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Hi folks,

I thought I should answer a few of the points raised here - though if you read my press release (to which the article links), it should answer most questions, including various points that have been touched on by some comments.

1. The DVD is in standard ISO9660 format. It was created with CD-Burn in exactly the same way as I create normal FRU CDs. There is roughly 1.1Gb of data on the disc, though, so you'll need a DVD drive in order to read it. The only non-RISC OS bit was the physical burning of the disc, which I did on my Mac because it has a DVD-writer and my Iyonix doesn't. But the image itself was created on RISC OS and is a regular ISO9660 disc image - just a larger one than will fit on a CD.

2. I would expect that the DVD would work with CDROMFS on any RISC OS machine, including the Iyonix. But you still need a DVD drive in order to be able to read the disc in the first place. As CDROMFS is a third party commercial product, and because Iyonix users would still need to buy a DVD drive, and because I haven't been able to test this combination myself, I thought it would over-complicate an already long press release to mention this possibility. If anyone can confirm that the DVD is readable on an Iyonix via CDROMFS with a DVD drive, though, that would be useful information.

3. The systems on which the DVD has been tested are the ones mentioned in the press release (i.e. RPC with DVD drive and Select, and VRPC on a PC with a DVD drive). My own native RISC OS machines (Iyonix and Risc PC) do not have DVD drives, so I was not able to test a physical DVD with them myself. RISCOS Ltd tested the DVD with the two systems mentioned and assured me that it works fine. Hence those are the systems mentioned in the press release... and they're also the systems that most users are likely to have at their disposal. But I don't say that they're the /only/ systems on which the DVD could theoretically work. I'd hope that the number of systems able to cope with the DVD will increase in the future (notably the Iyonix; possibly all it needs is a DVD-ROM drive, for users who have bought CDROMFS). Of course, if you have networked machines, that's another way of getting the data across to a machine without a DVD drive.

4. The DVD *is* usable on a PC or Mac with a DVD drive. You can read all the article content, but what you lose is the interactivity. FRU has unique RISC OS-only features that let you run software resources (stored in Zip archives on the disc) by clicking links in articles. E.g. click on an illustration of an ArtWorks graphic, and the original vector file loads into ArtWorks. Those features can only work on RISC OS systems because they rely on RISC OS software (provided on the disc) in order to work.

5. By all means buy a Mac mini on which to read the DVD (Macs are really good these days)... but I'd suggest that it'd be a /lot/ more economical just to buy a DVD drive for your existing RISC OS computer! ;-) (And you wouldn't then lose the use of the RISC OS-only interactive features.) Of course, Virtual Risc PC for Mac OS X would be a big help here...

6. For a while, Castle supplied Risc PCs with DVD drives fitted. The company took the correct decision to advertise them as being 'for use as CD drives'; had it not done so, it'd undoubtedly have come in for vast amounts of flak from users demanding free support for DVD movie playback etc. But anyone who has such a Risc PC, and has installed Select or Adjust, should now be able to take immediate advantage of that drive by using the FRU DVD with it.

7. I haven't the slightest intention of deterring anyone from investing in new RISC OS hardware; quite the reverse, in fact. It's unfortunate that there isn't a straightforward way of reading the FRU DVD in an Iyonix at present, but the same could be said of a RiscStation or an Omega etc... unless you happen to have a Risc PC with a DVD drive in it already, a DVD drive is something that most users will have to buy. And we can expect that DVD accessibility will come to the Iyonix sooner rather than later. When it does, this DVD will already be suitable for use on the Iyonix (it was created on one, after all), and there are lots of features of interest to Iyonix users in FRU. (Indeed, FRU published the most complete and extensive coverage of the Iyonix of any RISC OS magazine in the issue following the Iyonix's launch.)

8. Similarly, there's nothing remotely 'political' about the production of this DVD. (I'm as fed up with politics as everyone else.) This is my product, I'd like as many users as possible to be able to read it, and there's nothing to be read into it about 'hassling' everyone to get Select or whatever. The plain fact of the matter is that you need Select in order to be able to read DVDs, because Select has an enhanced version of CDFS which supports more formats and more drives, but I'd hope to see similar access appear on the Iyonix, either via RISC OS itself (whether that's from Castle or RISCOS Ltd) or some third party product such as Cino or, indeed, CDROMFS. But Iyonix machines have all, to date, shipped with CD rather than DVD drives, so existing users will still need to fit a DVD drive.

9. The motivation for creating the DVD was the compilation aspect: every fourth issue of FRU is a compilation, and up to issue 12, it was possible to fit everything on a single CD (though, when it came to issue 12, it was extremely tight and a few less important resource files had to be omitted). Issue 16, though, required 1.1Gb of space for all the data (incidentally, all the software and resources are in Zip-deflated archives, and hence would require very much more space than that if expanded). So the CD version of issue 16 is a compilation of issues 13 to 16. The DVD edition seemed like a nice thing to create as an optional extra for those people who could actually use it. Now, it happens to be a fact that only Select-equipped machines can read DVDs at present (at least, without investing further money in a third-party product). That doesn't imply any intention to 'hassling' people who haven't bought Select or who have an Iyonix or whatever. There is no such intention; it is merely a fact that, for the moment, Select and a DVD drive is what's necessary in order to be able to read the DVD.

10. In producing the very first RISC OS DVD, I hope that it will help to give a bit of a boost to other products, and maybe kick-start a potential market. Until now, no RISC OS users have had any reason at all to want a DVD drive in their machines, as it would have been totally wasted. But now, there's a really high quality DVD (says he immodestly) - albeit only one! - with which to use a DVD drive. Its existence may help inspire people to buy products such as Cino in due course, and the more people who fit DVD drives to their RISC OS machines, the more incentive there is for other third parties to make DVD-ROMs. I'd imagine that other magazines, for instance, might like to be able to publish one DVD rather than multiple-CD compilations etc; a single disc is easier to create than several, from a maintenance point of view, and is more convenient for the user. Yes, it may mean that users have to buy a new drive (though they're not very expensive), but the same situation is true in the Mac and PC world: if you want to use certain software, you need a machine with a DVD drive, and they're still not standard even on all Macs and PCs.

What this boiled down to was: should we create this DVD at all, in the knowledge that not everyone would be able to use it right away, or should we just ignore the possibility because there wasn't enough support for it? I felt that it was a good thing to do; if we don't introduce new possibilities to the platform we'll never get anywhere.

 is a RISC OS UserRichardHallas on 22/2/05 3:02PM
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