AmiWest 2007 Trip Report
Date 26-Oct-2007 5:36:59
|I held off on booking my trip to AmiWest and saved thanks to the Canadian dollar reaching parity with the American dollar for the first time in over 30 years. I arrived late Friday night which is usually the day before the show date but not this year. Due to a scheduling mishap the show organizers had lost the Saturday to another, even stranger, group of people from some empowerment training company that enjoyed chanting in the hallways. Some quick thinking moved the show to Sunday with the banquet on Saturday evening after all the newly empowered people had left.|
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A big thanks should go out to Jens Schoenfeld from Individual Computers for sponsoring the AmiWest 2007 show. His generosity enabled the show organizers to waive the admission fee. Unfortunately, Jens himself could not make the show this year but I'm pretty sure he will be back with new goodies next year.
Before the banquet got underway each of us spent the Saturday doing whatever we wanted. I managed to grab a ride with the AmigaKit boys on a search for lunch and a Wal Mart believe it or not. After driving around Sacramento's lovely highway system for a while we had given up on finding the elusive Wal Mart on the tourist map and were heading back to the hotel when we spotted one in a nearby mall. Matthew and I perused the electronics while David shopped away. After getting back to the hotel I met up with Brian Deneen, President of SACC, and went to work on his AmigaOne-SE box. A couple of hours of fighting with his machine later I had given up on the idea of using his machine in my demo. The SE has troubles with USB and had trouble reading with the DVD drive. I still had Ken Wilde's Amiga handy which is a MicroA1-C he has been tweaking. Ken (aka sundown aka Mr. VCORE) happened to bring along an extra battery so at least the old SE board has a fresh battery now. Brian managed to get the latest version of Amiga OS 4.0 installed on it later on by some small miracle.
The banquet was a lovely roast beef buffet with plenty of yummy vegetables just like mom used to make. After dinner the SACC awards were handed out and we held our breath for the big show announcements. Hyperion decided to take the opportunity to tell the Amiga community about their release date for the classic PPC version of Amiga OS 4.0 which is now due on November 30, 2007. Bill Panagouleas from DiscreetFX announced he had purchased the Aladdin 4D source code and planned to ship updated versions for AROS, MorphOS, Mac OS and Amiga OS 4.0 with a free Windows version thrown in for each copy purchased. That was a clever way to say there is a Windows version but you'll have to buy one of the other versions to get it. Bill was to surprise us all yet again during the show on Sunday.
Saturday night was spent partying in a vacant hotel suite. After being stopped by some nervous looking fellow after leaving the room I had a feeling something weird was going on. Being used to not divulging information, the guy quickly gave up and left rather confused. While in the room many watched in awe as Bill Borsari installed the very latest beta ISO of the Amiga OS onto his A4000 PPC box. What a bunch of Amiga beta testers, developers and Mr. Panagouleas discussed over refreshments was pretty fascinating but what happens at the show stays at the show.
Sunday morning was hectic since the show officially opened at 09:00. We were not really ready when the first visitors arrived but it was a rather informal atmosphere and nobody seemed to mind. At the front we had Bill Borsari of UGN fame doing his famous streaming audio and video techno-dance with the extra challenge of wireless-only access this year. Clockwise from him was Douglas McLaughlin (aka STRICQ) selling all sorts of Amiga gear including a near mint A4000T. The DiscreetFX table was manned by Bill Panagoulas and son selling his video wonders. The Amiga Users of Calgary (AMUC) was manned by myself and frequented by Ken who was worried I just might wander off with his Amiga at any moment. A big thanks to Ken for the loaner by the way! The Amiga Round Table (ART) with Rich Lawrence (aka MobbyG) was there producing pod casts and selling an uncensored version of some of his shows on disc. Amiga Future magazine was next followed by PageStream and SACC in the corner. AmigaKit was next with a great free shipping deal for stuff purchased at the show that was not in stock at the show. They had a selection of goods on sale at their table and ended up taking a lot more home when Matt picked up the A4000T in the end.
At the centre of the room was the big screen where the various demos and presentations could take place. I remember seeing a bit of the Amiga OS 4.0 on the A4000 PPC demo. The Synergy client source code walkthrough was a hit with the programmers at the show. I showed off a little bit of my Ranger tool along with a distcc demo and some of my WW2 game being controlled by Lua for good measure. DiscreetFX had something to present but there was a technical glitch from what I understand so he didn't get to show off this time. Bill certainly made up for the lack of a presentation by buying 10 copies of Amiga OS for the PPC equipped Amigas and giving them away in a random draw. Bravo!
The day ended and the show visitor count was something around 50 from what I heard. I know I had about 20 or so chats myself at my table. I was disappointed with the attendance this year as compared to years before but you have to roll with the punches when you are stuck in next gen. Amiga limbo as I am. The other systems didn't show again like AROS and MorphOS. AmigaKit did bring along their resident Pegasos guy (David) but he didn't get any questions. We all voted as to whether to have a show next year or give up and the overwhelming majority was a yes vote. I managed to make a few new Amiga developer contacts and seeing my old Amiga friends in person is always a real treat.
When I heard AmigaKit really wanted some of those American ribs I made sure to steer (pun intended) the dinner party in that direction. We ended up at a very nice restaurant nearby and ribs where served to our English friends. There was a small dispute about the true size of a pint (an American pint is much smaller) so a couple of pints were ordered to make up the difference. After closing the restaurant we pretty much said our good-byes.
As for next year, we all believe we can fix up the show and get some higher attendance numbers again. It isn't the fact the show is not being run properly. Chuck Washburn and the SACC team always organize a professional show. It didn't help that Chuck's ISP went flaky just weeks before the event and his contact at the hotel left employment without notice. It is also true that the ongoing litigation between Amiga Inc. and Hyperion scared away many vendors this year. SACC did their very best but they just can't win against a small army of lawyers and a seemingly endless supply of Amiga user apathy.
I don't want to end on a sour note so I'd just like to say I had a great time at the show and I look forward to attending again next year at AmiWest 2008!