Still Running?

By Christian Weber

Originally published in EUG #50

Phew! After seeing your email address on The BBC Lives web site, what can I say apart from "EUG is still running?!" I used to be a regular contributor to the hallowed paper-based magazines (and some of the early disk ones) and it was only because the issues suddenly stopped arriving - and my further articles and letters were ignored - that I became convinced it must have closed down a long time ago.

To reintroduce myself, my name is Christian Weber and because I used to enjoy both hacking into and completing games, I submitted articles to Will Watts for a column entitled "Elk Entertainment". Although I haven't touched my Elk for ooooh years now, on seeing your advertisement, my interest in all things Electron has suddenly returned. After all, without my Electron, I wouldn't be where I am today - programming computers for a living, curse it! - and I did secretly miss the EUG magazine every few months. It did seem though that the editors had to do everything apart from send the boys 'round to get each issue produced!

And now EUG is monthly? Well, well. Regular consistency. One of the things that used to annoy me in the early days was when an issue was held back until a couple more articles had been submitted. Just how many members does EUG have now? Not that it really matters but Will would never tell me and I got the feeling that there were far less readers every issue shortly after it transferred to disk.

Now the very important question. Do you make up subscription disks as .IMG files for use on one of the BBC emulators? I realise this could be a pain but I'm sure there are many people like myself whose Electrons are boxed away in an attic far away but are fans of emulation. I'd happily pay twelve quid a year to have the disk emailed as an .IMG or .SSD format, but I'm not too sure about receiving it on floppy. Let's just say that it would be incredibly awkward and I'd probably never look at the disks!

Realistically, doing this would be far cheaper for EUG as a whole too. You'd only have to send one binary attachment on an email to a number of people and the actual splitting of the message to the readers would be done at the server. So you wouldn't have to worry about uploading huge amounts of data each month.

Ultimately, you could even put the new EUG on the 'net. Have it in a protected area on a web site so members can download code as an emulator format but have the text as HTML. Now that'd be neat!

The reason this appeals to me is that I've been to a variety of sites on the 'net run by people writing games for the Spectrum 128k (i.e. Dune 2) to be run via emulators. For many, the Spectrum is far from dead - it's living strong via emulation. Realistically I see this as being the way forward for the Elk too. Eventually the original hardware will die, although perhaps not for years given the build quality of earlier Electrons. But what'll happen when you can't buy 5.25" disks and single sided 3.5" ones? In fact, do they still make 5.25" disks?

I've been toying with writing an article about BBC/Elk emulation for a couple of years but was unsure if somebody else had beaten me to it. I was incredibly excited to learn one of MAME's authors had made a start but his web page hasn't been updated for a few months now.

Please fill me in on what's been happening with EUG over the past six years. Where do you feel it's going? What's a typical issue's worth of articles? What's your Mission Statement for EUG? Why? Well, I'm seriously considering writing articles for the mag again. Maybe on a broader topic like BBC/Elk emulation or maybe just articles here and there. I still own a huge amount of cheat information/maps for the Electron that I inherited when Impact Software became the 4th Dimension. I just asked them nicely if I could have any sheets they had lying around for free and they not only said yes but said I could publish them whereever I wanted with no problem. I considered creating a web site for all of them but I already run two and a third seemed a little overambitous. Perhaps in the future I could resurrect "Elk Entertainment" in a cheat-sheet way and just omit all the moans about there being no Elk releases any more.

Finally, just a pointer. Think about asking all the readers why and when they bought their Electron or BBC computer and what difference it made to their lives, if any. And make sure you nurture the good, reliable writers (Hope you're listening, Mr Donnachaidh!) or you'll lose them. Is that complete genius Richard Dimond still part of EUG, eh?

Christian Weber
The Alien Saga Movie Page _
The Official K-Nitrate Website _

The "Elk Entertainment" section, to which Christian refers, disappeared from the EUG magazine in EUG #16, and originally contained walkthroughs and cheat modes for some of the most popular games. Although some more did appear between then and EUG #45 - when the adventure solutions and game review sections began to appear - professional releases were very much left alone, due in part to the policy of EUG not restricting itself to being about computers alone. It is most welcome to make its comeback although it will result in some disk shuffling to prevent some solutions being under one menu and others under its bracket.

There are currently just over 100 readers of the EUG magazine and, with complimentary disks enclosed with software, book and magazine orders, each issue is read by approximately 110 people! As yet, there are no plans to emulate the disks for use on a PC. When Bryan McPhail's PC emulator is completed, the situation may change.

The only 5.25" disks available locally are HD disks but EUG has sufficient stocks to see us well into 2002. 3.5" MD disks are still widely available. The Mission Statement of EUG is simply to cater for the BBC machines and impress readers whenever it can do so for as long as it can do so. Members keep resubscribing so it must be doing something right.

As usual, all articles will be well received - whether they're yours or along the lines Christian described.

Dave E, EUG #50