Jun 272015

You heard it here first eventually!

With a ridiculously busy period now over (mostly – and until/unless things get silly again), it’s time to round up what’s happened in the intervening period in the world of RISC OS.

Rename gets some StrongHelp

April saw Nick Roberts put together an expanded StrongHelp file for Rename, his application that does exactly what it says on the tin application name – renames files, but with some wildcard features to make it much easier to rename files in bulk.

If you don’t have the latest version of Rename, which currently stands at 3.23, you can download the full application, which includes the new StrongHelp guide. Alternatively, you can download just the RenameHelp file, which contains a ‘rump’ application that can be copied over your existing version, to add just the StrongHelp file.

Damn it, Jim, I’m a doctor, not a sound engineer!

First released by Jim Lesurf in April, and with a few updates since, were two applications for performing audio ‘health checks’.

CD_HealthCheck can be used to “carry out a statistical analysis of the samples on an audio CD” which, Jim explains, “allows you to detect when the recording has been degraded by poor analogue to digital conversion or the application of ‘improvements’ made by the producers” – with the word ‘improvements’ in scare-quotes because some ‘improvements’ do anything but improve things.

Flac_HealthCheck similarly examines FLAC files – an alternative audio compression format to MP3, but one which is lossless, meaning information isn’t discarded in the interests of increasing the compression ratio.

PackIt 0.6 released

At the end of April, Alan Buckley released a new version of PackIt, which is an application to help with creating packages for distribution via the RISC OS Packaging Project, the aim of which is to make it easy for developers to make their software and resources available for users and, therefore, to make it easy for users to find and install that software.

Version 0.6 of PackIt allows editing of the package’s copyright and description using an external program, such as StrongED or Zap, using the OLE (Object Linking and Embedding) protocol. There have also been a few other minor bug fixes, and the help is now provided in StrongHelp format.

Fireworkz fired up

Another end of April release, version 1.35/04 of Fireworkz Pro, Colton Software’s integrated word processor, database and spreadsheet application, was released by R-Comp. The new version addresses some “invalid window handle” errors that could occur when the software is run on recent builds of RISC OS 5. A further update – to version 1.35/05 – was released in June. This brought a fix for importing Excel dates that contain backslashes in the format string.

If you’ve purchased the software via R-Comp’s !Store (or registered it using the !Store Software Registration), the new version of Fireworkz Pro should appear as a free upgrade in the “My Software” window. Historically, R-Comp would email new versions of software to its customers, but !Store is now the preferred method of distributing updates.

The freely downloadable version of Fireworkz (not Pro, and lacking the database element) was similarly updated – and keep your eyes peeled for a new version coming soon (the first round of testing has begun) with the ability to export as Excel, the addition of a wealth of new spreadsheet functions, and more.

Delegate dragged and dropped to a new version

The end of April also saw a new version of R-Comp’s DeleGate released. The application, which acts as a recycle bin to allow recovery of (accidentally) deleted items and provides system protection for key OS files, was updated to version 1.05.

The new version adds the ability to recover files by drag and drop (meaning you can drag them from the recycler to where you want, if it’s not where the file was originally deleted from), resolves issues with directories containing a very large number of files, improves !Boot protection, and addresses issues recovering files on remote disks (i.e. those accessed across a network).

As with Fireworkz Pro, the update is available via !Store.

SchemEd file found behind fridge

SchemEd is a free to download ‘electronic circuit editor’ from Howard Dawson, and in April Howard announced that there had been a problem with a missing settings file – so having found it behind the fridge, the missing file – !Schemed.Resources.SpiceSetup – had been put into a skeleton version of the application and uploaded.

The file remains downloadable for those running version 1.07 of SchemEd, however a new version of the software has since been made available. Howard says that version 1.08, released in June, “fixes a few niggles that have surfaced recently” – though he doesn’t detail what those niggles are.

Not quite NoScript

A problem was reported in May on the NetSurf Users mailing list whereby Google had apparently stopped working with the nifty browser – which one of the core developers, Vincent Sanders, explained was due to Google changing the ‘noscript’ part of the results page (displayed in browsers that don’t support Javascript, or in which Javascript is disabled) containing “completely broken” HTML – so badly broken that it can’t be dealt with in the browser. The result was that if you tried to search for something on Google with Javascript switched off, it didn’t work – whereas if you searched with it switched on, everything was fine.

No problem, you might think – just leave it switched on! However, other sites that some users regularly visit work better with Javascript switched off, so what’s needed is a quick and easy way to do that.

Step forward John Williams, then, who “knocked together a crude and clumsy solution” – so it’s not quite as good as the Firefox NoScript add-on, then!

John’s solution is JS, which sits on the left hand side of the icon bar as a short cut (courtesy of the Pinboard module’s AddTinyDir command), reflecting the current status of NetSurf (a green icon means Javascript is enabled, a red one means it is disabled, and a grey one means “You don’t need this – NetSurf isn’t running, fool!”). A double click on the icon switches Javascript on or off (depending which state it was previously in).

iSV Products online at APDL

Following the sad passing of David Holden last year, and working in conjunction with David’s estate, David Bradforth and Aaron Timbrell set up a new APDL tribute website, with the aim of ensuring all of David’s work remained available to RISC OS Users, by making everything free to download.

The website isn’t yet complete – as APDL, Dave Holden built up a vast library of software, intitially collections of ‘public domain’ software, but he later obtained rights to many commercial packages, which would otherwise have vanished as the original developers moved away from RISC OS, or simply shut up shop, and he also developed software himself – so it’s a big job, and both Aaron Timbrell and David Bradforth have to work around their own respective careers and families.

The iSV section of the site was brought online in May.

iSV Products was originally founded in 1994 by Aaron Timbrell (now more well known for the VirtualAcorn product range), through which he sold applications such as the DrawWorks series, FontFiend, and so on. APDL took over the sales, distribution and development of the software in 2001.

Getting the political picture…

May saw Kevin Wells update MPdataAU – his application for obtaining information on members of the Australian House of Representatives, for those living in Danundaland and wanting more information on the people representing them. The new version, 1.02, features a number of updates, but the headline addition is the ability to retrieve and display a photograph of the MP if one is available – a feature he added to the UK version of the application, MPdata+ in February.

…and information about a MAC address

Kevin also released a new application at the end of May, in the form of MACadd. Far from being anything to do with a Scottish mathematician, MACadd is a simple app to provide information about any given MAC (media access control) address, which is a unique identifier for network interfaces, and usually takes the form of a 48-bit (6 byte) number , usually expressed as six two-digit hexadecimal values, separated by hyphens or colons.

MACadd obtains information about the address from the MAC Address Lookup website, which takes its information from various IEEE registries. When a MAC address is entered, the results returned include the assigned range in which that number falls, and the name and address of the company to which it was assigned.

Snapper snaps in 4k

Chris Johnson released a new version of Snapper (mirror) in June. Originally written by David Pilling and supplied as a component of his scanning and image processing software, and later taken over by Chris to continue development as a standalone application, Snapper is a “versatile screen capture program” which allows its users to save portions of the screen as images, including the contents of specific windows.

Version 1.24 of the application provides support for the new 4k colour screen modes recently introduced in RISC OS 5.22/5.23

PipeDream 4.53 released

A new version of PipeDream was released in June. The application is an integrated word processor and spreadsheet, originally developed and sold by Colton Software, and now developed and maintained by Stuart Swales, who was previously Colton’s lead programmer.

Version 4.53 gains two new functions backported from Fireworkz in the form of CEILING() and FLOOR(), which round numbers to the optionally specified multiple, and a number of other functions have been improved.

Impression Junior text extractor

Martin Carradus released a new application in June called JuniorTxt, the purpose of which is to extract the text from Impression Junior documents, getting rid of any encoding and saving the results as plain text.

It’s designed to do this for Impression documents that take the form of an application directory, but can also apparently ‘just about’ do this for ‘flat’ Impression files – those that are saved as single files.

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