QL Is 21meeting

Some pictures taken at the QL Is 21 meeting, 29/30 October 2005

Leon Heller
Quanta founder, Leon Heller

QL Is 21 (the QL comes of age, 21 years old) was held at the Ibis hotel in Portsmouth. The event itself went well on the saturday, though rather quiet by Sunday. There seemed to be digital cameras all over the place, including one or two driven by Simon Goodwin's Kodak DC camera driver for the QL (Simon did give a talk but I missed it), so you should be seeing plenty of pictures of the event. Plenty of faces from the QL's past there (invited by Quanta) including Leon Heller (Quanta founder), David Batty (Sector Software), Stuart Honeyball (Miracle Systems) and others who I cannot remember at this time. Quanta had extended official invitations to a number of prominent people from the QL scene in the past, but only a few were able to attend on the day.

Roy Brereton  Tony Firshman
Roy Brereton (left) and Tony Firshman peruse the exhibition of QL history

Quanta had organised a celebratory dinner on saturday night and about 30 people booked in for that. We didn't get thrown out despite people like David Batty having 2 or 3 soups, a few more slices of cake than he should have had, and so on ;-) It was an unsual meal, basically they told you which side of the room each course was laid out on and you had to go and fetch it yourself. Staff? What serving staff? Never mind, the food was good. At the end of the meal, Roy Brereton, who was one of the principal organisers of this and similar events in the past, was presented with honorary membership of Quanta and was presented with an engraved tankard after serving on the committee since the early 1990s in most if not all capacities - Chairman, Secretary and Librarian for example. Before that, Roy had been a software trader (with Rob Walton in Rob Roy Software) in the early days of the QL.

Simon Goodwin's colourful jacket
Simon Goodwin and that "GD2" jacket

A very full programme of talks was organised by Geoff Wicks covering everything from Sudoku (George Gwilt and John Sadler) to using the new colours (Geoff Wicks), Easyptr 4 (myself and Marcel Kilgus) and Games (Geoff Wicks). I missed most of these, but am told they were well attended and appreciated. We sensed during the talks and generally throughout the weekend that people did want to use the new colours and facilities but felt that very basic information on helping people to get used to them was sadly lacking despite efforts to explain them in places like the pages of QL Today - even the articles there were hard going for some. Geoff picked up that even simple commands like WM_INK and WM_PAPER to change colours etc under the new Window Manager were not familiar to many. I think what we all learned was that these days QL-type systems like Q60 and QPC2 stand a chance of displaying enough colours to display pictures of Simon Goodwin's jacket - a 256 colour Aurora might struggle though. I just hope someone took a good picture, it has to be seen to be believed.

I Am A QL'er Shirt
The "I am a QL'er" shirt, displayed by Geoff Wicks

Quanta had produced some "I AM A QL'ER" shirts for the event. Unfortunately, as someone discovered, when slightly crumpled around the "QL'ER" part, it was capable of giving the, umm, wrong impression shall we say. I think QLers can muster enough imagination to know what I mean.

The exhibition tables
The exhibition of old QL hardware - how much do you recognise?

The mini exhibition I organised displayed a lot of historical QL information and 4 full tables of older hardware from the 1980s thanks to John Gilpin, John Grgeory, David Batty and others. David Batty had brought along his original Miracle Hard Disk. As it was a prototype, its case had not been painted and by now, many years later, it was basically a rusty box! The exhibition was quite popular to the extent that Quanta have asked me to keep the material together for future workshops to give more people time to see it. If you'd like a chance to see the exhibition, I hope it will be on display at the Quanta AGM in 2006, provisionally expected to be held in Manchester.

The new QDT with drag and drop was presented, and it had been hoped QL2K could be shown there but the email notifying me about its release arrived too late for me to be able to act upon it (i.e. it was sent after I started travelling!) Launchpad version 2 made its debut there too. As usual, there was plenty that was new and of recent interest, I've no doubt it will be more fully reported in Quanta and QL Today in due course, as I'm struggling to remember everything as it was such a busy weekend.

Simon Goodwin and his competition
Simon Goodwin and the competition

Simon Goodwin organised a competition where you had to guess the identity and purpose of about 17 items of old hardware. Part of the competition was fully understanding the nature of the answers Simon was expecting (i.e. not just what it was called, but also what its purpose or use was). Eventual winner with full marks was John Hall, who coincidentally was sat next to the competition entries for most of the weekend so left himself open to teasing about how he got his high score - he did comment that "it was the first time he had profited from a Quanta workshop rather than spending." ;-)

The competition
The competition - how many of these do you think you'd be able to name and describe?

Portsmouth is a city seeped in history and many went to see (or try to see) attractions such as HMS Victory and the brand new Spinnaker tower and a firweworks exhibition on friday night, but the waiting times to get into these was a blot. Portsmouth also has some excellent shopping centres and some of the partners of those attending QL Is 21 had a busy time visiting the shops. The hotel itself was a comfortable modern place. Quanta had been allocated a pair of rooms made into one by opening the partition between them for the workshop itself and a separate room at the other end of the ground floor for the talks. A projector which could be hooked up to a computer made it easier for those attending the talks to see what was going one rather than all huddling around a small screen. I know Tony Firshman has also put some photos on his website for the benefit of those unable to attend.

Here's a random selection of more pictures taken at the event.

Bruce Nicholls  Keith Mitchell, Geoff Wicks and John Gilpin  John Hall
Bruce Nicholls (left), Keith Mitchell and John Gilpin discuss the little object in Geoff Wicks's hand (centre), and competition winner John Hall (right).

Jochen Merz  Roy Wood
Jochen Merz (left) and Roy Wood

Phil Jordan  Alfred Kendall
Phil "The Library" Jordan (left) and Alfred Kendall

Finally, here's a random selection of pictures of some of the less well known hardware which we saw at the exhibition - how many of these have you seen before?

ABC Electronic Mouse Interface  CST Ram-plus board
ABC Elctronic Mouse Interface and CST RAM-Plus card

CL Systems and SPEM video digitisers  SPEM digitiser
CL Systems (left) and SPEM QL video digitisers

Harprom board  Medic interface picture
Harprom Eprom board (left) and Medic expansion system (with disk, RAM and parallel printer port

Prototype Miracle Midi Interface  Oberon Omni Reader OCR
Prototype Miracle Midi interface (left) and Oberon Omni Reader OCR unit

Pandora QL system case  Quest RAM card
Pandora QL system case (left) and Quest RAM card

Schoen keyboard  Sinclair MP disk interface
Schoen replacement keyboard (left) and a Sinclair/Micro Peripherals disk interface card

Sinclair RAM card
Prototype (unreleased) Sinclair RAM card

Return to Quanta page | Return to home page