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Alive 6

The September 2002 issue of the MyAtari Webzine considered.

A long time ago, the story begins...

A  nice chap called Matthew Bacon saw into the future,  and decided that the
worlds of 'print' and 'Atari' were going off on diverging paths.  He mourned
the  loss  of the final UK-based paper magazine,  Atari Computing,  but then
spotted this fantastic electronic publishing medium,the world-wide web, where
you could spin virtual magazines to your hearts content.

And in a nutshell, that is what 'MyAtari' became, a paperless paper magazine
for the dedicated Atari fan of all ages, and all types of hardware. Over the
course  of the last couple of years,  MyAtari has managed to cater for  Fuji
fans at all levels of appreciation, from nostalgia-supping VCS fans, through
to a review of the very latest Atari-badged Infogrames wares.

Now  several  people  have helped Matthew over this time.  I  even  remember
lobbing  in  an early contribution about the demo scene,  back when the  hot
demo  of  the moment was that oddly named 'Manchester  Black  Puddings',  or
whatever  it was called.  One of the principal helpmates in this enterprise,
has  been a nice chap called Shiuming Lai,  who became very well known to me
in my CT2 fitting days. We've kept in touch, and he sent me a CD-ROM copy of
issue  23 of MyAtari,  probably their biggest to date,  all nine megs of it,
which  would  otherwise be a lengthy feat of downloading on  a  bog-standard

Taking  a closer look at it,  there are a number of sub-headings for article
titles,  about 13-14 in all. Hmmm, maybe not so many, but I seem to remember
that  some of their articles were very very long indeed,  getting on for the
sort  of feats of writing only a select few diskmag editors can  match!  The
other thing which might account for the consumption of many megabytes is the
copious  use  of  high resolution and high  colour  pictures.  Ahhh,  you're
thinking "Chosneck", aren't you, but in an universal web format, and without
a Falcon menu shell with groovy music, not to mention that the unique Polski
flavour might also be missing.

So what do you get with your complimentary September CD-ROM? I hear you cry.

The  index page has been laid out in a smart and easy on the eye fashion,  a
fantasy  magazine 'cover picture' dominates.  It's as if they are rehearsing 
for  the  day  when Atari magazines are allowed back in paper  form  on  the 
newsstands  of  a grateful nation.  The theme for this month seems to  be  a
cheeky subversion of a screenshot from Super Mario Lands.

The range of topics covered in this issue is quite extensive too,  here they
are, in more detail, starting logically at the beginning.

Foreword:  Matthew Bacon has a little whine about his twenty-fifth birthday,
and  what  he terms a "quarter life crisis"!  Snap out of it,  callow youth,
you've got a lot of ageing to do yet mate!  Meanwhile,  Shiuming Lai, as the
features  and  technical  editor shows off a  lovingly  preserved  schoolboy
pencil  drawing of his idea of the 'ultimate system',  early nineties style.
Which  mainly  seems to consist of his Atari 8-Bit connected to an  STe  and
some nice recording and audio gear. The next article picks up this topic and
runs with it, alarmingly...

Mega STe Love: Shiuming fires on all cylinders, including some that he never
knew  he had previously,  for this three parter.  It was ten years ago today
(well on the first of September) that he got his first ST,  and not just any
old ST, but a Mega STe, quite a nice beast to own in those pre-Falcon days.

This nostalgia gluttony goes into incredibly minute detail,  almost a minute
by minute basis.  You think my Computer Show memoirs in this issue were bad?
This fit of Mega STe love manages to overwhelm that. It uses huge amounts of
pictures,  from  photographs  of  the love object  concerned,  to  carefully
pictured  box  artwork,  magazine pages,  and more.  He spends quite a bit of
time on Wings of Death,  the Hi-Fidelity Dreams demo, and Lethal Xcess. This
massive  article is broken up into three separate parts,  detailing all  the
different  things  he tried with the machine.  It seems he  did  practically 
everything with this as a hobbyist,  from game playing,  through raytracing,
module  composing,  and  eventually  using it for his first efforts  to  get
online.  I wonder how he found time to own a Falcon!? This article is one of
the highlights of this issue, and was also one of the ones that I spent time
online reading even before I got the review copy CD-ROM. Way to go pal!

LANtastic:  A  bit of a change as Edward S.Baiz goes all Jerry Pournelle  on
us,  describing  how he got an ethernet and cable modem connection to go  to
his  Hades  '060  via  his  wife's  PeeCee.   It  sounds  horribly  horribly
complicated,  and so it proved to be. he did get it going in the end though,
but  a tale strictly for fans of handbuilt Sherlock Holmes style  escapades.
By the time people get into dialup scripts and lists of IP numbers,  my eyes 
glaze  over.  Still,  it  will be useful for a lot of people going down this
route to find out how it is done ;-) Set your beard for maximum stun power!

Tip  of  the Day:  Short and sweet this one.  "Harry's ST,  circa 1989 has a 
problem with the printer, it's got a big ball of fur stuck in it!" (Which is
a  reddish-ginger  in colour,  according to the picture,  and it tends to go
'Meoow!' if woken gently.)

Atari  in  the USA 2002:  A shorter one,  looking like it will build into  a
multi-parter  over the next few months.  Del McCool acquires a bashed  about
early  model  ST without the integral floppy drive,  and with the  yellowest
keyboard  ever  seen,  in a cardboard box!  Lots of pictures of motherboards
follow. Next month he'll put some new RAM in and power it up.

Atari and the DX7:  The Yamaha DX7 FM Synth gets the retro treatment, and so
does the late eighties Atari software that was written for it.Lots of detail,
and  useful weblinks  at  the end.  Getting bored with the analogue revival?
Then this might be of interest to you!

Draconus: Shiuming Lai writes up an old Atari 8-Bit platform adventure game.
He got it just for the music,  but ended up playing it right through anyway.
I  remember  a  similar experience with the C64 version  of  'Rambo'.  Tasty
screenshots and scrumptious box artwork nicely round this article out.

Game  on Revisited:  Matthew and Shiuming go mad at the Barbican in  London!
There  was an exhibition on the history of computer and video gaming.  Loads
of  stuff  to  play on as well.  All done in a realtime  article  stylee  by
Matthew,  with many many photographs,  twenty-seven in all, according to the
web  browser  on the Acorn box below me.  Now you get to know where a  large
part of the nine meg for this issue got to!  A neat and enjoyable article in

Unconventional 2002 Art Gallery: Some Manga-themed graphics entries shown in
a  nice  little gallery of their own.  Taken from the recent  Unconventional
2002 party.

Lato  Ludzikow  2002:  It's  a  Polish Demo Party report!  Memories  of  the
Siliventure 2000 come surging back upon reading it! TWH of Foundation Two is
on  the keys!  The name Lato Ludzikow translates to 'Peoples Summer' by  the

The  description  of  the organisation being more  'laid  back'  than  usual
certainly matches my (fond) memories of my time in Poland.  The party report
describes  the orgy of computery and sleeplessness very well indeed,  I  can
almost  imagine  myself there!  The party was predominantly an 8-Bit  party,
with  the competition highlight being a superb demo called 'Numen' by  scene
veterans  Taquart.  TWH  considerately donated a large chunk of the  thirty-
eight pictures in this text, to screen grabs of this demo. Nice Rubik's Cube

Along  with the 'Mega STe love' epic,  this was my other personal  favourite
for this issue.

Linux  Installation Part 1:  Ben Hills looks to interest Atari people in the
cause of Linux.  Another impending multi-parter,  he just sticks to the very
simple stuff this time, what it is, and where to find it. More next issue.

The DGS Compilation CD-ROM:  Dean Garraty Software collection (DGS) reviewed
by  Matthew  Preston.  Of  interest to Atari 8-bit fans,  or 8-bit  emulator
owners. he seems to think it is good value, which is fair enough.

Mailbox:  A  reader writes.  "How can I get my Cubase files to the Mac?"Tim 
tells him how!

News:  All  the  press releases about MagiC Mac,  Calamus etc,  that appeared
just in time for this issue..

And that is it for this issue. What MyAtari lacks in numbers, it can make up
for  in  bulk  of  text per article,  especially where  the  contributor  is
enthusiastic and massively in-depth about their subject.

In some ways I am reminded of the sort of style that Atari Computing aspired
to,  but  without  the constraints of a paper-based issue size.  Matthew and
company  have  really given themselves a licence to go as far as  they  like
with certain articles. But yet the heavy stuff is balanced by some excellent
articles  of  a more general interest.  The Lato Ludzikow party report  will
strike  a  chord  of  empathy  with demo  people  everywhere,  as  will  the
photographs of mad and hairy Polski sceners! The Barbican provided the basis
for a thoroughly enjoyable day out as well.

I'm  pleased  that  MyAtari have managed to carry on,  and even  maintain  a
monthly  release  rate.  The increasing issue size indicates  an  increasing
amount  of interest,  and this is healthy.  I'm not sure about Matthew drip-
feeding one or two articles at a time.  If I was running MyAtari, I might do
it slightly differently, say a whole issue at once, maybe make it bi-monthly
and increase the issue size still further,  but that is a personal view. I'm
sure Matthew has equally good reasons for doing it the way that he does.  In
conclusion,  MyAtari  is one of the quiet success stories of the past couple 
of years, and there should be a lot more life left in it yet!

Look out for! :- The Second Anniversary Commemorative CD-ROM, with all back-
issues for the past year, from issue 13, contained on it. Coming soon!

ADD-ON NOTE: Shiuming was kind enough to send me my very own limited edition
copy of the collected issues, it has all the issues from the past year, from
the  November 2001  issue,  right up to the  issue 23 under  review in  this
article.  Browsing through the various issues reveals a mixture as varied as
the topics considered  in their latest release.  Additionally,  and this may
be  one of the  'very limited'  limited edition disks,  it had  some of  the
nicely done box artwork  etched onto the surface of the disk.  This due to a
fancy nouve-generation CDR that he purchased for the job.

CiH, for Alive! Mag,Oct '02

Alive 6