A vanishing breed - the 3.5" floppy

Yul Haasmann shows how a good Commodore soldier looks

CommVEx 2010

Commodore Las Vegas Expo

  
Photos          Related Links          More Travel Reports
   

July 24, 2010: Having made only three trips through Mojave and Barstow and across the desert since February, it seemed only insane logical that I should do it again. For the sake of variation, this time I bypassed the I-40 exit in Barstow and continued up I-15 to Las Vegas for the annual Commodore Las Vegas Expo at the Plaza Hotel and Casino, an 823 mile round trip. Since it's been in the low 100s in Fresno, a visit to the Nevada desert, with temperatures forecast to be around 110, should make our home weather seem cool in comparison.

You can click the links to read about the background of this event and my earlier trips in 2006 and 2008, so I won't repeat that information, other than to state that the event is sponsored by the Fresno Commodore User Group (FCUG) and the Clark County Commodore Computer Club (CCCCC) of Las Vegas.

Despite the apparent organizational power behind the event, the driving force is FCUG president Robert Bernardo, ably assisted by Larry Anderson of San Andreas, CA, with minor help from me and significant help in the form of equipment loaned by Al Jackson of CCCCC. (A sidebar: Al is an older gentleman who gets around Vegas on a bike. One member of CCCCC said that they have a saying - when the apocalypse comes, the only thing left will be cockroaches, Cher, and Al Jackson.)

I left home a little before 8 a.m. Friday, July 23, and arrived a little after four. I avoided a lengthy lunch stop by bringing a sandwich, veggies and a soda. Instead of my usual 75 MPH on the desert, I held it to 70 most of the way, and arrived with at least an 8th of a tank of gas; usually I need to fill up at the California-Nevada border. Although there was a lot of traffic, it was moving fast, and there was only one brief slowdown where two cars had been in a fender bender and were off to the side of the road. Traffic through Las Vegas was the quickest I have ever seen on a Friday afternoon (maybe because the economic downturn has hit this area fairly hard).

Once I got checked in and settled into my room, I helped Robert and Larry with the set-up. At first glance the job looks hopeless, with computers, cables, power supplies and countless other items scattered all over the tables, chairs and floor. But by the official start time of 11 a.m. on Saturday, the mess had been reduced to simple organized chaos.

Knowing that Robert will not stop until the room is completely ready (or until he collapses), Larry and I left to have dinner around 8, eating at the hotel's buffet. We went back and did a little more work, but by ten p.m. I could no longer function and went up to my room for the night.

Although the official start time on Saturday is 11 a.m., people start drifting in by 9 or so, and if the past is any indication, the true enthusiasts will return after dinner to talk and play with the computers till late at night.

As in the past, my job is that of registrar, collector of admission, seller of raffle tickets, and keeper of the accounts. By 11 a.m., we had a small but enthusiastic and knowledgeable group of about a dozen, with several more known to be coming later.

Robert opened the event by welcoming attendees to the sixth annual CommVEx, and pointed out the raffle prizes and door prizes. The former included the ever-popular SX64, which is a complete system (computer, disk drive and monitor) in one box. Although it was called "portable" by the manufacturer, most owners referred to it as "luggable." I owned one for a while, but sold it some years ago; inexplicably I bought raffle tickets to try and win this one (I felt a mixture of relief and disappointment when my name was not drawn).

By mid-afternoon we had a paid attendance of 25, good success with the raffle sales, and had covered our costs with a good amount of seed money for next year.

The day featured a number of demonstrations, which are described in detail in the Commodore version of this report.

When the day's official program ended, about 15 of us walked a block down the street and enjoyed the buffet at Main Street Station (far better than the Plaza's buffet). Now at 8:15 I'm heading for my room, Robert is crashed out across a row of chairs, and a hard core group of ten are just getting started for the unofficial evening version of CommVEx.

 

July 25:Many folks stayed up late last night, so Robert didn't open the room till about 10 a.m., and even then, people didn't start drifting in till just before the official start time of 11. Although I got to bed by 11 p.m. and got up just before 8, I was suddenly tired and in need of a nap, just as I went on duty. 

I made it through the day without my nap, and with a slightly lighter workload. We had only two additional persons sign in, although most of Saturday's attendees returned (the admission price covers both days).

We did collect a fair amount in additional raffle ticket sales, finishing up with the most successful raffle ever. We seemed to have some people who had the gambler's attitude, "if I just buy three more tickets on this item, I will win it." My informal study showed that in one raffle, a person with three tickets won over several people who had deposited only one. But in another raffle, the winner had a single ticket, and beat out several entrants who had each deposited three tickets.

We had more demos, including my own presentation on Big Blue Reader. This program from about 1990 converts Commodore text files for use on a Windows PC (and vice versa).

In addition to the demos, visitors had the opportunity to see and sometimes use various vintage Commodore computers, including Robert's Educator 64, a rare machine from 1982. And Tim Waite set up a table covered with hardware, software and other items for sale.

During the early afternoon I slipped out and got a BLT sandwich at the hotel's cafe, which offers above average food. That evening we walked down Fremont Street, the famous brightly lit pedestrian walkway that highlights old downtown Vegas, to the Fremont Casino's Second Street Grill. Here I had the very worst entree I have ever experienced in a restaurant - Korean style short ribs. It consisted of nearly uncuttable and totally unchewable fat and gristle. I gave up after three bites, but was able to fill up on a good baked potato, vegetables, and bread. All the other entrees were fine - I just made a bad choice.

Robert will only play a slot machine if it has a Star Trek theme, so after dinner Larry led us across the street to a casino with the appropriate machine. First he put in a dollar, and won $4; Robert followed suite and won $5.

Before going to dinner we got everything packed up and moved either to our cars or to Robert's room. On Monday morning I was up and ready to go by a little after 8, and made it home in good time, with a stop for lunch in Barstow.

It was great seeing some familiar faces, as well as meeting a number of new Commodore friends, who will hopefully become CommVEx regulars. My personal thanks to Al Jackson, who brought me lunch on Saturday when I was too busy to leave the registration table.

In addition to this more personal report, here is here is a version aimed at those with a strong interest in Commodore.

--Dick Estel, August 2010

 

Photos
(Click photo for a larger view - Pictures open in a new window)

     
Before the set-up Tim Waite's sale table More goodies for sale
Before the set-up Tim Waite's sale table More goodies for sale
    
A potential customer & Tim Waite Yul Haasmann shows how a good Commodore soldier looks Computers ready for playing
A potential customer with Tim Yul Haasmann shows how a good Commodore soldier looks Computers ready for playing
     
Robert packages copies of the new game "Berserk" Larry Anderson checks the room A vanishing breed - the 3.5" floppy
Robert packages copies of the new game "Berzerk" Larry Anderson checks the room A vanishing breed - the 3.5" floppy
     
Greg Alekel prepares for his demo An unusual collector's item for Coke fans Robert's rare Educator 64
Greg Alekel prepares his demo An unusual collector's item for Coke fans Robert's rare Educator 64
     
Petster, an obedient robot kitty Paul Armstrong brought Barbra to CommVEx Commodore t-shirt, donated by Jeff Krantz
Petster, an obedient robot kitty Paul Armstrong brought Barbra to CommVEx Commodore t-shirt, donated by Jeff Krantz
     
Bilgem Cakir talks about his Commodore games Knight Lore games artwork Greg introduces CommodoreServer.com
Bilgem Cakir talks about his Commodore games Nite Lore games artwork Greg introduces CommodoreServer.com
     
Lars Nelson, the Amiga man Amiga screen shot Lars brought a big collection of  equipment
Lars Nelson, the Amiga man Amiga screen shot

Lars brought a big collection of  equipment

    
Larry, Robert and Greg Josh Shiflett talks about the 1541 Ultimate 2 An attentive audience
Larry, Robert and Greg Josh Shiflet talks about the 1541 Ultimate 2 An attentive audience
   
Connor proves you can play Guitar Hero on the Commodore Keith Henrickson makes the iPad sing Commodore SID songs Dick Estel talks about Big Blue Reader
Connor proves you can play Guitar Hero on the Commodore Keith Henrickson makes the iPad sing Commodore SID songs Dick Estel discusses Big Blue Reader
     
The Amiga 25th Anniversary cake How you cut a computer-related cake Anyone want to lick the frosting?
The Amiga 25th Anniversary cake

How you cut a computer-related cake

Anyone want to lick the frosting?
     
Michael Battilana of Amiga Forever Saturday night dinner Robert and Bilgem at dinner

Michael Battilana of Amiga Forever

Saturday night dinner Robert and Bilgem at dinner
     
Greg explains the Portland group's hardware project Schematic for the joystick switch Steve Davison explains blocking the NMI
Greg explains the Portland group's hardware project Schematic for the joystick switch

Steve Davison explains blocking the NMI

     
Larry Anderson talks about the current state of Commodore  Commodore resources on the web Drawing for a big prize
Larry Anderson talks about the current state of Commodore 

Commodore resources on the web

Drawing for a big prize
     
The winner is Paul Armstrong! End of the Expo The strip from the Plaza Hotel
The winner is Paul Armstrong! End of the Expo The strip from the Plaza Hotel
     
    All hail Commodore!    
    All hail Commodore!    
     

Related Links

Larry Anderson Amiga Forever FCUG
Cameron Kaiser Commodore Server
1541 Ultimate Drive Lars Nelson File Conversion Service
Portland Commodore Users Group Commodore Information Center CommVEx 2005
CommVEx 2006 CommVEx 2008 Changes & Updates to Commodore Pages
   
How you cut a computer-related cake

Connor proves you can play Guitar Hero on the Commodore

 
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Before 2002
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2002
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2003
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2004
Paso Robles & Parkfield 2004 Road Trip 2004 (Ohio & Back)
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2005
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2006
Huck Finn Bluegrass 2006 Las Vegas Commodore Expo 2006
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2007
Bullhead City, Bakersfield, Joshua Tree 2007 Frog Camp 2007
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(Mother Lode; Kings Canyon, Yosemite)
Bluegrass in the Foothills 2007    
   
2008
Nevada-Arizona Hockey & Bluegrass 2008 Parkfield Bluegrass 2008
Frog Camp 2008 Las Vegas Commodore Expo 2008
Stargazer Rock Camp 2008 Bluegrass in the Foothills 2008
Hobbs Grove Festival 2008     
   
2009
Roundup 2009
Las Vegas, Mariposa, Table Mountain, Orange County
Frog Camp 2009 Southern Journey 2009
Parkfield Bluegrass 2009 Stargazer Rock Camp 2009
Bluegrass Tour 2009
Brown Barn, Plymouth, Hobbs Grove   
Hensley Lake Camp
2010
Mojave National Preserve & Havasu Bluegrass Roundup 2010
Hensley Reservoir, Mojave Preserve 2 & 3
Parkfield Bluegrass 2010 Lake Almanor & Mt. Lassen 2010
Las Vegas Expo Summergrass
    Brown Barn, Watsonville & Hobbs Grove
   
2011
Roundup 2011
Mariposa, Hensley, Table Mountain
Frog Camp 2011
Parkfield Bluegrass 2011 Frank, Pat, Dick & Ted's Excellent Adventure
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2012 
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A 3-Event Weekend
Farmer's Market, Kings River Bluegrass, Antique Fair
2012 Las Vegas CAN AM Hockey Challenge
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Finegold Trail; Bower Cave
Into Los Gatos Canyon
  
2013
Silver Stick Tournament - Canada Sierra Foothills - Winter 2013
Finegold Trailhead, Hensley Lake, San Joaquin Gorge
Death Valley - Alabama Hills - Whitney Portal Sierra Foothills - Spring 2013
San Joaquin Gorge Hike, Big Creek Drive
Parkfield Bluegrass 2013 Shaver Crossing Station & Big Creek
Lake Almanor & Caribou Crossroads Mono Hot Springs
Good Old Fashioned Bluegrass Festival A Wedding in Duluth
Sequoia Park Hiking Roundup 2013
Kings River Bluegrass, Buena Vista Peak Hike, Hensley Lake Camp, North Fork Mono Museum, White Rock Road, Hockey in Denver
     
2014
2014 Winter Hikes
Millerton South Bay Trail, Clovis Trail, Hite's Cove Trail
San Joaquin Gorge Campout
Colorado Springs Hockey Tournament Lake Havasu Bluegrass
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Stockton Creek Preserve, San Joaquin River Trail, San Joaquin Gorge, Millerton Lake, Sycamore Creek, Buena Vista Peak Again
NORCAL Hockey Playoffs and Santa Cruz Visit
Greeley Hill Road Trip Parkfield Bluegrass 2014
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California Flat Campout
Snow Day with the  Upshaw's   
 
2015
Rambler Hikes 2015 Part 1 Rambler Hikes 2015 Part 2
Adventures of 2015 - February to May
(Goofy Smith Flat, Coast Redwoods & Big Sur, Pine Flat, Finegold Trail, Edison Point Trail, Nelder Grove)
Adventures of 2015 - June to December
(Lewis Creek Trail, Kaiser Pass, Kaiser Pass Again, Taft Point, Kings River Bluegrass, Shaver Logging Road, San Joaquin River Trail, Lewis S Eaton Trail, San Joaquin River Gorge, Thanksgiving at the Gorge)
Lake Tahoe & Virginia City Parkfield Bluegrass 2015
Colorado Springs Cousin Convention 2015 Las Vegas Commodore Expo 2015
Stargazer Rock Camp 2015 Grand Canyon & Arches National Parks
  
2016
Adventures of 2016 Part 1 Rambler Hikes 2016 Page 1
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Adventures of 2016 Part 3 Rambler Hikes 2016 Page 3
Adventures of 2016 Part 4 A Pennsylvania Adventure
Adventures of 2016 Part 5 Parkfield Bluegrass 2016
Adventures of 2016 Part 6 Las Vegas Commodore Expo 2016
Adventures of 2016 Part 7 Stargazer Rock Camp 2016
     
2017
Adventures of 2017 Part 1 Rambler Hikes 2017 Page 1
Adventures of 2017 Part 2 Rambler Hikes 2017 Page 2
Adventures of 2017 Part 3 Rambler Hikes 2017 Page 3
Adventures of 2017 Part 4 Hiking and Hockey
Adventures of 2017 Part 5 Lake Almanor
Adventures of 2017 Part 6 Northern California Redwood Hike
Parkfield Bluegrass 2017 Stargazer Rock Camp 2017
Travel Blog 2017 (an experiment)
Other
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Butch's Blog Walker Family Trips
Parkfield Earthquake Kim & Morgan Brown Trips & Photos
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Updated July 22, 2017