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
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
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
____ _ _ __ _ _ _ _____ ___ __ _ _
( __)( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )( )(__ __)(_ _) ( ) ( ) ( )
( (_ ( (_) )( )( ) ( )( ) ( ) ( ) ( )( )( )
( _) ( )( )( ) ( )( ) ( ) ( ) ( )( ( ) )
( (__ ( ) ( )( )__( ) ( ) ( ) ( )( ) ( )
(____) (_) (__) (____)(__) (_) (___) (__) (_) (_)
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 Mr.pink and MSG left. Mr.pink 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