Dinosaur software made StrongARM-safeBy Jon Robinson. Published: 8th Mar 2008, 15:48:57 | Permalink | Printable
Educational and graphical programs back from the digital dead
IMS reader... Click for full size
Instructions for updating the IMS Microsoft Dinosaurs reader to work on a StrongARM RiscPC, under RISC OS 3.7 or 4.39, are now available from riscos.org. The instructions also explain how to get the Microsoft Ancient Lands reader working on StrongARM computers.
The Dinosaurs reader was one of a series developed by IMS in the mid-1990s, to allow some of the educational CDs produced by Dorling Kindersley and Microsoft to be used on the Acorn platform. However, most of these readers were never updated to work on the StrongARM processor, which went on sale a couple of years after the software was first published.
The basic problem with these readers is that they were compressed in order to get the whole program, with all its associated resources, to fit onto a single, double-density disc.
On StrongARM processors, the reader's built-in decompression mechanism failed to work properly, but with supplies of the original CDs drying up, IMS never got around to releasing new StrongARM-compatible versions of most of its readers. So nobody, with anything newer than a pre-SA RiscPC, has been able to read most of these titles on their favourite platform for many years.
Unlike earlier processors, the StrongARM has separate program and data caches. As a consequence, the decompression mechanism wrongly expands the program into the data cache and then carries on executing the compressed version in the program cache - until it falls over and crashes.
The solution is to extract expanded versions of the main program file, the 'RunImage', and any other executables, and use these in the application instead. Now, at least two of these readers can be enjoyed by people with the next generation of Acorn machines.
A few copies of the Dinosaurs and Ancient Lands CDs, with their IMS readers, should still be available from CJE or Liquid Silicon.
VRMLEyes... Click for full-size
An updated version of the VRML model viewer, developed by Aspex Software, has also been released, and can be downloaded from riscos.org. A selection of 3D models that work with it is also available from here. After they have been downloaded, set the file type to
VRML. VRML is a standard file format used for 3D models.
The viewer is still only 26-bit compatible, but it works better with RISC OS 4.39 than the previous version did, and as with the IMS readers, there may be a version of Aemulor that allows it to run reliably on the Iyonix or the A9.
Many thanks are due to Nick Sanham of Aspex Software, for allowing this new version of VRMLEyes to be made freely available.
• Do these 26-bit programs work with Aemulor on Iyonix or A9home machines? Drop us an email to let us know or post a comment below.
Update at 16:26 8/3/2008
VRMLEyes works with Aemulor 2.32 on a RISC OS 5.13-powered Iyonix, fitted with 512M of RAM.
What is VRML?
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