Snippets – 24th February 2012

Basalt and the Toolbox

Steve Drain, prompted by a discussion in the RISC OS Open Ltd forum about AppBasic, has written a document about the using the Toolbox with Basalt which, he explains, has never been very well described. Basalt (“BASic ALTernative keywords”) is a module that extends BASIC by providing “alternative keywords by extending the use of actual keywords and adding new keywords, both of which are used completely as native BASIC keywords.”

The document is available online, at the link given above, and it is also included in the download for the prototype application, BasaltApp.

Steve explains that “a program is event-driven from a machine code wimp poll loop under the keyword POLL. Events and messages are registered against functions called to handle them. Apart from the use of ResEd to design the user interface there is no need for any other development environment.”

Fireworkz Pro Improvements

Late last year, R-Comp announced that they had secured the rights to sell Fireworkz Pro, and had a version available that was compatible with all modern RISC OS computers. In January, an update was emailed to all those who purchased the software, which brought them improvements to Excel file import – though it should be stressed that Excel’s file formats are varied and complicated, so there is still a long way to go – as well as all the latest changes from the Windows version being incorporated into the RISC OS version, and more besides.

Andrew Rawnsley of R-Comp added that they are in the process of expanding/restoring the documentation – Fireworkz and Fireworkz Pro originally came with three or four dead tree manuals, and I imagine that these (or up to date equivalents of them) will eventually become available to users in PDF format.

Form Filler Update

Kevin Wells reports that he has uploaded version 1.14 of Form Filler, his application to insert text at the cursor at the press of a button. Version 1.13, which Kevin notes he didn’t actually release, included a button to bring the icon bar to the front, and this new version includes two new icon bar menu entries – Open Slim Window and Open Mini Window. The edit window now has a ‘cancel’ icon. This version is also reportedly ARMini (and therefore, presumably, BeagleBoard) compatible.

Drag ‘n Drop Volume 3 Issue 2

Paul Stewart has produced another issue of Drag ‘n Drop, his PDF based magazine aimed at the Acorn 8-bit and RISC OS 32-bit communities, providing  news, comment, reviews and general articles regarding the Acorn 8-bit and RISC OS computing platforms.

Features in this edition include the continuation of the series of articles relating to different sorting techniques, designing parallel line patterns, rotating areas in Draw and a new series looking at programming the RISC OS desktop in BASIC.

Wrangler update

Sine Nomine Software have announced the release of version 1.03 of Wrangler, which they describe as a “general mathematical puzzle generator and solver,” with this new version adding a fourth type of puzzle to its range. Binary puzzles, the new type, require the player to complete a grid with the numbers 0 and 1 to satisfy simple rules:

  • each row or column must contain equal numbers of 0 & 1 (or one more 1 when there are an odd number of cells)
  • no more than two consecutive cells in a row or column may contain the same value.

The other three types of puzzle supported by Wrangler are:

  • Kakuro – Arithmetical crosswords
  • Shikaku – Fill a grid with rectangles so that each contains one numbered cell and exactly that number of cells.
  • Cross sums – Three horizontal and three vertical sums crossing over each other, where your task is to place the numbers 1-9 to fill in the gaps to make the answers come out.

The new version is free for registered users, with registration for new users being a mere £5.

PrivateEye update

Dave Thomas has made available a new version of PrivateEye, a popular application for viewing Sprites, DrawFiles, JPEGs, ArtWorks, GIFs and PNGs, which also has editing features including bitmap effects and rotation. Version 2.99, he says, is the first new version since 2008 and features a selection of small-ish changes:

  • Rebuilt from the open source codebase for ARMv7 compatibility.
  • PrivateEye is now licensed under a BSD licence.
  • Improved the blur effect. You can now select box or gaussian blurs with up to a 47 pixel radius.
  • ‘Midpoint’ curve effect added.
  • FFG (TransFSI, TranTIFF+, etc.) import improved.
  • libjpeg updated to version 8c.
  • Image cache can go up to 256M.
  • Wider range of default scale values.
  • and various other bits and pieces.

Dave adds that “the manual is strongly recommended”

Charm v2.5.0 released

A new version of Charm – version 2.5.0 – has been made available by its developer, Peter Nowosad. Peter describes Charm as a set of high level language tools and demos for RISC-OS computers and emulators, with this release supporting module namespaces to help avoid data and code naming clashes within system and application modules.

Via the Charm web-site you can:

  • Learn what Charm is and how to use it to develop programs.
  • Learn how to set up a free PC based environment in which to run Charm.
  • Download and install the Charm tools and demos and build the Charm tool source code.

There is also now a Facebook group for the language.

ID3TagEd Beta

ID3TagEd is an application to allow the creation and/or editing of the ID3 tags attached to audio mp3 files. The ID3 tags contain a wide range of information about the audio file (e.g. Artist, title, album, year, content, and much more). Both version 1 and version 2 ID3 tags can be viewed and edited. Full HTML help is included in the application. Chris Johnson, the developer, reports that although there have been no announcements for some time, the application is still being developed, with a new beta version now being available, featuring the following changes:

  • The application is now BeagleBoard/ARMini compatible
  • There has been a major rewrite of event handling code
  • The handling of tags with text frames in unicode format is greatly improved. ID3TagEd now uses the iconv module for all unicode decoding. If you are using NetSurf, then you will have the iconv module installed. (Note: ID3TagEd does not currently write edited frames in unicode format, but that could be added if there were any demand.)
  • Improved handling of patterns for renaming, filling tags from full filename, etc.
  • Now deals correctly with multiple images in the v2 tag
  • Images can be added to a tag
  • Dealing with multiple COMM frames is improved
  • New editing options – strip ‘n’ chars from start/end of a text frame
  • Some non-standard frames are now recognised
  • Multiple COMM frames can be added

The new version of ID3TagEd can be downloaded from Chris Johnson’s websites here, here and here. Further upgrades are likely to be released on a regular basis, so keep an eye on the download site of your choice.

Murnong 2.14

Christopher Martin has announced a new version – 2.14 – of Murnong, the application for fetching videos from YouTube. This release corrects a bug, and increases the length of the format selection list.

Purely Hosting status page

A number of people in the RISC OS community use the hosting services provided by long time RISC OS user Neil Spellings – Purely Hosting – but from time to time there have been problems with these services, leading to discussions on the comp.sys.acorn.* newsgroups, because people don’t know what the cause of the latest problem is, whether it’s being dealt with or how long it will take – which is very frustrating.

One suggestion previously has been to follow (or look at) the Purely Hosting Twitter feed – but now Neil has taken the step of setting up a status update website, hosted elsewhere. So, if you are a Purely Hosting customer, it’s worth bookmarking their new WordPress based status page.

An explanation of these ‘snippets’ posts

There are times when my workload means that I don’t have the time I’d like to devote to RISC OS, be that work on my own software or posting news to, etc. When this happens can vary, mostly with no discernable pattern – with one notable exception: The start of the year. It’s customary for me to be somewhat busy in the first few months of the year, and this year has been no different – if anything, it’s actually been worse this year than it has in the past.

For obvious reasons, when I’m busy I have less time available to update with the latest news, so it’s at times like this that you are likely to see a lack of updates for a few weeks, followed by a ‘snippets’ post summarising several items; those items that have come my way since the last post, but which I haven’t had the time to write about. (The other time a ‘snippets’ post is likely to appear isn’t far removed from that – when several items come my way and I don’t have time to write about them separately).

When things go quiet, therefore, rest assured that I am simply busy, and that something will appear… eventually!

Unless I’ve fallen off a mountain. In which case call out the dogs and get searching for me.

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