If you have
a question - send an email!
How do I read
You can read either the PDF version or the
To read the OvationPro versions,
simply unpack the file from the archive (we recommend
SparkFS) and double-click to load it into
To read Ovation (original)
versions, you will need to have the Ovation1 applet
installed (this should be installed as standard).
The OvationPro versions
(issues 20 onwards) contain JPEGs, so if you are using
OvationPro on an older (pre-RiscPC) machine, please ensure
that you have the JPEG compatible SpriteExtend loaded. This is
supplied as two modules, JPEGRender and
JPEGMsgs. You may experience difficulties
loading some issues into low-memory machines. 8Mb is a suggested
One of the more recent issues contains a few small PNGs. This
probably won't be visible on the many RISC OS machines.
Obviously PNG use will be kept for times when JPEG introduces too
many artefacts and the picture is too large for a high quality
setting. By way of example, the OPL Yes/No dialogue in issue 29 is a
JPEG at 100% quality. It is the sort of thing that could be
PNGed, however as it was small, the 100% JPEG didn't yield a big
file so JPEG was used.
If you get a message from OvationPro
(for issues 22 onwards) saying that the "Arial" font cannot be
located, simply instruct OvationPro
to substitute and then resave the file. This has crept in as a lot
of Windowsy things seem to 'default' to Arial. It is, therefore,
referenced in the file, but it is not actually used - and
can be safely ignored
You can read either the PDF version or the
To read the OvationPro versions,
simply unpack the file from the archive using something like
WinZip. Ensure the file extension is .dpd (for older versions)
and then double-click to load OvationPro for Windows with the
issue ready to be read.
Don't have OvationPro? Not a
If you go to the
OvationPro support site , look in the CD directory
listing for the "Main program", you will find - at the bottom of the
page - a read only version of OvationPro that may be
installed and used to read Frobnicate. Wherever possible, I
recommend the use of OvationPro (instead of the PDF
Earlier versions (1-19) are Ovation
(original) documents, so require the extension .opd
and not .dpd. Please note also that many of the older
versions are actually Spark archives (regardless of the
.zip extension) so you may need to extract them on a RISC OS
If you find certain diagrams or pictures are missing, that is probably because they are ArtWorks files, and as such they will not be rendered within Windows as there is no ArtWorks renderer system...
Additionally several fonts are unlikely to be present, simply instruct OvationPro to permanently substitute the
missing fonts, and go from there - though the documents may need
some tidying up before you can print them.
It appears that
some adventurous people are running OvationPro for
Windows under WINE. Don't ask me though, I do not
have this setup (my Linux v5.2 is running on a 66MHz
80486 so I guess WINE would be a bit too
OvationPro is only available for
RISC OS and Microsoft Windows at this time, so you will need to read
the PDF version. All issues since issue 20 are available in PDF
You can find out more about
OvationPro and SparkFS at:
How is the PDF
Issues 20 to
23 were generated under RISC OS 3.70. OvationPro printed to a
generic PostScript 2 device, the data of which is saved to disc.
Using ps2pdf and GhostScript 7.04, this is turned
into a PDF file.
It appears that the images are
downsampled, and some people have reported minor faults of text
alignment. Other than that, the document should pretty much resemble
the original; with the exception of the Sassoon font, which is very
similar to Comic Sans MS .
It's a useful font, but my version of GhostScript doesn't have it,
so it is inserted as a bitmap. Looks ugly
Issues 24 and 25 were generated under
Windows98SE using CutePDF and
Ghostscript 7.06... It appears (to me) to
have a strange idea of the scaling of a document, and occasional
text issues (italics too large, messed up alignment...), though in
its defence it created the PDF in just a few minutes
(on a 466MHz processor). :-)
Issues 26 onwards have been created
using the Office One PDF Manager (based upon the Amyuni
driver). This is supposed to support such things as variable
'quality' levels for images as well as making it a web-friendly PDF that
may be viewed as it is downloaded...only the driver seems to be very
quirky and fails completely when setting up these options... I persist
with it in default mode (non-download-friendly & high-quality) as the
output is, generally, not much larger than the CutePDF version and - in its benefit - it
doesn't mess up the text like CutePDF did!
Why do you create
is answered in the Editor's Notes of issue
more Frobnicate? You're kidding? What am I going to
Readership has been
dwindling, I have other commitments, and it actually takes quite a
bit of time to put together each issue. So with all of this in
mind, I feel that issue 30 is the time to draw a line under
Frobnicate. I am a bit sad about this decision, yes, but I
feel it is better to make a definitive decision once and for
As for the future? I may do another issue
in the future - perhaps when I'm 40 and lost and on my own (re.
Dido)? But if you can't wait to get your fix of the rubbish
I write <grin>
then there's always my
You're a total freak!
That's probably quite true, but that isn't a
Are YOU a Newbie?
Lose your cherry
and become a true Geek!
computers do you use?
RISC OS #1: Acorn RiscPC
700; ARM710, RISC OS 3.70, 32Mb RAM, 1Mb VRAM, 2Gb IDE and SCSI CD-R
4X, 10baseT ethernet.
RISC OS #2: Acorn A5000; ARM3, RISC OS 3.10, 4Mb RAM, 240Mb IDE,
10baseT ethernet, Econet.
Old PC: Acer TravelMate
514TXV (no backlight!); Celeron 466MHz, Windows 98SE, 64Mb RAM,
2.5Mb VRAM, about 4.5Gb IDE.
PC: Generic tower system; Pentium III 450MHz, Windows
XP, 128Mb RAM, 64Mb VRAM, about 76Gb IDE.
Much of one issue was written on an Acorn
A4 laptop; ARM3 at about 25MHz, 4Mb RAM, 640x480 mono LCD, and 80Mb
Also used, for writing articles "on the road" is
an Acorn PocketBook II (256Kb RAM, 128Kb SRAM SSD), using
PsiWin 2.33 to translate Psion Word files to RTF for
importing into OvationPro
There are not many DrawFiles in newer editions of
Frobnicate because I do not use my RiscPC to generate the
draw diagrams. Oh no, I use Archie on the PC. An exercise
in pain, perhaps? :-)
If anybody has an unwanted/unused copy of
OakDraw, please send it my way!
do I do if a DrawFile font error occurs?
happens in OvationPro for Windows if the font mapping is
incorrect. OvationPro can reflow the
text on-the-fly, but cannot (yet?) do this for DrawFile
Having said that, this problem shouldn't occur as I try
to use only Corpus, Homerton, Trinity, and Sassoon typefaces (aliased to Courier New, Arial, Times New
Roman, and Comic Sans MS
under the Windows version of OvationPro
There are two ways around this. The first, quit
OvationPro and then reload it. In the Misc
menu, click on Font manager and ensure it is set to
Map. Then try to reload the issue.
other way is more a bodge than a fix, but it is quick. The
OvationPro document appears to have 'vanished', but if you
look you'll see a set of menus on-screen. Press ^G
(or look to the Page menu for Goto
page), and tap in the number of the next page.
It'll appear. You can continue reading...
What should I do about
font/graphics errors in older issues?
There is nothing much you
can do really - the font errors will be because a specific RISC OS
font is referenced which has no equivalent under Windows (an example
would be MDA1 which would be like the VGA OEM font, only that isn't
a TrueType font so it cannot be used...). You could try altering the
font mapping to a 'similar' font, but your mileage may
As for graphics errors, the only problem you are likely to
encounter here is missing diagrams and logos. This is
because the diagram/logo in question is an ArtWorks drawing
- and there is no ArtWorks renderer available for Windows, thus
OvationPro cannot display the drawing!
happened to "The Wrap Party" in issue 23?
along with the Hacker diary, was a victim of space, or rather, lack
new issues are created to always be a multiple of 4 pages.
This allows you to make a 'pamphlet' version of Frobnicate,
which I refer to as "FrobLite"!
To do this,
open the printer options window and choose the Pamphlet
format. Ensure that you are printing
All pages, too.
To confirm the print is correct,
click on the Print setup option to expand the print
options window to its full size. The scale should
be 71%. This means that each page (A4 normally) will be printed to
A5 size, and the sideways option tells the system
to rotate the page. That is why a print to a virtual piece of paper
that is half the size results in a 71% scale and not 50%.
could be worthwhile clicking the Set button (not
Print!) at this point, and ensuring the print margins are all okay.
Then, reopen the print window and click
You're on your own now, but if you've never done this before,
ensure only one piece of paper is loaded in the printer.
Different printers accept the paper in different ways.
My preference (with the Lexmark) is to feed in a single sheet at a
time, and turn each sheet over and reinsert it with the blank side
up. With the DeskJet 540, the same is done only this time the
printed side is up as this printer turns the paper
Missed a sheet? Printed the same side twice? Don't
panic! You don't need horrible maths to work out what to do to
get the right pages to print. Oh no. D'you see that Print
sheet button? Click that and you can choose any of the
double-page spreads, front or back sides, and print them
What happened to the summer
need broadband access. The website (this!)
has to be updated, as well as uploading the OvationPro version
and the PDF version - the upload could easily run to six
megabytes. That isn't a lot, but if you are trying with a 28k8-56k
modem on noisy country phone lines, you can understand the process
could be rather time-consuming.
So I upload at the library, where
it takes maybe a minute or two?
Only... France pretty-much shuts
down for the summer, and this includes the library which takes on
weird and erratic hours (as opposed to the normal weird hours).
Therefore, the summer issue was abandoned - it's no good if it is
just sitting on my
For what it's worth, I did enjoy a nice glass or two (or
three...) of wine on the proper 10th anniversary. :-)
What fonts are
one exception (something like issue 6?), the following fonts are
The aliasing under
These have been chosen because RISC OS and Windows
always ship with the respective
Why doesn't this look correct in my
thing to consider is that this site "looks best" in Internet Explorer,
or something that offers very similar capabilities (Firefox,
Opera, etc). It is a sad fact that RISC OS browsers don't make the
grade these days, though things should be workable with
Fresco and Oregano, despite partial/broken support for the
The other, more
serious, reason for incorrect output is that this site was designed
using Micro Application's "Votre Site Web", which is
fundamentally broken in loads
of ways - this is discussed in issue
I've found something more screwed up than FrontPage!)
Will older issues be available as PDFs?
Issue #1 is available as a
There are no plans for other issues at the moment, but I'm sure
it'll happen eventually...
I have the original issue #1 file and it doesn't
look like your PDF, why?
Basically because in order
to get the layout and formatting exactly correct, I would have to
load it up on an Acorn machine. I did not have the inclination to
monitor-swap or whatever, so I loaded it under OvationPro for
Windows, and tidied up various aspects of the automatic
conversion. I don't recall if SwissB (like Arial) was used as the
body font. I figure it must have been as I have an alias for Paladin
(like Times) and it didn't appear as that... I have also made minor
tweaks to the sprite files while converting them to JPEG.
note also that a faithful conversion is not possible as I have no
"console" font (like the DOS character set). Certainly, Windows has
the "Terminal" font built in, but it is not a Truetype so
OvationPro doesn't want to know. If anybody knows a good
mono-spaced 'terminal' (DOS PC-ANSI) font that is a genuine
Truetype, please get in touch!
I sent you an email but you never replied, why?
You'll notice I'm giving out my more 'personal' email address (MerseyMail).
This is because several of you were emailing me at BushInternet and those
messages were never arriving, or were arriving in 'bits'.
Alternatively, if you have been sending messages to the HeyRick mailbox,
note that I now tend to bulk-delete it all without reading anything
as I tend to get hit for around 1,400 spams per week...life is too short to
be doing with that.
I've publicised the MerseyMail address for
more than two years now, so there's no excuse...
Use the Yahoo address that is on the site main page and all around my blog.
MerseyMail is dead.
I only have a short period on-line, but I do try to download
messages one week and send replies the next week. If for some reason I do not
get back to you, don't take this personally. My brain is about as useful as
an 8 inch floppy disc - so just send me the message again to remind me! :-)
I do read every message received.
Note - if the message is rejected, it may be because the mailbox is 'full'. It has
a quota. I stick with MerseyMail as it is free, reliable, and only has one advert
(for their own services, usually) even though the quota offered is tiny in
comparison to other providers. It isn't ideal, but it'll do for now. In this case,
please accept my apologies - but obviously I cannot control what people send me
when I'm not there to pick up mail. Please resubmit your message the following
Note that people who fail to read this, or simply don't use
any common sense, will be killfiled (that means all messages from
them will be automatically discarded). I will never see another email from that
person again. This is a very cruel thing to do - so I reserve it for people who do
extremely dumb-ass things like sending me a 1Mb PowerPoint and following it up
every following day with another copy and a note attached saying 'did you
get...'? Such people, in my opinion, don't deserve to be let loose on the Internet;
it is the equivalent of driving through a town at 90mph on the wrong side of the
Over to you...
If you have a question - don't hesitate to ask!
merseymail -dot- com