Friday 21 June 2002
Myself and 2 other members of the ROUGOL committee boarded a slow overnight Stenna line ferry (the good ship Hollandica) bound for Holland at about 10:30pm. We had no choice but to make for the all you can eat buffet, and the bar. Where we stayed until it shut.
Beer. Start as you mean to go on
The restaurant and bar aboard the Hollandica
Eventually retiring to our cabins, we were woken a mere 3 hours later by the ship's PA system announcing our arrival in Holland 1 hour hence. 7:30 am in Holland is 6:30 BST. Damn CET. A quick drive, some highly skilled navigation and a few disturbed Dutch drivers later, we arrived (early!) at the Mercure Hotel in Utrecht.
The Mercure Hotel, Utrecht, Holland
The rather impressive Mercure Hotel had shiny windows - ooh!
Uniquely, the Expo was divided between two rooms, the main show hall (itself divided into two sections) and a slightly smaller room containing quite a large RISC OS Ltd stand, and the presentation theatre.
Paul Middleton had cunningly set up his sales desk around the bar ... much respect!
There was also select running on a RiscStation, and that cool black A7000 running ROL's MP3 jukebox)
Naturally the first thing I did was to steam on over to the DESK stand, a sizeable portion of which was dominated by a large '1' and the instantly recognisable sight of Omega cases. When we arrived, there were two Omegas and two monitors, neither of which seemed to be working yet. Brilliantly, this was soon rectified by some final tweaks from David and David, and one of the rather nice 17" LCD monitors sprang into life.
Those clouds look familiar...
What a lovely sight - the recognisable, if slightly modified RISC OS desktop.
Photo courtesy of DRuck
Everything running smoothly, case closed.
After playing about and demonstrating a few things, David Atkins was soon swamped by people and questions. David Prosser then graciously let us play with his toy, and we did. Shamelessly hogging it for about 30 minutes, we used a variety of graphics software including !Draw, Artworks and Vantage. This Omega was fitted with 256MB of RAM, and was happily manipulating several very large (in the region of 15 MB) vector graphics files at once, using all the above applications.
Vantage on Omega
We also had a quick play with the Task Manager, which allowed 16MB to be allocated for screen memory (grin) and silly sized RAM discs to be created.
What a big one (RAM disc!)
Photo courtesy of DRuck
The Omega did need to be reset twice while I was there, but once was just because someone was being naughty with screen modes that weren't supported by the LCD monitor ;-)
On the downside, Omega still lacked sound drivers, and required a little help from a PC (in the form of downloading instructions to the FPGAs that make up the Lightning Chip set) to start up.
When quizzed (repeatedly) about readiness and shipping dates, David Atkins sensibly refused to give a date, saying only that when it was completely ready, Omega would go into production, and then we'd all know about it. David Prosser on the other hand, let slip that he thought September might be realistic.
The very familiar, and most stylish of the Omega cases.
The case shown above is actually really, really small, and as you can see, has a flip-up cover for the drive bay, almost as if a small homage to the RiscPC ;-)
Amongst the Dutch user groups and other continental stands, were many familiar faces including The ARM Club, Archive Magazine RComp and Surftec.
The theatre was packed for both the presentations that we could stay for, but we had to make a swift exit fairly early on in the afternoon to catch the ferry back.
Paul Middleton Demonstrated Select to a packed theatre
Picture courtesy of MarcoF
People craning over the partition to watch David Atkins' talk
The amazing Stenna "HSS" that returned us swiftly back to the UK.
The next issue of Acorn User will feature a report on The RISC OS Expo 2002 that will undoubtedly be more in depth and
have better pictures - so if you want more, see that!