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Two up and coming English language Atari Webzines assessed.

Think  back to this time last year,  the final issue of Atari Computing  was
just about to hit the letterboxes of a tearfully nostalgic nation.  Tearful,
because  this  was the very last issue,  of the very last  English  language
paper mainstream magazine.  Nostalgic,  because they remembered a golden age
of  newsagents  shelves bulging with Atari related publications such  as  ST
Format, (well, maybe not quite as golden as we first thought!)

It seemed we were left with the likes of the valiant but spasmodic 'ST Plus'
fanzine,  and a host of excellent online news providers.  Which is where the
story comes right up to date, as it were.

Someone,  in  another  diskmag somewhere,  wrote,  "The internet promoted the
survival of the smaller more obscure non-Wintel computer platforms,  in this
age  of  mass conformity." Or something like it.  Anyway it is the  internet
that we have to thank for this latest initiative,  as there is not one,  but
two  new contenders for the leading English language magazine,  running rife
on the net!

With  HTML being the preferred information carrier of the new Atari age,  it
is therefore unsurprising that they both have adopted a webzine format.  The
two new entrants are known as 'Atari Active', and 'My Atari' respectively.

My Atari..

The inspiration behind this project,  is Matthew Bacon,  who might be better
known  as  the person behind Cadenza Software (Web Wizard).  He has  made  a
strong  start,  getting  more  or  less a complete set  of  articles  online
straight away.

The   style  is  bright  and  attractive,   black  on  white  text,   fairly
conventional,  with  a graphical main menu for the different sections of the
magazine,  with suitable graphics for sub-menus such as 'News',  'Features',
and  so on.  (There seems to be a problem with some of these not loading  in
and leaving blank spaces.  Whether this is a case of missing graphics,  or a
problem with my browser, CAB, is unclear at this point?)

Turning  to the articles,  there is a reasonable range of these.  The 'News'
neatly  sidesteps the issue by referring to the URL's of the  main  existing
news providers such as Dead Hackers,  Place2Be, and MagiC Online. Thus freed
from the burdensome duty of trying to scrape together a different 'angle' on
the days news, My Atari is free to concentrate on other areas.

Features  and  Reviews  are two areas which are worth stopping  by.  In  the
features  section,   we  get  detailed  reviews  of  the  Centurbo  2  (with
screenshots of the enhanced Truecolor desktop!) A useful user report on  the
virtual  memory manager 'Outside'.  "When Milan met SCSI" gets in there too.
There is even a nostalgia piece on the great days of the Atari 2600 console.

The  style of articles is professional or semi-professional,  and very  much
like  the sort of thing seen in Atari Computing,  or the last great  serious
webzine,  Atariphile.  Article length is encouraging,  and detail levels are
well  up  to  the best diskmag standards.  The other bonus of  going  for  a
webzine  format,  is that the constriction of paper availability on  article
length no longer applies. So it is therefore possible to expand your textual

There is quite a bit in the vein of introducing the site, and the concept of
My  Atari  to first time readers.  This includes a subscription form,  and a
handy style guide for intended contributors. (Hint for potential Maggie 10th
anniversary  contributors,  we  don't  need  no stinking HTML  tags  in  our
articles!  Or even anything that makes much sense. I'm the maschochistic mug
who will happily sit down and sort it all out!)

There are other nice touches too.  A sub-menu marked 'Public Domain' reveals
a  batch  of  essential utilities such as Newsie,  the  last  non-commercial
version of CAB (v1.5) and ST ZIP.  Old history to most of us,  but useful to
someone who may be discovering Atari for the first time.

The  site is updated on a regular basis,  presumably as soon as new articles
appear,  they are added to the site. Some areas, such as demo scene coverage
are missing at the moment,  although steps are being presently undertaken to
put  this  right (hem hem!) Generally,  prospects for My Atari are good,  as
Matthew  Bacon  has a reputation as one of those rare people  on  the  Atari

Atari Active..

This  is  the  other debutante to the suddenly competitive  arena  of  Atari
related publications.  Atari Active, comes courtesy of the old ST Plus team,
to  be more specific,  the bulk of the activity seems to be coming from that
Northern  pie  master,  and  perpetually frustrated  coding  party  visitor,

The layout is fairly conventional,  menu to submenu system,  and so on.  The
style  of the site seems to be sleeker than that of My Atari,  with a  smart
light text on black background being favoured, and a choice of cool stylised
green neon icons to highlight the different sections of the 'zine.

Clicking on a main menu icon, leads to the appropriate sub-menu. There are a
wide  bunch  of  topics  that Atari Active is  intending  to  cover.  I  say
"intending",  as the bulk of these come up with a test menu, as there are no
articles in place as yet. In this vein, we wait and see what such categories
as  "Demo  Scene"  will bring forth?  There is a news icon,  which is  semi-
regularly  upated,  with  the  headlines of the time.  There are one or  two
reviews,  Smurf,  the  image  processing package,  gets in there,  and with a
similar level of detail to the material that appears in My Atari.

There  is  also  a  chat forum or message board,  similar in  style  to  the forums, although it is very early days here as yet.

The level of content seems to be where Atari is least active at the  moment?
Most of the categories are still awaiting developments.  It looks like Atari
Active  could have used some more time in getting some text together,  as it
looks  rather  bare  and undersupported in places.  He is making  a  valiant
single handed effort at keeping the news up to date, and general updating is
taking place, very slowly.

This is also the aspect of Atari Active that most worries me.  It seems that
Carbon is running this as a one man band,  with very little help and support
from  elsewhere?  I  wonder if any of the rest of the former ST  Plus  team,
(Atari  Mad) are going to be involved,  or alternatively,  how successful is
Carbon going to be in soliciting outside help,  especially now that there is
this  rich  diversity of new publications,  diskmag and webzine  alike,  for
people to write for?

One  way  or another,  Carbon is going to have to face the problem that  has
defeated countless wannabe amateur Atari publishers over the years,  that of
getting or writing sufficient text, to make the project worthwhile.


We  have  two  new publications for Atari computers,  both of  which  richly
deserve to succeed.  It remains to be seen if there is room for one or both,
in the suddenly crowded Atari electronic media market?

Time  will  tell  who thrives,  and who is left updating  at  Reservoir  God
website speeds!

CiH, Alive! Magazine, Oct '00

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