Snippets – 13th March, 2015

Time for a good dollop of ketchup… erm, I mean, time to catch up!

As ever, the result of devoting time to getting ready for a RISC OS show means putting other work to one side to deal with after – which therefore means I tend to be busy after the show, leading to a lack of updates to RISCOSitory (an effect worsened when the show happens to fall at the start of what is going to be a busy period anyway, as some do).

So the best way to deal with that?

A ‘Snippets’ post catching up on things and bringing the site back up to date! That’ll be this, then, starting with some event news.

RISC OS eXperience

You may have already noticed the date listed on the Calendar page of this site, but it hasn’t yet been mentioned in the news pages: The annual RISC OS eXperience, organised by the Big Ben Club in the Netherlands, is set to take place on 9th May, 2015. The venue is, as previously, Wijkgebouw de Vuister, Molenwerf 44, 1541 WR Koog aan de Zaan, The Netherlands. The event will be open from 10:00am until 4:00pm.

Recursion 2015

Something neither mentioned (until now) on the Calender nor in the news pages, however, is the Recursion Computer Science Fair. This event has been running for a few years, and takes place in the Levi Fox Hall of King Edward Vi School, Church Street, Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, CV37 6HB – and the date for Recursion 2015 is 4th July, with doors open to the public from 11:00am.

Although not specifically a RISC OS event, Recursion has had a RISC OS presence in the past, and should do so again this year: CJE Micro’s exhibited last year and mentioned this year’s event in their most recent newsletter, so are presumably intending to be there again; the Midlands user Group have also attended previously, and informed me at the recent Southwest Show that they plan to be there again; and I have contacted the organisers to arrange for Soft Rock Software to have a stand this year.

Keep taking the tablets

A couple of days before the Southwest Show, R-Comp announced a “2015 edition” of their Android tablet – which would therefore have been available to buy at the show, as well as directly from them to order by telephone, and at future shows. The new edition sports a quad-core ARM CPU, a 1920×1200 IPS display, 16GB internal storage, a micro-SD slot for expansion, HDMI and other connectors, and comes with a leather-effect stand/case. The tablet is priced at £199 including VAT, with P&P extra if you are unable to pick one up at a show.

Getting to the heart of the matter

Having started talking about the concept last year, CJE Micro’s have now more formally announced their RISC OS Heartstm scheme, which harks back to the RiscPC’s ability to have it’s processor so easily replaced with something newer and better. With CJE’s scheme, the board that forms the heart of your modern RISC OS system (hence the name of the scheme) is similarly upgraded.

The scheme will involve either sending your computer to CJE for their “Heart surgery team” (that’ll be Andrew Conroy, then) to perform the upgrade, or obtaining a “DIY RISC OS Heart transplant kit” from them and sending the existing heart of your system to them in return.

Current options involve upgrading an ARMini to either a RasberryRO 2 or PandaRO RISC OS Heart, or upgrading a RaspberryRO to a RaspberryRO 2 or PandaRO RISC OS Heart. Future options will involve upgrading RaspberryRO, ARMini, PandaRO, ARMiniX and ARMX6 systems to CJE’s forthcoming Cortex-A15 Heart.

PandaRO price plummet

Sold by CJE’s sister company 4D, which isn’t VAT registered, the price of the PandaRO computers has been reduced:

The Baby PandaRO has dropped from £409 to £299, and the Baby PandaRO Pro has dropped from £439 to £329 – a £110 drop in both cases.

The amount by which the price of the bigger PandaRO has dropped, however, depends upon configuration:

The standard PandaRO in ‘Case A’ – a LinkWorld LC820 case – with a 4GB SD has dropped in price from £499 to £369 (£130), while the version with a 32GB SD, 60GB SSD and two front USB ports has dropped from £594 to £449 (£145).

The PandaRO Pro in ‘Case C’ – an Antec ISK110 case – with a 64GB SD, 240GB SSD, two front USB ports and a reset switch has dropped from £785 to £519 (a whopping £266 drop), while the version with a 32GB SD, 60GB SSD and four front USB ports is down from £663 to £459 (£204).

Director 0.39 stable release

Philp J Ludlam announced a new version of Director the day after the Southwest Show.

Director is a general purpose desktop tool which allows the desktop to be customised through the creation of menus of useful commands. It also allows an alternative and faster means to view files by creating directory menus, and provides a host of other useful features.

Changes since the last beta release include the addition of ARMv7 strict mode support, an IfModule utility, as well as many other improvements and bug fixes.

PhotoFix for PhotoDesk

PhotoFix is a new piece of software from R-Comp aimed at users of RISC OS systems based around a Cortex-A9 architecture (such as ARMixiX, PandaRO and ARMX6) who wish to run Photodesk on those systems.

The software doesn’t modify and files or code in Photodesk, and nor does it attempt to fix any other problems in the application – it’s purpose is simply to allow the photo editing package to run, and handle JPEG/PNG files, and it has been tested on version 3.10 and above – and it is recommended that you ensure you have the latest version of bitmap editing software Photodesk from CJE Micro’s (4D), which is version 3.12 and costs £84, before considering PhotoFix, which costs £9.99 and is available from !Store.

RISC OS Events Calendar

Born out of frustration after looking for information about a RISC OS show, only to find out of date information, Tim Hill has put together a calendar of RISC OS events and user group meetings, using the cloudy calendar offering from Google.

An advantage of using an electronic calendar is that it can auto-repeat events that occur to a known schedule, as most user group meetings do, albeit with the occasional shift – and if you find yourself regularly logging in to Google’s services, the use of Google Calendar means you can easily add any given event or the entire RISC OS Events Calendar to your own Google-powered calendar, and more besides.

The RISC OS Calendar found hereabouts is a static one, updated periodically, but presenting information about any given user group (including upcoming meetings) in a single block, making it easy to find information about a group, including all meetings for the next few months – whereas Tim’s calendar provides a chronological list of what’s happening in future, making the two complement one another nicely.

DeskEdit Suite 2015

R-Comp have released a package containing a number of products originally from Beebug into a handy collection, under the banner the DeskEdit Suite 2015.

The application that gives the suite its name is DeskEdit, a text editor and programming aid, and the version included is a new ARMv7-safe version. Described as “Edit on steroids” by R-Comp’s Andrew Rawnsley, the DeskEdit builds from the standard Edit menu and GUI, so should be familiar and comfortable to anyone who uses the standard text editor bundled with RISC OS, and adds much more besides. However, R-Comp readily admit that in some ways, DeskEdit has been eclipsed by the likes of StrongED or Zap.

In addition to DeskEdit, the suite includes the RISC User Dustbin, ArcScan 3 (a database geared specifically for indexing magazine articles) and index files for most RISC OS publications, BASIC Programmers’ Toolkit v3, MenuBar RISC User Edition, Polyglot foreign character tool, TextAid 2009 macro software, and more.

The package is priced at £7.99 and is available via !Store.

32-bit BitField!

Andrew Conroy has rewritten BitField, an old application originally from Mike Sandells, to make it both 32-bit compatible and ARMv7 safe.

The software is a handy tool for programmers, providing a simple way to ascertain the value needed to set particular bits in a number – such as when setting a flag. BitField allows you to:

  • Toggle bits to see what the resulting decimal or hexadecimal number is;
  • Convert entered values between decimal, hexadecimal and binary;
  • Invert, mirror or shift (with a wrap option) bit patterns;
  • Send the results of either function to the keyboard buffer for quick entry into your program editor.
RiscCAD resources released

Following his talk at the March meeting of the Wakefield RISC OS Computer Club, David Buck has made some resources for his 2D CAD software, RiscCAD available for download from his Quadrant2 website. The resources in question are mainly the manuals for version 10 of the software, along with a few other items.

RiscCAD itself can be purchased for £30 by following the shop link on the website, along with an additional ‘Pattern’ pack for £5.

Return of the Blog

The RISC OS Blog website has been somewhat quiet for a fair old while, with the most recent post before this week having been made last August – which site owner and maintainer Sion Cleaver says was down to a combination of laziness and lack of time. However, he’s now given the matter some thought, and the site some attention, and has brought it back with a new direction.

Rather than focus on news items, which he says RISCOSitory and RISCOSCode are doing a good job of, Sion has decided to concentrate more on features and opinion-based pieces, and may also include articles that cover areas that aren’t quite RISC OS related. Some old-style content will continue – reviews and show reports in particular, and RISC OS news will be dealt with in a regular ‘Round-up’ style article.

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