Wakefield Show Report
This will be the third Wakefield show that I have attended, and, every time on the walk from the town center to Thornes Park Athletics Stadium I always spot a possible show go-er, today was no exception. A likely looking suspect in a long leather-esq raincoat was not twenty meters in front of us. I said to my brother, "there's one", it was the carrier bag containing what looked suspiciously like a packed lunch that gave it away. As my brother and I always manage to forget the route to the stadium and were unsure which way to go, we decided to take the same route as said likely suspect, which got us to our desired destination; we were there, Wakefield 2003 The Acorn RISC OS Computer Show.
On entering the 'Arena' the first thing i was presented with was CJEMicros stand with its assorted boxes of various software a RiscPC and an Iyonix were on display, so I was in the right place, the next stand along had two Archimedes with a linux console displayed on the screen, maybe I'm not in the right place! This was the NetBSD stand, someone was frantically stabbing keys trying to get the machine working properly, possibly demonstrating the ease of use of their systems. Aemulor was next to them, with an Iyonix running some non Xscale compatible software through their life saving app, assuming your life depends on running non 32bit compatible software on an Iyonix. Serious Statistical Software was next door, displaying some serious graph printouts and demonstrating the latest versions of their Statistical packages, 1st, 1stJr and 1stL.
In the middle was APDL, selling various machines software and upgrades, there were also flogging subscriptions to some CD based magazine, and notably a new desktop version of Repton, which I would have bought only I played it to death on my BBC while I was younger. Etc Systems' stand looked like someone's collection of Acorn hardware piled up with pricetags, they were selling various older systems and bits and bobs (including some "non-guaranteed" Amstrad NC100 notebooks for £1 each! - ED). Peter Naulls Unix Porting Project was there selling subscriptions to the service providing support to anyone wishing to get involved in porting unix programs to RISC OS. They were also demonstrating some SDL games, SDL being a multi platform C library recently ported to RISC OS, on the same stand was Alpha Programming selling CocoGnut a peer to peer file sharing program, very suspect. Brain Games were there promoting their educational games including new versions of Solitare, Tiles and Vignt et Un. Virtual Acorn were demonstrating their virtual A5000, which I must say is quite impressive with its long list of included software, only let down by the fact that is only available as an A5000, with the limitations of RISC OS 3.1 compared with RO4.
The next section of the middle was the Acorn user stand, which was a very sorry looking stand indeed, seeming to consist of a table with a few flimsy issues of the magazine, I can't help thinking that not letting people see the magazine would get more subscription sales. The Charity stand was there, and by the time I got to the show was selling just about everything Acorn related you would never want or need. The Acorn Publisher stand was there promoting its magazine, a charity and some board games produced using Artworks. My brother took a photo of a teddy bear reading a mini Acorn Publisher, and was then pounced on for a donation into the coin box the teddy was watching over, he managed to raise £25 for the Lower Moss Wood Wildlife Hospital.
The Acorn Publisher Bear
The Castle stand had several Iyonix machines on display, one hiding in the corner running Debian, another fine advert for Linux, as this was another static console display I assumed I was supposed to be impressed, so I took a photo, so you could all see the wonders of Debian running on an iyonix and be suitably impressed yourselves.
An Iyonix running Debian (Debonix? Iyonian?)
Along with the computers on the stand were people doing various pointless desktop stuff which I never quite see the point of, I mean if there is some new killer app you are trying out then fair enough, but you know the computer runs nearly three times as fast as your RiscPC, but for some reason people insist on opening a few of the standard RISC OS apps and poking around. I'm not quite sure how this would determine if you are going to fork out almost £1400 for the machine, but still, it keeps some people amused.
The WROCC stand was where I filled in the detachable part of my ticket for inclusion into the prize draw, they were also demonstrating a Doomsday System, the BBC Master - laser disc based database. RISCOS Ltd were there demonstrating the new Select 3, running on RiscPC's and a MicroDigital Omega, also they had there development JukeBox system.
RISCOS Ltd - featuring an Omega running Select
The Micro Digital stand had three motorbikes on small stands, although I am not quite sure why they were there. Microdigital were demonstrating their Omega StrongARM based computers, and the Alpha, a Intel based laptop using a version of Virtual Acorn making it capable of running RISC OS Select or RISC OS 4 at around the same speed as a StrongARM.
PHR Computers were offering their services, next to them was Really Good Software selling 32/26bit versions of NoticeBoard Professional and Picture book 2 at special show prices. Next to them was RComp selling their new DialUp2 Program, which looks like it could be the best commercial dialup program available, they were also selling various games and the newly acquired Datapower software.
Stuart Tyrrell Developments were demonstrating their new USB stuff, mice, keyboards, wireless LAN equipment and machine sharing switches. I just managed to catch a glimpse of of Art Works 2 through the crowds at the MW Software stand. Icon Technology were showing EasiWriter and TechWriter, Electronic Font Foundry were there offering 'professional advice in all font matters', typefaces for 60+ languages and various other fonts for scientific and educational use. Photodesk Ltd were demonstrating the new CameraDesk Software supporting USB cameras and offering show prices on their OHP and Photodesk Software. ITC-UK ltd. had just about every spare part you could ever want from locking pins to EDO RAM. And Archive magazine was there selling subscriptions to there long running magazine.
Compared with other Wakefield shows this one was noticeably smaller than the last few I have been to (only half the hall was being used), and the density of people seemed a little thinner than previous shows, this may have been because everybody was in the show theatre (I think it was, we were manic all day - ED), which had a full days line up and was packed throughout. For the fourth presentation the partitioning screens had been pushed back to accommodate more seating, this presumably being done after people had been standing on chairs peering over the back screens.
I was a little disappointed in the lack of faded Acorn related t-shirts stretched over beer belly, but a couple of people had on RiscPC jumpers that looked so new and pristine they must only bring them out for occassions such as this. Personally I only made one purchase, but it was a big one. I got the Castle C/C++ tools with the original Acorn Manuals and a copy of paper RiscOS 3 PRMS, my brother bought Virtual Acorn for his PC, he does have a RiscPC, but uses only PCs at work. I managed to get a free copy of the Unix Porting project CD, because I helped port a few of the SDL games, and my brother who works at an ISP mentioned the word advertising to Steve Turnbull at the Acorn User stand and managed to get a couple of free copys.
From the general comments that I got/overheard, the Wakefield show was a worthwhile event for the exhibitors (oh yes - ED) and a bit of all round jolly good family fun for all. The highlights being the anticipation in the air as each prize draw was announced, unfortunately I did not win an Omega, or a teddy bear, or anything.