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Wakefield 2006 show report

By Chris Williams. Published: 15th May 2006, 07:31:37 | Permalink | Printable

All the thrills and spills from the weekend [Updated]

Show news motifAfter 11 years of shows in Wakefield, you may wonder if there is any appeal left in turning up. Typically, the same exhibitors show up, pitch their stalls, put on a brave face, and offer more or less what they sold last year at a slightly revised price. Yet there is always a catch; a few diamonds in the rough that spark some degree of excitement and draw in eager punters. In 2003, the XScale powered Iyonix was still wet behind its ears and eager to please the crowds. In 2005, AdvantageSix produced from a make-up bag their little blue box of ARM9 powered tricks. This year's Wakefield show was hungry for a few gems to make the journey worthwhile, and luckily for everyone, we were able to uncover a modest treasure trove.

The show attendance looked a little lighter than usual, with people milling around in the afternoon as if the show hall was a fine art museum - although there were always long queues to get into the hourly theatre presentations. Some exhibitors were of the opinion that they had more sales this year than last year, and that the number of punters coming in through the doors was up from 2005. The Castle team were pleased at the amount they'd flogged, and CJE Micros reportedly sold out of A9homes.

Ad6 and retail partner CJE Micros in top level talks with John 'Murdoch' Cartmell
The big news, of course, was the launch of the A9home as a product on general sale - although in the first presentation by AdvantageSix, Matt Edgar, clad in the black polo necked Ad6 uniform, felt obliged to admit that the A9home wasn't perfect and people needed to be aware of this before they handed over their cheques. In his usual down-to-earth manner complete with an apologetic smile, Matt spent more time explaining that the serial port was a little iffy and USB printing had problems, amongst other more minor bugs, rather than running through what the machine can do - which is a lot. The microphone input socket works, for example, although the software to access is on the to-do list. While end user dealer CJE Micros were said to be happy with the product, the system is still going through the last few rounds of testing to iron out any remaining problems. The peppermint stripped Ad6 tent was crowded for the rest of the day.

In the afternoon theatre talk, Matt brought in an A9home painted grey with a little ariel pointing out the back - word quickly spread it had a GSM chipset and SIMM card inside that made the A9home capable of connecting to the mobile phone network. From outside the presentation area, Ad6's Stuart Tyrrell called the A9home from his mobile phone, which popped up a little message box to tell Matt he had an incoming call. Matt clicked on an icon, and Stuart's voice was more or less heard from the A9home, which was wired up to the PA system. Matt then called Stuart back from the computer, and said the next obvious step was sending and receiving text messages with it.

The demonstration was Ad6's way of showing off what they're doing with their kit for larger anonymous clients: the possibilities are mostly endless - A9 units could be hooked up to projectors at public events and people can send messages to be displayed by text message, and so on. Next, was the demonstration of wireless Bluetooth keyboard support, this time on a red A9home with what appeared to be a coke-a-cola bottle lid on the back for the ariel. Matt used a gadget that involves a laser projecting the image of a keyboard onto a flat surface, and then typing away where the virtual buttons are is detected by the laser and relayed back to the computer via the Bluetooth radio link. Again, like the GSM module, the Bluetooth support is not in the desktop-aimed A9home, and Ad6 were not about to say what else they'd got working with Bluetooth - although it's known that they have mobile phone support working.

Stuart Tyrrell sneaks in 40 winks during a busy show
A benchmark run earlier in the week showed that the A9home was accessing its internal hard disc at about PIO speeds - 11MB/s read and 7.5MB/s write. Ad6 are unwilling at the moment to alter the specification of the product, such as using larger memory or a bigger hard disc. The USB-based DVD/CD combo drive available with the A9home includes a CD writer, and the team are hoping it will 'just work' with the likes of CDVDBurn. The version of 32bit RISC OS 4 shipped in the A9home is also essentially a 32bit build of RISC OS Adjust with a few extra features; owners will have to subscribe to the Select scheme in order to get all the Select 4 features.

Matt also mentioned that the reason why new versions of RISC OS 4 will check for a so-called 'AIF header' in software is because it's needed to formally verify that the application is 32bit compatible, that it hasn't been corrupted or is missing parts, that it can have the right amount of memory allocated to it, and to ensure that the executable sections are marked read-only - preventing buggy software from accidentally ruining programs running in memory. Ad6's clients have said RISC OS is close to a "toy operating system" without this level of protection and checking - hence the decision taken by RISCOS Ltd and Ad6 to enforce this requirement to build up system stability and tackle frustrating crashes. In 1996, Acorn mandated that all software should include an AIF header, and there is the option is disable this feature in RISC OS 4 through a command line operation for the foolish.

An unofficial A9home compatibility database with fledgeling forum is online here.

How to promote Select 4 without showing Select 4
Nearly two years on since Select 3 landed, there was no Select 4 release to take away, and there wasn't much of it installed on ROL's Paul Middleton's RiscPC. He went into his company's presentation with an A9home build of the operating system on his computer, which was therefore missing the new Select 4 features everyone had piled in to see. Instead, Paul demonstrated a few things such as being able to configure the network settings without having to reboot afterwards; being able to rearrange the position of tool icons on windows; and one or two other enhancements already seen before. One interesting development was the new virtual ethernet device support, as featured on other operating systems: a network card could be configured to have two or more IP addresses, allowing it to straddle and communicate with multiple subnets. Paul also enthused that network-based storage devices are likely to be supported in the near future, in that plugging one into your network will cause it to pop up on your desktop.

Another technical feature is the addition of two new and capable debugging tools. These provide a means for programmers to be given a snapshot of an application after a crash, as well as the execution path in the form of an enhanced backtrace, to assist in tracking down hard to reach bugs; the privacy concerns with this are noted in the pink Select 4 features leaflet handed out by ROL. These tools can also be used to hunt down bugs lodged inside the operating system with the help of a disassembler. Dynamic areas can also be marked as 'abortable' by the memory management system to pave the way for a virtual memory-like system, and dynamic areas can be mapped to physical memory for the benefit of device drivers that expect memory-mapped IO. Well known and frustrating bugs involving the Filer and other OS components, triggered when more than 128M of memory is installed, are believed to have been fixed.

Flame haired Dave Bradforth, he of several RISC OS books and magazines, can't keep his eyes off VirtualAcorn's iMac
A new Viewfinder driver module is being prepared by the duo of programmers who call themselves the SIMON team. The pair work for both ROL and Ad6 to produce graphics related software and drivers, and are said to be hoping to support newer off the self graphics cards for VF users. This is likely to include plug in and play support of monitors, allowing the operating system to prepare the correct display settings automatically using information passed from the monitor. Applications could eventually use this data to display documents in actual real size on the screen.

The OS, and HForm in particular, will also include initial support for SATA disc logging, which is where modern hard discs produce a self-health check for the computer to act upon - no front-end tool has been written for this yet, though. Paul also warned that old hard discs in RiscPCs are likely to be reaching their end-of-life now, and RISC OS 4 won't be supporting discs made before around 1996 in future. Also, future ROMs of the operating system won't support non-RiscPC and A7000 computers, such as Riscstations, because ROL will need to use reportedly unavailable custom software provided by the hardware manufacturers in the ROMs. Soft-loading versions of RISC OS 4, such as Select, will continue to work because the old OS in ROM will have presumably set up the hardware correctly prior to the soft-load process.

Select 4 and 32bit Adjust will also include RISCOS Ltd's new 32bit Shared C Library with C99 support, and they hope to release a new version of their StubsG library shortly. It's understood ROL and Advantage Six were offered to purchase the Castle 32bit SCL, but they turned it down in favour of their own product for various undisclosed reasons.

Paul also talked of a Postscript level 3 driver for the future, but said the current quality of PDF output by RISC OS software is excellent and there weren't enough people with the time to otherwise overhaul the Printers suite. The firewall in Select will also stay as-is as Paul resisted calls to provide a user interface. He added the main limiting factor for ROL at the moment is the amount of resources and programmer time they can throw at problems and new features - Select on Iyonix was not totally forgotten, but given the need to get the A9home's 32bit Adjust and Select 4 out the door, it's clearly not a huge priority for them at the moment.

The updated list of Select 4 features can be found here. Paul mentioned to curious punters that he expects the product to ship within the next 5 to 6 weeks.

Open source SCL impresses
Graham Shaw's open source Shared C Library module was seen running TechWriter. The application appeared to work fine, and upon quitting the software, a little message box appeared to inform the punter that they were using Graham's free replacement SCL. The final release shouldn't do that, but the progress Graham has made is impressive. After the open source SCL is done, he says he's willing to resume work on RiscPkg following a number of developers apparently stepping forward to say they want to use the package-based distribution system.

RISC OS 5 and Oregano 3 future
Castle's presentation, once again, covered Iyonix cases and DIY kits. CTL's Jack Lillingston also talked about the recent updates to their C/C++ compiler package, and said the rumours of Intel axing the lesser used XScale families as nothing to worry about - his company is said to be evaluating potential future ARM chips to use in their products, although it's now reasonably clear that the IOP XScale range isn't going to expand any time soon, if ever. CTL were also handing out free USB memory sticks to anyone who ordered anything over 50 quid.

Away from the presentation, CTL's John Ballance explained that soon-to-be-released versions of RISC OS 5 are likely to focus on newer video card development work - DVI output support could be in, as well as some form of multi-head support without stepping on the toes of Geminus. John said he preferred Nvidia cards because their chipsets are always backwards compatible; drivers that are known to work on a 5500 model will work on a lowly GeForce 2, for example. Such an upgrade could come with a price tag, and may well include the USB 2 support which is available separately at the moment. Currently, the Iyonix starts up with a USB 1.1 sub-system running, and then replaces this during boot up with the USB 2 software if present. Putting this into ROM will shave a few seconds off the boot time, although John said the Flash ROM image is getting rather full these days.

Also on the Castle stand was a PC laptop running VirtualRiscPC and Oregano 3. There is still no release date on Oregano 3, which Genesys's Richard Brown admitted was frustrating to tell punters looking forward to buying a copy. The group of six beta testers are sending feedback to developers Oregan as usual, and although the software mostly works, Richard wants it to be perfect for everyone before it can go on sale. He says it will take a five figure sum up front to complete the RISC OS port of Oregan's web browser and to make sure this investment does not back fire, it must be up to end users' standards. The price is likely to be around 99 quid for Oregano 1 and new users, and around 60 quid to upgrade from Oregano 2.

The main problem at the moment is that Oregan's browser software is aimed at STBs and other embedded systems where the display size is fixed and there only needs to be one open view window at a time; which is pretty much the opposite of what you would expect from a desktop web browser. Redrawing and resizing the Oregano 3 window reveals a massive speed hit, and it will be this sort of problem that needs addressing before Genesys commit to a final release.

The Liquid Silicon MIDI drivers in action
Touching me, touching you
Liquid Silicon were showing off the new 32 bit MIDI and touch screen drivers, running on a little A9home setup. The touchscreen software is being used for special needs children, we learn. The touchscreen drivers also work with the MIDI software, including composition package MelIDI, allowing musicians to work with their music at the touch of the screen - which looked very impressive. Playing with RISC OS on a touchscreen was so much fun, the desktop comes alive at the finger tip. LS will sell you a flat screen touchscreen monitor and supply the drivers with it.

The MIDI hardware is driven via the serial port, as are the touchscreens, and Alan Gibson of LS said there no major issues despite AdvantageSix warning the A9home serial port was 'iffy'. He has ported the ESP MIDI drivers to modern hardware running 32bit RISC OS and is working out a distribution deal with ESP.

Martin Wuerthner knows no other facial expression
ArtWorks is best thing since everyone's sliced bread
Much praise was poured on MW Software's bow tie sporting Martin Wuerthner for his professional theatre presentation of ArtWorks. He's said to be keen to add multi-page support to the vector graphics application, and is seriously pondering developing a Postscript 3 driver with John Tygat - separate to ROL's aforementioned Postscript work. At the moment, according to Martin, using ArtWorks is the only way on RISC OS to export a PDF with CMYK colours preserved.

Magazine opts for quality over quantity
Qercus editor John Cartmell revealed that he had been ill recently and along with two sad deaths in his family, his magazine had been held up with technical delays and other problems. There was no sign of an issue, although 277 and 278 are 'mostly' done - John would have done well to have brought along some A3 proofs of his best articles to show off, or even a copy of the front covers for them, to defuse tensions between himself and his readers. He's now considering dropping down to officially producing 6 to 12 issues a year, as he cannot sustain a monthly magazine. Subscriptions will run in terms of issues received, rather than months passed. There's no firm date for when current subscribers will receive their long awaited next issue.

Interestingly, he also asked for volunteers to act as technical proofreaders to check articles covering certain areas.

One of the new Acorn Computers laptops
A highly animated John also drew the Acorn Computers issue to everyone's attention, adding he was was very angry and upset at the way in which the brand was being used to flog laptops. Proving that he does still have at least some loyal readers, one of his subscribers snuck into the NEC-hosted CTS 2006 event to pick up some Acorn fliers, and promptly passed them onto John. They revealed that the new Acorn Computers is very much trading on the old familiar brand despite having little real connection, and is actively looking for resellers. The salesmen behind it were reportedly popular with the crowds at the CTS 2006 show.

An important point that John made was that this new company was able to grab the mainstream IT headlines and publicity, with more to follow in the monthly trade magazines, that our platform has long desperately dreamed of. With a clever PR exercise that caught the attention of various IT news writers attempting to fill columns, the new Acorn Computers managed to hit all the right 'news value' buttons with just a simple trademark buy-out and laptop box shifting operation. John was more upset by the fact that no one in the RISC OS platform had tried such a move to grab some of the limelight previously, and now it was mostly too late.

R-Comp's UniHype
R-Comp's mystery top-secret 'no one must know or the puppy gets it' application for scanner and digital camera users turned out to be UniPrint for imaging devices - aptly named UniScan. Developed by Alan Wrigley, it allows a Microsoft Windows PC to be connected to a scanner or camera, and then share imported images with a networked RISC OS computer.

Rogues gallery of the NetSurf developers at the show: James Bursa, Daniel Silverstone, and Richard Wilson

Cino running on an Iyonix
And the rest
The NetSurf crew spent the day pottering around various computers to fix bugs in front of punters and take feedback from them. The team are working towards version 1.0, which will be seen as an official stable release... Spotted: A prototype Phoebe in a yellow case, see Binary Dinosaur links below... Wicked whisper: Which developer was ready to pack in working on RISC OS software because of fierce criticism of his product, until he was very recently talked back into coding again by his publisher?... It's not just users locked out of VirtualRiscPC. The Apple Mac port of VirtualRiscPC on an iMac on the shared ROL and APDL stand, but its copy protection had thwarted it - the licence file for it had timed out. The software is still in the works, fingers crossed for a release...

A punter on the RISC OS in action stand
Drobe's Ian Chamberlain spent the afternoon showing punters how to use ArtWorks and Photodesk on his new 'RISC OS in action' stand... Neil Spellings to wed in Romania - his missus to be did the event's catering. Cino developer Adrian Lees says he's working on the DVD player's decoding to speed it up... Version 8.6 of the TechWriter family, featuring PDF export, was released at the event... APDL were offering part-exchange of Blitz IDE interfaces for Unipods, and Excel import and export for spreadsheet Schema2... CJE Micros were flogging a new version of database Impact.

Update at 19:16 17/5/2006
MW Software's Martin Wuerthner has stressed that a planned feature for ArtWorks will be multi-page support, rather than the multi-document support as originally stated. He also added that his pipe-dream of a Postscript 3 driver may or may not have anything to do with RISCOS Ltd. John Tygat, who has previously contributed software to ROL's Select scheme, was named as a co-conspirator in the PS3 driver news.

Martin said cryptically: "For the time being the only statement that can be safely made is to state that it is unknown whether or not this is connected with ROL's announced PostScript work or whether it is a separate project."

Also, the plastic bottle lid at the back of the Bluetooth-enabled A9 is so that the radio signals can escape the otherwise hardened metal case.

Ad6's Matt Edgar said: "The problem with a sealed metal box is that it is very difficult for signals to get in and out - a small plastic section is the answer, and it just so happened that I had one exactly the right size in the fridge."

Meanwhile, Grapevine 2.11 is now in the electronic post to users.


Back to the front page
Some show photos at Binary Dinosaur Many thanks to our news moles for digging up all their information and gossip, and to the NetSurf developers for the post-show knees up. Photos taken by Rob Kendrick.

Previous: Acorn is a legendary brand says new Acorn
Next: Plan to save users' marriages shelved


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Thanks from someone far, far away ... ! It is great to be able to keep up with current happenings. Thanks to everyone who contributed.

 is a RISC OS Userrmac on 15/5/06 8:35AM
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 is a RISC OS Userhzn on 15/5/06 9:03AM
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the article says "Photos taken by Rob Kendrick", but I don't see any photos! Or am I thick?

 is a RISC OS Userkrisa on 15/5/06 9:50AM
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It's a shame - but I'm almost glad I couldn't make it this year - Aside from the obvious, there just doesn't seem to be enough going on to tempt me back - which is sad, damn sad! One thing that amuses is Acorn Computers Ltd successful use of brand - iirc back when Castle launched the Iyonix myself (and many others on here!) suggested re-using the Acorn Brand - they classic response was along the lines of 'It's old hat, too much negative baggage, better to leave the past in the past etc etc..' - it's a shame, a massive shame, that it takes some PC box shifter to realises that the Acorn brand carries more weight, even many years after the orginal companies demise, than every other piece of RISC OS marketting since - combined.

Sorry for the somewhat depressing comment - hope everyone that could make this year had a good time!!

Regards, Ryan

 is a RISC OS Userdrjones69 on 15/5/06 11:15AM
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So... What's the difference between using UniScan, and using a shared directory on the Windows PC that can be accessed from RISC OS (or any other computer you have on the network), other than the price?

krisa: It also says "Part two to follow later today..."

 is a RISC OS Userandypoole on 15/5/06 11:20AM
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I was treated to a demonstration of an excellent product called (I think) cineroma. It plays wmv and other video files. It's not yet ready for release (which is probably why it wasn't in a theatre presentation) but looks very promising.

I feel a lot happier about the future of RISC OS after the show than I did before it.

 is a RISC OS Usercables on 15/5/06 12:23PM
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The thought of people happily buying Windows machines while whistfuly thinking of a (presumed dead) RISC OS just hurts. Is there no way to at least convince them to include a copy of VA?

 is a RISC OS Userwrankin42 on 15/5/06 12:26PM
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The latest versions of TechWriter and Artworks are awesome tools, there is a choice of hardware in the market, lots of software is being actively developed (including items like Grapevine which had not been developed) and all the developers were upbeat. So there is quite a lot going on!

 is a RISC OS Usermarkee174 on 15/5/06 12:52PM
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drjones69: I have to agree with markee174. Whilst the market itself may be smaller than 11 years ago, there seem to me to be as many new things if not more as there always were at such shows. MW's work alone represents major developments to the platform, but many other authors brought new or updated software. Ad 6's work whilst not relating immediately to the enthusiast market demonstrates what can and is being done with RISC OS, and reflects how the market is surviving. Above all, it's usually a prime demonstration that RISC OS users might be rare, but they're not unique!!! I wasn't at the show, but I'm certainly disappointed I couldn't be there and was following the Drobe report throughout the day.

 is a RISC OS Usermd0u80c9 on 15/5/06 1:51PM
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I like Wakefield. Maybe the theatre could be bigger. Met a bloke who had got an 8 or 9 inch flat screen tv linked to an A9 (or any other computer). RISC font res is still good enough to read. Would have liked to see large posters listing capabilities of the A9 and other new(ish) products. Didn't renew my sub to Quercus - did join Wakefield - moral here. Pity to see only 3 periperal sellers. Want to know more about linking a BBC B to a 3.25 floppy and/or a 50MB hard drive & was amused at the tiny circuit board and lcd screen which is a 'modern' BBC b. Two blokes who amuse themselves with NETBSD (I think) also have something to offer as had a tiny wireless camera. Domesday I didn't look in-on. How about more stall presentation support for the little guys? And those upstairs chairs! See you next year - please!!!!

 is a RISC OS UserXinoyi on 15/5/06 3:14PM
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In reply to markee174: It's ironic you mention TechWriter and Artworks - those 2 apps (along with OvationPro) - are things I often sing the praises of on a number of (non-RISC OS) boards (especially compared to a number of apps I now use on Linux) - so I couldn't agree with you more - they are a great testament to the platform - but we really are running on them - all we've had since Acorn's demise is a number of mid range machines (+ the Iyonix of course!), and continual improvement on seminal apps (as mentioned above) - but there just seems be a general malaise about really pushing the platform forward (and forward in a way which it's renowned for) - for example we still don't have a capable browser (my fingers are crossed for NetSurf!) - we have FireFox (and as great an achievement as that is, it's not pushing forward in the RISC OS way of doing things - fast, efficient and productive) - where's the basic software that people insist on a computer - standard office (lower case o!), better connectivity with mobile devices, media playing (and I'm not talking actually being able to play just MP3's - although again back when this was first done on RISC OS - it was fast, efficient and productive on hardware that many would've argued wasn't up to the task!) - sorry if I'm ranting on here, it's late and I'm still at work - but I really don't want to see the platform die (pretty much like everyone I assume!) - but I equally don't want to see if remain with a minute userbase and a lack of innovative software and solutions - something I can't help but feel it's coming to, and it makes me more than a little saddened. OK, I'll stop ranting, it did go on a little didn't it ;-)

Regards, Ryan

 is a RISC OS Userdrjones69 on 15/5/06 6:44PM
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drjones69: Some of what you touch on is an almost insurmountable problem. What media formats do you want to play? For some reason quite a lot of people are using proprietary ones even when there are perfectly good open alternatives available, and the profiteering types aren't going to let anyone else use them without a huge amount of money. Cineroma, when it eventually appears, will, AFAIK, address most of what is possible with available video, within the constraints of the hardware.

 is a RISC OS UserSimonC on 15/5/06 6:48PM
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Its not all wonderful, especially as you say for multi-media. I do a lot of Java programming and use my new Intel MacBook for that (it would be a non-starter on my Iyonix). But RISC OS remains a pleasure to work on, given the choice, for many tasks. If it was not, I would be using OS X/Linux all the time. The platform is moving forward and it still remains a strong choice in many areas....

Netsurf were at Wakefield and So was Oregano 3. Its much slower progress than we would all like, but its moving forward.

 is a RISC OS Usermarkee174 on 15/5/06 8:25PM
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Without a browser capable of Flash 6 my school will sadly be saying farewell to the 11 Strong Arm Risc PCs this year. I was really hopeful that Oregano 3 would be a solution - but it looks like it will be too long a time coming.

 is a RISC OS UserDaveW on 15/5/06 8:48PM
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Flash and Java are one my wish list. Isn't there not an open source java that someone could port? I know Peter Naulls has a version on his website.

 is a RISC OS Usersa110 on 15/5/06 9:30PM
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There is a talk of Sun open sourcing Java at the forth-coming JavaOne and several incomplete OS versions of Java out there. Sun does actually release the source but under a more restrictive license. I'm not sure that Java will ever be realistic on RISC OS - even if someone ported it, it really needs a really fast chip to run at a decent speed.

 is a RISC OS Usermarkee174 on 15/5/06 9:41PM
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In reply to markee174: I hope Sun do open source Java. A version may then appear on RISC OS. With regards to performance. The old Acorn Java did run at acceptable performance for use in Java based chat rooms. However all the Java based chat rooms are now using the latest release.

 is a RISC OS Usersa110 on 15/5/06 10:23PM
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There is a lot of difference between Java 1.0 (which is what Acorn released) and the upcoming 1.6 - it needs lots of memory and CPU power.

 is a RISC OS Usermarkee174 on 15/5/06 10:32PM
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But there again you wouldn't be running ot on a RiscPC, but on either an A9Home or Iyonix.

 is a RISC OS Usertweety on 16/5/06 12:38AM
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tweety: "you wouldn't be running [Java] on a RiscPC, but either an A9Home or Iyonix."

Even then it's difficult. Plenty of current Java applications recommend 256MB physical RAM as a minimum, and that's just for a simple admin GUI, on a system that has access to virtual memory. Remember the A9home is limited to only 128MB physical RAM.


 is a RISC OS Userdgs on 16/5/06 2:20AM
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Its still an order of magnititude away from a 4 gig processor, gigs of memory you get on a high end PC.

You would be better off with a cheap PC with linux (which would also make you appreciate all the strengths of RISC OS) ;-)

 is a RISC OS Usermarkee174 on 16/5/06 7:47AM
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In reply to DaveW:

This is a real dilemma. A lot of commercial software or online applications are being developed using Flash, which includes education. Now Adobe own Macromedia, the licensing fees for porting Flash have most likely gone up (if the pricing/upgrade structure for former MM products is anything to go by). I had initially thought that the strong pound was going in our favour in terms of pricing, that doesnt appear to be the case.

 is a RISC OS Usersascott on 16/5/06 9:40AM
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If you haven't done so already, you might like to have a word with Richard Brown about this. He seems thoroughly nice and maybe he'll be able to give you more info. as to the state of play:


Just a thought...

 is a RISC OS UserStewy on 16/5/06 10:22AM
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Which is exactly why we should be supporting FLOSS alternatives, making them better than the closed source apps, and getting software written using them. Firefox + DHTML + SVG should be usable. Now there are 2 free virtual machine solutions for Windows you could even supply a linux harddrive image with your server side software installed for Windows users to run.

 is a RISC OS Userbobloblaw on 16/5/06 11:16AM
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"Without a browser capable of Flash 6 my school will sadly be saying farewell to the 11 Strong Arm RiscPCs this year. I was really hopeful that Oregano 3 would be a solution - but it looks like it will be too long a time coming."

Is this anything to do with "Moodle" ?

From my eldest daughters school i.e. Secondary there is an government initiative called "Moodle". Its all about interactive learning and depends heavily on Flash. From memory there may also be a java and video requirement requirement

 is a RISC OS UserJwoody on 16/5/06 1:17PM
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Not to be a pedant (but since this is one of those areas I actually know something about) - Moodle is not (to be best of knowledge) a government iniative - infact some LEAs used to be told not to use it - as only VLEs from companies with a annual turnover of more than X - and moddle is FLOSS - and damn good I might also say! Also I dear say if the Government were to push forward some kind of IT in Schools project they'd only lose interest and actively encourage a competitor's product a few years down the line - oooo not that I'm bitter!! ;-)

Also on the flash issue - and I dear say many people are already aware of this - but there is an open source package called 'gnash' which aims to be an OSS flash player - currently it supports up to (partial) flash 7 - [link] if anyone's interested ;-)

Regards, Ryan

 is a RISC OS Userdrjones69 on 16/5/06 1:37PM
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I'll add my sixpenneth to Ryan's comments. I don't think you're ranting Ryan but expressing what I also see as a general malaise with our favourite OS as well. RiscOS has essentially been stuck in a rut for nearly 10 years, slight tweaks here and there but no real progress. Multimedia (an essential these days) is practically non existant on RiscOS. The GUI is very tired. Internet usage is hit and miss and desperately needs fully functional multimedia. Forget Cineroma, it's been on the way for several years now so its not going to see the light of day.

All those devices that talk to Apple/PC's such as cameras, PDA's, phones etc. The interconnectivity is increasing but not with RiscOS.

The current Apple GUI is wonderful, very slick and in the very near future folks will have Apples with Windows as an alternate OS. They will find themselves using the Apple side more and more and using the Windows side very occasionally.The PC magazines seem to think they've "captured" Apple I is supect they will get a nasty shock.

Am I thinking of switching to Apple? It pains me to say so but yes and I've had a BBC B from the day it came out, an Archimedes the day it came out, a RiscPC the day it came out, a StrongArm card the day it came out. I've waited patiently for the OS Split to rejoin, for the OS to be revamped, for internet access to be Usable and Readable. Jesus, my ARM based PDA is functionally better than any RiscOS machine these days ! Hang on let me check something....23MB internal memory used out of 167Mb available. Inside that 23Mb there's msoft compatible office apps, a movie player, a music player, games, wireless internet, calendar, image viewer etc etc. I can take the SD card from my camera plug it into my PDA and view-enlarge the pictures whilst listening to music....wonderful. That's an ARM based device smaller than a bar of chocolate much smaller than a blue brick!

 is a RISC OS Usermripley on 16/5/06 1:41PM
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mripley: Have you done much web browsing from the PDA? It might be called Pocket/Mobile IE, but full IE it aint, and there as just as many problems as with RISC OS browsers. In fact thats very useful as I can hit companies with the accessibility stick for not working on (speech enabled) PDAs which they have heared of, rather than RISC OS which they haven't.

 is a RISC OS Userdruck on 16/5/06 1:57PM
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In reply to mripley:

Cineroma is a one man project and *IS* still being developed we received a new version on the day of the show. It is taking a long time to appear but the person doing the work has a full time job I believe. So before writting off someones hard work. Can I suggest you have some consideration for their hardwork.

 is a RISC OS UserWakeman on 16/5/06 2:03PM
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The current Apple GUI is wonderful - are you high? I'd rather use Windows.

The GUI is very tired - in what way?

Cineroma will exist, the problem is how will it integrate into other apps?, Acorn spent time getting Replay 3 ready with the ability to play other formats via plugins, instead of having to have an image filing system to convert them to replay format, but that work seems to be lost.

In the end of course we'll have to run via linux, new apps with the look and feel of RISC OS apps, and old apps via emulation, so it would be a good idea to create the RISC OS version of Gnome/KDE/whatever.

 is a RISC OS Userbobloblaw on 16/5/06 2:04PM
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mripley: Most of those things you say you're missing aren't operating system components anyway, so they aren't lacks in RISC OS (although since they are in using a RISC OS system, then it crudely approximates to the same thing). As for the OS itself, I fail to see how the GUI is tired. The last time I looked at an Apple GUI (maybe a three or four year old version, admittedly), it looked pretty, but I can't see where it stood out as actually being more pleasant to use. Connectivity with mobile phones? Yawn. If it stopped every mobile phone from working within a hundred mile radius then you'd have a computer I'd like. I like mobile phones less than I like Bill Gates and the Lake District National Park Authority put together.

 is a RISC OS UserSimonC on 16/05/06 2:09PM
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SimonC: "...Bill Gates and the Lake District National Park Authority put together"

Don't give them ideas.


 is a RISC OS Userdgs on 16/05/06 3:46PM
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Connectivity with whatever you want is the problem, if the manufactueres just write Windows drivers everyone else is screwed, if however 30% of users run Not Windows, 10% linux, 10% macos, 10% other, they can either write 2 more drivers, or release the specs and let people write their own, if the latter then the <10% people can get a driver too.

The driver/connectivity software I've used on Windows isn't that good either, drivers from Intel are usually broken in some way, all Sony software sucks, etc

 is a RISC OS Userbobloblaw on 16/05/06 3:58PM
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"- Moodle is not (to be best of knowledge) a government iniative"

Well I am going by what my daughters tutor said at a tutorial where I was present, I just have to assume what she said was true. Either way the school are promoting it hard.

 is a RISC OS UserJwoody on 16/05/06 4:08PM
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"Connectivity with whatever you want is the problem, if the manufactueres just write Windows drivers everyone else is screwed, if however 30% of users run Not Windows"

Looking at the stats from our Village Hall web site the numbers are 95% windows, 2.9% Mac , 0.4% Linux. I am sure there more Mac's and Linux users out there but not so much in the general run of the mill public.

According to a article on Icon Bar about the Wakefield show, Paul Middleton estimated the Risc OS market as between 3-4K. I guess that includes VRPC so I doubt Risc OS machines would register on anybodies scale.

 is a RISC OS UserJwoody on 16/05/06 4:23PM
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"- Moodle is not (to be best of knowledge) a government iniative"

Perhaps what I should have said is that there is a government initiative to "USE" moodle, Not that moodle is a government initiative

 is a RISC OS UserJwoody on 16/05/06 4:29PM
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Now if only I had a big lottery win to fund a decent browser, Java, Flash and all the range of other things we are missing!

 is a RISC OS Usersa110 on 16/05/06 5:29PM
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Simon, it does not matter if its part of the OS per se, or a support model or an application etc etc. The RiscOS environment is sadly lacking on many fronts these days. As for your concentration on mobiles this misses the point entirely (or was that a purposeful distraction on your part?) Bob understands and he is correct that windows connectivity is poor. Its so frustrating. Windows is utter sh+i+te but because there is(was? - OS/x?) no viable alternative it lives on. A viable alternative means an environment where really computer illiterate people can be productive without having to read books, logon to websites etc to get things to work. Ok we can argue about "productivity" on a windows box BUT PC users can browse the internet successfully, watch DVD's successfully, rip CD's for their friends successfully, manage their photos succssfully, video chat (via MSN,yahoo etc) successfully "out of the box" as they say. We can only do a quarter of that and that takes some knowledge to set up! As for an apple. The apps themselves are quite simple. Which is a good thing since there is no need for the bloated windows stuff. However, apple have got their act together and they present fully functional working integrated applications in a very very slick manner. It's not rocket science and RiscOS world could do it with consumate ease....but it doesn't. In fact it has made no attempt to do so in 10 years. Instead the community has sat back stating how much better than windows it is (which on many fronts it is) but as far as the man in the street is concerned it is positively archaic.

The "man in the street"'s money is what RiscOS desperately needs to attract.

As for myself I want to do what I've listed above without ANY PAIN....is that too much to ask?

 is a RISC OS Usermripley on 16/05/06 8:26PM
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Mripley: "The Man in the street's money is what RISC OS desparately needs to attract."

Of course we're not doing well in the consumer market, but the question is, are we even doing well in any niche markets? Embedded development appears to be keeping the platform afloat, but will that ever generate enough capital to allow the Desktop side to reap the benefits?

My only hope is that now that ROL has completed getting the OS onto 32-bit hardware perhaps they have time to focus on the consumer stuff.

 is a RISC OS Usertimephoenix on 17/05/06 09:28AM
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Actually Malcolm, I think we can do more than a quarter of that. Granted we can't yet watch DVDs (but in any case I prefer to do so using my DVD player and TV set, who in their right mind uses a computer in preference to a wide screen TV), and can't do video chat, but web browsing ,mostly works (although it is wise to have more than one browser available, I have O2, Firefox, Netsurf and Webster XL, and if all those fail, Mozilla under Iyonix Linux). I can certainly reliably rip CDs, using CDBurn on the Iyonix, and can upload and manage photos from my digital camera perfectly well using Thump and !Variations (both of which are free software). I think that is more than a quarter. But I agree, it would not be hard to beat Windows level of usability and reliablity and make things simpler for the non-technical user.

 is a RISC OS Usermrtd on 17/05/06 09:34AM
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The problem with making things simpler for the non-technical user is that it then becomes incredibly frustrating for the technical user if not done very carefully. Windows is, of course, the prime example of this. In any case, people should be encouraged to have some technical knowledge before blundering around without really having a clue as to what they are doing, then having to run off to get help when there's the slightest sign of not being able to continue running on along the rails.

 is a RISC OS UserSimonC on 17/05/06 10:12AM
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RiscOS will dwindle to nothiong apart form experts in the system already, unless the focus is on the non-technical user and therefore "new" users.

It also needs some image manipulation apps. (photodesk never made it for me compared to my mac and photoshop). I now use Pixel32 from Pavel. He has a new version out that I'm going to upgrade to. It runs on All OS's I can think of from Linux, win, mac, beos even skyos. Perhaps he can be persuaded to do a RiscOS port?

Anyway I digress.


 is a RISC OS Usernijinsky on 17/05/06 11:13AM
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In my opinion Malcolm has a valid point and in several ways I agree with him. There are two computers in my house, both RiscPC's. One is exclusively used in the studio, the other in the rec room mostly for Internet use, some common tasks and an occasional game of Doom by my girlfriend. The thing is, we are definitely not prepared to add another machine to compensate for any shortcomings, as many RO users seem to do or already have done. The Internet / general use RiscPC needs replacing and we just can't justify an Iyonix or A9home :( It would take too much improvisation and additional upgrading (yet more money) to make it anywhere near capable of our wishes. For us, the Mac is the only real option.

Josh: Well said. In any case, the A9home is a recent example of that and it shows that even within the RO enthusiasts' market it fills a sort of niche. My hunch is that many would rather opt for the Iyonix, since it's overall better value as a desktop computer, though I personally like the A9home better. I think ROL are having a very difficult time. Nevertheless, I am disappointed with them for several reasons, which I'd better not repeat here and now. They did a fine job in making their OS ready for the A9home, though literally at the cost of the Select subscribers.

Martin: I know quite a lot of people who do not have a TV nor a DVD player, strange huh! :) I'm also at the point of getting rid of our TV since it no longer offers anything useful to us. Thus, we'd occasionally like to watch a DVD on a computer, which actually quite a lot of people require, TV or not, reasonable or not - it's simply a requirement and RO, as a desktop OS, must face that. Video chat is getting more and more desirable for many people, so again a requirement of a modern desktop computer. Web browsing is essential and I believe most people rather not use 3 or more browsers for the job, though for professional webdesigners it's another story. When ripping an audio CD, I'd like it to do so in the background, using the Filer (like using a floppy) while doing something else, such as browsing. Variations is very nice, however I've seen photo applications freely bundled with a new computer which equal and surpass it without much effort. In short, most people rather have these options for free or not too much extra money.

"But I agree, it would not be hard to beat Windows level of usability and reliablity and make things simpler for the non-technical user."

I certainly do not like Windows, but 2000 and XP seem quite solid and usable. However, if possible, I'd rather do a certain job on RO simply because I like its apps and GUI better. Support for modern standards, wether proprietary or not, is getting worse and worse with RO, because I think the processing power is lacking, the OS architecture is lacking, development resources are lacking, funding is lacking... did I leave something out? What I'm trying to say here, is that RO is an excellent OS, for an increasingly smaller amount of tasks.

 is a RISC OS UserhEgelia on 17/05/06 11:57AM
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In reply to Adam: But the RPC is an 11 year old design!!! You wouldn't expect a PC or Mac of similar vintage to do those things either! For a machine of that age it stands up well. I know we would all like a new RISC OS machine that had equivalents for all the applications available on other platforms, but in the end a small bunch of dedicated enthusiasts cannot hope to compete with the sort of big development budgets that are available for software development under Windows. It simply cannot be justified commercially. If you have an idea for a new killer app, you write it for Windows first, as that gives the maximum potential sales. That leaves RISC OS forever struggling to catch up. Most of the best RISC OS apps get ported to or rewritten for Windows, and the RISC OS versions are them abandoned. Many proprietary apps on other platforms cannot be ported or rewritten by third parties even if someone was prepared to do it, for legal reasons. The problem is that the more people who abandon RISC OS, the worse it gets. So if RISC OS is important to you, stick with it. If you must have the missing functions and can't afford two machines, VRPC might be the answer, or another form of dual boot machine like an Iyonix with Linux as well as RISC OS (this is what I have). BTW if you get rid of your TV, be prepared for constant hassle from the licencing authorities, who cannot comprehend that people can exist without a TV set. Some years ago I was in that position myself, and found it intensely annoying.

 is a RISC OS Usermrtd on 17/05/06 1:02PM
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"but in the end a small bunch of dedicated enthusiasts cannot hope to compete with the sort of big development budgets that are available for software development under Windows"

So why hasn't Windows left RISCOS for dead. I may have a lead in several areas but RISCOS still remains the platform of choice for many informed users. Its not just about big budgets......

 is a RISC OS Usermarkee174 on 17/05/06 1:11PM
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It's a minor point, but, using Audio FS 2, you *can* rip a CD in the background, using RISC OSs filer.

Audio FS 2 is a free download. [link]

 is a RISC OS Userrichcheng on 17/05/06 2:16PM
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markee174: Windows has left RISC OS for dead, the estimated 4000 active RISC OS users (PM @ ROUGOL 15/5/2006) is roughly similar to the number of Windows users in one hospital in Leicester. Some of the reasons it has done this is because, beyond those 4000 people, no one gives a f*&k about RISC OS. It's easier to program for windows, and you get more money for it, oh and you stand a chance that in 5 years time there will still be a market for you to sell too.</realitycheck>

 is a RISC OS Userflibble on 17/05/06 2:30PM
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flibble: So, although they aren't anywhere near as small as RISC OS, Linux and Mac should go the same way. I don't know about programming either of them, but if it's economics alone you may as well ignore them and go for Windows too.

Of course, there's less competition for RISC OS, so if you write a decent bit of software you've got a good chance of selling it to someone.

 is a RISC OS UserSimonC on 17/05/06 2:47PM
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Martin: "But the RPC is an 11 year old design!!! You wouldn't expect a PC or Mac of similar vintage to do those things either! For a machine of that age it stands up well."

You're absolutely right. Indeed, I'm still amazed at how well this old machine can keep up. For a machine of that age, I'd say it holds up astoundingly well! It's only since about the start of this year that we were getting increasingly frustrated about its shortcomings and a replacement became neccessary.

"I know we would all like a new RISC OS machine that had equivalents for all the applications available on other platforms, but in the end a small bunch of dedicated enthusiasts cannot hope to compete with the sort of big development budgets that are available for software development under Windows. It simply cannot be justified commercially."

Very true, but in the end we are only consumers in this regard, who ofcourse happen to be enthusiastic about a certain platform. So, eventually, everyone needs to ask themselves wether the amount of money which buys an Iyonix or A9home is worth the investment. Not only big companies with large development budgets can provide in the requirements I named, as the Linux movement clearly shows. Yes, I realize the size of that movement is to 'blame', just thought I'd point it out. Furthermore I'd like to say that, in my opinion, it's not only the size, or perhaps lack of money, that's the main issue which impairs the growth needed within the RO platform.

(Incidentally, I like to say something which struck me recently. I see so much mentioning of Windows, as the obvious alternative / comparing for RO users. It need not be, though I'm aware of Microsoft's market dominance as well as most other RO users.)

"The problem is that the more people who abandon RISC OS, the worse it gets. So if RISC OS is important to you, stick with it."

Let me put it this way, a solid computer is important to me and RO has always been my preferred way of using a computer. The platform is a commercial one, which is why it simply competes in that domain. If I could buy any generic PC and download RO for it, along with my favourite apps, it would dramatically alter my perception of it, though it won't remedy my problems with it as a viable platform. However, if (at least parts of) RO were to be Open Sourced under a certain license, it could provide more ways of updating and modernizing it than ROL and Castle can manage under the current situation. Anyway, the real problem, in my opinion, is that it's just dated and has more simultaneous problems than it can bear to handle within a reasonable amount of time. RISC OS is important to me, though I just can't justify to stick with it, because it's not my sick Grandma but a computer we're talking about.

"If you must have the missing functions and can't afford two machines, VRPC might be the answer, or another form of dual boot machine like an Iyonix with Linux as well as RISC OS (this is what I have)."

Well, when VirtualAcorn would see the light and port their 'alternative OS' emulator to other alternative OS's, ie. not only Windows, I'd certainly be interested. However, the truth in my case is that I'd probably just get used to Mac OS X and grow to be happy with it, although I can't be sure of that ofcourse. Perhaps RO has made such a large imprint on me, that I'd just can't kick the habit ;)

"BTW if you get rid of your TV, be prepared for constant hassle from the licencing authorities, who cannot comprehend that people can exist without a TV set. Some years ago I was in that position myself, and found it intensely annoying."

Well, in the Netherlands things might be a bit different, but I gather ultimately the same mentality / companies prevail, so I'll just make myself utterly clear in such an instance! We have already been phoned if we'd like about a thousand more channels on it, but thankfully it stayed with just that one time. Perhaps I made a good impression. Anyway, thanks for the tip! :)

 is a RISC OS UserhEgelia on 17/05/06 2:51PM
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SimonC: The markets for Linux and Mac OS are hundreds of times larger than RISC OS, considerably larger than RISC OS market has ever been. Linux is also easier to develop for that RISC OS (though I've no experience of developing for Mac OS).

Whilst it's nice as a developer to to have a 'captive' audience that has no alternative programs, thus allowing them to charge any price they like *, it's not very nice for the users.

* with a Supply/demand curve telling them that they could selling 5 copies at 100ukp or 3 copies at 200ukp, there's more money and less support costs (related to number of users) associated with charging the higher price.

 is a RISC OS Userflibble on 17/05/06 3:13PM
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SimonC: If you do something on Windows, MacOS or Linux then you write the various code you need. If you do something on RISC OS you first have to patch in the missing OS functionality. This is what killed RISC OS, and it's the reason I do most of my commercial programming on Windows. Selling software to 100% of the RISC OS market at £100 would bring less income (4,000 * £100 = £400,000) than selling to 1% of the Windows market (assuming a computer is binned after 3 years) for 10p (150,000,000 * 3 * 0.01 * £0.10 = £450,000.)

 is a RISC OS Usernot_ginger_matt on 17/05/06 3:13PM
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Everytime there is a major RISC OS event these same sort of negative comments appear on RISC OS forums, some of the comments being about the lack of users of RISC OS. If this is the case then why not try and advertise RISC OS more, if that 'phony' Acorn company can do it and get that much publicity why can't RISC OS ltd or Castle do it? Why don't RISC OS companies advertise more outside of the RISC OS sector, such as going to the CTS show where that new 'Acorn' company got recognised, it would get RISC OS alot more recognition and bring in new users, rather than just slagging it off on forums because of it's problems and not really doing anything about it. What ive said above should be seriously considered by RISC OS companies, as it is the only way to properly promote RISC OS and bring in new users to the platform.

 is a RISC OS UserOliverB on 17/05/06 4:11PM
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In reply to Oliver:

I totaly agree. This is what anoys me about the RISC OS community, their so closed in on them selves.

 is a RISC OS UserMikeCarter on 17/05/06 4:42PM
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Oh, I know you'll probably end up selling more on other platforms anyway, but my point is that it isn't a complete waste of time developing stuff on RISC OS (plus you get that rosy glow that you aren't just another small voice in a crowd).

 is a RISC OS UserSimonC on 17/05/06 4:50PM
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Why would I watch DVD's on a computer ? I wouldn't, I watch DVD's on my DVD player with 700 Watts of surround sound. However that is a bit impractical in my son's bedroom. A computer on the other hand that serves as an educational instrument, a CD player and a DVD player is a different and desirable situation.

My RiscPC has served me well and its very reliable. My son's PC is a pain in the butt when it goes wrong. But I've reached that point where I have to compare basic 21st computer functionality vs reliability. I suspect (I will find out) that an Apple is far more reliable than a windows PC and thus a good replacement for my trusty reliable RiscPC. Functionally there is no comparison. Ten years ago there was a comparison. Mind you 10 years ago and the awful windows 95 had just replaced the absolutely abysmal windows 3.1 and the Apple Mac was clunky at best.

 is a RISC OS Usermripley on 17/05/06 4:54PM
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Richard Wilson wrote>"Selling software to 100% of the RISC OS market at £100 would bring less income (4,000 * £100 = £400,000) than selling to 1% of the Windows market"

Right. So you're no doubt speaking from experience then selling to 1% of the Windows market as you do ;).

If it were as easy as that *everyone* would be doing it - and how many 1%'s do you get into 100 - not many. The reality is although the Windows market *is* very big the areas that are left that are *exploitable* are few and far between. Anything common has already been done (often many times). That leaves the *less common* and that often represents a *lot* less than 1% of that big market. At one end of the scale you'll be competing against competent shareware/opensourcers who can do *exceptional* code and at the other end you have market leaders who cache is their name (e.g., Microsoft, Oracle, Adobe et al). So how *would* a solitary PC programmer capture 1% - probably not for long or if they did the elephant known as Microsoft would sit on and squash them pretty quick (pop quiz: What have Digital Research, Stac Electronics, Micropro (Word Star), Ashton Tate (dBase) to name a few got in common....)

If the choice is big fish in small pond that is of no interest to Microsoft or being a small fish in a big pond that Microsoft consider there own I'd opt for the small pond.

(*) DR, Stac, MicroPro, Ashton Tate were competent companies that ultimately lost out to MS even though they had innovative products that once had far more than 1% of market share. So if you fancy your odds tilting at the Windmill that is Microsoft - be my guest.

 is a RISC OS UserAMS on 17/05/06 7:02PM
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Saying windows has many more users is not the same as leaving it for dead in terms of functionality.....

 is a RISC OS Usermarkee174 on 17/05/06 7:16PM
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markee174: RISC OS is so far ahead of Windows, that thousands of users are deserting Microsoft and starting afresh with RISC OS every year. This is in part due to the wonderful support from Risc OS Ltd who release new features for the OS on a monthly basis.

 is a RISC OS Userflibble on 17/05/06 8:37PM
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Sarcasm aside, it remains the platform of choice for a discerning minroity. Many of them use the computer to earn their living and would switch to Windows if it offered a more productive environment.

Windows remains the OS of choice for many, especially in the consumer market, because of its high profile and range of software.

If it was just down to functionality of the OS Windows would have been wiped out by BEOS years ago....

 is a RISC OS Usermarkee174 on 17/05/06 8:51PM
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In reply to Markee174: It is also down to some successful marketing. Something neither the then Acorn or now RO related companies have yet to figure out.

 is a RISC OS Usersa110 on 17/05/06 9:27PM
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 is a RISC OS Usersa110 on 17/05/06 9:29PM
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I think many are missing the point here about productivity. i'm sure RiscOS is more productive for many because of familiarity and because it is a nice OS. Windows is productive because of the software. It can be a bit slow in mqany instances, like just now I'm on my other machine looking at a montage of 8 90mb 3d images and playing them in realime. Horses for courses. My next machine is going to be linux becaus the software I use is £6,500 on windows for one and 4,500 for another pachage so I'm getting a linuix machine to use free software (open inventor) with a custom gui (revolution) and probably 4+Gb of RAM.

At the end of the day, if it is best for you, then it is the OS to use. I like RiscOS but it just does not have the software I need.


 is a RISC OS Usernijinsky on 17/05/06 9:51PM
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AMS: The point was to simply illustrate numbers. If you want more realistic figures, keep the Windows price the same as the RISC OS one and count at least 6 years of PCs. Doing 150,000,000 * 6 * [?] * £100.00 = £450,000 shows that you'd need to sell to one in every 200,000 users (0.0005%). And yes, more people use some of my Windows software than there are RISC OS users -- and by a considerable margin. I develop for RISC OS in my spare time because it's fun to do so. I know full well that I won't make any money out of it, but the years I've spent patching the OS to try and make it dance to a prettier tune have served me well in terms of experience gained.

 is a RISC OS Usernot_ginger_matt on 17/05/06 10:18PM
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Just picking up on Richard Brown's comment about the fixed window size problem in Oregano3: would there be any strong objection to standardising an 800 x 600 display, which would work on 99% of the machines out there - or have I misunderstood the nature of the problem (wasn't at the show)


 is a RISC OS Userbucksboy on 18/05/06 10:44AM
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In Reply to bucksboy: As far as I understood the problem to be solved is to make screen resizing quick, that is not keep you waiting for the redraw when you change the size of the window. Opting for 800x600 as fixed size is absolutely no way to go - that was a standard resolution years ago and I don't think it is a good idea to go back there (despite lots of RISC OS users still using hardware of that age). I must admit that I really enjoy reading websites at 1600x1200 and thus with much more info visible at a time. Working with 1024x768 on my daughters computer tends to feel strange since the max window size is to small compared to what I'm used to. And more and more websites by now expect 1024x768 as a minimum screen resolution (though more and more now are being optimised for much smaller size as well to allow them to be viewed with a cell phone). Anyhow, as I stated, the resolution as such is as far as I understood not the problem but changing the window size in flight is.

 is a RISC OS Userhzn on 18/05/06 11:05AM
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Hzn: I take your point about the benefits of large displays, but given the desperate need for at least one capable (including up-to-date plugins) RO browser, I would have thought that the relatively small inconvenience of a fixed size 800 x 600 display would be acceptable, if it meant that the browser could be released immediately.

 is a RISC OS Userbucksboy on 18/05/06 1:18PM
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If the fixed size was a stopgap measure, with a free patch to get resizing working to come soon then that might be just about acceptable, but expecting free updates to Oregano has proved a worthless exercise in the past.

 is a RISC OS UserSimonC on 18/05/06 1:48PM
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Browser windows on the desktop have to be resizeable, otherwise you might as well do it from a pokey PDA screen. But anyway this particular issue is not one which is holding up O3 as far as I know, but rather an indication of the differences between STB and RISC OS versions.

This issue with updates is how Oregan Networks work, their customers only get a product at the end of the development cycle, when its stable and releaseable. Once thats done, they throw it away and start from scratch on the next version for the next generation of STBs. There aren't rolling updates to the code as for desktop orientated products.

 is a RISC OS Userdruck on 18/05/06 3:09PM
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I just tried to open this article with Oregano 2 ... hangs. Chris perhaps you can amend your website since I'm afraid that Oregano 2 won't change :-(

No problems with Firefox (Windows) or with good ol' Acorn Browse (RISC OS 5 + Aemulor) though!

 is a RISC OS Userhzn on 18/05/06 3:37PM
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Nice to see STD and Martin Wuerthner developing and, significantly, delivering products. I wish them both well.

It's a real shame to see that there is nothing substantial from Castle or RISCOS Ltd, nor any useful news on ImpressionX.

That there are still debates about the lack of decent Internet software beggars belief. This should not be the situation. Relinquishing control of Oregano was a bad move on Castle's part... IyonixPCs should be shipped with an up-to-date browser complete with Flash and Java. As someone said, this is the biggest cause of customer migration and certainly played a big part in making me switch.

I keep on saying I will add RISC OS to my setup again, but as time passes I see less and less reason to do so. Photodesk is dead, there is no substantial movement on the Internet front, ImpressionX seems to have disappeared and OvationPro is now only developed for Windows. Then there's camera RAW for digital SLR users. The list goes on.

Don't get me wrong, I am still a big RISC OS fan but it is fast getting to the stage where only retired teachers and dedicated enthusiasts will use/buy these machines - and that comment is not a dig at any group of people.

As usual, there is still time, but someone needs to do an Apple (hello Castle) and take responsibility for some software, too. IyonixPC 2 needs to arrive, along with some investment in software development.

There is a Photoshop-alternative out there which seems pretty powerful and it is available on several platforms. It is written by one man, as far as I can tell. It is therefore bollocks to suggest that you need Adobe's manpower and deep pockets to develop and release such software.

The NetSurf team have the right idea. Get up and fix the problem!! There is plenty of room for more open source *and* commercial offerings.

 is a RISC OS Userarenaman on 18/05/06 6:38PM
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Before anyone mentions it, I cannot program. Furthermore, the comment is aimed at businesses as well as programming enthusiasts.

 is a RISC OS Userarenaman on 18/05/06 6:43PM
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hzn: Have you tried NetSurf? It runs natively on RISC OS 5 and displays the article fine. [link]

 is a RISC OS Usertlsa on 18/05/06 8:09PM
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OliverB: Agreed. Perhaps Castle needs to start taking some risks? Surely there would be some VCs out there who would want to invest in a more serious entry to the desktop market.

 is a RISC OS Usertimephoenix on 19/05/06 02:33AM
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The photoshop-like application is Pixel (used to be Pixel23) I is written By Pavel (I think Katzenberger I just call hime Pavel) I was a beta subscriber for windows and linux. It runs on BeOS, SkyOS etc etc etc and is written using freepascal.

It looks like PS (which I have via work) and has now replaced PS as my main image manipulation app. It is great. Evenif there was something liek Imagemajick for RiscOS it could eb uised as a basis for a n app with a gui front end.

Cheers bob

 is a RISC OS Usernijinsky on 19/05/06 07:36AM
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PS...... As a markettign ploy, YellowTab, the makers of the modern BeOS bundle a port of Pixel with the OS to show that ther eare up to date apps for the platform. Have a look at yellowtab.com and see how they take the OS and developers and coordinate SW development. They are not different from RiscOS, regarding the hisory of the OS and market, but they are light years ahead with marketting. When was the last time RiscOS was "featured" on OSnews etc etc etc.


 is a RISC OS Usernijinsky on 19/05/06 07:43AM
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Marketing RiscOS in its present state would do more harm than good. Imagine it was "featured" somewhere and an in depth review took place.

Step 1 internet access....hmmmm. It would fail miserably. Simple stuff that everybody does, for example something I did last night was to look for a hotel in Glasgow. Try it ! Almost every site became a garbled mess whatever RiscOS browser you use.

Step 2 multimedia. You can play CD's and.....and.....and....failed.

Step 3 burn a CD. Possible but intuative, no way.

etc etc.

Remember all of the above has become "standard" in computers in the last 10 years and RiscOS world has done nothing about it. If you are going to market RiscOS you had better make sure you market it as an enthusiasts machine. If you market it the same way as pc's and apple's are marketed you will kill off any chance of anybody wanting to switch. Basic 2006 computer features need fixing first.

Oh and I find it very telling that folks would even consider 800x600 resolution some kind of base/standard these days. Even 1280 x 1024 is becoming "low res" on the ever cheaper larger LCD screens.

 is a RISC OS Usermripley on 19/05/06 08:58AM
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"Marketing RiscOS in its present state would do more harm than good."

I would add

Step 4 : Support iPod : Failed

Step 5 : Native RAW files on Digital SLR Cameras, important if you want to enter competitions or submit to digital libraries : Failed

Step 6 : Bittorrent for downloading Movies : Failed.

Step 7 : Video Conferencing : Failed

Step 8 : Voice over IP ( VOIP ) : failed

 is a RISC OS UserJwoody on 19/05/06 09:28AM
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"As a markettign ploy, YellowTab, the makers of the modern BeOS bundle a port of Pixel with the OS to show that ther eare up to date apps for the platform. Have a look at yellowtab.com and see how they take the OS and developers and coordinate SW development. They are not different from RiscOS, regarding the hisory of the OS and market, but they are light years ahead with marketting."

Perhaps not a great example - yellowTAB went into administration recently.

 is a RISC OS UserWill! on 19/05/06 10:11AM
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I've just had a look at the Pixel website, and the feature-set looks good.


Have you tried asking Pavel? If not, will you, please, and report back? It may be that it's not feasible to port Pixel to RISC OS. However, it'd be great if it was. Thanks for the pointer.

 is a RISC OS UserStewy on 19/05/06 12:02AM
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There's no real problem with resizing a window in Oregano 3. The main issue is that the time taken to resize the web page and the GUI to fix the new window size is fairly noticable. The time taken to redraw a web page in Oregano 3 is pretty good at the moment (So scrolling up and down a large page is fine), its just the relaying out of web pages that could do with being speeded up.


 is a RISC OS UserLeo on 19/05/06 12:48AM
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Throwing away working and stable code is rarely a good idea. Certainly there is code in Oregano 3 that was also present in Oregano 2 and Oregano 1. There have been some major changes in the code that do push the product version up and usually makes it impractical to continue supporting the older versions.

After Oregano 1 the code was rewritten to be easily portable across multiple platforms and OSes, after Oregano 2 the layout engine and DOM support (amongst other things) were completly rewritten to provide support for CSS2 and DOM2 (this took well over a year, and another year to bug fix and optimise). Hopefully there won't be a need for any major code changes for quite some time (CSS3 and DOM 3 support should just be extensions to the current CSS2 and DOM2 support) and Oregano 3 can be kept uptodate for a long time.


 is a RISC OS UserLeo on 19/05/06 12:50AM
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I think the only way forward for RISC OS is a) embedded computing and b) mobile computing.

Point a) has the disadvantage that RISC OS does not get more common because nobody will notice what operating system is used.

What I can not understand is why nobody tries to go the mobile computing route. I think in most aspects RISC OS can do a lot more than Windows CE or however it is called now. On this years Wakefield Show Bluetooth, GSM and tough screen usage with RISC OS was demonstrated. So (basic) support of the technologie in PDAs and smartphones is there. Would it be really so hard to get RISC OS running on the let say Palm PDAs and Smartphones?

The Acorn processor made it into mobile devices because it was so effective. Why don't we try to do the same with RISC OS?

 is a RISC OS Usermaikl on 19/05/06 12:51AM
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Mobile phones require real time processing, something a cooperative processing system like Risc OS cannot do.

 is a RISC OS UserJwoody on 19/05/06 3:29PM
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In reply to arenamen: Photodesk ist not quite dead. I know a good programmer is looking into it planning to enhance and maintain it. But unfortunately it is quite a job and thus no dates given.

In reply to tsla: No, I didn't try NetSurf and I have to admit that it is a pain that you seem to have to switch browser over and over again like Browse since it is nice and fast, Oregano e.g. for fetching IYONIX updates, NetSurf for other things etc. Thus the browser I tend to use most by now is Firefox on Windows, launched form RISC OS via UniPrint - quick and works.

 is a RISC OS Userhzn on 19/05/06 6:29PM
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Leo: 'The main issue is the time taken to resize the web page...': Are we talking about time taken by a RiscPC or by an Iyonix/A9Home?

 is a RISC OS Userbucksboy on 19/05/06 6:42PM
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"What I can not understand is why nobody tries to go the mobile computing route. I think in most aspects RISC OS can do a lot more than Windows CE or however it is called now. On this years Wakefield Show Bluetooth, GSM and tough screen usage with RISC OS was demonstrated. So (basic) support of the technologie in PDAs and smartphones is there. Would it be really so hard to get RISC OS running on the let say Palm PDAs and Smartphones? "

For an operating system to succeed in the mobile device market it needs to be able to run on a System on a Chip (SoC) processor. [link]

Right now only Symbian is the only Real Time OS that can do that. Windows Mobile is several months away from being able to do so. [link]

This gives you an idea of the sort of overhaul RISC OS would need in order to have any chance in today's mobile device market.

 is a RISC OS UserWill! on 19/05/06 8:07PM
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Herbert: "Photodesk ist not quite dead. I know a good programmer is looking into it planning to enhance and maintain it. But unfortunately it is quite a job and thus no dates given."

He'll have a hell of a lot of work to do then. Photodesk is way, way behind any vaguely modern bitmap editor. It needs to support RAW files and to have automated/intelligent functions added, such as Shadow/Highlights and lens distortion correction. It also needs it's own text renderer to produce crisp text for print and for the Web.

Failing this, no serious photographer will choose Photodesk.

 is a RISC OS Userarenaman on 20/05/06 09:02AM
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changing browsers isn't a pain.

what I do is use netsurf & have O2 on the iconbar - if I run into javascript then all I have to do is shift drag the URL out of netsurf onto O2 and it loads.

easy :-D

 is a RISC OS UserROHC on 20/05/06 2:21PM
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All three platforms could probably do with being faster, tho I've not seen Oregano 3 running on an A9Home yet.

I've done a small fix that speeds up resizing of windows, but it does depend on how complex the web page being resized is. The more complex the web page, the more time its going to take to relay it out into the new window size.


 is a RISC OS UserLeo on 23/05/06 3:57PM
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Leo: fair enough, but you take my point. For instance, Firefox is dog slow on a RPC but quite usable (IMO) on an Iyonix (ditto on an A9Home, according to reports). To quote Lord Fisher of Kilverstone (aka Jacky Fisher, First Sea Lord 1904-10): 'He who strains after the gnat of perfection will swallow the camel of unreadiness!'


 is a RISC OS Userbucksboy on 23/05/06 5:57PM
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