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Alive 10
In the Trashcan!

This was a favourite series of mine in Maggie.  It was fun to write, more so
than most articles,  as it demanded a fair bit of thought from both parties.
Briefly,  'Trashcan' is based on the BBC television series "Room 101", where
a guest discusses specific irritations that they would like consigned to the
inner  darkness  of Room 101.  The enjoyable twist is in the fact that  they
have  to  convince  the  regular  presenter to do  this.  They  can  take  a
sympathetic  or opposing devil's advocate view,  and it is no means  certain
that all the choices will make it into Room 101.

Our  'In  the trashcan' version ran on an occasional basis in Maggie,  so  I
figured it was time for a revival.  Our first guest for the Alive version is
the  chippy  fanatic gwEm,  who kindly volunteered his opinions for what  he
considered to be suitable Trashcan candidates. What follows will show how he
got on!

Go for it Gareth!

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  Tourists (especially in London!)
Let me tell you about tourists! You're late for work, it's pissing down with
rain,  and you dont have any underground tickets... Eventually you're at the
front of the queue for the ticket machine?  but who is there, but a group of
some kind of tourists.

"Say what button do you press?"
"Is Notting Hill in zone 1?"
"Will a daily travel card work tomorrow?"
"Does this thing take card?"

In  frustration you'd love to reach across and press the buttons  for  them,
but  you  think  better of it,  as probably you'll then have  to  give  them
directions to some random attraction, or explain the night bus system.

Later  on  the street,  you're walking in crowds of people trying to get  to
where  you  want to go.  But what's this?  For no reason an idiot tourist in
front of you stops suddenly without any kind of warning! You trip over their
100s of bags and receive no kind of apology from that bloody tourist!  (They
didn't even notice you!)

Tourists should either learn some city etiquette or go....  In the trashcan!

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I hear what you're saying,  but at the same time,  you've lost 5000 sympathy
points  for  coming across all London-centric and whingeing!  This  is  from
someone  who  lives in a town which sometimes asks the  question  "What's  a
tourist?"  I get the impression that these people,  who are approaching this
new  environment  in  a  benign frame of mind,  are  in  conflict  with  the
Londoner's basic human right to be as rude as possible!

"Gee,  hi there cute English person, can you show me the way to (insert name
of attraction here)" (It's usually Americans, isn't it!)

Which gets a swift response;

"Do you get some sort of sick pleasure from this?! You're always on my case!
Were  you  a  Nazi  death  camp guard in  a  former  life  or  what?!?"  (C)
K.Livingstone, Mayor of London.

Let's  face  it,  it's  not just a tourist thing is it?  Anyone who  can  be
described as "out of town" in any way, automatically triggers off a tourette
syndrome  sweary attack from the locals.  It's as if anyone born outside  of
the M25 ring is regarded as a lower form of life?

But  yes,  I  do sympathise,  I'm sure it's the same at other touristic hot-
spots.  You  just  have to watch the massed coach parties  tramping  through
Stratford  upon  Avon for example,  "And on your left,  it's Anne Hathaway's
cottage,  quick  march!"  (The horror!) And of course they all  assume  that
you're there solely for their pleasure and convenience.

Then  again,  we're  all stinking hypocrites.  Can you really truthfully say
that  you  have  never reversed roles,  that is,  been a tourist in  another
country?  I'm  sure you have,  even those people who think that they are too
young and street credible to do such a quintessentially middle-aged thing.

This  goes for backpackers and gap-year takers too,  who think of themselves
as  a  superior form of traveller.  At heart you are still another  form  of
tourist pollution.  So we ought to stand this question on its head,  are all
those Greek and Spanish and Turkish locals really so thrilled to have a load
of lovely pissed-up vomiting Brits in their midst?

I  think  not.  The  tourist  to local relationship anywhere,  is  based  on
grudging tolerance of the former by sheer economic necessity on the part  of
the latter.  This rule not only applies to the poorer parts of the world, it
is  increasingly  valid  here  too!  Unless you want  to  rebuild  all  that
polluting heavy industry that once made us "The workshop of the world"?!

So I'm sorry, tourists are staying out of the trashbin. You get to take home
with you a copy of this charming song (Hands over a copy of "England  Swings
like a Pendulum do..")

(The studio audience starts chanting "Bobbies on Bicycles two by two!")

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  !!!!RARE COLLECTORS ITEM!!!! at Ebay auctions
What  exactly is so rare,  for example,  about a 520STFM or a Commodore C64?
Thousands of them were produced, and it surely does not warrant being called
a  rare collectors item,  and the many exclamation marks do not change  that

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I don't think that William Gibson's cyberpunk future ever had a place for  a
giant  car  boot sale in the ether,  which is what Ebay essentially is.  And
like  all  car  boot  sales,  it attracts its  share  of  shady  characters,
hucksters, and wild-eyed dreamers.

It's  not surprising you get claims of scarcity for some  rather  non-scarce
items.  The  amount  of wishful thinking that Ebay generates would fill  the
cubic capacity of seventeen football stadiums,  or something.  It's not even
common  items  pretending  to  be  rare that  attract  the  worst  forms  of
speculation.  There  was  a  good  example of something  actually  rare  and
desirable in the Atari world in the hands of hopeful idiots.

This  was an actual ST-Book,  yes the very limited run ST laptop derivative,
which  I don't ever remember seeing any on sale in the wild?  A former  pile
'em high reseller who was well known in the UK scene had one on sale for the
sum of 1500 ukp!  Yes,  this was their starting bid, and no, they didn't add
on an extra zero by mistake!

That sort of money would make even a serious collector blink. If Gas(teiner)
Computers  were  serious about getting shot of it,  they could  lower  their
starting  price considerably,  and have a chance of starting a bidding  war,
and  actually getting a final bid something near what they were  after.  But
this  1500 ukp starting price seems to act as a deterrent.  It's as if  they
don't want to sell it really?  But you can be sure it will be re-listed week
after week.

This form of rigid unbending almost anal fixation with maintaining a  higher
fixed price level, no matter how badly it shifts, is the undoing of a lot of
the "Look rare C64" crowd. They don't have a clue about their target market,
or  the real value of an old computer available in such large quantities  it
could  be  recycled for building material.  Instead,  there is this form  of
ratlike  cunning  displayed  by stupid people that  actually  fools  no-one,
hoping  to make pounds off someone even more clueless than them!  I'm  sorry
guys, but  all  the suckers,  even the ones born every minute,  are too busy
chasing up fake lottery wins and "Confidential Business Proposals" from West
Africa to have any time or cash left over for you!

These should really go in the bin, to stop annoying the sensible Ebay users!

SEEN ON EBAY!  - Rare Throckmorton & Bennett galvanised steel dustbin, model
GR/005.  Manufactured  in 1968 as part of a limited run for the Brighton and
Hove  District  Council.   This  is  in  pristine  condition,   and  can  be
distinguished  from the commonly seen model GR/007 by the ribbed  sides  and
3/4 height mounted baroque style carrying handles. Starting bid at 1000.00

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I can hardly wait for the Czuba 'I sent it' email anymore.  So I want to put
all  the  CT60 accelerator boards into the trash can,  just because I  don't
have one... Nah, just kiddin' ;)

But something that can definitely go in the trashcan is buses.  I hate those
things.  Firstly,  their  adherence  to timetables is so lax,  that I almost
think of them as some kind of vague guideline.  Secondly, when they do come,
the  stern drivers refuse to let you on unless you have exactly the  correct
change, even if its past midnight, pouring with rain, and the next bus is 30
minutes away.  However he will let on any other passanger waving at him what
looks  as if it might once have been a season-ticket,  with a cursory  check
lasting less than a second.

If  you are lucky enough to get on the bus,  there's certain to be no  spare
seat,  and  if  there is,  it will be next to someone with an unusual smell.
Buses sucks, and they should go straight in the trash can!

As you guess, I just had a bad experience ;)

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Now I'm not sure if we can get anything as big as a bus in the trashcan?

Still, let's take a closer look, see what we can do.

Buses,  at  least  as we in the UK experience them,  are a bit of a relic in
some ways. The typical local bus service seems to  hark back to a bygone and
unlamented  era  of  public  service,  given with a  snarl.  The  underlying
contempt  for  customers is openly expressed with no attempt to  conceal  it
behind  a hypocritical smile and trite greeting.  In fact,  this contempt is
carefully  explained  in slow and precisely spoken sentences,  with  special
audio and visual aids for the deaf and blind.

The  driver  would rather be back in the depot,  doing the crossword over  a
leisurely brew. In fact he would rather be anywhere than where he is, in the
driving  seat.  On  a bus service,  you will still hear a phrase,  once very
common  in  general use,  but less so now,  "It's more than my job's worth!"
This  is loosely translated into "I *could* go out of my way to help,  but I
really don't give a fuck, so tough!"

You will find the Fawlty Towers service ethos alive and well here. This goes
something  like  "If it wasn't for the feckin' customers,  this would  be  a
brilliant job!"

Next,  buses  tend  to have a bit of an unfortunate reputation as  a  weirdo
magnet.  So yes, you will get on, and find that the sole unoccupied seat has
that  strangely smelling person of indeterminate status on the  evolutionary
scale  sitting  next  to  you.  He will hear voices in his  head  which  are
transmissions  from the invading Klingon army in low earth orbit.  They will
be  in  league  with  the CIA to  arrange  a  (nearly)  bloodless  takeover,

Also  at certain times of the day,  they are infested with school  children,
which  is  lovely,  if  you  treasure  and store  up  precious  memories  of
behavioural fetidness, that is.

The  Third-worldness  of  bus travel in certain parts  of  of  the  country,
especially  Liverpool,  is  emphasised by the unsupervised upper deck  being
made vandal-proof through removing the upholstered seating and replacing  it
with bare benches.  In fact,  I'm being harsh on the Third World, as most of
the  people there are basically nice,  and have had a poor lot in life,  and
wouldn't needlessly damage stuff provided for them just for a laugh.

On  the  other  hand,  it seems a bit Thatcherite to have a go  at  the  bus
services.  You  might  remember her comment on the subject that anyone  over
thirty  still  using  a  bus  was a loser?  That does tend  to  look  a  bit
reactionary and self-centered perhaps? Also, bus travel serves a very useful
purpose  in  stopping the loonies from taking driving  tests.   Grud  knows,
there are enough of them taking over the roads, directly in front of me most
mornings  as  it is!  And of course,  they do perform an essential community
service for the transport needs of those people without a car.

So  I can't put them in I'm afraid.  Now if you had nominated the  Eurolines
overnight  sleep deprivation and extreme discomfort coaches,  especially the
service going to Hamburg in 1996, there would have been no hesitation!

So  you  get  to  take home this exclusive DVD with  all  episodes  of  this
stunning  70's  sitcom,  "On  the  buses".  (Audience murmur "I'll  get  you

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  Meaningless Cryptic Spam!
Sure  all  spam  sucks,  but  I can somehow see some  point  in  advertising
products,  and  trying to con the unwary.  But a new kind of spam started to
come  into  my  inbox recently.  Spam which offers NOTHING AT  ALL!  just  a
seemingly random collection of words like abstract Japanese poetry.

This  spam  benefits no-one,  not even the sender,  and just acts to fill my
inbox,  waste my time, and reduce the bandwidth of the internet. so I'd like
to put the whole lot in the trashcan!  (I mean,  I do it anyway, but why not
trash it all before it even comes into existence?)

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Yeah, hate it or loathe it, we can always rely on spam to give us our fix of
dodgy  medication  in chinese script,  iffy loans (US customers  only),  and
outright scams. But this whole cryptic thing is something new.

Now  I've not been following current spam trends that closely.  I've got  an
outmoded Atari computer as my main means of negotiating the perilous skidpan
that is the current information highway,  and for some reason I seem to miss
out  on  most  of this?  Maybe it's because I get to delete all  the  (ahem)
unsolicited  advertising material whilst it's still on the server.  Or maybe
if  I  did download something out of sheer curiosity,  any trojan  contained
within simply wouldn't be able to work!  Maybe I should get a current Wintel
with Microsoft's latest offering to get a better handle on this topic?!

But  it seems that you've been watching closely,  and you're quite right  to
alert us complacent Atarians to these new manifestations.  I also read up on
these  issues from time to time,  as a form of gloating at people more up to
date and less fortunate than myself, and it seems that the majority of aware
users now have some sort of spam filter installed.

The  whole  cryptic spam scene seems to be an attempt to defeat  the  filter
algorythms.  This  suffers  from the classic hackers dilemma of  fixing  the
immediate  problem,  but  losing  sight of the overall objective.  The  more
cryptic  a  message  becomes,  the  more roger irrelavant  to  the  task  of
salesmanship  it  becomes.  I even see spammers using some kind  of  bonkers
random  ascii  pseudo machine-code in their subject titles.  Yeah like  your
customer  base  is going to be aroused to a buying frenzy by a  header  that
looks as if you might be better off by compiling and running it!?

To be honest, I'm struggling to work out what the underlying logic is behind
these cryptic spams.  Is there really a market for unlucky halfwits who have
been  'forced' to use an internet firewall,  and they're missing their cheap
viagra so badly, that they are begging for some fiendishly clever lunatic to
bypass  these safeguards for them?  It's a tacit admission of defeat by  the
spammers,  an  acknowledgment of the hatred and contempt that the public has
for them, but they don't seem to realise it yet!

For the sensible majority, spam is dead in the water, it is deceased. It has
climbed  the curtain rail and joined the choir invisibule,  but the spammers
refuse to accept the evidence squatting large and Buddha-fashion in front of
their eyes, and go away gracefully, I say in the bin with them all!

(A  load of random ascii characters fly into the bin,  sucked in by an  evil
looking black wind.  The studio audience look down into the opened bin,  and
cry  out  in unison "Bloody hell,  that looks like the backstage area  of  a
Dildo Fatwa copy-party!")

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  Faux-Kentucky Chicken fast food places!
Why should we trash fried chicken places?  Mainly because the quality of the
chicken  they serve is very poor.  But secondly I have an over-saturation of
them  in  the area of my house,  all with names like 'Royal Fried  Chicken',
'Tennesse Fried Chicken',  and 'Real American Fried Chicken'... The smell is
quite disgusting too.  And in the morning,  hundreds of chicken bones litter
the streets around.

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Faux-Kentucky  Southern  Fried chicken joints.  Surely a cornerstone of  our
nutritional ill-health,  and certainly a worthy subject for inclusion in the

Let's start with the fact that they're not even good enough to merit a badge
of excellence from Colonel Sanders himself.  And Kentucky Fried Chicken is a
rather  baseline eating experience,  even if you are a fat vitamin fan.  And
whilst  we're  on  the subject of Colonel Sanders,  what exactly  was  he  a
Colonel  of?  Some  sort  of secret biological warfare  unit  which  mutated
chickens for unknown but undoubtedly hideous ends?

So  when  you go to a faux-Kentucky fried chicken joint,  you're getting  an
uninspired  second hand copy of something that wasn't all that great in  the
first place.  And in this case,  a double negative does NOT make a positive,
just something twice as bad!

Next up, these places are a scumbag magnet. They are certainly a hangout for
that most media-hyped of white trash social groups,  the "Chav" or "Charver"
(or  "Townie").  I remember experiencing such a place in downtown Rochester,
(the  teenage single mother capital of Europe,)  a couple of years  ago,  in
the  drinking  hours  of the evening,  Every other customer in there  was  a
clinching argument for some kind of retroactive abortion, or at least better
contraception in the early 1990s period?!

(OFMAG  Diskmag official watchdog report:- The complaint about the  over-use
of  the "Teenage single mother capital of Europe" metaphor has been  upheld.
This  organisation  has listed around 4700 communities within  the  UK  that
could reasonably be identified as such, and we feel that continued useage of
this metaphor is just sheer laziness on the part of the author...)

We've  also got to consider what kind of cultural values that  these  places
are  covertly  supporting.  Just take a closer look at the fact that  it  is
SOUTHERN fried chicken.  As in SOUTH USA fried chicken, or PRO-SLAVERY fried
chicken?!?  Should  we be celebrating this kind of value system by  culinary
means? You could confidently expect a huge uproar if someone started a chain
of  "Mein Kampf" Currywurst restaurants (Made with Corporal  Adolf's  secret
recipe and prepared at blitzkrieg speed!) I don't really see any  difference
from that unlikely scenario, and the whole southern fried chicken deal.

To  make  the  whole experience more authentic,  why not provide  new  staff
uniforms?  Some flowing white robes, topped off with a pointed hood would do
it,  and  don't  forget the burning cross out front!  (Actually,  Klan robes
would be quite a good protection against splashing hot fat..  Oh,  what am I

Of  course  these  restaurants have to go in the bin!  (A  satisfying  crash
ensues,  although  there are still some scattered chicken bones lying around
the bin that flew out again..)

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  Porno pop-ups!
When surfing the web, these guys always seem to appear. We should trash them
all  because  it makes it 1) Look as if you're surfing for  porno  stuff  if
someone  walks by,  2) Clicking them away is an annoyance,  3) They generate
cookies  and  spyware,  and 4) Porn is totally irrelevant to the  sites  I'm

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gwEm,  the  email  address  gives away  the  fact  that  you
currently  reside  at one of our fine higher education institutes,  does  it

I'm  guessing then,  that you are using their facilities for the majority of
your online needs. I'm going to say that if this is the case, your sys admin
people  are a hopeless shower of lamers.  This is the second trashbin topic,
that  implies  they aren't up to the job!  After getting a shedload of  spam
which we sorted out earlier, you're now telling me that you also suffer from
the  curse  of porno pop-ups.  You might rightly ask what are  these  people
doing  for  their salaries,  apart from ordering themselves 42  inch  plasma
screens  and blade servers for their own personal use,  and strutting around
in dark shades, Matrix style, all day long?

We have a network at our workplace. It too is connected to the internet. Now
our IT Support people get a lot of stick,  sometimes with good reason. But I
will  say  in  mitigation  that they do seem  to  have  the  whole  unwanted
intrusion  from the outside world thing well under control.  Their  internet
access  policy  has a blocking filter,  sometimes seemingly random,  but  it
keeps  those pop-ups away.  Also we do have a good spam filter.  This is two
guys running a network going between three locations,  150 miles apart. They
also  have  many other things to do of a typical working  day,  from  making
major  system  changes,  to bailing out a lowly user with a wonky screen  or
printer.  How  come they can manage to keep the nasties away,  but the great
and good at your place can't?!

I  think  you can work out that porno pop-up's aren't going  in,  but  we're
seeking to round-up the IT support staff at your place to go instead!

For the full-on unwanted porno experience,  please take these Breakpoint '05
tickets,  with  a special front-seat pass for the 'Mr Freshness' naked drunk
PeeCee  scener  competition on the stage!  (gwEm nervously eyes up a  nearby
shopping trolley which has a drunk Norwegian sprawled in it...)

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Thanks gwEm, you did well. You failed to get tourists, buses, and porno pop-
ups  into  the trashbin,  but you did get rid of !!Rare  collectors  items!!
Cryptic spams,  and pretend Kentucky fried chicken. The thanks of a grateful
Atari scene fly out to you!

Now  the  rest of you,  it's your turn!  Do you want to have a go at putting
stuff in the trashcan for future issues, if you think you're hard enough?

The rules are simple, six topics, three of them can be computer related, the
rest  more  general.  I  do  need a fairly detailed reason  why  you  loathe
something  for  this  to work.  One word suggestions won't do  it.  Also  no
outright ranting or abuse, racism etc, but you guys are far too sensible for
that, so I hardly need to tell you :-)

If  you are still not sure of the kind of thing that makes a  good  trashcan
session, then this article makes a pretty good 'user guide'!

One  last thing,  if you want to do one of these,  I need the nominations in
plenty of time before the next issue, so I can sit down for a good long time
to think up some appropriately witty responses.

Anyway, good luck!

 CiH and gwEm,for Alive Mag, Various '05.

Alive 10