RISC World


The latest big news from the RISC OS world

With the Wakefield show looming on the horizon there have been no shortage of press releases, so we have cherry picked the ones we think will be of most interest to our readers. You can see all of them, along with the last 2 months comp.sys.acorn newsnet postings, in the NewsNet archive on this issues CD.



We are pleased to announce that after around six months (maybe a little more!) of full-time development, Grapevine 2 is finally ready, and available now.

What is Grapevine?

Grapevine allows you to communicate online with friends, family members, colleagues and so on. Not only can you have conversations with them online, but you can send/receive files, link out to websites/email etc. Grapevine uses industry standard protocols, meaning that your friends can be using other types of computer (eg. Windows or Mac).

These methods of communication tend to be fragmented, with some people using one service, some people using another and so on. Grapevine draws several of these protocols into one application, making life for RISC OS users easier. Grapevine 2 supports IRC communication, MSN instant messaging and ICQ.

Introducing Grapevine 2

Grapevine 2 is a major new release, expanding and extending the software in almost every area. The single biggest new feature is support for ICQ communication, in much the same way as the existing MSN mode. This means than GV2 can deal with IRC communication, MSN instant messaging and ICQ all in one program.

However, there's a lot more to GV2 than just ICQ. All the other functionality been expanded. For example, file transfers in MSN and IRC have been totally revamped, introducing drag'n'drop facilities, percentage completed bars, and control over the file transmission.

The multi-user facilities (for different family members) have been extended, allowing each user to have fine control over their IRC/MSN/ICQ facilities, including advanced things such as macros, auto-joining channels etc.

IRC has seen a number of enhancements - as well as more flexibility. There's support for auto-joining channels, a revamped, nickname side-bar which works far more effectively. There's better handling of multiple servers (for example, you can choose to join different channels on different servers).

The contact management windows have also been improved, allowing better management of your friends' lists, and mail/web link handling has also been enhanced.

GV2 also supports variable size emoticons, allowing much more flexibility in terms of user-created emoticon sets, or using smaller emoticons with smaller text sizes etc.

The whole application has developed onwards and upwards since Grapevine 1, Of course, GV2 is subject to the same rolling development that allowed us to add so many features to GV1 since its original release, which, for example, ensured that GV1 coped with the huge changes to the MSN protocol last autumn.

GV2 is now also 26/32bit compatible, meaning that you won't have to pay extra for 32bit updates etc. It has also been tweaked in a number of ways to ensure compatibility with Virtual RiscPC. GV2 will work on any RISC OS 3.5 and higher machine, including RISC OS Select, Adjust and Iyonix RISC OS 5.


Grapevine 2 costs 29ukp inclusive of VAT and UK delivery. Overseas may have to cover a small amount of extra P&P. Existing customers have already been emailed details on upgrading from GV1. If you haven't received information, and believe you should have done, then please contact us by replying to this email, or phoning us on (+44) (0)1925 755043.

RISCCube Ultra

R-Comp Interactive is pleased to announce the availability of a new RISCube family member at the Wakefield 2004 RISC OS exhibition.

The RISCube Ultra is designed with three primary aims - top flight performance, very low noise (see below for some of the techniques used), and the usual RISCube style and looks. We think you'll be pleasantly surprised by the price too!

The RISCube Ultra consists of:

  • Brushed aluminum silver RISCube chassis utilising multi-award winning Shuttle technology
  • Top end AthlonXP 3200+ processor with 400Mhz bus
  • 1Gb (yes, 1024Mb!!!) of 400Mhz DDR memory
  • 160Gb quiet, high speed hard drive
  • 128Mb fanless graphics card, with analogue and DVI digital (for direct signal and best picture on flat TFT/LCD monitors).
  • High speed DVD drive and CD re-write
  • 7-in-1 media card reader and floppy drive
  • Parallel Printer port, 4x USB 2 ports, 3x firewire etc.
  • Nvidia Soundstorm (tm) high performance digital audio
  • RISC OS Adjust (RISC OS 4.39) and WindowsXP
  • UniPrintVA software for printing to almost any printer

And the price? 999ukp including VAT and UK delivery!

About the machine

RISC OS users choose their operating system because they like the smoothness with which it operates and allows them to achieve what they want quickly and easily. We use it, because we feel it is the best, for what we want to do. The RISCube Ultra is designed to give the best hardware combination to run it on!

The physical components speak for themselves: high speed processor, coupled with copious quantities of RAM and hard disc space, and a graphics card capable of stunning picture quality make this a superb way to run both RISC OS and WindowsXP. But what makes this machine so special, is that we have gone to considerable effort to ensure low noise.

By choosing a fanless graphics board, we ensure that the system can be cooled by a single, larger (so it can revolve more slowly, thereby reducing noise) fan, utilising Shuttle's patented ICE heatpipe technology. Key areas of the system absorb sound/vibration and lower noise components also ensure that running noise is kept to the absolute minimum.

The RISCube Ultra uses the latest RISC OS Adjust operating system, which provides huge, wide-ranging compatibility with old and new software alike, meaning that you can run almost any RISC OS software on your computer, at speeds usually way beyond those of a StrongArm RiscPC. Make no mistake, this is a fast machine!

The high performance, huge RAM and hard drive, and 7-in-1 media card ensure this machine is ideal for anyone interested in digital photography, video or other graphics/multimedia tasks, and viewing these through a high quality graphics card, onto digital monitors will probably be a revelation for most users familiar with the analogue outputs and low image quality of traditional RISC OS machines.

Advantage Six

Advantage Six Ltd announce the A75 range.

Advantage Six Ltd are pleased to announce the A75 range of ruggedised ARM-based computers.

Measuring less than 1.75" x 8.5" x 10" (44mm x 214mm x 250mm), and housed in a pure orange (RAL2004) steel enclosure for safety and visibility, the A75 is designed to withstand the rough-and-tumble of industrial life. It can be transported without fear of damage. Two A75's can be fitted side by side into a standard 1U high 19" rack, or it can be used as a stand-alone unit.

The A75 series feature an ARM7500FE processor with on-board video, PS/2 keyboard and mouse ports.

I/O Options include:

  • parallel
  • serial
  • USB
  • network
  • audio I/O
  • general purpose input
  • wake-on-LAN
  • internal integrity monitoring
  • watchdog timer

Power options include:

  • Single voltage 5V
  • Single voltage 12V
  • Power-over-Ethernet
  • Mains
  • Internal battery
  • Internal UPS
  • Unregulated DC

Storage Options include:

  • FLASH storage
  • 2.5" hard drive
  • Microdrive
  • USB external

Choosing options above customers can generate spindle-free builds featuring FLASH storage. This results in an almost completely silent machine with no moving parts.

Running RISC OS Adjust or Linux, the A75 is envisaged as a "Rapid Solutions Development" system. The ROM-able nature of the RISC OS operating system, along with its integrated windowing system and BASIC programming environment lends itself to extremely rapid application development - solutions may often be derived "in the field" for bespoke customer requirements. Based around a similar environment to that of the BBC microcomputers used for many years in education, a significant proportion of current practicing engineers will find that they already have the skill-set to develop simple solutions to complex problems using the A75.

The A75 is the first ARM-based machine to integrate a custom build of Embedded RI OS Adjust (4.39). Standard RISC OS Adjust (4.39) is also available. The pricing of the A75 is dependant on quantity, options and configuration. The A75 is available to OEM customers, direct from Advantage Six. Contact for further information.

Example builds of the A75 hardware are available for demonstration, and will be shown at the forthcoming Wakefield RISC OS show on 15/16 May at Thornes Park Athletic Stadium, Wakefield, along with the A6 and A6+ - a PC-based emulated RISC OS platform suitable for larger application development for the A75.

Although a traditional desktop version of the A75 is not envisaged, we are considering the release of a "developer" A75 with internal CDRW and hard-drive, depending upon customer demand. Any announcement of a retail version of this machine would be made via Stuart Tyrrell Developments upon release.

The A75 has a dedicated website at

Advantage Six Ltd, PO Box 183 OLDHAM OL2 8FB, 01706 848 600

Stuart Tyrrell Developments launch A6+ and Confirm as Wakefield Show Prize.

Stuart Tyrrell Developments are pleased to announce an extension to their range of A6 computers - the A6+.

Running RISC OS Adjust (4.39) on top of Windows XP using the VirtualRPC-Adjust emulator, the A6 range offers access to familiar RISC OS applications using the latest version of RISC OS. The A6+ builds on this range as a premium machine built for the demanding user.

The A6+ further improves the A6 range with a faster process and memory, faster large hard drive, more powerful graphics card and built-in 7-in-1 card reader. Keeping the diminutive dimensions of the existing A6, the A6+ comes in a restyled case which includes front panel backlit LCD status panel, and temperature sensitive cooling.

In keeping with our design philosophy used with the A6, the specification of the A6+ has uprated key components in sympathy with each other to increase RISC OS performance by 20-25%. For full specifications please see the A6 info website.

We are also pleased to confirm that we will be offering an A6+ as the grand prize to be drawn at the Wakefield 2004 RISC OS show at Thornes Park Athletic Stadium this 15th/16th May.

The A6+ is manufactured by Advantage Six Ltd for Stuart Tyrrell Developments. The machine has a dedicated website at

Stuart Tyrrell Developments, PO Box 183 OLDHAM OL2 8FB, 01706 848 600

Castle Technology

Castle reveals future plans for RISC OS

Castle today publishes details for the continuing development of RISC OS (codename Merlin). Castle's plans include a 6 week period of open consultation with the RISC OS community to assist Castle's management in allocating development resources through its internal Green Paper.

Castle states that it is committed to the development of core RISC OS and desktop extensions. Developments to RISC OS have been allocated under the following headings:


Development tools for all operating systems are of key importance and Castle realises that keeping the RISC OS C/C++ development suite up-to-date is essential. Castle has recently announced major improvements to its C/C++ development suite for RISC OS, which will include support for new features such as "inline assembler" and "packed structure support". In the future, further new features such as "instruction scheduling" are also planned.


Castle will continue with core RISC OS software developments to ensure that RISC OS is as up-to-date as possible. Recent development work has focussed on paid-for development work for RISC OS licensees, this includes support for further ARM cores and specific product development. This commercially rewarding work has the highest priority.

3. DESKTOP EXTENSIONS (codename Merlin)

Castle will also continue to extend the RISC OS desktop with features under the broad headings that include:

  • Filer Enhancements
  • Extended Configuration
  • Extended Graphics/Display Capabilities
  • Extended Network Services
  • USB Performance and Connectivity
  • Audio Input
  • WIMP Enhancements
  • ROM Applications Enhancements
  • Bug Fixes

This list is non exclusive and other appropriate headings may be added as required.

Merlin will be implemented by creating new or developing existing 32-bit modules. To help ensure complete coverage, Castle will trigger a 6 week consultation procedure with RISC OS users. Following this consultation period Castle will consider the results. The conclusion will be a commitment to a Phased release of enhanced Desktop Extensions. This work will have a high priority within Castle and it is intended that IYONIX pc users will see the continuation of developments with the regular release of Desktop Packs. Many of the upgrades will be FREE to IYONIX pc users, but Castle reserves the right to implement a charging structure for some features.

Full details are available at:

Castle Technology Ltd, Ore Trading Estate, Woodbridge Road, Framlingham, Suffolk, IP13 9LL, Tel 01728 723200