RISC World

Letters Page

I haven't the time, to think of a Rhyme...

Firstly I should start by saying that we have had a few e-mail problems over the last couple of weeks. So, if you have sent an e-mail to one of the RISCWorld addresses and either haven't had a reply, or don't see your letter in print, then we probably haven't received it. These problems have now been fixed and we shouldn't be having any further problems (touch wood).

So let us have a rummage through the letters that did make it through...

Hi Aaron,
I enjoyed the last issue, and have been looking through back issues on the latest DVD which has been most interesting. I must say I missed the GamesWorld column this time, it was one of my favourite parts of the magazine.
I can understand Paul saying that he didn't feel there was enough to fill a regular column. However looking back on Volume 7 there have been quite a lot of new or updated games and re-releases such as the Bughunters, the Magnetic Scrolls interpreter, PicoDrive, and the new games Aced and Quake 2.
Of course one of the great things about RISCWorld is having all the reviewed software on the disc. Had it not been for RISCWorld I probably would have missed out on quite a few recent releases as they often aren't all covered on the news portals. I hope GamesWorld is back soon. Also, is there any way to use video cameras on RISC OS ? I think this was mentioned briefly in a previous issue by David Bradforth but I'd appreciate more info on how (or how not to) do this.
Andy Brown

The problem for Paul, in writing the GamesWorld column, was that it was getting increasingly difficult to find enough things to fill it. This is purely because RISC OS really is not a good platform for gaming and hence not many developers produce games. However GamesWorld isn't dead and buried, just sleeping. Once there are enough new things to write about the column will appear again, it just won't be appearing in every issue.

When RISCWorld was being designed it was decided that software mentioned in the magazine should be included on the CD. At the time most people didn't have high speed internet connections and downloading a lot of software would take time and incur a cost. Since the cost to us of including the software on the CD was effectively zero (a CD costs the same whether it's full or empty) we decided to include items we mentioned, where possible. There was some discussion at this point about how much software should be included on each issue. There is a temptation to try to fill up each CD as much as possible with anything one can gets one's hands on. I think this is a bad idea and prefer to have a few carefully chosen items and to make sure that each issue has different software on it.

With regard to using video cameras on RISC OS I am not sure what type of camera you mean. Most digital still cameras (even cheaper ones) can record video and this video data can be transferred to a RISC OS machine via a USB interface. Of course you can't do much with the video once you have it as there is no up to date video editing package available for RISC OS. Proper video cameras usually connect via a FireWire interface, there is no FireWire support on RISC OS and so the video can't be imported.

If you mean web cams then there are some options available. Firstly there is an application called "g0Cam" by Ian Hawkins that allows you to view webcams from sites on the internet without having a web browser loaded. I have included a copy of this in the Letters section of the Software directory. Over the years there have been a few attempts at writing webcam software for RISC OS, many of these attempts rely on a particular piece of hardware being present (such as a RiscTV card) to do the digitising and to grab the data. Given the number of USB webcams that contain all the digitising code it should be possible for someone to write a proper webcam driver for RISC OS. It would be very nice to see this as this is one of the areas in which RISC OS is deficient (both my iMac and my laptop have built in webcams).

We have included a zip file on the CD but unfortunately it is corrupted. We tried to obtain a replacement but the link from Ian Hawkins' web site at seems to be broken as is the link to his email address. If anyone does have a copy or manages to obtain one please do send it to us so that we can include it with te next issue of RISC World.

Another one of our regular readers had this to say...

Congratulate Aaron on his Editors Corner, I agree there is far too much bickering on the newsgroups and personally feel it puts people off, not the sort of thing to show potential newcomers.
Also congratulate him on his blooper - "He and his wide came along and were here for two hours" - nice one!
Maybe you should have an unintentional goof section!
I like the idea of CMOSD but it appears to be limited in that you only have the last copy of the CMOS - what happens if you do something that screws up the CMOS, it'll get saved and loaded the next time you boot, therefore overwriting a possible good configuration.
Would it be possible for the program to compare the last saved version (if there is one, otherwise copy the CMOS to disk) and only write it to disk if it's different, giving it a new name in the process (how about date/time) and calling this the 'current' version, which would be then compared on the next write to disk. This way you would end up with a 'last good configuration' and use that to write back to the CMOS, similar to Windows PC's where you can boot from the last known good configuration.
Keep the good work up.
Bryan Page

Thanks for the letter. The bickering on the newsgroups seems to have subsided (at the time of writing) which is good news, lets hope it stays that way. As for the blooper in the editorial, well it happens. If you really want to see bloopers go back and take a look at the early issues from Volume 2, they are full of mistakes. We do make sure that each article is proof read by someone who isn't the author to try to catch mistakes. When an author reads their own work it's far too easy to read what you meant to say, rather than what is actually written on the page. To be honest I am fairly happy with RISCWorld as regards mistakes as only a few seem to get through, certainly a lot less than in some other RISC OS magazines.

If you have suggestions for improvements to CMOSD then you should forward these to the author. The website for the application can be found at it would be nice to think that all RISC OS application writers read RISCWorld but I don't think they do.

Now a comment on an article in the previous issue...

Hi Aaron,
Many thanks for the article about !Scrap. (You did promise to do it, I think, in one of those articles you wrote about Spring cleaning your RiscPC). Which reminds me, time to do mine again. I must dig out your exceedingly useful articles (Grovel, fawn....).
One thing to watch out for in !Scrap is that the music writing program Sibelius, as part of its copy protection, puts a directory in Scrap. If you delete this, sibelius ceases to work. Users beware.
I have two. One is at :-
& another at:
One of these is the one that does the protection bit & I think the other is just the one the program uses when manipulating files but I can't remember which is which.
If I remember correctly, Paul Vigay said there were a couple of other RISC OS programs that do something similar but I have no idea what they are.
Chris Newman

Thanks for this information. As I said in the article various programs do put stuff in Scrap, because it was the only location available on some older machines, although I am surprised that Sibelius does something like this as it has copy protection that writes data to the disc map (very nasty). Still it's another program to be wary of if you are clearing out Scrap, although with most program deleting the stuff from Scrap just destroys the programs choices, but doesn't stop it running.

Finally Michael Poole has some question regarding RISC OS 6...

I read the article on Risc OS 6 with some interest, and I'm even tempted to shell out £49 for it, given the huge improvement RO 4.39 made to my RiscPC.
However, there's one main thing I'd be looking for as a really big improvement over RISC OS 4 from my point of view, and that's Unicode support. You don't mention it in your article, so does it have it?
I know RISC OS 5 on the Iyonix does, but I don't have one of those. I've got suitable Japanese fonts, and it would be great to be able to display Japanese natively, even if entering it would be largely impossible due to lack of an Input Method Engine (that's what you use to avoid the need for a 6,000+ character keyboard - phonetic entry and some seriously fancy lookup tables).
Michael Poole

One feature that RISC OS 6 does lack is indeed UniCode support. In terms of font handling RISC OS 6 behaves like RISC OS 4. It supports Base 0 fonts (such as Homerton, Trinity etc) but does not support UniCode fonts. However as you correctly point out having UniCode support itself isn't much help without the fonts and an input method. Japanese and Chinese in particular contain many thousands of characters and it's not sensible to try to make a keyboard that has thousands of keys. Instead the usual method is to construct letters from parts, much in the way that accents can be added to a Latin font, for example French. It might be possible to add UniCode support to RISC OS 6, but it's a fairly big job and without the other supporting materials allowing character input I am not sure that it's a good use of engineering time.

Mind you, has anyone tried using the Iyonix font manager on RISC OS 6?

If you would like to contact RISCWorld, and have your words features on the letters page please e-mail us using the following e-mail address.

Aaron Timbrell