After many years, ROUGOL is moving the venue for its London meetings. So we thought it would be an opportune moment to grill Bryan Hogan about ROUGOL, the London Show and his RISC OS background.
Would you like to introduce yourself?
Hi, my name is Bryan and I'm an Acornaholic.
People probably know me from being chairman* of ROUGOL and running the London Show, although maybe not as I don't put my name to most announcements, signing them simply "ROUGOL Committee".
*Although I still think of myself as acting chairman, and that original chairman dgs (Dan Shimmin) is just on a really long lunch break - missing, presumed fed :-)
How long have you been using RISC OS?
Since 1989, shortly after the A3000 came out. My BBC Micro from 1983 could no longer cut it for university course work so I upgraded when an "affordable" Archimedes came along. We were learning Modula-2, Hope (a functional programming language) and Smalltalk, and all of those were available for RISC OS. Plus using LaTeX for writing reports (I don't think TechWriter was out then, or I couldn't afford it, otherwise I'd have used the TeX output from that!).
I remember writing a BBC BASIC program on the Beeb to display 3D objects, that took several minutes to display a single static image. After copying it across to the A3000 I was able to link it to mouse movements and rotate the objects in real time. The increase in processing power was amazing.
What is your current RISC OS setup?
ARMini, ARMX6, plus RPCemu when on the move. Oh, and some Raspberry Pi's too.
What other systems do you use?
A laptop with Linux Mint. The UI often annoys me, but not as much as Windows used to. I was a Unix sysadmin for 25 years, but that was mostly command line usage. Since being made redundant from my last job I have not had to use Windows for almost 5 years. This makes me happy :-)
What do you think of the retro scene?
It's fun! I hang around on the StarDot forum and regularly attend ABUG meetups. Some amazing stuff is still being created for the older systems, Beeb and Archimedes. We have a Beeb themed meeting coming up at ROUGOL on Monday 17th February.
Do you attend any of the shows and what do you think of them?
I attend all of the UK ones, but the London Show is the best of course, although I might be slightly biased :-)
ROUGOL started running the London Show in 2009, when we heard that the old Guildford show was ending and decided the south east needed to still have a show. The first one was a bit of a rush to get organised in time and we had never done anything like that before, but with some advice and assistance from previous show runners at SASAUG, it was successful. It has run pretty smoothly since then.
I help out a little bit with the SW Show and have a ROUGOL stand, having got involved when Richard and Andrew took it on. The Wakefield show is the most relaxed for me, because it's the only one at which I don't have to do anything and can just enjoy chatting to people.
What do you use RISC OS for in 2019/20 and what do you like most about it?
It is still my main OS. It is the UI that I most like, the fully integrated drag and drop combined with small efficient applications.
What is your favourite feature/killer program in RISC OS?
It isn't really one feature or program, it is the integration between them. The overall effect is greater than the sum of its parts.
What would you most like to see in RISC OS in the future?
Well other than the usual wish for a more modern browser, I would like to see more of the Select enhancements make it across to RO5. The lack of PNG support regularly catches me out, even after all these years. At least cut and paste is finally (almost) here.
Favourite (vaguely RISC OS-releated) moan?
The things that make me moan are how cumbersome and inefficient other systems can feel, seeming to do things in the most illogical ways. I'm typing this in Xed "A small and lightweight text editor" on Linux - it is using 61MB of memory! Why? It has less features than Edit!
Can you tell us about what you are working on in the RISC OS market at the moment?
The past couple of weeks have been a bit of a scramble to find a new venue for ROUGOL's monthly meetings. Since November 2001 we have met in the Blue Eyed Maid near London Bridge, but that closed unexpectedly just before Christmas (I had already booked this year's dates in their diary!). We have now found an excellent replacement in a rather stylish meeting room above the Duke of Sussex pub, which is right next door to Waterloo Station.
Our first meeting there (Monday 20th January) will feature Richard Brown talking about RISC OS Developments Ltd. We hope lots of people turn up for this one, not only because it will be interesting obviously, but also so that we can make a good impression with our new hosts!
So if you haven't been to ROUGOL for a while, or ever, then please come along to help kick off this new chapter for ROUGOL in style.
Any surprises you can't or dates to tease us with?
This year's London Show will be on Saturday 24th October. Note this is not the last Saturday as some may expect, because we actually time the show to be on the day before the clocks go back so that the organisers and exhibitors get an extra hours sleep to recover!
Apart from The Icon Bar (obviously) what are your favourite websites?
StarDot, RISCOSitory, and the ROOL forum are my most visited sites. Although I wish ROOL would update their news pages more often.
I keep up with other tech news on The Register. Good to see old time Drobe editor Chris Williams now in charge there, and still often writing the ARM stories.
I also get a certain amount of pride/shock when updating the ROUGOL previous meetings page. I got involved around mid-2005 - that's a lot of meetings organised and speakers chased!
What are your interests beyond RISC OS?
I am a volunteer at the Science Museum, helping to get children more interested in STEM. They have the gold BBC Micro there, alongside a video with Sophie Wilson and Hermann Hauser discussing the creation of the first ARM chip.
I am also a member of darts (not too good) and bowling (not too bad) teams.
If someone hired you for a month to develop RISC OS software, what would you create?
My programming skills are far too rusty, so not much in a month!
Any future plans or ideas you can share with us?
Just hoping to keep finding new and interesting speakers for ROUGOL and exhibitors for the London Show.
Any questions we forgot to ask you?
Well the question I love to hear is "Would you like me to come and talk about that at ROUGOL?", but it doesn't happen very often!
London Show website
You can read lots of other interviews on Iconbar here