RISC World

Letters Page

It's not looking very well, it's the letters page, that used to be so...swell...

It's hasn't half been a quiet couple of months on the letters front. Indeed I was on the point of dumping the page for this issue, or, even worse having to make up a few letters to fill the space. This is a much more common tactic in the magazine world than you might think. How many times have you seen Issue 1 of a magazine with a letters page. If it's the first issue how can anyone have written in? Well, either the writers have made the letters up, or if the magazine is part of a group, then the editor has nicked a few letters from another publication that covers a similar topic. I don't have that luxury, so my choice will be to either make the letters up, which seems a bit silly, or to kill off the letters page unless we have some communication from our loyal reader.

Anyway lets deal with the few scraps of post we do have this issue...

Dear Aaron,
Sorry to bother a busy person like you.
I half remember a PD Bison grammar report checker that told you what was causing shift/reduce conflicts, that was somewhere on the Risc World CDs. I have trawled through Volumes 3 - 6 with no joy. Where on earth is it?
Failing that, I have some PD code for a checker, but it is .tar compressed. Do you know of a PD .tar decompressor - !SparkFS doesn't seem to recognise this format, or do I need to alter the file type?
Hoping you know of something along these lines,
Martin Carradus.

I've had a brief flick through the RISCWorld index and I can't find anything about a PD Bison grammar report checker so far. Does anyone else remember it? If not then perhaps it might be worth looking on the Unix Porting Project cli pages. Although I'm not familiar with Bison myself this might help.

Dealing with the .tar (Tape ARchive) file, this is caused me some problems in the past when I was sent a .tar file which needed to be de-compressed on RISC OS. In theory SparkFS should be able to read a .tar file, provided it's filetyped as &C46. If you look at the !Run file for !SparkFs you should see the line that sets up the filetype for tar files. If you still have difficulty then I have put a couple of copies of Frank Lancasters tar compression program for RISC OS in the Software.Letters directory on this CD, these might help but they are quite old and I don't know which modern machines they might run on.

Moving on we have been increasing our subscription base quite nicely in the last few months. This is mainly due to our offer of a free copy of RISCWorld to anyone who asks for it. We even pay the postage costs wether it's in the UK or the other side of the world. Anyway one of the recent new subscribers (Hello - HJ) put in a lovely ego massaging comment in with his subscription request..

"please make the contents of RW less interesting as I will never get any work done."

It's always nice to be appreciated and to know that we are getting some things right. It's actually quite difficult as an editor to balance each issue to try to ensure that there is something that everyone will find interesting. The first problem is working out what to write about. I have this mainly solved these days in that I am always working on two issues at a time. Whilst I've been writing and editing this issue I have also been making notes and jotting down article ideas for the next issue. Being bi-monthly RISCWorld only gets worked on every other month. I always start writing for an issue on the first working Monday of the month of publication. I don't have to work from scratch because I already know what needs to be written, as I will have decided on the majority of the contents a month and a half before, when I was working on the previous issue. So today I am working on the letters page, and on the VirtualAcorn tech support column, but I've also made a load of notes on the next tech support column, as well as working out what free commercial software title will be mounted on the next issue, which isn't due until the end of November.

So, given the fact that the only complaints we ever get about RISCWorld relates to the fact that you need a computer to read it I have to assume that we are all doing a reasonable job, but what do you, the readers think?

If you would like to write to us then please use the following e-mail address

P.S. I've just been told by Hugh that this is the best space filling waffle he's seen in ages.

Aaron Timbrell