Snippets – 31st December, 2014

Because while no news is good news, some news is better. Or something.

Keen eyed readers of RISCOSitory will no doubt have noticed that for the last couple of months they have in fact not been keen eyed readers of RISCOSitory at all. As is sometimes the case, the workload here at the Soft Rock Software office became somewhat hectic for a while – moreso, I think, than it’s ever been before – leaving no time for any updates to the site.

And to cap that, a nasty bout of flu has meant most of the Christmas holiday so far has been spent wrapped up in bed with either the TV on, or a good book open – but now I feel I can sit at the computer long enough to compile the news that has been missed into a final snippets post for 2014!

Important patch release for OpenVector suite

Christopher Martin has released a patch for the OpenVector suite – OpenVector, OpenGridPro, and DrawPlus – to addresses a serious flaw in the VectUtil module’s service handler that had the potential to crash the operating system in unpredictable ways.

The patch updates the module to version 3.30, and Christopher has said that any instance of version 3.29 or older needs to be replaced.

Star Fighter 3000 now available for free!

Originally released in 1994 by Fednet Software, Star Fighter 3000 was a “futuristic combat-dedicated flight action simulator.” Distribution rights for the game were eventually acquired by iSV Products, who released a new version on CD in 2000, and APDL later took over as publisher, bringing out a 32-bit compatible version in 2003. Meanwhile, Christopher Bazley released patches for the software (some of which formed part of the iSV and APDL releases), and continues to maintain a dedicated website.

Shortly after the RISC OS User Group of London‘s November meeting, for which the guest speaker was Andrew Hutchings of Fednet, it was announced that the game can now be downloaded free of charge from the Star Fighter 3000 website.

RiscOSM finds its way to version 1.16 1.18

Sine Nomine Software have released a new version or two of their mapping software RiscOSM. Version 1.16 of the application was announced in November, but a glance at the website reveals that version 1.18 is apparently available.

The software renders vector-based maps, based on suitably converted OpenStreetMap data, and allows the user to search for places, choose the scale and style of the map, and more, and the updates leading up to the latest version include a number of bug fixes and user interface enhancements.

Map data for France and Germany available

German RISC OS user ‘Raik’ – who is working on a port of RISC OS  to the Pandora (not to be confused with the PandaRO from CJE Micro’s!) – has done the necessary work to convert the OpenStreetMap data for both Germany and France into a format suitable for use with RiscOSM, and has made them available (one download for each) from the RISC OS pages of the Pandora website.

BAPS releases NetRadio

Using the moniker BAPS (Bernad’s Apps for RISC OS), Bernard Veasey has announced a new piece of software in the form of NetRadio, a front-end to play internet radio stations using MPlayer. Coming with over twenty radio stations already configured, the software allows the list to be updated by the user, from which a station can be selected. A logo can also be associated with each station, and is displayed in the window when that station is selected, and the list of stations can be positioned where the user prefers in the station list, rather than (as would normally be the case for something in a list) by an (or one of a selection of) arbitrary inbuilt sorts.

The software has seen a number of updates since its initial release and, as of Christmas Eve, it has reached version 0.17, with the changes since the original release being a mixture of minor bug fixes, user interface improvements and new features.

Bernard describes the software as ‘Giftware’, asking that if you use the software regularly, you send him a ‘gift’ in thanks – which in turn helps to support future development of this and other applications.

Pluto version 3.14 now available

The latest version of news and email client Pluto can now be downloaded – ostensibly via the Pluto section of Martin Avison’s website, though the actual download comes from Pluto’s ‘real’ home on SourceForge.

The software began in the 1990s as a commercial product from Jonathan Duddington, and development ceased in the mid-2000s – but several years later, Jonathan released a new version, complete with sources under the GPLv3 licence.Since then, Martin Avison and Rob Sprowson have both updated the software, and ‘patch’ releases (which update Jonathan’s final version) have been made available from Martin’s site. There are apparently no significant changes to version 3.14 but, for the first time, it is a full release, not requiring the earlier version to be installed first.

LCheck changed for Lottery location change

Kevin Wells’ National Lottery results checking application, LCheck, is now at version 1.12.

The software’s purpose is to check the results for the UK National Lottery, Thunderball, and Euro Millions draws – making it easier to check a series of lines (for example, when a syndicate buys one line per member) . It does this by checking the numbers against a CSV file containing the results, published on The National Lottery website and fetched using Wget.

It seems the location of the file has changed, so Kevin has had to update his application accordingly.

Early Day Motions come to MPData+

Another application from Kevin Wells is MPData+, designed to ‘keep tabs’ on your local Member of Parliament (if you’re based in the UK). The software has been updated to version 1.10, which now includes details of the last four Early Day Motions signed by the MPs.

ConvImgs reaches version 1.00

Chris Johnson has brought his batch image conversion and transformation tool, ConvImgs [mirror], up to version 1.00. The software allows images to be converted to/from a number of different formats, allowing a number of simple transformations – such as rotations – to be carried out at the same time.

The most notable changes in version 1.00, according to Chris, are the addition of ‘invert colour’ and ‘expand histogram’.

Snapper version 1.22 available

Chris also released a new version of Snapper [mirror], a versatile screen capture program, originally written by David Pilling and now maintained and further developed by Chris, that makes it easily possible to take screen grabs of either the whole screen, selected areas, or specific windows (with or without the window furniture).

Version 1.22 includes a fix for area snaps using a colour fill on large screens, and a relocation of the applications configuration files from inside itself to the RISC OS standard Choices: directory.

SyncDiscs version 1.28 available

A third December release from Chris is version 1.28 of SyncDiscs [mirror]. Another piece of software originally written by David Pilling and which he as taken over, SyncDiscs is an application to keep two discs (or just directories) synchronised.

The main change since version 1.27 is that the application now maintains a list of the last twelve directories synchronised, making that list available from a menu.

PipeDream updated to version 4.52/08

The last couple of months has seen Stuart Swales release a clutch of updates to PipeDream, an integrated word processor and spreadsheet application originally from Colton Software (for whom Stuart was the lead programmer), but now available free of charge from Stuart’s own website, and any others who wish to host it.

The update to version 4.52/06 includes the largest list of features, with just one listed for the update to version 4.52/07, and the list for version 4.52/08 falling somewhere between them in length. Across the three, the changes include bug fixes such as automatically generated temporary string arrays no longer leading to heap corrupting, user interface changes such as close icons being removed from dialogue boxes to avoid possibly unwanted iconise buttons, and new features such as a new spreadsheet function being backported from Fireworkz.

AMCS can now be downloaded

Demonstrated regularly for a few years now at the London Show, AMCS – the Advanced Music Construction System – is now available to download from 3rd Event Technologies. The software is described by developer qUE as a music production operating system – rather than just an application; it takes over from RISC OS, even if RISC OS is used to load it – which operates in a similar way to Tracker, “except it’s primarily MIDI and does waaay more.”

AMCS is currently available only for the A3000, but there are plans to make it available for newer architectures. The software is still in a test phase, so there will be bugs, and the documentation is still being worked on.

ArtWorks geometric pattern tutorial

Richard Ashberry has published a tutorial which aims to show how to create the geometric art developed by Moorish artisans, thousands of years ago – and although Richard has made it available from his ‘ArtWorks Art Works‘ website, he explains that the techniques can be employed by anyone reasonably familiar with a good quality drawing package.

Raspberry Pi Compute as art

CJE Micro’s have announced, via their blog, the availability of the Raspberry Pi Compute module in a rather unusual form. Describing the module as a thing of beauty, they’ve chosen to offer them for sale as a piece of art – mounted on a small frame, with its own easel, allowing it to be displayed easely (okay, that’s so terrible a pun it brings the whole of pundom into shame, pretend you didn’t see it) easily on a mantelpiece.

Coming in two versions – with a title (£34) or without (£33) – CJE’s website warns potential buyers that there is no motherboard supplied, and that the module is hot glued in place and may not work if removed – and, rather amusingly, then goes on to explain that there is no operating system installed, adding “You will need a Compute Dev. kit or other motherboard to program the eMMC Flash RAM.”

IRUG meetings in limbo?

It appears that the Invicta RISC OS Users Group – aka IRUG – for people in and around the Kent area are no longer meeting on the third Saturday of each month, as currently detailed on the RISC OS Calendar page of this site.

In a post to the group’s mailing list, with the subject line “Reviving IRUG,” Peter Campbell-Banks said that “Saturday afternoons drifted away” and asks if there is any interest in organising future meetings, suggesting Tuesday evenings as a possibility. That post was on 26th October and, to date, there has been only one reply on the list (although people may have emailed Peter privately).

Local user groups form an important – if sadly dwindling – part of the RISC OS community, and it is well worth keeping them alive, even if meetings are only of an informal nature, so if you are a RISC OS user living in Kent who hasn’t before connected with other local users, it could be worth subscribing to the list and contacting the group.

RISC OS finds an excuse to hit the pages of IEEE Spectrum magazine

IEEE Spectrum is a magazine published by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, which appears twelve times per year in both printed and digital (PDF) format.

An article by the magazine’s Senior Editor, Stephen Cass, appeared on its website the day before London 2014 entitled ‘Create a “Wheel of Excuses” with BASIC and the New Raspberry Pi‘ – with the version of BASIC in question being BBC BASIC running under RISC OS.




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