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The Icon Bar: News and features: RISC OS interview with Andrew Oyston

RISC OS interview with Andrew Oyston

Posted by Mark Stephens on 08:49, 14/6/2022 |

I was lucky enough to finally meet the blogger, RISC OS and Retro fan Andrew Oyston in person at the recent Wakefield show. So naturally, I ambushed him and asked him to tell us more...

Would you like to introduce yourself?
Hi, I’m Andrew Oyston and I’m a software tester for a financial institution. I run my own blog where I write about my hobbies, and I contribute to www.retrovideogamer.co.uk and Pixel Addict magazine.
How long have you been using RISC OS?
I first started using RISC OS back in comprehensive school where we had two rooms with about a dozen A3000’s a piece in them, so about thirty years ago. Outside of planned lessons, there were a few of us who were interested in using them so the science teacher/IT manager opened up one of the suites for use during lunch times. After a break of about twenty years, I returned to RISC OS using a Raspberry Pi though I did follow the trials and tribulations of the late 1990’s/early 2000’s in Acorn User.
What other systems do you use?
A rather geriatric Windows 10 desktop is my main retro gaming system, and an M1 MacBook Air that has slowly become my go to computer. I also have several other systems that come out to play as and when the need arises: an Asus EEE PC running Linux (Zorin OS), an AlphaSmart 3000, Amstrad NC100, a Psion Series 3, and an HP 620LX palmtop PC. An eclectic mix, I know, but these still work and prove useful on different occasions.
What is your current RISC OS setup?
A RISCOSbits Pi-Hard from 2019 using a Pi 3B+ and running RISC OS 5.24. At the recent Wakefield Show, I picked up a PiRO Noir from Andy so that’s going to be my primary RISC OS machine, at least until the Pinebook Pro hits the market.
What do you think of the retro scene?
I think it’s great! There is a passion that extends beyond just rose-tinted glasses, though they can sometimes help as well. If you look at the sheer number of retro-themed publications out there now, it’s marvellous to see that there is a demand for niche publications. I think the only sad part is the now crazy prices being asked for original kit and software, especially games.
Do you attend any of the shows and what do you think of them?
I attended the recent Wakefield Show with my wife and have to say, we both enjoyed it, even though it’s not really her thing. There was an enthusiasm on display that really carried the day and it was great to talk to people about what they’re doing.
What do you use RISC OS for in 2022 and what do you like most about it?
It started mostly just playing about with older games and seeing what I could/could not do compared to other OS’s. Given the improvements for browsing and the stalwarts like Impression and Fireworks Pro, there are quite a few occasions where, if I need to fire up a desktop, it’s the Pi-Hard that’s chosen rather than the Win machine. I find RISC OS a much more enjoyable OS to use than pretty much any other I have access to, and when you spend several hours a day in front of Windows/MacOS, it’s a bit of a palette cleanser.
What is your favourite feature/killer program in RISC OS?
Does Star Fighter 3000 count? In general, it’s the ease of use. As for specifics, probably Fireworkz Pro at the moment.
What would you most like to see in RISC OS in the future?
In an ideal world, a level of capability as your standard Linux distro. By that, I mean security features, connectivity and hardware support. I know it’s a pipe dream in a way but small steps are being made. I think that anything that might attract more users has to be a good thing.
Favourite (vaguely RISC OS-releated) moan?
I think the general lack of awareness that it still exists and is under active development.
Can you tell us about what you are working on in the RISC OS market at the moment?
 I’m not working on anything product wise, but I am using the channels I have access to (my blog, Pixel Addict magazine and hopefully others in progress) to try and promote the fact that Acorn had a really good platform back in the day and that platform still exists now, with an active user base and with some potential for the future.
Apart from TIB (obviously) what are your favourite websites?
I keep an eye on the RISC OS Open forums, as well as The Register and Ars Technica. Video Games Chronicle is my daily source of gaming news.
What are your interests beyond RISC OS?
The history of videogames and computing, military history, historical wargaming and sci-fi.
Any future plans or ideas you can share with us?
I’d like to write more about RISC OS gaming. Contrary to popular belief, there was a vibrant gaming scene back then and I feel it deserves more recognition. This is definitely a work in progress and whether this is for Pixel Addict, RVG or another outlet, I’ll be trying to give it the widest audience possible.
Many thanks to Andrew for taking the time to talk to us.
You can read lots of other interviews on Iconbar here and if you would like to be interviewed, just drop us an email.

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The Icon Bar: News and features: RISC OS interview with Andrew Oyston