RISC World

Letters Page

What a lorra lorra letters, shame the grammars got no betters...

For the first time in as long as I can remember (about 15 minutes) we have had a huge number of letters sent in to Foundation RISCWorld Towers for inclusion in this issue. Indeed we have had so many that some of my answers will have to be a little brief. Either that or I'll never get the column finished in time to get the magazine out to you subscribers and we can't have that can we. A RISC OS magazine that's late, who's ever heard of such a thing?

Anyway with the excuse for the brevity of some of my replies over with, lets get on with our subscribers latest thoughts. Starting with a response to a comment I made last issue...

Dear Editor,
"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."
I couldn't agree more. I always read the "Vehicular Faith" column for the entertainment value, but I almost never read Drobe, 'cos it's mostly totally boring.

I am glad you find the "Vehicular Faith" part of my editorials entertaining, doing these silly vehicle based jobs often keeps me "entertained" for hours on end, as do the range of minor injuries I receive for my pains. My objection to Drobe is not related to any level of boredom that it introduces, but is purely related to the harm that the frequent inaccuracies can cause to the RISC OS market. I've said in the past that most of the errors in Drobe articles could easily be caught by the minimum of basic research. Given that the man force behind Drobe, Chris Williams, actually works as a journalist full time I find this amazing. OK, I accept that he is a very junior hack on an obscure local paper and seems to have set his sights on a career in the gutter of tabloid journalism. Even so I would have thought that a "professional" would be able to make a better job of it.

Now that Drobe has been "slimmed" down and only carries short snippets the main problems seem to have been sorted out. If each "article" is only a few sentences then it's almost impossible to cram in many mistakes, which is good news. It also reduces th common Drobe problem of opinion and speculation being presented as fact. I very rarely look at Drobe any more. I've little interest in the content and even less interest in the comments on the forums, especially given the "interesting" pruning that takes place to remove any comments that "Drobe staff" might not agree with.

Now it's time for another Foundation RISCWorld regular contributor...

Hi Aaron,
Two (newish) applications for your amusement. !Elizabet2 is a slightly improved version of my original !Elizabeth calculator.
!ValJive is a whole different can of fish. Translates Text to 'Valley' (Hippy) slang, or 'Jive' slang/speak. The lexical analysers used here were originally supplied as 'demos' with the GNU 'Flex', and are not my work. NOT to be taken seriously, or ANY offence taken to it, I hope!
However the user can opt not to translate the Text, but have it spoken back to them. The Accent, Speed, Pitch (Frequency) and Volume (Amplitude) of the Speech is selectable.
This might have a PRACTICAL outcome for those wishing to read Text Files under RISCOS, who are visually impaired.
Since I have, in effect, used GNU software, I have, in turn, supplied my source C code in a directory 'c' within !ValJive. A rather 'cobbled together' thing, as I have melded together two separate Flex generated lexical analysers. I was VERY surprised when it compiled and worked with very little trouble.
Regards, and Good Night,
Martin Carrudus

Thanks very much for these two. I've included both of these in the Letters directory in the Software section of this issue. !ValJive in particular is well froody dude...

Now another happy customer, as Basil Fawlty said, "perhaps we should get him stuffed"...

Hi Aaron,
Received Foundation RISCWorld 9/5 today, and from that I've just installed the new fix update on my install of VRPC AdjustSA and thought it worth a mention, that printing is now okay.

I am pleased that the update sorted the printing problems. I've had a number of other e-mails saying similar, that problems with printouts not appearing has been resolved. So we at VirtualAcorn are fairly happy that we have finally correctly tracked down and fixed the problems for good.

Whilst we are on the subject of VirtualAcorn...

Dear Aaron Timbrell,
I am a subscriber to RISC World and would be grateful if you will give me some advice.
I have an A6 PC loaded with Virtual RPC - Adjust software. I use the Windows side mainly for the internet and the RISC platform for most other things. I have an HP 5550 printer which I bought some years ago because at the time I was told it was one of the few printers for which a RISC printer driver was available. The system has worked well but the printer is now causing some problems and I would like to buy a new printer/scanner. However, I do not know what machines are available for which I can obtain a RISC OS printer driver and would be pleased if you can help me.
Peter Wotton

You have raised an interesting point or two here. Firstly as you are using a VirtualRPC the same rules as for a "real" RISC OS machine don't necessarily apply. Firstly with regard to a scanner, you won't have any success using a scanner directly with VirtualRPC using a RISC OS driver as scanners are not supported. So you might consider scanning under Windows and then transferring the resulting image over to RISC OS.

Lets now move on to the printers. The number of machines with a RISC OS driver has increased significantly over the last couple of years. This may come as rather a surprise but allow me to explain. Firstly you could take a look at Gutenprint from Martin Wuerthner. This is a RISC OS version of the Linux Gutenprint project, which aims to provide drivers for a range of modern printers. The latest update from January added support for an extra 600 printers, so you get some idea of the number it supports. I suggest asking Martin himself for advice if you want to go down the Gutenprint route.

The other alternative is UniPrint from R-Comp. Uniprint will allow RISC OS running on VirtualRPC to print to any printer that Windows can use (which is almost anything). So you can pick up that wireless Lexmark all in one machine from your local supermarket for £50 and know that it will work. In addition R-Comp also produce UniScan. This allows any scanner that supports the WIA (Windows Imaging Architecture) to be used with RISC OS under VirtualRPC. This includes the vast majority of scanners that have a Windows driver.

So to sum up. It's possible to buy almost anything and get it to work on RISC OS running on a VirtualRPC. This is a rather different scenario to a few years ago when hardly anything worked. The only caveat is that you will need to buy UniPrint/UniScan or Gutenprint, they aren't free. However the cost is more than offset by the low cost printers that can now be used.

I recently received the latest RISCWorld cd and I was instantly drawn to your 2009 predictions.
I must say that I think you may be on to a looser with the one about RISC OS shows as MUG have already started planning for this years MUG Xmas Show which will be on 5th December at the Guild of Students University of Birmingham again. Indeed we announced at last years show that we would be doing one again and it will be the second show entirely run and organised by MUG.
Finally thanks for another cracking read and Foundation RISCWorld seems to be getting better each issue.
Doug Webb

That's excellent news. I am very pleased that the MUG Xmas show is going ahead despite the stratospheric collapse of the Arm Club which had in previous years co-hosted the show. I was also concerned that the unannounced closure of the Arm Club might have had a knock on effect in other areas. However it seems that my concerns were unfounded and that things are carrying on as normal. Good news indeed

Thanks for the kind words about the magazine. We do try very hard to keep the magazine fresh and to come up with a broad range of content so that there will always be something for everyone in each issue. Hopefully we succeed most of the time.

Dear Aaron,
Do you or any of RW's members know of any RISC software which would display a virtual [music] keyboard [3 or 4 octaves would be enough] on the monitor which would allow the mouse to 'press' keys and produce the corresponding valued note via the computers speaker? I have a Wersi Verona electronic organ here and I often come across pieces of CD/DVD music for which the printed sheet music is not available for some reason [foreign, old, obscure et al...].
It would be nice to be able to tap it on the screen to construct the tune [by ear] then transcribe it using Maestro, or Rhapsody etc. for printout. I have tried this manually, but the organ is in the lounge and the Acorn is in the bedroom....tricky eh? It doesn't need to be all that sophisticated, just allow for messing about and 'noting the notes' either by hand or it may somehow record the key presses used.
Surely there are others out there who could use this?
Thomas Shevels

Thanks for the letter. I can fully understand the need for such an application for RISC OS. So I went and asked the expert on all things Public Domain, Dave Holden. He then went through his database of RISC OS PD applications and came up with !KeyBoard. Then he also came up with !Piano. A quick test showed that !KeyBoard seemed to work fine on RISC OS 6 but that !Piano didn't. So I am including a copy of !Keyboard in the Letters section of the Software directory on this CD. I hope it fits the bill.

Finally the ever prolific Martin Carrudus is back again...

Hi Aaron,
Please find attached, zipped, my Q Basic to BBC Basic Translator, !Q_BBC, Version 4.00, with further improvements. See the text file 'ReadMe1st' within the zipped file for more info on changes.
In particular, the grammar I developed for Q Basic has been made more comprehensive!
I had put a 'trap' within my previous versions, that kept a hidden count of the number of usages in the user's !Scrap directory, and crippled the executable after a certain number of times.
Two people were complaining over the Internet that their copy of !Q_BBC was no longer working, not realising that this had happened, because they were failing to cough up for it! They were totally ignoring messages that told them to do that every time they used !Q_BBC!
I have removed the trap from the attached version, because once they have paid up, they want it to do additional things on top, and it's simply not worth the hassle for the money involved.
In the hopes it be useful to, at least, someone,

Thanks for yet another submission. As always I have included this latest version in the Software directory. I am sorry to hear about the problem of people moaning about software that they haven't paid for not working. I am not sure what can be done with some people. The "everything should be free" attitude seems to be spreading in the RISC OS community. Whilst having things for free is great people need to realise that somewhere in the chain someone needs to be paid for their work. My view is that if RISC OS had been free it would have died years ago.

P.S. perhaps we should rename the letters page the Carrudus Corner?

Well that's the end for the issue's letters page. To contact the RISCWorld letters page please e-mail us using the following e-mail address.

Aaron Timbrell