RISC OS Southwest: One week to go!

That’s just seven days – so few you can count ’em on the fingers of, er, one and a bit hands!

In a week’s time, a large contingent of the RISC OS community – hardware and software developers, businesses, hobbyist programmers and, of course, general users – will be converging on a hotel in a rather nice setting on the Mendip Hills for the first main event of the year: RISC OS Southwest, organised by R-Comp‘s Andrew Rawnsley and Orpheus Internet‘s Richard Brown.

The hotel is, of course, the Webbington, which has hosted the Southwest Show since its inception in 1998, and the doors will be open to the public from 10:30 until 4:00pm, with an entry fee of (I believe – it isn’t specified on the show website) £5.00.

Getting something important out of the way first, since this is a problem that crops up every year in at least one discussion – how to get there.

The venue isn’t well served by public transport, with the nearest bus stops being a good three or four miles away, and the nearest railway stations further still, with Weston-Super-Mare being eight miles distant – so if you’re coming by train you’ll almost certainly need to combine that with a taxi. And if you’re coming by car, some directions would be handy:

If you’re coming off the M5, you can use junctions 21 or 22 – though I tend to suggest junction 22 since I think it’s easier.

Whether you’re heading North or South on the motorway, from junction 22 you need to take the A38 heading towards Bristol. After about five and a half miles, there is a row of cottages and a pub called the Lamb Inn, with a turn off to the left signposted for the Webbington Hotel – take that turning and, when you come to a T-junction, turn left again. You will now be on the long and winding Webbington Road, and after about three miles you’ll come to the hotel entrance on the right.

If you’re coming down the A38 from Bristol, look for a village called Cross, and a junction with a pub called the New Inn – this is where you need to turn right, onto a road call Old Coach Road. Follow that road, which will become Webbington Road when you pass the T-junction mentioned above. From here, then, the directions are the same: About three miles along this winding road, the hotel entrance is on the right.

For those blessed with satnavs and the ability to use them, the address is, of course:

The Webbington Hotel,
BS26 2HU.

The current list of exhibitors is broadly similar to last year, with only a small number from previous years not present, but also some new, such as RISCOSbits and ident Computer  – so there should be a good range of things for visitors to see, try, and buy, though at this stage I can’t really say what.

It is customary – a bit of a pain, but customary – for exhibitors to send out their announcements of what they’re showing off and releasing at the show in the few days running up to it, so at this stage it would be nothing but speculation if I was to suggest that (for example) the latest issues of both Drag ‘n Drop and Archive will be available on the day (though both are possible) or that either/both CJE Micro’s and R-Comp will be demonstrating a port of RISC OS running on yet another new board (also possible, but this time around much less likely).

Having said all that, there are some things I can predict, and some speculation that might not be too far off the mark:

For those who like games, the Soft Rock Software stand will be worth a visit. While I don’t have it up and running yet, I’ve been working on a new version of Escape from Exeria, the first game I released, back in 1990, and what I have done for test and design purposes is hack the 1994 RiscPC-compatible rewrite to use the graphics for the new version, as well as the new level designs. You’ll be able to see the new graphics and play some of the new levels on Saturday.

Tony Bartram of Amcog Games has been working on updates (including new levels) for MopTops, the game he released at the recent London Show – so that’s another port of call for those who like games. Another modification to the game is related to something else it’s worth talking to Tony about: Sound. Work is progressing on RDSP, a module that provides Wavebox-inspired synthesizer facilities to RISC OS and in doing so provides easy to use sound capabilities on modern machines, including the ability to use the ENVELOPE command in a meaningful way from BASIC.

It would also be a reasonable to speculate that the RISCOSbits stand will be worth a visit because, although he’s revealing no details, Andy Marks has started dropping little hints on Twitter that suggest he may have something new to show off:

I somehow doubt that Andy will be bringing along Madness (or even just Suggs) to provide some additional entertainment at the show (which is a pity), and Willo the Wisp is nothing more than a fictional character, so he’s probably hinting at something new and/or an update to the existing RiscPOD product.

Then there’s RISC OS Open Ltd, with a recently released update to the Desktop Development Environment, a Raspberry Pi model 3 update to the Nut Pi collection, and more – and if Rob Sprowson is part of the team this year, he might be willing to tell you about Font Directory Pro, and (if you ask nicely) perhaps he’ll be willing to reveal details of one or more of the other half dozen Elesar Ltd projects that are underway.

Word from the show organisers is that long-time Southwest Show exhibitor David Snell of ProCAD+ and WebWonder fame “will have not one but two significant software releases” – and a new addition for long-time Acorn fans this year, the show will include a gathering of 8-bit enthusiasts.

So that’s a few predictions, some more or less speculative than others, to whet your appetite for the Southwest Show next week, and hopefully entice you into paying a visit – because something I’d like to see at this year’s show is an increase in the number of people through the door. And do you know who can help make that happen?


See you there!

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