RISC OS South West Show 2007


Supporting users in SW England and S Wales
Saturday 24th February 2007
The Webbington Hotel
Loxton, nr Axbridge
North Somerset

sw_show_2007_1.jpg - 40Kb

Arrived 20 mins early so had to wait for the official opening at 10am.
Entry fee was paid and into the first show of the year I went!

Exhibitors List for this year;
AAUG, APDL, Archive, CJE Micro's, David Snell, Fortran Friends, Icon Technology, Iyonix Ltd, John Norris, MW Software, Orpheus Internet, Qercus, R-Comp, RiscOS Now, RiscOS Packaging Project, RISCOS Ltd, Serious Statistical Software, Spellings Services and The ARM Club

Initial impressions were of a smaller layout than the preceeding year. All of the previous traders were there, less Advantage 6. But there seemed to be less Item's on offer or rather less size to each individual companies stands.

Fairly quiet at the 10am opening time, but starting to feel more alive within the first 20 minutes. This year I did not have anything specific I was after, but just went allong to see what was on offer and potentially catch my eye. Also, to sit in on a couple of the theatre presentations, but more of that later.

Brief comments on some of the Exhibitors I visited.

Castle Technology Ltd
First stop was at the IYONIX Ltd stand, manned only by Jack Lillingstone.
Three IYONIX's were on display and the reason my eye was initially caught was the 22" widescreen LCD monitor that was running on one of the machines. A very nice size monitor all for 250ukp. Dual input and a very crisp image. I really need to get a flat screen monitor, for the usual reason, more space on my desk. But my trusty 17" iiyama Vision Master 404 hasn't missed a beat in the near ten years that I have had it. If the iiyama goes pop tomorrow then I will just go and buy a LCD, but as with my love of old Acorn computers, I cannot just throw something out on the grounds that it is old, it has to be totally beyond economical repair before it goes to recycle.

As I was gazing at said monitor, Jack Lillingstone came up to me and we had a very good chat regards monitors in general and then the Iyonix and Risc OS itself. I am growing very fond of the Iyonix, but in my mind, as I explained to him, I am still sat on the fence trying to decide on which path to take for the future. This I think is what most users are facing.
Example, the Iyonix is an excellent machine, and its RiscOS 5.xx has good development and stability. I am concerned however with the Open Sourcing of the OS and indicated to him that I believe RISC OS should not go down the same route as Linux and have about thirty different flavours of the same OS. This he agreed with and said that one version of the OS was the target, worked on by many people but with one common release.

John Norris
John Norris had his stand with the bell ringing tower.
This stand I have never really closely examined, as bell ringing is not one of my interests but I really should have found out what the RISC PC was actually doing, wether it was used as a cue for when to ring or just responding to the pull of the rope, who knows. Something to look into next year.

Fortran Friends
Again, not an area of mine but some rather good looking computer generated models. Again I need to have a closer look into the application of this software.

APDL
As usual Dave Holden had a good spread of PD and other software, some CD Writers and !CDBurn software, also a fair few RiscPC's for sale.

RISCOS NOW
This is the new Risc OS magazne produced and written by Louie Smith. I have heard alot about this magazine through the news portals and via the newsgroups and thought it worth a look.

So i bought the first issue, I have only had a quick scan through its pages and have found a few errors that were pointed out via Louie on the portals etc. but I have to say for a first issue its pretty damn good. People will always try to find fault with every aspect of a new product just to be picky. These things happen as with all first off the line Items.
And for someone to have the courage to take on such a mamoth task and try to provide a magazine with the content and following of previous popular magazines ie Acorn User etc I only have the utmost respect.
So keep at it louie, From little Acorn's grow.... etc etc

Orpheus Internet
With the legendary Paul Vigay at the helm what can we say. From running an ISP to maintaining a very comprehensive website full of useful Risc OS tips and tutorials.

David Snell
I spent quite a bit of time watching this stand. With the aid of his usual projection screen enabling a large group to see the likes of WebWonder and ProCAD+ in action. This screen is a very good tool, as it can be seen from just about any position at the show and draws people to it for a closer look.
WebWonder - this is a very comprehensive, versatile and at the same time, easy to use webpage/site creation tool. Excellent dmonstration of how easy such a task is with the correct software.
ProCAD+ , Again this is a feature rich tool and when you have mastered it, a very powerful drawing tool for producing engineering drawings.

RISC OS Ltd
Paul Middleton was demonstrating RISC OS Six on several machines.
No "Full" release as of yet but nearly there. More on this in the theatre reports.

MW Software
Martin Wurthner wins for the nth year in succession the award for the Best Dressed Exhibitor at the show. Always in a fine suit and bow tie, Demonstrating Artworks, a truly fantastic package.

CJE Micro's
Slightly smaller display I think than last year but non the less, a fair amount of gear for sale.

R-Comp
One of my favourite Risc OS Companies.
I stopped by and chatted about the latest versions of my currect software. All of my website design software and internet connectivity and news/email software is from R-Comp and to be honest I will stay with them as i don't see anything else worth changing to at the present. So good work R-Comp.

QERCUS
This year I dropped by the QERCUS stand and had a good talk regards the current state of the magazine. For the last three years I have at each show bought the latest issue, but on each occasion I have not taken out a subscription due to the varied and non-regular releases of issues.

Having had a lengthy discussion I was assured that the next issue which was 281 was on track and issue 282 was going well. So I took out a years subscription for 50UKP, this was a deal at the show which included the then current issue (280), three previous issues and a further eleven to follow.

Qercus is supposed to be a monthly but the subscription works on the basis of twelve issues, this being one a month or even if it takes 2-3 months per issue you will still recieve twelve. Unfortunately, as with all magazines of all flavours and interests these days, by the time you get the magazine the news is probably a month late. This is now a result of the internet and the popular news portals online. It is still good to have a Hard Copy magazine to referre to, but unfortunatly it takes some of the eager waiting and anticipation that there was waiting for the latest copy of say Acorn User to appear on the newsstand back in the 80's or 90's. But saying that, with the size of the RISCOS market now, it is still a great to be producing such a magazine in the current times.

So thanks to John Cartmell & Co and keep up the good work.

Theatre Presentations
There were 5 presentation during the day;
Iyonix Ltd , Jack Lillingstone "Iyonix Matters"
Paul Vigay & Louie Smith - past/Future of RISCOS & RISCOS NOW
Dr Graham Shaw - RISC Packaging Project.
RISCOS Ltd , Paul Middleton - RISCOS 4, The Next Steps.
John Cartmell - QERCUS

I attended the following two presentations;

IYONIX Ltd , Jack lillingstone - IYONIX Matters
Jack said he would start by talking about the shared source innitiative with the aid of a slide show. The following is a summary of his comments.

During the last twelve months Castle has re-organised its business model and the way it is going to approach things in the future. Castle purchased RISCOS from PACE Microtechnology several years ago and until now Castle has been produsing the Iyonix Computer hardware and software as a complete solution. At the end of last year the company was split up with RISC OS being retained by Castle, and Castle Licencing RISC OS out to a number of commercial companies, and an innitiative developed by some people who are ex-Acorn / Pace / Castle employees have put together a company with the aim of releasing all of the RISCOS source code to the RISCOS community.

So, Castle will licence RISCOS on a commercial basis and RISCOS Open Ltd will provide free access to its sources to commercial companies and endusers with the only stipulation castle putting onto it being, if you use it to make money out of, their will be a small royalty fee due to Castle to offset running costs of open sourcing and intial purchase price. This summs up what Castle is doing at this time.

Iyonix Ltd is run by Jack Lillingstone and John Ballance who joined Castle back in 1993 and Iyonix ltd will carry on developing the Iyonix range of computers and also developing some more hardware as well.
So that is a brief overview of what Castle/Iyonix/ROOL are doing at this time.

Jack went on to give a quick rundown of the latest Iyonix products, he started with giving details of the new 5.12 ROM upgrade for the Iyonix which includes four years of development and bug fixing. It includes new drivers for a wide range of Nvidia cards upto and including the FX6200 and also sets up for moving on beyond that card. USB 2.0 has been added in ROM, which opens up access to a wider range of Pen Drives and Cameras and gives a faster Bootup. USB 2.0 is completely software driven.
In conjunction with the ROM image being made available, a FX5200 Video card has been introduced on the Iyonix instead of the GeForce 2 MX400 cards initially shipped with the Iyonix up until the latter part of last year. Advantages of the 5200 is the DVI output, no fan onboard and 128Mb Video memory with slight improvement in performance, tho hi-res screens are now given a higher refresh rate. Price is 69GBP for the ROM image alone and 139GBP here at the show with the FX5200 graphics card.

Jack was also promoting special offers at the show including 22" wide-screen LCD displays along with inkjet printers of the parallel port variety.

The shared source innitiative.
Castle ownes RISCOS and administers it, ROOL are responsible for the Shared Source innitiative and Iyonix Ltd are an independant develper with the aim being that as many people as possible have access to RISCOS ie the sources.

Jack went on to say how they would like to make RISCOS more attractive to people in the Far East for example and other areas. So, the development of a community of people developing RISCOS will hopefully take RISCOS forward at greater speed. Control must still be maintained so that many different versions of RISCOS do not appear, so a new business model was created to assist this. You can take any of the open sourced code and develope it for your own use but if you are going to make money out of it then royalties will have to be made. Then main aim being to protect and control the development of RISCOS, and producing a licence that allows people to develope Items and bring back the developments to a central repository and then release an official release version for the masses. So you can download the source, amend it and pass it on to the others provided you do not charge for it, you must also make the ammended code available to others to download from a website. Which enables ROOL to grab developments and bring it back into the repository.

So, ROOL will be the publishers of RISCOS and maintain the website. ROOL will have expences and they will be looking for volenteers for running the website and donations for the bandwidth on the website.
ROOL will also take over development of the C/C++ Tools.
Castle will deal solely with RISCOS making sure it is available to as many people as possible.

Jack then took questions from the audience and recieved a good round of applause on closing the presentation.

RISCOS Ltd , Paul Middleton - RiscOS 4, The Next Step.
Paul Middleton started his presentation by discussing the upcomming RISC OS Six. This version has been available in a "preview" version but did not support ViewFinder cards and had limited support for printing, but these two issues have now been addressed.

RISC OS Six allows the swapping of video output from the onboard VIDC to the ViewFinder and vice-versa without the need for a re-boot. Clicking on the icon for the ViewFinder indicated that the device was numbered 1, with Paul informing us that there is the potential to have multiple ViewFinder cards installed.

Risc OS Six is not a new name for Select 4 but is just the next version of Risc OS. The Select Scheme is the Softload version and the Adjust Version is the ROM version.
A RISC OS Six ROM only version is highly unlikely as with the number ofModules increasing the OS just won't physically fit into ROM so RISC OS Six will be softloaded. The A9 can have RISC OS Six as it has a larger capacity Flash ROM. OMEGA and RiscStation versions are also not likely to happen.

Another tool included with RISC OS Six is a DeBugger, so that if an application falls over then it will produce a log file of what and where the problem occurred, thus providing a source of information to programmers for a fix.
Many other improvements and enhancements were covered, to many to write here, but to find out more go to the RISC OS Six website.

Final Impressions of the Day.
Another good day out, lots to see and many people to talk to regards the latest developments for the OS in both Hardware and Software.
I would very much like to see STD back for next years show with a fully featured and hopefully re-cased A9 Home ie in a case with built in Optical drive or the like. Even stick it in one of those small cube PC boxes. Yes it will make the machine bigger but I ampartial to a box that has the potential for upgrades and expansion. Another good idea would be to mount the A9 into the base of a monitor like Apple have for a nice compact and complete solution.

On the Open Source front, I am not convinced myself. It's early days and to those who think that opening up the sources will revolutionise RISC OS overnight are greatly mistaken. It will take years, just look at how long it has taken Linux to get to the quality it is now.
My ideal soulution, Let Iyonix Ltd and STD make the innovative and hopefully constantly developing hardware side of things and let RISCOS Ltd do the OS for both machines. Better still, and probably not popular or possible, let Iyonix Ltd and STD merge, with the top two hardware developers producing top products. Better to have one large hardware developer selling to the market and keeping the RISC OS user base enthusiastic than have what we have now, two different machines with two different versions of the OS and people, like me, Stuck on the fence trying to decide which side to jump.

Come on, you know it makes sense.

Rich - Classic Acorn


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