Snippets – 14th August, 2018

A round-up of news items found anywhere but the RISCOSitory news submission address!

With time rarely being on my side, I’m always glad when people who release software or other resources for RISC OS, or who do anything else relevant to the platform let me know about it by sending their news to the email address made available for the purpose.

However, there are still plenty who don’t send me their announcements, and that is the purpose of these ‘Snippets’ posts – so what follows is the result of me attempting to catch up on my reading of RISC OS-related newsgroups, mailing lists, and other online fora.

First up, a new weather application was released by Kevin Wells at the end of April. The application, Kweather, requires wget to run, along with an API key from the Open Weather website, but once set up it can tell you the current and forecast weather for a twenty four hour period for over 200,000 locations around the world.

Around a month later, Kevin released another new application in the form of Kquiz – found on the same page as Kweather, under the Games section. Kquiz is a trivia application that can present you with multiple choice questions on various subjects, and at a number of difficulty levels. Like Kweather, the software needs wget to be able to function – this time drawing its data from the Open Trivia Database.

Another update from Kevin, this time in June, was to his TrainTimes application (again available from the same link), which can show you the trains scheduled to arrive at any given station. The new version increases the number of trains the software is able to display – in theory up to thirty trains, spread over three pages, though the TransportAPI website (from which the data is pulled using wget), currently seems to be limited to providing data for up to 25.

Also in June, Kevin updated RandUser. Another application that uses wget to fetch data from a third party site, this time the Random User website, this program produces random user data for testing purposes. The new version, 1.01, offers the ability to display and save a photo of the randomly generated user, and also now supports Norway as a country, with a country field added to the address data.

And in an effort to turn this Snippets post into a Kevin Wells special, he also released a new application in July. Bus Times offers a similar function to Train Times, but for buses for any given UK bus stop. It displays up to the next ten buses for the stop, and the time tables for those buses. As with Kevin’s other applications, the software needs wget to work, and like Train Times it downloads the source data from the Transport API website.

Dave Ruck released a new version of his disc checker and repair tool, DiscKnight at the end of May, and another new version a few days ago. Version 1.54 addressed a crash that can be caused by a 4K sectored disc that is suspected to have been incorrectly formatted, and version 1.55 deals with a crash that can occur when repairing broken directories. The software costs a tenner (or £25 for a site licence) but existing users can request a free upgrade.

Steve Fryatt pushed out “an Important Big Fix” – complete with initial capitals – to CashBook at the start of June. The new version, 1.41, brings an important fix to version 1.40, released at this year’s Wakefield Show, leading to corruption in the Next Cheque Numbers stored in the accounts data.

Later in June, Richard Darby made available a new Printer Definition File for users of certain duplex printers. Those that lack PostScript capability, but which do understand Printer Command Language (PCL). The existing HP Laserjet definition file would only only printing on a single side, but Richard’s version – made possible by the release by RISC OS Open Ltd of a new PDumper as part of their nightly builds – makes the duplex feature usable. (And Richard notes that it isn’t limited to Hewlett Packard printers – he has used it with his Brother devices.)

Thomas Milius released a new version of MapView last month. The software can fetch map tiles from various servers, such as Open Street Map, and display them as a map with optional overlays, such as train, bus, or cycle routes. Amongst other things, version 0.11 adds new data sources and tile types and, with some providers needing user registration, there is now a mechanism for the software to handle access keys.

David Pilling pushed out a new version of SparkFS in July. The update addresses a bug that only became apparent for people using RISC OS 5.25 trying to write files to archives, and the technical details can be found in this thread on the RISC OS Open forums.

(For anyone wondering about RISC OS 5.25, this is the version available from RISC OS Open Ltd as a nightly build – in essence it is the ‘test’ build of the operating that will eventually lead to the next ‘stable’ release in the form of RISC OS 5.26.)

Gavin Wraith has released a new build of RiscLua – version 7 – which is now available alongside version 5.8. Unlike the latter version, RiscLua 7 specifically targets ARM processors that support Vector Floating Point (VFP), which means it is unsuitable for older computers such as the RiscPC or Iyonix.

Not long after, Stephan Kleinert released a card game written in RiscLua, although he wrote it a few years ago – and because newer versions of RiscLua break it, it comes with embedded RiscLua 5 binaries and libs. LuaTahi (direct download) is a ‘uno’-style card game, in which you play matching colours, along with a few wildcards.

And earlier this month, Stephan released another game written in the language, called LuaPuyo (direct download). The game is described as a PuyoPuyo clone, and is a two-player tile matching game – if you think along the lines of a much-simplified Tetris, but for two players, you won’t go far wrong.

Chris Hall has updated SatNav to version 2.10. With the latest changes – if running on hardware using the necessary components to support it – the software now benefits from full battery management, and is therefore able to show battery life or current consumption depending on whether the battery is being charged. It also now supports power switching hardware so that power can be removed in a controlled manner. The updated software should be available via !Store.

A new version of on-off-on-off-under-new-management PDF magazine Drag ‘n Drop became available at the very end of July. Fans of the magazine’s crazy page numbering will be disappointed – it doesn’t feature in this issue – but other things to look out for include two type-in games, a feature on graphics upscaling and interpolation, an instalment in a series covering spreadsheet application Schema 2, and more besides.

At this point, I’d like to say that – hopefully – I’ve picked up all of the little items that haven’t been sent to me. The truth is, however, I’m pretty sure I haven’t – especially for things that have been announced (or even just mentioned) in sources I read via RSS feeds. This is because a couple of months ago I decided to rebuild the Linux Mint computer that sits on my desk in the bunker, and which is my day to day computer. Obviously, my systems is backed up regularly, and I took an extra, bang up to date backup to install after the rebuild…

But there was something not included in that backup – something I didn’t even consider: My RSS feeds. With everything set up again, I had to manually reinstate my various feeds (and even now, I’m sure there are some I’ve forgotten). Reinstating the feeds, though, doesn’t reinstate the many unread posts that were there before – at best, it downloads everything currently available in the feed for which a subscription is added. There is no way for the software to know what I have and haven’t read already, and for posts that are older than the source feed it won’t even know they exist.

That means there were many posts in a number of feeds that effectively dropped out of sight for me – so any announcements of new software, resources, or whatever else that was in those posts have gone unread here in the bunker, and you’ve therefore missed an opportunity to have your item brought to the attention of RISCOSitory’s readership. Oh well.

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