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I'm not dead!

I'm not dead. I've just been really busy. Here's a little peek at what I've been working on:
ARM code in Zap

In some senses, RISC OS is a little backward. There are some things that you think I can't believe this!. To give an idea, the command *Alphabet allows you to change the current alphabet. In other words, the interpretation of the characters in the range 128-255. For example, this is Latin1 (based on ISO 8859/1), broadly similar to Windows CP-1252:

RISC OS Latin1
And here is Latin4, a character set aimed more at Eastern Europe (I think?):
RISC OS Latin4
You can change this setting easily from the command line or a TaskWindow, and RISC OS will not inform you of the change! Why not? Is it not perhaps considered important to applications to know that if they use any high-set-set characters, they'll all come out wrong?
RISC OS is, slowly, looking to evolve into a UTF-8 capable OS, but so many things just 'assume' Latin1 - and I guess with this sort of thing, it is easy to see why.

My personal belief is that RISC OS with the functions currently present in RISC OS 5, could evolve into a system capable of running both UTF-8 and Latin1 side by side, application by application. The current firmware has a lot of the stuff necessary, it just needs to be tied together. Thus, applications that know of the extensions can use UTF-8, and older code (of which there is a lot) will fall back to Latin1. Some on newsgroups have suggested RISC OS make the transition to UTF-8 and be done with it. This would, however, mean anything not modified that uses high-bit-ASCII will turn out wrong. Given the fuss still happening for all-important legacy programs that aren't 32 bit safe (and probably never will be), you'd have thought some attention would be paid to not slamming the door on yet another load of software. Especially since UTF-8 and Latin1 can use the same interfaces - it isn't like the ANSI/Unicode setup in Windows there Unicode uses double-byte strings, thus has all API calls in duplicate!

That said, it is nice to be back coding on RISC OS, especially ARM code!


Vide grenier

It was a nice day so we went to a vide grenier in Ancenis. I bought a Playmobil figure and some Japanese postcards from a strange young man who mumbled in quickfire bursts of incomprehensibly rapid French.

Just as we were leaving, there was a young girl (about 10?) who sneezed. I mean an epic sneeze, she nearly fell over. Grabbing her brother's arm (he looked 12ish), she said a little too loudly "je fait pipi!". Showing lots of brotherly love, his reply was "pffft! tant pis!" as her took her hand and dragged her off to look at stuff. Yay for the insensitive wally!

  • Talking of insensitive wallies, what's with certain people in Toulouse holding marches etc in honour of the guy that was killed in a gunfight with police? Let's see, he killed three soldiers and calmly shot a man and some children at a hebrew school - yet this is something to honour? You're honouring a two-bit psycho terrorist? Seriously?
On the way back, I forget where, was another vide grenier. Held in the grounds of a school, and it was quite a nice looking place. It seemed that the de-mode fashion here was a short skirt or pinafore dress with tights. One or two you could put down to personal choice, but there were quite a number dressed like that. Though, I noted, no skirt-over-trousers. I guess that fashion got old as soon as Juno was released on DVD...

I picked up a Sony Mavica MVP-FD91 digital camera for five euros! Running at a massive 0.8 megapixels and writing to floppy disc (!!!), it was seriously old tech, yet for a mere fiver, I thought it would be worth a gamble to see if I could find something to do decent close-ups for my blog. I have been using both standard digital camera and/or mobile phone, and then cropping, but really, nothing quite does the job.

Microphone open button in bluetooth headsetNow, if I need a specific photo for my blog, it'll be a lot simpler to do. The photo on the right is of the little activation switch inside my bluetooth headset. I dropped that when putting it all back together, and it took forever to find!

It is odd using floppies again. The camera is quite quick at writing, though the images are 80-200KiB, images a little smaller than the ones we'd be used to from five megapixel cameras on phones. Armed with both automatic and programmable white balance, the colour reproduction is really rather nice. Here is an example taken looking towards the sun just after sunset. Normal digital camera results are... poor. Washed out colours, focus problems, and the like.
The Mavica, on the other hand, delivers. Sadly, very sadly, a mere 1024×768 for this would be very nice at today's resolutions. That said, you can certainly see the differences between mass market lenses and imagers as compared with something that was intended to be a little better than that.

Beautiful sunset


My uncle

The comments for the previous entry contained a message from my uncle, another Rick. Yes, for real. We've not been in touch with each other for something like eight years; perhaps due to having very different lives and an entire ocean separating us!


How NOT to run a mail order company?

It is with some dismay that my little order to the French offshoot of Marks & Spencer did not quite go as smoothly as it should. You see, there are some who get what on-line ordering is supposed to be about. Amazon generally does well. Satsuki aims to commit to sending out parcels the same day for orders placed before 1pm. These people know that on-line ordering should be simple, uncomplicated, and fast.

M&S, on the other hand...
I ordered two sandwich (cake) tins, a yorkshire pudding mould, an ergonomic spatula, and an acrylic pasta bowl. Nothing complicated. I placed my order on the 19th of March (Monday). It wasn't until Friday that I was informed that my order would be modified due to not having a spatula - and between times there was no response at all. My order was sent on the 24th (Saturday). There is a link to the M&S website for order information. Following this link shows you this:

Marks and Spencer offer working links

Once you have logged in, by order number and email address, you can obtain a link to their carrier to track shipment. Keeping up with the tradition of being ever so useful, following my shipment results in...:

Marks and Spencer offer working tracking references

I am hoping that it will show up soon, and that it is just an anomaly due to the parcel being dispatched from the UK. Either way, there's a little bit of scope for improvement here, especially when it comes to a problem with the order.
That said, it is good to see M&S looking to get back into the French market...


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Rick, 27th March 2012, 21:13
The tracking now works, I guess now that the parcel is on this side of the channel. Hmmm... Given it has been assigned a tracking number, wouldn't "United Kingdom" have been better than "Unknown parcel number"?

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