Leaving The Fold

By Chris Chadwick

Originally published in EUG #39

I've been humming and hawing these last few weeks whether I should renew my EUG subscription. It's not that I don't like the machines. I do. After a hard day at the computer interface being thrown, and picking up, a lot of unwelcome to very unwelcome problems, it is very nice to play with a good old Acorn 8 bit that will bundle along with few, if any, worries.

I mention this because in my last received EUG (EUG #36), you set the question which boiled down to "quick and dirty or slow and good"? The only possible answer has to be slow and good (tested). I probably have the skill to crack the problems that occur, but I really don't have the motivation. It's the Microsoft secret really; it works well enough, enough of the time. So, if my EUG disk presents programs that don't work, I rarely investigate. Thus much hard work sits unenjoyed. Please start testing it!

However, my decision was forced for me the other week. The room presently used as the 'IT Suite' here at Chadder Mansions is to be re-designed 'Nursery' over the coming months, so my room of Acorn junk and other stuff is to be relocated to the attic, leaving me with only an unfriendly PC.

Can I suggest a quarterly publication rate? Set about compiling the next issue. When you've completed the contents, begin compiling next plus one while testing the issue just compiled. Perhaps you could send out a copy for review to a trusted member? When the next issue is published, you can begin compiling next plus two and testing next plus one and so on. Once this gets going, I think you'll have a better magazine and it's no so rigid that you can't slip in a late breaking item.

And talking of late breaking items: Computer control by brainwave is now a reality. This is not a joke or wind up. Someone in the states has devised a game for the Mac where play is controlled by brain waves collected by sensors attached to the head. The review I saw said it didn't work too well first time, but what's wrong with a little practice? This device, and others like it, is in the US equivalent of PC World (Or Mac World) now. It is real and it is happening. Something else in the same article went on about "teleporting" (as in "Beam me up, Scotty") data. I always thought teleporting data was called radio, so I've missed something there. The article was of the opinion that physical teleportation was not far over the horizon. I stress this is genuine.

Anyway, because this will be my final contribution and I will no longer be able to follow the mag, I thought I'd bring you up to date on a couple of things I've written about before.

Mondex. The cash on a card card. The end is nigh, July 31 in fact. They continued trying to flog this around Swindon, and it continued to have a smaller than anticipated take-up and use. The problem boils down to its non-universality. I'd love to use Mondex but haven't for months or years because it just isn't on my flight paths. Swindon has a very high commuter population, both in to and out from the town. This must surely have an effect upon take-up. Why didn't they choose, say, Sterling?

Year 2000. Be worried. There's a great deal of hype around and some of it is frighteningly obvious. Equally frightening is the amount of recent software which only now the manufacturers are guardedly admitting may not be wholly year 2000-compliant. WINDOWS 95, for example. Not all versions are fully compliant but Microsoft are very cagey about what exactly is wrong. These are the things that will cause problems. That, and the cowboy programmer trainers who will surface in the next few months/weeks to badly train would-be Y2K bug fixers - bad training means mistakes and that means problems for all of us. I think the embedded code scare is being exaggerated, but there certainly will be problems. More worrying is the robber gangs waiting for mass disruption and who will be the greatest bane in new year 2000.

I respectfully suggest you don't leave the country for new year 2000. Try not to leave town actually. Get in a supply of tinned food you can eat cold (beans, fish) and a big bag of potatoes. Dried might be an idea too, along with large water containers in case service is restricted. Get a supply of cash at home. (If the banks aren't working, you will be able to drive really hard bargains with folding money!) Not too much though and start picking it up from about September 1999. Fix any draughts or leaks in your flat or house in case the power is disrupted. I don't wish to be alarmist about year 2000 but I think you would be very sensible to take a prudently cautious attitude.

The Beatles. I speak only to true fans of the music. There are a pair of albums, with a third on the way, called Exotic Beatles. It takes as its premise "What if all the fab hums that were invented by the fab four had been distributed around the world"? What would 'She Loves You' have sounded like if recorded by a Spanish Gypsy guitarist? Or 'Things We Said Today' by a Brazilian punk band? Or if 'I Wanna Be Your Man' was actually a piece of erotic love poetry? Perhaps 'When I'm 64' by a Police choir? This album gathers those recordings. Some are unintentionally funny but in each case the performer is treating the song as his own and consequently some are better than the original. Yes, really. If you love the music of the Beatles, buy this album.

Is this what you call "buy bye"?

Chris Chadwick

I'm not too sure what you mean when you say I offered the choice between 'quick and dirty or slow and good'. I try always to make EUG as good as possible. Mistakes which do occur happen because of the endless complications associated with publishing a magazine of this kind. In a nutshell, after looking at everything over and over again, it becomes increasingly easy to miss the odd mistake. EUG #36 caused a problem for some Elk users because I left in a REM statement at the end of the new menu. The new menu was started to reduce mistakes caused by producing repeated menus of every directory and to reduce file count on DFS and so it goes on.

I shall miss your anecdotes. But congratulations on the mini Chadders. I only wish there could be a mini Gus but sadly this is not to be. Reading your prophecies of doom for year 2000 I am beginning to feel a bit like the 'multitudes who taunted of Noah'.

I must confess that I have lately given some serious consideration to buying one of those Pentium II computers which are being hawked by just about everyone at the moment. I really am more interested in getting onto the Internet. I've seen some which will do this for about £500 but where do I stop?

Best of luck for the future especially baby Chadwick. Keep in touch if you can.

Gus Donnachaidh, EUG #39