Archive for the ‘Events’ Category

Xzentrix 2010 Party report

February 4, 2011

Friday 2010-09-03

Another edition of the nice and cozy Xzentrix party was due this year. At the same time, the DAS in Dresden took place. But due to travel
considerations, I had decided early to attend Xzentrix although the party date was amidst my move into a new flat with my girlfriend aswell.

On Friday I left work a bit early to catch a train to Munich. As always the party is held in Seeshaupt in Bavaria, Germany. The trip was not really eventful except that I missed the train in Tutzing and was forced to wait about an hour at the station for a ride of 10 minutes to Seeshaupt.

Anyway I arrived around 20:30 at the party place to discover that this years`s edition was not as croweded as before. Maybe it would change on Saturday. I unpacked my lot. This year I packed my Atari STE with SatanDisk and a 7″ Mini LCD-TV.

505 had recommened me this particular TV. I didn`t pay too much, about 80EUR for the thingy and it works well as a party monitor. On the STE here it runs with Composite video but the Falcon worked well at home with the VGA input as well. It`s perfect to take a long by train. ūüôā

I soon started chatting with all the other party people when CPC-Mike arrived. He unpacked quite a lot of gear including an STE aswell, a CPC Plus, a CPC6128, a Sega Saturn and hidden in a box, an Atari Jaguar too. I also had discovered that someone brought a Sam Coupe, a machine which I didn`t really expect to see because of it`s rareness.

We went to eat some pizza from the near pizza joint and the quality was pretty good. The pizza was large, even in the “small” category, fresh out of the oven and quite tasty.

CPC-Mike had problems with his UltraSatan so we simply tried my card. It worked and booted ok. CPC-Mike was quite please to find out his UltraSatan was actually working so we agreed to install his own card later during the party.

Thorn / TSCC arrived as well with an Amiga 1200 for playing another edition of the Bavarian KickOff Tournament. He also brought a slightly intersting 1990 vintage PC with a 80286 processor. “It`s the first PC of the family Butschke and I`ll try to sell it here.” was his comment.

CPC-Mike and me started digging into some old games. Playing “Sonic Boom” on the CPC Plus we wondered about games between different platforms. I booted the same title in the ST version. It disappointed ourselves as the display for 2 players turned out to be another lame “one player after another” mode instead of a good “2 players on screen” blast.

Shortly before midnight, Beetle arrived from a long trip and started to unpack. He showed me his CTPCI with Radeon graphics and discussed some of its features.

The CPC users gathered to try out the new game “Orion Prime” which turned out to be a point`n`click adventure. Games of that sort are generally not my taste but it’s great to see the effort live.

We soon ended up with a Swiss man to discuss Forth, RISC cpus and handheld calculators. Albeit being a very interesting discussion the day took a toll and I was starting to get really tired.

Beetle had brought an additional airbed for me (Thanks!) and we soon geared up for sleep. “It might collapse as it is not 100% tight anymore.” So being warned I simply jumped into my wormbag and decided to nap as long as possible. Even the regular party noise was getting lower in comparison to other party events.

Saturday 2010-09-04

The air bed started to collapse as promised so around 6:30 I decided to get up as one of the first party people. I took a quick cold water shave and started writing on this little report then.

Now more people seemed to be awake. I took a little walk to get up and at my return breakfast was ready. We had coofee, pretzels and rolls – and all incldued in the ratehr small party fee or 10‚ā¨.

We played a bit on CPC-Mike`s Atari Jaguar and I discovered that Raiden is actually a quite good game. However he didn`t have all games with him so my first glimpse at Jaguar gaming was limited to Raiden and Wolfenstein 3D. Sadly the Jaguar had to be connected via RF to my TV and it run without sound. I don’t know why but we didn’t investigate any further.

Some sort of hardware modding had to be part of Xzentrix as every year. Last year I bought a couple of 7800 pads but those have problems with the IKBD (keyboard controlling mcu) on the Atari ST. The keys stop working and behave irratic as soon as a 7800 controller is plugged in. With a bit of rewiring and cutting traces the pad can be made compatible. And Beetle did the mod for one of my pads right here on the Xzentrix. As a special feature, he wired the now functionless second button to work as the up button. So now with this modded pad, NES style jumping and shooting is possible. I`m looking forward to try this pad with “The Great Giana
Sisters” someday.

Late in the afternoon, the Bavarian Kick Off Championship took place. As I’m personally not really a fan of Kick Off, I played some other games on my STE instead aswell as chatting with CPC-Mike and getting his UltraSatan to run properly. We installed ICD Pro like Jookie described and say what, it worked ūüôā

Around 1:30am I went to my wormbag to catch a decent sleep.

Sunday 2010-09-05

After the usual morning routine, Thorn and me discussed the next LowRes release. (When you are reading this article, something has happened in that regard! ūüôā )

Around 11:00am Thorn offered me a ride to Memmingen and we left the party. We discussed LowRes and other stuffs and finally Thorn dropped me off in Memmingen so I could head for home by train.
All in all I really enjoyed attending Xzentrix again. This event has a certain something with its focus on old computers in general and not being limited to demos and coding. In many respects it is the perfect sort of party to attend.

Simon Sunnyboy / Paradize  <>
for LowRes magazine


Sundown 2010 Party Report.

February 4, 2011

Weeee go mad in Devon, yet again..


We’re at Sundown, it’s the 3rd September 2010, and we’re not a bit late. In fact, we were about six days early, at least for the ‘Devon’ part of the experience. For some reason lost in the mists of last February, it was decided that the female contingent should come along in some sort of ‘holiday’ capacity or outrage as well. The Felicing one has a usefully placed relative in the northern outpost of Devon known as ‘Ilfracombe’, so we were able to spend the previous days before the party there. In some conditions of considerable comfort and enhanced viewing pleasure, I might add. Here, I’ll share some photographic evidence with you.

Felice's Aunt's place at Ilfracombe. This is the actual view from the garden!

An anguished pause follows to reflect on many days of driving, walking, driving, stumbling, drooling and stalking, all over the twisty turny up along and down along pathways and byways of Devon. All in glorious unbroken (unborked?) sunshine and blue sky-o-vision. This has been totally untypical of the damp sad summer so far. We had many adventures, all with a happy ending, perhaps worthy of a separate article on its own, but this might end up sounding something suspiciously like the “what I did on my holidays” report that we did at school on the first day back there.

“We went to the seaside and saw the sea, the sand, some seagulls, and got some icecream and candyfloss and got sick all over daddy who was very cross….”

So I won’t.

So I will say nowt about the exciting game of fuel gauge roulette that I played on the way down here to this very party place, between Ilfracombe and Barnstaple, due to a breezy overconfidence in the amount of fossilized dinosaur juice left in my fuel tank. (We got there, otherwise my start time for the realtime part of this report would be a lot lot later and the tone of it a lot less euphoric!) I won’t mention the road trip for a visit to the Eden Project last Wednesday, a major undertaking on roads seemingly designed and built by a drunk unicorn on LSD. I guess Devon and Cornwall didn’t get many Roman beating up tribespeople and highway design consultants in to sort the ‘getting from A to B in a straight line’ aspect out?

But we had a good time, saw and did a lot of stuff, but all good things have to come to an end and the Sundown Party takes over. A quick afternoon trip attempting to maintain a folllowing convoy speed at warp factor Felice gets us to our new temporary centre of operations at the Hansard House Hotel, what you mean *hotel*!? with no dossing down in the hall, hardcore, you know the score style?

The female contingent had something to do with that, needing comfortable places to sleep and all. So they have been left there, the losers. We still have the heartbreaking decision at some point late at night to come back to soft pillows, quiet rooms, hot showers and a cooked breakfast the following morning. The hotel is up a bit of a hill, which is a theme that I’ve been tediously familiar with for the previous days. I’ll no doubt have some more to say on that topic after we’ve been back tonight.


The party is, variously, semi-dark, still fairly¬† quiet with around twenty to thirty guests arrived and in arriving states. Some Commodore 64 SID tunes play through the big sound system, whilst the big screen displays some functional ‘welcome to the party’ information. Ooh look, we early arrivers have been name-checked. That’s nice.

In a welcome break from recent parties, I’m typing this on a real Atari spongy keyboard as we managed to avoid the STE turned paperweight conundrum unfondly remembered from earlier this year’s Outline party. Felice fortunately remembered to bring his super Sony flatscreen this time. An initial period of doubt and concern was thrown up when my battered old scart lead refused to put a picture into it. Fortunately an appeal for help reached the ears of Heavy Stylus, who is going to provide some ‘tunage with his funky shit’ later this evening. A much better lead, made by Techy Alison of Atari Forum fame actually did the business, so I’m typing this realtime on my pimped up STE with UltraSatan. So a big thanks has to go to Felice and Heavy Stylus respectively.

My STe with UltraSatan, running with Felice's Sony screen, next to Felice's laptop.

Okay, now we’re in a euphoric and slightly tingly excited state, I’ll sign off for now and take a look around for a while.


We’ve been Gasman spotting. He’s hoping to get something done in time for the competitions with a java flavour, but he only has it going beep thus far. Rumour has it, that the thing he’s working on isn’t even feeling up to “hello world” just yet? On a more positive note, he’s brought along the latest port to his ZX Spectrum video player, namely the entire first Star Wars movie (The sublime Episode IV, a new hope and not the atrocity with Jar Jar Binks in it!) This uses up CF-Card space at an extravagant 10 megabytes per minute, so a total movie length of around 1 gigabyte was advised. It’s showing right now! I managed to get in a counter-showing of Tobe’s STE chunky 80×50 video player, which is a fair bit more economical, and looks pretty decent from a middling distance.

Things to say:- “Is that really the Popular Demo on the ST?”

Things NOT to say:- “Where’s the good old colour attribute clash gone?!”

Other names to check include Ne7, mOd, and the nice people from Neurotypical, complete with a vintage BBC Master micro.

The real party is outside and taking a cigarette break…


Gasman’s Speccy Starwars showing is in the Death Star garbage compactor right now. Hundreds of colour attribute clashes are getting slowly pulverised deep in the bowels of ultimate evilness! In other news the status of the notoriously paranoid chinese restaurant of old Budleigh Salterton is in some doubt. One version of events proclaims that they are
completely out of business. Another version says that they open as and when they choose to.

An incoming text warns of a double female presence nearby. Felice wanders off to answer the summons.


The double female presence has been and expressed delight at the party so far, but has taken umbrage at the early closure (compared with any other UK population centre) of most of the hot food outlets and buggered off back to the hotel. A quick peek in the window of paranoid Chinese restaurant confirms that the wall decorations of enhanced libellousness which we enjoyed reading and taking pictures of last year have all been removed. We’re still trying to work out whether this was due to to legal or psychiatric advice?


We’ve thrown a little bit of a showreel for Heavy Stylus and a couple of unnamed (so far) people who expressed an interest in the ST from a time long ago and were latterly interested in some of the things it was doing now. So I hit them with a couple of the Dead Hackers later releases for the STE, and the ultimate show-stopper for 2010, the TalkTalk 2 demo. Jaws were heard to hit floors in a suitably loud fashion. That is, loud enough to hear, but not loud enough to obscure the soundtrack. A few of the super high colour targa pictures got in there and I convinced Heavy Stylus of the goodness of viewing some of these for himself.

Heavy Stylus is due to play at 23.00, so we’ll get down to the big beats around then.


We’ve been quiet for the last hour, but Heavy Stylus hasn’t.

To fit the following, we’ve been playing various games, both Pipemania and Obsession semi-successfully. The drink we’ve taken including certain things of a nightcap nature working to loosen the reflexes, but not fatally so. I’ve spotted the Neurotypical BBC Master box ‘doing’ something which may well be demo competition related?!

The overall atmosphere is quieter than I remember from last year, or more focused. The majority of screens appear to be doing something creatively orientated. There is less of the overt booziness of the first night from the last time. I’m feeling more tired than I ought to, maybe that is the ‘holiday’ part of the week catching up. I think more people have opted for off-site accommodation and may have gone away to locate that. On the other hand, Gasman is being hardcore and pretend sleeping in the hall!

00.28 of the Saturday.

The last saved version of this text file came to 6800 bytes exactly, spooky?

This will be my last despatch before I’ve had a chance to insert some sleep in the following space.


Some not at all realtime hiking notes:-

A world away, a world up a hill and up again. The Hansard House hotel is located a few minutes convenient walk away from the party, that is, going *to* the party. The struggle back up the slope feels longer, with an extra steep bit just before you get there. Maybe the secret is to get properly drunk beforehand. so you don’t feel the pain from your legs and feet, not until it is too late anyway.

After that, I slept in a civilized bed, had a long hot shower, and ate a civilized breakfast, cooked for me by someone else. We then had a civilized planning session with the female party members in the hotel lounge, decorated in a style, c.1910 Edwardian country house. This being particularly important to prevent a fresh outbreak of catering outage stuff-ups which made last night so memorable.

10.03 of the Saturday.

We and a small number of the recently awake are back at the party place. The conditions resemble half-past hangover. A few people are up and about, some of them to sample the Budleigh seaside misty coast? The weather is grey and overcast, which is the first less than perfect weather that we’ve experienced all week. Still we’re at the party so as long as it doesn’t rain indoors, me and the bouncy STE keyboard will cope just perfectly.


Reviewing, reading and “enhancing” this text gets this nicely up to now.


I’ve been out to sample the delights of the Budleigh Salterton street and beach scene, which resembles what other places were like around 1960 or thereabouts.

Jurassic coast with a grey and misty face on it.

The beach was a vivid picture of grey mistiness, a strong sea breeze and crashing surf on the foot-catching shingle beach. It was also very quiet, apart from the (very) odd hardcore swimmer and kayaker, the latter getting very close to the shoreline to potentially recreate an old-fashioned shipwreck of the sort that used to be very popular back in the day when such events were the main source of exotic ‘free gifts’ for the poor people on this coastline!

Fortunately, the strength in his paddling arms was more than up to the challenge posed by the surf, so he got away safely into open water.


Nativ of Atari Forum lurkingess has introduced himself to us. He’s brought a Falcon 030 to enter some Flextracker music into the competition. Maybe when a memory upgrade permits, he’ll move onto some Ace Tracker stuff, which would be worth waiting for.


Back on topic, the local store for local people is due to close in four minutes, so I got in there earlier. I won’t say that Budleigh Salterton is an elderly colony, but the shop windows are all bifocal! The local store features such wonderment as junk-food and a massive queue waiting for a lovely slow-moving silver haired old gentleman to pay the cashier before he dies. Anyway, I’ve now got food waiting and some lovely chilled orange juice to fit in with the chilled out party mood swing.


Lunch has been despatched with the usual unseemly haste, I’ve spent a little time viewing demos in company with Nativ. One possibly interesting or useful factoid that we discovered was that Felice’s Sony Bravia LCD screen can provide “free” motion blur on some parts of the ancient Techno Drugs demo, no doubt due to the longer persistence of the image compared with CRT screens. I personally think that this adds nicely to the demo.

The exterior of the party hall, aka Budleigh Salterton Town Hall.

There is some scheduled party happenings starting in an hour with the quiz of Meaty, where it has been promised that a contestant WILL die!


The weather broke down for a short time after the last log entry as we encountered drops of random rain for a short while. This came and went a short time later, so almost a perfect week there, almost.

I spent a bit of time viewing several demos running from Nativ’s floppy only Falcon. He’s been having a similar trouble getting a hard disk reliable enough to work with his Falcon as I am with my problem child CT60. This stretched his ingenuity in the right directions, for as well as viewing obvious candidates such as Sonoluminescenz and the Dream Dimension demos, we also got to see Checkpoint’s ‘Morphonic’ demo, generally thought of as a strictly ST-only production floppy, booting on Nativ’s Falcon.

There were around forty minutes devoted to the party highlight otherwise known as Meaty’s quiz. Much random picture taking and video footage of this was taken by the assembled party masses, but most of it was safely outside of the bland blanket zone known as ‘family viewing’. I’m sure a photo of some *theoretically* grown men hitting each other with rubber mallets will find a home around here.

Close but not quite, here we have the quiz participants re-enacting how family board games might have been played in the Fritzl dungeon?

(* Theoretical, not actual!)


Mellow summer enchanted afternoon. The quiet bit before the competitions start, which is at 19.00, according to the flexible time table.

Chatted a while with Heavy Stylus who was showing some preview routines of the ‘rOx’ game sequel. Progress is slow, mainly due to the usual time lack issues, although the main game engine is near completion. This will then require finessing and finishing, which is generally the other fifty percent of the hassle, ah well, maybe next year’s Outline then?

Things to do sometime in the next hour, another look at the beach now its sunny, and a trip to the chippy for supper from there.


Combined trip back to beach and chippy got reduced to trip to chippy as I met mOd and a food gathering party on the way. This outlet happens to be the *only* fast food place in town, apart from an Indian restaurant and of course the sadly madly defunct chinese takeaway which became so famous on our last visit to Sundown, namely for being able to combine a profound mental collapse with a first class retail operation selling hot food.

This singular lack is reflected in the queue at the chippy which goes right around the shop and out of the door again. Still, good things come to those prepared to stick around and memorise details of the assorted sea fish species poster on the wall there, as we rush back home clutching our purchases.

Demoparty fish and chips, eaten in a strange blue light in a far corner of the party hall, tastes delicious!

The first wave of competitions are getting nearer.


And still getting nearer….

Felice is on a mission to food purchasing land so he’s not missing much. This party is being officially rickrolled with Rick Astley on the big screen! I found out that there was some alcoholic fruity substance mixed up by the Germans promoting TUM 2010. We all enjoyed a glass of it earlier but there was still some left, so I’ve been over there and refilled my glass. Felice has now returned from his food purchasing mission and added a can of coke to my stock of drinkables. This has proven very amenable to having whisky added to it, so I am ever so slowly getting in a party mood (hic!)


This message is showing on the main screen, the original caps lock is included for no extra charge.



From the mouth of rc55 himself, he says that everything is now ready for a 20.15 start. Does this mean that all the entries for all the compos are shown at once on the big screen?! This would be both confusing and memorable. Especially the bit afterwards where rc55 is dragged off the stage and sectioned.


Oldschool music starts, memory_ZX by Nativ goes off first with a six channel Flexitracker modfile made on the Falcon. It is a mellow ambient piece.

Other entries are following, generally showing off ‘chipsound’ as defined by XM tracker but with a nice entry from Ne7 playing something with more oldschool tones.

Females have arrived for part 2 of the party. They have been smuggled in through the kitchen as the main door is shut.


Synth music about to kick off, the oldschool compo was ended on a rather nice oldschool Amiga modfile. There is still some of the German fruity boozy brew left, which is handy as the coke has run out, but the whisky hasn’t. I’m not ready for neat scotch just yet.

A plethora of SID tunes play, what is the adjective term for these, a cacophony of SID ziks perhaps?

To follow;

Something different with two ZX Spectrum 48k’s joined together, so six channels are made from the beeper sound. It sounds crazy but workable somehow.


Streaming music to start shortly.

Something featuring ‘Coleco talking teacher and bits of string.’

“PUSH THE BUTTON, let it awaken, in the middle of the night; NIGHTBACON!”

Thanks to mOd, who indeed indicated earlier he was on standby with supplies of this magical food if people were feeling the need for it later on!

NuColour by Nativ, Atari STe, Casio CZ1000, Akai S3000XL, Korg XSD, another one in a relaxed ambient style.


Intermission, erm, breakdown….


Back again. “The chances of anything coming from Mars are a million to one, he said, but still, they came.” – Repeat phrase until panicky and desperate tone creeps into voice as dissatisfied party audience start making gestures of intent and sharpened objects in the direction of the compo organisers pit.

“Time for a retroparty…”

Newschool streaming music, as so often the case, the competition without an end in sight. My ears are satisfied, but my eyes are starving from a complete delay in getting the screen candy they need!

Newschool streaming music compo, the best boredom filter to get rid of the uninitiated from demo parties since 1997!

Well that last sentence might be a bit harsh, but it seems to be the case that out of all the non-demo competitions, this goes on a lot longer than the rest by a big margin, even at the smaller parties.

END!!!! At last, some graphics competitions in 10-15 mins.


ASCII compo, sad bunny by Torment to start with.

We’ve also had to repatriate a sad Nicky back to the hotel due to something which disagreed with her that she ate or more probably drank? Still she’s in a comfortable state now. Just had some more out of party moments and out of body experiences getting back up that damn hill again.

Ascii compo was a mixture of ascii logos and ansi BBS style chunky stuffs.

Oldschool pixels are coming up soon(ish).


All timings are approximate and guesswork.

We are now lubricating with a combination of fresh orange and Whyte and Mackay whisky.

Unfinished face by Spiny of Torment.

Nice C64 picture, ‘The Tower of Pearl’. but ‘Silently floating into Darkess‘ is even better. Hokay, that is enough oldschool, so newschool graphics are to follow.


A joke entry to start with but things settle down with a couple of good entries. Then it is suddenly all over.

“Ten sweet minutes” to the main event…. (Ha ha!)


From the screen of a BBC Master system.







(cursor blinks at about here…)


Oldschool demo compo to start. At this point I switch off to pay total attention to the demo compos, so back later.


Sunday and oldschool has ended. The following things were shown.

Small amiga intro which was mainly a lot of infotext.

Spiny’s music disk for the ST called ‘May Crash’ and it actually did.

"May Crash" on the big screen - before it crashed.

‘Pimp my Spectrum’ actually redone on a raw Spectrum!

BBC demo with some oldschool effects including chequerboard.

I’ll elaborate later. Newschool intros are to follow.


What time is love?

It’s all over, all over the place and all over your face. Bed beckons and morning recollections will have to follow later on.


Sunday bloody Sunday!

Morning, and we’ve left the hotel of comfortable beds and cooked breakfasting and arrived back at the very quiescent party place. A furiously vibrating Ne7 can be found in the kitchen area attempting to dine off a chicken tikka masala, kitchen microwave being so powerful, it is capable of providing any food placed within it with a glowing radioactive half-life.

There was a wee small hours beach party apparently, with a driftwood bonfire and night bacon cooked on it. I’ll have to hope for pictorial proof as I didn’t quite make it, hotel access being dependent on other members of the party, plus other boringly sensible considerations such as being in a fit state to drive home today. Oh, it has rained overnight, quite a lot of it through the open window of our hotel bedroom, necessitating a discreet mopping up operation with the spare towels.

I’m trying to think back to the competitions, and my brain is coming up with a state of ‘blehhh!’ I don’t think the PeeCee stuffs were that memorable, apart from a sublime 1 kilobyte sunrise. There was one entry which definitely should have been filed under “why bother?” and no, it was not the Belgian Beer Squadron entry. There was a little bit of an
intro from Gasman working in Javascript as well.

Out of the two highest ranking oldschool entries, ‘Pimp my Actual Spectrum’ seems to show the most accomplished effects, but the BBC entry works well showing things that have not been attempted before on that platform in a Mode 7 teletext style in places. So hard to decide which one is best really?

~~ Unravelling towards the end ~~~

Variously known as “Oh dear, is that it?” and “The bit of the realtime that CiH hates writing as it means the end of the party is near.”

It’s a shame that this is the last Sundown and probably the last chance to visit sleepy seaside Budleigh Salterton. The party itself picked up nicely from last year with just about all the people that made it special the last time returning here. There were one or two new faces I had the pleasure of seeing for the first time, with Heavy Stylus donating a vital
video lead to let me type this on my STe. Also it was cool to meet Nativ from the Atari Forum who had the sole Falcon 030 presence, with several classic demos and some neat tunes playing there.

Of course we reaquainted with many various people such as ne7, rc55, Meaty, MegMeg, Stavros, Gasman and many others.

As for the future direction of UK based demo parties, hopefully this is not the end. A forum to discuss this was tentatively placed in the timetable last night, but got quietly removed when the competitions started to run seriously late. One school of thought is developing the ‘Breakpoint replacement party’ idea first mooted last Easter, but in a modified form and not as the replacement Easter party. If this comes off, then a location at Nottingham was being considered. This would be seriously convenient for this writer, only being an hour away and all.

Ruairi (rc55) - After the party?

Alternatively, rc55 (Ruairi) is taking a break and may well come back with something different of his own to replace Sundown, as he figures that six editions of the same party are enough. Personally I’m pleased that we managed to catch these last two editions after a slow start when we half-planned but never got around to doing anything.

The other major difference this year, was with bringing the female elements in our lives over, and organising a more general holiday around the week before the party itself. This worked without *too* many broken bones and torn limbs (Ouch!)

Anyway, I’m sure we’ll meet again, not sure how, not quite sure when..

CiH – Sept 2010 for Low Res Mag.

Alt Party 2010 Party Report.

February 4, 2011

Space, the final front-ear etc..

Time’s not the problem, it’s money!

Or how to stop hopelessly hemorrhaging my precious and limited supplies of the greeny bluey browny pocket-candy.. Please send any suggestions on a stamped and addressed brick to the Vantaa Airport R-Kioski shoppe..

Why the discontent CiH? Will there be an explanation, oh surely, yes there will!

It’s 17.30, the 22nd October, and another Alt Party opens its doors. There are lots of live performances promised tonight, and apart from the sound of something 8-bit being tortured slowly over an open fire further down the hall, the general ambiance is right now, can we describe it thus, as restful….

Yea I think we can..

Anyway, the story so far.

The journey started off uneventfully enough, a sane o’clock start from the residence of the Felice translating into an uninterrupted journey and timely arrival at Gatwick airport with sufficient spare time to be able to set light to it and run away whilst claiming that someone else did the deed. The compulsory airport-based faff-around period was nicely filled with eating and browsing. I managed to browse both my extensive brunchtime selection and half of Felice’s thick meaty yummy leftover Spanish omelette into my stomach, so there are no complaints about the food from me. A single malt purchase of something amber-coloured and lovely for the afterparty from the World of Whisky premises nicely dealt with my remaining UKP and pence.

The first indication that the day was not going to go 100 percent to plan, comes when an airport employed vocal genius with a gift for making another completely different place name sound like ‘Helsinki’, disturbed our reverie about twenty minutes before the official gate opening time on the Gatwick announcing machine. Duly misinformed, we hied eagerly in the direction of our supposed departure gate, only to find a bunch of people wearing Mediterranean touristy facial expressions and clothing, completely contrasting with our Nordic climatic mode of being. After a little while, the pfennig dropped that we were not at all in the correct location. So cue some slightly panicked dashing back to the main terminal building, to get our re-orientation to the correct gate, and hopefully not miss the damn flight.

Anyway, we found the correct place, fortuitously, halfway back, joining the rear of the Helsinki bound throng. Squeezyjet was variously, busy, on time for departure, and I learned a whole new en-route skillset of being able to doze sitting bolt upright in an aisle seat that did not allow you to do much of anything else. Still, a painless flight, before the monetary pain taking place, once we landed,

Felice had a sensible idea to purchase tourist travel passes before we left the airport and took the airport bus to the city centre. For non-users of Helsinki, these are travel cards that are purchased pre-paid for a specified number of days and locations. In our case, we opted for a dual-zone (Helsinki and the outlying suburb where the airport is) for 36 euros. Felice duly received his and paid for it, I did the same and bundled what appeared to be the travel card enclosed in the instruction booklet. Upon closer examination after we had left the airport and were waiting at the bus stop, this turned out to be just the instruction booklet with no travel card.

Unfortunately, the option of going back to the Kioski branch to point out their error was not available, it being the most inaccessible branch of the whole R-Kioski chain in Finland, nicely screened by several layers of customs and security checks on the airside part of the airport!

So I won’t be able to get back there to register a complaint until the day we go back.

An R-Kioski store, elsewhere in Helsinki..

Subsequent inquiries with another R-Kioski branch at the central station, and the customer service office also located there didn’t really help. Which leaves a last chance to get the missing money back on the day of the return flight, or else putting up the very expensive instruction booklet up for auction on Ebay, with the sad story I’ve just described as a prominent part of the item description.

For accommodation, one of our usual options is travelling abroad exotically and expensively, so there is no stay at chez Wiztom this year. He’s taken Baggio with him. There are no other Dead Hackers, as they are on scene vacation and have no new demo this year. In fact there are very few non-Finnish faces at this early party state. (Well there’s another UK scener, Dotwaffle, a Sundown face, with a promise of Ne7 later on.) The live sound¬† stage has had mournful Gregorian chants and sad violins checking their vibes before some kind of performance later, so we’re feeling a bit more diminished in mood than usual right now.

Anyway, so come back to accommodation, this year,¬† not having Wiztom around and with no other suitable options, Felice has booked us into the very convenient and comfortable, but not exactly inexpensive Holiday Inn, nearby to the party place. This has the nice benefit of being able to ditch potential sleeping bag nightmares from our 2010 campaign travails. Also we are hoping to vastly cut down on the pointless unfocused random travelling around town in expensive taxis as well. The second financial error took place at the nicely appointed hotel reception desk, where we found out that we weren’t eligible for the special Alt Party discounted rate, so we’re paying ¬£80-odd euro’s extra than expected for the accommodation as well.

So yeah, nearly 120 EUR down before the party even starts on the first evening, without really trying at all, like falling off a bridge, a tall bridge, falling through icy clouds, tensed up and waiting for that sudden jarring terminal impact. And just for the record, I’m not blaming anyone apart from our mutual misplaced optimism for the latter issue.

Mind you, Dotwaffle ran up a 47 eur(!) taxi bill from the airport to the very same hotel where we are. So it’s not just us that are suffering a “Not so easy to come, easy to go” financial glitch.

Well it’s 18.30 now, that’s a lot off my not inconsiderable chest in one go!


We just won one back! We finally bloody won one, yeah!

Shortly after the last batch of text glopped from fingers to keyboard, a text message shouting “FREE FOOD IN THE VIP AREA!” arrived from the direction of Felice. No known measuring instruments were able to properly record the me-shaped blur that followed on from receiving the text, apart from a split second reappearance on state of the art recording equipment near the entrance, when I slowed to turn towards the entrance before resuming warp speed.

I’m still not sure how this happened, but Felice was in the company of heavyweight sceners Sir Garbagetruck and Nosfe. One of the party organisers bade them all come inside the VIP area for a share of the expensively appointed nosh due to spare places being available. Felice passed the good news on from there to me. A momentary issue at the security checkpoint was resolved when Truck waved an organisers pass at them, and I was thusly joining the Alternative Party 2010 Space Dinner. A menu is included below for reasons of reflection and accurate party reporting, not to mention gloating purposes with some suitable foodie comments from me reviewing the different parts of the menu.

Menu  Cosmos

Apertif – Valiformosa Cava Brut.

(Sparkling Spanish Champagne, yum!)

Starter – Gazpacho shot
Salmon ceviche bread
Serrano ham and manchego cheese
Balsamico marinaded mushrooms and olives
Potato Tortilla
Roasted Bell Pepper
Green rucola salad and vinaigrette
Garlic Bread

(The starter was the most substantial part of the meal, it was very easy to fill your plate from the selection there. At first I thought we had been invited in to partake of some of the leftovers, and that this was the one and only course. It only occurred to me that this was not the full meal once the main course was served.)

Main  РRoasted chicken breast with chorizo beanpan and polenta.

(The overall texture was very pureed, apart from the chicken, so much of the meal was a bit like a thick soup. I guess this is the current odd fashion in haute cuisine, but there was nothing wrong with the taste or combination thereof.)

Dessert – Dark chocolate mousse cake with coffee or tea.

(My favourite bit of the whole meal, it was a close thing though, chocolate cake was om-nomtastic! I had left enough room for a second edition of this one.)

A selection of liqueurs, Cognac, (Felice forgot to get his, I got it and had it for him! What a thoughtful guy he is!) amaretto and creame liqueur were also on offer.

Also a selection of red and white wines served during the meal.

So it appears the bottom of that metaphorical long long fall, from the tall bridge mentioned a few paragraphs ago, is lined with delicious food and plenty of drink, to cushion a soft landing after all.

So yes, I’m in a very happy place right now. For the first time since arriving here. At last, Major brownie points fly out to Felice for being in the right place at the right time, and remembering to invite me to the party.

A table-eye view of the VIP banquet which ruled!

We’ve caught up on the following since our well-fed and lubricated return to the main hall. Nerve arriving with an STE, but without his still undelivered Firebee development board. Pity, we were looking forward to having a close-up guided tour of that. Marycloud, the lovely fragrant Marycloud who was pleased to see us. She has a pregnant cat in her household and was on her way back home. Which is pretty much a semi-permanent condition there as I recall.

Oh, and the opening ceremony included the Gregorian chanters and violins combined together with some spacey trancey visuals on the main screen  These sounded a lot less mournful when combined together.

This year’s theme is ‘Space, the forgotten frontier‘. The arts and competitions are all space-age themed, and asking the question, “Why aren’t there massive rotating double-torus space stations in low Earth orbit by the year 2001?” and “Whatever happened to huge menacing big-box computers that threatened to cut off all your life-support half-way to Saturn?” On the other hand, I’m glad they aren’t asking about the unsurprising lack of popularity of food in pill form. Otherwise the VIP dinner we enjoyed earlier would have sucked mightily and been over a lot quicker if they had rigidly stuck to that part of the romantic retro-futuristic script!

Interlude(s) from Felice …..

(“What happened ? – Lainie Diamond, Dream A Little Dream”) – (“I dunno ?” – CiH, Alt Party 2010..)

The meal opportunity was all fair and above board, for a change. Basically I was in the middle of a conversation with Truck & Nosfe, during that Suvi (Beeta – head organiser) approached us and invited all 3 of us to the dinner as there were some free spaces left. I mentioned to Truck about CiH so was able to send the text which sent him towards us at warp speed, towards the VIP dinner area. What can I say about the dinner except – Yum ! ūüôā It was a seriously lovely meal with great wines too. Turns out Nosfe also appreciates good red wine and he was doing that with this one.

Viznut is sitting close to us, he is coding what looks like an entry for the demo compo on the C64. (Erm, Vic 20 actually – Ed.)

Felice over and out for now … may be back soon …..

21,58 – CiH back, mmmkay?

Did I mention chocolate mousse cake earlier? Nom nom nom! OMM NOM NOMM! (I guess I did.)

The party hall has a selection of retro arcade machines as in previous years. This year’s star turn is the original and best Williams Defender. I had a stab at ritual lame score humiliation along with everyone else having a go. It seems to play more sedately than I remember, but on the other hand, there are definitely way too many buttons and I am easier to confuse than back in the olden days.

01.29 – Saturday, and we’ve been a long time away.

After the food related excitement reported earlier, a few new developments have occurred over the last few hours, the live acts have played their stuff, Aavikko provided a Jarresque experience but with some unique twists specific to that artist.

There have been some people awaited who have now turned up, Pahartik, the short fella from Tampere arrived and unfurled himself on a table next to us, apparently unchanged from last year, as if he had been kept in storage from then until now? We also have Sundown attendees and UK sceners Ne7 and Glittermouse who hoved in on a late flight tonight, and they are setting up an exhibit in the arts display area, as fast as they can, speed being limited only by a late arrival and nocturnal bleariness.

Oh I forgot to mention, in accordance with the ‘space’ theme for this year, there is a amateur rocket society exhibiting, with some examples of pointy things that they have launched into the Finnish wild blue yonder. Evil me stops to consider what kinds of warhead and targetting systems you can fit to those babies! Also where they can be pointed. For some reason, an R-Kioski shoppe at Vantaa airport keeps drifting back into my mind (Evil grin!)

Finnish rocket-men show off their wares.

I seem to recall from an earlier conversation that a daytime meeting with Martin of the Q-Funk might be in the offing for tomorrow, erm, later today. It is on record and signed on a legally binding written contract that no wardrobe shifting to other countries is required this year. (See my Alt 2008 report for the full and gory details, whenever that one escapes to a publication somewhere!)

I’ve also been away from this text for another reason. Apart from the above happenings and arrivals, I’ve managed to kick out a completed article for whatever publication is interested, based on the different methods and experiences of sleeping, or not, at demo parties down the ages.

Put that together with this report, and the 90% finished Sundown party report, and I’d better get something on the TalkTalk 2 demo written, then we’re well on the way to sorting some submissions for the next issue of Low Res mag. I seem to remember a suggestion that they try to get an issue out in August, but that only remained a suggestion. Never mind, if I keep things going, then I can act all virtuous and productive the next time a release date is mentioned!

So summing up the first 24 hours of this latest visit. Mixed fortunes it is then, sucky to start with, but with a drastic change of luck later on which goes a long way to cancelling out the sucky part. Plus some nice people turned up who were expected, but seemed to take a while to get here, but they’re here now. Let’s see what the new day brings.

15.52 – A lot lot lot lot later that same day..

There have been not too many new adventures, and the ones that we had were filed under the category of pleasant and easily managed.

The blackout curtains in our hotel room were certainly effective at keeping light away, perhaps too much so, as a 10.30hrs alarm call was disbelieved by our still sleepy brains as the middle of darkness was still going on. Perhaps having Pahartik come back to our hotel room for an hour’s pleasant chat, reflection on the previous day and sharing out of peppermint liqueur didn’t help with the time confusion issue. It was around 04.00 when he returned to the party and we finally hit our comfortable sacks of rest.

Still we’re better off than Ne7, who chose to party-sleep for a bare hour underneath a collapsing art installation. When we found him again this afternoon, he was shaking and drooling. Glittermouse appears to be in much better shape, so probably did something sensible about her sleeping arrangements. I’ve also taken a tour of her art installation, including her trying to trace around something I wrote on being projected onto a screen, in spite of me wobbling, swaying and moving generally with a less than millimetric precision.

We managed to meet with the Q-Funk and his ladyfriend, the same one from last year, which is progress of a considerable sort. We repaired to a Thai restaurant in the nearby Ruoholahti centre and enjoyed a session of lunchtime spicy noodles and such. A slow trip back to the bar around the corner from the party place followed, with more caffeinated refreshments to wrap up. Right now, I’m sitting here and we’re in the period before any competitions properly kick off. Felice having gone back to the hotel to collect his gear and procure some alcohol flavoured liquids for the afterparty tomorrow evening. Finnish Alko booze places tend not to want to be open on Sundays, so a degree of forward planning is necessary.


A few random wanderings, and wonderings have grazed in the realtime graphics competition, somewhat flexibly removed from its original timescale. I guess this will set a pattern for the rest, with a start time for the main demo compo at 22.30 being optimistic to say the least.

Also there is a version of episode IV of Star Wars, Star Wars Uncut, which is a version of said famous late 20th century cultural event made up of the short clippings of hundreds of amateur versions of variable quality, but all somehow gelling together to still be able to tell the story. Yes, there is a web link, and an incentive for me to check it out properly when I’m back home.

I also take back my remarks about the Williams arcade cabinet Defender being gentle compared with how I remembered it. It isn’t super speedy for sure, but the difficulty level sure ramps up a lot after the first level. Very few people even manage to get to level 3 before it is all over in a cloud of glittery neon stardust and swarming mutants picking at the carcass of your disembowelled starfighter.

The biggest beast among classic arcade machines, Williams Defender!

I managed it, once, late last night, whilst the expensive muscle relaxants I’d consumed from the VIP dinner were still taking effect.



I forgot to mention something else which happened from yesterday. The hotel is close to the main power station for Helsinki and we heard a continual low growling roar when we emerged into the world yesterday. At first we thought this was a jet flying very low and slowly, but a huge cloud of steam suffusing the air around the power station revealed the real reason for this racket.

We’re still not sure if this was part of their normal operations, or they were venting off steam as something had gone wrong. Still, the Alt party hasn’t been consumed in a massive boiler explosion, so I guess that one went well enough?

The reason for recalling this event, was because Nosfe was in the same locality, and decided to record the event with his mobycam, which then became the wildcompo entry ‘Power Noise'(!)

There have been a series of smaller competitions, nothing really outstanding just yet, and a talk on the origins and evolution of the demoscene from Marq of Fit who has written a thesis about it. He kindly interspersed the talking bits with a few choice demo showings to vary the presentation.


Obscure music competition, an idea which was revived from the 2000 Alt Party, where I had an entry. This time, I don’t think the platforms were that obscure, Amiga 500 Protracker and MSX soundchip?

C’mon, that’s just oldschool music and chip music. We made horrible noises on real random crap back in the day. I was using a prototype softsynth for the Atari Falcon, which had a sort of working control panel, random things which you could easily mess up with to require a swift exit and restart, and no means of keeping any patches or sequences that you made on the day, unless you recorded the sound output directly out as you created it. So with that and some comedy samples from Jody Smith, a one-time Maggie contributor and super cool media person clearly destined for greater things, I stitched together a totally obscure track from it. Other people managed to be even more obscure with some completely ‘analogue’ creations for the competition.

So in my view here’s a clue, if you can recognise the computer it’s made on without too much of a memory fart taking place, it’s not really obscure music.


We’ve just watched the talk from special guest Casey Pugh, It was he who was behind the Star Wars Uncut production. The great idea is to get hundreds of dedicated Star Wars fans to remake fifteen second segments of the whole movie, the resulting stitch-up being put together to create a wildly varying mish-mash of styles to make a coherent whole.


A chat with Glittermouse and her interactive art exhibit took place in the time since the last log entry, also a quick competition using the Nokia QT moby toolkit to make a couple of odd little demos. There are beginner demos to come at 22.30, so we’re just half an hour off the official timetable. The beginner demos are supposed to lower the bar to make life easy for newbies otherwise put off by the harsh elitism and free “constructive” advice given by parts of the mainstream demo scene. I’ve got hopes for this, hopes that the entry bar hasn’t been lowered to Dildo Fatwa levels of achievement mostly!

Artwall in the exhibition area.



Beginner demos had a long and varied selection, some of which might qualify for a celebration of Dildo Fatwa-ness, others might only be told apart from the main competition by being a little bit too oldschool in places or a little rough around the edges. More detailed impressions to follow of a morning when I can get to a keyboard which isn’t shrouded in dark shadows throwing my wobbly touch typing into sharp relief, he said, getting that last bit down almost flawlessly…

The main competitions are to start after a short setting up period, so time to go back to where I was sitting shortly, I have a horrible feeling that they may struggle if there are many oldschool entries, as the projector for the main screen provided proved to be very resistant to taking a video input from an MSX.

00.37 – Sunday

We’ve managed to finish the main competitions in a reasonable time.

There was very little that could be called ‘oldschool’ this year, although Viznut was back to form with his latest Vic 20 piece of 3.5k unexpanded chesswhackery, This provided the typical PWP storytelling element where a lonely chess piece attains self consciousness, works out what E = MC squared is and leads a mad dash to freedom from the restrictive world of the chessboard. I think it might use another more considered ‘cold light of day’ viewing to get all of the story elements down properly.

The organisers sidestepped the whole vexatious ‘trying to connect old hardware to a sulking projector issue’ by running it under emulation. Not that they didn’t have a few problems with screen modes on the way with some of the other entries. There was only one dynamic entry which ticked all the boxes for ambient and noisy, therefore challenging to tired audiences late-viewing entries and trying to keep awake. Thankfully there were far fewer of these in general this time. Farbrausch managed to keep to the ‘space’ theme and returned somewhat to form after the yawn-a-thon they released at Outline earlier this year. There were a couple of promising 4ktros, and a few other nice enough demos, one of which demonstrated various time-worn demo effect classics in several different and often non-scene languages.

I might get around to writing a bit more in the morning, but this seems a good point to stop writing about the competition. In other news, delayed from earlier this evening, Nerve appears to have misplaced his Mac laptop at a venue he went to a lot later the previous evening. Fortunately his non-portable and therefore less able to be placed in drunken peril Atari STe is still here at the party. Which is the really important thing, as we all know.

02.22. – I love symmetrical things!

I’ve spent a fair bit of the time away from this mobile outpost of the CiH writing machine. Time has been spent with Nerve, Setok and a guy who knows Wiztom quite well who put in an Atari 8-bit entry to the beginners demo compo. Also Topy and ze Germansch, Topy taking me on a tour of his EE-PC 700 and talking of things musical and coding. Nerve is definitely awaiting his Firebee most keenly, Hopefully he will be reunited with his laptop soon?

And how are you at this late juncture, CiH? Well I’m fine, considering the lateness of the hour. I’ve mostly stayed off the booze wagon, apart from some bison grass vodka and apple juice that turned up in the camp of ze Germanschzes, so yeah, pretty good thanks. At some point, the words, ‘hotel’, ‘room’, and ‘bed’ will start to feature in conversations, but not just yet?

Ah, Felice just mentioned the subject, hopefully just enough time for one more attempt at Defender. Current high score around level 3, or the 16,000 mark, but not enough to get on the high score table yet.


We might be going back soon. Felice is powering off, and it is generally very calm around the main hall.

Still stuck on level 3 of Defender, even with the help of some apple juice flavoured special space juice. To be honest, I wasn’t really in control of that last game, just scrambling for bare survival. Anyway. See you later in the morning.



News? Not too much at this point, some relaxing background music, a lot of small people with their parents as this is the ‘family day’. There will be an afterparty sauna later on. In hypochondria news, the mild cold that I brought out with me is still uncertain as to which way it will go. We’re feeling slightly worse for wear about the back of the nasal passages this morning, so just a question of waiting it out.

There was a minor glitch on our return to the Holiday Inn earlier this morning, as the key-card room passes had decided to expire two days before our booking did. Issue was soon sorted out at reception though.


Now for the closing and prize giving ceremony. Viznut was the expected and confirmed winner of the main demo competition, even beating off the epic Farbrausch production. The ‘Babel’ production managed to beat them into third place as well.

Topy (second left) with Outline shirt at the prize giving ceremony.

Afterparty details have been confirmed, so time to pack up and pick up on this in a non realtime sense later.

A non-realtime part, somewhat later on..

As with previous editions of Alt, the end descends rapidly on the party once the prize ceremony is over like a big black shadowy cloak of dodgy metaphor. Anticipating this, we have repatriated our laptops back to the hotel and collected our afterparty sauna attending gear. Well in my case it took two attempts once I remembered to pick up the whisky which had stubbornly stuck itself to the hotel bedroom the first time round.

This year, the afterparty is located fairly close to the old cable factory, about a ten minute walk away, even less when going back to our hotel, which was very handy later on. In the meantime, whilst carrying out a final check around our desk area, we end up ‘winning’ another free prize. This one being an extra Alt Party 2010 official t-shirt, which someone had purchased and left under the table. An enquiry with the info desk reveals confused faces and a negative report of loss, so I claim the missing shirt for myself.

At the time of writing, I’m hoping to locate some images of this year’s shirts. These depict the party logo, plus a picture of a planet and astrological information about that planet. Of course there are different planets, according to the size and gender of the wearer. Female shirts are Venus, naturally, I’ve got the largest one possible, Jupiter, and the spare under-desk foundling, is the next size down, the hilariously named ‘Uranus’. Which fitted nicely enough, thanks for asking.

The weather, after being relatively benign, especially compared with last year’s attempted drowning by cloud, has decided to turn damp. Rainwear has been retrieved, which was helpful later on. A smallish group of us are collected by Sir Garbagetruck and walked to the afterparty sauna location, which turns out to be a couple of blocks down from the Ruoholahti centre.

We arrive at an office block, this has a sauna on the top (9th) floor. After considering the best way for heavy duty and heavyweight sceners to make use of the limited lift, we are shuttled upstairs to a smart corporate locale. This strongly reminds me of the business class sauna that we enjoyed at the second Alt Party in 2000. There is a medium sized electric sauna which can seat ten or so people in one go, no wood-burner this time around. However, this time the organisation and catering easily overcomes any element of missing rustic authenticity.

There are generous amounts of beer, with more arriving all the time, Felice and I add our supplies to the mix. There is also, very welcome at this time, an ample sufficiency of food, as someone has carried out a subway visit and cleared out their remaining stocks of vari-flavoured sandwiches, not to mention the mountain of wonderfully exotically Finnish-branded junk food that also came along. Much of which had not been consumed by the end of the party.

More people arrive as time goes on. Mr Setok himself turns up with a welcome donation of cider. He’s only around for a short time, as he has got to get himself ready for the first round of his ‘Travelling Salesman’ fifty-day trip. This is a northern and nordic round trip, meeting and evangelizing with nothing more than a Landrover Defender. There is a link which tells a lot more about this story, as we’re concentrating on telling the Alt Party 2010 history in this article.

By the time the sauna is in action and people are heading there in various states of undress, Nerve has reappeared with some good news. His missing laptop has been found and recovered, so the smiling Norwegian is properly happy and not having to put a brave face on a shitluck situation. We find out some other things in conversation (from the Sunday morning before we went to bed actually, I just remembered it now), Certain demo-ish activities are still going on with higher end Atari’s being targeted. These are properly awaiting the arrival of a brand new piece of kit mentioned earlier in this article so these can be included along with the more familiar CT-series. We will just have to keep on being patient.

Other memorable sauna guests include Nosfe, who was helpful with the whisky consumption, Topy and Ze other Germans, and an English guy whose name I don’t remember, who was connected with the party but had been living and working out in Helsinki for some time. He compared his situation out there favourably with the likely conditions to work in the UK. Pahartik had also come down with us to make sure he did not miss out on the sauna this time. There were a selection of assorted females who may have been girlfriends of people who also came into the sauna with us, which was nice.

There was one American (Brooklyn) girl in Finland called Alli who had also rocked up, and was holding a conversation with about half the people in the lounge area about her adventures since she got here. Other bodies were entering and leaving the sauna, and a few brave nicotine-enthralled souls even ventured onto the open, rain-lashed top balcony.

Sauna quote – “The only thing that the Finns are afraid of, is the alcohol running out at the sauna.”

"This season, I have been mostly drinking Balvenie!"

Certainly there was plenty of drink to lubricate the occasion, Felice had purchased a 2 litre cardboard container of wine. Much of this, and probably some white wine which also sneaked into the party had stuck to him. By the time the official after-party was winding towards a conclusion, and preliminary plans laid for an after-after-party, Felice was barely able to string two words together, and was also generating considerable sideways motion when he stood up.

Eventually, barely formed words and phrases tumbled out that he was interested in going on with the after-after-party hardcore. This final event was in the hands of Sir GarbageTruck. Confidence in any further adventure dropped away sharply with Truck’s suggestion that “You can get on the cross-town tram without paying, no-one’s looking at this time of night.” I declined to go on with the rest of the merry band, and as Felice was already in a semi-liquid state and could not be easily poured as it was, let alone a few hours later, I declined for him too. We walked back to the Holiday Inn, head down into the wild and driving rain.

We got back without mishap, Felice then proved that he had definitely had enough that evening by promptly falling asleep where he had crashed down on his bed. Which seemed to be a satisfactory point to close the narrative for Sunday.

Monday started very slowly.

Today we have to leave our hotel, the moment of reckoning being around 12.00hrs, which we are determined to wait until the last possible moment. Our departure from Finnish soil is not until some time later in the evening, so we have rather a lot of time to kill as it is.

Some people, after their exertions from the previous night, aren’t in any great hurry to leave anyway (hem!) A slow round of cleaning up, packing and final checking follows. We leave it until shortly before the room reverts back to the Holiday Inn’s control before finally dragging our bags out into the lobby. Pleasant receptionist takes payment for room, I manage to perfectly control any monetary anguish related spasms, at least until we’re out of the hotel and out of sight.

One final service which the Holiday Inn renders for us, is the provision of a left luggage area where we can leave our bags for a few hours and take an unencumbered wander into Helsinki centre.

So we do.

The Helsinki for people waiting to go home edition. As lunchtime was leaning hard on our list of things to do, one pre-planned event came to pass, namely that we met Martin Eric R. once more. He was at work, but on a generous or flexible lunch hour. We took ourselves off to an eating place made famous in previous Alt Party reports. This was the Indian restaurant combined with an opticians premises. Only the Indian restaurant part of it seems to have grown and enveloped the opticians, winning that small battle for retail dominance. The proprietor is a very happy man, and so he should be.

A boozy night really needs a curry at the end of it, and this was the case here, even if a night’s sleep had got in between the drinking and the eating. The food was excellent, and provided very quickly, living up to the ‘express’ part of their name, the Indian Express. A leisurely coffee at a smart coffee house a little further on concludes our gathering. Q-Funk returns to his workplace and we are left to kill the remaining hours until we have to leave.

A long interval for some retail therapy for people with no money follows. Exploring the central department store Stockmanns and a few other surrounding premises nicely mops up the time. I blanch at the prices being charged in the Apple store there, and conclude that customs and excise coming home won’t have any issues with duty-dodging electronic goods purchased from this part of the world!

The afternoon wears out, and just as we are at the tipping point of finding activities just for the sake of displacing unwanted time, we head back to the Holiday Inn to reunite with bags and to commence the long journey home.

The number 615 is waiting and manages to leave with us on board in a timely fashion. The journey back to the airport is straightforward. However we are a little bit early and have the sheer enjoyment of a timeless end at Vantaa airport.

Time passes in that fingernail-dragging manner which it likes to do. Eventually the checkout desk is opened, and clever online bookers like ourselves go into the smaller queue for the quick version and a bag drop, handily missing the big queue which only appears to have one check-in desk person attending it. There is a small issue at security as Felice forgot to unpack a batch of screwdrivers from his big pack before coming to Alt. Amazingly this was not picked up by the otherwise super-strict Gatwick security, but they were found and removed by their Vantaa counterparts.

The screwdrivers in question exceeded a permissible maximum length and were judged reasonable stabbing prospects by the security man. Therefore they weren’t allowed to go on in the hand luggage. Offered a choice of binning them, or getting then added to the main baggage, Felice wisely chose to bin them. He remembered the mighty struggle to get the case closed and zipped in the first place, therefore the possibility that it might decompress with explosive force if carelessly opened by the airport staff!

Once we were finally through, there was the final remaining niggle from the start of the trip, namely the expensively provided instruction booklet for the travel card with no ticket which you will recall being told earlier in this account. We approached the Kioski in question and carefully explained the sad story. To their credit, they listened and offered either a replacement card (no good now) or a refund for the 36 EUR which was gladly accepted! So a thumbs up at the end to the R-Kioski chain for first class customer service.

A final meal of weird Mexican burger (does putting nachos inside it constitute nothing more than a posh latino crisp sandwich?) and troll around the diverse and mostly closed attractions of Helsinki airport shopping, and we were on the way,


Gatwick, ho-hum. No hassles getting out and back on the road to Felice’s place in Cambridge. As our eventual arrival was at 01.30 adjusted for UK time, and I had cunningly booked an extra day off, I stopped overnight and made my leisurely way home the next morning.

And that was the end of that one.


Just a small number of things to wind up this report about the 2010 Alternative party.

This was the first Alt Party without the direct involvement of Setok. He was in an executive producing position but not directly involved in day-to-day running as he is occupied elsewhere.

Personally, I experienced some variable fortunes, not so good to start, but with other things going better, and even the not so good stuff put right in the end. One fun new experience included the VIP meal on the opening night.

There were several familiar faces, we spotted Nerve, Pahartik, a number of UK sceners who we got to know better at the Sundown Party, such as Glittermouse, Ne7 and Dotwaffle, we came across Martin of Q-Funk in an out of party sense. Also other familiar figures such as Nosfe and Sir GarbageTruck were prominent too.

But some people were missing too. There was no Dead Hackers presence. They did not have a demo to bring this time, which is fair enough. We also saw nothing of Baggio and Wiztom, who are engaged on global adventures, and they are normally an established presence. Wiztom may even get around to finishing and releasing something one of these years?

The competitions were of a good standard and were running efficiently with little delay. This is even taking into account some awkward projector interactions with competition hardware. There was a fairly low oldschool presence, confirming a sadly downward trend, although Viznut managed to win the main demo competition.

The live acts were good, no better or worse than other recent parties. There was a lot less smoke machine, which was a definite improvement. The special guest Casey Pugh was enjoyable but a little bit more lightweight than some we’ve had in previous years. Front 242 in 2008 and Sophie Wilson/Jeri Ellsworth the following year were hard to beat.

The Ruoholahti Holiday Inn hotel was a new experience for us. It was not a cheap option and we missed out on the Alt party website booking discount. On the other hand, it ticked both boxes for comfortable and convenient. We also managed to cut down on the excess travelling which has been a feature of recent parties. The loss and refund of the 5 day travel ticket worked to my benefit in the end, as I only paid for the travelling I actually did.

So yes, we enjoyed the 2010 edition of the Alternative Party. We will just have to think carefully how to go about things for next year.

CiH for Low Res Mag, Oct/Nov 2010.

Outline 2010 Invitro by Checkpoint.

February 4, 2011

Picture by Havoc / Linout


One of our favourite pre-party traditions has been kept up in advance of the Outline 2010 edition [1] . Namely the more or less kick-arse party invitation expressed in demo coded form. We’ve had some memorable entries from people as diverse as Ephidrena, Lineout, Limp Ninja, tSCc, a nice ‘060 based one from Dead Hackers Society, and even an Atari VCS invite produced last year by Trilobit. Now it is the turn of top-notch code-botherers, Checkpoint, to take the pole position for this year [2] [3].

So with an air of barely suppressed excitement, I click to run the intro. The comments are already promising a brain-blaster. But I calm down by recalling that I’m about to watch an invitro, where any awesome factor is ultimately constrained by crow-barring in a load of party info text at the end. Will this be the case today?

We skip off to a stylish start, a singing muso-text kicks off. Apart from the pain and other stuff, we are left in no doubt we will have “100 percent reason to remember the name!”

We go all wobbly and oldschool, as if we’re at the start of a Lost Boys demo, with the opening growl of a Mad Max tune. In other words, a dark screen with a classic onrushing star-field, glimpsed in parts.

This is just to keep the senses occupied whilst the title is being built. This starts slowly with a series of flat single bitplane blobs a-merging. The iconic title screen slowly materializes out from this.

Nice effects


The title picture is nicely done, arresting, leaving you in no doubt which party this is shouting for. The regal Outline logo takes the centre of the screen, and it looks like one of our favourite party organisers is facing a mirror image of himself!

We do have some proper music by now, and this is nicely spiked up at regular intervals by the vocal intervention of another of our favourite party organisers, who also leaves us in no doubt about the identity of the party we are being asked to visit.

The informative remit bubbles up at this point with sparse and to the point infoscreen. This is done in the form of text scrolling from left and right.

There are some more effects, as Defjam shows off some more metablobs. These are multilayered, an effect in itself rather than helping to reveal something else.

More effects


The credits are next. We find out the following had something to do with the demo.

Defjam – Code (of course!)
Havoc – Graphics, good with faces as always.
Excellence in Art – Music, a rather nice tune actually.
Okkie for the sampled voice.

The brainblaster is fast approaching, with a batch of group greetings. It’s not just basic text, but text wrapped and blurred in a feedback melt-o-vision style effect, with some kind of light sourcing going on as well. This is where the intro is getting its brain-blasting reputation from. It isn’t the prettiest effect, opting for a moody grey colour scheme, but it sure gets the job done.

The greetings

Before we get too excited, we are finally reminded that this is an invitro after all, as the last part in the form of a crisp smart text reader, with the Outline logo in the background, appears. You read the party facts, as if you did not remember them from last year, and something similar for the year before.

The invitation


So is it a brain-blaster? Well maybe. It has a nice atmosphere, there are a couple of stunning bits in there, but at heart it is ultimately still an invitro. An appetite-whetter looking forward to some cool new Atari stuff at Outline 2010.



  1. Outline party
  2. Outline invitro at pouet
  3. Outline invitro video

Always in the sleeping room at parties?

February 4, 2011

It’s an inescapable fact of life, something that occupies your waking hours, in spite of your doomed attempts to sidestep, sidestraddle and otherwise confound the issue. We’re talking about the hot, or not so hot, more bleary, red-eyed and incoherent topic of sleeping at demo parties. This little article takes a closer look, with some fondly remembered accounts of¬† various means of avoiding, getting or enhancing this over the past sixteen years of personally hard-won party* battle scars, even harder won beerguts and ogling things on a bigscreen that made you go “Oooh!”

1. Sleepless fortitude, or trying to run and hide from it.

“Also, back then, sleeping (properly) was really not part of the party experience ;)” – Nerve, quoted from Pouet.

Back when I was younger, and the demo scene and demo parties were in their infancy, many people tried to brazen away many of their more tedious bodily requirements. Being a hardcore scener demanded a macho approach to many things, coke drinking, pizza consumption, dissing rivals for alleged lameness in executing almost identical demo effects and so on. Likewise, someone who managed to stay awake for the whole three days of a typical coding party attracted a large degree of horrified awe. At least one person per party managed this, to be dragged off as a dribbling wreck shortly after the party finished no doubt. For some inexplicable reason, the final denouement was never recorded in any party reports or realtime texts.

Apart from the deliberate attempts to macho away the onrushing trainwreck of total collapse by different people, there have been several other occasions experienced by this writer of extended periods of enforced consciousness resulting from shitty-lucked ‘issues’ or good old fashioned cockney cock-ups relating to sleeping arrangements.

Symposium 96, the party forever doomed to be name-checked by me in these kind of round robin articles, had ample experience of sleep lackedness. Apart from the generally poor sleeping area, more of which will be discussed later in the article, there were long periods of total sleep-lack, particularly with the arduous journey there and back. For that first time, for reasons of cheapness and poverty, we opted for an overnight coach journey to Hamburg that was rejected by the Spanish Inquisition as “too inhumane, Torquemada knows, we like to make them suffer, but not by THAT MUCH! What were you thinking you crazy dude?!”

I personally discovered a number of things on the way there. 1. The Eurolines coaches dwarf seats are barely adequate for shorter journeys, let alone 24 hours at a stretch. 2. The autobahn has enough vibration and bumpiness to stop you sleeping. This may be a good thing though if you are the driver. This recalls an old joke, “I’d like to die peacefully sleeping like my dear old dad, and not terrified and screaming like his passengers.” 3. Eating is a very good substitute for sleeping at that stage, where do you think the concept of midnight feasts came from? 4. Felice had a blummin’ loud voice at that time of night! I think he was very tired along with the rest of us and didn’t quite realise it at that point. On the way back, where no sleep at all was possible, not even a pathetic attempt at such. 5. So I discovered that I could hallucinate sounds and started to have waking dreams of Commodore 64 SID tunes. So it was hardly surprising when I finally got home, I crashed out straight away and it was around fifteen hours before I first came to, and promptly went back to sleep again.

The other stand-out episodes where I simply tried to stay awake regardless of the cost are both related to different editions of the Alternative Party. The first 1998-bound episode at Turku resulted from my assessment of the limited and loud sleeping area as being too much hassle to organise, so I opted to keep going. The legenday analogue realtime as-written-on-paper-handtowels faithfully recorded a desperate and slowly losing struggle to stay awake. As I recall, I eventually managed a whole hour(!) that first night, of something which wasn’t really sleep, on a too small couch in a brightly lit computer room. There were other issues with air beds which will be discussed at the right time.

The record for staying awake by me, is close on 48 consecutive hours. This was the 2005 Alt Party Inc edition, where we gained a head start the night before the party. An early flight meant an 02.00hrs pick up by Felice, so we didn’t bother with mere trifles such as going to bed. This approach worked, but was not pretty to watch. The original plan was to sort of catch up with some sleep at the party as soon as reasonably possible. Unfortunately, no-one tipped off the baggage handlers at our connecting airport that we badly needed our sleeping equipment on the same flight as us, so it wasn’t. The whole dilemma was neatly summed up at the time on a realtime text with the following comment. “Saturday? It ‘aint stopped being Thursday yet!” At that point, we’ll draw a line under that one!

2. The good old fashioned kip where you drop approach.

I’ve never done this one myself, but we have reliable sightings, both at Symposium 96, where a very young Defjam coded up to the blissful moment when sleep overtook him on the spot as he left it too late to go to bed, and he ended up using his desktop and assorted hardware as a pillow. Something similar happened to Tat of Avena, but that may have been more of a deliberate decision on his part due to the poor quality sleeping area on offer?

Unknown person at 2 Alt Party (Slengpung.)

As described previously, when fatigue comes a-calling, I’ve staggered around like a wounded stag for half an hour with enough barely remaining decision making power to choose a place to drop. I must say I’ve never kept going that relentlessly until I… ZzzzZZ!

3. There’s a flaw in this floor.

Some people have the happy(?) knack of turning up just in their day clothes and using nothing else perhaps apart from a thin strip of a foam rubbing sleeping mat, and they can sleep on this extremely limited arrangement. I have managed to sleep on a floor on a couple of occasions, once through choice at a smaller UK based gathering, the other due to small but vital and missing airbed components at the first Alt party. I have to conclude that yes, it is possible to sleep on the floor, but the process isn’t that enjoyable and the end result not what you could call deep and satisfying.

4. An automotive place of restful repose?

My coldest party was m&s 2002. went to bed totally drunk at 11pm (in my car) and woke up exactly 12hrs later – and it was still dark – i was not sure if i had only a SHORT nap and was like wtf?! because it was so fuckin freezin cold – finally i found out that my windshield and stuff got snowed in. fallingbostel. april. great :)” Pro, quoted from Pouet. And I’m glad it’s not just me who felt the full force of Mekka Symposuim 2002! (Ed)

Some people bring their own modes of transport which can be made to double up as sleeping accommodation with a little effort. This is fine if you are driving over in a camper van. A number of these might well attend with some better prepared demosceners at more rural parties. Camper vans come in a wide variety of sizes up to a rockstar touring trailer home.  Generally they come with a reasonable simulation of home luxuries such as beds, a kitchen, bathroom facilities etc.

This idea is not so clever if the vehicle is a normal car-sized car. These are not optimised for sleeping in and are notoriously tent-like with their insulation and heat retention properties, ie. not at all. It can be said that sleeping in a car is good interim training for sleeping rough as a homeless person.

5. The magic missing ingredient?

“People with problems sleeping at parties clearly are too sober.” (Punqtured, quoted from Pouet.)

I’m writing this article so far whilst oblivious to an essential truth. This will be remedied right now.

The beer-powered sleeping bag does its work! (Slengpung.)

Quite a lot of people will be helped in their quest for deep and dreamless sleep in the majorly grotty conditions described above with the help of lots of alcohol! It cannot be overstated just how much sleeping at demo parties is done with the help of multiple glass and metal containers of booze. Unfortunately, for more sober people trying to reach the state of blessed unconsciousness with some difficulty, alcohol can also result in the wrong kind of hyper wakefulness for some animated idiots shouting around them!

6. Air-bedded and embedded?

This method has been the mainstay of most of the parties I’ve been to. A good airbed combined with a decent sleeping bag can take care of most sleeping issues, as long as you don’t get one of those defective beds that slowly deflates until you awake on a cold hard floor an hour after you blissfully fell unconscious. Which has happened on a couple of occasions. These are keenly remembered for precisely the scenario I just described!

Other pratfalls, which I learned to avoid early on, include over-inflating so you are effectively sleeping on a pressurised rubber rock. To get a comfortable airbed experience, you should leave some ‘give’ in it. Also that packing in proper sheets and pillows add to the usability no end. We have to thank Havoc from many years ago for that latter tip.

You do have to factor in pumping up the airbed before you get too tired to think straight. It made sense for me to organise my sleeping accommodation almost as soon as I have arrived and unpacked at a party. This saves a job later on and gives an illusion of achievement at an early stage. Plus you’ve created a handy bolthole to deal with any daytime nap attacks should they occur, or just want to get away from the endless party racket for a quiet hour or so. I find it is an excellent idea to keep your airbed inflated for the duration of the party and kept in the designated sleeping area, so you can return to it at any point whenever the heck you feel like it.

So unless you are able to take up one of the more luxurious options discussed further on in the article, an airbed and sleeping  bag is a sensible, tried and trusted system to ensure a decent quality of sleep at demo parties. Where you may have problems still may well be problems with the sleeping space itself and the general ambience and noise levels, more of which we will discuss next.

7. Pardon me, but is the sound of my lying down in peace and quiet INTERRUPTING YOUR LOUD ONSTAGE ANTICS?!

This section describes the vexatious topic of sleeping areas which aren’t quite.

Many parties have a rich history of offering sleeping areas, which turn out to be somewhat tokenistic in nature. Generally this is a small room or random space on the floor, heavily oversubscribed and sort of hopefully distant from the main hubbub, but not really as things turn out. In this light, I take a few minutes to fondly recall the following.

1, Symposium 96, oh that one again, the sleeping room could have been fit for purpose, even with a degree of overcrowding, apart from the paraffin stove users, the casual theft and lung-cloying icy coldness mixed in with paraffin fumes.

2. Early editions of Alt Party, an unappealing toss-up between a noisy stage and stage facing area, and the slightly less noisy corridor area with stumbly-footed drunks. I fondly recall the coffin-style protective sleeping area I created from barricades of chairs at the old venue in Gloria. Didn’t stop the drunken eejit noises getting in though.

3. Error in Line had a variable track record, the junk room at the first edition was excellent due to ready provided foam mattresses, the second edition had a rather small room, the third edition a usefully sized and distant gymnasium building.

4. Mekka Symposium 2002 deserves a special write up all to itself… It was that bad, yes really.

5. Sundown 2009, didn’t really have a proper sleeping area as such. You just picked a spot where you could lie. I was sleeping backstage. Fortunately the overall noise level dropped right off at a reasonable time so I didn’t have any issues apart from the normal sleeping rough after drinking sensations.

6. On the other hand, I’ll commend the excellent provision at the 2000 Sillyventure party, which was in a school spacious enough to move the sleeping area right away from the main action. Also later ALT Parties have learned the lesson with a basement sleeping area that offers a reasonable respite as well. My favourite improvised sleeping area was the ‘borrowed’ lecture theatre at the 2000 Alt party which kept the noise out with the help of some wickedly thick ex-nuclear bunker soundtight doors. There were also handy airbed alternatives in the form of the padded lecture hall seating as well.

Some other more recent parties have been able to offer a better alternative to sleeping rough, due to the specific nature of their chosen venue. But I’ll get around to those now.

8. Camping up….

“For me TG94 (The Gathering) was the coldest (and generally most shitty) party . Not being allowed to sleep inside the hall (because of some electricity problems) so they managed to get a tent which they put up outside for people to sleep in. I ended up just rolling out the sleeping bag on a snowy plain.” – Mel, quoted from Pouet.

This refers to a couple of new scenarios. Some people at certain Dutch rural demo parties have taken the option of using the campsite location to set up their own canvas and cloth home away from home in the handily provided field. This is fine for naturally hardy people who like camping and care not for the vagaries of typical European weather. It is probably idyllic for those rare occasions when blissfully nice weather can be guaranteed. Otherwise for most other people, this idea sort of sucks and I wouldn’t do it voluntarily. Oh how I inwardly chuckled when Cal had to return to his dark and cold tent in a midnight thunderstorm blasted field earlier this year.

The graffiti paint is another insulating layer, like double glazing, for sure!

However, I do unfondly recall a previous Outline party where a teepee-shaped surprise was sprung on us without prior warning. But that was not the suckiest camping experience at a demo party, not by a long way.

Which brings me nicely to the second scenario. This is when a very large and important easter demo party in 2002 makes a really determined effort to provide sleeping accommodation which tries to tick all the habitability boxes including space and warmth. However this was let down badly by the execution of the thing.

The Mekka Symposium 2002 party provided a large marquee tent with hot air heating blowing in constantly, no doubt arranged at huge expense. But if I were the organisers, I hope they asked for their money back as due to a design issue with the properties of hot air rising, none of the heating actually reached the floor area where the sleepers lay. Combine this with a constant stream of coming and going, an imperfectly sealed tent and doors left open by unblinking idiots, the ground level area of the tent enjoyed the same low ambient temperature that could be found immediately outdoors.

And this picture perfectly shows just how effective the MS 2002 sleeping tent wasn't! (Slengpung.)

Now that SUCKED properly! Taking refuge in the warm main hall exposed you to an even more frenetic noise level than usual. The 2002 party was probably the party where I felt the worst during and after-effects of any party.

9. Dorm blimey, you’re gonna need the room with hardcore snoring!

We’re just about up to the present state of the art for the Outline series of parties. They opted to use campsites which have their own hostel or dormitory style sleeping arrangements in the main building. Generally these have been up to the task of providing a restful night and as good as you can get for most demo parties. A proper mattress even on a basic bed taken in conjunction with your own choice of sleeping bag is still better than an airbed. It is even possible to get dormitories according to sleeping habits at very recent parties. The ‘no snoring’ rooms are probably populated with delusional people who don’t realise they have a problem with nocturnal noises until it is too late, leaving us heavy snorers in (relative) peace!

No further comment needed here really..

For sheer entertainment value, and just to show that things can go wrong even here, there was the fateful year at an Outline party where the campsite had managed to procure beds with a structure seemingly made of matchwood and freshly mown grass. So they tended to violently collapse when slept on by pizza eating sceners, or indeed anyone of normal weight who couldn’t flutter onto the bed in the featherweight and carelessly rotational manner of a sycamore seed.

But otherwise this is the best option available, unless you go one step further, which I’ll talk about next.

10. Okay I give in, and I’m made of money, or desperately hoping the bank won’t notice that I’m not!

Finally, it is possible to opt out of the whole urban camping farrago and do the sensible, if expensive thing, and book into a hotel. For those people with money-shaped burn holes in their pockets, a selection of hotel and other paid for accommodation at a range of different prices is available. We have actually gone down this road on two recent occasions.

The Sundown 2010 party necessitated a hotel booking, due to the female contingent who would have naturally and sensibly objected to sleeping any other way. Oh did I mention that everything written about up to now is almost exclusively a male pursuit? Apart from scener girls and ladies, which there are quite a few of by now, but demo party sleeping is not something to be undertaken lightly by unprepared non-scener ‘civilians’ of a female nature. Or even, at all, if you wish to keep the relationship intact. We sort of wrapped a more general holiday around the Sundown party weekend, so booking into a seaside hotel in the seaside town we were partying at was not an unsensible idea and fitted in totally with what we were doing anyway. And it had breakfast too, a nice cooked traditional english style heart attack on a plate.

The Hansard House Hotel at Budleigh Salterton. Our sleeping room away from Sundown 2010. Quite a nice little hotel too.

People of a Swedish Atarian disposition have opted for something ritzy and upmarket when they came to Helsinki town for various recent Alt parties. They chose to stay at a nearby Holiday Inn, around five minutes walk away, and avoiding all of the issues described above at a cost. Due to a lot of people who might have provided off-party accommodation¬† not being available this time around, we’re trying that one this year ourselves. I will say that it scores very highly on the comfort levels, providing a fluffy haven of warm softness to provide welcome relief from the party buzz. I guess it might well feature again in a return visit to a future Alt party. In fact this may be the future in varying forms as increasing maturity overcomes youthful resilience to discomfort. However I’m still struggling to get past the feeling that I’m indulging in an expense account lifestyle when I don’t actually have an expense account and I will have to run and hide when the credit card bill comes in!

CiH – 22/23.10.10 for Low Res Mag, written in-party at Alt Party 2010. Some additions during 11.10 period.

Outline 2010, the misadventure continues..

May 15, 2010

Usual disclaimer: Large parts of the following will be done under the influence of some sort of alcohol and will be incorrect, both factually and morally speaking. Also parts of the allegedly ‘realtime’ report may be altered later on at the discretion of the editor, who might feel that some parts are too lame to stand up to later scrutiny. This is nothing at all new. Even parts of this first paragraph have been changed as more alcohol has been piled on.

18.33hrs, Central beer consuming time.

We’re at the Eersel planet typing away furiously on my pimped out Atari STE proudly sporting its UltraSatan.. Erm not quite actually, well the STE is at large, as is the UltraSatan. There was also going to be a borrowed screen in this appealing mixture as I have nothing which isn’t whale sized and CRT based for the¬† ST. A spare screen donated by the Felicing one was discussed prior to the party. An offer of a nice flatscreen telly was made and enthusiastically accepted by me. So I set off to Cambridge confidently on the Wednesday evening, the night before our departure. A relaxing evening was enjoyed with the usual hospitality and the additional company of Matthew ‘Gasman’ Westcott, a notorious UK demoscene 8-bitter (ZX Spectrum) musician and coder.

We went to bed quietly confident all was in hand. The following morning revealed an apparently flawless transfer of party related goods, chattels and personal effects to Felice’s car. We set off in a happy joyful party mood in the bright and sunlit morning. However, about fifteen miles or so down the road from Felice’s lair, we remember that we forgot to load the screen into the car. So I’m actually typing this on an imitation ST (Hatari, as you asked) on my ex-Perkins Diesel scrapyard escapee Dell Laptop instead! Hah well…

So the STE is sitting forlornly in the boot of the Felice Mobile, and I don’t
think that a spare screen is going to randomly ‘happen’ into the space in front of me somehow?

That small niggle out in the open, we will press on with the tools at hand. At least it keeps the issue of desktop clutter to an acceptable minimum. Right now, the Gasman is satisfying the retro hardware pimped to new heights of awesomeness requirement, with his Spectrum 128 attached to some compact flash reader. Lots of tape images with tasty demos lurk on there, and we have had some viewings, including one or two which ought not to be really on a Speccy at all. The name ‘Mescaline‘ lurks for later recall and screengrab nicking to post in this article.

Mescaline Demo, is that really a ZX Spectrum demo?

We have arrived, unloaded and met with a number of peoples already. Grazey, Calsoft and SH3 were sitting in the late afternoon humid overcastness when we arrived. We have met with GGN, Haomaru, and a plethora of Frenchies including Chuck, who was very interested in what Gasman was showing off. Baggio, Deez, the Nature brothers and PeP provide a Swedish focus, and Wiztom lurks close by too. There was even a surprise (within the last 10 days) appearance by one-time Alive Mag editor Cyclone, who had fallen off the planet in the last year. It looks like we will inherit the final version of the Alive 15 material, so it may get some sort of retrospective release.

But we’re getting too serious. At this point, there ought to be a picture of the new ‘OL Cat‘, who was anxious to meet everyone again. There is Grolsch and pizzas and other stuff available at reasonable prices. And I’ve managed to keep drinking since we arrived.

Baggy floppy OLCat!

I’m going to write a bit about the journey shortly, which was generally smooth, apart from one or two worrying at the time but retrospectively amusing incidents on the way over. But I think it is time to stop, recall what fresh air feels like, before I keel over.


Settling in now, more people here, pizza’s ordered.

About the journey over…

This was a repeat of the successful Channel Tunnel car based concept which has been used over the last couple of years. Apart from one difference, where we had the company of the previously mentioned Matthew ‘Gasman’ Westcott in the back seat of Felice’s car, in the space where a couple of anonymous plastic bags of chocolate chip cookies would have sat before. Not that the storage space was needed. We managed to fit everything in, apart from the #forgotten# screen. (Not going to let that one drop for a little while just yet!) We may manage to rehome the Commodore C16 which has been faithfully occupying boot space in Felice’s car for the last year or more, and which managed to make the journey out here with us, yet again. Assuming that Oliver ‘Paranoid’ Heun arrives here. He is down as attending this year.

Anyway, after the bombshell disclosure about the missing screen was made, I spent the next twenty or so miles imagining infinite torments for imaginary foes, which is quite a fun way of dealing with the stress of unwanted news for a bit. After that I figured that it wasn’t really going to matter and settled down to enjoy the rest of the journey.

Approaching a rush-hour morning at the Dartford Crossing.

The weather rose to the occasion, with an early summer promise. The Channel tunnel was open for business and able to accommodate our early arrival. After a leisurely stop in the terminal building to stock up on the new issue of ‘Viz’ comic and other essential equipment, we drifted languidly onto the shuttle train and settled down for an impromptu picnic from our pre-hoarded snackfood supplies. We looked ahead at the the car in front. This contained what appeared to be an escaped cat perched on the passenger front seat headrest.

We stared harder through a sausage roll overdose induced haze. It appears there wasn’t any attitude of undue alarm from the car’s human occupants. It may be the case that the cat was a very rare example of an easily travelled feline. My prior experience of cats in cars recalls something which should be treated with as much respect and careful handling as a stick of dynamite, wrapped in a fur coat. (They did coax it back into a cat carrier before the journey’s end.)

The train moves off and tunnel blackness ensued, thirty minutes later, we re-emerge into sparkling sunlight and disembark. We pressed on into La Belle Francais, where we encountered our memorable highlight of the journey.

A TomTom called Chucky, or the ghost of Fred West in the machine, or Captain Scumlord traveller murderer.

Felice has a TomTom navigator. This has done sterling service over recent trips to demo parties in European locations. This year proved to be no exception, apart from a period at the start where it felt unsure of its role in life, and more especially where it was at. We realised there was a problem when we were on the motorway and it started bellowing instructions for non-existent left turns and demanding that we reverse direction as soon as possible. Which would have been sort of fatal on the motorway. It seemed that an evil puppet with our fiery demise wrapped around the front bumper of a French bulk products tanker as its mission had taken over the TomTom.

“You’re driving through a field, turn around! TURN AROUND!!!”

A closer examination revealed a machine thoroughly confused about its location, as the screen showed we were in a field running alongside the motorway! Several reset attempts later put it back briefly on the right track before it got confused again. At one point, a road atlas was retrieved from the floor litter in the rear seat well, in case we had to hand-navigate the trip oldschool style.

Fortunately, just as I was trying to get my head around the mind-melting concept of the Antwerp ring road, a more considered stop and reboot appeared to finally do the trick. The psycho satnav ‘found’ itself, finally decided to settle down, get a short haircut and a proper job and stop messing us around.

We’re still unsure what happened at time of writing. Whether it was Russian hackers jamming the GPS signal, or we had fallen victim to a French ‘Secam’ style not-quite-standard version of GPS which was 0.025 of a degree out, we don’t know. It is significant that the service rapidly improved once we passed into Belgium.

(Fungle Beats is on the bigscreen. This is notable as the demo which I showed the fair Nicky to introduce her to the concept of ‘demoscene’ and she smiled sweetly, and looked blankly back at me. So that was a non starter.)

The rest of the journey was muggily warm but otherwise trouble free. Even the suspension taxing road surface at Antwerp appeared to have had some sort of upgrade since last year. So we arrived shortly after 16.00hrs on a different route from the small back lane we took last year, but easily recognising the landmarks and arriving without any trouble in the last mile.

21.00 – Pizza’s have arrived, ON TIME!! So we’ll break off for a bit.

21.37 – Food needs have been satisfied and in one case (guilty glance up to camera.) greed indulged. The pizza’s are the same as for any party. Averagely so so by any objective unit of taste measurement, eaten outdoors in twilight at a demo party with a choice of wine or beer close to hand, absolutely delicious! So good I had them twice!

The hall is settling down to a quiet first night routine. I’m throwing text into this journal, Felice appears to be working on something textual as well, and Matt is also working on an item of his own which looks a bit ‘codey’ in nature. There is a demo showreel on the big screen, all is tranquil at Outline, indicating a lull of some kind.

The Gasman, quite possibly doing something useful.

And I am definitely touch typing in demi-darkness. (Original typo ‘d’ instead of ‘s’ kept in, as it is sort of correct!) Delete key is a sod to source correctly in the low light conditions though.

22.20 – Delayed opening ceremony. Also Sqward has arrived and introduced himself. He looks very different from ten years ago. (Less hair than I remember from Error in Line.)

23.23 – A nicely symmetrical timestamp!

I’ve had a successful wandering around session, firstly locating Beetle of CT63 and CTPCI testing fame. There was the little matter of a mousemat that I had preordered and he had brought to Outline. A screenshot will feature below.

I've now got one of these! They rock!

At the same time he is one of the beta testers for the¬† CTPCI graphics card extension for the CT60 series. Development has moved on to the point where it appears to be functional. The CTPCI, Radeon and CT63 combo boots up on a 1600 x 1200 screen mode and looks blummin’ gorgeous with the right sort of alternative desktop. I took a selection of pictures, and I’ll sort out the best one for here. It seems to be able to breeze Aniplayer and zView, which are two of the main showcase apps for an expanded Atari 060 system. I’m sure there is still a lot to do, but it looks like real progress is being made to my untutored eye.¬†

Beetle's CTPCI expanded screen in plain TOS.

(Actually, having the chance to pretend sleep on the matter overnight, I recall that there seems to be issues with different versions of the CTPCI Flash ROM’s only working with some of the applications and rejecting others. A natural goal is to get one which is happy with everything that you might reasonably expect to throw at an ‘060 system.)

CTPCI displaying an enhanced desktop!

At the same time, Nature Brothers have brought their SuperVidel which is being worked upon, so it will be interesting to see how that is progressing over the weekend as well. I picked up and talked to a few people on the way such as Nerve and a substantially bulked-up Havoc as well as some random other sceners such as Kusma and some of the Amiga members of Ephidrena.

00.01 – Which makes it day 2!!!

I’ve been to visit the DBug/Reboot farthermost corner in the hall. They were busily showing off a completely parallax crazy revamp of the Reservoir Gods fly-em-through ‘Superfly‘. This is intended for the games competition. There is also another Jaguar game to come from some French guys and a suggestion that ‘Superfly DX‘, as the new version is known, might make its way to the Falcon at some point

Of demo rumours, we’re not really sure. Defjam and the rest of team Dresden aren’t coming over after all, which was the best chance of a super smasher. There are whispers and suggestions of more ‘stuff’ in the pipeline from various people, but nothing so far to be released here? I’ll update as I get anything.

00.57 – The question is ‘weather’ or not the outdoors part of the party takes a turn for the wet and stormy. There have been large threatening splatters of rain and rumblings in the distance, with an intermittent lightshow in the suddenly very dark even for night time sky. The weekend weather fortunes are expected to be mixed at best, which means that there might be people forced to spend more time indoors and coding, rather than indulging in their great love for the chilled-out outdoors?

01.26 – The question asked earlier with the weather is increasingly being answered. Storm chasers can become storm armchair watchers as the wind is bringing rain and the threat of storms in our direction! The real party is rain-drenched! Small whimpering cries of dismay issue from the lips of those people who opted to sleep under temporary accommodation of the canvas kind in the adjoining field!

Meanwhile, I chant “I’ve got a bed, I’ve got a bed!”

01.45 – Felice is leaving the building, at least this part of it for the sleeping quarters. He has been enjoying the wine, or it has been enjoying him? The storm went as suddenly as it came, lighting plays in the distance but is going away so the tent inhabitants can get some rest unmolested by rain. There has been a Commodore 64 demoreel being shown on the big screen. Some seminal productions were shown, and at least one demo which looks like a C64 version of an Excellence in Art production for the STE, all fonts, scene poetry, slogans, tasteful design and minimal code.

About to put an end to any serious activity for today, so will update in the morning.

<—— Sleeping quarters preoccupy me here —–>

08.18 – Morning, no try again and… MORNING!!

We’re up and back after a sleep-light night in the ‘hardcore snoring room’. Not just any ordinary snoring room, but hardcore! Still, it’s better than being in the ‘lame’ snoring room. What is it with this endless drive to ever more finely categorise stuff? Life was much simpler in the old days, like last year.

Felice is up and about too. He claims to be fine, but looks every inch like the morning after the night before has hit hard. The bombed out expression and copious red wine stains on his person are a major giveaway here.

Quote – “It must have been just after midnight when I went to bed?” – Erm, nope, at that point the recording of time was in a particularly fluid state in the brain of Felice, like everything else in fact! (The fluid in question being red in colour and around 13.5% alcohol by volume!)

Anyways, I’ve been in the magic rejuvenating shower and feel like a young god (Ref Moondog), albeit one with a teeny tiny hint of tiredness scratching away at the back of my eyeballs and set to strike back harder later on. There is plenty of cool fresh air moving around outside so that might help. I’ve had a preliminary breakfast of slightly above body temperature coffee, some kind of edible styrofoam bar snack and a banana which was being handed around last night when I was admiring the pimped up CTPCI CT63 of Beetle. This will hold off starvation until the official brunch is ready to serve.

A Baggio contemplates his first coffee of the morning..

A small number of people are up, but only a small number so far, there might be time for another sleep attempt before the official brunch is introduced to the starving masses.

10.01 – More people but not a lot else happening right now. I’ve just taken a picture which depicts the UK election which I’m busily ignoring, and the demo party which I’m heavily enjoying. So some faked but scarily revealing headlines in ‘Private Eye’ alongside Gasman’s Speccy 128.

These sort of headlines aren't that far from the tabloid version of the truth!

It looks like there is a bit of a CT60 theme to the current demo showreel, as we’ve just had ‘Derealisation’, and are currently running ‘Silkcut’. We’ll find out if it is the CT60 port or the Amiga original when it hits the greetings part.

10.05 – Falcy version after all, question above is answered. The greets are greyscaled. That’s how you can easily tell them apart.

The big screen has now switched to an extreme oldie, 2nd Reality on da Peecee from those crazy mid-nineties days, acid swirls in the park, 486 DX’s for goalposts, young people today etc. But no sound and no iconic Purple Motion soundtrack, which is a major omission. So I’m listening to some Tao SID tunes instead.

Calsoft arrived in the building from his outdoor canvas refuge providing a wild night’s uneasy repose in the teeth of the storm so memorably enjoyed last night. His wild and hairy appearance testified to this.

Of additional interest, and widely trailed on the party website before we got here, today is ‘Queen’s day’, a public holiday in the Netherlands. People celebrate and dress up in orange, the royal house colours a lot. We were prepared and had our Outline t-shirts from a few years ago in that colour. The winner of the special prize for “Foreign person really trying way too hard to fit in” goes to SH3 for an entirely orange outfit from head to foot. The overall effect is something like an escaped Dutch convict in official chain gang clothing. (This was nothing compared with some other local dudes wearing giant inflatable crowns who turned up later on.)

Kev, the Tango cult called, it wants it's costume back!

Happy Queens day to you. And Gasman has returned.

10.52 – Bonus is in the building, with his oldschool Dutch scene vibe. This is cool.

Time to take stock for the party so far…

Good stuff:

Well we’re here, in spite of the killer satnav’s ill intentions.
Most of the other people that are supposed to come over have made it.
We’ve had lots of nice chats with those people.
Beetle’s CTPCI powered CT63 is seriously good, even at this alpha stage.
I have a new ‘060 Power’ mousemat.
I’ve seen a wicked Jaguar version of the game ‘Superfly’.
The ‘OLCat’ tradition continues.
Mmmm! Pizza!

Judgement still pending type stuff:

Some people didn’t make it, Defjam and the Dresden team, Simon Sunnyboy, the rest of the Reservoir Gods for different reasons.
Still waiting for some others, Paradox team, Lotek Style.
Not really sure if anything happening demo-wise on the Atari or not?
Weather less hospitable than usual, chilly and overcast. (But storm late last night provided some awesome visuals.) It will be interesting to see how a more indoor focused Outline party might turn out?

Okay, that will be fine for now.

11.08 – Breakfast is SERVED! OMG, CiH got to the front of the queue, so you’re all doomed to starvation related stomach pains suckers! And this is nearly an hour early, so there is going to be someone misled by the ‘official’ time of 12.00 and they will miss out as the food will be all gone.

12.51‘Random Images’, my CD-ROM project, has been handed into the ever willing Earx. At last the ‘thing’ which has been hanging around for months is gone rom my things to do list! If you haven’t already found it, leach and enjoy! (Well a few days later anyway – Post party note.)

I also found out there are some demo stuffs at last. A Dead Hackers demo compo entry for the STE, along with something from Baah of Arms Tech/Positivity.

As the latter was a rather good Archie/RISC coder who started on the ST and appears to be returning to it, we look forward to seeing this. Also there is the inevitable BITS entry. How our hearts thrill to that news!

‘Pimp my Spectrum‘ is on the big screen. I spoke to Gasman about this. We knew the demo ran on a Peecee within a Speccy emulator. There were some differences, namely allowing for the full speed of the native hardware, some changes to the screen layout from Sinclair weirdness to something relatively sensible, and also for some of the 3D stuff, the native intel instruction set was used in place of the emulated z80. So nice to get an inside view.

13.28 – The Karsmakers, former diskmag editor for ST News, oh, eons ago, has entered the building on a cheese supplying mission, but not for too long.

14.20 – The Karsmakers has left, and gwEm has arrived. There will be a live set this year, and possibly a hasty search for a new venue for next year after the managers goodwill has been killed off by said live set? But hopefully not. I’m fervently hoping that we have got a campsite manager who does not read the Dutch equivalent of the Daily Mail Heil and goes into a frenzy of manufactured outrage against our machines. What would a Dutch edition of the Daily Wail read like? Headlines such as “Immigrants are causing Dutch elm disease and clog rot!”

"Now don't go upsetting any campsite managers this year gWEm!"

We had a nice in depth chat with Grazy, Cal and the orange convict Sh3, plus Topy44. We are informed that Karsmakers has not even touched anything with an Atari TOS for several years. His last point of reference for emulators was PacifiST and Hatari took him by surprise. He does still listen to soundchip music though. An ‘app’ that plays C64 SID music through an iPhone. I guess you have to make do somehow. The real party has been outside, as the sun has made a partial recovery against a stiff cool breeze. There have been some exciting marquee erecting adventures, as some basic cloth-based protection against the more excitingly damp weather possibilities has been put up over some of the benches outside.

From the back of the jacket of the person in front of me. “From my black throne, I will lash together a machine of bones and blood, and fuelled by my hatred for you. This fear engine will burst a hole between this world and that one.”

I still prefer “Gordon is a moron” as the ultimate way to diss someone off. Guess that’s my age and those deeply buried late seventies New Wave post-punk recollections?

16.18 – Things were getting desperate in that last extract, so I rested my brain for a bit, well it’s the afternoon of the second day and we’re not yet into any of the organised activities or competitions. Apart from the graphics and music compo’s, these have all been piled into Saturday. Going to look around in a minute to see if there are any changes or new arrivals.

18.09 – As expected, we’re in the lull before the evening period. A time for quiet contemplation, reflection and lighting of barbeques for those people who are undertaking a self-cooking option. This included Cyclone who was doing a fair impersonation of a bellows operated blast furnace in getting his reluctant charcoal to light. This was successful and a number of alarmingly coloured pieces of chicken were pressed onto the grille. Baggio joined in with his horses willy sausages, and ex-editor of Alive mag had generously over specified on his own portions, so the writer of this text got to share in the food largesse. Which was very good, just before the magically amazingly on time food delivery arrived.

Team Baggio and Cyclone set up their improvised cookhouse.

Tonight’s repast was hamburger and fries, with some kind of sauce from a usual looking range. Mine was the thousand islands lookalike.

In more lame commercial sounding news, the new range of Outline 2010 T-shirts and long sleeved shirts are now available, with prices starting at 13 EUR, get yours today! Well I did.

On stage there is a happening, as Numtek is doing a deejay set against a backdrop of demos playing on the big screen.

I’ve also found the party network, which is the place which will allow you to vote a lot later on. In another lame informercial sounding piece, I found I can use my new moby handset to access this, as it has WLAN capability and a minature version of a full querty keyboard. I won’t topple all the way into the lameness chasm, apart from mentioning the manufacturer is based in a northerly location where we often go to a demo party in October!

Lotek and ThorN appear, Paradox/tSCc put in a belated appearance. Closely followed by Paranoid and RA. Goody. that sorts out the C16 issue finally then.

19.21 – The missing Germans are setting up. They appear to be founder members of the bulky CRT preservation society. Suddenly deskspace availability is getting very ‘cosy’.

19.30 – ThorN updates us on a number of issues relating to the Low Res Mag and what is happening in the near future. This has been sensibly held back a couple of weeks to allow anything from the Outline Party to filter in. Such as this report. And reviews of any demos which do show up at the party. ThorN was hoping for some kind of internet access, but we had to gently point out that there wasn’t any, apart from the little bit that will allow you to vote on the competitions later on.

19.53 – An attack of bleeps announces Stu‘s presence on the stage area, and a hefty dose of YM stuffs made and mixed in Stu’s own special way. This is a warm up to gWEm’s appearance tomorrow.

21.00 – Stu played a blinder, lots of familiar stuff live, songs playing, people dancing, as a certain Spanish scener might put it..

The newschool music compo is about to start. Streaming music, or “Screaming Lizard”, according to Skrebbel‘s accent.

Well maybe screaming lizard attempting to make a distress call and drowned out by static and 180 BPM thumping, according to the first couple of entries.

It settles down from there. A bit.

21.30 – Gasman has opted for the two pizza “greedy bastard Special” that I enjoyed yesterday on the final pizza run. A fly attempts to add itself as an extra unwanted flavouring, but it is batted away quickly. So ‘secret sauce’ with chunky unmentionables is averted, just.

21.56 – Applause tinged with relief when the newschool music compo ends? There was nothing that memorable in there, although there were a lot of entries.

Next compo is the oldschool music. More familiar faces here no doubt.

The first Atari interest is from Stu, a tune made in Musicmon and with all Stu characteristics, heavy buzzy sound and low res sampled drums for a gritty sound.

Also a song from Timbral with some STe DMA sound as well. Mainly for samples to add something extra.

Now DMA is up with another STe compatible tune. This seems to be using some different tones from the other two tunes preceding it. Softer and melodic with some heavy bassy sounds in the background.

A YM tune from ‘Bioscillator’, with very little zik and a lot of ‘Tinkercore’ which is the audio counterpart to a ‘Dutch colour scheme’ or coder colours in a demo.

gWEm is up with an executable tune next. Some more agile sound stretching to disguise the crude nature of the soundchip it was born on.

And that is the end of the oldschool music competition. I guess a graphics competition or two should be on the way soon?

23.40 – A slew of underpopulated graphics competitions are ushered in and quickly begone. Highlights were mostly within the pixelled graphics (all four entries of it.) A nice refinement is to show the various stages of progress on the picture, to prove its origin as a freshly pixelled work of art.

In between times, we were sitting in the Reboot/Dbug corner watching a selection of old fake demos, including one which namechecked Felice in a rather embarrassing fashion from 1998, whilst he was watching it! (A Reservoir Frogs faketro.) Anyway, the anticipation is mounting for the main competitions tomorrow night.

In contrast to last night, there is plenty of outside party going on in the darkness, and no funny business with the weather to threaten it. Most of everyone due here appears to have arrived and the ambience is a lot more ‘busy’ than the relaxed atmosphere from last night. Okay, it is relaxed in a busy way then!

00.05 – Nothing to report apart from a new day, which is Saturday 1.5.2010.

Oh, and the EKO System demo is on the big screen.

01.20 – This will be the last official entry before sleepytime, whatever form that takes. We’ve been watching Falcon classic demos on the big screen. GGN had taken over the organisers machine and we managed to get to the point of requesting some particular favourites. Mine was Sonoluminescenz. At the moment the perennial show favourite of Felice, the Obnoxious demo, is running. Alas, Felice has gone to bed since, he may be having uneasy dreams as the familiar music penetrates the sleeping rooms?

I’ve been pondering another minor mystery. To what extent are people coding stuff successful from hiding their work in progress from a casual or not so casual gaze. A diskmag (now online journal) writer like myself will tend to own a pair of paparazzi eyes, always on the look out for that glimpse of something that should not have been shown semi-publicly for that precious exclusive.

My favourite historical coup was being put in a room with Stax, at the first Error in Line party, where I got a whole preview of their ‘Rumplekammer‘ demo before anyone realised that they were showing their secret production to someone who should not have been there.

For the purposes of making this query relevant, I’ve considered the behaviour of those people who brought Atari goodies to Outline of some description which they were coding on. The most badly failed attempt to keep non-disclosure comes from the DBug/Reboot team who set up in the far corner, but were not at all able to keep their brand new Jaguar game secret. On the other hand, just over their shoulders are Chuck and Zerkman who are constantly working on code and never seem to need to compile and test run anything, making them very successful at keeping premature disclosure away. Deez and Baggio of Evolution have managed to set up¬† in a corner which is not easily accessible and Deez turned his screen ever so slightly towards the blind corner of the room. Paradox don’t seem to be worried either way.

Of course the most successful way of protecting a new production from premature viewing before its proper order in the competitions would be to remain off site and send it in remotely. So the secrecy winning prize will be shared between Evil of DHS and Solo of BITS! Now share nicely, and no fighting guys!

Sleepyroom, never got that busy, only a few people in it, some proper sleep was obtained this time.

09.00 – Saturday morning.

It looks brighter and sunnier today, not a lot else to add so far.

Oh noez! Random people are adding random lines to my report.

Where is the realtimearticlecomputer? Is this it? //Baggio (hijacking cihs computer)

Realtime? There isn’t one! – You can remove your half-eaten sandwich from this workstation as well!

I’ve reunited the half-eaten sandwich with its careless owner, Baggio.

10.16 – We’ve spent the last hour in the DBug/Reboot corner. SH3 treated us to a showing of Doom 2 levels pasted into the Jaguar version of Doom. This is not intended for release due to the usual intellectual property issues. However it can be considered as a step on the road to something else even more interesting in the future. Matt Smith (Neo) is the person responsible for this. My memory of Doom 2 goes back to the Wellingborough computer club days, where multiplayer games were attempted through connected serial cables, none of that wifi stuff! We found that the levels were too huge in Doom 2 and the network tended to freeze up at times. Usually very inconvenient times in the middle of a bit where potential player death was being converted to actual player death.

10.59 – (Singsong voice) “DULL SENTENCE OF THE WEEK!” – Hanging on for breakfast, a trip into Eersel centre is on the cards afterwards. Gasman has re-emerged, these two things are not connected.

11.12 – Breakfast hovers around.. (Please amend this incorrect assumption, breakfast does not “levitate” unsupported in thin air, it does have a trolley underneath it! – Low Res Pedantry editor.)

12.03 – Breakfast is a fond memory in¬† the recesses of my stomach now. Felice has finally managed to offload the Commodore C16 that has been sitting in his car boot for over a year (correction, two years – ED) onto Oliver ‘Paranoid’ Heun at last. Here’s a picture of an ecstatic Paranoid receiving his gift.

Paranoid celebrates his newly adopted hardware family member!

12.46 – Lots of appearances from ‘Lethal Xcess‘ on various screens around the hall. This is going to be the game tournament game. I guess Cyclone is the sponsor?

13.36 – A small diversion into town with SH3 and Felice.. People back at home placating souvenirs were purchased in the local supermarket. SH3 purchased a real imitation plastic ‘fussball’ from some evil retailer for 9 EUR. This trip was quicker than expected so we’re back.

15.21 – We’ve had a little bit of afternoon japery. One which fell into the “Too slow to record this” category were the organisers sitting in the orga’s enclosure and “singing” along in a cat’s chorus to the ‘Stardust Memories’ tune in the Sanity Amiga demo.

“Meowww, meowmeowmeowmeow, me-owwww, mewmeowmeowmeow!”

Of more interesting interest was a DS look-alike with a Chinese copy of stuff, including emulators for Atari ST, MAME, SNES, Megadrive, and no doubt others. It also plays a nice game of Doom, so some kind of DOS Peecee emulation may be in there too? If you get it from the right sort of places, the cost is mere buttons, or around 20 dollars as I heard it. This was being shown off around the Reboot camp.

Not really a DS clone, more of a Gamepark style knock-off.

Oh, and it rained for a bit too. (Outside of course, not in the hall as that would have been seriously odd!)

15.34 – Animation compo is about to start.

A couple of ‘party’ collections were shown, one of which a frame by frame retrospective of Breakpoint, but the latter was taken from non-video sources. IE, someone with a normal camera, a busy shutter finger, and a camera memory card that can hold the whole of Bingen within it. The resulting pile of images being stitched together to make a video.

There were a couple of good funny animations as well. This competition has also given some of us a useful wake-up call as the crowding closer to the screen is getting to the point of not being able to see much from the back of the hall, even from our seats facing the screen. So we might need to get some seating near the front sorted before the main compo’s are running.

In some kind of recursive infinite loop of analness (anality?), I’m spending some of my precious and limited time at a demo party reading through the 1992 realtime article for another demo party in the distant past, namely “The Great British International ST Party”, otherwise known as the Bradford Party, a once and never to be repeated experience. This archivists treasure was originally sponsored by ‘Runrig’ of the late ‘HP-Source’ disk mag who became rather better known under a different pseudonym slightly later on. Well they only managed two issues, and the third is still forever waiting in a recursive infinity loop of its own, so yes, late it is!

And why only the one Bradford party? I guess, youth, inexperience, sheer blind luck, then university and finally work, work, work crowding in too quickly afterwards. Well at least we’ve now got Sundown in the UK, but that is a very different sort of party from the Bradford event. I’m planning on going back to Sundown this year, we’ve sort of booked a whole week in Devon around the dates. (CiH exclusive!)

16,25 – Game compo starts!

‘Iridium’ which is a re-imagined Defender games direct from the hands of the Calsoft people. In light of the other two entries, this is the ‘weakest’ of the three. Well it is still rather good, the platform chosen might let it down in some people’s eyes, the poor, obscure and undersupported Wintel Peecee! Who uses those things these days?!

Reboot proudly presents ‘Superfly DX‘ for the Jag which finally gets its moment of bigscreen glory! GGN may be sacked shortly for his pisspoor testing performance as the demonstration keeps getting cut short just as we get used to the soothingly smooth layers of multiple parallax on the screen. As seen from the preview, the showing looks smart and high end, worthy of a cool Reboot release. I hope GGN does get down to porting it to the Falcon. (No pressure from here mate! Well not much.)

‘Ladybugged’ is another Jag game from Cerebral Vortex Software Design, aka Jaguar Connexion, the French arm of retro-console adoration. This is a conversion of the arcade game Ladybug. This has a certain resemblance to Pacman with a major gameplay revamp. It scores well on presentation and design, as you might expect from the Frenchies. I still think that Superfly will steal first place by a whisker though.

So we have seen a small but high quality selection dominated by Reboot.

End of the game compo.

16.43 – The catering tonight is represented by a Dutch version of a fish and chip van called a ‘Hapkar‘ or frijtes wagon. Ordering is done with some pseudo-monetary system involving some old-style ration coupons, like in the war and stuff. So we’re having to eat fried foods to the sound of bombing raids, possibly? The good news is the relative cheapness compared to the pizza attack prices. It remains to be seen if 6 EUR’s worth will cover even the piggiest of greedy folk’s food desires here. I’ll let you know when I get my food critic on!

The Hapkar has a long queue.

I’ve also now got a votekey, the number is lost to all time but it is too late to use it now, I got there first. A preliminary check indicated that yes, the site was moby-friendly as well.

17.25 – The currywurst, erm, Dutch frijtes van rocked! I’m going to go back for some more in a bit when the queue dies down. That’ll be all my nasty but fun food requirements sorted for this evening!

19.03 – UUUURP! I definitely will not want another pizza now. I’m all stuffed with Dutch junkfood, not for the first time this trip. There were burgers, sausages, lots of special sauce with onions and mayonnaise, and lots of fries, lots and lots of them! So the Hapkar is a success.

At the time of writing, there is the live set from gwEm and 303F to go, then the demo competitions.

19.32 – gWem set rolling in, he has some issues with the inland revenue, in song!

20.09 A storming set all round, gwEm seems to be a lot more comfortable and in command of the live performance than he was when I last saw him two years ago. I enjoyed the whole set, there was a wicked twisting of the ‘Das Boot‘ theme, and a song, above, which expressed some unhappiness with HM Government’s revenue gathering processes.

Main compos coming up next…..

22.21 – Demo competitions have been and gone.

We’re looking at a smaller field than for some previous parties. Specific people staying away this year might have had an adverse downward count for the Atari demos, two of the three entries were remote entries from off-site.

For that all important ‘how did the Atari scene do?‘ question, there were a handful of bootsector entries from Paradox, and three main competition entries. A really seen it all before and by the numbers entry from BITS, a nice little single screen intro with monkeys in it by Baah of Arms Tech. The clear winner is going to be the Dead Hackers Sommerhack invitro, which bashes the STE’s ‘open borders’ to a new level with some nice set piece screens. I spoke to Nerve immediately after the compo who indicated their next priority was a new CT60 demo. Hurrah!

So we didn’t get anything from Checkpoint as they did not attend the party. They were a strong favourite to do something amazing. I’m sure that Defjam has code in hand and it will not go to waste. We await future developments with great interest. We didn’t get anything from the Frenchies although they did a PS3 retro tribute. They did appear to be working on a bunch of Atari code, so there may well be something for later in the year.

We didn’t see anything from Paradox apart from the bootsector stuff, nor Mikro/Mystic Bytes. To be fair, his focus is probably on helping test some of the new hardware for the¬† CT60. What we would term ‘Reservoir Gods’, namely PHF/DBug/Reboot were doing nicely with the Jaguar, with some anticipation of later Falcon conversion.

Evolution were here, but nothing to be released. It appears their current project is intended for a CT60 equipped with Supervidel, when that gets here. This is going to be a game. (Following on from the earlier topic about coders hiding their work from the public gaze, I did get a glimpse of a Devpac screen which told me what they were doing!)

The Peecee competitions were more manageable, including a demo competition with a very famous name in it. Said famous name produced a very slow ambient entry which will fiercely divide opinions. It already did with the two people I spoke to about it. SH3 is taking the Skeletor Negator line, whilst Nerve is more positive about it.

(Did someone say Farbrausch at this point, I think they did!?)

303F were delayed but we are getting the live performance from them shortly. The afterparty has started.

00.00 – Symmetry still rocks!

The last day, it’s nearly all over, apart from 303F who still think there is a party on. I’ve been on a nostalgia tour of a previous decade, well a couple of months in 1995 to be precise.That is the Maggie Party realtime from a long lost diskmag called Skynet, from an equally long lost John ‘Vogue’ Nott. There was even something of a short realtime article from when I went to Visit Rich Davey ‘Requiem’ at his parents maison in Portishead about a month before the Maggie 5th birthday bash. That really was a long hot summer then!

We were all a lot younger back then, well I probably wasn’t.

A few people have left, Lotek and ThorN have had to go. I will be in touch with him over the next few days about uploading a copy of this report to the Low Res WordPress site. The rest of us are awaiting a prize ceremony. There is a fair number of people outside where the ‘real party’ is. Well the real party is everywhere tonight.

01.55 – Results are in, here is the retrospectively added. We’ve culled the non-Atari stuff from the rather appealing original textfile with the full results. The competitions below are just the ones where “our” people were involved in some way.

OUTLINE 2010 – Combined Atari ST Intro/Demo
1¬†¬†¬† Dead Hackers Sociey – “Sommarhack10 Invite”
2¬†¬†¬† Baah / Arm’s Tech – “Frankiki”

Atari Bootsector
1¬†¬†¬† RA/paradox – “BiNARY”
2¬†¬†¬† Baah / Arm’s Tech – “Quad”
3¬†¬†¬† RA & Paranoid / PDX – “Boot Dis!”
4¬†¬†¬† paranoid + RA/paradox – “BLUEBOOT”

Realtime Wild Demo
1¬†¬†¬† Gasman / Hooy-Program – “DivIDEo:
2¬†¬†¬† Timbral / YMR / DHS – “Untitled”
3¬†¬†¬† Sector One / Dune – “retrostation”
4¬†¬†¬† Desire – “In Monaco”
5¬†¬†¬† Royal Belgian Beer Squadron – “Rewired 2010 invitation”

Newschool / Streaming Music
1¬†¬†¬† Stu – “Earth (Original Version Stereo Mix)”
2¬†¬†¬† Response/Darklite¬† – “Retrocession”
3¬†¬†¬† m0d – “Shooter Boss Reloaded”
4¬†¬†¬† Spexzter/Darklite – “I’m going to be”
5¬†¬†¬† Cosmiq / Inque – “Club Epoch”
6¬†¬†¬† EatMe – “Meow”
7¬†¬†¬† The Danish Musician – “Abfarth”
8¬†¬†¬† Cosmiq / Inque – “The last breakpoint”
9¬†¬†¬† Bassie / RBi – “Allnighter’s Child”
10¬†¬† Dipswitch – “12.00 Dread”
11¬†¬† Quantum of Arse – “Kabouter Bond”
12¬†¬† discomeats – “Dr Bob and the Casiotones”
13¬†¬† A-Flash – “Step Into A Rotten Spaceship”
14¬†¬† Haohmaru – “Pizza Calzone”
15¬†¬† Haohmaru feat. discomeats – “F_11”

Oldschool Tracked/Executable Music
1¬†¬†¬† Timbral / YM Rockerz ^ DHS – “So alone… (Live ver.)”
2¬†¬†¬† Stu – “Bombabazooka”
3¬†¬†¬† DMA-Sc / Sector One – “Troubled Memories”
4¬†¬†¬† gwEm/Psycho Hacking Force – “Afterburner”
5¬†¬†¬† Response/Darklite¬† – “”Exanthema” (c64)”
6¬†¬†¬† Loaderror/Ephidrena – “I like this Stu concert playing right now”
7¬†¬†¬† Fby Fabio Barzagli – “Virtuosismi Italiani :)”
8¬†¬†¬† syphus – “Jazzsniffer”
9¬†¬†¬† Bioscillator – “Rotterdam Atari Acid”

Pixel Graphics
1¬†¬†¬† Ukko – “Mister”
2¬†¬†¬† bracket / accession¬† – “Mr. Marvin is here to kill you ”
3¬†¬†¬† illm / Apan Bepan – “Secret Admirer”
4¬†¬†¬† farfar/loonies – “look man, i just want some chips, see, some chips,
that’s all, just some chips. Turn that over man, it’s burning, turn
it over!”

Game compo
1¬†¬†¬† Reboot – “Superfly DX”
2¬†¬†¬† CVSD – “Ladybugged ”
3¬†¬†¬† Calsoft (code)/Gasman (muzak) – “xnaIridium”
4¬†¬†¬† nUn / Next Empire – “ParaCunt”



There are some non-surprises here, DHS won the Atari demo competition, with Baah! and Solo falling into line in second and third place respectively. Reboot had a good night winning the games competition. We are also conveying a prize winner home, as Gasman managed to win the wild competition with his ZX Spectrum video streaming system off his CF-card, when it feels like working, as it had a particularly vivid five minutes of non-cooperation at the start of the competition. The symptoms are startlingly similar to the ancient malady of ZX81 ram pack wobble,

A sleepy Felice is retiring. It is rather chilly with no trace of any barbecue fires, so I think I’ll pause this until we’re back in daylight again.

10.07 (A startlingly rapidly arriving Morning) – This is going to be a rather swift termination of the realtime section of this report, followed by a retrospective later part. The mains power has been removed so we’re running on a limited battery. Also the very table this laptop is resting on is due to go back to its rental place asap. I got to bed some time after 05.00hrs, and encountered a lot of alcohol on the way! Some of us were very silly indeed but we managed to prolong the party feeling for a few precious hours more.

In case you’re wondering, I’m in surprisingly good shape but I’m sure I’ll pay for that later on!

Okay, time to log off before this table disappears.

———– Some non-realtime recollections ———–

(A videoclip from my moby stirs into life, flickering firelight half reveals a handful of faces sitting around it, there is a soundtrack, which is the tune ‘Legend of Middle Earth’ by Jess. (Which turned out to be the non-sidvoice version, to people’s mild disappointment.) This is playing off some small portable box with the appropriate software. Wiztom is one of the figures in the dim firelight, he speaks about the rain, which is very light, but imposing more of a presence as the morning goes on “Random drops but no proper rain”. The timestamp on the clip reveals it was taken at 03.35 on the 2.5.10.)

How did we get here?

Another videoclip now, this one was taken at 03.08 that morning. Grazey is confessing to the accidental theft of a shopping trolley from a ‘lovely old dutch lady’ in the local supermarket, where “They were all lovely, it was like desperate housewives, Teri Hatcher and stuff, wearing their leg warmers, walking about like this, and I stole her trolley!” SH3 is acting in the role of drunk father confessor and urging Grazey to repent, hysterics are overcoming the rest of the party, the writer being no exception to this whatsoever.

There were other conversations stirring in the alcoholic darkness, vague memories of long-forgotten but vividly recalled cricket matches in the Welsh hills, the useful role of the Pennines in keeping Lancashire and Yorkshire apart is discussed. A few things talked of which were filed away very deeply out of harms way. There was gWEm who really wasn’t going to stick around but got sucked into the inevitable white rum black hole with the rest of us.

Did I mention that some of the competition prizes were alcoholically based? Grazey, Cal, GGN and SH3 used their mind-powers to thwart the other prize winners from picking up these precious bottles. As the game competition was well down the running order, they had the pick of the remaining prizes, which were magically and mysteriously white rum based. It appears that two bottles made their way back to the Reboot/PHF corner. These were opened and shared out, some people taking theirs with coke, hardened idiots like me drinking the stuff neat.

At some point of time with a ‘3’ in it, the party eventually staggered its way to bed, apart from gWEm and myself who were finishing off a couple of beers that SH3 had purchased and forgot about. I recall gWEm being concerned about the relative lack of Atari releases, and myself playing an optimistic devil’s advocate that things weren’t that bad really. Havoc was on night-shift duty at the bar and listening very patiently like all good bar staff do.

After which, we get back to the point where I went to join in with the remnants of the ‘party outside’, and the first mentioned video clip was recorded.

So I’m not sure when I went to bed, but I do remember Felice quietly pacing into the sleeping room at 09.30 to deliver a bedside bulletin about the disappearing table situation, which caused a rapid bed exit, showering and breakfast, intended to shock any waiting hangover into submission. This appeared to have worked.

There is not a lot more to tell, but I’ll do my best to pad it out anyway. Various people showed up, many of them bearing the scars and gravy stains from the night before. Wiztom was doing a particularly good animated corpse impersonation.

BlurryMaali! If Havoc wants the full-sized original, he can email me ūüėČ

We repacked the car, it had been raining again and the day started to rain some more. An extended round of farewells preceded our departure around midday. The PHF mobile, an appealing but small Toyota had the extra challenge of getting gWEm to an airport. This was a car which was seriously challenging the 1998 Helsinki-Turku Saab super-stuffem contest for load compression and people carrying as it was. I guess they made it back okay, there were no news reports of death and carnage with excessive amounts of debris and broken tents on the Dutch road system?

A picture of an already broken tent.

An overcast but uneventful journey home follows, apart from one or two cloudbursts encountered, driven through and out the other side of. The Satnav behaves itself and gets us back to the Eurotunnel terminal, in time for some shopping by Felice and a quick grabbing of some French style burger fodder with frites. The boarding process consists of queue-filled endlessness, with some probing questions from the UK customs bunker before we are allowed on to the train.

We reveal we come from the Netherlands, a red warning light flashes on in the control room and the people inside show the first stirrings of interest, the occupants of our car are young(ish) male and from a country hosting planet druggie, so not at all suspicious really. We are asked where we stayed, when this turned out not to be one of the big cities, the boredom starts to return. When we were asked what we were doing, Felice exhibited some rare quick-wittedness in describing the difficult to describe to outsiders “demo party” as a “computer arts festival”. At this point, the law enforcers go limp dick and lose all interest in us, the bottom-searching room is regretfully stood down and we are waved on our way.

Useful one to remember if a potentially hostile uniformed outsider is asking what the heck you were doing that weekend, say “Computer arts festival“, not “Demo party”. Now put that in your quick response brain-bank for when you are asked those awkward questions!

More wet cross-country dashing around takes place at the UK end. Gasman is able to make the rest of his journey home that evening, so we end up dropping him off in the centre of Cambridge next to a lonely bus stop. I guess he wasn’t abducted as his blog has been updated since. Felice and I return to the residence of the Felice, where his spouse Paula had been joined by an acquaintance of mine, Nicola.

Another great post-party tradition of a promised evening meal still sitting around as a pile of uncooked ingredients and expecting me to thrash it into an edible shape is upheld. I tend to think I did a good job, even in a post-party befuddled state where lack of proper sleep was catching up and a lot of stuff got dropped on the kitchen floor on the way.

We’re not at all late to bed really, and the bulk of the following day is spent in a low-energy drowsy state until we go our separate ways back home later on. A little bit of a belated Felician birthday celebration got in there as well.

Wrapping up with some final thoughts.

Every Outline party seems to fall into a number of recognisable patterns, but each one has its own distinguishing remarks and features. This one was no exception.

Outline 2010 for me, was most successful with the “Party” part of the party. I managed to step up the socializing a gear and try to speak to more people, more often, Newer faces to me including Beetle with the Awesome CTPCI being shown off to great effect. Also more time was spent with Grazey, Cal, Kev, and George, which was capped off by that rather spontaneously occurring final morning, so maybe a bit too successful there! The usual suspects were remet of course. We rediscovered Cyclone, it was nice to see Chuck and GGN back this year, we missed the¬† Dresden Atarians. It was good to see Baggio and Deez back in town, with PeP and the Nature Brothers. Ze Germans turned up en masse on Friday, apologies to anyone we didn’t namecheck here.

Meeting and greeting Chuck eating!

The live acts were presented in a better than ever fashion, even allowing for the weather restricted indoors-only nature of these. There were some great sets from Stu and gWEm, with 303F to wind down nicely after the competitions and prize-giving were all done. Songs, people dancing, indeed!

On the subject of demo releases, the Atari content was a bit down, but not so much from the last year. We were really missing a killer release, Checkpoint were in the frame to do this but they did not arrive at the party. However Dead Hackers Society excelled with¬† a good dentro-sized production which continued the theme of stretching the STE’s boundaries. To put into a wider context and attempt to reassure people called gWEm, we have had a good last 12 months. There is more stuff ‘in the pipeline’ but none of it was ready to spurt out here. For future reference, it would be really nice if a couple of major releases could head this way next year?

Other releases were a mixed bag as usual. There was a nice animation compo, the Peecee demo’s were okay generally. One nice thing here is the manageable size of the competitions, so you don’t get fifty demos doing slight variations on the same thing. There was a nice Amiga wild demo which paid tribute to the Atari and stuck up for MC68k solidarity brother!

The games compo was of a higher quality than ever, even from a smaller entry field. The Jaguar console was very well supported. I hope we do get a Falcon conversion of Superfly DX.

On a personal level, we were better organised and prepared for the trip, apart from one major omission at start of trip! Oh, and the issue with the Satnav not being psychiatrically screened for major personality disorders before we set off either!

Gasman was good company for the trip. We appreciate the fact that he did not scream and demand to be let out of the car at any time!

Eersel appears to be a classic established venue. We hope we can come back next year. The only duff note for Outline 2010 was struck with the weather being poorer than usual, but then again, the party has been earlier this year. One external issue which we all gratefully avoided, was the dreaded volcano ash from Mount Unpronounceable Bjork lyric in Iceland!

Outline 2010, good to the squeezed out last drop!

Alt Party 2009 – Man versus Machine versus rain!

December 28, 2009

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.


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!)


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.


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!


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..


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


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.


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.


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!


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.


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!


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.


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…


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.


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


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.)


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.


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.


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?


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 ūüėČ Sounds like the Euro Lines sleep deprivation overnight torture special to Hamburg back in 1996, but without the attempted sexual contact.


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.


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.


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.


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


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!


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.


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


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 РFrom 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
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
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))


"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.”


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.


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.

The beast and the bird under load

December 28, 2009

After picked up MugUK, Gaztee and Link in Cologne, around 12 o’clock we arrived at the well known Pub where the event took place like the years before.

This year right after you entered, you feel that there were a lot more people present then in the years before. Having 16/32 [1] filling up the hall with his stuff always let a event looks bigger, and because [2] (Jar Jar & Mr. Atari) were present once again on the other side, this year seems to be the biggest e-jagfest [3] since years.

the event

After some welcome to everybody I bought another Lynx with Checkered Flag from Jar Jar, to be sure that I have enough working machines for the competition later on. The prices for a Lynx are double the price of a Jaguar, interesting.

Soon in the UK “Currywurst”

Cause I knew from the years before the kitchen would close soon, I managed to get something to eat. The pub have the normal Schnitzel stuff on the menu, and I felt no hunger later on. My friends from the UK were on the “Currywurst” trip this year and were also satisfied they told me with the one the got in the pub. Later they were at the local supermarket and bought some ingredients to do their own Currywurst. Keep my fingers cross they get the proper sausages in the UK as well.

The mother of all racing battles

Now it was time to start the first competition: Checkered Flag on the Lynx [4]. The CF compo at the e-jagfest is one of the most traditional or maybe the most traditional ATARI gaming contest, and because the level of the participants is really high, it’s a great challenge to gain some fame in this competition. Because I failed last year in the half final. I was satisfied to reach the final once again. I even manage to win the qualification lap in the final, but in the race I crashed into Gaztee and next into on of the others, so in the end only the 4th place was possible. In the last round more or less nobody crashed, which shows the high level of the competition, because the course we always choose for the final is not easy. Even that Gaztee was very motivated this year, he once again managed to score 2nd (3 times in a row when he participated). Last year champion Mr. Atari used the chance and passed by 4 cars, and finally won the tournament once again. Chris was a fast driver and gain the 3rd place.

UBI Soft has been the main sponsor

This year BMX the organizer was able to get UBI Soft as the main sponsor of the competitions. And because UBI Soft gave us a lot of stuff, we were able to give prizes to all 6 players in the final. Many thanks to Ubi Soft for their support. Beside Limited boxes of “Anno 1701” and older versions of “Anno 1503” the best 3 players also won a cup. The competition took a long time and it was nearly 17’30 already.

New stuff

One reason for being a little bit late was as I said before, the large number of visitors this year. In the CF compo we had 24 participants, and the other reason were the presentations. But because the presentations are one of the most important events at the e-jagfest, it was ok, that it took so long.

Mathias Domin [5] once again showed the Impulse conversion for the Jaguar. The name now changed to Impulse X because of all the enhancements. I had the feeling, that there were not so many changes to the year before, but maybe I’m wrong.

Impluse X presentation

Simon Quernhorst [6] showed his latest Atari 2600 release kalled: Kite. It’s the first ever kite simulation on the 2600. Simon said, that he once worked for on of the largest kite shops in the world, and there he got the idea. The game really looked great. Like all his releases there is a limited number of cartridges and the game could be downloaded as well. Atariage could also do a cartridge, if the limited edition is sold out.

Kite presentation

Starcat [7] participates in a new project called “The Jaguar Owl Project”. It’s a engine for action adventures, and the 3D routines both for voxels and for textures looking very promising. While Mathias did his presentation in German, Starcat spoke English which was better for our guests from the Netherlands and the Uk. Starcat showed for the first time in public in the routines and graphics of the “inner world”, which means the stuff you see when you are inside a house for example. We keep our fingers crossed, that this project will lead to a release and continue to keep an eye on further alpha and beta releases.

Last but not least a member of the famous eclipse [8] team showed some first impressions of a upcoming Lynx game where you have to move tiles while the graphics are from the Iron Soldier universe. A ambitious project that will be a highlight when it’s finish I could imagine. Also some screenshots of never released Iron Soldier versions for the PS2 were shown. Once again it was shown, that there is activity in the atari games development scenes.

8 Players together play one game, that’s Atari spirit

Next I started the Grenz√ľberschreitungs competition [9]. This year my falcon looked really like put out of the trash, so some people were in fear, it would not work, but it did, and we managed to have a funny tournament. For the first time since we do competitions on the e-jagfest finally we had a female winner. Sarah managed to win and I scored 2nd (like last year, maybe the Gaztee syndrome) 3rd was Stefan who reached the final because of some lucky circumstances (Jar Jar and Mr. Atari had to get something to eat).Each player in the final also won some “Anno 1701 & Anno 1503” Stuff. UBI Soft gave us some Art books and some chili flowers (hope I will hear how they work) and some T-Shirts.

Grenz√ľberschreitung results

The infamous Club Drive appeared

Even that it was already after 8 o’clock there were still about 15 people present and we did a last tournament: Club Drive on the Jaguar [10]. We played the mode where you have to chase a ball. Because most of us were watching, it was like a popular sport game. We had some very close matches. Starcat for example was already 9-7 in the back when he manages to beat Link 10-9 and also in the final BMX managed to beat CDi even that CDi had a “match ball”. Great sport I could only repeat and the competition also proved once more, that Club Drive is much better than some people say. Finally CDi won the tournament, BMX scored 2nd and Starcat scored 3rd. It was the first Cup for Starcat so he was happy, like all the others who watch the games. As for the competitions before, UBI Soft sponsored some games and merchandise stuff for all the people in the finals.

The Club Drive competition

Doing some war at the end

Happy and satisfied it was too much harmony in the world, so after the tournaments we sat together and played Dogfight on a Mega STE. This is a nice PD game where you are a fighter pilot and have to shoot the opponent. The nice thing on the game is the possibility to play with 4 players if you have a parallel port joystick adapter. I will test this configuration as soon as possible. A good possibility to test the adapter I once got from GGN. Dogfight was coded by Steve Camber, the same guy who still do a amazing job in patching Kick Off 2 on the Amiga again and again. I met him at the Kick Off WC in Austria, and he was really happy to hear that we had fun with his game.

Then it was time to go and we packed our stuff together and said good bye.


1. 16/32 website
2. website
3. e-jagfest website
4. Results of the European Checkered Flag Championship
5. Matthias Domin’s website
6. Simon Quernhorst’s website
7. Starcat’s blog
8. Elipse Design website
9. Results of the European Grenz√ľberschreitung Championship
10. Results of the European Club Drive Championship

Xzentrix 2009 – party report

December 28, 2009

The Xzentrix party is a friendly multiplatform party with a focus on fun and using old machines. It is less demo oriented although demos can be seen ofcourse.

The party is held on a yearly base in Seeshaupt in Bavaria near Munich. Once it had a focus on Amstrad CPC and other Z80 machines but it is open to all platforms that are different from standard PCs. Actually this year there were more non-Z80 machines at the party than Z80 based ones.

ThorN / .tSCc. had suggested visiting the Xzentrix party to me in 2008. The party back then was so nice and different from other parties that I decided right away to visit the upcoming editions aswell.

This year the party run from September 11th to the 13th. The Friday I had a time off from work and did pack my gear and was in a good preparty mood. I took a train late in the afternoon to Ulm where ThorN and his Kick Off mate Frank were supposed to pick me up.

With only a slight glitch which directed ThorN into the local underground car-park at the main station, everything worked well. The car was pretty crowded as ThorN had plenty of gear himself and he already joked I might had to take a second Amiga monitor on my knees for the return trip.

We had quite some fun and decided to eat first. Along the motorway to Munich we gave Mc Donalds a go which turned out to be a good idea. Because we only arrived around 22:30 at Seeshaupt, there wasn’t any proper food to get anymore.

The party was already about 2/3 complete and we quickly occupied one of the free desks left. ThorN setup his Amiga 500 for the Bavarian Kick Off Tournament while I put my trusty STE together with my Satandisk into action. ThorN brought me a nice SC1224 monitor so I could spare myself the trouble to bring one myself. Soon we were playing with our machines, ThorN and Frank ofcourse headed straight into Kick Off 2 while I enjoyed Elite a bit.

Thorn and SSBs desk at Xzentrix 2009

Thorn and SSB's desk at Xzentrix 2009

Various people were already there. Shortly after us, CPC-Mike and Tolkin from the Amstrad CPC scene arrived. CPC-Mike took the desk right next to me which turned out to be a cool thing. Over the course of the party, I got good in touch with him although his Lower Bavarian dialect was hard to understand at times. We got along well and he showed me quite a few games on his CPC6128 and his 6128+. I never had played or worked with a CPC before so this was an interesting experience. I learned a bit about the CPC floppies and for the first time I saw a rather big lot of original 3inch floppy disks. CPC-Mike told me, they normally have a good rate of keeping data. However formatting them again after 20 years will only give a 50/50 success rate.

CPC-Mike and ??? playing on CPC

CPC-Mike and ??? playing on CPC

Ofcourse there were other systems around, including a C64 with an external CPU cartridge. In effect this used the original C64 only as an I/O module and it did run an impressive horizontal scrolling shooter game for two players.

Another C64 user had a YM emulator running on his C64 and we had a very nice chat about it. I introduced him to the SNDH format and into Atari ST bitplanes as he was interested about them. His software currently replays AY and YM files on the SID. However full SNDH support will be unlikely as it requires emulation of the Motorola 68000 aswell as the MFP. He was actually quite impressed by the YM music possible with Maxymiser and Musicmon 2.5.

Other interesting retro systems included both an AIM-65 and a KIM-1. However due to lack of time I didn’t really talk to its owner. Though both were nice to look at ‚Äď and as I had read some documents on them in the past, I could make atleast some sense out of these interesting singleboard computers.

As always on the Xzentrix there was some Acorn action. E.q. RISC OS 5 running on an embedded ARM board, a RISC PC and a BBC Micro which I saw for the first time live. I think it is a pretty ugly machine but it showed at least some interesting software, including a colorful porn slideshow from the early 80s and various arcade games.

A very special machine was also there, a Sharp X68000 which demonstrated games all the time. I never saw this machine before. I only heard about it. The computer is housed within a distinct black upright tower with vertical floppy slots. According to my knowledge the X68000 is pretty rare and was only sold in Japan for only a few years.

The party location itself was the Communal assembly hall in Seeshaupt. Only drawback was the lack of showers (that seems to be a standard party feature). Breakfast was plenty although rather simple in organisation. “Here are the rolls, there is jelly and Nutella. Serve yourself!” Sweets, drinks including good beer were for sale so there was no need to go shopping to the supermarket. The party pizza on Saturday was actually quite edible, it was both warm and tasted not as cardboard.

I slept quite well for those two nights. Being the second party only where I brought an air bed, it is definitly a good idea to bring one instead of just a skimpy isolating mat. My air bed didn’t loose air this time like it did at the Numerica 2009 in Montbeliard. Even the typical party noise didn’t make sleep much troublesome. I never assumed this to happen but this year at Xzentrix I had no problems with that. I assume it was mainly based upon the better bed.

As always on the Xzentrix party, there was a flea market again. I didn’t buy many items this year. Just a box of several Ocean titles for my STE and a Sega Megadrive pad with 6 buttons. The latter one did work ok in port 0 (mouse port) but not at all in port 1. Instead of modding it, I traded it for 2 other Sega pads at the time of this writing.

Very interesting stuffs at the flea market included a large collection of Laser disks and a Laser disk player. I never saw such before but it wasn’t hooked up so I could not see this technology in working order.

Another interesting item for sale was a Microprofessor Z80 singleboard computer. Sofar I only knew about this from early c’t magazien issues but I never saw one and I didn’t expect to see one.

Codewise the party was uninteresting. Except for me doing a few lines of code on a game project of mine, noone was really coding in large style. Xzentrix is fun oriented, and not for hurry-hurry-finish-that-demo coding. Actually half of the time, people were enjoying games on the different machines, from Amstrad CPC over C64 to Kick Off 2 on the Amiga for ThorN’s tournament, Xzentrix 2009 had a distinct gamer’s feast touch. I liked it this way because it adds a new feel to a party. It’s different to a demo oriented party like Outline but merely a class of its own. I enjoy both styles of parties afterall.

In the end, ThorN really bough that second Amiga monitor, a 1084 with no SCART input. But luckily I didn’t have to take it on my knees. Packing the car better than on the trip to the party, we had more space in the end than before.

After a crosscountry trip through the Bavarian countryside, ThorN dropped me off at Memmingen where I took a train back home to Lake Constance.

All in all, Xzentrix 2009 was a great party. I enjoyed it a lot and considering the low entrance fee of just 10‚ā¨, it is a good bet to visit. The flea market and the very friendly multisystem atmosphere give it a very cozy and enjoyable feeling.

Xzentrix 2010, I’ll definitly be there!


1. Xzentrix website

Sundown 2009 Party Report

December 28, 2009

Which keeps trying to write itself as Syndown 2009 for some bizarre finger interaction incompetence reason?

22:20hrs. – I-It’s the 11th September 2009, happy twin towers day to you!!

It’s the sort of realtime party report, in a sort of conjuring words from a darkened laptop keyboard sense, which might account for the various myriad misspellings and text malfunctions, multiple restartings etc that I’ve incurred even at this early stage. Anyway, we’re here, after an epic journey of, ooh, many hours across the broken and be-buggered patchwork of UK motorway network linking Budleigh Salterton and Devon with the rest of the planet. But more of that slightly later, as they say.

First impressions are favourable, of a mellow and peaceful place apart from various bigscreen happenings. The party hall, actually the town hall or community centre, is a gentle, suitably mood-lit¬† and spacious place, there is a hefty generosity of table space to spread out with Mr Dell. This time around I’m opting for a low-key presence, this being the first time at this particular party, so no Atarian gear, apart¬† from the emulated¬† versions contained within the laptop, of course. (It might have been a different story, had the soon-arriving ‘UltraSatan’ SD-card storage device had turned up before the party, in which case my STe would have made the trip down too, to take its rightful place in the retro-computer exotic storage device dick swinging contest with the Speccies and Commodorian silicon life-forms present there!)

This is how the interior of the party hall looked. It had a generally ‘pink’ feel to it, as if we were attending a demo party inside a giant’s mouth!

Drinkies have been served by Felice in extremely large plastic pint safety glasses, but no-one is complaining. The contents are what matters, after all. We’re consuming, ermm, tastes like red vino, what a pleasant surprise.

As the hall is in late night chill-down mode, I’ve not checked too closely on what else is in there. A BBC Master from the olden days of 8-bit mightiness has been set up nearby. It may have been stolen from an unsuspecting school’s stock cupboard? The cupboard which was sealed off as a time capsule from the 1980’s!


We’ve been up and around the hall and spoken to lots of people, especially Evil Paul for a long time. He was getting fed up with his blood level peaking over the booze level and was taking urgent steps to remedy this. I’ve spotted a table-full of Commodore hardware, Gasman’s Speccy, and a lone ST (Yaay!) running Neochrome master on it. This belongs to a visiting party from occasional Atari botherers ‘Torment’. There are a few EE-Peecees spotted too among the more normal hardware. In fact, I’ve got the most ‘corporate’ looking laptop in here due to sheer customizing laziness on my part. My Microsoft approved ‘XP-Bleu’ desktop sticks out like a semi-drunk besuited salary-man desperately trying to pull one of the demo group femmes attending the party, and falling flat miserably.

Saturday 12.9,09.

99L31 or 00:41 0′ Damn this semi-darkness! It kills typing!

We’ve been quietly studying ST emulation in its latest Hatari 1.3 guise for a while, including the rather nifty Falcon 030 emulation which is now included, This is now mostly good but still a bit broken in places, especially with the sound, Notable successes include the 2007 Outline invitro from Earx and co. Notable failures include the Avena/Digital Chaos Fried Bits 3 demo ‘Enrage’, which suffered as it could not settle on a screen mode so ended up showing none in the end. The other nice thing is that this laptop is not horribly underpowered for Falcy emulation, which is where my now aged Mini Mac G4 falls down at home.

At the end of the day, good old STEEM was still the best option to run through Checkpoint’s Suretrip 2 demo. Which I did. This is the first time of viewing since the Outline party. it still rules! Now wouldn’t it be nice if someone made a hard disk friendly version for my soon to be arriving UltraSatan?

I’ve not taken a lot of notice of the surrounding party over the last hour. Lots of people seem to be actually working on stuff although there is a high loud drink-assisted chat ratio too.

03.08 hrs

The shouty kitchen rules at parties! (I thought I was giving my tired throat a rest coming here!?)

This was posted on the DHS BBS just now by me, in a more tired than ’emotional’ state.

“Me and Felice are at Sundown. It is 03.00hrs. Typing in near darkness after too much mellowing out juice sucks.”

“You’ve no idea how many wrong attempts have actually preceded this final post ;-)”

“It’s a really nice party, I hope I can start to make more sense of it tomorrow in the cold light of day.”

Somehow I don’ t think this will be a long report? (Nonsense, it just needs a bit of finessing!)

10.15 – The real morning, none of that pretend stuff!

Gawd, we did drink a bit last night, did we not? There was a hint of hangover which was swiftly banished with the help of some effective breakfasting.

I’ve slept a thespian sleep, in a tangled forest of stage curtains, behind the stage. There is no set-aside sleeping area, just grab where you can. I managed to get a private alcove surrounded by these curtains which is probably the most intimate space available here. The good news is that the party noise activity had totally tailed off by the time my head hit the inflatable sack at 04.00hrs, so apart from the “usual” rhythmic sleeping noises, there were no disturbances as such. There is a party house rule which limits the volume at a very late hour, out of deference to the local population of Budleigh Salterton, many of whom have had to be carbon-dated to establish their age.

There is a not totally scurrilous rumour going around here that the massed gathering at Sundown 09 has pulled the average age profile in Budleigh down to the point where they need a bus pass, but they are not yet requiring help to get up and have a wee.

We have also breakfasted on our pre-purchased supplies in the surprisingly well-equipped kitchen. The selection, made by myself earlier yesterday, is intended to resemble the staple items of the Outline party style of breakfast. This happily includes a supply of constantly on tap hot hot beverage friendly water, and a microwave oven so strong, it is used in classified defence experiments, maybe? In addition to all of that, there is the sultry promise of a second breakfast of bacon rolls sometime in the next hour.

People are returning to life slowly, but the ambience is still more sleepy than anything, some people are outside eagerly grabbing the last traces of summer as it is a glorious day. I’ll join them in a bit.

# Journey Down! # – Time to say a few words about our travel travails.

Around 16,00hrs yesterday, Northampton, a world away – An automotively equipped Felice putters down our street with a car loaded with me, and stuff. We’re trying for the rather unique sensation of sampling the whole demo party experience without having to leave these shores. This has the advantage of cutting the overall journey time and leaving out the expensive ‘getting across the wet bit in the middle’ part. The downside is that the hours that we do travel included some tedious motorway episodes.

Felice utilised the TomTom in his head to route us close to a Friday rush-hour choked Birmingham. As subsequent radio traffic reports showed, this was actually the least worst option available, any alternate route had an accident and closures on it. The most enduring motorway-based ennui came when passing through Avonmouth/Bristol with a roadworks cunningly designed to make the worst of the situation. This was a tedious travellers tale that just about all the partygoers had in common. Unless some people managed a beach landing directly on the shingly sea front at Budleigh Salterton? Arrival, allowing for a couple of deliberate stops, the above-mentioned delays and a little searching around Budleigh Salterton itself from where the unspecific directions ran out, was around 21.30 hrs. We clearly  managed to avoid going too far as there was no loud splash at the end.

And that was the journey down. As the first notes from last night hinted, the party was already in a late night lockdown with a fair amount of alcoholic consuming going on, which we felt compelled to quickly join in with.


Confounding my expectation of no catering being provided in the party, we have just consumed the free bacon roll, cooked by the hand of rc55, the party organiser head person. We’ve also found Topy of Trabant owning fame who is also wearing an Outline 2009 T-shirt, the top garment of choice if you happened to have been to that memorable party. What are the chances of that happening? He asks. Rather good, I reply! An automotive conversation follows in the late morning sunshine, just outside the party hall. Apart from one or two nasty details, he thinks it would be possible to convert a Trabant to right hand (UK) drive. But you have to like hardware hacking to some degree to do it properly. (The most intractable part of this changeover would be relocating the gear shift, which is mounted on the dashboard on the left hand side and connected directly to the transmission which can’t be moved itself, which means that driving a right hand Trabi would then become a two person operation!)


I’ve been down the beach with mOd and friend. I managed to stay compliant with local by-laws and avoided dog-fouling. I also did not go any faster than 8 knots either. I guess not being shaped like a boat might have helped in the latter case. The beach is shingly with lots of pebbles underfoot, There was enough swooshy wave action for mOd to be caught unawares and fall whilst trying to run backwards away from an unexpectedly far travelling wave. We spent a lot of the time there trying to throw as many pebbles as possible back into the sea, which kept bringing them all back. We eventually tired of this canute-like endeavour and headed back into town. The rest of Budleigh high street is the (un)usual small town mix of the mundane and eye-poppingly weird. The latter category including a shop that reflects the twin obsessions of the owner, selling scale models of cars, buses and trains alongside born-again christian literature in the same shop window. Budleigh also has the distinction of hosting the most paranoid Chinese restaurant in Britain, but more of that later!

No further comment or elaboration needed, this was a real distraction from the party at hand.

It almost feels like a disincentive to force oneself to stop at the party with such a pristine piece of showmanship for late summer on the beach as a rival attraction? Note for next time, if the weather is going to be lovely in a mid-September fashion next year, maybe we try to get down here as early as possible and enjoy a day chilling out at the seaside whilst the rest of the party is still arriving and setting up.


We are eating the lunchtime stuffs which were purchased from a busy Co-op mini-mart place in town. There is a timetable which kicks off at 15.00 and looks pretty busy thereafter.. I guess we’ll duck out from one of the music compo’s for the evening meal.

One of the party orga’s is an Orb fan, judging by the choice of music from the main speakers.


The preceding hour has been filled with silliness, faux-quizzes, bad musical impersonations and total randomness, including forced eating of chilli-sauce flavoured pringles, in the ritual known as Meaty’s quiz. Fortunately, none of this demands much audience participation apart from ironic applause and sarcastic remarks. All of the above works really well, in a way which is hard to explain if you are not already there. Me bombarding an uncomprehending readership with in-jokes rarely works, so I won’t on this occasion. There will be some real competitions later on. This is also the point at which you realise that you did not sleep nearly enough last night.

So went off for a bit to sort that out. Clunk, ZzzZZ! (Well more of a doze really.)

17:05 and back with caffeine, and awaiting the first (graphics) competitions. Which will not be until around Ho hum.

17.35 – Wine opened, Felice brought in fresh supplies, hurrah to him! So tonight’s slow spiral of decline starts here….

18.25 – Still no competition but we have spoken to Alex Holland, keeper of the Thalion Shrine who turned out without much pre-warning, which was nice. He was interested to see we were running emulated Atari’s but was here with a mini-mig Amiga thing, so he was thusly embracing the dark side today!


My fingers are sticky with the residue of Chinese food and my mind is gummed with the comprehension of STILL NO COMPETITIONS! – Have they brought in last year’s Alt Party team to run the compo’s or what?!

We went out for our evening meal to an interesting local Chinese takeaway. We had heard reports in-party from various people that it was a place with an agenda going beyond the mere serving of food. Our walking tour soon located these premises and we headed in. The food ordering was normal enough. What was very strange were the numerous pasted submissions, collages, comments, notices and handwritten pleas to be delivered from the forces of evil, whether they be the Illuminati, the antichrist, or the income tax office and bankruptcy courts. There were clearly “issues” going on here, and the owners of the restaurant either had a lot of problems, or a massive persecution complex. Still, I took a picture of ‘Peace Chicken’ when it was quiet and no-one looking. I guess he’ll come to the rescue?

Unfortunately, I ordered him to be served enclosed within batter balls and with a sweet and sour sauce, so that won’t happen then!


So what’s a legal wrong then?

Felice has over-ordered, managing to add special fried rice to the order as a ‘meal within a meal’ before he realised what he had done, so after eating my own substantial meal, I’ve been lending a hand, or fork with his. (Buuurp!)

Sunday – 00.13

Some considerable time after the last log entry.

We’ve had some nightmare live competition moments, where the organisers opted to do everything on the spur of the moment, and seemed to be constantly surprised by the many potholes of error and confusion that they fell down on the way. The music competitions suffered particularly, with one entry seeming to wreck swathes of equipment. There were a lot of agonised pauses by the time we got the oldschool demos underway. To make up for that, there were a decent number of entries, including a reasonable life-sign intro from Torment on the ST, and a couple of smashers on some decently obscure platforms, namely a full on megademo on the BBC Master mentioned earlier in the text. This was running entirely in mode 7 ‘teletext’ graphics, which is great for memory conservation and not a lot else. There was a lot of videoclip or effects, so some kind of video streaming or intensive data packing took place here?

Barely a step behind was a pretty nifty ZX81 (16k) demo from Noice which even included a hi-res fullscreen effect using some dirty hack which would set Sir Clive Sinclair’s beard on fire, A ZX Speccy demo from Ate Bit was notable for using the tape loading process to deliver parts of a demo on the way to loading its end product. Not to mention the 1 kilobyte music demo on the Speccy which was also an audience favourite.

There is a little matter of some newschool stuff to come shortly, whatever¬† that¬† might mean?! I’ll whinge about competition running later!


A shortish newschool competition concludes proceedings. Some good intros, some less convincing demos and only a handful of the latter. A party of the hardened partygoers have apparently made good their promise to go down to the stumbly uneven beach, in the dark. Several people with shovels have been sent after to dig a mass grave for them.

I’ll close down here for tonight, finish up in the morning.


Well a party of the hardened partygoers went down the beach and I took myself along with a follow-up team to join in. There were about twenty or thirty Sundowners who were reveling in the flickering light of a bonfire made from driftwood and random burny stuff. I declined the ankle-breaking opportunities inherent in the beach’s shinglescape and made it intact with the illuminating assistance of an LED pen-torch. Most other lighting was with the background of countless glowsticks, including some intrepid people who started to melt these in the fire and ‘paint’ random pebbles with their luminous droplets.

There was one serious and several silly attempts at slow capture photography and light graffiti with said glowsticks. It was a clear night, the moon was out and the stars were clearly visible overhead. In short, the perfect ending to the party. I decided to call it a night and shuffled back through a completely deserted town centre and back to the partyplace for bed shortly before 03.00 which is when the timer clock on my bladder would have expired.


The real party is on the beach!

So now we’re on the second morning after, no hangover symptoms. The drinking did not get going for me in the same way as the previous night which may not have been a bad thing, and it’s time to round up this party report.

Sundown, the summing up…

The party considered – Sundown fits nicely into my mental map for pleasant experiences with the smaller to medium sized parties I’ve been to before. It is about the size of one of the earlier editions of Outline. Maybe less than a hundred people, but not that far off. The atmosphere is intentionally relaxed and laid back, a number of factors to be discussed shortly contribute to this feeling.

The location – (Hall) Budleigh Salterton Town Hall makes a rather good location for a party of this scale. It manages to be roomy and accommodate everyone without feeling squashed. The table space (two people per table) was generous, especially on a first visit with a minimal hardware presence (laptops only.) The partygoer does not feel cramped or crammed in. The hall is not completely ideal, it does have some superior facilities, such as a very good kitchen, which allows plenty of space and equipment for food preparation and consumption. On the other hand, there is no proper bathroom, as in showers, so perhaps two to three days is the longest a party can be sustained here? Sleeping arrangements tend to fall towards the ad-hoc, but there is plenty of spare space where you can remove yourself from the party hall. The other helpful aspect is there is a policy of keeping things quiet later on, partly out of consideration for the local elderlies, but also with a growing realisation that the majority of people attending Sundown are now after their first flush of wild and drunken youth.

The location – (Budleigh Salterton) – A seaside town, when September chooses to smile on you is a serious distraction from the business of partying, especially in Devon, in an area of outstanding natural beauty. I managed to get some beach time, which was described earlier in the report, not to mention the “real party is outside” themed episode late last night. Budleigh is an endearingly strange place, the average citizen is of a rather senior age. However, letting this party happen at all is a big plus in their favour. I learned at some point that this hall is used for Gaming LAN parties, so the idea of loads of youngish people with computers taking up residence in their community hall is not so alien as it might first appear to the overage Budleigh Saltertonians. Usefully, the LAN party is acting as a gateway drug for the demo party to take place!

Competitions – Is it me, or are competition organizers in general regressing, going senile and losing life skills as I get older? I remember going to the Error in Line parties back in 1999 to 2003 which generally ran smoothly in this area. They pre-recorded entries and these got shown more or less at the appointed times without any, lets say, unexpected delays or hold-ups in the actual entry showing process. This seems to be the gold standard benchmark to judge the rest by. Most other parties that I’ve since been to, including the rather expanded Alt Party last year seem to have taken a balls-out high risk live showing policy, which then goes horribly wrong. Sundown ’09 adds another chapter to this. It’s getting to the point where I’m getting nervous about sitting out a competition showing, as these appear to consist of a string of errors and embarrassments without a tangible end in sight? However, to make up for this, the entries were of high quality, particularly a well stocked oldschool demo competition.

People – I’ve got a small confession to make, I’m piss-poor at putting names to faces until I’ve got to know the people in question a bit more. I’ve spoken to a lot of friendly people without really remembering who they are. One or two of them were female and rather appealing in an uber geek chick kind of way. I had a nice chat with MegMeg, the¬† female half of the Beeb-bothering crew Neurotypical. rc55 was a fine host, even if he did sound like the head steward on a holiday airways flight camply apologizing for said flight encountering turbulence on a flight to Spain, especially when the competitions weren’t going to plan. It was nice to remeet an old Outline face, Topy, keeper of the Trabi, but he had left it wisely at home, figuring that it might be euthanised by an overkeen ‘Elf and safety” inspector over here, whose prime mission is to condemn and destroy that which does not conform to their narrow world view. We got talking to Gasman a lot of the time, another face from past parties elsewhere. There was a long and lubricated chat with EvilPaul.

We had a lot of chatting with Steve, aka Stavros, aka ‘Stav’ who we had a fair bit in common with. Rather late in the day we got talking to Spiny of Torment. We managed to bump into Alex Holland, who remembered us from the very memorable STNICCC 2000 party in Karsmakers-land.

Of almost no interest to anyone, the journey back was a weary reverse-run of the journey over, without the darkness, more hold-ups around Bristol but fewer delays around Birmingham. Which just about concludes this part of the report.

So the crucial question the end of this report has been waiting for. Is this a party which has that all-important “must come back factor”? Hell yes it does!

CiH, for Low Res Mag, Sept/Oct 2009.


August 30, 2009

Jagware release “Do the Same” for the Atari Jaguar

You could download the game [1] as an CD image. I played the game at the Atari Connexion in France this year. The aim of the game is to move tiles to get a picture presented before the level starts. The problem of course is the time you got to solve the problem. The game is very well presented. It has an intuitive menu system and a motivating game play. Even that you think you know these kinds of games, you always want one more.

Retro Calendar

Hessi, one of the organizer of the HomeCon and the web master of the event also created a Google calendar [2]. It is possible to get rights to add retro orientated events to this calendar. So everybody who wants to do so, please give me a mail, or contact Hessi. So far beside the events from the Forum64 forum, there are Kick Off tournaments in Germany and Atari parties. A good start I think.

Hatari version 1.3.0 has been released

This new release [3] brings you now basically working DSP 56k emulation, lots of ST shifter emulation improvements, an improved debugger and many other nice features and bug fixes.


  1. Do the Same
  2. Retro Calendar
  3. Hatari

Upcoming parties

August 30, 2009

Some dates and infos about upcoming parties

JagFest UK [1]

This years event will be running from the 18th – 20th of September at the Chiltern hotel in Luton, England.

Features & Exclusives for JFUK ‘ 09:

* Exclusive 1st showing of Donkey Kong for the Atari Jaguar.
* 16/32 Systems will be in attendance if you need to pick up that piece of hardware or software you really want.
* Demo of the latest build of Atari Owls Jaguar game.
* Demo of prototype Playstation controller to Atari Jaguar interface
* Famous Worms tournament on the Atari Jaguar

e-jagfest [2]

This year the e-jagfest will take place in November it looks like. Again there will be the traditional Checkered Flag Championship and another Jaguar Championship. Also there will be the chance to play many of the new games released in the last time. The location will be once again in Kaarst / Germany.

OFAM [3]

At the 4th of September the OFAM – “Ober-Fraenkisches ATARI Meeting” will take place. The event will be in Muenchberg / Germany. Various ATARI systems will be present. And people are friendly even if you come without a Atari.

Xzentrix [4]

This multi platform party is already cult. It will take place at the 11th of September. Relax at the lake of Starnberg and enjoy talking with a lot of crazy people about their crazy machines. This time the 3rd Bavarian Kick Off Open will take place. Also a small flee market will take place.


  1. JagFestUK
  2. e-jagfest
  3. Ober-Fränkisches Atari Meeting
  4. Xzentrix