Meeting: Some Impromptu Demonstrations

October 2006

After a short-notice cancellation, three WROCC members stepped forward to fill the void. Steve Potts opened with a look at the A9home, showing up the latest progress with the OS and demonstrating a number of pieces of software including his own BgrndCtrl utility. Steve was followed by Colin Sutton, who followed on from September’s meeting by talking us through some of his own photographs. Finally, Steve Fryatt took a look at a few pieces of free software, including a recent version of the NetSurf browser and his own accounts package – CashBook.

Report by Phillip Marsden

The October meeting was one of those occasions when our members rose to the occasion to overcome a situation not of our making. The scheduled speaker from Advantage6 let us down by being so ill-organised that his vehicle had not been put through the MOT and consequently not allowed travel on the roads. Quite how he was getting to work is a mystery, but would it have been too much to ask that for one evening a colleague or family member could have given a lift to help out on a promise?

However, whinge over, the usual members sprang into the breach to keep the members informed and entertained. We had Steve Potts with the perennial A9home, Colin Sutton with photography and Steve Fryatt with anything that came into his head.

To be quite honest, not having taken notes at the meeting, I cannot remember all that was presented to us, but I do remember that everything went well. All three presenters gave an entertaining speech, and I think that they should be applauded for doing so at such short notice.

Steve Potts did pass comment that there was not really much more that he could say about the A9 that he had not already said before, but he kept things going for about 40 minutes and once again gave us a whirlwind tour of what was available.

Steve also looked at his BgrndCtrl utility, which can be used to display random images on the pinboard at regular intervals. He wrote it in order to experiment with Wimp programming, and we got a quick insight into the ease with which professional looking applications can be assembled using the Toolbox.

Colin gave one of his very knowledgeable talks on photography (Colin is a past president of the Bradford Photographic Society). Pictures of Colin’s travels throughout the world were shown with anecdotes and explanations of why the pictures were taken in that particular format. Apparently photographs are judged in a certain way and must contain various items if they are to be judged seriously. For some reason a splash of red is a necessity.

Colin amused us with a picture showing a stuffed bird of prey in one of Bradford’s museums – apparently one of the judges asked how he had kept the bird still for so long to take the picture! He also had a composite picture (faked in other words) which contained a large jukebox in the centre of an old amphitheatre. This had been produced on RISC OS, and had caused a certain amount of surprise.

Steve Fryatt came to the stand last and went through several pieces of PD software, including the most recent version of NetSurf with its new support for pages using frames in their layout. He also demonstrated an accounting package that he had developed himself for his own use. He had now taken the decision to release the package as freeware, so that others could make use of it if they found it helpful; he was considering the possibility of releasing the source code at some point in the future, so that it could be modified further. It seemed to me to be very professional and easy to use. Well done Steve!