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Archive woos ex-users with VirtualRPC

By Martin Hansen. Published: 10th Jan 2004, 15:54:56 | Permalink | Printable

Stopped using RISC OS? You'll want this emulator, mate

I hate junk mail. I don't mind it quite so much if a flurry of quick scissor hand-action can shred it on its flight to the paper recycling-bin, but when it's encased in a tough polythene bag that has to be removed first and recycled separately to the paper; well, let's just say that it gets my day off to an irritating start. I never - no seriously; never - respond to junk mail and, in fact, I even resent the time it takes my eye-brain combination to realise it's junk.

But what's this I have before me that begins, "Dear Ex Archive Subscriber"? This is different; this is RISC OS junk mail. I don't recall receiving a RISC OS tasting mail-shot before. This is something to treasure; something to frame; up there, on the wall, next to the one of the wife and kids. Because this means that RISC OS is back in town and looking to party. Maybe I've been missing out, not opening my junk mail all these years.

Archive logoThis is not a mindless flyer saying "Buy me"; it's an intellectually stimulating, colour photocopied four page article written by Christopher Jarman and fired my way by a Mr Paul Beverly. He's quite right; I am an ex-Archive subscriber; a subscription I let slip several years ago when,although still using Acorn machines, I'd lost interest in the Acorn scene. Amusing, it was a friend's comment in 1998 that Acorn had just gone belly-up that festered in my mind and eventually re-kindled my curiosity and interest. In all of the time since I bailed, my details have been sitting in Mr Beverley's database. He must be a patient man to wait until now to try and reel me back in. What has he got that is special? Why is this junk mailing, and no other, well read and carefully filed?

The photocopied article is an extract from Archive sister publication, Living with Technology, and is the first serious review of Virtual RiscPC that I have come across. Most of the RISC OS press has either ignored VirtualAcorn, or reviewed it from a biased and extreme point of view. Nothing overly wrong with that; new ideas often take a while to fully grasp and can initially seem very threatening. People can and should say what they feel. Christopher Jarman's article is enticing, sympathetic and kind. It is written from the perspective of someone who loved their Acorn RiscPC, was sad to let it go but, "as with a second marriage, developed new affections and new relationships with Windows".

VirtualRPC-SE logoFor Chris that would have been the end of the Acorn story but for the entrance of Virtual RiscPC. He's bought a copy and he clearly feels he has got his Acorn back along with "a shed-load of utilities and applications for free". He describes an effortless installation to get it running on a Windows XP machine that he had anyway. He talks through many of the issues likely to worry prospective users of "RISC OS under emulation" such as documentation, using a PC mouse, data and program transfer between the two OSs, printing, email and internet use. It's a well written, and thoughtful description of what this product has achieved.

What I really noticed with this mail-shot, though, is its target audience. The article is aimed directly at people who, like him, have moved on from Acorn badged machines but with regret. Regrets like, "compared with Artworks, both Corel Draw and XaraX are clumsy and complicated". This is a call to those who are most likely to lead the next phase of the current RISC OS revival; the reluctant leavers. It's a call to let them know that all of the time, effort and energy they put into Acorn was a good investment after all, and that for a modest outlay, it can be relevant to their future.

In fact, with Virtual Acorn's inclusion of RISC OS 4, and a fast Windows XP machine, those returning via Virtual RiscPC are going to be delighted when their virtual machine turns out to be better than their aging memory of the real thing. Of course, this is a mailing that wants your money. Included is an order form for Virtual RiscPC.


Archive magazine
Living with technology VirtualAcorn

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Sounds like someone's got their marketing hat on :) Although I'm surprised that Archive can still keep people's addresses this long under the Data Protection Act. All VA need now is some marketing into schools, if they haven't already.

 is a RISC OS Userjohn on 10/1/04 4:37PM
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Is there any chance to read this article online?

 is a RISC OS UserClerfayt on 10/1/04 8:24PM
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we push VA into all of our schools in derby but the problem is that with very little development on the school software front it falls on to stoney ground. the last of the schools around the area stopped using acorn machines about two years ago and replaced them with PC's as per BECTA spec.

 is a RISC OS Usermicrobits on 10/1/04 11:34PM
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& I'll bet they're now paying through the nose for an IT professional to keep themselves up and running after the kids had deleted something critical off the hard drive.

Not that VARPC is immune to this.

Unlike proper RISC OS machines...

 is a RISC OS Userepistaxsis@work on 11/1/04 1:17AM
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Just remove the rights for normal users to delete any critical files. Much easier when you can just Lock the harddisc of course. What software is there to centrally manage 100s of RISC OS machines?

 is a RISC OS Usermavhc on 11/1/04 1:26AM
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microbits: There is no BECTA spec that states "you must use Windows". We still have schools using RISC OS daily - www.tiverton.devon.sch.uk and www.bcps.org.uk for two. The latter haven't bought any for a while, but still use them all. And they're an MS Partner School. epitaxis: support of PCs is no more difficult than support of RISC OS.

 is a RISC OS Usermikeg on 11/1/04 11:23AM
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mavhc: It is like that at my school, but there are lots of admin accounts where the passwords are commonly known by just about anyone, so things can easily tampered with.

 is a RISC OS UserAndrewDuffell on 11/1/04 11:55AM
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Andrew> well no-one unauthorised should know admin passwords, obviously someone made a mistake, although admittedly I probably still know up to 4 domain admin passwords. If they get enough monkeys at keyboards they will notice all of the problems :) The problem is when the year 9s find out something they shouldn't

 is a RISC OS Userjohn on 11/1/04 12:29PM
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i din't say that they had to buy PC's but they just do not buy Risc os Computers any more. Acorn saw to that when they pulled the plug on the education market. this was their doing I was and still am a Risc OS Dealer but the cold facts are that in the last 3 Years we have sold just 10 to 15 Risc OS computers into the education market. In the same time we have sold around 300 PC's what do you think pays the bills & the Acorn user Adverts. As much as i would like to sell the same amount of Risc OS machines it will never happen again.

 is a RISC OS Usermicrobits on 11/1/04 9:27PM
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In reply to Microbits Yes, and it's totally unrealistic to expect schools to now dump their PC's and buy Iyonix. Virtual Acorn is the factor that could shake things up, though. Depends if it inspires RISC OS software authors to pen some eeducational materials, I guess.

 is a RISC OS Usermartin on 12/1/04 9:05PM
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martin: I think microbits also commented on whether Virtual Acorn has "shaken things up" for them, when selling into schools. (Please read the early part of the thread).

It sounds like it *hasn't* shaken things up.

Then again, I guess they're only a RISC OS dealer, so what do they know?

Do microbits know about martin's educational software for RISC OS?


 is a RISC OS Userdgs on 12/1/04 9:21PM
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In reply to dgs Yes, they say it hasn't so far. (sigh) But if the current surge in VA sales inspires new RISC OS software, that software will inspire more sales of VA which will inspire more software...... I think VA has given RISC OS software authors more of an incentive to get busy, bring the old stuff up to date, develop it some more... Everything rather depends on everything else, and the question is, can the whole thing now reach take-off velocity ?

 is a RISC OS Usermartin on 12/1/04 9:48PM
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