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Article archives

New edition of Archive lands on my doorstep...

Posted by Mark Stephens on 19:28, 17/4/2018 | ,
 

 
It has been a while, but the latest edition of Archive magazine (Vol 24 No4), is now available. It is 55 pages of news, reviews and articles. It was also nice to see some new and returning names amongst the contributors.
 
The 7 page news section is presumably still wet, with full preview details for the Wakefield Show. Jim Nagel has been clearly sleuthing for new stories and has updates from all the usual RISC OS companies and beyond. Great to hear Elesar are hoping to resurrect Prophet next.
 
There have been a couple of shows since the last edition of Archive, so you will also find Show reviews for London Show, Recursion Show, South-West Show, and a sneak preview for Wakefield. Now you know what you missed...
 
There is also a review of Chris Hall's !FamTree and and update on Aemulor, charting releases, development and history.
 
What really makes Archive is the user articles. Chris Hall continues in his quest for the ultimate GPS system using RISC OS, Gerald Fitton covering transferring emails between RISC OS and Windows. There is a Mac related column (which also covers VNC and Cloud software), a PC column (including updates on Windows 10) and Gavin Wraith experiments with StrongED modefiles. David Brown shows us how to use SchemeED (which can create schematic diagrams of electronic circuits on RISC OS) and Bimal Jangra shares what DARC Technology Club learned about Forensic science.
 
Lastly, you will find some hints and tips on RISC OS related apps - advice on Photodesk and DPScan in this edition.
 
It may no longer be a monthly event, but Archive remains an excellent read and Jim Nagel is an 'old school journalist' (do you remember Computer Shopper columns?) who always delivers the highest quality copy.
 
Archive website
 
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Drag'n'drop winter 2018 edition reviewed

Posted by Mark Stephens on 07:53, 23/3/2018 | ,
 

 
The latest edition of Drag'n'drop is now available online to purchase. If you are not familiar with the magazine, it is a nice mix of news, tutorials, reviews and type in apps, utilities and games (you can buy the listings to avoid the typing). It reminds me very much of the 1990s style Acorn magazines. There are also adverts for shows and equipment.
 
The magazine if provided as a PDF file, which also has the advantage that news and other items can contain links. It can be read on any machine or printed out.
 
This edition includes a wide selection of reviews covering the updated BBC BASIC Reference Manual, the new Protector game, a wireless keyboard and mouse, and a nifty little magic wand scanner.
 
There are 3 type-in games (Cake Hog, Buggies and Pebbles), complete with nice explanations of how the code works.
 
A nifty little SetTyper application completes the programming section.
 
So, something for everyone and a great selection of material to keen you engaged and entertained.
 
Website
 
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Revisting the old Acorn magazines online

Posted by Mark Stephens on 07:58, 25/8/2017 | ,
 
Over the years, a lot of high quality magazines have been produced. Most of these are no longer actively published but their back catalogue still contains interesting and relevant material.
 
Some companies provide electronic copy. You can buy from R-Comp a CD with the complete Risc User collection and Archive has a compilation CD.
 
Many magazines are now available online if you do not happen to possess a large attic piled high with old editions.
 
There is a nice index of the Acorn User magazines on Acorn User website and a partial collection of PDF scanned copies (they say reproduced with permission) here. If you can add any of the missing editions, they would be very pleased to hear from you.
 
The biggest collection I have been able to find is The Computer Magazine Archives. The site also hosts the waybackwhen archive (which stores snapshots of what website used to look like) and it is not above controversy (it was blocked by the Indian government in 2017). The development of the Internet raises huge questions on what is acceptable use and how copyright should work (in practical and legal terms). So you may still want to stick to your pile in the attic.
 
It includes not just RISC OS machines but everything. So you can also relive your BBC days. I got a bit side-tracked in my researches revisiting Jim Butterfield explaining how the video works on a VIC-20 (my first ever computer). It is also searchable to you can also find items by topic.
 


 
Maybe not as fun as scrambling in the attic, but maybe more practical if you have a browser....
 
4 comments in the forums

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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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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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.
 
1 comment in the forums

Latest batch of RISC OS magazines published at London Show

Posted by Mark Stephens on 07:54, 15/11/2016 | ,
 
Archive Magazine has been going since 1987 and is currently edited by Jim Nagel (you may remember his Computer Shopper Magazine Acorn columns). It is a printed A5 magazine (back and white with some colour). The style is very much traditional magazine and it has not changed over the years. As far as I can tell, its publication date is based on a complex and archaic forumla known only to Jim involving the dates of RISC OS shows, the position of the moon and lots of other secret variables. But it is generally worth the wait.
 
Drag'N'Drop is currently edited by Christopher Dewhurst with contributions from others. It appears regularly every quarter as a PDF which you can download and read on RISC OS or any other platform. It includes news articles (with links which you can just click on), features and tutorials (with the code also attached). The look and feel very much reminds me of the best of the traditional BBC/Acorn User style magazines.
 
Both magazines rely heavily on voluntary contributions which influences their content. If you have something to share, they both welcome your contribution.
 
Both magazines had their latest releases at the London Show, so lets dive in and see what they have to offer.
 
If you always judge a book by its cover, Archive has been putting considerable effort to impress with a colour cover. This month's edition features a very dramatic picture of Pebble Beach (from Jim Nagel's recent trip to Canada) accompanying the contents.
 
In his editoral, Jim talks about how much faster it is these days for a publisher and 6 pages of News are bang upto date for the London Show, where you could get your printed copy. The Magazine itself is a mixture of Reviews, tutorials, regular colums and little snippets of advice. So you can read about CloudFS, Findout about GPS on The Pi, learn about using HDMI, follow a guide on creating a program in !Appbasic, use TopModel for 3D printing, and annotating maps in RisosOSM. There is also a nice hint on connecting an Android tablet to Risc OS.
 
I have been a long time reader (and occasional contributor) to Archive and am always impressed by the high standard and knowledge of the content which is well-researched and written and carefully proof-read (Jim often adds little notes into articles to clarify).
 
If you are interested in trying Archive, I would recommend contacting the editor, as Archive has often offered sample copies if you want to try the magazine. Please do not judge Archive by its website (which is very old and does not do the magazine justice).
 
Drag'N'Drop has a much more garrish cover (it does have an article on 256 colour palette). It starts with an editorial on the show and new machines. The next section is a 'How do I..' with some tips on things we sometimes take for granted but may not be familiar to new users (get a basic prompt, open a task bar, etc). This is followed by 3 pages of news (with links to sites). The rest of the magazine consists of tutorials and coding activities.
 
The listings are explained and included and there is a really nice range of material here. In this edition, we have an introduction to MIDI sound format, an introduction to Forth, some machine code demos to do scrolling stars, an explanation of MemAlloc module, and a basic program to create Fibonacci Wallpaper. Lastly there is a neat little listin in Basic and Assembly to give you auto-focus. You can read some sample pages of the latest edition on the website to get a feel for the magazine.
 
If you are new to Drag'N'Drop, I recommend buying the USB stick which includes all the previous issues. This also works really nicey for following the tutorials which span several editions. At the London Show the USB key was available in a really beautiful little box with the RISC OS logo and some sweets. If you ask really nicely they may still have some in stock....
 
So how would I compare them? They are both well-written and presented to a very high standard. One is printed, one is online and there is a difference of emphasis between them, and I am pleased to say that the news sections contained lots of different items. Archive is much shorter in pages than Drag'N'Drop but does not have pages of listings.
 
I personally enjoyed both of them and will continue to be a regular subscriber to both as I feel they compement each other and fill slightly different niches. I read both cover to cover.
 
Archive Magazine
Drag'n Drop Magazine
 
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Latest Archive is dropping onto a door step near you....

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Early August Update

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Free copies of RISCWorld up for grabs!

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Wakefield 2006 show report

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Wakey Wakey, it's show time again!

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Show! There's a show! Show happening! [updated^2]

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