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Select takes aim at ROMs

By Chris Williams. Published: 20th May 2003, 21:29:45 | Permalink | Printable

That's the plan for Select 4

As the developers of RISC OS Select, RISCOS Ltd. earlier today revealed their aim to make RISC OS Select 4 available in ROM chip format. Yesterday, the public beta edition of Select 3 was published on RISCOS Ltd.'s website for subscribers to download and install.

Subject to end user demand, Select 4 will be available as a phyiscal ROM version for a "premium payment", RISCOS Ltd.'s Paul Middleton informed us. The ROM chips will be specifically be for Risc PC and A7000(+) users although machines fitted with RISC OS 4 in FlashROM may be allowed to repogram the FlashROM with the new OS.

New computers shipped with RISC OS 4 (which includes the Microdigital Alpha incidentally), will have each have a RISC OS 4 Serial Number Sticker slapped on them indicating that they're "running a properly licensed version of RISC OS 4".

RISC OS has historically been supplied in ROM chip format which is fitted to the motherboard of the computer and executed first thing when the machine is turned on. The great advantage about ROM chips is that they're read only and can't be altered once manufactured. Since the days of Arthur, RISC OS users have therefore confidently enjoyed the reassurance that whatever happens to their machine, they'll always have a stable OS physically installed that'll boot up to a working desktop.

The obvious downside to this is that upgrading your OS requires you to strip down your computer and refit new ROM chips, a process I don't personally enjoy going through as the chips can sustain fatal static and physical damage during the upgrade. FlashROM chips overcome this drawback by allowing new data to be written to them, overwriting the previous image. However only recent computers have FlashROM memory fitted.

RISC OS Select is different to previous editions of the OS and the act of burning it into ROM will perhaps interest a number of RISCOS Ltd.'s subscribers. As new versions of RISC OS Select are intended to be released every four to six months, RISCOS Ltd. opted to release disc based ROM images of RISC OS which are softloaded into memory and executed during boot up. Having Select Gold in ROM removes the need to have RISC OS 4.0x fitted to softload later versions of RISC OS, which (we assume) slashes the amount of time it takes to boot your machine. Which is a good thing.

For me and you
The burning question at the moment is when will there be a Select for Iyonix users?

Castle Technology have told users that RISCOS Ltd. are welcome to produce a 32 bit RISC OS Select for the Iyonix by themselves, so what's the comment from RISCOS Ltd.? The answer is that the work being poured into Select is intended for all computers.

"The main point I was trying to get over to visitors is that Select development is intended for all computers", Paul added, refering to the RISCOS Ltd. presentation at the recent Wakefield show. "However if people cancel subscriptions because they have bought an Iyonix, then it will never become available for that machine. However if subscriptions are renewed then there is every chance that Select 4 will be able to provide most of the RISC OS 4 features on RISC OS 5 machines."

Certainly, users have been torn between buying Iyonix machines as well as upgrading their older machines to RISC OS Select.

Finally, Select 4 is apparently provisionally titled Select Gold which sounds too much like a Grande Finale for us. Just when we'd finished our nice green Select 3 cog logo, they're considering moving over to the shiny yellow metal.



Previous: Select 3 online release
Next: Wakefield aftermath


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Hmm, when software goes gold, development usually stops.

Hopefully whis won't be the case and we will have a FlashROM version of Select4 which will be user-ugradeable like the new machines have, otherwise how can it remain a subscription system?

Dunno how premium they can make the fee though - if you're not getting RISC OS4, then surely they can't charge 100ukp+ for Select in ROM?

All sounds like licensing BS floating around the Alpha to me....

-- #include "sig.h"

 is a RISC OS Usersimo on 21/5/03 1:11AM
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IIRC when Select was originally launched, those close to ROS Ltd were saying that it was a scheme with a life expectancy of 3/4 years. Don't complain if they were right :-) . -- [link]

 is a RISC OS Userphilipnet on 21/5/03 3:45AM
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God I hope it's not the last release. There's just not enough stuff in there yet. I was gradually getting more and more tempted to buy RO4/Select but to be honest if they're no going to update it after v4 there's no point really.

Might as well wait until they port the stuff over to Iyonix and buy one of those - getting the best of both worlds.

 is a RISC OS Useriamnotamused on 21/5/03 7:39AM
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I don't believe you lot. Positive things are announced and you manage to twist it round in to a "This is the end of Select" rant. What's wrong with you?

 is a RISC OS Userimj on 21/5/03 8:56AM
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iamnotamused: I'm sure that you can also find plenty of reasons not to buy an Iyonix either. Hey, just think, maybe Select won't be available on it. Then it won't be worth buying.

What is certain though is that you are missing out right now.

-- Spriteman.

 is a RISC OS UserSpriteman on 21/5/03 9:12AM
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iamnotamused: If you don't get Select now then you won't get Select for your Iyonix. It is only with continued support that ROLtd is able to develop! :) Select Gold sounds pretty cool; ROLtd have obviously working over time in the corny-names dept. Will the ROMs be gold plated? In a Risc PC it would be like gold teeth in a pensioner.

I think that when Select 4 is out ROLtd will be looking at other schemes to benefit users. :D Quite frankly no-one but them know what they have in mind or what they have up their sleeve. I'm quite happy to grasp on the possibilty of Select on an Iyonix but I'm still doubtful of it ever happening. :(

Select will be boring if it reaches version 5. It will take alot to get more users - considering that some users still use OS3 for various (i find) unfounded reasons.

 is a RISC OS UserSnig on 21/5/03 9:23AM
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Select Emerald would fit in with the colour scheme. :)

 is a RISC OS Usermonkeyson on 21/5/03 9:40AM
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i changed some ro4 rom chips over from a b0rked rpc mb to a nice new one, the highly specialised tool i used was two tea spoons, woooo.

 is a RISC OS Usernex on 21/5/03 11:04AM
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On ROL's site, Select is listed as 150, for some reason I thought it was 105, is it available cheaper at shows or something?

 is a RISC OS Userthegman on 21/5/03 12:10PM
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Sorry guys, but if RO Ltd knew what they were doing they'd have been in touch with Castle a long time ago and started building Select for RO5.

The truth is, and I hate to say it is that existing hardware under our wonderful OS is just far too outdated to be a any real practical use - unless you find waiting for five/ten minutes for a ( not-particularly complex) image editing operation to complete fun.

Take the latest figures for Variations -

"Example of pointillist output. Settings were... Shape:Circle Type:Darker. Width, Height 20. Clear first OFF. Gaps -20,-20. NB. The original 2560x1920 JPEG took several minutes to process on an Iyonix."

- how long do you think this would take on a StrongARM? I regularly work with printed publishing work and frankly the whole thing's just too damn slow. A machine should be productive and waiting five/ten minutes for operations to complete IS JUST NOT PRODUCTIVE.

I've supported RISC OS since I got my A3000 back in 1989 and I even streched my patience and went for a RISC PC instead of a PC for DTP work (with Photodesk and OvationPro) - which I now wish I hadn't, despite the idea that it would help continue production of RISC OS software.

At least with Iyonix you've got a fairly powerful base with faster memory bus, memory and processor and the capability to manage more RAM. If I were RISC OS Ltd. I'd have concentrated on that architecture long ago rather than forcing people to continue to add 'updates' to wholey archaic hardware.

That's my gripe about RISC OS done. It's a great OS and I love it. But there's no point in pushing something on a system that no longer has the capability to compete efficiently in a common market.

 is a RISC OS Useriamnotamused on 21/5/03 1:11PM
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So are ROL saying that I should take out a subscription to Select, which I have no earthly use for in its present form, in the hope than one day I might be able to run it on my Iyonix? I think I need a better guarantee than that!

-- Martin Dixon, LEICESTER

 is a RISC OS Usermrtd on 21/5/03 1:26PM
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I think they are saying that current subscribers who have bought an Iyonix, should stay on board. (Presumably most select members with an iyonix also still have an RPC)

If the price is too high and you have broadband (or even surftime), you can get a download only license.

I downloaded the first select CD on dial-up. (using wget i think)

-- Jess

 is a RISC OS Userjess on 21/5/03 3:46PM
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Ah, that must be where I got the 105 from, it mentions that figure on ROL's website, although it is buried in text. 105 is OK by me, but 150 seems pricey, but as I've got ADSL, I don't need the CDs.

And what's with them having no online ordering! For a supposedly high-tech company, they appear to be be in the stone age, with that cheesy website, and having send off a form to buy their products (on paper!). There are umpteen companies that will handle all the techie stuff for you if ROL don't fancy running a server.

Sorry for the rant...

 is a RISC OS Userthegman on 21/5/03 4:10PM
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Nice to see RO back in ROM's again (where it belongs IMHO).

I must admit Martin has a point about ROL's "attitude" towards Iyonix, you've got a neoclassical chicken and egg there.

If ROL put it's best foot forward and declared that if they reached a certain number of subscribers from Iyonix that they would then support it might encourage some (Iyonix) owners to subscribe. A more vague intent is less likely to acchieve that.

I personally don't think ROL will, if for no other reason than they've made that Alpha deal with MD/VA (and MD I don't think would be exactly cock-a-hoop if ROL came to terms with Castle). That having been said if you asked me six month's ago whether ROL would be helping to sell VA I'd have said "geeze are you mad or what ......"


-- Annraoi McShane,

 is a RISC OS UserAMS on 21/5/03 6:50PM
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thegman/jess: 150 is the new subscription price, 105 the old one (changed last december).

THis announcement has confused me: I was going to upgrade to RO4 roms and then subscribe to Select later in the year (when I have the money). But now it seems a bit pointless to get ROMs only for them to be replaced in the next few months. Arrgh! What to do? -- the fish

 is a RISC OS Userlepoisson on 21/5/03 7:09PM
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it is all pants

select *must* be made RO5 compatible *now*

& if paul ("vested interest") middleton won't comply then get him removed at the next RISC OC ltd AGM.

Emulation is *not* the way forward.

Anybody who can get a vote of no confidence in, unless this market killing situation is not resolved, remove the problem.

[This comment has received a complaint. Please, think before you write as we will not carry unnecessary content - Ed]

 is a RISC OS Userepistaxsis_RISC OS on 21/5/03 7:42PM
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I've said and thought for a long time, part of ROL's problem is that they only have one/two product which they market RISC OS and Select, they need to expand their product list in order to generate more funds. -- Paul Stewart, Bletchley, Milton Keynes

 is a RISC OS Usersa110 on 21/5/03 8:08PM
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Only in the RISC OS market could we have a significantly vocal section of the userbase who seem to have nothing better to do than criticise everything any commercial entity does (or does not in some cases).

And here we have another case of this exact same attitude. Sorry to spoil the party guys but you seem to have overlooked the fact that RISCOS Ltd. is a *business*. Strangely enough, they have to *pay* for the development of Select and that means (shock, horror) *charging* consumers money (yes, the real stuff, not the stuff you find in Monopoly sets). Now, I know this may well be a foreign idea to some of you but it's the way the world works.

In this case, producing a version of Select for RISC OS 5 would take a somewhat larger effort than simply adding new features and this effort has to be paid for. Therefore, it's common sense that if people terminate their Select subscriptions, the likelihood of RISC OS 5 Select gets smaller and smaller.

Now, don't take this the wrong way and think I'm sticking up for RISCOS Ltd. for the sake of it. I'm not. In this case, however, it just seems to me that they have made the right decision.

Here's to RISC OS 5 Select (my Iyonix (and cash) awaits)


 is a RISC OS Userjmb on 21/5/03 8:23PM
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Perhaps we should encourage ROL to put all there money on the lottery - buy enough tickets and they might even win the jackpot. Nevermind RO5 Select, will be running a unified RO6 that runs on all Acorn machines from the Archimedies 305, to MD Omega and CTL Iyonix. No doubt some people will still complain. -- Paul Stewart, Bletchley, Milton Keynes

 is a RISC OS Usersa110 on 21/5/03 8:29PM
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The attitude shown here, quite frankly, I find shocking, but not suprising.

iamnotamused: ROL don't have the money to port their OS to a new platform without support.

You say "If I were RISC OS Ltd. I'd have concentrated on that architecture [the Iyonix] long ago rather than forcing people to continue to add 'updates' to wholey archaic hardware." This may come as a shock to you, but time machines don't exist yet, even in people's basements. ROL couldn't have concentrated developing for a system "long ago" when it didn't exist then.

AMS: You say "I personally don't think ROL will [develop their products for the Iyonix], if for no other reason than they've made that Alpha deal with MD/VA". You have a problem with a company providing software to more than one hardware company, or what?

epistaxsis_RISC OS: "select *must* be made RO5 compatible *now*", you say. Are you willing to pay the cost for this development to happen? If not, I suggest you shut up until you can, or indeed until you can make any contributation to the platform other than mindless whinging. Making statements like that helps nobody whatsoever - and, by the way, saying it over and over again every time an article on ROL/CTL/Select/RO5 appears on drobe.co.uk won't make people suddenly change the way they develop software.

Similarly, saying that the PM should be removed from ROL because he doesn't do what you want, is (just a little) one-minded. You don't know the full story, so keep quiet.

Emulation is not the way forward for the platform as a whole, no, but it helps fill gaps in the market (personally, I don't agree with the Alpha from MD, but the fact remains it fills a gap in the market).

And "Anybody who can get a vote of no confidence in, unless this market killing situation is not resolved, remove the problem" makes no sense. Care to clarify, with a slightly more positive opening sentence/phrase than "it is all pants"?

 is a RISC OS Usertakkaria on 21/5/03 8:55PM
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The whole ROL ransom thing is terrible - they say if you don't buy Select3 now you won't be able to buy Select4 in the future, then they go and make a Gold product which looks like it may be the last anyway!

I didn't notice Microsoft not developing WinXP as nobody bought WinME!

ROL isn't a charity, if it can't afford to develop a product without people buying current products, then it either needs to diversify or die (or go open source!)

I expect it is them who are decree that VARiscPC can only be bought with the Alpha (smart way to minimise sales).

A lot of people have left the RISC OS community due to this type of BS politics - well, that and the lack of hardware/software for a while there....

-- #include "sig.h"

 is a RISC OS Usersimo on 21/5/03 9:27PM
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simo: Enough about ROL open-sourcing RISC OS, please.

 is a RISC OS Usertakkaria on 21/5/03 9:36PM
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Yawn. Business realities are a hard pill for many RISC OS users to swallow, no matter how eloquently or correctly jmb and takky state it. Or even bother to care about. As usual, people would rather whinge.

Cue informative drobe article.

-- Peter, drobe.co.uk

 is a RISC OS Usermrchocky on 21/5/03 9:39PM
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Well as Castle practically are the new Acorn, they may as well buy ROL and then we might get Iynonix Select....

How much can ROL be worth - it's a one man band with one product that's still being developed.

Hehe, starting to sound like a troll now, I'd better get back to Slashdot.

-- #include "sig.h"

 is a RISC OS Usersimo on 21/5/03 10:03PM
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There's obviously a lot of mixed feelings on this post, but i'll definately be buying the new ROM when it comes out- let's hope they set a reasonable price for it, and I wish them all the best for the future development of Select/RO4.x/RO5.x...

 is a RISC OS UserCoetsyn on 21/5/03 11:13PM
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Mr Chocky, jmb and takkarie:

To be honest guys - there's no point in arguing with you, because they're just the usual collection of excuses that I've been reading from the RISC OS community for years.

I for one won't be buying Select or Iyonix because it's pointless wasting hundreds or thousands of pounds on a computer system that looks like it's going to be nothing more than an expensive toy.

My money's going elsewhere - I can get a damn good PC for the price of a top-of-the-range Iyonix and at least I have the assuarnce the main OS developer is supporting it. It might be the buggiest OS in the world, but at least I can do the things I want to do on it well and efficiently.

RISC OS is a good OS - but I think it's wrong to make the mistake of thinking 'good' means 'good enough'. I wish RISC OS Ltd all the luck in the world - it's going to need it with its current 'business' attitudes.

 is a RISC OS Useriamnotamused on 22/5/03 8:46AM
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It's a rather sad fact that the whingers, fools and trolls are so vocal. Must be true what they say about empty vessels making the most noise.

However, it is also true that the more intelligent majority don't comment on such forums because they understand the situation and either agree or accept ROL's choices.

I'm only concerned that such rants as above paint a rather negative picture of the RISC OS community. One which I believe is rather distant from the truth. -- Spriteman.

 is a RISC OS UserSpriteman on 22/5/03 9:15AM
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Can I add myself to the intelligent majority please :) I don't comment because I can't be bothered though!

 is a RISC OS Userjohn on 22/5/03 9:29AM
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While I appreciate the views above, I don't think it's right to dismiss the critical views as whinging, trolling, or foolish.

Those who criticise the companies involved do have some good points, and without criticism RISC OS companies will not know what the userbase wants and what it does not.

Some of the people above have expressed themselves in a very critical and vocal way, but most of the points I see are valid, even if they are wrapped up in vitriolic rant.

 is a RISC OS Userthegman on 22/5/03 10:08AM
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I'm worried about both sides of this debate, really. The point is fair made, that RO Ltd are unable to make a more generic Select with their current resources, but there is no long-term future in staying with the RiscPC.

I don't think the "whingers" are whinging, they are just worried about the future, and in some cases possibly being a bit naive about what can be done about it.

 is a RISC OS UserSimonC on 22/5/03 10:08AM
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I have just caught up with this thread.

During my visit to Wakefield I had two separate conversations with members of the senior management of both RISCOS ltd and Castle (It probably is bad netiquette to mention names).

I asked them both about the possibility of and put to them each as appropriate the consumer case for having a converging path between RISCOS Vs 4+5. I Underlined my concerns that there is not much point subscribing to RISCOS ATM if I were to buy a 32bit only machine. Likewise, the case to Castle that they must have sales held back by potential buyers that would not want to loose out on RISCOS select features.

The following points were made : From Castle's side... Their new copy of !printers has been handed to RISCOS ltd for free distribution from their website. (I understood this is a copyrighted version and not open source.) Castle hope that this is the first of a continued two-way exchange that will lead to a Select version of RISCOS 5 *which they do want*.

From RISCOS ltds's side:...

They also want convergence. When asked about the origins of RISCOS 5, the implication was also made that it reflected features first developed in RISCOS select! (I am still not sure what to make of this but I was left with the belief that at least parts of RISCOS 5 was substantially designed by RISCOS ltd). I was told that RISCOS 5 Select would *not* be released for RISC PCs and that there was no problem with administering several parallel versions of RISCOS!

The above is my opinion and understanding only.

Perhaps the Gold edition marks the ent of RISC PC OS development and that all future development will be 32bit?

So given time, there is hope for the future convergence but personally, I won't be renewing my select subscription until there is an official statement on the subject. What I would do is continue membership of select with a pre-order + deposit for RISC OS 5 Select.

RISC OS ltd should not hold their customers to ransome. A clearer way is to announce the intention of a project and take deposited orders. (returnable if cancelled) That way we all know where we stand.

 is a RISC OS Usergrandy on 22/05/03 3:13PM
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I doubt you'll get a statement out of ROL or Castle, I think given the age of RiscPCs it would not be unreasonable to stop OS development for them, however it would leave those of us unwilling to purchase an Iyonix somewhat stranded and shrink the userbase quite a bit.

 is a RISC OS Userthegman on 22/05/03 4:31PM
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iamnotamused: you've failed to reply to my point.

 is a RISC OS Usertakkaria on 22/05/03 5:38PM
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takki> I believe you misinterpreted my comment

AMS: You say "I personally don't think ROL will [develop their products for the Iyonix], if for no other reason than they've made that Alpha deal with MD/VA". You have a problem with a company providing software to more than one hardware company, or what?

On the contrary I have *absolutely no problem* with ROL providing software to *anyone* they choose. My comment was more of the nature that I suspect that having made a deal with MD and VA that ROL might be less inclined to provide the same software to Castle (for fear of affecting the deal).

May I suggest to people not to be too hard on Paul Middleton, some of the stuff written in this thread seems not only well over the top but also somewhat unproductive (IMHO).



 is a RISC OS UserAMS on 22/05/03 6:57PM
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I think the posts here highlight a lot of the real problems faced for the OS - its userbase. Nuff said really - the vast majority of what I've just read is complete drivel. And regulars may note that I don't flame very often, but it's pretty damn disheartening.

Next: why would a new ROM set be the 'last release' as touted on here? It certainly should not be!!! Good reasons for making new ROMs would include: - Low on stocks of RO 4 ROMs. Remember that RO 4 was issued FOUR YEARS AGO!!! It's time for a new ROM release. Acorn did it, why shouldn't ROL? - Better base on which to establish future Select releases.

Note of course that a 'ROM' is that thing supplied to Microdigital, RiscStation and Castle's Risc PCs and A7000s, not just upgrades to new machines. Ergo - wherefore the problem? I have NEVER heard a comment from anyone credible that Select 4 is the last ever release; nor do I expect to hear it any time soon. On the contrary.

Another critical point is that new ROMs enable a number of changes to be made to the OS that cannot be made in a softload. I don't know what is planned, but consider any major changes to filesystems for example - totally unfeasible with a softload.

You also introduce sales to users of thin clients, who don't want to boot off an HD or network, because their machine has no hard disc. After all, it's business use that counts - a single medium-sized business would buy 100 ROM sets - and that makes a substancial number of Select sales.

As far as the Iyonix issue goes, I'm staying well out of it until people actually pay attention to what has been said before countless times by all involved, rather than making up whatever they like.

(a very disgruntled)


 is a RISC OS Usermd0u80c9 on 22/05/03 7:24PM
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Yeah! Stop blaming companies and start blaming yourselves you bunch of hideously deformed turnips. :D

 is a RISC OS UserSnig on 22/05/03 11:39PM
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iamnotamused (re Variations/slow RO boxen etc.):

Er...that effect is very much the worst-case and is still about 50% interpreted BASIC. :-)

Kindly do *not* use a program currently sitting at version 0.21, being written mainly for mine own amusement in my spare time to support your accusations of lack-a-speed.

There are fairer examples you could cite.



 is a RISC OS Usersoutherner on 25/05/03 12:16AM
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