RISC OS South East Show 2005
Aaron's view on the recent South East Show
Once again the South East show was held at the end of October at Guildford College. In previous years this has been my local show but since we have now moved to Derbyshire my local show would be the Arm Club Midlands Show, if it was going ahead, which it isn't. Anyway since the show is on a Saturday and involved a drive along the UK's congested Motorway system I decided to travel down on Friday afternoon and stay in a hotel. A quick surf revealed that the cheapest room rate was the on-line special of £26 for the Travelodge in Guildford. I tried a couple of local guest houses but got put off by the distinct lack of customer service. "What time will you be arriving?". I don't know. "Well you'll need to tell us so there will be someone to let you in." Thanks but no thanks, it's the corporate clone hotel for me!
In the end I drove from Derbyshire down to Bracknell in two hours dead. I took the opportunity to pop in and see a few old friends and to take a quick walk around Peacock Farm, my old dog walking haunt. This is shortly to be covered in concrete and brick in order to extend Bracknell out to the size of Birmingham. Having nabbed a free dinner at my sister in laws in Reading I headed to the hotel and decamped for the evening.
Next morning I was up bright and early, grabbed a quick breakfast and checked out. I arrived at the venue just after a quarter past eight and quickly unpacked the car and set up the stand. I had decided to bring the new laptop (see my editorial) instead of one of the desktop machines and hit a problem when it came to set it up. The mouse I had bought with me was a PS2 scroll mouse, the laptop only had USB sockets. Since the other exhibitors weren't really set up properly I decided to drive round to PC World and buy one. I arrived just as the doors were opening and ended up paying the exorbitant price of £14.99 for a quite basic mouse. OK it proved to be smooth and responsive and very comfortable, but £14.99? Perhaps I should have moved to Yorkshire.
On my return to the show I discovered a red Mazda RX-8 parked in a disabled bay out the front of the college. Since it wasn't showing a disabled badge I took the opportunity to block it in. After a few minutes I discovered it belonged to David Ruck, who certainly doesn't have a blue disabled parking badge. Anyway I went out to let him move and got an excuse about just unloading. Let me make this clear to anyone else who thinks disabled bays are free for anyone to use, they aren't. If you don't have a blue badge, don't park in a disabled bay.
Anyway back to the show. The new mouse worked fine and I still had twenty minutes before the show opened. At this point Paul Middleton from RISCOS Ltd (Not RISC OS Developments Ltd as some people seem to call the company) came over as the new Mac demo version of VirtualAcorn wasn't working. I was still fiddling with it when the show opened and I had to shoot back to my stand and grab the tin mug and the monkey. In the end the show as so busy, apart from one brief lull, that I never managed to get VA working on the Mac, so apologies to anyone who hoped to have a look at the progress.
Back on the stand I had sold three VirtualAcorns in the first fifteen minutes and was well chuffed. There was a continual stream of customers all day but that's enough about me, what about everyone else?
On entering the show the first two stands were Martin Wuerthner, selling the latest Artworks upgrade, and Paul Beverly selling subscriptions to Archive and Living With Technology. I noticed that both of them were wearing bow ties. Was this a sartorial battle of some form? Martin was doing a roaring trade in ArtWorks 2 upgrades including the new facility to export PDFs and Paul Beverley looked quite happy with the number of subscribers renewing their subscriptions.
Across the aisle was the new slimline Castle Technology Ltd along with OreganoUK Ltd. Castle had their usual range of Iyonix PCs on display for customers to test drive. OreganoUK had the latest beta version of Oregano3 running on a laptop. I only had a quick fiddle but it did look quite impressive, I'm just starting to wonder what effect Firefox might have on potential sales, although Castle reportedly weren't bothered. Moving round I discovered CJE micros who really did seem to have everything in stock. I was going to ask for a 5/8ths widget just to see what happened, but I rather think I would have been asked what colour I preferred. CJE also had the latest version of the Impact database on display, this version now works on VirtualRPC, previous versions wouldn't. So any Impact owning VA users would be best advised to contact CJE for an upgrade.
Moving across the aisle Neil Spellings was showing Geminus running multiple monitors on an Iyonix. Also new was a demonstration of bitmap caching on the Iyonix using the Nvidia graphics card. This allows the computer to cache the contents of a window once it's been drawn. The result is that dragging lots of windows around, even ones with complex ArtWorks graphics in them is instantaneous, not quicker, just instant. This looked very impressive and made the desktop massively smoother. A release date isn't known, but a price of £40 was being mentioned. My only question would be why haven't Castle added these sort of features to RISC OS 5? Still hats off to the Geminus team for a superb looking concept.
Next, and appropriately just round the bend, was APDL with their wide range of RISC OS software. The Fourth Dimension games compilation CDs were heading off the shelves at a rate of knots as well as a number of copies of DrawWorks. The VirtualAcorn stand was next. Whilst interviewing myself I discovered that I was well pleased with the show and had apparently sold a surprising number of both versions of VirtualRPC.
However let us continue our wander past the charity stall, which due to damn stupid recycling regulations had little hardware on offer. I did nearly pick up a cheap Psion, but was beaten by a few seconds by an eagle eyed browser.
Moving further round, R-Comp was several customers deep for most of the day with a lot of interest in the new UniPrint2 and in their wide range of computers. Next door Mike Glover of Icon Technology was furiously copying upgrade discs as fast as he could to keep up with demand. Apparently all the EasiWriter and TechWriter upgrades he bought with him had sold out by late morning. Across the isle RISCOS Ltd had the same problem. The special show price of just £69 for a set of Adjust ROMS was proving just too tempting for most users. The large stocks of ROMs lasted till just before lunch, after that customers would have to wait a few days for their ROMS to be posted to them.
Rounding off the show were the ARM Club and David Buck with yet another update to RiscCAD, this new update apparently wowing customers with it's improved responsiveness (not that it was slow before). Finally Martin Hansen was selling a new Soduku game, reportedly with 150 levels.
I'm sure I've missed out a couple of exhibitors, for which I apologise. Anyway that was RISC OS South East 2005, by all accounts a great show and enjoyed by everyone. For those that are wondering why there are no pictures, well I forgot my camera. To add to my stupidity I only realised that I could have used the Camera on my phone just as everyone was packing up, idiot!
At the end of the show on my way out I noticed another car without a permit parked in a disabled bay. Who could it belong to? The answer Paul Vigay. Next time I see his car in a disabled bay it will also be blocked in...