Snippets (mixed news)

Snippets – 19th March, 2014

Bringing you the latest yesterday’s last week’s month’s YEAR’s news TODAY!

Thanks to a previous engagement being cancelled, an unexpectedly free day means I can – finally – root through my archive of possible news and put together a snippets-post of things that really ought to have been reported on before now on RISCOSitory. There is still a lot more to work through, but I have made a point in this post of concentrating on things from last year – which mostly date from the last few months of the year and, hopefully, clears up a lot (though definitely not all) of what was outstanding from 2013.

Magic Pockets patched

Martin Bazley released a patch in August for the RISC OS port of Magic Pockets, a Bitmap Brothers platform game originally released by Renegade in 1991. The aim of the patch is to remove the need to have the original floppy disc in the computer’s drive when playing the game – and thus allow you to continue playing the game long after you’ve lost that floppy, or it has become damaged.

Martin advises that the patch will only remove the copy protection, and does not update the game to run on modern hardware – although, with the copy protection removed, it is possible to play it on an emulator.

TranJPEG 1.30 released, packaged

Chris Johnson announced version 1.30 of TranJPEG (mirror), his WIMP front-end for the IJPG ‘jpegtran’ command-line utility, giving easy access to the features offered by the utility – which allow various transformations to be applied to JPEG images without decompressing them, and therefore without any further loss of quality.

The changes for 1.30 include the choices now being saved in the standard RISC OS choices repository, as well as the ability to create progressive, optimised or greyscale JPEGs.

Chris also announced that he is in the process of making all of his public applications available as packages, which means users of PackMan or RiscPkg, with the RISC OS Open Ltd package server configured in the software, will be able to download and install the applications via the package manager.

Not everything was packaged at the time of the announcement, but Chris said more would be added over the coming weeks. And for those “with a pathalogical hatred of anyting connected with ‘package management'” Chris offers his assurance that standard zip files for his software will remain available on his websites.

MPData+ 1.06 and Passman 1.00 released

Kevin Wells has updated MPData+, his application that “helps let you keep tabs on your Member of the United Kingdom Parliament as well as write to them.”

The new version adds buttons to contact your other representatives, and report a problem in your street, and sees a slight rearrangement of the window layout, with two rows of buttons: the top row items relating to the MP and the bottom row relating to the council.

In early December, Kevin released a new app called Passman, which is designed to serve as a single user password manager, to store the growing list of passwords needed to get by in today’s online world. Specifically geared towards websites, the software makes it easy to enter the username/password combo for a previously stored website by allowing the user to put the cursor in the username field for the site, and then clicking the relevant button in Passman.

Do note, however, that while Passman uses a passcode of its own, to keep your database of passwords out of prying eyes, those passwords aren’t encrypted in any way – so be aware of this when using it, and perhaps limit its use to storing less important passwords, which are likely to be those that are less memorable and infrequently used anyway.

Murnong 2.34 released

Christopher Martin announced an update to Murnong in October, bringing it up to version 2.34.

Murnong is an application for fetching videos from YouTube, and this new version sees a few minor updates to deal with changes in YouTube’s internal procedures.

Charm 2.6.6 released, Users group on Facebook

Peter Nowosad, of Qubit Consultancy Ltd, released an update to Charm in November, bringing it up to version 2.6.6.

Charm is a set of high level language tools and demos for RISC OS, and is available under the GNU GPL v3. This update fixes a colour palette issue in the Mandelbrot demo VFP build for the Raspberry Pi.

Users of Charm who are also on Facebook can subscribe to the RISC OS Charm Language Users group, which has been around for some time now, but hasn’t previously been mentioned on this site.

ConvText 3.13 released

Paul Sprangers updated ConvText to version 3.13 in August, to squash a nasty bug that could easily corrupt the scriptfile, for example by saving a new script without a name or any contents.

The application allows you to perform extensive search and replace operations on any kind of file.

Various items from Nemo20000, revisited

Simon Birtwistle, AKA Nemo (or Nemo20000), has recently updated some of the bits and bobs that he “leaves lying about,” as well as leaving even more stuff lying about.

The first item, version 1.02 of which was put online in June 2013, is Vectors, a utility that “lists the current vector claimants. It can be useful for diagnosing why your keyboard is doing something odd, or for working out why ADFS has two TickerV claimants. Hmmm.”

The second item is ColourFiler, updated to version 0.06 in November. Nemo explains that “the ip file for 0.05 actually contained 0.04, which was unhelpful. So here’s an update with both the intended bugfix and an improvement to the help text formatting.” ColourFiler allows filer windows to be coloured according to their path.

Finally, FixUpDown – which ensure keypress transitions fall within specified minimum and maximum times – was updated to version 1.11 in November.  Apparently, the previous version tended to crash on RISC OS 4 when placed in PreDesk, and this version fixes that problem.

RPCEmu 0.8.11 available

October saw version 0.8.11 of RPCEmu released, announced by Peter Howkins. This version provides support for emulating Phoebe, aka the RiscPC 2 – the Acorn computer that never was – which was achieved with assistance from the Centre for Computing History, although this emulation is more for historical interest than anything else. Additional changes include the ability to configure the hardware model, rather than the CPU type being used to determine the hardware in use. A bug has also been fixed whereby the MIPS count was sometimes wildly inaccurate.

Specific to the Windows version, a ‘Follows Host Mouse’ bug has been fixed whereby the host and emulated mouse pointers weren’t lined up until the RPCEmu window had been moved, along with a GUI bug where the selected networking type was incorrectly set.

Access Dropbox from RISC OS

It became possible to access Dropbox from RISC OS – albeit using the command line – thanks to Chris Gransden.

The Dropbox client needs Python 2.7.2 to run (found on the same page), and an ‘App’ to be created in the Dropbox account you wish to access (which has to be done using a browser that fully supports accessing your Dropbox account). Once this is done and the ‘App key’ and ‘App secret’ are copied to the appropriate place in the Python script, the Dropbox account can then be accessed by running the program, which will present you with a CLI environment, in which you will see a ‘Dropbox>’ command prompt, allowing you to log-in and access files in your Dropbox account.

ToggleBD 1.04 released

Fred Graute released version 1.04 of ToggleBD in November, which became version 1.05 later that month, and 1.06 in December. ToggleBD is a small module task that makes it easy to get at objects pinned to the backdrop, by allowing the backdrop window to be raised and lowered.

There are a number of different triggers that can be used in order to toggle the backdrop position, and each of them can be turned on or off to suit the user.

A belated happy birthday to VirtualRiscPC

The first copies of VirtualRiscPC shipped on 6th September, 2003 – so the popular RiscPC emulator reached ten years old in 2013, an event that went largely unmarked and unnoticed.

Largely, but not entirely, because T.O.M.S., the authors of VirtualRiscPC in Use – and who brought the anniversary to my attention when we were discussing the RISC OS Awards – wrote a 10th anniversary supplement, offering pages 49 to 56,  and covers topics such as anti-virus software, image editing, and much more. The supplement can be downloaded from the VirtualRiscPC in Use page on the VirtualAcorn website either on its own, or as part of an updated, complete version of the ebook.

PackMan 0.8 beta and PackIt 0.5 released

A new version of package manager and downloader PackMan was made available by Alan Buckley in December.

Version 0.8 beta features a new configuration window to allow multiple packages to be installed/removed/upgraded at once, allows configuration of the standard RISC OS boot options (Look at, Run and Add to Apps) for package components, understands a new package format that allows components of a package to be installed to user-specified locations (subject to packages being updated to this new format), and allows package files obtained outwith the system to be dropped onto its iconbar icon so that they are recognised by PackMan and added to its configuration window, ready to install.

Alan also released an update to his application to help create RISC OS Packaging Project Packages – PackIt – bringing it up to version 0.5, and adding support for the new components field, which allows individual components in a package to have their installation location specified by the user.

Martin Carradus’ software now Pi-compatible

Back in May, I reported that Martin Carradus, a long-time RISC OS user, had recompiled his Cat_Draw application, which produces a tree diagram representation of any directory passed to it, so that it was 32-bit compatible – but that there were one or two problems with it. For a short while after that, Martin and I exchanged a number of emails while he worked a little more on Cat_Draw and other applications, and purchased a Raspberry Pi so that he could use a modern version of RISC OS on modern ARM hardware, and, as a result, has now updated almost all of his software accordingly.

The software can be downloaded from Martin’s FreeUK website or his Leaf Mindcraft website, and includes Cat_Draw, Text_Draw, a BBC Basic to ANSI C translator/converter, a variety of mathematical applications, such as a dragon curve generator, and much more. There’s also VAcrn_RPi, which doesn’t appear to be linked on either of the two sites above, which aims to traverse a given directory tree, and convert what Martin describes as ‘Virtual Acorn Filetypes’ (the hex representation of a RISC OS filetype, appended after a comma to the filename on Windows under HostFS) RISC OS filetypes.