RISC OS London Show 2011 – Preview

The RISC OS London Show 2011 is finally upon us. In the morning, I will be making my way down to the hall at the St Giles Hotel, Feltham, where I’ve already set up my stand, ready for when the doors are open to the public at 11am. The line up for this year’s show includes plenty of regular faces as well as a few less regular (and perhaps first time) exhibitors, and some special treats – so let’s get straight down to business and look at who and what you can expect to see.

As you enter the main hall, the RISC OS User Group of London will be on the left. ROUGOL meets on the third Monday of each month in a private room of the Blue Eyed Maid, Borough High Street, SE1 1HR, and they will be trying to tempt you into attending their regular meetings if you’re local, and to talk about RISC OS London in general.

Immediately after ROUGOL is what must surely be the biggest attraction of the day: The Raspberry Pi. The tiny computer was running Quake on Linux this evening – at an eye-wateringly fast, and totally unplayable speed. Not at all bad for system running on a 700MHz ARM processor! Including this one, I’m told there will be three at the show – which could apparently amount to 6% of the number of boards that exist!

Martin Hansen, of The MathMagical Software Company and RISCOSCode, tweeted earlier today about the Raspberry Pi appearing at the show, and that was promptly retweeted to their 3,500+ followers by whoever handles the Raspberry Pi Foundation’s Twitter feed – so if there’s standing room only tomorrow, blame Martin!

On the opposite side of the hall is the MW Software stand, where Martin Wuerthner will be demonstrating vector graphics package ArtWorks, and structured word processors Easi/TechWriter. Martin told me earlier this week that he would be releasing Easi/TechWriter 9.0 at the show.

Crossing back over, RISC OS Open Ltd will be presenting a range of platforms running the latest RISC OS 5 and selling the usual range of merchandise – but, according to Steve Revill, with some new and interesting changes.

Next along is the R-Comp stand with such a wealth of items with which to tempt you that it’s difficult to know where to begin! As well as the ARMini computer and other hardware, including a range of RISC OS-friendly displays, they have a wide range of software to sell you – most notably this year including FireWorkz Pro, an integrated word processor, spreadsheet and database, now updated to work on modern RISC OS hardware. Andrew was playing with it briefly this evening on an ARMini, which reminded me just how useful I found the software in the past – and for £35 (£30 for existing users) it’s an absolute bargain, so that’ll be my own first purchase at the show without doubt!

Opposite R-Comp, Peter Nowosad will be talking about The Charm Programming Language, a simple to learn yet powerful high level language, with a compiler that generates efficient code with a small memory footprint.

Next to Peter is the Soft Rock Software stand, where I’ll be able to talk about any of my existing software, such as WebChange and Seek’n’Link. I’ll also be demonstrating a version of Quicksand, the adventure game, running in a window in the RISC OS desktop environment, instead of full screen – and talking about my plans for its sequel, and another, bigger adventure game which could be the first in a series.

Further along on the same side, Nigel Willmott will be on hand with version 2.14 of Organizer, the personal management software and, next to him, Steve Fryatt will have all the latest versions of his software, such as CashBook and PrintPDF, and he will also be talking about the latest NetSurf developments.

Crossing back over, WikiProject RISC OS has the next stand, and members of the project will be happy to offer answers to any questions you may have. Please come and talk with them about editing, accuracy, community policies, newspaper cuttings, photos, etc. Join the project on the day or when you get home! For Archive subscribers, you may wish to spend a few minutes reading the article in the latest issue (23:2). Also, to clarify one issue which may have been misunderstood by some at Wakefield, the objective is to raise the quality and expand the range of the articles, rather than outright promotion. Wikipedia is not a soapbox. Spreading awareness, in a respectful and realistic manner, is understood to be acceptable – but giving undue weight to subjects is not.

Sharing a stand with WikiProject RISC OS is RPCEmu, the cross platform RiscPC and A7000 emulator, which will be running on a variety of machines – including a Nintedo Wii (itself running Linux).

After that, “there will be a very small computer plugged into a very large screen annoying everyone playing some banging tunes…” That’s what Keith Dunlop, of Usable Range, told me earlier this week. You’ll just have to turn up on the day to find out what he could possibly mean!

With hardware upgrades, such as USB and IDE, for your 8-bit machines, RetroClinic is next, and then, at the far end of the main hall, you will find CJE Micro’s – Chris Evans and co will undoubtedly have a wide range of goodies, as usual.

As well as the main hall, there are three smaller rooms. Looking at the far end first, Michael Emerton will be demonstrating RiscDJ, a digital music library supporting up to 100,000 MP3 and OGG tracks, allowing you to search and filter your collection, and play specific albums or specific artists.

Tucked into the corner will be RISC Control/Beeb Control, where Neil Fazakerley will be demonstrating his giant, computer controlled robot arms.

The MathMagical Software Company is next in that room, and Marin Hansen informed me that this will be the first time he’s brought new versions of Flicker (an animation package for the RISC OS desktop that plays sprite files as movies and can also be used as ‘powerpoint’ style presentation package) and Iconizer (which produces mathematical objects called ‘strange attractors’, colourful, whispy images of intricate beauty) to London. This will also be the first time he’s had them running on the BeagleBoard-xM on his stand.

The Centre for Computing History is the last exhibitor in that room. A registered charity, the Centre was established in recognition of the importance of the rise of computing and information technology over the last few decades, with the aim of creating “a permanent exhibition telling the story of the information age.”

2011 marks the first time that there will be a charity stand at the London Show, which will be in another of the smaller rooms. Manned by Ian Karley, the charity stand is supporting Combat Stress, the UK’s leading military charity, specialising in the care of veterans’ mental health. If you have any items you no longer need, why not donate them to support a very worthy cause? The stand can accept any Acorn or RISC OS related hardware or software, but not CRT monitors or x86 PCs. And while you’re there, have a good look at what’s on offer – maybe you’ll find something you’ve always wanted, or something nostalgic worth buying!

Chris Whytehead of Chris’s Acorns is also in this room, with an Acorn System 3, an Acorn System 4, and an Acorn System 5.

Next along is Orpheus Internet, the RISC OS friendly ISP, and then Archive Magazine. The latest issue of Archive (23:2) should be dropping through subscribers’ doors any time now, if it hasn’t already, packed with 64 pages of regular and feature articles – and for non-subscribers, Jim will undoubtedly have a stack of the latest issue available to buy, as well as back issues, and the Archive CDs and DVDs.

The last of the smaller rooms (the closest one to the show entrance) is the show theatre – the programme for which is very full: R-Comp will start things off at 11:45, presumably talking about ARMini and the ARMini software scheme for BeagleBoard users, and Steve Fryatt takes the stage at 12:15, talking about his software. Martin Wuerthner’s talk will start at 12:45, during which we can probably expect to hear about the new features in version 9.0 of Easi/TechWriter, and at 13:15 Peter Nowosad will be discussing the Charm Programming Language. The 13:45 slot is billed as ‘to be confirmed’ and I am informed that Orpheus Internet might be taking this slot – but that remains to be seen. At 14:15, the talk will be about the Raspberry Pi (and we can probably expect a very quiet main hall!), and then at 14:45 it’s WikiProject RISC OS. The final slot, at 15:15, goes to RISC OS Open Ltd, with a talk focusing on two key points: Where RISC OS is today, and moving RISC OS forward.

Obviously missing from the show line up is RISC OS Ltd, who were unable to make it due to other commitments, and Drag ‘n Drop magazine. Paul Stewart recently made it known that he had decided to call it a day on Drag ‘n Drop – but Andrew Rawnsley says he’s persuaded Paul to keep it going for a little while longer.

Entry to the show is £5, with under-16s getting in for free. The show is easily found on the first floor of the St Giles Hotel – come out of the lifts and turn right, or turn left as you come up the stairs at the front of the hotel – and the hotel itself is located on the A244/Hounslow Road.

See you there!

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