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Article archives

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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Elesar updates Font Directory Pro to 3.21

Posted by Mark Stephens on 07:44, 16/6/2017 | ,
 
Given the 12 years between the last 2 releases of Font Directory Pro, an update 6 months after the last release is really good news. Previously, this very slick Font Manager from LookSystems languished until adopted by Elesar.
 
This release moves the release from 3.20 to 3.21 so it is an incremental update. The only 'new feature' on the changelist is enhanced help text in Choices and there are 5 bug fixes.
 
The software comes with a slick installer application and was automatically mailed to all registered users. You will need your application key to update the software. It would have been nice to be able to just drag the software on have it updated (as we have got used to with packages like !Ovation).
 
Elesar are still asking for user ideas for future improvements and the appearance of an new version so soon should give us all encouragement for a bright future for this great piece of software.
 
Elesar website
 
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Latest Drag'n'Drop magazine reviewed

Posted by Mark Stephens on 08:03, 26/5/2017 | ,
 
If you miss the Acorn magazines from yesterday, then Drag'n'Drop is definitely the magazine for you with its mix of news, reviews and lots of hands on technical items. The magazine is published 4 times as year as a PDF (which you can read on any machine).
 
The latest quarterly release was released at Wakefield Show, and given the updates to date news section, looks like it was being updated until the very last minute. The News and editorial section looks at Wakefield and also includes details on upcoming events and both free and commercial software and hardware releases. One of the great advantages of providing the magazine as a PDF is that it can include clickable links for you to follow.
 
The rest of the magazine consists of a wide range of well-written technical articles. Don't worry that the author might lose you - a lot of thought has been given to making sure the reader can follow along easily, and there is even a reminder on how to get into BASIC via the F12 key.
 
The new sound module developed by Amcog Games and freely available gets a detailed write-up with a five page tutorial explaining the new features and showing how to use them. If you have been a little 'nervous' of modules, it also serves as a really clear explanation of how to install and use them.
 
The Iconbar animation article will appeal to an anyone wishing to make their applications look more slick. There is a detailed and annotated BASIC program to give you a slick, animated icon for your program on the iconbar.
 
The Python Primary School is an ongoing series on writing Python programs which can use the RISC OS wimp. This time we have reached high level functions such as creating a window. There is also a nice comparison of Python code with BASIC for all these functions. If you have missed the rest of the series, you can get all the back issues on a USB stick.
 
For general RISC OS programming, there is also a tutorial on creating Windows options in !WinEd and then accessing from a BASIC application. This instalment includes using the toggle icon and how drop-down menus work.
 
This is definitely an edition for anyone wanting to develop their own desktop RISC OS applications. There is also a complete BASIC listing for a multi-tasking Desktop Noughts and Crosses application.
 
Finally, there is a nice little module called SWILister which allows you to list all the SWI calls which any module provides and can also be accessed from BASIC via an Sys call. The listing is on a yellow page (which may give you some additional feelings of nostalgia for the old yellow page listings).
 
The magazine is available to buy from The Drag'n'Drop website where you can also download a free preview of the magazine. You can also get a USB stick with every edition of the magazine ever published and also see their range of fonts and programming books.
 
I really enjoyed this edition, and can highly recommend it to anyone looking to keep up with developments and wanting to improve their programming knowledge.
 
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Archive 24.3 Review

Posted by Mark Stephens on 09:16, 12/5/2017 | ,
 
Just before Wakefield show, Archive 24.3 arrived on our doorsteps. If you are not currently a subscriber, here is what you are missing out on...
 
When the magazine arrives, there is often a survey so you enter when you received your copy. In return, you can view the map showing how quickly the magazine was delivered (and where in the world they are).
 
It has been a little while since the last issue of Archive, so there was lots of news including breaking news as Wakefield approached. As well as all the updates on events, hardware and software there are some nice updates on Community members (Chris Williams and Stephen Streater get a mention in this edition).
 
There have been 2 shows since the last issues, so there are 10 pages of show reviews and pictures covering London and South West Shows.
 
The bulk of Archive Magazine has always been written by its readership and consists generally of either practical tutorial-style material, hints and tips or updates on projects. In this edition:-
 
1. Chris Hall looks at BBC Basic on the Pico and builds a welcome screen.
2. David Snell explains the new features added to Procad+ for handling Open Street Map data.
3. Chris Hall continues with his series on using GPS from RISC OS.
4. Jim Lesurf tells us about his new hifi website (and how he used RISC OS to create it).
5. Richard Darby looks at Duplex printing to Postscript printers in RISC OS.
6. Mark Stephens looks at RISC OS news sites on the internet.
7. Paul Porcelijn offers some tips on creating XML data on RISC OS for uploading bank details.
8. Gavin Wraith experiments with StrongEd to see what it can do.
9. Gerald Fitton transitions from CRT to LCD monitors.
10. Mark Stephens looks at new Macs in the Mac Matters column.
11. Jim Nagel gets some LED lighting on his keyboard.
12. Bernard Boase has some suggestions and ideas on making sure you do safe data backups.
 
Finally, there is a useful selection of short hints and tips.
 
All in all, it is a great 48 page read (and if you ask Jim Nagel nicely, Archive may still offer sample copies to non-subscribers to try).
 
Archive magazine website
 
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Drag'N'Drop brings you a new selection of fonts

Posted by Mark Stephens on 15:35, 15/4/2017 | ,
 
One of the great things at the recent South-West Show was the number of new software releases for RISC OS. There were new upgrades, new games, and even new fonts....
 
Drag'n'Drop have been busy scouring the Internet and assembled a collection of high quality Public Domain fonts for their 20th Century Fonts collection for 13 pounds.
 
The collection comes on a CD, with a detailed manual, showing what all the 700 fonts look like. The fonts themselves are supplied in both RISC OS and Type1 (PostScript) font format, so you can use them on other platforms.
 
The RISC OS versions are in a !fonts application which includes a set of sub-directories (all fonts starting with A in !A and so on). Each has a script to make the switch of the fonts (so you can enable all the A fonts). You can also drag them into your own !fonts folder or store them in the newly updated Font Directory Pro
 
Some of the fonts will look familiar (with slightly different names), and you may well have some of these fonts. You might also find that the EFF and Monotype versions will be slightly higher quality. But they are all really good sets with a full range of characters, and will vastly expand your collection of fonts. There is a wide range of Serif, Sans Serif (Better for headlines), cursive and fancy fonts (I especially liked Sailing and Sampford).
 
I especially liked the fact that several fonts are supplied with multiple weights. Chilton font for example is available is Bold, Heavy, Light Italic, Medium, Medium Italic and Inline Italic Shadow. There are some nice fancy fonts in there as well.
 
If you are looking to extend your font collection with some well-chosen fonts, 20th Century Fonts is definitely worth investigating. Hopefully, we will see some more themed packs...
 
DragNDrop website
 
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Elesar brings back Font Directory Pro for modern machines

Posted by Mark Stephens on 09:53, 25/3/2017 | ,
 
Acorn brought us the exciting world of fonts
One of the things which first excited me about the Acorn Archimedes was the excellent font support (which in some respects is still unique). Once you had tired of Homerton and the other built-in fonts, there is a whole world of fonts out there including high quality conversions of professional libraries like Monotype and URW, the huge EFF font collection and lots of fun fonts included with !Artworks.
 
The problem that then strikes you is that you have a huge collection of fonts. If you put them all in !Fonts, you get a huge list to scroll down and the whole process slows down. You also find that you spend hours trying to select a font (because you do not get a WYSIWYG view). So you end up sticking with Homerton and a few other fonts.... These are the problems which Font Directory Pro solves very elegantly.
 
LOOKsystems gave us a way to make it workable
 
Font Directory Pro was one of two software products which allowed you to easily manage your growing font collection. It provided you with the following functionality:-
1. A font filing system where you could store all your fonts and arrange in whatever way you wanted.
2. A WYSIWYG font viewer which allowed you to see what all your fonts look like and dynamically switch them on (so the appear in !Fonts only when you want them).
3. A document scanning capability where you could ask the software to scan a file and it would automatically switch on any fonts which were needed in the document.
4. The ability to define collections of fonts so you could easily have different sets of fonts which you could switch on (for example a myDTP fonts collection).
 
The way I used to use it was to have a small core collection of fonts permanently in !Fonts (I am a big fan of EFF's London font and their fancy Malinka cat font) and some collections for different uses (like Artworks header fonts for posters). It is very flexible so you can take control of your fonts and get the best of both worlds with both a small workable setup and the easy choice of a huge font collection.
 
and Elesar has brought it back for Modern machines in 2017
 
The software was originally written by LOOKsystems and the last release was a patch to make the software work on the new Iyonix. Now Elesar's Rob Sprowson has tracked down the original author for permission to use the software, updated the source code (which consisted of patching together multiple versions/sources), made it work on all the latest hardware and rewritten/updated the manual.
 
The software is now available from the Elesar and there is even an upgrade price for existing users. You can buy the software directly from Elesar through their shop for 22.50 pounds as an upgrade ot 45 pounds new.
 
The software upgrade will update your existing setup (so you can keep your existing setup) and it just works perfectly (I love those types of installers).
 
There are no new features in this release but Elesar are asking for your ideas on features you would like to see in future versions.
 
Since I stopped using Font Directory Pro I had forgotten just how pleasant it made using RISC OS as a publishing platform and I think it is another step in again making RISC OS a really exciting platform for getting my work done....
 
But are there still any fonts for RISC OS
If you are looking for fonts, there are lots available on RISC OS still. You can find them on the Internet, several free ones are available in the RISC OS package manager and !PlingStore, CJEmicros still appear to have lots of fonts in stock, the charities stands at RISC OS shows sometimes have some gems, and we will be reviewing the new font collection from DRAG'nDROP in a future review. Looks like you may need a tool to help you handle all those fonts....
 
Elesar website
 




 


 
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Spring Issue of Drag'n'Drop Magazine hits the shelves

Posted by Mark Stephens on 09:45, 4/3/2017 | ,
 
The Spring 2017 issue of Drag'n'Drop magazine was released at the South-West Show and is now available from their website (where you can also see some sample pages from the actual edition). It is the 30th issue, and the team really have pulled out all the stops to make it that little bit extra special.
 
If you are new to the magazine, it reminds me of the best of the Acorn press - enthusiastic style, news, variety, type-ins, reviews, programming,something for everyone. The 42 pages are packed with really good contents. The magazine is a PDF file so that you can print it out or read it on any machine. So let's dive in see some of the things on offer...
 
The editorial by Chris Dewhurst gives us the scoop on some new producsts by Drag'n'Drop - I saw their font collection at the South-West Show so I am really looking forward to seeing what else they have in the pipeline.
 
There is a always a "How do I..?" page with useful snippets, especially for new users. F12 is not intuitive as the way to get a BASIC prompt if you are new to the scene.
 
The News section is right upto date and features clickable links to take you to the sites mentioned.
 
There is a meaty article on the RISC OS sound system complete with a 3000 line BASIC program. This gives you the background on how it works and a clear starting point on getting to use it.
 
There is another article on ConvText, a set of simple utilities to perform tasks such as clearing-up text from other platforms and removing ctrl characters, etc. Again there is a well-documented BBC Basic listing with notes. So it also doubles as a programming tutorial.
 
Another article offers a !Auto32 application to help with making old 26 bit modules into 32 bit modules by updating know code patterns.
 
There is also a series on ARM code for people familiar with 6502, showing how you might rewrite your old code and explaining how you might use the ARM architecture.
 
Finally for coders there is a little Module Saver utility to add this missing feature.
 
Games fans will find both a detailed review of the new Mop Tops game and a type-in 'Repton-style' maze game called Sid Slug.
 
For anyone looking to tweak their RISC OS screen display, an article (and listing) shows how to change the mouse pointer to one of your own design.
 
There is also an article on Tracing Outlines which includes links to several free tools and tips on how to get the best from the process.
 
Python Primary School is the next instalment of a substantial project for learning Python and has reached accessing the WIMP via Python. You can get all the articles if you buy the USB release which contains every past edition of the magazine.
 
I really enjoyed this month's edition and already waiting impatiently for the summer release...
 
You can buy a copy of the latest edition (or a USB with all the editions) from their website and see a free preview of some sample pages.
 
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South West Show Report

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Exploring Mathematical shapes in RISC OS

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A fresh look at the Desktop Development Environment Manuals

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!Organizer reaches 2.26

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!PhotoDesk adds support for latest hardware and software with version 3.14

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Latest batch of RISC OS magazines published at London Show

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