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The Icon Bar: News and features: RISC OS Interviews - Jeffrey Lee

RISC OS Interviews - Jeffrey Lee

Posted by Mark Stephens on 08:59, 19/11/2016 |
At the London Show, we sent our team around to park them themselves on several stands and refuse to leave until the poor stand-holders agreed to do an interview for us.... The results will be appearing over the next few weeks.
If you have any suggestions for people to interview (we want people doing interesting things with RISC OS or in the RISC OS world in 2016) or would like to be interviewed, just drop us a line and we will send the boys round...
If you have any additional questions or comments, please feel free to continue the discussion in the comments.
We kick off the series with our very own Jeffrey Lee....
Q. How long have you been using RISC OS?
A. About 23 years. At that time Acorn computers were still the king of the classroom; I believe it was the head of the IT department of the local high school who recommended that my parents should get an Acorn for home use (an A3010, to replace our previous home computer, a TI-99/4A that was unfortunately purchased mere months before TI pulled out of the home computer business)
Q. What other systems do you use?
A. At home I've got a Windows PC (gaming, media playback, web browsing) and a Linux PC (headless, used as a NAS and for any Unixy-type tasks)
Q. What is your current RISC OS setup?
A. Despite owning many newer systems, my main RISC OS computer is still my Iyonix (Lazyness, potential software compatibility issues, and the constant in-development nature of the OS are my excuses for not switching over to something newer, despite the fact that the newer machines should be much faster when it comes to building code). Then depending on what tasks I'm working on I'll have any number of development machines piled up on the desk next to me (BeagleBoard, BeagleBoard-xM, PandaBoard, Raspberry Pi 1/2/3, IGEPv5, Wandboard, TouchBook, Pandora). I've also still got the RiscPC that was my main machine before the Iyonix. Nowdays it's mostly used for testing RISC OS 5 changes.
Q. Do you attend any of the shows and what do you think of them?
A. I attended one of the Wakefield shows once when I was a kid, but haven't attended any since then. I'm not a very social person so I'm usually happy to just wait for the show reports to come out - although most of the time I already know what any of the big reveals are going to be. I think the shows do still serve a purpose, but as someone who mainly uses RISC OS for the purpose of developing RISC OS I don't think there's much useful I'd be able to take away from them.
Q. What do you use RISC OS for in 2016 and what do you like most about it?
A. My main use of RISC OS is developing RISC OS! My Windows PC took over most of my other tasks a long time ago (most web browsing, email, gaming, etc.), but RISC OS remained my favourite for recreational programming. However once I started work on developing the OS itself the recreational programming essentially crawled to a halt - I find it hard to spend the time writing random games and utilities when there's so much that could/should be done to improve the OS itself. I think the main thing I like about RISC OS is the Wimp - there are some basic things which the RISC OS desktop still does much better than the main alternatives (interacting with windows without bringing them to the front of the stack, file save dialogs, consistent drag-and-drop behaviour, etc).
Q. What is your favourite feature/killer program in RISC OS?
A. I think StrongED has to be my favourite killer app. Before discovering it I was writing all my code in Edit. StrongHelp would also have to be a close second, due to the many hours saved looking up definitions for SWIs and things. And of course NetSurf, although that is a relative newcomer compared to the other two!
Q. What would you most like to see in RISCOS in the future?
A. Threading support in the OS. Lack of threading support makes it very hard to update any of the OS components which are derived from third-party sources (e.g. the network & USB stacks), and of course it also places some limitations on the design and implementation of home-grown code.
Q. Favourite (vaguely RISC OS-related) moan?
A. I often try and shift-drag a file/folder from the "Copy" dialog box in an effort to move+rename it in one go. Maybe one day I'll implement support for that...
Q. Can you tell us about what you are working on in the RISC OS market at the moment?
A. Currently I'm working on a couple of Raspberry Pi related things (e.g. implementing support for GPU mode changes), in an effort to get it ready for a proper "stable" release. I've also been working on some changes to the low-level memory management within the OS, with the aim of fixing a few bugs/inefficiencies with how memory is handled on modern CPUs, and with the eventual goal of getting things to the point where we can start experimenting with multi-core code without having to worry about any memory coherency issues. But that's on hold for now while I focus on the Raspberry Pi tasks.
Q. Any surprises you can't or dates to tease us with?
A. No surprises that I'm aware of at the moment, I'm afraid :-(
Q. Apart from iconbar (obviously) what are your favourite websites?
A. The ROOL website, obviously! www.pagetable.com and www.bigmessowires.com are a couple of sites which update infrequently but are always worth the wait when they do. And I find that the Bay 12 Games "Other Games" forum at http://www.bay12forums.com/smf/index.php?board=4.0 is a good way of discovering interesting or obscure games which the mainstream gaming websites might miss.
Q. Santa Claus is a regular iconbar reader. Any not-so-subtle hints you would like to drop him for presents this year (assuming you have been very good)?
A. That's a tough one! A bigger desk? A way of getting more spare time in the day? A couple more OS developers? Confirmation of a sequel to The Witcher 3? The possibilities are endless!
Q. Any questions we forgot to ask you?
A. Nothing I can think of at the moment.
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The Icon Bar: News and features: RISC OS Interviews - Jeffrey Lee