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Article archives

Drag'n'Drop Spring 2018 edition released

Posted by Mark Stephens on 08:53, 25/5/2018 |
 

 
The latest edition of Drag'n'Drop was released at The Wakefield show and is now available directly or via the Plingstore.
 
Drag'n'Drop is the long running online magazine, released as a PDF document which you can read on your computer or printout. As a PDF, the magazine can contain clickable links, taking you straight to downloads and websites. The news section is right up to date with the Wakefield Show.
 
The cover includes a picture of the classic Missile Command game, and there is a BASIC listing for the game. You can purchase all the code listing with the magazine to save typing. There is a nice explanation of how the code works.
 
There is a new series starting in this edition on using Schema2, complete with links to download the free version. Drag'n'Drop does many multi-edition series and back issues are available if you find yourself joining one mid-series.
 
The series on how RISC OS fonts work moves to part 2. We dissect Outline files and peek inside with a small BASIC program.
 
Paul Stewart (original founder of the magazine), makes a welcome return with a review of RaspberryRo Lite 3 from Fourth Dimension. He also has a second hardware review on the Vonets VP11G Wifi router. Great to have you back, Paul.
 
This months little utility to make the RISC OS experience even better is a WindowCloser utility. With one single application on your task bar you can list and close all open windows. A simple Icon Clipboard utility also allows you to copy and paste text between writable icons.
 
Finally, you can read reviews on the latest release of ArtWorks (is it worth the money for the new tool) and Philips Music Scribe (now available as a free download to Plingstore).
 
Something for everyone in this edition and an enjoyable and entertaining read with lots of practical projects.
 
The Magazine is available from the website and you can also buy a version with the code listings.
 
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Messenger Pro reaches release 8

Posted by Mark Stephens on 08:51, 11/5/2018 |
 
A surprise (but very welcome) release at Wakefield was a new release of the perennial RISC OS client, Messenger Pro. In his talk, Andrew Rawnsley said that R-CompInfo had brought forward the update as the code needed some reworking to ensure it worked with RISC OS 5.24 - we are not complaining.
 
The software comes with a nice installer which guides you through installation. If you ask it to install into a directory with the old version, it offers to make a backup copy as well. I run !Messenger on both my Titanium and on VirtualRPC on my Mac laptop. Being an eternal optimist, I installed the software on both machines and fired it up.
 
The key feature for this release has been to bring the same security updates which we saw in NetFetch5. So you can send from different email addresses, make sure your email is less likely to be mistaken for spam. The software also handles better large attachments and HTML emails (common on other platforms). R-CompInfo says it also includes the usual bug fixes and tweaks and it feels faster on my setup (which uses IMAP). I have had no issues with the software.
 
If you keep your email locally, the software now includes options to store backups outside !NewsDir and on an entirely different disk.
 
There is also a new edition of the manual which is provided free as an online version or can be purchased for an additional five pounds. It includes all the new features of releases 7 and 8.
 
The software can be purchased from R-Comp directly or via Plingstore with discounts for existing users. If you buy the CD version, it includes the Mac and Windows versions and a key for you to run it on these platforms.
 
All told, v8 is an incremental update which adds some nice tweaks and updates Messenger to remain current with changes going on so that it continues to offer a very viable solution for using RISC OS with email.
 
R-Comp website
 
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New edition of Archive lands on my doorstep...

Posted by Mark Stephens on 19:28, 17/4/2018 | ,
 

 
It has been a while, but the latest edition of Archive magazine (Vol 24 No4), is now available. It is 55 pages of news, reviews and articles. It was also nice to see some new and returning names amongst the contributors.
 
The 7 page news section is presumably still wet, with full preview details for the Wakefield Show. Jim Nagel has been clearly sleuthing for new stories and has updates from all the usual RISC OS companies and beyond. Great to hear Elesar are hoping to resurrect Prophet next.
 
There have been a couple of shows since the last edition of Archive, so you will also find Show reviews for London Show, Recursion Show, South-West Show, and a sneak preview for Wakefield. Now you know what you missed...
 
There is also a review of Chris Hall's !FamTree and and update on Aemulor, charting releases, development and history.
 
What really makes Archive is the user articles. Chris Hall continues in his quest for the ultimate GPS system using RISC OS, Gerald Fitton covering transferring emails between RISC OS and Windows. There is a Mac related column (which also covers VNC and Cloud software), a PC column (including updates on Windows 10) and Gavin Wraith experiments with StrongED modefiles. David Brown shows us how to use SchemeED (which can create schematic diagrams of electronic circuits on RISC OS) and Bimal Jangra shares what DARC Technology Club learned about Forensic science.
 
Lastly, you will find some hints and tips on RISC OS related apps - advice on Photodesk and DPScan in this edition.
 
It may no longer be a monthly event, but Archive remains an excellent read and Jim Nagel is an 'old school journalist' (do you remember Computer Shopper columns?) who always delivers the highest quality copy.
 
Archive website
 
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Drag'n'drop winter 2018 edition reviewed

Posted by Mark Stephens on 07:53, 23/3/2018 | ,
 

 
The latest edition of Drag'n'drop is now available online to purchase. If you are not familiar with the magazine, it is a nice mix of news, tutorials, reviews and type in apps, utilities and games (you can buy the listings to avoid the typing). It reminds me very much of the 1990s style Acorn magazines. There are also adverts for shows and equipment.
 
The magazine if provided as a PDF file, which also has the advantage that news and other items can contain links. It can be read on any machine or printed out.
 
This edition includes a wide selection of reviews covering the updated BBC BASIC Reference Manual, the new Protector game, a wireless keyboard and mouse, and a nifty little magic wand scanner.
 
There are 3 type-in games (Cake Hog, Buggies and Pebbles), complete with nice explanations of how the code works.
 
A nifty little SetTyper application completes the programming section.
 
So, something for everyone and a great selection of material to keen you engaged and entertained.
 
Website
 
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Returning to ImpressionX

Posted by Mark Stephens on 07:53, 16/2/2018 | ,
 

 
Impression was always one of my favourite applications, so I was very interested to meet Richard Keefe at the London Show and sign up for his Impression release.
 
What Richard is offering is a scheme where you will get access to his latest version. Potentially this offers three advantages:-
1. An update in the sense it is Impression-X rather than Impression Publisher. This is the flagship release. Most of the features are high-end, but it is always nice to have the top version.
2. An upgrade in the sense that Richard is making Impression run on the latest software. Some use of Aemulor is still needed, but the aim is to totally convert the software to run unaided on modern hardware.
3. Enhancements with better JPEG support, bug fixes and a support piece of software.
 
Richard supplied the software at the London show as a set of Archive files to decompress and install. The most noticeable change is the new splashscreen shown at the top.
 
After that, it is like having an old friend back reinvigorated and refreshed.
 
You can read about Richard's plans for Impression in his indepth interview with Iconbar.
 
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New RISC OS !FamTree application reviewed

Posted by Mark Stephens on 07:55, 9/2/2018 | ,
 
RISC OS stalwart Chris Hall has turned his attention to a new product which will be released at the South-West Show this year. He was kind enough to send us a pre-release copy for review (version 1.3), so here is a taster of what you will be able to buy at the South-West Show.
 
!FamTree is a program for creating graphical family trees, showing all your ancestors.
 
The software works on the basis that family trees are rather like Directory structures, with parents and children. You create a simple set of directories with text descriptions and the software turns thins into a proper family tree which can be exported as draw file. The software takes care of figuring out all the layout.
 
If you want to use the software with existing data rather than create a tree from scratch, there is a feature to import data from GEDCOM data files. There are currently some (generous) limits to filesize on this. So it only allows the last 20 generations and 250 family trees. Probably need to wait for release 2 if you want to do entire tribes or nations.....
 
The software is nicely designed as a RISC OS application and follows all the conventions, so you should have no trouble picking it up quickly.
 
A minor complaint I did have was that firing up on my Titanium (running the latest OS), gave me the message that I needed MakeDraw 2.53 or later but I could not see any advice on how to fix. This might be off-putting to non-technical users. Otherwise the application feels really nicely polished and finished off.
 
There is a ReadMe file telling you haw to get started, a comprehensive StrongHelp manual which includes lots of advice on running and customising both the software and the output. The main program itself is a 50,000 line basic application. Chris has even registered the filetype with ROOL. Chris has some ideas for version 2 and we look forward to see how he improves on an excellent first release.
 
Chris is selling the software at 15 pounds. If you have an interest in family trees, it produces some polished output, is really nice to use and I think it will quickly repay the cost in time saved. And if you are at the Show, Chris would welcome your input and ideas.
 
Website and more details.
 
1 comment in the forums

NetFetch reaches Version 5

Posted by Mark Stephens on 07:05, 26/1/2018 |
 
R-CompInfo recently updated NetFetch to version 5. You can purchase it easily through the !Store (a very painless process) or get it directly from R-Comp.
 

 
I purchased it from !Store (getting a discount for being a NetFetch 4 user) and downloaded. Once decompressed, you get a selection of versions to install. There is the full version, a utility to upgrade an older version of just a copy to overwrite an existing NetFetch 4 installation. I used the last option without issues. There is a detailled readme with full details on installing the software. The archive also includes a version of !Messenger (called NF) and copies of some old RISC OS browsers which may be of interest.
 
NetFetch 5 is a major update with better SSL support, multiple SMTP server support, better RSS handling and the usual bug fixes. Much of the enhancements are about keeping up with changes in the wider world (such as the way major mail services validate email and detect spam) but there are a couple of new features. Andrew did a really nice talk (now on youtube) covering the features at the London Show.
 
You can you easily disable the fetching/sending and autosend will now wait a little before it sends rather than sending at once. So you now have a chance to reconsider that hasty reply you scribbled down in anger...
 
If you are using RISC OS for email the NetFetch update is a welcome addition.
 
1 comment in the forums

BBC BASIC Reference Manual updated

Posted by Mark Stephens on 07:04, 12/1/2018 | ,
 
ROOL continues on its mission to bring RISC OS and its documentation up to date with a thoroughly revised and updated version of the BBC BASIC Reference Manual. This available both as a PDF in the programming documentation and as a hard copy book.
 
Issue 1 was published in 1992 so quite a lot has changed for this 2017 release 2. It is a fairly substantial volume (510 pages including the index). It is bang up to date, mentioning RISC OS 5.24 and BASICVFP.
 
The manual is nicely structured so it can be read from cover to cover as a tutorial but is also clearly structured to provide a lookup for people wanting to find a specific item of information. The book identifies 3 target readership groups:-
1. Total beginners looking to learn BBC BASIC as an introduction to computing.
2. Experienced programmers looking to learn a new language.
3. A reference guide for experienced BBC BASIC programmers who want to look-up some details.
 
To this end, it is split into Overview, Programming Techniques, Reference and Appendices. There are lots of little programming examples to show how commands work. There are no screenshots.
 
If you are dipping your toe into the programming waters, there are some simple examples and some good explanations of the technical side of programming (integers and floating point, error handling, writing structured code, binary) while there is lots of detail for more advanced developers (?, !, |, $ indirect operators, VDU commands, using the assembler). You will need additional resources to learn to write Desktop WIMP programs but it will give you a full grasp of BBC BASIC.
 
The book now has pride of place on my technical bookshelf and the Appendix section is becoming increasing thumbed through. What are your thoughts?
 
Buy the book from ROOL
 
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ArtWorks 2.X3 released

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Drag'N'Drop Autumn edition now available

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!DualHead puts 2 screens in one

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!Organizer 2.28 reviewed

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!DualHead second release reviewed

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!DualHead in use

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