The Commodore Vegas Expo (CommVex) was held July 24th & 25th 2010 at the Plaza Hotel at the head of Fremont Street in old-town Las Vegas.
As we tag along with Robert, we make the drive to Vegas a few days in advance. From Stockton this year's trip was a bit more leisurely 12 hours (I took some video shots this time but have not figured out how to put them up yet). Temperatures this year were around 110 in the day and not much cooler at night (going into Vegas it was 104 in Baker California at 9:30 at night), fortunately Robert's car and the Hotel Room's Air Conditioning units worked well.
The The Plaza Hotel was relatively quiet early in the week, but as the weekend neared it became busier. On Fremont street there was the usual live entertainment at night and come the weekend there will be an Elvis Tribute Competition which should bring in the crowds.
Thursday we got out to check out the Pinball Hall of Fame (PS don't look for that nifty colorful window sign you see on the web the page, it's now located in a more unassuming stucco building with a smaller banner sign on it).
The Hall of fame has over 200 machines, with 152 being pinball and the remaining being various other arcade classics amongst the pinball units. The pinballs ranges from pre-flipper machines to some of the latest including a pinball-2000 unit. Including a rare prototype of a 3D Circus pinball game. It was worth the effort to find to actually play a few games I had only read about or seen in documentaries, to operate the ball elevator on the older pin machines, and to hear the classic click, thump, and bing of the mechanical units. Of the arcade machines, there were a few classic analog car driving simulators and some shooting gallery and baseball units. There was also a skee-ball and some interactive activity games puppet, bull-dozer, and rocket ship unfortunately only the skee-ball and puppet were the only ones operating of those.
Definitely a place to check out for the arcade/pinball fan. (I would have snapped more photos but my camera was low on charge)
The unofficial start to Commvex has been Friday, as we get access to the room to start to set up. Usually begins in the afternoon and continues on until sometimes midnight. Some presenters drop off their stuff and/or setup, and many attendees say hi and stick around to help or chat.
Robert Bernardo, a die-hard commodore 8-bitter, demonstrated how easily you can connect the Commodore 128 to the Internet, even without a fancy email program or graphical Internet browser, using the tools the Internet pioneers have used.
From dialing up, checking email and doing Google searches.
Josh Shiflet showed of the mighty little 1541 Ultimate II cartridge, which is a flash memory drive but tries to go for total 1541 drive emulation, even so much as all the disk drive sounds if you hook it up to an external speaker.
Beyond that it has many amazing built-in tools including utility cartridge and REU emulation and file tools to manage the flash drive contents and easily load & manipulate disk images and programs.
Bilgem Cakir - aka Night Lord wowed the audience with his latest demo, an attempt at a real time shooter, which will be named Phoenix Warriors via his Night Lore Games company.
Where we have seen other coders get to 3-D maze generation on a 64, Night Lord, has got his at 25 frames per second with animated “sprites” (no, not commodore sprites, 3D sprites) wandering the corridors.
Just when you think the limit has been reached on the 1mghz 64 we see another software technological leap bump it up another notch. Cant wait to see how the game evolves in its development.
Greg Alekel wowed us with the Comet 64 Modem and the Commodoreserver.com site. The modem with a small boot loader enables to commodore 64/128 (and I would think soon VIC-20?) to easily access the commodoreserver as a virtual 1541 disk drive. List disk collections, connect to .d64s and manage files virtually on the Internet. Besides the 64 work he has deveoped a better commodore font for modern computers and a mature website for the commodoreserver. You need to check out the many on-line tools and utilities, such as BASIC file listers and 65xx disassembler, and he plans on adding more development tools and disk mangement interfaces as he goes.
The third image shows an actual commodore listing generated from a file in a d64 on the site, down to the graphics and control characters and commodore color scheme. The service is free as well as the font with notes on how to use it (the second image is it being used in Notepad+ on Windows listing a 64 program.)
The last photo I really like, not too often you see rapt attention given to a VIC-20 screen, that was Greg testing to see if the Comet and Commodoreserver were VIC-20 capable and from those early tests it looks very good!
I can't wait till I can develop Commodore programs with a web browser, that will be sooo cool.
- Vendors! Tim Waite brought along a wide range of Commodore and Amiga goodies for us to shop for, from a VIC-20 multicart to a CD32. I myself snagged the VIC-20. Tim also had an Amiga presentation with the Amiga One, not really my cup o twea, but the Amiga has come a long way since 1985!
Speaking on 1985, it's the 25th anniversary of the Amiga, and Robert brought cake!
Unfortunately our two featured Amiga Engineer guests RJ Mical and Dale Luck were absent, the cake couldn't wait any longer… With the most technical of serving utensils (a blank CD-R), Robert cut the cake. It was quite tasty. Well Dale and RJ, we wish you could have made it - and RJ, robert has a bottle odf wine somewhere with your name on it (literally!)
Some of us take Commodore a bit more seriously than others, as Yul Haussman shows what the well equipped Commodore Army personnel should be outfitted with, which he replied it was pretty comfortable to wear… Wonder if he would have the same comment with a SuperPET strapped to his back, then again he'd probably cause a lot of damage swinging that around as he turned..
Theres always something going on during weekends on Fremont Street. This year was the Ultimate Elvis Tribute Competition! Wherer 30 professional Elvi complete to be the Ultimate one. If you could bear the standing room only crowds, it looked like a fun event.
There were a few Amigans in attendance, Tim Waite, Josh Shiffet, and Michael Battilana. Showing off many things Amiga including the current official Amiga hardware/software, the Amiga One with Amiga DOS 4, unofficial: the Mini-Mig (Really like that one soooo cool - wish there was hardware floppy support though), and software emulation of the Amiga and Commodore 64 with Amiga Forever and Commodore 64 Forever.
We also got a late night movie in via Amiga, TRON, was
Greg took the spotlight again to talk about the Portland Commodore Group that had recently formed and about a couple projects the group are working on, including a handy two port joystick switcher device. Also Steve Davison reported on a cool 6502 coding hack that lets one override the NMI of the 6502 (it boils down to you setting your own NMI and not giving it up). Portland Commodore Users Group Membership is open to anyone (in Portland or not), check out their site.
I also did a talk at CommVex this year, which was Commodore Cross-Platform Development. You can read about it on my blog entry about it Which includes lots of links and resources. And I was videotaped, here is a link to my presentation (my apologies on my voice level, I haven't done much public speaking lately.)
End of the show, time to pack it up. Fortunately Dick Estell was able to take back some stuff so the car would not be so packed on the journey back. Also we had packing assistance from many attendees. The next pic is of Robert doing some last posting from the CommVex Room - probably report how much of a success it was.
The drive back was quick then getting there (only about 10 hours instead of 12), along the way I snapped a pic of the closed Lake Delores Water Park lack of maintenance and water have been taking its toll on the place in the last year. Also given the odd weather this year the Joshua trees looks quite green and vibrant (for Joshua trees) and here is a pic of a veritable Joshua tree forest.
Probably one of the BEST CommVex Ive been to. It has been confirmed there will be a CommVex 2011 and I hope to meet you guys there next year!