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27.Jul.2003
Daniel Miller live from AmiWest (ANF)


Daniel Miller's AmiWest 2003 Show Report Part I
This is the Sacramento's 5th Amiwest, but my first. I used frequent flyer miles to get a free flight to San Francisco, from there I took trains through scenic northern California to Sacramento where I took a taxi to the Holiday Inn. On Monday I rent a car and head to Reno, later Yosemite, but for now the Amiga scene is on my mind. This is supposed to be the biggest Amiga-oriented convention in the USA but we'll see what Nova Design and Genesi pull off in Washington DC this October.

Right now it's Amiwest in Sacramento. I arrive late on Friday. In front of me in the line at the hotel check-in desk is John Harris, the author of the arcade classic Frogger. Looking around further I see that two medium halls have been reserved for Amiwest. The halls open on each other to make a larger. There is a smaller enclosed room also reserved, maybe that is the banquet hall.

It's late on Friday and the show has not opened, but there are people still setting up. There are four Pegasoses on a long table. Nate Downes, one of Genesi's reps from Florida, works feverishly on a fifth. He says he's tired but he's determined to get ImageFX successfully set up for Kermit Woodall of Nova Design to demonstrate.

I see some other familiar faces. Someone points out Ben Hermans of Hyperion Entertainment to me, which is a surprise. He hadn't announced his appearance. Maybe we will finally see OS4 on the Amiga One as opposd to an Amiga 4000. Or maybe not.. I hear that Jens Schönfeld, famed Amiga hardware maker is here, and Jeri Elsorth, Commodore One engineer and geek fantasy girl arrives in the morning.

There is an historical sequence of old Amiga models on tables throughout the room. The event organizers want to illustrate the past, and the future. There's a 3000 and a 600. The machines and their peripherals are yellowing and stained from age. There might be a crack here and there. It has been a long time since these rolled off the manufacturing lines.

At the hotel nightclub it's Big Band Night. Three couples gyrate kinetically on the dance floor as a six piece brass and sax ensemble, drummer, and bassist accompany a xylophonist. It's jazz and swing and the singer joins in as the happy music rushes out the bar entrance into the hotel lobby.

The next morning at break fast I run into John Harris again. Overnight I remmbered that he wrote not only Frogger, but also Jawbreaker for the Atari 8bit, one of the greatest games ever for that line of computers. I tell him how great it was, with the toothbrush animation and all and he tels me a bit of the history behind it. Jawbreaker! He explains that he will give the first seminar this morning on his current focus: Amiga DE.

John Harris gave the first presentation. He talked about his work on Amiga DE. He demonstrated his Gobbler game, his WordSearch game, his calculator program and his Solitaire, spnding a particular amount of time showing the versatility of his Solitaire, which runs in different resolutions depending on the handheld unit. On DE itself he joked that the original concept of "runs anywhere now means runs nowhere" owing to failed business deals and runtime modules whch have not materialized for the various handheld devices. But he still loves the technology of DE and thinks it will eventually be successful it's "just taking a little longer than they thought."

His calculator program is advanced, and he talked about how valuable the cooperation was between hm and the math professor who helped him write it. Asked whether DE stuff would ever run on a Palm Pilot he said a Palm Pilot version was unlikely since Tao stuff doesn't run on 68K processors.He said it might happen on the new Palm Pilots running on ARM processors.

To be continued ... (ps)

[News message: 27. Jul. 2003, 09:07] [Comments: 0]
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