RISC World

Editor's Corner

Aaron Timbrell's own bit of the magazine.

Editors Rant of the month

Something interesting is about to happen to RISC OS. You might not be aware of it, so let me tell you. RISCOS Open Ltd havr announced their plans to release a full RISC OS 5 ROM coupled with a version of RPCEmu for free, my understanding is that this will be targetted at a Linux platform. The aim is sensible, it will allow more people to contribute to the shared source RISC OS 5. Currently it's only possible to test code on a real Iyonix, and these are no longer available. So providing an eumlated platform for people to write and test RISC OS 5 code seems like a sensible idea.

However it doesn't deal with the real problem. The main reason that more people haven't contributed to the shared source RISC OS 5 is the licence that's attached. This gives everything to Castle Technology Ltd with nothing, or at least very little, returned to the contributor. A number of RISC OS figures have refused to have anything to do with RISC OS 5 as a result. Launching an emulator and a RISC OS 5 ROM, even if it is free, won't help.

However what a full RISC OS 5 ROM will do is stamp all over RISCOS Ltd's rights to RISC OS. As we all know Castle Technology Ltd were only able to continue selling the Iyonix because RISCOS Ltd's shareholders voted not to enforce their rights at that time. As long as what RISCOS Open Ltd were doing was targetted at the Iyonix then it could reasonably be assumed that this would fall under the previous decision made with regard to the Iyonix.

If RISCOS Open Ltd step over this line then things could start getting very messy. Firstly only RISCOS Ltd can licence RISC OS ROMs, this is what the company was set up to do, and the rights to this was what over £100,000 of the RISC OS communities money was spent on. Secondly as RISC OS 5 is actually a derivative of RISC OS 4 (it was a 32bit RISC OS 4 produce by Pace engineers "off the books") then one can easily argue that the contracts in place say that it's RISCOS Ltd and not Castle Technology that actually own RISC OS 5. Ouch.

Thirdly RISCOS Ltd's head licence (as negotiated with Acorn/Element 14) is an asset owened by the company. As the company is itself owned by shareholders such as CJE, APDL, R-Comp and many more. RISCOS Ltd will need to take steps to protect that asset. If the directors of RISCOS Ltd don't do something, even a letter just reminding RISCOS Open Ltd of the facts of the licences would probably do the job, then they themselves could be liable.

You might think that I am being melodramatic, but the original author of RPCEmu, Tom Walker, has publically abandoned the project and refuses to have anything more to do with it. I can fully understand why.

A freely available RISC OS emulator with a ROM could be a really good advert for RISC OS. As it seems like it's going to be targetted at Linux it's very unlikely to effect VirtualAcorn. Even if VirtualAcorn did lose a few sales, that's a price worth paying for the greater good. The trouble is that if it isn't all done properly the results could be disasterous. If RISCOS Open ltd push ahead without getting the lagalities sorted out then what's being touted as a "svaiour" for RISC OS could actually be the final nail in the coffin.

I am sure you know the famous comment that "may you life in interesting times", well I'd rather not be at the moment.

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

You may recall that last issue I said that I had purchased a new vehicle to "replace" the Montery and the worlds worst Porsche. As part of this process I decided that, at least for the present, I need to stop buying project vechicles and spend some money on a more modern device. After a lot of head scratching and changes of mind I finally settled on looking for a Sabb 9-3 convertible.

These were the closest fit to my requirements. I wanted another convertible as once you have had one there's no going back. I wanted something with a decent amount of "go", leather seats, power hood etc and as the Saab model suffer from quite harsh depreciation over the first 8 years a 2000/2001 model Saab convertible looked like a goog bet. Now all I needed to do was find one...

I won't bother repeating the details of all the "fully maintained, one lady owner" crap that we looked at (over 20 cars before finally buying one), but the hightlights were as follows:

  • Rusty inside the boot (hood put away whilst wet)
  • Gear lever hits dashboard (gearbox mounts failed)
  • Interior smells like a tramp's trousers (air con leaked behind dashboard)
  • Dents all over (actually one lady owner - I'm not joking)
  • General overpriced rubbish with a distinct lack of service history.
  • etc.

The list went on and on. I did think that we had found the winning car at one point, but having costed up the "small jobs that needed doing" I discovered that it added over £2000 to the price. I was about to give up when Hayley spotted a Saab 9-3 "Turbo" on Ebay. It was local and the price was only a little above the budget. The problem was which version of the "Turbo" was it. The spec and power outputs vary enourmously and you can't tell which one is which very easily. Even two identical cars could have a 70bhp difference.

I asked the seller and was informed that it was a "normal turbo" and was price as such. This would mean 154bhp with air-con. When we arrived I noticed that the car had full climate control, and not just air-con, which meant it was probably a special edition, or had a more powerful engine lurking under the bonnet. A test drive soon confirmed that it was both with a "f*ck that air con is cold....ffff****ccckkkk that's quick...."

So I am now the proud owner of a year 2000 Saab 9-3 Hot Black Turbo. Hot? Yes Hot, which is short for High Output Turbo. The reason it has leather seats is so you can wipe them clean after driving it. A 205bhp, front wheel drive convertible, it's mad. Luckily I'm not.

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