RISC World

Editor's Corner

Aaron Timbrell's own bit of the magazine.

Editors Rant of the month

It's fairly usual for magazine editors to take a quick look ahead at the start of a new year and to make some predictions about what might happen in the next 12 months. So as I have no real wish to break with tradition, plus it gives me something to write about, I will make the following predictions for 2009:

  • At least one (and quite possibly more) RISC OS magazines with cease publication.
  • The number of users of the RISC OS newsgroups will continue to decline.
  • There won't be any new RISC OS hardware.
  • There won't be any new commercial applications, although updates to existing products will continue.
  • The number of RISC OS shows will decline significantly, with perhaps only 2 shows (SW and Wakefield) happening this year.

Doesn't make for pleasant reading does it? But I suspect that in your heart you will be inclined to agree with these predictions. The RISC OS market has been in decline for years. It needs to be remembered that one of the reasons Acorn got asset stripped is that they themselves could not make a success of RISC OS. This decline has been fairly slow but I have a nasty feeling that the looming Depression, as opposed to the Recession that's being currently talked about, might be the final blow. Let me explain how.

Despite what merchant bankers, head fund managers and others in the "financial services industry" might like to think the real power in an economy rests with the individuals that make up that economy. If everyone in the UK decided to cut their spending by as little as 15% the country would collapse. The real power rests with consumers because it's real people buying "stuff" that powers the economy. Companies wouldn't employ people to make things if the consumers weren't going to buy them. So having explained modern economics in one paragraph what can you as a RISC OS user do about it?

The answer is simple. Buy things. If you are considering purchasing a RISC OS product then buy it, don't dither, don't put the purchase back, just open your wallet and make the purchase. The RISC OS market is small enough that it could be almost completely insulated from the ills of the rest of the economy if the RISC OS user base decides to purchase products.

If everyone starts buying things then my predictions will be wrong, if not then things will be much worse. You've been warned.

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

If time is indeed money, as some people claim, then I'm skint. I simply don't have the time to carry on messing around with old cars at the moment. As you will no doubt recall over the last couple of years I've been clearing the fleet of doom. The Beetle has gone, so has the VW Camper, the Porsche and finally the Vauxhall Monterey. This leave me with the Daewoo Matiz, which isn't fun but is small and cheap, as well as the latest purchase. The Saab 9-3 convertible.

So far so good and very sensible, but it doesn't leave me much to write about, but I will try anyway. Firstly the Matiz. This has had a couple of slow punctures for some time, it takes a week and a half before the tyres need re-inflating and as I don't drive far I just keep a pump with me. However recently one of the tyres decided that it didn't like containing air, so it refused to. I stuck the previously unused spare wheel on and then examined the defective tyre. Since the alloy wheel has some corrosion and needs cleaning up and repainting I suspected that the problem was just alloy corrosion causing the tyre to not seat properly on the rim. I was wrong. Instead the problem was the remains of a self tapping screw stuck in the tread. When I say remains I do mean remains as most of the screw's head has been worn away. Whoops. I will get a new tyre once I have managed to remove the old one and cleaned up the wheel.

As for the Saab, can I say? It's a new (for me) car with a full history and I'm the third owner, the first being Saab themselves. So what have I had to do? Well I've had to buy two new batteries for one of the plips as the SID (Saab Information Display) on the dashboard told me that they needed changing. That's not very exciting is it? I also re-aligned both doors as with age then tend to shift very slightly and I wasn't happy with the shut lines. This is a job I've done on almost very vehicle I've ever bought and in the case of the Saab only took about half an hour a door. Luckily I happened to have the correct sockets to undo the mounting bolts. When aligning a door, even a long heavy one, you can easily do it on your own provided you have two other essential tools. These are a trolley jack and a lump of softwood. Placing these under the base of the door whilst it's open allows the bolts to be loosened without fear of the door shifting under it's own weight.

So with new Plip batteries and better aligned doors what else was there to do? Ah, yes, the roof. Like most convertibles the Saab has a canvas roof. Also like most convertibles this was filthy when viewed close up and had also lost some of it's original colour. It should have been black but had turned a dark grey. Cleaning a reproofing a hood is a job that can be expensive and is best left to a specialist. So here's how I did it for under a tenner...

Firstly the roof must be cleaned. It will have some mold in the crevices. In order to clean this the best substance to use is Biotex. Mix it up in a bucket with warm water, get a small scrubbing brush (I used a nail brush) and start scrubbing. The amount of muck that comes out is amazing. Biotex won't damage the paintwork on the car, which is fortunate because after an hour scrubbing the roof the car will be filthy. Luckily this doesn't matter as then the car and roof needs to be hosed off. Not a quick 5 minutes, but the roof in particular needs to be soaked with clean water. After doing this you can clean the bodywork down and give it a good wax and then you need to leave the roof to dry, the best idea is to do this in the summer and leave it for 24 hours.

Having got the canvas roof clean and waited for it to dry you need to reproof it. There are some marvellous products on the market these days, some specialist products costing as little as £50 for a bottle with enough to do one convertible roof. There is also one product that's miles better than anything else and that can be purchased for well under a tenner in any DIY store. Thompson's Water Seal. Whilst you may have seen this advertised as "the best defence against repair expense" for brickwork it's actually ideal for canvas. Indeed if you read the small print on the side of the tin you will find more mention of canvas (tents, groundsheet, sleepingbags etc) than you will for brickwork. My method of applying is is to tip some out into a paint roller tray, to poor some on the roof and brush it out with a brush. It needs to be done twice as the first coat will get absorbed almost instantly. The second coat can only be applied once the first has dried which takes a couple of hours. I do have a couple of bits of advice though. Firstly if you get some Water Seal on the paintwork wipe it away immediately. It will be easy to remove because the vehicle was waxed yesterday. Secondly if there is any chance of rain, don't do it. Any rain will damage the finish on the hood and you will have to start again.

Once the second coat has been applied the roof will regain its "as new" colour. In the case of my Saab after doing this job (and it took a few hours) the hood looked like new. The Saab 93 has a large roof, but even so a £7 of Water Seal has enough for several coats. Since a hood should be reproofed every year the tin should last you 2 years.

So what does any of this have to do with RISC OS? Nothing, but it's damn site better use of your time than reading the rubbish on Drobe.

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