London Show 2012 preview (updated)

It’s now less than 3.14159265359 days away.

Shaping up to be something you really, really don’t want to miss, the RISC OS London Show takes place this Saturday – 27th October, 2012 – at the St Giles Hotel, Feltham.

Why don’t you want to miss it? Well, make yourselves comfortable, and allow me to explain…

A Raspberry Pi running RISC OS at the RISC OS London Show in October 2011
A Raspberry Pi running RISC OS at the RISC OS London Show in October 2011

If you attended last year’s show, or read the RISCOSitory show report, you will know that at the time the Raspberry Pi was still in very short supply, with there only being forty of them in existence – yet three put in an appearance. This was the first time the tiny computer made a public appearance in the RISC OS world, and quite probably one of its earliest public appearances that didn’t involve men in black suits and sunglasses with curly wires hanging out of their ears looking at everyone as if they were a potential suspect in a crime that hadn’t yet been committed.

So that was something of a coup for ROUGOL, the show’s organisers.

And one year on, the show is likely to have Pi-a-plenty; the computer now being easy to obtain, and RISC OS (albeit in development/test form) has been working for a while – so you can probably expect to see a Raspberry Pi in use on a number of exhibitors’ stands.

Probably? In fact, there is one group of exhibitors who will certainly have the machine in use on their tables – those people exhibiting in Room 3.14!  This is a room dedicated to those who wish to show off their Raspberry Pi projects – even if it’s not RISC OS related. Anyone who is able to exhibit such a project gains free entry, and just needs to contact the show organisers to register.

There is also the possibility of a very special visitor to the show – dependant upon how much jet lag he is suffering after flying back from Korea: Eben Upton, the head of the Raspberry Pi Foundation, is hoping to put in an appearance.

And that test version of RISC OS I mentioned has been working for a while? If you have the hardware, there’s a very good chance that RISC OS Open Ltd will be able to supply you with the software, in the form of an official release version.

So that’s the really interesting tidbits about the show summed up – but what about the exhibitors and show theatre?

There are twenty confirmed exhibitors, including ROUGOL themselves and the charity stand.

ROUGOL – the RISC OS Users Group of London – are the show’s organisers, and they intend to try persuading you to visit their upcoming meetings, and generally chat about RISC OS in London.

The charity stand will be supporting Combat Stress, the leading UK charity specialising in the care of Veterans’ mental ill health. All proceeds from the sale of items donated to the stand will go to the charity, and you can donate any item you think another user may wish to buy. The stand can accept any Acorn or RISC OS related hardware, software, books or add-ons, but cannot take PCs designed around the x86 architecture, designed to run Windows or similar, and nor can it take old style CRT monitors (LCD monitors are acceptable). If you have something you might wish to bring along, but aren’t sure if it is suitable, please send an email describing it. The charity stand raised over £150 for Combat Stress last year – a good sum, for a very worthy cause.

3rd Event Technologies, a global enterprise leader in design and development of future technologies, with prototype systems indefinitely in the “nearly to final product stage”, will be demonstrating a handful of their technologies, including:

  • AMCS, their Advanced Music Creation System – a multitasking music production operating system based around the ARM chipset.
  • The 3rd Event Technologies Audio Manipulator – a real-time 16-track, 32-effect, sample loop and sound stream mixing system based on the early Intel chipset.
  • An Acorn A3000 emulator – initially to research running the AMCS system on PC hardware, but is almost fully compatible with the early RISC OS operating system.

3rd Event representatives will be using the prototype systems to demonstrate how “music” is produced for their subsidiary audio research department, Inverted Light Source.

Archive magazine, the magazine started by Paul Beverley in 1987, will be represented by its current editor, Jim Nagel, who took over the magazine in August 2007. With the first issue having a publication date of October 1987, this weekend’s London Show coincides neatly with the magazine’s twenty fifth birthday. Sadly, schedules have slipped over the last few years for a number of reasons, so the show doesn’t mark the end of the 25th volume and the start of the 26th – but twenty five years is still a good run, especially considering how much smaller the RISC OS community has become compared with its size at the start.

Steve Drain will be demonstrating Basalt, his module that provides BBC Basic with a comprehensive set of extensions – however, you will find Steve’s stand in Room 3.14, because he will be demonstrating it on a DIY RISC OS laptop – a Raspberry Pi, attached to a Lapdock and I/O expansion board.

The Centre for Computing History will be in attendance, with a few boxes of RISC OS games and original software, and will be using Kryoflux – which is a disc imaging system, and not some device that would be at home in a Bond villain’s lair – to make preservation quality disk images of the software for their archive. If you have any software that they don’t already have, please bring it along and they’ll use the system to archive it as part of the Archimedes Software Preservation Project. The museum also intends to have its trusty A3020 with them, on which you can play Zarch, or sample some of the more uncommon games from our platform’s past.

Peter Nowosad will be demonstrating Charm , his powerful object oriented high level programming language that is easy to learn. Running on the Raspberry Pi, Peter will be demonstrating a new Mandelbrot explorer application written in Charm, and generating fast Mandelbrots due to using the instruction set of the in-built VFP co-processor. He also has some nice A3 size pictures to show that were produced on the Pi.

CJE Micro’s/The Fourth Dimension will, as usual, be there to sell you just about everything you can think of, having brought it all to the show in their TARDIS – Tiny Automobile with Really Disproportionate Internal Storage.

RiscDJ running on a BeagleBoard at the 2011 London Show
RiscDJ running on a BeagleBoard at the 2011 London Show

Demonstrating RiscDJ last year, Michael Emerton will this time be demonstrating MuStick – a completely rewritten replacement digital music library that can support hundreds of thousands of MP3 and OGG files. That’s more music than you can shake a stick at – though I suspect the “Stick” in the name might have a slightly different connotation than that.

Heading to the UK from his base in Southern Germany, Martin Wuerthner will be demonstrating the latest versions of ArtWorks 2, Easi/TechWriter and PostScript 3 printer drivers.

Organizer, the personal information manager for RISC OS, will be represented by Nigel Willmott, who will be able to answer all your questions about the application and its many features.

Richard Brown will be on hand to talk you into getting your connectivity through Orpheus Internet, the RISC OS friendly ISP, and probably plying you with sweets, as usual!

A RISC OS show wouldn’t be complete without R-Comp, who will have plenty for you to see and buy, as usual. Highlights this year will include a selection of top quality IPS (In-Plane Switching) screens, suitable for use at 1920 x 1080 on ARMini, BeagleBoard, PandaBoard, Iyonix, RISCube and so on. RiscPCs can also make use of the displays, but at lower resolutions. R-Comp’s Andrew Rawnsley explains that these screens are probably suitable for the Raspberry Pi but, as yet, hadn’t been able to test this. R-Comp usually issue a number of announcements about updated and new software in the run up to the show – so keep a close eye on the comp.sys.acorn.announce newsgroup over the next few days to see what else they’ll be bringing along.

RISC OS Open Ltd, charged by Castle with maintaining the Shared Source RISC OS, will be talking about and demonstrating the latest developments in the operating system – and will hopefully be launching the official RISC OS distro for the Raspberry Pi.

Peter Howkins will be bringing along RPCEmu, which emulates an Acorn RiscPC and A7000 on multiple platforms including Windows, Linux and Mac OS X.

Sine Nomine Software will be showing two pieces of software for the first time: A new version of Wrangler, and the newly stand-alone ImpEmail.

Wrangler is a mathematical puzzler, and a great way to avoid doing any work – and that’s countered by ImpEmail, a bulk emailing add-on for Impact, which is therefore a great way to, erm, do some work. ImpEmail has recently gained support for direct SMTP, as well as working in conjunction with POPstar and Hermes, and is now available separately from Impact, as it can also be used with Powerbase.

Matthew and Hilary Phillips of Sine Nomine Software will happily explain to you just why (and when) HTML e-mails can actually sometimes be useful, in order to placate those who would grind their teeth at the very thought, and justify ImpEmail’s ability to generate them – a capability that makes it unique in the RISC OS world.

I will be “manning” the Soft Rock Software stand in the usual way – which probably means that most of the time I’ll be somewhere else, wandering around the show and not actually manning the stand at all. When I am where I’m supposed to be, though, you’ll be able to see some or all of my existing RISC OS software running on a Raspberry Pi. At least, that’s the theory: I have a Pi and I have RISC OS running on it – but as yet, I’ve only tested Quicksand. Hey, the show’s not until Saturday – that’s ages yet! Trust me, it’ll be fine!

Keith Dunlop of Usable Range will be doing what he seems to do best: Making some noise. This often involves a very large screen connected to something very small. This time, however, he’ll be using a PandaBoard instead of a BeagleBoard – so not something as small as usual. However, I will be disappointed if he doesn’t bring along a ridiculously small keyboard.

And the last exhibitor on my list is WikiProject RISC OS. That’ll be Trevor Johnson, who wants everyone’s help to improve the quality and accuracy of any RISC OS related pages and information on Wikipedia.

As ever, there is also a show theatre, and we can expect presentations from Peter Nowosad (Charm), CJE Micro’s, MW Software, R-Comp and RISC OS Open Ltd. The times for these presentations will be available at the show – or listen out for announcements that each respective presentation is about to start.

Update: It has now been confirmed that there will be an additional theatre talk by Gordon Taylor, of Archimedes World and Computer Concepts fame, on “Raspberry Pi – the Big Picture”.

And now, I think it might be about time I actually started getting things ready for the show – so I’ll end by saying I expect to see you there, and if you don’t turn up, I expect ROUGOL will send the boys around to “sawt you aat”. (Yeah, okay, I know none of them sound like that, but that’s besides the point. Got it? Good!)

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