Last month's rumour has now been officially confirmed: there is a RISC OS
portable under development and not by Acorn. It's still unclear however who
is producing the new portable and although it will probably still be a
while until it goes into production a prototype version will most likely be
on display at the Wakefield show.
To quote from last month's Net.News "Rumours have reached Tower Electronics
that a 3rd party Acorn developer (known for their storagemedia - even from
the times of the BBC) together with a large company from the far East (a
well known camera's and photocopier company) have financed the development
of a new Acorn RISC OS laptop, based on an ARM7500 or comparable chipset."
The company from the far East could well be Canon. But what if Tower
Electronic's source misunderstood certain things and the company involved
isn't Canon, but rather Cannon (with two N's) ? Why should this be? Well,
Cannon is a large Acorn dealer from the London area which has Cumana as a
trademark (and daughtercompany?). Cumana has been known since the early
eighties as an Acorn hardware developer... We'll just have to wait for the
Wakefield show, which now seems a lot more interesting than Acorn World, to
find out who's really behind this new laptop. Until that time, if anybody
has better theories as to who might be the mysterious two, please let us
Whilst Acorn is busy developing the RiscPC II,
Chalice Technology which is a joint venture of Causaltiy Limited and
Simtec Electronics Limited, has developed their own motherboard based upon
the StrongARM processor. This board named "CATS" has two 66MHz SDRAM
sockets, UltraDMA-33 IDE, 2 USB ports, 3 PCI and 4 ISA slots and some other
interesting abbrevations which I am not going to all write down here ;-)
The system can be supplied as either a development board or as a complete
desktop machine costing some 700 UKP. Both versions come supplied with a
version of NetBSD. Some people might now think it might be nice to just add
some RISC OS ROM chips to the "CATS" desktop machine and so build a very
cheap RiscPC II. However nice the idea might be it's not that easy as it
looks, if only due to the absence of dedicated Acorn hardware like VIDC,
Causility Limited being the makers of RiscBSD it's no coincidence that
NetBSD is supplied with the boards... All in all it's a very intereseting
ARM recently announced the ARM9 processor. However, this one might just get
some competition, ... in the form of the Amulet3.
Amulet is an EU financed project of the University of Manchester where
asynchronised versions of ARM processors are developed. An asynchronised
processor is a chip without a clock whose speed is only limited by its
slowest component, but more importantly, by the slowest component in use.
That is, the speed of an instruction is limited by the slowest component of
the chip needed for that instruction! Another advantage is the low power
consumption of asynchronised processors as parts which aren't being used
dissapate almost no energy at all.
The Amulet team is being led by professor Steve Furber, who also
participated in the development of the original ARM processor. Amulet1 was
an asynchronised ARM2, Aumlet2 was an asynchronised ARM6 and the Amulet3 now
is an asynchronised version of the ARM7 Thumb core. The speed of the Amulet3
will be comparable with the ARM9 with both processors producing at least
some 100MIPS. The Amulet3 is also suitable for mass production.
which up till now was only spread as an Ovation file, will soon
be available in PostScript format. Good news for people who do not own
Ovation or Ovation reader.
IconizeBar is a program written by Kees Grinwis and is a replacement of the
standard Pinboard iconize-function. Instead of the iconized windows being
spread all over your backdrop IconizeBar collects them into one window for
easier, faster access. IconizeBar is shareware and can be downloaded from
the Tabsoft website.
Aleph one has released a 32bit CD-ROM driver for PC cards. The new driver
solves the problems which people encountered using "Joliet" format CD-ROM's.
This format was conjured up by Microsoft to support long filenames. The new
driver also supports auto-insert and auto-run and can be freely downloaded
Note that this driver needs !PC v2.00 or newer (i.e. 'PCPro') and Windows 95.
If you have some questions regarding Acorn machines, but you also suspect
that they have been asked and especially answered before then take a look at
What you'll find there is the Comp.Sys.Acorn FAQ, which stands for
Frequently Asked Questions. The Comp.Sys.Acorn FAQ contains a lot of
valuable information for both people who only recently started using Acorns
and for hardcore Acorn phreax, with answered questions ranging from "What is
an Acorn machine" and "What are the main new features of RISC OS 3" to "How
can I get unfiltered sound from an Acorn machine" and "Why does the serial
port not work after using the PC card?". So, before bombarding the
Comp.Sys.Acorn Usenet groups with 'standard' questions, please check out the
!PDF, a program by Leo Smiers which lets you view Portable Document Files
has now reached version 0.72a. It now supports URL's and public coded PDF
files, i.e. files that don't need a password. The application is based on
xpdf 0.71a, which on its own already introduces some improvements over
earlier versions. You can also download Antiword, a program which converts
MS Word files to plain text, from the same site.
All kinds of documentation on the BBC, including the complete User Guide,
can now be found on "The BBC lives!"
In a few weeks time a couple of games currently available for Acorn machines
will be released for the Netstation (Acorn NC). These games include amongst
others Starfighter 3000, Elite, Cannon Fodder, Doom, Alone in the Dark and
Sensible Soccer. In the early summer the Multiple Arcade Machine Emulator,
better known as MAME will also be released for the Netstation, thereby
adding some 300 classic video games to the Netstation's games-list.
R-Comp interactive who were responsible for the offical release of Doom for
the Acorn platform have suggested that people do not buy the PC version of
Quake but to rather hold on for just a little longer. People might find this
curious as Martin Piper of TBA Software has announced the release of an
Acorn version of Quake some time ago now, which should be bugfree and
finished in time for the Wakefield show. However, rumours have it that
R-Comp and TBA Software will release Acorn Quake in a joint-venture, with
R-Comp taking care of the licensing and TBA providing the software. Doom
clone Eternal Destiny should also finally see the day of light at Wakefield.
Oh well, we'll just have to wait and see...
People already playing Quake over the Internet may possibly find the
following programs of some use, QServer 1.12b and QTalk 1.01. QServer can be
used to gather information from Quake servers and provides an easier
configuration of Internet Quake. Its functionality resembles that of
QSpy/GameSpy for the PC. QTalk integrates with QServer and allows you to
chat on a quake server through a WIMP front-end. Both programs can be
downloaded from http://wkweb5.cableinet.co.uk/a.j.eagle/soft.html.
R-Comp is also releasing a new version of WebsterXL. This Internet browser
apart from both lending their name from an island these two have very few in
common. But, as more and more sites are using this Netscape invented
scriptinglangue to enhance their pages WebsterXL finally allows Acorn users
to enjoy these enhancements. WebsterXL works with all RISC OS Internet
Only a few more weeks to go till the Wakefield Acorn Spring Show, the show
which was postponed especially for the RiscPC II. It will now take place on
May 16th and 17th. A few weeks later, June 6th it's time for the Nieuwegein
Acorn Spring Show, Acorn Expo organised by the Big Ben Club. More than
enough to be looking forward to!
Original Dutch texts, Ferdinand. English translation with subtle rewrites (ha! :-) - FV), Eli-Jean.