Snippets (mixed news)

Snippets – 16th August, 2014

A selection of hitherto unreported items from the past few months.

B gets beefed up to become B+

On 14th July, just a couple of days after the Midlands Show, the Raspberry Pi Foundation announced a new version of the Raspberry Pi. The Model B+ is the same size as its predecessors (give or take – well, take – about half a millimetre or so in one dimension) but features an improved layout and specification.

The improved specification includes a doubling of the number of USB ports to four, a push-push micro-SD socket rather than the friction-fit SD socket of the Model B,  the GPIO header now featuring 40 pins instead of 26 (with the first 26 remaining compatible with the B), lower power consumption and better audio.

The layout changes include the USB ports being aligned with the rear edge of the board, the composite video and audio output now being doubled up on the one 3.5mm jack (which is now on the same edge as the HDMI socket), and the micro-USB socket used to supply power has been shifted around the corner to also be on that edge.

The result is that all of your cables connecting the Pi to other items on your desk are now on either the rear or the right of the board, rather than all four sides, so your desk can look a little less spaghetti-like – unless your desk is anything like mine, in which case it makes no difference.

…and CloneDisc and SystemDisc follow suit

Well, not quite – they haven’t gained a + to their version numbers, but Ben Avison announced version 1.02 of both pieces of software on the same day that B+ was announced. The headline feature, Ben explains, is support for that new model Raspberry Pi, because the micro-SD slot on the B+ behaves differently to card slots used on previous machines on which RISC OS can be run, and this meant that both CloneDisc and SystemDisc needed to be changed to suit. Version 1.02 of SystemDisc also deals with a bug, in that it now correctly supports cards of less than 512MB in size.

For details of how to obtain the updated versions – particularly in the case of CloneDisc, because of a quirk in Ben’s Piccolo Systems website – please refer to Ben’s announcement.

Pluto updated to match Pluto updates

Since Jonathan Duddington open sourced Pluto, his popular news and email client, a number of updates have been made to the software by Rob ‘Sprow’ Sprowson and Martin Avison – but because access wasn’t available to update the source code on SourceForge, the updated versions (and associated source code) had been available from Martin’s Pluto website.

Recently, however, that changed, and the source code stored at Pluto’s official SourceForge home has now been updated, from where the corresponding versions became available as downloads, albeit some time after they were originally made available by Martin. The SourceForge page is now – once again – the official place to download new versions of the software, although it can still be downloaded from Martin’s slightly more ordinary-user-friendly site.

The software also saw a minor update back in April, bringing it up to version 3.11a, which rectified “a couple of small bugs in the new Search and Select dialog.”

MPData+ plus debates

Kevin Wells has updated MPData+, his application for displaying various information about your local MP based on your postcode, so that the data it is able to retrieve and display includes the last four debates for the MP in question, as well as a number of other general improvements, such as validating the postcode, and hiding the Action buttons until the postcode has been entered.

The data presented by the application is pulled from the TheyWorkForYou website, and Kevin has since been looking at the Australian equivalent – OpenAustralia – and believes it’ll be possible to derive an Australian version from the UK one, given a little time and assistance from someone who understands the Australian system.

Updated privacy software

Nat Queen has updated some of his privacy software, chiefly to ensure it works on modern hardware, such as ARMiniX. The updated applications include

  • Erase, which is designed to overwrite files or directories so that they can’t be recovered with an ‘undelete’ utility.
  • Q-Lock, which allows sensitive files and directories to be easily encrypted.
  • Mail-Lock, a sister application to Q-Lock which achieves a similar goal, but specifically for Marcel mail folders.
  • Stealth, which allows multiple encrypted directories to be stored inside a container file, with no obvious indication of how many such directories there are.

ProCAD+ adds DrawPlus import

An application that has only been mentioned on RISCOSitory in the 2012 and 2013 South West Show reports, ProCAD+ was updated all the way back in April to version 1.08. ProCAD+ is described by its developer, David Snell, as THE Computer Aided Design package for RISC OS, and explains that while the software is “initially Draw-like in its approach, it handles many other formats from a wide variety of sources and can export files in a number of industry standard formats for industrial use.”

With version 1.08, it can now import files from Vector and DrawPlus, preserving their layers and other non-Draw information, and will even import Vector libraries, turning them into ProCAD+ symbols. Other changes detailed on David’s What’s New! page for the software include the manual now being supplied in HTML format, additional features and refinements to support PCB production, a new look Layers dialogue, a new ‘Layer order’ entry on the Zoom menu, and more besides.

German RISC OS mailing list

The RISC OS community is spread far and wide, and doesn’t end at any national borders, not least those of the United Kingdom. Not all RISC OS users, therefore, speak English as their first language – and it’s likely that some don’t speak it at all, so with so much RISC OS material and resources on the internet being in English, there is clearly a need to better support our foreign friends.

Bicycling Bavarian Alexander Ausserstorfer has recognised this problem, and – again back in April, but missed by RISCOSitory until now – set up a mailing list specifically for RISC OS users who are based in (or  are from) Germany, or who speak German.