Paul Brett with the latest freeware and PD releases for RISC OS.
We have all had a very pleasant surprise this month. You may have missed this particular announcement, if you did then I am pleased to tell you that Peter Nualls has kindly released a new and updated version of FireFox for RISC OS.
FireFox - Unix Porting Project/Peter Naulls
This is new release of the Firefox browser for RISC OS machines. It's only suitable for the Iyonix, A9 and StrongArm VirtualRPCs. FireFox won't work on normal StrongARM RiscPCs as these machine have a bug in the memory controller which means that half word instructions are not correctly handled. Peter has addressed this problem and has also produced a version for "normal" RiscPCs and the non-StrongARM VirtualAcorns. So make sure you run the correct version or it won't work.
I am especially delighted to see this new release, particularly as it appeared "out of the blue" with no prior notification that Peter was working on it. Many people in the RISC OS community seemed to have given up on FireFox (me included - ED) and it did look as though there were not going to be any more update. Since we do now have this new version what are the improvements?
This new release is based on the FireFox 188.8.131.52 version. Previous RISC OS ports were based on version 184.108.40.206. Peter has spent his time in dealing with some of annoyances suffered by some users. The bug that caused FireFox to fail to start on some machines (like mine - ED) have now been resolved. FireFox now quits correctly from its icon bar menu, the problem of some window panes vanishing for no apparent reason has also been tracked down and corrected. Other improvements relate to bookmark handling, security settings and the removal of the strange tiny window that appeared on some machines.
There have also been some interesting "under the hood" changes. This new FireFox no longer uses the !UnixHome application to store its choices, nor does it need the ELFLoader. it has also been compiled with GCC 4.1 and then converted to AOF format using a new tool that Peter hasn't yet disclosed.
Peter is still looking for people in the RISC OS community to contribute towards the FireFox port and to other projects. You can get more information from /www.riscos.info/index.php/Donations. Donations don't have to be in monetary terms, Peter says that there are plenty of projects that just need someone, with some spare time, to work on them.
Regrettably I haven't been able to include a screenshot as (at the time of writing) I have not been able to get either version to work. (Neither have I, I've tried both the normal and RiscPC versions on different VirtualRPCs with no success. I am going to e-mail Peter the STDRR file - ED).
PhotoFiler - Dave Thomas
PhotoFiler is an extension to the RISC OS Filer which adds an image thumbnailing facility similar to that provided by RISC OS Adjust and RISC OS Six. With PhotoFiler loaded, the file type icons for Sprites, DrawFiles, JPEGs and ArtWorks are replaced with miniature versions of the particular image.
PhotoFiler can also be used with a copy of ImageFS to provide thumbnails for a much greater range of file formats, including WMF files. PhotoFiler was previously sold by Warm Silence Software. but has now been made freeware by Dave Thomas who wrote it. PhotoFiler is an absolute boon on the Iyonix, as RISC OS 5 does not have the image file thumbnailing options offered by the RISCOS Ltd. branch of the OS.
To use PhotoFiler just double click on it to launch the icon onto the iconbar. From here you can open the Choices window with a single Select click. PhotFiler integrates seamlesly with the normal RISC OS filer and should work with any filing system. You can read the full help text by clicking on the Help option over a copy of PhotoFiler in a filer window.
Printer Drivers - Jonathan Briggs and RISC OS Connect
RISC OS Connect have just announced that the range of printer drivers developed over the years by Jonathan Briggs can now be downloaded from the RISC OS Connect website. These drivers have been in development for a number of years and support high resolution printing on a range of both Epson and Canon printers. If you have one of the supported printers then these drivers will offer far better quality than the standard RISC OS drivers.
Jonathan's drivers have been available for a number of years, typically dropping him an e-mail would be enough to get you the appropriate driver for your particular printer. However the world has moved on and with Jonathan not having the time to support the drivers any more it was decided that they should be made available and placed into the public domain.
I have included the full set of drivers in the software section of this CD.
Parmesan V 1.30 - Christian Ludlam
Christian recently released an updated version of his "cheesy" MSN client for RISC OS. If you are using an earlier version then you should upgrade to this one as it has bug fixes and new features. One of the main new features is a popup alert window that will tell you when a new message is received, you can even assign a sound effect to the window as an audible notification. As a bit of fun Parmesan can also read out the text of any message you receive using Jonathan Duddington's eSpeak (formerly Speak) module.
Parmesan is an Instant Messaging client for RISC OS. It allows you to "talk" to other people on the MSN network by sending short text messages to each other. These message can include small pictures (called emoticons) to express your emotions, rather like a smilie in an e-mail. Parmesan can also act as a system for transferring files between two or more people. Parmesan is a great instant messaging client and I wholeheartedly recommend it.
PrivateEye V 2.75 - Dave Thomas
This is our second offering from Dave Thomas. PrivateEye is an image viewer for RISC OS. It allows you to view all standard RISC OS filetypes, such as Sprites, DrawFiles, ArtWorks files, JPEGS and a host of others easily and quickly.
It is, however, a lot more than just an image viewer. It allows you to adjust the gamma, brightness and contrast in images. You can also apply various saturation and histograms effects. It also has very useful blur and sharpen effects and can perform rotation of JPEGS with no loss of quality. PriveEye also handles all the JFIF and Exif meta tag information added to JPEGS by modern digital cameras. It includes full support for interactive help and comes with a comprehensive 28 page manual in PDF format (which can be viewed on screen or printed out if required).
If you are handling images on a regular basis then give PrivateEye a go, it really is very good.
SiteMatch V 2.19 - Dave Edwards and Richard Porter
SiteMatch is a application designed to make website maintenance much easier. It does this by keeping track of a local copy of your web site held on your hard drive. It detects any additions, changes and deletions to objects (files and directories) on your local sites and enables you to upload those changes automatically to your web server.
After the changes have been unloaded, you can save the state of the local site ready for the next changes. It keeps keep your local website and the remote sites synchronised with the minimum amount of effort and FTP traffic. SiteMatch can make use of sFTP (version 0.46) or FTPc (version 1.23 or later) to update your site. It can alternatively just create a script which you can pass to your FTP client at a later time.
For full details consult the SiteMatch manual, which can be loaded by clicking on "Help..." in the SiteMatch iconbar menu.
Thunderbird Alpha demo Build - Peter Naulls
As a quick final treat we also have an Alpha quality build of the Thunderbird cross platform e-mail and Usenet client for RISC OS, ported by Peter Naulls. Thunderbird is a very popular e-mail client and Peter is determined to bring it to RISC OS.
Like FireFox this is Iyonix, A9 and StrongArm VirtualRPC only. It's offered as a demonstration only and may not function correctly. Peter has asked people not to report bugs at this point. It's been made available as a test release only and as a platform to test the porting process.
Well we have reached the end of this issue's tour of the latest RISC OS wonders, I wonder what we might see in the April issue? In the meantime if you have an application that you would like featured in RISCWorld please send an e-mail to the normal editorial e-mail address.