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Making Iyonix pretty from inside out

By Chris Williams. Published: 4th Feb 2003, 16:32:53 | Permalink | Printable

It's iconsprites hour. With added screenshots [Updated 5 Feb 2003]

Iyonix user Gavin Wraith, who you may recall is the RiscLua developer, enthusiastically emailed drobe.co.uk today with news of RISC OS 5.02 and a new set of desktop sprites to go with it. Some RISC OS users have been known to comment on the blandness of the case design of Castle's Iyonix computer (it's just a case dammit, who cares what it looks like), but at least there's hope in the desktop appearance department.

We're told RISC OS 5.02 was issued to Iyonix users around the start of this month which featured new icons and other updates to the OS. This is on top of updates to Castle's Acorn C/C++ development kit.

"Castle's update of 2/2/2003 for the Iyonix provides lots more sprites, and signals a change in how they are loaded, using the Resource filing system so that they can be protected from being overwritten by inconsiderate applications", Gavin informed us. It's also worth noting that RISC OS 4 also allows the user to allow the default ROM sprites to be protected from applications replacing them.
"Ever since I used an Archimedes I have shunned the official distribution of sprites and window furniture. They were always too flat or too clunky, looking like the work of an amateur trapped in a stone quarry. Now, for the first time, I am happy to use the officially distributed sprites. It is not that I do not have quarrels with some of them, but that they have a pleasing consistency."

I have to admit that I go through more backdrops in a month than pizzas and used to be the same with toolsprites and iconsprites - however I've settled recently on the default RISC OS Select iconsprites and Toby Bryans' thin toolsprites. Gavin doesn't fully agree with the RISC OS 5 toolsprites and instead uses Richard Goodwin's Clear theme for window furniture.

"From one point of view, fiddling with minor details of appearance is a frivolity. From another it is a welcome sign of professionalism that Castle has got its act together to produce a decent looking standard desktop", Gavin continues to comment. "Of course, every user has their own visual taste, and we should be grateful that it is not too difficult to replace the official desktop with a personalized one - that is what RISC OS is all about, after all."

Couldn't agree more. You can find more icons and tools at themes.iconbar.com.

Simon Wilson's kindly taken some screenshots of RISC OS 5.02 from his Iyonix, you can see them here along with annotations.


All comments and news welcome.

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Are there any screenshots? Let's hope they're actually icons rather than the current trend of using tiny pictures.

 is a RISC OS Usermavhc on 4/2/03 4:39PM
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I hope to have some screenshots of RISC OS 5 on drobe soon, just like we did with RISC OS Select.

Chris, drobe.co.uk

 is a RISC OS Userdiomus on 4/2/03 4:43PM
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I performed the update but I only seem to have one extra sprite (confirmed by looking at the new files copied inside !Boot). It's the 1AD filetype for mp3 files. The RISC OS 5.02 update seems to have an updated version of the floppy disc icon, and that's all. The cogwheel logo has been removed from the floppy icon, but not from the shadow under the Iyonix logo switcher.

The computer shipped with an *excellent* set of sprites and a very professional Iyonix logo tiled backdrop. The update adds a couple more backdrops. -- Simon Wilson, Boulder, Colorado

 is a RISC OS Userksattic on 5/2/03 8:49AM
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'(it's just a case dammit, who cares what it looks like)'. Hey! I though you just took a 'very neutral stance on these things and report it how it is' ;-)

 is a RISC OS Userthegman on 5/2/03 1:30PM
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It's a true statement. I can't believe some people were crying over the case design. No one's stopping you from modding it. Tsk.

Chris, drobe.co.uk

 is a RISC OS Userdiomus on 5/2/03 1:55PM
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... except the Good Taste Police, case modding almost invariably results in a psuedo-aluminium monstrosity. Maybe Castle should buy up Phoebe cases and do a Special Edition Iyonix?

 is a RISC OS Userthegman on 5/2/03 2:29PM
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Thing is, people were already complaining about the price. If Castle had supplied a nicer case, it would have added at least an extra 50, and people would have complained more.

 is a RISC OS Usermoss on 5/2/03 3:34PM
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Indeed, bit of a catch-22 I suppose.

 is a RISC OS Userthegman on 5/2/03 4:16PM
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If Castle had supplied a flashy case, more people would have complained that they wasted time and resources (and increased the cost) on something that has zero impact on the usefulness of the machine. I think the case looks great as it is! -- Simon Wilson, Boulder, Colorado

 is a RISC OS Userksattic on 5/2/03 5:24PM
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Good to hear 5.02 has been released! I worried a little that Castle had managed to do some deal that allowed to them to get a 32bit RISC OS on the machine, but very little else - i.e. no updates. Should have known I was wrong, Castle are really doing a fine job with the Iyonix.

My only complaint is that there is VERY little about RISC OS itself, on the Iyonix website. What are the benefits to new users? Show some software action. Show close ups on the GUI etc.

Finally, looking forward to seeing a load of screenies on Drobe - you had a great Select article at the time, encouraged me to subscribe. Simon, any chance you would take some screenshots? I really want to see the new icon set - I know these things mean nothing to some people, but they interest me greatly. -- Gavin Smith, Carrickfergus

 is a RISC OS UserSparkY on 5/2/03 6:09PM
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The look of the OS really can affect productivity, especially since people use shape and colour to quickly tell the difference between icons. An OS becomes more difficult to use in black and white.

I'll do some screenshots now. -- Simon Wilson, Boulder, Colorado

 is a RISC OS Userksattic on 5/2/03 6:13PM
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I don't mind hosting them on drobe.co.uk. As for icons and tools, I'm quite a fan of funky new icons. here's my desktop from last night.


Chris, drobe.co.uk

 is a RISC OS Userdiomus on 5/2/03 6:20PM
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Chris - replied by email.

How fast does your browser run in RiscXFE? -- Simon Wilson, Boulder, Colorado

 is a RISC OS Userksattic on 5/2/03 6:47PM
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Looking forward to seeing the screens guys! -- Gavin Smith, Carrickfergus

 is a RISC OS UserSparkY on 5/2/03 8:07PM
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Pity someone made all the icons in !Configure on ROS4 the same shape, slows down usage. And pastel colours aren't good for differentiating quickly. (But it looks so pretty - *bang*)

 is a RISC OS Usermavhc on 5/2/03 8:27PM
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Screenshots will be on Drobe very soon. -- Simon Wilson, Boulder, Colorado

 is a RISC OS Userksattic on 5/2/03 9:11PM
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There, done :)

Chris, drobe.co.uk

 is a RISC OS Userdiomus on 5/2/03 10:38PM
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Wow. We've been timewarped back to 1989 again. It looks like a disgusting RISC OS 2 PD-tarted-up desktop with a mishmash of kiddie-drawn icons and grim textures. Awful.

 is a RISC OS Usertwattle on 5/2/03 11:06PM
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Ah, I see there error here - you accidently looked at the Windows XP home page. Doh!

-- Dougal

 is a RISC OS UserDougal on 5/2/03 11:17PM
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Regarding the impact of the look on a machine's appeal: I'd rather something worked well AND looked good. I'm not interested in the fact that function is more important. I want something with a pleasing form too. The Iyonix case is bland and begs to be banished under a desk. Nice looking cases start from 25 quid. However, it is the machining of the back panel that will be what costs the money. I wonder if any CTL dealer is interested in modifying standard ATX cases in this way?

-- Spriteman.

 is a RISC OS UserSpriteman on 5/2/03 11:46PM
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The apps folder contains both RISC OS standard apps and 3rd party applications, so it doesn't look nearly as consistent as the Configuration utility. -- Simon Wilson, Boulder, Colorado

 is a RISC OS Userksattic on 5/2/03 11:51PM
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Thanks for the screens Simon. Not sure what I think of them...

(On a side note, what do you think of Oregano 2? Is it your everyday browser) -- Gavin Smith, Carrickfergus

 is a RISC OS UserSparkY on 6/2/03 12:39AM
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Oregano2 is a good browser - it's extremely fast (Slashdot will render in under three seconds, images and all) - though for some reason it has no scrollbars and there are a number of bugs in the user interface.

When it's properly integrated into RISC OS, it should be *the* RISC OS browser. As it stands though, it feels like an alpha. The InteractorUtils module also causes instability when playing music from apps like DigitalCD and can cause the machine to stiff.

I'm not moaning though because Castle have not hidden the fact that it's not finished. It's a great effort.

My everyday browser was Oregano1 (stable, reliable, quick), but it's now IE 6 on my laptop for the time being. -- Simon Wilson, Boulder, Colorado

 is a RISC OS Userksattic on 6/2/03 1:08AM
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