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RISC OS Interviews - Richard Brown (Orpheus Internet)

Posted by Mark Stephens on 07:21, 11/8/2017 |
How long have you been using RISC OS? 
Since the beginning.... I prefer not to talk years.
What other systems do you use? 
I currently use both MacOs and various flavours of Windows. Thankfully not XP personally (although we still support it) but Windows 7 and above. I have toyed with Linux but never used in my work. All our servers run CentOS Linux and I have a Linux guru who handles those for me.
What is your current RISC OS setup?
I have an ARMx6 with a huge 32 inch curved monitor. You may have seen it at the shows, carefully guarded by me. There are 3 RaspberryPis, and some RiscPCs around if I need another machine for testing and debugging or propping open a door.
Do you attend any of the shows and what do you think of them? 
Orpheus attends all the shows, and now co-organises the South-West Show (saturday 24th February 2018 in the usual venue as you asked). I really enjoy the shows as I get to put names to faces, meet lots of people and catch-up on developments. I try not to eat too many of the sweets on our stand. It is always a good place to make announcements to the RISC OS community and I did a small talk at this year's Wakefield.
I was really pleased with the car sharing we organised a bit last minute last year and we will be doing it for the 2018 show.
What do you use RISC OS for in 2017 and what do you like most about it?
What I like most about RISC OS is the ease of use. We currently run our accounts on RISC OS (!Prophet), prepare customer details invoices as PDFs (it produces much better PDF files than MacOs Preview), and I use it a lot more for email since moving to my ARMx6.
What is your favourite feature/killer program in RISC OS?
For me, the killer feature is the way the software plays well together. As a whole it is a really nice environment to work in.
!Zap or !StrongED?
!StrongED - Paul Vigay told me to use it for my needs and I have not had any reason to regret his advice. (Paul was also a !Zap fan). So probably says more about me than either text editor.
What would you most like to see in RISC OS in the future? 
Siri??? New logo? Seriously, no public comment yet - will keep you posted...
I am really excited about what we can do with things we have been exploring with RISC OS Developments which is taking a fair amount of my time at present. As we said at the show, we have a plan and will let people know as and when we can.
Favourite (vaguely RISC OS-related) moan?
People do not upgrade their hardware enough.
What keeps you using RISC OS?
It is a pleasant drive.
What are the challenges to running a business in the RISC OS market?
Unfortunately, the market is rather small.
Can you tell us about what you are working on in the RISC OS market at the moment?
Yes and No, Orpheus are in the process of upgrading our servers with new services like SSL and SPF. Our FTTP prices have dropped (last Nov) and we have a software project that we would like to start soon specifically based for our RISC OS customers, which is nothing to do with my involvement with RISC OS Dev.
What is FTTP?
Fibre To The Premises. Finally, after years of waiting for BT to make it available for wholesale release. For most people this this could give you a faster fibre service. Email me if you want to know more.
Apart from iconbar (obviously) what are your favourite websites?
Amazon (Prime is great isn't it).
What do you think Paul Vigay would have made of the Computer/RISC OS scene in 2017?
He would be pleased that RISC OS is still here and would be telling us what RISC OS still does better than any other machine.
Any questions we forgot to ask you?
When the Orpheus Internet website will be updated. Answer is shortly....
At the end of the Orpheus Internet interview, Richard kindly agreed to switch hats and answer some RISC OS Developments questions which will appear in another article.
Orpheus Internet website
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Summer edition of Drag'N'Drop hits the shelves

Posted by Mark Stephens on 08:14, 4/8/2017 | ,

If you are finding the gap between the Spring and Autumn RISC OS shows too large, or the summer holidays are starting to drag, the Summer edition of Drag'N'Drop will provide you with the perfect remedy.
This quarterly magazine is available as a PDF (idea for reading on any Computer) and you can buy a copy for 3.50 pounds (an extra pound gets you the listings as well).
If you miss the Acorn magazines of yesteryear, you will feel very much at home with this months edition with its mix of news (which can be live links in a PDF), reviews, hardware and software projects including reasonably short (and well-documented) listings to type in. One thing I really appreciate in the magazine is that it tries to target all levels so there are lots of things for everyone from beginners (including helpful tips and reminders like how to get into BASIC) to hardcore coders (programming the sound system with RDSP and WIMP programming).
Budding games programmers can read about Amcog's Games development kit, play with their RDSP sound system and experiment with a short type-in game (Attack of the Raspberry Macaroons).
If you have an old Electron into your attic you learn how to 'upgrade' it to a RISC OS machine with a RaspberryPi.
There are some great little utility programs to type in (and nicely documented so you can tweak and extend) for generating musical staves and accessing Function keys from the desktop.
There is also an index of volumes 1-8. If you missed an article (or want to go back in the WIMP programming), you can buy a USB from the website with all the previous issues.
My personal favourite item in the magazine was the detailed description on how to upgrade the SD card in your RaspberryPi to RISC OS 5.23 the intelligent way without just rewriting the whole card. Worth the money on its own....
What was your favourite article?
Drag'N'Drop website
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ROM release for your Titanium - What is new

Posted by Mark Stephens on 09:35, 28/7/2017 | , ,
In a previous article, we looked at installing the new ROM for your Titanium. This time we will look at what the new release offers.
This is actually quite a major update and there is a long list of changes. The offical full list of changes is on the ROOL website. Some of the changes are not really relevant to Titanium users (Pico build fix, introduce iMx6 to ROOL repository) but there are lots of interest.

From a user's point of view, there are 3 major new features
The first is the addition of 256 colour modes.

This makes it much easier to use old software which was written for these modes.
Another bounty enhancement is the new EDID support means that your machine can be much 'smarter' when you plug a monitor into it. It is not Titanium-specific (but very nice to have). This is the result of the EDID bounty from ROOL.
Improvements to ADFS now mean that you can have up to 8 terabytes of storage on RISC OS (and RISC OS uses large drives more efficiently).
A nice little enhancement for Paint is the addition of a timer control for the spray can (which was previously a little unwieldy on fast new modern machines). Paint is now version 2.21 (last updated May 2017).
BASIC and the Chars and Draw applications both get enhancements and bug fixes.
The whole package is free to download and brings the Titanium bang up to date with RISC OS developments. What are your impressions of the new update? Have you found any problems?
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Installing the new ROM release for your Titanium

Posted by Mark Stephens on 10:23, 22/7/2017 | , ,
Elesar emailed all its clients and announced on the newsgroups that there was a new software update for the Titanium. In this article we will download and install it with a sequel to look at the new features.
As well as the 'vanilla' Titanium, CJEmicro's and R-Comp have systems based on the board. As my machine is from R-CompInfo, I checked with Andrew Rawnsley about whether it was a good idea to install or wait for an official update from them. R-Comp are indeed planning to do a proper machine-specific update once they had done their own testing. You can wait for them or you can use the new update. If you have a machine from CJEmicro's I would confirm their advice first.
If your Titanium is your critical work machine, you might want to wait a little while to let others test the upgrade (which is equally valid advice on new MacOS, Linux or Windows updates).
The Elesar download link actually takes you to a download page on the ROOL website where you have a choice of downloads, depending on how 'cutting edge' you would like to be. The bottom item is the recommended stable release and it is twice as big because it includes a second version of the ROM.

The official download is the 5 meg download which contains everything you need to upgrade your Titanium and a clear and helpful readme.

There is a potential risk for things to go wrong, so you are advised to make sure you have backups of all your data before you start (always a good idea to keep regular backups in any case!). Murphy's law generally means the more prepared you are the less likely things will go wrong...
Two versions of the new OS release are supplied, with and without zpp included. Which one you choose will be down to your personal preferences and the software you are using.
The actual upgrade consists of 3 steps:-
1. Update the software on your disk (using Merge to update !Boot with any changes).
2. Sanity check by soft loading the ROM on your machine using the softload obey file, just to make sure. If there are any issues, you can then revert back to the original with a quick reboot.
3. Use the FlashSQPI application to burn a new copy of the ROM onto your system. This can be a little time-consuming and should not be interrupted. Once it is done, you can reboot the machine.
Before you do any of this, it is worth reading the readme fully TWICE.
It is very easy to see if the machine has been updated.


You have an updated machine running the latest version of RISC OS for your machine. Next time we will look at what is new...
2 comments in the forums

Are the RISC OS show dates on your calendar?

Posted by Mark Stephens on 07:49, 21/7/2017 | ,
It may seem a long way off with the long summer holidays stretching out to there distant horizon, but September and October will come round all too quickly.
So here is a quick reminder to make sure you have notes the date for your diary...
London RISC OS Show will be on Saturday 28th October 2017 at its usual venue of St Giles Hotel - Feltham, London
It is easily accessible by both car and public transport.
All the major (and many minor players) in the RISC OS world attend (and generally run special offers and have new releases). So it is great place to see them, sample their wares and catch-up with other enthusiasts.
In recent years, we have seen some innovations at the RISC OS show with organisers setting up taxi shares, meet ups or lifts via the RISC OS newsgroups, websites or at the show. The Internet make finding other attending much easier, so don't leave it until the last minute this year. The summer will fly by...
There is a useful RISC OS Calendar page over at RISCOSitory which covers shows and also includes user group meetings if you are looking for (or organising) an event.
5 comments in the forums

Treasure trove of RISC OS games at JASPP site

Posted by Mark Stephens on 07:49, 14/7/2017 |
We try to flag up interesting sites you might have missed or are worth revisiting (let us know if you have any suggestions). In our previous item we reminded you about Exploring Mathematical shapes in RISC OS. This time it is all about games....
A wealth of games have been released for RISC OS machines over the year. Many of these games no longer run on modern hardware or have been in danger of being lost as the Companies who produced them have changed direction or disappeared.
The Archimedes Software Preservation Project has aimed to tackle both these issues. It has just announced the latest release of ADFFS (version 2.61). If you have been itching to run Zalaga or Moondash on your Pi, this is the release for you.
The software is free to download and use, and 65 of the support games can also be downloaded from links on the website.
Many of these games could have been lost and it is really great to see John Abbot bringing them back to life for the next generation.
Download ADFFS and games website
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New release of Cyborg from AMCOG games

Posted by Mark Stephens on 09:41, 7/7/2017 |
When we interviewed Tony from AMCOG games, he told us about his exciting plans for developing and enhancing new games.
So it is no surprise to see the release of Cyborg Second Edition. If you are looking for an Arcade action style game (think Cyberton), Cyborg has it all in 16 million colours on all RISC OS 4/5 machines including emulation. The game costs 9.99 pounds.
AMCOG has also done a lot of work on its free RDSP sound solution for RISC OS and Tony talks about this at recent shows. The game makes extensive use of this.
There is a youtube video showcasing the game on youtube
Game details are on the AMCOG website
If you already have the game, you can enjoy the new levels and Audio Visual enhancements with a free download from !Store
It is really great to see AMCOG providing quality new games for the RISC OS market.
1 comment in the forums

How popular are RISC OS sites online?

Posted by Mark Stephens on 07:07, 30/6/2017 | ,
Just as in life, there are lots of different ways of measuring and estimating popularity. Online one of the ways you can do this is to use a tool called Alexa. This gives sites a ranking based on how popular Alexa thinks the site is (so number 1 is google.com).
It is not an exact science (and it can be misrepresentative on some sites where Alexa has less data), but it is a useful 'guess'. So I typed in some RISC OS sites (and non-RISC OS sites which you may have heard of as a comparison) to get some numbers. Here is what Alexa reported for global rankings.....
apple.com 65
bbcbasic.co.uk 2,564,449
cjemicros.co.uk 3,463,770
drobe.co.uk 19,898,135
iconbar.com 3,913,170
linuxmint.com 4,450
netsurf-browser.org 1,165,775
osnews.com 114,759
orpheusinternet.co.uk 17,233,044
raspberrypi.org 3,186
riscos.com 2,866,998
riscos.org 9,126,309
riscository.com 11,268,284
riscosopen.org 366,518
stardot.org.uk 827,545 (41,450 in just uK)
ubuntu.com 1,493
xara.com 88,840
It is not a total surprise that ROOL is easily the top RISC OS site I could find. We have some work to do with Iconbar (as do the RISC OS vendors if they want to grow their sales online).
What do you make of the numbers?
Weblink to lookup a website on Alexa.
12 comments in the forums

RISC OS software to download from !PackMan

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Elesar updates Font Directory Pro to 3.21

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Disappearing websites

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What development tools do we need ported to RISC OS

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Latest Drag'n'Drop magazine reviewed

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What software updates would like to see at the next show?

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Recent discussions
- I'm back... (Gen:11)
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- RC15 bring RISC OS to any Raspberry Pi (News:4)
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