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Good bye AU, hello Qercus

By Martin Hansen. Published: 4th Jan 2004, 15:30:00 | Permalink | Printable

Qercus kicks starts 2004 with special offer

Opinion On the morning of the last day of the year it arrived. Issue number 267. The final edition of Acorn User Magazine. This is the 66th edition to be produced under the overseeing eye of Steve Turnbull. In the opening editorial he, with a wry smile, reminds us that, "We took over on issue 201, after the ill-fated Phoebe launch and cancelled Acorn show. The secret of good comedy, is timing."

To my mind it is an even greater irony that he is bowing out at this particular moment, when the world of RISC OS is surging forward with new purpose built ARM hardware in the form of Iyonix, and the remarkably innovative, if controversial, and what some regard as a downright divisive alternative, VirtualRiscPC. There is more to talk about, review, and try out now than there has been for years. Indeed, this final edition is a-buzz with adverts and a round up of the new machines; one of them featured prominently on the front cover.

Qercus logoIn a small twist of fate, my subscription runs out with this issue. The way forward is signposted and mapped out for me in a three page feature on Qercus, the new name for a curious magazine that is to be a two element affair that alternates an Acorn User type magazine with an Acorn Publisher type one. I vaguely feel that this has the sound of a "dodgy idea" - perhaps trying a bit too hard to please everyone.

I have, actually, met the man steering this publishing fusion forward, and because of that I know where John Cartmell is coming from. He handed me a very carefully crafted, well written letter, at last February's South West show. He was clearly on a mission to push forward a platform that he passionately believed in, via, at that time, Acorn Publisher. He does genuinely listen to people's ideas, what they say, and how they feel. He knows that it's all about getting folks on board, keeping them with you, and he's willing to do whatever it takes to coax them along and keep them happy.

First issue foray
January's Qercus is to be "Graphics and design" flavoured with articles on using Composition, Draw, Web Wonder, and Artworks. An in-depth review of one of the new WindowsXP-VRPC "hybrid computers" is promised and RComp's UniPrint is tested. The February issue sees the launch of a WIMP programming series, and articles on databases, Pluto, and Genealogy. *Info is returning, as are the Yellow Pages. Another hybrid computer is given a thorough examination, along with a look at "MicroSoft in Europe". The proposed contents imply a breadth and depth of coverage that is wider and more balanced than has been my experience over the last few years from the pages of Acorn User.

When I renewed my subscription last year, I enclosed a note to the effect that I felt I must be mad to be paying 4.20UKP an issue for a 52 page magazine of diminishing quality with no cover disc, or on-line extras. I refused, however, to be one of those who abandoned a sinking ship. Instead, I finally got off my back-side to write three articles - a contribution to something that really seemed to be struggling but which, incidentally, has improved greatly over the last four issues. This time round, it's a very much happier note that I enclose; I'm genuinely looking forward to receiving a year's worth of Qercus magazine. Good luck with Qercus, John. And thank-you, Steve, for carrying the flag through some bloody tough times. The news that AU had folded never came.

Special offer [Updated]
We did originally publicise a special offer on Qercus, but it turns out it's really for Acorn User readers only. Acorn Publisher used to run an offer whereby you can request a free copy of the magazine if you claim you haven't seen it before. That offer is still open, we're told, even in the wake of the Acorn Publisher and Acorn User merger.

"There may be some special offers available to certain groups. Members of those groups will be told about the offers directly", Qercus editor John Cartmell reminded us today.

"If we decide to make any offers available to Drobe readers we will let you know. As you know we have long had a general offer of a free copy of Acorn Publisher for anyone who hasn't seen that magazine; that general offer continues - other offers will be targetted."


Finnybank merges Acorn Publisher and Acorn User Qercus website - it's just disguised as the old Acorn Publisher one

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"hybrid computer"?

How diplomatic

Actually the last AU reviewed one of them (even a bloody advert on the front cover!!!!)

StrongARM power for 7500 prices - kiss my chuddies!

 is a RISC OS Userepistaxsis@work on 4/1/04 4:12PM
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Maybe MicroDigital should use the slogan "StrongARM power for Iyonix prices" ? ;)

 is a RISC OS Usermonkeyson on 4/1/04 4:48PM
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Cheeky Monkeyson ;)

 is a RISC OS UserAMS on 4/1/04 5:36PM
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"In the opening editorial [Steve Turnball], with a wry smile, reminds us that..."

Officially, of course, it was always the allusive Rob Donaldson who wrote the Editor's Comments. Perhaps Steve finally came to his senses, even though it was the last edition he would be producing.

Oh well, enough sour grapes. :o)

 is a RISC OS Userfylfot on 4/1/04 7:01PM
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"AU reviewed one of them (even a bloody advert on the front cover!!!!)"

Yes, it was a bit odd. I don't remember anyone ever having had an almost full-page advert of the front of AU before. I can't say I've seen it done on any other magazine, either.

Steve was quite negative about RISC OS towards the end. Tau wasn't even producing AU on RISC OS anymore. Perhaps this front page advert was a political thing; his vision for the future of the market?

I'll shut-up now.

 is a RISC OS Userfylfot on 4/1/04 7:15PM
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cheeky fylfot ;-)

 is a RISC OS Userepistaxsis@work on 4/1/04 8:16PM
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Surely Rob Donaldson was "elusive" rather than "allusive".

 is a RISC OS Userlibrarian16 on 4/1/04 8:19PM
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Well done, you're quite correct. Gold star and all that. :)

 is a RISC OS Userfylfot on 4/1/04 8:25PM
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fylfot: It's not at all unusual for computing magazines to have adverts dominating or even replacing the front cover, usually in a far more bold manner (huge card sections, for example).


 is a RISC OS Userdgs on 4/1/04 8:36PM
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But in this case it is mighty suspicious...

 is a RISC OS Userepistaxsis@work on 4/1/04 9:51PM
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It's not something I like to see. It really niggled at me that advert did.

Anyway, whatever we thought of AU in its later years I think Steve is to be commended and thanked for continuing with it and not letting it fold as could so easily have happened.


 is a RISC OS UserThe Doctor on 4/1/04 9:54PM
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Then it had its desired effect - it stuck in your mind (whether you liked it or not!)



 is a RISC OS Userspellinn on 5/1/04 12:51AM
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Drobe: your link to Quercus.com is broken. Try removing the full-stop from the end of the URL :-)

 is a RISC OS Usertamias on 5/1/04 12:58AM
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epistaxsis: Last month's AU had the Iyonix on the back cover, Iyonix on the front cover, and Iyonix on much of the insides. This month's AU has Iyonix on the back cover, the A6 on the front cover, and a variety of things inside. So what's the big concern about this month's issue, that wasn't a concern for last month's issue?

Admittedly it's the first time AU has used a front cover mounted advert. But it's not as if the advert was framed to "look like" anything other than an advert. It happens to coincide with the rather odd "this month, we look at the A6, and next month, we look at the A6", but I'm sure John will find time to cover other things as well :-)

So I'm not really sure what you're "mighty suspicious" about.

Since you mention it, "hybrid computer" is how Finnybank describe the Windows computers that run RISC OS emulators. Not sure whether this term will catch on with other people or not.


 is a RISC OS Userdgs on 5/1/04 8:15AM
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It sems to me that this "hybrid computer" term is a bit of a nonsense.

My self built Athlon box at home is currently bootable into Windows 98, Windows XP Pro, Linux and Beos Oh! and it also has the Virtual A5000, Memotech, Spectum and probably other emulators on it. Everybody I know just regards it as a bog standard PC.

In what way are comuters like the A6 and its ilk "hybrid?" is a Iyonx also hybrid as it can run RISCOS 5 and Lynux?.


 is a RISC OS Uservshears on 5/1/04 11:18AM
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tamias: In fact that's more correct than without, fully qualified domains names have a dot after them, just if you're using something local it shouldn't. It's a small saving though, it just stops it searching for "www.qercus.com.localdomain." if "www.quercus.com." isn't found for some reason.

 is a RISC OS Userjohn on 5/1/04 11:40AM
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In reply to vshears and co:

Finnybank refer to computers that have had significant work done to them by the developer as hybrids, for example the A6 is classed as a hybrid because of the work Stuart Tyrell and his team have done on it. The rest are refered to as emulators.

 is a RISC OS UserCol1 on 5/1/04 1:11PM
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Could I just say that I fully intended to support Acorn User to the end and couldn't for the last 6 or 7 issues owing to lack of funds. I don't think I know of anybody who has been more committed to RISC OS than Steve Turnbull and it's to be hoped that this is not the last we see of him.

 is a RISC OS UserAW on 5/1/04 2:02PM
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In reply to Col1:

Perhaps the problem is that people such as I do not appreciate what work has been done to "hybrid's" such as the A6 and what it is about this work that makes the computer a "hybrid"?.

ie What is it that allows a computer running a Pentium ar Athlon etc to be classified as an "hybrid"?.

After all once we know what is required we may be able to upgrade our own machines to "hybrid" specification insted of it simply being a PC running an emulator ;-).

 is a RISC OS Uservshears on 5/1/04 2:39PM
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Cheeky vshears.

 is a RISC OS Usermartin on 5/1/04 3:54PM
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The A6 a "hybrid" computer ?????

Anyone can classify *anything* as *anything* I suppose, it doesn't (however) follow that the classification is reasonable or applicable.

Hybrid (for those of you with long memories) will recall that "hybrid" computers are one that use Digital and Analog elements (they were hybrids because they merge two utterly separate hardware technologies (the Analog part often consisted of Op Amps and differentiators or Integrator passive components) while the digital was just bog standard digital logic). To my knowledge the A6 is a *bog standard* PC with some *software* mods done to allow it to behave as if RISC OS has a larger frame buffer available to it. I would not seek to minimise the amount of effort or ingenuity involved in this - but it is still a *software* change and allows the emulation to run RISC OS at higher resolutions and colour depths than would be possible for a real RISC PC for example (and therefore *is* a useful improvement) - but does this make a machine running it a "hybrid" ?

As Virtual Acorns own News Page says (I quote) "We are pleased to announce that all copies of VirtualRPC-SE supplied after 1st Jan 2004 will include the facility, first seen on the A6 from Stuart Tyrell Developments, to use extended video modes up to 8Mb in size"

Are people seriously suggesting that PC's with the VARPC-SE software versions up to the 1st of January 2004 were "emulators" but those *after* the 1st of January aren't ?

Kind Regards


 is a RISC OS UserAMS on 5/1/04 6:35PM
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'When *I* use a word', Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, 'it means just what I choose it to mean - neither more nor less'.

[Through the Looking Glass]

 is a RISC OS UserTonyStill on 5/1/04 8:51PM
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It is very sad, that AU has gone forever now. So the only Acorn magazine, which still exist is The 'Archive' Magazine of Paul Beverley. Only hoping that Quercus is NOT putting more of news about Microsuck in his magazine. Because in my eyes 'Microsoft' still sucks !!!

 is a RISC OS Userdatawave on 5/1/04 11:37PM
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In reply to datawave:

Oi, Archive the 'only other magazine...' ? No it's not.

 is a RISC OS Userapdl on 6/1/04 8:27AM
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There's also Foundation RISC User as well as the APDL one.

 is a RISC OS UserAW on 6/1/04 12:23PM
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In reply to Datawave:

I think you've missed the point about Qercus. It's editor 'John Cartmell' is very passionate and positive about the RISC OS market and its future.


 is a RISC OS UserThe Doctor on 6/1/04 3:05PM
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Foundation Risc User is a Disc based magazine, NOT a paper magazine, i only mean paper magazines. and to Graham: I know John Cartmell, who is very Risc OS minded.

 is a RISC OS Userdatawave on 6/1/04 6:14PM
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Is anybody going to explain what "significant work" is done to "hybrid" RISC OS computers, as compared with Windows computers running emulators?

Does it involve modifying the motherboard?


 is a RISC OS Userdgs on 6/1/04 9:22PM
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In reply to dgs I'm going to give clues as to what, I think, the difference is. 1) It's round. 2) It's smooth. 3) It's flat. 4) It's got a hole in the middle. Provakative little tikes, aint we, dgs ?

 is a RISC OS Usermartin on 7/1/04 10:23AM
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martin: That sounds like either a round tuit, or a CD.

Doesn't answer the question, though.


 is a RISC OS Userdgs on 7/1/04 10:30AM
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In which case Datawave then there is 'Eureka' magazine of the ARM Club. Write a regular article receive a free subscription. If not it's only 15 UKP for 4 issues which are packed with useful articles and technical genius.

 is a RISC OS UserAW on 07/01/04 1:23PM
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