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Newsround

Posted by Sion on 20:00, 25/3/2012 | , , , , , , , , ,
 

RISC OS 5.18 released

RISC OS Open have announced the release of their latest stable release of RISC OS, version 5.18 to be precise. This update features no less than 340 improvements since the last official release and has been officially vetted by CastleInfo Technology for the Iyonix PC and R-CompInfo Interactive for their ARMini.
 
The new ROM image should be able to upgrade all versions of RISC OS from version 5.07 or later and is provided with a flash programming tool (for Iyonix users), which also takes a backup of the previous version just incase you wish to go back.
 
The OMAP3 (i.e. ARMini) version of the operating system now supports hardware CMOS memory fitted on a carrier board plugged into one of the headers on the motherboard. This permits saving of common configuration settings which will be retained when the power is off. CMOS memory carrier boards are available now from the ROOL store and are suitable for use on the original Beagleboard, Beagleboard-xM, and Pandaboard.
 
As the ROMs now several new modules, some of the module location numbers have changed. Because the *UNPLUG settings only remember the module location numbers you may need to review any unplugged modules after the upgrade to ensure the desired ones are unplugged, and that crucial modules are not left unplugged by mistake.
 
For the full release notes and download/installation instructions, please see the ROOL press release.

Raspberry Pi released

The Raspberry Pi Foundation have launched their much anticipated, and dirt cheap computer, the Raspberry Pi. The machine is currently being sold through a number of electronic retailers, namely Farnell, RS Components, and Allied Electronics. However overwhelming demand for the device means that it may take a month or two for production to ramp-up and all backorders to be filled.
 
The Raspberry Pi is a single-board computer developed by the Raspberry Pi Foundation. The foundation plans to release two versions, priced at £16 and £22. The Raspberry Pi is intended to stimulate the teaching of basic computer science in schools and has been designed for use with the Linux operating system, although a port of RISC OS to the machine is already underway.
 
The design is based around a Broadcom BCM2835 SoC, which includes a 700MHz ARM1176JZF-S processor, VideoCore IV GPU, and 256 Megabytes of RAM. The design does not include a built-in hard disk or solid-state drive, instead relying on an SD card for booting and long-term storage.

MPlayer ported to RISC OS

Chris Gransden has ported the popular cross-platform media player and encoder MPlayer to RISC OS, this significant advancement means that RISC OS can now fully play MP4 and other mainstream video formats.
 
Chris’ port is a direct build of the Linux sources and does not feature much RISC OS integration as of yet. It makes a good attempt at playing most MPEG, VOB, AVI and WMV formats, plus many others. You can expect reasonable frame rates up to 480p resolution on recent RISC OS hardware which currently includes Beagleboard and Pandaboard based machines.
 
Bundled along with the MPlayer download is MEncoder, which is a simple movie encoder, designed to encode MPlayer-playable movies.
 
You can download this latest version of MPlayer from the riscos.info website here.

Updates galore

Version 3.38 of OpenVector, OpenGridPro and DrawPlus has been released. These applications are all open-source enhancements to Draw, providing enhanced layering and object library capabilities as well as the ability to draw advanced grids and other object layouts. This release features improved compatibility with Cortex-A8 hardware such as the ARMini and BeagleBoard. Compressed drawfiles and libraries can now be loaded when alignment exceptions are enabled. Consistency of layered merging has also improved.
 
Version 1.71 of PlayIt, a disc-based engine for playing sound samples, has been released. It is used as a resource by several audio players including DigitalCD. This new update contains no new functionality but several significant bugfixes, increased 26/32bit neutrality, and changes for ARMv7 compatability.
 
BarFree from Bernard Veasey has been updated to work on RISC OS 5.18, BarFree copies revised ‘Messages’ and ‘Templates’ files to your ’PreDesk’ directory within its own directory called ‘Free’ to enable different style Free Space windows.
 
Charm has been updated to version 2.5.3 to add support for 'new' and 'delete' keywords for allocating and releasing storage for records. Charm is a high level programming language with a compiler than generates efficient code with a small memory footprint.
 

3 comments in the forums

Have I Got Old News For You

Posted by Jeffrey Lee on 01:20, 2/8/2011 | , , ,
 
Here's a quick round up of all the interesting things that have happened over the past few months that we didn't find the time to report on.

ROOL bounty scheme

ROOL officially announced their bounty scheme, and then followed up that announcement by beginning a process of doubling-up the first £1000 worth of bounty payments - for every pound you contribute towards a bounty (except the ROOL admin bounty), ROOL will also contribute a pound.
 
Although none of the bounties are yet to reach their (hidden) donation targets, it's worth noting that the biggest bounty so far has over £300 allocated to it. So although the bounties aren't likely to come close to the average hourly wage of a professional programmer, they're certainly not going to go for chump change either.

And also

Jim Lesurf has announced that he is offering a £300 bounty prize to the first person to add USB audio support to RISC OS.

BBC Domesday site

No more hunting down rare laserdisc players - the BBC have launched a new section of their website containing the content of the 1986 Domesday system.

Show videos

Proving that online videos of Acorn shows aren't just a modern thing, Mike Cook has pointed us towards this video he uploaded of the 1985 Micro User show. Ah, the memories.

More news sites emerge

In what's possibly an attempt to plug the gap left by our lack of updates, several new news sites have sprung up:

  • Vince "One C or two" Hudd has turned RISCOSitory into a news site, which he looks to be updating on a fairly regular basis.
  • For those who despise reading and just want a list of links, Martin Hansen has just the thing for you - he's added a section to the RISCOScode website that he's using for quickly linking to newsworthy things.
  • And then there's the newest contender, riscos.blog.com, which seems to be updating at a faster rate than RISCOSitory but with shorter articles as a result.

GCC 4.1.2 crawls closer to release

With the first prerelease being over a year ago, you'd be forgiven for thinking that we'd all be using GCC 4.1.2 by now. But to prove that good things come to those who wait, it was only in April of this year that work began on the release preperations. The GCC team are still no doubt after your feedback, so if you're maintaining a RISC OS program that relies on GCC, please have a go with the latest version and report your findings.

RISC OS 5 development

Apart from the bounty announcement, plenty of other things have been happening with RISC OS 5 recently:

  • Tom Walker has sneakily sneaked some sources into ROOL's CVS: A S3C2440 HAL and a S3C6410 HAL, targeting the Mini2440 and Mini6410 respectively. Although the ports are very rough around the edges, what's interesting is that (a) the S3C2440 is the same SoC as used in the A9home, and (b) the S3C6410 is the first ARMv6 device to natively run RISC OS.
  • Not to be out-sneaked, Willi Theiss has recently announced that he's been working on a port of RISC OS to the PandaBoard, a development board closely related to the BeagleBoard but with a cutting-edge dual-core Cortex A9 processor instead of the BeagleBoard's ageing Cortex A8. Although the port is currently only using one core, early benchmark results suggest that the out-of-order execution and improved VFP hardware are enough to deliver a significant performance boost over current hardware.
  • TBA software have been keeping themselves busy by releasing a test version of an updated BBC BASIC with VFP/NEON assembler support.
  • Chris Wraight has released test version of his revamped Calc/SciCalc application.
  • Rik Griffin has also been hard at work on an improved Filer_Action module.
  • And finally the IOMD (i.e. RiscPC) version of RISC OS 5 has also seen a few improvements recently, making it much more usable on real hardware (although there's still plenty left to be done)

 
5 comments in the forums

Easier video playback on RISC OS?

Posted by Chris on 15:25, 19/4/2010 | , , , , ,
 
BeagleBoard.org logoWatching video on RISC OS isn't very easy. We've run an article here on how you can download and convert YouTube videos into a format RISC OS can understand. Though it's very clever, and the tools involved are actively developed, it's not as simple as clicking 'Play' in a browser window.
 
Improving this situation has been hampered up until now for two main reasons:
  • RISC OS hardware has been too slow to play back video at an acceptable rate;
  • RISC OS software hasn't supported popular codecs (formats), some of which are proprietary and expensive to license.
 
The first of these is already well on the way to being fixed. The Beagleboard is modestly powered in comparison to the average desktop PC, but it's perfectly capable of playing video at a decent rate. The diminutive boards have been shown running 720p video (a high-definition format) while running a Linux distribution - have a look here to see this in action.
 
The RISC OS port can't quite match that yet. All that might be about to change, though, due to the development of something called Theorarm. This is a library of routines to enable the playing of videos in the Ogg Theora format on ARM-based machines. Ogg Theora is a relatively new format, but it has some interesting features. Perhaps most importantly, it's entirely open source, so videos encoded using the technology can be played back by any suitably-written software. Moreover, Theora is one of the contenders for the [video] tag in the new HTML5 specification. That means that it may become a significant rival to the more common MPEG and Flash videos on the web.
 
Theorarm is interesting, as it's been optimised for newer ARM chips using hand-written assembly code. This makes it very fast. The developer, Robin Watts (of Warm Silence Software fame) has done some development work on the Beagleboard, with promising results: "With post processing disabled, I can play a PAL DVD sized film (720x576x25fps, 48kHz stereo audio track) in realtime with software YUV2RGB. The limited profiling I've done, along with some back-of-an-envelope maths suggests that we should just about be able to do 720p films if the YUV2RGB process is done by hardware." That means, in English, that DVD-quality film can be played back on a Beagleboard with decent audio too. If some of the complex conversions from YUV colour format to RGB could be carried out in hardware, then higher definition films could be played.
 
This is pretty exciting stuff for Beagleboard owners. If Theorarm is ported to RISC OS (and there's no reason, other than developer time and effort, why it couldn't be), then we'd have the basis of a fast, native video playback system. Some issues would require addressing, of course, since RISC OS can't handle the Beagleboard's YUV facility - see here for Jeffrey Lee's proposals to fix this - but these are all surmountable.
 
If anyone is interested in getting involved, then the ROOL project is the place to start. In particular, the proposals for working on the GraphicsV vector need attention from developers with the right level of experience, and the draft API on the ROOL site could do with some more exposure.
 
A few years ago, RISC OS lacked fast hardware, a half-capable browser and a media player capable of showing popular streaming video formats. The first two are being actively addressed - what are the chances that the last one will be as well?
 
17 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

Hyperland

Posted by John Hoare on 04:35, 27/4/2007 | , ,
 
Yeah, that whole "updating a website" thing. We're quite shit at it, aren't we?
 
We do have some good stuff coming up, though. In the meantime, if you've not seen it, I recommend watching Hyperland - a 1990 Douglas Adams documentary. To say much more would spoil it, but it's fascinating stuff, especially considering when it was made.
 
Pity about the snipe at Filthy, Rich & Catflap at the start, mind you. (Indeed, the snipes at telly are pretty misjudged as a whole.) It's utterly wonderful, and I recommend you buy the DVD if you haven't seen it. At £6.99, what is there to lose? Well, apart from £6.99, of course.
 
14 comments in the forums

Pirates of the Multiplex

Posted by Phil Mellor on 12:00, 15/2/2007 | , , ,
 
The latest issue of Vanity Fair carries an interesting article about sharing TV programmes and movies using BitTorrent. Refreshingly fair and honest, it features an interview with The Pirate Bay, a popular Swedish torrent site (who, revelling in their reputation for flaunting their legal threats, recently launched OscarTorrents.com, containing links to torrents for all the 2007 Oscar nominated films.)
 
Meanwhile, more music execs are following Steve Jobs' lead in moving away from DRM. Daring Fireball examines the strategy behind Jobs' memo and its criticism.
 
(Yep, it's another annoyingly brief update, but dammit there's new episodes of 24 to watch!)
 
Link: Pirates of the Multiplex
 
1 comment in the forums

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