Pictures from the Recursion 2014 Computer Science Fair

These are my pictures from the Recursion Computer Science Fair in Stratford-upon-Avon, February 15th, 2014.

The Recursion is quite different from most of the Amiga-related shows I have been to. It focuses mainly on the education of children in computer science, and the previous day, Friday the 14th, had been a closed seminar specifically with that subject. The Saturday, which was open for the public with free attendance, had a broader appeal with various sections each with their own theme. One theme was retro computing, and as a part of that, the Amiga - including the current generation - had managed to sneak in.

The arranger of the fair was Richard Barfoot, aka Yoodoo2, who in the Amiga community might be best known as the author of the vector-based drawing and diagramming program MindSpace. In his daily life, Richard is head of the computing department at the King Edward VI School in Stratford-upon-Avon, where the fair was held.

Richard had announced the fair on the main Amiga web forums, and since my wife and I were already considering a little spring getaway and had already planned for it to take place that weekend, it didn't take me much persuasion to get her to agree to making Stratford the place to spend it. A Valentine's Day weekend in Shakespeare's old town - how could she refuse that? So I let her loose in the town, visiting the Farmer's Market and browsing the various shops etc., while I spent a couple of hours with my favourite hobby, until we met up again later for a traditional afternoon high tea downtown.

Richard had invited Simon Goodwin as keynote speaker, and that was one of the things that I was looking forward to. Simon was involved in the British computer scene way back in the early eighties when I started using my first home computer, the ZX Spectrum, and wrote some interesting articles in the magazine Your Spectrum, which were part of my incentive to go on and explore personal computing (in addition to my then budding professional career in system development). Simon talked mainly about his experiences in the computer games industry, and among other things tried to encourage the youngsters to follow in his footsteps by telling them that apart from astronomy, computer games development was the only line of business he knew where one person could make a real difference armed with nothing but time and imagination.

On the floor of the Levi Fox Hall at the school were a number of areas covering specific themes. There was an area devoted to hands-on experiments in programming with the Scratch language. Another area was focused on a crash course in using the Microsoft Gadgeteer framework, where youngsters could apparently create their own digital camera during the day (I guess from partly prebuilt parts) and program its user interface. There were also various activities within robotics, 3D printing and CNC machinery.

And then there was of course the retro section with computers ranging from the 1979 Compukit UK101 through the classic 8-bit machines up to the current descendants such as the Raspberry Pi and the NG Amigas and Amigoids. Lots of interest from kids, especially of course in playing games on the classics, but also in hearing about the capabilities of newer machines.

Thank you very much to the people I met there for nice chats and interesting sights, and especially to Richard for the great arrangement and for giving my wife and myself a look at the old buildings with Shakespeare's classroom etc.

Niels Bache ( Niels Bache

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