RISC World

Letters Page

Its the first letters page for Volume 3, what have you said? Well let's see....

Dear Aaron,
On the last issue of RISC World (file:/CDFS::RISC_WORLD_2_6/$/HTML/ISSUE6/WWW/INDEX.HTM) the link to Yorktown is buggered. This is correct:
Andrew Harmsworth

Whoops. I have to put my hand up and say that its totally my fault. I must have copied the URL down wrong when it was sent to me, still it seems that isn't the only mistake I made on the last issue...

Dear Risc World,
Unfortunately the CD Vol2#6 is not entirely RISC OS 3 friendly; there are files with more than 10 characters. Please could you ask your contributors to keep their file names backwards compatible?
Two particular files giving me problems are:
where you see that the names have been truncated. Quite likely there are others.
Kate Crennell.
P.S. This is a great magazine; I shall certainly continue to subscribe.

This one initially had me a little stumped - until I checked and indeed the files were in fact wrongly named on one of my master copies of RISC World. It must have happened when I copies files out of a long file names partition into one with only 10 character names. Dave Holden had this to say about my mistake.

It's not a RO3 problem, the problem is that the source files had been put onto a standard Acorn format drive and some of the filenames had been truncated to 10 characters. I checked all the files and restored the filenames to their full size but these two got missed because they aren't displayed on the page but only when the thumbnails are clicked on. If you want to view the pictures full size copy them to your hard drive and set the filetype to JPEG (&C85).

Dear RISC World,
May I please address a query to Robert Richards concerning LCDs? In his extremely interesting article, Robert Richards gives some very sensible advice - buy your LCD monitor from a RISC OS dealer so you can hope to have problems fixed (or avoided in the first place). Now, my AKF60 is showing signs of wanting to die, and if I can afford it, I'd like to go for a LCD replacement. However, although I can readily visit LCD monitor suppliers galore, my nearest known RISC OS dealer is 9,500 km away! Now, I have the software to generate or edit an MDF, and hopefully enough knowledge to do so without any total disasters, so I have hopes of being able to run any suitable LCD monitor on my RiscPC 700.
My question to Robert Richards is very simple. Is he able, please, to offer any clues as to what to look for to tell whether a given LCD monitor may be UNSUITABLE for use with RISC OS (specifically a RiscPC 700)?
Michael Poole

This is a difficult one, normally almost any LCD monitor will work, but some monitors have a very narrow signal capture range, and cannot sync to the signal generated by the RiscPC. Even changing to Mode 28/31 might not get you a picture. These monitors are designed to sync to screen modes generated by Windows. Once you have a picture you will then have to design an MDF (Monitor Definition File) based on the technical information in the monitors manual. The best idea is simply to go to a PC dealer and explain what you want to connect the monitor to and make sure you can return it if its unsuitable. In our experience most Samtron models work with an AKF85 monitor definition, most AOC models won't. Some Video 7 monitors ought to work, but the supplied cable won't work with a RiscPC, so you need to get a new cable as well. The bottom line is to read the specs in the monitor's manual and see what screen modes it supports, and make sure at least one of these will work with RISC OS, oh and make sure you get a spare cable as well, just in case.

I'm trying to run the new version of pdf reader on a RiscPC 600 with RISCOS 4, this version requires toolaction 0.19. Where do I obtain this file? In the meantime I have been trying to print out the pdf version of the "Ovation" instructions. I can only see the title page; the pdf reader shuts down after seeing the first page!! Even though there are 60 pages. Is this related to the version of pdf reader? (version 0.73a)
Geoff Camplin.

You can get hold of later versions of the Toolbox modules from the RISCOS Ltd website. Indeed its worth anyone with a RiscPC taking a quick look over at RISCOS Ltd's website as they have updated versions of quite a large number of modules. As for the Ovation manual problem this is caused by !PDF version 0.73a, the new PDF reader will display the manual correctly.

And now a comment from one of our overseas readers on a letter by Alan Shooter from the last issue...

Hello Aaron,
In his letter Alan went on saying: "...If the Acorn had been a French computer that is all you would have seen in France and more than likely the rest of the EEC..." ROTFL ;-O .We had "that" computer, named TO something, by Thomson (now a heavyweight in warfare electronics, I believe, among others activities). It sent our schools into computing dark ages. Acorn's stuff was sooo much more brilliant! The end result: at work (the Treasury, no less), I fight everyday against silly software running under DOS or Win95. Oh, and the .gov site won't let me pay my taxes from my RISC OS kit. I'll let you guess the choice the tax-payer is given.
Have a nice day
Bernard Maugoust

Having asked about LCD monitors earlier on this letters page Michael Poole has a few comments about the current state of the RISC OS market.

Dear RISC World,
Oh dear, oh dear, oh deary me! Isn't the RISC OS world in a mess! Can't Pace and RISCOS Ltd get it into their heads that they're fighting a common foe and that they can't afford to fall out with each other? One William Gates Esq. is clearly after the set-top market on top of everything else he "owns", and so far what he has wanted, he has got. He'll take a lot of stopping, and one good way for Pace to weaken themselves in what will be a very one-sided contest is to undermine a possible alternative sales channel for the operating system they own.
If Pace are not interested in the desktop, they could ensure RISCOS Ltd and the other hardware manufacturers are not a threat to their set-top business, even if given access to all possible variants of RISC OS, by the simple expedient of ensuring that the conditions of the licence they would issue excludes application to set-top boxes (or anything else Pace wanted to keep for themselves).
I fail to see a downside for Pace, but I can see an upside. The RISC OS market is supported by a quite amazing array of highly ingenious software developers, and if they were able to base their work on Pace's latest and greatest (32-bit and all), Pace would benefit from the broadening of functionality their product would receive. One thing is certain - it's probably not economic for Pace to undertake this work themselves, just on grounds of sheer man-hours.
As for RISCOS Ltd, I am quite confused. The RISC OS Select scheme was launched with a hiss and a roar, but seen from outside it seems to be a damp squib. Accepting that they are resource-limited and that they have their hands tied by Pace, they still seem to be remarkably inactive. I am not a developer, so I haven't joined Select, but I am a member of the RISC OS Foundation, which I joined primarily as a form of support for the OS (yes, I actually like it). The first "Foundation RISC User" CD I received was great, a real eye-opener full of all sorts of useful stuff. Sadly, the follow-ups have added little since, hence the impression of "inactivity".
Here's an example: I have it from a reliable source that RISCOS Ltd. have access to a 2-byte version of !Fonts, and supposedly there's nothing to stop them putting it out. Now, there's no likelihood of RISC OS making waves in Japan, but the same capability could open up China, where they're apparently not too happy with a certain gentleman from Washington State. I have enquired about this version of !Fonts a couple of times as I could do with something, anything, that would enable Japanese support to be developed (and if in any way within the capabilities of a quiche-eating programmer, I'd even consider having a crack myself). Nothing. Not a peep. Obviously they're just not interested. Pity.
The upshot to all this is simple, and I've seen evidence that I'm not alone. I'm sitting quite happily on a nice, reliable, OS called RISC OS 3.60, and there I'll continue to sit until such time as RISC OS 4 or its successor becomes blindingly, overwhelmingly advantageous to me.
Michael & Chiyo Poole

That could be a bit contentious, what do our other readers think? Is the Select scheme a "damp squib" as Michael thinks? Are RISCOS Ltd and the RISC OS foundation suffering from "inactivity"? Why not tell us what you think.

And finally Richard Walker answers a letter from David Hawes in the previous issue....

David Hawes wrote about his "Object is not held my this machine" error when he shuts down his computer. I believe that this error is coming from the Freeway module (Acorn Access, the file sharing system we covered earlier in the series, is made up of Freeway and ShareFS). In fact, it most certainly is coming from the Freeway module, since this exact error message appears in Freeway"s messages file! (have a look at Resources:$.Resources.Freeway.Messages).
I suspect that, for some reason, you have Freeway (and/or ShareFS) enabled. This shouldn"t cause a problem with the network or DialUp, so I suspect that DialUp is doing something wrong. The simplest solution is to stop using Access, but if you want to use it, then that is hardly sensible! Are you connected to any shared discs via Access, which are, for some reason, not accessible when you do a shutdown? (e.g. the other computer is switched off). Or do you have any discs/printers set to be shared which are no longer available? If you don't have any such oddities, I suggest having a word with R-Comp. As the problem only occurs when you use DialUp, I suspect DialUp is doing a little too much messing about with the Freeway and/or ShareFS modules when it connects and/or disconnects you to/from the Internet.
Richard Walker

That's all from this letters page. See you next issue.

Aaron Timbrell