The 2007 Chicago TI International World Faire
by Hal Shanafield
The 25th Annual Chicago TI International World Faire is now
history, but for those of us who were there, it will linger in our
memories. By all accounts, it was successful, and all those who
attended signified their intention to come back next year.
The Faire officially began with the Thursday arrival of Berry
Harmsen, the official ambassador from our European brethren. This
year, he was joined by Jens-Eike Hartwig, from Flensburg, Germany.
They made it an official "international" event. Several other
European TI'ers wanted to make the trip, but were prevented from
doing so by various last-minute reasons.
Walid Maalouli joined Berry, my wife Almut, my son John, and me for
little pre-Faire party at the new Evanston bar, "Bat 17," where we
discovered inexpensive Belgian and Czech beer and lots of curious
coeds. What they were curious about was the fact that we had three
laptops open on the bar. The middle one was running a streaming
video program called "Ustream," and it allowed us to share the party
with lots of our TI friends around the world. A chat room was
included as part of the service, so those who were watching and
listening, could ask questions and comment on said curious coeds.
While it is not unusual to find free WiFi in a café these days, it
was a bit of a surprise to do so in a bar. But then, finding a bar
in Evanston, still the home of the Women's Christian Temperance
Union, is a surprise to many of our older residents!
The survivors of the party, together with some new recruits,
assembled for breakfast the next day at a local Burger King. We
gathered ourselves and our gear and repaired to this year's new
venue, American Legion Post 42, for the Faire. The move from the
usual location, the Evanston Public Library, was necessitated by a
construction program there. Unfortunately, there was no Internet
access available at the Post, so we were unable to stream the day's
proceedings, but we did tape all the seminars, and they will be
available from Bruce Maret if the quality of the tape is good enough.
The seminars this year were particularly interesting. They were
provided by Berry, Walid, Charlie Good, Gregg Lemke, and Tim
Tesch. Berry began with an overview of TI events and developments
Europe. He told us about the restarting of SNUG, the German group
headed by Michael Becker and Harald Glaab, who had produced the
large variety of magnificent expansion cards. Berry introduced the
latest product, the replacement board for the video processer for
connection to the SNUG and Digit 80-column cards. He showed the
hardware and how to install it. These products will be available
through Richard Bell. Berry also announced, on behalf Michael
Becker, the production of a new series of BwG disk controllers,
compatible with the existing Myarc and CorComp controllers.
Berry then presented the demonstration created by Richard Twyning,
and first shown at this year's European TI Treff, held in
The Netherlands. Richard has discovered a method to use Bluetooth
technology to connect a TI to a Linux server and thus to the
Internet. The configuration consists of parallel to Bluetooth
adaptor, the actual Bluetooth device, and the Linux server. The
complete information on this method will be available of the website
of the TI user group of the UK.
Walid introduced his brand-new assembly program, "Skychart," which
calculates and displays the positions of hundreds of celestial
objects, including stars, planets, and Messier items. The program
allows one to enter the time, date and coordinates desired and
displays the sky in all directions. Placing the cursor on any
object displays data about that object. Walid distributed free
copies of his handiwork. After changing equipment, Walid
demonstrated a CP/M card which he built from a kit, and which
in the PE box. This kit, called a P112, is a complete CP/M
but unlike the Morningstar card, it does not utilize the TI's drives
or memory, instead using up to four 3.5 HD floppies or an IDE or
Compact Flash card for storage. Walid said it allowed him to use
Wordstar for word processing. He also said that he uses ZT4 or Term
80 for display and keyboard input.
Gregg , of Emkel Software, gave a short presentation of a new
screensaver and explained his output of new software has been
hampered by some health problems this past year, and said that he
would have some new product for next year's Faire.
Charlie presented a method for transferring TI disks to PC99 disks.
His method involved using a parallel cable between the PE box and
laptop, using Windows 98 or 95. He also said that it was possible
convert PC99 programs to V9T9 format using Fred Kaal's program,
TIDir. On the TI side, Charlie used the read and write sector
applications that are a part of PC99, the emulator that is the
commercial product from CaDD Electronics. Charlie showed us the
variety of PC programs he uses for the file transfer. He announced
that he has uploaded all of the disks from the Lima User Group to
O'Neill's Western Horizon Technology FTP site. All the disks were
transferred using this procedure. Charlie has generously offered
bring his equipment to the 2008 Chicago Faire to allow anyone to
transfer disks to the PC99 format.
Tim was next up, began by introducing a brand-new game written by
Marc Hull, "TI99 Clickety." This was a very interesting program
challenges the player to delete blocks of identical colors. The
featured the ability to move up to levels of greater and greater
difficulty. The program is 100 percent assembly and can be run in
EA3. Tim noted that this game can be quite addictive. He then
passed out disks to all the attendees as a gift from Marc.
Tim then demo'ed the programs he has been devoting a large amount of
his spare time to complete. All these programs are strictly for the
Geneve, but can run on the MESS emulator, which is how he chose to
show them. The disk manager he showed allows one to instantly show
graphics files, such as TI Artist and MyArt , without having to load
another program. It allows the extracting of archived files as
well. Tim made the programs available to the attendees.
Berry was once again the last presenter, and stated that there was a
lot of free software available, if one knows how to get it and put
back into a form that is usable on a real TI99/4a. He then
to show a number of ways to achieve this. He showed four different
processes to reach the same goal. The first was the use of Paolo
Bagnaresi's "TI-PC." This method requires the use of a suitable
usually an older model with the proper chipset. A list of the
appropriate motherboards is included in the text files of the
program itself. The second method used two programs, Mike Dodd's
Transfer" and Wofgang Bertsch's "Disk-Backup." This requires a DSDD
controller. The third approach uses an RS232 cable. It can be done
with a program like "Magic File Manipulator." The fourth solution
makes use of a PIO cable. This method is described and available at
Thierry Nouspikel's website. Lastly, Berry showed version 4 and
version 5 of Fred Kaal's "TIDir," with which one can transfer arc
files and PC99 files to V9T9 format. The latest version supports
the CF7+ peripheral device, created by Jaime Malilong.
The weather was kind to us this year, producing a bright, warm day,
probably due to the change in the date of the Faire from its usual
mid-November time. However, some things never change: Tom Clayton
arrived in the last five minutes of the event, as he has for the
20 years! We also had the traditional banquet, and, just as
traditionally happens, despite verbal and written directions and
maps, some folks got lost on the way to the restaurant.
We held the banquet this year at a "Panera" restaurant which
free WiFi and a large, quiet back room. After everyone had finished
dinner, the most enjoyable part of the evening, for me, began. That
was the presentation of the John Birdwell Award. Each year the
Birdwell Trustees select the person they deem to have made the most
significant contribution to the TI community, and then the Chicago
User Group is asked to present the award, in the form of a beautiful
plaque. The recipient this year was Richard Bell, who needs no
introduction here. His support of TI'ers is legendary.
The last order of official Faire business was the selection of the
best website dedicated to the TI, the Rob Tempelmans Plat Award.
This is a joint undertaking of the Dutch TI User Group and the
Chicago TI User Group. As always, a long list of sites is winnowed
down by an international committee to six finalists, who are then
judged by three panels of judges, nine in all, on the basis of the
importance of information on the site, the ease of use of the site,
and the general "look and feel" of the site, including graphics and
colors. The winner this year was Walid Maalouli, who was sent out
the room during the judging. Berry announced the balloting was very
close, indicative of the quality of all the TI sites in the contest.
We were able to stream video and audio from the banquet site, and
many TI'ers were able to watch and even write to us during the
banquet, which was a very nice addition to the Faire this year.
Naturally, we would have preferred that everyone watching actually
join us in Evanston, but this was the next best thing.
With all the heavy work of the Faire at an end, it was time for the
hearty few souls who remained to party down. Eight of us repaired
the "Bat 17" for some refreshment. Once again we went back to
streaming video. While we enjoyed a few amber beverages, requests
poured in from the Net for a better look at all the coeds in the
place. The low-level lighting prevented us from showing all the
ladies who were at one point lined up to meet the TI'ers around the
world. On Friday night, John had attracted most of the interest
the fair sex, but tonight Berry was the babe magnet. A cute little
waitress changed clothes after her shift, and snuggled up next to
Berry for the rest of the night. (Rumor has it that the Dutchman
told her he was Santa Claus on vacation from the North Pole!)
Eventually, we were able to drag him out of there and back to his
Plans are already in progress for next year's Faire, and to make it
bigger and hopefully even better event, and we are hoping that even
more of those of you who have put off coming will decide to join us
here in Evanston. See you then.