Banging The Table

By Dave E & Gus Donnachaidh

Originally published in EUG #36

Although I bother little with the Electron besides the disks of the User Group, I have reacted to the three latest issues with exasperation for a number of reasons. EUG #35 was no exception - uncorrectable disk errors, bugs and crashes abound. (In fact, I'm returning it for a replacement!) Dominic Ford has evidently strived for ages to bring us a brand new arcade game - Shipwrecked 2 - and you reward him by wrongly referring to it, and its predecessor, as "ShipWreaked" and recording it on a disk that doesn't work!

But even this pales in comparison to EUG #34 which came up from hell itself. Not one of the 'Silly Games' included worked on the Electron!

Now I realise it must take a lot of time to put two different formats of disk together but when the disk arrives on my mat nowadays, the 'bothersome' factor of correcting all the menu options that look for non-existent files usually results in me throwing the disk into a box without even changing them. Nor would it seem that when people point out the errors, you rectify the master disks! So if a reader buys back issues (as I did, EUG #15 to #30), they come complete with errors you know about but simply don't bother to put right!

When I received EUG #29 six months ago, I returned it for a replacement because it didn't work. None came so, a few months ago, I submitted an advertisement, a Father Ted Demo for EUG #34 and a covering letter reminding you of its conspicuous absence. The next issue not only didn't contain either ad or demo but not even a reply! Did you even read it?!

I'm not growling "Where are my screens?" (although I certainly wonder where EUG #29 is!) but an acknowledgement of their receipt somewhere in your editorial - even if only to the effect of "Dave Edwards sent in some screens but they're crap" - would ease my mind somewhat.

At this stage, it seems that there is only a small body of contributors writing letters and creating products for EUG readers so I don't expect EUG to be as dazzling as a commercial magazine. But the balance is no longer what it was - I'm a games' freak and nobody took the place Christian Weber vacated a long time ago. The Mailbag section usually relates to technological information I don't understand. The standardised menu system may do its job (if you program it correctly!) but it's horrible. Hasn't anyone else thought about printing out instruction files then cost the money in ribbon and printer compatibility and decided not to bother?

Of course, the cherry on the cake has to be executing the !BOOT file on a disk and getting the "Not found" error (EUG #34)!

I suppose it would be nice if I could outline some solution(s) to everything above but obviously I can't. As long as everybody has a different machine, problems will occur. As long as submissions for the latest issue are on the disk but not the menu, some readers will miss them. As long as I request a file that doesn't exist, as long as the loading screen flickers as the Menu is retrieved, as long as the screen clears to load in a file and the cursor flashes annoyingly in the top corner, there will be problems to overcome.

I see and hate them but it truly would be a massive project to work through all the disk issues of EUG and correct all these niggly things in them and, when many of my disks don't seem to work any more, it is something I don't have the time for. As I'm a student and can't take my Elk with me to Uni, I just have time to mail this and then disappear until July '98. By which time, I guess three more bug-ridden issues of EUG will await me.

Couldn't one reader with a different set-up preview a disk before they were all despatched? Is it too much trouble to ask that a menu not be spaced unequally? Can't someone work back through the back issues and correct them and then send the corrected ones back to Gus? Or can anyone offer some alternative suggestions to improve the general 'image' of the magazine?

I've moaned implicitly, but this is meant to be a serious letter and I hope those reading it have agreed with some of my points as opposed to hated me for having a go at their beloved EUG. While I'm away, can't everyone else join together and think more of what they can do for EUG, especially those who only read the finished mag? And, please Mr Editor, don't just forget/file away this letter, never to be seen by the subscribers!

Dave Edwards

I would like to give you an excuse for the errors that would leave you with a feeling of satisfaction and the impression that I am a nice guy after all but sadly I can't.

As far as faults with the disks themselves, you seem to have been unlucky. Doubly so as lately I've been overbusy with my working life and haven't devoted much time to EUG. And I forget things.

I'm not really sure why Shipwreaked didn't load. Try CHAINing it. As for the Silly Games, not sure. All worked OK on my Elk.

Ages ago, I tried to compile a catalogue of all back EUGs with known 'bugs'. If I had more time, I'd finish it but I didn't get very far and I'm sorry but I haven't got back to it yet.

There does tend to be a small number of contributors at any one time. Christian Weber did produce some excellent work but he cannot be expected to continually churn out programming. That bloke who wrote Sunday did some excellent work though.

EUG's nature is that it's a little chaotic, unpredictable and varied. Some EUGs are more interesting to some than others. EUG will never try to emulate the 'polish' of commercial magazines because it isn't one. I have managed to organise it financially so that it can continue to function with lots of members or very few. It currently has a little less than a lot but a lot more than a few so it's very flexible in the way it is produced. Regular features, while they may be nice, are unnecessary. Format and size can be dictated by what's available, not what's value for money.

Perhaps you could alter your expectations a little? See EUG as a window into what Acorn users are doing, not a source of software.

Provided submissions are not illegal or deliberately offensive, they all go in. I've held over your Father Ted Demo but it will appear.

Finally, you sent a note with your disk saying you hoped I wasn't too miffed at what you'd written. I have very thick skin and am rarely miffed, especially at criticism. Another reader sent a similar letter to me some time ago and I laid into him with what I thought was the same strength he used, enjoying every minute of it. Sadly, I haven't heard from him since. Hope he didn't take anything I said personally.

Gus Donnachaidh, EUG #36