RISC World

Letters Page

Amazingly the letters page has been allowed back onto a normal ward...

Once again the RISCWorld letters page has survived the night and the consultants are happy enough with it's progress to allow it onto a normal mixed ward. This does mean it has to compete with other articles for attention from the nursing staff...

Dear Aaron,
I have subscribed to RISCworld for some time now and have had no trouble. Now, with Vol. 6, which contains all back issues from 1 to 6, I have a problem. After loading the disc and shutting down, on trying to start up again a window comes up asking me to re-insert the RISCworld disc, which I don't want to have to do. Something must have got into the boot sequence.
Can you suggest a cure?
My machine is a PC600 with StrongARM and operating system 4. (something or other; I forget)
Bryan Foster

Obviously your computer knows a good CD when it sees it and demands to have it returned to the drive so it can keep the machine happy. As you have discovered removing the CD upsets the machine so the CD should be kept in the drive at all times!.

On the other hand, and being somewhat more sensible, it's far more likely that you have either:

  • Saved a desktop Boot file with a filer window for the RISCWorld DVD open.
  • Dragged an item off the DVD to your pinboard.

I should say a quick word about saving Desktop Boot files. Don't! There, that was quick wasn't it? The facility for saving desktop boot files was depreciated by Acorn themselves after they discovered the problems it can cause. If you want to add things to the RISC OS !Boot sequence do it properly using the Boot option from the RISC OS Configuration window.

Now a mouses tale...

Dear Aaron,
If I can find somewhere here that sells microswitches, I might have a go at fixing my Acorn mouse, now that I have read your tips on what to do (and not do - those are always the most important bits). You see, I have a mouse problem. Well, it's not the mouse, it's the OS, I think.
When my original Acorn mouse started to show its age, I got myself a 3-button serial mouse, and for some years I have been happily using it under RO3. I just told the computer to use it by the simple (and official) RO3 expedient of double-clicking on !Boot and selecting the appropriate mouse type from the menu under Mouse.
All went well until I upgraded the RPC700 to RO 4.39, which has a rather more swept-up version of the same tool. Naturally, the first time I ran it I had of course to use *configure to get the serial mouse going (I'd forgotten about the non-standard mouse, and was actually perplexed for a few minutes). However, when I turned the computer back on next day, once again, no mouse! What's more, issuing a *configure mousetype 1 command didn't reactivate the serial mouse. To get mousing again, I had to dig out the old Acorn mouse and issue *configure mousetype 0, when all worked well again, but with the old mouse. Then I could select the serial mouse using RO4's Configure tool, and of course it worked. However, yet again, when I turned the computer back on, I had no mouse until I activated the old Acorn mouse via the command line. (Yes, I had been clicking on both "Set" buttons on the way back out of Configure.)
The old Acorn mouse really is getting a bit doddery and in need of retirement (it's got the double-click problem your article described), so I finally decided the answer might be to put an Obey file containing "configure mousetype 1" in Predesk, so the computer would use the serial mouse even though it seems to "forget" its Configure setting when switched off. Well, it is and it isn't.
Having made up the file, I double-clicked on it, and sure enough the serial mouse came to life. However, when I restarted the computer - no mouse! I couldn't bring it back to life with a *configure mousetype 1 command, either. However, *configure mousetype 0 brought the Acorn mouse back to life, following which *configure mousetype 1 revived the serial mouse.
My Predesk Obey file now contains the following two lines:
configure mousetype 0
configure mousetype 1
Now when I start the computer, the serial mouse comes alive (but only after the contents of Predesk have been run, prior to which the hourglass can't be moved around the screen as no mouse is active).
As far as I can see, the problem is due to shutting down the computer with mousetype 1 set. If mousetype is 1 on shutdown, no mouse can be activated until a *configure mousetype 0 command has been issued. If mousetype is 0 on shutdown, there is no problem: the Acorn mouse functions happily as the default, and the serial mouse can subsequently be selected, either via Configure or via the command line (I don't have any other alternative mouse types to test, so I don't know if those settings would have the same problem and solution).
Incidentally, as far as I am aware, only the mouse setting has this problem. All my other configuration settings seem to be preserved over a restart, as they should be.
This seems weird. This problem absolutely does not occur with the old RO3.60, under which, once set, the serial mouse stayed set. I'm wondering whether I have found a bug in RO 4.39, or I have missed some vital step peculiar to RO4. If I have missed a step, it's something RO3 didn't need done.
Mr. "I hates meeces to pieces" Jinks has my sympathy!
Otherwise, the upgrade to RO4 was definitely a good move. The machine runs much better with it, not to speak of the advantages of having an up to date OS.
Michael Poole

That's certainly very weird, have you reported the problem to RISCOS Ltd, just in case it is an issue with Adjust? I know that on VirtualAcorn setting the mouse type works OK, but I don't have 4.39 fitted in a "real" machine to test. I would normally suggest that the CMOS memory is failing and data isn't getting kept, but you say that all other config changes are stored OK. My first test would be to set the mousetype to serial, set the machine so it doesn't run the boot sequence and see if the setting stays, that would rule out any boot sequence problems as it's possible that something else is setting the mousetype wrongly before your obey file is called.

(Although APDL have been offering a mouse overhaul service for many years, to make it easier for people to do the job themselves we can now supply a "mouse overhaul kit" which contains those hard to find microswitches and a heavy mouse ball for just £3 including post. What a bargain. D.H.)

Dear Aaron and the world,
Just thought I'd help you fill your letters page with a little warning to those, like me, who are maybe sitting there quietly, still using older RPCs etc. and being to complacent about our platforms' apparent longevity and coziness.
I have 2 RISC systems at home (a bought RiscStation 7500+ with Canon 6100 printer and an Acorn RPC SRP11 (1996 model) with an Epson Stylus 850 printer). This latter kit was kindly donated when I left my work at a local college 18 months previous, and it had been upgraded to ROS 4.02 in 2000 (as no one else could use it!).
Now, the Epson 850 did get some hammering during it's college years and, just before Xmas, the black head decided it had done enough and started to smudge and streak. So I popped into my local computer shop to see if repairs were possible. Only it would cost more than a new printer after adding labour charges and VAT! 'Why not have a new one' he cried. 'OK', said I, 'how much'? 'Only £60 for a new Epson' (but it's USB connection only - driver? what, for Acorn? no chance mate).
Well I do have a Unipod fitted, but I want to keep that for my camera and it's the devils own work to pull the machine out from the wall and swap leads (which of course will eventually break due to being swapped continually!) 'Why not buy a hub as well', cried he? 'Oh yes and some leads - don't forget the driving software'?. Ye (minor)gods, man, I'm not made of money! This was getting silly, all I wanted was a simple colour inkjet with parallel connection! 'Oh, WE' (Mickysoft, he means) 'don't make them anymore'! What!? Why!? (apparently they're too slow!!! -- my Canon BJC6100 spews pages out faster than I can collate them, so just HOW fast do you WANT to print, in heavens name?).
So I hit the Acorn dealers on the net (not many left eh?) and it was the same story - all parallel printers have been sold/destroyed/ kidnapped, as no one wants them! "I" want them!!
Luckily, those very nice people at CJE Micros trashed their stock room and found the very last one - a refurbished Canon i550 + driver for a miserly £130 Nice printer. (it's also much cheaper to run - cart's around £8). So I bought it on the spot.
So if you, like me, are sitting there all smug and thumbing your nose at Mickeysoft's little US enterprise, watch out! - they have done us all up yet again!
(Next year: it'll be monitors - they must now be able to float at sea) Thomas Shevels

Printers can be a problem for older RISC OS computers, both in terms of physical connection and drivers. I can't really comment on the driver situation but the reason parallel printers can't be found is really that nobody wants them any more. Why? Bandwidth. A USB port can get data down to the printer much quicker than a parallel port. Although this might not matter for a letter, it does matter when you are trying to print a hi-res digital camera photo, and that's what a lot of users want to do. It's called progress, but it does mean that RISC OS users can get left behind. I really don't think you can blame Microsoft as they don't make printers, or PCs for that matter.

I'm glad you have a Unipod, I think this is an essential upgrade for older machines, adding a USB hub is also very sensible. I have one on the main office workhorse PC, it's a Nonamo powered hub and cost £10 three years ago. So you don't need to break the bank to get one, indeed you will often find that the USB cables cost more than the hub!

Regarding the cartridges costing £8 each, a quick look on showed that you can get 3 cartridges for £7.90 including postage.

Finally it's time for the Vince Hudd moment...

Dear Aaron,
Please do not read this letter, for the very purpose of its existence is to not be read.
Vince Hudd

Sorry, but I have read it. Since it didn't vanish afterwards I am forced to conclude that it must have another purpose. I will use it to pad out the letters page. If that is it's real purpose it will then vanish, if not we will need further investigation at my special "economy" rates.

Well that's it for this issue. If you would like to write to us then use the following e-mail address, if, on the other hand, you don't want to write to us then send an e-mail to

Aaron Timbrell