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==  IPISA '94 Conference Report              By:  Wouter van Oortmerssen ==
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INTRODUCTION

        This is a review of the IPISA '94 Conference held in Milan, Italy,
on Saturday, 19 November 1994.  'IPISA' stands for "Incontro dei
Programmatori Italiani per lo Sviluppo Amiga," which means 'Italian
Programmers' Meeting for Amiga Development.' It was organised to bring
Amiga developers from all of Italy together to meet people, exchange ideas,
and hear talks on new products/developments.

     As I was the only non-Italian (and invited speaker) at the conference,
it seemed right that I write the review.  so here it is.


PREPARATIONS

        I arrived at the Milan Airport Thursday, two days early, to meet
with members of the organisation (some of whom have been friends of mine
for quite a while), and to rehearse my talk a bit.  :-)

        The two evenings before the event, we all met at Sebastiano Vigna's
cosy little apartment, trying to arrange everything.  At times, this was
quite hectic: hundreds of disks to be organized, badges to be checked, and
generally making sure everything would be in the right place on Saturday. 
At times I was even forced to help out..  ;-)

        This might seem disorganised, but in retrospect, all was very well
organised and everything fell into place on Saturday.  The organisation did
a marvelous job on this, even in the face of such last-minute obstacles as
Pagestream 3 almost refusing to print an important printout.


THE CONFERENCE

        We arrived a little late because we could not find the conference
hall at first ("I'm sure it was around THAT corner..."), but still in time
to set up some equipment.  The conference hall was quite a large hall with
seats for 500 people, and a stage (a bit like a cross between a lecture
hall and a theatre).  On stage various Amiga's (A4000, A3000 and a CD32)
were set up for use during the talks, and one at a time could be connected
to a large (4x4 meter) screen hanging behind it.  By using large fonts, the
whole audience could enjoy whatever was demonstrated.

        At 10 o'clock, visitors were allowed to enter.  They all received a
badge with their name on it, and upon leaving the conference they would
receive the professionally printed IPISA proceedings (with articles by the
speakers and also a selection of others, among which Daniel J.  Barrett,
Andy Finkel and Urban Mueller), and a 10-disk set containing software
discussed by the speakers and a variety of other useful PD software.

        First there was an introduction by the head of the organisation,
Sergio Ruocco.  The start of the talks was delayed a bit as the first
speakers had yet to arrive.  There were quite a number of talks scheduled,
and I won't be discussing them all in full detail, but here's an
impression:

        There were various hardware related talks such as the very
interesting talk by Paolo Canali on new hardware architectures for
graphics/multimedia.  It was quite technical but supported by various clear
diagrams on the big screen, and thus very comprehensible.  Another was the
DSP system by Castellani and Sartor, which is currently very much in
development.  'OperBlitting' was about using the blitter's logical
operations to perform math on large amounts of numbers 'at once'.

        Other talks: 'WT', a show-all program in the spirit of VT,
'AnimCommander', an animation program; 'KnapDisk', a program with a clever
algorithm to fit a number of files optimally on disks; 'OLE', a system
inspired by the Windows system by the same name; mathematically inspired
talks on systems for integrals and statistics; 'Amiga Expert Team', a
presentation of a new service for Amiga users; 'Music by numbers', a quite
unusual but very interesting talk on algorithmically produced music (with
demonstrations!); and a demonstration of the MPEG module for the CD32,
which isn't all that new, but entertaining anyway.

        And of course there was my own talk, on the E language and
compiler.  I practiced quite a bit, since I can make myself understandable
in Italian, but such a large audience is something different (there were
approximately 200 people).  I finished the talk with a flashy demonstration
of the new source-level debugger for E.

        After each talk the audience could ask questions, and at the end of
all the talks there was time for all people to speak their heart out on
what bothers them most.

        Somewhere in the middle of the talks a meal was organised at the
local self-service restaurant, and at the end of the conference we all
(well, at least 100 of us) gathered at a well know pizzeria in Milan.  It
took hours for everybody got get served eventually, but that didn't matter
much as everybody was amusing themselves pretty well anyway.

        In general, IPISA succeeded very much as a social event also. 
everybody was able to meet with new people and exchange ideas.  I certainly
met more people than I can remember and had a great time with them.

THE PROCEEDINGS

        In the conference proceedings were articles by most of the speakers
on their respective subjects, and also quite a few other articles.

        Daniel Barrett reveals the latest in Fred Fish's CDROM series:
"Fish Styx", where Fred shows off his singing talents.  [MODERATOR'S NOTE:
This was a humor article.  - Dan] Andy Finkel wrote "The Amiga: how to
survive in a PC world", which gives us a profound economics lesson from the
perspective of the Amiga, and its future.  Very interesting: food for
thought.  Urban Mueller talks about yet another milestone: the 10000th file
on AmiNet, and the statistics that come with it.

        Further articles are in Italian.  From the humorously intended
"Waiting for the Powermacintosh" by Giovanni Gentile about a person that
keeps missing the boat on various Macintosh models, tempted by the Amiga,
to worthwhile reading material such as the article by Sebastiano Vigna and
Sergio Ruocco which deals with Amiga survival hints and tips on a variety
of subjects such as software, networks, programming, etc.

CONCLUSIONS

        Personally, I think the IPISA was a great success.  If you are
Italian, this certainly is a an event absolutely worth attending.  If you
don't speak Italian the current edition wouldn't have been as interesting,
as it was in Italian, and most Italians are notorious for their bad command
of the English language ;-) (though rumours have it that future editions
might be more internationally oriented).

        It scores at least 4.5 pizza's out of 5.

        The organisation was very professional, and the organisers (all 15
of them) worked very hard to make it all happen.  I'd like to thank them
here for what they did.