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Midlands User Group (MUG), fifth meeting, 16th September 2006

Venue - Methodist Church Hall, Blackwell, Bromsgrove B60 1BL


As is now usual, we assembled (gradually) at the Methodist Church Hall, Blackwell, Bromsgrove, having aimed at a 2.00 pm start. John Rickman arrived early with his A9Home, sundry cables and, importantly, a magnificent projector.

The subject of the meeting was "My Essential PD Software". At around 2.25 ten people had turned up so we began in an informal way, with John showing us a very impressive list of software, both PD and commercial, that he had graded by its value to him.

At the end of the meeting John said that the URLs for all software discussed would be posted to the MUG site, so they are not given here.

He began with MoreDesk, a commercial product from 7th Software, which provides as many seperate desktops as one wished, in whatever colour one desires for easy identification, which he used to give structured access to specific types of software or activity. His No1 PD choice by far was StrongEd, which is vital to his RISC OS life. His demo gave rise to interesting questions which helped to convince me at least of the great power of the product. John's comprehensive software list was to prove useful to other contributors to the session. His No2 was Netsurf, which he rates as the best existing browser, I think on any platform! Demo was not possible - no link to the Web. He also liked SiteMatch, which he uses to track changes to three websites that he looks after.

Mark Rowan had brought along a USB cardreader together with software favorites sitting safely inside it on a card. After some fiddling around with the "OtherDevs" file from !MassFS the A9 recognized the card reader as four separate devices but was unable to read any data from any of them! However, John's camera came to the rescue, because it was able to accept Mark's card. Mark showed "Mouse Access" which greatly enhanced the capabilities of the mouse. Everyone (I think) was persuaded that this was a "good thing". !Variations was then shown. Clearly a very powerful picture editor, with some (to me) quite amazing capabilities. He then showed SpamStamp, which has the great advantage of learning through a conducted teaching process how to distinguish an individual's real email (ham) from unwanted and unsolicited stuff (spam). This has proved very successful indeed for Mark.

Doug Webb showed us an A310 emulator, which was indeed amazing. It seemed to be able to mimic several Arm machines, and to provide links from these virtual devices to the current real RISC OS machines. He was hoping to demonstrate KinoAmp - though USB card incompatability prevented this. He was also keen on PrintPDF (which needs to have Ghostscript in place) for generating Postscript-printable files (which should be platform independent I believe). He also briefly mention RDPClient, which is mixed platform network orientated.

Chris Dale showed Locate in action. This product is fairly well known, and it turned out that the Group had some collective experience which touched on parts of it that Chris himself had not reached! A simple application, "Converter", eased the arithmetic generated by different systems of units, but is not alone in this capability, it seems eg "Metric".

Ron Briscoe briefly mentioned "Cationic" - I think, tho' I've no notes on what that one does - sorry!

Our next meeting is on 18th November, same time, same place, and with a rather vague subject aimed at MUG helping with the Midlands Show that is taking place the following Saturday.

Everyone contributed £2, intended to cover the cost of hiring the hall (£18 for three hours, which in fact we exceeded I fear, and refreshments (provided by Robin). Cheque for £18 will be handed to the hall official when the keys are returned. I hope he does not ask for more!

I enjoyed this meeting a lot, and I'm sure we all did.

Robin Edwards