RISC World

Editor's Corner

Aaron Timbrell's own bit of the magazine.

I am having a bit of trouble writing this editorial, this is actually my third attempt. The first draft was complete rubbish, the second draft tried to make an important point, but managed to argue itself into a corner within two paragraphs. So I'm stuck. The problem is simple, I was trying to write a short piece about RISC OS companies that vanish up their own posteriors, doing nobody any good in the process. The difficulty is that writing the piece didn't do me any good either and before I knew it I was in full illogical ranting mode.

The problem, from my perspective, is quite simple. I want RISC OS to be inclusive, I want everyone to be able to contribute. Some try contributing and make a total mess of it leaving unhappy customers in their wake, think Cerilica or MicroDigital for example. So I started writing, and I ended up with a big long rant about failure. I read what I had written again this morning and it came across as exceptionally negative. The RISC OS desktop market is small, and there I was slagging off companies that had tried, but failed. It's very easy to write a piece like that, too easy in fact.

That got me thinking, why was I criticising those that at least had a go at it, surely those that really deserve criticism are those that never tried in the first place. There is a lot of good hard work done for the RISC OS Market, look at the new versions of ArtWorks for example, or TechWriter, both by Martin Wuerthner. Adrian Lees is continually beavering away on stuff for Spellings Computer Services. I know CJE are working on new versions of some of their products, APDL are continuing to 32bit their software range, Advantage 6 have the A9 poised for a full launch. Many companies and individuals can, and do, work hard for RISC OS.

Some of these projects might fail, has anyone seen Cino for sale? No, but we know why, ADFS simply isn't fast enough for it to work properly. When, or if, a new ADFS is produced it will be worthwhile finishing Cino. Should the Cino developers be criticised? No, for the simple reason that until someone tried nobody knew if it was going to work. So next time you think of slagging off a RISC OS company think twice, at least those that are still here are trying hard, it's those that aren't here anymore that might make a better target.

Editors Rant of the month

The following is about the vehicular faith, not specifically about computing.

Regular readers may well remember that last issue I was stuck with three dead vehicles. For non regular readers I would heartily recommend a bowl of All Bran. Anyway, as I said last time, with no usable vehicle (Dead Camper, Dead Shogun and accident damaged Beetle) the only sensible thing to do was buy another heap of junk. As time was rather a pressing issue the choice of vehicle was irrelevant, as long as it had some tax and MOT, and wasn't pink it would do. My first port of call was the local second hard car dealer. "Yes, I've got the ideal car, a 5 door Fiesta with a new MOT", lovely. I walked up to see it. First impressions looked good, it was clean and tidy and all the paperwork matched up. Things went downhill from there, although it ran it didn't sound very healthy, on opening the bonnet there was evidence of bubbling from the water reservoir, hmmmm. I checked the oil filler cap. Had someone poured a large jar of Hellmans in there, or was the head gasket blown? I spoke to the car dealer about the blown head gasket, "Oh, okay then". Right, so you know the gasket was blown but thought you'd chance your arm, well I don't think I will be buying a car from you in this lifetime.

So the hunt for a new vehicle continued. Friends came up to stay the day after the beetle was damaged and "volunteered" to drive me around to a couple of car dealers. First call was one in Burton. We hadn't even driven 2 miles when I spied a Citroen Xantia parked on the side of the road with a big for sale sing in the window. We called the mobile number written on the sign. The chap selling it was out, but would call me back. We decided to go back home and wait. A mere hour or so later we were back at the car with its Lambretta powered owner. Everything looked good, it had a long MOT, longish Tax and everything worked (apart from all the things that didn't). It drove OK, so I paid the princely sum of £450 and drove it home.

All went well for a week or two, then when driving back from Burton (yes, Burton again, you would have thought that by now I would have realised that Burton is the kiss of death for my cars) the big "stop now or else" light came up on the dashboard, damn. A quick look at the gauges showed nothing amiss, but wait! The water temperature warning light is on, and so's the cooling fan, ugh. After waiting for half an hour I removed the radiator cap, which showed that there was water a plenty. So we started the engine and revved it a bit. Normally this would result in some water moving around, but no, could be the water pumps had it. I popped into a local shop and purchased two bottles of overpriced Peckham Spring mineral water and poured this over the radiator, we now managed to limp the three miles home.

Next day I warmed the car up and started poking about. The water pump wasn't leaking, but the car was still running hot, but only a small section of the radiator was hot, the rest was stone cold, and the water still wasn't moving. Ahh, well Watson, we have either a bad airlock or a silted up radiator. So off came the hoses and out came the garden hose pipe to back flush the cooling system. This removed a pile of unwanted crap, I also gave all the hoses a good squeeze, they were all very crunchy, which indicated further deposits of crap. I re-filled the cooling system and tried again, still the water wasn't moving. Sod it! I left the radiator cap off and jammed the throttle open. After about half a minute there was some water movement, then a ton of air bubbles, then things started going to plan. Thank heavens for that, the car's fixed and it didn't cost anything. Now read on....

Elated at my success with the cooling system I gave the car a clean. Fatal. A couple of days later the "Stop now or else" light came back on again, along with the brake warning light. Luckily I was close to a Halfords and got into the car park. I checked the hydraulic reservoir (Citroens have one reservoir for brakes and the hydraulic suspension), it was almost empty. I topped the car up with a bottle of LHM fluid and the warning lights went out, so I drove home. A couple of days later the light was back on, time for a look. There was nothing wrong under the bonnet, but poking my head underneath revealed a big soggy mess under one front wheel arch. Removing the wheel revealed a broken hydraulic pipe, help! I removed the pipe and had a look around the garage for something that was similar, but came up blank. And that's where I am, I'm hoping I can buy two new pipes (if the one on the passenger side is knackered the one on the drivers side won't be far behind). Don't you love cheap cars?

(A quick update I have found a company that sells the pipes for £6 each - so I have ordered them -now all I have to do is fit them!)

Moving back to the Beetle I spent two weeks trying to track down the make of the front suspension units. They aren't standard VW parts, but are special slim aftermarket ones designed to allow the fitment of wide alloy wheels. In the end the best suggestion was to buy two new front units from a specialist, however the credit card busting £600 bill for these didn't appeal for some reason. So I had a brain wave. I removed the damaged front strut assembly and stuck it in the boot of the Citroen (next to the bottles of Peckham Spring and LHM fluid) and drove round the local industrial estate looking for a small engineering company that might be able to repair the damage. I was lucky, Andawest Engineering thought they might be able to repair it, and a week later they had! Even better the bill came to £25 inc VAT. Of course the repaired strut now wouldn't fit back on the car as the new welding needs to be ground back to get the strut to fit, but you can't have everything, or can you?

Whilst the automotive malarky was continuing I needed another vehicle to run around in. Can you spot the flaw here? In case you can't here is the problem expressed in BBC BASIC.

10 number_of_cars%=3
20 number_of_broken_cars%=3
40 number_of_cars%+=1
60 number_of_broken_cars%+=1

As I had a few days (at this point I was still pouring LHM into the Citroen) I did an eBay search. In the end I picked up what I consider to be a bit of a bargain, although it was Hayley who originally spotted it. So I am now the proud owner of a Roller, purchased from a chap in Ilkeston (£6 to get there on the bus) for the miniscule amount of £200. It's got a full service history, 12 months MOT and has only covered just over 50,000 miles in it's 21 years on the road. It's a special edition model and is one of a handful that still exist. I will tell you more next time after I have given it a full service, but in the meantime here is a link to the ebay auction.

Aaron's Roller.

Well I did say it was a Roller, but I didn't say it was a Rolls Royce did I?

Printing RISC World

The new look of RISC World means that you will no longer get the yellow background when printing articles from RISCWorld. However you will still get the blue border on the left unless you turn off the printing of background images. The example below shows the print dialogue box from Fresco.


As you can see the option "No Background" is ticked. If you want to print out any of the RISCWorld pages and don't want to waste ink on a blue border then make sure you have clicked a similar option in your browser.

Aaron Timbrell