My Trip to the Benelux Amiga show.Me and a friend, David Patterson started to plan to go to the Benelux Amiga show a little over 2 weeks ago, we had booked our ferry tickets for the Hull to Rotterdam route as we live not too far from Hull, and we had booked ourselves into the StayOkay hostel in Rotterdam.
FridayWe left Scunthorpe at approximately 4pm on Friday evening and were on the ship by 6pm, where we enjoyed an entertaining night onboard with the cabaret based around the 70's. Onboard I also got a chance to meet up with Oliver Hanaford-Day, the guy behind the Coldfire accelerator card for the classic Amiga's.
SaturdayWe arrived in Holland around 8am continental time, which I considered to be a far too early time to be getting up, as we had to be up around 5:30am UK time to make it for breakfast and get off the ship in time to get to the bus. We arrived in Rotterdam at 9:20am and immediately went to the show. Outside I met a fellow Amiga user by the name of Onno. He very kindly let us store our luggage in the boot of his car. Not only that but he also took us on a tour of the city in his car and took us to the hostel.
The ShowWe were refused entrance at 9:30, which I thought was unfair ;-) But we went back at 10am and got straight in, I believe we were the first 2 people there. To begin with the show was dull, half the stands hadn't finished setting up, Hyperion wasn't there and there was hardly any other attendees. However by lunchtime things were picking up, more people had arrived and Hyperion was there. So I set about having a better look round and try to chat with as many people as I could. First thing I went over to see was the Amiga museum. They had a Commodore64, an A500, 2 A600's; an A1000 with what I think was an IBM PC sidecar. There was also an A3000, A4000, CD32 and more interestingly there was also several rare Amiga's. There was an Access, which I spent some time looking at, a Prototype CDTV CR (Also known as a CDTV500 and CDTV2) provided by Oliver Hanaford-Day. There was also a Walker on display, with its case removed; unfortunately there was too much shielding in the way to have a proper look at the innards. I also enjoyed looking at the Draco system provided by Djole.
Next on my list of things to see was DigiBoosterPro, which at the time was playing the theme tune from superfrog, it was running all day long playing a host of different tunes, all very catchy, in fact I struggled to get them out of my head in the evening . It ran well when it was left alone but I did see it crash a lot when it was being used. My travelling companion David fell in love with DigiBooster and I believe he is planning to buy it.
Once we had finished drooling over DigiBoosterPro we headed towards the Hyperion stand, which was quite busy with people standing around taking photographs and wielding camcorders. It was nice to see OS4 finally, and I was pleased with what I saw. I did see it crash a few times but that is to be expected considering it is in early alpha. I even got to play with it and I too managed to make it lock up, I tried to run WBClock . I did however see a host of applications running on it. I saw H&P AmigaWriter and Ibrowse, as well as Dopus I think, as well as a lot of programs included with OS4, like the text editor, prefs etc. I had e xpected to see a very poor OS4 with slow redrawing, but I saw something far from what I had expected. OS4 seems quite responsive to me, solid window resizing was fast, and opening windows too was quite fast. I got to speak with Timothy De Groote, who made me laugh a lot, he spent some time trying to get Payback to run, which seems to have a few bugs, keyboard wasn't working, I have had a similar problem on my A1200 with payback, and Timothy said it's the same on his A1200. But all the same it was good to see OS4 find these bugs and report them, a nice feature I think. Eventually it ran, and ran quite well. It was running in interpretive emulation, but didn't seem sluggish, to me it seemed as fast as an 060, JIT will speed it up a lot more too. I also saw a native Quake1 running in software render getting 91 FPS, which is quite respectable for an alpha OS. I think they said L2 Cache was working. It was great to see the whole Hyperion team there. Steffan Hauser was there, Ben Hermans was too, as well as the Frieden brothers, who I still believe are robots .
After spending a long time at the Hyperion stand I though I should go over and check out the Pegasos and MorphOS out again to see how it's progressing since WoAse2002. It ran fine, fast and fairly stable. I ran Quake2 on the machine I was on and had a play with it. I couldn't get the 3D engine to work, and the keyboard I was using was malfunctioning but I was told the other pegasos' had 3D and that the keyboards were working fine. One thing that did irritate me quite a bit was when one of the Genesi representatives came over and started to tell me repeatedly they had a G4 pegasos at the show, and that I should go to see it. I for one couldn't see why that was such a great thing
Never the less I went over to have a look at it. Strangely it was running Nights and Merchants that I thought really didn't show off the power of the G4. It would have been much better if there were some rendering engine running or something. The microwave pegasos was there too; I still can't see why it's great either. Its only a gutted microwave with a computer stuck it with a TFT monitor.... oh and they powered the LCD too fantastic! There was also a pegasos in a perspex box too at the back of the show by the museum. I would of preferred it if we could hold the motherboard in our hands like you could with Oliver's Coldfire prototype which by the way cost over £500. The same goes for the AmigaONE. I would of loved to handle one. I always think something isn't real until you 've held it in your own hands.
After looking at the key exhibitors I went round and spent time at each stand. The HCC Commodore gg group were showing some great scene demos throughout the day. I saw demos like the black lotus, mental by push and a host of others. I managed to buy Decent: Freespace for the nice sum of 20 euros from Computer City, which I am very pleased about. I also tried to buy a copy of the new Amiga.org magazine but it was subscription only, which was a pity. Luckily Onno managed to get me a copy on the Sunday and I also won a copy on the Sunday lottery. The magazine itself is a good read with a few funny articles. If the articles stay up to standard then it should continue to be a good read. I have my doubts about it succeeding but I do hope for the best.
During Saturday I would estimate between 150 and 200 people attended, with perhaps 50 to 70 people in the room at any one given time. The attendance was low but I personally didn't mind, although I did feel sorry for the exhibitors. I was also disappointed Audio Evolution4 wasn't on show there, I understand Dave wasn't there due to health reasons but I though someone could demo it on his behalf. My friend David went specifically to see the music applications and OS4.
After the Saturday showOnno was kind enough to take us on a tour through Rotterdam in his car, and he also took us to our hostel, for which I am very grateful. It would off been much harder for us to find it on foot. After arriving at the hostel we got checked in and I immediately went on line using the hostels computer. After catching up on the news we went out for something to eat, we decided to take a walk into the city centre. After spending nearly 2 hours walking getting totally lost we eventually managed to find our way into the centre and had what could be described as a not quite dead steak for dinner. It was not up to standard and over priced in my opinion. Having taken us 2 hours to get into the centre it only took half an hour to get back to the hostel. Once back I went online again for a good half hour before going to bed where I had a reasonable nights sleep. David on the other hand didn't.
Sunday's showAgain we were the first attendees to arrive. We got to the show for 10am, which was when the doors opened, however we decided not to go in and instead sat and had a cup of coffee. We didn't see any other people arrive until gone 11am, which was not a good sign… The day was slower than Saturday, I would guess there might have been 70 to 100 people tops turn up throughout the day, but there were never more than 20 people in at any given time. Hyperion was late again, but they still proved a popular stand, I spent more time over with them having a play on their new game Gorky17, which is for Linux and OS4. I quite liked it. It reminded me a little of Wasted dreams only its turn based. I don't normally like turn based games but I think I would buy Gorky17 when it gets released.
I didn't do much walking around the show on Sunday as I had seen pretty much all there was to see on Saturday. However I did get to be an honorary Exhibitor on the Coldfire stand .
After an hour or so on the coldfire stand I decided to take another look around the floor, mainly out of boredom than anything else. I had another go on the pegasos, which seemed to be having more troubles than they were on the Saturday. One of the machines seemed to have difficulty booting and I saw one lock up, one of the Genesi representatives said and I quote “oh well it reboots quickly”, which I found amusing.
At the end of the day there was a lottery just as there had been on Saturday, only it was quite laughable, I think we all must of won a price, there was only about 15 attendees left when the lottery was held. I came away with a 'Super bundle', which the Hyperion crew (I must stress the guy wasnt a Hyperion employee, just someone at hand to help them out, his internet nick is Amon_Re) and myself found very amusing, and my friend David came away with a brand new USB graphics tablet, which made his day . I was going to mention that one of the Hyperion crew was going to assist me in burning the super bundle but I decided I wouldn't, as it would be quite inflammatory ;-) .
Overall ConclusionAlthough the attendance was low I had a great time, and I would attend again even if the situation were the same. I enjoyed seeing what was on show and I also enjoyed meeting people, plus it was like a holiday for me.
Amiga OS4 is still looking very promising, it definitely has that Amiga feel still, which I am very glad about, I just hope it makes it in time. I would of liked to of seen Ben Hermans or someone do more of a formal presentation and a speech though.
The pegasos and morphos is nice, but to me there is something missing, its not an Amiga, and no its not just because its not called an Amiga. Just in my own honest opinion, which by the way I have a right to have, is not like an Amiga, it doesn't have the same feel to it at all.
I also think it would have been a good idea if all the exhibitors had name tags, I wasn't sure who half the people were. It's also a shame companies like Individual Computers weren't there with a stand, there wasn't enough hardware on sale. I wanted to see clock port expansions and Zorro cards.
In closing I would like to thank all those involved in putting on the show, all those who came, and all those who spoke to me . I would especially like to thank Onno for his kindness, Oli for letting me sit with him. Most importantly I would like to thank my good friend David Patterson for allowing me to go to the show, without you it would not of been possible for me to attend. Last but my no means least I would like to thank a good friend of mine who goes by the nick of mrP for uploading this site for me. Without his help you wouldnt be seeing this :-)