As in recent years, the Chicago User Group's Faire was held in the
Evanston, Illinois public library in beautiful downtown Evanston.
There was plenty of metered parking available in a basement garage.
The Faire occupied one large room and a smaller seminar room across
the hall. In the main hall the library provided a Windows internet
PC and a ceiling mounted computer projector. A tabletop PC projector
was in the seminar room.
Folks attended from all over the United States and from Europe. As
usual, some neat items were available for sale or for free. For
example, someone was giving away a complete Commodore 128 system
complete with disk drive, printer, and monitor. This was quickly
grabbed. Even before I arrived someone had purchased for $150 a very
complete Geneve system. This system included a specially modified
pbox with a safety cage on the back to prevent damage to the Geneve
card and other cards that stick out of the back. A monitor, hard
drives and a Myarc HFDC card also came with the $150 system.
The Chicago User Group videotaped all the seminars. These videos
will ultimately be made available to the public, perhaps by posting
the files on ftp.whtech.com. Watch the Yahoo 99/4a On Line User
Group for information about this.
The first seminar I attend was given by Berry Harmsen from the
Netherlands. He had a CD with over 700k of Geneve and 99/4a related
PC software that he gave away to all at the Faire, and at his seminar
he demonstrated some of this software. Most of this software is
available from the internet, particular from ftp.whtech.com, but some
of it I have not seen before. The CD contains several different
99/4a emulators and software that allows you to convert "disks" on
the CD over to real 99/4a disks. There is a big directory on the CD
full of PC99 disk images. Many of these are from the whtech site,
but the software library of the Eurofree and English usergroups are
also included and I have not seen these on the internet.
In the TI emulation world there is some confusion about disk
formats. Both PC99 disk inmages and v9t9 disk images use the .dsk
extension after the image file name, but the two formats are not
compatible. They can be distinguished by file lengths. PC99 images
are either 260240 or 549760 bytes in length. V9t9 images, which can
be used with the 99/4a, Geneve, and 99/8 mess emulators have a
variable file size depending on how much software is on the
v9t9 "disk". In the PC99 Disks directory of Harmsen's CD, all the
disk images are in fact PC99 disks except for those of the Eurofree
group. Disk images from this group appear to be in v9t9 format and
work with the mess emulators.
Ron Reuter gave the other major seminar of the day and he also had a
CD to give away for free to all who attended. A major component of
his CD is artwork of circuit boards and line drawing schematics. And
I do mean artwork! Ron has taken high resolution photographs of the
Geneve motherboard, the 99/4a motherboard, and other TI hardware. He
added labels to these images and they look just great, even greatly
enlarged! Anything relating to the 99/4a that can be photographed and
labeled is on Ron's CD, including console pin out diagrams. He also
redrew and relabeled the fuzzy 20th generation Xerox copies of TI
schematics currently found on ftp.whtech.com, including schematics of
the Geneve. At his table, Ron had his Geneve board illustration on a
mouse pad, he was giving away booklets with the Geneve schematics,
and he had 1x2 foot enlargements of the 99/4a and Geneve boards for
sale on heavy paper. A framed 1x2 foot Geneve board illustration was
later given away as a door prize.
Also on Ron's CD is a Windows compatible data base of his own
creation which he uses to keep track of his computer hardware
collection. Ron has several antique computer systems in addition to
his TI stuff.
After the Faire, we all walked to a neighorhood restaurant for a
dutch treat meal. A full dinner off the menu cost me $10. At this
meal the recipient of the 2003 John Birdwell Award was announced.
The winner, selected by the trustees of the Birdwell memorial fund,
is Mike Wright!
After the meal we all walked two doors down to an internet café where
we were given free use of the café's computers complements of the
Chicago User Group.
Submitted by Charles Good