Alt Party 2009 – Man versus Machine versus rain!

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17.39 – 23.10.09 – Start right here!

It’s that time for a party report as we’re at Ye Olde Nokiam Cable Factori once again, sitting more or less where we sat last year. That must be something to do with the homing pigeon styled magnetic core lurking deep within the brain which can place people to 0.00001 degrees latitude in a familiar but barely remembered place from 365 days ago. The main stage has someone sound checking by destroying various items of equipment on the stage, or maybe it’s something to do with oil exploration? It could even be one of the live acts tuning up, actually that last possibility is very likely.

A strangely struggling to come to the boil CiH is at the realtime keys once more. The crazy fools went and did it again, with the usual share of lukewarm travelling stories, and hopefully less in the way of crazy after-party adventures, apart from the fondly pre-planned ones involving sauna’s and alcohol of course.

There has been one major change from previous Alt parties, which should guarantee an easier time all round. This year, we arranged ALT accommodation with Wiztom, taking the strain off Q-Funk’s physical resources, not to mention our fragile mental states. Wiztom has a place with some nice upsides, but it is in a part of Helsinki so high that if you go up a floor too far from his apartment you risk an altitude-related nosebleed. Also there is a persistent burst lung hazard if you foolishly miscalculate bus stops too early and have to walk any distance back there, like we did last night..

Anyway, we’ve set up with a small band of fellow travellers, Wiztom, and the most unexpectedly arriving Nerve from Norway. A party of attacking Swedes are expected but are not yet sighted. The sound checking has moved on to some less kinetic but equally loud noises.

Some travelling notes are to go into this bit of the report. It’s been an epic journey which stretched to two days, so impressions and memories are a bit of a hazy blur, not helped with a relative lack of proper sleep.

We’re going back to the 21st of October and we’re still in the UK, a Wednesday dawned bright with expectation and rainclouds. The journey was to be carried out in two stages, as with the luxury of spare time off we decided to break our journey down with an overnight stop at the parent’s-in-law of the Felicing one, who happened to be just a hop and a spit away from Gatwick Airport. This is the departure point for our Squeezyjet direct flight to Helsinki on Thursday morning. That part of the trip was completely painless, parents-in-law are great hosts, and we went to bed early borne on a benevolent drowsy wave of good food and enjoyable wine.

22nd October, 03.30! – The horrible truth!

It is dark and we are smashed into forced wakefulness by the looming black granite menace of our departure time. An 08.15 flight has to translate into a much earlier bout of preparation, all the better to negotiate the carefully structured airport security dance-around. A dazed zombie sensation settles around my neck, never to really properly lift all that day, and only temporarily staved off by timely doses of caffeine. The journey over to the airport is darkened, damp and uneventful. People having better things to do with their time such as lovely warm recuperative sleeping rather than get in our way. Gatwick proves to be painless, even after we’ve managed to confuse the security people with our Alt Party tickets. Nothing really significant has to be left behind, apart from some Felician toiletries that didn’t fit themselves into a plastic bag earlier. Once that hurdle has been leapt, there are a couple of hours to kill, so the next thing to inflict on our dazed and confused body-clocks is a larger than usual breakfast. The jury is still out on whether a full cooked breakfast was the wisest thing to do at 05.45 hrs, I’m sure a guilty verdict is in the post. But that seemed to be a good thing to do back then.

(Squ)EasyJet turns out to be a fairly decent flight on this route. There is a controlled free-for-all to get to a seat at the start, but nothing fell off the aircraft on the way over and I managed to complete the red-eyed flight ritual of resting my head and tuning out the world in an unsteady half-doze for a while. So we’d judge it a good trip. In due course, we arrive at Vantaa Airport and smartly make our way to the 615 bus service, the no-frills but loyal and faithful vehicle which carried us to the Helsinki centre on many a previous occasion. We have carefully made sure that our communication routes to Wiztom are open and working previously and contact him now. The lines are open and he will meet us there shortly. Apart from the small matter of a defective laptop he is repairing. The name of ‘Marycloud’, aka warp factor 9 on the va-va-voom index is mentioned, the offending machine belongs to that fragrant lady.

Anyone with even the slightest experience of upgrading or repairing computers can guess what happened next.

The promised half-hour stretched away into a vast distance. The updates were discouraging and indicating new obstacles busily queuing up behind the current ones to take their place. One of the compulsory visiting rituals was carried out to everyone’s satisfaction when a Hesburger restaurant was located in the Central Station Metro arcade and Suomi style junk food reminiscent of our first 1998 visit was consumed.

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We is eating the Hesburger!

After that, we were passing the time in Central Station sploshing around in a puddle of apathetic tiredness, the fuddled state from our early start forcibly knocking on the doors of disinterest and loudly demanding to be let in. Fortunately in the nick of time reassuring phone calls came, firstly from the Knightly Truck of garbage (Sir GarbageTruck!) with a follow-up from the Martin of Q-Funk, whose physical presence entered closely following the phone call. At that point, a final text from Wiztom confirms that he has escaped the python-grasp of his never-ending computer errand and was finally on his way. The mood lightens a lot, and a lively conversation is in full flow by the time Wiztom arrives. A party of four then undertakes the epic and rain-lashed journey back to Wiztom’s premises across the wilds of Helsinki. We get off in a building site, and stagger up a series of hills, each of them with its own running stream of rainwater. Eventually we get to Wiztom’s apartment, which is a rather nice place dominated by a huge Sony flatscreen in the lounge.

A period of relieved collapse, including eagerly demoed excerpts from Housemarque’s  ‘Super Stardust’ on Wiztom’s PS3, crazy amounts of exploding stuff on screen and all follows. This is bringing your work home but not in any normal manner! We manage to make a further trip out into the ever-present lashing rain for essential supplies including a welcome pizza near-death experience and something for breakfast on the following day.

After we’ve eaten, there is a further mission which will take us out into the bleak sodden wilds of downtown Helsinki, as there is a pre-party event described as a ‘warm-up club’. This turns out to be another catch a lot of public transport episode, followed by more roaming in dark wetness to the Cable Factori site to locate this event. Wiztom wisely declines that chance so it is just Felice and I going. We manage to find it running in a fairly quiet state, although one or two people known to us turn up later on, such as the large towel-wearing American with a distinctive pseudonym discussed slightly earlier. He has acquired a lush beard and looks more than ever like Jeff Minter’s father. (A mischievous flash of thought places the young Jeff Minter fighting like a Jedi in the Empire Strikes Back cloud city where Truck takes on the Vader role and the deadly revelation is made!)

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Truck, on the right, giving the bad news to Jeff Minter. "I am your fatherrr!!"

The general atmosphere is relaxing, it is not too late but we are tired and decide to head back. This goes straightforwardly until a moments lapse of concentration, or over-optimism of journey’s end puts us off the bus several stops from where we should be. This is a lapse entirely on my part, I cannot use my usually successful strategy of finding an element of cock-up to blame on Felice! Unfortunately, the rest of this journey is completely uphill and on foot. We get back some fifteen minutes later than planned, soaked and with busted lungs, a long session of unwinding, hot and cold drinks, and essential web couch potato behaviour is needed before we can even contemplate going to our inflatable beds.

But as we do this, never has a night’s sleep been sweeter etc.

19.00 and we’re back in party space.

The Swedes have arrived, Baggio, Evil, and the less commonly seen coding megabrain Gizmo are setting up, as is the slight but welcome figure of Pahartik. He has found a new travelling companion and also sensibly opted to stay elsewhere, possibly to get out of any possible repeat of last year’s wardrobe lifting hassles with Q-Funk?

Back to the story so far….

The bulk of today was spent slowly restoring normal functions and energy levels to a sleepy body. Our long morning of leisure chez Wiztom’s took in several pursuits. These included watching a Japanese crime thriller in Japanese, with Finnish subtitles, with Wiztom to explain what was going on, which helped. We also discovered that his Atari STe could be connected to the hugeness of the Sony flatscreen. There was a certain amount of internal hardware tinkering pre-done to allow an S-Video connection as RGB was not supported to that screen. Several ST and STe full-screen demos were shown, including Unlimited Matricks representing the oldschool, and of course Dead Hackers ‘More or Less Zero’ from the class of 2008. With a screen of that size, the ST’s floppy drive ‘filing cabinet’ icons were nearly as big as actual filing cabinets!

By the time the Ultimate Music Demo’s 21 minute intro fades to a stop, it is almost time to leave, various computers are stuffed into various bags, and we set forth for another public transport adventure. There is thankfully no rain and the mission to get to the party place goes flawlessly. It appears that the party is not quite ready for the attending masses, as we present our ticket hopefully, but are politely told to go away until the official doors open time of 17.00hrs. We repair to the bar area where the warm-up club from the previous evening was held, and rapidly encounter Truck and a completely unexpected Nerve in quick succession. An improvised late lunch quickly follows from there. Whilst we are deep in scenish anecdoting, the lithe rollerskating figure of one of the special guests glides through the bar. This is Jeri Ellsworth, the maker of the Commodore ‘Direct to TV’ (DTV). She is completely approachable and joins in with the conversation. She looks like just about every geek’s fantasy girlfriend.

Eventually Truck is called to some organisers duty or other, the happy little gathering breaks up, so we figure that it is time to look for the proper party, which is now in a more welcoming doors open state.

Which takes us up to this point where we’re watching the party slowly unfolding.

19.22

One experiment which takes us out of normal party operating procedures is worth mentioning here. As Wiztom has a spare key, which has been loaned to Felice for the duration and we have pre-purchased five-day travel cards which enables us to blitz the public transport facilities without worrying about the cost. We have decided to leave our sleeping equipment at Wiztom’s place. The plan is to return there when the partying palls, to enjoy a comfortable night’s sleep without the suspense factor of sleeping near alcoholically challenged midnight strangers in the sleeping areas in darkness. The fun part is going to be when the public transport stops. The subway component quits disappointingly early, so we’ve agreed to party like animals through the nights, until around 05.00hrs when going home becomes a possibility once more. The dead morning period can be slept through and we return in the afternoon when the party starts to wind up again. We’ll be dead and buried by the end of it, but hey, I’ve got two days after I get back home to recover in!

19.54

There are a surprising number of original ST’s at this party. Apart from Wiztom bringing his machine, Nerve brought his along, and there is another one set up nearby, not connected to our little party. There is also a silent machine at the infodesk. (Not to mention the ST that Britelite set up near to us, also with an UltraSatan.) Nearly all of these machines are sporting some form of SD-card storage. Wiztom has one of the original Satandisks, (a free donation from Evil) which was being used to good effect this afternoon. Nerve and the third party ST have both got brand new UltraSatans, Nerve opting for a 4GB SDHC card. If there was not the little matter of a flight limiting what could be carried over, I might have been tempted to bring my STe with its UltraSatan as it would fit inside my flight bag, but there is also the little matter of borrowing a suitable screen, which is why I’m writing this report on the laptop, ho hum..

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Not an ST! The Baby Cray used for the Cray demo competition.

20.12

The Setok opening speech kicks off. I guess the party is officially ‘open’ now.

Ravel takes over, he expands on the man-machine theme a bit. I don’t see any birthday cake this time?

Fireworks at the end of the speech which was short and sweet. We’re definitely over the 10th anniversary portentousness.

21.49

First night food! – A loose gathering of the great and good of the Nordic and UK Atariscene’s set off in the direction of a food finding mission. This party included myself, Felice, Wiztom, Nerve, Partycle, and  Gizmo. A preliminary approach to the local Subway was met with a sad expression of scarcity, or we would have been sharing two bread rolls between a party of six! A small place around the corner met our cheapness criteria and offered a range of pizza and Indian food. (Thankfully not on the same plate together, that would have been too awful to contemplate!) This is where we have been for the past hour or so.

The rather snazzy glossy information booklet informs that an act called Byproduct is shaking the hall right now. Pahartik is in dancey dancey mode. He’s at his desk, possibly still to grasp that there is a front of stage area which could easily be used for those sort of pursuits?

Saturday 24th October.

00.58

It’s been a while since we’ve been here. Various distractions have played their part. The loud live act taking centre stage, thrusting it in the air, and shaking the building with a caterwaul of sound was the rock band (written initially as ‘Rock Bank, why?!) with cyberpunk sensibilities, ‘Dope Stars Inc’. As well as loud noises, androgyny was strongly themed. The kind of girls that these guys would get off with would most likely be easily confused lesbians who would want to look good next to the rough girls, but not realize what they had got into bed with until too late! Considering that act, I got a definite ‘Rock’ vibe from them, but not too much cyberpunk?

A lot of people were wearing ear defenders of some kind, possibly lung defenders were needed against the overworked fog machine too. At this time of writing there is still a thick pall of artificial mist in the party hall. I staggered over to the bar area which was completely packed out in contrast to the quietness last night. Another door with speeded-up chiptune mixes blaring out of it led to the Nebula Club, which is the grown-up equivalent to the second stage annex at the old party venue Gloria. Pahartik was found dancing over his MacBook with Linux installed. To get away from the ever present fog, I even went outside for five minutes, sans coat, as if I had Geordie antifreeze running through my veins.

I can still taste the damn smoke now!

01.22

I’ve been putting this off, but I guess its time to get some words on this screen about the party place and what is going on here.

There are lots of similarities but some important differences,with how Alt ’08 was set up. The same huge main hall is being used, with the stage being of central focus as it was last year. The tables for ‘Edgerunners’, the people that paid the extra to set up their computers were in the same place as before. The Finnish retro hobbyists with their flavours of old Mac, MSX and Commodore machines claimed an identical spot to before as well. There are some major differences, as a lot of the focus has been pulled further back down the hall and into the adjacent bar area. The space near the front of the stage, occupied by an ambitious attempt at catering was left totally bare and abandoned. Rollerskating Jeri babe is covering the hall with great ease and came over to see what we were doing. She is one of the most impressive guests in a decent line-up down the years, acing out even the mighty Jeff Minter with a massive babe-factor. I’ll get over this caffeine buzz in the later morning and promise to be embarrassed by these comments then, m’kay?

Hem! Back on topic. The cafe-bar run by students at the back of the hall has returned. It is the collection point for the free coffee and tea, which is somewhat needed right now. The exhibition spaces have a selection of artiness, perhaps not quite having the same impact as last year. Visiting groups include the anti-copyright ‘Pirate Party’. There is a fairly sophisticated attempt at a home-brew electric car here. There is also a Cray supercomputer which has its own competition category, Entries for which will be viewed with interest tomorrow. The free play arcade machine is Puzzle Bobble, aka Bust a Move, and I’ve been tempted to have a go or two on it. the party goes into a whole new area which last year’s party did not venture into, namely the Nebula Club at the back of the hall. (Or maybe it is the seawards facing front entrance?) This promises several events running in parallel with the main party hall, so it will be take a lot of effort if someone was trying to fit it all in?

There is also a very strange and terrifying looking bouncy castle concept, the best(?) way of describing it would be as a “Pedo-house” concept! I’m not sure if it is really suitable for the children that are supposed to turn up on the family day.

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Pedo-House! If you go anywhere near it, you'll shit bricks!

I have been working on a couple more articles for the Low Res blog-mag, one of which was ready to be uploaded into the WordPress site. The other is a crudely stitched together piece of shite and needs a lot of work to get it presentable. So that’s where I might go for a bit. Seeyawll later!

02.46

The grim night pounds on!

Felice has been away from his station for a while but has recently returned. Nerve is working on a little coding fancy which is still in the very early stages. There is going to be an official entry which has already been completed. Amazingly this has been completed before the party so no last minute sleepless party-coding is needed. (This was the combined demo with the Dead Hackers Society.) What he is doing now is just something random that may or may not turn into something more substantial. Wiztom is proposing a taxi-based return home soonish, which might be acceptable if shared between the threesome of us. The night bus would not really be an option, costing nearly as much with the added hassle factor of having to walk to the central station to catch it in the first place.

13.47hrs!

A big gap!

Wiztom made good on his taxi-booking threat a short time after the last entry, which turned up scant minutes after he asked. A swift nocturnal ride home followed. A bedwards collapse came almost immediately, where we slept the sleep of temporarily homeless gods. A slow rising process followed, which included breakfast (fresh baked savoury croissants, mmmm!) and a swift transit to the party place, where we encountered…

17.28

Another big gap!

A meal got into this one. Baggio, myself, Felice, Wiztom, Pahartik and a UK demoscener called ‘Ne7’ came with us to a Nepalese/Indian restaurant in town. Baggio and others were outfaced by the huge mounds of food placed in front of them but I managed to eat mine, and part of theirs. (He he!)

Actually, should I be so gleefully reporting the boundlessness of the CiH appetite?! Makes me look like a greedy bastard, ah well, too late!

There was some stuff that got in beforehand. The Demoscene TV people were running a seminar in the Nebula Club, and for some reason I was considered influential, interesting or just been around too damn long to ignore, as I was asked to show up. There were several familiar and semi-familiar scene names such as Britelite and Little Bitchard. A film crew from DTV were there also. There was a long round of introductions and free beer. A workshop of some sort was about to start when we realised that Felice’s video made from excerpts of old Alt Party footage was due on the big-screen. This had quite a good job done on it, going beyond what you would class as normal home movie. After a few more entries that competition was over so I returned to pick up on the seminar, but at that point, the ring-tone-sounding dinner-bell called as we were due to go off to eat at that time.

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*Me* speaking into a pretend microphone at the demoscene workshop.

18.12

The newschool music compo is now running, and a surprisingly mellow set of sounds issues forth from the main stage speakers.

There is a strong Atari presence here. We were expecting something from the Dead Hackers Society, which will be another full-screen STe demo. Apart from that there looks to be a release from Britelite/RNO as well!  Nerve was showing something that was in a ready to run condition and this had been for a week, but he did not dare to run it yet. I assume this is the DHS release. Apart from that, Wiztom was prodding some spare source code around with sort of proof of concept results. Nerve was playing around with a little random fancy when we left him last night, but I haven’t seen him yet to get an update if anything happened with it or not? (UPDATE – It was just a random fancy after all.)

18.42

There will be a lot of competitions and the two special guests, so we’re going to be sitting tight until well after midnight. Off to get some spare energy from somewhere.

20.26

The first of the guest speakers has completed her piece. This is Sophie Wilson, one of the very clever people who worked at Acorn on things like the Acorn Atom and ARM chip, and she still has an active career designing a follow-on called Firepath. One of the things which became very clear was just how far Acorn were ahead of their competitors in designing their hardware. It also became clear just how badly Acorn got their long-term survival strategy wrong, albeit indirectly, as Sophie was not involved on their sales and marketing, One of the audience questions relating specifically to the 16-bit Amiga/Atari ST era revealed just how much Acorn appeared to take their eye off the ball at that point, not bothering to look beyond the press releases or take any detailed note of what the competition was doing. As we all know, by the time Acorn bothered to look into the matter and away from servicing their captive educational market, it was really too little and too late.

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Sophie Wilson says her stuff.

There was an interesting ‘demo’ session at the end with some original code which was written in the mid-nineties, which would not disgrace a showing now. One of these useful gadgets was Acorn’s attempt at movie multimedia replay which appeared to be comfortable replaying several film clips at once and within a variety of special effects. This was being done on a virtual RISC PC emulation via an Intel Atom powered machine, which in its native state is not really that good with this multimedia lark! (Usual questions apply about the quality of the movies concerned. I’m guessing a maximum 256 colours here, but still, a good effort.)

Apart from ARM products being widely adopted by mobile phones, the even more potentially awesome Firepath chips are being hidden away in ADSL modems, no doubt doing a great job at great profit to all concerned, but I guess the business environment does not allow any large scale manufacture of a killer general computer based on this chipset? Which is a shame.

I’m looking forward to Jeri’s talk. Hopefully she’s taken the roller skates off by the time she goes up onto the stage?

21.57

Jeri Ellsworth lived up to her lively attractive pre-show personality on the stage. She may not have realized how many people she was speaking to until they undimmed the lighting a bit more! Her talk was even more packed out with interested geeks than Sophie’s was. Jeri is a small-town American girl from Portland, Oregon, with big dreams and the sheer persistence of the Phoenix, as these dreams were raised and dashed several times. Still it all seems to have come good at last. She has lots of interests and a very fulfilled life including various ways and means of getting rid of latent violence and pyromaniac urges! This did not stop the obvious question being asked at the end of the session, “Are you free tonight?” She did tell a grisly tale of travelling overland on Greyhound buses where shadowy people with even fewer social graces and more convictions than most demo freaks asked the same sort of question in their own special ways😉 Sounds like the Euro Lines sleep deprivation overnight torture special to Hamburg back in 1996, but without the attempted sexual contact.

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The lovely Jeri Ellsworth, not on roller-skates at that moment!

She is also fond of setting things on fire, including herself…

Amazingly, the competitions appear to be running to time at the minute. Still, plenty of time to put a stop to that! I believe original hardware is going to be used for the ST entries, so it all falls apart from there!

Okay, Supercomputer demos coming up in half an hour or so.

22.52

The compo entry viewing machine (Cray) is being wheeled to the stage. Time to book a chair as I don’t fancy standing for the next couple of hours.

Sunday I’ll get back to you with the date later! Alright, it’s the 25th.

01.39

We’ve had a run-through of all the competitions. For an Alt Party these went fairly smoothly. Firstly some trends to note,

Cray Supercomputer demos, still a rather young category, shall we say.

Dynamic demo. There were actually a couple of good ones this year.

Alternative demo competition, The alternative platforms tended to be down a bit, the ST/STe represented fifty percent of the oldschool hardware. The other entries for MSX and C64 did fulfill a certain amount of crowd-pleasing from the home crowd. The entry from Britelite/RNO is a brilliant taster for a full demo. Apparently something bigger is planned for next year, well we live in hope.

There were an awful lot of PeeCee demos which went overboard for an ambient feel both with sound and vision. It was as if the coders were all looking over each others shoulders and coming to the same conclusion and techniques. Or did they just all have similar ideas independently of each other?

The competitions actually ran relatively smoothly for an Alt Party. There were none of the really horrendous issues and entry losses from last year. Any video beamer hassles with non-standard hardware were sorted out well within my tolerance level. So a big thanks goes to the competition screening team for getting that right this year.

There is a little matter of some voting to do shortly.

01.58

I have activated my second free coffee! We didn’t use the sleeping area, but we made sure we got our free coffee!

02.31

Lovely Jeri has been giving out skate-by neck massages!  Roller skating yank babes with top notch chip design skills rule!

Okay, here are some random impressions for the entries which stood out for me. The usual oldschool bias applies, but there were some goodies in among the newschool stuff too.

Bold by dvik&joyrex – MSX – This was an MSX hardcore reminder of Alt ’98 glories. Over the ST stuff, it was the other oldschool standout entry.

Cernit Trandafir by Dead Hackers Society – A sultry and sophisticated elder sister to More or Less Zero.

Sodium by RNO – A taster for something amazing to come in the future? Let it be so!

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Sodium by RNO, this is almost Falcon-worthy!

KATANA by JUMALAUTA – Themed around ancient Japan, a PeeCee demo which hit the spot.

Bad News by Kooma – A hilarious joke demo that actually worked as a dynamic demo too.

Mandelbrot by Static – Awesome Cray fractal flight, took a lot of hitting various boxes to get it to run correctly but the effort was worth it.

Fraktaalikaali by Lasi Interactive – Nice runner up on the Cray which did not take itself too seriously.

Unsigned by Byterapers, Inc.- Nothing really new for the C64 but presented with an upbeat crowd-pleasing panache.

I am reminded that we get an extra hour of party/sleepytime as the clocks go back today.

02.51

Wiztom is getting around to packing up, looks like another taxi session to get back is on the cards. Still better sleep whilst we can.

A lot lot later, not at all real-time anymore, no really. Time is adjusted for a long period where I really didn’t feel like picking up any text at all, but we’re back now, alright?

We actually got back to Wiztom’s high tower at around 04 of the hundred hours (adjusted for winter time going back) and were feeling every minute of it by then.

Somehow we managed to claw ourselves awake just a few short scant hours later with a determined plan to arrive back at the party before the competition results and prize giving ceremony. There is a traditional after-party sauna taking place, in a different location from before, and the plan is to take ourselves off to it fairly soon after the party, as there is an earlier start and finish for the new place. Which is what more or less happened, as events will later unfold.

We actually got back to Kappeli, the old cable factori, around eleven, which gives a generous slice of time to take in the end of the party, even before the closing ceremonies were delayed until 15.00. Oh well! It’s a mellow lazy Sunday morning vibe which suits me just fine.

A fair bit of the spare time is utilized in making oneself as comfortable as possible, namely grabbing a couple of chairs near the stage area, using one of these seats as a footrest, and half-watching and half-dozing through the Demoscene TV showreels that were being played on the main projector screen. The Swedes are still more or less where they were before and have yet to leave. Unfortunately, we do not have their company for tonight’s sauna party, not even the party animal Baggio will be present due to work commitments.

The competition results are given with the prizes. Comments by me are in bold.

Striptease competition

Competition prize sponsored by Bemine.

1   Maija (the redhead)
2    ?
3    ?

This took place in the Nebula Club at some obscure time in the morning. Dreading an influx of sub-optimally body-formed drunk male sceners, we stayed away. There were some women of the female persuasion who joined in apparently.

Cyberpunk Costume competition results
Competition prizes sponsored by IRC-Galleria.

1    826    Weller-Taguchi-Fujiwara Model 5050 by Basscadet
2    453    Anarkomekaanikot by temmi hoo & saini
3    393    Guns > Luck by Kapteeni Kronos

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Basscadet was the real man-machine!

We were out at the time this was shown, but Basscadet did stay in costume for pretty much the whole party.

Themed Video competition results
Competition prizes sponsored by Wreck-a-movie.

1    417    Apocalypse by Mikko L?pp?nen
2    284    Taistelukoodaajan seikkailut by Paskuuden standardik?site
3    252    future is a machine by nosfe
4    225    Alternative Party – From the Beginning by Felice/Alive Team & Lotek Style/tSCc

Felice only just missed out on this one. Some opinion reckoned the second placed entry should not have been placed where it was, being a quick cheap jokey in-party knock-off.

Oldskool Music competition results
Competition prizes sponsored by Assembly and Scenesat.

1    292    Mountain Gate 2: Rise The Mountain Gate by T-101 of Accession
2    244    Does boot NYYRIKKI remix by NYYRIKKI
3    232    Full Moon Flow by King Thrill / Tekotuotanto
4    229    Jedi-mestaaja by shroomi & pahamoka
5    201    The Land of Shadows by Petrified/Accession
6    151    Few bytes left by Lagers

Retro Graphics competition results
Competition prizes sponsored by Nebula.

1    387    Totally Accurate Controller 2050 by bracket
2    334    Status check by ilesj
3    328    one-eyed robot with tits and a sword by h7 / Accession & HiRMU
4    216    edge tek by dep
5    188    Chilling out by DiamonDie
6    162    The most immersive pinball of year 2027 by wAMMA + naemok

More realtime drawings and stuff.

Nuskool Music competition results
Competition prizes sponsored by Assembly and Scenesat.

1    220    To The Unknown by T-101 / Accession
2    165    Helsinki (instrumental mix) by Kitkaliitto
3    148    Epica, pars I: Provocator by King Thrill / Tekotuotanto
3    148    Kill Kill Kill (Wobble Mix) by LB vs DJ Vadim
5    110    Tonight by E621
6    96    Farewell, my Jamaican friend… by ferrara / phObos team
7    84    Symmetry in Love by Tappio
8    78    Hustler by F.A.B.I.O
8    78    Jump in the acid street remix 2 by Olo
10    55    Aquarium by Foldplop
11    43    Spoiled Pancakes by V?s?n S? Lens
12    30    alternity by eimink
13    18    Ulp by mrp

Helsinki instrumental sounded like someone’s attempt to do classical with a modern twist.

Realtime Graphics competition results
Competition prizes sponsored by Epson.

1    275    Cyberpunk Tomorrow by Basscadet
2    126    Giraffi by Niko “kiirala” Kiirala
3    115    My little nuclear pony by DiamonDie
4    105    Spying for Ilya by Laura “Vield” Koponen
5    75    Exosceleton by Saini
6    52    My dwarven fortress by Kapteeni Kronos
7    48    Left overs by Hippi-Erkki
8    47    Drawing for the realtime graphics by Pirre
9    46    Zero by Aleksi “c8h11no2” Palen
10    41    Hi-Towers of M’Clabaku by stRana
11    39    Tisias by nosfe/iSO
12    31    Alternate reality snake by Sakari
13    29    Psykoosi by Siiri ja Anna
14    21    Keltainen volvo by Paparazzi / tAAt
14    21    RoboValve by spiikki ^ Nalleperhe
16    12    Game Over by Kryptos

Wildest Wild competition results
Competition prizes sponsored by Puputsin Puoti.

1    345    Compofiller 50000+ by iSO
2    311    Demoscene in 2 Minutes by Duncan^DMS & T-101^ACC
3    237    Altkohinat by Manmeet’s Machine

Supercomputer Demo competition results
Competition prize sponsored by CSC – IT Center for Science.

1    785    Mandelbrot by Static
2    630    Fraktaalikaali by Lasi Interactive
3    428    Supa by mrp

The Cray was a ‘baby Cray’, not one of the monoliths!

Dynamic Demo competition results
Competition prizes sponsored by Damicon Kraa and Nokia.

1    802    Bad News by Kooma
2    464    DATASPHERE by HACKERS
3    406    PREMORSE by jumalauta

The first placed entry deserved its first prize.

Alternative Demo competition results
Competition prizes sponsored by Live 2011 and Nokia.

1    393    Bold by dvik&joyrex
2    321    Unsigned by Byterapers, Inc.
3    171    Cernit Trandafir by Dead Hackers Society
4    151    Sodium by RNO
5    110    Namesia B by Komplex
6    98    Lateral Surface of Discord by Matt Current
7    85    Catharsis by mfx
8    78    Bad News by Kooma
9    77    18th anniversary by Damones
10    76    Coffee by rustbloom
11    65    KATANA by JUMALAUTA
12    26    DATASPHERE by HACKERS
13    22    The repeating life of Miss Time by Cenon
14    15    Kippis by Solarius & Oasiz
14    15    Recycle by Pants^2
16    13    Koivukyl? by ?lykuvioK
16    13    Fraktaalikaali by Lasi Interactive
18    10    Mandelbrot by Static
19    6    Dunkelheit by mrp
20    3    PREMORSE by jumalauta

No issues with the first place, but perhaps the second place demo was name-voted a tad much? Methinks the Dead Hackers demo was the true second placed production.

YLE competition results
Competition prize sponsored by the Finnish Broadcasting Company YLE.

1    Bad news by Kooma

The Most Obscure Computer Competition
Competition prize sponsored by Damicon Kraa.

1    Sophie Wilson (Acorn Risc Machine (ARM))

sunday_1500_prize_giving_ceremony_vesa_harkonen_22

"Look mum, we won a prize!" - Nerve on stage.

With the results concluded, the doors closing time loomed rather suddenly out of the mid-afternoon gloom. It got to the point where we were chased out of the hall by the team deconstructing the chairs and tables. ST’s were hastily stuffed into bags and coats retrieved from the piles of stuff left under the tables. There was a plan to take ourselves directly to the afterparty Sauna, having smugly removed all computery stuff earlier that morning and returning to the party with pre-packed towels and party alcohol supplies for the sauna. We uneasily huddled around, teasing the new sauna location out of Setok, and deciding on an interim mealtime plan.

This took the form of a wet walk to the local McD’s with team Atari Sweden and Norway where more junk food was gratefully found and  consumed. At this point it was time to bid multiple farewells to the Swedes and Nerve.

There was a world of more wetness as we located the bus stop to take us to the new sauna place. We did not have to wait for too long and at least we were under cover.

Wiztom was confident about where we had to get off for the new sauna place. The subsequent hunt on foot for that location took us to some strange dark and creepy woods. At one point we managed to smell the distinctive aroma of wood smoke. Perhaps if we followed our noses in, we would have found it sooner? We also found that we weren’t the only ones who were lost, as we encountered Setok and Jeri who were also having locating difficulties with the Sauna.

Fortunately, we found the sauna on the edge of the coast. A lonely jetty goes into the water, waves break on a small beach, a brazier burns at the entrance of a wooden hut. The new sauna is a smaller place than the one we are accustomed to. There is a cozy sitting area and a good supply of drink, which is added to, and a bit of food. The sauna is already in action as several towelled figures testify.

There is no electric option here, but there is a double wood burner, the second one not being used. We manage to get there in the period where the sauna is just about to reach full operating temperature, and fulfill the ritual of steamy heat in the usual manner.

There is a fair choice of drink. My Edinburgh Whisky Tour purchased sacrificial small bottle of Dalwhinnie 15 year old single malt scotch survived the arduous journey out, but did not survive the consumption that took place here! This was deliberate and intentional. Even Nosfe commented favourably on the palatable qualities of this fine drink. The whisky exchange website describes it thus.

“A good introduction to the delights of single malt whisky – elegant, smooth and medium-bodied with a light, fruity palate and a whiff of heather on the finish.”

ProductImage-1

Dalwhinnie 15 year old single malt scotch, the drinky nectar of the gods!

I’d have to agree with it, I liked one of the users comments where it was judged smoother than Glenfyddich.

Fortunately, this time around and restraining consumption of his booze perhaps, Felice did not feel the need to let everyone know how he felt, constantly.

Pahartik turned up late and rather lost when the sauna component of the party was almost over. A philosophical shrug later, and he opened a bottle of Koskenkorva which handily took over as the Dalwhinnie had run dry by then. Jeri was at the party but did not go into the sauna, although a promise was extracted from her to do this next time she came here. There was a UK scene presence which also didn’t go in, we got talking to an individual called ‘Ne7’ whom we saw more of on the final journey back home.

The sauna wrapped up fairly quickly by afterparty standards. It finished not so long after 21.30. We witnessed Setok folding himself into his Caterham Super 7, origami-fashion, for his drive home. We got back to Wiztom’s by 22.30 and were able to relax, grab a final bite to eat and get a reasonably early night.

Monday..

This leads us nicely to our final day. Wiztom sets off for work, fortunately at not too unreasonable an hour. We are left to our own devices with the spare key to the apartment. This would have been a quiet day apart from a cunning plan from Truck requesting a lunchtime meeting of the scene faithful still remaining in Helsinki.

We had enough time to get up in leisurely fashion, pack etc. The bags stand by awaiting our later return, so we set off once more. Cloudy and wet again? Yup!

There was no clear plan at the start, so gathering the assorted sceners together was something like trying to herd cats. Especially when some kitties like Felice had their own idea of meeting at Molly Malone’s bar in the centre of town with some of the people. We managed to collect Pahartik and his longtime American IRC buddy ‘Telephone’, a widely built Texan, but Q-Funk was fashionably late. A final phone call confirming location blasts away any complacency, so we had to hurry to the Kaampi interchange where the restaurant was located. This turned out to be a Chinese restaurant we had visited before. (Last year, when it served mouth-blistering cuisine to Q-Funk as I recall!)

There are an awful lot of people crammed into a fairly small space, I’m perched in the far corner wobbling on the seat edge which is not so hot. However, the food is plentiful and reasonably priced which fits in with last year’s recollections as well.

Eventually, and after a short digression back at the famous Molly Malone’s with Q-Funk’s latest femme and her friends, it is time to start on the long journey back. We have absolutely no problem with getting off at the right bus stop this time. A short pause later back at Wiztom’s place and we are off once more, heavy suitcase clonking along the broken pavement.

The return journey is straightforward and we have a couple of hours worth of time to crash at Vantaa airport after completing the checking in rituals. After completing the long and leisurely sweep of what the airport has to offer, we  discovered that Ne7 had got his flight time wrong and had been waiting at the airport for several hours previously. We recall that he left the Chinese restaurant under some time pressure, but he had got his checking-in time confused with his flight time. He was actually on the same flight as ourselves.

This helped to pass the time going back rather handily as we talked about anything and everything, having made sure we got seated together in an aisle surrounded by sullen Daily Mail reading elderlies. Actually the bulk of the conversation was between Felice and Ne7 as I was offering a minimal contribution, feeling very tired by then, also quite possibly a little bit unwell. Whether this was a lurgy which was picked up in Helsinki, or had been waiting for me since the UK to stupidly burn the candle at both ends is debatable. It was something that hung around for a week afterwards, it didn’t develop into a full blown cold or flu but left me feeling flat and drained for a while.

Anyway, back on topic and away from hypochondria, the arrival in the UK was around a  GMT-adjusted 22.00hrs as previously expected. Having parted from Ne7, some more journeying eventually got us back at Felice’s place at 01.00 of a Tuesday morning. A night’s uneasy rest, under the influence of the ‘thing’ described just now saw me just fit enough to make the last stage of the journey back home under my own power.

Final thoughts?

The second party in the ‘new’ format went off well at the old cable factory. There was a small drop in some areas from last year. Front 242 was a very hard live act to follow. The Dope Stars made a valiant effort but the gap to bridge was huge.

The party was still well-run and very professionally done. The drop in the main hall activities was made up for by the use of Nebula Club and cafe bar area, which at times attracted almost as many people as the main hall itself.

A niggling issue from last year, the competitions were much better run this year. This was the number one area for improvement identified from last time and I think the organizers were painfully aware of this. There were a high number of entries in all the categories. The oldschool demos tended towards the sparse, but high quality end of things.

There was a strong Atarian presence in the competitions, not just Dead Hackers and company, but Britelite finally doing the decent thing and coding an ST entry. We missed the return of the central European sceners from last year, (Earx, 505 etc) but they were pulled in by the attraction of Front 242 so I guess this is not a regular party for them?

It is nice to remeet the usual people, even Q-Funk, without a domestic crisis. Their names have been mentioned in many party reports before so I won’t repeat myself here. There were also some new(ish) people like Ne7, a face from Sundown who became better known to us.

Whilst on ‘people’, we’d like to thank Wiztom for the use of his apartment whilst we were in Helsinki. You’ve got a really nice place, even if it is on the top of a hill!

The special guests were good value, especially Jeri Ellsworth. She joined in and interacted with the party to a much greater degree than is usual for special guests. Jeri is one of my favourite memories from this Alt Party. Sophie Wilson gave a very interesting talk on her role at Acorn and ARM but was much more of a conventional special guest and probably not so much of a ‘people’ person.

So the end result is being left skint, with an unknown chest disease and knackered, fantastic party, see you next year!

Picture credits – All most pictures enthusiastically ‘borrowed’ from the Alt Party website gallery which is okay under the local creative commons licence, all copyrights belong to the original owners of course.

CiH – Writings realtime at the party and non-realtime later on, (c) Oct/Nov 2009.

4 Responses to “Alt Party 2009 – Man versus Machine versus rain!”

  1. Kristoffer Lawson Says:

    Thanks for the traditional CiH report and glad you enjoyed it!

  2. CiH Says:

    Setok, you might be interested to know there is a completed report for the ’08 event still lurking around. It was supposed to appear in Alive 15, which hasn’t turned up. I do have a back-up plan for it, but that will have to wait until next year😉

  3. Commodore Tramiel Says:

    I have absolutely no idea why wordpress seems to have a setting for me in the boxes above, but, what the heck, we’ll leave it there (: It fits, and you’ll figure out who this is due to that.

    Right – a few notes that may have been not mentioned to you, which may explain a few of the votes for Suckho’s entry:
    Suckho had NEVER coded a demo on the c64 before. Now, those of you not familiar with the c64 scene for whatever reason may not recognize Byterapers as one of the more familiar names in the Finnish c64 scene, but to have one of their PC coders go back and in 6 weeks come up with something that, well, was of that quality – it’s quite good. And thus some of us voted it up based on “well crap in 6 weeks he turned that out why isn’t my demo done yet.”

    We tried to be absolutely sure everything ran fine, and great thanks to Evil/DHS for being very patient while we dealt with getting it all set up on the Atari. I, myself, just could not bear to deal with another alt.party where we coudln’t get the freaking demos to work. So I’m very happy we were A> on time B> able to do things with a minimum of issues.

    The big issue of course is that the scan converter just doesn’t produce a bright enough output, but we’re limited by the fact that people just don’t MAKE scan converters that will turn old machines into vga signals capable of being broadcast on HDMI compliant beam equipment, as apparently there just aren’t any enthusiasts in the demoscene who also really, really like tinkering with making scan converter type things. Which I understand, because you’d end up making one for every party and that would be a LOAD of work and a LOAD of complaints. But then, that’s what being a party organizer is… and well, it’s more fun to organize a party than weld, or that’s what I think.

    Also, Scenesat broadcast thru the entire party, and we got some additional listeners from that. I’d just like to point out that we are NOT opposed to hearing from you non-c64, non-amiga peoples out there. We don’t play MANY oldschool tunes, but we do have some on the rotation(al) that are quite good and fit the “can be played on the radio without causing the average, non-fanatic, listener to turn off.” Mainly because we want to introduce people to the idea that tunes that are made by people for fun and for love of making music, sometimes with computers, is a good thing. So please feel free, anyone reading this, to stop by the site, request some tunes, and maybe suggest some ‘able to be listened to by the more open-minded of your non-demoscene friends’ type tunes for the playlist, if we don’t have ’em.

    Also, I’m horribly sorry about the whole “Oh gee let’s destroy your living quarters” disaster, but to be honest I’m _still_ not fully recovered from it. It’s dark and difficult to move things around you know.

  4. Simon Sunnyboy / Paradize Says:

    A very interesting party report!

    That photo of Nerve is a bit bad though. Most people can imagine what I have in mind when commenting on that one so I’ll leave it at that.

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