Snippets – 12th April, 2016

Can I stop being so busy now, please? Pretty please? Aw, go on…

Observant readers will no doubt have noticed a low post count on RISCOSitory since the Southwest Show – a grand total of eight, in fact, including the show report itself, and this year’s April Fool. As is often the case, this is because I’ve been too busy to devote time to this site (or anything RISC OS-related in general).

Unsurprisingly, then, this means a small queue of items has been building up, and to make matters worse I’m typing this in a hotel room with no WiFi, instead using my phone to provide a portable hotspot, and it’s only a few days until the Wakefield Show!


I mean, erm, here’s a ‘Snippets’ post in order to try to catch up with general news, and any bigger/recent/show-related posts will follow using the ‘Announcement’ format.

TranJPEG 1.32 released

Back in February, Chris Johnson released a new version of his WIMP front-end for ‘jpegtran’, the command-line utility  from the Independent JPEG Group for manipulating JPEG files.

The command-line utility – and therefore Chris’ application, TranJPEG [mirror] – allows JPEG files to be transformed in a number of ways, without any reduction in quality, because it works on the already compressed files, without having decompress them first, then compress them again afterwards.

Transformations possible include reflection, transposition, and rotation – including an ‘auto-rotate’ option if the image contains exif data that includes orientation information – and with version 1.32 there is now a crop function.

Independent JPEG Group binaries

Coinciding with the release of a new version of TranJPEG, Chris also compiled the latest versions of the Independent JPEG Group‘s software library – version 9b, dated 17th January this year – making the resulting binaries (jpegtran, cjpeg, and djpeg) available from his website [mirror].

These versions, says Chris, should be drop-in replacements for the versions used in some older RISC OS applications, and should give access to some of the newer features of the IJG library, for example allowing applications to load images that have been ‘smart scaled’.

CashBook version 1.36 released

Shortly after the Southwest Show, at which he released new versions of CashBook, PrintPDF, and Locate, Steve Fryatt released another new version of CashBook (the grumpy home accounts package1) – and says that “users with 1.35 are strongly urged to upgrade”.

Version 1.36 apparently doesn’t try to place the caret in the transaction number column when looking up transactions from account views, and it now uses valid dialogue info pointers when opening the Find dialogue.

Second quest for Legends of Magic

As mentioned in the Southwest Show report, AmCog Games has added a second quest, called Treasure Quest, to Legends of Magic the game that was released at London 2015. The update was formally announced shortly after the show, with the new version being freely available to anyone who has purchased the original version.

In the original game, the player’s task was to send an evil wizard back into the dimension in which he was banished, which has to be accomplished on an island inhabited by undead monks and monsters. In the new Treasure Quest, the boatman who is taking you to this island will only do so if you first retrieve all the treasure from a nearby haunted island, and he is not to be trusted.

The game – now two games in one thanks to the second quest – is available for £9.99 via R-Comp’s !Store application, and copies bought in person at shows should include a code inside the case that can be used to access the upgrade the same way.

Pluto 3.16 released

A new version of news and email client Pluto is now available, thanks once again to the efforts of Rob Sprowson and Martin Avison. Version 3.16 of the application, which was originally developed as commercial software by Jonathan Duddington and eventually released as open source with a GPLv3 licence, includes a number of changes, including:

  • There is now support for debatching larger articles than before (256MB, rather than 16MB).
  • The HTML to text conversion (which allows HTML-only emails to be read) is improved.
  • A whopping fourteen Zero Page access bugs have been dealt with.
  • The Speak module and data has been moved from the Pluto application into eSpeak (see also below).
  • And more.

A link to download the software from SourceForge can be found on Martin’s website – where you will also find more information. It is also available via !Store.

eSpeak 3.50 released

As noted above, the Speak module and data has been moved out of Pluto into eSpeak – and the result is version 3.50 of the application. The software, like Pluto, was originally developed by Jonathan Duddington as a commercial product – sold both as a separate item, and included within Pluto itself – until it was eventually released as open source software.

For more details of the changes since the last version, refer to Martin’s website – along with the link to download the software from SourceForge. And, again, it is also available from !Store.

New book, Mobile Unleashed, tells ARM’s story

A new book was published towards the end of last year telling the story of ARM, from its humble origins when Sophie Wilson and Steve Furber set about designing their own processor to be used in Acorn’s next range of computers, and takes us all the way to the present day, living in a world where ARM processors dominate the world of mobile.

The book’s full title is Mobile Unleashed: The Origin and Evolution of ARM Processors in Our Devices, and it’s by Don Dingee, with contributions from Daniel Nenni. It appears to have been written to mark the first 25 years of ARM as a company (which was formed in 1990, when the ARM processor itself was five years old) and at 270 pages, it probably goes into a little more detail than RISCOSitory’s own article published to coincide with the ARM processor’s 30th birthday.

The ‘Strong’ family grows with release of StrongKeys

Fred Graute has released a module to display information on key presses, such as the name of the physical key, the low level, internal and Wimp key codes, and any modifier keys used with the key press. According to the download page, “using StrongKey to find this information is much easier than having to go through the paper or on-screen PRMS.”

Static analysis tool ported to RISC OS

Jeffrey Lee has ported an open source tool called cppcheck to RISC OS. The aim of the software is to analyse C and C++ source code, looking for mistakes that aren’t picked up when compiling the code, and which can therefore lead to bugs in released software.

For example, a compiler will not spot a null pointer dereference – whereby a pointer is used without ensuring it isn’t null, or 0, which means it’s pointing at the very bottom of memory – but this is the sort of thing static analysis tools such as cppcheck try to look for, so while running your source code through cppcheck won’t find everything, it should help.

Jeffrey’s port is available as a direct download of the zip file – he hasn’t linked to it on his website at this stage.

New, cheaper VirtualRPC and VirtualA5000

Something that people have often objected to with the emulators supplied by VirtualAcorn has been the copy protection, whereby it was necessary to contact 4QD when installing to relay a code displayed by the software that describes some aspects of your system, and to receive an activation code in return that would enable it to run. The problem with that is the need to repeat that process when moving the installation from one computer to another, and the fear that there will be a time when that is necessary, but 4QD are no longer around to provide the code.

One of the reasons for the protection being necessary was the licence restrictions placed on VirtualAcorn by RISCOS Ltd – and, presumably, on RISCOS Ltd by the head licence owners. Since then, of course, RISCOS Ltd has ceased to exist as a company, and 4QD Ltd have acquired the company’s assets, including its licence for RISC OS 4 and 6.

This perhaps explains the release of VirtualRPC-DL, which costs a mere £25.00 and does not require an activation code: Purchase, download, install – and run!

(And for those who might prefer an A5000 emulator, there is also the option of VirtualA5000 for just £15.00)

Cat version 0.24 released

Chris Hall’s Cat application, which analyses a directory structure to product a drawfile-based tree diagram of its contents, has been updated to version 0.24.

This version allows a comparison to be made between two such directory structures, by displaying one such analysis and dragging another over it – after doing so, any matching content is hidden from view, leaving only changes. With options to ignore contents and datestamps, the nature of the displayed changes can be altered.

Cat can be found in R-Comp’s !Store or as a package using your preferred package manager.

PackMan 0.9.0 beta released

Speaking of package managers, Alan Buckley released a new beta version of PackMan in March. As well as an assortment of bug fixes and improvements to the user interface, this version adds a number of features, including the ability to search packages for a component or installed file.

Alan explains that PackMan is now distributed via the RISC OS Open repository. Alternative package manager RiscPkg, as well as older versions of PackMan, may need to have added as a source before it can find PackMan 0.9.0 – though manual installation is also an option.


  1. Because it’s got the hump. Get it?2
  2. Okay, I’ll explain. Steve has used ‘camel case’ for the name of the application, whereby one or more of the letters after the first one is capitalised – and while there are sometimes good reasons for using this form, not everyone agrees with doing so. My general view is that it’s fine if the name is a combination of words and not a word in its own right – and it can sometimes avoid ambiguity. As such, with few exceptions and the odd mistake, policy here on RISCOSitory is to preserve the developer’s preferred case.  However, ‘cashbook’ is a word in its own right, so from this point forward, Steve’s application will be referred to as a grumpy home accounts package on this site.

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