite what is going to happen next...

I do also know of people in the UK who would be very keen to see MicroDigital at Wakefield.

But, they're not there (apparently). Rick has ideas why, but he isn't telling us. David Atkins (presumably) has ideas why, but he isn't telling us either.


 is a RISC OS Userdgs on 20/12/03 10:58PM
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Dgs : On what information do you base your statement that MD Isnt going to attend the wakefield show? Clear is that it is not comming from MD themselves.

Stan: I find it a bit disappointing that you write that you dont dont care what MD is doing. At this time, Castle and MD are carrying the Flag. If it wasnt for them we would all be sitting behind a windows pc running VA..... I have not seen you on the HCC dagen though ;-] . There you had the unique possibility to sit behind the Iyonix, Omega and an alpha.. all on one table *and* in good harmony :)

Chris: Im flattered :) But should you be? I would be worried in your position. Since it looks like that a "general risc os site" seems to exclude certain users...


 is a RISC OS Useranon/ on 21/12/03 08:39AM
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I can only confirm your views... and add, that most Omega users seem to be lurkers, since the number of users registered for the Owners Club forum far exeeds the number of registered users who have actually posted there.

 is a RISC OS UserJGZimmerle on 21/12/03 09:11AM
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Hi Julian,

When will the next meeting be taking place in Soest? Since i live in the vicinty of Meppen (Nieder Sachsen) it seems for me to be one of the closest Risc OS meetings to visit.



 is a RISC OS Useranon/ on 21/12/03 09:49AM
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rick: The Wakefield organiser, Chris Hughes, has confirmed publically (on usenet) that MD won't be attending the show. Chris.H also said it was MD's "loss".

As to your other point: you're right, we do try to cater for all RISC OS users, and we try to find news from each corner of the platform: from Iyonix to Omega to emulation to legacy machines.

While we can't force people to read the site, we certainly are not excluding anyone, whatsoever. If you think we've missed some important news or overlooked something, drop us an email and we'll follow it up. If you have any oter evidence that we're excluding users, point it out to us. We'd love to hear from you.


 is a RISC OS Userdiomus on 21/12/03 10:07AM
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Rick See here re MD and Wakefield

[link] %40cartmell.demon.co.uk#s

Re my attitude to MD and my lack of interest; It is sad but true that in the times after Acorn went belly up whilst I was still using an A3010 for main internet access and hoping to upgrade to something better, there was a certain dealer who over a period of a couple of years did their best to convince me that Castle was not a nice company to deal with.

Perhaps you can understand why I initially believed MD's story about the Omega. However in November of 2002 as an MDE Omega deposit holder I was then asked for more money with absolutely no guarantees given about delivery dates or indeed if the Omega would EVER do the things it said it could on the MD website. I asked for and got my deposit back. A day later the Iyonix was announced.

The only company that is 'carrying the flag' and is responsible for stopping me moving away from the platform is Castle, and those companies and individuals who have spent time and effort making 26/32bit neutral programs. As for emulators, well if I am going to have to buy a fast Windows machine then I don't see the point in (among other things) crippling its performance so I can run RISC OS, thus VA would not have been an option.

If I need 100% RO4 compatibility then I fire up a RiscPC, after all you tell me how I can make an Irlam 24i16 or an DMI50S work in an Omega (or a VARPC)? There is precious little I cannot do with an Iyonix that I can do with a RiscPC, and many things I can do far better than on a RiscPC.

Thus if a company has a working product then I will choose whether or not I want to buy it. That after all is how business should work and ultimately that is why I have an Iyonix on my desk.

'Plucky fellows doing their best against all odds' may be heroic but but such sentiments no longer enthuse me especially when they are consistently not even able to accurately estimate how long the task is going to take.

 is a RISC OS Userblahsnr on 21/12/03 12:48AM
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blahsnr: Only *one* dealer did their best to convince you that Castle was not a nice company to deal with? :-) I can think of at least two or three RISC OS companies in the UK, who seem to prefer that above any other topic of conversation...

You may feel you were badly treated by MicroDigital Europe, but I had a *lot* more trouble than that in getting back my Omega deposit from APDL.

I entirely agree with your comments about who is 'carrying the flag'. It is very clear that there is only one company producing ARM powered RISC OS hardware that provides a credible way forward.


 is a RISC OS Userdgs on 21/12/03 3:24PM
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Dgs Whilst I was livid at the time, I realised that others had had a much harder time getting deposits back from MD UK. Credit due to Frank Kraai for paying the deposit back promptly without further complaint or delay.

The dealer I mentioned is certainly not the only place I have heard anti-Castle sentiment. Maybe Castle aren't the sort of people you want to have a beer with but then again I am not looking for mates or to be a member of some cosy club, but professional companies that support the products they sell and in a consistent and responsive manner.

 is a RISC OS Userblahsnr on 21/12/03 3:53PM
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Three important things to note:

1.) Ethernet is apparently worked on, and probably Julian and Rick have prerelease versions of it. However, the generall Omega-using public does not have access to Ethernet at the moment, despite several promises being made by MD for end of August, September, October, November...so it is still serial port ppp for us.

2.) The Omega Owner's club and the usergroup stuff is *not* finished and therefore not accessible to most Omega users like me (according to MDE who said they couldn't register me yet).

3.) Firmware Rel. 14 is slightly faster than Rel. 12, but still manages to perform slower on my PackDir benchmark (see [link] for a benchmark description and the numbers for Rel. 12 - numbers for Rel. 14 coming soon) than the good old Risc PC.

Nothing in sight yet concerning USB, XScale upgrade, SCSI card or whatever has been promised in 2000.


 is a RISC OS Userhubersn on 21/12/03 5:25PM
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Steffen Thanks for the clarification.

Hope you survive the WPD aka Wolf-Pack-Drobe (or should that be Weapon of Pertinent Discussion) without too many traumas......;o)

Frohe Weinachten

 is a RISC OS Userblahsnr on 21/12/03 5:53PM
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1) ABout the ethernet status: Aperently... proberly.... Doesnt sound like solid evidence...

MD Europe said at the end of september that ethernet was of of the first subjects to tackle. That was the first and only information sent out to the users here on the continent. So your claim that they repeatly promised ethernet during the past months is not the truth. Back it up with proof if you have evidence.

2) The Omega usergroup is finished. The simple fact that *you* dont have access doesnt imply that it isnt working. Again you are speculating. If you dont have access, ask MD europe for access. Simple as that. You are *a* user not *most* users.

3) The omega is a project computer. That means that MD will be continuously working on improving it. So what you are saying is that there is progress. Which is good.

Nothing in sight concerning USB Xscale: We know that. This is just repeating old facts. Whats your point? That they arent there yet? We know steffen....


 is a RISC OS Useranon/ on 21/12/03 8:53PM
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Hi Rick,

the solid evidence is that there is no releasable Ethernet card/driver combination *at the moment* for the Omega. I know, I have ordered one. I was promised delivery by MD UK several times. You can ask my dealer if you want how often MD UK promised it to him. To the general customer, the "solid evidence" is clear: no Ethernet available. You can order one, but you can't get one.

I know that MDE are a lot more trustworthy than MD UK, so they don't promise delivery dates, which is a good thing. However, this does not speed up things. And the fact that Mico owners still wait for their promised Ethernet cards is not a good sign at all.

About the usergroup: I have asked MDE for registration. I cite from their answer: "For the moment the usergroup is still not finished completely we allowed only a couple of users access to do final testing." Sounds a lot like "a few selected users have access" instead of "most have access, apart from you", don't you think so? And don't you think that, having an email from MDE with a clear statement concerning the state of the usergroup, is a lot more evidence and a lot less speculation than you implied?

Actually, I don't care whether the Omega is a "project" computer or whatever. I just demand delivery of the things promised. Like all the bundled applications. Like working USB including a Simtec(-compatible) stack. A working XScale option. A SCSI card. An Ethernet card. Simple, isn't it? On every show I had the chance to either visit one of David Atkins' presentations or talked to him, I got the impression that everything was "nearly ready". Obviously a very wrong impression, and it is very important to tell potential customers the truth about MD's track record of delivering promised things. Like USB for the Mico. You remember?

The fact that, after owning the Omega for several months, the only visible step forward is a slightly updated FPGA image might be called "progress", but with that speed of development we will wait another three years for all the promised options.


 is a RISC OS Userhubersn on 21/12/03 9:52PM
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Can someone please explain to me, by private email if you want to, why some people consider Castle to be "not nice people"? I've heard this a few times but I've heard absolutely no details, no specifics, so I don't get it - certainly the way the business is run publicly, is near flawless in my eyes. So can someone enlighten me?

 is a RISC OS UserSparkY on 21/12/03 10:56PM
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Steffen, The simple fact that MDE isnt promising has nothing to do with speeding things up.You know just as well as i do that MDE is a sales,assembly and repair channel. Nothing more , nothing less. The actual R+D plus the programming is done in the UK.

Let Frank do the talking with MD UK. I am suprised that MD didnt sent you to Frank. If your dealer is talking directly to MD Uk he should know better.... But that is a thing for Frank to pick up. If everybody in Europe starts phoning directly to MD UK we are wasting a lot of time from people. Futhermore Frank has all the contacts within MD Uk. The *more he knows* from us , the *better* he can inform MD UK. And believe me, frank *gets* attention ;-]

As a Dutchman i am perfectly honest and im not beating around the bush in matters: "Why should we trust you ?" How do i know, when i discuss a problem with fellow-omega users, that it isnt on drobe the very same day? Thats the problem, Steffen. Mind that this is my personal opinion. I do not speak for MDE. So show that this is prejudice from my side. Reading your cite about the users group makes me smile. Its a diplomatic way of keeping someone out. For some reason you didnt picked that up. So its obvious that more people share that very same concern.

If you dont "care" what the omega is you have shown that you have not been able to get a good grasp behind its concept. If you wanted a "finished" computer why didnt you settle for the Iyonix? And when you think that MD has a bad record of delivering promised things why do you do bussiness with them in the first place? This all sounds to me like a pretty expensive way of "prooving" whatever point you have.

About your last alinea: Again you are speculating. Futhermore i recieved two updates in the past months and not one.... But that is i think that i have the omega a little bit longer then you do....


 is a RISC OS Useranon/ on 22/12/03 09:38AM
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Since April 2003 there have been 11 firmware upgrades, not counting the beta versions wich some hand-picked users got.

 is a RISC OS UserJGZimmerle on 22/12/03 4:36PM
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SparkY "certainly the way the business is run publicly, is near flawless in my eyes. So can someone enlighten me?" No I am afraid not. At least not without speculating ;o) Your assesment of Castle tallies with my experience.

JGZ "Since April 2003 there have been 11 firmware upgrades, not counting the beta versions wich some hand-picked users got." So the three incremental OS upgrades I have had in over a year of Iyonix ownership (none of which broke anything) compares rather well! So why can't they get the Omega firmware right??

To (i am assuming this is Rick) I have to say I'd rather buy RISC OS related products from Desk than even a pencil sharpener from MD UK.

"I know this pencil sharpener doesn't work completely yet but it is a new concept in modular pencil sharpeners. The block and the blade have been finished for sometime. As for the rest, we will be supplying the hole the pencil goes into right-soon-now......No really ask Rick and Julian we sent them both a hole last week. What do you mean you are not satisfied? Well of course it's because you just don't understand the concept!!".

By the way don't you think that if there is anyone who *might just* understand the concept behind the Omega it would be the author of the only CD burning software currently available and supported for RISC OS machines? This same person being the only user who has taken the effort to published extensive benchmarks for the two new and other existing RISC OS machines?

By the way, your comments about exclusion of certain individuals from the MD usergroup forums are very enlightening. Perhaps the main worry that many in the community have about MD (after the inability to accurately forcast progress) is the feeling that if as a customer you say things about MD products that are perceived by MD to be negative, your requests for support will be ignored.

Is that really what you meant 'of is het gewoon een taal fout'? Or do you really have to sign an NDA to get access to the MD support forums?

 is a RISC OS Userblahsnr on 22/12/03 6:52PM
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SparkY: I got the impression that the majority of people who are annoyed with Castle, are annoyed because Castle (unexpectedly) brought out products that competed with their own products.


 is a RISC OS Userdgs on 22/12/03 7:16PM
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blahsnr: I'm not sure if Desk sell pencil sharpeners, but as you probably know, they've certainly had very big pencils at their stand before now :-)


 is a RISC OS Userdgs on 22/12/03 7:19PM
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Rick: Are you really suggesting that Steffen, who has paid for a MicroDigital computer, is being "diplomatically" excluded from the support forum (i.e. lied to) just because he might say something that MicroDigital don't like?

Well, it might make *you* smile, but I think for a lot of ordinary users, it would rather confirm our opinion of MicroDigital!

If this is the case, it would also mean that ordinary Omega owners using the forum would miss out on any useful input from Steffen.


 is a RISC OS Userdgs on 22/12/03 8:00PM
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dgs : No i am not suggesting. That is how it looks like to me. And what does it confirm? Excluding someone from which it seems cannot be trusted upon? And like i wrote its up to steffen to correct this prejudice.... If he says that he will not violate trust then i can see no problem whatsoever.

What made me smile is that apperently he didnt made a connection between not allowed entrance and the sometimes very negative statements he repeatly makes about the Omega and MD...

Dgs, diplomacy and not telling the truth sometimes go hand in hand. We all do that at a certain point in our lifes.

Stan: I know exactly who Steffen Huber is. The fact that he wrote cd-burn: he should be credited for that. But thats beside the point . He is not speaking as the author of Cd-burn but as an dis-satified Omega user... Again the idea behind the Omega is quite different than a "normal" computer. If one doesnt like the concept but want a "finished" computer he or she should go for an Iyonix. But dont buy the Omega and start complaining that it is not a finished computer. If he dont like the machine , he can bring it back to detlef and asks his money back. Thats what any other person would do. If i dont like something, i bring it back. But i do not "use" it and start complaining about it. You did allmost a simular thing... (by ordering-off your omega)

Maybe you are confusing my points of view with that of MD. *I* said that is is an diplomatic way.... So when you are trying to lay *my* statement on the dinner plate of MD you are wrong. I do not represent MD in any way. I make no official statements for MD. So its a slight flaw to say that this is MD policy...

"So why cant they get their firmware right?" You are a programmer (correct me if i am wrong)... you know what programming is about. Programmes are very often updated. That has nothing to do with "getting things" right... Just with adding functionality, make things runs faster etc...


 is a RISC OS Useranon/ on 22/12/03 10:59PM
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@blahsnr: They got the Omega firmware right long ago. The whole idea behind the Omega is that it can be upgraded by firmware updates to make the northbridge, graphics chip and system-CPLD provide new hardware-functions wich were not there before and to optimise their existing functions in hardware to improve speed and compatability. So the hardware of the Omega I got a few months ago has improved a lot in that time, and it will become even more reliable, compatible and faster in the future. Not by finding work-arounds for hardware-errors in the software, but by actually altering the hardware itself. That is why MicroDigital call it soft-hardware. Sometime soon it will offer all the functions I originally paid for, but it will not stop there. After that I will be able to purchase further improvements to the hardware, like an FP accelerator, and receive these hardware upgrades over the internet without having to wait for shipments by post. And they will be cheap, because nothing has to be manufactured, packaged and posted. Plus the convenience of not having to open the case to add these hardware upgrades.

 is a RISC OS UserJGZimmerle on 23/12/03 5:19PM
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BTW, the Owners Club forum is still in testing phase. You might have noticed that the "Features" board has become non-public again, for example. We also have not yet decided on how we will add users to the forum. Some hand-picked users already got access, so that we can test such things and to get an idea of how the forum might develop later on. Until we think it is finished, Omega owners can still use the traditional support channels, so the point of "requests for support will be ignored" is not valid. Steffen got the same firmware upgrade as everyone else, AFAIK even before it appeared on the support site.

 is a RISC OS UserJGZimmerle on 23/12/03 5:38PM
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Rick:- An interesting concept; can Mico owners return their computers for a full refund on the grounds that the original advertized spec has never been reached i.e. NO USB drivers;NO network card (enenthough it was on the original order). Some people I have he read still have problems with sound

 is a RISC OS Useranon/ on 28/12/03 02:16AM
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Mico owners will be offered the option to exchange their mainboard for an Omega mainboard (presumably for the price difference).

 is a RISC OS UserJGZimmerle on 28/12/03 12:06AM
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Yes, very good, but it's not entirely what he asked. Do you want to swap one unfinished machine for another? Perhaps, but questionable.

 is a RISC OS Usermrchocky on 28/12/03 6:03PM
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geoff: We were talking about the omega and steffen. Not about the mico.


 is a RISC OS Useranon/ on 28/12/03 7:58PM
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Rick: I think there are some parallels between Steffen's unfinished Omega, and Geoff's unfinished Mico.


 is a RISC OS Userdgs on 29/12/03 11:53AM
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Maybe they can exchange for an omega then exchange the omega for cash.

*rename bizarroworld microdigitalworld

 is a RISC OS Usermavhc on 29/12/03 10:10PM
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Dgs: Not at all. Steffen *knew* what the state of the Omega is. He *knew* that there were /are still things which needed to be developed/programmed. If he had no confidence at all in MD *why* did he bought it in the first place? If he needed the machine to develop his sw he could have waited till more thing were more clear. Futhermore it is good practice among risc os dealers here on the continent to tell their custumors what the machine is at the moment. So he cant hide behind the arguement: " Ich habe es nicht gewust"...

I do not know Geoff. He does not say that he has an MICO. if he has/had he should brought back the machine a long time ago and demanded his money back.( if he felt that the machine didnt lived up to his expectations) There is no sense in not undertaking action and complaining.


 is a RISC OS Useranon/ on 30/12/03 11:32AM
[ Reply | Permalink | Report ] Rick >There is no sense in not undertaking action and complaining So in general warning other potential customers of the problems of dealing with certain companies when the aforementioned company has failed to deliver on promises is not taking action?

 is a RISC OS Userblahsnr on 31/12/03 4:50PM
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Rick When MDE answers "For the moment the usergroup is still not finished completely we allowed only a couple of users access to do final testing." they most likely mean just that. If they wanted to diplomatically keep users from joining they would have said something like "For the moment the usergroup is still not finished completely and is only open for selected users at the moment."

 is a RISC OS UserJaco on 04/01/04 12:18AM
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Stan: Taking action does not mean warning others. Thats is ... warning other people. Taking action means simply doing something about the current situation. If i dont like something i bring it back. and ask my money back, *Thats* action. Against the company which sold you something which you didnt like. We even have the law behind us. According to European law ( which is implemented in the legislation of most countries) you have a two weeks refund,no questions asked period...

Jaco: Whats the difference? The result is the same. Final testing is something which can last reallly long... Not finished can also last really long....


 is a RISC OS Useranon/ on 05/01/04 7:49PM
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The difference is -selected people- or -just a small number of selected people- even sales people tent to lie as least as possible.

 is a RISC OS UserJaco on 07/01/04 9:16PM
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@Jaco Interesting point of view you have. So "sales people tend to lie as least as possible"? Are you referring to MDE? I smell a very untasty prejudice here....

Futhermore in an earlier reply you said:"When MDE answers..." May i point out that MD Europe didnt made any official or unoffical comments at all about this subject...

And again the difference between "selected" and "a small number of selected" people is nothing more than playing with words...



 is a RISC OS Useranon/ on 10/01/04 6:15PM
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