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By Chris Williams. Published: 26th Aug 2003, 20:43:54 | Permalink | Printable

VirtualAcorn networked? Minidiscing, python found and much more

Round up motifDrobe's Ian Chamberlain is away this week so it's my turn to don the software news cap and goggles.

Firstly, a correction of sorts. Earlier we said that networking in VirtualRiscPC was "beyond the horizon" - au contraire says Aaron Timbrell of VirtualAcorn, reminding us to send off our mind reading devices for vital repairs. "I don't know who told you that networking was 'beyond the horizon' but they were wrong, sorry", Aaron told us today. "It's already in beta test stage and so far seems to be working very well". VirtualAcorn are apparently busy working on a number of improvments to VirtualA5000 and VirtualRiscPC, and this includes the networking plugin.

Screenshot of MinidiscNext. Jamie Temple is back on the Minidisc case having recently released version 0.60a especially for Iyonix users. Stop thinking didn't-quite-catch-on audio/data storage, instead Minidisc is a "desktop management" tool that tidies up the left hand devices side of your iconbar, allows you to configure shortcuts and other life saving activities.

Also, Martin Wuerthner has excited some quarters of comp.sys.acorn.apps with talk of porting gimp-print and indicating he just may have time to realise this once he's satisfied with Artworks 2.1. While we're refrain from making any kind of speculation or predictions, this'll be something we'll happily keep a watchful eye on.

In brief
Rick Murray may be trapped in the depths of France, but he once again proves you can't keep a good RISC OS coder down, bribed or buried for long. Rick's flexible'n'scriptable Teletext decoder, !Teletext, has been updated to version 1.53 with an unconfident 32bit version.

Soon after Dietmar Schwertberger's Python 2.3 port appeared on drobe.co.uk, his website mysteriously vanished from the 'net and just when this editor needed python to help complete his noegnud port. In the disappearance of Dietmar's site, there was much confusion and comp.sys.acorn.programmer denizens would take perl scripts, scrawl 'pieffon' on them and throw them at the Sun. Just kidding. It turns out Dietmar's moved his port to here due to the unfortunate demise of his previous webspace hoster.

Stefan Bellon has released GnuPG 1.2.3 for RISC OS, a free replacement for PGP. Workspace, a multiple desktop app that reminds us of X Windows, has been updated by author Dave Ruck - as reviewed by the Cybervillage. Simon Melhuish's weather monitoring package Oww is now at version 0.70.0 and available from sourceforge. Explan, those big big fans of Castle, have 32bitted their HolyBible software. Bless. And finally, John Schroder has relocated his basson fingerings software, Fingering. Easy tiger.


News? Comments? Flames?

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Glad to hear about MiniDisc is was wondering when that would be 32 bit-ed!

 is a RISC OS UserTimothy609 on 27/8/03 7:49AM
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"Stop thinking didn't-quite-catch-on audio/data storage"

Sorry, but I'd hardly say MiniDisc 'didn't quite catch on', it's one of the most popular recording formats around at the moment.

 is a RISC OS Userrussebay on 27/8/03 10:37AM
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I was about to post the same thing myself. Minidisc is extremely popular and marvellous. And don't talk to me about MP3s. Nasty nasty compression :-)

 is a RISC OS UserMendosa on 27/8/03 11:06AM
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I'll confess to having a minidisc player/recorder too and it's wonderful.

Chris, drobe.co.uk. being off topic. yow!

 is a RISC OS Userdiomus on 27/8/03 11:08AM
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The MiniDisc format is very hevily used in broadcast radio and is also used in TV but then so is DAT. What I think Chris was refering to is that although MiniDisc has got a far larger percentage of the consumer market than DAT it has nowere near the market share that the humble audio cassette had at its peak. -- Victor Shears, Maidstone

 is a RISC OS Uservshears on 27/8/03 11:12AM
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Mendosa if you think compression is so nasty how come you think Minidisc is so marvellous it is hardly uncompressed?.

Cheers Vic -- Victor Shears, Maidstone

 is a RISC OS Uservshears on 27/8/03 11:15AM
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MP3's are cool. Don't knock em. Got most of CD collection on MP3. -- Bletchley, Milton Keynes

 is a RISC OS Usersa110 on 27/8/03 11:19AM
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Networking in VA/VRPC, great - will this filter back to Red Squirall? -- Bletchley, Milton Keynes

 is a RISC OS Usersa110 on 27/8/03 11:26AM
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My understanding was that if you bought albums on Minidisc, they were optical discs rather than magnetic, and the audio wasn't compressed at all. So it sounded better, and you had a reason to buy the original, rather than making a copy...

MP3 sucks, AAC just sucks more. (Ogg's getting there... I'll stick with FLAC ta. :)

 is a RISC OS Usernunfetishist on 27/8/03 11:42AM
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sa110 - I don't know, I wouldn't think so as VA would probably use networking as a benefit of the commercialised version.

Chris, drobe.co.uk

 is a RISC OS Userdiomus on 27/8/03 12:06PM
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nunfetishist - Minidiscs do use compression (a quick Google search will confirm). And I'd disagree that AAC sucks more than MP3... -- Gavin Smith

 is a RISC OS UserSparkY on 27/8/03 12:10PM
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My understanding is that pre-recorded albums sold on MiniDisc are optical whereas the recordable discs are magnito optical?. I belive that in both cases they use Adaptive Transform Acoustic Coding on the digital audio data so that it occupies roughly 20% of the space it would have on an audio CD?. However the use of ATAC does not mean that in some cases it is not possible for MiniDisc to exceed CD quality in terms of dynamic range. -- Victor Shears, Maidstone

 is a RISC OS Uservshears on 27/8/03 12:24PM
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I think the main reason that MiniDisc hasn't taken off in the way that cassette did is because of the CD-R.

The thing that cassette had over vinyl (which was effectively the other chief format of the time) was that it was compact, and recordable.

MiniDisc was introduced as a replacement for cassette but the advent of cheap CD recorders for PCs, and of course MP3 downloads has prevented the format from taking the market it was aimed at.

The BBC use it extensively. It's a very flexible format, and still a favourite with journalists for on-the-road interviews. It's editing capabilities and random access give it the edge over DAT, although DAT still prevails for masters.

And it does use compression, although only one rate (unlike MP3).

To the untrained ear (i.e. most home users) you can't hear any loss of quality over the original source.

I think MiniDisc was a promising format on it's launch, but by the time it was being adopted by HiFi manufacturers other than Sony, it's potential market was being eaten into by CD-Rs.

But cassette is dead, for which we should be truly thankful, and it's thanks in part to the MiniDisc.

 is a RISC OS Userrussebay on 27/8/03 1:12PM
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Where the "untrained ear" belongs to somebody who hasn't heard the original, IME...

 is a RISC OS Usernunfetishist on 27/8/03 1:33PM
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The "CD-R is the reason why MiniDisc failed" theory has somehow problems with the timeline ;-)

The first MiniDisc stuff appeared in 1992. CD recorders and media were cheap enough in 1997. IDE writers appeared in early 1999 IIRC. So MiniDisc was not even able to gain much ground without the competition from CD-R for FIVE YEARS.

Why? Because Sony failed to do sensible things to make the format attractive for buyers.

- MiniDisc drives for computers were not available until recently (imagine a MiniDisc computer drive in 1992 - ZIP would have never happened) - Changing your whole equipment to minidisc was much too expensive (standard HiFi, walkman-style stuff) or not available from the start (Car-HiFi). - First ATRAC generation was very bad - Sony was very reluctant to give out manufacturing licences

Imagine being able to buy a Minidisc recorder for the price of a decent tape in 1992. Same with portable MD player for the price of a Walkman or even Discman. Imagine the quality of ATRAC 3.5 right from the start...

MiniDisc hat the potential to be a killer (IMHO in contrast to the DCC effort). It's much too late now.


 is a RISC OS Userhubersn on 27/8/03 4:36PM
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The first CD recorder was available in 1988 - although they were *not* cheap :)

A quote from [link],,sid5_gci508949,00.html :"The first CD recorders were made available in 1988, but were not an option for the average home recorder because, with the requisite hardware and software, they cost upwards of $100,000. At a weight of 600 pounds, the Meridian Data CD Professional was the first CD recorder."

The media was 20 quid a pop or something silly, too.

 is a RISC OS Usernunfetishist on 27/8/03 5:01PM
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!Minidisc looks very similar (in terms of aims) to !Storage2 that I wrote back in 1997 :-)

Must upload it to <a href="[link]">atomised.org</a> sometime. I wonder if my one works on IYONIX too, it did really eVil things to modules and CDFS

 is a RISC OS Userpiemmm on 27/8/03 5:17PM
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As far as VA/RedSquirrel goes, it's probably worth noting that VA is the release version of RS, in effect. RS is the freebie beta flavour. So it's quite possible that RS already has a level of networking, but not at any publicly available state yet.

 is a RISC OS Usermikeg on 27/8/03 7:00PM
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I'm sure you'll correct me if I'm wrong here but isn't it true that Red Squirrel hasn't been updated in years? i.e. since the commercial version, VA5k, came out? I mean, why bust your chops supporting an old app when you are trying to sell your new commercial version? -- Spriteman.

 is a RISC OS UserSpriteman on 27/8/03 8:02PM
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as I understand it there are 2 versions of RS - the developers' version - full jit emulation and the free version (no jit so about a quarter speed) VA is based on the developers version - same speed but only runs in A5000 mode (VRPC presumably is similar but for RPC or A7000 mode).

mikeg: I think if you look around you'll find statements that this is the case. -- Jess

 is a RISC OS Userjess on 27/8/03 9:10PM
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RedSquirrel 0.6 is pretty much current. The fixes and improvements to Virtual Acorn are in parts not (yet) present in RedSquirrel. I could do a RedSquirrel 0.7 tomorrow but it would be virtually the same as 0.6.


 is a RISC OS Usergraeme on 28/8/03 1:53AM
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So, what's the difference between RS and VA? The JIT? -- Spriteman.

 is a RISC OS UserSpriteman on 28/8/03 11:31AM
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RedSquirrel emulates lots more processors so should be able to run Arthur through to Select. VA currently only supports RISC OS 3.1 or RISC OS 4.0 (on the alpha), but is shipped with an OS, has the JIT to make it faster, direct CD and Floppy, and some printing. It also has a simple installer and lots of software to get you going. And a direct support phone line.


 is a RISC OS Usergraeme on 28/8/03 11:49AM
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Any chance of Virtual RiscPC sold seperately from an Alpha.

 is a RISC OS Userjlavallin on 1/9/03 6:34PM
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