Snippets (mixed news)

Snippets – 7th July 2013

Because breaking catching up is never easy…

After falling behind with RISCOSitory updates late last year, I’ve been getting to the stage where I think I’ve almost caught back up, and then things get a little hectic and I fall behind again. I’ve therefore decided to resurrect the ‘snippets’ format to round up a few smaller news items in one go. This doesn’t bring me right up to date, and with the Midlands show almost upon us, I’m likely to fall further behind again, so there will probably be more ‘snippets’ posts in the coming weeks.

So, with no further ado…

Charm v2.6.5 released

Peter Nowosad, of Qubit Consultancy Ltd, released another update to Charm in April.

Charm is “the set of high level language tools and demos for RISC OS computers and emulators” and is available under the GNU GPL v3. This update brings it up to version 2.6.5, which adds a new random tree drawing demo, and fixes VFP issues on the Raspberry pi.

Sophie Wilson finalist in the European Inventor Awards

 28th May saw the European Patent Office hold the 8th European Inventor Awards at the historic Beurs van Berlage in Amsterdam. Sophie Wilson was a finalist for her work on the ARM processor, which “has transformed computing, especially in handheld devices such as smartphones, by enabling maximum processing speed and simplified task management with low power consumption.”

Sadly, however, she didn’t win. Instead, the award went to Martin Schadt, who created the world’s first flat-panel LCD display in 1970 – which ultimately paved the way for digital watches* which, as we all know, are a pretty neat idea.

 * And other things, obviously.

A modern mum tries out RISC OS 3.11

Australian Philip Adams runs a YouTube channel called OSFirstTimer, in which he explores different operating systems. This often involves his mum – the MILF modern mum in question – trying out the operating system, with no prior experience of it, to see how she gets on. This can be very telling about how intuitive the system is – or, in some cases, how her way of thinking has been programmed by other operating systems she has used.

Philip – who also does a nice line in making girls run away from himpopped up on the RISC OS Open Ltd forums back in May, after he let his mum, Diana, loose on RISC OS 3.11, from 1992, and this was the result:

RISC OS website for French users?

A very simple website has recently appeared at www.riscos.fr, with a large multi-coloured (i.e. RISC OS Open-style) cog logo, and a single sentence below it, saying: “L’ouverture de ce site français dédié à RISC OS est programmée pour la rentrée 2013.”

According to Google, this translates as “The opening of the French site dedicated to RISC OS is scheduled for September 2013”

The site’s owner is unknown, with a whois lookup revealing that the domain’s holder and administrative contact are both “Restricted, non-public data” when performed via AFNIC (the French equivalent to the UK’s Nominet) and listed as “An Nymous” when checked via a registrar such as Europe Registry.

Basalt gains structures

Last month, Steve Drain released version 1.65 beta of Basalt, his BASIC Alternative keywords module, which adds many features to all versions of BBC BASIC V running on RISC OS computers.

This new version brings structures to the language, along with a number of other features, including line continuation (whereby a single line of BASIC can be split over several lines in order to make the program more readable), some alternative syntax for ending program structures, a ‘.Hidden’ gadget attribute for Toolbox programming (which allows a gadget below another to be revealed and clicked), and an experimental (and not fully implemented) new loop structure.

As well as the module itself [direct download] there is also a comprehensive StrongHelp manual [direct download].

BBC News – alpha preview

Malcolm Hussain-Gambles made a new application available as an alpha preview version in June, with a second, updated release later in the month and, as of 30th June, version 1.00. The app, BBCNews, is designed to read the RSS feed from the BBC news website.

Given that RSS readers are usually designed to allow users to pick and choose the feeds they read, and are a very good way of seeing what’s new on sites such as, umm, well, this one, writing an app geared very specifically to a particular feed might seem a little strange, but Malcolm explains on the app’s page on his ‘paymentlabs‘ website that it he’s developed it “as an initial test for socket code under RISC OS.” As such it’s a proof of concept application that he says will enable him to develop other, heavier applications.

MTP/PTP host application released

Dave Higton, who seems to have taken to jokingly referring to himself as “Mr USB”, has been busy again, this time devoting his efforts towards the development of a host application – currently available as an alpha version – for MTP (media transfer protocol) and PTP (picture transfer protocol). “It’s free,” Dave says, “and worth every penny.”

MTP (for that is what the application is called) is intended to be a host for MTP/PTP devices, such as cameras, mobile phones and media players, and allows the user to connect such a device to their USB-equipped RISC OS computers and transfer files in either direction. At the moment, though, only the Castle/ROOL stack is supported, so the application won’t work on a computer using the Simtec USB stack, such as the A9Home.