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RISC OS News, Views and Reviews:

Behold, Quiz Master

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ArchieSoft have announced their revival of the educational application QuizMaster, a computer simulation of the multiple-choice part of GCSE-type examinations that gives the users their results immediately after completion.

Originally developed by the Univesity of Wales’ software branch Xavier Software, Quiz Master is now available for all 26-bit and 32-bit RISC OS computers, including the Raspberry Pi and ARMini.

This new version features various improvements, including support for better quality graphics, using iconised directories for quizzes, and presenting the results of the test on the final screen.

At the moment it is supplied with a small library of quizzes for British Steam, Nature, British Birds, Ancient Egyptians and World Foodstuffs, with further quizzes planned for Astronomy, the Solar System and Ancient Lands (which will be provided free of charge to existing customers).

Quiz Master can be purchased through eBay but plans are currently in the works for it to be made available for download on the Plingstore for a fee.

A potted history of Acorn Computers

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Here’s a nice idea that’s pretty interesting. David Bradforth has set up a project for ‘A potted history of Acorn Computers’, where he proposes to produce a full 132 page perfect-bound, full-colour book detailing the colourful history of Acorn and RISC OS…

Should there be a hundred sales of the book through his Indiegogo project page, then the book will be produced.

An interesting and definitely worth while idea, especially when prices start at a fiver for a PDF version. David is currently looking at a loose ship date of October for the books to go to print and dispatch.

Looking to raise £2,000 for a print run of 100 books. The money will be used to cover production costs, postage within the UK and should there be enough raised, a contributer budget will be formed too.

Each book is £20. PDF versions will be available for £5. You can check out David’s project page here.

Tech Bytes! Website troubleshooting through ViewDNS

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Troubleshooting website connectivity issues is not a nice task, but sometimes it has to be done. A tool that I’ve come across that helps a great deal and pretty much gathers every tools required into one accessible place is ViewDNS…

ViewDNS is a web-based collection of troubleshooting tools listed on a single page, as well running your usual run-of-the-mill pings and traceroutes, the website gives you the ability to see if your website can be accessed behind Chinese or Iranian firewalls, perhaps not useful to everyone, but still a nifty little tool.

The site also gives the ability for users to see if a site of their choice is down through ‘Is My Site Down‘, essential for troubleshooting DNS or IP issues as regards to website accessibility. The tools runs ping requests, port scans and checks DNS resolution all in one go as seen by my test on below:

You can run a Port Scanner, Ping and Traceroute tests to check for any connection specific issues, so a handy test using a traceroute through would be to compare that with a traceroute from the command line as well as your default gateway. Beyond that you can check to see if your IP address is on any Spam Block lists or find the geographic location of an IP address.

Although all the features on the site are nothing new, it’s definitely worth a bookmark if you ever need to run any website diagnostics without having to go digging around for each tool manually.

Been and gone: Wakefield Show 2014

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The 26th of April saw the 2014 edition of the RISC OS Calendar’s biggest event of the year take place…

The Wakefield RISC OS Show, held in the Cedar Court Hotel, saw a flock of RISC OS enthusiasts take to the North for a gathering consisting of software and hardware developers, hobbyists and everything in between. All pictures from the show were sneakily swiped from RISCOSitory’s comprehensive report of the event.

Spread across different rooms, the show was split up into a number of sections, with the smaller areas dedicated mainly for the retro exhibits and the main floor occupying the general RISC OS exhibitors, R-Comp, CJE Micro’s etc.

The usual culprits were in attendance, with Andrew Rawnsley and his R-Comp crew demonstrating their ever expanding range of hardware and software solutions. The biggest news was the launch of their new genealogy application – DPGeneology. Based on the DapaPower database engine, the applications expands on R-Comp’s existing Genealogy Records software – which is available for both RISC OS and Windows. For more info, have a watch of the R-Comp theatre talk from the show.

Marin Wuerthner of MW Software was in attendance happily discussing and taking orders for his flagship software packages Artworks and EasiWriter. Both of which did not receive an update in time for the show this time around. Have a view of Martin’s presentation here.

Manned by Matthew and Hilary Phillips, Sine Nomine Software were busy launching their shiny new package RISCOSM at the event. The mapping application uses data from Open Street Map as its primary source and allows for mapping and design to based around said maps. The product is now available for 20ukp, which gets you a CD containing Open Street Map data for the UK and the Netherlands.

Nigel Willmott and Martin Avison were busy with their Organizer stand, where an easily accessible version of their Personal Information Management software Organizer-on-a-stick (USB) was on sale. Martin was also busy discussing his recent work on the free email application Pluto as well his newly updated Keystroke utility.

A new version of NetSurf was launched at the show, with version 3.1 welcoming in quicker start-up times, faster CSS selection performance, visual improvements as well as some general bug fixes.

Steve Fryatt was busy discussing his free-to-download personal finance management application CashBook as well his system search facility Locate2, which allows users to find any file on their hard drive.

The guys over at CJE Micro’s were able to boast their usual wide array of RISC OS good available to purchase at the event, amongst their usual range of RiscPCs and a massive amount of software, there was a considerable amount of Raspberry Pi accessories available.

For a full take on the show and a more in-depth review, check out Vince Hudd’s RISCOSitory report.

ProCAD+ 1.08 released

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David Snell has made available version 1.08 of the commercial RISC OS computer aided design suite ProCAD+...

ProCAD+, although initially like !Draw in its approach, handles a wide range of formats from an assortment of sources and can export files in a number of industry standard formats for industrial use.

New with this update, the app now imports Vector and DrawPlus files, preserving their layers and other non-Draw information. It will even import Vector libraries and turn them into ProCAD+ symbols. ProCAD+ also supports a variety of other new industrial standard output formats.

1.08 has also seen the translation of the manual into HTML pages which can be viewed using an internet browser. This now means that a complete package can be e-mailed, unless a printed manual is also required – which does have an additional charge.

There is a charge for the upgrade, in order to help fund continued development and support of the application. For more information and pricing, visit David’s website.

Newsbuzz: Freeware round-up

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A whole host of updates and releases have graced our platform since our last update, so here’s a lowdown on what you may have missed…

Open source e-mail client Pluto has been updated to version 3.11 after a joint effort from Martin Avison and Rob Sprowson. This update has changed how Attachments are displayed and handled as well as an improved the Search and Select dialogues so that Categories and Add From lists are now selectable from the menu amongst other things. A full list of changes since 3.10 can be found here.

EDIT: 3.11a has now been released to fix a couple of small bugs affecting the Search and Select dialogues changes implemented in 3.11. Pluto can be download free of charge from Avisoft’s website.

Jim Lesurf has released version 0.60i of ClassicRip, a tool which provides a way to rip Audio CD tracks to wave files. It has a set of specific features aimed at making the process easier to control. It allows for the ripping of successive tracks to a single file and generates a text file listing the timing details, useful when producing a single file for multi-track musical works like symphonies.

This update fixes some bugs present in the earlier versions as well as implementing changes to allow it to run on Iyonix machines. You can grab it from here.

Version 0.39beta2 of Director is now available for download. This new update has  an added SDFS menu as well as HostFS support. It now now reads Director$… from the environment and also no longer closes all sub menus.

If you’re unfamiliar with Director, it is a general purpose desktop tool, allowing you to customise your desktop by creating menus of useful commands and icons to attach the menus to. Any number of menus or icons can be created and attached in any order to each other. Director also allows an alternative and faster view onto files in the form of directory menus and allows these menus to be attached to other menus also. Get it from here.

The Teletext+ module in !GraphTask which provides MODE 7 emulation has been updated to work correctly on ARMv7 machines such as the BeagleBoard. The application itself remains unchanged.

!GraphTask provides graphical taskwindows allowing many non desktop programs to be run in a multitasking desktop window. It supports VDU graphics plotting, numbered modes including teletext mode 7, palette changes, scaling of the window, and reporting the mouse corrected position. Download it from here.

Version 7.10 of !MultiTask, a desktop utility that simplifies BASIC programming, has been released. Its purpose is to allow you to write simple BASIC programmes that load and save data without having to worry about the pathname – they will be loaded and saved to/from the csd where you had the BASIC programme stored. This new update has improved stability and a number of bugfixes. You can download it here.

TraceMe, a tool that allows vector graphic images of traced signal box diagrams to be created, has been updated to version 8.00 and is now available to download from the Plingstore. The program only supports B.R. (W.R.) 1960s style diagrams. It operates by examining which keys are held down at each mouse click and is therefore unfriendly to any other applications which have the input focus.

A new version of rex (Recursive *EX) is now available, version 0.38 now allows for the order of files in the output listing to be specified. rex is a command line utility to provide a function for performing a recursive directory listing (e.g. listing files in a directory, repeating the process for every sub-directory found). Grab it from here.

DrWimpC App Builder 1.20 is now available for download. This release contains various bug fixes and introduces several new features and updated, expanded StrongHelp documentation. For more information and to download it, visit here.

Transient, a utility which provides a temporary directory on your hard disc, has been updated to version 2.07. For a full list of changes, click here. To download this new version, go here.

Most of the applications mentioned in this article can be downloaded free from the Plingstore.

Games Corner: Meteors makes a return!

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Remember Meteors? Course you do…

Developed by Neil Raine, Meteors was originally made available for the BBC Micro back in 1982.

The ‘Acornsoft’ title was the Acorn equivalent to Atari’s ‘Asteroids’ and was bundled with a number of machines and different versions of 26-bit RISC OS.

The game, 32 year on, has been resurrected and made 32-bit compatible under the RISC OS Open shared source initiative.

The aim of the game is to steer a small spacecraft amongst space rubble, earning points for destroying them.

Now bundled as part of the ‘Beta’ HardDisc4 image for RISC OS 5, you can get hold of Meteors from RISC OS Open’s downloads page!

DiskKnight updated to 1.51

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The Hard Disc rescue utility Disk Knight has been updated to version 1.51 and is available as a free upgrade to registered users.

DiscKnight is a disc checker and fixer for FileCore E and E+ format hard discs which incorporates fixes for a large number of problems. The program has support for long filenames and large directories and is now 32-bit compatible as well as ARMv7 (Raspberry Pi, ARMini etc.) friendly.

This release fixes an issue with the front end of the application crashing due to a toolbox bug in RISC OS 5.20 and later.

Registered users can obtain the update from the Disk Knight website, make sure you have your serial number handy. A full license can be obtained from here.

Fireworkz update for RISC OS and Windows released

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The very first day of this new year witnessed the integrated word processor and spreadsheet suite Fireworkz updated for RISC OS and Windows operating systems.

The package’s developer, Stuart Swales, has updated the program to version 1.35/00 which comes with a long list of welcome improvements and bug fixes.

Fireworkz’ last update came in May 2013, with this new version being in the works since then.

The most noteworthy improvements in this new update are listed below:

  • Saving a documents as a Drawfile now also exports any Drawfiles (including sprites and JPEGs) and charts present in the document.
  • Fonts used in Drawfiles that are used as pictures/markers in charts now better match up with existing fonts in the charts.
  • A Choices directory is now supplied as standard.
  • Some font mappings have been changed, for example the RISC OS  ‘Pembroke’ family is now mapped t the Windows ‘Palentino’ family.
  • Shift-clicking on the Fireworkz icon on the icon bar will now open the Choices:Fireworkz directory, thus providing access to user-created Templates and Choices.
  • Support for the Euro currency.

Originally a commercial package, Fireworkz is now free to download and can be obtained from here. It’s also 32-bit friendly and will work on ARMv7 machines, i.e. Raspberry Pi, ARMini, Pandaboard etc.