Interview: MathMagical Software

posted in: Miscellaneous | 0

MathMagicalIn recent years, the MathMagical Software Company have been a regular face at RISC OS shows and a source of continual software development. Here’s an interview by the RISC OS Blog with Martin Hansen from MathMagical Software:

ROBlog: I’m sure many people are aware of your recent release Iconizer II, and how the finished product required five weeks of full-time work. What were the hardest and most time consuming areas of Iconizer development?

Martin Hansen: I’m a fairly competent coder of BBC BASIC, and the RISC OS desktop WIMP which meant that those aspects of Iconizer where covered with the first version. However, I realised that what it really needed was a powerful engine to drive the key iterative routine along. This certainly meant writing it in Assembly language which I’d not done before.

The existing BBC BASIC routine in Iconizer I used floating point arithmetic, and I’d read that as RISC OS emulates such calculations in software, the speed increase in moving from BASIC to Assembly Language can be minimal.

I found a way to code the routine using double precision integers with a separate bit for the sign; plus or minus. RISC OS loves integers; it chews through them as fast as any Mac or Windows computer.

It was a lot of coding to see if an experimental idea would work, and I came very close to giving up on it a couple of times. However, it’s done, and my understanding of ARM assembler is much better because of it.

Now that your multimedia application Flicker has been confirmed as compatible with the ARMini and BeagleBoard computers, what are your plans for its future?

It’s got a lot of possibilities. At the moment I see it as a device to attract artists and musicians to RISC OS. An article has just gone up on RISCOScode, Music revival for RISC OS, that gives an idea of the direction I’m taking with it.

There’s a lot of interest in retro-computing, and I’d like to capture some of the old artistic things that folks did with their BBCmicros and Acorn Archimedes computers, and let them know that, via RISC OS, those endeavours are valued and have a future.

Sticking on the subject of your two premier applications Iconizer and Flicker, has the up-take of new versions from customers exceeded your expectations?

I exhibit at many of the RISC OS shows. I’ve always made enough to cover costs, and sometimes even make a small profit. However, I do it because RISC OS computers are such a delight to program. (I’d not have said that when fighting to get Iconizer II working !)

And finally, what do you have in store for the MathMagical Software Company in the coming few months?

It was tough getting two applications updated for the start of this year. I’ve got a major new project in mind but it’ll not be done until next year.

Thanks Martin, looking forward to see future developments.

MathMagical Software, although not confirmed yet, are likely to appear at the upcoming RISC OS London Show in October. You can download RISC OS friendly videos of MathMagical’s presentations at the 2009 and 2010 RISC OS London Shows from here and here.

Their premier applications, Iconizer and Flicker are now fully BeagleBoard and ARMini compatible, as a little celebration, MathMagical have announced that Flicker is available for half price until the 1st of November. For information regarding Iconizer II (article), Flicker and the MathMagical Software Suite visit the official MathMagical Software website.

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