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Alive 7

 4th Alt Party Musings and Ramblings..
         (*Partially* Realtime)
      by your raving reporter, CiH !

Or  as  the  bulk of this is being  done on an Archimedes  A3010,  maybe  it
should be !CiH(Bit of an in-joke for Acorn fans there!)

12.35hrs  on the (pauses to check for  date) 10th January 2003.  This is the
fourth in the long-running  series  of Alternative Parties. Was it really as
long  ago  as Easter  1998  that  we  first came to Finland to  sample  this
very different party  landscape?  Well  yes it was, and at least a couple of
times after  Setok  swore that he'd never do another one of these again,  we
are   back   for   another   dose  of  the  same  old  sleepless  demo-laden

So,  swooping  back  to  the present  day,   we  are  a little way past  the
official  doors-opening  time,  the  arrivals  are trickling in,  but  these
include  some very high profile tricklers.   How about Jeff 'Yak' Minter for
example?  Yes,  the hairy  one  is   here,   and  set  up a couple of tables
away  from  us.   He  has  been  impressing  the  small amounts of  gathered
multitudes  with   screengrabs   of   Flossie  the   sheep   on  his  mobile
picturephone thing.

Sample conversation with Jeff Minter:

Jeff:- "Here's a picture of Flossie, I really love that sheep!"

Me:- "Personally, I'm more of a girlfriend person myself!"

Jeff:- "Flossie IS my girlfriend!"

Not to mention Jeff's love of what he calls "beast secretions"!

Jeff  again,  "If  I  had a cow,  I'd  suck it!" (Thank you Jeff,  the RSPCA
inspector  is  in  the post!) I  think  he  is talking about  milk,  put  it
another way, I HOPE he is talking about milk!?!

Scoop:   the  origin  of  the  unfamous  goatsex  obsession  that  regularly
plagues Slashdot seems to have its roots  in the land of Llamas.   OHO!  (Q-

Anyway,   this   thing   is   running   late,   as  we  really  kicked   off
yesterday,  so  for a little while,  sit  back and relax whilst I go back in


Thursday the 9th of Jan.

A journey of two halves, begins  somewhere  in sunny Birmingham, as we dodge
under  the  tape barrier to  get to the airport  parking  portakabin  office
structure.  A nice lady on the  front desk takes an age to input our details
onto their  ancient  rusty  grid  of  a  PeeCee, and takes Felice's Kar Keys
off  him.  Then   we  are  whisked quite a way back the way we came  to  the
airport itself.

Birmingham airport has a slightly unsettling central Asian feel to it,  with
flight departures posted for  destinations such as Islamabad, not to mention
the  middle-eastern looking  family  groups waving off their younger  family
members to destinations unknown?

(Goodbye Hassim,  take as many of the  unbelievers with you as you can,  and 
we'll see you in Paradise!)???

We  pause  at  the security check-in and  boggle at the  huge  selection  of
dangerous scissors and nailfiles  displayed  in  a  glass case. Taking pride
of  place is a Sikh ceremonial dagger.  In the words of one of the  security
guys  "He thought he  was  getting  on  his flight,  but didn't actually get 
to do so!"

Our first stage flight to Amsterdam is  uneventful,  on a KLM UK Fokker 100.
(That IS its real name,  so  stop  sniggering!) We land at a bleak and snowy
Schiphol airport. Several  miles  of amused contemplation of walkways later,
we link up  with  our  fellow traveller for the second part of the  journey,
a   Russki-hatted  John Hayward(Asteroid).  He has failed his audition  for 
the  successor  organisation  to the KGB,  so he has decided to come with us
to the Alt Party instead.

Some  more time passes amiably in  the  Schiphol locale,  and we board a KLM
Boeing for  the  Helsinki  leg  of  the  journey.   This  goes down smoothly
too,  and we arrive at  Vantaa Airport,  a shade after 10.30pm,  local time,
more or less on time.  Getting off the plane, we make phone contact with the
bearded  one,   otherwise   known  as  Q-Funk.  But it is when we get to the
baggage  carousel,  that  things  start  to get a little  bit  less  smooth.

Felice's bags,   and  my  stuff  turn up nicely,  but a certain lumpiness to
the  proceedings starts  to  be felt with the non- appearance of  Asteroid's
big pack.  A  long  while later,  we proceed to the information desk,  where
acres of unclaimed stuff resides. Success! John's big pack has made its  way
over  on  an earlier flight,  and is sitting there silently screaming "Claim 
me!" So we do...

Meteorological add-on note:
(We had our first full-on encounter with the legendarily cold Finnish winter
climate  when we left the airport.  There had been a certain amount of  hype
and warnings, pre-party, to dress appropriately, ie. as closely to an eskimo
as  possible.  Temperatures  of  more  than  minus  twenty  centigrade  were
expected. So when we first met the cold air, the warnings did pay off, as it
gripped  us like a giant freezing thing.  Pissing in the snow was ruled out,
unless  you wanted to produce instantaneous greeny coloured  popsickles.  We
did get used to this, and the weather slowly got "warmer" over the following
days, or not quite so freezing, but we got more snow instead. Ah well..)

We   find   Q-Funk,   and   the  little  fellow  traveller   from   Tampere,
Pahartik.  He wishes to stop for  a  cake  break,  being the only person not
to have eaten this evening. This  we  do,  and he takes a good old while. It
is getting late by the time we go and look for a taxi.

This proved to be more interesting than it ought to have been as well.

There is a firm called,  imaginatively,   'Airport Taxis', who will take you
anywhere in the Helsinki  locale  for  a fixed rate, the cheapness depending
on  the number of people  using the vehicle.  Pahartik opts to make his  own
way back  to  Q-Funk's  place.   This usefully reduces the cost for us,  but
triggers   some   kind   of   emotional  or  monetary  brain  spasm  in  our
temperamental taxi driver  who  skids  to the edge of the snow-covered  road
threatening to throw us  out  in Finnish if we don't stop talking about  it!

Q-Funk says  something  that seems to calm him, and the journey resumes in a
somewhat  subdued manner.  We make it home without further incident,  hardly
daring  to ask if he was really joking or not,  until we get well away  from
that  car.  Q-Funk,  hoping to make some trouble for the  driver  concerned,
splatters  the Airport Taxis website with something which was a small  novel
in size, in the general tone of "Your driver, was he an asshole or what?"

Sequel  note:-  This  did receive  a  reply,   which was apologetic  in  the
extreme, I wonder if it did make trouble for the driver concerned?

A  swift  uphill  trot later,   and  we  are  back in Q-Funks  apartment.  A
cheery sober Marc,  the  manic  midnight  drunk  fondly remembered from last 
year,  greets  us.  He  is   surrounded   by  several  beer  bottles  and  a
Microsoftie instant messenger box.  He  remembers  us  from last year, which
is  pretty good going for him,   and  we  tell him that he was the highlight
of last year's visit, which I think he appreciated?

There  is  a  generous amount of  floorspace cleared in  Q-Funk's  room  for
mattresses  and sleeping bags,  so after  some time spent online,  we set up
sleeping  space  to  gratefully  crash  out,  which  we  did around 02.00hrs
on the friday morning.

Back to the Present - Friday 10th Jan 2003!

Anyway,  we got up in good time  and reasonable order, and made our way over
here with the help of a  more mentally stable taxi firm.  So right now, I am
sitting  in  one  of  the  upper  galleries of Gloria,  having switched over
this  realtime to Felice's swanky Compaq laptop.  Asteroid is seated next to
me, playing the Archie version of Lemmings.

Felice has got Twilighte  in  his  deadly  grip, his hypnotising voice flows 
over  the   unsuspecting   victim,   Twilighte  sways  and starts  to  fall, 
Felice  pounces for the kill!   Well  there's not a lot else going on  right
now. The Swedes, headed  up  by  Baggio have arrived too, and have set up on
the  opposite balcony.  Some Amstrad CPC 6128 sits silent and unloved on the
table  next to us,  and some other dudes with various bits of C64 gear  have
just   arrived.   Downstairs,  the  tables are still mostly unnoccupied  and
silent.   If   the   official  propaganda is to be believed,  this state  of
peace and tranquility will not last very long, with 100 more people expected
than for the same time last year.

Anyway,  I've  got as far as I can,  so let's sign off and hand this over to
someone else for now....


Asteroid  here,  marvelling at Richs chrome trimmed Compaq laptop,  which is
rather  pleasent to  use.   Had  a  fairly  straight forward trip  up  here,
had  to hang  around  6  hours  in  Amsterdam Schiphol airport to  catch  my
next plane.  Managed  to  meet  up  with  Chris and Rich after spending long
hours  on the airport lounge watching endless looped kids tv programs on   a
large  plasma  monitor  that  is  intending to keep travellers kids happy.

Anyway  back at the familiar Gloria venue  again now,  just seen some of the
remains  of  Helsinki  University's Cray Super computer which  some  of  the
Finnish  guys saved from being  cruelly  trashed from the IT centre when  it
was   deemed   no  longer  in  service,   the  boards  have these  expensive
looking   tiny  chips  and  large  chunky  tubing  which  is  presumably  is
for moving cold gas around the system.

The  Acorn  A3010  seem to survive its journey through to  the  snowy  north
stashed  in  the overhead bin of the  plane with me slightly worrying  if  I
would get hassle from the customs people, but no probs whatsoever :)

Getting  here  was  a breeze  apart  from  the  forementioned  stroppy  taxi
driver who was threatning to stop and leave us at the side of a frozen  main


CiH back, damn, it's quiet!

There  are  a few cool people  here already,   I've been spending time  with
DBug, catching up with his  post-STNICCC  back  catalogue  of Oricness. Nice
work  matey!  Well  with  that,   and  the  other  people such as  Twilighte
helping,  there  seems to be a nice little (active!) Oric scene building up.
They are presenting an entry  for  this  party,  and yes,  I've seen this as
well.  This is recode of  a slightly older, buggy as hell party version from
last year.  At last,  serious  competition for the Vic 20! Now if only there
can  be  some  other  groups splitting off from the  main  centre  of   Oric
activity,  maybe  a  little  bit  of  a  scene feud?? Competition at least!

Of  other  possible   entries,   there  is  no  real  news  yet,  just  some
disconnected rumours.  Well, we  really  need  some  more people to get some
proper rumours going!!

I also had an interesting chat with Jeff Minter, when is that man ever dull?
He is under a Non Disclosure Agreement (NDA) for something 'big' he is doing
for  a  current  mainstream  console  under the Llamasoft label. One helpful 
clue he was prepared  to divulge, it's not going to be for the X-Box ;-)

However,  we  will  know  all  about  it  in  a  couple of weeks  after  the
party, long before this lot gets out on the streets.
(Which we now know as the Gamecube project 'Unity' - Retrospective ednote!)

Asteroid is showing  some  scholarly  looking  Finnish  dudes who have never
seen computers do scenish demo-y  things, doing just that on his Archie. Not
too shabby for a  machine  that barely made it through the customs of  three 
European countries, poorly disguised as a home made bomb.

(One  of   these   guys  revealed  himself  to  be  some   kind   of  social
scientist.  The inevitable question  "Why?"  was  directed  at me, so I said
it  was  in  defiance of Bill Gates,  who would dearly love to  pass  a  law
against  people  doing  things with  computers,  for fun,  and in their  own

Someone  got  'Revenge  of  the  Mutant  Camels'   running  on  one  of  the
presentation  screens  as  a tribute to  our distinguished  hairy  guest  of
honour.  Disparaging comments about  the  graphics  quality follow from said
hairy person,  the game  is  described  as  the "Attack on two fat guys in a 
pantomime camel costume."(!)

Back laters.

Now it is 11.00hrs, on Saturday the 11th Jan 2003.

Now this is what I call a lot laters!

Shortly  after  the  last  bit  of  realtime  was  done,  Felice  discovered
something  called  an  "internet hub" Since  that time,  my access  to  this
realtime has been rather limited, as in not at all.

Felice's multi-hour marathon connected to  the  net only ended briefly  when
it  was pointed out that the  party organisers didn't run  a  bowel-emptying
service  in situ at  the  computer  tables,  and he would jolly well have to
go  to  the  toilet  all  by himself!  The other thing which tended to  work
against  any  in-depth text interaction was the fact that  the  lights  were
switched off,  and it  was  too damn dark to work, like now in fact. But one
must carry on as best they can.

At  this  present  time,  Tempest 3000,   the  Nuon years is running on  the
bigscreen which I'm sure Jeff is happy about, if he is awake.

Volume PUMPED UP! He will be now!

Doing the Yesterday thing, part 2:..

First  thing,  in   a   confusing  reverse  chronological  order   thing,  I
pulled  off  a   major  miracle,   as  in,  I-managed-to-sleep-on-the-first- 
night-of-an-AltParty!(*)  I  also  managed this  in the  main  hall,  whilst
Tempest 3000 was in  full  blast.  Earplugs  rule!  I only crashed for about
3-4  hours,  with   some  added  horizontal  inertia time of around  another
couple of hours, but the point is, I did it!

(*)The  sheer miraculousness of this  deceptively simple action,  cannot  be
understated!  Feel  free  to  read all previous Alternative Party reports by
myself to understand why!

As  for  the   rest  of  yesterday,   lots  happened,   some  of it  crudely
stashed away in temporary memory bins awaiting later retrieval.

I saw a few odd 'Alt' machines,   although  Alt  4 seems to be the year that
the  PeeCee  Laptop rules. Grudammint,  I'm typing on one right now!  On the
ancient  console  front,  there  is an Intellivision devkit running  a  very
sprite-filled  demo  for  that  machine.   I  also  spotted one Vectrex, but
so  far,  only the one  :(  - There is the usual sprinkling of Amiga and C64
hardware,  and dare  I say,  even the occasional Atari,  mostly belonging to
people  I  know  already,   but  with at least one lone ST  running  in  the
Byterapers corner.

There  was a big drawdown in the  numbers of machines like the MSX,  and the
Arctic  Computer Museum,  with  its  collection of extremely obscure models,
stayed  away  completely.   In   the   end,   there were just  enough  'Alt'
machines to make it worthwhile though.

A  special  mention  goes  to  one  brave  individual  who   has  built  the
ultimate  'Mad  Scientist Peecee',  which divides itself uneasily between  a
standard PeeCee case,  and the  chassis  of an old style globe shaped vacuum
cleaner.  At least  the  computing  experience  would be cleaner than normal
for a party environment?

The  other  'special' mention goes out to the unknown builder of  a  replica
Cobra Mk3, which any Elite-playing fool will know well. It was built of some
transparent  material,  and illuminated from inside,  casting a ghostly glow
over  the  Oric  Zone,  where it was placed.  If it had some kind  of  radio
controlled  flying  ability,  say vector thrust mini-rockets,  then it would
have been the perfect outdoor aerial combat geek-toy!

Demo rumours,  let's get these over  with..   There  are not too many at the
minute,  I've  already  had  a   good   long look  at  the  Oric  contender,
'Barbitoric',  which   is   excellent.   I   gather  that  Viznut  is  doing
another  Vic  20  entry,  and  there's  a  little  bit  of talk  about  some
PeeCee  stuff,  of  a  suitably  'alt'  nature?   Apart  from that,  I dunno
really.   I  don't  think  there is going to be anything Atari  related,  as
Wiztom is working on the  same  shadebob  routine  that he was showing  last 
year on his STe,  and  Baggio's  evening  on his Falcon was mainly memorable
for  some major mouse related  hassles.  So if something Fuji- powered  does
make an appearance, it would be a major surprise.

We  did  get   a  fair  spread  of  competitions  from   the   Invite  intro
competition,  which   included   the   ugliest  demo  ever  seen   (hint  to 
aspiring demo designers,  don't  use  red/black  and no other colours!) This
was followed by  the  'rejected/banned demos' section, consisting of entries
which  didn't  make the  grade  at past coding parties,  being kicked  awake
from their coffins, and rewarmed here.

These  could  be   divided  into  a  number  of  categories.   Such  as  the
'Clearly  too crap even by  the  standards  of that time'.  Then there's the
'Runs waaay too fast on a modern PeeCee to make sense anymore'.

We  are  scarcely  able to avoid  the  'Demo  written as  a  clear  personal 
insult  to  the   party  organisers  or  their  friends'!   There  was  also
another  production with too much red  in  it,  and several which fucked VGA
screen modes when running,  or  cleverly  gave the impression that they were
about to do so??

The  rejects  included  some wild compo entries,  which picked up a  lot  in
quality  with  a  UK production from a team called the  'Milk  Gods',  which
probed fearlessly into issues such as 'milk pornography'.  This started Jeff
Minter up again,   who  complained  about  the  lack  of cows. The judges of
the  Assembly  Party,   perhaps  liking  their humour a little less obscure,
stupidly kicked this  one.  I  found it a somewhat side- hurting experience.
This lot clattered to  a stop sometime around half four this morning,  which
we decided that the hard floor surface should be renamed "bed".

(Apart   from   us   wussers-out,   who  remembered  to   bring   inflatable

Party  numbers digression:- I chatted  with  Setok late last night,  and the
official  log  entry  indicates  that  the  numbers  attending  have  passed
all  previous  records,   with  around  two  hundred  and fifteen people  on
the  books  as  of  late  last  night.   This of course does not  take  into
account  that there are  more unregistered people roaming the building,  and
leaving  small  piles   of  drink-smelling vomit where  they  lie  in  their 
sleeping  bags.  So  the  real  total could be closer to the  three  hundred
discussed on the press release yesterday?

In  the  meantime,  Setok  was wandering  the building with a  nervous  tic,
asking people at random if they had registered yet.

I  got  talking   to  various  people,   a  Yugoslavian  dude  whom  me  and
Twilighte chatted to, had  mixed  memories  about his countries recent past.
He concluded that parts of  the experience, such as the protests against the
Milosevic  regime,  with the general feeling of all standing together,  were 
some of the best times that he had!

I  also   had   a  chat  with  Ravel,   as  he  topped  up  with   loads  of
(prescription?)  drugs   in   the  toilets  this   morning,   who  fondly(?)
remembered my 2 Alt obscure music  compo  entry.  He regretted the fact that
there was not going to  be  another  this year. Never mind, maybe next time!

Weather note:- Cold,  a bit  snowy,  bearable  until  the wind gets up, then
it's goodbye ears lips and noses!

Rich  and John are awake,  but  they'll  have to wait until I've doubled  on
the length of this text from yesterday, har har!

Okay, I might wrap up for now from here, same time again tomorrow?!!?

It's... 14.55hrs, and it's  still  Saturday,  and  it's  still dark in here!

Felice  has  kindly  stood down  from  his  IRC  marathon  to  let  me  have
another  go on this sluggishly updated  realtime dairy (damn those  Gods  of 
Milk  for   that   last   typo!)  Since  the   last   time,   it   has  been
pleasantly  quiet,  and  my  demo hunger from the third Alt Party  has  been
satiated  by   plentiful   showings  of  much  excellent   archive   Vic  20
material.  It  seems that Viznut is no longer the only Vic coding kid on the
block  anymore,  and there is  a  nicely burgeoning little scene out  there!
Some  of the demos really  rip  the  piss in hardcore terms from  the  basic
3.5k machine.  This  is  leading  one  person,  I think it was Twilighte, to
give us the quote of the party so far.

"Hey,  not  bad   for   an  ST  demo!"  (Followed  by  general   gurgles  of
amazement when it was revealed the "ST" was in fact a Vic 20 ;-)

The  current  entry  state  from  the  organisers  tent,   there are  up  to
seventeen   demo   entries   for    tonights   competition,   with   several
different  platforms  covered.  There  is  no  more  word  if any  of  these
belong to "our" platform,  or  even  any  more  detail on what they are yet?
I  fear  at least some of  these  may  turn out to be the  weak  MSX-  based
single command line 'joke'  demos that infested the competitions from 2  ALT

The organisers have regrouped into the central upper gallery, and have taken
to  communicating  with the party solely via the means of a Vic  20  command

Ok, save this lot and let someone else have a go.

So  it  is  now 17.19hrs,   And  Felice  is downstairs making  "Hello  mum!"
gestures at the camera crew  presently interviewing Jeff Minter. Good, as it
gives  me  the chance to  have  a  go at this again.  Maybe  someone  should
break it  gently  to  him  that  his  mother  does  not live in Helsinki ;-)

The  news,   there  is  not a lot,   but  I've had some interesting off  the
record  chat   with   a  certain  Swedish  person,   about  up   and  coming
productions  for another coding party with an Easter and easterly tint,  but
no more to be said here!!

Latest  Jeff  Minter  quote (in Welsh) "I  want  a sheep in  my  bed!"  This
sounds  exactly  like  the english version,  as funnily enough,   I know  no

It is time for some food  shortly,   and  it looks like a Captain Scott trip
as  Q-Funk probably has a nice  little bistro in mind on the other  side  of
the country ;-)

I might be back later, depends how  this  trip goes, feel free to send out a
properly  equipped  mountain  rescue search party,  whoever chances by  this
last  realtime  log  entry,  if  we're  not  back  in  here by 20.00hrs!

22.46hrs, and we made it back!

And  we  got  back  with  all  limbs  intact!   Mind  you,   with Q-Funk  as
expedition leader, of course  you're  going  to  get  the little minor fuck-
up,  or  fuckette,  as bad  luck  clings  to  that  man like a dirty shroud.
This  time,   we  saw  an  awful  lot  of  restaurant foyers and  snowfields
before  we  finally got to eat.  The Helsinki restaurant trade sighting  our
not-so-little party  of  eight,  and  deciding  to make a suspiciously quick 
recovery  from   the  slack  post-Xmas trading period claiming to  be  fully 
booked up, thank you very much and all!

Eventually,  kudos  flew  to  a Malaysian  eaterie  just a block  away  from
Gloria. With grateful thanks expressed here  for feeding us guys! (The Satay
chicken  may  have   provided  the  spiciness  that  Jeff  missed  out  on?)
Asteroid  amused  us  briefly  with  some  snowdrift  leaping and  stumbling
antics on the way  home,  thanks  for the sadistic enjoyment mate!

News  in  here,   and   now,   Twilighte  has  started  work  on  that  most 
worthwhile  of  projects  for the Oric,   a  conversion of 'Revenge  of  the 
Mutant  Camels',  with   Jeff   Minter's  official  blessing!   Indeed,  his
munificence  extended to a request  to  the Llamsoftie philes out there  for
rips of the original sprites from  the C64 game being responded to within 20
minutes!  Anyway,  he's  out  there   right  now,  coding away in  a  lonely
corridor. Twenty  four  hour  game  anyone?  And  who mentioned 'Bugger'!?

.:Stand by earplugs!:.

We've  had  the (regrettable?) live music  as  made  by the  voices  of  the
artistes only.  These were mostly done for comic effect and worked well that
way.  Coming  to  an Alt Party  next year,  Sammi Arsenholeen and his armpit 
farting noises orchestra!?!

We also witnessed the  rather  better  photographic competition,  apart from
one  which  continued  the theme from the live music a  bit  (hem!)  We  are
currently  typing in semi  darkness,  illuminated by this dazzlingly  bright
screen, so I am trusting  my  fingers  to do the work korrectly hear!

Then after that,  the main  demo competition, sometime around midnight, with
the lovely Oric, and who knows what else by then?

Whilst  we're waiting for the next  in-party happening,  here's a BIG UP  TO 
EARX!  for  releasing  his  three  years worked on  Falcon  demo.  I've  got
something to look forward to going  home  for, switch on my CT2 Falcy, crank
it  up into high  detail  mode,   and  enjoy.  Just a shame there's scarcely
any Falcy's here, it's  the  one  item  of hardware we didn't bring with us.
(If  it   needs  an  FPU,   it  won't even run on Baggio's machine,  as  the
socket for that is bolloxed!)

All  for  now,  I'm  just going to  fit  in some Web potato behavior  for  a
couple of mins, then hand this back to Felice.

It's now SUNDAY!!! (The ?? of Jan..)

It is also 01.20hrs,  and we  are  awaiting  the kick off for the final demo

We  have  been  entertained by  a  selection of  monochrome  movie  entries,
ranging  from  the  extremely entertaining,  through to the  slightly,  erm,
disturbing.  One  which  was  titled  'ALT  Invite  2023' confirmed  what  I
suspected about 'Scene love'!?  I'm  sure  I  can  sneak in some snide cheap
comment about Amiga owners, but right now, I can't give a stuff.

We love the sound of silence.

I'll get back a bit later,  erm,  a  lot  later  on how the demo compo went.
I've got high  hopes  for  the  Oric,   just  depends  if it gets trashed by
biased local voting patterns in favour of the Vic.

See you (a lot) later kids!


A lot lot later...

Right,  it's  Sunday  evening,   just   fifteen  minutes  shy of 20  hundred
hours,  I'm back at the Apartment of the Q-Funking one, showered, refreshed,
awaiting  imminent pizza delivery,   and trying to adjust to the very slight
peculiarities  thrown up by this scandinavian styled keyboard.  Lot's to do,
starting  with  last   nights/this  mornings  demo   competitions,  so  here

Before  this  got going,  there was a nice little speech from  Jeff  Minter,
heavily ad-libbed from the effects of alcohol.  His thoughts are entirely in
tune  with the gathered demo sceners,  disliking the corporate nature of the
current  software entertainment industry,  and being lifted and inspired  by
coming to the Alt Party to find that there are still people like him, active
and  doing stuff for the sheer hell of it!  He hinted heavily at the new top
secret  Llamasoft  project,  and  ended  up playing  a  "message"  from  his
'girlfriend' on his voicemail.  (Space for much Bleating here!)


There were a lot of entries,  around  twenty-five in all. And there was only
the single daft MSX BASIC 'megademo' intro. Making quite a big impression on
the  first  half  of the demo  compo,  were the entries  running  on  modern
species of Wintel boxes. These had been allowed in under the "Hey well we're 
all ALTernative in some way anyway" Amnesty of last year.

The PeeCee demos tended to live up to their 'Alternative' label quite  well.
In  some  cases,  ugliness was the new beauty,  which was the same situation
with a lot of the entries in the previous sections.

Just  when  the  competition started to get into a single  format  rut,  the
hardware  requirements started to change tentatively.  This brought on  some
new  eye-rolling  problems,   as  a  Linux  box refused   to   talk  to  the
projector,  or  the  other  way  around.   Nightmare  recollections  of  the
horribly delayed SiliVenture 2000 demo competitions lurked.

The problems continued with the  next  few  entries,  with a Nokia Java demo
refusing to play along also. Then  quelle bloody major surprise, as an entry
for a largely non-appearing species of computer at this party, the Atari ST,
is due up next!

This  did  take   us  by  surprise,   although  I  suspected  something  was
happening  in  one  of  the  far alcoves,  where an  ST  was  more  or  less
permanently  switched on,  some of the time with a screen of code showing on
it.  But  the  curse  claims this one as well.  According to the  organisers
viewpoint,  the  crew  didn't help themselves by not supplying any  sort  of
monitor cable. This demo gets disqualified, and remains unshown.

It  also remains unknown if it is  to be released anyway,  but according  to
Setok,  the  Atari  scene  aren't missing out too much whilst it's  in  it's
present state if it isn't ;-)

The  air  of  barely supressed panic eases with an  Amiga  1200  entry  that
condescends  to  run  properly,   then  we  are   into  the  keenly  awaited
'oldschool' final section.  DBug's Oric demo is shown on the big screen, and
the applause that greets it partly consists of relief! At the same time, the
kid from en France has made a big impression on local hearts and minds, will 
Viznut be able to beat dis!?

(Later on note:- Among other things in 'Barbitoric',  we got to see multiple 
spinning 3D ducks, and the Oric version of bumpmapping!)

And  rather inevitably,  Viznut does,  with another unexpanded  Vic 20 Lo-Fi 
multimedia  masterpiece!  The  main  component  of this demo  is  the  slick
storytelling,  but  Viznut manages to break at least one new boundary with a
kewl software speech synth for the basic Vic.

Storyline  =  Oppressed   people  build  warrior  robot,   who   kills  evil 
emperor, Robot then kills them off to take  over the world! The speech synth 
comes out like it is  singing  a rousing death anthem "HAI-I-I-L ROBOT  WAR-

With the final entry in the sequence, another Vic 20 demo with the inspiring
message  "This  demo is no good,  give Viznut  your  vote",  it is no  major
effort to predict where the winners spot is going to be going.

After the 'missing' entries are  tidied  up and shown, the competition ends.
the  Nokia demo turns out to be a neat little Java demo which  looks  rather
cute.  The  other  highlight of the competition is a Perl/Ascii  demo  which 
manages  to simulate a lot of demo effects entirely in text mode!  This  has
been produced by some people rather close to the organisers.

Teque  and a group of other food monsters raid a nocturnally open (to  5am!)
Macdonalds.   I   force   myself   not   to   follow  them   over,   instead
concentrating  on  doing   the  'bed  thing'  once  more.   After   all  the
delays,  half-starts and mis-showings,  it is a shade under 05.00 hours,  by
the time the competitions finish, which is damn late, or  early.

With   that  great  invention,  ear plugs,  (on the ear not resting  on  the
pillow!)  sleep  is  quite  easy to resume,  apart  from  one  ear-splitting
"musical"  interval  at   around 08.00,  I manage quite happily for  a  good

Around 09.30 - 10.00hrs.

The  restfulness  is only broken by  Pahartik waking me up to  say  that  Q-
Funk,  the  quitter of midnight parties,  is on his way back to the scene of
the  crime.  We  are  to  get  up and get packed asap,  the  plan  being  to
repatriate  our  stuff  back  to his place this  side  of  the  prize-giving
ceremony. This would be before the after-party rush to leave Gloria, and the
consumption  of scarce taxi resources that would take place.  It also  turns
out  we are to have the run of Q-Funk's apartment whilst QF is on the  other
side of the Baltic. Paavo is to be left with a spare key.

I  manage  to find some time before the exodus to vote  on  the  competition
entries  that  I understood and half-remembered,  using a  dedicated  voting
terminal  and  a  personal login ID number given out when I  first  paid  to

When  our  taxi firm (still mentally stable,  thanks) gets us back.  We wave
cheery  greetings at a heavily sleep-deprived drunky Mark.  He's alright and
he even remembers us from last year (How!?) So that's okay then.

We  dump our gear,  there is a small hike to a shopping precinct half a mile
distant,  to pick up a travel card for the Helsinki public transport system.
And  then we make our way back on a bright sunny afternoon,  taking us via a
belated  breakfast  Macdonalds stop.  This gets us to just before the  prize
giving  ceremony is due to start,  or about three quarters of an hour before 
it actually does ;-) 

It  is easy to eat my Macdonalds customised bumper fat bastard selection  in
total darkness,  including the ice cream.  Grud knows,  most of the realtime
bit of this text was typed in the same way.

We  adjourn downstairs,  and the prize-giving eventually starts.  The prizes
tend to fall into the 'having a laugh' category. In amongst the more sincere
prize material, such as Infogrammes/Atari sponsored T-shirts and stuff, were
bottles of clearasil for the younger more teenage winners, technical manuals
for a decommissioned Cray computer, and even a couple of Cray circuit boards
going to the first and second prize winners of the main demo competition.

A Cray circuit board, is of course not on the modest scale of current PeeCee
motherboards.  Each  of  these  magnificent beasts would go to make  up  one
sixteenth part of a fully grown Cray Supercomputer.  Each board having eight
separate  processing  elements on it.  Two of these boards laid end  to  end
would  make up a good if somewhat hard bed for a fairly tall person  to  lie
on.  The  cost  of  excess baggage in Dbug's case would add up to a  lot  of

In the end, natural justice was served, as Dbug's top-rated Oric demo, which
gained  the  respect  of the tough Finnish audience,  came second,  but  the
inevitable winner, was Viznut's robotic odessey. Dbug sensibly left his Cray
board behind,  but the last I heard, Setok was finding out how much it would
cost to post the thing onwards to Dbug's address in France!

The party breaks up fairly briskly after that,  and an hour later,  the main
hall  of Gloria is practically empty apart from the odd Wiztom  packing  his
gear up in a leisurely manner.  Q-Funk disappears,  bidding us farewell, and
setting  off  for  the  ferry  port with a  couple  of  the  Estonian  guys.
Eventually, it is our turn, and we set off with Pahartik in the direction of
'home'  (in its temporary format of Q-Funk's loaned place.)  Some  strolling
around Helsinki centre later,  including admiring the contents of one or two
off-licences,  and a bus home, sees us back and starting to catch up on some
of the restfulness that has been missing from the past few days.

The  rest  of  the  evening consists of  much  needed  sanitary  making-good
(shower,  not  sauna,  which  we  are awaiting Monday's after-party for!)  A
timely delivery of Pizza from the omnipresent 'Pizza Taxi',  who did the job
so nicely the last time,  and a fair bit of IRC'ing and web-surfing from the
extended  network  that  we have set up.  Apart from  Q-Funk's  debian  box,
discussed  last year,  he has also gained an iMac,  and it isn't too hard to
add Felice's laptop, and reinstall the HP workstation, so we all get to have
a computer each, which is feckin' brilliant.

After  managing  to  totally confuse Mr Pink on Atariscene  IRC,  about  the
nature  of the missing and disqualified ST demo entry,  tiredness catches up
with  us,  as  if it has been given the loan of a really expensive and  fast
sportscar, and we are crashing floorward sometime before midnight.

Sleep,  and  no half-assed early interventions from Marc,  thanks very much,
also no earplugs needed, which is even better, and more floorspace, since Q-
Funk's departure has freed up his bed for someone to borrow.

So it is,  we sleep for a good old while into Monday,  before we even take a
vague interest in its existence.

.:Monday, the first half:.

Yawny  yawn,  stir  awake,  trip to bathroom,  pass by Mark's room and notice
that he is still awake after all this time, back to bed...

Around  11 or 12 hundred hours,  we start to take more of an interest in the
immediate  surroundings,  slowly  get up,  and resume web browsing.  We also
decide  how  to  fill some of the time before the  after-party  starts  this
evening.  A  suggestion from yesterday evening that we travel to  Pahartik's
home town of Tampere,  a couple of hours train journey away,  is regretfully
scrubbed on the grounds of there being too little time to spare. (And we all 
know  from the Mekka Symposium 2002 report of the perils of  rushing  around 
with too little time to spare!)

Instead,  Pahartik has an alternative suggestion for a day out,  which is to
go to the harbour in Helsinki centre,  and take a boat trip out to an island
some way out in the harbour called Suomenlinna,  (Sveaborg in Swedish) which
contains some old fortifications, lots of other touristy places of interest,
and the odd eaterie or two,  where we should be able to pick up something to
occupy  our  stomachs,  which are throwing up the odd growling noise or  two

This  is  fine in theory,  but as usual,  the practice turns out to be a bit
more complex than that.

The  first  part of this expedition is straightforward enough,  a bus  trip,
followed  by a ferry ride (which is part of the public transport system  and
usefully  covered  by our travel card).  This is on a bright and sunlit,  if
very cold afternoon. The ferry trip is a pleasant novelty, as we are sitting
inside  warm  and dry as it scrunches its way through  the  iced-up  harbour
channel past the berthed cross-Baltic ferries. As there are no visible signs
of  lifeboats,  a  disaster  of a titanic nature is briefly feared,  but  we
realise that the channel is kept in a fluid,  if not exactly ice-free state,
by the daily activities of proper ice-breaking vessels. If this did not take
place, then we would probably be able to walk clear across to the island!

As  it  is,  the navigable channel is narrow,  and when we are clear of  the
harbour,  the ice just a few yards away, looks solid enough to walk on. With
big stepping-stone slabs of ice that you could jump on from the boat to  get
to it?

But  such  speculation  is  shoved  to the back of  my  mind,  as  the  boat
approaches  the island.  We disembark into a landscape of infinite coldness,
and  some old style wooden houses which make me think that this place  could
be  used  as  a  Siberian style theme park.  Pahartik only came  here  as  a
youngster,  in the summer,  and barely remembers his time here.  But a handy
tourist map shows where we are, and where the main attractions are, and even
which ones are open at this time of the year, with one of the languages most
usefully being English.

So we strike out hopefully in the direction of a cafe called "Chaplins".  It
is  on  the other side of the islet,  about half a mile or so away.  We duck
into  a  windswept  snow-blasted  tunnel,  up and down  paths,  dodging  the
occasional  tractor  and envying the driver in his heated  cabin,  the  smug
bastard! For it is cold, and getting colder, our guide seemingly ready to go
on forever,  but we are mindful the last time we ate, was in the bit of this
article  that  described the Pizza Taxi!  We do get to Chaplins,  but a  big
disappointment  breaks,  as  they have just closed for the  final  lunchtime
sitting about ten minutes before we got there!

An attempt to find an alternative food venue takes us further away from  the
sanctuary  of  the landing stage,  and the indoor warmth of the return  trip
ferry. Worringly, the number of people in view soon declines to zero. We end
up  on  the  edge of some of the fortifications,  ancient  cannon  still  in
position,  and all covered in a fine layer of snow. Pahartik zooms off in an
advance  scouting role,  leaving the rest of us to admire the many different 
forms and colours of ice. The sun has gone down by now, and evening is heavy
with  imminent  arrival.  Truly this is fantastic film set country,  if  you
wanted to depict the twin themes of 'cold' and 'desolation'.  I also get the
feeling  that this is the sort of place that you put unwanted things out  to 
die in, which could include us if Pahartik does not get back very quickly!

A  black  waving  dot is sighted,  which resolves into the  familiar  small,
behatted  and headphone wearing form of Pahartik.  He has found nothing else
is open here, so our best option is to get the boat back to the city centre,
and  find  something to eat there.  It is with some relief that we go  back,
other  humanoid shapes start to appear,  and another ten or so brisk minutes
walk later, we are safely back at the pier and away from the frozen arse-end
of beyond, and even better, the ferry is waiting for us!

There  is still some current military interest in this location,  as a bunch
of  army  conscripts  in full battledress disembark from  the  boat  we  are
catching. Maybe they brush up on their arctic survival skills here? The boat
going  back  is rather more full than the boat coming out,  and we  let  the
waves of warmth wash enjoyably over us!

When  we  discussed  our  afternoon  adventure  in  the  frozen  wastes   of
Suomenlinna at the afterparty sauna, the others commented that it was a very
nice place. In the summer...

Back  in  Helsinki centre,  Pahartik's alternative mealtime suggestion is  a
good one.  This is namely the same small and peculiar Indian eaterie,  which 
shares  premises  with an opticians,  and has seating room for about six  to 
eight people that we visited last year.  We order a load of stuff, with naan
bread,  and it goes down with a crash,  Asteroid in particular trying to eat
the patterns off his, and everybody elses plate.

Now refreshed, fully loaded, and stuffed like a fat person, we head back for
the  bus  home,  trolling  around in the centre on a  Moomin-shop  hunt  for
Asteroid's  benefit,  and stopping to pick up some stuff for the after-party
on the way back.  Once back at the apartment, we have to IRC the location of
the  after-party  out of people,  and decide on the best method  of  getting

A  moment of wobbly trepidation arises when we find out that it is  near  to
the  location of last year's after-party,  and the epic hike that went  with
it.  Thankfully, Pahartik opts for a more sensible means of travel, as it is
entirely possible to get there with the correct combination of buses.

This  is not *totally* straightforward in itself.  The first bus takes us to
the shopping centre about half a mile up the road. The place where we change
buses  seems  to be hard to find,  and we end up retracing the part of  last 
years  Q-Funkathon  where there is no pavement,  and we are walking  on  the
road.  But  before things degenerate,  we do find a compatible bus stop five
minutes later, and gratefully collapse and wait...

Ten short minutes later,  it turns up, and another ten minutes after, we are
dropped  off  at  the terminus.  The immediate environment  looks  immensely
familiar  from last year as well,  but to avoid the buggering about  looking
for  the exact location,  we persuade Asteroid to overcome his fear of  high
international  phone  charges,  and  ring Partycle the trainee  vampire  for
someone to come and collect us.  We are promised a response in five minutes,
but don't anticipate that it is travelling on the bus behind us.

We  firstly  spot  the familiar features of Wiztom,  and then the  bus  also
disgorges Partycle,  Twilighte,  and for full bonus points, Mr Yak-a-licious
himself!  We figure that they know where the after-party is, and happily tag
along  with  them.  There is the small matter of dodging the  snow  ploughs,
which  are operating in full pavement terrorist mode,  not just clearing the
roads  of  excess  white powder,  but edging their massive scoops  onto  the
pavements  as  well.  Silly foreign people like us scramble out of the  way,
into  deeper  snow,  but the Finns stand their ground,  and the  snowploughs
grumble to a reluctant stop, mere centimetres away from pedestrian feet. The
snowplough drivers, carefully trained to ignore the cries of "Ki-i-ill! Kill 
them all!" going around inside their heads, let us pass.

The  sauna venue is further down in the woods than last year's place,  quite
close  to  the  nearby lake,  or was that the Baltic shore?  Arrival at  the
After-party  reveals  a  scene where tables and chairs,  and  a  big  screen
projector are gathered.  Setok is presently away,  gathering supplies, so we
donate  our offerings to the cavernous fridge,  and Setok soon returns  with
plenty of beer for the after-party adherents.  Jeff has been very hospitable
too,  donating  a  large quantity of vodka to the proceedings too (hic!)  At
this  early stage of the after-party,  the big screen is devoted to multiple
playing sessions of Jeff's latest Llamasoft opus,  'Gridrunner ++'.  This is
proving to be a very popular draw.  it feels like a superior shareware game,
with  lots of sweary speech samples,  and with all the Minteresque splattery
pixel trademarks so fondly remembered from Tempests 2K and 3K to hand too.

This is alternated with showings of a number of demos on the big screen. The
machine connected up is a PeeCee,  and it is taking an interest in running a
number  of  classic mid-nineties DOS productions.  One of the first up is  a
demo  locked into my long term memory as an all-time kick-ass  classic,  the
Future Crew produced 'Second Reality' demo. My first thought after seeing it
again,  was that it hadn't aged well at all,  being chock-full of cheesy old
effects,  lumpy  3-D,  and generally kicked by several Falcon demos produced
since.  Still, I remember a time before I realised that the Cuddly demos had
such things as ripped Amiga textscrolly fonts. There were several other more
or  less good DOS PeeCee demos,  and then the projector switched to a  Linux
theme, for a reshowing of the third place Alt 4 demo competition entry based
on swirly effects done entirely in text mode.

The  action  switches  to Felice who has his Compaq  laptop  with  him,  and
several  Falcon  demos,  no,  not running on an emulator of Felice's  secret
design made from HTML commands,  but instead,  in movie form,  and we get to
see  old  friends such as 'Sono',  Cycedelic Knockout,  and the ever popular
'Lost  Blubb'.  Any  lingering memory that Jeff Minter still has  about  the
mental  well-being of the Atari scene community,  is rudely blasted aside by
Felice's rendition of the 'H-Demo IV',  this time on an emulated ST (STeem).
I think he was quietly impressed?

All  this  is going on,  and not even a sniff of a wet towel from the  sauna
changing  room  yet.  It is getting on for 10.30,  when the first of our two
sauna's  is  ready. Yes,  we have a choice of two sauna's,  a large communal
electrically heated one, which could seat the entire after-party contingent,
followed  by  a  smaller  wood-burner,  which was  still  getting  there  in
temperature terms.  This is Jeff and Twilighte's first time in one of these,
and they nervously strip off,  Jeff predicting that he would have to be very
drunk to jump into the lake afterwards.  It is thus,  that I get to see bits 
of  Jeff that only Flossie the sheep has access to!  Not that I was  looking
too closely mind...

With cries of "Sheepies" being uttered from Mr Minter, he is quickly dragged
inside the sauna, and the door is slammed shut...

The first sauna is roomy,  indeed, we are rattling around inside it, and the
experience  is  remarkable  for  being,  well,  unremarkable to  this  sauna
hardened  after-party  fanatic.  However,  the  experience  ratchets  up  in
interest,  when we shift over to the wood-powered heating box.  In here, the
temperature  is much higher,  and the atmosphere very congenial and  closely
packed.  The  temperature is sent even higher with the creation of a lot  of
steam, which even has some of the Finns gasping!

Apart from diving under a cold shower, some of us find ourselves outside, in 
the  cold,  in  the dark,  and naked.  With the cumulative effect of several
vodka  and  Dr Peppers taking effect,  this seemed like a sensible  and  fun 
thing  to  do  at  the time!  Nobody is drunk enough to go  into  the  lake,
although  one intrepid individual did try rolling in the snow.  I decide  it
would  be  a  fun thing to throw snow over a  naked  and  unsuspecting  Jeff
Minter,  so  obtaining one of the lesser known utterings from the Great  Yak
("Aaaggh, you bastard!")

Eventually, after Jeff has topped up on nocturnal nakedness and nicotine, we
head back inside.

Right, Let's call this one Tuesday now.. (14th of January)

At some stage, Felice's laptop is reclaimed for a burst of realtime activity
that sums up the spirit of these times very well! Here it is!

John H. kicking off, I think he's had a bit of alcopops, the naughty fellow. 
Still,  he  battles  on  gamely trying to make some sense  of  the  evenings 

 asteroid here

its 0.07 hours or something like that

its the after event party

its been good, and this evening has been great fun.  Jeff Minter has had his
first  sauna  and seems to have enjoyed it.  Actually myself,  despite doing
this last year,  this has been one the of weirdest and most interesting days
of  my  life,  had  been sampling some of the local vodka and some  of  this
unusual Finnish cranbury/vodka drink which I feel a little pissed, and going
for not one but two saunas,  which is quite interesting when you are cramped
into  a small pine kiosk with 7 Finnish guys,  when you go out for a  shower
theres  an  exit door which  coincidently leads to a path which leads  in  a
straight line to the nearby lake so sauna occupants can, if in the mood, can
taking  a  running  jump  of  a few yards  straight  into  the  lake,  in  a
Scandinavian  macho style,  taking a really extremely extreme case,  an exit
into  the  immensely  cold  water  for  the  ultimately  refreshingly   cold

despite  the amount of alcohol consumed here,  no one yet has wanted to  try
this yet.

This is from me,  I think I realised that I was more than a little under the 
influence, so I didn't try too hard, neither did my fingers.


CiH on the keyzzzz.

I am pretty drunk,  having tried various combinations of vodka, minty stuff,
beer,  sauna,  raoming around outside throwing snow at people, sitting stark
bolluk naked with Jeff Minter in the sauna, and more dR Peppers with Vodka.

I'll write some stuff about monday when I'm fit and able,  which isn't right

Damn, this voka is 80n proof, this might explain a lot of this evening!!!

CiH, in Nostrovia mode!!

And this extract is from Mr Hairy himself!!

is this thing having a sane keyboard?
I have been having to deal with maad Euro keyboards the last few days...
is nice to be baack on a UK machine!
and now I know about this thing called "sauna"...
the Finnish are maad but in a very cool way...
seen much insanity here and much creativity... is very cool... is an
Much fun... I feel much inspired to go home ande code the bejeezus out of
that Thing that I cannot mention yet...
but for now it is vodka and mad creativity and lots of naked people!:)
Having a blinding laugh here... but missing my compiler... and my sheepie!
 Flossie, Goat bless 'er ;).
And... everybody buy Edge magazine on Jan 24th ;-).... :-D :-D
Llamasoft is BAAAAAACK!!!!

Did I really manage to do that, this late on, it's better written than the 
earlier extract though??

It's 02.17hrs on Tuesday Morning.

CiH back, we are going home today,  can't think how...

Ohhh Goddd, drunk too much, send for a beer taxi!

Many  Amiga  demos on the big screen,  and talk of sausages being  barbequed
over an open fire thing.  See you tomorrow,  or the day after,  or when time
and fingers permit!


There  is more alcohol,  there are more demos,  as we switch to Amiga on the
bigscreen,  with  a  never ending procession of A1200 classics.  A couple of
these  coming  (all meanings of the word operative!) from a very  gay  Amiga
crew  indeed.  People  start to get up and dance to the  more  hyper-kinetic
productions,  especially  Pahartik,  who has been taking something else with
his  Dr Peppers,  maybe it was some of the minty alcoholic substance that he
had  brought with him?  Jeff spots a kindred spirit in Pahartik,  suggesting
that he spend some time down on the farm if Paavo ever comes to the UK. More
alcohol is drunk..

There  is  reindeer stew,  with mashed swedes.  Reindeer meat tastes,  well,
different,  can't  explain  how, but we were all hungry by then,  and it got

In  amongst all this enjoyable but non-productive activity,  Felice has been
tapping  away on his laptop,  running 1st Word inside the STeem environment,
putting  on his "Atari head" to write a party report for the  Chosneck  disk
magazine. A sensible avoidance of alcohol is implicated!

A  bit  later  still,  I become aware of the existence of an  open  fire,  I
remember  this,  because  I assisted in a search for wood before  the  booze
claimed  the  brain  cells that help me to walk.  Felice is  enlisted  in  a
sausage roasting crew, and I get to taste the end result, which is blackened
and split, but still strangely tepid in the middle.

It is now very late,  and I would totally agree with John H. in his last bit
of  realtime  about  the  after-party  being  one  of  the  most  weird  and
interesting  days of his life.  We reluctantly decide to drag ourselves away
sometime  after 04.00hrs,  first booking a taxi.  A lot of drunken farewells
later,  and we clamber back to the top of the road to find our taxi waiting.
I think we got home sometime before 05.00hrs, but not by much.

Mark  is still awake,  and he greets us with the news that he has been awake
for  two  days  now.  However,  I  think I had the edge on  him  in  general
drunkeness this time around!

Bedtime,  for  a few scant hours before we have to depart the land of sauna,
and crawl back to the UK..

Pahartik is the first to go,  I don't think he even went to bed in the first
place.  He  generously  decides  to wake *me* up,  out of a choice of  three
people,  at 08.00hrs,  saying a quick farewell, and pushing the phone number
for  the  taxi  firm  and  the spare key into  my  hand.  The  others  rouse
themselves just long enough for a hearfelt goodbye, then back to sleep.

Around 11.00hrs, we start to get up, slowly. A lack of enthusiasm translates
into our slow and hesitant packing and clearing up.  My toothbrush becomes a
casualty of war,  as it slips inside the radiator grille in the bathroom.  I
have  a momentary panic,  when I try to recall where I placed my glasses  in
the  drunken  collapse earlier this morning,  but these turn up,  so no harm

A  final session of net-bashing,  including an email to Nicky to tell her  I
will  be  home very late,  the last in a heavy correspondence exchange  that
went  on  over the duration of the party.  (I still didn't get  off  lightly
though  when I got back,  she said "When I said don't phone me,  I meant the 
exact opposite."(!))

Eventually,  around  13.00hrs,  we  depart the residence of Q-Funk and Marky
Mark  for  the last time,  Mark looking like his missing sleep is  about  to
catch up with him in a big way!  And there is another shock waiting outside,
as temperatures have risen to 'just'  a few degrees below zero, but there is
a lot more snow out there, and more being added every minute.

The ten minutes waiting for the taxi to turn up adds quite a bit of snow  to
us  as  well,  and we have to kick and stomp as much off us as possible,  to
avoid bringing it with us to the airport.  Conditions on the journey back to
Vantaa are nicely blizzard-like,  and our taxi driver struggles with iced up
windscreen  wipers,  and delicately edges past a genteel and carefully posed
motorway  several  vehicle pile-up.  Further proof that even the  snow-hardy 
Finns  aren't  totally  immune  from ice-bound human  error,  comes  in  the
disheartening shape of another taxi that veered off the motorway, and into a
ditch in the central reservation! This was about a couple of minutes driving
away from the airport. I hope he didn't have to pay full fare for that one!

Anyway,  we do get back to the airport safely, gratefully gather our baggage
inside the warm and relaxed terminal building, and play the old airport game
of waiting around.

This  takes several forms.  Waiting with food,  waiting for the KLM check-in
desk to open.  Then there is waiting to get to our flight, with a little bit
of essential airport shopping carried out.  There is also some waiting to do
once  we  are on the aircraft,  as it cannot fly very well with the ice  and
snowy  gunk accumulated on it,  and necessitating a visit from the  de-icing

It  is gathering darkness when we eventually take off,  around half an  hour
late.  This is not a big issue, as it merely cuts down the waiting around at
Schiphol airport.

At  Schiphol,  we  soon have to say goodbye to Asteroid,  and now we are two
again,  Felice and  I.  More shopping,  casual browsing,  and waiting around
follows,  then  onto our final leg flight,  a reverse-run to Birmingham on a
half-empty KLM Fokker 100.

Birmingham is cleared by us in a record time,  the only moment of excitement
came from the armed police, all body armour and Heckler and Koch sub-machine 
guns, that took to following us around in the terminal building.

The  retrieval of Felice's automotive box on wheels proves to  be  awesomely
quick too, and I am back in Northampton sometime around 22.30.

Dropping my bag on the bed,  I pause for an end-party moment of remembrance,
by loading up Earx's new demo 'Delta', for which he sent a personalised copy
through the post for me.  What a nice bloke! And that is the end of the tale
of the fourth Alt Party.

 To sum up, conclude etc..

Fourth Alt Party,  well what else can I say? Bigger, longer,faster, louder!
Also  drunker,  when  you  take the after-party into  account.  Also  better
prepared, and better rested than any of the previous three.

I'll throw in colder, as this was the first time that we experienced a full-
on  Finnish  winter.  This was also the first Alt Party where we  heard  the
cries of "Sheepies!" echoing around the place,  courtesy of the very special
guest of honour, Jeff Minter.

I  always had this impression of Jeff Minter as an extremely cool and  down-
to-earth  guy.  I  was pleased to find that the reality matched  the  public 
relations,  after  spending  some time in his company.  He was especially  a
terrifically  good sport at the after-party,  which was his first time as  a
'sauna virgin'.  Nice one hairy,  and I hope future Llamasoft enterprises go
to plan for you!

The  party itself was bigger than any of the previous escapades,  the  final
total of attending bodies getting near the three hundred mark. It looks like
that  Alt Party is no longer going to be a small and obscure party,  and  it
looks  increasingly likely,  that this will more or less an annual event?  I
don't think this is going to be the last one of these!

The  live entertainment component of the party grows apace.  There seemed to
be  more of this than ever,  especially on the first night,  but at the same
time,  the computer-based entertainment grew to keep up with it.  There were
more competitions,  and entries, and more demo's than before, especially now
that Wintel boxes have been allowed in.

There  didn't seem to be quite so much retro-computing around,  although the
organisers  controlled everything very well from a Vic 20,  and the two most
stunning  demo competition entries still came from machines dating  back  to
the  early  8-bit era.  I think we are missing the MSX scene,  although  the
emergent Vic 20 scene seemed to be well on the way to filling that gap!

On  a personal note things that sucked slightly last year hardly figured  at 
all.  I managed to sleep at the party, even on that 'difficult' first night,
for one thing.  Things like pointlessly wandering around,  getting lost, and
getting delayed were avoided successfully.  Also, the after-party managed to
be  the  best one yet.  We came away reluctantly at around 04.30hrs,  but  I
think  certain people didn't actually stop until they were dragged  back  to
the airport and deported from the country!?

On  another personal note,  we thank Martin 'Q-Funk' Racine for the loan  of
his apartment whilst he was away,  for the final couple of days that we were
in town.

I could go on all night, but just to finish up, I think that Alt Party still 
rules, and I'm sure we'll be back for the next time!

CiH, for Alive! Mag,Jan '03

Alive 7