Meeting: A Multi-Platform Evening
Three Club members talked about three different areas of computing. Steve Fryatt opened the evening by looking at two pieces of RISC OS freeware: Ray Favre’s Calibre and Hilary Phillips’ DrawPrint. He was followed by Steve Potts, who showed us a copy of Mac OS X and looked at some of the differences – and similarities – when compared to RISC OS. Finally, Peter Richmond completed the set by telling us about his recent foray into the world of Windows Vista.
Report by Richard Ashbery
Once again an interesting meeting with our own members – Steve Fryatt, Steve Potts and Peter Richmond – covering subjects as diverse as RISC OS, Mac OS and Windows. Not bad for one evening. Chris Hughes opened the meeting by informing members about the progress with this year’s Wakefield show, which is coming along nicely, and again a reminder about the lack of material for the newsletter.
Steve Fryatt in his usual enthusiastic way covered two more RISC OS applications – Calibre and DrawPrint. Calibre, as many of you will know, is Ray Favre’s comprehensive calendar designer. Steve gave an excellent demonstration of its capabilities. There are nine layouts which can have up to three different drawfiles or JPEGs added to enhance the calendar. The precise positioning of calendar, text and pictures is configurable, making this a powerful program. The date area, days-of-the-week, week numbers, text format, text size, and fonts are all adjustable. Red letter days, ordinal dates, week numbers and moon phases are rendered if required. Colours of text, boxes and grid lines can all be changed. Pretty much any combination of calendar can be custom designed. A comprehensive manual is available (in HTML, Impression Publisher or Ovation Pro formats) from Ray’s site. All this has been achieved using Ray’s own DrWimp.
The other program Steve discussed is DrawPrint. Remembering that RISC OS 5 owners were unable to print from NetSurf due to a bug in Printers, the program was designed with these users in mind. The program allows you to print a drawfile over several pages at the scale of your choice. With Printers loaded, all the user has to do is drop a drawfile over DrawPrint’s iconbar icon to display a print preview. Steve showed how margins and overlap between pages can be altered, making it ideal for long posters. The program handles either portrait or landscape printing.
Our next speaker was the other Steve – Steve Potts, of course. He has recently purchased an older Mac (iMac – where the computer is built into a translucent CRT monitor case) and his demonstration showed the differences in the OS user interface between RISC OS (version 6) and Mac OS X. Rendering was quite slow, but we were informed this was due to the Mac and A9home operating through a rather complex network where both machines were controlled through a Windows PC via a VNC client. It was interesting to see the differences between the filer commands and the way programs are initiated.
Finally the evening was bought to a close by Peter Richmond, who demonstrated his new Windows Vista machine purchased very cheaply (£200, I think he said) from Currys. I remember buying my first XP machine and I didn’t get much change from £600; £100 was just for the OS. Mind you I didn’t skimp on quality – I used known branded motherboard, processor, disc and memory. I had just completed a City and Guilds Technicians’ course and thought I had better go out and build one. Nowadays this is a poor way of doing it, because it often works out cheaper buying a complete ready built system. The guy who sold me all the components looked at me suspiciously and said “Are you sure you know what you are doing?” when I joked “It’s dead easy building these things today – it’s just like doing a Meccano set.” Little did he realise I had been working in electronics since he was a baby! Not unlike XP, the operating system has more bells and whistles in the graphics arena – all designed as far as I can see to slow the machine down. I’ll stick with XP for the time being.