RISC World

Letters Page

It's the page that you write, but it gives us a fright.

lets start off with a question that many RISC OS users ask...

Dear Sirs,
I am running OS 4.02 on a Risc PC with 42MB RAM with Oregano and Webster and having difficulty accessing a number of websites, for example the Consumer magazine 'Which' website and the mobile phone operator O2. They throw up the statement that the browser is out of date and needs updating. I had a long argument with the Information Typist at 'Which' who said I should down load all sorts of browsers for windows and Apples but had not heard about RISC based computers - she knew nothing about them - and that I should upgrade.
Can you suggest how I can access these sites that do not follow the protocols of the WWW? Additionally I find Ebay is incredibly slow to load and operate; suggestions please on how to improve the load up speed. Regards
Nigel Price,

Lets start with the second question first, the problem of speed. As the Internet has become more complex over the years the complexity of websites has increased greatly. As sites get more complex they get bigger and hence take longer to download. I assume you are still using a dial-up connection. This was fine eight years ago when most websites were small and compact, sites had to be small because they were being accessed by dial-up modems often running much slower than the more modern 56K dial up units. However as faster and faster ways of connecting to the internet have been invented more and more sites are taking advantage of the extra bandwidth to make themselves more flashy, and hence bigger. So the problem is that as sites get bigger they get slower unless you up your connection speed.

The best idea is simply to get a Broadband connection. I have spent the last four weeks working over dial-up (as Broadband hadn't been installed at the new house) and gave up with eBay as it was so slow as to be almost unusable. I am afraid that these days Broadband is seen as the "default" connection for most users and those with dial up modems have been left behind. Just get Broadband, once you have it you won't be able to live without it.

Now lets look at the website problems. RISC OS browsers can have major difficulties with some websites. First make sure the versions of the browsers you have are up to date. Any browser will have trouble handling any new "standards" that are introduced after the browser is written. So make sure both Oregano (is it Oregano2?) and Webster are up to date. If they are then have you told the browser developers about the problem sites?

Finally have you tried any of the other browsers? Netsurf is regularly updated and is free, you can get it from You might also want to have a look at the port of Firefox being developed by Peter Naulls once it is released.

Now moving on some of my comments from the last issue about !Dict prompted this reply from Paul Beverley...

Hi Aaron,
If you look back, you will find that the discussion on Archive- on-Line started because I have a friend who saw !Dict and asked "Can I do this on a Windows PC?", so I asked that as a genuine question on Archive-on-Line.
It certainly didn't start with any kind of assertion that "this is something that Windows PCs simply couldn't do."
The answer I got was that Magic Jellybean Company do something which has a subset of !Dict's facilities and, eventually, we got round to the fact that Firefox has a function that comes pretty close to achieving what Dict does. Indeed, Firefox has one facility that !Dict *doesn't* have - it can pronounce the words (albeit presumably in an American accent).
However, even Firefox can only access one dictionary server at a time, and it certainly can't access Chinese and Arabic character set dictionaries which !Dict running on an Iyonix can.
So that definitely is something that a Windows PC cannot (yet) do.
Also the screen display on !Dict is much more readable than on Firefox - but Windows users are accustomed to a poorer screen display, so there's nothing new there.
On the other side of the equation, you gave us your list of RISC OS "killer applications". I agree that ArtWorks and TechWriter are superb programs, but I don't know how RiscCAD compares with equivalent PC applications.
However, I think you'll have to strike Ovation Pro out of your killer apps list because isn't that now available as a Windows program?
Finally, if you want to extend your killer apps list, you can add ExpLAN's HolyBible because, even after all these years, there's no Bible software under Windows that is as good. Try getting a Welsh language Bible on PC, for example, and the Greek and Hebrew versions are better than the PC equivalent.
So my list of "Apps that are better than you can get on a Windows PC" is:
TechWriter (and Citation)
Holy Bible
Not a lot, but better than nothing. :-)
All the best,

I appreciate that the !Dict discussion started as a genuine "I can do this on RISC OS, but can I do the same on Windows" question. However as is often the case it turned into a "RISC OS is better than Windows" thread. My view is increasingly that RISC OS isn't better than Windows, nor is it worse, it's simply different. Each OS has it's own strengths and weaknesses. I don't agree that "Windows users are accustomed to a poorer screen display", Windows can display things just as well as RISC OS when set up correctly.

Moving on to the killer apps I think that RiscCAD deserves to be on the list because it's a fully featured package for a very low price. You can get even more feature rich packages for Windows, but you will have to pay through the nose for them. With regard to Ovation Pro, yes it's available for Windows, but wouldn't you rather use the original RISC OS version? I don't know how I managed to miss Holy Bible off my list, that was my mistake, it should certainly be included as it has features that no other program on any other OS has.

Just for balance, I will include my personal killer apps for Windows, ones that you simply can't get on RISC OS and which I wouldn't want to be without:

Ulead Cool3D
Ulead Video Studio
Dragon Naturally Speaking

Mind you I couldn't live without Draw, Edit, DrawWorks and Impression Publisher either!

Aaron Timbrell