It's the show report of the year.
So that was Wakefield 2005, I'm writing this on the Monday afternoon after the show while it's still all fairly fresh in my memory, so if you went to the show then you will know what new developments were waved in front of eager customers, if you didn't go then shame on you, as you missed the most exciting RISC OS show in years.
As usual the show was held at Thornes Park Athletics Stadium. Unusually I didn't stay in a hotel this time. The move to Derbyshire means that we now live just over an hour away by car, so I decided to drive up each day and set up on the Saturday morning. This did however mean getting up at the ungodly hour of five in the morning. Why so early? Well the dogs need walking, the car needs loading up and I wanted to leave by half six so I was on site by eight when the hall opened. Setting up was uneventful, apart from the usual loading door into the hall being locked due to damage. After setting up I had a quick wander around but not many exhibitors were present at such an early hour. Graeme turned up with the Mini Mac about half nine and before we know it it was ten o'clock and the show was open.
The queue that had been forming for some time was now let in and given the opportunity to roam around, so what would they have been able to see? Coming in through the door APDL and RISCOS Ltd were the first stands on view, with Castle being on the left. APDL had a couple of new games collections from the 4th Dimension range, including a sports CD and a driving games CD. The RISC OS Ltd section of the stand had a new softloadable version of RISC OS Adjust on sale as well as a Iyonix which the keen eyed might have noticed spent some of it's time running a beta version of Select32.
Castle were demonstrating the range of Iyonix computers as well as a 27" LCD display (called a Television). They were also sharing some details about an Arm9 powered box called IPSign. This apparently delivers HTML pages over a network and displays them on a TV screen. The new version of Oregano 3 was also on display and much to my amusement was shown running on VirtualRPC. Customers asking for a release date were told that the software was being beta tested at present.
Moving along Advantage Six and VirtualAcorn were opposite each other. At VirtualAcorn we were selling and showing the PC version of VirtualRPC as well as giving the first public showing of VirtualRPC for Mac OS X, which generated a lot of interest.
VirtualAcorn on a Macintosh
Only one thing generating more interest was on the Advantage Six stand. A number of 400Mhz Arm 9 powered A9 computers were on display. These tiny machines (which make a Mini Mac look oversized) were all running a preview version of Adjust32. A number of lucky customers who signed up for the Advantage Six developer scheme will be getting their A9 machines delivered this week, we were assured. Another surprise for customers was the low price of the A9, under 500 pounds (plus VAT) this makes it a very inexpensive high performance RISC OS machine. By the end of Saturday one A9 machine was even shown running 26bit software courtesy of Adrian Lees and a hastily compiled version of Aemulor. "I compiled this up based on what I think it's like" he said, before launching Aemulor for the first time and running Impression on the first attempt. This got a spontaneous round of well deserved applause. How long will it take him to get Cino to work on the A9? Place your bets now.
That small blue box is an A9!
Further along Icon Technology were showing the latest version of TechWriter and Spellings Computer Services were showing Geminus and had the new DeskDebug software running across two screens, nice. Martin Wuerthner was selling the latest version 2.4 of ArtWorks and next to him Stefen Huber was showing off the features of DVD Burn. Which can even make DVD's that can be read on an Iyonix (which currently doesn't support the DVD format).
Opposite the Drobe and Netsurf stands CJE micros were doing the usual "which size sink would sir like?" brisk business with a massive collection of goodies to tempt RISC OS users. Next door R-Comp were showing off the new Centrino powered RISC Cube computers, which run RISC OS under VirtualRPC exceptionally quickly. Also on display was a 32" Television running RISC OS (for the same price as Castle's 27" offering). Software wise there were new versions of UniPrint and Grapevine as well as a new RSS feeder giving live news from the Drobe website.
The charity stand was packed with lost of interesting bits and pieces and seemed to be continually busy, I didn't find any interesting retro hardware this year though. Moving even further along Pater Naulls was showing off his port of the Firefox web browser for RISC OS to many appreciative noises, as well as selling some very cheap Risc PCs.
The latest issue of Qercus magazine was on show, although I'm not convinced that the website is really www.qercus.cob as one article in the magazine claimed.
Liquid Silicon were showing off an Omega with a rather tasty touch screen which allowed the user to get all three mouse button clicks depending on how long the screen was touched, watching ArtWorks being used with this touch screen was quite an experience.
So that covers the main new releases of the show. I apologise to anyone I have missed out but I did have to spend most of my time on the VirtualAcorn stand so I am bound to have missed somebody (Like the BBC B Computer with an IDE Interface from JGH BBC Software? - DB). So what was the show like? Well it had the most exciting new releases I can think of for years, the number of customers on the Saturday was well up on last year, although Sunday was quiet. Was it worth going to as a customer, definitely. was it worth going as an exhibitor, well everyone I asked certainly said so!
I'll leave the final words to one of our customers on Saturday, a Doctor who was interested in VirtualRPC, "I recommend RISC OS to all my patients" he informed us.