Ten years ago this week, I wrote How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Leave RISC OS
for The Iconbar. To mark the occasion, I thought it might be worth revisiting it. After all, surely plenty has changed over the past ten years?
And it has. Luckily, the days of Castle
versus RISCOS Ltd
have long gone. These days, it's all about... erm, RISC OS Open
versus 3QD Developments Ltd
. And RISC OS is still - still
- forked. Do you hear the sound coming out of my mouth? I am laughing at you, RISC OS. I am laughing at your utter, utter uselessness. 10 years, and you haven't sorted out the forked OS issue? There must be a word that isn't "pathetic" which I could use, but I just can't think of it at the moment.
Still, I am by my own admission entirely an outsider when it comes to the RISC OS scene these days. I've kept up with very few of the developments, and certainly not in-depth. But it's perhaps worth noting which outfit seems
to be doing more. RISC OS Open has a news page
which has updated seven times this year, and an active, publicly-viewable CVS repository
. 3QD have updated just twice over the past year
, and both updates were on backward-looking products: VirtualAcorn, and, erm, a load of old APDL hardware.
Or, if we're going to judge merely on websites: RISC OS Open's is clean and thoughtful. 3QD thinks that putting thick outlines all over your company address is a good idea... and what that large grey graphic is doing is anyone's guess. Fair? Yes, I do actually think judging an organisation on how they choose to present themselves to the world is fair - and very often gives you a good insight into how an organisation works.
Despite the above, I genuinely have no side in the forked OS debate. I'm merely talking about how each organisation presents itself to the outside observer. RISC OS Open looks pretty good; a few more news updates would be good, but it's fine. 3QD, to borrow an old Steve Jobs quote, has no taste
Still, let's look beyond the forked OS issue. The second part of my original article lurches (rather inelegantly, it has to be said) into the real
reason why I left RISC OS. I can put that reason rather more simply these days: I use my computer to do work, and RISC OS can't do the work I need to do any more. That isn't a judgement on people who still use the platform to get real work done: I'm delighted it works for you. But for me, that ship has long sailed. Nothing that's happened in the last 10 years has changed that.
So for me, RISC OS's only remaining interest would be as a hobbyist OS. In other circumstances, maybe I'd still be interested in that... but other parts of my life took over. I have no time for a hobbyist OS any more. It used to be that a great deal of my identity was tied up with the computer I used: that's no longer the case. That is nothing to do with RISC OS; it's merely a casualty of me spending too much time watching The Strange World of Gurney Slade
, or finding ways to combine Who Framed Roger Rabbit and Monty Python
. I used to find computers fun in themselves. These days, I use them to get to other stuff I find fun. And RISC OS is far from the ideal vehicle to do that kind of thing with.
To put it another way: next month, I'm about to bury myself in the arcane world of responsive CSS. If I was the kind of person I used to be, it would have been the responsive CSS which would have been the real joy. These days, it isn't. It's using the resulting site to publish a history of online Buffy
fandom. Computing for the sake of computing doesn't really interest me in the same way it used to. And that's not RISC OS's fault. That's all me.
RISC OS. I remember you, and I loved you. I even sometimes still miss your right-click. But ten years on... no, I really don't
need you any more. I'm sorry.