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Article archives

Retrospective thoughts on 12 months of Titanium ownership

Posted by Mark Stephens on 07:48, 20/10/2017 |
 
Last year at the London Show, I upgraded my RISC OS system to a Titanium based system (in my case the TiMachine from R-Comp).
 
As the London Show is fast approaching, and other people may have similar thoughts, I felt some retrospective was in order...
 
I have found the machine to be a very stable and fast. I use it as my main RISC OS machine and experience a noticeable feeling of sluggishness if I go back to an older machine. All the software I use (especially !TechWriter and !MPro) work very well. It is a undoubtedly a pricey machine but I have made far more use of RISC OS in the last twelve months. It is a 'proper' machine in the sense you have DVD, SSD and lots of ports.
 
It is has been nice to see steady improvements to the system, especially the update to RISC OS 5.23, and releases to use Dual monitor support. It is also great to see Elesar updating their software and bringing some 'old' friends back to the platform such as Look Systems excellent font tools.
 
The big issue for me is the lack of a decent web browser as I spend a lot of time in web applications such as Jira, Trello and BaseCamp. I tried using my Pi3 with VNC for this, but have reverted to my Mac.
 
As I said, I have made much more use of RISC OS for the 'traditional' uses which it still excels at and very happy at my purchase. What are your thoughts/experiences?
 
1 comment in the forums

In praise of !ShareFS

Posted by Mark Stephens on 07:11, 13/10/2017 |
 
IMHO, this is one of the most powerful (and under-rated) features of RISC OS. !ShareFS allows a RISC OS machine to share the hard drive with another RISC OS machine. There are lots of ways to share filesystems across networks (such as Samba) and cloud solutions (like PCloud, google drive). Some of these are very fiddly or do not work on RISC OS.
 
!ShareFS lacks the sophistication of many of these and features you might want in a multi-user environment such as fine-grained access controls. But for simple file sharing between my various RISC OS machines, it is very simple, reliable and it just works....
 
If you share a file system, then it becomes visible under discs. So I can easily share all my Titanium drives my RaspberryPi. It also works on emulators such as VirtualRPC.
 


 
This opens up some very useful integration because I can use VirtualRPC to access the files on other systems. For example I run it on my Mac and can use it to see the files on the Mac hard drive, including the contents of the shared google drive. This can all be seen on my Titanium thanks for !ShareFS.
 
So as a simple sharing solution or a way to share files between any machines you can run a RISC OS virtual machine on, !ShareFS works really well.
 
What part of RISC OS do you think is under-valued?
 
10 comments in the forums

RISC OS London Show 2017

Posted by Jeffrey Lee on 23:30, 12/10/2017 | , ,
 
This year's London Show is due to take place on Saturday the 28th of October, at the usual location of the St. Giles Hotel in Feltham. The show runs from 11 AM to 5 PM, with tickets being £5 at the door (and under-16's free). Exhibitors this year are set to include:The theatre schedule is yet to be finalised, and with the number of new and interesting exhibitors it's anyone's guess who's going to be filling the slots. What are your predictions?
 
For up-to-the-minute show news, remember to check out the show website.
 
1 comment in the forums

!DualHead second release reviewed

Posted by Mark Stephens on 07:11, 6/10/2017 | ,
 
In our previous review we looked at release 1 of !DualHead. R-CompInfo have already released an update so we will dive in and see what has changed...
 
There is more polish in this release with some clearer messages. The software is very smart in making sure that you do not end up with no display. There is no dedicated installer application but the software is extremely easy to update - you copy !Boot over your existing copy and copy the !DualHead software onto your disk, and reboot/run . There is also a !RevertMode application installed in !Boot which will restore sanity with a click of Alt and Home.
 


 
As you can see there are some higher resolution modes now available. 2048 x 1440 x 2 is an amazing screen, but I was unable to run this in 16 million colours without a lot of flickering (although for most tasks 32k/64K is indistinguishable). R-Comp acknowledges this in the documentation and is probably pushing the Titanium/RISC OS beyond its limits.
 
I do think that the documentation could be improved. There is a version 1 PDF document hidden away (which is confusing on a v2 release) and a proper rewrite and release history in the !ReadMe would be nice.
 
Some advice on how best to use and setup the 2 monitors for RISC OS would also be welcome - my biggest issue after testing the new release was neck ache from playing 'head ping-pong' by switching my view between the 2 monitors all the time due to the Icon Bar now being across both screens.
 
I am really pleased to see R-Comp produce a second release (I prefer to keep the version 2 tag for major feature updates). R-Comp is leading RISC OS into new territory with this software and I think it really benefits from small, regular incremental releases driven by user and developer feedback. I am really looking forward to talking to R-Comp at the London show about their plans for the software.
 
My killer feature for the version 2 release would be to fix the issue with the popups appearing in the middle of the screen. What is yours?
 
Comment in the forums

September News round-up

Posted by Mark Stephens on 07:05, 30/9/2017 |
 
Some things we noticed in the RISC OS world - what did you see?
 
R-CompInfo release an update for their !DualHead software.
 
Elesar offered a free AMCOG Games bundle with the Titanium.
 
Adrian Lees announced on Iconbar that Aemulor would no longer be sold as a commercial product but would continue in development.
 
Comment in the forums

RISC OS software to download from !Store

Posted by Mark Stephens on 07:47, 22/9/2017 | ,
 
In previous articles, we looked at package managers and some of the software available on !PackMan. In this article we are going to highlight some of the software available in !Store and ask for your suggestions.
 
When you run !Store, it offers you a long list of files and includes both free and commercial software (which you can buy via !Store). As with !Packman it gives you a front end to make it easy to search, provide more details and you can select categories.
 


 
If you are looking to run old software on a new machine, our old friend Aemulor is available as free download. There is also in interesting Atari ST emulator called Hatari if you want a real ‘GEM’ environment on your machine.
 


 
!Store is also the home for the latest version of !Impression. (although I would criticise the broken link which goes nowhere and looks bad. The pages like PMS Music scribe also include broken links).
 


 
Some very high quality software originally written by David Pilling is now freely available and you can find this on !Store.
 


 
!Store offers more than software, and you will also find fonts and copies of DraG’N’Drop (which we reviewed here).
 


 
What are you downloading from !Store?
 
2 comments in the forums

RISC OS on GitHub

Posted by Mark Stephens on 07:49, 15/9/2017 | , ,
 
In a previous article, we mentioned Git and GitHub.
 
Git is a version control system which software developers use. Once you have used version control is is very hard to go back. In particular it:-
1. Allows you to have a full, documented history of all changes you have made and roll back to any point.
2. Label your official release versions.
3. See what you have changed easily.
4. Work with other developers (even large groups) in an orderly manner, see who has edited which bit of code, merge code changes together and handle conflicts where several people are editing the same code.
5. Have the security of lots of backups.
6. Never lose anything! (if you use it properly)
 
Version control solves a lot of complex problems. When I hire new developers, I always ask them about their experiences with Version control systems....
 
RISC OS itself is available on version control (it uses CVS) and you can explore it online at the ROOL website.
 
Part of the attraction of Git is that it also gives easy access to GitHub (a huge online repository of software source code). And (in theory) it means the source code will never be lost. There are some interesting RISC OS related projects hosted on there. Here is a sample to start your exploration...
 
https://github.com/risc-os-open contains some Ruby and JavaScript projects written by ROOL for their website.
 
https://github.com/TimothyEBaldwin/RO_cvs2git converts RISC OS CVS to git.
 
https://github.com/elesar-uk/titanium-build is the source code for Elesar's Debian Linux build.
 
https://github.com/TimothyEBaldwin/RISC_OS_DevTimothy Baldwin's port of RISC OS to run on Linux.
 
https://github.com/dpt/PrivateEye The source code for Private Eye
 
https://github.com/alanbu/packman Source code for Package manager
 
https://github.com/martenjj/drawview A draw file viewer for Linux.
 
https://github.com/jaylett/zap Source code for !Zap
 
2 comments in the forums

!DualHead in use

Posted by Mark Stephens on 07:20, 8/9/2017 | ,
 
[Update] Please note that this review is based on version one of the software - an update was released this week which we will evaluate in a future article.
 
Now that we have !DualHead installed it is time to experiment with the world of dual head RISC OS desktops.
 


 
You now have one very large desktop and the ability to select screen modes to give you a very workable screen area. I have two 27inch monitors this gives me 3840 x 1200 resolution.
 
With 2 screens, you will have to experiment with how you want to position them. I find that my 27 inch monitors are too wide to put flat side by side without giving neck strain. Most people either tilt the 2 screens together in a V shape (as in the picture above) or have one screen at an angle to the main screen. On my Mac I generally prefer the second option with a 'main' screen directly infront of me and an angled second screen to the left, where I 'park' windows not currently in use.
 


 
R-CompInfo are very clear that dual head display is a work in progress. The !DualHead application is polished and runs well but does impose a number of restrictions on current use.
 
Firstly, I found I could not change the layout. My right hand monitor is always plugged into the second port (right port on the back of the machine looking at it from the back).
 
There are also different ways to handle multiscreens. On my Mac, the screens can also be separate displays (with a separate task bar on each) and you can arrange one screen under the other. On RISC OS, we have a single screen which is extended across multiple monitors. There are pros and cons to both.
 
!DualHead also requires the screens to run at the same resolution. You can run two different sized monitors. I tried replacing one of my 27inch monitors with an old 20inch monitor. This requires both monitors to run at the same resolution of 1600 x 1200. The results look stretched on one screen.
 


 
Different size monitors are an issue with all dual display systems. On my Mac I always use 2 identical 27 inch monitors. Moving screens between different resolutions is not ideal as you have to keep resizing them.
 
Quibbles aside, !DualHead is a really nice release and brings RISC OS firmly into the world of dual screen output. It will also allow developers to start adapting their software to make use of it. I tried !Paint and as expected a screenshot of the whole screen creates a sprite containing both displays.
 
This is an excellent first release (following on the heels of 5.23 RISC OS release) and I look forward to seeing what R-Comp have for us at the London Show...
 
6 comments in the forums

August news round-up

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R-Comp release !DualHead

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Revisting the old Acorn magazines online

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RISC OS Developments

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RISC OS Interviews - Richard Brown (Orpheus Internet)

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Summer edition of Drag'N'Drop hits the shelves

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Recent discussions
- RISC OS London Show 2017 (News:1)
- Retrospective thoughts on 12 months of Titanium ownership (News:1)
- AMCS free versions are live! (Gen:11)
- In praise of !ShareFS (News:10)
- Aemulor (Gen:9)
- Acorn-Gaming.org.uk (Games:9)
- Help getting RPCEmu working on a MacBook (Gen:10)
- Best BBC Micro game music (Games:42)
- !DualHead second release reviewed (News:)
- Equinox (Games:2)
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