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Acorn Arcade forums: News and features: RISC OS interview with Richard Keefe
 

RISC OS interview with Richard Keefe

Posted by Mark Stephens on 07:22, 24/12/2017 |
 
As an early Christmas present, we bring you an interview with Richard Keefe who tests us all about his plans for Impression as well as how he got into RISC OS and his programming experiences.
 
Would you like to introduce yourself?
Born in 1972 the eldest of three Brothers [middle Philip died in car crash 2012], Mother Physics Teacher [died 2010], Father Electronic Engineer. Attended Presentation College Reading [same school as Michael Bond of Paddington fame], 15 GCSE/O-Levels, 4 A-levels. Graduated from Reading University with a degree in "Cybernetics & Control Engineering with Subsidiary Maths" in 1993. Joined Paknet [division of Vodafone] in May 1994 where I write embedded real-time software for ARM based processor of the Radio-Pad [currently version 15, version 1 [(embedded x86 based) was released February 1990] and Solaris & Linux based IN's (Intelligent Nodes) to provide control. [Details: http://paknet.vodafone.net the world's first Radio X25 network] Married my lovely wife in 2008, I am the father of two beautiful and mischievous daughters aged 3 & 7. At the age of 4 - I got lightbulbs, batteries, wires and switches for Christmas, at the age of 5 got a soldering Iron, and at the age of 6 got an 8085 kit of parts for my birthday like [http://www.glitchwrks.com/images/8085/sdk85/original.jpg] but mine was fuller and put it together - 8085 assembling was done by hand in a special book provided. First high level language was BASIC on a Tandy TRS80 MKI [still got], migrated to BBC B, then Archimedes.
 
How long have you been using RISC OS?
- I got my first ARM based machine in December 1987 - an Acorn A310M [with PC emulator] with Arthur 1.2 and upgraded to RISC OS 2 as soon as it became available. First came across Impression as Version 0.90 in 1990, and Artworks as 0.8x in 1991 - as my flatmate was an Artworks trialist.
 
What other systems do you use?
- In my work I use Windows 7, Solaris 9 & 10, and Linux (Various) laptops/desktops/servers
- In my embedded work I use LPC43S67 [M0 & M4], AT91SAM7S [ARM7], AT91SAM7XC512 [ARM7] & ATSAMS70 [M7] based systems running either "bare metal" or "Segger EmbOS" with IAR EWARM compiler
- At home I use Windows XP, 7, Solaris 10, and Ubuntu in addition to RISC OS
- Occasionally I use my BBC Master - With Z80/6502/32016/80186 co-processors - but I'm a bit short of space & time so it's very rare.
What is your current RISC OS setup?
- My main Machines are Iyonix no 2, Windows 7 VRPC, and iMX6
- Still in progress is my Titanium (To Replace the Iyonix sort of but no floppy) - It's in an Iyonix classic Case - but I will still need the Iyonix as its my only modern floppy machine
- As well as these here is my working RISCOS Machine History in order of Purchase, still got all of it in my study & loft:
Archimedes A310M
Archimedes A440/1 - 40Mb - then 21Mb Floptical, then 230Mb MO - Upgraded to ARM 3 25MHz from ARM 2 [1991]
Acorn A4 laptop [battery & disk failed - have replacements need more time]
Risc PC 600 -> UG 700 -> UG StrongARM 200 [failed HDD have replacement] - my brother Philip and I can be seen on one of the Acorn Replay CD's at the RISC PC launch Marble Arch London
Iyonix no1 [Failed motherboard] waited until Aemulor was released before buying
Iyonix no2 [partially failed so DMA disabled]
Panda Board [currently Backup machine for RISC OS Shows)
RiscPC no2 Kinetic [only single height one]
RiscPC no3 StrongARM 233 [Videodesk set-up]
RiscPC no4 700 Hydra [would love to get this working with StrongARMs] + Spare PCB [4x ARM 610s]
Raspberry Pi B - My eldest daughter (7) uses RISC OS on this
A9Home
Iyonix no3 & 4 [in case no2 fails completely]
iMX6 [ARMX6]
Pi Zeros
Titanium Board [have disks & board in Iyonix classic case - wiring incomplete needs about 4hrs to complete]
I also have a complete with EPROMS but without driver software an "Acorn PC ARM 1 Co-Processor"
I also have several of the boards for an A540 [inc CPU & RAM] - but machines even broken sell for too much on ebay for my budget.
 
What do you think of the retro scene?
I do find it interesting - I'd like to spend more time looking at the changes and reading info on it
 
Do you attend any of the shows and what do you think of them?
When Acorn world was in London my brother Philip and I attended every year - were seen on TV one year when Blue Peter covered it but no Blue-Peter badge(s) :-(
I attend the London & Wakefield Show as a Stall holder [but the distance of Wakefield makes the economics touch and go].
I attend the South-West Show as a punter - as I haven't usually had enough time after Christmas to make a new Release.
 
What do you use RISC OS for in 2017 and what do you like most about it?
Apart from developing Impression-X of course.
I use Impression to Produce Posters / Letters / Publicity Information for Me / Impression-X & Reading University SciFi Society [SWAGA]
I use Draw Plus & Artworks for various drawings / tables etc to go inside my Impression objects.
 
What is your favourite feature/killer program in RISC OS?
Impression with 2nd Artworks and 3rd Draw+
 
What would you most like to see in RISC OS in the future?
Multi-Processor Support & Floppy Disk Hardware for a modern platform
 
Favourite (vaguely RISC OS-related) moan?
- I'd love a definitive list of all the software / hardware / games etc ever produced with pictures
- with a backup of all the eproms / firmware / gals etc
 
Can you tell us about what you are working on in the RISC OS market at the moment?
Impression-X of course as well as more 32bit work & bug fixes:
- Complete Jpeg support (inc Draw Files)
- Ensure all Draw objects render correctly
- Fix colour issues in some Artworks colour types
- Enhance postscript printing (Duplex, Security, Sprite 24bpp rendering even in old PS2 drivers)
- Enhance printing generally to support full 24bit rendering
- Optionally modify rendering so that documentation renders correctly (contains unknown sprite modes)
- Produce pdf documentation for all parts
- Incorporate all 5.13 bug fixes ~300 more to do
- Fully support new (2.xx) artworks rendering interface [currently does not support all the enhancements]
 
Looking further out:
- PNG,TIFF,GIF, PhotoCD graphics formats support
- update/add/enhance MS Doc & docx load & save support
- Update the dictionary with up-to-date wordlist(s) as well as 32bit
- Produce printed documentation
- Titanium colour support
- Zero page protection check & fix
 
Apart from iconbar (obviously) what are your favourite websites?
www.google.co.uk, www.ebay.co.uk, chrisacorns.computinghistory.org.uk, https://www.riscosopen.org/, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Main_Page, www.stardot.org.uk, http://8bs.com/aumags.htm
 
What are your interests beyond RISC OS?
I'm the Publicity Officer for Reading University Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Society, a position I have held for almost 25 years.
Photography & Photoshop ... I've always got a camera or two about my person and take ~10000 20+ megapixel photo's per year
Postcards ... I collect photographic postcards of Newbury, Thatcham and Reading University & surrounding roads mostly pre 1950's, but some are as new as the 80's, 80% pre 20's
Also I collect Acorn/riscos/BBC software and hardware from a few sections: : (I could produce a list if it's of interest)
I've got all the BBC Wedges apart from a 286, an A500 & an ARM1 and none of the 68000 based ones
Anything ARM Related - I've got most machines I want except an A540, a RISC PC 600 (not 610) cpu, Duo cpu, a RISC PC 800 cpu, Omega and a Phoebe of course
My STB's are missing some of the boards
Anything CC related:
I've got most of their BBC ROMS (don't have any of the Archimedes version) and none of their games
I've got most of their RISC OS Software
CC or WildVision podules - I'm Missing the FaxPack, ColourCard [1&G], Full width V9, V10, V12 & the scanner HCCS micro podule [but don't have a full list]
Archimedian Magazine (I have all but issue 1 - have a scan)
All SCSI, Audio & Video Podules - I've about 30 different ones I think [it might be 50 if add them up]
I'm also always on the lookout for the Noah Satellite podule and software
I also collect all RISC OS fonts I can find - one thing I am after is an EFF CD2 - if anyone has a spare one
All DTP software and documentation (mainly to see if there are any features I should add)
The other thing I'm always on the lookout for is there was an A6 flatbed scanner and podule I think made by sharp, that you placed on the object, don't know what it was called or who made it.
 
As an early Christmas present for you, we have a real treat as Richard Keefe tells us about his progamming adventures and his plans for Impression.
 
If someone hired you for a month to develop RISC OS software, what would you create?
If it was HW too - I'd produce a USB to [Floppy / Podule connector] not sure month is enough though / otherwise I'd 32bit one of the other CC apps [probably compression] / I'd make big strides in one of big Impression-X enhancements
 
Any future plans or ideas you can share with us?
As far as future plans go Impression is not the only CC product I have the sources for so I would love to fix some of the others (once Impression is complete ...)
 
What would you most like Father Christmas to bring you as a present?
The missing Impression-X Source-code
eg Hyperview, Tablemate, Equazor
 
Any questions we forgot to ask you?
I'm sure there are!
 
I'd like to ask - what features (apart from 32bit) would users most like adding to Impression-X.
 
  RISC OS interview with Richard Keefe
  svrsig (15:56 13/1/2018)
  svrsig (09:30 7/2/2018)
    jimnagel (18:06 6/3/2018)
 
Chris Hall Message #124237, posted by svrsig at 15:56, 13/1/2018
Member
Posts: 23
One feature I would like is for Impression-X to be able to create files that can be read in by !Publisher (4.13) as well as !Publisher+ (5.13) without having the fudge the byte at offset 009 hex.

That way Impression-X files can be read by people (like the editor of WROCC) who have 4.13 but have not stepped up to Impression-X yet.

I should also like to help with the manual, I have rescanned all of the images for chapter 1 so that they show Impression-X rather than 5.13.

With regard to the '(contains unknown sprite modes)' issue, if you load the relevant Impression file, ignore the fact that you can't see the images, save as directory format that will allow each separate image can be examined in turn. Each will be a draw file with embedded sprite(s). The fact that these sprites have an unknown mode number corresponding to a particular grey scale mode and resolution is what makes them 'unknown mode'. It should be possible to write a simple programme that will change the embedded mode number to one that is recognised that just happens to be a different resolution but the same colour space - for example mode 28 with a grey scale pallette. Then they'll render correctly.

[Edited by svrsig at 04:02, 14/1/2018]

[Edited by svrsig at 04:07, 14/1/2018]
  ^[ Log in to reply ]
 
Chris Hall Message #124248, posted by svrsig at 09:30, 7/2/2018, in reply to message #124237
Member
Posts: 23
Another feature I would like is if Impression-X could remember the leafname of a graphics file in a graphics frame. For example to show the name if you hover over the graphic, or use it in place of 'Story3' in the application save method.
  ^[ Log in to reply ]
 
Jim Nagel Message #124261, posted by jimnagel at 18:06, 6/3/2018, in reply to message #124248
Member
Posts: 7
I agree about remembering the leafname of a graphic -- have often wished for that. Related wish:
* when saving a textstory, the DDF should include a tag to represent an embedded graphic, ideally showing the abovementioned leafname.

I prefer the original pseudoapplication format for saving an Impression document of any complexity, because it distinguishes the various components, unlike the impenetrable single-document format. In my wishlist, that would be taken further, and the !Docdata file would be less impenetrable; the pseudoapp would have discrete files for (e.g.):
* Style definitions
* the order of chapters within the document.
  ^[ Log in to reply ]
 

Acorn Arcade forums: News and features: RISC OS interview with Richard Keefe