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Acorn Arcade forums: News and features: Quick bits #4
 

Quick bits #4

Posted by Richard Goodwin on 14:17, 9/7/2001 | , , , , , , , ,
 
Time for a roundup of all the bits of news we've missed while we were slacking off last week...
 
We've recieved word that German RISC OS dealer bluebirdy.de has ceased trading as of the 3rd of July. Unfortunately we don't have stats on how may German visitors we have to the TIB site, but the guys at BlueBirdy have always seemed to be very active in the RISC OS scene (including designing their own desktop theme in our themes section), and I'm sure that they'll be missed.
 
Cerilica's Vantage has been officially launched as of July 6th, and some people have had emails saying that it has been shipped; however, no such luck here at ArgoNet towers, so a review will have to wait a while longer.
 
We've been getting questions about the state of some of the other RISC OS news services (when you think about it this might seem a little odd, but we're all friends here). The Acorn Cybervillage still seems to be down, despite Stuart's best efforts to relocate; we were able to read it last week, but not right now. It's not the end though, as Stuart was saying recently that he's been impressed with the number of offers of help he's had. Drobe is currently an empty directory listing, but that's because it's being prepared to be filled! When there's more information we'll let you know here on the news page.
 
We haven't posted a full report on the latest Mico offer (partly due to it being pretty much straight advertising, and partly due to Microdigital's attitude towards some organisations and individuals), but APDL are offering a Mico at 399.99 for an 8MB memory, 4GB hard drive, 48x CD machine. The price includes VAT, keyboard, mouse, software etc. but no monitor. The idea is to sell machines at a price similar to the old BBC Micro to try to bring the benefits of newer hardware to enthusiasts still struggling with older machines.
 
John Kortink has reduced the price of Viewfinder cards by 10%, to celebrate the opening of his new website. With the rewrite of the ZapRedraw module, programs such as Zap should now not only work properly, but work even better as it makes use of the ViewFinder's hardware acceleration.
 
And finally, the POSum has its own website . This POS system now has a web server plug-in called e-COMmerce, integrating regular shop sales and e-commerce mail order.
 
  Quick bits #4
  This is a long thread. Click here to view the threaded list.
 
Rob Kendrick Message #88802, posted at 15:40, 9/7/2001
Unregistered user Ick, SSI :)
  ^[ Log in to reply ]
 
Michael Gerbracht Message #88803, posted at 15:48, 9/7/2001, in reply to message #88802
Unregistered user 2 Things:

- IIRC the Viewfinder card has been reduced from 800 to 650 guilders (unlimited). And additionaly it has been reduced by 10% for July and August.

- There seems to be an HTML error (maybe your browser doesn`t show): You can see the comment after the link to the POSum website. I think there is a space missing between HTML tag and comment.

  ^[ Log in to reply ]
 
Michael Stubbs Message #88804, posted at 16:08, 9/7/2001, in reply to message #88803
Unregistered user Yes, ViewFinder is more of a viable option now. Very nice price indeed :)

Hmm, I see a certain company has been throwing its weight around again. Not the best way to mend an already poor reputation for tactics.

  ^[ Log in to reply ]
 
Theo Markettos Message #88805, posted at 16:30, 9/7/2001, in reply to message #88804
Unregistered user I think showing that comment was deliberate :-)
  ^[ Log in to reply ]
 
Andrew Veitch Message #88806, posted at 18:22, 9/7/2001, in reply to message #88805
Unregistered user Interesting your comment about Microdigital's attitude to certain individuals - given that the individual in question made a defamatory comment against them (the producers of the Mico), I think their response is quite reasonable, especially waiving their claim for damages in favour of a donation to charity. Maybe (one can live in hope) this might act as a learning point for people who are quick to throw defamatory statements around on Usenet.
  ^[ Log in to reply ]
 
Richard Walker Message #88807, posted at 18:25, 9/7/2001, in reply to message #88806
Unregistered user Andrew, I agree with you. I don't see what the iconbar.com can have against MicroDigital, nor how the said newsposting could relate to iconbar.com not wishing to post a full Mico-offer review.
  ^[ Log in to reply ]
 
Michael Stubbs Message #88808, posted at 19:33, 9/7/2001, in reply to message #88807
Unregistered user You can't say 'anything' against MicroDigital without them getting all shirty about it. Maybe in your case, Richard, you said something past the mark! However, I have yet to see it. Sounds interesting though :D You sound like an angel at the moment, though ;)
  ^[ Log in to reply ]
 
Peter Price Message #88809, posted at 20:46, 9/7/2001, in reply to message #88808
Unregistered user Thanks for that Rich - yes Drobe is being reworked and will be with you very soon - watch this space! (BTW for those with a password, the new site can be played with at http://www.drobe.co.uk/beta/)

As for MicroDigital, I can back up Rich's comments about the company's attitude. While I feel that saying too much about the emotional termoil they have dragged the Drobe Editors through recently, you can be assured that they won't be getting much news coverage on Drobe in the future...

  ^[ Log in to reply ]
 
Jon Message #88810, posted at 22:58, 9/7/2001, in reply to message #88809
Unregistered user You missed the bit I posted about Pineapples price reductions!
  ^[ Log in to reply ]
 
therodent Message #88811, posted at 22:59, 9/7/2001, in reply to message #88810
Unregistered user do you mean registered users with passwords can access the beta site? i couldn't with mine. keep it going, I'm beginning to miss my Drobe searchbar!
  ^[ Log in to reply ]
 
therodent Message #88812, posted at 23:01, 9/7/2001, in reply to message #88811
Unregistered user More price reductions? Great! I just need to persuade dad to get a viewfinder....
  ^[ Log in to reply ]
 
Stephen Message #88813, posted at 00:12, 10/7/2001, in reply to message #88812
Unregistered user Don't forget, there is another news service - ANS (http://www.acornusers.org/ans) still going strong :)
  ^[ Log in to reply ]
 
Richard Goodwin Message #88814, posted at 09:49, 10/7/2001, in reply to message #88813
Unregistered user Just to clarify, I'm not saying that Richard was right or wrong to say whatever he said about MD, because I didn't see what was written in the first instance. I'm just saying (as a personal opinion) that MD have been quite agressive in controlling its image and the way it's doing it is not winning them many friends.

In all my time in Acorn/RISC OS community this is the first time I've seen anyone sued into submission for posting something to the newsgroups (if I read the retraction right), no matter how much they slag someone off, and that in itself is worthy of note. Hence, that particular link.

Many of you are not privy to what goes on behind the scenes of a news service, even one run by enthusiasts like The Icon Bar. I don't make it a habit of excluding companies that I don't agree with - in the past I've had some great arguments with the head of a certain games company because we both care about the RISC OS community, but at the end of the day we're still friendly. However, recent dealings that I and others have had with MD make it quite frankly not worth the hassle of writing small updates on them. If they ever get round to releasing their new computer then I'll report on it. Until then... well, I didn't see the point in excluding APDL just because they're selling a product from a company I have issues with.

  ^[ Log in to reply ]
 
Richard Goodwin Message #88815, posted at 09:52, 10/7/2001, in reply to message #88814
Unregistered user BTW, the fake SSI is a joke, it's not actually a valid syntax. And the site's run on PHP :)
  ^[ Log in to reply ]
 
Rob Kendrick Message #88816, posted at 19:41, 10/7/2001, in reply to message #88815
Unregistered user Ick, PHP. :)
  ^[ Log in to reply ]
 
Tim Fountain Message #88817, posted at 21:49, 10/7/2001, in reply to message #88816
Unregistered user What's icky about PHP? :P
  ^[ Log in to reply ]
 
Paul Biggs Message #88818, posted at 22:53, 10/7/2001, in reply to message #88817
Unregistered user Microdigital as a commercial enterprise are entirely justified in seeking to defend themselves from libellous comments, especially when said comments could have an adverse effect on their business. If anyone used the same term in describing me I wouldn't reach for my lawyers, I'd reach for my baseball bat!

Of course it all depends on how you phrase things, I am justified in saying that some people believe that MD are "a bunch of crooks" as I have evidence to support this. I would not describe them in such terms myself as I have no grounds for doing so.

Until somebody digs up evidence to the contrary I shall support MD in their efforts to bring Omega to market. They are at least trying to do something practical to address the problems in this market.
  ^[ Log in to reply ]
 
Michael Stubbs Message #88819, posted at 01:10, 11/7/2001, in reply to message #88818
Unregistered user Microdigital don't like any sort of comments that aren't full of praise for them. Maybe if they delivered on their promises, they'd suffer less bad publicity.

Example: it was months and months ago (Christmas?) when Omega was supposed to ship. We then hear it is a chip supply problem. However, only the other week we hear that they are about to work on the 26bit/32bit switching thingy, with the comments that Dave P has done similar stuff before so it shouldn't be much of a problem. That doesn't *appear* to be very honest, does it.
  ^[ Log in to reply ]
 
Gerph Message #88820, posted at 01:37, 11/7/2001, in reply to message #88819
Unregistered user I've got to say that I do agree with Michard and Richard Goodwin, here. There's been a lot of fuss kicked up on usenet about what was alledgedly said. Whilst I never saw the original posting, in my experience I would say that I believe Microdigital to have been quite litigous when anything has been said about them that isn't totally favourable. Such as, for example, reporting the truth about things. Or opinions.

And whilst I've an amount of faith that they will bring Omega out in the coming century, I believe that their track record to date has been less than startling.

I found it amusing that about the only part of the article in question that is ever cited is that 'a bunch of crooks' section. And it's certainly been more of a detriment to MD to have /that/ continually cited in connection with them, even if it's not true.
  ^[ Log in to reply ]
 
Rob Kendrick Message #88821, posted at 10:16, 11/7/2001, in reply to message #88820
Unregistered user Well, all IMHO of course, PHP is large, bloaty, ugly in the design and implementation sense, has a badly thought out syntax, leaks memory like a sieve, and grinds to an absolute halt if you want to use it anywhere near a multi-threaded environment due to the sea of mutexes it has. Oh, and it's deadly slow and damages the cachability of pages. :)
  ^[ Log in to reply ]
 
Geoff Youngs Message #88822, posted at 14:52, 11/7/2001, in reply to message #88821
Unregistered user Re: PHP damaging cacheability - It's upto the website designer to decide if/when the content expires. It doesn't damage cacheability unless the author is being lazy/naughty/incompetant.

I'm not surprised that MD are receiving so much flack for "protecting" their name - we're not used to RISC OS companies who care about image :P

It could open interesting funding and revenue possibilities for new RISC OS developments - I mean if ROL sued all the people making potentially libellous comments about them Re: Select Scheme, 32bit RISC OS etc, they could probably afford to fund all remaining development work to make RISC OS 32bit ready, convert existing software and reduce the price at the end of it. Why ever didn't they think of it before? ;)
  ^[ Log in to reply ]
 
Andrew Weston Message #88823, posted at 15:14, 11/7/2001, in reply to message #88822
Unregistered user Yes, lets bring a litigation culture to the RISC OS community and crush open and honest discussion and debate to its knees.
  ^[ Log in to reply ]
 
Tim Fountain Message #88824, posted at 15:21, 11/7/2001, in reply to message #88823
Unregistered user I can't comment on the performance issues, but I have no problem with PHP's syntax. I found the language very easy to pickup. Cacheability as Geoff said is up to the site author really. Dynamically generated pages can be cached just the same as static HTML pages - it's only when the author needs the pages to be up-to-date that the "please don't cache this" tags start to come into play.
  ^[ Log in to reply ]
 
Matthew Somerville Message #88825, posted at 15:58, 11/7/2001, in reply to message #88824
Unregistered user Sorry, but PHP by default is completely uncacheable (doing it properly, not putting Expires tags in the HTML source, which is useless for all the proxies in the world) unless a) the cacheing program isn't working properly; or b) the PHP writer personally makes PHP output the right HTTP headers to let it be cacheable (I don't think the Iconbar does).

Please see http://www.mnot.net/cache_docs/ for much more information about cacheing.
  ^[ Log in to reply ]
 
Geoff Youngs Message #88826, posted at 16:27, 11/7/2001, in reply to message #88825
Unregistered user IMHO, doing it "properly" involves explicitly stating the last modification time, the expiry time and the cacheability of any pages, rather than letting a webserver guess.

The fact that PHP doesn't act as though it is serving static content unless it is overridden is a Good Thing™ - most PHP sites are non-static. The fact that lazy programmers don't bother to change this behaviour when appropriate is a Bad Thing™ but I suspect that there are more appropriate places to discuss the relative merits of PHP :)

(Random comment to make this posting relavant to the news item)
I wonder if APDL would supply their 399 machine with more memory instead of the HD?
  ^[ Log in to reply ]
 
Tim Fountain Message #88827, posted at 17:37, 11/7/2001, in reply to message #88826
Unregistered user You learn something everyday. So presumably HTML files parsed for PHP code would also not be cached?
  ^[ Log in to reply ]
 
Geoff Youngs Message #88828, posted at 20:49, 11/7/2001, in reply to message #88827
Unregistered user Sample output header:

HTTP/1.0 200 OK
Date: Wed, 11 Jul 2001 19:10:32 GMT
Server: Apache/1.3.20 (Unix) PHP/4.0.5
X-Powered-By: PHP/4.0.5
Content-Type: text/html

Many cache's rely on sending HEAD requests and then comparing the Last-Modified header, but PHP doesn't set this automatically, so the cache will not bother to store the file.

A webserver will read the last modified date for a file and set it in the header, e.g.

HTTP/1.0 200 OK
Date: Wed, 11 Jul 2001 20:09:26 GMT
Server: Apache/1.3.20 (Unix) PHP/4.0.5
Last-Modified: Wed, 11 Jul 2001 08:24:48 GMT
ETag: "ede-ed-3b4c0d50"
Accept-Ranges: bytes
Content-Type: text/html
Content-Length: 237

The ETag (usually a hashed key containing file size and modification time info) is unique to the particular version of the file being served. If the ETag changes, then the file has changed (this being checked in preference to the date).

But if I go on any longer, this'll probably end up a comms section article in the wrong place :)
  ^[ Log in to reply ]
 
Rob Kendrick Message #88829, posted at 22:17, 11/7/2001, in reply to message #88828
Unregistered user Actually, the E-Tag is only guarenteed (well, almost) to be different per entity (which is where the E comes from) rather than a revision of an entity. I also believe that Apache throws the inode numbers in to the mix, also. Zeus and Netscape don't add E-Tags by default, because there's no mathematically provable way of calculating unique ones, and therefor the possibility of serving the wrong version of a file arises.
  ^[ Log in to reply ]
 
Paul Biggs Message #88830, posted at 23:10, 11/7/2001, in reply to message #88829
Unregistered user Michael Stubbs
01:10, 11/7/2001 Microdigital don't like any sort of comments that aren't full of praise for them. Maybe if they delivered on their promises, they'd suffer less bad publicity.
-------------------------------------------
There is a difference between bad publicity and libel. This is surely obvious, you can easily make negative comments about MD without making claims that cannot be substantiated.

MDs attitude to comments is irrelevant to the point, libel is libel.Discussions should have a basis in fact then people can make an informed choice.
  ^[ Log in to reply ]
 
Paul Biggs Message #88831, posted at 23:17, 11/7/2001, in reply to message #88830
Unregistered user Gerph
01:37, 11/7/2001
.... Whilst I never saw the original posting, in my experience I would say that I believe Microdigital to have been quite litigous when anything has been said about them that isn't totally favourable. Such as, for example, reporting the truth about things. Or opinions.
--------------------------------------
How can they be litigous when people simply report the truth?
Do you have any evidence to back this up?

I have no problem whatsoever with people criticising MD, there are p[enty of grounds for doing so, but it must be done in a legal manner.
  ^[ Log in to reply ]
 
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Acorn Arcade forums: News and features: Quick bits #4