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November news in brief

Published: 20th Nov 2007, 22:15:59 | Permalink | Printable

Arcade fun, MSN file transfer, GCC news and more

News in briefWelcome, dear reader, to a top quality super soaraway round-up of RISC OS news we probably should have covered by now but haven't quite found the free time to do so - until now, of course. Without further ado:

Manic psychedelic arcade game Spheres of Chaos is now available for free after previously being a shareware product. An unlock code is provided for the frankly bonkers yet fantastic Asteroids-on-steroids clone. Developer Iain McLeod is said to be working on a new version for release in 2008.

Cheesey MSN client Parmesan now allows files to be transfered between chatterboxes over the Internet. The new version also includes a handful of bug fixes and improvements, including the ability to use emoticons sent by pals, handwritten messages are now saved in conversation histories and some flickering in the user interface has been addressed.

The GCCSDK gang have released a "first pre-release" port of GCC 4.1.1 and Binutils 2.17 for RISC OS. This beta test version features the GNU C/C++ compilers with support for building operating system-level modules and shared libraries. Unixlib, libgcc and the C++ support library are provided as default shared libraries with a dynamic loader. Unixlib is also faster at running programs involving floating-point maths, according to the development team. This latest GCCSDK release outputs binaries in ELF format, rather than the native AOF/AIF format, although absolute AIF files can be generated from static ELF programs. The band of programmers behind GCCSDK have called on fellow developers to test drive their work.

Sunfish developer Alex Waugh has come up with another networking utility: Wiresalmon, a packet sniffer. This fish-fingered open source tool can snatch a copy of packets of data sent over a network, such as the Internet, and save them in libpcap format - ready to be inspected and analysed with Wireshark and other programs. Wiresalmon is useful for, among other things, troubleshooting more esoteric networking problems.

What could this be? A Gentoo Linux port to the Castle XScale-powered Iyonix?

Super brief
Version 3.02 of AppBasic, a toolbox development environment for RISC OS BASIC programmers, is now available. Steve Fryatt's PrintPDF is up to version 0.50, which features various enhancements and updates. The software allows users to generate PDF documents on RISC OS using Ghostscript. Meanwhile, Somascape has updated various packages: Debbie, Historian, JunoEd, MidiMole, Midiphile, Mixer, Swish, Syncopath, SysExy and Verma. David Ruck's ARMalayser now understands AIF and ELF binaries, and Paul Vigay has improved his CronTool and WebGallery software. Internet search client Searchy is also up to version 1.60 and calendar utility Calibre has been updated.

And finally: "Credit where it is due, please," says OSNews editor Thom Holwerda while refering to Arthur and the emergence of iconbar-based desktops.


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I'm not a computer games player but Spheres of Chaos was my 2nd favourite RISC OS game. (Lemming's was my first) Crumbs - those days are all so long ago, now...

 is a RISC OS Usermartin on 20/11/07 11:31PM
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The above flurry of activity has inspired me to upload a couple of add-on levels for Islands to my Drobe-hosted webspace: [link]

For anyone who has not seen Islands yet, it's a RISC OS adaptation of the board game Risk. Islands can be downloaded from:


 is a RISC OS UserStewy on 21/11/07 1:00AM
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The file transfer in Parmesan is great, very slick and not cumbersome. Feels more reliable than GV. Thanks very much :)

 is a RISC OS UserHairy on 21/11/07 8:22AM
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I wish Sphere's was 32bit compatible.

 is a RISC OS UserHairy on 21/11/07 8:33AM
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Islands levels! How exciting. I'll have to download and have a look. It might even prompt me to try and fix the remaining issues in the game (although don't hold your breath).

More seriously, GCC and Parmesan are both good developments. Nice to see development ploughing on in other areas too.

 is a RISC OS Userlym on 21/11/07 9:28AM
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I too wish Sphere's was 32bit compatible.

 is a RISC OS Usersa110 on 21/11/07 11:12AM
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Well, I hope that you enjoy the two new scenarios. I certainly enjoyed making them!

A BIG thank you for Islands, which is oodles of fun.

I was glad to discover the MIxer from the Somascape site, which is very useful for listening to CDs while lowering the sound effects from Islands:


 is a RISC OS UserStewy on 21/11/07 2:03PM
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Spheres of chaos does work on Iyonix, with Aemulor Pro. Mind you how the speed compares I wouldn't know. Its playable for me which might mean it's too slow for real gamers :)

 is a RISC OS User2307 on 21/11/07 9:29PM
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Works with Aemulor too, though a bit sluggishly!

 is a RISC OS UserDaveW on 21/11/07 9:55PM
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I think, Spheres of Chaos works equally fast under AemulorPro as originally on a RiscPC. At least, I've never spotted any difference. Sluggishness could be caused by the method of screen redraw. If I recall correctly, on an Iyonix it is best to write to a buffer, rather than directly to screen, which is configurable in the view setup.

 is a RISC OS Userdelink on 22/11/07 9:38AM
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Yes, that's not a feature of Aemulor, rather of the Iyonix. You really need to set it to draw to a buffer; it does have a dramatic effect upon the speed and playability. Aemulor doesn't support sound (it's technically tricky and didn't get included until later), so you need Aemulor Pro for the full experience. There's no appreciable difference in speed between the two versions, though.

 is a RISC OS Useradrianl on 22/11/07 10:49PM
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could someone explain how an asteriod differs from an asteroid, and the legality of steriods?

 is a RISC OS Userjymbob on 23/11/07 1:40PM
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Could someone explain what jymbob is asking?

 is a RISC OS Userdelink on 24/11/07 8:05AM
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Despite years of dedicated research, scholars are still divided over the precise meaning of the 'jymbob question'.

 is a RISC OS Userxyzzy on 24/11/07 5:19PM
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delink: It's fairly simple. There was a typo in the article. It's now fixed.

xyzzy: you could ask my wife (o:

 is a RISC OS Userjymbob on 24/11/07 9:18PM
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Your Islands levels, which I've only just got around to using, are superb! Loading them on to my copy has also exposed a small bug in the application, which is now fixed. I get the impression your backgrounds would look even more impressive if they could in high-colour, rather than 256-colour, modes. I might look into adding this capability to Islands, particularly if you could supply tarted-up versions of your sprites.

Could you drop me a line to cdwraight [at] yahoo [dot] co [dot] uk?


 is a RISC OS Userlym on 21/12/07 11:51AM
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