Philadelphia Area HP Handheld Club Meeting | Thursday, September 2, 1999

Drexel University

HHC 99 - The HP Handheld Conference - August 20th-21st, 1999

The conference in Vancouver, Washington was a great success with approximately 50 attendees present for the official rollout of the HP49G to a large group. Jean-Yves Avenard, Cyrille de Brebisson and Gerald Squelart from HP-ACO were there along with many from the U.S. sales and marketing operation (Whit Hickman, Jeff Blough, Nycole Chapman, etc.) to meet the out-of-towners. The entire morning on the first day was spent with Jean-Yves presenting the HP49 with demonstrations using both the calculator itself and also a PC emulator which is part of the soon-to-be-released Software Development Kit. In order to better show the group what was going on, HP rolled a cart into the room containing calculators and distributed one to each and every attendee - to keep. This definitely raised the mood of the room significantly.

Following the HP49 demo, a handful of others did their thing:

Jim Donnelly spoke on building HP48/49 libraries

Richard Nelson and Wlodek Mier-Jedrzejowicz presented "One-Minute Marvels" - HP48/49 Tips and Routines

Dan MacDonald spoke on techniques to transfer old LIF files between HP-IL controllers and modern PCs

Brian Walsh spoke on memory management and synchronization in high-end HP calculators

Jake Schwartz presented an update on the PPC CD ROM set, and distributed a sample of the third disk (still in progress)

Ted Kerber spoke on HP49 font sets for printing on the PC

DennisYork presented a ruggedized Windows CE-based handheld for surveying applications

Megha Shyam spoke on philosophies for developing software for high-end graphing calculators

Vern Lindsay showed Firmware Systems' newest peripheral, the Portable Datalab data acquisition device for the HP38/48/49

At three different times, ACO's Cyrille de Brebesson did a two-hour training session on the upcoming HP49 software development kit (SDK) which will run under Windows NT or 98. This package will be relased later in September as an open-source release to developers and will contain the HP49 ROMs.

Toward the end of the second day, an HP Panel consisting of ACO and U.S. sales/marketing people fielded questions from the audience. This was very informative. Also, during the conference a programming contest was held and the results were tallied on Sunday. John Stebbins was the winner and took home an HP Jornada 420 palm-sized PC.

One interesting conference "goodie" was the proliferation of HP49 prototypes which floated around the room. The ACO folks showed off the original prototype which was based on a modified HP48GX with an outboard keyboard and circuit board plugged into one of the card ports. Someone had gotten photos of several prototypes inside and out and quickly had overhead transparencies made to show the group. As these were being "mysteriously" shown, Jean-Yves ran up and graciously identified all the interesting features and differences. It was truly a spontaneous and fun time.

A discussion was raised about another conference next year. HP's Whit Hickman said that they would be willing to hold it anywhere we chose. By the end, the group was leaning toward a 2000 meeting in Southern California.

HP49 Operating System On-Line Updates

Since the HP49G's operating system consists of a megabyte of flash ROM which is upgradable via a computer download, an obvious and frequent question was "when will we be able to do O.S. updates?" The HP answer was that some time in September, this mechanism would be put into place along with downloadable files on the HP Calculator web site. The current batch of machines were shipped with ROM version C1.05. Currently, the lastest known version is C1.10, so an update will be anticipated soon. In addition, the software to do the updates will have to be made available. Whether this appears in the new connectivity kit or also on the web remains to be seen.