Midday disclaimer

1st April 2005 | Back to drobe.co.uk | Contact
drobe.co.uk logo Were you fooled?
We hope you enjoyed this year's April Fool: RISC OS Mobile. Sadly, to our best knowledge, there is no software corporation investigating RISC OS for mobile phones and there was no leak. We would love to be proved wrong on this, as you can imagine. Many thanks to everyone involved in the planning and execution of the gag. Of course, even if it were all true and we had published such an article, our lawyer would have had a heart attack.

Thanks also to everyone who emailed in or popped onto IRC. We've received emails ranging from "You sad sad people" to "I've seen on the MPEG video the firefox icon so it is working! I Love you at drobe. Nice work". Don't mention it. To be honest, we were surprised how nice RISC OS looked on such a small screen.

How we did it
They say a magician should never reveal his tricks. However, just for you, here's how we pulled off Friday's stunt.

The phone used was an Orange SPV phone running Smartphone 2003 OS, ie: WinCE 4. The development kit was the free download EmbeddedVisualC++ 4. A WinCE application was created to load RISC OS sprites and display them on the WinCE device, in full screen. The application was actually pretty functional, as it was able to move sprites around and do more than was actually used in the final spoof. We ran out of time, alas, before it could be captured on video.

The CE device's screen is 176x220 pixels, so a 352x440 RISC OS screen mode was created in MakeModes, and screenshots were grabbed, using faked-up applications on the iconbar (you may have noticed Firefox, for example). The screen shots were then ChangeFSI'd down to the target resolution, using the antialiasing and smoothing to make them appear to be higher resolution.

With a selection of screen shots grabbed, scaled and stored on the phone, the phone application was finalised to draw-out the boot screen text, and display the screen shot images as buttons on the keypad were pressed. The video was taken with a Logitech QuickCam, set to be slightly out of focus and jittery with interference so that the faking was less evident. The tape was added on the phone to make it look more like a development kit device, and hide the obvious 'Orange' logo.

The final AVI movie grabbed from the QuickCam was compressed down to a low bitrate MPEG to deliberately add even more 'fuzz' to the effect. A couple of further screen shots were carefully crafted to form the Ovation and FireFox photos, taken with a normal digital camera. Ironically, the browser text you see in the Firefox fake shot is actually a real embedded web browser running, set to full screen, with the iconbar hovering above the browser window.

A further twist to the tale is that RISC OS, and the techniques used to develop this application, are used for real by the spoof's developer in creating real mobile phone applications on sale today.

Keep an eye out for future articles on Drobe, revealing RISC OS being used on real hardware.

Some other gags you might have missed