Paul Brett with the latest PD roundup.
I suppose calling this column PD World is a bit odd. Why? Well because PD is not a legally defined term under British law, so the name is meaningless. Perhaps I ought to explain what this column is for. Simply it covers software that is copyrighted by the author but that you can obtain for nothing. Some items are given away free because the authors don't want to sell them, some are full commercial products that are available from websites and some others are covered by specific licences (such as the GNU Public licence). This means we can provide the software listed here on the RISC World CD. It doesn't mean you can do what you like with the software, you can certainly use it, and often distribute it to others, but you can't take it apart and swipe bits for your own projects. In fact I may well ask the editor to rename this column, how does Free World sound?
Although StrongHelp has been around for some time now we thought it would be worth including the latest version on this months CD. StrongHelp is an interactive manual system, a number of PD applications supply their manuals in StrongHelp format. However the real reason for including it is simple, it comes with small manuals on assembly langauge and on BASIC. If you are following either David Holdens BASIC series, or the new ARM code series from Brian Pickard StrongHelp could prove invaluable.
StrongHelp has a companion program, StrongED. This is a fully featured editong package, ideal for programmers. Originally written by Guttorm Vik, but now maintained by John Whitington, we have included the latest version (4.61) on the RISC World CD. You can always get the latest version of StrongED from www.tnpsoft.co.uk/stronged. If you have used StrongED before then you may well be interested in the latest changes.
John also has some other long term plans for StrongED, so why not check out the link above to find out more. After all if you are going to be programming, you will need a good editor to write your code!
STRing is an OCR (Optical Character Recognition) package, this means that it can take an image containing text from a sccanner and convert this into real text that can be edited on screen. STRing stands for Scanned Text Recognition. The latest version of STRing can be found at www.arcsite.de/hp/mrb/ and is written by Mark Beerlink.
STRing does not have any configuration of options windows, simply drop a 2 colour sprite (preferably 300dpi) onto the STRing icon on the icon bar then drag out the resolting text file. Although it may not be as accurate as commercial offerings it is Freeware and can prove very very useful.
A Freeware MP3 player from Thomas Olsson. This allows you to play MP3 files on your RISCOS machine easily.
The frontend is very simple, and behaves more or less like a normal tape deck. Dragging an AMPEG file to the window (or double-clicking on one) will ask the module to play it. The buttons below the display behave like one would expect:
Another control function of !AMPlayer is, that if you hold shift while dragging in a file, it will be put on hold (and "QUEUE" will show). When the current file finished, playback continues with the one dragged in. There can be only one file on queue at any time, so dragging in more files like this will just end up with the last one on hold. Some day this might change, who knows. Similarily, holding shift while clicking Stop, will only stop the current file, and continue with a queued one if any.
And in case anyone is wondering that really is a copy of episode 1 from the 2nd series of the Goon Show playing in the window, just don't ask how our editor got hold of it! (The Goon Show Depository - Ed)
Font Designers Toolkit
FDTK (Font Designers Toolkit) used to sell for over £30. However since last year it has been available free from the iSV Products web site, and a copy is on the RISC World CD. This allows you to make new weights of existing fonts as well as make your own new fonts using the supplied copy of FontED. Also included are applications to make mono-spaced fonts as well as print out font catalogues.
Also on this CD is a full copy of XStitch (Cross Stitch) 1, this allows you to make a cross stitch chart from a sprite. I would strongly suggest users read the supplied on-line manual before making any charts. The laster versions of XStitch offer many many more features, but XStitch 1 can still produce a very reasonable chart in a fraction of the time it would take to do it by hand.
I have checked with our editor about the odd error message that occurs when you run XStitch 1 on a RiscPC or equivalent computer. He assures me that the error can be ignored and that the program will work as intended, he added that the orutines that do colour conversion are very conservative and will report the funny error even if things are in fact fine!