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      World of Amiga UK Report: Flashes From the Archives Of Oblivion
  Luke Osbaldeston                                          lo3@ukc.ac.uk
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[Mr. Osbaldeston is back for the second year in a row with an extremely
comprehensive look at the recent World of Amiga UK show.  Mr. Osbaldeston
has a number of strong opinions on Amiga companies and personalities, which
to the best of our ability we've retained in the article, without
sacrificing our accountability.  With that, over to Luke. -Jason]

The World of Amiga Show
17th & 18th of May 1997
Novotel
Hammersmith
London
United Kingdom

"Osbaldeston's 3rd law of computer shows states that there will
_definitely_ be some people in attendance who are either very fat, or very
thin." This year's show certainly proved this law absolutely, with some
monstrously fat people there, one or two of which are quite well known.  
Don't worry, names _will_ be dropped later on ;-) (You might like to check
out the piece I wrote about last year's show in AR 4.06.  It could help
you understand this article a little better.)

Okay, solid.  Rather like last year's show, 'love was in the air, every
sight and every sound.' Well, perhaps not quite love, but Gateway.  Could
there be some more hot news from this show like last year's now in
retrospect VIScorp debacle ?  (The scum basters !) The quick answer is no.
For the long answer I guess you'll have to read all this and make your own
mind up.

When I arrived at the naughty Novotel, I was surprised, and at first a
little heartened, to see that there was no real queue to speak of, unlike
last year.  My reward for arriving early I presumed.  In actual fact this
wasn't the case, as shall be explained later - much later.  I was grateful
none-the-less for being admitted almost immediately - buying a ticket this
year was a sage decision, as there was a queue of people paying on the
door.  Ha !  Of course, this is the kind of punishment one likes to see the
lumpenproletariat have to endure ;-)

Okay, so now I am inside.  Same room as last year's show unsurprisingly,
which some of you might know means a rather bland grey low-ceilinged room
which someone had obviously decided didn't need any air conditioning, even
though that day was the hottest of the year so far in this country.
Someone at the Novotel must have figured along the same lines as the late
great Bill Hick's father, i.e.  that a/c 'wastes gas.' Even though I was
the only person I saw all day at the show to be wearing just shorts and a
t-shirt (both green) I spent a fair amount of the day perspiring.  Not
pleasant, but not nearly as bad for me as it was for everyone else.  You
probably know what the standard uniform is for the computer freaks for the
most part at these shows, black leather jackets _must_ be worn at all times
(to hide their nauseating 'negative' arms amongst other things)
irrespective of weather conditions.  Still, they all probably had B.O.
already, so what did it matter ?   In fact, I think they wear those black
leather jackets to keep the stench in, which is thoughtful of them.  Pity
they can't keep their mouth's closed too, and keep the redolence of cheese
& onion crisps, nicotine, coke and 3 days worth of plaque to themselves
also ;-) Those involved were probably mostly students from Kent ...

So, using the devilishly clever technique I pioneered to describe last
year's show, I will describe the exhibitors clockwise from the left
perimeter.  It's easier to figure than it might sound.  Okay, the first
exhibitor, from the entrance and to the left was the mighty Gasteiner.  In
terms of Star Wars characters, I don't know, perhaps they are like Admiral
Ackbar from Return of the Jedi.  Not really mighty, but good to see them
again.  They too were one of the architects of this year's show by all
accounts.  Again they had 'bargains galore, even holes in the floor (sic
)'.  I can't say enough about their stand.  Actually, I can.  They didn't
have any computers setup displaying any software etc., just piles of
goodies to be bought cheaply.  I remember being impressed last year because
I bought an 8mb ram simm for 75 pounds (get your own bloody currency
converter this year) - a 16mb simm cost me approximately 55 pounds earlier
this year.  Sigh.  How times and prices have changed, huh ?  And by the
way, the 16mb simm was for my Amiga too.  They had the their usual piles of
old cack for sale, faulty bits and pieces that may do something for you, if
you fancied taking a chance, though I didn't, and it seemed like most other
people felt that way too, as by the end of the Saturday, not much of their
'dodgy' gear had gone.  Still, they claimed to be giving a 'free' zal (game
- in this case the Chaos AGA pack) away to anyone who spent 10 notes or
more, providing they had stocks left.  They also had a very poor joke up
concerning a '26 speed (or some such) CD ROM' for the Amiga.  It was such a
poor joke, a guy, sorry no, strike that, not a guy, a _huge_ guy who must
have weighed at least 20 stone or so I'd have thought (what did I tell you
about fat people ?  ) had to explain it to a couple of funkwits who still
didn't get it.  The 'joke' was that the name of this device had the acronym
of F.A.R.T.  Bloody hell.  BLOODY HELL.  Their stand did a brisk trade for
most of the day.  So, a good stand for bargains, but nothing particularly
exciting.

Okay, left boy, left, there was the bar.  If anyone read my account of last
year's show you will know how I felt then about the bar - I still feel the
same now.  Suffice to say a pint of lime cordial and lemonade cost me 2
pounds.  2 funking pounds !  No air conditioning !  Basters !  I think they
made the funking bar prices up as they went along.  Cake-sucking
mutha-crushers !  to use Granada's dubbing policy whenever they show the
film 'Robocop' (in-joke for North of England readers.  Just what is a
cake-sucker though?  And how can being called one possibly be offensive?)

The next exhibitor was Snap Computer Supplies.  Again, like Gasteiner no
machines setup, just lots of computer consumables to be purchased, disks,
inkjets etc.  No real hardware for sale.  Their prices seemed okay, worth a
look if you were after six thousand floppy labels.  Their CD-R'S were a
little dear though.  They didn't look like they were doing a particularly
outstanding amount of trade to me.  Do you need to know more ?  No.  Good.

I guess next up came Eyetech.  Oh Eye !  Famous in this part of the cosmos
for their CD 32 expansion stuff and other nice bits and pieces, infamous
for their campaign of mis[?]information concerning the ide interface on the
A1200, and how it should be buffered, "or else your machine will funking
blow up !" Hmm.  I was going to say that they didn't have any computers
setup doing anything much though I am not 100% about this.  I don't recall
seeing any software running on their stand.  They apparently had a thing
called the PortPlus, and, wait for it, the NEW PortJnr, which are both high
speed serial and parallel expansions for the A1200.  The also had their
version of the 'let's jump on the band-wagon and make a tower' tower system
for the A1200.  Out of all the systems I have seen, this one is possibly
the easiest to fit, but the messiest of the lot, in that you leave your
A1200 in the bottom half of its plastic case, and then ram, yes, _ram_ it,
understand, you RAM it into a full tower case.  I guess it'll work, but I
don't think I like it much.  Apparently they had a new version of their
dirty low-down 'buffered' ide interface for the A1200 available too, as
well as, here I quote, " ...  much, much more - all at unbeatable show
prices." Well, _some_ of their prices were pretty cheap, for instance Blitz
Basic 2.1 for 10 pounds is pretty good going (they sold out) but some of
their hardware prices seemed verbatim as their normal ads in the paper
Amiga mags published here.  Hardware wise though they were a cut above many
stands, so 'Hats off to Eyetech.' They had a guy from the now defunct AUI
magazine serving for them, just one of the many 'celebrity' sales
assistants to be found around the show.  Their stand did a very good trade
nearly all day as a consequence - maybe.

After Eyetech were the little known Wisedome Ltd.  They have just published
a couple of CD roms in this country at least, one called the History of the
World Cup, the other a World Atlas or something like that anyway.   The
History of the World Cup cd was very well received by CU Amiga Magazine in
this country, and I guess they were there in order to flog a few as a
result.  The guy operating their stand was a very mellow looking bloke,
'keeping an eye on the world passing by his window'.  They had a machine
setup demonstrating their wares, mainly the football cd.  To paraphrase the
loathsome Brian Sewell, 'I don't care tuppence for football', so I wasn't
really that interested.  I didn't let this interfere with my strictly
impartial observance of the stand though.  They seemed to do reasonable
business, on and off.

Next are Digita.  Their stand was remarkably similar to last year's.  Once
again, no machines setup to display their rather good software - why the
funk not ?  Perhaps they think we are all such die-hards at those shows
that we already know what their stuff can do.  Maybe.  One machine wouldn't
have hurt though surely ?  They had the usual suspects regarding software,
Wordworth 6 & Office (yes, I did upgrade from using Wordworth 2 those of
you who might remember me using it to write last year's report - I'm now
using Wordworth 5), Personal Paint 7, Turbo Calc et al., on both floppy
and cd rom etc.  Their stand was manned by the 'cute' Jeremy Rihill, big
boss at Digita, nice to see him getting his hands dirty flogging a few
copies, and a guy called Dan, who was quite helpful.  I guess Jeremy is, in
Star Wars terms, probably Bib Fortuna, "and I mean that most sincerely,
folks." They did have some of their software going for pretty decent
prices, and certainly I would have agreed with anyone who said that there
were bargains to be had on their display.  Their stand did good business I
guess for the most part.  Very important that a company like Digita are
supported, so do what you can for them.  I personally signed a crucifer in
blood.

Keeping left and turning left too, a couple of stands not on the Exhibition
Catalogue map or detailed inside either.  Late arrivals ?  The first was
Finale Development.  Just a sec, I'll find their flyer.  Okay.  They do
"Innovative Applications for AmigaOS and pOS Computers." Apparently.  Blah
blah blah, they publish ClassAct, which I have heard of but never used, and
they are 'committed to a "no compromises" paradigm of software
development.' In other words, cobblers.  Joke.  [BTW, I helped write the
lines Luke's making fun of here.  :) -Jason] They had an A4000 on their
stand with one of the biggest, most expensive looking monitors I can recall
ever seeing (a Philips) showing off some of their stuff.  They were running
the Finale Web Cruiser on it, and it looked pretty good too.  They mention
some other stuff too, MOca, a Java based app, Voodoo, an Emailer, and New
York New York, start spreading the news, I'm leaving today, I wanna be a
part of it ...  yes, a newsgroup reader type thang, as well as Digital
Quill, which I was hoping was an Amiga version of the now legendary
Spectrum utility, The Quill, which was used for writing text-based
adventures on the Spectrum, but no, in fact Digital Quill is a boring text
editor !  Their stand was rather basic looking but not bad though, and they
do seem to be supporting the Amiga, so good on ya Finale.  I don't think
they actually had anything for sale at the show, so trade wise it was hard
to call, but people did seem to be showing an interest, and Finale
themselves seemed to have come all the way from America [The corporation is
based in America but the presenter, Alain Penders, came from Belgium], so
what can I say ?  Full marks for effort methinks, and buy their products if
you can.  They reminded me of the join at approximately 1 minute into
Strawberry Fields.   Why ?  I don't know.

Next to Finale was Budget Computer Software.  To their credit, their name
says it all really, to their minus, their prices weren't that cheap I
thought.   They had various games, and a few small consumables for sale.  No
computers setup though.  I guess they didn't really need them.  They didn't
look like they really sold that much to me, but who knows ?  There was a
large space and gap between the next stand, with an area where you could
just crash down to take the weight off your feet etc.  Rather disgustingly,
I saw someone drinking Coke.  Some people have no shame.

The next stand was certainly not just one of the busiest, and biggest, and
best too, but also one of the most eagerly anticipated by myself.  It was
the Phase 5 stand, part of the rather good CU Amiga Magazine stand.  I'm
sure most of you are aware of Phase 5 and their naughty hardware.  On show
they had a couple of 4000's, both connected to nice 17" Microvitec
monitors.  Inside they had Cybervision cards (presumably the latest version
?) and, well, imagine that scene from Monty Python & The Holy Grail where
Michael Palin sees the grail above a castle and you get the idea, da da
daaa, yes, a couple of PowerPC accelerators too.  Having watched the demos
they had running for most of the day, it seemed to me that the graphics
cards were doing most of the work.  They had the WB window displaying some
full-screen mpeg's - which I thought in itself was pretty impressive,
though a little useless pragmatically wise, and the PPC doing, or at least
trying to, some Mandlebrot type fractal gubbins in another window on WB.
The fractal window though did keep on slowing down quite worryingly I
thought, and wasn't really that impressive anyway.  They are gonna need
something a little more than that to impress the masses with.  Perhaps I
was missing some eruditely impressive part though.  It was hard to get near
the machines themselves as the stand was busy all day.

There were a couple of Phase 5 guys on hand to answer questions and the
like, but I didn't really have anything to ask so I didn't say a bloody
word - I just looked on knowingly, stifled a chorus of 'Springtime for
Hitler and Germany' and wandered on ;-) I picked up the latest flyer
concerning all their planned PPC products (including a couple of new ones)
and had a gander, but it is unlikely that there is anything much mentioned
on it that isn't on their web site.  All in all, though a little small, and
only part of another stand too, I was reasonably impressed, and at least
they had made some effort.  Plus the PPC cards really do seem to exist,
which is something I guess.  Just have to wait and see what they are like
when they go on sale.

The CU Amiga stand itself was pretty good - much MUCH better than the
dreadful Amiga Format stand, which I will detail later.  They had the
putative TFX on playable demo at CU Amiga, not that it looked very
playable, but at least you could see what you were missing - not much
really !  They had Mat Bettinson (in trim) and his magic 3000 (I think)
and some video conferencing gear which was having problems when I saw it,
as well as some special show subscriptions too I guess.  They had at least
3 machines set up doing different things.  It was a pretty good stand
overall, though perhaps a little too easy for the public to get on, as it
did seem to clog up a bit from time to time.  A small yet confident show of
strength methinks.  Both CU Amiga and Phase 5 should be applauded and
supported for making some effort.

Next to CU Amiga was Direct Software.  They are riding the crest of a wave
at the moment in this country with various things they are doing making the
small headlines.  The most well known of these is their 'Power' Amiga. 
This is simply an Amiga with some Zorro slots, a 060, 22 mb of ram (and
there's the rub) a graphics card with '64 bit' capability, some pci slots,
and perhaps something else too which I don't recall - research, what
research ?  In actual fact, there is nothing remotely 'Power' about their
Amiga at all, it's basically banged together out of things you could quite
easily do yourself. 

I don't wish to seem down on Direct without due cause, but I for one am
completely unimpressed with their 'Power' Amiga, which, by the way, was
distinctly conspicuous by its absence.  All they had was a rather poor
rolling video with some half-baked gamess on it.  The software that they
did have for sale was pretty dear too - certainly my local branch of Game
is cheaper for much of its Amiga software, and they are a high-street
dealer at that.  Oh dear.  All these things didn't stop the Direct stand
being full for most of the day.  I still don't know why.  I guess people
must have thought there was something worth seeing there.   They didn't, if
I remember correctly, have any computers setup.  I'll probably get some
mail now for having a go at them, but I'm not, this is just the way how I
saw things.  Good luck to them if they can make a go of things.  I hope
they manage to release the excellent game Trapped over here.  I mailed the
author, Michael Piepgras, ages ago telling him he should get a UK
distributor, but do people ever listen to me ?  No, not usually, then when
it turns out I am correct (often) I have to be the first one to tell them,
'I told you so you cracker.'

Okay, next up were Weird Science.  Again, no machines setup.  They sell
mainly cd roms for the Amiga.  They were also flogging their Network PC
thang too, which sounds like a neat device, it can connect a PC & Amiga
together and access drives etc.  from each.  Useful, though _very_ slow in
doing it.  They were offering two free cd roms with every purchase.  Okay I
guess if you have a cd rom.  Their stand was reasonably busy, though not
made so by me.  Not bad I guess, though it didn't excite me.

Ah ha ah.  Next in line, Wizard Developments.  Wizard indeed.  Any machines
setup ?  No.  At least, not on 'their' part of their stand directly.  They
were also harbouring some other Amiga exhibitors rather akin to CU Amiga on
their stand though, and these other people did have some Amigas setup.  
Wizard themselves had a few bargains, though nothing that bursts my spleen
thinking back.  I picked up a copy of Opus Magellan from them for 30 bills
being a registered Opus user (Pirate rant - listen, if you have a pirate
copy of Opus, or Wordworth, or any of those other few still in development
on the Amiga programs, go and kill yourself.  I'm not joking.  Pirate stuff
on the pc if you want to.  Pirate PSX stuff if you want to.  They can
survive it.  The Amiga simply cannot at the moment, so all you
cracker-assholes reading this who use pirate copies, just go and rid the
world of your probably perverted genes and kill yourselves.  It is your
only chance of redemption, just like Anakin Skywalker.  So think on.  Or
buy the original software.  That would work too.) 

However, you could buy the entire Opus package, i.e.  version 5.5 and
Magellan for only 40 nicker.  Bloody hell, I'm doing something wrong
somewhere.  More on this later.  (Some of you may now realise that I have
upgraded my version of Opus from last year's 4.12 too.  You see, I have put
my money where my mouth is.  A little anyway.) So Wizard did a pretty good
trade all day it would seem, I left it until approx.  4:10 pm until I
picked my copy of Magellan up.  I still had to wait a bit then to be
served.  Don't they know who I am?!  The soon to be written "Osbaldeston's
10th law of computer shows" is that Osbaldeston should get priority in any
queue he might join ...

Next to Wizard, but forming part of the 'franchise' as it were, stood the
robust, nay, dare I say it, 'stout', figure of Kermit Roosevelt, sorry,
Woodall.   Looking a little like a dwarven warrior from the hinterland with
his broad shoulders, he was indeed a figure to behold.  I was little
distressed to see him wearing approximately the same clothes he had for the
Gateway show a few weeks back - are things _that_ bad in the Amiga market ?
;-) Anyway, he had his big black Image FX banner above him, and was selling
copies of it, or at least Wizard were, for just 95 pounds, a large saving
and no mistake.   He had an Amiga to stand in front of, which he did very
well, the Amiga was running, presumably, Image FX version 2.6 I guess.
Perhaps it was Aladdin.  I'm not really into image processing, however, if
the guy can make the effort to come from America to show off his wares,
then definitely a big Wigan kiss to him.  He looks like he might be from
Wigan actually, apart from he's a native of America I guess.  

In the Star Wars analogy he would probably be Max Rebo.  Yeah, that sounds
about right.  He was also part of the 'diplomatic envoy' who witnessed the
'rebel assault', lead by for a second year running Andy Davidson and his
'retinue of funkwits', on the dev con later on in the evening, though that
information is classified for the moment.  Anyway Kermit does seem like a
good guy, and one we should all be rubbing our thighs with in appreciation
of his efforts - it's a large weight, but he carries it well.  I had
nothing to say to him though at the time, nothing, do you understand ? 
Many other people did though, and I overheard at least one proposal of
marriage ;-) Again, support this man and his program - you know it makes
sense.

Okay, along a bit, keeping to the left, breaching the gap in floor space,
and, made it, it was the final part of the triptych that was the Wizard
dungeon.  This stand consisted of IrseeSoft from Guten Tag Germany (their
name probably loses something in the translation) and GP Software from
bonza Australia.  IrseeSoft had a guy there who by all accounts _was_ Mr. 
Irsee Soft himself.  He was demonstrating TurboPrint 5.  I have nothing
more to say about him, except he seemed quite busy all day and again, he
had made some effort to attend so all I can say is jolly well done sir. 
Let him be a lesson to us all in these dark times.  Turboprint looks pretty
good, so get thyself a copy if needest.  Next to Irsee was GP as stated. 
Does GP stand for General Practitioner ?  Yes, and no.  In this case, there
is a doctor involved, but he is Greg 'The Bear' Perry, hence GP, unless he
just sneakily calls himself Dr.  'cos his initials _are_ G.P.  Who knows ?
I did mean to ask him what he was a Doctor of, but forgot.  Oh dear.

So, the hirsute Greg Perry was there, along with his trusty sidekick and
beautiful Opus beta tester Leo 'Nudel' Davidson, equally hirsute, though in
a different manner.  I meant to ask him too what the Nudel business was all
about but forgot that as well.  Must have been those illegalities I took
the evening before.  Greg, Leo and Kermit would make quite a good front row
in a scrum, with Greg being the hooker, Leo openside prop, and Kermit
blindside prop.  I'm talking rugby league of course.  And I used to know
Les Boyd too !  Two 'big lads' anyway Leo and Greg, though Greg isn't that
tall.  They had Opus Magellan running on their solitary machine, which Leo
was demonstrating to all and sundry all day pretty much.  It was his own
machine too.  

Little does he know I secretly attached a bugging device to it in a
clandestine manner, and have been bugging him since !  I spoke to Leo just
after I had bought the Magellan upgrade.  He kindly showed me upon request
(yet again, no doubt, for him) some of the improvements etc.  to Magellan.
Personally I think the cli is better than Opus, I just bought it for
something to talk about ;-) We had a bit of a natter, then Greg came along,
shook my hand for buying a copy of Magellan, then him and I had a bit of a
chat.  I had to buttonhole him for paying 65 bills for Opus & then the
Magellan upgrade separately, when I could have scored them both for 40 if I
had waited for the show.  Needless to say, he had no answer for me.  Well,
actually he did, and I can't grumble too much, he had flown from Australia
after all.  Foremost amongst the things we spoke about, and this is a
subject I had discussed with a fellow Amiga owner a few weeks previously,
was a possible port of Opus to the PC.  Shock!  Horror!  It's true.  A very
good idea I think, and this is what I had said to the fellow Amiga owner a
few weeks previously.  If a port of Opus could be done with as much
functionality on the PC, and as a replacement for, dare I say it, obviously
the Emperor Palpatine of the piece, 'Windows', then buying a PC would
become a much better thing all round I thought.  I certainly told this to
Greg.  He said that it was still being investigated at the moment -
doubtless the proverbial 'feasibility study.' They deserve to make some
money from Opus it is so good, and although when I asked him he said they
had sold somewhere between 5000 to 10000 copies of Opus, this is nothing
compared to how many sales could be made from the PC, providing a decent
version of Opus could be done.  I for one would be all for an Opus on the
PC.  (I hope that this subject wasn't supposed to be kept secret, Greg ?
You never said so anyway...) They could use sales of it to subsidise the
Amiga Opus until (if?) things get better again.

If Kermit Woodall earned much respect for making the trek from America to
attend, then strewth, how do you quantify Greg Perry's efforts ?  He came
from the other side of the world to attend.  Definitely top of the podium
for effort.  He is Donovan Bailey to Kermit's Ato Bolden - I don't know who
Frankie Fredericks is.  In Star Wars terms, Greg can only be Nien Nunb ! 
(laughter.) It was good to meet these two stalwart (I knew I'd get it in
somewhere, 'stalwart') Amiga figures, and as I said to Greg with my parting
shot, the very best of luck to them.  It's ironic that a computer, which
some may say is in its death throes, still has probably the best file
manager, call it what you will, anywhere in the world.  If there is any
justice, Gateway will buy Opus and package it as part of the next OS for a
new Amiga.  It is _essential_ that people buy this product for the Amiga,
so you must support GP Software if you don't already.  People might think I
am preaching to the converted as regarding piracy on the Amiga when it
comes to the readership of Amiga Report, but I know for a fact that this
definitely _isn't_ the case, that there are many pirates still who have
Amigas and read AR.  It is to these people that I am speaking to.  Well, to
the very few of them with any kind of intelligence and moral fibre, anyway.

Okay, free ad for GP Software over with ;-) Next to them was Amiga Em
Magazine.  This is part of the Larry Hickmott empire, Larry probably being
more Sanders than Moff Tarkin, but you get the idea.  He had Draw Studio on
his stand, along with various other bits and pieces.  I don't know if the
Dean brothers were there (Graham and Andy, not Roger and Martyn,) the
authors of Draw Studio.  The stand was okay, it seemed pretty busy, to be
honest it didn't do much for me, but it was okay, and served its purpose
well enough.  I don't think other than a machine with Draw Studio running
on it they had 'owt else.

Next to Larry was Analogic Computers.  They are a specialist Amiga repair
centre.  They had a 4000 on their stand doing nothing really.  They repair
Amigas, in case that wasn't clear.  I can't think of anything much more to
say.  I think they had a few 1200's for sale.  Case closed.

Next to Analogic was one of Epic Marketing's stands, the other being
opposite them, in the centre of the room.  The centre ?  Yes, pay
attention, remember I'm going clockwise around the left perimeter of the
room, and I'm still on the outside yet.  At least, I think it was an Epic
stand, the top of the stand was covered up with something, so I don't know
what the name was on it.  Either way, it looked like Epic.  I'll leave
describing their stand until I get to their main stand mentioned
previously.

Discs Direct were next up.  As you may imagine, they sold discs,
consumables etc., no computers setup, no big deal really.  Don't recall any
exceptional bargains.  Next please.

Ah.  I see.  I understand.  Yes, okay, fine.  Next were the mighty Pios
Computers AG.  Mighty, mighty indeed - have you ever seen Peter Kittel ?  
No, I thought not.  [It was a tough call, but I had to edit what followed.
It involved a lot of sweaty guys and was funny but sometimes you just have
to bite the bullet and exercise editorial control.  -Jason]

Pios had with then one of their naughty but nice TransAm things.  I had a
look through the port-hole on the side of the machine facing into the hall.
Lo and behold, I see Dave Haynie's name on the board.  (c) 1996 too.  The
TransAm was setup, but they had a Keenya there, running MacOS.  I don't
wish to seem deflatory, but I wasn't that impressed, though I was pleased
that at least they had made an effort.  Also present was John Smith, whom
I'm sure enough of us are familiar with, along with two of the ex Escom
staff from last year's show, Ash(ley) Thomas and Andrew Elia.  They both
stunk up the dev con later, but I'll bore you with that in a while.  I'll
tell you, if being able to type 'Keenya', 'TransAm' and 'Maxxtrem' on a
screen running MacOs is what the Pios gig is all about then count me in - I
was very impressed.  (Irony there for certain American readers.) The Pios
stand was busy for pretty much all of the day.  I got a voucher for 50
bills off a Pios machine, should I want one.  We'll see.  That was it
really, a small stand, quite inoffensive, not particularly impressive
software wise, but at least they turned up.  I think that they are probably
the Biggs Darklighter's of the show - will they share the same fate though?

The one and only ICPUG were next to Pios.  Bloody hell, they have been
around even longer than the Amiga I think.  Nice to see them, to see them,
nice.  They had a 1500 running something.  Might just have been WB.  
Nothing exciting, unless you were after some Pet software, so apart from
the obligatory well done for turning up, I'll move on.

Oh dear.  Next to ICPUG were Siren Software.  I had a bit of a run in with
them over something I bought from them, but I won't mention it here - if
anyone wants details email me.  They didn't have any machines setup (just
like last year), just a lot of gear for sale, but rather suspiciously, no
prices posted on anything much, it was a case of ask how much, then haggle
if you could.  They remain a little dodgy I feel, even though I have dealt
with them before, so beware if you are gonna buy anything from them, make
sure you are certain first.  Their stand wasn't that exciting, and they
seemed to be trying to flog a copy of some crappy Amiga Format book to
anyone who would even look in their general direction.  I didn't need any
expensive bog roll, so I didn't bother.

There was a bit of a gap between Siren and the next stand.  In this gap for
sometime stood Andy Davidson, surrounded by weak-minded fools who seem to
think he is the next coming, when all he has done is write some dodgy
artillery clone.  Several times over.  I've nothing against him though, and
if he has enjoyed any success from his efforts then fair enough.  He signed
a few Worms posters around and about, but you will have to wait until the
dev con section for more from him.

So next up were Guildhall Leisure.  They are well known in this country for
selling the Acid range of zals, along with various other re-releases as
well.  They had a _lot_ of software for sale at the show.  No machines
setup at all, just boxes on boxes of games games games!  Their posted
prices didn't seem that cheap to me, however, a guy came up to me and asked
what did I want, said he would 'do me a deal.' I told him I wanted some
quality heroin.  He said he meant what did I want software wise from
Guildhall.  I mentioned Blitz Basic.  Their poster said 19.95 pounds.  He
said 14.  I said okay.  Now, I think I'll go write some game, what sort?  
I might try an artillery clone, they seem simple enough.  He wanted to sell
me some games too, but when you have played NetHack (3.2.1) then you don't
_need_ any other games.  So I told him, but I don't think he understood me.
I left.

Okay, that completes the left perimeter of the hall.  Now for the right
interior perimeter, starting from the entrance.  First up, HiSoft.  Hello!
Remember my mentioning the film Star Trek 5 on their stand last year ?  
Obviously no-one had changed the cd, as it was playing again this year,
though to greatly diminished numbers it has to be said.  They also managed
to sneak a picture of a Fender Strat in again !  Bloody hell, what is it
with them and Strats ?  Anyway, stand wise, it was reasonably neat.  They
had scrapped the open-plan design of last year's stand, although it was
still slightly open-plan I guess.  The Net & Web sign was probably lurking
somewhere too.  They were demonstrating, or at least possibly
demonstrating, their new product, called, The Whippet, which no doubt will
sell like the proverbial dime bags of crack up in Barnsley - you need to be
English to get that probably.  This item is a high-speed serial port for
the A600 / A1200.  I guess you shove it into the PCMCIA slot and hope for
the best.  They also had the cd rom version of Cinema 4D, so their info
says, as well as the Squirrel CDR.  cd rom recording system, which I didn't
see and would definitely have noticed if I had.  Termite TCP was mentioned
(is this some kind of anti-septic mouthwash for insects ?) - now with
email, net and ftp clients!  Oh my gosh!  Plus Studio 2.  Plus, 'of course,
lots and lots of bargains !' I don't recall any.  They did have some stuff
going cheaper than normal, but still not exactly cheap.  Perhaps I am just
a cheapskate.  Their stand was certainly one of the better ones though,
perhaps in the top five even.  I guess they are probably Gargan when it
come to Star Wars.

Next to HiSoft were HiQ.  They do that Siamese.  Their stand was pretty
neat in a way, in that they had a nice large demonstration going on, with
some seats set out that you could go and sit on and watch, then ask
questions of the guy doing the demo.  Or just bug him.  It was more than a
little reminiscent of the Scala stand from last year.  Apparently you had
to ' ...  ask Steve what all the fuss is about.' I didn't ask him, as I
don't know who he was, and I personally couldn't discern any fuss.  A PC
and an Amiga.  Big deal.  Sheesh.  I know perhaps that sounds a little
arrogant, but I'm just not that bothered about it.  Of course, I hope they
do well, they certainly seem like they deserve to.  Their stand was neat,
neato in fact, it's just a pity from my point of view that I wasn't really
that interested in it.  Of course, I follow the development of these
products, I just don't get that excited by them.  Oh well, as I say, they
had the Siamese thang running, and I think that they had another Amiga just
looking sorry for itself too.  Paul Nolan's name (the creator of the
Siamese methinks) was mentioned predominantly on the stand, but I don't
know if he was around, I didn't see him.  But then I don't know him, so
perhaps I did see him after all.

Along and to the right was the Blittersoft stand.  They had several
machines setup, one Amiga running Linux, one was a Power Mac, not really
doing much, they had a PC I think not doing much either, and probably a few
more Amigas too, but none of them were that exciting.  However, they were
doing a terrific trade all day, often several people deep.  Surprising in a
way, because their prices weren't cheap at all, but they did have several
products that I didn't recall seeing for sale anywhere else, such as
high-density internal floppy drives for the 1200, of which I scored one.  
It cost 55 notes - again, not cheap as I say, but I've been thinking about
getting one for a while, so I finally did - got a 'free' cd rom with it
too.  They were selling all the Micronik line of gear, which for those who
don't know it, is reasonably good stuff.  They do all tower stuff for the
1200, including the now nearly mythical Zorro board 'adder', which adds
several Zorro II slots to your 1200.  However, I've yet to see this piece
of hardware reviewed yet anywhere, so how good or bad it is I don't know. 
I can't really list all the stuff that Micronik do, but it seems reasonably
well made, just a little dear to buy.  The drive I bought didn't come with
any instructions or anything, however, it was a simple enough job to fit. 
It works well too, no patches needed, just plug it in and you are away,
everything knows you've got an hd instead of a dd, including wb.  Nifty.  
So good in fact that I started to cry.

Blittersoft also were selling the Phase 5 stuff like the Blizzards and what
have you, again though with only a small saving to be made.  For example,
they were selling the A1240T/ERC, a 68040 accelerator for the 1200.  This
is usually sold for approximately 250 pounds over here, but they were
selling them for 230 pounds at the show.  Not really much of a saving I
thought.  Eagle Computer(s?) were also kind of based on the long thin
Blittersoft stand, which ran along the back of both the HiSoft & HiQ
stands, to form a triumvirate of pretty good stands.  Eagle didn't seem to
have anything much though, and it was a little difficult to try and tell
where Eagle started and Blittersoft finished.  A good stand though for
diverse and quality products, they had the Picassole IV board there, oh all
sorts of neat stuff.  A good stand overall from a good company by all
accounts.  Star Wars wise they were probably most like Marty Robbins.

Do a little dance, and you would be at the next stand on the right, which
would be Power Computing.  Another 'stalwart' Amiga company (who recently
have taken to flogging pc stuff as a sideline ? ), the first thing to note
about them was that they boasted not one, but _two_ celebrity salesmen -
David 'Donald' Pleasance, and Jonathon something or Other, another
ex-CBM-UK'er, whose last name I don't recall.  Well, David Pleasance, what
can I say ?  It was good to see him, though not necessarily in this
capacity.  I figured he was just helping Power out for the two days or so,
but for all I know he works for them full-time, assuming he isn't involved
with Tangent Music Design anymore etc., more on which in a moment.

The Power stand was better than last year.  I can't really comment about
prices, as I don't recall really seeing any, and last year some of their
show prices were just the same a their usual adverts, but overall it seemed
better than last year's display.  They had their new game Big Red Adventure
playing on a machine at one end of the stand, with sales people occupying
the rest of the stand.  They had quite a high ratio of sales staff to
punter, which was good if you were gonna buy anything, and they did seem to
do a good trade.  I don't think that they had any other machines setup
though.  David Pleasance is a bit of a stocky guy, a man 'used to good
living' by all accounts.  So in fact is the Power boss Tony Ianari, I think
that is how you spell his name.  I bought a copy of "Everybody's
Girlfriend" off Mr.  Pleasance.   In fact, I'm listening to it as I type.

Not a bad album.  In case you aren't aware of the cd, it is an Amiga
produced music cd, made by the aforementioned Tangent Music Design.  DP
plays on at least one track on the album, Para Mi Amiga, a tribute to Jay
Miner.  Mr.  P plays the 'Spanish / flamenco' guitar on it for want of a
better description.  He wrote the tune himself too.  Not bad, though his
articulation is a little fuzzy 'n' buzzy in places.  Everybody's Girlfriend
Blues is okay as well I guess.  The album ends with a cheap Satriani
attempt.  Mind you Satriani is pretty cheap anyway.   Overall not a bad
album - pick it up if you get chance.  A piece of musical Amiga history.

Some of the Amiga lyrics are funny - often unintentionally perhaps.  Cost
me 5 notes, though it should have been 6, but Mr.  P didn't have the squid
change from a tenner, so I got it for 5.  Yay !  Last year they were
approximately 10 pounds to buy, however, the copies being sold this year
were minus the rear liner notes from the jewel box, hence it being sold
cheap.  I asked P how many copies had been sold overall and he said
something like 7000.  Not bad methinks.  That was it really for Power. 
Nice to talk to Dave though.  I guess he must be General Jan Dodonna from
Star Wars if I am gonna keep ploughing this rapidly boring SW analogy.

A little stand next, Sadeness Software.  No machines set up, they sell
mainly pd type stuff.  Nothing really to report from them, perhaps a few
bargains, but nothing I felt I had to have - if you have access to the
internet and hence Aminet, I guess you don't often need the services of a
pd house.  I thank you.

(coughs slightly) Next were Amiga Format.  Their stand was poor, piss-poor
in fact.  A solitary machine running WB was the best they could offer.  
The only other thing they had were lots of copies of their mag, old issues
and the current one.  Not just in terms of booths, CU Amiga outsrips it
quite easily.  I should hasten to add obviously I have no affiliation to
any Amiga mag, I simply _DISSEMINATE THE TRUTH_ - sound familiar ?  Both
Nick Veitch and Ben Vost kept on disappearing from the stand for long
periods of time.  Not that you could tell much of a difference ;-) More on
these two later.  Definitely the Greedo of the show.  That's it.

Next door to AF was Scala.  Who remembers their farcical 'theatre' from
last year ?  Me too.  This year they had gone for a much simpler stand,
simply trying to flog Scala.  I don't recall seeing any machines setup, but
don't quote me on that, there may well have been some.  If so, they must
have been pretty unremarkable.  But then again, I've never found Scala
particularly exciting.  Good of them to turn up, I guess, and they were
selling Scala 'cheaper' than normal.  Other than that, I don't recall
anything much more of note.  So now onto the reason d'etre - Amiga
International.

Amiga International were there demonstrating the new Amigas - WB 4,
Dec-Alpha Risc processors, AAAA chipset, 16mb ram standard, dsp sound, cd
rom as standard, midi port, I could go on, but I won't, as this is a
complete lie.  I don't mean Amiga Int.  being there was a lie, no, they
were there okay, but no new Amigas.  At least, not yet.  Instead, they had
probably the largest, floorspace wise, of all the stands, in exactly the
same place the Amiga Technologies stand had been the year before - not
necessarily a good omen, but perhaps not a bad one either.  A grey omen
then.  Starting at the corner nearest the Scala stand, machine wise they
had a Micronik tower 1200 setup, connected to a gen-lock, overlaying a
real-time video picture from a mounted video-camera onto, yep, you might
have guessed it, a Star Trek film.  I don't know which one, but it had
William Shatner in it.  Does that help ?  Does it _always_ have to be Star
Trek ?  Try some hard core porn, I'm sure that will get a large crowd.  The
Micronik tower had a clear perspex panel in one side so you could see what
was going on inside, and we all know what a lot of moving parts there are
in a 1200 ;-) Useful I guess to clock how it all goes together.

On the next corner of the AI stand was an HiQ Siamese thang.  You know the
sp with these things by now.  On the next corner of the stand was a woman.
A Woman !  Good god man, don't say that !  Yes, I'm very sorry to say that
a woman was at this show.  Actually, she was minding the shop for Gateway
whilst the big bosses were otherwise occupied.  Which reminds me, as you
walked around the AI stand, it became apparent that inside the stand was
some space not accessible to the public.  There was a small window into
this space, through which could be seen a few guys no doubt up to no good.
For the most part there were two Gateway guys in there, Jim Taylor and
another guy whose name I don't think I caught, and Petro T, well, I'm sure
you all know him.  Is it Gateway policy that every employee wears the same
beige jacket ?  From time to time they frogmarched some poor sap in there
from elsewhere in the show, bent their arms up their back, kneed them in
the bollocks and shouted something at them.  I'm not quite sure what. 
Actually, they just took various people into the 'space' to chat with them,
sound them out etc.  As I'm sure you will mostly be aware, there had been a
press conference at the Novotel on Friday the 16th.  I didn't attend that,
but you should have all read the transcription of what said on CUCUG by
now, so I won't bother with what the flyer I was given said.

The woman manning the desk (neat turn of phrase huh ?) was quite helpful
and pleasant, though she couldn't tell me anything much.  Oh well.  She
tried.  She did give me a free Amiga mouse-mat though.  And a flyer from
last year with the Q-Drive on it :-( And the Surfer pack.  Whatever
happened to the Surfer pack ?  That could have been a good idea.  On the
final corner were yet more Micronik tower 1200's, one of them was named a
1300, the other a 1500 I think - strange choice of number I'd have thought.
I think one had Zorro slots and the other didn't.  It's all nice stuff the
Micronik stuff as I have said.  At this juncture, and as you may have seen,
the AI stand was pretty much full of other people's stuff, mainly Micronik.
It struck me that maybe AI and Micronik were 'up to something' so I decided
to buttonhole another person about it - I like my buttonholing.  The guy I
spoke to was a 'large German gentleman', sweating a little, but weren't we
all ?  Perhaps he had something to hide though, and that is why he was
sweating ?

I asked him what had gone on at the press conference the day before.  He
told me pretty much what you will have probably read and heard by now,
though in a slightly different manner naturally.  He seemed quite happy
about what had been said, and was happy overall with the situation of
things.  It seemed that as things stood, Micronik were doing quite well out
of the Amiga.  Greg Perry had had a quite different opinion about the press
conference when I had asked him - he felt that not nearly enough was being
committed too.  Hmm.  Opposing opinions then.  But then, that is the beauty
of the world, that we can all live in peace and harmony with our differing
opinions (breaks into chorus of 'Everything is beautiful') - and you
thought I was a cynic, no ?  If it came to a fight, I think I would back
Greg Perry over the Micronik guy - he was bigger than Greg, and heavier,
but I know these Aussies, and they are a tenacious lot.  Greg has a lower
centre of gravity, and very likely could use it to devastating effect over
the taller German.  But then again, who remembers the lethal 'Jurgen' from
Shadow Fighter ?  'Halt !' indeed.  I digress.

I then quizzed Mr.  Micronik over the fact the AI had Micronik stuff all
over their stand and what was the reason behind this ?  His answer wasn't
really - the gist of it was that it was good for AI to have something on
their stand.  I never quite grasped his answer to this exactly, it sounded
a little like babble, and not just because of his accent either, perhaps I
had touched a nerve, I don't know.  He was a decent bloke though, and we
spoke for some time.  He didn't give too much away, but he did seem as I
say quite happy with the current situation.  He did mention that there
might be a new OS out in November, when pressed, he said that there could
be a new version of WB.  I think Greg Perry mentioned this too.  And that
was it really for the AI stand.  Nothing for sale, so I guess the Micronik
guy was right over that, they had to have something on display. 
Considering they didn't have their own stand Micronik they did pretty
bloody well publicity wise.  AI's stand was pretty busy all day, not
surprising, with people flowing around it.  Let's hope next time they have
some new home-grown products on it.  Or at least an effigy of Bill Gates we
can hang.  And then burn.  I suppose AI are the Obi Wan's of the piece -
how will their young apprentice turn out though ?

Next to AI then round the corner was Epic Marketing.  They had two stands I
think as you should have read.  Their main stand gave me a bit of a laff,
mainly because it featured some pretty naff takes on that fake Roswell
footage currently doing the rounds.  Someone had mocked a little man up,
complete with damaged right leg - quite amusing.  They had a rolling video
showing off some of their wares and coming attractions - fortunately there
wasn't a repeat of last year's 3D porn pictures debacle, or if there was, I
didn't see it.  They had made a little effort to make their stand look
lively and it did, though a little tacky, though that is to be expected
with the subject matter, i.e.  ufo's, aliens, 'cobblers and
cracker-assholes.' You get the picture.  Their satellite stand over the way
was much smaller, but seemed to be selling the same type of stuff.  I
didn't buy anything, but I did have a look.  And a listen.  No computers
setup I think, just the video.  They were selling mainly CD roms, pd.  and
the like - you know the routine.  Also, they are starting to branch out
into commercial games apparently with the Amiga with their Islona label, so
good luck to them there.  They were also running a competition to explain
what PC really stood for.  'Personal Computer' last time I looked.  Epic's
remit is ' ...  to carry on supporting the Amiga, which is why we are
continually developing new products that will create an interest in this
great machine.' So I for one thank them for the music, the song they're
singing, thanks for all the joy they're bringing.  Quite a busy stand on
and off.  In the Star Wars world, they are probably Pandit Ravi Shankar.  
Go figure.

And now, live from Cheshire, is the last stand.  Oh, thank you Lord !  This
great honour goes to Golden Image.  They are a well know company in this
country, selling mainly hardware for the Amiga, accelerators, hard-drives,
that kind of thing, 'all at unbelievable prices.' Hmm.  It's true - I
couldn't sleep that evening.  A thought just kept on running through my
mind all the time - "Golden Image's prices are just unbelievable !  I don't
believe it !" Actually, their prices seemed pretty average to me.  I seem
to recall that they had the Chaos Engine 2 running on a machine there. 
Other than that I don't think that there was anything too much of note to
note.  And that, my friends, was that, regarding stands.  I do believe I
have covered every single exhibitor at the show.  Now watch someone prove
me wrong ...

There were some well known Amiga faces to be seen, and I think I have
mentioned everyone whom I saw, recognised and remembered, though there may
have been others.  There were a couple well known features missing though -
the Walkers for example, both scruffy Jeff and the machine itself.  
Perhaps Gateway aren't gonna do anything with it after all.  We'll see.  Or
rather we won't, or didn't anyway, not at this show.  Team 17 have
apparently jacked the Amiga in, so they weren't there either - no great
loss for me personally, and not seeing Steve McGill this time could only be
classed as a pleasant experience ;-) Yeah, Amiga stalwarts, right ?

Overall, I think personally the show was better than last year's show.  I'm
not just saying that because the Amiga has a new owner, though that is at
least part of the reason.  In actual fact, the overall number of attendees
at the show was definitely down, as alluded to in the opening couple of
paragraphs, or at least it certainly was on the Saturday.  Not surprising
really, though a little disappointing.  Perhaps people were just staying at
home watching the F.A.  Cup final, a little akin to the Superbowl in
America, except for not nearly as good as the SB.  Perhaps.  It was a
better show by the fact that people like Phase 5 had turned up this year,
with some genuinely new products which may well be of help - certainly
there was a rumour that the PowerPC cards Phase 5 are working on may play
some part in a new Amiga, which might not be a bad thing.  Blittersoft were
another welcome addition.   What I think became apparent is that another
year cannot go by without something else decent happening for the Amiga -
the numbers can't be allowed to atrophy any more.

After the show closed at approx.  5.00 pm there was a bout of hospitality
generously provided by CU Amiga magazine at the ludicrously overpriced bar.
Unfortunately, I didn't hang around long enough to really sample any of the
free booze etc., as I intended to crash the developers conference planned
to start at 5.30 pm, as it struck me that this is where the real action
would be going down.  As usual, I was right ;-)

I hot-footed it up to the Salon Bourg part of the Novotel - pretentious,
moi ?  The room did its job though, and I do like roaming around hotels
into places I shouldn't be - stealing things !  Ha !  Kermit Woodall was to
be the front man, being filmed by his sidekick big Don Hicks.  Kermy stood
in front of a lectern that had the Amiga logo on it.  Very effective.  The
lectern was off to the left of the room, looking from the back.  In the
middle of the front part of the room was a large desk with a solitary
computer on, an Amiga I presume but I never got close enough to look at it.
Surrounding this computer were far too many people, including for various
spells, Ash Thomas, Andrew Elia, Ben Vost, Ash's mate Tushar (I think) and
way too many other people too.  I was sitting in the midst of Andy Davidson
& his band of bummers (which placed me to the extreme right of the room
looking from the back, roughly in the middle front to back).

All the people around the computer were apparently trying to get some IRC
thang sorted out, and finally did so - how many did it take to do it again
?  The room was quite noisy at around 5.30 pm when the 'conference' was
supposed to start, so Kermit tried the little known public speaking
technique of simply talking above the noise, but with his normal speaking
voice.  As a consequence about 3 people heard him.  The idea rippled slowly
through the attendees though, and things quietened down after a short time.
All he said at first was that the irc thing wasn't working as yet, and that
he would speak as soon as it had been fired up.  The irc thing was an
attempt to relay as much of the conference live to the internet.  A
laudable idea, it's a pity that some more capable people weren't in charge
of doing it ;-)

So, finally Kermit started his 'presentation'.  He stated that the
conference had been hastily put together by some people called the Industry
Council Open Amiga, amongst others.  He made some people stand up in order
that we applaud them for organising the conference, so a few of us clapped.
There was a right-angled projector displaying the goals of the conference
on a screen, unfortunately though the text it used was too small to be read
easily unless you were at the front, so that was a bit of a waste of time
really.  However, it was from this list of objectives displayed that Kermit
was going to try to take his cue.

He probably did a few more introductions, then cracked on.  I didn't write
down everything that the projector was displaying for obvious reasons
really, so don't ask.  The info is probably available on someone's web page
somewhere.  In fact, try http://www.znet.com/~colin/icoa - I can assure you
that that is first and last web address I'll give out.  Kermit said that a
guy called Wayne Hunt deserved our thanks - [he set up the page on
amiga.org for the efforts Kermit has been putting together -Jason] The
blokes from Gateway & that Petro emotion sidled in roughly around now, and
sat quietly at the back, pretty much directly behind where I was sitting. 
However, they didn't stop very long, as you will see.

Ben Vost mentioned some stuff about someone writing a driver for a new HP
product - yeah yeah big deal.  Although Vost's points weren't really
accepted by most people (who were, after all, only there to find out what
Gateway were gonna do with the Amiga ;-)) because they weren't really
interested in what he had to say, and were a pretty hostile crowd too for
that matter, at least he made an effort, which in the end saved him from
the imminent physical assault I had planned to give him later on.  I must
have been feeling happy - I'm hard but fair after all I guess.

However, as bad as AF might now be, at least they were there - I don't
recall CU Amiga being anywhere in the room.  I can only assume that they
were still downstairs with their hospitality, unless they sneaked in later
on when I wasn't looking.  I don't know if they planned their hospitality
before they know of the developers conference, but perhaps it might have
been an idea to call it off, so that people could concentrate on the
conference only.  Perhaps Mat Bettinson was hiding somewhere, but I don't
think he was there at the dev con.  Mind you, it could be argued that they
didn't miss much really, just the usual slanging match.

Kermit was making a little headway with the subjects to be covered, and
someone brought up a question as to why iff wasn't still supported in
PhotoShop I think, or some program like that anyway.  Turns out it was,
just in a roundabout fashion.  [If anybody's interested, I had a small but
turbulent discussion with a noted Photoshop third party support guy about
IFF, Photoshop, and the Amiga.  E-mail me and maybe I'll sum it up
sometime.  -Jason] Someone made a good point about did EA & CBM still own
the iff format or the like, though no-one seemed quite sure as to the
answer.  A question came in from the irc - one of only two I think that
made it.  It was something along the lines of 'Who is coding the new OS ?'
A good question - anyone know the answer ?  I don't recall it being
answered at the conference.  Developer only stuff was mentioned, but this
was pooh-poohed by many.

And then it had to happen.  It was _always_ going to happen.  Bear in mind,
this was supposed to be a developers conference.  But that didn't matter. 
I guess it was never gonna stop the inevitable.  Which, for those of you
who remember last year's conference when VIScorp turned up, meant Andy
Davidson having a bit of a spat with Bill Buck.  Last year, this seemed
entirely appropriate - VIScorp were 'greasy basters' (tm), so much so that
try and pin them down about anything and they flirted away under the
pressure.  This year though things were different - Gateway truly have
bought the Amiga, they own it completely, so their loyalty to it in that
sense is beyond question.  What Mr.  Davidson and his pack of dopey attack
dogs wanted to know though was, "What is happening ?" Meaning what is
happening with the development of the Amiga as a computer ?

Like many of us, Andy had missed the press conference the day before, when
I guess his questions would have been more appropriate, though I understand
that at the press conference no questions were taken from the floor anyway.
So AD started tearing the place up with his almost unceasing ululation
concerning the Amiga.  I have no axe to grind against Mr.  Davidson, he
seems like a decent enough guy and has certainly made an effort where the
Amiga is concerned regarding developing software for it - well, Worms
anyway.  He is quite articulate in speaking, although the actual words he
used tended to form a more synesthetical semantic than a syntactical one -
maybe he was just so worked up he couldn't quite control his anger -
definitely a candidate for the Luke Skywalker 'don't give in to hate'
school of public address.

Needless to say, he kept on haranguing Kermit about the subject of what was
gonna happen to the Amiga.  It wasn't for Kermit to answer such a question,
as he said, so then, when it had become known that Gateway & Petro were
sitting at the back of the room, all attention was turned to them, with a
'come on, we dare you to answer us' type attitude.  As I say, if this had
been VIScorp I for one would have agreed with this approach, but I didn't
feel personally that Gateway deserved to be put under this kind of
pressure.  Sure, we all want to know what is going to happen about the
Amiga, but it seemed to me that hassling them at this early stage only did
more harm than good.  Of course, some people may disagree with that - fair
enough.  In the end though I think I will be vilified anyway - so what
_did_ hounding them achieve ?  Nothing, they just got up and left without
so much as a goodbye.  Petro tried to make a reply to AD and his crew on a
few occasions, but all he could do was toe the party line and keep stating
what had been apparently said at the press conference, namely that the
Amiga will be supported, but no real mention of a new machine, which of
course doesn't mean there won't be one.

The conference kind of slipped into an uproar for a few minutes, with
no-one really holding court.  Some people were a little hot under the
collar, and loud words were spoken by many.  This really wasn't in Kermit's
remit, though he did a good job I thought of trying to hold everything
together.   Very diplomatic.  With all the sporadic conversations breaking
out around various groups in the room, things did get a little messy,
though big Don the camera man stepped in on more than one occasion to try
and sort things out.  He looked like he had cracked a few heads in his
time.  I personally think he was carrying a piece - don't these naughty
Americans know we don't allow such naughtiness in this country ;-)

A guy sitting on the end of the row which housed myself and the rest of
AD's mob kept piping up, usually to drop names etc.  He was called Ian
Robson, and was somewhat floppy haired and flame-eyed - never heard of him
personally, but I won't forget him now.  "Oh, my cousin worked on Blade
Runner.  A friend of mine worked on GoldenEye !" Nice.  He made one or two
salient points I'll give him that, but often he just seemed to make
statements that no-one else had anything to say to.  I can only assume he
was a developer of some description, and I think he said he was a producer
of some sort too.  Films and or tv perhaps.  Or then again ...  he was okay
though, his heart was probably in the right place, even if his mind wasn't
;-)

The Gateway crew, as mentioned, had probably picked up on the bad vibes
coming from certain members of the audience, and slipped out a little later
on, when the heat was temporarily off them.  Believe me, at one point 'I
thought we wuz gonna have ourselves a lynchin'.' I think some people who
were sitting near me, sorry, strike that I don't think it, I _know_ it,
just liked the sound of their own voices.  Certainly the guy sitting next
to Andy Davidson managed to have the most annoying drawl I've heard in a
long time.  Kermit struggled manfully on with the things mentioned on the
projection.  I don't seem to have covered much of them do I though ?  No,
well, check the web site for the info boyo.  Besides of which, the main
reason why I went to the conference was that I thought there might be a bit
of excitement, and there was !  Development conferences are boring
otherwise !  Probably.

Actually, Gateway didn't go just at that moment, no, the funniest thing had
yet to happen.  Greg Perry had slipped into the room sometime after the
conference had started, and sat down, along with one or two other people,
including Peter Kittel.  As I have said, various conversations kept on
breaking out between different factions in the room, not least of which was
a conversation with the Gateway boys, Petro, and probably some other
people, all sitting at the back.  It was a little rude of everyone, talking
whilst Kermit was trying to do his thang.  Greg Perry hadn't been sitting
down long, when he suddenly galvernised into typical Aussie action, though
I mean that in a complementary sense.  To paraphrase the great man, "If
people want to have a conversation then can they piss-off out the back !"
He, like several of us no doubt who weren't taking part in one of these
conversations, was having difficulty hearing what was being said at the
front.  At one point even poor Andrew Elia stood at the front and tried to
quiet the dissenting voices.  Again, I don't blame people for wanting to
know, but they had had their say and it was starting to get a little
tiresome, so much so that some of the otherwise partisan crown were
starting to get a little brassed off with AD & his mob keep hogging the
floor with their 'let's hassle Gateway' stance.  A woman who happened to be
at the conference made some comment to the same effect to AD & his lot,
though it fell on largely deaf ears.

After Greg Perry's kind offer to the ignorant masses holding conversations,
Gateway and Petro did indeed 'piss off out the back'.  Oh dear.  And the
hastily devised plan by this guy Robson & Davidson was to have been to get
them up at the front whilst they were grilled on the subject.  Yeah, right.
I'm sure they intended to stand there too.  The other well known Doctor,
Peter Kittel, chimed in at this point.  He said that bugging them was
probably being counterproductive and we should give them time.  Apparently,
he said, Gateway have been speaking to a lot of people and are trying to
sort things out.  For all I know, all of this information will have been
superseded anyway if they have made a press statement etc.  Big Pete was
right though so it seemed to me.

Again, new products were mentioned for November, I think it was Kittel who
said this too.  After Bill Buck was slammed, and the editor (like you
didn't all know already) of AR was mentioned, Jason Compton, that just
about wrapped up Kermit's section.  He had started approx.  5.35 pm and
kept going to around 7.20 pm or so, and I did think that he had done a
pretty good job, all things considered, and 'shook his hand, and walked
away' after the conference itself had finished.

There was still at least one more laugh to be had though.  As Kermit was
finishing, he introduced the ICOA, and a representative of their's, who was
gonna 'speak' to us now just to explain what the ICOA were all about etc. 
To describe this young man is quite hard without appearing nasty, which I
certainly don't wish to be.  If you are from the UK, and are familiar with
them, imagine one of those Open University tv presenters circa 1970 and you
get the picture.  Truly, I thought this lad had just stepped out of a time
machine and we were gonna get a lecture on the diverse nature of the East
Anglian marshland or the like.  Instead, what we got was a description of
the ICOA & its goal delivered in John F Kennedy style, without the
charisma.  By that, I mean it was f a s t !  I don't think the guy stopped
to take a single breath ;-) I don't know his name, but there could of been
a reason for it, perhaps they had to be out of the room by a certain time.
I guess he would probably be, er, I don't know, Boba Fett from Star Wars. 
Probably not, actually, but I can't be bothered looking up another name :-(
I've been typing this cobblers for over 570 minutes now and am starting to
get a little fed up - everyone has limits.

Because of the bullet-style delivery of the young guy, I heard very little
of his speech, and took even less in.  I think everyone else was the same.
After Kermit's easy going style, it was just a little too hard to take.  A
bit like eating some cheese, then a chocolate bar straight afterwards.  He
did mention some Jay Miner Society for Computing or the like, but I'm sure
you can find out about this elsewhere.  Strangely enough, although quite a
few people had filtered out at this point along with Gateway (who Ian
Robson said he was gonna get to come back - they didn't needless to say,
but I guess he tried) everyone stayed pretty quiet whilst he spoke.

You might be wondering what happened to the irc thing ?  Well, bugger all
really.  Ash remained sitting at the machine nearly all the conference, and
only chimed in twice I think.  The odd person went up to see what was going
on every so often, but nothing much came of it.  I don't know if anyone
reading this was following the irc thing as it happened, if so, you will
have a much better idea as to what it was like.  The junior Open University
guy wrapped his words up after several minutes, and then that was it
really, the show was over.  I think Kermit said one or two things more, but
other than that we were left to out own devices.

Some Swedish journalists buttonholed Andy Davidson almost immediately (I
_do_ like the buttonhole expression) and started asking him various
questions, so that was his ego taken care of ;-) They also had a massage
from the Swedish Prime Minister for him.  Oh, honourable mention goes to
Carl Sassenrath who made an appearance via the irc - a small cheer went up
when he 'spoke.' I don't recall what he wanted though - perhaps just some
free pr.  Anyone who wanted to go to the front of the room to speak to him
via the irc could do so if they wanted to, but I didn't bother.  The
conference started to break up, people started to drift off.  I sat around
for a while just clocking everyone and seeing what action may have been
going on, but there was nothing really.  Ian R went over and pestered big
Don.  Perhaps Don's camera had got him excited.  I guess the conference
itself finished at approx.  19:42, and at 19:50 a good many people had left
- overall I'd have said that there were probably at least a hundred or so
at the conference originally.  At the show itself, I don't know.  My ticket
number was 3000 odd, so make your own mind up about that.  In case anyone
is wondering who the Han Solo of the event was, of course, that was me ;-)

Okay, before I finish, here come the disclaimers - needless to say, this is
my take on the show and conference.  If I have made a factual mistake(s) of
any description, then I apologise unreservedly to those people involved -
this is what happens when you write something almost entirely from memory.
For the most part though this article is _my_ opinion.  If anyone has any
problems with anything I have said, take it up with _me_, not with AR.  My
email address is at the top of the piece.  Of course, some of you might not
like my 'style' of writing if you can call it that - well, to those of you,
again, I am sorry if that is the case, but it's just tough shit.  I guess
it is my own little self-indulgence for having the patience to sit down and
type all of this guff.  It is _very_ likely I have forgotten something I
was going to say, something I was going to have mentioned etc., and this
for me is the most annoying part, and the part that needs the biggest
apology.  However, a line has to be drawn somewhere as to when something is
finished, and that is now.

So, that's about it really.  I enjoyed the show and as I have said, I
thought it was better than last year's.  I thought that there might have
been more of a good vibe, considering the Gateway news, but I didn't really
feel it if there was.  However, things certainly do seem more optimistic
than last year.  All we can do is wait and see I guess.  And support the
few companies still supporting the Amiga that are left.  This is
imperative.  Unfortunately I don't have anything to match last year's Bill
Buck door episode to sign off with, so instead I'll leave you with a quote
from Faust, part 2, by Goethe, which seems particularly apposite at this
point, both from the Amiga's point of view, and from a personal one too. 

"But their spirit shall recover,
 Sing new songs, forget your pain,
 For this soil has bred forever,
 Greatness it will breed again."

*********

I'd like to dedicate the spirit of this article to my grandmother, Edith 
Yates, who died during its creation.

*********