Mac owners were tantalised by the Mabel beta on demonstration at the Ringing Roadshow 2008 and now we can own a copy of the finished version for ourselves. The Mabel program is a rewrite of Abel, the well-known ringing simulator, solely for use on the slightly overlooked Apple Macs. It has been debugged and upgraded since my first taste at Stoneleigh Park and so far I have not come across any glitches. It is a bright and easy to use program that helps you to improve your ringing in many different ways.
You can download Mabel from the Abelsim website (http://www.abelsim.co.uk/) or purchase it on CD. It has an installer which automatically puts the package in your Applications folder. After double-clicking the Mabel icon you are given step by step instructions on how to use Mabel for the first time. If I can get this program up and running, believe me, anyone can.
Once you are on the main window (which is identifiable by a circle of bell-ropes) you can adapt it to ring any method or principle you wish. There are dialogue boxes and a “?” key at the bottom right to help you on your way. Some methods are already to be found in the ‘Methods Available’ box already on view, others can easily be selected, or you can choose new ones from the microSIRIL library. Under ‘Edit’ on the menu bar click ‘Add Method’ to bring up a new search window. Here you can choose and open any known method. Also, while ringing, you can call bobs from the main window to find out whether your own compositions come round when you expect. This is extremely useful for the fledgling bob caller.
Another very useful feature, when getting to grips with ringing your bell correctly, is the ability to choose a ringing speed that suits you. Changing the time in the ‘Peal Time’ box adjusts the speed of the ringing. I found a comfortable time to start with was 3 hrs 25 mins - just so I could become accustomed to pressing the “J” key in time with the other bells - and later sped things up a bit. Practising ringing your bell in the right space is tricky enough and - as the instructions suggest - it does help doing this with your eyes closed because the rope-sight is so different from ringing in a real tower. Mabel is strict about striking and shows your performance at the bottom of the main window - backstroke rows and handstroke rows are displayed as you ring.
Mabel can draw out a diagram for you of the method you want to ring. Simply select the method from the ‘Methods Available’ box then click on ‘Show’ on the tool bar at the top of the main window and the line will be drawn out in the box on the right hand side. You can print this out too, if desired.
You can have simply hours of fun ringing with Mabel on your own, or with another person, and it can also give you an idea of what it is like to ring two bells at once with its handbell feature. One minor difference from the author’s popular Abel program (for users of unlovely PCs) is that Mabel does not currently have features aimed primarily at tower use. Also some of Abel's features, that are not vital for most home users, are omitted.
All you need for Mabel is a Mac computer running the OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard, 10.5 Leopard, or 10.4 Tiger operating system - the package size is only 16MB - so almost any current Mac will be just fine. The review gave details of buying Mabel here.
Mabel is Fab! The only thing she cannot do is buy you a pint in the pub after the practice; but I am that sure all her other useful features more than compensate for this minor oversight. Mack and Mabel were made for each other. I give her a 5 star rating.
Reprinted with permission from The Ringing World, 11 June 2010.