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Archive magazine and DVD

Once upon a time, the RISC OS market had a number of regular magazines available. Acorn User, The Micro User, Archimedes World, <cough>Frobnicate</cough>, RISC User (formerly Beebug), and - of course - Archive.
The first three were available from newsagents, the latter two were subscription based, and the one in the middle we'll just gloss over. ☺

One of them is still around today, and not only that, is still created entirely on RISC OS (using Impression-X and ArtWorks). With a seriously long history (started in 1987), I can only be speaking of Archive magazine.


Jim Nagel, the editor, sent me a copy of the April 2018 issue along with the Archive DVD to test and review. [images of both] Now the interesting thing here is that many of the new generation of RISC OS machine do not have support for optical media. And the machine that does, my RiscPC, is incapable of reading DVDs. So my testing will be performed using two methods. The first is to see how well it behaves on a PC (running Windows XP), and then to see how it behaves when sharing the device with my Pi using OmniClient. Since the magazine back issues are supplied on the DVD in PDF format, I will also see how they fare on iOS and Android (Adobe Reader, in both cases).

But, first, this: [rick redeems riscos]


The magazine

The magazine is A4 folded in half to be A5 size. It's a pleasing size, big enough without being cumbersome (was it The Micro User that switched to some silly big size?). Of note is the printers have finished it off nicely. If you hold it flat, the right hand side is straight, not bulging towards the centre. It's little touches like that which give the magazine a professional feel.
The outer page is printed in colour on both sides, with the interior being monochrome. The inside pages are a different type of paper, matt white, for increased contrast. The body text is 9½ point Plantin and the dual column format provides a comfortable seven or so words per line (depends on the words, obviously!) with 45 lines per page. Another nice touch, the left and right text columns still line up, line by line across the page, after a heading. The printing is high resolution. With my glasses off, I can see halftoning in the grey highlight boxes, but no obvious pixels in the text. This, together with the higher contrast paper, make for an easy read.
Page numbers are obvious, the tops of the pages carry on the section title, and sections are offset clearly. The main part of the front page is an index to allow for more content inside. It's all very nicely laid out.
If I had to make criticisms, I would raise two issues:
  • The persistent use of "RiscOS" even though the rest of the world has moved on to writing "RISC OS" (and, yes, I know the sources say "RiscOS", because that's what Acorn called it until they changed their minds, just like the 'A' in ARM once meant "Acorn"!). It seems a little archaic.
  • The printing of the photos is a bit "heavy". Consider the two ROOL guys on page 17 (that look like they're working in a power cut), or the GPS doodah on page 25 where the print heaviness has lost some of the detail. That said, from my time creating Frobnicate, I'm quite aware that what one sees on screen is never ever going to look like what finally turns up on paper. It's a minor quibble, but for the purposes of review I thought I'd raise the point.




With 1.1GB of data, the DVD offers Impression documents from volumes 4 to 22, and PDF versions as of volume 21. There are also textual versions. The last issue on this DVD is the end of volume 22, February 2011. It loads just fine the PDF reader.


With the DVD shared as "ARCHIVE", it was a doddle to tell ES File Explorer to connect to "kuroneko.home/archive" (my PC is called Kuroneko). I could have used Scan to find it, but since I know the name... Go through the files to find the PDF, tap it, it'll ask what to load it into. It works great and offers the magazine in full colour.


Using RasyFTP Pro, it started off simpler - tap on "SMB File Sharing" and it searched for and listed the servers, then the shares. Getting to the PDF was a matter of tapping each thing as it appeared.
Then it got a little harder due to iOS's closed world and reluctance to have stuff interact. I needed to select the PDF, download it, find it in the file list (private to the app), then "Open in..." and choose Adobe Reader. This is not a fault of Archive, just one of those times when Apple's world view makes a simple thing harder.
Once you have it, it looks just as it does on Android or the PC.


Yuck. Omni/LanMan rarely does logical things without threats of physical violence. So, I mount the LAN Manager server with the name "ARCHIVE", the server "KURONEKO" (it uses NetBEUI so no ".home" suffix), and the directory path "ARCHIVE". After thinking for a while, it actually opens up the contents of the DVD. Wow. Must be my lucky day!

I was quite surprised that the Impression TransLoader actually coped with these Impression documents. Of the ones I tried, it didn't touch the images and probably mucked up some of the formatting, but it did create a readable result in OvationPro - which is more than I usually get when dealing with Impression files. Maybe some time in the future the back catalogue could be converted to PDF for "read everywhere" ability? It's something I had to do with Frobnicate too, for the rest of the world doesn't 'do' Ovation(Pro) files. At any rate, I tried the last issue of volume 22, issue 6 of volume 19, and issue 5 of volume 4. Volume 19 had some pictures, and volumes 4 to 6 didn't open at all (complained that the file was too old).




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