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Viewfinder firmware 1.51 issued

By Chris Williams. Published: 20th Dec 2002, 11:05:35 | Permalink | Printable

"Kid, are you gonna pay for that?"

As the saying goes, there's no such thing as an unpaid midday meal. When Windfall Engineering (developer of the Viewfinder graphics card), re-enabled support for Viewfinder users back in November, they did warn that they might charge for future firmware updates for the graphics card, despite making bug fixes free. Well, one completely free bug fixed FlashROM update was made available soon afterwards, now here comes the first one you have to pay for.

What is amusing is that the update, namely version 1.51 of the Viewfinder module, is available on the Windfall website for 'free' download by anyone who wants it; however, you are expected to "play fair" and pay for the update if you do indeed download and use it. And for your 20 euros, you get..

  • Bank switching via OS_Byte 112/113


So, does it work?
Peter Naulls
Well, having tried the new version of the software with the bank switching, the results are mixed. Most of the software to use this feature are games and graphical demos, so it's these I've tried. I didn't really keep track of what didn't work before due to OS upgrades and so forth, so the comparison might not be entirely fair. However, there is a definite improvement in the number of games that now work. Some games do show rather bad flickering, and display the mouse pointer - e.g. HOMM II. Others completely fail - TEK for one. Acorn Arcade will be happy to learn that Asylum works fine.

Is it worth my 20 Euros? If it were just left as it was, then probably not. But if we look at the history of ViewFinder development, John has shown no mercy to bugs, and the software has steadily improved; and I would expect the bugs in this version to soon be quashed, probably without extra cost. And since this will also lead to other ViewFinder features, many will consider 20 Euros well worth it.


Viewfinder support page Viewfinder purchasing page

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One minor point - TEK _did_ work the second time I tried it.

 is a RISC OS Usermrchocky on 20/12/02 1:45PM
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Peter - are you sure you've tested it right? TEK works perfectly now on my Kinetic RPC with VF2 with firmware 1.51. Before it flickered to buggery.

I also think the choice of distribution is very very kind to the end user - no messing with system ids etc. However it relies on honesty and I really do hope that all VF users are going to be honest if they upgrade.

The author of the article seems for some reason to find this amusing. I have no idea why.

I personally paid online which cost just over 16 pounds.

 is a RISC OS Userdanielbarron on 20/12/02 1:52PM
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As, I said, it worked the 2nd time. I don't see the confusion.

However, see my post to the RO Graphics list.

 is a RISC OS Usermrchocky on 20/12/02 2:10PM
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Well yes, you highlighted my point. This kind of distribution is very kind to users, and places a lot of faith in them to pay up after they decide to keep on using it.

Chris, drobe.co.uk

 is a RISC OS Userdiomus on 20/12/02 2:11PM
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Yeah but hasn't John always had faith in people? Full working versions of Translator etc. were/are available on his website. He must be able to keep tabs on the number of people who have downloaded the upgrade file and compare that to the number of people who have actually bought it! Anyway, it's nice to hear about Tek working (w/o needing to switch to VIDC), just in time really after the Gyro news! -- James Carey

 is a RISC OS Userjmcarey on 20/12/02 2:34PM
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Jeez, drobe blokes, just perhaps could you lose the tone a little and check your facts ? I think 1.51 works wonderfully.

 is a RISC OS Userjerryf on 20/12/02 2:53PM
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We have checked our facts, several times. You're allowed to think that it works great, but we're not aware of any mistakes in the article.

Having said that, JK has emailed us, accusing us of everything under the sun, with his typical poor attitude. Even if there were issues, we would not be in any hurry to give him the benefit of the doubt.

 is a RISC OS Usermrchocky on 20/12/02 3:18PM
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TEK not working was a mistake in the article. Big one, lot of people will be looking for that and you say 'it doesn't work'. And, although I personally like Drobe, I don't think I would be exactly thrilled with Drobe if I were a developer with money at stake. You gotta admit you guyz are often a pretty sarcastic bunch.

 is a RISC OS Userjerryf on 20/12/02 3:39PM
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Funny, though.

 is a RISC OS Userjerryf on 20/12/02 3:39PM
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No, it wasn't a mistake. It clearly didn't work the first time I ran it, as I've said several times now, but did later.

We might be sarcastic, _but_ we have enthusisastically plugged ViewFinder many times - look through our archives. In return, we get a kick in the teeth.

 is a RISC OS Usermrchocky on 20/12/02 3:43PM
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Um. Still sounds like a test gone bad to me, mate, sorry. Not his fault, you know. Yours. Also, next time you get kicked in the teeth plz don't drag it out there and make it worse. JK has the decency to keep his complaints and his subjective perceptions about what you guys have and haven't said to him private.

 is a RISC OS Userjerryf on 20/12/02 3:57PM
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Now if only he got around to 3D stuff (Doom any1 ? heh). I'd buy that for a dollar !

 is a RISC OS Userjerryf on 20/12/02 4:01PM
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"Um" yourself. It's precisely the type of testing that someone might do if they downloaded the update to try to see if it was worth updating. It worked second time, so get over it.

If you'd read usenet at all, you'd understand your statement about JK was not correct, but this is not the place to drag out such comments.

 is a RISC OS Usermrchocky on 20/12/02 4:06PM
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I do read usenet. I happen to completely disagree with you. JK may have a short fuse, but it's usually being lit all the time !

 is a RISC OS Userjerryf on 20/12/02 4:15PM
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Disagree with me all you want, but the general consesus is that he does a great deal to annoy people with the sort of commentary you suggested earlier.

 is a RISC OS Usermrchocky on 20/12/02 4:19PM
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General consensus about ppl getting worked up is always bad.

 is a RISC OS Userjerryf on 20/12/02 4:25PM
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I'm sorry, is this a 5 minute arguement or a full half hour?

Chris, drobe.co.uk

 is a RISC OS Userdiomus on 20/12/02 4:29PM
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Well, I paid for a half hour. And you're not really arguing with me. ;-)

 is a RISC OS Userjerryf on 20/12/02 4:44PM
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Doom would not gain from 3d accelleration in any great way without substantial internal work. It's possible that one of the other Doom variants which has been modified for operation with 3D engines such as OpenGL would perform better with acceleration, but in my experience even on fast PC systems, these are still quite intensive systems.

Doom sprites use column-major graphics with a custom masking system, together with post-marking for obscuring images. Since such image formats are incompatible with any but custom rendering systems, they are unsuitable for acceleration as-is. They would require conversion to some intermediate format. This isn't such a big deal as large memory (32M!) isn't a particular problem nowadays, but processing does take time, even if it is only for the initial graphics.

On the other hand, flats - ceilings and floors - map to relatively simple quadrilateral mapping, although has the similar post-marking issues as the sprites. These might be overcome by simply ignoring them and reordering to use a back-to-front rendering system.

However it might be done, it's a lot of work and probably not something that anyone would care to do.

 is a RISC OS UserGerph on 22/12/02 7:12PM
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Does anyone know if it supports OS_Word 21? (or is it 22 - can't remember off hand)

Most of my games uses that instead of OS_Byte because it's part of the same calculation for the screen base adress (and so it's easier).

 is a RISC OS Usertribbles2 on 23/12/02 11:03AM
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I don't think so, but (obvious alert) ask JK !

 is a RISC OS Userjerryf on 23/12/02 12:07PM
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1.52 is out for a few days now. But its not reported yet.

 is a RISC OS Userdanielbarron on 27/12/02 7:41PM
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it is good that John takes it in the back. Most take it in the front and say all is good first away. John is good back taker and helps us have it in the back when we pay or when we like later. -- Avid Bracznec

 is a RISC OS Useravid on 3/1/03 8:48PM
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