It's a show report...of sorts...
It only seems like a few months since the last Wakefield show, but, rather obviously it's a full year. This year the show ran for one day only, rather than th usual two days. Since we moved to Derbyshire last year I no longer need to book a hotel, as Wakefield is dead easy to get to. I just drive up the A38 from Burton-on-Trent, then onto the M1, and it only takes an hour and a bit (the length of the bit depending on the length of the roadworks). So this year I left home just before 6:30 and was parked outside Thornes park at exactly 1 minute past 8.
As usual the every helpful Wakefield User Group were on hand to help me unload the car. Indeed they were so helpful I was going to ask them to check the oil and the tyres, but thought I had better not. Anyway I did my usual set up the stand routine, I;e done this so many times over the years that I an do it in my sleep. So once I had finished I woke up. I usually forget something but this year I managed to bring everything I needed. Unfortunately the mouse for th desktop PC I was using had decided to die in transit. I was able to get a new PS2 mouse from Dave Holden for a very reasonable fee and then I was ready for the off with nearly an hour to spare.
So with time on my hands, and other parts, I went for a quick wander around. Very little gives me more pleasure than annoying other exhibitors who haven't set up yet but I wasn't in luck as almost everyone else had finished as well, damn. Anyway whilst waiting for the show to open I "lent" some HSBC banking slips to Jack from Castle who didn't think her had enough with him. Fair enough. Especially when I no longer bank with HSBC anyway. With a few minutes to go before opening a queue started to form outside the doors. So I took a picture for posterity.
At 10:03 sharp (according to my £5 watch) the show opened. Within a couple of minutes I had a queue on the stand. This happy event continued for nearly 2 hours. Indeed the whole day was busy, with the only pauses coming during the talks in the lecture theatre and the usual lull for the last 1/2 hour of the show. As the show only ran for 1 day this year I didn't get as much time as I would have liked to talk to other exhibitors. So if I do miss out anyone I apologise.
Starting at the entrance to the show the first couple of stands were Castle Technology and OreganoUK Ltd. Castle were showing the usual range of Iyonix PCs and were apparently evaluating new processors for consideration in new computers. The latest beta of Oregano3 was on show, running on VirtualAcorn. Richard Brown of OreganoUK was saying that a lot of money had been invested in Oregano3 but that it would only be released when it was ready, which it apparently wasn't, which was a shame as the RISC OS world really could do with a single capable browser.
Across the way was APDL, with their usual wide collection of RISC OS software titles. New for the show were updates to Schema, including Excel file compatibility and a new collection of Fourth Dimension games. RISCOS Ltd were sharing the same stand and had an early version of Select4 on display, as well as special show offers on RISC OS Adjust ROMS. It had been hoped to have a finished Select4 on show, but it seems that the finished release of the A9 computer was the top priority.
This brings us round to Advantage6, who had a number of A9 machines on display, all running a wide variety of RISC OS software. They also had some fun gadgets on display, including a Bluetooth keyboard which uses a laser to project the image of keyboard onto any flat surface. So you can use anything as a keyboard. The Bluetooth "projector" for the keyboard was no bigger than a cigarette packet and would easily fit into a pocket. Nice. They also had some fun for customers who attended on of their talks in the lecture theatre, with Stuart making a mobile phone call to the A9 that Matt was using as a demonstration machine. Stuart's voice could be heard over the speakers and Matt was able to talk to him with his headset. I will certainly say this for Advantage Six, when it comes to giving interesting and exciting theatre talks thy really can't be beaten.
An A9 home
Whilst we are on the subject of theatre talks other talks were given by RISCOS Ltd, Castle Technology, Martin Wuerthner and John Cartmell of Qercus. The Qercus talk attracted a lot of interest with customers keen to know when they were going to get their next issue. John was reported as saying that 12 issues a year was a bit too ambitious and that the magazine would be scaled back to 6 to 8 issues a year. Given the current situation I would say that 3 issues a year seems too ambitious.
Martin Wuerthner was showing off the new PDF features in ArtWorks2, and very nice they were too. He had also been working on TechWriter and EasiWriter which have also benefited from his skill. TechWriter can now also generate PDF files with far more success that other RISC OS applications. Mike Glover at Icon Technology seemed to be very busy with upgrades, here's a photo of him with some money nearby.
I tried to take another shot directly afterwards but the money had been secreted about his person. Earlier I mentioned Oregano3, but this wasn't the only browser on display, the Netsurf developers were also showing the latest version of their browser, and very good it looked to, even better it's free! Just pop along to the Netsurf Pages and download yourself a copy, you will be glad you did.
It's a shame that development on Firefox seems to have stalled with Peter Naulls moving to the states, but in my opinion, NetSurf looks like a far better bet for most RISC OS users, it's faster than FireFox and it's a proper RISC OS application, not a port from another platform. Anyway lets move on. Paul Beverly of Archive publications was selling subscriptions to both Archive and Living with Technology.
Further down the hall R-Comp were doing brisk business with their wide range of RISC OS software, there was also a lot of interest in their range of RISCCube and RISCBook computers. They also announced updates to most of their range of software just before the show as well as launching UniScan, the counterpart to UniPrint. This allows RISC OS users to use a scanner connected to a PC over a network, given the problems with getting RISC OS drivers for scanners this has to be a most welcome addition to the RISC OS users armoury.
The other big RISC OS dealer, CJE Micros, has their usual giant stand packed with almost everything the RISC OS user could want. As the official sales agent for the A9 Home Chris Evans seemed very happy with the progress of the machine and was happily taking orders all day, as well as selling updates to their own range of products, including the Impact database.
There were many other exhibitors present but, due to time constraints I didn't get to see all of them, which was a shame as it would have been nice to have had time for a chat.
So that was Wakefield 2006, a very good show and certainly busier than last year. The only negative bit was that I didn't see Chris Williams, who had promised to come along to the stand to get a review copy of the RISCWorld DVD, still perhaps he would like to get in touch so we can post him a copy?
Oh, I nearly forgot. Here's a photo of the inside of the "exhibitors" fridge, lovely isn't it?
I bet you don't get that in any other show report!