David Bradforth takes short looks at Notes, the Oxford Reading Tree clipart collection and the ProArtisan 2 CD-ROM
I do feel nostalgic every now and then, so it's always nice to look back at things from the past. Admittedly some of what I've chosen for our first Review Shorts column isn't all that old: indeed some of it is also considerably older than I'd like to admit. It's all good stuff, though, and still very much available within the RISC OS marketplace.
Information to contact companies with is provided in italics underneath the product heading and price. This simplifies the construction of an article such as this, but also makes sure you have the right details for the right companies. Please confirm all prices with the company before ordering - they are correct at the time of going to press, but subject to change at any time.
The Really Good Software Company, Tel: 01582 761395, Email: email@example.com
As I look around my office, I find it lacking a lot of what it used to have. There's no longer quite so much software on the shelves for RISC OS computers (given that APDL and R-Comp handle that for me now). What I do have, though, is an enormous quantity of magazine material, which it's often very difficult to plough through to find a particular item when I need it.
Enter the post-it note. Stick it onto a piece of paper, or CD-ROM, leave it sticking out on the shelf and place an identifying mark onto it. Hey presto - you can now find the disappearing CD-ROM within your deadline and get work in on time.
But what if it's more to do with files? Wouldn't it be handy if, for example, whenever you opened your Work directory you received a post it style reminder of your deadlines / file locations for that following week? With Notes you can attach a message to any file/folder on any operating system. Perhaps it's a floppy disc, perhaps it's a hard disc directory - maybe even a zip drive. If it's got an Acorn operating system window, you can attach Notes to it.
That's pretty much what Notes does. It's an incredibly useful post-it note generator. Worth just over seven pounds? I would say so. There are a number of programs in the public domain that fulfil a similar task, but none have yet met with the standards set by Ben Summers in 1994. Recommended.
Oxford Reading Tree Clipart (£25)
Sherston Software Limited, Tel: 01666 843200, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Within Primary schools (where Sherston's main market lies), the Oxford Reading Tree series of books (published by Oxford University Press) has long been a well followed, and supported, scheme of reading. Based on a number of characters (who remain the same across the stories, but do grow up as appropriate) it places the characters into exciting new situations, battling daring do and all that.
Sherston Software created computer versions of the said books; adding activities to them where appropriate. This did, of course, mean they had the computer versions of all the characters. Back in 1997, they released a set of four floppy discs containing the clipart for either Acorn, PC or Macintosh. Given that the vast majority of current computer users rely on CD-ROMs rather than floppy discs, they made the decision last year to re-launch the product on a triple-format CD-ROM.
The clipart browser, shown in it‘s Acorn version, but pretty much the same across all platforms, is a simple enough affair. If you wish to delve into something, click on it. If you‘d rather leave it, don‘t. The presentation is identical, so if for instance you wish to run the CD-ROM across a Matrix network, or even a triple-format Mac/PC/Acorn one, you'll have no trouble getting users to understand the program being used. One set of training will cater for three computer platforms. Not something you can usually say.
Needless to say, at £25 for a triple-format CD-ROM including a site licence we really can‘t fault this disc at all. If you‘ve yet to get a useful collection of clipart, ideal for language-based project work, get this.
Sherston Software have recently announced that following the release of their next triple format CD-ROM it's unlikely they'll release any further titles. This will effectively end their support for RISC OS, until such a time as a Macromedia Director player is finally written. At RISC World, we can see a great deal of benefit in this technology - indeed Leo Smiers prepared a Flash player for the internet, and as such it shouldn't be too difficult to prepare similar for Director.
If you're upto the challenge, do please get in touch. We'd like very much to see any ideas you have, sent specially to our email@example.com address. This will ensure the email is redirected to the right person.
ProArtisan 2 CD-ROM (call)
Cumana, tel: 01279 730900, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Okay, so the inclusion of ProArtisan 2 is a little strange: basically it's here as Cumana have, at the last few Acorn shows, had a number of copies available on their stand at a superb price. But what is ProArtisan 2?
Essentially it's a bitmap graphics editing package. This means you're able to take a scanned image, make changes to it, and save it back to file or print it via any sort of printer. It can load directly sprite and JPEG files, as well as squashed sprite files; a feature which upon first release of ProArtisan was somewhat under valued.
The interface is simple enough to follow through, making the manipulation of imagery somewhat easier than you'd imagine. Basic help is available through the RISC OS help system (even with RISC OS 4), but the program does not include help for the iconbar menu. Not that it's particularly needed, but you know what I mean?
A number of people have sung the virtues of ProArtisan 2 - Walter Briggs, Jack Kreindler to name but two. The later version, ProArtisan 24, adds 24 bit colour handling to the feature base of ProArtisan 2, and then moves the whole package forward in the most logical way. For further information on ProArtisan 24, please contact Clares Micro Supplies via email to email@example.com.
If you see ProArtisan 2 on CD-ROM at a show, buy it. It's a bargain at around £15, and if bitmap graphics be your thing you'll not be disappointed.