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The Icon Bar: News and features: Wakefield 2002 show report
 

Wakefield 2002 show report

Posted by Richard Goodwin on 00:00, 2/7/2005 | , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
 
Well, it was a ten hour round journey on Saturday (not counting the detour via a gridlocked Nottingham to pick up a broken computer), and Sunday was spent kicking the servers at the office back into working condition, so apologies for the lateness of this report. Thanks to Jason Tribbeck for ferrying your non-driving roving reporter around.
 
We arrived at exactly 11a.m., and as before the place wasn't exactly heaving - but I've since heard from one stall holder that he doubled last year's takings just on Saturday so either he's really improved his sales technique and stock, or I turned up at a slack time. I kind of like being able to walk around, breath etc. at a show though, so no complaints. New hardware was hard to see - the RiscStation portable spent a "fleeting" hour at the show (just not while I was there), and no Omega, but I did get the next best thing - to talk to Dave Holden, the only outsider to have seen the Omega with his own eyes.
 
This was intresting not because of what he did there - which was documented on MicroDigital's news page - but rather the reaction to his visit. Apart from the "it's all gone quiet over there" part with some detractors not really knowing how to keep calling the Omega vapourware in light of his news, there was also talk of a certain rival manufacturer (which, let's face it, is a short list of suspects) calling him up and saying that he must have somehow been duped, and that there must have been a RiscPC hiding under the desk somewhere. As Dave put it, it would have been very hard to fake a bare motherboard with wires hanging off it, with the main way of resetting it was to disconnect the wires and with people still working on it as he was using it; and he assured me that the only thing under the desk was his legs.
 
Now I've also heard that the Simtec flash (sideways ROM) card for RiscStations uses the same flash chips that RISCOS Ltd. said weren't available for RISC OS 4, and when the designer said that he'd also been using them in his customised versions of RISC OS for a couple of years he was told that he must be mistaken because they didn't exist. I think a hardware designer should be able to read a component number, so there seems to be a lot of this head in sand attitude going around.
 
The Solo was of course present, with a lot of work being done on this cool project - Internet access for remote third world villages, with satellite access and the like. Plus there was some recased stuff on the RISCOS Ltd. stand, including a black MP3 player with LCD display - sadly not working properly, but the LCARS-alike monitor display more than let you know what was going on.
 
The charity stall was back in effect; I was tempted by a number of stills and movie digitisers, but without software it'd be taking a chance as to whether I got them working or not. What I did pick up from a nearby stand cheap was an A440/1 to add to my hardware collection. Etc. (I thought they were just using a spare stand, but that's the name on the receipt also) sold me this puppy for a fiver - base unit and keyboard. I was actually looking for a RISC OS 2 machine to screenshot and use the keyboard as a spare, but sadly when I got this home it was RISC OS 3, with a working 40MB ST506 hard drive and a network podule! So now instead of a fiver's worth of junk just screenshotted and then left in the bottom of the wardrobe, I've got a working, usable machine to find a use for . With no monitor or mouse I'm thinking that adding my Watford digitiser and a cheap second hand security camera will make an excellent cheap webcam. If anyone has their RISC OS 2 ROMs or a screenshot of a RISC OS 2 desktop kicking around, all contributions are gratefully recieved...
 
I also tried picking up a second hand RiscPC motherboard and StrongARM for my MP3 server project, and couldn't quite find what I needed on the ITC-UK stand - they again had some excellent spares and complete systems, but no model 3 motherboards on their own. A quick visit to the CJE stand for a chat resulted in the usual "we've got that in stock!" mantra, and I parted with my readies. Sadly the RiscPC motherboard turned out to be an A7000 one when I unwrapped it at home (which we're sorting out), but the StrongARM was a prototype Acorn one - it won't fit in a regular RiscPC because of a header card, but seeing as I'm intending to build my own case I went for the bit of history rather than total practicality (current case thoughts: instead of messing with the Phoebe case, just go for a Lego structure with large perspex cutouts. And blue LEDs.).
 
There were a number of ancient PCs kicking around which seemed a little odd, but closer examination of the CTA stand showed at least one reason why - they were the right size (and the PCI slots the correct orientation) for fitting into a Phoebe case, no modifications required. They were Celeron 333Mhz machines, which are not cutting edge but fine for server type usage. It was also interesting to see the number of PC laptops in use on the stands - if the RiscStation portable had come out sooner, or MicroDigital's laptop concept hadn't received such a rough welcome, perhaps the preponderance of PCs wouldn't have been so noticeable. Let's hope that RS get things running for the next RISC OS show, and that the Omega gets finished and the modular design lends itself to, hmm, to take a random notion let's say a large PDA format with wireless networking.
 
Now R-Comp don't get a mention until right down here because not only were they not showing The Icon Bar in full prominance when I first turned up, when it did make an appearance it was a cached version from last year! Nah, only joking, it's just that a lot of the stuff has already been covered in previous news postings. Grapevine was much on display, WebsterXL with decent CSS support was there, TEK was being sold and in the games arcade and so on. As usual though the stand was pretty busy even at the time I was there, so I didn't get much chance to dawdle.
 
The show was a bit of a whistlestop tour, so I'll end with a few random thoughts: NTK T-shirts are the in geekware for this season; Chris "Spacetech" Hornby to a customer: "Have you worked out how to use the zoom on that camera? Yes? Can you show me then?"; RiscStation: "You can't learn cool. You can't learn trendy. But you can buy it." - really? I only saw the PC-o-vision portable (I think!); it was off the docking station so we took a picture to Photodesk the dock into a "what is missing from this picture?" joke, but thought the better of it. And I won't let the Playpen crowd suggest what the hell that blue thing in the RS posters is supposed to be.
 
Again, many thanks to Jason for his driving skills; the classic 1960 Beetle was a little noisy but the original interior was extremely cool, but had a cunningly hidden MP3 CD player so that the "All Transistor!" MW/LW radio didn't have to be called into play.
P5180029
May 2002
P5180029

Full 1600x1200, 360KB
Medium 800x600, 72KB
Small 400x300, 24KB
This man has seen an Omega! Who wants to touch him?! Ooh...
P5180010
May 2002
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Games arcade...
P5180025
May 2002
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..and R-Comp stand
P5180011
May 2002
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Newsgroup types: to settle the discussion, this is an MP3 jukebox on the RISCOS Ltd. stand.
P5180022
May 2002
P5180022

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Medium 800x600, 46KB
Small 400x300, 15KB
We were going to edit out the laptop and put a "what is missing from this picture" caption under the docking station, but thought the better of it.
P5180021
May 2002
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RiscStation advertising
P5180024
May 2002
P5180024

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The Solo doing the rounds again. At least one piece of innovative hardware consistently makes it to shows.
P5180013
May 2002
P5180013

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Peter Naulls had a spare five minutes so he decided to port Mozilla on the the RiscBSD stand :)
P5180012
May 2002
P5180012

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Microsoft hat! Quick, throw things at him! Chris from Drobe lives dangerously.
P5180017
May 2002
P5180017

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Medium 800x600, 75KB
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"I still can't work out how to operate the zoom..."
P5180014
May 2002
P5180014

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Medium 600x800, 70KB
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Nice man who sold me an A440/1 with network card for a fiver.
P5180019
May 2002
P5180019

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Medium 800x600, 71KB
Small 400x300, 24KB
Would you buy a used motherboard from these two? Well yes, I would as they've already sorted me a replacement for the A7000 cockup.
P5180027
May 2002
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Medium 800x600, 69KB
Small 400x300, 23KB
Celerons and Phoebe cases
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May 2002
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Small 400x300, 23KB
Telewest talk amongst themselves.
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May 2002
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NTK T-shirts...
P5180028
May 2002
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...for the discerning geek.
P5180007
May 2002
P5180007

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Small 400x300, 27KB
Stu Tyrrell checking his bank account
P5180026
May 2002
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Medium 600x800, 67KB
Small 300x400, 23KB
P5180008
May 2002
P5180008

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Medium 800x600, 84KB
Small 400x300, 26KB
P5180009
May 2002
P5180009

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Medium 800x600, 67KB
Small 400x300, 22KB
P5180015
May 2002
P5180015

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Medium 800x600, 76KB
Small 400x300, 24KB
P5180016
May 2002
P5180016

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Medium 800x600, 86KB
Small 400x300, 28KB
P5180020
May 2002
P5180020

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Medium 800x600, 59KB
Small 400x300, 21KB
P5180032
May 2002
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Jase's Car
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May 2002
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Car interior - spot the MP3 player under the dash.
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May 2002
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The car we went in previously.
P5180041
May 2002
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Dusty interior of an A440/1
P5190007
May 2002
P5190007

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Medium 800x600, 82KB
Small 400x300, 28KB
Meerkat version of the StrongARM.

 
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The Icon Bar: News and features: Wakefield 2002 show report