Matt Thompson with the latest news for Iyonix owners.
Here we are again with another Iyonix column. There is quite a lot to cover this month, which is always good, so on with the show...
Following on from the USB Missile launcher, we now have another entry in the series of pointless RISC OS applications (the author's words not mine!). Introducing !Hamster. This allows a USB Hamster wheel to be controlled by a RISC OS computer, which I'm sure is something that everyone has been waiting for.
It operates in the same way as the USB Missle launcher program. Simply load the software, plug in the device and it will then begin to work. However as I do not own a USB Hamster Wheel at the time of writing this, I cannot say much more about this than that. You can download !Hamster from www.apts04.dsl.pipex.com/Progs/Hamster.htm and the USB Hamster Wheel itself can be bought from various online suppliers such as Play.com, Amazon. I would also imagine CJE Micro's will have them in stock. I wonder what USB controlled device we will be seeing next? Something useful or something silly again, I quite like the look of USB Christmas Trees!
ROFS is a Read Only filing system that allows the Iyonix to read USB memory sticks bigger than 2GB. This is useful as currently RISC OS 5 cannot do this. The program is easy to use. Simply plug in your drive to the Iyonix, then run the ROFS application. When the program icon has appeared on the icon bar click on it to run the program. Do not click on the drive icon which will have appeared on the icon bar as this will crash the Iyonix.
This software is not the finished article and is still work in progress. It has already seen a number of updates since it was released. The current version is V0.09 and can be downloaded from here http://www.apts04.dsl.pipex.com/Progs/ROFS.htm and it is recommended to read the supplied documentation before using it.
Following on from last months article about the release of V1.0 of Netsurf, the development has not stopped and continues with the release of V1.1. There are a number of changes and bug fixtures in this new release, it would be a very long list and I am not going to reproduce it all here. If you want to see then if you click on the following weblink http://vlists.pepperfish.net/pipermail/netsurf-users-netsurf-browser.org/2007-August/000147.html you can read the changes log.
It is excellent to see such a quick release to follow up V1.0 of NetSurf and even after V1.1 was released the test builds are still going on. The latest one being dated 29th August. You can download the latest stable version of NetSurf from http://www.netsurf-browser.org/download/ and the test builds from http://www.netsurf-browser.org/builds/
In my NetSurf article I mentioned that the visual history feature did not work and that all I got was an empty window, well I am pleased to say that this does now work perfectly. The screenshot below shows the contents of my history window:
The one which is highlighted red is the site you are currently on, if you click on any of the images then NetSurf will automatically go to that particular site. As you visit more and more websites the image collection builds up, but it is a quick and handy way of moving between websites especially if you can't remember what the site was called but would recognise it if you saw it again, which does happen.
Sound Blaster Card Driver
A driver to allow Soundblaster cards to work with the Iyonix has been released. The software allows you to play sound through the card and will bring a better level of audio quality to RISC OS 5 machines.
This is a port of the open source driver software EMU10K1 for Linux machines and is an early version at the moment. Future versions are planned which would support the card input mixer, recording abilities and MIDI support, this sounds an interesting project and can only benefit RISC OS 5.
I have not noticed any sound issues when using my Iyonix, but many users have apparently reported a crackling noise with the Iyonix audio system, which occurs mainly with high pitched or high volume sounds. As the SoundBlaster live card is a dedicated sound card these problems are solved.
The finished driver will be a module and is planned to be integrated into the RISC OS sound system. You can download the Soundblaster module from http://simonrules.com/iyonixsblive/ and also the source code which is available from the website.
A small update to this very useful little program. For some reason I imagined that Smartmenu had reached V0.21 a few months ago. I've no idea why that was as it hadn't been released, but V.0.21 definitely exists now!
In this new version a problem with the RISC OS 6 Window manager has been resolved. Apart from that it is the same as before, although this problem does not affect Iyonix users it is still worth getting the latest version and being up to date. V0.21 can be downloaded from http://www.theochem.ru.nl/~dtanis/riscos.html
If you have yet to encounter Smartmenu, then it is definitely worth checking out. The program is a module which will open program submenus to the left when a menu is opened near the edge of the desktop, as the screenshot below shows. Thats all there is to it really, an excellent piece of software, and makes you wonder why this sort of thing wasn't included in RISC OS in the first place.
Vice (the Versatile Commodore 8bit Emulator) is a collection of programs which allow you to emulate the range of Commodore computers - so if you are into retro game playing this is emulator is well worth having a go with.
Vice is available on many computer platforms and it receives updates every so often. This new release of Vice takes it to V1.22 and as with most of these updates it is mainly a bug fixing exercise and fine tuning of the program as there is not much else you can add to it. I can't say that i've ever noticed anything different with each upgrade that I've downloaded, it seems to be the same every time, obviously it isn't, but we just don't see the changes.
The screenshot above shows the game Exorcist being played on VicePlus4 which emulates the Commodore 16 and Plus4 computers. The object of the game is to light all the walls of all the rooms in the maze. This was a game I used to play a lot back in the eighties on a friends Commodore 16, a great little game with a very catchy tune which will stick in your head for ages!. Vice V1.22 can be downloaded from http://www.viceteam.org/
MoreDesk is a program which has been around for a while now and is in constant development and it received another update recently. So I thought that I would giving it a mention. MoreDesk is a program which allows you to organise your windows over a space which is much larger than the normal desktop.
This is done by creating a grid of desktop spaces and then allowing you to select which one is the current desktop. The following link shows MoreDesk in action http://www.7thsoftware.com/moredesk/images/screen.gif
This release of MoreDesk takes it to V1.16 and it includes a number of fine tuning adjustments and some bug fixes. A full list of changes can be found here http://www.7thsoftware.com/moredesk/html/history.html
MoreDesk costs £14.99 and is fully Iyonix compatible. You can buy it online from http://www.7thsoftware.com/moredesk/ and a free demonstration version can be downloaded from http://www.7thsoftware.com/software.htm . If you find your desktop is getting a bit cluttered and want more space but can't afford a bigger monitor then this is worth a look.
A new update for Artworks has been recently released, this update takes it up to V2.75. This new version includes 20 significant fixes,and also 2 minor features, so theres quite a few changes here. Some of the bugs which have been fixed date back to when the program was still owned by Computer Concepts (remember them?) A complete list of changes can be found at http://www.mw-software.com/software/artworks/aw2features10.html.
This update is free to all users of Artworks V2.75 and can be downloaded from http://www.mw-software.com/software/artworks/artworks2.html . The next release of Artworks will be V2.8 and is scheduled to be released at next years Wakefield show.
Not really an Iyonix issue but worth mentioning anyway. David Bradforth has published a one-off special of the RISC Domain magazine, it has 56 pages and is A5 size and in full colour.
It features articles on using RISC OS, Virtual Acorn on the Mac, Ebay, Selling on Amazon, Digital scanners and a rather nice pictorial history of Acorn computers, including a picture of the ill-fated Phoebe, which was such a shame that machine never happened, as that big yellow case is excellent and would look superb on any computer desk.
RISC Domain costs £2.99 and is available from http://www.riscdomain.info. This will take you into an Ebay page where you can 'Buy It Now' this part will work under RISC OS but unfortunately if you want to use Paypal it's not so easy this is a sticking point under RISC OS at the moment. The best solution I have found is to use RISC OS Firefox it's a bit slow and awkward to use at times but it will get the job done, failing that contact David Bradforth at email@example.com and I'm sure he'll be able to sort out something.
The bottom bit
And so we reach the end of another column, the RISC World Iyonix column can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any comments, help/advice, product plugging or anything remotely Iyonix related that could be of use or interest to other Iyonix users.