RISC World

RISC OS 2001 show

Aaron was allowed off the APDL stand to write a quick show report

Well I suppose I had to attend the Bracknell show. After all it is only 5 minutes from home, so it would be a bit silly to miss it to be honest. Anyway usually at shows I am tied to my own stand, so this time I thought I might get the chance for a good wander around, but no, I was roped in to help on the APDL stand, along with Dave Holden, Dave Bradforth and Dave Lawrence. As you might imagine shouting "Oi, Dave how much is this?" didn't always get the correct response from the correct person. I did offer to change my name to Dave as well for the duration, but my kind offer was declined.

New Software

So having escaped from the gaggle of Daves it was time to see what was new. Starting close to home i.e. on the APDL stand, we have a new version of Ancestor+. This is a major upgrade as it can now produce full family trees on screen, and save them out as draw files. Not only can it make proper trees but if you are not happy with the results the program gives you can drag the people around the tree and watch all the links move about, great fun. You can also change the colours used for the boxes around people, the links, both parent and marriage. The comprehensive preferences window contains loads more options that I don't have time to cover. Also on the APDL stand I had a chat with myself about the software I was on the stand demonstrating (RISC2PC) which has been reviewed by a customer for this very RISC World.

Moving on to the R-Comp stand revealed a very busy Andrew Rawnsley showing off HTML Edit Version 5. This now includes Javascript, Cascading Style Sheets and full support for HTML 4.01. Also on display was a thumbnail generating program, called WebThumbs, which I was told would be bundled with various versions of HTML Edit. On the games front Descent II was making a showing, and we hope to have a full review in RISC World as soon as possible.

The biggest software news of the day could well have been from the Castle Technology stand with Oregano 2. This was shown working very well on a number of sites. However on no way could you describe it as style guide compliant, as it looks the same on a RISC PC as it does on an NC. Presumably to make development and support easier Castle have decided that the desktop version of Oregano 2 will be almost identical to the NC version. This means no scroll bars, PC type menus and quite a few other oddities that may not go down too well with the RISC OS fanatic.

Cerilica were also at the show and were showing off Vantage, with some new colour handling, including support for "metallic" inks. We hope to have a full review of this next issue, so I won't say too much more until I have given Vantage a real workout. Cerilica also had a surprise for customers, with the announcement of a new graphics package called Insignia. This is designed to make logos, and such like, in bitmap format, primarily for use on web sites. Some of the effects did indeed look stunning. Scheduled for release in the next few weeks at a price of around £40 Insignia could be well worth a look.

Warm Silence were showing off a new download manager, called LoadMaster. You can set this to download a number of files at the same time, and unlike a conventional download if your connection to the internet gets broken you can continue the download from where you started, not from scratch. This sort of feature has been available on PCs for some time, so its most welcome to find it coming to RISC OS.

RISC OS Ltd seemed to be very busy, with a number of customers signing up for the SELECT scheme. Also quite a lot of interest was registered in the RON (RISC OS on Netbook) project which will now go ahead, and good luck to however is funding it.

New Hardware

On the hardware front Castle Technology were waxing lyrical about the new Neuron embedded device mother board, this board seems to be the one used in the new Slym computer designed in conjunction with Cumana. The Slym board is very small, and would easily fit in a large number of domestic devices. However its specification shows its origins, in reality it is an A7000+ that has been put on a very hot wash. Let us hope that Castle have success with embedded devices. Although it would be nice to see a new high end desktop machine from them soon.

Explan were also showing the new Solo computer, basically a high power NC, this was the one of the most interesting machines on display, it's cheap, reasonably powerful (for the price) and looks like it might have a great future as a thin client. (unless I find a way to network Bush Set Top Boxes of course!).

A number of companies have been suggesting the USB is the way forward for a number of devices, so it was nice to see a complete USB podule, which actually works. At the moment it can only drive USB printers, but I am sure it won't be too long before you will be able to hook up a USB camera to it, which may give you a clue as to who is developing it!

Old Hardware

Well we cannot round off a walk round the RISC OS show without a mention of a complete working Phoebe, complete with RISC OS 3.8. The computer was running 5 or so replay movies at the same time, as well as rendering some Artworks documents. Also on the stand were some prototype Phoebe mother boards and other components. What can you say, it is far faster than any RISC PC, and this is the only one there is ever going to be, I'm rather sad about this, still lets hope the Omega will be even better.

So that was the Bracknell show, quite small, very busy on both days, which is unusual, and quite a lot of fun. There may not have been as many surprises as there have been at shows in the past, but I enjoyed it, and speaking to both exhibitors and customers so did everyone else, which is what its all about. The next show is Birmingham, will I be there? Well if I am you know what I will be demonstrating!

Aaron Timbrell