Two weeks to go: RISC OS Southwest 2024

As of today, the 2024 Southwest Show – the first main event of the year for the RISC OS community – is just two weeks away. It will take place on Saturday, 24th February, at the same Bristol venue that has been used for the show for the last few years:

The Arnos Manor Hotel,
470 Bath Road,
Arnos Vale,
BS4 3HQ.

So if you haven’t already, it’s about time you started to think about – or even made – your travel arrangements!

The show’s exhibitors include many of the usual suspects – no, not Keyser Soze et al, the usual suspects from the RISC OS world. Unfortunately, rather than being kept up to date with confirmed exhibitors for the upcoming show, the official website simply lists previous exhibitors who are likely to appear again – so based on that, in alphabetical order, the likely returning exhibitors from previous events are:

  • AMCOG Games
    Tony Bartram has a range of games available, as well as a games development toolkit, and usually tries to have a new title available – or at least in development for and ready to show off – at RISC OS shows.
  • Cameron Cawley
    Amongst other things, Cameron is part of the team that develops ScummVM, and handles the RISC OS port of the virtual machine that allows a raft of point and click adventures to be playable.
  • Chris Hall
    Chris is a confirmed exhibitor – both to me, and to you the public, given that he has a page on his website detailing what he’ll be showing off on the day, which includes systems in home-made cases, his SatNav software, and quite a bit more.
  • Drag ‘n Drop
    The on-off-on-off-under-new-management PDF magazine now edited by Chris Dewhurst tends to be a show regular, and as well as back-issues on USB memory sticks, usually has a range of other publications to buy.
  • Dynabyte Software (Gareth Lock)
    Gareth has a number of pieces of software available for RISC OS, including a couple of games – and at previous shows his stand tends to show off one in particular; Quizzics, a multiple choice quiz game with customisation options.
  • Organizer
    The – no, THE – personal information manager for RISC OS is available as a digital download and at shows can be bought on a USB memory stick, complete with a copy of RPCEmu so that it can be carried around in your pocket and used on any computer you have to hand.
  • Orpheus Internet/GeneSys
    Run by Richard Brown, Orpheus is the most RISC OS-friendly ISP there is. I mean, what other ISP actively uses RISC OS computers and doesn’t just attend RISC OS shows, but also helps organise one?
    Unfortunately, Richard is currently under the weather, so it’s possible he may not be able to attend the show in person, but he tells me his daughter, Serena, may make the trip by train in his stead.
  • R-Comp/RCI
    Along with Richard Brown of Orpheus, R-Comp’s Andrew Rawnsley is the other organiser of this event – so is also a known, confirmed exhibitor! R-Comp has a range of software available (such as Messenger Pro, DataPower2, Fireworkz Pro, and so on) and a variety of hardware, so there will be plenty to see here!
  • RISC OS Developments Ltd
    RISC OS Developments is the company set up jointly by Richard Brown and Andrew Rawnsley, initially to oversee development of a web browser – but which is now so much more, now owning the operating system itself and with a number of other software projects on the go. The stand is usually manned by Richard but this time, with Richard’s appearance not set in stone, it may be handled by someone from R-Comp, or by Serena.
  • RISC OS Open Ltd (ROOL)
    While RISC OS Developments owns the operating system, it RISC OS Open looks after it and the open source repository that allows it to be developed and updated further by those willing and able to do so. ROOL are also the source of the development tools used to compile and build the OS, and more besides.
  • RISC OS User Group of London (ROUGOL)
    The London-based user group – and also organisers of the London Show holds regular meetings that are usually hybrid in nature, with some people attending in person at a pub in London, and others online via Zoom.
  • Rob Coleman – Acorn & BBC User Group (ABUG)
    If your taste includes older 8-bit systems, Rob usually has something of interest for you, with souped-up BBC micros, and software running on them that – without the enhancements – you wouldn’t ordinarily expect.
    ABUG, meanwhile, is a loose-knit group of 8-bit enthusiasts that organise their own events up and down the country to both show off what they’re working on and to get busy with BASIC (and other languages) and just get things done.
  • Soft Rock Software
    You can definitely count Soft Rock Software as a confirmed exhibitor, since that’s me and I’ll definitely be there! I’ll have the 2020 version of Escape from Exeria available to buy on CD (eighty levels of maze mayhem, in 1920×1080, full colour graphics), as well as the first edition of the Soft Rock Software Collection (a compilation of my products) on both CD and USB memory stick – and, if all goes to plan, I’ll be showing off the new graphics for Drop Rock.
  • Southampton RISC OS User Group (SROUG)
    Andrew Conroy organises the user group meetings for people living in and around Southampton, and since CJE Micro’s stopped attending the show Andrew (who is an employee) has been coming along to represent the group, as well as show off some of his own flashy projects.
  • Steve Fryatt
    With a wide ranging selection of software to his name, covering everything from games to home finance, Steve often pulls the latest versions together and puts it all on CD to sell at shows in support of charity – I believe the Wakefield Hospice, the same charity supported by Wakefield RISC OS Computer Club, of which he is a member.

Not one of the previous exhibitors listed on the show website and above, another name confirmed for this year is Michael Grunditz, who will be flying over from Sweden to show off what he’s been working on, which includes a port of Origyn Web Browser (or OWB), and running RISC OS in Genode, an operating system framework that uses virtualisation to allow multiple projects to run in parallel, all safely sandboxed. (If I’ve remembered that correctly, which may not be the case!)

As well as the main show room(s), with each exhibitors having their own tables, there is normally a ‘theatre’ in which a number of talks are given throughout the day. There are a set of ‘larger’ exhibitors who usually have a slot in the theatre to talk about their latest developments, and sometimes one or two smaller exhibitors as well. No details are available as yet about who will be talking this year, but the regular talkers include R-Comp, RISC OS Developments, and RISC OS Open Ltd, so there’s a reasonable assumption that they will form part of this year’s line up – although it’s possible the R-Comp and RISC OS Developments talks will be rolled into one.

It’s impossible to predict what you can expect to see at the show at this stage because many developers sit on their announcements about anything new they’ll be bringing to the show until the very last minute – in part because they may not be sure of whether or not said new thing will be complete enough to make it worth demonstrating, let alone selling. However, you can bet your bottom dollar that where they have something in development, they’ll be pulling out all the stops to get it ready in time – so there’s a good chance there will be new things to see on many stands.

The show will be open to the public from 10:30am until 4:00pm, with an entry fee of £6.00.

The hotel is very easy to reach if you are coming by car, with directions for the main routes on this very site, and just as easy to reach if you are travelling into Bristol by train, with a short bus trip between Temple Meads station and the nearest bus stop.

There are a variety of amenities within a short distance if you need to pop out for a bite to eat and a drink. For example, there’s a Burger King just over the road if you turn left out of the hotel, with a Shell garage and shop next to that, or cross over the road immediately outside the hotel and venture left to find the Black Castle pub and restaurant, and beyond that a Sainsbury’s supermarket.

As a final note, to quote Andrew Rawnsley in his recent announcement about the show:

If you’re “on the fence” about coming, please do try and visit as these RISC OS shows really need as much support as possible. They run on a financial knife-edge (both for exhibitors and organisers), and without visitors, it is hard to justify subsequent shows. In other words, if you value the shows, please come to them! We know that this gets harder for people each year, so we really appreciate your support, and the effort everyone makes to attend.

I can only second that, and add that I look forward to seeing you here in Bristol in two weeks time!

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