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Acorn News Service Newsletter

Issue: 137 (27 July 2003)

Featured site this issue: http://www.iyonix.co.uk/iyonix/news/FAQ.shtml

General News

tofla - the site for RISC OS coders

Tofla is a new web site dedicated to encouraging coding for RISC OS, by providing tutorials, reference material and anything else that people will find useful. The aim is to make tofla your first stop when you run into problems developing you killer application.

Tofla webmaster Morbo Jones wrote, "I think that the RISC OS scene needs many things, most of which I can't help with. However, one thing I do see a need for is as many eager coders as possible, from freeware right up to commercial software. If I can encourage coders of all abilities by providing coding help and information, then all the better!"


BBC Micro mailing list archive

Excellent archives of the the BBC Micro and Beeb Emulators mailing list are now available online at:


Main Features:

  • All messages are presented as web pages.
  • All messages are fully linked and threaded, it is possible to navigate all posts and threads very easily.
  • All email addresses everywhere in the archive have been reduced to myemail@... to protect privacy and to prevent illegal harvesting.
  • There is a search feature provided by Google to allow almost full searches of the site.

The BBC Micro archive should have new posts added during the first week of each month as time allows. The BBC Emulators list is now defunct and will only be updated as new messages and features become available.

An archive of the info-cpm usenet group is also available at: <http://nelsonit.net/~jon/info-cpm/>

This is a joint project between Jon Ripley and Jonathan Harston. Thanks are also due to James Fidell for hosting the mailing lists and Andy Nelson for providing the web space.

New format for ARM Assembly Language Programming

Samuel Kock has provided a version of the text of AALP that combines the contents of the PDF files into a single file, and includes bookmarks for each of the major section headings.


Commercial News

Limited availability of 2MB VRAM modules

Due to the unexpected availability of some VRAM chips, Simtec have a small quantity of 2MB VRAM modules available for GBP60 (including VAT and UK carriage).

As these chips have been obsolete for some time, it is unlikely that any more modules will ever be manufactured - so if you have always intended to upgrade your Risc PC with a 2MB VRAM module, buy one while you can!

Contact and ordering details are available at: <http://www.simtec.co.uk/>

Castle Buys RISC OS from Pace - FAQ on web site

Following the recent acquisition of the rights to RISC OS by Castle Technology Ltd, an FAQ section is now available on Castle's web site: <http://www.iyonix.co.uk/iyonix/news/FAQ.shtml>

PD/Shareware News

New software summary

  • PICProg, PIC programmer software for RISC OS
    A simple command-line tool designed to make it possible to use low-cost hardware to program Microchip's "PIC" microcontrollers with RISC OS. It is designed to work with most "Tait" compatible programmer hardware, such as David Tait's "Classic" PIC programmer or the PIC programmer kit formerly sold by Maplin Electronics. As this is a beta version, it is in need of testing and bugfixing.
  • Stream, streaming MPEG audio player
    A completely new streaming MPEG audio player. It is more reliable and better structured than any previously released RISC OS streamer. It requires several modules: AMPlayerBuffer and MP3Stream, which are available from <http://www-users.york.ac.uk/~jwd104/>; Acorn's URL_Fetcher (and HTTP) module, which appear to be supplied with RISC OS; and AMPlayer 1.39, available from <http://www.amplayer.org/>.

Updated software summary

  • GPUtils v0.11.5
    Port of GPUtils PIC microcontroller development system. The assembler (GPASM) is fully source code compatible with Microchip's MPASM assembler and as a result most code found on sites such as the "PICList" can be compiled with very little effort. The port was created with GCC and is fully 32 bit clean.
  • NewAlarm v1.36
    A text based desktop alarm program, which tells the time in a charmingly vague way ("It's almost ten past five") instead of with computerised precision ("17:09:16"). It allows you to set and manage an unlimited number of (repeating) alarms, and endeavours to combine the best features of Acorn's 'Alarm' and Doggysoft's 'RoughTime'. The new version adds a Help entry to the menu and makes it rather easier to drag the window without bringing it to the front.
  • QuickFiler v2.02
    A utility which allows you to use many standard shortcut keys in conjunction with the RISC OS Filer windows. The Filer gains the input focus when you click in a directory display, and then responds to the keyboard shortcuts as shown on the Filer's menu, and the window will also scrollable. It should now work on all versions of RISC OS from 3.00 to 5 (32bit) but requires a Risc PC style Boot application or later.
  • SpamStamp v0.14
    Attempts to detect if a mail is spam or not using bayesian filtering techniques. This new version has several enhancements including: increased hashtables to allow for much better detection of spam; educate window now has a cancel button; possibility to alter the protection against false positives; fixed a bug that made SpamStamp crash with it processed HTML messages without any linefeeds. Because of the bigger hashtables SpamStamp needs a lot more memory (around 2MB) when debatching mail. Low memory systems are advised to stay at version 0.12 for the time being.
  • SPatience v1.24
    Scriptable patience game. The main new feature is that it is now possible to play "Spider" family patience games. Because of problems reported using v1.23 with Select, two versions are available. They have been compiled with the old ANSI-C 5 (26 bits) and with the new ANSI-C from Castle Technology (32bits). The 32 bits version should run on the Iyonix. You can also download the patience library that features more than 250 ready-to-play Patience games.
  • USBinfo v0.46
    A small utility that is used to display the topology of the USB system on your RISC OS machine. Additionally, it can be used to view detailed technical information about each USB device connected, in a graphical manner. Currently it only supports the IYONIX pc and the Castle USB card. Many new Devices and Vendors have been added and a new on-line manual is now available from within the software. Furthermore a few smaller bugs have been fixed and the latest release of some internal modules are included.

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