RISC World

Editor's Corner

Aaron Timbrell's own bit of the magazine.

Editors Rant of the month

This is my fourth attempt at writing an editorial for this issue. I've had to throw away the first three attempts as they were, not to put too fine a point on it, rubbish. The problem is that my enthusiasm for RISC OS has reached an all time low. Hopefully this situation won't last long, but at the moment it's coincided with the need to finish this issue of Foundation RISCWorld on time, which is unfortunate.

So why has my enthusiasm evaporated? Well, perhaps evaporated is the wrong word, perhaps dented beyond all belief would be a better description. So why had my enthusiasm been so dented?

There are a number of things that have caused the dents. Firstly there's still some bloody silly nonsense rumbling away in the background about the merger of Foundation RISC User and RISCWorld. I'm happy about the merger, APDL are happy, RISCOS Ltd are happy and, as far as I can tell from the feedback I've had so far, readers seem happy. In fact only one person isn't happy and is making a bloody nuisance of himself and has seriously got up my nose, and the nose of Dave Holden. This particular individual has no connection with what we are doing, but seems to feel that as he had some involvement with the Foundation in the past he's due 'something'. Well if he is due 'something', then that's fair enough. Unfortunately after months of being asked to produce some evidence that he's owed 'something', or indeed 'anything' we still haven't received anything. Well, that's not entirely true, there have been plenty of demands, but nothing that backs up his claims.

This alone probably wouldn't matter a great deal, but I've also been getting a shed load of unwarranted criticism about other things. For example, do you think it's a bad thing that I kick started the dormant RISCOS Ltd documentation project, which resulted in the free on-line release of the RISC OS Six Programmer's reference manuals and the release of the RISC OS Six user Guide. I don't think it's a 'bad thing' at all, but one very noisy individual thinks it was and was happy to say so. He also complained that we don't publicly announce the beta testing of code. Of course we don't you idiot, that's the whole point. We privately test code before it gets released to try and iron out any problems.

I've also had several people trying to tell me how to run my business. Advice is fair enough, but some chap I have never heard of popping up and telling me what I 'should' be doing isn't very encouraging. Especially when I write long replies explaining what we do and why, only to get ignored whilst the 'advice' continues.

Here's the problem. There seem to be a handful of very opinionated, late middle aged, over confident idiots about, and they've all been heading my way. However I have found a partial solution. As of a week ago I am no longer reading or posting to the RISC OS newsgroups. It's a shame, but there you go I don't feel I have much of a choice, it's either walk away from the newsgroups, or walk away from RISC OS. I have no intention of taking the second option and I don't like the first option, but I don't feel like I have a choice. I've worked bloody hard over the years and at the time of writing this I'm sorry I ever bothered. So as a general piece of advice. If a small group of people piss off those that actually do the real work, then there won't be a RISC OS around for them to moan about.

The following is about the vehicular faith, not specifically about computing.

As I said last issue I've decided to have an automotive clearout. The first car that needed to go was the Porsche. As the engine had been in bits for some time I decided to start re-assembling it. Refitting the cylinder head with a new gasket was a relative doddle, at least it was a doddle for me as all I had to do was drop the bolts in whilst Hayley held the head in position. Isn't having a knackered back wonderful? Having bolted the head back down it was then an easy job to refit the cambelt. This confirmed one of my original diagnosis, that the valve timing had been set wrongly. With this set correctly, using the original factory marks (since it's marked how can anyone get it wrong?) we checked that the engine turned over by hand correctly.

At this point we needed to start re-attaching various connections for the wiring loom. This is easily done provided you have three arms, all of which are five foot long and only two inches thick. Lacking this qualification I used the traditional struggling and swearing method. So far so good. Then a problem emerged. One of the cooling hoses was damaged. To cut a long story short (which is what had happened to the hose) I wasn't able to find a replacement anywhere. Ebay was a blank, as were all the car breakers. even a hunt of Porsche specialists failed to turn up the part. So I decided to give up and sell it as a non runner. I gave the car a wash to remove a years worth of grime and bird poo. Then discovered that the footwells were soaking wet. Remember the rust I had found from the last issue? Well there was a hole near the battery on the inner wing and this had allowed water to penetrate the entire structure of the passenger side.

Damn. I came up with a plan. I stuffed old towels in the footwells to soak up the water and pop riveted a plate over the hole. I then sealed round it with seam sealer. This did the trick, so at least I could let the car dry out before I sold it. I then gave the Porsche a quick polish to make it look half presentable, took some pictures and slapped it up on EBay with no reserve. Three days later it was disappearing up the road on a flatbed trailer and I was down just over £200 on what I had spent on the car, including purchasing it, which wasn't too bad and at least it was gone.

Now to the Monterey. I decided that I had a chance of selling it even with the gearbox leak if I put a fresh MOT on it. So an MOT test was duly arranged at a local garage. Much to my surprise it passed with only one bulb needed to be replaced, however much to the MOT testers surprise the gearbox decided to wait until he had his head under it before depositing half its oil down the back of his neck. He wasn't happy, but when I collected the car said he could fix the leak for around £ 300. I had a think for a few days then decided to take him up on his offer. So I duly delivered the truck to him a week later. Within a few days the mechanics had removed the box, replaced the main seal, refitted the box only to discover that it was still leaking.

As you can expect an argument ensued. I pointed out that they had said that they could fix the leak, they tried to say that this wasn't the case and that they had said they would replace the seal. This argument started on the phone, but concluded once I arrived in person. Yes they would take the gearbox back out again. It was three more weeks before I was able to pick the truck back up. In this time they had pressure tested the torque converter, which was fine, checked the gearbox pump, again fine, flushed the oil cooler, again fine and scratched their heads. In the end I sat down with the mechanic and we went through all the possibilities. We knew the leak was from the bellhousing, but how was the oil getting in there? The seal was fine, the torque converter was fine. There was only one other way the oil could be getting out, where the bellhousing bolts lose? Err....yes. With them duly tightened with blue Hylomar under the heads the gearbox was re-fitted and, wonder of wonders, didn't leak.

Despite the extra work involved the garage stuck to their quote for the work, probably because they know damn well that if they tried to charge more I wouldn't have paid and I drove the Monterey home, just in time for the Tax and Insurance to run out the next day. So after a full clean and Valet up it went on eBay and a week later was sold for just under £900, which isn't bad at all. I'm still waiting for it to be collected and then I will obviously be down to one vehicle, the Matiz. Only, errr, I won't, did I forget to mention that in the meantime I had been out and purchased something else?

Printing Foundation RISCWorld

The new look of Foundation RISCWorld means that you will no longer get the yellow background when printing articles. However you will still get the blue border on the left unless you turn off the printing of background images. The example below shows the print dialogue box from Fresco.


As you can see the option "No Background" is ticked. If you want to print out any of the RISCWorld pages and don't want to waste ink on a blue border then make sure you have clicked a similar option in your browser.

Aaron Timbrell