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RISC Nation 8: What has this fresh disc magazine got to offer?

By Chris Williams. Published: 26th Nov 00:38:43 | Permalink | Printable

Not all magazines come on paper. There may be various computer magazines with nice glossy covers but it wasn't all like that. Some computer magazines were once supplied on discs, one that instantly springs to mind is the legendary Lunchtime magazine. As time progressed these disc magazines faded out, leaving the normal paper publications to rule.
The general theme to disc magazines was either strange satirical comedy, hardcore programming resources or program reviews. Most of them were free and packed with text files and other goodies. The better ones featured their own file viewers; you might remember the software group Sounds Riscy, they wrote a disc magazine editor based on their own magazine Spectrum. It's a shame they are gone, however with the internet all around us now, it didn't take long for some bright spark to move the trend to the web.

The latest alternative RISC OS magazine RISC Nation has reached issue eight and as a disc magazine, it relies on the versatility of HTML, (you'll need a web browser to enjoy RISC Nation). Before I continue, you must understand that RISC Nation is still in it's infancy: every publication starts small and needs time to gather contributors. As a magazine's content increases, more people tend to read it which increases the number of contributors and so on. Think how long Archive and Acornuser have been around before judging RISC Nation.

With all that in mind, RISC Nation is a surprise. While the design needs tidying up, the magazine does contain a fair amount. Articles come in fits and starts, the pages can appear worryingly bare until you get right into the magazine. What follows is a breakdown of the contents of RISC Nation issue 8 (November 2000):

  • What is RISC Nation?

    A quick paragraph informing you that yes, you have indeed received a copy of RISC Nation.

  • News

    This part features recent news clippings from the RISC OS scene. Once a few more news sources have been found this might prove popular to readers who want a monthly digest.

  • What's on the disc?

    Included with RISC Nation 8 is HTMLHelper by Owen Griffon, two desktop programming examples and VoiceCon, a voice-command program from Jason Tribbeck. Being a web-based magazine, HTMLHelper was probably a good choice and as for VoiceCon, if you have a microphone hooked up to your computer this is worth a try.

  • Reviews

    Totally out of the blue is all I can say. I was a tad worried that half my copy of the magazine had been lost during transit until the magazine presented five full reviews of various pieces of recent software, a look into the Armclub magazine Eureka and a review of Mircodigital's current RISC OS computer.

    From Dansoft's Site Writer to the TBA software CD, the reviews were of a good standard and various screenshots were thrown in for added effect. The games reviews, which included The Chaos Engine and Apocalypse covered many aspects of each game and I'm glad the magazine didn't try to cover up any failings of the games. The Microdigital Mico review, I hope, will be followed up early next year with an Omega review and it goes without saying that the editor will be on the lookout for more contributors.

  • Internet Links

    Another interesting feature of RISC Nation is its love of games. The only problem being RISC OS doesn't have any. While RISC Nation tries to ignore this and stumbles on, this can only limit the breadth of the magazine. If the editor were to branch out to something even as closely related as the growing RISC OS graphics market, the magazine could offer that much more. Anyway, this section will try to link you to every game available for RISC OS. The quality of the games here is hit and miss, resembling a hunt for buried treasure. However, if you like playing homebrewed games this is a perfect freeware haven.

  • Web design

    For this part, Owen Griffon explains the rituals involved in website design. This month concerns HTML portability, or for you and me: "Why does Oregano's display look different to Explorer's?" It is very in-depth and includes Owen personal experiences as well as mentioning some useful applications. By the end of the article, Owen slyly managed to slip in a bit about his HTMLHelper. Nice one Owen.

  • WIMP Tutorial

    Now this is a great article. Written by Stephen Hayter, this ongoing technical article continues to teach and explain the processes involved in developing desktop programs. Aimed at your average user, this article points out essential applications and it's lively informal style of writing is complemented by a good dose of code snippets.

  • An interview with... Dave Thomas

    First things first. Dave Thomas was, (and maybe still is), a well known RISC OS programmer. He wrote a shedload of utilities and applications before working for RISC OS ltd. for a while. This man is a character, so I won't spoil the surprise- you'll have to read it for yourself.

So, that covers issue eight. Issue nine is ready from what I've been told and good luck to them. I suggest the editor employs a designer to sort out the layout and maybe also to announce to the RISC OS world that RISC Nation is willing to air your views and reviews. RISC Nation seriosuly needs filling and the only way to do this is to get more people involved. If you want to try something new, try a disc magazine or better still try RISC Nation.


RISC Nation editor: Kerry Floyd
www.riscnation.com (redesign pending)

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