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News in brief

By Chris Williams. Published: 26th Jan 2006, 00:22:18 | Permalink | Printable

Messenger Pro, Wakefield, Ankh, and freeware and shareware developments

News in briefDon't shoot the messenger
R-Comp have begun pitching to Messenger Pro 3 users a new support and upgrade scheme for this year. Dubbed Messenger Pro 2006, the release will include version 4 of the email, RSS and news reader client. New features promised include the ability to open multiple 'mbox' mailboxes from clients on other platforms and export them too; colour code individual or groups of contacts in your address book; improved support for PGP signed messages; support for UniPrint 2's ability to launch website URLs in a browser on a PC; and secure IMAP connections with SSL are supported. R-Comp now eager to clear out their hefty stock of MPro 3 copies on floppy disc to make way for a CD based distribution.

Wakey, wakey, Wakefield
Chris Hughes, the Wakefield show supremo, is expected to confirm the details of this year's one day event some time within the next fortnight. On the 2006 preparations, he said to usenet: "We have a number of big problems this year. Currently we have no catering, but alternative plans are being looked at."

The local council is also, apparently, building an extension to the hall where the show usually takes place and major construction work is pencilled in for the weekend when the event is usually held.

Chris added, "I will reveal more next week, when a proper announcement will be made. I would ask the portal sites not to go printing the above on their sites - can't stop them but respectfully ask they don't."

Klosing the door on the way out
Jan Klose of Artex, publisher of a few RISC OS games titles amongst other projects, recently recalled many fond memories of his company's original platform in an interview with Gamed.nl. Ankh is being remade but is still based upon the 1998 original as Jan explained: "The original game was only released on RISC OS machines which weren't very popular even in the 1990s. So I think the content of the new Ankh is unique to almost all players today. It was not sensible to create a part two if nobody knows part one.

"Also, having access to the great material of that early game enabled us to be very quick in producing the new Ankh. It wouldn't have been possible to create the game within only 12 months without these assets."

Now developed by Deck13, the new 3D modelled PC port of Ankh has received endorsements from Monkey Island creator Ron Gilbert.

Bubble train screenshotTrained in the art of bursting
Alan Buckley has ported to RISC OS Bubble Train, an open source puzzle game based on the 'pop and drop' genre, which includes Frozen Bubble and Bobble-bobble. The idea is to shoot at a train of bubbles moving along a track to burst them before they reach their destination. The bubbles will explode only if the correct colour combinations are matched up: three or more in row of the same colour will trigger the explosion and shorten the train. There are also bonus bubbles that detonate multiple suds in an area, shift in colour, and artificially change the speed of the train for good or worse. The game, written in C++ with SDL and other libraries, features a number of levels and landscapes to play with.

In brief
Debugging tool Reporter is up to version 2.62, and can output a backtrace for BASIC applications, has had its SWI intercept code rewritten, updates to its redraw and logging code, and many other enhancements. A new alpha version of Howard Dawson's circuit schematic editor is now available for testing. Electronic engineers can also have fun with an updated ArcSimp, a simulator of analogue and digital systems. Sudoku fans can enjoy SuperDuko, a new shareware application that generates and solves the number crunching puzzles. From the same author, Matthew Phillips, comes DrawToSprite, a utility to convert the native vector files into RISC OS sprites and Windows BMP files with control over the output size and resolution. A new tool to enable and disable components run during the computer's start up has been released.

And finally, as you may have noticed, we sadly suffered downtime at the start of the week due to a hardware failure. Drobe.co.uk has been moved to a second server, and don't panic if you encounter further service disruption; we may be moving onto a new hosting facility. Contrary to minor rumours, no, we weren't shut down by legal threats. Thanks for your patience.


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It's a shame Artex didn't produce a 32bit version of TEK before they left us.

 is a RISC OS Userfylfot on 26/1/06 12:47AM
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Indeed. Artex will be sorely missed, as the only recent commercial games manufacturer for RISC OS. I'm glad to have their classics here.

 is a RISC OS Userjymbob on 26/1/06 1:50AM
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I suppose Chris' request that portals don't report anything until there's something to report is rather like a red flag to a bull. :)

 is a RISC OS Userkrisa on 26/1/06 9:12AM
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For reference on the Messenger Pro 3 floppy disc clearance section, we are offering Mpro 3 discs for 25ukp inc while stocks last, which is a pretty major saving, and makes it an ideal opportunity for anyone put off by the usual price tag.

 is a RISC OS Userarawnsley on 26/1/06 10:41AM
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In answer to arawnsley:

Is there also a discount available on the price of upgrading from MP2? Yes, I know I could phone, but I may not be the only person who wants to know.

 is a RISC OS Usercables on 26/1/06 1:38PM
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I am a little annoyed that Drobe have chosen to ignore my public request not to reproduce parts of my usenet posting and awaiting the proper and full announcement due next week. The end result is they will now be last to receive any details in future and are now prohibited from publishing any usenet or email regarding the show without my prior permission. I will fully enforce my copyright on future postings and notices to stop inaccurate and speculative reporting. I had hoped that my request would be respected by sadly not.

 is a RISC OS UserWakeman on 26/1/06 1:51PM
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Wakeman: "I am a little annoyed that Drobe have chosen to ignore my public request not to reproduce parts of my usenet posting"

What was the reasoning behind this request? Why would you want something published on usenet, but not on a news portal?

"they will now be last to receive any details in future"

There are ways round such obstacles, I'm sure :-)

"I will fully enforce my copyright on future postings"

That should be interesting...

"I had hoped that my request would be respected by sadly not."

Do you never read the little comments that appear at the top right of the Drobe homepage? :-)


 is a RISC OS Userdgs on 26/1/06 2:04PM
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Chris Williams said: hahah, Chris Hughes can suck my fat cock, he needs to respect my authority

 is a RISC OS Usermavhc on 26/1/06 2:17PM
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If you post something on usenet you can't impose a ban on others discussing it. The internet, or the real world, isn't like that.

It really is quite simple. If you don't want private information to be discussed in public, keep it private.

 is a RISC OS Userfylfot on 26/1/06 2:35PM
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fylfot: would you say the same is true for IRCNet? just curious

 is a RISC OS Userjymbob on 26/1/06 2:36PM
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"I had hoped that my request would be respected by sadly not."

This is the kind of stupidity I've come to expect from some people.If you don't want people to read about and quote information then *DO* *NOT* *POST* *IT* *TO* *A* *PUBLIC* *PLACE*.

"they will now be last to receive any details in future"

Aw. You just keep on firing that gun at your foot dear.

 is a RISC OS Userpiemmm on 26/1/06 2:46PM
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"would you say the same is true for IRCNet?"

If I'd posted private information to a public channel with people I didn't know, then yes. If I posted private information to a friend in a private chat window, then I'd feel let down by that friend if the information went public unless I'd given (s)he permission.

 is a RISC OS Userfylfot on 26/1/06 2:55PM
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Cables - right now the 2006 scheme has only been announced to v3 owners, and isn't a "general public" product although it will be very shortly. The difficulty we have (rightly or wrongly) is that we don't want to penalise those who supported us by buying v3, so coming up with a price for v2 owners that doesn't penalise v3 owners is a bit of a problem. Obviously we want to encourge a situation where people do upgrade through incremental versions, and aren't penalised for doing so. I feel something of an obligation to the v3 owners.

 is a RISC OS Userarawnsley on 26/1/06 2:56PM
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In reply to arawnsley:

Sorry, I didn't make myself clear. You're now selling MP3 for £25 instead of the usual £39. As an MP2 user my usual upgrade price (from MP2 to MP3) would be £19. It's this price I'm asking about.

 is a RISC OS Usercables on 26/1/06 3:03PM
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Ah, no, upgrade price is still same - the 25ukp is basically to get rid of the floppy discs, and make it appeal to people who perhaps couldn't justify nearly 40ukp for an email client. It is only while we get rid of the excess floppies. Normal price will be resumed once we're on CD.

 is a RISC OS Userarawnsley on 26/1/06 4:08PM
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Regarding the Wakefield whinge above, am I alone in finding Chris' request, and his following response to its being ignored (and indeed almost mocked by being quoted directly in the article), perfectly reasonable?

Yes, he posted a polite public response to a public question on a public forum, and therefore cannot, in a sense, complain if it is quoted elsewhere, because the information has entered the public domain. But he also included a polite request for portals not to quote his reply, and to have that request itself quoted, along with all the other information that it asks should not be quoted, seems to me to be deliberately provocative. It's as though Drobe is intentionally putting the request up for public ridicule: "look how we'll treat anyone who dares to ask us not to print what we want to print!"

It's not as if the information is particularly enlightening or even worth printing. Chris' posting says next to nothing, except that there's the possibility of a show, that there'll be a proper announcement in due course, and that he'd like "the media" (for want of a better term) to wait for any such announcement before publishing anything. What's so unreasonable about that? I know that there's no sensitive information here, and superficially it really doesn't matter that this information has appeared, but that isn't really the point; Chris has a perfect right to feel aggrieved even so, after having his request not just ignored but actually highlighted. Besides, what, precisely, has Drobe achieved by preannouncing Chris's plans?

On the negative side, Drobe has clearly infuriated Chris Hughes, which isn't the best thing to do for a man who's been organising the most regular and consistently good quality show in this country (under difficult conditions) for the last decade. And why are people, in the responses to Chris' negative reaction, trying to pillory him for his perfectly natural and human annoyance? This isn't a matter of the letter of the law (yes, strictly speaking it's Chris' fault for being so rash as to open his mouth at all); it's a matter of simple courtesy.

On the positive side, what has this announcement achieved? It's let people know that there's a possibility of a Wakefield Show this year... but they presumably knew that anyway, and beyond that it says almost nothing; it doesn't confirm that a show is going to happen.

In other words, the only thing that the announcement has really achieved is to annoy the one person that we're relying on to organise the show in question. Worse still, there's been some pretty nasty follow-ups to Chris' negative reaction; one person has been tastelessly rude whilst another, worse still, has said outright that Chris is stupid (and has been excessively patronising as well). Charming. Persumably that person isn't doing a whole lot to help in the organisation of the show.

So has this really been a very constructive and helpful exercise? What would have been wrong with, say, honouring Chris' request and waiting for a few days, refraining from pre-empting any official announcement, and then actually printing something useful once there's something worth printing?

Chris' reaction strikes a personal chord with me, because Drobe pre-announced my Foundation RISC User DVD edition last year, a day or two before I was ready to announce it to the public. I'd written the public announcement but was waiting to release it for some very specific and important reasons, and I was /exceedingly/ irritated when Drobe jumped the gun (with private information, not obtained from me) and took the entire wind out of my proper announcement (which came only a day or so later).

It seems to me that with the immediacy of Internet-based communications these days, there's a deplorable absence of basic politeness and decency, which is a totally separate issue from the question of whether doing a thing is right or wrong in terms of the letter of the law.

That's all I'm going to say on the matter. I just thought I'd make a futile stand for common courtesy.

 is a RISC OS UserRichardHallas on 26/1/06 5:35PM
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Thank you to both Chris's for brightening my day. I haven't had such a good laugh for a long time.

 is a RISC OS UserEddie on 26/1/06 5:59PM
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Thanks Richard

This isn't generally applicable, but if you knew you wanted to make an announcement on date X, could you send the announcement to 'news organisations' with a statement 'Embargoed until 00:00 on <date>'? Then the news organisations would know that you're planning publicity on a certain date. Otherwise they don't know if you are going to make an announcement soon.

They don't seem to have respected that in this case though (Chris H mentioned the details unofficially, and said an announcement would be forthcoming).

 is a RISC OS Usercaliston2 on 26/1/06 6:09PM
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I'm so glad that people have seen the humour in this; Richard Hallas the obvious exception. :)

 is a RISC OS Userfylfot on 26/1/06 6:41PM
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caliston2: Yes, it ought to work like that, but regardless of how you word it ("embargoed until such-and-such a date" or a more informal wording such as Chris's), it's not a fat lot of good if one or more of your recipients (a) totally ignores your request and (b) attempts to humiliate you in public for making it.

Anyway, in my case, if you're referring to my FRU DVD release, I hadn't put out any information of any kind myself. My press release was written but hadn't been sent anywhere. Drobe got hold of some private information via RISCOS Ltd about my DVD and chose to go public with it, without even considering the implications or attempting to ask my permission. That kind of behaviour doesn't do a lot to enhance Drobe's reputation.

I note that my comment above has already, a mere few minutes after I posted it, been moderated down to -1.3. This is despite the fact that it's entirely relevant to an important point that's been made on this threat, wholly polite and wholly constructive. What's negative or off-topic about it, that should cause it to be marked down?

I suppose this is just another example of why I said that my stand for common courtesy was futile. Clearly it is.

 is a RISC OS UserRichardHallas on 26/1/06 6:55PM
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fylfot: I'm by no means a humourless individual in general, and perhaps I'm being dense and missing something on this occasion. But if so, I'd love to know what it is because, in all honesty, I can't see anything the remotest bit funny here. I admit it; maybe my sense of humour has crashed.

I do know that I've blown up a very minor incident and made it sound a lot more serious than it is, but it's a matter of principle. Besides, having suffered a similar (but worse) incident myself, I know how extremely annoying it can be.

 is a RISC OS UserRichardHallas on 26/1/06 7:05PM
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Chris Williams's attitude to all this is stated in my previous post.

 is a RISC OS Usermavhc on 26/1/06 8:32PM
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I've got to say, I'm with Richard on this one. It just seems totally unnecessary and rather unkind to go totally against the express wishes of someone who does sterling work for the RISC OS community, and then laugh in his face for getting (understandably) annoyed about it.

Pretty juvenile, overall.

 is a RISC OS Userhutchies on 26/1/06 8:35PM
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Just one line, to back up Richard. Well written, and a good point.

 is a RISC OS Userjohn on 26/1/06 10:36PM
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In response to your comments. I did not want it published on the portals (and Drobe is the only one to ignore my polite request) is because its not the full story. There were no details about dates, times or even if it was even certain it would run. Someone asked on a newsgroup if there was any news and that the website was still showing last years details. I responded that there were problems and that a proper announcement would be made shortly depending on the outcome of some things being resolved.

Drobe jumped the gun.

As for me enforcing my copyright. Emails and usenet postings are the copyright of the person sending them in law. case law has already established this.

As to some of the other comments, I know they were public statements I made them but also asked publicly and politely that they don't put the incomplete information up on a portal as they would get the full story in a few days. But like a lot of the modern *media* they decided lets ignore the important bits and publish anyway.

A couple of further more general points - I don't have to run a Wakefield Show. If I decide I don't want to do it or can't be bothered - thats it. No one else takes over.

I devote a major amount of my time including holidays to preparing and working on providing YOU with a show.

Since a number of people have decide I am not only stupid, etc., I feel I have to consider whether I want to continue spending my time on a show.

As a result any public announcement is now likely to be further delayed. While I think about it for a few days.

 is a RISC OS UserWakeman on 26/1/06 11:01PM
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Come on this is a storm in a tea cup, but any plublicity is good publicity.

 is a RISC OS Userdruck on 27/1/06 9:11AM
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Just to add my "me too" - I'm totally with Richard on this. His comments were some of the best written I've ever seen.

I'd also like to point out how important shows are to the RISC OS community - when they've died out, I suspect that the remainder of the RISC OS community will die too. So to patronize and insult someone who dedicates so much time to producing possibly the best show in the RISC OS calendar seems idiotic.

 is a RISC OS Userkrisa on 27/1/06 9:57AM
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I'm curious, why are the public that read Drobe and the public that read newsgroups so different?

 is a RISC OS Userflibble on 27/1/06 11:31AM
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I'm pleased to see some more reasonable attitudes being expressed now!

I have to say, though, that I'm rather intrigued by the behaviour of the moderation figures in this thread. After I'd posted my long spiel above, I noted that, within 20 minutes or so, it had been moderated down to -1.3, which seemed not only unreasonable but also strikingly swift. Could over a dozen people really have read my long bit in those few minutes, and all marked it down for being bad/off-topic (which I was sure it wasn't)? I note now that it's been moderated right up to +5.1, which is very pleasing and feels a lot better!

But it does surprise me that it managed to go so negative so quickly in the first place. I note that if I moderate someone's comment myself (on the rare occasions that I do), the rating only seems to alter by 0.1 (if at all), so to get to a large positive or negative figure must take quite a lot of votes. Do more regular posters on Drobe (such as the ones with blue and gold stars afer their names) have greater weightings in the moderation system? (I tend to post only when I have something that I really want to say, so I haven't got any stars.) If so, it would help to account for the sudden negative shift on my own post.

I'm also interested to find that the exceptionally rude entry, to which I alluded in my long post, has vanished. Last time I saw it, it had reached a moderation figure approaching -20 (and deservedly so). Are posts deleted automatically if they fall below a certain rating, or will someone have removed it manually?

Sorry if this seems irrelevant, but I've looked for, and failed to find, an explanation of how this moderation system actually works, and I'd be interested to know.

 is a RISC OS UserRichardHallas on 27/1/06 11:35AM
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I have attempted to answer some of your questions in this post: [link]

 is a RISC OS Userpiemmm on 27/1/06 12:06PM
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RichardHallas: How much a score changes seems to depend on who does it. I appear to make changes by 1.0 if I moderate something. Some time last year a change was made that shoves posts with very negative scores into the "Off topic / derogatory rants" section of the forums.

flibble: (going back on topic here) I agree with your sentiment, but that doesn't change the fact that he requested it to not be mentioned on portals, and it appears that Drobe has gone ahead and done just that simply to be contrary, with rather immature glee. If it had contained some stunningly important news then I would feel differently about the issue.

 is a RISC OS UserSimonC on 27/1/06 12:08PM
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