Saturday 18th February 2006
The Webbington Hotel
Loxton, nr Axbridge
I left home at 8am and with a steady drive, had to really with the lack of visibility, I arrived at the Hotel at approximately 9.40am. Sat around in the car for 20 minutes until the scheduled opening time for the show at 10am.
On entering the show I was somewhat surprised by the lack of visitors. The room looked pretty full of exhibitors, a few more than last year but I could actually see from one end to the other.
After about 20mins or so the room was bustling with activity and a good attendence indicated all was going well.
A major addition to the regular exhibitors this year was Advantage 6 and Orpheus. More of these later.
The full list included;
3QD Developments, APDL, Advantage 6, Archive, CJE Micro's, Castle Technology Ltd, David Snell, Fortran Friends, GeneSys, Icon Technology, John Norris, MW Software, Mathemagical Software, Orpheus, Quersus, R-Comp, RiscOS packaging Project, RISCOS Ltd, Serious Statistical Software, Spellings Services, StrongArm Systems and The ARM Club.
Castle Technology Ltd - I was somewhat concerned when I arrived at the Castle stand. This being due to its size, products on view and usual staff.
I think the actual table area was the same but I could only see 2 machines on show. An x100 and a Aria. The Aria had its case opened up displaying the internal layout. Next the only person manning the stand was Mr jack Lillingston ( Castle MD. ). Also notably, there was not the bustle or throng of people around this stand as was the case last year. In my opinion, a very worrying sign.
Advantage 6 - When I found out that Advantage 6 were to make an appearance at the show, well I had to get here. They had not exhibited at the last two SW Shows that I have attended so I had a sneaky feeling that "something" was going to be announced or on display.
Unfortunately this all came to nothing, but none the less, a very good spread of hardware on display.
This was my first "real" glimpse of the A9 Home prototype, or as It should be called a pre-release evaluation machine. Its small, about the size of a couple of VHS tapes stuck together. Its a real neat shade of blue that makes it stand out like for example an SGI Indigo.
There were three A9's up and running, one appeared to be showing a rolling demo of !Lander in about eight windows. Also there was a small Tablet size display. I did not actually see this working.
Other Items included Unipods, Mouse mini's, USB Fan Lights (Hmmm.) and of course Stuart Tyrell and Matt Edgar with their flashing/scrolling lapel badges.
APDL - As usual a full spread from APDL. Everything from PD Software, to the newly compiled game compilation discs, Unipods, Software, Second hand RiscPC's etc.
CJE Micro's/4th Dimension - As usual for CJE's most things appeared to be "in stock". I was most impressed with a 20 inch LCD monitor they had for sale, ok it was 500gbp but I could just see that on my desk at home driven by my ViewFinder. Unfortunately it appears to only be available in black, ok this is the "in colour" at the moment, but wouldnt match my RiscPC. Still you never know. What about two of them in a VF Duel Head configuration Hmmmmmm.
R-Comp Interactive - My first target in fact when I arrived at the show. I am very impressed with R-Comp in the quality of their software products and the regular development and updates that they produce. I also find them extremely helpful whenever you discuss a product you are thinking about purchasing or asking regards a particular problem you are having.
On this visit I upgraded my Messenger Pro email/news software from v3.29 to the latest and first CD release of v4.06
I have also been toying the idea of moving into the 21st Century with my internet connection and after discussing the whats, where's, and when's I walked away with a 4 Port ADSL Router and the latest version of NetFetch. Needless to say, I have now signed up for Broadband with my current ISP, FreeUK, and am now waiting for activation. I will be connecting to the router through my UniPod, which should make the RiscPC think its just been connected to the matrix!
There were 4 presentation during the day;
Again, I was somewhat disapointed. I had expected to hear about enhancements made to RISCOS 5 over the last year, or even current or future developments planned or in production for the Iyonix, but none were forthcoming.
The whole presentation to me was very low key. It consisted of a full description of the current Iyonix range of machines, describing the hardware features ie RAM, Drive Capacity, Ports, bundled software and pricing. A discription of a Photo Quality printer that apparently is in short supply and was on offer. Another offer on the Iyonix DIY kit that was available at the show.
This was followed by a description of updates made to C TOOLS, not something that I am familiar with. and Finally a Q&A sesion. This proved to be somewhat flat and questions were few and far between as I think the audience, myself included, were not really whipped up into a frenzy by the presentation. I felt that Castle were holding something back, what I cannot be sure but i would guess that they do not have the drive to compete in the desktop market anymore. I may be wrong, I hope I am wrong, but for a company that designs and builds a decent RISCOS machine, there was no hard sell or confidence to make me think of buying a new machine.
Questions from the audience regards the possible merger of the two RISCOS forks, was met with a negative/not in the foreseable future reply.
Another question regards Project Merlin revealed that the project is also stalled / on hold.
No applause at the end, I the audience I believe left the room quietly and feeling a little empty.
At this point I went for lunch which resulted in me having to miss MW Software's Presentation on Artworks 2. I hear that it was very good.
All in all a good day out. Its the highlight of my RISCOS/ACORN year to visit the South West Show. An hour and a half up he road, and a very good group of folk to meet and do business with.
Rich - Classic Acorn
Below are images of the event and items I picked up on the day.
The A9 Home on the STD Stand. Yes, it's that little blue box.
Sorry about picture quality, the photo came out real dark.
Who drives a car like this? David, it's over to you!
Not real bells, but it still looked very physical.
Castle technology Ltd. Just after the show opened its doors.
The ever colourfull Mathemagical Software.
R-Comp, friendly, efficient and great software.
RISC OS Ltd. Yes that is an Apple.
And the latest 26/32bit build of RISC OS 4 ,Which is version 4.41
My main purchase at the show, An ADSL Router, Netfetch 2 Software.
I also upgraded to the latest CD release of MessengerPro ver 4.06