The Christmas Train Show is now over and there has been time for some reflection.

1) If our group ends up in front of the 18' high roll-up door again next year, I'll simply turn around and head home. I have no desire to stand in near-freezing wind for 4+ hours trying to set up the modules for a third show in a row. Someone else can have their turn, or the organisers can re-arrange the entry and exit of vehicles from the exhibition space.

2) Attendance this year and last seemed less and, in fact, it was. Turns out that another 2-day train show at the other end of the city has been scheduled for the same weekend as the TCTS two years in a row. This splits the attendance of vendors, layouts, and the public. Oh, and a number of other, 1-day shows in the general area were held on either the Saturday or Sunday. Having the show on the same weekend as the Santa Claus Parade smacks of poor scheduling as well.

3) Other than the presence of the various club displays, there is very little to draw a crowd of enthusiasts. Certainly the general public comes by to bring children to see the trains, but very few modellers outside of the exhibitors themselves seem to attend. Very few 'show specials' from vendors, no large manufacturers, no flea-market tables.

Without serious changes in the approach of the organisers, the show will continue to decline to the point where none of the vendors or exhibitors will attend.

cutting the cords

Just transferring all of the iPod content from the PC to the iMac via my LAN. This will be the ideal chance to organise the many "miscellaneous" files into a better structure.

My address book has already been transferred from the PC (Thunderbird LDIF export & import). iCal is being filled with dates & times for various events. I'll finally be able to sync those important details to the iPod; no straightforward way to do that on the PC.

*EDIT* The transfer took much longer than expected. Cleaned up many duplicate files and shuffled appropriate collections into folders. Added a pile of missing album art (more still to do) and restored the iPod to factory defaults before the resync. Just under 3800 items to copy over at USB2.0 speeds. I'll find something else to do for a couple of hours. *EDIT*


service survives

Again, I've had two excellent customer service experiences...

1) Broadcast Systems & Equipment - John Waling of BSE took the time to understand the type of hardware I needed to add extra functionality to an audio mixer. He deals with much bigger customers all the time, but he still made the effort to locate, hook-up, test, and allow me to hear for myself the hardware in question. Brilliant.

2) Long & McQuade - the staff at the shop helped me to quickly locate the cables I needed to hook up the new piece of hardware (BSE makes cables to order on a per-project basis) and had me on my way in minutes. No wasted time, no blank stares in response to my questions.


finally fun

After the demise of the Commodore Amiga, there remained only two real choices of computing platform. The Intel-based, so-called "IBM compatible" personal computer, and the underdog Apple Macintosh. At the time of the Amiga's passing, monetary restrictions prevented the exploration of the latter path. Experience with the Mac OS (5 or 6) via a hardware emulation board on the Amiga gave a sketchy impression at best. Pending employment in a DOS/Win environment equipped with x86 hardware cinched the decision. The MS route was followed, and computing operations proceeded in a predictable fashion thereafter.

At last, however, the situation has righted itself. Thanks to a combination of good fortune and excellent timing, a G5 iMac has been obtained. Many of the hardware related frustrations associated with the MS OS and firmware tomfoolery has vanished overnight. Every peripheral transfer (often without any drivers or software) to the new machine has taken less time than its initial installation with accompanying discs and documentation on the 'PC'.

Despite virtually identical specifications of 2GHz CPU/2Gb SDRAM/250Gb HD, comparative functional testing of the two units (using identical applications) reveals a significant improvement in performance in favour of the Mac. Using the new machine is a real joy. Computers are finally fun again.

once more unto the breach

Another Christmas Train Show is once more upon us. As usual, the last-minute rush to complete outstanding work on the display elements threatens to deaden the mood. How events unfold over the next two days will dictate future participation.

There remains to emerge a truly great train show in this region. The last one of any magnitude or consequence was in 2003, and that one very nearly didn't happen at all due to politics and knee-jerk reflexes.

It is sad to realise that, in an urban locale with 8+ million souls within reasonable driving distance, we cannot collectively attract more than a few thousand largely passive attendees for an annual exhibition. Perhaps it is because the displays do not change appreciably from year to year, or that the vendors fail to offer any real bargains. Perhaps it is because the major manufacturers choose to regularly absent themselves from the event, and the minor ones cannot afford to attend.

Frankly, there are other annual activities occurring within this timeframe which are becoming more appealing...