Chicago TI 99
Faire 1996


New hardware from Europe gains attention

By GARY W COX

Itís hard to believe that 14 years have passed since the first Chicago TI Faire. Many people now in the computer field didnít even know what a computer was 14 years ago. Nonetheless, on Nov. 9, 1996, the 14th annual Chicago TI Faire was held in Evanston, Ill., sponsored by the Chicago TI Users Group.

Hal Shanafield, faire chairman, once again did a great job organizing the event. Estimated attendance was about 100. At times the main floor seemed more crowded than last year. Vendor attendance was about the same but there werenít quite as many items for sale this year as last. At the same time many new products were introduced. And many user groups had a variety of products for sale.

One user group, headed up by Michael Mickelson, was the Windy City TI Users Group. It had the largest array of used software and equipment for sale of anyone at the event. My group, the Mid- South TI99/4A User Group, also had an array of hardware and software for sale, with items such as consoles going for as little as $10 each. Other user groups had a variety of items for sale plus the usual promotions for their groups. Dave Connery manned the Chicago User Group table, offering a variety of software for sale.

Charles Good of the Lima TI Users Group offered for copying the complete Jim Peterson library, at no charge. William Lucid of the Indianapolis TI Users Group had a variety of items for sale as did the Milwaukee TI users group.

Barry Hannsen of the Dutch TI Users Group from The Netherlands, along with Gerd Weissmann of Germany, brought some interesting new TI hardware (mentioned later in this article). The TI Users of Will County sold a variety of items, including flip strips for the TI console.

Someone who had not attended a Chicago TI Faire in several years was Beery Miller of 9640 News. New from Beery is a CD-ROM containing the contents of TI and Geneve public domain and shareware software. Most of the software was obtained from the GEnie software libraries and the 9640 News BBS. Beery was also promoting the new GEnie Interactive service, which is a new Internet-based online service. The new service can be accessed through any Internet provider, linking the user to much of the same information as is ac.cessed through the regular online service.

NEW HARDWARE FROM EUROPE

The most interesting part of the faire was a variety of hardware projects created by Michael Becker and demonstrated by Gerd Weissmann. One such product is the High Speed GPL Card for the TI PEB which allows the T199/4A to run eight times faster than a base unit! A built on- board EEPROM Programmer allows the storage of up to 16 modules.

Also new was the SGCPU which contains the entire T199/4A on a card. Right now a small T199/4A keyboard is needed to operate the device, but soon an AT and option to use an AT keyboard will be added. Gerd also demonstrated an 80-column card that supports more than 256,000 colors. Michael also has available a DS/DD controller card.

All these products are being made in Germany. Negotiations with a U.S. supplier are under way to allow the products to be ordered from inside the U.S. These are some really great products which, if they become available for sale from a U.S. supplier, should become very popular. Currently these items are available only for order from Germany.

For more information contact: System 99 User Group (SNUG), Michael Becker, Diedesfelderstr. 12, 68308 Mannheim, Germany.

Mike Wright of Cadd Electronics was running version 3a of PC99 T199/4A Emulator for PCís. Work continues on updates, although there is no schedule as to dates on the completion of updates. Mike, indicated the next release, version 4 of PC99, may contain Myarc disk controller support, as well as speech.

Mike is also placing a great many TI manuals on PC diskette complete with all original graphics. An executable program is included with the manuals so nothing additional is needed to view the documents. Users can print out the manuals or do searches for keywords. Most manuals in the PHM module series have already been converted to this online format with more on the way.

SCSI EPROM UPGRADE

Bud Mills, of Bud Mills Services, was present with version 1.07 of the SCSI EPROMs for the TI and Geneve SCSI cards. Bud mentioned that his group is one step closer to completion of all items promised on the SCSI controller. However, currently working with the SCSI controller are SCSI hard drives, Zip drives, and Syquest drives. Testing is under way with JAZ drives. A new version of the EPROM is being tested and should be available soon. Bud also mentioned he has completed an order of Horizon 4000 boards and thus the Horizon 4000 Ramdisks are once again available.

Tim Tesch was present at the faire and mentioned he is continuing to work on updating the PORT terminal program and correcting various bugs. Tim is also working on the Geneve LOAD SYS. When completed, and with an updated SCSI EPROM that is in the works, the Geneve will be able to boot from a SCSI hard drive.

Bruce Harrison showed several new programs, including a new version of Loadmaster (version 2.2). Loadmaster is a really neat program which will identify most file types on a diskette and inform the user about is needed to use that file. Thus, if the file it a TI-Artist picture Loadmaster will indicate that fact in the file catalog. If the file is an Extended BASIC or Editor/Assembler option 3 or option 5, it will run the file. Loadmaster will also print a disk catalog in the form of a diskette sleeve. The speed of the programís overall operations is much faster than previous versions. The program is written jointly by Mickey Cendrowski and Bruce Harrison and is distributed as shareware. Loadmaster is available from various user groups, or Charles Good will send anyone a copy by sending $1 to, Charles Good, P.O. Box 647, Venedocia, Ohio, 45894. Be sure to read the title screen for instructions on sending in your donation for the program, itís well worth it.

Bruce also had a new program called AMS Slideshow that uses the AMS card to display TI-Artist pictures. AMS Slide-show can be set to change pictures at a selected interval of up to 0.1 seconds between pictures, or it can be set to look for a keyboard press before going to the next picture. AMS Slideshow requires the AMS memory card to function at itís best. Also new from Bruce was Speed Reader which teaches a person to speed read.

Don Walden of Cecure Electronics was present with a variety of special interest parts, such as replacement GROM connectors, T199/4A replacement keyboards, Rave 99 Speech Cards, and a variety of CC4O equipment at discounted prices. Don also mentioned he now has a new address and phone number which is listed at the end of this article.

Ken Gilliland of Notung Software talked about plans for additional TI Casino games. Also, Kenís solitaire game is now available as a stand-alone product or as an addition to TI Casino.

RAMCHARGED

SELLING ASGARD SOFTWARE

Victor Steerup represented RAM-charged Computer with a large table full of software, including Asgard products not available anywhere else. One item that caught my eye that RAMcharged was selling was Rapidcopy ($9.95), an excellent disk duplicator program. Rapidcopy has been around for a while but it is the best program available for copying diskettes at lightning speed.

New from RAMcharged were several game programs ($7.95 each) for the Geneve, including Train Twister, Time Guardian, Jungle Terror, Submarine Revenge, Sea Teller, Cave Explorer, and Space Champions. RAMcharged also had available a spell checker called Spell-It in SS/SD, SS/SD, DS/DD, and hard drive versions.

BRUCE HARRISON RECEIVES BIRDWELL AWARD

Finally, at the banquet following the faire, Dave Connery received an award from the Chicago TI Users Group for his outstanding work for the group. Then the John Birdwell award for outstanding commitment and contributions to the TI community went to a very deserving person, ó Bruce Harrison!

All in all, the 1996 Chicago TI Faire was a success and a good time for all. A videotape was made of the event by the Chicago TI Users Group and should be available soon. I hope to see everyone at Fest West. as well as the Lima TI Faire.