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Alive 6
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            We're back!

It's  the  return  of the longest running regular column  in  Maggie.  We've 
managed  to  squeeze in an appearance on an earlier issue of Alive!  But  so 
far, exhausted from this feat, we haven't repeated it yet.

But in a spirit of making good the omission, here we are back again, with an 
assortment  of  diverse and bizarre topics,  maybe a *little*  less  heavily 
Wintel PeeCee-bashing biased this time? I doubt it somehow! 

            Jpeg Madness!

Here's  a bit about the up and coming attempts to make money,  by flogging a 
publicly  available  for  years previously horse,  or  a  generally  generic 
graphics format.  It happened to .gif files years ago (now whatever happened 
to  Compuserve?!)  Now  it  seems  to  be  the  turn  of  the  .jpeg  piccy.

 From: Francesco Savastano

Many  american  pseudo-companies want to earn money by  claiming  infringing
patent  rights:  this  seems  the  new american  way...very  sad.  The  most
disappointing  thing  is that these guys seem to hate  graphics  programmers
like  us.  They  probably  want Adobe be the only graphics  company  on  the
market.  10  years  ago  it  was true but now graphics  programming  is  for
everyone  :  that's why the Adobe guys are worried to lose their monopoly on

EFI  and MIT have sued more than 230 small/medium/big graphics companies  in
USA, Europe and Canada for infringing of color image editing patent 919 they
claim. Among the companies are the big ones: Microsoft,Corel,Macromedia,Jasc
etc..but not Adobe.The 919 patent is expired on May 2002 but they filed  the
things to the court before that date.

Gif is another sad case,  but at least they didn't sued small companies, but
just went to the great ones.

This new american way is:
1)Let's see if we have a patent we can claim rights on.
2)Let's call the big companies to collect the money
3)If they don't want to pay money(million dollars) we put up an army of
  lawyers to win the suit.

Further,  many  of  the american patents (expecially on algorithms or  other
software things) would not have been accepted in Europe.

What  you  *can* do and many are doing already,  is tell them that you  were
unaware of their patent and that you now have decided to duefully send  back
what is legally theirs,  i.e.  your porn collection of JPG files..  Send one
image every day, to each employee, like this guy on slashdot:

 (begin letter)

Dear Forgent Employee,

Attached  is some of my porn collection.  I am returning it to your  company 
because I inadvertantly used your patented JPEG format.

The rest is still to follow.  My printer is slow.  Playmate Debby especially 
requires a lot of ink because of her unorthodox techniques and tools, as you 
can clearly see in image #4057.

Thank You for your patience and understanding,

[Slashdot User]"

 (end letter)

         Times Past Remembered!

Here's a selected extract of some email correspondence I've been having with 
Shiuming Lai,  one of the MyAtari regulars.  He tells me that he is going to 
be  giving  the much-hyped Bitmap Bros game 'Chaos Engine',  a fairly  stiff 
appraising,  but  things got a little weird from there,  when the subject of 
'ST Format' was brought up. Anyway, read on..

P.S.  Thought  I'd  let you know,  I'm going to trash The Chaos Engine in my
article.  "Re-compiled"  the  ST Format demo and just downloaded a crack  to
refresh my memory...

> Is this the Bitmap Bros game of that name?

Yes,  that  supposedly  "STE enhanced" game that was late coming to  the  ST
because  of  apparent difficulty getting it to run on an ST.  Oh yes,  I  am
bitter.  ST Format's reviewer was clearly on drugs. Now I'm going to have my

ST  Format  reviewer  "on drugs" for just that one  review??  Shurley  shome 

ST Format sample review - May 1993, editor Paula "out there" Richards....

"You  get an initial impression of diesel fumes,  the harsh clattering sound 
of a London bus pulling out into a busy street. Jimi Hendrix dives headfirst 
through  a sheet of glass,  and the cascading shards metamorphosise into Red 
Admiral butterflies... Oh wow man! Really WOW!!"

"All in all, not bad for a textfile displayer. - 6 out of 10.."

Some things you cannot do on the cheap!

Taken from Teletext, August 14th 2002...

"Amateur Brain Surgeon charges œ3 a time."

A  man  who performed brain surgery in Egypt despite only having  a  primary
school education has been arrested.

The  40-year old man claimed to have studied surgery in Cairo  and  Germany,
when in fact he had forged a secondary school certificate.

He  charged 22 Egyption pounds (œ3) per patient and operated on a number  of
people, said court sources.

The condition of his "patients" has not been revealed.

(Surely "dead"!? - Ed.)

 Revenge of the Film Licence Game!

This just in to our newsdesk..

MEN IN BLACK II: Alien Escape 
Playstation 2 - 40 UKP

"There's  something  innately likeable about Will Smith.  Even  though  he's
played  a  part in highly questionable fare such as Wild Wild West  and  Bad
Boys, it's hard to dislike him, however appalling the travesty in which he's

"It's perhaps appropriate that in Men In Black II:  Alien Escape,  his voice
has  been  replaced  with  that of some  random  wisecracking  voice  actor,
instantly  voiding the role of all charm,  and completing the circle of evil
in  a  game  that is as harrowingly frustrating and derivative  as  any  tat
trotted out as cheap movie merchandise."

"Run  around,  shoot  at the tedious onslaught of alien scum,  and then  get
killed and start the whole monotonous thing again from the beginning, whilst
listening  to  half-arsed  semi-quips  delivered by  two  people  who  quite
patently aren't the stars of the film."

"It's  hard to believe that anyone really hates themselves enough  to  spend
œ40 on this."

Nick Gillett - The Guardian

And  it's  hard to believe that software companies are  still  taking  their 
customers  as  mugs who will buy any old crap with a picture of a  big  name 
movie on the box! Waitaminute, what am I saying!! Anyway, reading this takes 
me  back to the sort of thing I was against ten years ago!  It almost  makes 
you nostalgic for the days of Ocean and US Gold!

Almost, my memory isn't that far gone just yet!

           Phenix Roast?

Here's  some stuff which came off the back of a question that I  thought  to 
ask in the Rodolphe Czuba interview.  This went first via Shiuming Lai,  who 
had  a lot of good information about the Phenix project when it was  active, 
and  who  gave me quite a bit of it here.  So I thought this would be  worth 
putting elsewhere - CiH, Sept 6th 2002.

CiH:-  A  historical curiosity.  We all remember the Phenix,  the dual  '060
based  super  Falcon concept that didn't make it.  I even remember seeing  a
motherboard at the AMS Show in Stafford a few years ago.  Shortly after,  it
all  fell  apart  from the firmware developers side.  How close  did  Phenix
actually get to being fully realised?

SL:-  That  wasn't  a  motherboard,  it  was  *the*  motherboard,  the  only
prototype.  I  remember  Rodolphe showing me the cause of the bug  that  had
stumped him just weeks before he brought it over.  After he borrowed a logic
analyzer  it transpired that he'd accidentally routed some bus lines on  the
board back-to-front!  So he had to cut a few tracks and solder on some wires
to "flip" them back over :-))

Bear  in  mind  Dolmen  had  actually reached  a  stage  of  quite  advanced
functionality,  you  should have seen screen-shots of it running normal  GEM
apps on a CT2A Falcon fitted with the evaluation PCI bridge running with the
S3 Virge.

CiH:- But somehow we never got to see that,  the only thing the Phenix board
was capable of doing at Stafford was booting an orange chessboard pattern on
screen.  If  Dolmen  got  that far,  it is curious that we didn't  see  much
physical  evidence of it when we were in the 'live' development phase,  such
as screenshots. I don't remember seeing a Dolmen screengrab anywhere?

SL:- Read again,  "on a CT2A Falcon." Remember you couldn't develop anything
on the Phenix itself,  it would be a chicken-and-egg scenario.  So what they
did  was  code all the stuff on a CT2A Falcon,  then squirt it down  to  the
Phenix  via  the CT2A's 32-bit expansion bus (the one  which  Titan  Designs
famously tried to screw CT2B for lacking).  All the main bits of Phenix were
developed as plug-in cards for the CT2A.

Check  Atari Computing 15.  It was also shown at various European shows,  on
CT2A Falcons (I saw it at Neuss 99 in April but didn't get to play with  it)
because at that time a Phenix did not physically exist.  By the time it did,
and by the way,  its *first* public showing was at Stafford,  then the Neuss
fair  the following weekend,  it was not yet in a state ready to run on  the

CiH:-  I  am  also curious about the fact that Dolmen  seems  to  have  been
completely abandoned, almost deliberately hidden out of sight, with no buggy
but useable beta versions circulating for example. Where did it go to?

SL:- I did ask for a copy when I was working at System Solutions but it  was
deemed too complex to configure, they may have promised a more user friendly
one  later  but I can't remember on this one.  There is basically  no  point
running Dolmen on even a CT2B,  because the Phenix systems it's designed for
are only available on the Phenix itself,  or a CT2A with the relevant Phenix
sub-system development card on its expansion connector.

         Down with King Spam!

Now this is a spam email with a difference.  Now most spam emails are easily 
spotted  and dealt with quickly.  Most of them promise to "add three  inches 
within  a  month" (to your cucumber plants,  and whilst making "$$$"?!)  But 
this  one managed to avoid being dunked into an early random electron  bath, 
because of the initial weirdness of the subject header. Which goes something 

Subject: A:\newsubject_dad  SEMPTEMBER 30 2002.txt

A ghastly mistake, or something genuinely from a reality operating almost in 
parallel  to  ours?  No  such  luck,  as  it turned out to  be  yet  another 
"unbeatable!" offer. But wait, reading it reveals more!

and 1.4 million USA business fax numbers FULLY EXPORTABLE ==Only $ 99.95==
                     90% DELIVERABLE
Targeted email is the most direct and powerful method of advertising on  the
Internet today! There are potentially millions of buyers willing to Purchase
your product or service.  Start NOW by being your own boss............

So we're starting to get an idea where spam comes from.  Hands up, who still 
believes  that  they get all these email addresses by themselves,  by  hand? 
Thought not! It gets more sinister, look below!

* Persons running home businesses or interested in starting one
* Persons interested in buying things on the web
* Persons interested in investing online or offline
* All 50 States broken down by area code
* Persons interested in Health & Fitness products / services
* Opt in : Persons interested in recieving offers by email.
* Persons interested in Travel, Sports, Dining, Real Estate, Mortgage,
  Politics, Religion, Fishing, Trade Shows etc..
* Many More Categories...

It's getting like that 'Minority Report' film,  targeted spam!  Don't belong 
to any religion or gyms! Now a screamingly funny bit coming up:

MUCH FASTER:  With bulk E-mail you get responses back in 1 to 4 days instead
of  waiting weeks or months!   You can begin filling orders the same day you
send E-mail.  FREE ADVERTISING WORTH MILLIONS:  It costs millions of dollars
to mail.

Pity most of the responses will be on the lines of "Oh do fuck off!" (!) But 
what is this? They've got a snailmail address right at the end.

Future Tech International
Import Export Company
1300 Don Mills Road Suite 211
Don Mills Ontario, Canada
M3B 2W6

To be removed from our database please send a fax to   1-970-289-6524 (Wanna
bet that fax number got bombed within three days of this spam going out?!)

Now  if we can get cruise missiles to respond to postal addresses,  and  not 
just grid references, we might be on to something here!?

The Real Star Wars, coming soon to a Rogue State near you?!

I  scooped  this off the site,  which  has  interesting 
stuff of this nature featured occasionally.  And you thought that the people 
that  made  the (first?) Gulf War so memorable,  had been sitting  back  and 
chewing the ends off pencils since 1991?


October 11,  2002;  The military is developing laser weapons to arm the F-35
and  AC-130,  and expects to have a demonstration model by 2010 with a full-
scale development project to follow.  Such a weapon has many advantages,  it
can  fire indefinitely,  subject only to the engine fuel to power it and the
cooling system to keep it from overheating. And the aircraft can be refueled
in  flight after the laser hits a target,  there are no bomb fragments  that
say  "Made in USA",  allowing covert attacks with full deniability.  A laser
could  detonate fuel storage tanks and leave no evidence that an attack  had
even taken place at all. It is more accurate than guided bombs, which can go
off  target  due to mechanical failures.  The damage caused by the laser  is
very localized, with a damage radius of only a few feet.

It can  "allow covert attacks with full deniability"(!)  Isn't that sort  of
giving the game away in advance? - Ed Note

This  has  become possible due to recent technological  advances  that  make
lasers  smaller,  lighter,  and  more  efficient.  Another improvement is in
fighter technology, as new fighters will be able to feed a megawatt of power
into  a laser within five years,  and more within ten years.

Microwave  weapons  are  also being designed,  but will only be  carried  by
unmanned  aircraft  as they are harder to control and more  likely  to  harm
their own aircraft and its crew. - Stephen Cole

     Does Halloween make you Sick?!

This internet grabbed Halloween pisstake was just too good to pass up!

        I might suggest you make up your own captions for this one!

             The End (for now!)

And this is it for another edition of Dirk.I leave you with a final thought.
If Guy Fawkes  night is only supposed to be one night,  how come  we've got
fireworks going up into the air for the previous month before,  and now six
days afterwards?!  It's  the same with Xmas  starting in November,  People, 
learn to get your festivals in proportion,  or they'll get taken  away from
you by the government ministry of banning fun things!

 CiH,for Alive! Mag, various in '02

Alive 6