Midlands MUG Show 2011 report

The Midlands Midsummer MUG show 2011 took place on Saturday 9th July, 2011, and was perhaps one of the quietest RISC OS shows I’ve attended in as long as I can remember, if not the quietest. However, in spite of the very small attendance by users, I did find myself reasonably busy for most of the day, having some fairly long chats with various people – mostly visitors, and some exhibitors, though often not about things RISC OS!

(For example, Martin Wuerthner and I discussed the joys of travelling down narrow country lanes; in my case often in my own car when venturing out for walks in the middle of nowhere, and having taken a wrong turn a couple of weeks ago and subsequently reversing quite a way before I could turn around, but trumped by Martin who was once a passenger on a coach whose driver had taken it down some wholly unsuitable lanes and had to somehow reverse it back out.)

Of course, this means that writing a show report is going to be somewhat challenging, with the only stand I can honestly write anything definitive about being my own – but that doesn’t mean I can’t try to write an interesting account of the day, so here goes!

The day, for me, was a long one. Normally for shows like this one, I would book into a hotel for two nights so that I can travel up the day before the show, and travel home the day after – for this year’s MUG show, however, I decided to drive up and back on the same day of the show, for various reasons. The result of doing that was that I got there late – about twenty minutes or so after the show had opened, I think (though I blame my sat nav, which somewhere down the line had reset itself to ‘shortest route’ rather than ‘fastest route’, thus taking me down a lot of country lanes – I refer you back to my conversation with Martin!)

Upon arrival, I was jokingly asked by a couple of our hosts if I had seen Paul Middleton on my travels; RISCOS Ltd being based in Cardiff, his route – sat nav issues aside – would have been more or less the same as mine once he had crossed one of the Severn bridges.

Setting up was achieved relatively quickly – I usually only have a single computer, some fliers and a few posters, so it’s never a difficult job – and once I was up and running, I was able to take a quick glance around to see who else was or wasn’t there, with the other early no-show at that point being Archive Magazine‘s Jim Nagel. I was later told that he had let someone know he would be late, and was to be expected around the middle of the day.

My stand was sandwiched between those of Steve Fryatt, and Martin Hansen’s MathMagical Software, with Steve’s being the first (running clockwise) from the customer entrance. As usual, Steve was demonstrating his own excellent CashBook and PrintPDF software, amongst other things, as well as NetSurf, for which he stepped up some time ago to work on the RISC OS front-end.

My own stand being next, I was primarily demonstrating something that I had got working only the day before, but should really have looked at doing years ago – Trellis, my “adventure interpreter”, is now running in the desktop, and I was showing Quicksand in a window, complete with the photographs representing each location in the game. This wasn’t actually planned for the show, because I only decided to have a go about a week before, finally getting it working the day before, so it’s only a fairly early version at the moment, and it still needs a bit of work (though I did fix one bug while at the show). I intend to write about that on the the Soft Rock Software blog in the near future.

Next, of course, was Martin Hansen, with his customary colourful, brightly lit stand. As well as promoting MathMagical Software, Martin was also providing a live Twitter feed from the show with his RISCOScode hat on – with those tweets now having been archived on the RISCOScode site itself.

After Martin was the stand which, I believe, would have been RISCOS Ltd’s had they turned up. The end wall was fully occupied by CJE Micro’s who had, as ever, driven up with a Stargate in the back of the car, and then opened up a wormhole to CJE Command so they could use it to get a lot of stock to the show ready to sell.

The next stand was Martin Wuerthner’s, and I’ve already mentioned the direction our conversation took! I did ask Martin if there were new versions of his software, and he pointed out (which I vaguely recall him saying on other occasions) that he usually aims to have new versions available for the two bigger shows – Wakefield and London. Later in the show, when the low attendance was being discussed with a couple of the organisers, Martin commented that he’d made a profit at this show, and I added that I hadn’t lost as much money as usual (having not bothered with a hotel)!

Next along was either Organizer or Orpheus Internet, or both; I’m not entirely sure, having not visited that stand at all, not just at this show, but at any, so I have no real comments to make – sorry! (I need to use a Windows machine day to day, so Organizer serves no purpose for me, and I don’t have a suitable telephone line for an Orpheus provided internet connection!) I’ll try to remember to put this right at the next show – not least because that bowl of sweets did look very, very tempting.

R-Comp were next and, as usual, they had an array of various machines, of course including the ARMini. I don’t know how many they sold at the show, but I do know they sold at least one, because that was to a fellow Bristol user. Andrew had a version of Doom running on the ARMini, which had me transfixed for a while towards the end of the show – the Doom port that R-Comp released all those years ago being the game that more or less reignited my own gaming interest (as a player), and got me addicted to first person shooters (which, up until that point, is not a type of game I had ever seriously played).

Next up, there was another gap – the stand that would have been Jim Nagel’s. Jim did actually turn up in the end – by my watch at 3:58pm. Sadly, he didn’t have a new edition of Archive. Oh well.

After Jim’s empty stand was Robin Smith’s Serious Statistical Software – another stand I didn’t visit, per se, though I did briefly chat with Robin in the midst of other conversations, mainly about the attendance and the costs of the hall.

Finally, the other side of the entrance from Steve Fryatt was the Midlands User Group and the charity, Tools with a Mission. The user group was obviously taking admission fees, and in one case refunding it: One chap had wandered in because he saw the signs about a computer show, but didn’t realise that RISC OS was a very specific platform, and not something of more general interest.

So there we go – a round up of what the visitors to the 2011 Midlands show would have seen.

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