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Article archives

Getting FAT32FS working on a RiscPC with a Castle USB Card

Posted by Jon Robinson on 14:57, 28/6/2014 | , , , ,
 
I have a RISC OS 4.39 RiscPC with a CastleInfo USB card and Compact Flash card reader attached. This uses Castle‘s !SoftSCSI to access the flash cards.
 
For a long time, I have been frustrated by its inability to mount any flash card larger then 2 GB in size. I really wanted to use a single flash card, to back up my 40 GB hard drive, as having to use a pocket full of 2 GB cards is a real pain.
 
I had been put off experimenting with Jeff Doggett‘s FAT32FS before, because I had read somewhere that it only works with the USB stack on the Iyo.
 
But, as it‘s the only solution, I did have a go at trying to get FAT32FS working on my RiscPC, recently. And, luckily, it turns out that the USB podule card on the RiscPC, is sufficiently similar to the one in the Iyonix, that it does, in fact, work.
 
It did take a bit of experimentation, however, to work out how to do it.
 
 
Continue reading "Getting FAT32FS working on a RiscPC with a Castle USB Card" | Comment in the forums

Getting Unicode Working With RISC OS 4 (and 6?)

Posted by Jon Robinson on 23:30, 21/7/2011 | , ,
 
What is Unicode?
 
Unicode has been developed as a standard way of representing the characters in all the world’s basic languages.
 
It was designed to make it easier to exchange files, between computer users who write using different alphabets, and to make documents that do not use the Western, Latin alphabet, readable all over the world, regardless of which program, or operating system is used to view them with.
 
Before Unicode was introduced, people used standard eight bit (one byte) fonts, which allowed the representation of only 256 different characters. When creating complex documents which included, for example, special symbols and foreign-language characters, you would have to use several different fonts to get all the required characters.
 
The problems would start when you emailed this to somebody else, and they didn’t have the same fonts installed on their system, that you had used to create it with. Parts of the document would be unreadable.
 
A further problem arises when two different encodings are used for the same set of characters.
 
For instance, Cyrillic web pages are often encoded in either KO18-R, or Windows 1251, which both have the same characters, but in different positions in the font table. If you sent a KO18-R document, or email, to somebody whose system was set up for Win 1251, they might not be able to read it.
 
Unicode was designed to get around these problems by using more than eight bits to represent a character. By using more than one byte, virtually every symbol, or character that exists in any language, can be allocated its own, unique number (or code point), so that the character can be represented by the same number, whatever operating system, or program you are using anywhere in the world.
 
If your system supports Unicode, a word processor or web browser that loads a Unicode document, will check all the code points in the document against a look up table, which tells it whether that character is defined in any of its installed fonts. If so, it retrieves the character’s details, and renders it to the screen.
 
Unicode makes the sharing of documents and web pages, across national boundaries, much easier, and is a God-send to those who regularly communicate with people who don’t use our alphabet, or are interested in studying foreign languages.
 
So how does RISC OS bear up to the challenge of supporting this international standard ?
 
 
Continue reading "Getting Unicode Working With RISC OS 4 (and 6?)" | 20 comments in the forums

Video Processing on RISC OS

Posted by Jon Robinson on 22:00, 11/1/2010 | , , ,
 
One of the frustrating things about being a RISC OS user, is its lack of support for commonly-used video formats, other than its own dedicated Replay system.
 
A few attempts have been made to remedy this situation, but, until recently, they have come to nothing.
 
In the mid-1990s, Innovative Media Solutions produced a range of Acorn readers for PC-format, educational CDs, such as Microsoft Dinosaurs and Dorling Kindersley's The Way Things Work. These readers included dedicated versions of ARMovie, which could convert the CD’s AVI files to Replay format on the fly.
 
Unfortunately, the work that IMS had done, did not result in the release of a souped-up version of Replay, which could play all Quicktime and AVI movies, despite the fact that RISCOS LtdInfo seem to have done some work in this area about five years ago.
 
But now, with the release of the open-source applications, Murnong and FFMpeg, by Chris Martin, things have started to take a turn for the better.
 
Although RISC OS still does not have a proper media player, which can play all the common video formats, we do now have the next best thing - an application that can capture a YouTube video stream as it arrives, and convert it to an MPEG file, which can be played using KinoAmp.
 
 
Continue reading "Video Processing on RISC OS" | 19 comments in the forums

Making a Mac mini media centre

Posted by Phil Mellor on 12:00, 17/2/2009 | , , , ,
 
MegatronHere's the plan: take an old Mac mini, blow the dust off it, and repurpose it as a media centre. In particular, I wanted it to:
  • Watch and record Freeview channels
  • Watch shows on BBC iPlayer
  • Play downloaded videos
Here's how I got on.
 
Continue reading "Making a Mac mini media centre" | 4 comments in the forums

Video conversion on RISC OS

Posted by Jeffrey Lee on 20:00, 20/12/2008 | , , , , ,
 
A while ago you may remember that I wrote an article about video conversion for RISC OS, and near the end raised the topic of video conversion on RISC OS using a port of ffmpeg. Although the version of ffmpeg I originally tried on RISC OS was old and broken, Christopher Martin obviously thinks there's some merit to this approach, as he has recently produced !FFmpeg, a working port of ffmpeg for RISC OS.
 
Once more in the interests of SCIENCE, I threw a few test videos at !FFmpeg and measured its performance against that of a similar version of ffmpeg running on my Windows PC.


 
Continue reading "Video conversion on RISC OS" | 1 comment in the forums

Building the Dream 4 - Random city basics

Posted by Jeffrey Lee on 12:00, 28/11/2008 | , , , ,
 
As stated in the last article, this time I'll be looking at what went into the MK I map generator for my eternally work-in-progress game, DeathDawn.
 
Specifically, I'll be looking at the implementation and evolution of the following components of the generator:
  • City block placement. This is arguably the most important stage as it defines the overall layout of the city.
  • Edge and node linking. A housekeeping stage that prepares the data structures for the road weighting stage.
  • Road weighting. A city with roads which all have the same number of lanes isn't very realistic, so this stage uses an algorithm to determine the number of lanes each road should have.
  • Road and building painting. With the city structure generated, all that's left is to translate it into the format used by the engine during actual gameplay.

 
Continue reading "Building the Dream 4 - Random city basics" | Comment in the forums

Building the Dream 3 - Random map generators, redux

Posted by Jeffrey Lee on 12:00, 23/8/2008 | , , , ,
 
After writing my first article about random map generators, I said I was going to write a city generator. Well now I have, and I'm here to tell you about it over the course of the next few Building the Dream articles.

Blow your own trumpet much?

Although this article could just be dismissed as me blowing my own trumpet, I'm hoping that it will serve a somewhat more useful purpose. Before, during, and after working on the map generator I've searched the Internet for examples of similar generators and failed to find any. Sure, there are odd bits and pieces - descriptions of simpler generators that have given me ideas on some techniques to use, or screenshots of sexy work-in-progress realtime generators, but no actual algorithms or code samples from generators that come close to the required complexity of my generator.
 
So hopefully this article will become a useful reference point for anyone else wanting to undertake the task of writing a city generator, whether they're targeting a grid-based world representation like mine or a vector-based one.
 
Apart from discussing the algorithms used in the generator (and why they're used) I'll also talk about the data structures that are used - so even if you're not interested in random map generators you should be able to find plenty of examples of uses for the data structures covered in the first Building the Dream article, as requested quite some time ago.
 
 

Continue reading "Building the Dream 3 - Random map generators, redux" | 1 comment in the forums

Building the Dream 2 - The RISC OS Sound System

Posted by Jeffrey Lee on 12:00, 17/3/2008 | , , ,
 
A bit later than I was hoping, but nevertheless it's now time for Building the Dream 2. This time I'll be looking at the RISC OS sound system - everything from the terminology used, to what makes a sound, how the RISC OS sound system works, and how you can write your own sample player.
 
 
Continue reading "Building the Dream 2 - The RISC OS Sound System" | 9 comments in the forums

Building the Dream 1 - Container data structures

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Bob and Trev: Resurrection: Just in time

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Monster AI

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Combat

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Visibility and pathfinding

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The level generator

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