RISCDomain finale reviewedBy Martin Hansen. Published: 12th Dec 2003, 22:59:10 | Permalink | Printable
Martin Hansen peers at the last issue of ProAction's publicationReview One of the joys of being a RISC OS enthusiast has got to be the relentless rollercoaster ride that this platform has experienced for over the last twenty years. "Boom and bust"; Acorn certainly get my "been there, done that" award. White knuckle rides can be the thrill of a lifetime when you are in the driving seat, but for many, seeing Acorn crash and burn in 1998, left them feeling that RISC OS, after promising so much, was finished. Was it better to have loved and lost than never loved at all?
Whatever the answer, for many the affair was over. For all that, here we are with 2004 winking at us and an encouraging year all but over for those of us championing RISC OS. It has been a year that has confirmed to the faithful that RISC OS has a future. It began when Castle pulled the whitest rabbit I ever saw out of their hat and, to the surprise of us all, announced the Iyonix, the fastest RISC OS machine yet and available to buy immediately following the announcement.
Further surprises were in store when, in what some have come to view as the red corner of a boxing ring opposite Iyonix, the VirtualRiscPC was launched. Ladies and Gentlemen, winner of the cheekiest product of the year award 2003 is Virtual RiscPC. What a laugh. It takes hardware built to sustain the MicroSoft view of the world, and makes it speak RISC OS. How very, very funny.
With all of these radical developments sweeping across RISC OS land and letting all know of better days to come, it is important that new users, flirting with RISC OS via VirtualRiscPC, are welcomed into a bright and positive community. In my view, we could do with bundling in with every Iyonix, and every Virtual RiscPC, a selection of RISC OS magazines. Cue entrance of issue 4 of RISCDomain, just published, and just grasped by my eager hand after only one bounce on my doormat this morning.
In many ways, this little A5, black and white publication gives a real flavour of how it should be:
- Start with news of program updates, tempting software price reductions, and a web-link of where to go to buy them.
- Tackle the Virtual RiscPC issue, giving it praise, while being kind to the Iyonix; the step on for the more serious RISC OS user.
- Review samples of top quality RISC OS software, emphasising on-going development, ease of use and the resulting productivity.
- Give extra emphasis to areas of RISC OS strength such as DTP, graphics and design.
RISC Domain has clearly been produced to help London RISC OS dealer APDL market their wares. This is not a criticism. It rather means that the magazine is produced with a steady eye on the hard edged reality of the current marketplace. While some may prefer a magazine to be a little more aloof I suspect that this magazine is here because other RISC OS publications are not doing what is required from APDL's point of view. So it is interesting to see VirtualRiscPC featured prominently on the front cover. Editor, David Bradforth, is very enthusiastic about this product. The sensible way forward with new customers is to present RISC OS emulation as a feature, in additional to MicroSoft Windows, that you really must have.
I think he has a point, but wisely does not dwell on the issue. It gets a mention and then we move swiftly on to reviews of the sort of software what will make people want RISC OS. They cover representatives from most areas; ArtWorks for graphic design, Rhapsody 4 for music, Descent 1 and 2 for games, and Mental Maths Olympics for education. The reviews are well written, by authors who clearly have used the packages extensively. DTP has always been a RISC OS strength and a separate 20 page, advert free, A4, colour covered supplement - produced by Foundation editor Richard Hallas - goes into considerable depth on the topic. Back in RISC Domain itself, a four page spread looks at using Sleuth 3 to convert scanned text sprite-files into text proper. Even as a seasoned RISC OS user, I found this interesting, didn't know about this product and, as a result, want it. It'll even be Iyonix compatible soon.
A summary. I think that David has done a good job in producing a slick, polished magazine that lets one know that things are happening on the RISC OS software front as well as with the hardware. APDL have a strong portfolio of software products and are actively developing several of them. Success attracts success. If I, like Martin Wuerthner, (author of ArtWorks 2) had a killer RISC OS app then I'd certainly want to advertise it in this magazine.
Although rumoured to be the last issue, my view is that when Mr. Bradforth gets the urge, another will appear. RISC Domain is full of common sense, and my suspicion is that he's just being sensible in not letting magazine production take over his life, which a bimonthly would easily do. Already a cat is out of the bag; one feature that is all laid out and ready to roll is pictured on the cover but not inside. We'll hear more from RISC Domain, mark my words.
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