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Archive usage survey: VRPC edges past Iyonix

By Chris Williams. Published: 10th Nov 2005, 10:56:21 | Permalink | Printable

RiscPC king still rules the land

Running a surveyLess than a third of Archive magazine readers sampled in a recent survey own an Iyonix computer. Over three-quarters own a RiscPC and VirtualRiscPC ownership makes up 30 percent - overtaking the Castle Iyonix.

Archive asked readers who were resubscribing around August time to declare which machines they owned and used on a regular basis. The survey included almost a half of the pint-sized magazine's readership of roughly 1,200 RISC OS users. Editor Paul Beverley admitted in his comment piece surrounding the results that the exercise was more of a fun experiment than hard, scientific research. If anything, it forms an interesting comparison with drobe.co.uk readers who voted in a similar online survey: While the dinosaur RiscPC use still dwarfed other computer systems, Iyonix ownership was greater than VirtualRiscPC.

It could simply be that Internet-savvy readers prefer native hardware to emulation.

Paul wrote in his column: "The bit of data I find the most interesting is the 'X-Factor'. This gives a sense of whether people with particular computers are likely to want other people to know about the fact. So in the 'I want people to know' stakes, A9 owners are the most out-spoken, followed by Omega users. In the 'I don't want people to know' stakes, the Archimedes and A7000 owners are the most reticent."

Machine classPercentage of Archive readers in sample
RiscPC79.4%
Iyonix27.7%
VRPC on a laptop19.0%
VRPC on a PC11.6%
Omega1.3%
Pre-RiscPC10.6%
A70002.6%
A9home0.0%
Other (A4)1.3%
RiscStation1.6%


A publisher whose software is bundled with the Iyonix let slip last month that, according to their figures, roughly 600 Iyonixes have been shipped to date since its launch in November 2002.

Update at 02:00 11/11/2005
Updated the table above to reflect the results published in this month's Archive. This is a revised set of data following the initial figures released in October for those readers who took part late in the magazine's survey.

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Discussion

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Of course, some of the newer Iyonixes don't have a software bundle with them... 600 does sound quite a bit lower than I'd've thought, though. There again, I wouldn't have one if it weren't for the contest.

 is a RISC OS Userjymbob on 10/11/05 12:23PM
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Conclusion: Drobe-readers are more experimental than Archive-readers. More Iyonix, Omega and A9home, Less Pre-RiscPC

 is a RISC OS Useregel on 10/11/05 12:30PM
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Hang on, 600 iyonixes vs 1200 users - that would indicate that both surveys have underestimated the percentage of iyonix users.

Unless that is, some people are buying more than one for themselves ;)

Where did the 1200 figure come from by the way?

 is a RISC OS Userninja on 10/11/05 12:36PM
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The article says it's Archive's readership, not the total number of RISC OS users.

 is a RISC OS Usernot_ginger_matt on 10/11/05 12:59PM
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Hmm, took me a couple of reads, but I think you're right matt. Probably my own fault for reading it wrong, rather than anything wrong with the way it's written. It usually is ;)

 is a RISC OS Userninja on 10/11/05 1:16PM
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Risc PC RULEZ : Hurray !!!

When the A9-home will be released, it will supercede the sales of a Iyonix Computer !!!

 is a RISC OS Userdatawave on 10/11/05 3:28PM
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datawave:

Hurray - the outdated RISC PC is still top (I find that really concerning) yes it was a good machine but lets move on its just holding us back

What have you got a against the Iyonix? and what makes you so sure the A9 will out sell it?

 is a RISC OS Userleeshep on 10/11/05 3:48PM
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I think one reason for RiscPC being so represented is compatibility. Let's see, a SA RiscPC can run 26bit and 32bit software, given the correct libraries/modules, can run Select (ouch!), do not need updates/patches for security (VRPC), and is (as second-hand item) very good value for money. If for example the Iyonix/Select issue could be solved, or the OS/USB stack forks unified, at that moment some RiscPC users will migrate (or complete the migration - there are a number of people that have an Iyonix but still use the RiscPC because of Select).

 is a RISC OS Userbernie on 10/11/05 4:22PM
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Pity that the surveys didn't include the RISC OS version in use on the Risc PC and VirtualRPC. Considering that for the Drobe survey the number of voters was guessed to be a bit above 400 the statement that half of the Archive readership of some 1200 voted that makes some 600 votes. Perhaps both surveyors could let us in on the number of voters (and be it an approximate one).

Comparing both the online survey of Drobe does list quite a few more modern systems, that is IYONIX pc as well as the A9home. That does invite some thoughts to happen by... - Perhaps users of the newer hardware are more devoted to Internet especially since for IYONIX it is recommended for upgrades; for A9home probably too. - Or can it be that those who parted with the money to buy an IYONIX pc or A9home now can't afford to subscribe to Archive anymore? - Or perhaps due to high shipping cost outside UK the additional IYONIX pc/A9home in the drove survey are mainly outside UK... Pick any of these if you like, or feel free to consider all three of them to just be some wierdo's strange thinking (which is probably correct :-) anyhow).

 is a RISC OS Userhzn on 10/11/05 4:59PM
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I have noticed that qercus and archive seem to reach a rather different audiance to that of web news services. We quite often hear from people who don't web browse much at all, but rely on paper magazines for their main information.

 is a RISC OS Userarawnsley on 10/11/05 5:10PM
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"roughly 600 Iyonixes have been shipped".

I've seen comments by prominent RISC OS users which have asserted that most serious RISC OS users have upgraded to the Iyonix. If this is the case, I think the figure of 600 is a cause for concern.

Fortunately, I don't believe it to be true. The attitude I describe - that 'serious' users are Iyonix users - has caused an unhealthy polarisation of the market. For example, some Iyonix users, including Castle representatives, dismiss RISC OS Select driven, it seems to me, by an arrogance or a need to feel that they've chosen the winning camp. Similarly, some Select supporters have pretended that the Iyonix doesn't exist.

Clearly there is merit in both of the two major RISC OS groups. RiscPC owners, like myself, are still regularly buying stuff to sustain the tiny amount of commercial software development that occurs - as, I'm sure, Iyonix users are.

 is a RISC OS Userfylfot on 10/11/05 7:45PM
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27.5% of 1200 = 330 - Archive users having an Iyonix, so 600 overall does not seem to be too large, perhaps if anything its a bit optimistic. I would have thought Archive would represent better than 55% of Iyonix users.

The other interesting figure is that if there are really 600 Iyonix users and they represent 27.5% then the total number of Risc OS users is just over 2100.

Mm food for thought.

 is a RISC OS UserJwoody on 10/11/05 8:36PM
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I think the real winner of the selectiyonix farce is Apple. (Not that they'd care).

A select RPC is by far the most usable out of it, an Iyonix and an OS X mac, but it is too slow for many modern functions.

An Iyonix is fast enough, but the interface is not that much better than that of OS X, that its superior core and smoothness and application choice don't win out overall.

A select Iyonix would have the edge over a mac from my perspective at least.

 is a RISC OS Userjess on 10/11/05 9:01PM
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I seem to remember that not too long ago VirtualAcorn celebrated 3000 sales. I also recall that Castle had a target of 500 Iyonix sales to be achieved 'by the Christmas of the launch year'. Given that in both surveys the number of Iyonix and VRPC users is similar, that suggests the true level of Iyonix sales is around 5x higher than the number suggested, and that the number of RO users is approx. 10,000, which seems a more reasonable sort of figure to me. As to the RPC's dominance, that suggests that many RO users are simply hobbyists, and have invested in other, up to date equipment for their serious computing. If so, it is indeed a matter for concern.

 is a RISC OS Userbucksboy on 10/11/05 9:26PM
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If OTOH 600 did turn out to be correct sales figure, I suggest the Iyonix user group forthwith renames itself 'The Light Brigade'!

 is a RISC OS Userbucksboy on 10/11/05 9:44PM
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The old RiscPC does leads. It's reliable, it's cheap (at least today) and has a lot of pheriperals available for it. Even older RiscOS versions are still rocking. I do more with my 3.71 than with the brand new 4.39. The latter isn't compatible with most of the software and hardware I own, so it's basically useless.

 is a RISC OS Usernodoubt73 on 10/11/05 10:10PM
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"that suggests the true level of Iyonix sales is around 5x higher than the number suggested, and that the number of RO users is approx. 10,000" Holy cow bucksboy! It doesn't suggest any such thing. I don't think it's helpful to pick figures out of thin air like that and present them as fact.

Adam

 is a RISC OS Useradamr on 10/11/05 10:43PM
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In reply to leeshep : What i have personally against Iyonix ? That it is not 100 % compatible with 26 bits and 32 bits software at all, while the OLD RISC PC, with RISC OS 3.71 for me is the MOST compatible computer there is !!! Then i am using as well a RISC PC with RISC OS 4.02, still missing lots of programs, which are not working with 4.02. Have you ever seen a Iyonix with a 8-slots backplane in it, no, they do not exist for the Iyonix, happily they still exist with the RISC PC !!! The audio system with the RPC is by far better than the Iyonix PC, Iyonix can only dream of it. USB on Risc PC is also possible with lots of devices, so why use a Iyonix after all, they are tooooo expensive, better buy a A9-Home Computer for it, i hardly can't wait for the new released version of A9-Home computer !!!

In reply to Bernie: You are a man of my heart. People always moaning about the Risc PC holding the future up, maybe the are right, but i won't believe it.

 is a RISC OS Userdatawave on 10/11/05 11:08PM
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datawave: True the Iyonix isn't 100% compatible with 26bit software but Aemulor goes a long way to solving that problem (most if not all of my 26bit software works on the Iyonix under Aemulor) What software do you use that works under 3.7 but not RO 4 ?

Not sure I'd want to see an Iyonix with an 8 slot backplane (asking for timing problems there ;-) ) the Podule interface is so sloooow.

I agree that the audio output on the RISC PC is better than that on the Iyonix (at the moment), but the RISC PC doesn't include audio inputs (4 on the Iyonix)

Regarding USB - yes the RISC PC can support it but its strangled by the slow podule bus, where as the Iyonix supports USB2 !

The A9 can't nativley run 26bit software either, can't use podules (or PCI) runs USB1 (although much quicker than on the RISC PC I'm sure) And Isn't that much cheaper than the Iyonix.

So all the reasons you have given for not wanting an Iyonix also apply to the A9Home.

 is a RISC OS Userleeshep on 11/11/05 12:03AM
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In reply to datawave

So you are using RISC OS 3.71 and 4.02. Wake up !!

There is almost no need to use 3.71 and or 4.02 because you have a few programs that will work with it.

I 'm using RISC OS from the beginning. And on my A9Home I can run almost every program I want (with help of Aemulor).

I can also play here with an Iyonix.

Pro and con's for A9Home or Iyonix ? I can't find them Both can replace my old RISC PC's. For me I prefer the A9 because it is small/fast and runs Select. Other people will choose the Iyonix So what ? both users still want to use RISC OS and are willing to pay for this platform.

I also use VA-RPC ( it is a nice solution for laptop users/ and today it is a very cheap solution for running RISC OS - I think 95% (ex) RISC OS users do own a WinPC )

Please stop complaining about Iyonix/A9 or whatever.

Let's stick with the RISC PC ------ in 3 years RISC OS will be dead !!!!

 is a RISC OS UserEasyKees on 11/11/05 7:35AM
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In 3 years RISC OS will be dead unless the OS fork is rejoined. The split causes people like myself to hold back investing any new hardware unless I know for certain which OS variant is the future. The split also hampers application devlopment or rather developing applications which take full advantage of new OS features. All developmnent has to anchor itself at the point where the split occured in order to be compatible with both variants. This is utter madness.

 is a RISC OS Usermripley on 11/11/05 8:23AM
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The fork is making a difference to me too, my brother bought an Iyonix but quickly sold it as it could not meet his needs, a Select machine could have (major issue was no alpha-blending in !Draw or Artworks, Select would at least resolve this in !Draw). I'm now contemplating an A9 but would rather an Iyonix, as I'd like a TV card, dual head, and maybe accelerated graphics, also the Iyonix USB implementation I think has a bit more traction now than the Simtec one. But having seen RISC OS 5, I'm not sure I could put up with it's limitations compared to Select/Adjust.

You have to wonder, with ROL being basically a one-man band, if it would not be too expensive for Castle to buy them, or at least a controlling stake, and put an end to this madness once and for all.

 is a RISC OS Userthegman on 11/11/05 9:46AM
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thegman - would that actually solve the problem? It may be that the RoL programmer(s) wouldn't want to work for Castle, and all they'd end up with is some source code which they'd then have to spend time on trying to work out how to integrate into their own code.

It's equally possible Castle wouldn't want to be bothered with actually owning select anyway as then they'd have to support rather more h/w s/w combinations than they currently do.

IMO it'll be far easier to merge the two forks once RoL has finished 32bitting Select, as then there'll be a more level playing field to do the merge.

Dave

 is a RISC OS UserDS1 on 11/11/05 9:56AM
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It was stated by Castle recently at the SE show, if I remember correctly, that the merger of both RISC OS lines is to commence. See - [link] Furthermore, it is becoming increasingly certain Select will appear for the Iyonix, however it is not certain if all features as present in Adjust/3i4 will be included. ROL intends to produce a universal 32 bit version from which all machines will profit, so it might mean Select4 will become the first Iyonix Select version.

I hope this means the forked OS situation will be confined to history.

 is a RISC OS UserhEgelia on 11/11/05 10:46AM
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In reply to easykees: "RISC OS will be dead in 3 years" THAT i will pertinently NOT believe at all !!! RISC OS will survive, after 4 years RISC OS is still alive!!!

 is a RISC OS Userdatawave on 11/11/05 12:20PM
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Yes, it is *still* alive, however it has lost a lot of users in that time, too.

 is a RISC OS UserJGZimmerle on 11/11/05 1:01PM
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Datawave: Read it as: "RISC OS will be in the same state as the Acorn BBC", only alive in the hearts of nerds as a kind of toy.

RISC OS can only survive as everything before RISC OS 4.0 is declared dead. R.I.P. sleep

 is a RISC OS Useregel on 11/11/05 1:22PM
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Makes me laugh how many people never realised how tiny the RISC OS market (can something so small be called a market? maybe a club) was until now. If the OS fork was ended tomorrow there wouldn't be enough people left to care to make any difference to the market/club.

 is a RISC OS Userfwibbler on 11/11/05 1:29PM
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"Yes, it is still alive, however it has lost a lot of users in that time, too."

It lost me about 3 years ago (well, I've been playing with RedSquirrel up until about a year ago and only recently sold my two SA-RiscPC's) something which I thought would never happen, I've been using RISC OS since the A310 through school, university and even used it in two jobs, and totally hated Windows up until Win2K.

That said, Windows has lost me too in the last year, it just does nothing that interests me anymore - other than DVD/video processing - that is worth fighting the viruses, spyware and software licenses for.

I now almost exclusively use Linux, and shock-horror, my parents just started using it the other day and already prefer it to XP (they've used Windows since 3.1)

I think if RISC OS can lose a loyal user like me, and Windows can lose users to Linux that easily, then I can't see how RISC OS could survive another 3 years, especially with 1200 users left now.....

 is a RISC OS Usersimo on 11/11/05 1:41PM
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In reply to Jess: "A select RPC is by far the most usable out of it, an Iyonix and an OS X mac, but it is too slow for many modern functions."

Comparing my RiscPC/Kinetic/ViewFinder/Select against the Iyonix, the Iyonix is far more usuable with the faster processor and vastly quicker disc interface. The only Select features I notice on the old machine are the green icons, and the different hourglass and how it is there for so much longer.

I'm afraid after 3 years none of the useful Select features have proved to be a necessity, and have laregly been forgotten and not missed on RISC OS 5. Some of the best additions were API extensions, but have not been capitalised upon because developers wont support a subsection of the market based on a diminishing number of old machines.

 is a RISC OS Userdruck on 11/11/05 1:43PM
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In reply to Egel: "RISC OS can only survive if everything before RISC OS 4 is declared 'dead' R.I.P." Hmmm---Better make it from RISC OS 3.71 up till now. Everything before 3.71 i totally agree with you, keeping 3.71 as the reserve one and 4.xx and further for future versions, just my personal opinions.

 is a RISC OS Userdatawave on 11/11/05 2:21PM
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No, 3.7 has to go, it only supports an archaic filing system - 10 characters, 77 files per directory and an inability to efficently untilise over 8GB - has no place in the modern world. RISC OS 4.0 has to now be the minmum that can sensibly be supported.

 is a RISC OS Userdruck on 11/11/05 2:39PM
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This must be a joke, right? If anyone from just about any other modern platform saw, that we were even discussing unsing a six years old OS version as the baseline of what should be supported, they would be ROFL at us. Especially when even 4.39 and 5.10 look extremely dated in many areas, when compared to modern OSs.

 is a RISC OS UserJGZimmerle on 11/11/05 3:08PM
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Both surveys underestimate the number of RiscPCs (and earlier) machines in use. Datawave is right to be celebrating with that cheer and I think readers modded him down without thinking it through. If I had thought that druck's earlier announcement - that all serious RISC OS users had already bought an Iyonix - I would have been very pessimistic about a future. Thankfully I knew it to be wide of the mark and know that there are plenty of RISC OS users still to upgrade and be future customers for A9s and Iyonix pcs. Not that we should stop there of course - we still need to sell to lapsed RISC OS users, semi-lapsed (VRP) users, and encourage brand new purchasers. But at this point, it's good to be reminded that there are sales that can be made for both hardware and software developers.

 is a RISC OS Userjc on 11/11/05 3:39PM
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Everyone seems to be overlooking the obvious regarding RiscPC's - they are pretty much the oldest machines that are usable today (i.e. can run RO 3.6-4.39 at a reasonable speed).

They sold very well back in the Acorn days, and people won't have chucked them out, or else people would have bought them cheap 2nd hand. I expect there were many more RiscPC's sold than Iyonixes, so what's the surprise? Iyonixes are new, but expensive and don't have 100% compatibility.

I'm also not at all surprised that VARPC has sold more than the Iyonix - it can run Select, it's generally faster, you can have it in laptop form and it only costs 120ukp (I expect most of us already have a suitable Windows PC).

 is a RISC OS Usersimo on 11/11/05 5:03PM
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Julian Zimmerle

I agree.

I don't see Microsoft picking up Windows '98 (or 2000) as their future baseline development.

 is a RISC OS UserSawadee on 11/11/05 5:06PM
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I have to say I agree fully with Druck's earlier comments. The RPC has (had) many virtues, but a computer with a h/d access speed of +/- 2Mb/sec cannot be seriously considered as productive in today's environment. I retired my Kinetic in favour of an Iyonix when I got an 8Mpix camera - I was spending too long looking at that hourglass!

 is a RISC OS Userbucksboy on 11/11/05 6:45PM
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The main problem as far as I'm concerned is the simple fact that we used to have machines from Acorn, one source for one OS and one current machine. Now we have to take our chances and gamble with lots of money (900 euro?) if we want to buy a new machine which only runs one of the two OS's. One wrong move and you loose ! That's why a lot of people are holding on to the cash and that's why a unified OS would be GREAT for the community.

All IMHO off course. And yes I took the wrong horse as it seems now and lost a grand.

 is a RISC OS Usernico on 11/11/05 7:14PM
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But as Acorn also demonstrated, single ownership of the OS did /not/ guarantee the future. Speaking personally, I bought an Iyonix on the basis that Castle have demonstrated a commitment to the platform both in terms of length of time as a supplier and, even more importantly, willingness to commit money to development of new hardware and the technical ability to deliver satisfactory machines in volume, and support them. This is not to deprecate the efforts of ROL or A6, or anyone else for that matter: anyone looking to develop the platform deserves support. But the OS fork does worry me, because it means loss of focus and inefficient use of scarce resources. The ideal scenario would be a unified OS and a diversity of hardware suppliers.

 is a RISC OS Userbucksboy on 11/11/05 8:37PM
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2 points: 1) In case no-one else has noticed, the survey adds up to well over 100%. Many people (myself included) have _more than one_ RISC OS computer! In most cases, I'd expect this to be a RISC PC, especially as the survey doesn't appear to distinguish between a RISC PC with a 610 card and RISC OS 3.5 and a Kinetic with Viewfinder and 4.39. In all honesty, how many of us _don't_ have a RISC PC or two we use occasionally, or even alongside other computers?

2) Mainly aimed at datawave: My RISC PC doesn't run some of the programs my A5000 runs. Should I therefore get rid of it and only use the A5000? If so, I've got some games on tape for an Electron that won't run on much else. Maybe we should all be using Electrons... Do you see the flaw in your argument that the older hardware can run more? A 610 RISC PC will run more software than a StrongARM, due to incompatibilities, but software that is wanted by the majority has been (and will hopefully continue to be) upgraded to run on the latest hardware.

 is a RISC OS Userjymbob on 11/11/05 9:35PM
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We treat RISC OS 4.02 as our baseline OS, because that appears to be what the majority of customers are running these days. Due to physical constraints (how many machines we can keep around to hook up to the network for testing) we are actually unable to easily test on 3.7 or earlier any more. Having said that, we will always endeavour to do what we can to support customers with older hardware, since excluding people is not in anyone's interest in this small marketplace. As far as I am aware, OS4 has no compatibilty issues outstanding - certainly no more so than 3.70. If I remember correctly, OS4 was more compatible in some areas, but I am sure someone can cite an opposite example!

As far as Windows is concerned, last time I checked Windows ME, 2000 and XP are all still supported, and even 98 had its life artificially extended. I would argue that Windows 2000 is probably today's baseline OS in the Microsoft world, because it introduced most of what ultimately matured in XP. Most software apps will work on 2000 or XP these days, although ME (which was essentially Win98 with faster booting, IE5 and Media Player) is probably less well supported due to its heritage.

In other words, RISC OS 4, being released in 1999, is probably age-wise a similar "base line" to Win2000. Obviously I do not mean that feature-wise, but I do believe it is fair to state that both RISC OS and Windows treat the baseline OS as a 6-year old product.

Since OS5 seems to be part-OS4, part OS3.70 and a few post-OS4 bells and whistles, once again OS4 (but compliled to 32bit or via StubsG) seems to be the baseline feature set.

I will put my neck out and say that those refusing to upgrade to either a newer machine, or OS4.xx (if sticking with RiscPC) are not helping RISC OS progress forwards, and should think hard about what they want from their favoured computer/OS platform in the future.

 is a RISC OS Userarawnsley on 11/11/05 10:59PM
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I would like to see software written to use features of the latest OS and if you are not using it, either you load a module to provide similar functionality, or else features of the program disapear.

If the software fails because of bugs in older versions of the OS then it's fair to not to work around them.

it is also fair for writers not to have to be expectected to explicitly test apps on old OSes.

(There are several newish apps that work fine on OS 3.1 despite warnings to the contrary)

If new software is still available for old machines, (with reduced function where required), then those who inherit old systems will be far more likely to give it a try.

 is a RISC OS Userjess on 11/11/05 11:30PM
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Druck wrote:

"Some of the best additions were API extensions, but have not been capitalised upon because developers wont support a subsection of the market based on a diminishing number of old machines."

Given that RiscPCs are the leading machines in terms of use, (according to drobe and Archive figures), I'm not sure how they could be classed as "diminishing". In fact, during its peak, there were more people subscribed to Select than those now with Iyonixes. For every person who says they don't miss Select features on the Iyonix, there's another who says they do.

ROL were in a bit of a lose-lose situation, so you can't entirely blame them for trying. If they add application-style features to the OS, they'll get burned by commercial developers. If they add API and lower level functionality, they get burned by customers when no developers use the new APIs. If they had the resources to make the system PMT+fully memory protected, then you'd probably lose at least 75% of your software through compatibility breakage.

The process of 32bitting software turned out to be pretty trivial, which did Castle a lot of favours, but if you think about it, not a lot of the new APIs in RISC OS 5 are used outside of the handful of new hardware drivers - and this is probably for the same reason developers are unwilling to commit to using the Select-only APIs. The Iyonix is faster than the RiscPC, but clearly not fast enough for the mjaority of users to part with their cash for the price tag it carries.

AdvantageSix have been pretty crafty in aiming their machine at a middle space in the market with performance just below the Iyonix and above the RiscPC, and with a lower price tag than the Iyonix. And if you want things like an internal DVD drive, then you're welcome to buy an Iyonix. Hopefully that'll encourage people to upgrade to recent versions of ROS 4 and persuading developers into leveraging from it.

I can see this turning into a survival of the fittest, where the OS with the most users will continue, which is a bit unfortunate as it leaves potential buyers hoping they jump onto the ship that doesn't sink.

Just my opinion, of course.

 is a RISC OS Userdiomus on 12/11/05 09:53AM
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The tricky thing facing developers is the fact that many of more useful API features of Select/Adjust (eg. Zip module, ImageFileRender) would be pretty essential to any app that used them. As such, unless the software is to be Adjust only (not really financially viable) then the code has to be reinvented for RO4 or Iyonix. If one is re-inventing code anyway, it becomes much easier to support a single code-path, rather than having different paths for different OS versions.

As an example, take OS3.60+ OS-based jpeg handling. In several apps we used this, as it seemed a good idea to embrace OS features. However, we found that there were problems with scaling (I think) and more significantly, if you had lots of images, they decoded graphics weren't cached, so the OS routines had to keep re-decoding, which could cause massive CPU overheads in some cases. In the end we reverted to the single code-path, and things were much better. Perhaps this is a bad example, because there were flaws in the OS routines, but it does highlight why a developer is more likely to create and use their own code, rather than rely on features not available in all OS versions, over which they have little or no control.

 is a RISC OS Userarawnsley on 12/11/05 12:29AM
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@arawnsley: I think this is a prime example why Select/Adjust is so much better than previous versions os the OS, because a great many of such flawed OS routines have been fixed. IMHO these fixes were more important than any great new features that could have been added.

 is a RISC OS UserJGZimmerle on 12/11/05 6:01PM
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In reply to Druck: Any version of RISC OS from 3.1 onwards can support a filing system that allows unlimited files per directory and long file names. I think what you meant to day was that ADFS (as supplied with RISC OS 3.7x) only supports short file names and 77 files per directory.

 is a RISC OS UserVirtualAcorn on 13/11/05 00:56AM
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In reply to JC: Thanks very much for your support. I agree with you, that some users are not thinking through!

In reply to JymBob: Yes, offcourse i can see this flaw. But nevertheless, it is always very handy to have some RISC OS computers as a reserve and using the main RISC OS computer with all the latest hardware and software available AFAP or buyin the A9, when it is coming available At least i will buy one, when it will be released and putting more hardware in it if possible (ie. cd/dvd drive) floppydrive and a removable drive as well !!!

 is a RISC OS Userdatawave on 13/11/05 01:39AM
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In Reply to Datawave: Should be quite interesting fitting all that extra hardware <into> an A9 :-).

 is a RISC OS Userron. on 13/11/05 8:43PM
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Why? Just use an A9 for ATX cases (the industrial versions), wich will take all the expansion he mentioned.

 is a RISC OS UserJGZimmerle on 13/11/05 9:10PM
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In reply to JGZimmerle : Das hast du wrong, mein freund. Sorry, but that is not what i meant. I mean if possible, put the FD or extra HD or Rem. Device or cd/dvd drive into a A9home case, not a atx case.

In reply to ron.: Yes, that is quite interesting in a A9home computer. But i do not know, if it fits, just an idea IMHO. I can only try it, if i get my hands on that RISC OS beast.

 is a RISC OS Userdatawave on 14/11/05 03:58AM
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Datawave: you do not seem to be paying much attention. Firstly, the A9home case is tiny and could not possibly fit those items you name. Secondly, adding a floppy drive to anything modern is pretty pointless. Finally, the A9home already has a USB port that you can attach an optical drive to.

 is a RISC OS Usermrchocky on 14/11/05 04:06AM
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In reply to mrchocky: I know, that the case of a A9home computer is tiny. It seems, that you already have tried it yourself, otherwise you could not give such a negative reaction. About the FD: you mention it pointless, i don't !!! The A9 has a usb port you said, i know that, but it is always to try, to get more devices in it, even it is a tiny case, you can never give up hope, if you haven't tried it.

 is a RISC OS Userdatawave on 14/11/05 04:24AM
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When 2 dimensions of the case are smaller than the device in quesion can possibly be, I think giving up hope for internal fitting is justified.

 is a RISC OS Userjess on 14/11/05 06:24AM
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Ahhh the new A9? Manufacuted by Dr. Who.

It is too wee for at least 2 of these devices. UNless of course it is "really" the tardis.

Regarding old hardware. I was going to bid on ebay for Aaron's RiscPC but thought instead to get VRPC. As for more software on the old machine. This happens when the market is shrinking, however, new software breeds new hardware and expansion. Watch this space. :-)

cheers bob

 is a RISC OS Usernijinsky on 14/11/05 09:30AM
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datawave: Peter wasn't being negative, he was simply paying attention to rather basic concepts such as "length, width, and height". Have you tried putting a pint into a half pint glass recently? Especially one that's full to begin with.

Could you explain *why* you think a floppy drive is necessary? Mine are used about once every six months these days.

 is a RISC OS UserSimonC on 14/11/05 10:54AM
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SimonC - If you didn't have that floppy what would you do twice a year when you do need it? I'll admit to being very ambivalent about the necessity for floppy drives. I too almost never use mine, but I do use it occasionally enough that I would probably miss it if I didn't have it. That said, every machine on my network currently has a floppy, so if a few of them didn't I may not worry too much.

Dave

 is a RISC OS UserDS1 on 14/11/05 11:40AM
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In reply to Aaron Timbrell: Long files names is not a property of ADFS, but FileCore which ised used for all native disc based filing systems - motherboard ADFS, 3rd party IDE and SCSI. None of these can natively support long filenames on Pre-RISC OS 4 machines, unless an overlay filing system such as !RaFS or !LongFiles is used, both of which have issues and do not address the storage utlisation issues with larger discs.

 is a RISC OS Userdruck on 14/11/05 12:34AM
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Chris said>"The process of 32bitting software turned out to be pretty trivial, which did Castle a lot of favours,"

So how come it took ROL so long then?

And I'd point out that they Castle also implemented the HAL, had the C++ compiler 32bitted (which by the way also helped ROL I would have thought). Implemented USB2 (something A9 will *never have*).

Please Chris give the Castle bashing a break.... please!

As to the substance of the article VRPC has more users than Iyonix according to the Archive survey. Well here's a thought if you add ALL the VRPC users from the Drobe Survey and the Archive survey they amount to around 10% of the claimed 3,000 VA sales. So where did the other 90% go? May I suggest the PC? (I await the usual counter claims that VA won't damage the RISC OS market (yawn......)).

 is a RISC OS UserAMS on 14/11/05 1:38PM
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AMS: "I await the usual counter claims that VA won't damage the RISC OS market"... There's no evidence of that either way, from numbers alone, since they say nothing about what VA owners are doing with VA. Some of the sales could be to people who would otherwise have left entirely, and others could be to people who would otherwise have spent money on native hardware. I've yet to see any evidence that VA is either detrimental or beneficial, only theories.

 is a RISC OS UserSimonC on 14/11/05 1:46PM
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nijinsky:

Well the A9Home is blue...

datawave:

Have some facts:

CD sized media are 120mm diameter

The A9Home is 103mm wide.

I think it might be sensible to assume that you can't even get the media in the A9Home's case let alone a drive.

P.S. you do need floppy drives (1 at least!) - how else can you load up that new bit of software you've just bought from R-Comp?

 is a RISC OS UserROHC on 14/11/05 1:53PM
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SimonC>Well we *do* know that 90% of them *did not* reply to either survey - how does that grab you. If they were ardently interested in RISC OS I would have expected there to be a somewhat higher level of response. A larger proportion of Iyonix and RPC users did (A9 was too new to figure in the Archive survey)

The possible explanation for a relative pausity of VA users in the surveys are:

1// They Don't subscribe to Archive so could not participate in that survey 2// They by a vast majority don't answer surveys on-line for Drobe 3// They use the PC and don't really bother at all/or much with RISC OS. 4// They gave up on computers as a bad idea and won't touch one ever again....

On the balance of probability and given the low level of response the most likely one is 3.

 is a RISC OS UserAMS on 14/11/05 2:00PM
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AMS: "How come it took ROL so long?" Huh? Did you read what you responded to - converting software is completly different to converting the _OS_, which needs to be done all at once unlike applications which can be done piecemeal.

 is a RISC OS Usermrchocky on 14/11/05 3:34PM
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@AMS: I probably fall into category 3 (although I still care about RISC OS, I hardly use it anymore). However, I also own two well-working Omegas, a Kinetic-RiscPC with 256MB RAM, 2MB VRAM and RISC OS Select 3 (4.39). However RISC OS could not fulfill my computing needs anymore: professional HDTV video- and sound-editing, plus broadcast-quality 3D animation. So I eventually transferred my data to VRPC-Adjust on my PC, put my native RISC OS hardware in a big cardboard box and put them in the attic. I would have done that, wether VRPC had been available or not, because I don't have unlimited space and not the time to look after more than one personal machine. So VRPC allows me to keep in touch with the developments on the RISC OS platform, and gives me an excuse to purchase updates for some of the software packages I own, even if I don't use them much nowadays. I will come back to native RISC OS, when (if ever) it gains the capabilities to fulfill at least some of the things I require from a computer.

@Peter: I agree, and RISC OS is quite a lot bigger and more complex than its applications. Also it really was Pace who did all the 32bitting for RISC OS 5 and the compilers, probably with a much bigger team than RISCOS Ltd. And it still took several years before Castle could use it in their Iyonix PC. All of wich IMHO just adds to your point, that converting the OS to 32bit-mode is a big task.

 is a RISC OS UserJGZimmerle on 14/11/05 5:09PM
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JGZ: That makes no sense, you aren't agreeing with anything I said. I'm _only_ pointing out the discrepancy with what AMS said. "And it took several years before Castle could use it". That's illogical, since Castle didn't have a machine or consider using it until such time that Pace had already done the work, and the compiler and toolchain was made 32-bit much much earlier - by Acorn, I believe.

 is a RISC OS Usermrchocky on 14/11/05 6:07PM
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AMS:

"Please Chris give the Castle bashing a break.... please!"

That is amusing. I was actually refering to the effort required to make third party software 32bit compatible, not the actual OS. The 3000 figure that VA gave also includes VRPC-SE, VRPC-Adjust and some VA5k users. Also, I don't think I ever expected every single RISC OS user to vote in the surveys.

Chris.

 is a RISC OS Userdiomus on 14/11/05 6:41PM
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AMS:

Also, the 32bit work and the Iyonix abstraction layer came from the RISC OS 5 they acquired from Pace. And the USB stuff is at least partly derived from FreeBSD and NetBSD. And you're not going to get near proper USB2 speeds with the Iyonix motherboard anyway (although it's much faster than USB1). Search on drobe for articles about it.

But anyway, fair play to Castle. Don't confuse facts and rational thought with bashing, though.

 is a RISC OS Userdiomus on 14/11/05 6:54PM
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Peter> Yes you're quite right and I do apologise to you and Chris (I had misread the original passage yes it does indeed just refer to Apps rather than the OS). Lack of sleep and overwork does it every time....

Chris>See above, apologies and all that.

Regarding VA specifically it does seem unusual that a relatively large proportion of RPC and Iyonix users seem to respond yet VA users don't seem to. Yes I take your point that some VA are older than others or perhaps you mean the 3000 might include the same people upgrading through several generations of VA - but even if that were all true VA seems somewhat under-represented (or else its users have to a large degree departed the scene).

Chris said "the 32bit work and the Iyonix abstraction layer came from the RISC OS 5 they acquired from Pace" and the 26 bit stuff ROL got to make RO4 from was from Acorn so ? In actual fact both descriptions are a bit unfair to both Castle and ROL as *both* have progressed both works since they got their mits on them. Besides if Castle *hadn't* bought Pace out would we have ever had the Iyonix - or would we all now be using VA or waiting for as yet to be delivered Omegas... don't sound that appealing does it ?

 is a RISC OS UserAMS on 14/11/05 7:39PM
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AMS:

"don't sound that appealing does it?"

Hence my comment, 'fair play to Castle'.

 is a RISC OS Userdiomus on 14/11/05 8:01PM
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In reply to SimonC:

I need at only 1 FD to upload my own programs to the A9.

In reply to ROHC: "CD sized media are 120mm diameter"

DREAM ON Boy !!! - I use cdsized media of 80mm diameter !!!

 is a RISC OS Userdatawave on 14/11/05 9:35PM
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datawave: so what(?!?!?).

Unless you are prepared to listen to what we're saying, this is a bit of a waste of our time. So, please, listen carefully:

1. Putting a floppy drive in an A9 is pointless. There are far better and more reliable methods to transfer files. Besides, it would not fit in the case, since a floppy drive is around the same size as an A9. If you deperately need one, use a USB floppy.

2. Given 1, you could hardly expect a much larger CD drive to fit, and I'm not even sure the A9 could meet the power demands of a full size IDE device.

Please, try using a ruler and some common sense.

 is a RISC OS Usermrchocky on 14/11/05 9:49PM
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I think the last time I bothered to use a floppy drive was a good 3 years ago! 20k/sec transfer rates (that floppy drives normally have) are *way* too slow nowdays.

 is a RISC OS Userpiemmm on 14/11/05 10:45PM
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Datawave:

Please note that:

a) no-one makes drives specifically for the 80mm CDs; for some reason, they're all designed to accept normal full-sized ones

b) no-one sells software on 80mm CDs either

c) by putting 80mm CDs into a CD-ROM drive, you invalidate the warrantee, as they are not technically compliant with the physical part of the CD standard

d) the people who designed and manufactured the A9 don't think there's room for anything extra inside the case. Somehow, I think they're in a position to know.

 is a RISC OS Userchrisj on 14/11/05 11:52PM
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datawave:

sigh

& how much of your RISC OS software comes on 80mm CDs?

of those software houses that distribute hard copies...

& if you will not pay attention to me will you at least accept mrchocky's thoughts?

with one reservation - we have programs that are distributed on floppy discs...

 is a RISC OS UserROHC on 15/11/05 00:05AM
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Keith: I think the latter shouldn't be too much of a problem. I'm sure many distributors would happily provide software on a CD ROM - after all, they're probably cheaper than floppies these days. Failing that, many drugs companies are giving away small (16Mb-32Mb) USB keys these days, so I'm guessing the smaller equivalents of that will probably cost the order of pence. The internet is still probably the best way of distributing the majority of applications IMHO.

 is a RISC OS Usermd0u80c9 on 15/11/05 01:47AM
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As has already been pointed out, you can use a USB floppy if you really need it. I can't imagine that they are expensive. There is certainly no real need for an internal floppy drive. The last few bits of software I've bought for RISC OS I've received via the Internet, so no need for any external drive there, and because most RISC OS companies are small enough to be flexible they may offer alternatives to a floppy (or CD) if you ask. Quite why you'd want one to put your own software onto an A9 is a complete mystery. If it's coming from a machine somewhere else then a USB stick is much handier, and if the other computer is nearby you may as well network them.

 is a RISC OS UserSimonC on 15/11/05 10:03AM
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SimonC: AFAIK you can't use ADFS formatted floppies in a USB drive. It *might* be possible to alter this on the A9, but my understanding is that although you could alter the format from the standard DOS/Windows the firmware will only work with 512 Mb sectors, not !K sectors as used by ADFS.

If this is correct then you could use DOS discs but you wouldn't be able to load commercial software from ADFS discs. Personally I don't think this is a major problem since, as you say, most software is now distributed on CD and, with the very few titles we still distribute on floppy we would be able to supply on a DOS disc instead of ADFS if necessary.

 is a RISC OS Userapdl on 15/11/05 11:27AM
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Does anybody know how much IDE/ATAPI devices the IDE-controler on the A9 can control? 1, 2 or 4?

 is a RISC OS Useregel on 15/11/05 2:39PM
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Wouter: yes - Ad 6 do ;o). All ATA/ATAPI controllers support two devices per channel, so you may safely assume that it's at least 2.

 is a RISC OS Usermd0u80c9 on 15/11/05 2:46PM
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In reply to egel:

Why not ask Matt Edgar of Ad 6, after all they have made this magnificent RISC OS Computer.

 is a RISC OS Userdatawave on 16/11/05 00:42AM
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Probably not much help to Wouter or Datawave, but Stuart Tyrrell will be demonstrating the A9 at next Monday's ROUGOL meeting. So if you're anywhere near London (or even if you aren't!) come along and get the info direct from the source. Free admission, with plenty of drinks and curries available, what more could you want? (End of blatant plug ;-)

 is a RISC OS Userhelpful on 16/11/05 2:16PM
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Drat! And I'm going to be in Cardiff :(

 is a RISC OS UserDS1 on 16/11/05 3:15PM
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It's occurred to me that that this discussion about what could be put into the A9 is completely missing the point - it's much more interesting to consider what you could put the A9 in to. AD6 don't sound keen on the idea of the case being opened, and so I suppose re-arranging it is probably beyond question, but if it could be built straight into a TFT monitor that would be nice. With infra-red receivers for a wireless mouse and keyboard in the front of the monitor, too. If it had wireless networking then you'd have the whole lot with just a power cable. I dream.

 is a RISC OS UserSimonC on 16/11/05 3:29PM
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SimonC:

Certainly most of the flat-panel screens I've seen had enough space behind them in places that you could rearrange the parts of the A9 so that the (cuboid of) space occupied by the screen didn't increase. Then you could hang the screen on the wall and have the mouse and keyboard cables coming out of it. Which would look cool :)

I'd guess that heat from the A9 wouldn't be a problem - depending on the screen, heat from the flat-panel electronics affecting the A9 might be an issue, though. And it would certainly invalidate the guarantee....

 is a RISC OS Userchrisj on 16/11/05 4:17PM
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In reply to helpful: Thanks for the invitation, but i don't have the money for that at the moment and i already have spoken Stuart Tyrell by phone a couple of times, will call him again about the A9home Computer this week, probably on friday.

 is a RISC OS Userdatawave on 17/11/05 01:27AM
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