8-Bit Software Online Conversion

          To : 999 + K5A From : 483 (Daniel Shimmin) Re : New Acorn computers K5A recently mentioned the new RISC PC range from Acorn, and commented that the inclusion of a cheap PC card facility would allow the machines to compete with machines such as the Power Macintosh, which also provide cheap PC emulation. However, it seems that the RISC PC is well ahead (except in terms of public profile), as a recent report on the Guardian's technology page was very complimentary to the RISC PC, saying that it ran Windows software in a way "similar to OS/2 but better" (OS/2 is IBM's fairly new operating system), and that the Power Macintosh was not as good because it required SIXTEEN megabytes of RAM just to emulate a 286 PC (compared with the RISC PC where you can install an actual 486 PC chip for only a hundred pounds). Apparently other newspapers have also given the RISC PC better coverage than Acorn products normally get. In any case, the Power Macintosh seems to be hideously expensive; although I don't know of the actual raw processing power of its CPU, one thousand three hundred and fifty pounds plus extra for keyboard plus extra for monitor plus VAT seems an awful lot compared to fourteen hundred plus VAT for a decent RISC PC that includes (literally) everything, including a processor that is supposed to be able to handle still graphics six times faster than a 66MHz 486 PC. To : 999 + K5A + 19F From : 483 (Daniel Shimmin) Re : RISC OS vs. Windoze The PC vs. Archimedes debate also continues, now slightly altered into the RISC OS vs. Windoze debate. Readers of Acorn magazines will already be sick of hearing this mentioned, but RISC OS seems to have been way ahead for a long time; the new version of Windoze codenamed Chicago, due out about now, includes features such as proportional scroll bars and an icon bar; RISC OS has had these since it came out some years ago. The new version of Windoze also boasts that it is "mostly in 32-bit code", while RISC OS has always been COMPLETELY in 32-bit code, and so on. Previously I had not used Windows extensively, except on a friend's lowly 386 portable. Now I have used version 3.11 (or whatever the latest incarnation was) with 8Mb 33MHz 486's on an extensive course learning C using the latest version of Borland Turbo C++. When programming C on the Arch I use RISC OS and Acorn ANSI C. Now, Borland TC++ is definitely a better compiler package (I don't know about the efficiency etc. of the compiler itself), but it does cost about twice as much as the Acorn version. On the other hand, writing and running C programs is far easier in RISC OS than in Windoze, and even the guy running the course (who obviously knew a great deal about various languages under various operating systems) commented that Windoze was a real pain and caused a great deal of inconvenience for the compiler and the user. My PC-owning friend, who normally trumpets the advantages of PC's with Windoze over RISC OS machines, suggested that Borland Turbo C++ for DOS was in fact a much better bet. No doubt true, but this makes Windoze look a bit pointless - I can hardly see myself descending back to BBC-style command lines to develop software on the Arch (except perhaps BASIC under RISC OS 2) when I have a perfectly useable WIMP-based development environment. I'm afraid I wasn't impressed by Windoze at all, and such minor features as not having instant window drag or re-size wasn't impressive either (again, such features have been on RISC OS for years, and I don't think even the new version of Windoze will have them). A few thoughts to keep the debate raging anyway. Not that I would object to having a RISC PC with a 486 card, 8Mb of RAM and a 16-bit linear sound card... To : 999 + K5A From : 483 (Daniel Shimmin) Re : RISC PC K5A also mentioned that the ARM610 to ARM710 processor upgrade takes about a minute on the new machines. At the Harrogate Show, I saw a guy from Acorn (in the middle of a heaving crowd, as it was on the Saturday), change a machine in tower configuration (i.e. the whole massive machine was STOOD ON ITS SIDE) from an ARM610 processor to a prototype ARM710 (yes, they do exist, there were several of them lying around on top of the demonstration machines' monitors, of all places), and back again, by reaching inside the case WITHOUT LOOKING WHAT HE WAS DOING, in about TWENTY SECONDS. Rather different from the IBM-compatible PC machines that boasted "Intel Overdrive and Pentium compatible" a year or so ago, only to find now that the Pentium chips won't actually fit into them at all! To : 999 (Everyone) From : 483 (Daniel Shimmin) Re : Narrow-mindedness (?) As a contribution to Chris' recently inaugurated "most bizarre topic for a text message" competition, I would like to point out the general intolerance, if that is the right word, displayed by many people who consider themselves knowledgeable about computers when met by something they don't consider sensible. In order to make clear (or clearer) what I mean, I will mention some examples that spring to mind. Firstly, I have recently come across a utility for the Archimedes that is intended to allow you to read DFS disks (which the Archimedes can't do on its own). After commenting that "obviously" you will need to attach a 5.25" drive to your Archimedes to read DFS disks, the author says that he supposes that it will also read DFS files off 3.5" disks, although he "can't see why anyone would have DFS files on a 3.5" disk". Now, I can think of a very good reason why some people might want DFS files on a 3.5" disk, namely that they might own a Master Compact, which uses 3.5" disks as standard, and prefer to use DFS because they are used to it and don't require the additional features of ADFS. This may seem an irrelevant correction of a fairly unimportant aside in the instructions of a rather obscure piece of software, but I think it is a good example of something that I feel happens all too often. Many people condemn other people's particular ways of using computers as being "ridiculous", or "unwise" or "silly", either, as in this case, because they simply lack information about the reasons why something might be the case (in which case they should have been more restrained in their criticism), or because they are simply unable to understand that someone else might prefer things slightly different. For example, it is pretty clear that some people prefer, say, older simpler computers to newer more complicated ones, or Edit to View, or whatever. Many people will not admit that this is simply their preference, or that, where there are valid reasons for both views (such as whether it is better to use the Verbose option when copying files in RISC OS), there really is no way of proving that one view is more right than another. Another (the last) example concerns the old 8-Bit Software menu; on showing the magazine disk to some other users, I was greeted (derisively) with, "oh, you don't know how to turn the cursor off, do you?". The reason for having the cursor on was not that I didn't know how to turn it off, but rather that the 8-Bit menu was often pretty crowded, what with user ID's and issue dates and options and things, and it seemed best that the cursor should be there fulfilling its original purpose of showing the user where exactly on the screen input was being demanded. On some issues, of course, there is a fairly clear-cut answer as to what is best, and all computer users can benefit from people mentioning ways that they could do things better. However, criticising other people for things that you consider to be "obviously" unwise is not such a good idea; it just means that the person being criticised then often has to go to the trouble of explaining why they prefer to do something in a certain way - there tends to be a reason. EDITOR........ It is very easy to criticise others especially if you don't know what you are talking about. PRESS BREAK