Aaron Timbrell's own bit of the magazine.
I've had an interesting experience recently. There was a thread on the "news" site Drobe about Qercus. Specifically it was a list of things people could have spent their money on, apart from a Qercus subscription. Anyway a couple of users posted something about RISCWorld. At the time Dave Holden and I were putting the finishing touches to a plan to increase the number of subscribers. To do this we had decided to offer anyone who asked a free copy of RISCWorld Volume 6 Issue 6, that's the issue that came out at the end of March this year. We had decided that we would make the offer available to any RISC OS users no matter where they live in the world and that we would pay the postage. So all anyone would need to do would be ring or e-mail, and they would get sent a free issue in the post. It sounded like a good plan, in fact it is a good plan and we have so far sent out over 200 free copies and picked up a number of new subscribers because of the offer.
Anyway, back to Drobe. I posted a short sentence or two saying that we would send out a free copy of RISCWorld to anyone who asks. Oh dear. Dave and I then incurred the wrath of Chris Williams, the main journalist at Drobe, who moved our posting to the off topic section of Drobe and the told us to "Take our filthy spam and shove it where the sun doesn't shine." What a charming man. He then went on to say, "I could not care less about a special offer." So if the main journalist on a site that announces itself as a RISC OS News site isn't interested then things are pretty black.
This set me thinking, how do you promote RISC OS to a wider audience. You could advertise in computer magazines, but that's generally prohibitively expensive for small RISC OS developers. The only adverts for RISC OS related products I have seen in the general computer press in the last 4 years have been for VirtualAcorn. That's not blowing my own trumpet, it's worth advertising VA products in PC mags as the products run on Windows, so we have something that we can actually sell a PC user. Does the average RISC OS developer have something they can sell to a PC user? No. So it's not worth them advertising in PC mags is it? One method of advertising that does work is Google Adwords, I use them myself as do a small number of other RISC OS developers including Advantage Six. However most developers don't seem to bother, which is a shame as they certainly pay for themselves several times over. So how can a RISC OS developer promote their wares?
The options available are limited. There are currently only four active subscription magazines, RISCWorld, Eureka, Foundation Risc User and Archive. Of these only Archive is published on a monthly basis, so you could be looking at a delay of two months or more before your news gets out to people. There are the comp.sys.acorn newsgroups, but these are nowhere near as popular as they used to be, you only have to look at the number of postings over recent years to see the decline in readership of the various comp.sys.acorn groups. There is of course direct e-mail, but at least on RISC OS developer has tried this and got accused of spamming. This really leaves the RISC OS news sites, such as the Cybervillage, Iconbar and Drobe. Drobe is the most frequently updated and has the most content, but apparently they aren't interested in "special offers". Now that is, in my view, rather shortsighted. Drobe exists to be read by RISC OS users. RISC OS users are, by their nature, interested in RISC OS. So Drobe should be doing it's best to promote RISC OS. After all if there are more RISC OS users, then there are more people to read Drobe! However this doesn't seem to be the case, which is a shame. The RISC OS world could do with a frequently updated news site that promotes the platform as a whole and has all the news, not just a carefully selected sample. I'm sorry to say that currently this simply isn't Drobe.
Editors Rant of the month
Here is a quick question, what's the official vehicle for those working on RISCWorld? Not sure? Then I'll tell you, it's a dark blue Isuzu Trooper. Why? Well why don't I tell you (Please don't - HJ). As regular readers will know I used to own a Mitsubishi Shogun, a nice big 5 door four wheel drive. It was an ideal size for me, plenty of room for dogs and also plenty of room to bring DIY projects home. However, as things often do, it broke. I couldn't fix it, so I ended up buying a Citroen Xantia because I urgently needed a car. I've had this for over a year but decided that I really did need (want) another four wheel drive vehicle. In the mean time, having seen my Shogun, Dave Holden went and bought an Isuzu Trooper.
I started looking around, another Shogun was going to cost around £3000, for a 1992 model, which is a bit old for a 3 grand vehicle. So I started looking a bit further and discovered that both the Jeep Chrokee and the Ford Explorer depreciated heavily and that £3000 would buy a good 1998 version of either. I looked at a Jeep Cherokee advertised locally. It was a little small, however it was also more than a little rusty. There were holes under the floor, in the sills and under the fuel tank. Thanks, but no thanks. I then did some more research and discovered that the Jeeps have a reputation for rusting badly. They also aren't all that big inside and don't have a separate chassis, so I decided to look at the Fords.
I found an Explorer fairly close to home and went for a look. Although the vehicle design was fine, as was the size, and indeed everything else the fresh bright red rust on the entire chassis wasn't too good. I decided to keep looking. So I got up early on a Friday morning, the day that the Midlands Auto Trader comes out. Took the dogs out, came home and sat down for a read. I found what looked like the ideal Ford Explorer. A 2000 model for just under my price limit. Then I dropped the Auto Trader on the floor. When I picked it back up it had fallen over a few pages and the first advert I saw was for a 1998 Vauxhall Monterey, which is a badge engineered Isuzu Trooper. It had 12 months MOT and was advertised for a paltry £1200, better still it was only a couple of miles away. I was immediately on the phone and was viewing it before 10 o'clock. Anyway, it wasn't bad, it had a few scrapes and knocks and the miles were a bit high, but it was cheap, was the spec I wanted (auto, leather, air-con etc) so after a bit of haggling I bought it for £1100.
Now things got a bit weird, I was chatting to the seller and discovered that her surname was, wait for it, Timbrell! Now that isn't a common surname, so it's a big of weird coincidence. I wasn't looking for an Isuzu and if I hadn't dropped the Auto Trader I wouldn't have seen it. Perhaps our friendly household ghosts were doing me a favour? We will see. So far it's had a full service and a cam belt change, now I need to do a few other tidying up jobs, then use it. The only problem is that it looks almost identical to Dave Holden's one, which is a bit embarrassing. Anyway that's enough about it for now. No doubt I will have something to report next issue, if the ghosts will let me. I have to go now and talk to the aliens at the bottom of my garden.
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.