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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Had Shakespeare reincarnated as a present day schoolkid, this is where he would have entered. We mere mortals, however, had to go around to the main entrance.Slide 1 Quite a traffic jam just after 11 am.Slide 2 The school bids us welcome.Slide 3 The Levi Fox Hall starts to fill up already shortly after opening for the day.Slide 4 Nick Clover (Severin) in the center of the picture (with the gray Amiga T-shirt) is ready to show off AmigaOS 4.1 on his X1000.Slide 5 Next to Nick, the history of home computing was summarized in three milestones: Compukit UK101 (1979), ZX Spectrum (1982) and Raspberry Pi (2012).Slide 6 Richard Barfoot bids welcome and introduces our keynote speaker: Simon N. Goodwin.Slide 7 Simon, in his wonderful coat of many colors, speaks about the games development business and his life in it.Slide 8 The crowd listens to Simon.Slide 9 More listeners.Slide 10 Richard in a quiet moment while Simon speaks.Slide 11 Richard thanks Simon for the speech.Slide 12 Paul Foster from Microsoft introduces the .NET Gadgeteer workshop.Slide 13 This stand, representing the Kenilworth Games Creators Club, showed some interesting CNC and 3D printing gadgets as well as the famed Egg-Bot. Their Edward Powell made his own report of the fair already the following Monday (putting me to quite some shame with my two-week delay ;-)). You can read it here.Slide 14 By now, the younger kids were already immersing themselves in the joys of 8-bit (and some 16-bit) gaming.Slide 15 That's the good old BBC Micro there, playing a nice little game of Jet Set Willy II. Boy, that machine was quite a monster compared to its comtemporaries.Slide 16 A couple of Sinclairs: The classical Z80-based ZX Spectrum and its 68k-based successor, the QL.Slide 17 An even older Sinclair, the ZX81. That did seem a bit too limited to catch the youngsters' interest.Slide 18 Now we're talking: Zool on the A1200.Slide 19 The Robot Wars area.Slide 20 Paul Foster's .NET Gadgeteer workshop with lots of eager students and some parents looking on in awe - as was I.Slide 21 Sheffield University's CS department had some activities around virtual guitars - I never got around to checking that out more closely, although it looked interesting.Slide 22 Back to "our own" corner: This is Nigel Tromans with his Aros system (and his family).Slide 23 Nick Clover's X1000 was mounted in a nice case a bit smaller than the standard Fractal job, but with this neat feature - the whole side wall with the motherboard swings down for super easy access. Nick gave this additional info on "Btw the case is a Jean-tech phantom, I also have an Aqua version which is blue rather than red. I removed the front door from the phantom as it opened the wrong way for my home setup."Slide 24 Here's Nick's X1000 assembled.Slide 25 Sorry for the unfocused picture, Nick - and Steve Netting.Slide 26 The 3D printer hard at work at the Kenilworth GCC stand.Slide 27 And at the other end of the stand, the Egg-Bot was doing its thing.Slide 28 I really think I must get one of those ... I wonder if Richard could be made interested in creating driver support for it in Mindscape?Slide 29 Nigel showing his Aros system to Simon Goodwin.Slide 30

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