News And The Internet

By Dave E

Originally published in EUG #70


There's suddenly an alternative to the error-prone Omniflop or the dated FDC to satisfy all of us who wish to bring the internet's wealth of disc images back to an actual Beeb or Electron. It's called Ramagic! and is produced and manufactured by one Martin Barr (E-mail:

Although we haven't used this particular addon ourselves, the Stairway to Hell forums are abuzz with praise regarding the simplicity of using Ramagic! to seamlessly transfer disc images from the internet to a floppy disc and a very helpful video showing the utility in action is available on YouTube.

As floppy disc drives on modern PCs have become a thing of the past, you are going to either have to drag that old PC down out of the attic or invest in a USB 3.5" floppy disc drive before you begin, but essentially the four step process involves:

  1. downloading a disc image to a 3.5" PC floppy disc
  2. physically moving that 3.5" PC floppy disc to a double disc drive connected to a BBC with a 1770 Disc System
  3. putting a blank formatted disc in the other drive, and
  4. issuing the command:
    *DOSDFS <destination>
    to extract the image and write it to the blank disc as a working disc.

In addition, you get 21 new OS commands and the date and time helpfully displayed at the top of your Beeb screen.

Ramagic! does not currently have its own web site, but is occasionally offered via eBay. Write to Martin direct on the e-mail address above to order your copy.

End Of The Stairway

Truly heralding the end of an era, Dave M has announced as of April 2010 his intention to shortly close down bastion of BBC Micro gaming Stairway To Hell. The site will be transferred, forum posts et al - with major improvements apparently also taking place en route - to a new home at

Whilst our mouths are watering at the process of an improved site, we can only hope that Dave M retains in all of the features that made StH such a pleasant browsing experience - the regular html of StH with its artistic fires, cover art archives, screenshot archives and game help sections, is in very stark contrast to the web designs of his sister sites at and even Wikipedia-style In fact, we would go so far as to say the Acorn Preservation Project's text-only interface has more of the feel of a clean hospital ward than a haven of retro-gaming pleasure.

The new site at the moment is extremely sparse. With a day not complete without at least one visit to StH, let's hope it won't be vanishing any time soon!

It's Like Christmas Came Early!

In EUG #69 we reported on the decision to start selling a DVD of Acorn Electron World. Sixteen months later and the DVD continues to sell well and has been joined by a glut of others, largely in reponse to Dave E's arranged marriage to an industrial scanner. In our humble opinion the original DVD remains the best. However, if you've ever wanted to rid your house of old 8-bit magazines, our endeavours mean you can now get your grubby hands on entire DVD sets of Acorn-related goodies for your PC. And, if you then transfer them to your laptop, you can carry them with you wherever you go.

At time of writing, sets of A&B Computing (£17.50), Acorn User (£19.95), Let's Compute! (£7.95), The Micro User (£17.50), Acorn Computing (£12.95) and Acorn Electron World: The Books (£12.95) have all been completed - and we're assured an Input DVD will shortly be released, also at £7.95. Although all pages from each magazine can simply be viewed on each individual DVDs in their own right, they can also be copied from them to a hard drive, where they fit together to create some 70Gb worth of information - so best make sure that memory's nice and big before you start!

A New Electron Game In The None-Too-Distant Future?

No, not Repton The Lost Realms which remains in production despite two years of preparation and tidying up and not Weird Dreams which must be well into its third year of the same. Work has begun on an all new arcade adventure Treasure Island, a conversion of a Commodore Plus/4 title with colourful Mode 2 graphics and which author Paul Davis promises will include some extra features not seen in the original.

At its heart, it seems to be a simple maze game with a race element. You play Jim Hawkins and navigate through the maze, find Long John Silver's treasure then make it back out before he catches you. There's a number of pirates to beat up on the way.

A development diary of Paul's progress so far is currently hosted on Retro Software's site, along with some appetising-looking screenshots. There does seem to be quite a noticeable difference between the version being developed for the BBC (pictured) and the one for the Electron, presumably due to the lack of memory available to him in Mode 2. Drop by and offer him a few words of encouragement and we may see this released in time for a review in EUG #71!