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South West 2006 theatre talks

By Martin Hansen. Published: 22nd Feb 2006, 01:38:20 | Permalink | Printable

ArtWorks future, ROL development process, Castle hints and more

Webbington HotelAs an exhibitor and a RISC OS user, Martin Hansen reflects on his experiences at last weekend's South West 2006 show. In this report, he gives his opinion on the current state of affairs, describes the presentations given at the event, and offers an inside track on what goes on behind-the-scenes at a RISC OS show.

I've gained something of a soft spot for the annual RISC OS show that takes place at the Webbington Hotel, located a few miles south of Bristol, each February. For me, it is a three and a half hour drive, but I justify it by managing to both taking along my Mathemagical Software stand and by attending all of the lecture theatre talks. At the start of each new year these presentations from the major RISC OS players seem to set a tone that resonates throughout the rest of the year, and 2006 was no exception.

The journey
As a small software developer, one of the good aspects of attending the various RISC OS shows throughout the year is that I'm forced to periodically get my act together by polishing up, debugging and adding new features to my software products. This was certainly the case this year and I spent the two weeks running up to the show frantically writting the key routines to demonstrate a new product, The Math Box, that I'll be releasing at this May's Wakefield show. I mention this purely so that you will understand that I went through the day of the show having had one hour's worth of sleep in the car at the Michael Woods service station on the way down the M5 from Shrewsbury. Mind you, at least my vehicle did not break down: Chris Evans and his CJE Micros team mates arrived just fifty minutes before the show opened with an epic tale of automotive mechanical failure occurring at the worst possible moment. Of all the exhibitors, he brings the most kit. Yet, he and his team were surprisingly cheerful. They were clearly very relieved at having made it to the show at all.

Inside the showAt 10am, the event opened to the public. The first folks through the door had a good selection of stands to look over. The Midlands show may have been cancelled last December due to a lack of exhibitors, but there were definitely more stalls at this year's South West show than I've seen here in the past. Most obviously this included Advantage Six, there to promote awareness of their forthcoming A9home computer. R-Comp too had a noticably bountiful stand. I was quite impressed when they pounced upon me and tried to sell me various products as I took an early ramble around the hall. I'm much more laid back and had no qualms about abondoning my stand for half an hour at 11am, as the first talk of the day commenced in the lecture theatre.

I had heard a few uncomplementary mutterings concerning the uninspiring nature of Castle Technologies' recent presentations but this was the first time I would sit through Jack Lillingston's current talk. If you haven't witnessed this presentation, it usually runs something like this: Jack begins by going through the range of boxes into which Castle will place an Iyonix computer for you. First up, the X100; designed to be a close size-match of the RiscPC, which is handy as the legacy RiscPC is no longer manufactured. It can take PCI cards but they have to be half height. Next, the X200; a smart black tower that can, surprisingly, also be operated lying on its side. Then the X300; the original, classic, Iyonix in the familiar generic beige box and the only Iyonix into which Acorn legacy podules can be fitted. Lastly, the cube-like X400 that, apparently, is the current best seller. The Panther has been discontinued and Castle had only one left. The Canon printer that Castle sell was discussed, it's special selling point being that it features, alongside the ubiquitous USB interface, a parallel port for RiscPC users.

I was, by this stage, feeling that this was a talk aimed primarily at a newcomer to RISC OS, or someone returning to RISC OS, who needed a little encouragement to take the plunge and make a purchase. This is fair enough; Castle is in the business of shifting Iyonix computers and if those boxes aren't going out the front door then either Castle will go bust or they must move off, if they can, in more profitable directions. Many of the people in the room, including myself, had already bought an Iyonix, and it's a product I'm happy with. If there was an Iyonix mark II or a native ARM laptop on offer, I'd be interested in buying another machine. Sadly there isn't. So, the sales pitch was a little irrelevant for me and what I was looking forward to was the talk moving on to cater for those of us who have already bought into the Iyonix dream.

Castle logoWhat is the Iyonix particularly good at doing? Where is Castle thinking of taking RISC OS next? What is their vision of the future? Maybe, it's simply that what they are working on is of no relevance to Iyonix desktop users, and so not of general interest, but the lack of any mention of what Castle are busying themselves with these days had my ears pricked for the slightest hint. In passing, Jack mentioned that, up until now, upgrades to RISC OS 5 had been provided free. The implication of saying this is, I believe, that this may not be so in the future. Inevitably, this focussed minds onto something that Jack didn't seem to want to discuss: Are Castle still actively developing RISC OS 5? You could see the thoughts flying around the room as Jack talked us through the updated C/C++ compiler package, the USB 2 upgrade and the DVD upgrade. There was twitching as people thought how best to question the failed cooperation between Castle and RISCOS Ltd without opening up the old, bitter dispute between the two companies. "The RISC OS Merlin developement project is on ice," said Jack in response to one member of the audience. In replying to a follow up query from the crowd, a short sharp answer from the Castle boss made it clear that there is still an impasse between Castle and RISC OS Ltd. No one seemed to want to take this uncomfortable line of questioning any further and Jack wasn't offering to do so voluntarily. The talk concluded. No one clapped. By this time, I was absolutely determined to attend the RISC OS Ltd talk scheduled at the end of the afternoon.

MW Software
The second talk of the day, from Martin Wuerthner, on ArtWorks 2 was a happier affair. Here we had a friendly and good natured presentation from an extraordinarily talented programmer. His vector graphics art package continues to break new ground for RISC OS. Martin wanted to show us ArtWorks in use with an emphasis on some of the more recent features. As a project, he announced he was going to spend the next thirty minutes designing an advertisement for the graphic design software. Starting with the older classic ArtWorks logo, he reenacted his decision to add a butterfly resting on it. This, he pointed out, would signal that his product, like the butterfly in his logo, was moving forward and being actively developed. "Oh," he observed, "The butterfly is obscuring part of the lettering." The solution: make the butterfly transparent. This let the "W" of "ArtWorks" show through, but the butterfly now looked washed out due to its new found translucency. Only the part of the butterfly around the otherwise covered up letter needed to be noticably transparent. Again the solution: graduated transparency.

ArtWorks 2A chile graphic was clipped out from a JPEG, the words "Hot Stuff" added, and a textured backdrop created. Each step showed off more features of the software. It was a wonderfully hearty presentation, and a great advertisement for a premier third party RISC OS product. Impressively, some probing questions from the audience at its conclusion were answered enthusiastically, honestly and with intelligence. Martin is full of ideas on how ArtWorks can be developed further. He is considering adding to ArtWorks multi-page functionality, and the possibility of adding PDF import support; the latter being a highly complex development. Of the Windows packages that offer PDF import, only Adobe's own Acrobat reader truly imports PDFs properly. It would be a real coup d'état if ArtWorks could match that, although it's perhaps debatable if the financial return can fund the effort involved. It will be interesting to see what Martin decides to do next with ArtWorks. His talk left his audience thrilled by what the software package, originally produced by Computer Concepts aka Xara, can do, and what it might be able to do in the near future. A round of applause concluded the ArtWorks 2 presentation.

Out and about
The main hall was probably fairly empty during the talk but as we all trouped out of the lecture theatre, the hall sprang back into life. I spotted an original Acorn mug on sale for £5 which I bought immediately. Earlier, over at the charity stall, I had spotted a couple of sets of RiscPC feet that allow a RiscPC to be used in a tower position - but they had been sold long since. Back at my stand I had a hectic time as two people simultaneously bought my TurtleChalk, ArtGraph and Sudoku software suite, while two others queued to chat with me. Next door, ProCAD+ and WebWonder author David Snell had a steady flow of interested viewers, whilst, across the way, Paul Beverley's Archive booklets (as recently reviewed) seemed to be selling well.

Advantage Six
The third theatre presentation of the day was from Advantage Six and, of course, the burning question asked right away was how much longer must we wait before the A9home gets its proper launch as a fully operational desktop machine. Equally predictable was the reply which boiled down to "when it's ready". Matt Edgar has an endearing way of enthusiastically and informally engaging his potential customers about the thrills and spills of bringing the A9 up to a standard suitable for home users. Even if the A9home is not for you, it's interesting to be invited in to learn of the big problems faced by the Ad6 gang. Sound support, or rather the lack of it, has certainly kept the Advantage Six chaps burning the midnight oil. I was previously under the impression that RISC OS was modular and that each part of it functioned pretty much in isolation from the other components around it. This is turning out to be not the case. Those stressed Acorn engineers of long ago tinkered with the circuitry of the microchips handling the audio output to make the sound programming more straight forward, while exploiting hardware quirks along the way. Try to use off the shelf PC sound hardware with RISC OS and all sorts of things go unpredictably wrong, we were told.

An ARM9 chipThe ARM9 powered A9home is, undoubtedly, an intriguing product and its size is a motivating factor in the move from CRT to LCD monitors. I work in a classroom in which sit twenty RiscPCs all with fans whirring away. It would be so satisfying to replace the lot with these small blue and silent A9home bricks. I really do hope they get the whole thing released soon. Time is passing.

Time is passing too for RISC OS Ltd. Managing director Paul Middleton had the fourth and closing slot in the lecture theatre and he used it very well, I thought, to explain the predicament in which his company has found itself. In a nutshell, there is a lack of funding to push forward the development of their version of RISC OS at a brisk pace. It has been a long time since they issued a Select release, and subscriptions to the scheme, a main source of income, are either falling or are about to lapse. With Select, Paul explained, you could develop various internal branches of the OS software and periodically have an "all up" session in which it was decided which of the various new features under development were sufficiently stable and tested to be bundled into a Select release for subscribers. Anything not yet finished could simply be left out, worked on further, and then issued in the next release.

The 32 bit conversion of RISC OS 4 did not lend itself to this process. The whole conversion will have to be completed before a release can take place, as during the phase of making the operating system 32 bit compatible, development of new features is halted.

As Paul talked us through all of this, I was reflecting upon the path that has led RISC OS Ltd to where they are now. The conversion could, of course, not have been attempted at all. RISC OS Ltd could have developed the OS pretty much exclusively for RiscPC and Virtual RiscPC users. Maybe that is the route they should have gone down, but the A9 gave them a reason and the cash to commit to the 32 bit conversion process. With Castle's cooperation, another potential pay off lies a little further down the time line; the new 32 bit OS, with its wealth of enhanced features, could be sold to users of the Iyonix. And the same primary source code for the 32 bit machines could be used to generate 26 bit friendly code for further Select releases for users of RiscPCs. As Paul made clear, RISC OS Ltd did not have the funding for this ambitious project during its moment of conception back in the late 1990s. They took what was described as a brave decision, known as a gamble in other cirlces, to go down this route, hoping that Select subscription income, royalties from Virtual RiscPC, and cash from Advantage Six would see them through. It almost has. The A9home is close to becoming a reality, Select version 4 for RiscPCs is on the way, and they are tinkering with what can be easily done for the Iyonix. Paul's talk was pretty good and I did feel moved by his openness and frankness.

After thoughts
As I drifted back into the main hall I reflected upon why I, personally, have trouble with subscription schemes. Present me with a tangible product that is ready to be used, tell me how much you want for it, tell me that I can have my money back if it dosen't perform as it should, and I'll most likely buy it. Maybe, I mused, I have a too simplistic a view of the world. I would be horrified if RISC OS Ltd, Castle or Advantage Six went under as a result of lack of investment from the RISC OS community. Perhaps the RISC OS Ltd share issue is an honourable way of lending a bit of support to the company at a crucial time - but if only one could feel more confident of Castle Technology and RISC OS Ltd cooperating for the good of the platform as a whole. We have so little overall resources it is painful to see any of them being squabbled over or squandered.

At the Castle stand I had a friendly chat with Jack, and I asked him about the RISC OS Christmas road show. He was very positive; he reportedly sold a good number of machines, especially at the London show in Harrow, and praised Paul Middleton's efforts in organising the three day tour. Perhaps there is some hope, after all, that our two key players will find a way to get along and grow the platform.


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Martin mentions the ROL share issue. The idea worries me; normally companies use the funds from extra shares for some major capital project. Here the money will be used for operating expenses. I cannot see any way that shareholders will get any return on their investment in the form of dividends or any way of recovering their money. Why not just call it a 'gift'?

 is a RISC OS Usercharles on 22/2/06 7:43AM
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charles: You say of the ROL share issue "the money will be used for operating expenses". How do you manage to arrive at that conclusion from what Martin says?

The truth is exactly to opposite. The money is to be invested in continuing OS development to enable more rapid progress to be made, and this is exactly what Martin says.

 is a RISC OS Userapdl on 22/2/06 8:47AM
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If ROL want further investment they need to open their books and give a full statement of accounts, showing us where all the money from 21 months of undelivered Select subscriptions, funding from STD for the A9, sales of RO4 and Adjust ROMs, and royalties from 3000+ copies of Virtual Acorn have dissapeared to. They then need to present a fully costed business plan stating the funding and developer resources necessary to complete projects such as Select 4 for all machines. Otherwise no one is going to beleive Paul Middleton alternatively blowing hot and cold over commint to Select on the Iyonix, asking Subscribers to continue to poor money in to the scheme with no guarentee of any releases, and passing out the begging bowl round for sub-junk status shares.

 is a RISC OS Userdruck on 22/2/06 9:41AM
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Well this is getting to be a bit of a nightmare for the end user isn't if Martin's reading of Castles "RISCOS5 updates have been free" statement is correct.

I missed Castle's talk on Saturday but given the worst case this could be what happens:

Have you a Iyonix and want RISCOS5 updates - Subscribe to Castle scheme.

Have a A9 or RISCPC and want updates to RISCOS4 then subscribe to Select.

Have a mixture of machines then subscribe to both Castle's and ROL schemes.

Finally want to support RISCOS moving forward quickly in the future then buy some shares.

This is getting a tad complex and not to mention messy. If you want to put people off buying RISCOS products then this would do a good job of it because when spending 600+ on a new machine you want to do so knowing there are no risks. Just remember the format wars on VHS and the impending DVD ones. It wasn't until one standard came through that the mass of people purchased machines knowing that their hard earned cash wasn't going to be wasted. If there is ever something that illustrates the reason for having a unified OS then this is it.

 is a RISC OS Userbluenose on 22/2/06 10:03AM
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Just thought of another option

Have a mixture of machines then just purchase individual versions of Select for Iyonix, RISCPC or A9 etc and run the risk of missing out on a crucial Castle update.

 is a RISC OS Userbluenose on 22/2/06 10:07AM
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I don't think it would be unreasonable for Castle to start charging for RO5 updates (as long as they offered something significant, and the cost is a fair reflection of what's new). It's not reasonable for us, or sensible for them, to have free upgrades forever.

 is a RISC OS UserSimonC on 22/2/06 10:15AM
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In reply to SimonC:

Doesn't it depend on what the update is?

If its an improvement or new feature above and beyond whats already available or sold then yes, some kind of payment *might* be justifiable. However if its a bug fix in an existing part of the OS then surely that should be free?

 is a RISC OS UserCol1 on 22/2/06 10:27AM
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Castle just wan't to be able to actually charge for a new version of RISC OS 5.

Given the amount of upgrades that have arrived for free so far it is fair enough.

 is a RISC OS UserROHC on 22/2/06 10:30AM
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Whats being talked about is continuing what Castle have already done, with the chargeable upgrade to USB2. The machine will always be supplied with a free OS delivering the required base functionality, but there may be several areas where there are optional enhancements available which you can also purchase.

So far Castle have only done this for hardware drivers, not wanting to step on ROL's toes in pure OS development. But if ROL persist in ignoring Iyonix users, I don't see why Castle shouldn't provide some of the more useful Select features their customers have requested. Icon cut&paste for example.

 is a RISC OS Userdruck on 22/2/06 10:43AM
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Politics aside, thanks Martin for an excellent article on the talks. I'm expecially excited by the concept of importing PDFs into ArtWorks. I've made quite a bit of use of the export facility but the usefuless of others being able to make modifications to a PDF file on other platforms and then returning it for continued use in ArtWorks cannot be underestimated.

 is a RISC OS Userfylfot on 22/2/06 11:02AM
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Asking APDL a question: what does "continuing OS development" mean if it isn't operating expenses/running costs/paying for a programmer's time? It certainly isn't using the money raised from the share issue to build an asset which could be realised (such as security for a loan). When "shares" in companies were first invented, there was an assumption that there would be a payback to the investors, I cannot think of anything (without seeing a prospectus) that would lead me to believe such a payback is likely with an investment in ROL. Do convince me otherwise.

Agreeing with Druck (for a change) when the USB2 upgrade appeared from Castle there was a simple "Buy it if you want". It wasn't essential to some people, but at least you could see what you were buying. That is very different from "pay us and you might get something".

 is a RISC OS Usercharles on 22/2/06 11:11AM
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Col1: "if its a bug fix in an existing part of the OS then surely that should be free?"

So you believe that RISCOS Ltd should provide all bugfixes for RISC OS 4.02 for free?


 is a RISC OS Userdgs on 22/2/06 11:56AM
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In reply to Druck and ROHC

If it is added driver support then not a problem but once we get into added Select type features then this gets us into the messy area as if it isn't already. Now we have Castle doing updates which I'm happy with and fixing bugs for free. What happens if say you have Select for Iyonix and that fix isn't in Select it really is a can of worms.

I do support the market and have purchased USB2 etc for my Iyonix whilst subscribing to Select since the first year but I do think this needs sorting.

 is a RISC OS Userbluenose on 22/2/06 12:06PM
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The Select for Iyonix I mention is the ROL version.

 is a RISC OS Userbluenose on 22/2/06 12:07PM
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In reply to dgs:

If your refering to the Select Scheme, which I presume you are even though you don't mention it, then my understanding of the situation is that the updates that they provide are not *just* bug fixes but increased functionality.

Which is the distinction I was trying to make in my original post.

If the update from Castle was to fix a known bug in RO5.xxx then yes perhaps it should be free. However if the update was for something like USB2 support, as Druck pointed out, or something which adds value/functionality beyond the level if was at at time of purchase then they probably should/could charge for it.

For me personally though this is all academic as I don't own an Iyonix and won't be purchasing one in the near furture (a simple question of economics for me: (1 daughter+1 wife)/single income= no money for new computers!)

 is a RISC OS UserCol1 on 22/2/06 12:17PM
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Col1: "Select Scheme ... the updates that they provide are not just bug fixes but increased functionality"

Do you believe that the bug fixes should be made available for free, separately from the increased functionality?


 is a RISC OS Userdgs on 22/2/06 12:24PM
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dgs and Col1: Bug fixes should be free, because they just give you what you should've had in the first place. I only intended to mean functionality in my original post. The only exception to this would be if you had purchased an early version of the software cheap, accepting that there may be bugs (which is, I suppose, the current A9 situation).

 is a RISC OS UserSimonC on 22/2/06 12:31PM
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I don't see Castle's comment as any change from what they have been doing so far: bug-fixes for free, upgrades chargeable. Seems reasonable to me!

 is a RISC OS Userhelpful on 22/2/06 1:24PM
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You bring up a good point.

I run RO4.03, and one of my brothers still uses RO4.02.

Should RISCOS Ltd make freely available the bug fixes they have done ?

 is a RISC OS Userajb on 22/2/06 1:34PM
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Unfortunately it is not always practical to provide bug fixes separately from other functionality that may since have been incorporated in a module. In fact the only way to be sure of this is to plan ahead and take a snapshot of the source code of at the time of each public release.

If your business depends on selling software then starting to give it away just because there were bugs in earlier versions (very likely not of your making) would be a recipe for disaster.

If you want one instance of free bug fixes having been provided then look no further than the Toolbox modules, which were bug-ridden at the time of their original release. Yet (almost) the latest versions are freely available to all RISC OS users, including Iyonix owners.

 is a RISC OS Userthesnark on 22/2/06 1:52PM
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Frankly ROS Ltd and Castle should just merge. Share the cost of operating system development between them. John Ballance handles hardware, Paul Middleton handles the OS.

Finish RISC OS 4, port features into RISC OS 5. After a couple of years bring the two streams together into RISC OS 6 and tailor three versions for the different hardware, RISC PC era, A9, Iyonix. All three versions have the same core features but are altered to best run on their platforms.

Different hardware, one OS. Don't screw us over guys and run this platform into the ground over petty disputes.

 is a RISC OS UserTrapper on 22/2/06 2:37PM
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Trapper: In an ideal World, this is what would happen. The fragmentation of RISC OS into two main companies is barmy.

 is a RISC OS UserJWCR on 22/2/06 3:04PM
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If a HAL was available for each of the different computer hardwares, (incl. of drivers), wouldn't just one version of the OS be required ?

Castle already has HAL's for the RiscPC and Iyonix.

The RiscPC's HAL was mentioned previously to have been created as part of the development work for the Iyonix.

 is a RISC OS Userajb on 22/2/06 4:19PM
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"At the start of each new year these presentations from the major RISC OS players seem to set a tone that resonates throughout the rest of the year, and 2006 was no exception."

Although this year's presentations wither in comparison to next year's, when Castle announce their new time machine. ;-)

 is a RISC OS Userguestx on 22/2/06 4:54PM
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Nice article Martin. I always like your personal touch in them.

guestx: Eh? I could use such a device to travel back a few years and give Paul and Jack a wake-up call... ;)

(meanwhile back to the article)

"Where is Castle thinking of taking RISC OS next? What is their vision of the future? Maybe, it's simply that what they are working on is of no relevance to Iyonix desktop users, and so not of general interest, but the lack of any mention of what Castle are busying themselves with these days had my ears pricked for the slightest hint."

Indeed. I'd think most users are interested in what Castle is planning for our favourite platform! I mean, they did revitalize the market with the Iyonix and RO5 (not to mention USB2 support). So... what's next?

"There was twitching as people thought how best to question the failed cooperation between Castle and RISCOS Ltd without opening up the old, bitter dispute between the two companies."

I believe as supporters (and customers) we are entitled to ask some relevant questions, even if they are a bit unpleasant to answer.

"... a short sharp answer from the Castle boss made it clear that there is still an impasse between Castle and RISC OS Ltd."

Which desperately needs to be resolved. It seems ROL can't produce a full version of Select for the Iyonix, because Castle isn't providing some necessary details.

"The whole [RO4 to 32-bit] conversion will have to be completed before a release can take place, as during the phase of making the operating system 32 bit compatible, development of new features is halted."

Does this mean there will not be a new release of Select (Issue 4) until the A9home is released? Also that any money derived from Select subscriptions will initially be used in completing the conversion process?

It is known Advantage Six have invested in this conversion, but where can the line be drawn? I mean, it seems part of the funding comes from Advantage Six (it was reported they do the A9home specific stuff themselves) and part is funded by ROL themselves. When is ROL putting some general answers on their website?

 is a RISC OS UserhEgelia on 22/2/06 6:29PM
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I am not disappointed that the Castle presentation was light on fact. They are famous for not publicizing a project until it is ready to market. Remember the shock factor that accompanied the launch of the Iyonix and RISC OS 5 three years ago. I think that the only way forward is regualr paid for upgrades (inclusive of bug fixes and support). If something is free, people begin to expect it as a right and complain about what they get. Paid upgrades keep the developers happy because they guarentee an income and the customers happy because they know they eill get something major for their money.

 is a RISC OS UserJWCR on 22/2/06 7:41PM
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In reply to fylfot

> ...excited by the concept of importing pdfs into Artworks

Martin did say that this would be a huge task. Currently only thr parts of the PDF format have been implemented that are needed for export.

Import requires the whole file format to be developed - the documentation runs to over 200 pages.

I did get the impression it will happen but not soon.

Multipage documents are also being considered.

 is a RISC OS User2307 on 22/2/06 10:13PM
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In reply to ajbs comment about the HAL

When Iyonix Select arrives, the HAL will be dropped, as it is not economic to put the HAL into RO4.

I thought this a real retrograde step. Certainly it will tie hardware developers to RO Ltd.

I've always thought h/w abstraction the way forward, so that people like A6 could write there own drivers with the relevant hooks into the OS. RO Ltd seem to think developing RO for each machine the way f/w

 is a RISC OS User2307 on 22/2/06 10:19PM
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If what you say is true, about the HAL being dropped for the Iyonix Select, then I and probably many others would consider it a backwards step.

As you state in your last paragraph, the hardware developer should do the HAL and drivers, leaving RO Ltd just doing a clean OS.

The OS should then be able to be improved much faster, without the individual hardware considerations having to be a factor.

Where did you get the information from that the HAL would be dropped ?

 is a RISC OS Userajb on 23/2/06 12:17AM
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To most: As for free upgrades to RISC OS (or other software) we could look at other companies way of doing things. I think that each product should be supported for some time including free bug and security fixes and the support life span should be such that it ends some time after the follow up product is on the market. Take Windows e.g. (it's just an example most know). Microsoft offers free fixes for a Windows version for some time and when a new Windows appears then after some overlapping period of time the older versions are not supported anymore. The needed income is thus not generated by you paying for fixes but by you upgrading to the next version at some time.

 is a RISC OS Userhzn on 23/2/06 8:41AM
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In reply to 2307 and ajb:

The fact that Select 4 won't use the HAL API doesn't mean there is no Hardware Abstraction in Select 4, only that they decided to do it another way. If you look at Castle's HAL API ([link]) you will notice that there isn't much to it (interrupts and timers), there is nothing in it related to graphics or sound. Till recent work on newer graphic cards Castle admitted that RISC OS 5 was tied to the graphic card used in the Iyonix.

It certainly would be better that they cooperated together and avoided the divergence of the versions of the OSes but given the current state of affairs ...

 is a RISC OS Userandretim on 23/02/06 11:11AM
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I sure hope that Advantage6 get their machine into production soon. What is not needed is another farce in the style of Microdigital or RiscStation. Clearly this is not vapourware, but I am starting to feel like the announcement was premature. There is something to be said for Castle's way of doing things. You won't even have an inkling that there is a new RISC OS machine from them until it's in stock.

 is a RISC OS Userarenaman on 23/02/06 11:58AM
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With regards to Select, is it not illegal to charge for a product and fail to deliver? Seems like ROL would be obliged to refund anyone who demands it or face charges. Select seemed to be doing quite well and I did start to take to it (when I used it a couple of years ago), but this is ridiculous.

 is a RISC OS Userarenaman on 23/02/06 12:02AM
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In reply to Michael Stubbs:

As for "With regards to Select, is it not illegal to charge for a product and fail to deliver?": It depends on what was said that you'd get and as far as I can tell ... well just read on, please

I looked at the Select FAQ on [link] which you are offered when you want to know what Select is and what you pay for.

There is stated "It is not possible to state exactly when any particular new feature or update will appear since the whole idea of the Select Scheme is to make new items available as soon as possible, rather then waiting 3-4 years before releasing everything at once." Well with Select release 4 they're still well ahead of the 3-4 years but as far as I can tell they don't guarantee what they deliver and when they do so.

And then further down the question "Exactly what new features are planned for the RISC OS Select Scheme." is not even answered either since all you get ist a list labelled 'The following is the features that are in the current RISC OS Select ROM image:' and thus again no guarantee or even no statement of intent as for what is planned.

Considering this the Select subscription looks a bit like a lottery: you hope to get something but there is no guarantee that you do and if how much it is ...

On the other hand I can understand that it is hard for ROL to really guarantee what they will deliver when. But their rules for Select are in the open for everybody to read and then decide if the offering is ok.

 is a RISC OS Userhzn on 23/02/06 1:52PM
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Maybe we'd stand more chance of getting our money back if we reported ROL to the gambling comission for running an illegal lottery.

 is a RISC OS Userdruck on 23/02/06 4:08PM
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 is a RISC OS Usersa110 on 23/02/06 6:15PM
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in reply to ajb

The comment was made as part of the reason for delaying doing the kernel, during the SW talk.

I still think ROLs way of doing things ties to much ROL resource into specific contracts, rather than doing other work such as select. Full abstraction should be the main goal.

Whether or not you like Windows, it does allow anyone to build a computer, and stick Windows on, and it will (mostly) work.

 is a RISC OS User2307 on 23/02/06 8:45PM
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It's amazing how far RISC OS has really progressed, in just a few instances I may say really well, but in many other situations I am just flabbergasted and incredibly lost for words.

I am becoming so keen to wait patiently now for the real release of an Acorn Computer, nothing more I ask but for one and only one fine trusty computer will do. ;-)

I hope we get another one 'Acorn' season to blossom again out of all this. :-(

 is a RISC OS UserSawadee on 24/02/06 08:55AM
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Sawadee: What on earth are you talking about?

 is a RISC OS Userarenaman on 26/02/06 11:27PM
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hzn: From the same page you linked to:

"From now on RISC OS will be updated on a rolling basis, instead of releasing a major upgrade every couple of years."

"All Subscribers to RISC OS Select will receive up to 3 CD's per year i.e. one CD approximately every 4 months."

From reading this, one could quite reasonably assume that you would get at least one CD per year... most people would be expecting three. Last time I checked, it wasn't very common for people to subscribe to something for one year and receive absolutely nothing. Just because it doesn't guarantee 3 CDs a year means nothing... if you've paid for up to 3 you have to receive something, otherwise you've paid for nothing and the law would not uphold that. I am sure if you tried, the law would favour the out-of-pocket consumer who has subcribed to a very expensive... nothing!!

druck: LOL!! Just a pity that it's a serious situation :(

 is a RISC OS Userarenaman on 26/02/06 11:36PM
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