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Alive 7

A short report on the Leamington Pre-EIL Gathering
(With added realtime and extra calcium!)

14th-16 March 2003, (and some time after, for certain people!)

(Can he actually do *short* reports? I hear you ask!)

Like many other bad ideas, this one started life on Channel Atariscne.

"Why  don't the UK people get together,  sometime in Feb/March,  before the 
Error in Line Party?" A smallish list of names was pulled together, the aim
was a vaguely productive gathering, with the elite, (alright, the remnants)
of the UK Atari scene pulling together, to compare, notes, source code etc.

Did it turn out like, that, well of course it didn't!

We  managed  to avoid the semi-outdoor ambience of a barn  located  in  the
grounds of Mr Pink's ancestral home, deep in the welsh mountains, thanks to
the  generosity  of Swedish work experience kid,  Deez.  A shared house  in
lovely  Leamington Spa,  temporarily emptied of the other sharing occupants
on a weekend in mid-March, seemed like a much better bet.

So  plans  were  laid,  participants  invited,  and a firm date  set.  Some
participants set off on the Friday, and MSG, SH3, and Stimpy made their way
over,  in  order  to get their feet under the limited supply of tables,  as
soon as possible.  Those people with demanding (hem-hem!) dayjobs,  such as
myself,  Felice,  and Mr Pink were to follow on Saturday. As it turned out,
Mr  Pink  decided  to brave a midnight run from Guildford,  and  got  there
somewhat sooner.

Felice  and  I followed on the Saturday morning,  with a leisurely  journey
over  to Leamington,  somewhat less than an hour in perfect sunshine.  That
was the easy part of the journey, with the interesting part to follow, when
we  attempted  to  find  where Deez lived.  Felice  has  used  a  web-based
streetfinder,  which gave a good,  if somewhat over-local map of where Deez
could be found.

After ten or fifteen minutes of aimless driving around the centre of  town,
I  dived  into an estate agents office,  to get a good look at  their  more
detailed and full-sized map, firstly discovering that Leamington was bigger
than  three streets wide,  and secondly,  where Deez fitted into this urban
jigsaw. So we promptly headed for the dodgy part of town!

Leamington,  or Royal Leamington Spa,  to give its full name,  is a town of 
two contrasting halves.  There is the nice, Georgian town centre, carefully
planned  and  built sometime in the early 1800's.  This part is  a  tourist

The other part consists of grotty terraced streets trying to hide under the
ugliest cast-iron railway bridge ever built, which would be sometime in the
latter  half  of the 19th century.  Behind this,  is the sort of low-income
housing, typified by the house opposite Deez's place, which had a huge flag
in  the  window,  and  looked  like the residence  of  an  extreme  English
nationalist or football supporter!

Deez's place itself was quite easy to find,  once we were in the right part
of town,  and we spotted Deez and Mr Pink in the front garden, enjoying the
weather and nicotine pleasures.  We quickly unloaded, and found Sh3 and MSG
slowly awakening and trying to resuscitate cold pizza back to life.  In the
far corner of an incredibly packed and chaotic scene,  was Stimpy,  working
in  totally  non-ideal workshop conditions,  attempting to  repair  various
items of broken hardware.  Shortly after we had arrived,  Mr Pink's elderly
original Falcon had been summoned back to life successfully, and we enjoyed
an interesting afternoon's viewing of ancient and never seen before archive
material, more of which a bit later.

On a table,  in the centre of the room, sat a lonely Portable Commodore 64,
the SX64,  with the built-in screen.  Unfortunately for us,  it had already
been the centre of attention the previous evening,  and stayed switched off
until Stimpy took it back home with him .

For  this  party,  I had given my ex-schools issue Acorn Risc PC its  first
outing,  intending  to  show  off some of the collected demo warez  on  it.
Felice  has  brought  his new laptop,  linked it to the internet  hub,  and
stayed content with that.

The  productive  intent  certainly  seemed to be  there,  as  Deez  had  an
impressive  battery  of machines set up in the far corner,  a Linux  PeeCee
running  Aranym,  of  which,  he showed us some screens for his forthcoming
CT60  demo  (very  nice!)  Also,  his  Afterburnered  '040  Falcon  was  in
residence,  on  which a pre-screen of a two-player Combat style game was in
progress, and a TT set up for use as a realtime text entry box.

The intent to produce was there with the Reservoir Gods too,  as Sh3 busied
himself with a logo, but not getting too much inspiration, and Pink and MSG
seemingly  stuck  in single-tasking mode failing to get a  program  running
(Musicmon)  on an ST,  and instead of trying something simple like a  spare
machine,  they  decided to spend a couple of hours attempting to debug  the
program,  and  then  have it fail to write the end result to disk  instead,
even in spite of hours of amusement based on constantly hitting the  return

Eventually,  we decided to go out on the town and get something to eat, and
it was thus I had the unique experience of being driven by Mr Pink over the
speed humps of Leamington Spa.  A visit to the thrilling Burger King queues 
and  crowded  ambience  followed,  and  then a swift  return  back  to  the

Stimpy  had  to leave us mid-afternoon,  which was a shame.  His visit,  in
admittedly far less than ideal workshop conditions,  had mixed results.  Mr
Pink's  ancient  no.1 Falcon was successfully revived,  but MSG's  DSP-less
machine didn't seem to be better, and one of Sh3's spares donor Falcy's was
a few bits missing from before.  At around this time, we realised there was
a spare realtime article machine, and started to produce text on this.

The  urge  to  do  something "productive" was fast  slipping  away,  but  I
remember  managing  to  get some of my dormant  Alive!  textfiles  started.
Everyone else conducted a mixture of inscrutable code-related fiddling  (Mr
Pink on STeem Laptop),  or discreet IRC'ing (Sh3 and Felice).  I did manage
to  slip  in  some highlights for the Acorn demo  browsing,  but  only  Sh3
managed to catch a good look.

Just  when the interest factor started to hit the late afternoon  weariness
barrier,  Mr  Pink's old Falcon flicked into life,  and we took a good long
interested  look into the part life and times of the Reservoir  Gods  chief
coder.  It was as if that which had died back when Mr Pink first got a job,
and  Reservoir  Gods  1998-era had stopped working,  had burst out  of  its
unquiet  gravesite  in  a  ghostly  undead fashion.  We  got  to  see  some
interesting Wolfenstein dungeons which felt like a walk-around  interactive 
version of 'Godpaint'.  There was the 'thesis' version of 'Godscape', which
Mr  Pink  was presenting as coursework for his university  exams.  We  even
found  a version of the 'Godtracker' Midi player,  but this tragically  did
not  want to start up,  and it looks like the source for that is missing in

The  most  curious of the curios was a twenty-four hour  multiplayer  game,
"Spice  Invaders",  which was based on the 1998-era antics of the overrated
five. The game itself was very colourful, very Falcon specific, with a very
overscan fullscreen,  and a little bit slowly paced on the gameplay,  which
needed  a bit more work.  (Maybe it could be released as a 26 hour game?  - 
Pisstaking editors note.)

As the evening wore on, a very long and circular debate started as to where
the  next  food  supplies  were  coming from.  In  common  with  all  group
decisions, this took a very long time, and the argument travelled down many
dead-end side roads,  before we came back to the original suggestion, which
was  chinese  cuisine of a takeaway nature.  After some confusion with  the
order  taking person at the chinese restaurant,  we managed to register our

It arrived in a reasonably short span of time, and Pink paid for it, what a
great  bloke!  I  had  ordered massively,  the Burger King a  very  distant
memory,  and  I  even  managed  to eat nearly all of  it!  Felice  unwisely
duplicated my order without knowing what he was letting himself in for, and
ate quite a lot less of his!

The realtime text had assumed a bit of character and textual bulk,  even in
spite of the various locking up failures, which tended to swallow the text.
Deez put this PeeCeelike behaviour down to a Beta Ethernec driver, and even
resorted  to  physically typing out what was still showing  on  one  frozen
screen  into another text editor,  to cut and paste back into the  restored
realtime!  Such dedication!  (Is the preserve of a madman?  Same pisstaking 
editor that was on a bit earlier note!)

Deez  had  been  productive,  managing to bash out a screen on  his  Aranym
development system and three-dee modeller.  This,  as Deez explained in the
realtime,  uses  '060  specific features,  and didn't look too good on  the
standard Falcon that we first tried it on.  An attempt to see how it worked
on  a  recently  repaired CT2 Falcon also fizzled,  when the  machine  did.
Subsequently,  it  seemed to function better with the lid taken off,  and a
too tall RAM simm that wasn't seated properly, may have been the culprit?

However, we weren't downhearted, making our own amusement late at night, or
even  recycling  some demo-based amusement created by  other  people.  This
culminated in the events described by the "Through New Eyes" article, which
you can read elsewhere in this issue!

A lot of demos and a long time later,  there was more interest expressed in
where people were going to sleep.  Felice had cunningly gone early, all the
better  to  grab the only bed available in the place.  The Reservoir  Gods,
well  practiced in the art of sleeping at the scene of the  crime,  huddled
sociably  on the available chairs and floor.  Meanwhile,  I took one of the
other spare rooms,  without a bed, but with a floor made tolerable with the
addition  of  things like gonk bags,  blankets,  carpets etc.  I slept quite
well that way.

Morning  came easy,  like a Sunday morning!  We only got going very slowly,
myself  tiptoeing over sleeping Reservoir Gods personnel,  to write up  the
aforementioned (old demos) "Through New Eyes" article. Eventually, with all
parties  awake  and  hungry,  we took ourselves off down  town  once  more,
searching  for a suitable public house,  with a working kitchen,  which the
first place we tried sort of lacked!

We  ended up in the Dickensian brickyard ambience of the 'Jug  and Jester'
public  house,  half  expecting some fake Victorian Irish tinkers  to  come
fiddling  through  the front door.  They didn't,  and instead,  we ordered a
selection  of food and alcohol,  the food tending to the fattening side  of
wholesome (burp!)

After whiling away a couple of pleasant hours,  it was time for Sh3 to make
his  way  home,  and  we  bundled him out at  the  railway  station.  (Ahh,
Leamington station,  I have a memory of total boredom of that place, when I
had  a  three hour wait to get a connecting train  to  Stratford-upon-Avon.
This was a very long time ago, in pre-car owning days.)

It  wasn't  a great deal of time after we got back to the  Deez  residence,
that  it  was time that Felice and I had to leave,  Felice having  a  prior
engagement to meet.  The journey back was unremarkable, and all too soon, I
was back where I started on the Saturday morning.

That was the end of the adventure for myself, but others managed to prolong
matters just that little while longer,  as Pink and MSG managed to wear out
their welcome by another day or two.

The realtime article,  what there was,  now follows,  and I'll scoot to the
end  of that text to put in some conclusions and general stuff to end  this

Realtime article - UK pre-EIL party

deez: Finally everybody made it here. Pink had some problems finding the
place and my directions werent any good either but got here eventually.
Back to devpac!

sh3-rg; GAMECUBE LAMERS... Acorn suckers... PC Dads... where are
the atari kids?!

the turtles have turned their backs on us...

we need a keyboard shortcut for entering automatic time and date

deez requests some nectarine tuneage

msg has painful bits after spending the night sleeping with sh3

17:06 MSG:...I always write rubbish things on these...I hate chip music
and ataris... I particulary hate everyone because they are nasty to me,
so I am going to hide in my head phones and disappear.

CiH at the standing up uncomfortably realtime. MSG has some time confusion.

(Time for some chair-based action)
What is the german for exclamation mark???

We  (Me and Felice) got here late AM.  The journey to Leamington was  easy,
finding Deez's place in the dodgy part of town, slightly less so.

A  chaotic  scene  finds Deez,  Mr Pink,  Sh3 and MSG sprawled  luxuriantly
around,  and  Stimpy  in the far corner,  desoldering something that looked
once like a Falcon motherboard.  He soon left us, muttering something about
being  too  old  to go out at nights.  The equipment to  people  ratio  was
somewhat insane, and the working to broken equipment ratio even more so.

We  lost  no  time  in adding to it,  so Felice's lapdog,  err  laptop,  is
connected  to  the internet hub,  and my Akorn is set up on a  table  where
Stimpy's commodore 64 portable previously lived.

17:04 Acorn demos rule. Atari sucks. - msGAY

17;05 time for a weeee....

18:05  deez:  Trying  to finish some sort demo for this small party but  it
seems  msg  wanted to go online so i cant use my laptop and we  havent  got
enough monitors so i cant use my falcon.

18:22 deez: got the TT up and running with the network, but it seems felice
lost his connection in the process...

20:38  deez:  (again) think we lost quite a bit of this text,  might be qed
censoring  cih  & felice's text?  :) anyway,  after talking about food  for
almost  an hour we finally managed to order some chinese,  the girl on  the
phone  was  very confused and i'm pretty sure she wont be taking  any  more
orders from this address..

CiH back. Grrr, Deez's shoddy machine ate the realtime!

Anyway,  we  were talking earlier about Mr Pink's original Falcon,  the one
machine which was repaired successfully by Stimpy. We browsed the Reservoir
Gods  "Past  glories"  hard drive,  containing half-forgotten  and  totally
forgotten  source code.  The wonderfulness included a totally uninteractive
'Godscape',  and  something totally hidden away since a Cymvention 24  hour
coding frenzy long ago.

This is a game called 'Spice Invaders', featuring the life and times of our
favourite manufactured female megastars.  You could have up to five players
at  once,  but for some reason,  the single player option always stopped at

MSG: Kev D can shup up. He is blatenly an idiot. or not. lovely kev d!

Deez is the best person in the world: I like Deez. I think he is a very
good coder and should be in reservoir gods, I have always said that but
no one listens to me....

blah blah blah...

etc etc, I had chinese and it was nice. Kev d gave me some chips which
went with my spring rolls and egg fried rice, it was very nice. My neck
hurts because I stayed very late and was very tired. I have a sore neck.

Today, Mr.Pink and I found out that ST's and Falcon's and PC's do not
work very well together and aren't very compatible. This is the reason
for the global failure of the atari compatible, our servery suggests.

CiH  reporting  from  the realtime that has a  persistent  habit  of  self-

Deez  only rescued the last chunk of text by manually typing it in  on  his
lapdog,  and cutting and pasting the saved text across.  An iffy version of
MinT  has  been  implicated,  and the errant RTA machine,  a TT,  has  been
slapped around and made to run in TOS mode.

deez:  yep,  had  to  save that bit of text since msg said (typed?) so many
nice  things  about  me!  not sure if it was mint,  i think it was a  dodgy
ethernec driver, its one of ozk's beta versions.

Still, not taking any chances, I'll save this no--- BANG!

(The german for exclamation mark seems to be "+" on this keyboard.)

If  you are going to bother typing stuff into a real time doc,  spend a few
more seconds & save the file... You know it makes sense...


Mr Pink to MSG "Rodger me..."

MSG to room "it's almost worm time"

Lookout for Dynabusters+!


CiH getting the capitalisation horribly wrong on the first attempt.

Felice off to bed?

aye, see you all later on hopefully ....

deez:  felice  just went to bed..  got a small screen running on aranym now
using  slightly modified version of my 060 engine,  not really ideal for  a
standard falcon but there isnt enough time to optimise!  Just need to add a
camera path.

____  _   _   __   _    _  _  _____  ___   __   _   _ 
(  __)( ) ( ) (  ) ( )  ( )( )(__ __)(_ _) (  ) ( ) ( ) 
( (_  ( (_) )(    )( )  ( )( )  ( )   ( ) (    )(  )( ) 
(  _) (     )(    )( )  ( )( )  ( )   ( ) (    )( ( ) ) 
( (__  (   ) (    )( )__(    )  ( )   ( ) (    )( ) ( ) 
(____)  (_)   (__) (____)(__)   (_)  (___) (__) (_) (_)

not sure why i started doing this ascii stuff...
sh3, pink, msg and cih are busy watching sweety by dhs.
msg - "wouldnt be a dhs demo without a tunnel!"

A long time later...

CiH at the kezy, erm keyz.

Sleep came at around 03.00,  on a floor upstairs,  not too bad for a floor,
with  a  blanket and indoor strength wormbag to assist.  Now  everyone  has
woken up,  with the sleep-fazed features of Deez just arrived on the scene.
Of the remnants of last night, we spent a lot of time watching all sorts of
old  demos,  which  had a spin-off benefit for a new article  written  this

Deez  had a minor(?) disaster with his CT2 Falcon,  which decided it didn't
feel  like working anymore.  His little demo effect coded during the course
of  last night looked like he had been taking lessons from Cobra for  speed
optimisation of 3D polygons. Not a good evening for Deez.

(deez:  had  to comment on that one (any coder would!) its my 060 engine so
the fpu is used for all matrix transformations.)

Food was of a chinese nature,  served at bellybusting strength. This is the
end of the news for now.

3:00 went on an adventure to a pub for food. The kitchen had "technical
    difficulties" so we went to another - jug and jester-, we like jugs.
    Sh3 went to the train station and then felice and Cih went. And then
    there was and MSG left. will be going soon and then
    there will be MSG. And deez, who lives here.

    MSG: I have imposed myself at deez's and I now speak fluent swedish,
    I will be speaking with Evl/dhs to see if I can join them. we are
    going to have an adventure tomorrow. Maybe we will have acochole at
    a pub. I am staying here and then I am starting my new job in banbury,
    20Miles away on tuesday and it will be fun.

10:39 what, we are still here, ha! Leon and MSG are still here at Deez's.

    deez is taking apart that horrible 520 STe which has been a real
    stink for the whole of the weekend, 1stly because it wouldn't run
    Musicmon 1. It said that it needed more memory. This was funny because
    it had 1Meg in it. This cause leon and me (MSG) to stay up until 7am
    on saturday morning d-bugging it with Monst. it's still causing
    pain as now we need 1Meg STe to run a demo and that's not running it,
    hence the need for Deez to take it's top off.

11:00 deez: pile of crap ste... need some more simms...

12:25 deez (again): busy watching ST demos, been through Blood, Colorz and
     a few others I cant remember right now, next up is Froggies over the
     fence and oxygenes stniccc demo!

12:53 nope still haven't seen it yet. MrPink says "we still can't get over
      that fence, we're getting on a bit." ST/fo3o/Pc combo hell.

1:44 yeah, dispeanced wth froggs...didn't wwork..justnw watched asuretrip
     by the checkpoints. so that was nce, time for my PJs -defjam-!

  ~~ End of the Realtime! ~~ 

So, the UK Pre-Eil meet didn't really quite live up to its billing of quiet
and  intense  production of stunning code.  Instead,  anyone even  slightly
familiar  with the participants could expect what they got,  a car-crash of 
incoherent activity, with a productive intent, but no clear end result, but
with a great deal of amusing banter and recriminations on the way!

The  time spent was very enjoyable,  the hospitality shown by Deez was  all
that could be expected of him too, thanks mate!

In the end I'd use a very simple comparison with the Maggie Party of 1995.

- More computers, fewer people, and about the same amount of crush!

CiH, for Alive!April '03

Alive 7