RISC World

Letters Page

It's jolly good to see, letters coming marked!

And lets kick off with last issues mistakes...

Hi Aaron
Just when you thought it was safe...The MW Software link in the Artworks 2 article is duff, as it points to:
Andrew Harmsworth

Damn! And all because of a missing w. The correct link should have been I can only claim editorial incompetence as an excuse. Still one day we will have an error free RISC World, it just seems as though that day will be a long time in the future...

I find the new logo gets me confused with the index and forward/backward logo they all have arrows one or the other should be changed and use different colours.
I transferred htmlsearch to my HD and then clicked on it to unzip and it loaded arcfs2 from the cd and complained 'APP MAY HAVE GONE WRONG' quitting reported 'Arcfs in use' and ran my SparkFS when dragging the file to be unzipped also complained 'APP MAY HAVE GONE WRONG' but it worked OK, except lost the sprite for the application. On shutdown the computer hung for a time and then complained again with the above and I was left with a grey blank screen and needing a hard reset.
Will try again and record what happened.
Re new computers I am one that is going to move to the PC world permanently in the near future specially as I have been given a 3 year old Toshiba laptop.
I bought VA for it but unfortunately it will not run on it which was a waste of money.
I cannot afford a new RO computer, by the time I have imported it the price would be about 6 or more times that of a locally supplied PC.
I also cannot afford to upgrade SW for example ArtWorks2 is nearly 2 weeks income especially when Xara can be bought for less than the upgrade.
Peter Prewett, Coromandel Valley, South Australia

I think I know what you mean about the new arrows and I must confess that I am still not totally happy with them. The back arrow is OK, but the forward one is wrong (actually looking at it again I can see what is wrong, it's shaded wrongly and appears to be upside down, I have corrected this for this issue, is it any better?). I have no idea why HTMLSearch wouldnt unzip properly, but then I don't know which version of RISC OS or which computer you are using. With regard to VA not working if you e-mail me I will see what I can do, as VA works on almost anything made in the last four years, if the laptop is older than that then it is very unlikely to match the spec required. I take the point about the price of native RISC OS hardware, but hardware developers have to get back their development budget on far fewer units. If you spend 1 million on developing a product, and sell a million units then the development cost is 1 per item. If you spend 1 million and sell a thousand units then your development cost per unit is 1000. I think RISC OS developers deserve massive congratulations for the hard work they put in.

I just read Dave Holden's article on improving the video output, just out of curiosity, and am now a little confused about my computer.
He says if you've got a Series 3 motherboard marked 1208.000 you will have slightly fuzzy video, 3 chip capacitors by the VIDC chip, 3 inductors by the video connector, no problem with large SIMMs, and although he doesn't say so directly, by implication no C32.
Well, my motherboard is marked 1208.000, and it does have the chip capacitors by the VIDC (I couldn't be bothered removing the podules to check for the inductors, but if I've got the capacitors, I assume I have those, too). In addition, it does have C32, and it won't run with SIMMs bigger than 16MB (I've tried).
Am I unusual in having a Series 3 motherboard that has C32 and doesn't like SIMMs bigger than 16MB?
By the way, I won't monkey with the video circuit. When my AKF60 died, I replaced it with a 15" LCD screen, and the result at 1024 x 768 x 32000 colours is crisp like the old AKF60 could never even dream of, low-pass filters notwithstanding, with no signs whatsoever of fuzziness. No, I haven't slowed down the frame rate, and in fact I'm still using the AKF60 MDF as-is. Of course the monitor may be doing some internal cleaning-up for all I know. It may have an analogue input, but internally it's clearly digital.
Michael Poole

What make of SIMMS have you tried in the motherboard? I have not myself run into a series3 board that won't run at least 128Mb, unless it has a serious hardware fault. Are you sure the board is a series 3 one, it may be an earlier board that has been "modified" under warranty. TFT screens are really getting very very good now, and at 1024x768 you are highly unlikely to see the fuzzy video problem, try 1600x1200 on a big CRT and you will.

Moving on we can say goodbye to yet another RISC OS user...

Dear Sirs,
I'm writing this e-mail in response to your mail advert. We unfortunately, lost interest in the Acorn platform and we almost stopped using it. It was an enthusiast hobby, and changes in life and work make that hobby redundant.
As you want to hear some comment from us, here they are. For me, the magazine is well done; the only thing that I wanted was some form of tutorial on programming - sometimes, to understand the descriptions of some piece of software is impossible. What's a veneer? And porting and new libraries. How about making the port of a simple game using the SDL libraries? Understanding the algorithms, porting specific parts, changing others, compiling and linking with SDL?
Well, as I stated, we are softly leaving the platform. Now I have Red Squirrel on my laptop - and the ROMs I copied from my old A3000 (RO 3.1). From time to time, I boot my RiscPC (SA, RO 3.7) and play some old game, or perform tasks that Windows (98 and XP) apps are still unable to do. For "serious" games, I have the laptop and a Dreamcast (a very good machine).
Finally, I must say that not living in UK make very difficult to follow the (ex-)Acorn way of life. Second-hand opportunities almost always are offered only to people living in UK, and the Euro/Pound ratio make stuff expensive. Also, I had some negative experiences with snail-mail ordering.
Kind regards,
Stefano e Fernanda Bertinetti

What can I say? RISC OS has been an enthusiasts market since Acorn lost their stronghold in the education market. Thanks for the kind words about RISC World, it would be good to run more "programming workshops", perhaps a keen reader might like to have a go? Since RISC OS has been a "British" OS since its earliest days keen RISC OS users in other countries have found it difficult to get support and service, this was true even in the Acorn days and before the collapse of the Acorn dealer network. I sympathise with your position, but do keep the Risc PC!

Now a club based comment...

The current AAUG link to the North Kent Amateur Computer Club (NKACC) is still valid. Just to confirm, anyone who would like details should go to our website at or email
All the best,
Richard Nevill,
Secretary, North Kent Amateur Computer Club

Followed up with a windscreen based comment...

I enjoyed hearing about your saga! Glad it wasn't me.
Are you sure your ins coy doesn't have "small print" that says if you use other than an approved repairer they void your policy?
you know, like the manufacturer's warranty on cars always says: use our agents or lose the warranty.
just a thought.

Well I did use the "approved specialists", it's just that I don't approve of them and the service was far from special...grrr...

Anyway back to RISC World problem corner....

Since it was announced some time ago that you were changing to the 700MB disc I have not been able to get past the start up menu of the disc on my 32x drive. Clicking on the !RWORLD file asks for the RISC World disc to be put in the drive. Luckily I also have a CDWriter which can read these discs. With the volume 4 issue cd I again tried to load it from the 32x drive and got the message that the RISC World boot may be infected by the Vigay virus and to run the pineapple virus software. I then put it in my other drive with no problems. Regards
Alan Shooter

Sounds like the drive doesn't work very well with RISC OS, what make and model is it? The CD itself should be OK as they read in the other drive, however I have run into a couple of drives recently that don't read some CDR discs correctly, this could be the problem.

And finally last issues Insider column produced these thoughts from Matthew Thompson.

With reference to the Insider comment - The Solution, in Volume 4 issue 1 I would like to say that one of the biggest problems that RISC OS isn't growing is the simple fact that nobody knows it exists, basically people just think that if you have a computer it's Windows and thats it because thats all anybody knows, a few might know of Apple Macs and a couple of about Linux but RISC OS? Whats that?
The fact is the RISC OS companies need to get out there as a united front and promote RISC OS together it doesn't matter who makes the machine it's still running RISC OS, for some reason there is endless preaching to the converted who don't need telling how good RISC OS, this should be told to those that don't know, why aren't these companies at computer shows doing presentations there in addition to RISC OS show presentations? there should be adverts for RISC OS and the relevant companies in Computer Shopper/Personal Computer World etc telling the outside world that RISC OS is still in existence and that there are other systems to chose from, some people will not be interested but I bet you could get some to change systems if they knew it existed, far too many people think RISC OS died with Acorn and they need to be told that it didn't, you never know old RISC OS users might even come back.
RISC OS machines are expensive which doesn't help matters so perhaps the 399 APDL machine that was on sale could be done with a bit more stuff with it for maybe 499 inc and more widely available, or a cut down Iyonix for 999 or something similar.
I appreciate that advertising and promoting costs money, you have to spend money to make money, and they might not be able to afford that but unless the RISC OS companies start telling the outside world that we're still here they will be out of business anyway, so they might as well give a damn good try at least rather than just pottering away in our own little corner of the computing world.
It's not too late to spread the word , but unless something is done it will be.
Matthew Thompson

Well it is the age old problem, you are too small to be noticed, but because you are so small you don't have the funds available to get noticed. I agree all the companies need to get together, perhaps with Castle acquiring RISC OS from Pace this might happen? However advertising in PC magazines is unlikely to help very much, well actually that isn't quite true, it helps sell VirtualA5000 when we advertise in PC mags, but then we are selling an item of software to go on a PC, not a RISC OS computer. The old story was that RISC OS was "cheaper" long term than a PC, when you took all the costs into account. I simply don't think this is true anymore, an Iyonix or an Omega is certainly better, but neither are cheaper. And these days consumers are more price conscious. An Iyonix for 999 sounds exciting, but if Castle could sell it for that don't you think they would be? Iyonix costs £1300 because that is what it needs to cost to get the development budget back and to fund future development, oh and to make a profit.

Anyway that's it for this issues letters page. Why not write in and tell us what you think about the recent RISC OS take over by Castle, or indeed about anything else that tickles your fancy.

Aaron Timbrell