Meeting: An Evening of PD Software

August 2007

Following his stand-in appearance in February, Steve Fryatt returned for a more planned look at the world of RISC OS “PD Software”. Areas covered during the evening included networking, ‘sticky-pad’ reminder software, image file viewers and conversion tools, and a number of desktop utilities.

Report by Richard Ashbery

Once again, Steve put his usual effort into another ‘fast’ moving and content-rich offering of the latest upgrades in RISC OS PD, freeware and shareware.

First off the post was networking, where Steve had linked a RiscPC and an Iyonix via a network switch to demonstrate some of the software available to RISC OS users. Since we only had one monitor, he became the pseudo video switch, swapping the monitor between the two machines.

Most of us are familiar with ShareFS, the peer-to-peer networking software that comes with all RISC OS machines. However there seem to be some reliability problems, where transferring large files from a RiscPC to an Iyonix for example can cause the link to fail. I’ve also experienced this problem but didn’t realise it was related to the different speeds of the two machines. Steve’s solution is to force the machines to run at 10Mbit/s instead of 100 (see Steve Potts’ article later on in this issue for details of how to do this in software).

Alternatively, ditch ShareFS in favour of Alex Waugh’s Sunfish and Moonfish. With Moonfish installed on the RiscPC (the server), he loaded Sunfish on the Iyonix and was able to look at the RiscPC’s disc and load files across the network faultlessly.

While setting up the RiscPC end of the link, Steve Potts raised a good question about what the ‘/24’ did after the IP address on the Moonfish side. Apparently this sets a limit on the range of IP addresses that can connect to the server, and is described in the manual.

Desktop software discussed by Steve included Paul Vigay’s StickyPad, the ‘post-it’ utility, versus ToDo from Bernard Veasey. Both place a small window in any place on the screen where the user can type text. The note should still be displayed next time the machine is switched on. StickyPad has the added ability to launch a browser/mail client by double-clicking on a URL/email address.

He went on to talk about two new image viewer releases:

1. David Thomas’s PrivateEye. Now at version 2.51 this excellent viewer handles most common RISC OS image formats. David has added some useful but simple image manipulation facilities which Steve demonstrated and has written up in July’s newsletter.

2. SwiftJPEG by Andrew Hodgkinson has just reached version 1.11 but, as its name implies, is only for JPEGs. It has an attractive addition – a slide show with a nice cross-fade facility. Steve also informed us that Andrew has released a module (ScreenFX) as part of the RISC OS Open shared source project, which is used by this new release to provide the cross-fades. Please be aware that some JPEG formats (eg. progressive) are not handled by SwiftJPEG.

The next item he covered was the recently released ROFS (by David Higton, aided by Rik Griffin), for getting files off USB flash drives and card readers exceeding 2GB. The latest version enables complete directories to be saved on the hard drive. Please note – the current version is Iyonix compatible only and you are strongly advised to read the website’s instructions carefully before using.

Another of the many RISC OS utilities is Chris Johnson’s Text>Draw. This simple utility can be used to convert fancy text for importing to Draw. He demonstrated the ability of this small program to convert some mathematical equations.

Another useful utility is IcnClipBrd (from Thomas Leonard – Steve did the 32-bit conversion) enabling users to use the standard Ctrl-C, Ctrl-X, Ctrl-V, and Ctrl-Z to copy and paste text in writable icons using the global clipboard. He also mentioned some other Ctrl keys which delete characters either left or right of the caret and perform some other useful DOS filename manipulation. I have used it to save long lines of text in writable icons that may need to be restored. Steve has uploaded a new version to avoid some potential ‘crash’ problems on 32-bit systems.

Also discussed was Paul Vigay’s TaskSetup. This neat utility resides in the user’s Boot configuration and provides a way of easily disabling applications during Boot-up. Any suspect programs can be temporarily disabled (Steve showed us how they are moved to the relevant mirrored directories in !Boot.Disabled) and the computer re-booted to check if the error has gone. PreDesk, Tasks and Resources can be examined and associated directories opened.

Finally, Steve returned to networking by bravely attempting to use the Iyonix to view the RiscPC desktop with a program I have mentioned in the June’s newsletter called Avalanche in association with a VNC-client. Crudely the VNC-client allows its desktop to become available to another machine. Now I have only used this VNC-client/Avalanche combination to view a window PC desktop on an RiscPC/Iyonix. He proved it was possible with RISC OS to RISC OS computers.

I always find Steve’s talks packed with information that makes me look again at software I may have dismissed. Well done Steve, and thanks for an excellent and entertaining evening.

PD Software from August’s Meeting

The list below includes all of the software covered in August’s meeting. Everything can be freely downloaded, but note that ToDo is giftware (suggested gift £5) and StickyPad is shareware (registration fee £5).

Sunfish & Moonfish NFS client & server for RISC OS – Alex Waugh
ToDo – Bernard Veasey
StickyPad – Paul Vigay
PrivateEye – Dave Thomas
SwiftJPEG – Andrew Hodgkinson
ROFS (Read Only Filing System) – Dave Higton
Text>Draw – Chris Johnson
IcnClipBrd – Thomas Leonard & Steve Fryatt
TaskSetup – Paul Vigay
Avalanche VNC client for RISC OS – James Peacock
VNCServer port for RISC OS – David Llewellyn-Jones

Steve Fryatt