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Plan to save users' marriages shelved

By Chris Williams. Published: 17th May 2006, 21:48:40 | Permalink | Printable

Big hearted developers feel their customers' pain

Lovers in handsSneaking new computer kit into the home office without your partner catching you is a gauntlet many of us face after each RISC OS show. But at least a couple of companies were close to saving their customers' marriages with a cunning plan that never quite made it off the drawing board.

Speaking at a user group meeting in London this week, RISCOS Ltd's Paul Middleton let slip that a new product was considered that could be covertly smuggled into a house, but the idea was eventually canned. The plan involved producing a small ARM-powered computer on an expansion podule which could then be plugged inside a RiscPC and used out of sight. Hidden from inquiring minds and sharp eyes, the proud owner could safely use the new kit while pretending to use the RiscPC.

Waving an A9home at the podule slot on the back of a nearby RiscPC, Paul added to stunned punters that the project instead turned into the ARM9-powered computer launched last weekend by AdvantageSix and CJE Micros.

A news mole claimed he overheard a punter quip: "This is just the sort of thing I could have done with at last year's show in Guildford. My wife would have killed me if I carried home a new computer."

• Paul appeared at ROUGOL this Monday, and RONWUG this evening. He spent Monday night debating future ARM chip support, showing off visual tweaks in Select 4, and defending the decision to develop tweaks and updates to the appearance of the RISC OS 4 desktop. He added that making the OS look similar to Apple's Mac OS X could appeal to users familiar with that platform.


RISCOS Ltd website

Previous: Wakefield 2006 show report
Next: Unofficial A9home mailing list opened


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Great :) But please don't make it look like Mac OS X there is no need for that !

 is a RISC OS Userhighlandcattle on 17/5/06 11:18PM
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Would a product like this marriage saver really help RISC OS?

Would it be easier for RISC OS users to get support of their marriage partners instead of hiding a new device?

Hmmm. This has got me thinking, I did not realise there was such a problem.

Funny though, it reminds me when I went out to the electronic store about 4 months ago and bought a 29" new big flat screen TV for about NZ$300 which is really cheap.

My children and I bought this TV and a cheap DVD player and VHS Tape player too.

The TV Antennae was a VHF and UHF on a small mast on the roof with good quality cable, this cost about $200 to install.

We had an old smaller gifted TV before where the screen had shrunk and the indoor arial was not very clear.

Here is the joke.

When my wife came home, she was surprised with the children and myself for going out and spending the money on this TV and DVD etc.

Not happy at first because we bought it, and asked where the indoor arial was?

I said it was a "special" TV that did not need the arial (indoor one I mean), but keeping my mouth shut and saying not much more she thought that the TV did not need an arial at all!!!

My poor wife took a couple of weeks before she discovered the (obvious to see) two TV arials on the roof.

My children laughed, because they told me that Mum was telling everyone that we had a special TV that did not need any arial.

I meant that it did not need any INDOOR arial, and I failed to clarify to her, oh dear!


 is a RISC OS UserSawadee on 17/5/06 11:33PM
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I told my wife I was getting a PC last year: I didn't mention the word 'Iyonix' that appeared in front! Once it arrived I got a week of 'I can't believe you've bought another of those weird computers' (we still had the RPC at the time), but she got used to it and now uses MessengerPro on it daily for email. Take heart, chaps!

 is a RISC OS Userbucksboy on 18/5/06 10:32AM
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We have 2 Iyonixes - 1 for me & 1 for my wife

...in fact she bought me my Iyonix

Never have been able to understand this sexist rubbish of "getting things past the wife"

 is a RISC OS UserROHC on 18/5/06 10:53AM
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No problems with my wife either. The main trick is to try to make sure that the new system is more silent than the previous one.

1. When I replaced my old dot matrix printer by a Laser Direct (and that was not cheap) she was happy since printing was suddenly much less noisy and printouts were better.

2. When I replaced my Linux/Windows PC by a newer and much faster one she was happy since the old one had pretty loud fan noise whereas the new one is close to silent.

3. When I bought the Risc PC and later the IYONIX pc she didn't complain (no need for much happyness this time since the replaced A5000 and Risc PC were pretty silent too) since she knows that her husband (that's me) does need something to be happy with and play around with. Furthermore through my computer and by running the computer club to go (GAG) with and publishing a magazine for it (GAG-News) I got to know quite a few people and a few good friends enriched our life this way - and with that I mean friends for my wife too, usually including the wife of the friend as well!

And as for the idea of some podule based RISC OS computer to hide inside the Risc PC: I do pity all those who think that they have to lie to their wives and I pity those who think that that is the way to go.

As for Mac OS X Feel: Nice idea since that makes a later move to the real Mac OS easier for the users when they leave RISC OS... Perhaps throwing in the odd Windows feature might help even more on this account... So my reply to this idea is: No, do not do that but if you want to enhance the desktop usability make RISC OS fully keyboard controllable since that would be a real time saver! When using Windows I barely need to use the mouse and thus lots of things are done quite a bit quicker but when reading and writing email on RISC OS I need to use the mouse much too often which means that my hand has to be shifted back and forth over and over again. True, due to design mouse handling in RISC OS is a lot better than in Windows and thus much less mouse distance has to be covered, but the if I look a the movement of my hand then RISC OS needs much more of that than Windows.

 is a RISC OS Userhzn on 18/5/06 11:20AM
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I want to get my wife on to RISC OS, but to do that it'll need to display Taiwanese-style Mandarin. At least in documents/email and the Web. Any suggestions?

 is a RISC OS UserLoris on 18/5/06 11:26AM
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To display that, the unicode font manager and a sufficent font should be adequate (and an application that understands unicode - many of the browsers do). To actually enter any Taiwanese-style Mandarin would need an appropriate FEP. I don't know if the latter exists at all.

 is a RISC OS Userninja on 18/5/06 11:55AM
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My wife and children are Thai, can't get Thai fonts in my RISC OS other than in my Oregano 2 browser just to read.

We do need more of these foreign font support in RISC OS to become a world recognised computer platform.


 is a RISC OS UserSawadee on 18/5/06 12:23PM
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Oh dear, Paul M.

Isn't the main reason people stick with RISC OS its GUI? Admittedly in its basic state, it can be seen as a bit grey, but that's purely cosmetic, and easily changeable - [link] has several variations on a ludicrously colourful theme - so in general, I don't see what's so wrong with the RISC OS GUI and so right with the Mac OS one.

I'd contend that most 'nice' features in other GUIs tend to make up for lack of foresight: a back button is added because there's no easy way to open the parent directory, for example, and becomes more necessary with shortcuts from one location to another.

While some of these are, admittedly, quite useful, and could be easily integrated, this shouldn't be at a cost to the system we currently have that works, is fairly intuitive and that I know. If you change it too much, RISC OS 3, 4 and 5 users won't want to upgrade to select, because the OS is so different.

As an aside, I've noticed for some time now that every new version of the RISC OS Filer brings it closer and closer to the Linux ROX-Filer! Which is based on which, again?

 is a RISC OS Userjymbob on 18/5/06 12:46PM
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Sawadee: Unfortuantely RISC OS has got enough trouble getting anywhere in its home country, let alone the rest of the world, so I would imagine that most developers, and ROL, will prefer to concentrate on what are seen as more fundamental issues closer to home, unless there is a good niche spotted abroad that would stand a realistic chance of getting in to.

 is a RISC OS UserSimonC on 18/5/06 1:41PM
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In Reply to ROHC:

Thanks for sticking up for me xxx

Speaking as a wife I prefer people not to encourage husbands to lie to their wives... I was at ROUGOL on Monday night (the only wife there I think!) and wasn't impressed with Paul's comments - if more of you encouraged your wives to take an interest perhaps you'd get more support! HZN has the right idea!

 is a RISC OS UserJo@ROHC on 18/5/06 3:03PM
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In reply to SimonC:

As for developers and ROL preferring to "concentrate on what are seen as more fundamental issues closer to home".

Well that is a good way to make sure that chances to get some more sales outside UK is small so that that doesn't really add to their hassles having to put up with other languages!

Waiting for a good niche outside UK might result in others seeing it too and being faster, or the niche never being discovered in the first place.

 is a RISC OS Userhzn on 18/5/06 3:34PM
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I have to say that this sounds more like an April Fool than a serious proposition. Very entertaining though ^_^

I am a bit concerned about the suggested changes to the GUI designed to make RISC OS more akin to Mac OS X. I use Mac OS on a daily basis and, while it is certainly an improvement from Windows XP, I'm not as fond of it as I am of our own RISC OS desktop environment. RISC OS Ltd should be looking at ways to lever the advantages of using the RISC OS environment instead of trying to implement "me too" GUI changes. Developer time is precious in the RISC OS world and I don't think it would be well spent in cosmetic attempts to look like other Operating Systems.

 is a RISC OS UserJohnB on 18/5/06 5:39PM
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In reply to SimonC:

Unicode support could have been available if only ROL and Castle could agree on the use of the unicode compatible font manager (RO5) in RO4 (and Select and perhaps even RO3.7).

 is a RISC OS Userscl4c0rn on 18/5/06 7:08PM
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@SimonC what Kind of attitude is that? Support for foreign language is very important! Perhaps it's not important for you but it certainly is so for me! I study japanese and I can only start using riscos seriously if I can read and write Japanese. I actually don't understand why this feature hasn't been added a long time ago.So RiscOS could be winning five new users in a heartbeat (and probably more). Tell me that isn't important.

@ Sawadee you can read Mandarin on the Iyonix I think thanks to the Unicode fonts (implemented in netsurf for example)

 is a RISC OS Userhighlandcattle on 18/5/06 8:00PM
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I understand SimonC comments about closer to home issues in RISC OS.

I think what needs to be considered though, is the fact that many users closer to home are bi-lingual or need bi-lingual language support.

I am aware of the fact that RISC OS can import foreign fonts of many languages to Read Only. I was meaning to have foreign languages to read, type and all that like the PC encoding feature, I think this is UniCode?

So I guess RISC OS users who experience the needs for multiple languages will understand the importance of the need for RISC OS to support languages.

Another example, almost 2 years ago I never had internet on my RISC OS or any other PC in my school or at home.

So I never saw the need for RISC OS to develop a decent browser or any browser really.

Previously I thought that the Browser issue was not important and a waste of time as there were other software features that were needed (like Impression that I used).

But now I use the internet, I see the importance of browsers being right up to date and performing as good as any platform.

So I still think foreign languages are important, but not to purely flog RISC OS to a market but for access to other language just like the browser issue.


 is a RISC OS UserSawadee on 18/5/06 9:44PM
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My feeling about "closer to home" is because I think that trying to make significant inroads into foreign markets is being rather ambitious when they can't even get much done within the UK, and that RISC OS would benefit from other things first (such as a pretty decent and quick browser that even works in English). With very limited resources they are going to have to concentrate on a fairly specific set of current and potential users, and unfortunately I think that would require putting decent support for other languages (especially with non-Latin characters) on the back burner.

 is a RISC OS UserSimonC on 18/5/06 10:46PM
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I don't agree with implementing Mac OS-style GUI changes to the operational behaviour of RISC OS, simply because one of its main USP's is its higher productivity through ease of use. However, one thing I would like to see is cosmetic changes - the stoney-grey textures are a bit dated and would be better replaced with modern opulant, metallic finishes.

 is a RISC OS Usertimephoenix on 19/5/06 1:58AM
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I too hate the stone effect - so I've customised...

It is easily done...

In fact at the aforementioned ROUGOL meet it turned out that Paul M's own desktop used some icky MacOSalike theme

 is a RISC OS UserROHC on 19/5/06 8:51AM
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Backgrounds raise an interesting point. Some people have dismissed things like alpha channel sprites as being a bit of a pointless cosmetic addition, and whilst they are cosmetic they can potentially make some difference in the perception of RISC OS. Having icons sitting on the pinboard that have been anti-aliased to a fixed colour makes them look rather ragged and tatty on other colours, which looks pretty amateurish these days. Similarly, the text that goes with them would look better if it has a small shadow behind it, making any colour readable on any background. Things like that matter if we want people to have a good first impression of RO.

 is a RISC OS UserSimonC on 19/5/06 10:10AM
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Alpha sprites would be worthwhile, but they have to have 3rd party application support both in rendering and creation (who in their right mind is going to use Paint for anything other than the most trivial icon). That isn't going to happen when documentation for the format is limited to Select subscribers - if there are any left after two years of nothing.

 is a RISC OS Userdruck on 19/5/06 11:07AM
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Druck: All too right, and I can't understand why they want to do that if they want to encourage the use of new (and sometimes needed) features. Talk about shooting yourself in the foot.

 is a RISC OS UserSimonC on 19/5/06 11:32AM
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There's already support, I believe, in the excellent (and free!) Variations:


And Draw and Easi/TechWriter display alpha sprites.

Martin Wuerthner also has it on his potential 'to do' list:


Of course, more application support would be better. The 'politics', of course, is another matter.

As an aside, I've recently upgraded to Adjust, and I'm delighted by the updates to Paint: its use and productiveness has been transformed for me. Saved a lot of time this week when designing icons and editing screensnaps (and saving as PNG).

 is a RISC OS UserStewy on 19/5/06 11:43AM
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It has occurred to me that I've said that whilst language support should not be a priority, a bit of eye candy is, which might not be the most sensible perspective. I'll have to have a think about it, but what changes to make depends on three things (in order of importance, IMO:

1) How many people will it stop leaving the platform 2) How many people will it encourage to start using RISC OS 3) How quick and easy it is to make

Not that everything for (1) should be done, then (2), then (3), because sometimes it'll make sense to do something that's quick and easy even if it offers less benefit than something else.

 is a RISC OS UserSimonC on 19/5/06 1:18PM
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Re MacOSX lookalike. The great thing about MacOSX is that it gives me access to things like RealAudio, video playback, conversion and editing and a decent browser etc etc etc.

Getting RISC OS to DO some of those things for which I need MacOSX would be far more interesting to me than trying to make RISC OS look and feel like MacOSX.

 is a RISC OS Userblahsnr on 19/5/06 4:07PM
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No, I'm baffled by this. If I want a MacOS look and feel, I'll use MacOS on my other half's iBook - it's currently sitting about 60cm from the Iyonix that I'm typing this on.

I like Macs (though I liked them better before MacOS X lost some of their legendary consistency) but I choose to use RISC OS because its interface is better. Improve it by all means but do it in a RISC OS fashion (though that's harder than just copying, of course). Dare I say 'Merlin'?

 is a RISC OS UserTonyStill on 19/5/06 10:29PM
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In reply to SimonC:

The UCS font manager of RO5 is not perfect, but at least it works. Support for foreign languages could be made available for RO4 (and perhaps even RO3.7) users right now. AFAIK the UCS font manager (and extra keyboard drivers) are not tied to RO5. But I'm afraid ROL doesn't really care. :-(

 is a RISC OS Userscl4c0rn on 19/5/06 10:41PM
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Pay careful attention. Paul did not at any time say that RISC OS would be made to look similar to Mac OS. I believe he said that providing options to make RISC OS behave in similar ways to other operating systems (especially Mac OS) might encourage people to use RISC OS.

There are valid discussions to be had around this point. (For example, modifying the GUI is easy, but should this effort instead be put into much harder tasks that might take years to complete?) Arguing about RISC OS being made to look like Mac OS is not a valid discussion, since Paul did not suggest that it would be - from what I heard.


 is a RISC OS Userdgs on 19/5/06 11:18PM
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dgs: I don't know what resources RISC OS Ltd. have (although it appears that the answer is "not many"), but if there are several people working on it then I suppose one should be working on these GUI aspects, with the rest on other stuff. There is some danger in being distracted by making RISC OS look and feel more like other OSs, whilst neglecting its more fundamental problems, and this isn't a way to go, because the basic principals of its GUI is still an area where it is ahead of other systems (IMO).

 is a RISC OS UserSimonC on 20/5/06 12:59AM
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SimonC: "one should be working on" [etc]

Personally, I haven't told RISCOS Ltd what each of their programmers should be working on.

However, apart from that and the unusual spelling, I'm glad that you agree with my thoughts!


 is a RISC OS Userdgs on 20/5/06 3:26AM
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This forum thread continues the comments made on [link] (Plan to save users' marriages shelved)

 is a RISC OS Userdiomus on 21/05/06 10:35AM
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I use a Mac OS X theme on both my RiscPC and on my Windows PC. I don't own a Mac. What does that do to your thoery? :-) -- Spriteman

 is a RISC OS UserSpriteman on 21/05/06 1:50PM
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dgs: Which unusual spellings? "...one should be working on" was merely my opinion on what I think would be a useful use of resources, which is no more or less random opinion than most other stuff I (or anyone else) tends to write here!

 is a RISC OS UserSimonC on 23/05/06 4:51PM
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One of the (Many) sad things missing from RISC OS is a skinnable interface.

All of thew work collegues, Friends, and lectures call the RISC OS interface 'Primative' (even the ARM expert). and no-one will give RISC OS their time of day, purly because of this.

This is mostly cause you cannot skin it easily. I have created an XP iconbar for my work RISC PC to prove a point that you can (to an extent) do it.

having this as a simple part of the OS (espacially a MAC OS skin) would turn most people's heads, as it can be almost anythign you like.

the fact that I have integrated my RISC PC into our network, as daily use it for remote desktop control, designing diagrams, Writing documentation (hurry up xample! :@P), and Printing, (and showing off how fast i can turn it on, log in, and print), is neither here nor there, purely on that fact.

the RISC OS GUI is great...but does it mean a) it can't be improved, b)look the same, but with more 'Fisher-Price' / Maccy colours?

For the Record...Adjust ROCKS! the alpha png support in paint has helped me edit my logos to have transparent backgrounds with edges which fade into the background ;@)

 is a RISC OS Userem2ac on 23/05/06 7:09PM
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It's kinda sad that people don't look beyond a the cosmetic look of an OS. but I must admit that I love the way how riscos looks and that's what attracted me in the first place ;).

by the way : I have a couple of programs on my A7K that turns the desktop in an art look of Mondriaan or Pollock. Maybe those can be modified to look like macos x

 is a RISC OS Userhighlandcattle on 23/05/06 10:49PM
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em2ac: So, people define "primitive" as "not full of fairly pointless gimmicks", and style over substance? Do these people want to use a computer, or just look at it? If it's things like that that are required to make people take it seriously then I despair. It's hard to take that attitude seriously.

 is a RISC OS UserSimonC on 24/05/06 10:32AM
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I am afraid that that is exactly what stops progress... There are these things called options...they allow you to choose things. I.E. Style on or off.

What is wrong with style AND functionality.

here is a typical mate of mine with a statment for you:

RISC OS looks archaic, i don't understand why you would use it, i have tried and found it repugnant.

not my words, but words of an outsider...this is the generic opinon.....

Many upgraded to XP purly on it's GUI.

Would you buy a robbin reliant, as they are very efficiant but (unless it's delboy's) look...well...bad?

(Appologies to Reliant owners out there)

Without a GUI update, why upgrade from RISC OS 2

 is a RISC OS Userem2ac on 24/05/06 7:05PM
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I don't really understand how it looks repugnant and archaic, and if that's said by people using XP's default appearance then it just shows that their sense of taste is completely nuts. It would look better if some of the icons were redrawn, but beyond that I'm lost. Archaic is things like the window with input focus always been shoved to the front (I know that can be changed, but so can the look of RO).

I can think of plenty of reasons for upgrading from RISC OS 2, apart from the GUI and the fact it won't run on anything from the A4 onwards.

The Robin Reliant analogy is completely inaccurate.

 is a RISC OS UserSimonC on 25/05/06 00:54AM
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SimonC: again you appear to have missed the point, and sadly you never will.

those views are of a typical user of another OS, im sure i can get a MAC OS user to quote, but you will say that they are completely nuts too.

to them (most of the world) you are completely nuts.

my analogy was accurate enough for it's task.

I suggest you think about things more.

RO has a dated (1991/2 i believe) feel to it, as thats when it had its real last overhaul, how many years ago?

windows has had many, and as a thriving OS, is going through another change.

Stick with your RISC PC and dated look if you want, but why stop progress?

and AGAIN ever heard of Options? "Yes I want the new GUI" or "No I want the old one" option button.

RISC OS needs an update, it IS harder to skin the OS....ideas that were good in 1992 SHOULD now be developed...

for reference, i chop and change the themes I use for XP and RISC OS... mostly as i like change.

I for one would love to see a skin-able version of the OS, I am finishing uni, so I will be able to buy the computer that comes out of the new development.

If you have a wish for functionality...Program... I am learning.

 is a RISC OS Userem2ac on 25/05/06 4:59PM
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Well, some visitors at my place have said the RO desktop looks a bit dated, a bit 'nineties'. I have slightly customized it since the default RO4 look really is amateuristic by graphic design. Ofcourse when I demonstrate the abilities of this dated desktop, they can appreciate why I still prefer it.

In my opinion, some people confuse a modern, fanciful presented and decorated desktop with a bloated, inconcise and clumsy GUI. The mere sight of a truly professional GUI and desktop environment confuses them even more. Some believe that Windows offers a professional GUI, simply because it's used by so many people. The hallucinogenic glasshouse of the ever up and coming Windows Vista is the ultimate in GUI design for them.

Although I appreciate the overall design of Mac OS X, it is the GUI of RISC OS which enables me to move on with little distraction or inconvenient requirements. If hardware accelerated fading, translucencies, time-travelling, liquifying and warping effects were added to RO, it obviously would be superb to these people. Indeed, we've come a long way since the early GUI's of the late 20th century... we can now 'see through' the icon we're double clicking.

 is a RISC OS UserhEgelia on 25/05/06 5:13PM
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I've always thought that RISC OS 4 and above looks clean & smart. Admittedly incarnations prior to that do look dated but then we're looking at the Acorn era which is certainly winding back the clock.

I can see the nicety in having the ability to customise your Desktop more fully and wouldn't be critical of RISC OS Ltd should they further this capability. However were it to be a major undertaking that would detract from other developments I would not be so appreciative. But I'll freely confess I'm not one to do much in the way of customisation. My Powermac is pretty much at default as regards appearance and I don't see anything wrong with that. We don't need bouncing icons and a transparent widget overlay to have a nice looking OS.

But choice is always nice ^_^

 is a RISC OS UserJohnB on 25/05/06 5:51PM
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em2ac: "RISC OS looks archaic, I don't understand why you would use it, I have tried and found it repugnant." The job of a GUI is to sit quietly in the background. If you want to make the RISC OS GUI look as stupid as XP then you can do that - and Select 4 seems to be designed to make that more easily possible. Your Windows friends may say nasty things - but they probably have their TVs set so that people have flat heads and don't even notice there's anything wrong. Tell them their GUIs are crap; they are.

 is a RISC OS Userjc on 25/05/06 9:21PM
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John Cartmell: '

My XP Friends' are totalling something like 50... at least 5 of which say they would look as RISC OS, if it was able to change its skin, so I think calling them people who cannot set TVs correctly get's us nowhere? It is reactions like that, which give "outsiders" to our OS the impression that we are all Anorak wearers, and the OS mearly a hobbiest OS.

You are simply turing away new users by making the cover of the book basic.


Nice to see people who understand that RISC OS has a dated look, yeah i love Adjust's mods, I hate going to work as its only RO 4, but more would be welcomed.

Incase any of you mis-understand.......I love the RISC OS GUI and its behaviour, but the look can be updated by miles.

 is a RISC OS Userem2ac on 26/05/06 00:24AM
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em2ac: "I love the RISC OS GUI and its behaviour, but the look can be updated by miles."

Can you update it (by miles) without destroying it? You say "It makes the cover of the book look basic" when in fact that's not the cover but the pages of the book. Your friends want the pages to use 'designer stationary' with pictures on every page with your words and pictures printed on top. I agree about a need to improve; I don't agree with the examples that are set elsewhere. NB Are we talking about the Richard Hallas look (RO5) as a style for Select to copy or do you want something off CBeebies? ;-)

 is a RISC OS Userjc on 26/05/06 09:50AM
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If you haven't done so already, you might like to try the themes available at:


They're really nicely implemented.

 is a RISC OS UserStewy on 26/05/06 10:55AM
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