RISC World


Insider is back with more things you are not supposed to know about....

Well, things have been quite interesting over the last few months. I now have a new job, and no I am not going to tell you where, after all if I did you might be able to work out who I am!

Inside Pace

Some strange muttering have been going on inside Pace over the last few months, software engineers have been moving around from location to location, and suddenly being given projects other than the RISC OS ones they were working on. One colleague of mine has even gone so far as to suggest that Pace may well be stopping work on RISC OS and considering moving to another platform. I certainly wouldn't go so far as this, however a great deal of engineer time seems to have been spent on the new Sky+ STB design, which doesn't use RISC OS.

It has also been suggested that development of a number of key resources needed for RISC OS has been suspended, not least a new Macromedia Flash player. However I have also been informed that Pace have ordered a large number of new RISCOS desktop computers from one of the hardware manufacturers, what can it all mean?.

Bush Whacked

If RISC OS development is slowing then the Bush RISCOS STB may provide the reason. I have been told that under half of the 300,000 boxes manufactured have actually been sold. This may well be the reason why you can now pick up a BUSH STB in your local ASDA store for the knock down price of £29.98, under a third of the original rrp. If BUSH have been burnt by a RISC OS device is anyone else likely to follow them?


Reports suggest that over 500 customers have subscribed to the RISC OS Select scheme so far, at £105 a head that makes £52,500. Almost enough to clear the old outstanding debts shown in the companies accounts. However not enough to pay for future development and the creditors. So how much of your Select subscription will be used for future developments? Someone more cynical than myself might even think that RISC OS Ltd are simply trying to find a way to get out of trouble without having to do any real work. After all at a meeting early last year shareholders were given paperwork listing the changes made to RISC OS by the programming team. The list from early 2000 looks quite similar to the first Select Scheme CD from Autumn 2001. Indeed checking some of the date stamps on the files from a Beta release of the first Select CD does not look encouraging for future developments.

RISC OS Ltd has also managed to annoy even more member of the RISC OS community over the last few months. I don't want to do into details but suffice to say that RISC OS Ltds MD Paul Middleton is now about as welcome at some user groups as Hannibal Lector in a nudist colony. The rather poor showing of RISC OS Select at the Manchester User Group meeting was another example of the problems RISC OS Ltd have. Although Select was seen running Insider has been informed that there were a number of obvious problems, not least of which being CDFS not working.

Another intersting RISC OS Ltd diversion has come about after Paul Middleton made a statement that one of the reasons for moving towards the softloaded version of RISC OS was the lack of ROM chips. However Gareth Simpson from Simtec pointed out that the chips are freely available, provided you are prepared to go to a supplied other than the one that RISC OS Ltd use. Some have speculated that Paul Middleton is really starting to loose touch with reality.

Of course the license RISC OS Ltd has with Pace prevents them supplying some parts of the OS as a soft load, such as the main Kernel. And as we all know the Select Scheme is a soft loaded OS. Still if they started splitting the Kernel up....

Hardware manufacturers

Sales of new RISC PC computers are reported to be in a near vertical slide, which won't be good news for Castle Technology. Indeed a recent flyer sent to dealers looked suspiciously like a warehouse clearance sale. However sales of RISC PC machines may well pick up again if the MicroDigital Omega doesn't make an appearance shortly. It has been suggested that a full working production Omega may well make it to shows during October, we shall see. (I think it will - ED).

However MicroDigital have been selling quite large numbers of Mico computers through the special offer with APDL, after all a Mico for £399 isn't a bad deal. RiscStation have been very quiet for the last few months, but I do know the projects they had in hand, perhaps they just have their heads down and a working flat out.

Nothing has been heard from Millipede for some time now, and it seems as though work has stopped on the Imago board, perhaps for good. Rumours have also been circulating about a breakdown of relations between Castle Technology and Millipede. This comes as a bit of a surprise as they seemed such good chums last year.

The best selling RISC OS magazine?

Acorn User magazines readership has often been reported by AU staff to be in the high thousands, can this be possible if the print run for the magazine is in the low thousands? There are some reports of a high level disagreement in the offices of TAU Press (who publish Acorn User), we cannot confirm this but Steve Turnbull, who used to be the MD, is now listed as "editor". Perhaps he doesn't want to be a director in the current circumstances?

Acorn User has also managed to annoy its readers by suddenly dropping the cover CDs it was running every third issue. If subscribers took out a subscription on the basis of a 4 cover CDs a year then they may well have a legal claim against TAU Press. I have heard from a number of colleagues that they will be canceling their subscriptions and asking for a refund, can TAU Press afford to annoy so many readers? The official line from TAU Press is that readers can download the CDs from the TAU Press web site, still that is difficult if the CD isn't there. (well it was there when I looked, mind you it wasn't up to much -ED).

Signing off

Well that's enough from me for now. I will be back in a couple of issues with more insider information.