Here we are again with another column. I was starting to wonder if there was going to be any news to report this month as it's all seemed very quiet for a while. Thankfully, and as if by magic, lots of news all appeared together and out of nowhere. So let's see what has happened since last time...
Vince Hudd of Softrock Software has recently made available a number of titles which were previously published by Quantum Software. An announcement was made in 2006 that due to the illness of Stuart Halliday Quantum Software would be shutting down. Thanks to the work of Vince Hudd a number of the old Quantum titles, such as !Blinds, are once again available online.
The titles which are available are those that were written by Stuart Halliday himself. They are all Iyonix compatible and can be downloaded from http://quantumsoft.riscository.com/. It should be noted that these titles are supplied "as is" and no support or help can be given from SoftRock Software (Vince's company - ED). I've included the full set and an index (in Draw format) in the software directory on this issue, there's a lot to look at!
Anyone who used to play games on the BBC Micro will remember this Acornsoft classic. It's now been updated to run on the next generation machines. Magic Mushrooms is a platform game, and the object is to collect up all the mushrooms on each of the levels and then head for the way out.
To collect up all the mushrooms you'll need to work out the correct route through the level. There are a number of hazards thrown in to make your task a bit more tricky, such as disappearing blocks, conveyor belts and one way ladders. You will lose a life if you fall too far or run out of time.
This is a pretty good update of a classic old BBC game, and considering it is a freebie, you really can't complain. It can be downloaded from http://www.starfighter.acornarcade.com/mysite/games.htm so why not give it a go. It's definitely worth playing.
Also included in the game is a level editor, so should you wish to create your own levels you can. If you want to revisit the original BBC version it can be downloaded from http://www.stairwaytohell.com and will run on the Iyonix using either !BeebIt or !6502em. There are also a huge range of other BBC titles available for download from the same location.
Not one, but two, new retro styled games have arrived this month. The other title is Space Invaders. Whilst this is not an update of a particular old Acorn game, it does remind me a lot of Electron Invaders on, funnily enough the Acorn Electron! Invaders was written by Gareth Lock and started as a project to learn how to write a computer game using BBC BASIC.
Invaders looks and plays like a standard Space Invaders game should. Your ship is at the bottom of the screen, and you destroy endless waves of alien spacecraft. You can shoot the mothership for bonus points, but don't shoot your defensive bases which protect your ship, they can take 10 shots before they disappear, so be warned.
Invaders is another free game and if you like games of the shoot-em-up genre, then this is certainly worth downloading and playing. Visit http://www.garethlock.com/acorn/invaders/ or take a look in the Iyoinx directory on this issue to grab a copy.
Safestore is a backup system for use with RISC OS machines. Safestore was launched last year by R-Comp, and this is a piece of software which has filled a gap in the market, rather than being a variation on an existing theme.
The recent South West show saw V1.10 of the program released. This includes a number of significant updates. It's a free update for existing users of Safestore and should have been sent to all registered users by now. If not then give R-Comp a call.
As I don't have Safestore I can't really write about the changes that have been made since the previous version, but the press release mentions the following changes and improvements in this update.
Software backup is an important issue in everyday computing, and Safestore seems to be a very useful program which helps take care of the job. For more information or to buy Safestore, see the R-Comp website at http://www.rcomp.co.uk.
!Msgboard is the latest in a long line of applications from Dave Higton,which allow USB devices to work with the Iyonix. Previously we have had missile launchers, radios and a hamster in a wheel, now you can have a USB LED message board on your desktop!
This program is designed to work with the Dream Cheeky USB LED Message board, which was recently being sold by Maplin (stock number N88GA) and I would imagine it should be available from other on-line retailers.
Using the USB message board is simple. The application should run automatically when the message board is plugged into the computer. The supplied instructions say that a famous quotation will scroll across the messageboard when it starts up. What that is I don't know as I haven't yet got one of these devices, but I am very tempted.
The application can be customised to change the message and other settings by editing the applications !Run file. !MsgBoard is a free program and can be downloaded from http://www.apts04.dsl.pipex.com/Progs/MsgBoard.htm. It is good to see more devices being made to work with the Iyonix, as to how useful it is, well that's up to you really!
A new version of the MathMagical Software suite was launched recently at the RISC OS South West show. This suite of programs contains 6 applications; ArtGraph Film Studio, Mandelbrot Movie Maker, QuickGraph (Graph Plotter), MathBox (Maths Activites) SuDoku and TurtleChalk (Logo Turtle graphics).
This is a major update which adds many new features, fixes all the known bugs, and brings the suite of programs up to date. The cost of the suite is £65 but there is an introductory offer currently running until 1st June 2009 which reduces the cost to £45. Also included is a new multi-media desktop player plus three films, and a mathematical slideshow. The software is supplied on CD-ROM and includes printed user guides.
Existing users of the software suite can upgrade for £25.00. For more information, or to order/upgrade see the MathMagical Software Company's website at http://www.mathmagical.co.uk/index.html.
Organizer, the personal information manager program for RISC OS, hasn't had any development done for nearly 6 years. The latest version is dated 2003, however it's now on the road to making a comeback.
Last year it was announced that development would be taken over from the original author, Chris Morison, and it would now be developed and published by North One Communications Ltd. Programming is being done by Martin Avison who is the author of a number of well known RISC OS applications.
At the time of writing there has not yet been a new release. The current version still stands at 1.57. However Organizer is certainly worth investing in, especially if you have an older version. An update costs a very reasonable £10.00 and works fine on the Iyonix, some of the older versions didn't.
A recent announcement about Organizer states that many users have responded to the request to re-register as an Organizer user, but many email addresses were no longer valid. So if there are any Organizer users who did not receive the email asking for them to re-register, could they send their details - Name, Address, Phone Number, Email Address, RISC OS platform(s) being used and which version of Organizer being used to firstname.lastname@example.org.
It is worth doing as it will make registered users eligible for discount on the new version when it is released, as are any new purchasers who buy the current 1.57 version.
The Organizer website can be found at http://www.organizerpim.co.uk which gives lot of information about the program, including screeshots (see above). You can buy the latest version directly from the website. It is great news to see development on Organizer being restarted, a new version is said to be close to the beta testing stage, so I look forward this being released.
Finally for this month is an update which just missed last months deadline. KinoAmp is a well used and very easy to use program for playing MPEG movies on the RISC OS desktop. This latest release is V0.40 and it includes a number of new changes, of which the main ones are:
Kinoamp is a free program and the latest version and also the program source code can be downloaded from http://www.riscos-digitalcd.net/image/kinoamp/kinoamp.htm. Kinoamp comes with a help file which contains a lot of information and really should be read before use. Kinamp is a very useful application and it's good to see it still being worked on.
RISC OS 5.14
Unfortunately the recently announced RISC OS 5.14 release still doesn't seems to be forthcoming. I can on;t hope that it's being tested and going through quality control and that it's not too far off release. The Wakefield show often throws up significant new releases so maybe it will be scheduled for release at the show itself?
So there we go, the end of this months column, as ever if there are any comments, hints & tips, product placement, or just anything remotely Iyonix related in the slightest feel free to drop me a line.