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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.
AGAIN AND AGAIN
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
_ _ _____ _ __ *the* weekly high-tech sarcastic update for the uk
| \ | |_ _| |/ / _ __ __2003-01-31_ o join! mail an empty message to
| \| | | | | ' / | '_ \ / _ \ \ /\ / / o firstname.lastname@example.org
| |\ | | | | . \ | | | | (_) \ v v / o website (+ archive) lives at:
|_| \_| |_| |_|\_\|_| |_|\___/ \_/\_/ o http://www.ntk.net/
"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."
...ie: about as many as they mail out in a week?
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, anon.penet.fi, 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.
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
We turn to the webpage, http://c64upgra.de 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 www.kdh-shop24.de 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.
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
"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
"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
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
CIRCUS ACT FAILS!
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!!
FALCY IN INDUSTRY
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
atari.org 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 atari.org 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 http://www.mailingequipment.net/inserter/1995bh6.asp
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?!
THATS ALL VOLKS!
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!