We continue with our series of interviews with people in the RISC OS world. In this interview, we catch-up with Elesar’s Rob Sprowson.
If you have any other questions, feel free to join in the discussion.
If you would have any suggestions for people you would like us to interview, or would like to be interviewed, just let us know….
Would you like to introduce yourself?
Could-have-been basketball player, still not tall enough.
How long have you been using RISC OS?
That’s patchy: starting with an Acorn Electron which my sister and I eventually broke through overuse, then a big gap until picking up a 2nd hand BBC Micro from the local newspaper in the mid 1990’s, then in parallel RISC OS from 1997ish would make either 33 or 19 years depending on which you count.
Oh dear, now I can’t claim I’m 21 any more either.
What other systems do you use?
Mostly Windows because of the specialist CAD software and other electronics design tools I need to use daily. I have some VMs saved with Linux and FreeBSD but they’re mostly for testing things or recompiling NetSurf, I don’t really know what I’m doing but as they’re VMs it doesn’t matter too much if I destroy something through careless typing.
What is your current RISC OS setup?
Singular? Nothing’s that simple. For email I use a Risc PC (well, more specifically my monitors are stacked vertically and I’m too lazy to remove the Risc PC holding the whole pile up – those cases are built like brick bunkers).
For development, a Titanium of course, it’s nice to do an experimental OS rebuild in 1 minute or less as I don’t like tea and have trouble finding other things to do that take the ‘time it takes to boil a kettle’.
Then there are piles and cupboards and boxes of other things of other vintages which get dragged out for compatibility testing, erm, more than 15 if you include Raspberry Pi’s though some of them are on loan rather than machines I myself own.
Do you attend any of the shows and what do you think of them?
This year I got wheeled out on behalf of ROOL for Wakefield and the South West show. Shows are great to hear what normal users think and what they can’t do but would like to, being too deeply buried in the inner workings of something makes it very difficult to see that.
Some of the shows could be freshened up a bit rather than repeating the ‘tables & chairs’ format every year, to attract a larger audience – the show organisers should visit similar trade shows or enthusiast conventions to steal ideas to improve the presentation of RISC OS ones.
What do you use RISC OS for in 2016 and what do you like most about it?
I like that the OS doesn’t get in my way. If I want to save something in the root directory of my harddisc there’s no patronising error box popping up asking me to confirm that. I used to work with someone who had a book on usability called "Don’t make me think", and that seems a good mantra to work by.
What would you most like to see in RISC OS in the future?
The bounty scheme that ROOL runs seems to have a good selection of sensible "big ticket" items in, so I’d go with that since Ben/Steve/Andrew know their onions.
Reasonably frequently someone will ask on their forum "is feature X available" when there’s a bounty for X already open, but you never see the total going up so I guess they’re a source of hot air rather than stumping up just a tenner to help make something happen. The world runs on these shiny money tokens in our pockets, so people shouldn’t get too upset if you ask someone to do something for nothing and nothing happens.
Can you tell us about what you are working on in the RISC OS market at the moment?
There are a couple of CloudFS enhancements in the immediate pipeline, but it
tends to get busy at Elesar which is distracting, because some of the
protocols to talk to the servers are eye wateringly complicated and you
really need to be ‘in the zone’ to work on them.
Any surprises you can’t or dates to tease us with?
There are 3 hardware projects and 3 software projects on RISC OS side of the Elesar hob. I tend to come up with ideas faster than they can be implemented, so sometimes things get culled because they’re superceded or because during the derisking stage it becomes apparent that by the time they’re finished they’d no longer be commercially viable.
Apart from iconbar (obviously) what are your favourite websites?
Santa Claus is a regular iconbar reader. Any not-so-subtle hints you would like to drop him for presents this year (assuming you have been very good)?
A time machine, and a whole cod, to go back in time and slap some people with. You know who you are…I’m coming for you.
Do you have any New Year’s Resolutions for 2017?
No, I don’t believe in that mumbo jumbo. Only humans attach significance to January 1st; we’re just orbiting the sun same as the previous day.
Any questions we forgot to ask you?
How many mouse buttons I’ve worn out? 2 I think, but fortunately the micro switches are easy to replace and good for another 1 million clicks!