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Alive 11
Jagfest UK 2005
The  third  edition  of the UK Jagfest took place on the 22nd  to  the  24th
October 2005,  at the Medway Hotel in Rochester,  Kent.  From what I recall,
there  was a real question mark over whether this event was going to  happen
or not,  but happily, it all went ahead. Felice and myself opt to attend for
both  days,  and  stay overnight on Saturday.  The scene of the crime is one
which has been visited in earlier years, as you may well recall from earlier
reports in this very publication.

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Fascinating  Rochester  Fact #1 - Did you know that Rochester was  the  town
where they set the controversial 1960's nuclear war movie,  "Wargames". This
was  the film which was banned from being shown as it was judged to  be  too
close to the likely truth!

There  is  the  feeling  of a missed opportunity these  days,  as  the  more
respectable  elements of this town are frequently heard to  mutter,  "Better
dead than Chav!"
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I've  got  an  extra-compelling reason to go this time.  In  the  course  of
fitting an atx extender cable, to allow me to unbolt the siamese lump of the
power supply from my CT60 two days before, I manage to blow something on the
keyboard connector which stops that working.  The CT60 boots up beautifully,
but  the mouse cursor remains stubbornly dead in the centre of  the  screen.
Fortunately,  one of the Ethernat developers Jan Thomas, aka Coda, is coming
to Jagfest too. He has heard my online cries for help and promises to charge
to  the rescue with his soldering iron.  The tone of confidence in his reply
indicates he knows what is going on there.

We started off quite early,  a storm-tossed Friday evening in fact!  Well at
least  the first leg was to Felice's place,  where me and Nicky met up  with
him and Paula. The girls aren't coming down with us, and have made their own
plans instead. We eventually get off to bed at 01.00hrs.

At  06.00hrs,  a  CiH  stirs uneasily in his loft conversion wormbag,  as  a
Felician phone alarm goes off. Felice is not so easily disturbed, as another
couple  of  attempts from snooze mode are needed before he  is  sufficiently
awake  for his brain to start recording.  This had a potentially interesting
sequel on the Saturday night.

After  a  few  minutes spent with him packing his  Falcon  and  laptop,  and
managing to wake both girls in the process, not deliberately at all heh heh!
we set off properly just after 07.00hrs.  The journey is easy beyond belief,
our  folk  memory of the directions and the Rochester road system  holds  up
well,  and even gets us past the closed off street (due to gas main repairs)
and into the hotel car park.

The back door is locked....

So we walk around the front,  and manage to arrive officially at 8.30ish. At
that  time,  many  of our fellow Jagfesters are in the Medway  Hotel  dining
room. It is not too hard to sit down with them, It is thus, looking as if we
were  staying overnight,  that we got a free breakfast,  courtesy of the not
totally awake hotel staff!  Thanks guys,  we love you! We spot Nick, several
strange  people  who  turn out to be from the  French  version  of  Jagfest,
'Jaguar  Connexion,  and  MUG UK slumped in the far corner waiting  for  his
brain to reboot from the night before.

Whilst  we are contentedly tucking into our blagged breakfast,  Shiuming Lai
and Thorsten, aka The Mad Butcher come to join us.

At this point, it might be worth a moment to consider some of the people who
made  it  here.  There  were  the  usual Jagfest  people,  such  as  Tyrant,
Linkovitch and Stone. Of course there was Nick Harlow, with as much 16/32 as
he could fit in the middle room of the Medway's basement. Also we had MUG UK
down for the weekend.  There was a contingent of Cheshunt people,  including
James Haslam,  and Mark Branson.  We already dealt with Shiuming and the Mad
Butcher.  There  were several French guys and one very alternatively dressed
girl from the Jaguar Connexion. I remember her name or nick was Syl.

Ian Smith and an Italian female who was a pen-friend made it as well. I also
recall that Matt Smith arrived with the day visitors.

Meanwhile,  the  Medway Hotel had gained new management in the previous year
since we were last there.  These seemed to be more friendly overall than the
previous  team.  They closed down the session on Friday night at c.01.00hrs,
but  left  us  unsupervised on the Saturday night.  This proved  useful  for
consumption  of  imported  drink supplies  without  any  recriminations  and
negative feedback from the barman.  Also some people didn't get to bed until
c.04.00hrs (Hi Coda!)

The show opens shortly after nine.  Felice gets himself unpacked and set up,
once a crippling table shortage has been cured.  There isn't a lot for me to
unpack, not until I've got my CT60 fixed, so it is time to search out Coda.

He  is  sitting  at the door to the computer  room,  with  sprawling  set-up
including  his  Keychange cased Falcon,  big CRT monitor,  and Mini-Mac with
elegant 19 inch LCD screen. The CT60 is placed in the holding queue for jobs
awaiting  his  attention.  MUG UK actually gets there first with an FPU  and
replacement floppy drive controller chip fitting for his Mega STe.

One of the first things to grab my attention at Coda's table,  is seeing the
Ethernat  in  action.  There isn't an actual lot to "see" quite yet.  He did
have most of a usb mouse driver working, as a trackerball mouse connected to
the  Ethernat  was able to display changing co-ordinates onscreen.  It  just
needed  the Gem part doing.  Whilst I was there,  he succeeded in networking
between his Falcon and the Mini-Mac.

By  the  way,  when  I  said about Coda networking to a  Mini  Mac,  he  had
completely  disposed  of his PeeCee gear!  He got fed up with  Windows,  and
wanted something that works without hassle. Only time will tell how it looks
in the longer term, but he was generally impressed with the Mini-Mac at this

He  was in the middle of a massive data sort-out from an  external  firewire
hard drive to the Mac.  In effect, he was trying to reduce 200 gig to around
80  gig,  which  meant  sifting  through and chucking out a  lot  of  Peecee
specific executables,  but keeping his media files.  So it was time to check
out the rest of the show.

One  thing  which  stood out from the expected and usual Atari  kit,  was  a
single  board  devkit for something called the 'XGamestation'.  This  has  a
totally retro approach to learning to code,  Effectively, what you get is is
like  an  updated  Atari VCS.  The style of programming,  direct  access  to
hardware registers like that venerable machine. The XGamestation is imported
from the USA.  They can be found at  It is safe
to say that it is "Not on sale in the high street".

From  the  website,  there seems to be an active community.  There were some
nice  example  programs  with  it.  These  are  8-bit  in  style,  but  with
enhancements.  For  example,  we  saw several classic demo effects and  game
examples.  To make the package really worthwhile as a teaching aid, there is
a very nicely done manual with it.

Felice  was in an oldschool mood today.  Ian Smith and his Italian  penfried
had  never  seen the Lost Blubb or Obnoxious demos before,  so now he  shows
them!  It  has been enough time for the burn-holes in my brain from repeated
previous  showings  to have healed,  so that was ok.  The owner of the hotel
appears at this point,  looking over our shoulders, and is mystified by what
is  going  on.  He  has  never seen a computer do wibbly  stuff  without  it
crashing before.  I think that might have been too much for him,  as he kept
well away the rest of the time.

In the Felician corner,  we also get to see the UAE Amiga emulator, complete
with  the  Red Sector Vectorballs Megademo.  He has got Hatari,  but not the
latest  version quite yet.  We take a look at Hatari elsewhere in this issue
of Alive.

The  Cheshunt  Computer Club (CCC) guys attended with a  variety  of  Falcon
hardware,  namely Mark Branson's unfeasibly huge CT60 tower.  There was also
his partially installed CT63 in a Mark X case, another of Coda's little jobs
to  be  done.  James  Haslam went for a lighter theme,  and entertained  the
masses with looping modfiles and sessions of Godpey and Nethack. He was also
experiencing some hassles with a borrowed LCD screen, and the fact it didn't
like some demos at 100hz video modes.

In the central area,  there is the "commercial" part of 16/32 Systems, and a
big screen set up in a cubby-hole seating area.

Nick  Harlow  is caught in the act of dancing around,  trying to  play  some
Dreamcast game (Soul Calibur) with a sword fighting element to it, and using
a  special bonkers Sega Angling joystick.  I've got video evidence of  Nicks
more energetic leaping, and we'll have to see about a more public release of

I  took  lots of photo's in general.  Most of them even transferred off  the
lame memory card I got for the camera. I also took some more on the internal
memory  which  did come off alright.  Several other people also had  digital
cameras with them, so there was quite a lot of camera pointing going on.

Whilst  lurking  in Nick's domain,  I scored myself a 10 gig 2.5  inch  eide
drive.  This was unused,  and still sealed in its anti-static bag. This will
be  the  replacement for the current 3 gig mechanism in my  CT60.  That,  in
turn,  will  go in the CT2 at some point when I find someone brave enough to
take the Desktopper apart.

At the other end of the basement/function area of the Medway hotel, is where
the core Jagfest people make their home. In the space otherwise known as the
console  room,  there  are  several  systems running.  There is  the  rather
inevitable  constant 'Worms' game in play.  I also saw the more rarely  seen
'Defender  2000',  which as any fool know,  was Jeff Minter's other game for
the Jag. There was even a 3DO running screen noir style in the corner. There
was  also  a PC-Engine,  another rare visitor,  which was running constantly
over the weekend.

This room was more empty than in previous years. The 'computer' room was not
being used as a partial junk room this time, so we didn't have to overspill
elsewhere.  There were even a couple of sofas in the console room,  an ideal
chillout  zone for people who were getting up too early to come here in  the
first place!

The  morning soon passes in a blur of pleasant and inconclusive activity.  I
find  Shiuming  outside in the garden area,  photographing a  modified  5200
console,  the  one  which was based on the Atari 800 hardware.  There was  a
feast  for  those  fans of rare retro hardware,  the people that  get  porno
thrills from browsing the vintage computing category on Ebay?

        Shiuming Lai, photographing me, photographing him, errmm...

Soon,  it is lunchtime.  In a wise move, Nick has booked outside caterers to
provide the lunchtime buffet.  There is rather more there than usual, so for
the  first  time at a Jagfest,  it didn't run out within two minutes of  the
covers  coming off the trays of food!  I might add there was even sufficient
over-capacity for a second visit! ;-)

Soon  after  lunch,  the rest of the Harlow family turns up,  including  one
small Harlow sprog. Apart from the inevitable comparisons between father and
daughter,  Shiuming  is  on hand with his uber photo machine,  the lense  of
which  was  robbed  off  a  CIA surveillance  satellite.  In  spite  of  our
encouragements  to the little one to do an Exorcist-style  projectile  vomit
all over the camera, she doesn't.

In the course of talking to Mad Butcher, I acquired his spare copy of a very
glossy magazine called "Sceen".  Briefly,  it is a glossy magazine about the
artistic side of the demoscene. I remember this being discussed on
a while ago. There will be a separate review elsewhere in here.

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Fascinating  Rochester Fact #2 - Charles Dickens,  he who wrote things  like
Oliver "Please sir,  can I have some more?" Twist, lived here.
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Considering the attractions of the console room further, it is apparent that
the French Jaguar Connexion guys made a good showing. There is a photo album
of their past events,  and they brought a load of lovely gear with them. Not
all  of  it is strictly Jaguar related.  It includes a hand built  but  very
professional  looking portable VCS 2600 with an LCD minature screen.  It  is
built into a suitable retro-looking case. I've got the pictures!
Pic here!

There  was  a new game from Songbird Productions for the Jag  being  plugged
here.  This was 'Total Carnage'. It is a very 16-bit styled game. It follows
the  'Commando'  shoot and rescue conventions,  with some cheesily  American
themes  thrown in for no extra cost.  I think that one of the hostage rescue
mission  had  you liberating a bunch of cheerleaders?  Or could that  be  my
overheated imagination?

Matt 'Neo' Smith turns up in the mid-morning period,  and this game seems to
keep him happy for the rest of the time.

There was something different going on,  as  'Chu Chu Rocket' got in amongst
the  more  usual Worms and Tempest tournaments.  I tended to  glide  quickly
through that middle section of the Jagfest, in case of getting collared as a
random fill-in player by Tyrant!

At  one point,  someone gets out a little Jaguar demo routine.  It is a very
preliminary  Voxel  landscape with some shark-fin  style  textured  polygons
cutting  through  it.  It reminded me of Earx's 4k landscape screen  at  the
Outline '05 party.

Of the essential business of getting my CT60 back and working.  This did not
take place until the early evening.  To be fair to Coda,  he would have done
it  sooner,  apart from my forgetting to tell him that I needed this machine
for the Jagfest. So, a simple lack of communication really.

When he got down to it,  finding the actual fault was quite simple. This was
down to a trace between the blue filters and the keyboard connector blowing.
The cure was easy too, as Coda soldered a wire underneath the motherboard to
rejoin the two points.  He also dealt with a couple of wires on the keyboard
which were on the point of coming out of the connector.  There was a feeling
of relief, and quiet elation when the mouse pointer started moving again.

          Much naked motherboard porno goodness! My CT60 exposed!

That filled the remaining time until dinner.  We left the Medway just before
20.00hrs.  Our  plan was to take in the chinese restaurant which we attended
on the first Jagfest.  However, a party of 24 people was just a bit too much
for an immediate meal.  The manager,  emotions conflicting between panic and
greed compromises, so we have an hour to kill in town.

The  waiting  period and associated wandering around in  Chav  central,  er,
Rochester  town centre has its amusing moments.  We are nearly refused entry
to Witherspoons,  on the grounds that we are too obviously geeky! Perhaps it
was a mistake to push the Cheshunt guys to the front?

The  bouncer  is unmoved by our pleas.  "Sorry,  you lot can't come in here,
you'll  start  doing desktop publishing,  and we don't condone that sort  of
filth!"  Whilst we are on the subject of doorkeepers to night-time  drinking
establishments.  Did  someone specifically invent bluetooth headsets for the
bouncers pose factor to look like FBI bodyguards?

Well,  I made that bit up,  of course they let us in,  and we spent a little
time,  basking in the crowded ambience and loud decibel levels of a Saturday
night crowd.  At least some of us did, as apart from six of us, the rest had
reconsidered,  and  disappeared  to a different premises  entirely.  Myself,
Felice,  Mad Butcher, Peter West, Ian Smith, and his Italian companion, tire
of  the noisy delights of Weatherspoons,  and wait out the rest of the time,
getting to the restaurant a little bit ahead of the main party.

The meal was as brilliant as I remembered it from before. Especially the all
you can eat buffet character of it.  Yes I did have four helpings, thank you
MUG UK,  but two of them were tiny!  Certainly,  the chinese duck population
was heavily depleted by the time we were done.

On  our  return,  as Coda was working on Mark Branson's CT63,  I learnt some
fascinating hardware facts from Coda and Shiuming. The Falcon motherboard is
made  up  of  six layers,  so any damage to it effectively  writes  off  the
machine.  (The  ST  is made up of a less complex two layer design,  but Coda
wasn't quite sure on that last point.) Also that Zorro,  the zView coder has
no less than SEVEN fans cooling different parts of his system!

With  a  working CT60 restored,  one of the French guys came over  and  gave
DougQuake  a  good thrasharound.  I managed to help out another CT60  owner,
Thomas  Wellicombe  of MyAtari,  with their install of PM Quake.  My  recent
learning curve climb helping. Their version of PM Quake is not working quite
right.  It starts you off as though the player is already dead,  and you are
looking at the skyline at a weird angle and unable to move!

I  also  fired  up the Atari 800 emulator.  Mad Butcher had  requested  this
earlier,  so  we watched the 'Numen' and 'Drunk Chessboard' demos.  Both ran
perfectly,  Numen was quicker than native speed,  according to Thorsten, and
the Drunk Chessboard was quite a bit quicker,  in fact almost too quick!  In
both  cases the Pokey emulation was almost there,  as if one of the channels
was broken.

We followed up with bursts of Gnuboy,  ZX81 and a bit of Spectrum emulation,
including the most stupidly fast and over with game of ZX81 Scramble ever!

To fill any remaining gaps,  it is time to get decadent with the luxury food
and  drink.  Shuiming  provides plentiful quantities of Rum and coke with  a
side order of Belgian chocolates.  In my view,  this being the perfect post-
midnight  method of winding down from a long day.  It was even calm and  dry
enough  to  allow some of us to sit outside,  talk of things,  and count the
stars ;-)

Nick H.  was spotted sleeping on one of the couches in the console room.  In
that   prone   position,   he  became  a  natural  target   for   interested
photographers.  My attempt on a night setting almost came off,  but he moved
at the crucial moment so there is a nice motion blur on the picture!

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Fascinating Rochester Fact #3 - Ermmm...
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And  so  it comes to pass,  a little bit before the hour of 01.00hrs,  it is
time  to bid farewell for the day,  and seek out my expensively booked room,
where Felice has retired to.  Several flights of stairs later, and a nagging
doubt  as to whether I've remembered the correct room number  is  dispelled,
when  I  knock on the door and hear a familiar cough.  Felice stirs  himself
sufficiently awake to let me in.

The bedrooms are in the process of refurbishing. I guess we got one of those
which  are  still to be done.  The last time that I saw such a 1970's  brown
bathroom suite was in my childhood!

Ring ring ring ring!  FIRE ALARM!!!  03.57hrs!  It goes on and on.  I try to
fight myself back to sleep, wishing for it to stop. Just about when I get to
the  stage where I think we really ought to check and see what is going  on,
it stops.

Felice  sleeps  right  through it.  His reaction in the  morning,"What  fire
alarm?" My reaction to that comment, "What third degree burns?!"

For  a  short  time afterwards,  I have horrified thoughts of  our  precious
hardware  burning  in the basement.  If there was a real fire,  it is not to
hard to envisage the screams of a couple of dozen assorted Atarians in  full
shout "My baby! My baby is trapped down there!"

In  this thankfully imaginary scenario,  the fire service are not so  easily
fooled.  They calmly take their time putting it out.  In the cold grey light
of dawn, they tell us the following;

"There  is  some  good news sir,  the motherboard survived intact,  but  the
casing is still a bit runny and hot..."

We  get  up properly at a proper time,  there is a brief note  here  "Sunday
morning, legitimate breakfast." Which is as much as you need to know.

Back in the basement, and I even got a little bit of work done on the Sunday
morning,  I  just about finished the monster listing with the details of all
the Alive! issues. There was still a bit of colour tagging left, but as that
job is tedium personified, I stopped and left it for another day.

Browsing  the  console  room in a relaxed Sunday morning spirit,  I  take  a
closer look at some of the other gear in there.  For a Jagfest, there were a
lot of other consoles around as well.

The  Sega Dreamcast seemed to be popular.  It has cult kudos as another even
more romantically dead console than the Jaguar.  Also there were more than a
few of the Sony PSP handhelds around the place. I got better acquainted with
a  neat Tapwave Zodiac pda.  These weren't too bad at gameplaying either.  I
had a go at a Wing Commander style game, which was bloody difficult, not the
gameplay  itself,  but the skill setting against an equal computer opponent!
There  was  also  a  stunt driving game,  so the Tapwave machine  can  do  a
reasonable stab at 3D graphics.

Sunday in general was quiet,  it was a bit of a footnote really.  We had the
inevitable Worms and Tempest multi-handed love-ins. Lunch is in town, at the
same Weatherspoon's premises which were so zealously guarded last night.  We
sat at a table near a pair of loud sweary geezer blokes.

The end,  as always, comes very quickly. One minute we are in full flow, and
ten  minutes  later,  most people have their gear in bags and boxes and  are
ready  to  leave.  We got away at around 16.00hrs,  following much the  same
route  as  MUG  UK,  but  we weren't tempted to  take  photo's  of  motorway
signposts showing "The North" on them!

Our route home is slightly indirect,  via a petrol station which didn't have
any in stock, but otherwise we're back in good time.

And so to finish..

Once  again,  the faithful gather,  for worship of the Tempest 2000 and Worm
cults.  Where  old computer hardware,  and clever facsimilies of are proudly
shown off, and much quality food and drink is consumed.

It  seemed  like  a slightly smaller band this year,  although  some  others
thought there might have been more visitors this time around. There was more
actual floorspace,  and the atmosphere was very relaxed,  even in comparison
to  the  previous  Jagfests.  If anything,  there might have been  a  larger
computer owners presence,  and a slightly smaller number of consoles. At the
same time, there was a proliferation of other formats, including the red hot
Sony handheld PSP, and a lot of screen time for the Dreamcast.

We missed the Commodore Scene people this time around, but gained the French
representatives  of  the Jaguar Connexion instead,  who were all  very  nice

Personally,  I was pleased to see everyone again,  and also got to know Coda
better,  especially  as he was doing me a very big favour in fixing my  CT60
keyboard connector. Cheers for that pal, best of luck with the Mini Mac, and
the EtherNat.

I enjoyed this party for not having to rush away on Saturday night as  well.
In fact, it was almost the perfect weekend away, apart from the fact that it
had to come to an end!

So what will happen next year?  It seems to be that the Medway Hotel may not
be featuring.  The two possibilities I heard were 1.  Everyone around Nick's
new house with a big garden,  and he'll hire a marquee.  That would assume a
time  of  year more like high summer of course ;-) Or else 2.  Jagfest  goes
'Oop North',  which will please MUG UK, Warrington was mentioned as a likely

Whatever, I'm sure we will have one of our star reporters in there!

("Star", as in lump of glittery plastic pinned in a McDonalds merit badge!)
CiH, for Alive, Oct '05
Alive 11