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News in brief

By Chris Williams. Published: 22nd Mar 2006, 16:05:11 | Permalink | Printable

More to follow

Neil Raine
A programmer who helped design the first RISC OS desktop died in a hang-gliding accident in Spain last Wednesday. It's understood Neil Raine, 45, lost control of his craft in his first solo flight during a month-long training course. He was seen plummeting to the ground after being released from his tow, and later died in hospital. Neil authored various 8-bit games including Hopper and Planetoids, as well as the Meteors game shipped with every RiscPC. He also worked at Acorn during the turn of the 1990s and contributed to the fledgling RISC OS Window Manager and Font Manager components. He also developed database application DataPower while working for Iota Software. An investigation has been launched into the accident. Tributes paid to glider crash man.

It's not OFTen wise to annoy Goliath
Tarquin Mills, taken to the High Court by the OFT for creating a spoof website of the government department, has signed an agreement with the OFT as a way of settling an injuction. However there's now the messy business of working out who will foot the significant legal bill. Government lawyers, exasperated after receiving documents from Tarquin in Impression format, reportedly turned down his settlement offer of 42 pence. The RISC OS fan turned to his parliamentary representative, a one Mr Charles Clarke, for help, but Tarquin was told there was nothing that could be done. We learn that he now plans to enlist the help of Labour rebel MP Dr Ian Gibson.

In brief
Adrian Lees's website has moved to adrian.aemulor.com... A9home sound closer to completion... Next fabled Qercus issue to make an appearance anytime now? More details and software updates to follow soon...

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Is the Qercus release anytime now like the Microdigital anytime now?

 is a RISC OS UserRevin Kevin on 22/3/06 4:20PM
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I'm very sorry to hear about Neil Raine. Although I never encountered him personally, I was aware of his name as one of the leading lights of font manager developments in the early days of RISC OS. The font manager, of course, was a truly cutting-edge piece of technology when it appeared (in fact, it still leaves much of its competition in the dust from various points of view), and one of the most important original benefits of RISC OS. Neil also wrote Magic Mushrooms, which was one of the more popular Acornsoft games for the BBC Micro, and Iota Software's Image Outliner, which was the best quality bitmap-to-vector conversion application available to RISC OS for several years. He was clearly an extremely talented programmer.

What a waste of a life, to die like that.

 is a RISC OS UserRichardHallas on 22/3/06 5:11PM
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I'm glad that Drobe picked up the story of the untimely death of Neil Raine.

I happened to notice an article about it in the Bristol edition of free newspaper 'Metro' yesterday. At the time I was on my way to a job interview and when the interviewer asked me how I first became interested in programming I produced the bit I had torn out of the newspaper and explained that he and other programmers from the early 8-bit days of Acorn had been inspirational. After all, I still remembered his name after all these years!

I loved Magic Mushrooms - it provided countless hours of fun for me and later my younger brother. Especially with the inclusion of a level editor the possibilities were almost endless.

There is also a thread about Neil's death on usenet: [link] /comp.sys.acorn.misc/browse _thread/thread/334a6abd7e406524 /535fc9344939aa2

Curious that none of the print media journalists seem to have picked up on the fact that he was a moderately well-known computer programmer. I can't help feeling that if he were a published author in the conventional sense then this would have been mentioned.

 is a RISC OS Userthesnark on 22/3/06 5:32PM
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What a terrible piece of news. Now there's a name to remember. Neil Raine did what must have been some of my favourite BBC games - Meteors, Maze, Magic Mushrooms ... they all provided many hours of enjoyment. Interesting though to hear that he played a part in Acorn's Font Manager in later years. I'll go and visit the thread now...

My condolences to his family and friends.

 is a RISC OS Usersascott on 22/3/06 7:55PM
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Just to correct one or two details: it was actually me that wrote Maze, and I co-wrote Magic Mushrooms with Neil (based on an original idea by an external author Richard Clay). Neil also wrote Planetoid (nee Defender) and Hopper (written I seem to remember in a game-authoring language which Neil himself developed). I too am very saddened by the news; I worked with Neil for many years, and briefly shared a house with him. Not only was he an excellent programmer, producing important work in leading-edge software such as the Window Manager and Font Manager, but he was also an amazing athlete - he could hit a rounders ball about twice as far as anyone else (though he could also miss the ball spectacularly too!)

 is a RISC OS Usertdobson on 23/3/06 12:34AM
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Tarquin Mills. What a muppet. If he was trying to make a point by sending documents in a format other than a MS one why didn't he use an open format such as Open Office or even plain text? Very childish. -- Spriteman

 is a RISC OS UserSpriteman on 23/3/06 12:47PM
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Perhaps because that wouldn't actually make his point? Whatever else you say about him, you have to admire his tenacity.

 is a RISC OS UserLoris on 23/3/06 1:38PM
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You don't make a point about closed propreitary formats by sending in a different closed proprietary format. On second thoughts, you do say "if you insist on them you've got to have the same problems coming to you", but it's far better to say "Stop wasting my time with that rubbish and use something sensible."

 is a RISC OS UserSimonC on 23/3/06 4:13PM
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The problem is, that many people think that it is sensible to send MS Word files as email-attachments. In my experience it can be quite an eye-opener for these people to receive documents they need in a less common proprietary format. :-)

 is a RISC OS UserJGZimmerle on 23/3/06 5:38PM
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Gah, Drobe - you've just eaten my massive response. Since I saw another comment like this recently, here is some debugging info:

Possibly it has something to do with the fact that JGZimmerle replied after I'd started or something. I did a preview which looked fine. The message I saw after submitting was "Nothing to be done". ... fortunately I can copy-paste which I will do below.

 is a RISC OS UserLoris on 23/3/06 6:11PM
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Hmm. I don't agree that whether something is proprietary or 'open' is actually the salient point. I'd argue that actually the relevant point is whether the format is appropriate and necessary. If I can't read a format I don't really care whether it is open or not. I certainly don't think that would change the childishness quotient. (Sending as plain text, however, may well do.)

Does Open Office even have a RISC OS version?

In any case... Lets look at the possibilities and probable outcomes when dealing with someone who sends inappropriately formated files you can't read.

1) Run around and try to read them. Reply in text files. Probably most people can read word files on other peoples computers, and probably most people would fold like umbrellas and follow this method. However, the bureaucrat won't even know there is a problem. 2) Send a [polite] message asking for the same information in any of the formats you think would be useful. Probable outcome : bureaucrat disregards, or conveniently loses, or forgets to do so, or just gets annoyed and considers the information served. 3) (1), but also (2) regarding future correspondence - bureaucrat disregards your polite message - after all, you managed to read it didn't you, so why put themselves out? 4) (1) but reply in a form you find convenient and suspect they won't (either proprietary or 'open'; it doesn't make any difference to the recipient who can't read it). Now they definitely get annoyed, but presumably also get your point. 5) (3), then (4) on subsequent correspondence.

Now I don't know anything extra about Tarquin's case, even whether he was receiving Word files from them, but if he's done (5) then it may well be the only way to actually get the point across. Whether it is worth doing when being sued I'm not going to judge.

 is a RISC OS UserLoris on 23/3/06 6:14PM
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I'm very sadened to read the news of Neil's death. He did some stunning work on RISC OS. All of us who use RISC OS on a daily basis benefit from his ground breaking work on the FontManager, he will be missed.

 is a RISC OS UserVirtualAcorn on 24/3/06 12:00AM
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The nice thing about OpenOffice though is that it's in XML, so you can actually read it with a plain text editor

 is a RISC OS UserNodoid on 24/3/06 8:49AM
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to tdobson: I stand corrected, my apologies. I must have been referring to the Acornsoft Collection tapes, and both your names were mentioned, but for different games.

 is a RISC OS Usersascott on 24/3/06 12:20PM
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Two wrongs don't make a right. Tarquin does a very good job of making valid points very badly and p*ssing people off. It's quite an art to behold really =) -- Sprite

 is a RISC OS UserSpriteman on 24/3/06 12:57PM
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You can read anything in a text editor.

Whether you can actually understand it or not is another matter ;) .

 is a RISC OS Userphilipnet on 24/3/06 2:19PM
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@Spriteman: True, but with some people p***ing them off is the only way to make them realise that they are causing real problems for others. Of course I personally would not dream to do this with anyone whom I need something from, but I'm glad that there are people like Tarquin, because then I benefit from the subsequent changes as well.

 is a RISC OS UserJGZimmerle on 24/3/06 2:37PM
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Tragic news about Neil. He was a truly talented person and wrote some spectacular software.

My thoughts go to his family and friends.



 is a RISC OS UserGraphite on 24/3/06 9:12PM
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Am I the only one who thinks that the sad death of someone who arguably played a big role in shaping RISC OS and hence the post-Acorn market is being trivialized by combining it in a thread with some jumped-up nobody who is going the wrong way about proving a point?

 is a RISC OS Userdms on 25/3/06 3:07PM
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Acornsoft Meteors is the best game ever.

 is a RISC OS Userbobloblaw on 25/3/06 8:24PM
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I don't know if it's being assumed that the 'bureaucrats' in question are in OFT - maybe they were at the Treasury Solicitors who act as solicitors for Government Department.

What point was he making other than that he's an Impression user? As a TechWriter user who's never owner Impression I doubt I'd recognise documents in that format ... but I could read Word docs.

 is a RISC OS Userbstewart on 26/3/06 5:03PM
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In reply to dms:

Yes you're right and I shouldn't have added to the trivial thread.

But it's not as tasteless as having a Google ad for paragliding stuck on the side of the page.

 is a RISC OS Userbstewart on 26/3/06 5:08PM
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