Can you use RISC OS as your main computer?

The short answer is yes, sort of, but mostly yes.

The RISC OS desktop on Raspberry Pi showing the 'pinboard' and 'iconbar'

In my post on using the BBC Micro as your main computer, we decided that for a computer to be of any use, it must be able to do the following well:

  • Connect to the Internet and have a fast, secure browser.
  • Provide applications for workflow.
  • Provide applications for playing media files.

We'll look at these in turn, but first some information about this Operating System.

RISC OS was originally developed for the Acorn range of 32bit RISC computers in the late 1980s. That makes it older than 'Red Nose Day', GCSE examinations and the movie 'Die hard'. It was a time when plaid shirts were fashionable for men. If you turned on the radio you would suffer songs by Bros and Enya. Whereas you need not suffer Bros and plaid shirts anymore, RISC OS has continued to be developed to this day and is available for RISC architecture machines including the Raspberry Pi. In this post, I will be referring to RISC OS running on my Raspberry Pi 2.

This operating system is an advanced GUI-based operating system although many of its features will appear strange or unexpected to a modern user who has, perhaps, become habitually used to Windows or Linux. Nevertheless, despite its quirks, RISC OS is a joy to use. But can it be your main computer?

The Internet

The Raspberry Pi does indeed connect to The Internet, however, RISC OS will only support wired ethernet connections. The onboard wireless adapter will not work here.

Many of the applications for RISC OS are available through the online Pling store or the package manager. Some of these applications use network connections with little difficulty as you might expect from a modern OS. Sadly there are no applications for linking to your DropBox, OneDrive, Google or other cloud services. I use a second Raspberry Pi as a home file and web server and this serves files to the RISC Pi with ease.

The default web browser is NetSurf which is a little underdeveloped. Most modern web pages fail to render properly. JavaScript does not run and you can forget about Flash, other plugins and all your favourite browser extensions. It is possible to install a version of Firefox, however, it requires several dependencies that I am repeated failing to install properly. After a few hours of trying I have finally given in, but I may return to that at a later date.

My Blog as shown in NetSurf


What your RISC machine can do here really depends on your workflow, however RISC OS is more capable than the BBC Micro so I shall cover some of the capabilities you might need.

For word processing, spreadsheets, text files and database work, RISC OS has a number of applications that are free (as in free pizza) to download from the Pling Store (or indeed, might even be bundled with your software distribution). Most notable applications are Fireworkz, PipeDream and StrongEd. It is worth noting that I don't do much word processing on the RISC machine, and none of these applications beat the Microsoft Office 365 suite on my Windows machine. Nevertheless, all of these applications are capable enough of being your workhorse. Fireworkz can open Rich Text Format files, so if you need to open your world domination plan from MS-Word, you may need to do some editing or conversion first.

Unless you are migrating thousands of files from Office 365 to RISC OS, you will find that your Raspberry Pi will be totally capable of most jobs here so I'm going to call it a 'pass'.

It is worth mentioning that I use my RISC machine to take and keep various notes. This can easily be achieved as an OS task. Simply hit CTRL+F12 to bring up a task window and type:

*build <filename>

Press ESC to finish.

A demo of Fireworkz as a spreadsheet program

If your workflow includes image editing or audio editing, then there are a number of applications available for you here, although nothing to beat your professional applications on your modern PC. Also, don't expect your favourite open source applications (GIMP, Audacity etc) to be available under RISC OS. That said, your RISC machine will perform this kind of workflow well, so it's another 'pass'.

It is highly likely that you will want to read a PDF document on your RISC machine. This is possible under the public domain PDF file viewer for RISC OS, however, I have noticed that it has failed to render some files that work perfectly well under Adobe and Edge on my Windows PC. Having said that, most documents have opened without problem on my Raspberry Pi, so we shall call this a 'pass'.

RISC OS PDF viewer showing a couple of PDF files displaying beautifully on my Raspberry Pi 2.


I will skip to the end. It is a surprising 'pass'. In fact, I use RISC OS primarily as a media machine. The NetRadio application is perfectly capable of handling your internet radio needs, as well as being able to play MP3 format files. I think I once wrote a post about how I threw my DAB digital radio over the side of my ship after installing RISC OS.

Net Radio, perfectly capable of catching the BBC 4 puzzle for the day over your cornflakes as it is playing your pirate metal songs in the evening.
As for video files. I have managed to get MPG format files to work perfectly. Other formats with some difficulty or not at all.

My Pi

There are plenty of other applications available for RISC OS with many in active development. I generally have WeatherUK open at all times for my three-day forecast.

WeatherUK for your UK weather needs. Yes, it is snowing today, in March.

One of many useful apps for RISC OS

One of the best features of RISC OS is that the BBC BASIC language is built right into the operating system. Whether you want the system to learn to program, so you want to write applications to get the computer to do what you want it to do, then BASIC is a good option. Simply press F12 and type:


To exit the BASIC terminal and return to your desktop, type:


I have already covered BBC BASIC in RISC OS in another post, so I won't go into details here. You can also install a version of RISC OS (Pico) which boots directly into the BASIC prompt without any of the graphical 'fluff' discussed so far in this post.

Well, there it is. RISC OS will quite happily serve as a main computer based on the criteria we specified at the top of the page. If you haven't already explored it on your Raspberry Pi, then I thoroughly recommend it. You might find that you have other needs that I have not covered in this post, and you might also be equally surprised to discover that RISC OS has your back here as well.

If you enjoyed this post, and even if you haven't, then you might like (or hate) to read some more RISC articles on this blog. Maybe you just want to write a sticky note and pin it to a virtual board on the internet? Maybe you just want to kill some orcs?

Reacting to @ReactOS

I decided to have a play with ReactOS.

ReactOS is a free open-source operating system built from the ground up.  It is an attempt to be a legal, community-driven Windows replacement. The current version (0.4.7) is in Alpha, so don't expect everything to work as expected.

ReactOS desktop in Virtual Box looking very Windows NT-like

Getting started

First, you will need to download the ReactOS ISO file which you can get from the ReactOS website.

Secondly, you will want to run your copy of ReactOS in a virtual machine. I choose to use Virtual Box.

Please note that I could not get my version of ReactOS to connect to my home internet under Virtual Box, however, I downloaded one of the Nightly versions (0.4.9-dev) and this fixed the problem. Maybe it will for you too, but I recommend that you try one of the stable releases first.

First impressions

Yay! ReactOS looks and feels like an early version of Windows, somewhere around Windows-ME era but with modern OS features. One of the first things you will want to do is to install a browser. New applications can be installed from the built-in 'Applications Manager'.

Although I managed to get (an older version of) Firefox working, it often hangs the machine or crashes making it almost unworkable. I might try an alternative solution to this in the near future, but for now, it may influence whether I continue to with this experiment.

One of many problems I am having with Firefox under ReactOS. Incidentally, this is one of my favourite error messages. It is up there with 'silly' on the BBC micro (try AUTO 10,0 for that one) and the Amiga's Guru Meditation.

Another thing that I am having difficulty with is in creating new user accounts. The system wants me to log into the 'Administrator' account, and although it lets me create other user accounts, it does not give me the option of logging into them when the machine first starts. I guess that this feature has not yet been built yet.

Stuff that works

There are plenty of open-source apps available from the application manager that will allow your version of ReactOS to behave like a useful machine. I have tried the following with some success:

Python 3.4
Yup. Python works, look!

Notepad ++
Probably the best light-weight open-source text editor for general purpose computing.

I've managed to get Audacity, VLC player and WinAmp running but not without problems with audio devices on the virtual machine. So that's the most important part of the software not working then...

Open Office
It is no surprise that there is an open-source office suite for ReactOS. I have tried most of this and found it to be working well.

Some old favourites
There are a few applications that come bundled with ReactOS, with most of them being no surprise: Calculator, Notepad, Wordpad and Paint being the most notable. Oh yes, and there's minesweeper and solitaire for the full retro experience.

I think that it is a shame that there is no 'card file', but then again, I don't think that was ever in the Windows NT OS, so my complaint is rather moot.

Final Remarks
Well, it has certainly been a fun experiment. Enough of this Alpha version of ReactOS works well enough to be useful and I will look forward to future developments.

If you have found this post interesting, then you might like to watch this video from 'explaining computers dot com'. It goes into much more detail about how to get started as well as some other trouble-shooting hints and a successful attempt to install an old version of Photoshop. +1 Geek Experience point awarded to Explaining Computers.

If you are staying with us, then you might like to read about installing Ubuntu on a virtual machine, or perhaps you are more interested in another Operating System instead.

Brute force Travelling Salesman Problem in Python

I did not make it into work today. A blanket of snow - dubbed the Pest from the West - hit the North of England causing gridlock in many areas. Instead, I got to stay at home and write a Travelling Salesman simulation in Python.

The Travelling Salesman Problem (TSP) is a problem in Computer Science used to demonstrate intractability and optimisation. In short, imagine a salesman who wishes to visit every one of N cities exactly once each. The salesman does not care which order he visits the cities as he is equally proficient in applying is selling skills in them all regardless. All that matters is that he takes the shortest route between them all before returning back to the start, where, presumably Alan Sugar is waiting in the boardroom to fire him if he has failed in this task.

The Python 3 code below will run a TSP simulation by attempting to solve the problem by brute force. This is, of course, the worst method for solving the problem, being factorial of N time complexity, but it is presented here in the hope that it is of some use to students.

A solution for 10 cities

The simulation in mid-animation

A solution for 9 cities

Here is a photo of me failing to complete the TSP for 2 cities. 
The Python code can be copied from below, or you can download it from my OneDrive. Enjoy!

# Travelling Salesman by Brute force
# superdecade games
# version 2.1
# 2018-03-08

import itertools
import turtle
import time
import math
import random

class Salesman(object):
	"""Travelling Salesman by Brute force"""
	# in this program a route is represented by a list of coordinates
	# where each coordinate is a tuple containing an x,y coordinate
	# in the range 0-1000,0-1000
	def __init__(self):
		self.__city = [] #list for holding city coords
		self.__num = 0 # number of cities in simulation
		self.__animate = False # True if should show animations
		self.__speed = 100 # Speed of animations 100 is fastest
		self.__wn = turtle.Screen() # turtle window
		turtle.setworldcoordinates(0, 0, 1000, 1000)
		self.__wn.title("TRAVELLING SALESMAN")
		self.__cityPen = turtle.Turtle() # pen for drawing cities
		self.__routePen = turtle.Turtle() # pen for drawing routes
		self.__route = [] # list of possible routes
		self.__bestRoute = None # current best route
		self.__bestLength = 1000000 # a big number	
	def main(self):
		"""Main test program"""
			t0 = time.clock() # start tinmer
			for i in self.__route:
				thisLength = self.__calculateLength(i)
				if thisLength <= self.__bestLength:
					self.__bestLength = thisLength
					self.__bestRoute = i # store the best route so far
				if self.__animate:
			#show the best route
			print("\nDone. Showing best route")
			print(time.clock() - t0, "seconds")
			self.__showRoute(self.__bestRoute, "green")

		except Exception as e:
			print("Ooops, that was an error. Too many cities?")
	def __setup(self):
		"""Gets users choices for the simulation"""
		ok = False
		while not(ok):
				num = int(input("Enter number of cities: "))
				if num>1 and num < 11:
					self.__num = num
					ok = True
			except Exception as e:
		choice = input("Show animation for all? (Y/N): ")
		if choice.lower() in "yes":
			self.__animate = True
			ok = False
			while not(ok):
					speed = int(input("Select speed (1-10): "))
					if speed >= 0 and speed <= 10:
						self.__speed = speed ** 2
						ok = True
						print("Try again")
				except Exception as e:

	def __generate(self):
		"""Creates random cities"""
		for i in range(self.__num):
			x = random.randint(0,1000)
			y = random.randint(0,1000)
	def __showCities(self):
		"""Display cities on the canvas"""
		for i in range(self.__num):
	def __getRoutes(self):
		"""Find all combinations of routes"""
		trylist = list(itertools.permutations(self.__city))
		#remove duplicates
		for i in trylist:
			if i[0] == trylist[0][0]:
	def __showRoute(self, this, color="red"):
		"""Show a route passed as paramter on the canvas"""
		for i in this:
	def __calculateLength(self, this):
		"""Returns the length of route 'this'"""
		d = 0
		for i in range(1,len(this)):
			d += math.sqrt( (this[i][0]-this[i-1][0])**2 + (this[i][1]-this[i-1][1])**2)
		return d			
	def __title(self):
		"""Displays the title"""
		print("Travelling Salesman Problem")
		print("      (by brute force)")

while True:
	app = Salesman()

Cortana is now on IFTTT

In a move that has frankly been a long time overdue, Cortana is now available on IFTTT.

If you did not already know, IFTTT(IF This Then That) is a service for connecting various other services together. Literally, if this happens on one, then that happens on the other. Cortana, as I am sure you will know, is the personal digital assistant available for your Windows 10 PC, phone or Android. As a follower of both Microsoft and IFTTT, I have been waiting for this development since the beginning of Windows 10.

With Cortana on IFTTT you can connect your Internet of Things devices together and control them from Cortana. Philips Hue, Manything, Harmony TV, WeMo and Samsung Robot vacuum are some of the many services that now have Cortana integration.

Some of the many new Cortana applets on IFTTT
I have been playing with this new feature by making a few applets of my own.

The first one I tried was an applet that rather pointlessly fires a notification to my Android whenever I utter the phrase "Hey Cortana, what's happening?".


Ok, so that one was rather pointless, but as proof of concept goes I am pleased with the result. I suppose it has a use if you were feeling really lonely.

The next thing I tried was a slightly different trigger for Cortana, that is to use a specific phrase with a text part that is then specifically used for some purpose. I thought that it would be useful to have an applet that creates a new page in OneNote, with a title you specify, whenever Cortana hears "Hey Cortana, create a OneNote page X", where X is the name of the new page.

Notice the $ indicates the text phrase that you want your new page to be called. I used 'test' here, but you could say 'my world domination plans', or 'reasons I hate Apple' or 'help I think I am sinking' or whatever.

OneNote page created by Cortana with some dummy text just to see what would happen, look!

And that's about all I have managed to play with so far, although I have also been looking at creating some Cortana applets to work with LaMetric time as well. I think it would be really handy to be able to start and stop LaMetric internet radio from Cortana. Currently, this takes several clicks of the LaMetric Android app.

If you have managed to get all the way down to the bottom of the page without your face melting from boredom, then you might like to read my other Cortana posts, or maybe you want some more technology news. Either way, you might like to post a comment on this noticeboard?

Compact cassettes comeback

Yesterday I enthusiastically wrote about all the fun you can have with the seemingly obsolete media format compact cassette. Today a bunch of compact cassette videos.

Cassettes - better than you don't remember by Techmoan. Techmoan is a great channel if you are interested in all things retro, tech or audio. I often enjoy watching his videos for his enthusiastic approach and exemplary subject knowledge. In this video, you can hear the difference between the different types of compact cassette and noise reduction technology.

The last audio cassette factory although a little out-dated this is a great video and worth watching for the great story.

A short film about cassettes - you need to hear this - indeed, you really do. Watch it. Watch it now!

Kids react to walkmans (portable cassette players) aw, as they say, from the mouth of babes, or if kids don't think it is cool, then it is probably cool, or something.

Playing 50 YEAR OLD tapes, busting the myth that cassettes have a limited lifespan.

That's all for now, although I reserve the right to add more if and when I find any of interest. If you enjoyed this post then you might like to tell me about it on this noticeboard, or maybe just read something else retro related.

Cassettes are back

I walked into HMV the other day. HMV is a British entertainment and record retailers. I haven't been to a physical record store in many years and was suddenly surrounded by aisle upon aisle of DVDs and CDs. There were loads that I like the look of, and I had some cash burning a hole in my pocket. It was then that I realised that I no longer own a single device that can play a CD or a DVD.

I felt like a historical reenactor of the Tony Blair years.

The only CD/DVD player that I still own is connected to my main laptop computer and it is seriously damaged. Some time ago I started to get my media either streamed or downloaded and I never noticed that the lack of a disc player was an issue. In fact, it is not. I listen to music on streaming services such as Spotify or on one of the thousands of internet radio stations on my LaMetric time device. I watch YouTube and download movies from the Windows store. It was really a long time ago that I bought CDs or DVDs.

Interestingly, the only format in the record store that I could actually play was in the vinyl section.

Vinyl is making a comeback, if you didn't already know, with year-upon-year growth in the format as people begin to crave the feel of the needle in the groove and the tangible album art in their hands or something.

But this post isn't about vinyl it is about the other ancient analogue format that is making a comeback: compact cassettes.

Of all the formats it is compact cassettes that I miss the most. So, as you can imagine, I am delighted to announce that I have recently purchased a near mint condition, racily-titled Sony TC-WE 825S.

Photo from eBay
This device was originally manufactured in 1988, rather late in the lifetime of the compact cassette. It features most of the designs you would expect of a high-end product: Twin tape decks, simultaneous recording, pitch control, fade in/out, highspeed dubbing, auto this and that and the other, There were a few features that came as a surprise: RMS, or Random Music Sensor not only allows you to fast forward to the next track on the tape but also allows you to enter up to 28 tracks into a programmable memory to be played in any order you like from either side of the tape, just like on CD. My original tape-player was a dirty model from the early 1970s and had no microelectronics although it did have a very funky stainless steel finish, which made it look great, despite it sounding awful.

The most exciting feature is the Dolby-S noise reduction which is a significant improvement on the Dobly-A noise reduction. This feature removes a significant proportion of the tape hiss that is inherent in recording on magnetic cassette tapes. Dobly-S was a leap forward in compact cassette technology that bypassed most people at the time as they had already moved to digital formats. Back in the 1980s, I did not have the luxury or Dolby noise reduction and I think I just put up with the hissing noise.

Of course, there is absolutely no need for me to own this product beyond the sheer joy of recording in analogue. I have currently spent the afternoon making recordings of my vinyl collection just like it was the 1980s again.

There are a number of outlets that still sell new blank cassettes and if you are thinking of following suit then I recommend the Tape Line Ltd. The Tape Line Ltd provided me with a pack of 5 Type-I compact cassettes (these are the cheap ones that most people used back in the early days). I also bought a single TDK Type IV metal alloy compact cassette which has much better recording quality than their Type-I counterparts although at ten times the cost! I recorded some digital files from my RISCOS computer onto metal tape with Dolby-S and the sound quality is unbelievable. In fact, it is very hard to believe that it is an analogue format at all as the quality of the recording is so, so good.

If you want to know more, and actually hear the difference in quality, then I can highly recommend this video from TechMoan in which he demonstrates the quality of Type-IV cassettes with Dolby-S.

If you have enjoyed this post then you might like to read about some other retro products, or maybe you just want to write something down. Either way, I'll be back soon with more geeky tech stuff, or maybe I'll just talk about the weather, I don't mind, it's my blog.


Today was cactus repotting day. I have three succulent plants that needed some attention before the start of spring.

Prick, by Gynelle Leon, link and description below

Here I am repotting a cactus called Tephrocactus Articulatus - a hardy little plant which seems quite resistant to the cold. It has an interesting way of propagating which is to let several of its stem segments break away to begin a new life as an independent plant.

First I got a roomy ceramic pot and filled it with a layer of cat litter a couple of centimetres deep. This is an attempt to preserve moisture. I am not sure whether this will work, but that's the whole point of experimenting.
I used multipurpose potting compost. Although you can get compost specifically for succulents. I used a newspaper lasso to remove the plant from its original pot as those spines are very prickly.
Next, I added a layer of horticultural grit on the surface. This should help keep the moisture in the soil as well as look attractive.
The next succulent is one that I took as a very tiny cutting a couple of years ago and was surprised by how well it has thrived.

You might notice some small white spots on the leaves. I think this is a fungus but it came off easily with a damp cloth and hopefully has not damaged the plant.

Well, this is a technology blog, so here comes the tech stuff.

I have used one of my microbit moisture sensors to monitor the moisture level in this succulent. Getting the right balance of water is essential to succulent survival. It is a good idea to let the pots completely dry out before gently rewatering again. The microbit water sensor is ideal for this job.

My micro:bit water sensor showing animated "don't water me".

Succulents and cacti like dry and warm conditions and, believe me, plant fungi like to grow in damp conditions. If like me you find that you have a problem with this then you may find a portable dehumidifier is a not-too-expensive solution. The link below shows the dehumidifier that I use.

I can thoroughly recommend this book - Prick, by Gynelle Leon. It covers everything you need to know about the care of your cacti friends. Within these pages Gynelle covers the history, origins and background of succulent cultivation; a gallery of popular plants including care instructions as well as in-depth guidance on watering, repotting and style guides.

Bug fixing with Mac, the chatbot

I've just fixed a bug in the data files for my chatbot, Mac. The bug was preventing Mac from replying to your input. It turns out there was a misplaced comma. All fixed now and Mac is chatting away like a four-year-old child again.

The usual standard of conversation you can expect from a computer program written in JavaScript.

Goji Cafe York

Today I went to York for breakfast. This post has nothing to do with technology and geeky things, but it's my blog and I don't care.

York is a fantastic city in Yorkshire, full of ancient ruins and endless cool places to explore. Founded by the Romans, invaded by Vikings and more recently by countless tourists. There is too much to see and do in York to write about here, so I will just mention what I had to eat.

One of my favourite places in York is Goji Cafe on Goodramgate. I had this delicious vegan sausage ciabatta. All the food at Goji's is vegetarian or vegan and it is all delicious. The staff are friendly, the service is great and it is well worth a visit if you are ever in York.

Nom nom nom
If you haven't already set off for York, and you are still able to wiggle your mouse after this post, then you might be interested in these photos of computers from the 1970s, or perhaps you just need some light reading.

@gojicafe #york #vegan

Setting your Chromebook desktop to the Bing image of the day

Until recently I had set my Chromebook to regularly update with an interesting daily desktop image. The option to do this is in the settings under Appearance > Wallpaper > 'surprise me'.

Setting your Chromebook desktop to the Bing image of the Day
These kangaroos are brought to you by Bing.
It occurred to me that the Bing image of the day was often far more beautiful than what is offered under Chrome OS and there must be a way to change the desktop automatically to the Bing image of the day.

A quick search in Bing led me to the Chrome Web Store, and there it is, the Wallpaper from Bing for Chromebook app. It only works on Chromebooks, but there are other workarounds for different platforms which I may go into in detail in another post sometime.

'Wait!' I hear you cry, with horror: 'you Binged it?!? Why didn't you Google it??'

Well, I quietly changed from Google to Bing a few years ago. There are a number of good reasons for this.

Back in the day, well the nineties, when music was good, and we did actually believe that things could only get better (that's a Dr. Brian Cox joke) I used Netscape Navigator and searching the web was a rather hit and miss affair. A typical web search would throw up thousands of results and you would spend half an hour scrolling through irrelevant results. I think I was in the middle of a troublesome and tiring search through Ask Jeeves or Yahoo or something similar when a friend asked me why I wasn't using Google.

'What's Google?' I asked. This was around the end of 1998 and the first iteration of Google's search engine had just appeared. I wasn't disappointed, as you can imagine, and in the intervening years, the word 'Google' has become synonymous with searching itself. Not only is your preferred target on the first page of results, but it also predicts your search term and completes it for you.

A couple of years ago Microsoft launched their 'Bing Challenge'. Switch to Bing and see if you notice the difference. Being the naive sort of fellow that I am, I gave it a chance and noticed only that Bing seemed to give slightly better results and came with a beautiful image of the day.

But there are a few reasons for sticking with Bing, such as better image search, but here is the main reason...

...You get paid to use Bing.

With Microsoft rewards, you can earn points each time you search. Points add up and can be spent on sweepstake entries or saved up for gift cards for some of your favourite department stores. The more you search, the more points you earn (up to some daily limit). You can even donate your points to charity.

Microsoft rewards for using Bing search
Some of the offers available for using Bing.

Well, that's all from me for today. If this post hasn't made you rage-quit the Internet, then you might like to stick around and read about some other Chromebook posts, or maybe you like calendars instead?

Updated day clock

Today I have been updating my day clock to include even more historic events, pagan festivals and international days of this and that.

It would be great if you went and had a look, and even better if you set it as your homepage.

A vision of 1970s Computing

I recently found a pile of books in the back of a cupboard at work. They are a series of books introducing children to the wonderful world of computers written in the early 1970s and published by Chambers. The books have inspiring names, such as "The Useful Computer" (IBSN 0 550 77111 5) and "The Computer Becomes Literate" (ISBN 0 550 77109 3). Throughout the books there are delightful photographs of computer devices being used in business (very few home computers in the early 70s).

Considering the age of the books, let's assume that they are fair use. Which is good because I want to post them here and write faintly amusing things about them.

In this image we can see a person from the 1970s using one of the most up-to-the-date computer systems to update her eHarmony profile. This would then printed out and placed on noticeboards around the building.
In the 1970s it was thought that Babbage's Analytical Engines would become smaller, faster and more portable. It was thought that the main use for these flawfless mathematical calculation machines would be for sending Tweets. This never came to be.

In this image we see an office worker phoning her boss to admit that she has deleted the spreadsheet, again. Yes, all 500 bytes of it.

A typical man cave from the 1970s. This gaming setup includes a tape deck which later evolved into the 'restore point'.

Early Facebook users from the 1970s would print out their friends profile pages and then spend their evening reading through them. If they 'liked' a post they would draw a little thumbs-up or heart next to it in red ink and send it back to them in the mail.

Whenever someone made a copy-paste error in their spreadhseets in the 70s, they would telephone the debug man who would spend his evening rewiring the spreadsheet. Typically, the problem was fixed in time for another working day.

Back in the 1970s storage devices were kept under lock and key. A specially trained technician would feed and train a small zoo of mice whose job it was to keep the spindle rotating high enough to achieve data transfer rates of up to 8 bits per second. It is from this practice that we get the computer terms 'mouse' and 'hard cheese'.

An early storage device from the 1970s. This one was mainly used to store cat photos, as they still are today.

A rare photograph showing early Tumblr memes being uploaded.
There was always much excitement in the office whenever a new Linux distro came out.
Back in the 1970s it was thought that the office of the future would involve desk after desk of office workers staring at their computer screens all day. Thankfully, this never happened.
If you liked this post, then do please share it with your friend if you have one, alternatively you could look at this other post which has nothing to do with the one you just read, or look at a home computer from the 1980s.


I love simple and beautiful puzzle games, and this one is my favourite at the moment.

Lines by Leo de Sol Apps
In Lines for Android, you must race to 'flood-fill' more of the screen than the computer. The gameplay involves selecting a point on the line for your coloured paint to start filling. The colours then race each other as they run down the lines with apparent minimal viscosity. If you have filled more of the screen than the computer, then you win, and you get 'medals' with which you will be the envy of your friends.

When coloured paint collides there is a piano stab sound effect which adds to the game's ambience. Not only is this puzzle a great way to challenge your brain, but it is beautiful as well. It is what would happen if the gods of geometry had a race. Ok, I don't think that mathematics has gods, but if they did...

There are multiple modes of play which get unlocked as you defeat different levels. The main mode of play involves choosing one or more points on the line to start from. In 'Eraser' mode, you get to remove one or more of your opponents starting points, you meanie! In 'Rope' mode you have to add one or more of your own lines to create short-cuts in your race against the opponent. In 'knife' mode you must cut the rope next to your opponent to strategically and dastardly stop him from filling your own region of the map. I haven't unlocked any more than that, however, there is also a 'paint' mode, and a 'mixed' mode which presumably requires you to do combinations of the other skills, such as cutting ropes as well as adding new lines.

There is a daily challenge to keep you entertained for longer, as well as a series of challenges for the dedicated Line player to test themselves against.

This simple but fun and beautiful game does have a few drawbacks. Some of the levels are rather easy to complete, but then again, I have only just started playing so maybe the challenge ramps up later. Secondly, the advertisements do come fairly thick and fast, which I know many people find annoying.

Overall, a great game to help keep your brain ticking over: +1 Geek Experience Point for Leo de Sol Apps.

If you haven't already left this page in a huff, then you might be interested in some other posts tagged with the word 'puzzle', or something completely different.