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News in brief

By Chris Williams. Published: 21st Apr 2004, 21:40:40 | Permalink | Printable

Darkwood, freeware, PGP saga and more [Updated]

News in briefIf you've been concerned by the recent lack of front page activity on drobe.co.uk, the website that 56 percent* of RISC OS users love to hate, then perhaps worry no more. Here's a round up of news that we missed whilst this editor was attempting to rescue his third year university project.

The website serving the RISC OS PGP resources has moved location, from the University of Birmingham to Dr. Nat Queen's personal space - be sure to make a note of the new URL. Dr. Queen exclaimed around the time: "These pages have moved because my university no longer supports the principles of free speech and academic freedom proclaimed in its own statutes. The new location is likely to be permanent for the foreseeable future." Rampant destruction of free rights, or a University tightening up on its policy of offering free webspace to academics? We do not know, although it looks like everyone on this page has had their webspace withdrawn so perhaps it's nothing personal? Lord, yes, cries privacy fan and RISC OS celebrity Paul Vigay, shaking his head and insightfully predicting to Iconbar, "with Universities traditionally being a bastion of free speech, I hope this is not just the beginning. If we're not careful it could happen all over."

Iconbar sister site, AcornArcade has published online for free, for free Ladies and Gentlemen, Darkwood (screenshots below) - Tom Cooper's 3D adventure game which works on RISC OS 3 to 3.7, RISC OS Select and RISC OS 5 if you use a free third party emulator. The game's graphics engine tries so hard to be good that it's perfectly acceptable given the age of the code. Chat to town folk, get attacked by skeletons, wander through lonely forests, be immersed in the game and that's just what I spotted within the first 10 minutes of playing it. Enjoy.

Screenshot of DarkwoodScreenshot of Darkwood
Screenshot of DarkwoodScreenshot of Darkwood

MicroDigital have provided more, um, statistics from their favourite benchmarking app, RISCOSmark, for their VirtualRiscPC powered range of Windows PC laptops. They also mention us again, aww shucks.

GCC 3.3.3 pre-release 2 is now online and don't be fooled by the 'pre-release' label, RISC OS GCC project leader Nick Burrett insists it's stable although any problems should be reported as soon as possible. A new version of Minidisc, the friendly desktop enhancer and drive manager application, is now out and features a 'CoolSwitch' style Task Switcher. ShowJPEG now copes with weird screenmodes, only took two years to fix that bug. Marco Baye's adopted ext2/3 partition reader IscaFS has been bugfixed to version 0.12. And last but not least, the ever popular Sunfish NFS client is now considered stable (as of version 1.00) by its author, Alex Waugh.

Finally, Iconbar spotted earlier some CompactFlash IDE interfaces from the previously-AWOL Gavin Smith. That will be all.

Update at 17:54 30/4/2004
Sue Blackwell, an english lecturer at Birmingham University, has written in with the following: "Heard about your site from Nat Queen. Thanks for giving the websites issue a mention on the Drobe site and I see it's already attracted several comments. I'm not a RISC OS user so won't be registering as a member, and therefore can't post a comment of my own, so please could you do me a favour and put up this link to the website campaign so that any of your visitors who are interested can read more and send critical messages to the university." So, trampling of free speech, or an organisation tightening up on its free web space policy? We'll leave you to decide, but at least domain registration and decent web hosting is cheap these days.


News? Comment? * - We made this up (unlike the rest of our articles), but we love you all really.

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/me thought you were doing an Iconbar on us ;) /me counts 5 1.0 empire links in this article :)

Darkwood is pretty nifty for it's age :) Although walls and trees keep getting in my line of sight :|

 is a RISC OS UserAndrewDuffell on 21/4/04 9:54PM
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With regards to Birmingham University - maybe this is just part of the web growing up.

The school in which I work now regularly recrutes pupils through our home grown website. As such the design of this "face to the world" is having a lot of time, effort and money invested to make it more slick and professional looking. It's make-over is being done by an outside company. Of course, our competitor schools are doing much the same. You have to run to stand still.

The down side is that the sort of pages and even the content that a beginner can cook up are no longer wanted as a part of the slick marketing product. It is good news for companies offering web-site design, though.

So, although I'm sure you won't, but if you do, get booted out of University, I think there is still a growing future in web site design - everyone wants something unique and cool that puts them ahead in this race.

 is a RISC OS Usermartin on 21/4/04 10:52PM
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"In future, the Information Services' Corporate Web Team will assume responsibility"

It's got the word Corporate in, you're screwed.

Hasn't everyone's personal website gone?

Minidisc: If I wanted CoolSwitch style switching why wouldn't I use CoolSwitch?

 is a RISC OS Usermavhc on 22/4/04 12:02AM
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mavhc: Because, I think, it's not 32bitted atm.

 is a RISC OS Userfylfot on 22/4/04 12:53AM
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andrew: aka kinetic, it's been cool to see your updates on Iconbar - the joy of an active media scene on RISC OS :) I would have included the usual NoughtPointOne gag in the article, but I thought that might have been a little unfair given our recent dormancy (for various reasons) and at least, your recent efforts. Cool.

I don't think I'll have time to complete Darkwood right away, revision beckons :( Still, as Paul Vigay would say, it looks 'fabby'.

Chris. Just me, a little drunk after a night out.

 is a RISC OS Userdiomus on 22/4/04 3:43AM
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Microdigital claim that the M6 uses the "very latest" Intel portable chip. That is the Dothan variant of the Centrino chip which has a larger cache and does even better in benchmarks and real world tests.

Quite a coup for MD if its true.

Its a shame that the M6 still only has a poxy 1024 x 768 res screen though. 1280 x 1024 (or better) is pretty standard now - and much beter for RISC OS!

 is a RISC OS Usercynic on 22/4/04 8:41AM
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> MicroDigital's statistics from their favourite benchmarking app, RISCOSmark:

Well, who really cares what RISCOSmark results are. As a matter of fact, I couldn't care less with those synthetic tests since they tell me nothing about how long i takes me to do the odd task. Or to but it bluntly, I can't care less if the memory transfers do 1MB/s or 10MB/s but I am indeed interested in how long it takes me to load some file in some editor and to amend it (e.g. to rotate some big image or do some nice blends in ArtWorks).

Strange is though, that MD said that Steffen Hubers benchmarks are useless due to not being real-life things and now they go for just non-real-life tests :-)

 is a RISC OS Userhzn on 22/4/04 12:26PM
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Unfortunately it looks like Dr Queen's website was singled out to be taken down, rather than it being a general thing. Other members of the maths & stats department still have their pages intact:


I can't imagine why they would have had a problem with his site.

 is a RISC OS Userflypig on 22/4/04 2:22PM
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"I can't imagine why they would have had a problem with his site."

It wasn't "relevant and legitimate to [his] academic or administrative work". It tells you this is a requirement in the <a href="[link]">new policy docs</a>. (Found via a link from the Kon bar article.)

 is a RISC OS UserLoris on 27/4/04 1:11PM
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Ah, fair enough, that makes more sense (it can be too easy to jump to conclusions, I guess). Thanks for pointing this out.

I do think it's a bad (from the university's point of view) and unfortunate policy, even if it's not unreasonable for the university to do this :unhappy:.

 is a RISC OS Userflypig on 27/4/04 1:52PM
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Don't be daft: [link]

That's the math's department server, all the personal sites on the main server appear to have been removed.

"As part of the continuing move to safeguard the business of the University, the current personal web site service provided by Information Services is to be withdrawn", they're just scared of being sued. Lame.

 is a RISC OS Usermavhc on 27/4/04 8:06PM
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