RISC World

Editor's Corner

Aaron Timbrell's own bit of the magazine.

Have you finished reading the previous issue of RISCWorld yet? If not then may I suggest that you go back and finish it now, otherwise the rest of this editorial might not make a huge amount of sense.

In my last editorial I mentioned that I didn't consider the RISC OS newsite Drobe to be an especially good advert for RISC OS. The main crux of my argument was that Drobe doesn't publish all the RISC OS news, instead it publishes a "carefully" selected sample. I still think my argument holds true, Drobe doesn't reflect the entirety of RISC OS as it declines to publish some news stories because "they are not interesting". The arbiter of what is and isn't interesting apparently being Chris Williams, the head journalist. Anyway it seems that Chris read the editorial in the last issue of RISCWorld (perhaps he would like to take out a subscription instead of reading someone else's copy? - DH) and got the hump. His comments were quite amusing, and in some cases simply incorrect.

In his response to my editorial Chris commented that "(Drobe) doesn't do special offers, certainly not since 2004 or 2005." Oh dear, as Dave Holden pointed out on the Drobe forums this isn't true. Earlier this year (2006 for time travellers) Drobe was quite happy to print an article about an ArtWorks World Cup special offer. So the comment simply isn't true. Chris did go on to add that "Only the truly memorable stunts are worth a write up". Interesting so what sort of memorable "stunt" might be worth a write up? Well it didn't take us at RISCWorld long to find out...

Another of the articles in the last issue of RISCWorld gave details about the new ROHS regulations and their effect on future production of the Iyonix. For those that still haven't read the article the bottom line was that the Iyonix isn't ROHS compliant and manufacture cannot continue without a re-design of the machine motherboard. Anyway, let's return to Drobe. Having satisfied himself with replying to my last editorial Chris obviously continued reading someone else's copy of RISCWorld and bumped into the article about the Iyonix. Argggh. Here is a story that's been broken by RISCWorld, what can Chris do?

The answer was to e-mail me.

"If you reveal to me the more interesting and as-yet unreported parts of this, then I will give RW a big plug on drobe" Chris said. The problem is I don't want a plug, all I wanted was to have some mention of my press release, in particular our offer of a free issue to anyone who asked. In the meantime Chris had put together an article that appeared to be based on what was in RISCWorld and uploaded it to the Drobe website. I took a quick look at it before replying.

"But will RISCWorld get the credit for the work? I think I'll pass thanks. Of course should you edit the above article to show that it was RISCWorld that sprung the story I will be delighted to re-consider". That seemed fair enough to me. Give us credit and we will share the information, which Chris so obviously wanted. I found his reply really rather funny.

"I've known about it since before the weekend but hadn't got around to writing it up. There's no need for any credit to RW because I didn't need you in the end, anyway." Gosh. Whilst I don't dispute that Chris knew about it before the weekend, I also couldn't dispute that copies of RISCWorld were with subscribers before the weekend. I also couldn't dispute that we had been working on the story for several months. Nor could I dispute that Chris had only published the story after having seen it in RISCWorld. A more detailed article appeared on Drobe in a couple of days, you can see it here.

Well that would seem to be the end of it. Drobe won't publish RISCWorld press releases unless that have a "stunt" attached. Similarly Drobe won't credit RISCWorld with breaking stories. Oh well, that's journalism for you. But wait, there's more...

As a response to the ROHS regulation article in RISCWorld Castle apparently spoke to Paul Beverley, who edits Archive Magazine suggesting that they were considering open sourcing RISC OS (you can read more on this subject in this issue). Of course the story was picked up by Drobe, and quite rightly too. Yet strangely there was no direct mention of RISCWorld, instead, we were informed this was in response to "an opinion article printed recently in a rival magazine linked to VirtualAcorn". Well as I pointed out in the article comments section RISCWorld, that's the name of the magazine being mentioned, and Archive are not rivals.

So once again I express my concerns over Drobe. Not only is it self selecting in terms of articles but an increasing number of articles don't relate to RISC OS. Who cares if the Finn brothers sell Sibelius to a bunch of yanks, after all there hasn't been an update to the RISC OS version of Sibelius for years. One of my other concerns over Drobe is that it also often has glaring factual errors of the sort that could simply be avoided with the bare minimum of research. I hope you enjoy this issue of RISCWorld, perhaps you may even be able to read some of it again on Drobe in a few days, just don't expect Chris to acknowledge where the articles originally came from:-).

Editors Rant of the month

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

I haven't been buying any cars recently (quick the smelling salts... - DH), instead I have been selling one. My Beetle. I finally decided that since I wasn't using it and I needed the money to put towards building a new garage it had to go. So I gave it a clean, did all the stupid jobs I had been meaning to do since I purchased it, for example, fitting the carpets. Yes, the carpets. Every since I have owned the Beetle it has had an annoying water leak into the footwells. Over the last couple of years I have replaced the window seals and the door seals. This helped but sometimes there would still be water on the floor. Last year I removed the interior and wire brushed and Hammerited the floor. So there wasn't any rust, just a puddle in the driver's footwell. To make things even more difficult the water leak would be intermittent. Sometimes a heavy rain storm would cause no water ingress, sometimes after a light shower there would be a puddle. This was most annoying.

Anyway before I get too far ahead of myself, before selling the car I needed a new MOT on it. I did my usual checks and the only problem I could find was that the washers didn't work. I cleaned the jets out, but although the pump was running no water came through. I checked the pump on the kitchen table and it worked, although not brilliantly, so the fault must, at least partially, lie elsewhere. The hoses from the washer jet tank to the pump were a funny black/green colour, which didn't look right. Closer investigation revealed that they should be clear, and the colour was caused by mold growing throughout the system. Yuk. I flushed out the washer jet bottle and soaked it on Oxy Clean (brilliant stuff) and that cleared the crap. Then I bought a new roll of pipe and made all new hoses, so that should be that. But it wasn't. The pump still wouldn't pull the water through. I then decided the pump must be weak and went out to buy a new one. "What sort is it sir?" asked the chap in the local auto factors. I don't know, it's just an aftermarket electric pump that sits on the bulkhead. "Ah, we don't stock those any more, I might be able to order you one, but it will take a couple of days." Damn. OK, I will have one. In the meantime someone wanted to come and see the car as I had somewhat prematurely stuck it on eBay. The potential owner arrived at 7:30 on a very wet evening, we went for a test drive and she liked the car. She also liked the comprehensive paperwork (everything from the day the car was delivered to the dealer in 1973). Something else she liked was me lying in puddles jacking the car up so she could check for rust. She didn't find any, hardly surprising as I had welded up and de-rusted the underside and coated it with Waxoil. She made an offer which I was tempted to accept, but I thought it worth trying for a few hundred quid more expecting for a bartering session. It didn't happen, she left to look at another Beetle.

Next day I decided I had to fix the washers, so I collected the new pump. This was cunningly designed so that the water inlet and outlet pipes were directly in front of the bolt holes so it was very difficult to fit. With the skill and dedication of a true enthusiast I broke the water inlet pipe. Cue lots of naughty works. Anyway I took it back to the auto factors who looked at it and agreed with me that the design was "poor" (posh word for crap). They very kindly gave me another pump as they had ordered two. Whoooh, brilliant. I went home and promptly broke the 2nd one. I then decided to fit the old pump and see if I could prime it to get it working long enough for the MOT. Eventually I managed to do this by blowing in the top of the water bottle whilst wedging the pump switch down on the dashboard. Lovely, now does anyone want to but two broken, but new, washer jet pumps?

I now feel that I ought to backtrack to the water leak. Whilst messing with the washer jets I had removed the cover panel over the wiper motor mechanism box, to get to the washer jet pump. I noticed that the box had water in the bottom and it also had two pipes about a half inch from the bottom running behind the dashboard on the drivers side, hmmmm. Are you thinking what I'm thinking? Could water be getting into this box around the wiper arm spindles. A quick test with a jug revealed not only could water get in, it was getting in around the passenger side spindle. I had previously checked the drivers side one, as the water leak was on that side, but hadn't checked the passenger one. A quick session with black silicone had it sealed up properly. But how did this explain the intermittent water leak? Remember the pipes? Well what was happening was that water was pooling in the box, but was only able to leak into the cabin once it got to a high enough level to run through the pipes. So a few days of light showers might be enough to fill it up, but a quick hard rain storm might not. I checked by filling up the box with a jug and yes, the water appeared in the car in exactly the place it always had. So having used silicon on the wiper spindle I then also blocked the two pipes and drilled a small hole in the bottom of the box to prevent any further water pooling. The design of the area under the bonnet on the Beetle means that any water would now drain out of the box, down the side of the fuel tank and out through the drain holes. Brilliant. I arranged for an MOT for the next day.

I was up early the next morning, fitted a fully charged battery, checked the lights and drove round to the MOT centre, which is only a couple of minutes on foot. I left the car and was told that they would give me a ring when it was done. They didn't. So I rung them early in the afternoon, "It'll be done next mate". OK. They still hadn't run by 4:30 so I rung again. "Yeh, he hasn't done it as he couldn't find the chassis number." Well, he might be right, the number might be missing, but it might not. I walked up to see them. The chassis number was indeed present on the floor pan just under where the rear seats would be, if the car had rear seats. Interestingly this the same place you would find the chassis number on any VW Beetle built between 1939 and 2002, only just over 60 years worth of production accounting for 25 million vehicles. So, will they do it tomorrow? "Well we are booked up...". OK, but it's your fault, if you couldn't find the chassis number you should have rung me. "er...we couldn't find your phone number." Well that's funny because I can see it written on the list of jobs stuck on the wall over there. They agreed to re-test it if I bought the car up at 1pm tomorrow, that's Friday. I took the Beetle back home.

That evening the potential purchaser from the other day rung me and offered me the price I had asked for. She had seen the other Beetle and it was rusty underneath. Can she pick it up on Friday evening? Errr....can I ring her tomorrow as it still doesn't have a new MOT. Next day I took the car up to the MOT centre promptly for 1 o'clock. They still hadn't rung me promptly by four in the afternoon. I rung them again, "Yes it's done, we couldn't find your phone number..." Yes, yes, well never mind. I picked the Beetle back up and went home. I then rung the purchaser. Could she meet me in Burton to do the deal? No, she couldn't she could come the extra 3 miles to Newhall. In the end she agreed. In the meantime our guests for the weekend had arrived and by the time she came to pick the car up we were all rather well lubricated. I managed to pull myself together, took the money, counted it, counted it again and came up with a different figure then got Hayley to count it as she had been at work and was an hour or so behind on the wine. We then did the paperwork and the car was sold.

The new owner jumped in and turned the key, will it start? Luckily just, had I forgotten to mention the slightly tired battery? Whoops. Never mind she revered the Beetle out of the drive. "How do you adjust the seats?" Ah, yes, well the thing is you have yes, you need to loosen all the bolts underneath as the seats are bolted onto the runners. Do you want me to get a 13mm spanner? "That's OK my boyfriend will drive it home." Thank heavens for that. I grabbed a camera and took a couple of pictures as they drove away. As they got halfway down the road one of the rear brake lights stopped working. Still, thanks heavens, it's not my problem any more.

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