Aaron Timbrells own bit of the magazine.
Well it is the start of the real new millennium (wouldn't that make a good product title?), we have new machines on the horizon, and an apparent lack of new software. If you check out the reviews this issue you will find seven products under the spotlight, and six of these are new releases! However two of them are from my own company iSV Products (EasyFont and StarFighter) and two are from APDL (Best Games 3 and Sleuth) who publish RISCWorld. R-Comp has also released new products including network printer drivers and internet software which we hope to review next issue. What on earth are all the other software developers doing?
Dave Holden at APDL publishes RISC World, I edit it, and Andrew at R-COMP produces the Usenet compilation. There are some exciting games releases coming up from Superior Software and ProAction, ProAction have also released a new version of Easy C++ in the last few months. ProAction is run by David Bradforth who, er....writes for RISC World. I am a bit worried that some might think this is getting somewhat incestuous. To make matters worse I licence code from David Pilling, who publishes the excellent Ovation Pro, and he licences fonts from iSV Products, oh and APDL had a hand in the manufacture of the new Ovation CD's.
So what is to be done? Well we could stop publishing most of our reviews, but that wouldn't leave much to review it would seem. I am sure that other developers are beavering away on updates and new releases, but many of them don't seem to tell anybody!
So I think we need two things, more contributors to RISC World, although we do have quite a few regular contributors, such as Brian Pickard, David Wilcox, David Bradforth, David Holden, Richard Goodwin, Paul Brett and Laurence Granville, the more the merrier. The other thing we need to ensure is that devlopers continue to release new software and they will only do that if it is commercially viable to do so. Anyone who thinks that a developer will spend 12 months and many thousands of pounds to develop a product and then sell a few hundred copies has their head buried somewhere unpleasant. However if you don't advertise and promote you simply won't be able to sell. So we need to ensure developers sell enough copies of their products to return a profit. An article in Acorn Arcade caught my eye last month, it complained about advertising in the RISC OS community, or rather the lack of it. iSV Products got singled out for some rather unfair criticism, but the point was well founded.
What you may not be aware of is that RISC World has offered developers a free advert in the last few issues, thats right free! All they had to do was assemble some HTML and send it to us, how many have bothered, well judge for yourself. It is interesting that the companies that do advertise and promote are doing well, those that don't are not.
So developers need to advertise and continue to develop, and customers need to put their hands in their pockets. For the RISCOS platform to move forward we all need to work together. If no one advertises and promotes software no one will buy it. If no one buys software none will be developed, are you going to help break the chain?
Editors Rant of the month
I was really having a bit of trouble thinking about what to complain about this issue (Surely not - David Bradforth) until a prime example of near terminal incompetence leapt up at the start of January. Over the Christmas period we ran very low on envelopes, so we ordered a few more boxes for delivery before the new year. By the 2nd of January they still hadn't turned up and so I was on the phone to Viking Direct (who we use for our office supplies). They immediately put a trace on the order and promised to call back, then didn't. On the wednesday I rung them again and asked where the order was, at this point I discovered that the goods had been sent by Viking some days ago, but where where they? Just out of curiosity I asked if they had changed couriers, and indeed from the 27th of December a new firm of couriers were handling their deliveries, step forward Securicor Omega Express.
Now I have dealt with this company before, and it was not a pleasent experience, indeed the only thing worse is trying to find out what has happened to a five day delivery (read three weeks) parcel sent with Parcel Farce. So why wasn't the order delivered? Well it seems the driver didn't actually have a map of Bracknell, and without the map he couldn't find the road the package should be delivered to, so he just didn't bother. Of course using a phone would be just too difficult, after all who at the main Securicor office in Reading would have been able to understand his neanderthal grunts.
So now we move on to Thursday, and Viking Direct ring me up to say the couriers will be calling me to get the correct address. Presumably the lack of intellect prevented them from reading it off the side of the boxes. So a half hour later the phone rang and it was Securicor, they asked for the address, 86 Turnberry, Home Farm, Bracknell. So "Home Farm is the road then", No Home Farm is not the road, it is the area, does the presence of a house number mean nothing? "Well we can put it out for delivery tomorrow", er, no, you can put it out for delivery before 12 noon today. "Well all the drivers have left". I don't care, it should have been here almost a week ago, get it here by 12 o'clock. The promised they would.
At half eleven a van pulled up outside, an orangutan with a uniform swung out of the cab and grabbed three boxes out of the back of the van. I answered the door. So now we have some envelopes, but wait, why is one box is missing? "It's on another truck mate". Why? "Dunno". Fair enough, but now to the boxes he had dumped outside the front door. Any reason why they are soaking wet and covered in mud? "Dunno". I signed the slip with Wet, Damaged and Surly and closed the door.
So a quick call to Securicor, yes we have three boxes, no three, not four, three. Why are they wet and muddy? Do they keep parcels outside? "Oh no sir", then your roof must be leaking and your warehouse floor made of dirt, perhaps this makes it easier to pick up the Orangutan droppings?
So I am writing this on Thursday evening, the missing box still hasn't shown up despite me being promised that it will arrive before 5 o'clock. How on earth do companies like this keep in business? I have no idea. Perhaps RISC OS companies should take a leaf out of Securicor Omega Express's book, then again perhaps not. In our small marketplace a company like Securicor Omega wouldn't last 10 minutes.
P.S. The missing box turned up on Friday, the contents are broken.
Printing RISC World
The new look of RISC World means that when you want to print an article on your printer it will have the light yellow background. However most web browsers allow you to turn off the background images when printing. The example below shows the print dialogue box from Fresco.
As you can see the option "No Background" is ticked. If you want to print out any of the RISC World pages then make sure you have clicked a similar option in your browser.