We arrived at the new hotel on the Friday afternoon. This year the hotel venue had changed locations a few blocks down the road. It was great improvement to have Amiwest hosted within a newly built hotel with modern facilities, including improved Wi-Fi, which had been a problem in previous Amiwest events. The conference rooms were spacious and fitted with modern facilities such as digital projectors. By the time we had arrived, one of the organisers, Chuck, had already laid out the exhibitor tables and prepared the room. Chuck is an unsung hero. He works tirelessly every year to ensure that Amiwest venue runs smoothly and his attention to detail was as good as ever this year.
The Amiwest Show started on the Friday evening with a technical clinic and meeting amongst key Amiga people and developers. It was good to meet our North American customers face-to-face, most of which we serve regularly throughout the year with orders and technical assistance through our website. Microbrew beer refreshments were offered around the room which helped those with jet-lag.
Our Technician was quickly put to work with upgrading an Amiga 4000 with a CF IDE hard disk we supplied previously. The A4000 had some problems: the symptoms initially proved troublesome to diagnose as it failed to start Cybergraphics card and was crashing due to a stack problem. After an hour, all of the data from the old noisy hard disk was transferred over to the silent CF drive and Workbench was configured. Success!
Our Technician then helped setup the SAM 460 board that would be on display the following day. There was a lot of people catching up with each other and plenty of tech-talk about everyone's favourite computer.
The evening's meeting went well and it was generally accepted that it was very useful for key Amiga people to get together and constuctively discuss future of AmigaOS 4. AmigaOS developer, Steven Solie, did a great job facilitating most of the discussions. Key AmigaOS and Timberwolf developers, Hans-Joerg and Thomas Frieden gave us an incitful overview of the hard work that they and the OS 4 team had put in over the last year. Trevor Dickinson, Director of A-EON introduced himself to many who had not met him previously. He described his passion for collecting Commodore machines including the numerous Amigas that he has acquired over the years. Ahead of the Saturday announcement, it was revealed at the meeting that the forthcoming AmigaOS 4.1 Classic will be distributed by AmigaKit and it would crucially support another AmigaKit product, ZorRAM. This was positively received by all present.
Once the SAM 460 was up and running, a small crowd got a preview demonstration. As the evening came to end, everyone left slowly for bed.
The Saturday was an early start for exhibitors and vendors. The doors opened at 10am and it was a rush to get breakfast and then setup the tables for the day before the crowds were permitted into the venue. When we had arrived, Carl Sassenrath from the original Amiga development team, had started to setup next to our table. He had brought many Amiga treasures from his development days at Commodore which he offered for sale during the show. He was at hand all day to talk about the prototypes and sign books and hardware for anyone that asked. Another original Amiga developer, Dale Luck also attended the show wearing a distinctive Boing Ball jacket. Both were asked many questions about their Commodore Amiga days and it was great link to the past especially as this year's Amiwest was a celebration of Amiga's 25th year.
Jens Schoenfeld, hardware guru from Individual Computers, showed the prototypes of both his new 68030 based A1200 and A600 accelerators. The progressive designs of both accelerators are highly tuned to squeeze as much performance as possible out of the CPU. Our Technician took the A600 accelerator for a test drive and was very suprised at how responsive the Amiga 600 was. It is quite amazing that new Classic Amiga hardware is available such as this in 2010. Expect both of these much-anticipated products to be available at AmigaKit shortly.
Various speakers contributed at the show addressing the crowds.
Trevor Dickinson introduced A-EON and the AmigaOne X1000. He was happy to field questions from the audience. He confirmed that Beta Testers of the X1000 would also receive limited edition "Beta Tester" enamel pin badge and a copy of the game BOH.
Struggling with a sore throat, Ben Hermans from Hyperion elaborated on where OS 4.1 was destined in future development and was assisted in answering questions by the Frieden brothers. He also explained interestingly that X1000 cores are fully partitionable so Linux could be run on one core at the same time as OS 4.1.
Finally Carl Sassenrath announced that Rebol 3 had been ported to OS 4.1 since he has been donated a SAM440 machine. There was a cheer from the audience at that news. He then gave an overview of the Rebol language and explained how he came to develop it from early ideas.
The AmigaOne X1000 was on display in it's sleek black tower and running the latest AmigaOS 4.1 for visitors to test. Any product questions were answered by Trevor, Thomas and Hans-Joerg. The USA version of the AmigaOne keyboards and Boing Ball mice were also well received and eventually sold out over the course of the show. Walking around the room, it seemed as if every next gen Amiga on display had a matching Boing Ball equipped mouse and keyboard.
Minimig was also demonstrated nicely throughout the day by Joel Cholokians with a LCD flat screen and Boing Ball mouse.
Dave Morris organised the gaming event which I was told kept many visitors entertained.
Jamie Krueger, Bit By Bit Software, demonstrated the SDKBrowser 2.0 and GUI Builder. He talked about the work-in-progress of AVD. It certainly looks impressive with lots of potential and we hope it will be completed within the next year.
Sacramento Amiga Computer Club had officially licensed T-Shirts printed to mark the show and were selling them to the visitors. Our Technician couldn't resist and paid his $20. I urged him to get it signed by Carl and Dale but he missed the opportunity.
The whole show attracted over 100 visitors through out the course of the day from many different States and countries.
In typical Amiwest tradition, the Banquet followed the show at 7pm. Around 65 people paid for Banquet tickets this year which was the best turn-out since it's inception in 1998.
Every table had a bottle of Sassenrath Ranch red wine which was kindly donated by Carl. The meal was delicious as usual and well organised. The after dinner speaker this year was Trevor Dickinson who started his speech, tongue-in-cheek by showing the "Dancing Trevor" video that has been published on an Amiga forum, He then introduced the Banquet attendees to his passion for the Amiga and his many Commodore computer that he had collected over the years which were the catalyst for him becoming involved in the AmigaOne X1000 project. It was a fascinating presentation and many realised that Trevor is primarily a fellow Amiga enthusiast with a dream of a high specification Amiga. After his speech, the audience gave him a warm round of applause.
Despite his failing voice, Ben Hermans was also invited to talk and formally announced that AmigaKit will distribute the forthcoming AmigaOS 4.1 for Classic Amiga complete with ZorRAM support.
Customary awards were handed out by SACC President, Brian Deneen to Steven Solie, this years sponsors (AEON, Individual Computers and AmigaKit) and finally Carl Sassenrath.
Sunday's show was started with Ben Hermans taking the microphone on the show floor before he left to catch his plane home.
The day seemed to go very quickly with lots of people making last minute purchases. Our Technician helped a few users install their ZorRAM memory expansions in their Amigas. Once again the show was well organised with a pasta buffet laid on for sustenance throughout the day.
Bill Bosari interviewed exhibitors and broadcast the event across the internet to the wider audience. Every year Bill does a great job in ensuring that Amiwest has many virtual internet attendees.
A-EON generously decided to donate the X1000 tower for the raffle at the end of the show.
All too quickly, it was time to pack up to leave. Just before we did, Carl Sassenrath asked for an AmigaOne "Boing Ball" keyboard for his SAM440 computer.
We said our goodbyes and left for our evening meal with Trevor and Jens to meet a special guest, Amiga musician, Chris Huelsbeck. During the meal, he inspected the new X1000 motherboard and we reminiced on the many Amiga games he has composed great music for. After the meal Chris gave us an impromptu demo of his latest musical creations including a few of his remixes of classic tunes. Our Technician received a signed CD copy of his work- thanks Chris!
We would like to thank everyone who attended this year's Amiwest and especially Chuck, Brian, Bill and SACC members for organising this event. It was an enjoyable few days and we will be happy to continue attending and sponsoring the show in future years.