They are made from words, and letters too, and some of them, really come from you...
Once again the RISCWorld, whoops, sorry, that's Foundation RISCWorld editorial address has been very busy with a number of topics under discussion. If you have written in and your letter hasn't been published this time then don't fret it will probably be appearing in the next issue. Now with that our of the way lets move on to this...
Thanks for the e-mail. Sorry but your letter didn't arrive in time to make it into the last issue. I am please that you've added a contact link to the website. It's one of those things that's easily overlooked. I know because I have done exactly the same in the past. Given the small nature of the RISC OS market I think it's essential that everyone can get in touch with software authors, either to suggest improvements or to ask for help. Whilst on the subject of help thanks very much for the offer of assistance to any Foundation RISCWorld readers who get stuck in the game. It's this level of support that marks out RISC OS as a friendly community.
The situation is very simple. ROL tried to get a version of Select running on the Iyonix. This "prototype" was shown at various venues (eg. Wakefield a few years ago). However it was very unstable and not suitable for a release.
ROL asked Castle for assistance with this to get it working properly. Castle then asked for many thousands of pounds to "help". As an aside it's worth pointing out that all the other manufacturers have assisted ROL with getting RISCOS to run on their hardware. Both VirtualAcorn and Advantage6, as well as RISCStation have contributed (both financially and with technical help) to make sure Select runs on the relevant hardware.
This situation has remained the same for some time. In 2004 Castle and ROL signed a new agreement that would have got Select onto the Iyonix. Castle broke this new agreement within a very short space of time. ROL then tried to go through the dispute procedure that was in the new agreement. This required both parties to submit information to an independent third party who would make a binding decision. Castle refused to comply with their own terms and as such the agreement was held to be null and void and ROL reverted to running under the original agreement that had been negotiated with Acorn/Element 14.
So it's been stalemate for some time. However last year ROL and ROOL had a long meeting (I know as I was there) where we discussed how we could co-operate and avoid duplicated effort. A lot of this discussion is covered by an NDA so I can't say a great deal. Now ROOL might be able to assist ROL with the problems with Select on the Iyonix, but at the time the relevant sections of RISC OS 5 were not available and ROOL had no idea when they might have them. I believe that they have now been subsequently released.
At the Wakefield show 2008 ROOL released some more code and this *might* have the solution to the problems with Select on the Iyonix. In my view Castle still don't want ROL to get RISC OS 6 running on their hardware, but, they now have little (or no) control over the situation and the relationship between ROOL and Castle doesn't seem to be especially close anymore.
As a final point it's worth me pointing out that the facts have been repeated ad-nausuem by myself, Dave Holden and others, but nobody seems to want to listen. As for the "confusion" over Select the only "information" that matters is what ROL officially say. Secondhand "information" on the newsgroups isn't to be relied upon. Only official statements from ROL have any weight.
Now for an on-going discussion. You may remember from the previous issue that Michael Poole we having problems with reading the latest Foundation RISCWorld CDs. I asked him how old his CD drive was and what speed it was...
I suspect that's the problem. Old drives sometimes have problems with modern CDR discs - so the new disc might not work (hopefully it will) but the type of CDRs that can be obtained vary and we are at the mercy of the market. We did purchase 10,000 CDRs of a particular make that did work in older drives, but we have now used all of these. Given the price of CD-ROM drives it's not worth carrying on with this old 6x unit as it's only going to cause problems again. APDL can sell a replacement drive with a new version of CDFS. Overseas shipping shouldn't be too expensive.
Now lets return to Matt Thompson's earlier letter as, having read my reply, he had this to add...
I think you a right, it's all bloody silly, I'm not sure if you could call it 'politics', just daft. The Iyonix is the best piece of RISC OS hardware ever released. RISC OS 6 is the best version of RISC OS. If we are to try and take on the big boys then it makes total sense to do so with the best possible product, which would be a combination of the two. What's interesting is that if you read the Peter Bondar interview in this issue this situation is exactly what he was worried about 10 years ago. The market is indeed too small for in-fighting.
Luckily pretty much all of the nonsense is in the past. RISCOS Ltd and RISCOS Open Ltd have a good working relationship with none of the "history" that exists between ROL and Castle. So that's good news. The remaining problem is one of resources. ROL is a small company with limited resources. A version of RISC OS 6 for the Iyonix would need to re-coup its development cost. If we go back to the 'pledge' that was set up a couple of years ago there were just over 100 people prepared to pay for Select for the Iyonix. If each one of those were still prepared to pay £100, then that would give a budget of just over £10,000, which, lets face it, is a drop in the ocean. Or, to put it in perspective, considerably less that Peter Naulls charged the community for his FireFox port.
I still firmly believe that it can be done, but it won't be easy and, as we have seen, it certainly won't be quick. Select for the Iyonix is going to have to be fitted in between other jobs and done as a set of targeted releases. As for Castle, well who knows that they are up to, but I haven't seen any press releases, announcements, updates or indeed any activity for a year. The company should be filing its accounts at Companies House by the end of the month and that should give us all a better idea of what its been up to.
Now we have the latest production from Martin Carrudus...
Many thanks. I have included a copy of !Oyez in the Software directory. It's quite an interesting application and demonstrates the use of the Speech module very well, although I think that speaking the contents of the info window ought to be an option, rather than by default. Having said that I can see a number of uses for this already. As an idea it might be worth considering adding some 'automated' functions so that !Oyez could run a particular file when an alarm went off, for example to start a backup process. Or how about interfacing it with the Iyonix sound sampler so that you could control it with speech? So you could shout at it in the morning to turn the alarm to snooze? Just a couple of silly ideas.
To contact the RISCWorld letters page please e-mail us using the following e-mail address. The deadline for letters being published in the next issue is the 10th of September.