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Alive 7

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We're  back for another edition of cut 'n paste fun,  of what is outlandish,
stupid,  and  in textual form,  which can be easily stuffed into this rather
erratic excuse for a column.


Or, "He who fails to learn from history, is doomed to work in newspapers!"

We  give  thanks to our friends at NTKnow,  the weekly (decent)  alternative
techie  news people,  with a UK focus,  who have helped enliven several past
editions of 'Dirk'. This time proves to be no exception, with the revival of
a story which we first covered in one of the 'teen' editions of Maggie, many
years ago.

_   _ _____ _  __ *the* weekly high-tech sarcastic update for the uk
| \ | |_   _| |/ / _ __   __2003-01-31_ o join! mail an empty message to
|  \| | | | | ' / | '_ \ / _ \ \ /\ / / o
| |\  | | | | . \ | | | | (_) \ v  v /  o website (+ archive) lives at:
|_| \_| |_| |_|\_\|_| |_|\___/ \_/\_/   o

"AOL has estimated it would need 360,000 CDs each year at a cost
  of UKP34m to set up and maintain the [data retention] system."
     about as many as they mail out in a week?

           HARD NEWS
       distinct deja-vus

After  our jocular "history is repeating itself" motif of last  week,  we're
disturbed  to find that 2003 is continuing to increasingly resemble a  1990s
megamix. One of the first major cyberrights flaps in the UK was a 1996 piece
by THE OBSERVER newspaper, which unfairly declared Clive Feather of Demon to
be Britain's "pornographer in chief" - all because Demon had newsgroups with
funny names, and The Observer had a picture of Clive looking shifty.

The whole thing turned out to be major embarrassment for the  truth-seeking,
civil-rights-loving Observer,  as the paper claimed credit for the shut-down
of  the  first anonymous remailer,,  and the FBI point- blank
denied the quotes ascribed to them.

The  Observer has a short memory,  though,  and ran the story a second time,
back  in  2000,  when,  on  a  slow  news day,  it reeled once more  at  the
shockingly continuing presence of Demon newsgroups.  Still,  like the addled
Net  users  we  are,  we're  getting a bit  hardened  to  these  sensational
exclusives.  Which  is  handy,  because  this week,  they ran the same story
again.  Admittedly,  this time,  the names had been changed:  it was Easynet
now,  not  Demon,  who  were  "peddling  child  porn  involving  incest  and 
bestiality" (ie: running a full newsfeed).

Basically, then, The Observer digs out this story roughly every three years,
in the hope that nobody notices.  It may be worth checking to see if they do
that with the rest of the paper, too.

16BIT C64!

Aha, this story might be of interest to those people still awaiting delivery
of their Falcon turbo-nutter souper-upper,  but this one is actually on sale
right now!

We turn to the webpage, to pick up the story.

What it is:  The Commodore One computer is a 2002 enhanced adaptation of the
Commodore  64  -the most sold of any computer model (Guiness book  of  World
Records)  While  retaining almost all of the  original's  capabilities,  the
Commodore One adds modern features, interfacing and capabilities and fills a
sorely needed gap in the hobbyist computer market.

The  estimated price will be 249,- EUR (including German sales tax of  16%).
(user  will  need to supply an ATX style case,  ATX power supply,  drive(s),
PS/2 keyboard, mouse and SVGA capable monitor.)

Lap up that motherboard nakedness, Mmmmm!

Ed  note:-  Yes,  it really is on sale now,  just go to to 
find  out  more.  I suppose you want to know a bit more about this now?  ;-)  
Well  here's  my  extremely  abbreviated  version,   culled  from  the  very 
informative tech-specs on the website.


The main processor of the C1 is a 65c816 processor running at  approximately
20  MHz.  The  65c816 is a 6502 compatible processor with a 24  bit  address
range and extra instructions that access the full memory range are added  to
the 6502 core.

SuperVIC Video Capabilities

These  include a VGA monitor output.  The VIC-II is compatible in all  video
modes 60hz/50hz,  and classic emulation is software selectable.SuperVIC Mode
includes extended video modes as well as combination modes with classic VIC-
II modes.  There is 16MB of video RAM.  The maximum resolution is 1280x1024.
It can display a maximum of 256 colors out of a palette of 65,535 in regular
and  linear modes.  A special 'Chunky' video mode with access to the  entire
palette  is  included (limitations apply).  There is also  something  rather
mysterious called a "copper chip",  but you'll have to check out the website
for more information on that.

Monster SID

Includes  classic  SID  emulation,   but  also  sixteen(!)  stereo  sidvoice
channels, eight left, and eight right. It also has DMA playback, either from
main memory, or from the built-in 64k internal chip memory. (drool!)


There is 32 MB of RAM as standard, of which 16 meg is accessible by the main
processor, and the other 16 by the video controller.

To  conclude,  this is something that might sit well with very hardcore  C64
fans. Like the CT60, it is going to be very hard to visualise something that
fully uses the new capabilities of the machine. I hope someone tries though!


Now some people like dogs,  other people like red light districts,  now some
kind individual has decided to cater for people who like both of these!

Step forward, Karl-Freidrich Lenze, a Berlin artist who is opening a brothel
especially for sexually frustrated dogs. He thinks that celibate canines get
"cranky,  like people".  He is planning to charge their owners around 25 EUR
for thirty minutes with the poodles of pleasure.

And  for  any of our more "adventurous" or deranged readers  who  feel  like
trying this out for themselves, don't go there, I said DON'T!!!


The  full  version of this press release managed  to  inadvertently  smuggle
itself to the outside world, even whilst everyone else cried "Horror!"

Not  too  many  people were pleased,  and it soon went away again,  but  not
quickly enough!

"Columbia streaks toward Florida touchdown
to end successful 16-day  science mission" 

By Marcia Dunn, Associated Press, 2/1/2003 08:20

"CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP)   With security tighter than usual, space shuttle 
Columbia  streaked toward a Florida touchdown Saturday to end  a  successful 
16-day   scientific  research  mission  that  included  the  first   Israeli 

Alrighty!  Spot  on  with  the "streaking" bit,  as in "shooting star",  and

"The early morning fog burned off as the sun rose,  and Mission Control gave 
the  seven  astronauts the go-ahead to come home on time.  ''I guess  you've 
been  wondering,  but  you are 'go' for the deorbit burn,'' Mission  Control 
radioed at practically the last minute."

"You are go for the deorbit burn" - Guess that is what they really mean by a
killer phrase?

"The  13 lab rats on board   part of a brain and heart study   had  to  face 
the  guillotine following the flight so researchers could see  up-close  the 
effects of so much time in weightlessness."

I guess these guys had a lucky escape, of sorts...

"The only problem of note was a pair of malfunctioning dehumidifiers,  which 
temporarily  raised  temperatures inside the laboratory to the low  80s,  10 
degrees higher than desired."

Not  to  mention  the cabin temperature getting into the  low  thousands  of
degrees celcius during re-entry, also higher than desired.

"Some  of  Columbia's crew members didn't want their time in space  to  end. 
''Do  we  really have to come back?'' astronaut David Brown  jokingly  asked 
Mission Control before the ride home."

Dave Brown,  as in, third cousin of Nostradamus, uncanny ability to see into
the future or what?!

"The  next  time Columbia flies will be in November,  when it  carries  into 
orbit  educator-astronaut Barbara Morgan,  who was the backup for Challenger 
crew member Christa McAuliffe in 1986." (!!!!! - My exclamation marks)

Now  if Columbia had waited for another flight before expiring,  that choice
of  crew  member would have been way beyond anything that my  nasty  satiric
brain could have managed? That is really what I call a lucky escape!


The things you find on sale on Ebay, episode 742..

Take  a  look  at the picture first,  it's a chair,  but not *quite* like  a
normal chair.

Here you go now..

       1."Insert the Probe Dr McCoy!"
       2. Nextgen Pentium cooling fan fails!

Apparently, it functions as disturbingly as it looks. Apparently it was part
of  the  medical  kit and apparel developed for the US  space  program,  and
someone  with  a  perverted sense of humour decided that  the  best  way  of
checking on the health of their would-be astronauts, was to check up on them

Indeed,  it  may have had the pleasure of having Mr 'Man on the Moon',  Neil
Armstrong himself,  plonked on there,  with his dark cavities being fingered
by a machine!

No  wonder  these  astronauts don't talk that much about  their  glory  days
working for NASA?


This just in from those crazee guys at NTK

"An inexpensive and harmless technique exploiting these 
subatomic particles could detect a small block of uranium 
concealed, for example, inside a truck full of sheep..."
- US scientists clamp down on nuclear smuggling, 
unwittingly inspire new Jeff Minter game


On Teletext, April 13th 2003 - "Dog survives after swallowing knife.."

 - Fetch boy, fetch?!?


It's  noisy,  it's  slow,  it was made of a plastic/cotton composite,  and it
served  for  over thirty years as an awful warning of what  can  happen,  if
there is no stylistic input into automobile design whatsoever!

"It" is of course,  the former East German manufactured Trabant. In my mind,
the Trabi was the real symptom of the failure of the communist experiment in
Eastern  Europe.  Never  mind the wall-building,  the secret police,  or the
mindless  slogans,  it  all came down to a fourteen year waiting list for  a
plastic car with a two-stroke engine!

As  so  often  happens,  extinction led to nostalgia,  and the Trabi  became
something of a cult car. Now the manufacturers Sachsenring are attempting to
take the Trabi to a new frontier, the wide open plains of Africa!

The  'Africar'  is  intended to be the cheapest  available  car  in  Africa,
initially going on sale in South Africa for a UKP equivalent of 2100.  There
will also be a modified freight-carrying version available for moving things
like farm goods or building materials.

As Sachsenring filed for bankruptcy last year, it will be interesting to see
how this African adventure goes for them.

CiH  viewpoint!  - Is this a belated attempt by Germany to catch up with the
other former colonial powers in Africa,  the UK, France etc, to piss off the 
locals?  Apart  from owning a chunk of territory called 'German East Africa'
for a few years, they didn't really get the chance!


Time for me to reminisce on something recently departed from my world...

There  was  a  shop sign,  which cheered up my daily journey to  work  every
morning.  For  it  was no ordinary shop sign,  but instead,  the sign for the
premises  of  an establishment selling expensive ladies underwear!  No  mere
text stating "Lingerie Shop" would do for this. Instead, the male population
of  Northampton  who used this busy town centre street,  were treated  to  a
full-sized  photograph of a very upmarket blonde female,  only just clad  in 
some very upmarket silk underthings :)

Now that sign has gone.  I wonder how many rear-end impacting accidents were
caused  by  male motorists looking upwards at it for too  long,  instead  of
watching the road in front of them ---SCREECH! -- BANG!!


                 Or, from pigeon post, to Falcon mail!

Now  I keep hearing stories of familiar computers,  thought of most commonly
as   home  machines,   turning  up  in  more  unfamiliar  and   work-related
environments.  I've even seen the odd occurrence myself. Witness the rolling
time  table information screens in action at the bus station in  Northampton
some years ago.  This was based on an Amiga chassis! I remember a posting on pointing to some 8-bit Atari's being used in a Czech hospital in a
useful rather than a game-playing role.

Not  even the Atari Falcon escapes the relentless appetite of  commerce  for
elderly but potentially useful hardware,  as this recent interesting posting
from reveals:

Karl at AEX wrote: 
Steve is absolutely correct,

In  fact  you can purchase second hand mailing systems which use  the  Atari 
Falcon,  and  although  it looks like any terminal,  it is in fact a  Falcon 
VAR'ed into a grey box.

Here is a pic

Due  to  the price of these sorters/conveyors they will be serviced  for  as 
long as is possible, and their 'always on' requirement is a testament to the 
Falcon design that they are so reliable even 10+ years later.


It  seems  there may be a hidden or covert agenda with a lot of  people  who
purchase  second-hand  Falcy's off Ebay and the like for  spares  for  these
mailsorting  systems?  If you're not sure if your machine is going to a good
hobbyist  home,  just  drop in a few casual but carefully  loaded  questions
about  inserting things into envelopes!

I'm personally in two minds about this news.  Part of me is pleased that the
Falcy is still valued, and finds a useful role, but another part of me wants
to  break into these places and rip the motherboards out of  their  mailers,
crying "Run away to freedom my beauties! Play by the stream, run Hmmm demo!"

In  the  course  of  this discussion,  I also found  some  answers  to  some
questions that had been bugging me on a long-term basis.

Back to Karl..

I  was  provided information for European Falcon sales (until they  were  no 
longer  available) from a good friend who worked at Atari UK.   Although its 
not  an  actual  sell  through figure (ie,  to the user directly)  it  is  a 
shipment  figure  to distributors through the  Atari  Distribution  facility 
(which was located in the Netherlands).   Approx. 20K units were distributed 
in  Europe for sale in its lifetime (92/93/94),  although its very  possible 
some of these ended up outside Europe, sold on by other resellers.

Worldwide, you could take a guesstimate at total Falcons produced - my guess 
for  what  its  worth,  would be no more than 30-35K units  were  physically 
manufactured  by Atari for worldwide sales,  basing this on the Euro number. 
Again, I'm only guessing the worldwide number ;-)


At  last,  someone put a figure on the number of Falcons actually  produced,
which was nice of them. But it led to another equally bugging question.

So  where are they all?  20,000 in Europe (and the rest worldwide) is a fair
old  number,  especially  with a current active Atari community that can  be
probably counted in the hundreds for all machines ever made.  They can't all
have gone into envelope-stuffing machines surely?!


In  what is turning into a rather automotively inspired 'Dirk' session  this
time around, news just in that the longest-running production car is finally
stopping manufacturing later on this year.

Yes,  it  is  the Volkswagen Beetle,  which has been around since  Ferdinand
Porsche  was  knee-high to a Nazi,  but which then survived the  unfortunate
circumstances  of its birth,  to become something of a best selling love bug
in the 1960's.

After  VW stopped building it in Europe,  production transferred to  Mexico,
where it has happily continued until this day.  But not for much longer,  it
seems.  Apparently, there has been a steady decline in sales, largely blamed
on the revived 1998 Golf-based new version of the Beetle.

Volkswagen  Beetle,  gone,  but  forever starring in reruns of Disney movies
about a sentient self-driving car!


Back  in 1978,  Intel made the first member of a family that was destined to
blight  the good people of this planet,  and get quite a few lamers  rubbing
their hands with anticipation.

This was the Intel 8086, which ran at 5mhz, and could just about put a small
green  cursor  on the bottom left hand corner of a screen,  and the text  to
make the words "Hello world!", probably. It did not need a heatsink in those
days, as it only gave off a gentle glow.

Now  with  the  latest 3 Ghz monsters being pushed at  us,  the  X86  family
celebrated  its  billionth member sometime in April of this  year,  and  the
buggers  run  hot enough to cook your dinner on them,  and maybe melt a  few
gold  bars too.  The next billion is not expected to take quite as long as a
quarter  century,  as  Intel  predict  the two billion mark  to  be  reached
sometime  in the year 2007,  each new generation bigger and hotter than  the

It looks like there is an easy explanation for global warming at least?! ;-)


And  with  that disturbing final thought,  we leave you for now.  Don't have
nightmares, and see you all again soon!

CiH, various in 2003,for Alive Mag!

Alive 7