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Voting for Best of 2004 Awards open

By Chris Williams. Published: 10th Dec 2004, 23:49:17 | Permalink | Printable

Let the people decide - ends 30th Dec

Best of 2004 logoLadies and gentlemen. As 2004 draws to a close this month, we'd like to recognise the people who have contributed the most to our platform this year. We're proud to announce drobe.co.uk's Best of 2004 awards, where we nominate those who've stood out this year, and you get to pick the winners - and hopefully win something yourself.

Organising these awards has been long and hard, and something we've spent the past month (and especially the past week) working on, discussing and weighing up. It's been tough narrowing down the year's news into a manageable list, so we hope you'll agree with most of it.

The focus of the nominations is on what has been achieved this year: what's new or benefited from significant improvement in just 2004. Importantly, to qualify for a nomination, a product or service must have been released and be in the hands of users. If something is hyped this year, but is slated to appear next year, then we'll have to wait until the 2005 awards. Finally, if something or someone isn't listed, then that doesn't necessarily mean we don't care or that we forgot. Every single developer, dealer and bug hunter is worth his or her weight in gold.

Check out the nominations below, listed in no particular order, then go to the form on this page and cast your vote. Voting opens now and closes at 12 noon on the 30th December 2004. Results will then be announced on the 31st.

Repton logoAlso on the 31st, three randomly chosen voters will be picked to win a copy of the recently launched Desktop Repton Plus - the classic puzzle game brought up to date for 2004. Published by Alligata Software, Repton Plus includes Repton 1, 2 and 3 plus levels never seen before.

The nominations

Best commercial software
This is RISC OS software you must pay for to receive.
  • Gimp-Print: MW-Software's Gimp-Print opens the printer support floodgates, and ports a collection of popular open source drivers to RISC OS. Although the drivers can be freely downloaded, you have to pay for the software layer that interfaces them with RISC OS.
  • RISC OS Adjust: RISCOS Ltd. committed their RISC OS Select 3 operating system to ROM, and released Adjust.
  • Aemulor Pro: Aemulor Pro is released by the Spellings.net team, and includes support for legacy screen modes, sound modules and file systems.
  • Grapevine 2: R-Comp release Grapevine 2, which now includes ICQ support. It currently is also the only working native MSN Messenger client for RISC OS.
  • MusicMan: MusicMan, also by R-Comp, is a friendly user interface to freely available MP3 encoding, decoding and management software with support for Ogg Vorbis. It's perhaps not a tool for a power user, but suited for those who don't want to waste time faffing with taskwindows.
  • Artworks 2: Artworks 2 continues to improve, thanks again to MW-Software, especially with the release of version 2.3, which includes graduated transparency and CMYK ink simulation support.

Best non-commercial software
This includes open source, freeware and shareware RISC OS software.
  • GCCSDK: The GCCSDK team have been busy improving and testing the RISC OS port of GCC this year. Developments include experimental support for ELF binaries, threading support and updates to UnixLib.
  • NetSurf: NetSurf goes from strength to strength, if you can catch a stable build, and as the native open source web browser gathers more and more features, its lack of Javascript support becomes its own hindrance.
  • RDesktop: Andrew Sellors impressed users with his RDesktop client, allowing RISC OS computers to remotely administrate and use PCs running Windows 2000 server or XP Pro editions.
  • Tom Cooper Classics relaunched: The Tom Cooper gaming classics released online for free by AcornArcade, who scooped the rights to redistribute the titles at the start of the year. From platformers to adventure games, playing Berty's titles again will jerk a few nostalgic tears.
  • PCITV: The much anticipated PCI TV card driver, developed by Simon Wilson, was released this year and later gained frame capture and stereo sound support.
  • SampleEd: Richard Windley took us by surprise this year with a double whammy release of audio file editor SampleEd and software development environment Sourcery, plus related software.
  • Variations: Variations is one of those applications that you can't believe is free. The bitmap image manipulator by Rob Davison has been updated with Warp, thumbnailing, mask editing and other features.
  • Graphite: Graphite is a new comer to the scene, developed by Marc Zinnschlag, and is a straight forward flow chart diagram editor.
  • TapirMail: TapirMail is a handy shareware POP3 email client developed by David Llewellyn-Jones, that's designed to allow users to check and send email while on the move.
  • HID USB drivers: Despite dragging its feet over Impression-X, X-Ample's shareware HID software was well received this year, as it enables Iyonix users to sensibly use USB scroll wheel mice and fancy keyboards.
  • RemotePrinterFS: RemotePrinterFS, by Stefan Bellon, enables users to use printers or print servers that use the JetDirect or LPD protocols.
  • Sunfish: SunFish is an NFS client written by Alex Waugh, and has gained in popularity this year. New features include TCP connection support and a user interface to configure mounts.

Best RISC OS hardware product
Upgrades and products for RISC OS powered kit.
  • Unipod: The Unipod has that classic podule look, and it's crammed with goodies. The IDE-USB-100MBit NIC combo card, available from STD, was released this year and certainly revitalised users' aging RiscPCs.
  • Omega ethernet: Better late than never, Omega users got their hands on ethernet cards and drivers this year. Although there were a few stability issues to begin with, we understand from MicroDigital that these were gradually addressed.
  • X100 case: Everyone complained that the original Iyonix case was as bland as a Conservative party political broadcast, so Castle treated us this year to a series of new cases, like the black and white number dubbed the X100.

Best RISC OS event of 2004
Best in terms of organisation, timing, publicity, and what was on show at the events.
  • Midlands show: Report: Saw MiMagic hardware running RISC OS 5 demonstrated in public and further details of Select32 revealed.
  • South East show: Report: Geminus, VirtualAcorn Linux, AGP accelerated drawfile rendering were demonstrated, plus the show theatre saw Castle and RISCOS Ltd. discussing the platform's future.
  • Expo show: Report: Held on the European mainland during the height of the ROL-Castle dispute, Castle revealed their plan to have everyone using RISC OS 5.
  • Wakefield show: Report: Denbridge Marine demonstrated RISC OS powered radar systems during the two day event, plus Cino and Adjust presentations in the show theatre.
  • South West show: Report: This event saw Aemulor Pro being demonstrated for the first time, and a printer was accidentally treated to a glass or two of champagne.

Best show of ingenuity
Cunning use of hardware and software to think, in some cases literally, outside of the box.
  • Wireless A4 Internet: Dave Higton straps a mobile phone to his trusty A4 to enable wireless internet, of sorts.
  • PC in a RiscPC case: Drobe webmaster Ian Hawkins pushes his RiscPC beyond 1.5GHz processor and downgrades it to a PC.
  • USB powered combo-media reader: Ian Jeffray fits a combo-media drive to his RiscPC avec Unipod.
  • Flash memory drive for your BBC B: John Kortink develops a Flash memory interface for Acorn 8bit era machines.
  • DIY laptop case: Rico Naf squeezes a RiscPC into a custom built 'laptop' case.

Best general contribution to the platform
A difficult category to draw up as it recognises efforts to further the community as a whole.
  • Martin Wuerthner: For advancing Artworks 2 to include new transparency and other features, while continuing to develop Gimp-Print, Techwriter and Easiwriter. He was also on the cards to develop Messenger Pro 3, until another developer with more free time was chosen instead.
  • Peter Naulls: Drobe writer, GCCSDK contributor and tester, and also founder of the Unix Porting Project, which continued this year to harness the wealth of open source software and encourage others to do so.
  • Richard Goodwin: Despite hardware failures, hacker attacks and networking problems, Richard has battled to keep popular forum website Iconbar online, as well as providing webspace to RISC OS developers.
  • Andy Jackson: Developed Nutshells, a community edited website that features a database of links and information. As anyone can update and add to the content on the site, the site hopefully won't go stale like other links websites.
  • Chris Hughes: Organiser of the Wakefield 2004 show, which ran for two days this year.

Top own goal
Things that didn't go according to plan, or should never have been attempted in the first place.
  • Iyonix motherboard faults: Castle is forced to issue an 'engineering update' to remedy serious faults in customers' Iyonix computers. Incredibly, users are told to cut PCB tracks and solder patch wires, or post their machines off to Castle to fix. Castle informed users that Simtec could also do the repairs as well, but failed to check this with the electronic design firm. Cue STD wading in to remedy the situation, but only serving to confuse the issue. Castle later did a whistle stop tour of usergroups, servicing affected Iyonixes.
  • Vantage users locked out: Cerilica's anti-piracy system for Vantage users loses the plot and locks everyone out of the beleagued graphics software. Cerilica later remove the anti-piracy system, although the software remains largely unsupported and buggy to the point of being unusable, users bitterly claim. Meanwhile, Qercus magazine rubs salt into wounds by publishing a front cover designed in Vantage.
  • Castle-RISCOS Ltd. dispute: Castle becomes fed up with RISCOS Ltd., and terminates their licence to develop and sell RISC OS, citing various allegations of licence breaches. RISCOS Ltd. refute the claims and refuse to take part in the ensuing PR frenzy launched by Castle. It later emerges that Castle had also sent cease and desist letters to various RISC OS dealers, developers, and their clients, allegedly freezing their income for around two months and tearing a deep division between the Castle and RISCOS Ltd. camps. Castle and RISCOS Ltd. later sign a new head licence, but a source close to the Castle-RISCOS Ltd. dispute recently told Drobe, "it's a miracle that we're still here, and the affected developers didn't seek damages from Castle."
  • Not on the right Wavelength: AcornArcade gets into hot water over the free distribution of some Tom Cooper games. The NoughtPointOne site thought it had the appropriate rights to redistribute Berty's classics, but CJE Micros thought differently and asked AcornArcade to remove the Wavelength download.
  • Select32 survey muddle: RISCOS Ltd. contacts its Select subscribers to guage the level of interest in 32bit Select. The email is soon republished on Drobe and forwarded to Usenet. Many non-Select users later wondered why they hadn't been included in the survey. RISCOS Ltd. later explain that they intended to survey the wider userbase after Christmas, but the damage is done as many users interpreted the closed survey as an attempt to wriggle out of developing an Iyonix compatible release of Select.

Thanks for voting, and let us know if there are any problems.


Best of 2004 awards voting form - you must be logged in to drobe.co.uk to vote

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There were a few categories I would have liked to have voted for more than 1 or 2 candidates. I would have preferred to use an Alternative Vote (AV) system for most categories and single transferable vote (STV) for the non-commercial categories. It would have made the counting up harder though :-). There has been a lot of good to come out of the past year. Will I have a lizard-y new year?

 is a RISC OS Userxyzzy on 11/12/04 12:21AM
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The other issue is the lack of a "none of the above" option, which is lacking for some of the categories. :)

 is a RISC OS Usernunfetishist on 11/12/04 12:26AM
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I had thought of implementing an STV system. But for this year, I decided to keep it simple and then make the 2005 awards even better :)


 is a RISC OS Userdiomus on 11/12/04 12:28AM
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The nominees for best hardware are a bit uninspiring - a network card and a PC case? I'd like to vote for an A9 or a MiMagic board, but I guess they aren't classed as products yet.

 is a RISC OS Usermonkeyson on 11/12/04 12:53AM
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Vote NetSurf! Vote Richard Goodwin! ;)

On a more serious note I have to agree with monkeyson. I was hard pushed on the hardware question, and voted for Unipod.

 is a RISC OS UserAndrewDuffell on 11/12/04 12:57AM
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There's so much quality software in the non-commercial category it's hard to choose just two titles!

NetSurf and Variations are easily the two most important to me but almost all of those titles are ones I use on a daily basis.

Three cheers for all our free-software developers! :-)

 is a RISC OS Usertamias on 11/12/04 1:12AM
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Whilst it's great to see MusicMan and Grapevine both nominated in the commercial software category, it's kinda curious that the two nominees aren't exactly our popular titles! Both are labour-of-love applications, which will never recoup their development time/costs - that's cool because other apps *do*, but interesting nonetheless. I'd have thought the more likely nominees would be UniPrint, NetFetch2/DialUp3/Hermes, Messenger Pro 3 etc. Anyway, big thankyou to those that nominated MusicMan and Grapevine.

 is a RISC OS Userarawnsley on 11/12/04 11:31AM
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arawnsley: But NetFetch and DialUp hardly do anything, well, interesting.

 is a RISC OS Usernunfetishist on 11/12/04 1:57PM
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What happened to the "best website" category?

 is a RISC OS Useradamr on 11/12/04 2:08PM
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I've just got to be picky and say that Artworks 2 isn't a 2004 product. It was first released/available in May 2003. If anything, you're nominating Artworks 2.3.

And another thing, I don't consider the Wavelength issue as an own goal as there was no single side that screwed themselves up.

But they're just minor points.

 is a RISC OS Userphilipnet on 11/12/04 2:37PM
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myownmistakeabove: Is there a way that drobe could stop empty comments being sent. I was using NetSurf and wanted to get the help to discover how to do the "in reply to" stuff and consequently created an empty message

 is a RISC OS Userxyzzy on 11/12/04 3:08PM
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nunfetishist: Hardly doing anything "interesting" didn't stop those "reality" TV programmes getting loads of viewers. I guess some people like that.

 is a RISC OS Userxyzzy on 11/12/04 3:10PM
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xyzzy: I've deleted your blank comment. The system now rejects comments that are empty. :)

phil: The nomination list clearly refers to Artworks 2.3 and also explains the Wavelength issue (with article link), so I'm disagreeing with you on this one :)

adamr: The best website category was dropped because we couldn't decide on a clear set of nominees. Hopefully it'll be back for next year. :)


 is a RISC OS Userdiomus on 11/12/04 3:40PM
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xyzzy: "reality" TV programmes rarely win awards, though :)

 is a RISC OS Usernunfetishist on 11/12/04 4:04PM
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Is it possible to add a further option to the nominations for Best Commercial Software, If so Can you include Virtual Acorn RiscPC Adjust in the list. This has my vote and I'm sure would receive numerous votes. A thoroughly worthwhile piece of software, which despite the anti Windows element is striving to retain interest in RISC OS from the darker side.

 is a RISC OS Userjcmcculloch on 11/12/04 6:14PM
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I'm glad you like VA Adjust, but we can't change the lists now, especially since lots of people have voted. Sorry! :)


 is a RISC OS Userdiomus on 11/12/04 6:29PM
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diomus: And no feeding dioxins to any of the nominees either ;-)

 is a RISC OS Userxyzzy on 11/12/04 6:42PM
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If you are going to include VRPC based products, can I vote for Iyonix Linux? I think both are stretching the definition of "RISC OS software.

 is a RISC OS Usermrtd on 13/12/04 9:08AM
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Linux on an Iyonix has not the slightest connection with RISC OS, so I can't see how it's relevant.

VA (any sort) obviously runs RISC OS, so does.

 is a RISC OS Userapdl on 13/12/04 9:33AM
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VRPC is clearly intended for running RISC OS and in turn, other RISC OS programs; despite the juxtaposition, I think the inclusion is fair enough. ARM Linux just happens to run on RISC OS hardware - it might enable RISC OS users to do things they couldn't otherwise, but not via RISC OS.

 is a RISC OS Usermrchocky on 13/12/04 10:25AM
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Oh, plus Iyonix Linux was released in 2003.

 is a RISC OS Usermrchocky on 13/12/04 10:26AM
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My comment about Iyo Linux was a little tongue-in-cheek! You could argue that VRPC is a Windows App though! Some purists (but not me really) might think that disqualifies it.

 is a RISC OS Usermrtd on 13/12/04 2:43PM
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Technically VARPC is a Windows executable that can *only* be run under Windows - that makes it *WINDOWS* software.

That having been said for people who've made the decission to move to Windows it probably does lessen the blow and make it easier to make the final break with RISC OS. Microsoft did the same thing for WordPerfect users providing WP compatible key strokes on MS Word, you could view VARPC as achieving the same thing here.

Whether that makes it a "good" or "bad" thing depends on your perspective. It [VARPC] is technically a very impressive piece of Windows software and deserves some credit - but not under the heading of "Best Commercial RISC OS software" it certainly *can't* run under RISC OS and that should disqualify it - but if someone were to add it under a heading like "Best Windows/RISC OS interoperability product" (or something equally contrived) I'd vote for it.

 is a RISC OS UserAMS on 13/12/04 7:46PM
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AMS: I suppose it depends if you're talking about software to do with RISC OS, or just software that runs on RISC OS (which could be taken to exclude RISC OS itself).

There are even grey area applications possible with VRPC, which run on RISC OS on it but use what's below that, like the VRPC battery manager.

 is a RISC OS UserSimonC on 14/12/04 9:51AM
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Wireless A4 Internet: I've had it going with a Sony-Ericsson T610, as well as with the Siemens C35e that I originally tried.

Watch for another update during the coming year!

 is a RISC OS Userdavehigton on 27/12/04 10:34PM
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