Cat, Countdown, SignalBox and Sudotutor releases

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A selection of announcements from Chris Hall during 2013

Cat version 0.18, announced 4th July, 2013

A disc cataloguing utility, Cat version 0.18, is now available from !Store and via PackMan. This presents a disc catalogue in a window, showing a tree structure of files and directories. The contents can be saved in several forms and the graphical layout can be adjusted to suit. Disc contents can be compared and changed files (by datestamp and/or CRC) identified.

Countdown, announced 4th July, 213

The popular numbers game for RISC OS. Version 0.10 now available from !Store and PackMan. Rewritten in assembler, it now calculates all possible targets (between 100 and 999) for the selected tiles in about 150ms. Allows choice of an Easy, Difficult or Impossible (if there are any impossible targets) target. Allows tiles to be revealed so that specific tiles can be chosen.

On the Pandaboard using the same machine code routine, it takes 5 hours to examine every possible selection of tiles (2C24 or 134596) and every possible calculation for each (38790 calculations per selection=6 x (2C6 + 2C6x2C5 + 2C6X2C5x2C4 + 2C6x2C5x2C4x2C3 + 2C6x2C5x2C4x2C3x2C2)) – i.e. 4 micro seconds for each calculation tested.

 SignalBox version 42.91, announced 11th September, 2013

This program was first mentioned in Archive Magazine (Vol. 9 No. 7 April 1996 and disc 9.5) and was described at greater length in Vol. 15 No. 7 April 2002. By July 2007 it had been fully developed and converted to run also under Windows.

This is a software simulation of the inside of a signalbox – showing the track diagram (the area controlled by the signalbox) and includes the points and signals, numbered to correspond with the levers used to operate them. The levers are interlocked, exactly as in the real box on which it is modelled. For two of the boxes modelled, a full sequence of trains is available and the track circuits on the diagram will light up as you give permission for the trains to proceed.

The application is provided with comprehensive information about the process of signalling and how the simulation operates. Context sensitive help messages are available and will appear depending on what is under the mouse pointer, displaying a bubble explaining what the item underneath the mouse does or showing its status. The documentation provided with the application explains the first steps and gives a lot of background information, and can also be viewed online.

Although a timetabled sequence of trains is only available for Exeter West and Kiddermister, animated mechanical locking is provided for 12 boxes so you can display the lever frame (above the operating floor) and the mechanical locking (below the floor) for somewhere like St Erth (1941) – a 69 lever frame.

The latest version (42.9 July 2007) now includes a ‘demonstration’ mode where it will run through the whole of the timetabled train service provided, with a commentary showing (by a direct demonstration) how an error-free shift can be undertaken. This is available here:

A further updated (beta) version, for the ARMiniX only, and supporting 90kHz sound (version 42.91 Sept 2013) is available via !Store.

SudoTutor version 0.01, announced 16th October, 2013

I have always wanted a Sudoku programme that would operate in the way in which I do the puzzles – that is (once it starts getting difficult) mark up the empty squares with the numbers that have not been eliminated by looking at rows, columns and the 3×3 square the empty cell occupies.

This allows the user to decide where this provides sufficient information to enter a value. Where several possibilities remain, the position is remembered allowing possibilities to be explored. Partly solved puzzles can be saved and reloaded.

SudoTutor is available via !Store.