RISC World

Letters Page

Back due to a lack of popular demand, it's the RISCWorld letters page...

Welcome back to the RISCWorld letters page. The place in the magazine where, normally, you can find a bit of peace and quiet. But wait, what words from yonder keyboard break...

Dear Aaron,
Attached (zipped), please find the latest version 8.72 of my BBC Basic to Acorn ANSI C Translator. Also my HTML Manual, which may need some considerable editing if you intended to release it (e.g. Melotech no longer exists). I have been working on this translator for over 14 years, since redundancy, and, in that time the world moved on to C++ and Java:-< If this doesn't do the trick, Tough! Parse errors (bits the !BBC_C32 grammar doesn't recognise) in most cases down to single figures. My Dad describes what I have done as writing a program that translates from pure Glaswegian to Latin! In most cases making a silk purse out of a sow's ear! Can run out of memory with large BBC Basic programs. Hopefully 32-bit compatible.
The latest innovation is that BBC BASIC functions and procedures make their local variables available to sub functions and procedures, unlike the C Compiler with its functions being water-tight compartments. I have now identified such variables and supplied them as arguments in the C code to C sub functions.
The file 'TechNote' both inside !BBC_C32 and in the directory 'Notes' gives more information on the work !BBC_C32 does, and what it cannot translate.
Not really commercial, because it cannot, by definition, always do a perfect job, and it can take some debugging to get the compiled version to work properly. You need to know a bit about C. Sometimes !BBC_C32 falls over completely and produces a blank output file, but it warns you when this is happening.
Well, at least, it has been a kind of hobby and occupation for all this time
Good Night
Martin Carrudus

Thanks for this. I have included a copy of the BBC BASIC to C translator in the Letters directory in the software section of this issue. It's an interesting project, especially given the different natures of the two languages. BBC BASIC is an interpreted language where each line is read in turn and decoded each time it is used. C, of course, is a compiled language where the source code is turned into an executable that can then be run on the target machine. Interpreted languages have no executable as such, only the source that's tuned into chunks by the BASIC interpreter as it goes.

Given the huge difference in the way the languages work it says a great deal for the translator that it is able to produce anything even remotely useable, so I think that congratulations are in order.

The subject gives it away. Find attached a zipped Ovation Pro file of two more CD inlays.

Thanks for these. The two inlays (in one OvationPro file) are in the software directory on this CD. These two inlays, for Volume 7 issues 3 and 4 bring us almost up to date.

Now lets move on to our regular health and beauty section, with "Dr" Vince Hudd, consultant attached to the RISCWorld letters page...

Having given the matter a lot of thought, I've come to the conclusion that either Mr F. Ictional is a time travelling reader, or you made him and his letter up.
Given that I'm a self confessed/self appointed world leading expert on time travel (because I'm half way through not being able to find the time to write a book that covers the subject) I can safely say that Mr F. Ictional is almost certainly NOT a time traveller, which according to Occam means you probably made him up.
I have therefore seen through your little ruse.
Vince Hudd

I would like to deal with this letter in two parts, firstly by the power of thought......

....nd (shoudn't this be 'and' - DH) (no it shouldn't, now leave...leave...bad proprietor - ED) secondly using the power of words. Firstly since I have never met Mr Ictional I don't know if he is a time traveller or not. However since I have not knowingly ever met any time travellers I don't have a reference for comparison. Given an infinite universe it's quite probably time for lunch somewhere, and that somewhere is here so I'll be back in a minute, can I get you anything?. You'll have to think louder...never mind.

Right that's better. I wasn't aware that you are a world expert on time travel, by the same token I am a world expert on the lesser spotted arctic wildebeest (of course it's lesser spotted, it's too damn cold for wildebeest in the arctic - boom boom). I'm sorry about this there seems to be a fault with my keyboard. I definately wrote a carefully worded response citing a number of references but what came up on the screen was a load of old rubbish.

I have also never met this "Mr" Occam who you mention. Although I am familiar with a Mr Murphy and a Charles Sod, are they in any way related? Finally I feel that I should also say that my Ruse is always covered up at this time of year, due to the danger of a late frost, and I feel that it's every unlikely that you have seen it, or even worse seen though it.

Moving on I had another letter from Martin Carrudus.

Dear Aaron,
Another improvement to !BBC_C. It was falling over with large BBC Basic programs due to a memory allocation problem. I now have !BBC_C32 Version 8.73, which should be 32-bit compatible, and also be more conservative with the memory (when I finalise it!). I discovered a major way in which !BBC_C was clogging up the memory. Now shouldn't run out of memory with large programs. But if you want that version you will have to apply to me at the address I supply with all my software. Snail Mail, I'm afraid:-( Please say if you want it on CD ROM or floppy disc.
I should like to take this opportunity to thank Andrew Rawnsley, and, more particularly, Andrew Pullan at RComp for their interest, suggestions and valuable technical support. Both were willing to supply me with info, sometimes late at night and out of office hours:-> David Pilling always replied to my emails and, at times, was extremely helpful, despite the volume of correspondence he must receive. As for the others, some were extremely short, rude, nit-picking and unhelpful to me, but I'm not naming names! They don't seem to realise that everyone is a potential customer, and your reputation will go on before you. It all greases the wheels.
Enough of that!

Thanks for the update. I would suggest that anyone who is interested applies to you directly, however please remember to include a blank formatted disc and a couple of pounds worth of stamps to cover Martin's costs. The RISC OS community does tend to work together very well but it's worth remembering, when asking for help from someone, that they might be very busy so expect a delay. Regretfully there are some in the RISC OS community who are very rude, you only have to look at the newsgroups to see examples.

Anyway that's all from the letters page. So, if you would like to contact us don't forget to use the normal editorial e-mail address.

Aaron Timbrell