Uncertain Future

By Chris Dewhurst

Originally published in EUG #60

I see from the 8BS website you've been busy typing in programs from A&B Computing - so I hope you're not slacking on EUG!

Another great magazine in EUG #59 (It's always a delight to receive!) but something I forgot to mention was the 'sexy' clipart in EUG #58. I actually deleted that file from my own copy - no more pictures like this please! Actually, I get the impression EUG #58 was put together a little hurriedly, perhaps due to your announcement in the NEWS column. Even for all that, it was brill. But I suppose I've lost some enthusiasm now the EUG closedown has been announced.

I have communicated with a few other readers regarding this. Alan Richardson (in New Zealand) suggests readers themselves could do the 'donkey work' - like checking whether programs run on both the BBC and the Electron, compiling the menu and printing labels (although there haven't been any labels on the previous five or so discs I've received!) - leaving you free just to be the main contributor and/or oversee the final product.

I for one would be more than willing to help. John Crane also replied with a few suggestions. Here's the relevant part of his letter:

"As for EUG, I'm not too sure myself how sustainable it is now. Perhaps just about everything that can be said has been said. I'm not sure how much use I can really be as I do not have an Electron set up to test things on. I always read EUG discs via emulation (!65Host) and write to EUG via my RISC OS implementation of View. I did start writing a column for EUG when Gus Donnachaidh was in charge but nobody ever replied to the subjects I raised, so it more or less fizzled out.

"However if the likes of yourself and others wanted to get stuck in there might be some mileage in diversifying a bit to expand readership into other areas. For example, producing a largely ASCII text-based mag on HD Disks. These could be DOS Formatted (1.44MB) with programs made into image files for use with Beeb emulators on the dreaded Windoze Platform and ADFS 1.6MB formatted (DSDD 800k(E) versions as well perperhaps) for Acorn/RISC OS users.

"The Acorn/RISC OS version could be similar to the product we know and love, with users accessing the disc via emulation. The only snag I can see is that !65Host is no longer shipped with more up to date RISC OS machines and it is not PD so could not be included on the discs, unless permission could be got from E13, PACE or RISC OS Ltd. or whoever actually owns the copyright these days. If this could be done I have the necessary patches to enable it to work on a RISC OS 3.7PC with Strongarm which are PD. Not sure what the situation is for RO4 though. Perhaps a deal could be struck with WSS to sell discounted versions of !6502Em. Perhaps it may encourage them to improve its speed for lower spec machines!!"

Not sure about that. I've had so much trouble with my copy of !6502Em I am still using !65Host. But it's no trouble to load up for running EUG programs. !65Host can be downloaded from The BBC Lives website so owners of the "more up to date RISC OS machines" could do that. Incidentally, could you pass on my thanks to John via EUG. He gave me a copy of the PD desktop implementation of View, which I am using at the moment.

You will find a selection of goodies on this disc which comes from me, all with full documentation. I've a couple more projects in the pipeline too although I don't know if they will see the light of day before the prophesised end of EUG. Give me something to work for though and I'll finish them!

Chris Dewhurst

As those who check the 8BS website regularly will know, the A&B section is now almost fully complete with 'companion discs' of the type-ins that appeared in this Eighties' paper-based magazine. EUGs #0 to #44 are also only a few mouse-clicks away (in both ADFS and DFS formats). The time spent on producing the 'new' EUG magazine is generally the same though; it's simply fitted around the (re)generation of archive material.

There was some agonising before the countdown to closure in EUG #58 was declared in case the reaction to it was "Well, it's closing now so there's no point in me preparing anything for it." All I can counter any such losses of enthusiasm with is that there are many more things worth saying and doing. We're (in the sense of you and I (and, to a lesser extent, some others)) doing them. But we're confined to our own areas and the apathy surrounding EUG's termination shows we're not appreciated.

The future of EUG after #62 is extremely uncertain. Alan Richardson's suggestion simply would not work in the current climate. If people can't be persuaded to write even short letters, emails or programs for EUG now, then they will not write them period. John Crane's idea of using Archimedes and PCs to view a new EUG consisting of programs and text diversifying into other areas bewilders me a little, although that is not to say that it couldn't work. The trouble with it is that the contributions will probably still be lacking and it could result in media which couldn't actually be played on the original BBC machines; especially the Electron with all of the worries associated with its &1D00 ADFS disc system. Wouldn't it be more of a tragedy for an Electron User Group to find itself creating emulated programs somewhere between a high level PC language and an emulated BBC variant that no longer worked on an Electron than for us to call it a day now?

Perhaps a simple email newsgroup might be less complicated? Programs and ASCII instruction articles/texts can always be attached to emails and posted to a newsgroup server. Anyone interested could then download them and review them/test out their compatibility on the original machines. Possibly the most simple solution...but would it last the year, I think not.

Dave E, EUG #60