A certain familial resemblence?

April 25, 2012

Spotted and cammed today in PeeCee World, whilst I was waiting for a sales assistant to find the correct key to open the Mac peripherals locked display case, a Samsung laptop which bears some resemblance to a classic 8-bit home micro. One of those classic computers which perhaps didn’t get as much recognition as it deserved back in the day, but has prospered in its afterlife with the loving ministrations of some kind and talented people.

Well, don’t you think so?


“Our system just isn’t set up for death..”

April 1, 2012

I got this from wotk recently, just too good not to share.

And no, I don’t work for the people in question, before you ask!


As reported in the Newcastle Evening Chronicle U.K. recently:

A lady died in September, and the MBNA bank billed her in October and November for their annual service charges on her credit card. Then in December they added late fees and interest on the monthly charge. The balance that had been £0.00,  is now somewhere around £60.00.

A family member then placed a call to the MBNA Bank . . . :

Family Member: ‘I am calling to tell you that my grandma died in September.’
MBNA: ‘But the account was never closed and so the late fees and charges still apply.’

Family Member: ‘Maybe, you should turn it over to your collections section.’
MBNA: ‘Since it is two months overdue, it already has been.’

Family Member: ‘So, what will they do when they find out she is dead?’
MBNA: ‘Either report her account to the Frauds Department or report her to The Credit bureau, maybe both!’

Family Member: ‘Do you think God will be mad at her?’
MBNA: ‘Excuse me?’

Family Member: ‘Did you just get what I was telling you – The part about her being dead?’
MBNA: ‘Sir, you’ll have to speak to my supervisor.’

Supervisor gets on the phone:
Family Member: ‘I’m calling to tell you, she died in September.’

MBNA: ‘But the account was never closed and the late fees and charges still apply.’
Family Member: ‘You mean you want to collect from her estate?’

MBNA: (Stammer) ‘Are you her solicitor?’
Family Member: ‘No, I’m her grandson’

MBNA: ‘Could you fax us a death certificate?’
Family Member: ‘Sure.’

(fax number is given) – After they get the fax:

MBNA: ‘Our system just isn’t set up for death. I don’t know what more I can do to help.’
Family Member: ‘Well, if you figure it out, great! If not, you could just keep billing her. I don’t think she’ll care.’

MBNA: ‘Well, the late fees and charges will still apply.’

Family Member: ‘Would you like her new billing address?’
MBNA: ‘That would help.’

Family Member: ‘ Plot 1049.’ Heaton Cemetery, Heaton Road, Newcastle upon Tyne
MBNA: ‘But, that’s a cemetery!’

Family Member: ‘Well, what do you do with dead people on your planet?’

Movie to video game tie-in’s. A major missed opportunity?

March 12, 2012

It is becoming more apparent that the last two months haven’t been completely dead, I’ve just left stuff to pile up unposted.

I found this interesting ‘what-if’ reconstruction of box artwork for an Atari VCS game that never was, apart from within the twisted genius mind of the artist.

Now do you think Atari would be dumping three million of these unsold beauties in the desert? Thought not! So apart from being generally awesome, Jack Nicholson saves the world from the great video games crash of 1983!

Meet the Enterprise 192!

March 9, 2012

Let’s pretend that nothing happened over the last couple of months since the last log entry, well nothing much has….

However, I’ve spent a little bit of time on eBay, and come up with a slightly used Enterprise 128 computer at a reasonable price, not one of the “Super rare and only £599.00” sales which seem to clog up eBay constantly. I’ve even managed to source a couple of useful peripherals for it, such as a nine-pin joystick adapter and a SCART monitor cable, which was pretty good going, as peripherals are even rarer than the machine itself. The holy of holies, the floppy disk adapter, which bolts on to the side expansion port, remains out of reach at the moment.

Enterprise 64 and 128, hence Enterprise 192!

The picture shows off my new acquisition plus an earlier eBay orphan Enterprise 64 together. For the Easter weekend of the 7th April, We’re going to this event. The only major hurdle remaining is to persuade emulator tape files to load into the original hardware. I am having partial success at best right now. Then I could well bring one of both of these beauties along to Snibston, no doubt to be flattered by admiring gazes all round.

Sometimes even the shortest journey can be interesting..

December 20, 2011

As you know I like travelling, especially if a retro computer or demo party gets in the middle, but sometimes even the mundane daily routine things can produce moments of pure gold.

Now take the humble No.16 Stagecoach Bus, (take it away from me as far as possible please!)

If hell had mass transit, it would look something like this!

When the no.16 features in my life, I’m either on my way to work, or going back home from there, so nothing exciting usually happens, but the less said about a random sample of my fellow passengers, the better.

However, just today, I was the unintended audience for this little comedy nugget; The ultimate embarrassing child story, as overheard by me!

Father and young daughter on the back seat immediately behind me. Daughter is at the age where she asks questions about everything, whether it is nailed down or not. All wordings are approximate according to a faulty brain, but the good bits are all intact, oh yes they are!

Daughter – “Dad, why do we have to have buses?”

Dad – “They get you to places you want to go to, sometimes you can’t park in town.”

Daughter – “But we could go in a car, you’re a good driver. Daddy, why did the police take the car away?”

Dad – “They didn’t take the car away, I sold it.”

Daughter – “But daddy, they did take the car away!”

Dad – “No, I definitely sold it to Paul, you’re getting confused Georgia.”

Daughter – You’re lying daddy, you shouldn’t lie!”

Dad – “Georgia, you’re confused…”

Daughter – “I don’t tell lies!”

Dad – “Georgia, shut up!”

Moral of the story? Be a dodgy crim or raise kids, but not both!

I’ve sorely neglected this blog, more posts are owed, we’ve been to some awesome events in Finland, Poland, and even Blackpool since the last time I posted, The art of Atari ST demo’s has taken a giant leap forward but more of that, hopefully when I catch the time and inclination to update properly.

Have a great Xmas y’all!

Gaddafi evasion fail!

October 23, 2011

Time and bullets have finally caught up with the dear Colonel. He’s sans country, sans hope, sans life and everything.

Gonna need a bigger ferret here...

I tend to think that he made a major mistake in basing his escape and evasion plans on reading Watership Down.

We went to a demo party last weekend.

September 17, 2011

This is not an unusual statement to make on the pages of this blog, but the Sunrise 2011 party had a few new features that set it apart from the rest.

Firstly, it was a UK-based demo party. Not a common occurrence and only the second one after Sundown. Even better, it was the first demo party within striking distance of a return trip in the early morning hours to the palatial bedroom of CiH GHQ in Northampton, being set in the unprepossessing surroundings of Luton town centre and all. The third new feature that appealed to more than a few people was the high comfort level offered by it being located at the Strathmore Hotel. Their conference rooms have some awesome soundproofing, well up to coping with the noise output of a typical demo party, although for the most part, the atmosphere was quieter and more relaxing than usual.

A good time was had by all, and more by some, as the following pictures will demonstrate.

Felice (on the left) mostly swore off alcohol for this party, he had a road trip to Cambridge and back to do himself. However, I wonder if he had access to a secret stash of happy pills, it’s the only rational explanation for that rictus smile! I hate to think of any other possible reasons! Picture credit by mOd, who is on the right of the picture.

This is ‘Stavs‘, our passenger from Outline 2011, the white-out level accurately represents his state of alcoholic inebriation! Original picture credit by Keito.

There was even a small Atari contribution from those nice people at Torment. Poor old Spiny had the misfortune to sleep in and pick up an unwanted souvenir of Luton, no, not an STI, but a parking ticket.

In forthcoming news, our demo partying campaign season is set to climax with the forthcoming Alt Party in Helsinki, from the 21st to the 23rd October, climaxing with this appealing effort from the 10th to the 13th November in Gdansk!

As the last post discussed, I’m actually involved with a project relating to the latter of these two parties, which means I’d better stop wasting time playing around with this blog… Oh..

Appreciate your local diskmag…

August 24, 2011

Certain writing commitments will now loom a little bit larger. Promises made to people have a certain habit of catching up with you later on. Let’s hope that my submissions don’t meet this fate!

In slightly related news, the new hardware member of the family, discussed in the previous post, is doing just fine and peachy.


New hardware family member arrives at CiH HQ..

August 3, 2011

We’re at the point of a new epoch where major changes are underway for my computing resources. This does not happen too often. As you all know, I enjoy stability and continuity with my kit. I am a gadget freak, but generally a frugal one.  (The one exception to that rule being anything with an Atari badge attached!)

With this last sentence in mind, my 2005 era G4 PowerPC Mini-Mac has done epic service on my desktop for the last half-decade plus the extra year or so. I’m expecting that it has still got plenty of life left in it. However, the rest of the world is rapidly leaving it behind as the latest versions of stuff will not run on this veteran hardware. Not to mention a no-show from the latest versions of Firefox and the Chrome browser. Even small things like the text inputting window on this blog seems to have had an annoying “upgrade” making editing something of a less than realtime plodding chore.

So it’s time to update and Apple have been obliging enough to revamp their Mac Mini range to go with the new ‘Lion’ incarnation of OSX. The other thing that was different from 2005 is that there is now a handy(ish) Apple store within an hour’s drive from CiH HQ. So off I went today and here’s a picture of the new arrival peeking shyly out of its box.

The reviews have generally been positive, apart from one major omission, namely a total lack of any DVD drive. You can connect an external drive, so that may be a Xmas present request, or else “borrow” another computer’s optical drive, if that computer is cabled in or even wirelessly. On the other hand, the 2011 Mac Mini sounds like a decently powerful beast and not so much of a budget Mac any more.

Anyway, more about this new family member in a later post, along with the other things that I promised to mention previously. Got to do some serious backing up before it takes its place on the desktop.

Baby got my CT60 back..

July 20, 2011

People who know me and who may have read the old blog a while back, might recall that I was having some ‘issues’ with my super-duper 68060 accelerated Falcon CT60. Specifically, it seemed that the accelerator itself was basically healthy, but we were having problems with it talking to any form of hard drive storage. The first attempt to replace the original dead IBM Travelstar laptop drive with a Kingston compact flash card proved to be less than successful. Follow-up attempts with SD-Cards sort of led to nowhere. (Probably from user error, thinking retrospectively.)

Well after some Olympic level procrastination, not to mention finding a spare day and sufficient kitchen table space to throw at the matter, I’ve finally managed to get a second Sandisk CF card to have a reasonable conversation with the CT60.

What I’ve also done differently from last time.

1. Stopped before I got too clever. At the moment this is limited to plain TOS. Things went tits-uppity with the SD card after I installed Magic. I’ll probably keep this one simple and keep this card as a ‘reversion mode’ if future experiments with more daring configurations go horribly wrong. The next card will have Mint as the choice of multi-tasking O/S.

2. Copied in ‘clean’ files from CD-ROM only. Another possible reason for failure on the previous attempt may be due in part to taking files from a suspect SCSI hard drive, things copied from it which sort of stuttered and stopped working randomly. That being said, it seems my copy of the Dead Hackers Outline 2006 invitro might be a bad copy. At least it dies consistently at the same place each time, about halfway through.

3. I’ve manged to get some things working happily. Screengrab below!

It’s nice to revisit other old friends, also with a big “Hi there!” going to Silkcut from TBL. Other demos will need to wait until I’ve reconnected to a non-VGA screen.

The other point of interest is that the CT60 variable cpu clock (CTCM) seems to have a much lower tolerance ceiling before things go bang with solid state storage, compared with a conventional hard drive. I have a revision 6 MC68060, which has been clocked past 90 MHz previously. It is currently set to 72 MHz, a real ‘safe mode’ speed. Any attempts to push much higher end in catastrophic boot failures.

(To put things in context for non-genre savvy casual readers, the Motorola MC68060 series was an end-of-line processor from the MC68K family, roughly contemporaneous with early Intel Pentiums. The normal unclocked speed is 50 MHz, which speaks volumes as to how far this design can be overclocked without adverse consequences, if a French Atari-loving genius is on the case!)

Anyway, to end this post, I’ve quietly pleased, but thinking very carefully about the next step, specifically other devices to try with it. If anyone has any suggestions, I’m listening.