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Alive 8

  Awards given in an end of year spirit!

I'm reviving an old Maggie tradition, as this was one of the articles that I
tended to write,  towards the end of the year,  with the scent of Xmas in my
nostrils. Didn't matter that the issue came out in early February either, it
was the mood and setting at the time it was written,  that counted! Maybe we
shouldn't  call these awards "Oscar's",  that name has already been taken up
by Hollywood,  and they may not like it. Perhaps we should call them "Seb's"

(These would  look just like the  conventional Oscar,  but with the addition
of a little goatee beard!)

Anyway,  here  they  are,  the   Alive  Mag 'Seb' awards,  for  the  heroes,
villains,  and inbetween personalities of no fixed moral code. They all have
their place here (at least insofar as they affect the Atari scene world!)

Most interesting trend in the general marketplace:

The slow but inexorable rise of Linux has been a factor this year.  A strong
push  in its favour comes from those people who don't trust Microsoft.  This
is a list which is getting bigger in number every day!  Unexpectedly,  a lot
of governments mistrust putting their data in the hands of a closed  system,
run  by  a  foreign  company who refuse to  be  more  open  and  accountable

It  looks like the bribery and palm-greasing department of Microsoft  aren't
on  the ball at all (grin!) You can add to that,  widespread rejection of  a
company  which epitomises the worst excesses of the American empire,  and  I
can see Linux becoming the choice OS of the rest of the world outside the US
sphere  of  influence!  Yes,  even us poor sods well within the US sphere of
influence in the UK are dabbling with Linux. There is one thing more that we
love than George Dubya, and it is avoiding spending too much money on crap!

Most amusing bug of the year:

Has to be Windows (TM)!  At least you can run STeem on it!  But it is not so
amusing for those that have no alternative!  Mind you, how far must we go to
help the very stupid people, who won't wake up and help themselves?! Windows
is  a  fantastic  'gateway  drug' to harder things,  such  as  virus  worms,
browsers loaded for adware, and much much less!

(Bill Gates gets up to make his acceptance speech...  "I would like to thank
the  Alive Mag academy,  my lovely wife  Melinda,  the anonymous gnomes that
toil for me  night and day....  OW!"  A hail of bricks patters down on Bills
head from the audience!)

Must-have hardware for moneybags with no upper spending limit!:

Whatever the latest Sony Vaio model PeeCee Laptop, with STeem running on it!
Or  a  Mac Powerbook with 17 inch screen.  (Apple kit reference put  in  for
Evil's benefit!)

ST in most unlikely place award!

Is an ST emulator on Palm O/S. An ST in a shirt pocket beckons! It is just a
matter of time before STeem is product placed in a Hollywood smash hit movie
(Computer in films reference put in for Felice's benefit!)

Atari hero of the year (international):

Rodolphe  Czuba  is  the top dude for 2003.  He plugged away  and  stuck  at
finishing  the CT60,  especially after deciding that working without  proper
diagnostic tools was a bad idea. It was in the summer that he managed to get
it out of the door at last.  Also,  in my opinion, this should go as a joint
award  to Didier Mequignon,  for his work on the firmware and patches needed
to  get  it to work.  Without him,  all we would have had is a pretty yellow
chessboard  pattern booting up,  and I've seen enough of those in  Stafford,
three years ago, to last me a lifetime!

Atari hero of the year (UK section):

Yes  I've  managed  to find one!  Meet Nick Harlow of 16/32 PDL  infamy.  He
revived  the  idea of some kind of UK-based event for people to turn  up  en
masse  to.  Well in numbers somewhere between fifty and one-hundred  people.
The  slightly  misleadingly  named 'Jagfest' wasn't just  about  the  famous
console,  as  plenty of computer people with hardware of all ages and stages
showed  off their stuff also.  We had a bloody good time,  and we are having
another  one next year.  Also,  why not check out the Micromart Show report,
for more retro doings, if you haven't already done so.

Atari hero of the year closer to home section:

Hardware  guru's  are  Gods!  Especially  those lovely  people  involved  in
bringing our CT60's to life!  Well done Stimps, D-Force and the rest of you!
May the deity of the soldering iron, and prosperity go with you!

Missing and found again:

Hello Defjam, it was great to see you again at EIL part three. And also your
great  demo too.  Also a big 'Hi there' to the peeps of Dune and Sector One.
We may yet see your EIL stuffs on our Atari's anytime soon :)

Coolest demo of 2003, all machines:

After  a  close consultation,  and a large scale fight with the rest of  the
jury panel,  this time,  we decided that the bumblebee would fly higher than
the Falcon once more.  The 'Posh' demo carried this one,  chased by a number
of  strong entries at the EIL 3.  It narrowly pipped the 'Underscore'  demo,
from those DSP busting people from Escape!

Game of the year:

Erm  we're  a  bit  low on nominations this year!  That  might  have  to  be
Superfly.  This is an entry technically left over from 2002, but aparty from
Zombie  Apocalypse,  we're  still waiting for the next new thing  in  games.
Meanwhile, the 'Gods' have been more demo-active in recent times.

The best party for 2003:

It has to be Error in Line,  of course! I personally had some good events to
go to this year, and I'd rank them thus.

1. Error in Line 3
2. Alt Party 4 (After-Party broke new records of drunken silliness!)
3. Jagfest, summer parties in sunny Kent rule!
4. Micro Mart Show retro zone, lots of old machines still doing things :-)

The best new hardware add-on for 2003:

The CT60 of course. Don't all start shouting that it should have been in the
2002 awards! I know it's late!

The most eagerly awaited product in general:

The  CT60  once more!  Seems to be making a clean sweep on this bit  of  the
awards ceremony!

Most subtle way of referring to your ownership of a CT60, without actually
saying out loud in conversation, "I've got a CT60!" on Atariscne IRC:

"My  temperature curve builds up quickly,  then levels out at 40 degrees and
stays on or around that line all night!"

(Blank looks follow from the non-CT60 owning parts of the Alive readership!)

The best new music application:

Ace Tracker is simply the best!  You can make your own synth sounds,  import
samples,  tweak them and use them to make a modfile tracker.  Personally,  I
found  the idea of pure sample synthesis too much to bear without  exploding
with  glee.  Thomas  has  effectively software emulated a new  and  stunning
Falcon  soundchip!  Tunes  that are only 2 to 3k in length will never  sound
bleepy again! Unless you want them to of course!

The best general publication of the year:

The MyAtari webzine falls into the category of 'non-scene',  but it has kept
on  going  as a steady monthly webzine.  It makes best use of the  available
material,  and successfully supports an active and interested community.  It
comes in at a variable level of quantity, but a consistently good quality.

The diskmag of the year:

I'm going to be generous, and give this one to Chosneck. They released issue
three  earlier  in the year,  and may kick out issue four in time for  Xmas?
This Falcon only zine has a gorgeous interface supported by a good range  of
interesting  articles.  It  is let down slightly by crashing midway  through
with accelerated hardware. I fervently hope the next one works on the CT60!

The strangest debut of the year:

A  new  fake  crew  has  hit town!  These  are  the  strange  but  memorable
individuals  who make up the team calling themselves 'Dildo  Fatwa'(!)  They
claim to abide by some revolutionary ASCII manifesto. Some of them have been
overheard  claiming that ASCII graphics is the new sex,  or perhaps the  new
form of reading out loud?

We still might see it one day? award:

1. Heftig
2. Willy's Adventures
3. CT60 (this entry disqualified by actually appearing!)
4. Missing EIL 3 demos, c'mon. pull yer finger out!

The pleasant surprise of the year:

At the Micromart show Retro Zone,  among the PeeCee box shifters and so much
hardened  commercialism,  we  saw so many people still interested  in  their
ancient hardware. They were doing strange things not dreamed by the original
designers,  having fun with it, and proud to show off the results! Thank you
all who made the effort to be there. Long may it continue (and us too!)

The *most* annoying country of the year!

There is only one winner this year.  It is the USA,  which happens to be the
home of both George Bush, and Vernal Elm!

Scamster of the year!

These  are sometime CPU suppliers Vernal Elm.  These narrowly pipped a whole
bunch  of Nigerians struggling to get into my email inbox.  I say 'sometime'
suppliers,  as  it seems when they get a large enough amount of money,  they
'sometimes'  lose  interest  in  supplying the product  that  it  paid  for!
Unfortunatly,  our  hero  of  the  year got caught out  by  these  poisonous

Twisted but deserved renaming of the year!

Take Vernal Elm. Drop them screaming headfirst into the nastier forges of my
mind. See what spills out at the other end. I've renamed them 'Venal Elm' on
a first attempt, or after a little more thought, 'Venereally Diseased Elm!'

Clogging nuisance of the year!

Spam,  spam spam spam, not so wonderful spam, lovely spam!!! This is the big
story  for all of us using the internet.  The sheer ubiquity of low  mortage
rate  herbal  viagra saving $$$$!!  beats the lurking perils of  adware  and
spyware  into a bloodied mess.  These latter two pests are only a hazard  to
those people forced into using Microshite products!

Most annoying viral worm!

The   'Swen'  worm  out-squirms  strong  challengers  like   'Sobig'.   Swen
masqueraded  as a Microsoft official update.  Countless stupid people taking
Bill  as  their gospel,  opened the thing and launched copies of it into  so
many other mailboxes!  Swen was a gushing tap of an infection,  once opened,
impossible  to  heave shut!  Many people were bailing out their inboxes  for
weeks afterwards....  Just one question, is it supposed to be called "Swen",
or "Sven"?

Okay, that's it for now!

CiH, for Alive Mag,Dec '03

Alive 8