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Middleton battles 'misinformation'

By Chris Williams. Published: 6th Mar 2006, 14:09:40 | Permalink | Printable

Don't believe everything you read

Paul Middleton photoFollowing rumour and speculation over the future of RISC OS 4, RISCOS Ltd's managing director today poured scorn on "every rumour and piece of misinformation that comes up on the Internet".

In a frank email he told Select subscribers today: "Some people have a habit of starting rumours that can upset many other people's views of how the market is progressing. Negative rumours, especially when they are unfounded, can have a tremendous effect on the market, so please treat anything you hear or read with caution unless it is fully verified.

"We don't have time to contradict every rumour and piece of misinformation that comes up on the Internet."

A number of subscribers to the annual scheme that releases updates to RISC OS 4 have called for greater communication between the userbase and RISCOS Ltd. In the absence of information and details, online discussion forums including the Usenet groups, speculated on the Select 4 delays and the possibility of a Select port to the Iyonix.

Paul added: "I don't use these [email updates to subscribers] to make mention of specific people but quotes from recent postings on Usenet by certain contributors, who really should know better, must be taken to task as they seem to be dedicated to spreading deliberate misinformation about RISCOS Ltd's plans and activities."

Working together
Another sticking point for users is the apparant lack of cooperation between certain RISC OS companies; particular over the split of RISC OS 4 and 5, the two USB stacks, and the hand-in-hand work involved in producing a Select port of the Iyonix.

RISCOS Ltd director and VirtualAcorn boss Aaron Timbrell argued on Usenet: "My view is simple, RISC OS companies need to cooperate with each other.

"What really does annoy me is the impression created by some ill-informed people that there is a war going on, there isn't. There is already a huge amount of co-operation between all the RISCOS companies, somethings could perhaps be better, but overall everyone does get on very well."

Fellow director Dave Holden replied: "Unfortunately cooperation doesn't make news - only dissent and argument manage that - and there really is almost no dissent between the vast majority of companies still involved with RISC OS."


RISCOS Ltd website

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As one the people being accused of spreading misinformation on the newsgroups, I'd like to apologise over any confusion caused by my misunderstanding of Paul Middleton's answers to my questions at the RISC OS Midlands road show.

I gained the impression from his answer concerning the Risc PC running Select 4, that it was running in 32bit mode. Further to this I attempted to run a couple of 3rd party applications on the hard disc not part of the Select disc image, which were 26bit (as confirmed by looking at the binaries in Zap), both of these crashed which lead me to believe that only 32bit code would work under Select 4.

I'd like to thank Paul for confirming this is not the case and Select 4 will run in 26bit mode on old machines allowing legacy 26bit application to work. But I would also to like to ask why this wasn't cleared up immediately when I raised it weeks before hand in the on the Select mailing list. Misunderstands happen, but they only become misinformation, in the lack of any real information.

 is a RISC OS Userdruck on 6/3/06 4:04PM
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"Misunderstands happen, but they only become misinformation, in the lack of any real information."

Exactly. Like many other RO users, I have been unable to attend the presentations given by Mr. Middleton. In this regard, we are solely dependant on the bits and pieces we may accumulate through the Internet, since it seems the only truly correct information is given by Mr. Middleton in his presentations.

It is very unfortunate that malicious information is circulating on the internet (RO virii!), but a lot of misunderstanding or confusion could (and would) have been avoided if ROL had a decent website, which presents their current products and developments in a clear and accessible manner. I cannot find anything about Select 4, Adjust32, Iyonix Select or what they have been doing for the last couple of years!

I understand that ROL are busy, but unless they offer various means for their customers to know what they actually do and offer, how can they properly sell their products? Outside of England, there are still a substantial amount of RO users and interested persons who would like to know the current state of things from the source.

 is a RISC OS UserhEgelia on 6/3/06 5:50PM
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I glad too that Paul has clarified the situation re- A9 and Select features as I got the impression, clearly wrongly now, from his talk at the SW Show that the A9 would come with a sub-set of Select features. His clear statement on this now being a subset of the Select4 features is welcome. It also by the way confirms that A9 owners will need to subscribe to Select to get the full features of Select4 and future Select enhancements just as I had understood from the SW Show talk.

 is a RISC OS Userbluenose on 6/3/06 7:54PM
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The announcement by ROL regarding Select today is a relief. The RO market has been tearing itself to bits with speculation lately - now we clearly know what is going on and that good progress is being made.

This is a time when we should be excited about a new machine (A9home), not wrecking the buildup to its release with negativity.

 is a RISC OS Usertimephoenix on 7/3/06 5:41AM
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In Reply to TimePhoenix

Totally agree about the A9Home, hopefully Wakefield2006 will be one of those special occassions where we have a lot to look forward to in, with the A9 and Select4 etc. With ROL's excellent work recently in staging roadshows it is great to see some positives coming back in to the market after 2005's year of anticipation.

 is a RISC OS Userbluenose on 7/3/06 7:08AM
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First of all thanks to Paul Middleton to put forward some information. But since he's so interested in avoiding rumors and misinformation I absolutely do not understand why - if I understand this drobe news correctly - he just drops a line to the select subscribers but does not offer the information to the public which then obviously results in drobe picking it up, probably rewording parts of the info to better fit the news style.

The amazing issue here is that on the one hand Paul wants users to re-subscribe or subscribe to Select but for some reason seems to prefer to just keep the current subscribers up to date only. We are all keen to know what is going on, be it about the release date of Select 4, about what RISC OS will be on A9home (I by now have the impression that it will be delivered with a RISC OS version which is about 1.5 years old), about the recent issue of the Shared C Library for the A9home which seems to be something to be solved by CTL, ROL and Ad6. The lack of information from the ones in the know does result in misunderstandings, rumors, etc.

So Paul, you'er in the unique position to help avoid this by passing on information a bit more public. Thanks!

 is a RISC OS Userhzn on 7/3/06 8:27AM
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Well I am glad that Paul has made the time to clear up matters and to be made aware of misinformation over the internet.

A tiny pinch of his time just once a month to drop the right word from the horse's mouth over the internet which I depend on would be grossly appreciated in this remote RISC OS outpost of New Zealand.


 is a RISC OS UserSawadee on 7/3/06 9:15AM
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hzn: To clarify, the extract published by Drobe is actually taken from Paul Middleton's latest Foundation newsletter, number 33 (which is entirely separate from Foundation RISC User, of course, though FRU archives the newsletters). So it wasn't a mailing specifically to Select subscribers; it was emailed to Foundation members (not all of whom are Select subscribers).

 is a RISC OS UserRichardHallas on 7/3/06 10:25AM
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RichardHallas: Oh, that's ok, then - everyone who's interested in what ROL are doing simply need to pay them £33 +VAT/year (assuming they're a UK resident - [link]) to get access to such information. It's certainly a business tactic I've not come across before - "sign up now to get our latest marketting information!". That Drobe happen to have covered it is hardly an excuse - what will ROL do if the Drobe editorial team decides not to bother covering PM's latest missive to a select group of RO users?

 is a RISC OS Userjmb on 7/3/06 11:37AM
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In reply to jmb and RichardHallas:

Richard: Thanks for the clarification.

jmb: I agree!

 is a RISC OS Userhzn on 7/3/06 1:11PM
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jmb: Thanks for the sarcastic response. My comment was a clarification and correction of a minor error in the reporting of the story, nothing more. You'll note that I made no attempt to disagree with Herbert's point. Nor do I disagree with yours; I could just have wished for it without the sarcasm.

 is a RISC OS UserRichardHallas on 7/3/06 1:51PM
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The email I'm quoting from was definitely sent to Select subscribers. It arrived via SmartGroups to the Select mailing list. Subscribers have replied to it on the list.

Although I accept that it may be later sent to Foundation subscribers, I stand by the article.

Chris / drobe.co.uk

 is a RISC OS Userdiomus on 8/3/06 12:22AM
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I agree that it is rather ridiculous that such an important release was only sent to a certain group of people, but you can't exactly be talking of negative rumours and misinformation in your advertising - it's really not going to inspire much confidence in potential customers.

ROL does need to get its PR under control. Ideally, you would hire a person solely to do this, but in their current financial state it probably isn't an option.

Getting the website sorted out, however, is essential.

 is a RISC OS Usertimephoenix on 8/3/06 5:58AM
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diomus: I'm sure that's true, and I'm not trying to argue or to imply that your article is wrong. (We seem to be getting a lot of mileage out of a very minor point here!) My clarification was intended /only/ to make the point that the comments are also published in the latest Foundation newsletter, which was released last Friday (3rd March). Whether that was before or after it appeared on the Select list I can't say (without looking it up), and it really doesn't matter anyway. The only reason I made the comment was that people seemed to be assuming that the information had gone out only to Select subscribers, and that isn't the case; it went out to Foundation members as well: to everyone with some form of active interest in RISCOS Ltd's products, in other words.

I also want to make the point that my comments weren't intended as a plug for the Foundation: they were just intended as a clarification and nothing more. Although I edit Foundation RISC User magazine (which is entirely my responsibility), I have nothing to do with the Foundation newsletters, which are entirely the responsibility of Paul Middleton. They're his means of communicating directly with the RISC OS public in a way that isn't tied to the release of periodical CDs. The same is true of press releases, of course; PR and newsletter issues are included on Foundation RISC User for historical/archival purposes, but beyond that they're unrelated.

 is a RISC OS UserRichardHallas on 8/3/06 11:28AM
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"The only reason I made the comment was that people seemed to be assuming that the information had gone out only to Select subscribers, and that isn't the case; it went out to Foundation members as well: to everyone with some form of active interest in RISCOS Ltd's products, in other words."

That last part sounds a bit naive, in my opinion. A great many RO users have an active interest in ROL's products and it's in fact mostly thanks to Drobe that we can access such information. I find it unusual (to say the least) to assume that "everyone with some form of active interest in RISCOS Ltd's products" also happens to be subscribed to either the Select mailing list or the Foundation RISC User.

Personally, I have absolutely no interest whatsoever to subscribe to either the Select mailing list or the FRU CD magazine. I find it utterly absurd and contrary that (potential) RO users need to make such effort to gain important information on commercial products. Most companies, including ROL, should expect interested people to visit their website at most. People have better things to do and particularly in this instance new, potential customers are far easier lured away towards products by other companies, such as Apple for example. Like timephoenix said, ROL should do something about their PR.

 is a RISC OS UserhEgelia on 8/3/06 1:03PM
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In reply to hEgelia :

The information is possibly brought to Foundation / Select members as a first and might appear on csaa in the next week or so. It is to be expected that paying customers get info first, no reason to panic straight away.

 is a RISC OS Usernico on 8/3/06 3:17PM
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I agree; I (also) have an active interest in RISC OS, in all its forms. But I'm not subscribed to Select because I don't think that (at present) it offers me enough to be worth the investment*. Of course, that impression is gained from the information that's publically available - so if ROL only email subscribers to counteract misinformation, then I'll never find out that it isn't true. Which means that I might go on thinking Select is no use to me at a point when I would otherwise consider giving money to ROL. Which doesn't help ROL at all.... It isn't as though sending a PR-ised version of the email to CSA.announce and Drobe/iconbar/etc would have taken up a huge amount of time, is it?

* specifically, I'd rather spend the money on upgrades/subscriptions to products (like MPro or Firefox) that are being actively developed in ways that are directly useful to me.

 is a RISC OS Userchrisj on 8/3/06 3:20PM
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It is to be expected that paying customers get info first, no reason to panic straight away.

I disagree; if there is misinformation about ROL in the public domain, it should be countered in the public domain. If an article appears in the Times saying that RISC OS no longer exists, there's no point writing to Archive pointing out that it's wrong. You need to get the correction out to the same group of people who saw the misinformation in the first place, or it does no good at all.

 is a RISC OS Userchrisj on 8/3/06 3:25PM
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hEgelia: "active interest in RISCOS Ltd's products" was supposed to mean (without expending /quite/ so many words on it) "those who are supporting RISCOS Ltd's development efforts financially by subscribing to one or the other of its two current ongoing/evolving products: namely, RISC OS Select developments and the Foundation." Clearly it's possible to be interested in RISC OS, and to have at least a passing interest in what RISCOS Ltd is doing, without actually subscribing to either of RISCOS Ltd's current ongoing schemes: that's so obvious as to be not worth even stating, which is why I thought that my meaning was pretty transparent. The information went out to those people who are contributing in some way to RISCOS Ltd's finances (and who are hence taking an active, as opposed to a passive, interest in RISCOS Ltd's activities). Those are the people who (a) are paying for something already, and (b) are potentially most likely to pay for something else in the future. I surmise that RISCOS Ltd took the view that information about future Select developments would be of greatest interest, and should be sent with the highest priority, to current Select and Foundation subscribers, as they're the ones who've put their money where their mouths are. (Joke: as opposed to others who put their mouths where their money should be...?)

Whether or not the information should have been issued as a public press release is an entirely separate question, and one which I was not attempting to answer previously. Perhaps a formally-worded press release would have been better in this instance, but then you could say that about virtually any information coming out of RISCOS Ltd, and if they published everything in the form of press releases then (a) you'd lose the personal slant that appears in Paul's newsletters (which gives a human face to the company, even if you don't happen to agree with what he's saying) and (b) you'd potentially remove the need for any non-public newsletter (and thus lose one of the minor perks of Select/Foundation membership).

So, was what I wrote naive? No. Are we now splitting hairs to a ridiculous extent? Yes, I'd say so.

As for your comments about FRU: it's always nice to hear that my efforts in producing a high-quality publication are so appreciated... :-( You seem to be working under the assumption that FRU is a publicity organ for RISCOS Ltd, which isn't the case. It's a largely independent magazine which just happens to be distributed by RISCOS Ltd and to have a certain amount of RISCOS Ltd-related material in it (though that's only a very minor component). However, the money that it generates will contribute, if only to a small extent, towards RISCOS Ltd's ongoing existence. If you think that the Foundation is bad value, then fair enough; that's your opinion, and I can't comment because I have nothing to do with the setting of prices. All I can say is that I try to make the magazine component of the Foundation subscription as good value and high quality as I possibly can within the constraints that I face. I'd hope that most Foundation subscribers feel that they're helping in some way to support the continued existence of the platform; that was one of the reasons for the foundation of the Foundation, after all. And with that in mind, I hope that the subscribers also feel that FRU is a good quality magazine and a valuable resource.

(Note: again, I am /not/ commenting here about the matter of the design of RISCOS Ltd's Web site or the wisdom of having a separate person deal with PR. I'm not in a position to comment on such matters even if I wanted to.)

A final disclaimer, before I withdraw from this thread: I am a freelance individual and I am not speaking for RISCOS Ltd, or for anyone else other than myself. Yes, I edit FRU, which is published by RISCOS Ltd, and hence I'm being slightly guarded in some of my comments; but then, I did some work on RISC OS 5 for Castle too (thus I was working on both sides of the RISC OS 4/5 divide at the same time; one result of this is that I now produce FRU on an Iyonix). I have no axe to grind. I was trying to post a helpful clarification above; nothing more. Other than the mild sense of futility I get when I read of people having "absolutely no interest" in reading my magazine, there's no hidden agenda in what I've been saying, and no attempt to incite people to subscribe to the Foundation. (I don't benefit personally from subscriptions in any case.)

Well, that's more than enough time expended on a non-issue. Wish I'd never brought it up, now...!

 is a RISC OS UserRichardHallas on 8/3/06 4:15PM
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Richard Hallas: (if you're still reading this!) It is everyone else that RISC OS Ltd. should try to reach, as soon as possible. Heaven alone knows that RISC OS needs more users if it's to have any sort of future, so leaving any potential user in the dark about misinformation and rumour is shooting themselves in the foot in a big way. The type of information I would expect to be confined to (or at least sent out first to) already paying customers would be special offers, previews of new stuff, that sort of thing.

 is a RISC OS UserSimonC on 8/3/06 4:32PM
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In reply to RichardHallas

You write "... to everyone with some form of active interest in RISCOS Ltd's products, in other words." That is an interesting statement and suggests that whoever does not subscribe to Select or to FRU is not actively interested in ROLs products. I think that the most important word is "active" which I read as "parting with money".

Well, currently do spend money towards ROL for the simple reason that Select is worth nil for me since I have an IYONIX pc and considering the track record with especially Select 4 and the drawback from "we need 100 commitments to go for IYONIX Select" to "that is not enough" I will wait until ROL does offer something to take away for the IYONIX pc to then decide if it is worth parting with money ... which implies that when whatever is ready whenever will have to be described so that I know what is on offer. As for FRU I must admit that it is too expensive for what it offers from my personal viewpoint. If that marks me as someone not actively interested in ROLs products I'm guilty :-o

But I like the "They're his means of communicating directly with the RISC OS public ..." is an interesting statement considering the word "public" in there ;-)

Well, just to make sure: I am interested in what ROL offers!

 is a RISC OS Userhzn on 8/3/06 4:36PM
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Final comment, as a response to SimonC and hzn:

I think we've descended here into arguing semantics, and talking in circles around a point that we're probably not even in disagreement about. I don't want to argue for the sake of arguing, especially when I don't think there are even any clearly opposing viewpoints.

Let me say: I am not trying to justify/argue/apologise for RISCOS Ltd's approach. I'm not here to speak for RISCOS Ltd in any way, except in terms of the content of Foundation RISC User (which is totally irrelevant to this thread). If you're expecting me to counter what you say with arguments from an opposing viewpoint, then you'll be disappointed because I don't necessarily disagree with much of what's being said here. (And, as I've tried to make clear, RISCOS Ltd's approach to PR has nothing to do with me anyway.)

My only reason for posting in the first place was just to point out that the information was sent to a wider audience than purely Select members. I wasn't trying to say anything beyond that, so all the further arguments do seem a bit futile!

 is a RISC OS UserRichardHallas on 8/3/06 6:04PM
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For goodness sake, why don't RISCOS Ltd just use their Web site and make sure it has all the latest news and releases from the company and full, easy-to-read detail on all their products?

 is a RISC OS Userarenaman on 17/3/06 9:21PM
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