Nov 282015

With the end of November rapidly approaching, and with it the deadline for preparing the RISC OS Awards poll for 2015 (coming soon, folks), here are some news items that have previously either slipped under the RISCOSitory RADAR (it came with the bunker, doncherknow), or which were held back for a snippets post. Like this one!

Otter browser comes to RISC OS

If you attended the recent London Show and sat in on the talk by R-Comp‘s Andrew Rawnsley – or if you watched it on YouTube – you will have heard a web browser called Otter mentioned. It’s an open source web browser based around a cross-platform framework called Qt (pronounced ‘cute’), which contains – in recent versions – an implementation of WebKit, the ‘engine’ behind a number of mainstream browsers.

Chris Gransden has been working on a RISC OS port of the browser, and has made a test version available. Being a test version, it may exhibit problems, and may prove slow. However, judging by the discussion on the RISC OS Open forum, the results seem to be positive on modern, fast hardware, with the browser able to get RISC OS users into some sites that are otherwise only accessible when switching to another platform.

The browser can be installed using PackMan, or the package itself can be downloaded from’s repository if you aren’t keen on package managers.

Ovation – not Pro – updated

A while back, it emerged that David Pilling had been quietly releasing the source code to some of his old software, and since then he has included Ovation in that list. Rick Murray has subsequently taken a look at that code, and started updating the software.

Ovation is a desktop publishing application that was originally published through Beebug, and eventually found its way into APDL’s hands. With David Holden now sadly deceased, and the new tribute website still a work in progress, Rick has contacted Aaron Timbrell (one of the two responsible for the new site) and been granted permission to make the updated versions available from his own site until it can be made available from the new APDL one.

Details of what has changed so far can be found on Rick’s b.log on 4th November, 5th November, and 7th November – with the last of those containing the download link for the most recent version (v1.51RM).

Generate QR Codes on RISC OS

Kevin Wells has released an application called QrCode that can be used to generate and display the so-called ‘two dimensional barcode’ from which the program derives its name.

The code generated by the application – which requires wget and an internet connection, since it uses an online generator –  can be saved in a number of image formats, and at a number of different sizes.

Avoid time travelling FTP downloads

FTPc has recently seen a small number of updates by developer Colin Granville.

The first, bringing it up to version 1.49, was to provide timestamp preservation when transferring files (but not directories) if connected to a server that supports two commands to read and write this information. The MFMT command is used for setting the timestamp on the server when uploading, and MDTM is used for reading the information from the server when downloading.

The second update dealt with a null pointer dereference, flagged up by the ZeroPain module, and the third – bringing FTPc up to version 1.51 – extended the timestamp preservation to directories when downloading, by way of the MLST command, which returns information about the single specified object on the server.

Bookmaker provisionally zero page safe

Another application updated to deal with a problem highlighted by the ZeroPain module is Bookmaker, which provides a means to manage bookmarks for most major RISC OS web browsers, and a number of email, telnet and FTP clients.

Developer Nick Roberts says version 2.17 should now be compatible with versions of RISC OS running the module – and therefore compatible with future versions of RISC OS, with ZeroPain no longer running and zero page memory relocated and inaccessible. However, Nick does stress that he has only fixed page zero accesses he has identified; it’s always possible that there are more yet to be uncovered.

DirSync and DSDiff updated

Jan-Jaap van der Geer has released new versions of DirSync and DSDiff as packages, available to install with “your favourite package manager” – which realistically means PackMan, since it’s the only one of the two package managers still being maintained and updated. For those who don’t like package managers at all, the packages can be found in the RISC OS Open repository.

DirSync is a program that can compare and synchronise two directories, and version 1.14 should solve some ZeroPain problems the application suffered. DSDiff is a plug-in for DirSync to make comparisons of files, and version 1.02 is an update to cope with a newly updated DiffUtils package (which can itself be found in the repository).

Matrix mathematics made more manageable

Martin Carradus has released version 4.00 of Matrix, an application to calculate and solve the ‘characteristic’ equation for a supplied matrix of up to 4×4, giving the eigenvalues and determinant. The new version also supplies a panel, from which the eigenvectors associated with the each of the eigenvalues can be calculated.

No? Nor me! I’ll let Martin explain:

This relates to the (mathematical) problem, of finding vectors, v, for a given matrix, A, (square array of numbers), such that A.v = lambda.v

The solving ‘lambdas’ are the ‘eigenvalues’, and the solving vectors, v, are called the ‘eigenvectors’.

This DOES relate to the practical problem of ‘optimising’ what’s called a ‘bilinear form’, a kind-of ‘multi-dimensional quadratic’:-)

Can be used in ‘classification’ problems, to find the directions, in space, of ‘optimal separation’ between ‘classes’, and other practical problems, to do with matrices.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I seem to have developed a headache!

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