Matt Thompson with the latest news for Iyonix owners.
There hasn't been a huge amount happening this month, but there have been mutterings of things on the Iyonix horizon, so hopefully some of these pre-release announcements will become a reality.
RISC OS 5.12 on the way
In mid August John Ballance posted on the Iyonix support list about some forthcoming developments for RISC OS 5. The next release will be 5.12, this is currently shipping with brand new Iyonix's from June onwards.
RISC OS 5.12 will be a payable upgrade, and it would appear the days of free updates to RISC OS 5 are long gone. I don't mind that we have to pay for updates now, and I have my cheque book ready and waiting. That's assuming that I can pay by cheque. It seems likely that future upgrades will be available on line from a digital "shop" where you pay, then download the upgrade.
Some of the new features that have been mentioned include support for newer nVidia graphics cards and inclusion of the USB2 driver in the main ROM. This should remove a delay on boot up, and the desktop should now hopefully appear quicker than it did before.
Since this announcement it has gone quiet, this is due to the relevant people being on holiday, more information on everything will be announcement during September. So we will have to wait and see what happens. It is good to see that RISC OS 5 development is not at a complete stand still and hopefully with pay for updates we may see even more enhancements added to RISC OS 5, let's hope so.
The announcement in full can be found at www.freelists.org/archives/iyonix-support/08-2006/msg00113.html.
Unfortunately it would appear that Cino, the RISC OS 5 DVD player application, has been put on hold for the time being, if not forever, due to the fact that it isn't seen as financially viable anymore.
Being able to play DVDs is seen as a standard thing a computer can do these days, if you say my computer cannot do it then you get funny looks, and that doesn't really help attract new users to RISC OS.
Whilst it would be useful to be able to have them working on RISC OS 5, I certainly wouldn't be using my Iyonix to watch films and TV programs, that is what a big telly with surround sound and the sofa are for! So I can see their point in a way, but I would have certainly have bought Cino had it ever happened.
New Graphics Cards
As mentioned with the forthcoming RISC OS 5.12 release, new graphics cards are now compatible with the Iyonix. The standard card is now the Nvidia FX 5200, new machines have this fitted along with RISC OS 5.12 and these new cards feature dual-head and also DVI output capabilities.
These new cards should also see the end to the 'pyjamas' problem that many users were experiencing, these cards should also speed up graphics processing.
Iyonix machines are now sold through Iyonix Ltd, this is to do with the Iyonix motherboards not confirming to the ROHS regulations which came into effect after 1st July.
Any motherboards manufactured after this date have to conform to certain standards and the current Iyonix motherboard does not. Castle are attempting to get round the new regulations by selling all existing motherboards to Iyonix Ltd, who then build the complete computers and sell them. It's not clear for how ling this ruse might work, especially as both companies have the same directors and run from the same address. The proper solution would be to re-design the Iyonix motherboard, given that everyone has known about the new regulations for several years it's surprising that Castle haven't already done this.
The other big topic of discussion at the moment is the possibility of the open sourcing of RISC OS - as revealed in Archive (Volume 19 Number 12) it would appear that Castle are seriously considering open sourcing parts of RISC OS so that it can be developed further.
Whether this actually happens remains to be seen, a company called RISC OS Open have been mentioned and they have a website at www.riscosopen.com but at the time of writing there is nothing there other than a domain reserved sign.
I don't know enough about open sourcing projects to know whether they are good thing or not, but if it benefits us and further enhances RISC OS then I'm all for it.
A couple of new updates have come my way this month and they are:
Easiwriter & Techwriter V8.63
A free update to Easiwriter & Techwriter was released recently, you need to be using V8.60 or V8.61 to qualify for this update.
The update is obtainable from a link in an email which registered users should have received, if you think you should have had this email then contact Mike at Icon Technology email@example.com and he will be able to help.
Some of the changes in V8.63 include :
For a complete listing of all the new features see the accompanying ReadMe file with V8.63 To obtain version V8.60 (which will be shipped as V8.63) see www.iconsupport.demon.co.uk/Latest/860.html.
Yes it is the return of the Vice update! Vice, the Commodore emulator for RISC OS, has had a few months without any updates however we have a new version, which is currently up to V1.20.
This is, I believe, another bug fixing exercise, although I'm not totally sure what is new. Apart from one problem with the Commodore 16 plus 4 emulator, I've never encountered any bugs with it. The new version can be downloaded from www.zimmers.net/anonftp/pub/cbm/crossplatform/emulators/VICE/vice-riscos1_20.zip.
Following on from the 32bitting of Chuckie Egg, Alan Buckley has now 32bitted the BBC games -Guardian, Dare Devil Denis and Cyberton Mission.
Dare Devis Denis - take control of a stuntman on a bike, and jump over and avoid obstacles to earn your wages. Originally released by Visions Software.
Guardian - a conversion of the arcade classic Defender - a decent enough version, this was originally released by Alligata Software.
Cyberton Mission - Originally released by Micro Power - you are in Fort Cyberton and you have to collect all the treasure on the level, when you have, touch the safe to transport you to the next level.
The screenshots are from the original BBC versions running in !6502em as I couldn't get any screen grabs that looked normal from the 32bit versions,but there is very little difference anyway.
These 3 games play as they would do on the BBC Micro, apart from a few sound problems. Dare Devil Denis is fine, but with Guardian the sound is not quite right, so if it sounds a weird to you - it's supposed to be like that. Cybertron Mission has no sound at all, which is a shame, but never mind.
Download a bit of BBC Micro nostalgia from http://homepages.paradise.net.nz/mjfoot/riscos.htm and don't forget to download a copy of Chuckie Egg if you haven't already.
And that is it for this issue, hopefully next time we will be talking about RISC OS 5 updates and the open source issue may have happened, but it certainly looks like there is more to come for RISC OS 5 - we await with interest.
As ever if you want to get in touch with any Iyonix related stuff, announcements, comments, corrections or hints & tips, then the email address to send it to is firstname.lastname@example.org.