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"Thank you Roy Heslop"

By Chris Williams. Published: 12th Dec 2003, 20:16:39 | Permalink | Printable

Someone out there cares

Letter We like getting feedback, from both article comments and letters to the editors. When we've had our say, it's your turn for your say. Plus it's rare to hear from someone praising CTA. Enjoy.

Date: Fri, 12 Dec 2003 13:06:49 -0000 (GMT)
From: Janet Bailey
To: chris@drobe.co.uk
Subject: Again with the laptops


I am emailing you because there is no more space to comment on the article. And this is probably too long anyway, now that I have written it.

I just wanted to say that I have the Virtual RiscPC Chameleon Option five from CTA (P4 2.66GHz 512MB). This has 4 USB ports (being the Acer Aspire) although you haven't put this in the price chart. It also has the possibility of SCSI connectivity (unlike Microdigital's Ms); this was one of the reasons I chose the CTA Chameleon and not the Microdigital M5. It also has double the memory of the Microdigital M5 and a much larger hard drive. I find the screen size very good, the display is larger and much better than on my 17 inch Vision Master. I have it networked to my RiscPC, which works fine - files can be viewed and moved on both machines without the need for Samba which I have never managed to set up. Paul Vigay's tutorial on networking (on his website) was very useful with this. The only drawback is that it is quite heavy, but then I have got a 17 inch screen and a flimsier machine might not stand up to wear.

I believe it comes with Linux And Virtual RiscPC, but I might be wrong about that - I didn't want Linux.

Yes, I would have liked a real RISC OS laptop. But I need one now and there there hasn't been one since the A4000 (not to decry that of course) and may never be one. I don't like PCs, but I also have a need for a PC, for web sites which RISC OS can't manage and for Sibelius software etc. compatible with schools, so I am more pleased with the Chameleon than I ever expected to be when I first made enquiries. The Virtual RISC OS software just works, support and info from Aaron Timbrell at Virtual Acorn just could not be better or faster (Roy at CTA does fine too). I can use RISC OS software on a fast portable machine and I am really happy with my purchase.

So a big thank you to all the people who have made these machines possible, and to Roy Heslop for producing this particular machine.



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Surely the last RISC OS laptop was the A4, not the A4000 which might be a tad heavier ;)


 is a RISC OS Userandypoole on 12/12/03 9:02PM
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Lovely. A prime example of nit picking there AP, you do yourself justice. :p

 is a RISC OS UserSnig on 12/12/03 10:03PM
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Andy. At home, using dialup.

 is a RISC OS Userandypoole on 12/12/03 10:05PM
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Janet: You're welcome.


 is a RISC OS Userdgs on 12/12/03 10:55PM
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I've got one of these machines (acer aspire 1700) and it is a very nice machine. No Linux yet though it promised.

7.5 Kg is a little heavy though and 1.2 hours battery life with VRPC running isn't great either. It's definitely a desktop replacement machine rather than a laptop. A Desktop PC and 17 inch screen crammed into a laptop case that has bulged so everything will fit! Including a fullsize, but laptop layout, keyboard and keypad,

Having desktop standard memory, harddrive and processor is some compensation for the weight as it will make upgrading a doddle. Having had 3 harddiscs fail in one PC one after the other I expect to have to replace it every year or so. No fails at all on a RISC PC in twice the time!

 is a RISC OS Userajpullan on 13/12/03 12:25AM
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Surely the operating system / platform will have zero effect on the reliabillity of the hard drive!

 is a RISC OS Userg0udm on 13/12/03 10:39AM
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Wrong, RISC OS uses the HDD much less (no VM), so the reliability is better.

 is a RISC OS UserJGZimmerle on 13/12/03 11:02AM
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One OS might access the drive more frequently than the other, or the machine enclosure might overheat the drive.

However, if a VRPC machine is specified correctly, there should be little disk access beyond that of an ARM based machine (could be less as a result of different caching), and of course we have to think of cooling, something Acorn forgot ;)

 is a RISC OS Userstdevel on 13/12/03 11:24AM
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Dont see how you can control a machine running VRPC's disc acccess. Thats under the control of windows isnt it?

Although I guess if you only run VRPC and rarely use windows then everything will get cached fairly quickly.

As for cooling, the PC with the failed harddiscs had more cooling then the RISC PC has. So if heat was the problem I'd have though the RISC PC woudl have had all the failures.

 is a RISC OS Userajpullan on 13/12/03 12:49PM
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JGZimmerle: Wrong. RISC OS has no substansial disc caching, so it actually uses the hard disc more than Windows/Linux if you've got the RAM to support it. (Although Linux pulls of this trick better than Windows.)

Just because an OS has virtual memory does not automatically mean it'll thrash the disc more. It'll only thrash the disc when it runs out of real memory, in simplistic terms.

I expected better from you!

 is a RISC OS Usernunfetishist on 14/12/03 9:13AM
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@nunfetishist: I did not mention Linux at all. This discussion is about VRPC, wich only runs on Windows ATM (discounting Wine). And the VM system of Windows is crap, we all know that.

The point is, that most of the time RISC OS does not need the HDD at all. In fact it was designed to work without any discs at all. The fact that it currently has no substantial disc caching does not mean that I was wrong. Windows needs HDDs for its operation and uses them a lot. So to lessen the extreme HDD usage a little, they had to implement disc caching. RISC OS never had this problem in the first place, because it only ever uses the HDD to load applications and do user-requested operations like saving and loading files or doing searches. The way to do "disc caching" on RISC OS is to put the files you want to work on onto the RAM disc. The RISC OS way to do it also reduces the risc of getting corrupted files in case of a power-failure and gives the users the feeling that they are in control over their machine. With Windows the average user never knows why the hard disc is doing something when he is not doing anything at all. This is probably one of the reasons why PC users are so suspicius of Microsoft.

 is a RISC OS UserJGZimmerle on 14/12/03 10:12AM
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On RISC OS you know when a virus is deleting your files, because the HDD works like mad when you didn't do any file-based operation at all. On Windows a virus could delte you entire disc without you noticing, because the virus' disc activity can not be differentiated from the filesystem's by the average user.

 is a RISC OS UserJGZimmerle on 14/12/03 10:20AM
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JGZimmerle: RISC OS does do disk cacheing, it's just not the best in the world, that's all.

Windows does not access the disk for fun. Under VRPC on a correctly configured machine, one would expect the disk access to be little more than under RISC OS on an ARM based machine.

However, due to the more modern cacheing algorithms on the PC side, and the fact that they interact with the cache on the drive so much better than the RISC OS implementation (think of the temporal dynamics of the drive what are in the various caches, and how this relates to read-ahead caching and the speed at which a machine can empty that cache), one might propose that an action such as loading an application like OvationPro under VRPC actually subjects the drive to more physical stress than under RISC OS.

Granted if you go back to Windows and load a 200MB graphic into PhotoShop on a 128MB machine it's going to thrash like hell, but doing the same in PhotoDesk would give similar results.

 is a RISC OS Userstdevel on 14/12/03 11:02AM
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Presumably this depends on the version of Windows? My NT4 laptop is always (I think literally) accessing its HD regardless of what (if anything) I'm doing. Not good when it's running on battery.

However, I understood that NT4 was a dumb choice for a laptop and that other versions were better (like they might actually allow the HD to spool-down). In my case, it's corporate policy so no chance to experiment.

 is a RISC OS UserTonyStill on 14/12/03 12:50PM
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NT4 on a laptop does not thrash the hard disk if set up correctly. I can only assume you've got a virus, not enough RAM, or some other poor configuration.

 is a RISC OS Userimj on 14/12/03 12:56PM
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@stdevel: I never said that RISC OS does not have *any* disc cacheing, just that it is not very "substatial" (wording taken from nunfetishist). Experience shows that HDDs used in RiscPCs have lasted much longer than the same model has in a PC. And my computers have never suffered bad configuration or too little memory. 1 GB RAM in my current desktop PC, 512 MB in my current laptop, 256+2 MB in my RiscPC, 512MB in my Omega (firmware release 14 finally solved the last problems, Select now runs fine :-). This has all ben discussed to death before. I don't see the point of doing it again.

 is a RISC OS UserJGZimmerle on 14/12/03 1:20PM
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stdevel: That's why most RISC OS users use a 512MB Iyonix for that sort of thing :-)


 is a RISC OS Userdgs on 14/12/03 5:05PM
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That few. Hmmmm

 is a RISC OS UserNodoid on 14/12/03 9:56PM
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Nodoid: Why would it upset you so?


 is a RISC OS Userdgs on 14/12/03 10:08PM
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dgs Congratulations on becoming the new Chairman for AAUG.

disc access I often curse my Windows laptop as hard drive opperations bring productivity to a halt of 15 seconds. God knows what t's doing - dam irritating, though. Glad I only have to use it for work, with RISC OS for pleasure.

CTA Nice to hear something good about CTA. I used to buy a lot of stuff through them - Even my kinetic RiscPC - They always were generous with help and advice when I telephoned.

 is a RISC OS Usermartin on 15/12/03 9:35AM
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If you are using an NT based OS (NT3,4, 2000, XP, Server 2003 (Why on a laptop?)) and were only interested in using it for RISC OS, try stopping all of the un-necessary Services from running?

MDM (Machine Debug Manager) is the one I hate! - no point, jsut crashes IE and does nothing else that I can see.

This significantly speeds up the startup, and frees memory up . (More for RISC OS :D)

You also might want to try a program called RegCleaner (Part of a bigger program now, but I still have the Free version if anyone wants it).

I have found that this gets my 192MB 30Gb K62 (400MHz) running very well! :)

 is a RISC OS Userem2ac on 15/12/03 1:57PM
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