Coronavirus Impact Covid-19.

As we are now in lockdown all of our meetings will be online until further notice. I hope you are all keeping safe and well and will be able to join us online. Contact Gareth ( or to ) if you don't think you are on our meeting list of participants for online meetings if you are interested in joining in; since he is sending out the links prior to each meeting. There is nothing to download or install and we still meet on the third Wednesday of the month at 7:30 p.m. via Video conferencing.


Our Next Meeting Wednesday 19th May 2021 - AGM and Cloud - ALL.

7.30 p.m. Wednesday 19th May
Online due to Covid-19

1. Apologies for Absence

2. Minutes of the last meeting - will sent out separately.

3. Matters arising

4. Chairman's Report - To be sent out separately.

5. Treasurer's Report - To be sent out separately

6. Election of Officers and Committee

Please note that the Secretary wishes to stand down this year.

7. AOB.


After the formal part of the evening we'll be looking at all things "Cloud".

A big thing in computing in recent years with big players such as Amazon, Microsoft and Google offering storage, compute, load balancing, clustering... you name it.

Whether you realise it or not you are almost certainly using cloud based services!

Our Last Meeting Wednesday 21st April 2021 - A Retro Evening

This began with a few reminiscences. Peter remembered the networked online staff lists in BT at Adastral Park, Martlesham on what was called "The WEB" somewhat preceding the WorldWideWeb as we now know it.

He found it a very useful system as it enabled one to see the hierarchy. It was also more up to date than paper directories. Duncan remembered it too. He said it did not stop some rogue entries like a Mr Shurumcle - Bob Shuruncle!

Peter said he always liked humour in computing and remembered a debugging system called DDT.

Paul said that where he worked there had been two staff members listed sequentially in the directory as Maureen Allcock and Ann Balls; so the phone list went "Allcock and Balls" ; which he found very funny until Ann married and changed her name to Sayer and it did not then work so welI then!

Demonstrating Retro was not going to be easy online. It was easier to talk about it than demonstrate it online.

Duncan had an old wartime radio with 14 valves.

Peter said he had purchased a capacitor kit for his BBC B PSU. He was quite impressed with the kit from mailto: which included full illustrated instructions showing how to dismantle and rebuild the machine after fitting.

Duncan had visited Sandford Mill Museum, which is based in the old Sandford Mill Waterworks. It is only open a few times a year and houses a technical library of service manuals for everything Marconi Ltd ever made. It has a lot of old TV equipment and cameras. Sandford Mill Museum, Sandford Mill Road, Chelmsford and it is run by Chelmsford Council (Officially it is an industrial store.

The Computing Museum at Cambridge is good as it is all hands-on. Bletchley Park and the Science Museum in London are all worth a visit.

Michael mentioned his ZX spectrum and showed his 486 DX PC 8MB Windows 95 and with 640MB HDD. and his Atari System with MIDI.

Gareth said he had recently tried Windows 95 on a 386 but it wouldn't run on a 386 with Intel processor, but it was O.K. on the AMD equivalent because it had a floating point processor which the Intel processor lacked, but it was a bit painful with only 4MB of memory.

Duncan mentioned his 486 card in his RiscPC and ran it up through various Risc OS versions to RiscOS 6 but it then would no longer work. We all liked Windows 3.1 and Michael said it was one of the most stable versions of Windows, and Paul told us that there were still a lot of Win 3.1 systems in aircraft because they did not trust the more modern versions.

Gareth showed his version 1 iPad which he could not turn on because of a charging problem and he thought it needed some charge in the battery to enable the charging control to work. He then showed his Psion 3a which although he had no battery in it was powered externally. He set up a second Jitsi session so that he could use another camera, which we found somewhat amusing.

The Psion 3a has an NEC E38 processor. The main problem with Psions was in trying to get data off them. Paul had the Acorn pocket book version. PsiWIN was available for the Psion 5 version. Peter had a 5 and 5MX and had started a wine database and a Video tape library but they were never really finished. Some of the Psion uses had really been superseded by the mobile phone nowadays.

We all reminisced on the joys of downloading from cassette to load programs into the BBC B until the exhilaration of obtaining a disc drive. This also reminded us of the BBC adventure with Barry Norman using Basicode and downloading the software from medium wave after hours. A clever system for several operating systems with an operating system loader for each one enabling the compatibility.

Paul said it was much the same approach as used in JAVA as each machine could have a runtime environment (JRE).

Duncan said that the MW frequencies were all moved you be multiples of 9kHz instead of 10kHz ( 9 carrier +1 separation) to make digital tuning easier. (circa 1979).

Peter is still using his two stack RiscPC with SCSI and USB 2 card and also has an Iyonix. His old P4 is now loaded with Ubuntu 15-10 in order to run a SCSI card for his Nikon Coolscan scanner.

There was some discussion about digitally generated signals and this led onto to discuss Amateur Radio. It was Peter's interest in Amateur Radio that started him on electronics as a teenager and eventually led him to a job in BT. He was sorry to have to lose all the old radio components and his home built oscilloscope when he moved from London to Suffolk. Duncan mentioned the BBC B oscilloscope project too.

{Not mentioned at the meeting but he does still have his old R1155 receiver, although like the BBC B probably wouldn't work if he tried to turn it on. }

He has a friend who is a current Radio Amateur and the field is now so different with Moon bounces and whispernet; where you send out a weak digital signal and track the location of anyone who replies to it so thereby ascertaining how well your aerial is set up and also determining the atmospheric conditions at the time.

Many people did not now have a BT line and the PSTN was due to be phased out after 2025 as everything will be internet based.

The next release of Ubuntu in April will be "Pursuits Hippo" not an LTS version so it will will only have a modest collection of changes.

It will use Wayland by default. Peter had used Safari on Jitsi because the screen sharing doesn't work on Firefox although he is not keen on Safari. Paul uses Chromium which is the open source version of Chrome. Google's photo storage is going to be switched of soon. There will be no free storage of photos. Amazon Prime had unlimited photo storage and unlimited resolution. They were selling it very aggressively. Peter said that some items for sale were only available for Prime customers.

We also mentioned the BBC B software with View and Viewsheet which were ROM based. Also Interword with its doublestacked chip to get more memory. Pipedream was soft loaded. Peter's machine had a Solidisk sideways ram which was very useful. Duncan had a second Tube processor. Everything was done in order to expand the limited resources. Paul said there was a modern tube version with a Raspberry Pi fitted as second processor. Floating point was all in software.

Later ARM chips like the A5000 had a Floating Point chip. Gareth said that when the chip was no longer available the machine defaulted to a software version, but this was in fact an emulation of the hardware chip, which was quite clever.

As an aside Gareth said the UK Government was trying to block the sale of ARM to NVIDIA on security grounds.

Peter felt that you were expected to put any of your personal data or photos online but this meant whatever company was involved just took your data for themselves. It was an invasion of privacy not to mention theft!

Hopefully next time we have a Retro evening we shall be able to have more machines working.

ICENI Future programme

If anyone would like to present a talk please let us know. As always there is scope for adjustments as we go through the year and we are hoping the Covid restrictions will have eased and we can have the social functions. Once the restrictions allow in-person meetings it has been suggested that we alternate our meetings between online and in-person as it has been quite convenient for several of us to avoid going out but still attend a meeting. Gareth suggests this may need a decision at the AGM.


ICENI Future programme 2021/2022
May 19th AGM - and Cloud All
June 16th Virtualisation All
July 21st Operating System Updates All
August 18th Social Evening All
September 15th Raspberry Pi, Arduino, Microbit All
October 20th Computer Surgery All
November 17th Slides and Video All
December 15th Gadgets and Party All
January 19th Social Evening All
February 16th Photo and Video Editing All
March 16th Home Networking and Network Storage All
April 20th Apps and App Stores All
May 18th AGM + Extras All


Our meetings are held at the Bourne Vale Social Club, Halifax Road,

Ipswich IP2 8RE ,

for a map and other details please see the website.

Membership fee currently £15, visitors free.

Special Notice - Insurance

"ICENI does not have any Insurance cover for computers or other equipment so please be advised that you bring machines to the club at your own risk."

However many household insurance policies will include cover away from home often with no increase in premium. (Ed.)

Our Website and Email

Our website URL is

Email to:

I am open to suggestions on what people would like to have included in the website. If anyone would like a copy of our old newsletters on CD this could be arranged.