RISC World

Letters Page

Making a surprise recovery and getting out of bed against doctor's orders, it's the RISCWorld letters page...

Welcome to a packed letters page, and no I don't mean the page has been packed up ready to be disposed of. It seems that our eager readers have responded to the critical condition of the letters page and have put finger to keyboard to contact us. So lets see what's in our first letter...

Hi Aaron
I've just discovered an oddity in the 'complete' RISC World disc for volume 4, specifically concerning the article by David Holden in part 3 (on text areas in !Draw). I normally use NetSurf to look at HTML pages under RISC OS, and I update the version every couple of weeks. RISC World usually works well in this browser. However, the link to the Holden article give an error 'Parsing the document failed'. That also happens when I click on the appropriate index/htm file on the disc, or when I drag it to the NetSurf icon.
On the other hand Oregano2 has no problem with the file. (Its disadvantage is, of course, that it is much slower.)
So either there is an actual error in the HTML in that file - this seems unlikely because you would have picked it up before the compilation disc was produced - or Oregano2 and NetSurf differ about what they consider to be 'proper' HTML.
This odd behaviour is not highly important, but might be of some interest.
Philip Draper

I have passed the comment onto Dave Holden who assembles the end of volume compilations. The file is indeed faulty, so it's not Netsurf that's making a mistake. Having said that I would expect a modern browser to have a stab at rendering the file anyway. The fault is that 3 lines have got deleted from the top of the HTML. If you need to read the file then load it into a text editor along with another RISCWorld article. Copy the first three lines of HTML from the working file to the non working textarea article. Now save the textarea article to your hard drive and it should now render in NetSurf.

We can only apologise for the mistake, it does happen sometimes. It will be corrected when the compilations are next duplicated.

Hi Aaron
It was sad to see in the Editor's Corner that maybe only as many as 600 Iyonixs have been sold, but perhaps it's not surprising. They're frankly a tad pricey. I've had my eye on one ever since they came out, but given that just about any version of iMac is heaps cheaper over here, even with VAT stripped out of the Iyonix price, which I can do being outside the EU, it's just not on.
Admittedly, I've not bought an iMac either, or even a Mac Mini. Except that it can't handle Japanese other than via a wordprocessor on the PC Card (and nor could an Iyonix unless fitted with Linux, Unicode support notwithstanding), the RPC does pretty much everything I want at home, especially as it now sports RISC OS Adjust, courtesy of RISCOS Ltd's recent "get everyone on board offer" (recommended). RISC OS has the definite advantage in that it's less likely to get the bit between its teeth than a Mac (nice as OS X otherwise is), and there's no ongoing struggle to defend it against attack like we have to do with the Windows boxes at work.
Needless to say, I'm watching the progress of the A9 with interest. Hopefully the final production version of that will be able to succeed where it seems the Iyonix couldn't. From what I've seen so far, I'm prepared to be tempted.
As for why an Iyonix can't handle Japanese, that's simple. Displaying it is relatively easy (!Kanji does a good job under RISC OS). However, to write it requires an "input method engine" to avoid the need for a 5,000 key keyboard, and that's not a trivial piece of software. I'm not aware of the existence of a RISC OS IME for Japanese or any other ideographic language - although I would love to hear that I'm wrong.
Michael Poole

The number of Iyonixs was reported by a well known developer who licences software to Castle for bundling with the Iyonix. Since some Iyonix machines come without a software bundle there will obviously be more than the bare 600 sold, but I doubt it's that many more. It's certainly not the thousands that some Castle apologists have claimed in the past. However in my view the Iyonix couldn't be seen as especially pricey, given that they start at around £799 for the base version, which is cheap for a very low production run piece of equipment. As you have noted the A9 is going to be even cheaper, as well as much smaller and even quieter and looks like it will give the Iyonix a good run for it's money performance wise. But, you can't add memory to the A9 and you can't change the harddisc, like the Mac Mini it's a sealed box. So it's horses for courses, price vs expandability. Hopefully the lower price of the A9 will tempt some of the more price sensitive users who haven't purchased an Iyonix but time will tell.

Many users seem to have made the same decision as you have, to stick with a RiscPC, but to upgrade it. This plan is fine until the RiscPC fails, which they will do eventually. Some parts are getting harder to find, e.g. batteries, even CJE don't have them in stock! (APDL do - Dave Holden) and sooner or later the machines will become beyond further repair. My advice to anyone is to purchase another RiscPC for spares, just in case!

Anyway moving on to the Ideographic language problem, I know that EFF (Electronic Font Foundry) did do some work in this area, have you contacted them to see if they can help out?

Finally it's time for the letters page chief consultant to do his rounds, Dr Vince Hudd...

Hi Aaron,
"help save the RISCWorld letters page from wasting away to nothing by e-mailing us to the following address"
I would, but I can't quite work out how to add human beings as attachments to emails. What sort of encoding should be used? 8-)
Vince Hudd

Thanks Vince. Since most humans have 2 legs how about binary?

Hi Aaron,
Well, I was thinking that since you were asking readers send you by email, it might have been youyouencoding. ;-)
Vince Hudd

Not a bad idea, of course since we were In Search Of letters, perhaps some form of ISO encoding might be in order.

So that's it for this letter(s) page. However lets not get complacent. Just because we have had letters this issue doesn't mean we will have any next issue unless you, the reader, write in to us. So please do contact us using the following e-mail address

Aaron Timbrell