8-Bit Software Online Conversion

From K6X Paul (chimpanzee) Clucas It Happened One Weekend ----------------------- As the one who is the most eloquent ( according to Chris ), I have been volunteered ( by Chris ) to write a load of woffle about our 1996 ( Not The ) Acorn User Show. 'Twas in a small town called Shef-field in a part of England apparently called York-shear. Being from South of Watford, I have heard of these places of course but never before felt the need to visit. Suffice to say they do in fact exist, and contrary to what you might think, there was neither cloth cap nor whippet spotted the entire weekend. I did not arrive until about 6.30pm on Friday, after spending over 7 hours at the mercy of National Express ( now there's a mis-named company if ever there was one! ), to find the following people sprawled around contentedly digesting their recently-finished meal:-Jonathan Harston, Neil Parry, Andrew Nelson, Stephan Richardson, and the Head Pool Keeper himself, Chris Richardson. Having spent nearly nine hours travelling, my first priority was to feed my face, so Chris escorted me post-haste to the local chippy ( which did good trade from us over the weekend ) and bought me probably the best dollop of cod and chips I tasted that day. You would not beleeve the hills around Sheffield. Good brakes and non-slip shoes are essentials around Jonathan's house, and probably a set of crampons come winter-time! To give some idea of the steepness; standing in Jonathan's back garden, the gutter of the house backing onto his is BELOW eye level! Going down to the chippy was easy, but the climb back up....WHEW! Having got back I settled into a chair, and whilst feeding my face took stock of what was going on. There were four machines set up, being hammered merrily away at by various folk, with Andrew and Jonathan poring over a printout working out how to crack some encryption software. Stephan soon decided it was time to go and started packing away his gear and putting it out in the car. Once he had done this, the place looked quite bare, so the other machines got spread out a bit to take up the space. The rest of the evening was spent trying to make some room in Jonathan's fridge by the simple ( and enjoyable ) expedient of downing some tinnies! Chris wandered off during the evening, and reappeared a few minutes later with a small Tupperware container. I assumed that Gill had packed him up some cheese sarnies or something, but no, inside was a perfectly fresh ( they are good those Tupperware boxes ) sound sampler gizmo. This was duly connected up to a machine, Neil produced a radio/cassette which produced barely acceptable music ( I use the term loosely ), and strategic bits were sampled. These, along with various other vocals from the rest of us, were then cobbled together into a short piece of TOTALLY unacceptable music ( once again I use the term loosely ) which got played so often over the weekend that I never want to hear an Australian folksong again! Thus Friday ended, and we retired to our cots to get some zeds in preparation for the expected invasion of members the next day. Saturday dawned bright, very bright in my case cos my bedroom faced East, and I made everyone a cuppa as they staggered blearily downstairs! ( Incidentally, if you ever have Chris to stay overnight, he has 43 little grains of decaff coffee in his first cup of the day, and 97 at all other times, no milk or sugar at any time! ) The weekend DOES get a bit more interestin later on, so don't give up yet. We all settled down to a yatter and a play, sorry, comparative assessment of various pieces of software. I do not remember the order in which they all arrived or left, but during the day we were visited by:- Mike Fearon, Mick Needham, Frank Jones, Mick Reeve, and Lorna Jenne. It seemed that every time you turned round, Chris was shoving his camera in someone's face and taking photos like some papparazzi with shares in Kodak. In fact I think he has now scanned them all onto a couple of discs if you want to see them. Jon Ripley phoned to say that he wouldn't be coming after all, as his arm had come a poor second in an argument with a piece of glass ( Chris even took a photo of Jonathan on the phone speaking to him, to have a record of the fact that he was almost there ), we all waved at Jon, but I don't think he waved back! Chris produced yet another toy for us all to play with, this time a video digitiser. Jonathan spent a half-hour or so running a piece of co-ax around everybody and soldering some connectors onto it so we could connect the TV in the front room to the Master in the back room. Sadly, another half-hour spent trying to get a decent sample showed that Jonathan's half- hour had been wasted, and the Master was moved into the front room where it worked much better, grabbing frames from various broadcasts. That evening we patronised the chippy again. This time I had pie and chips and, being up North, some mushy peas. This was the first time I had tried this particular delicacy, and I must say I was impressed. The idea for this dish ( well, small styrofoam pot actually ) was obviously plagiarised by the Northern folk from the pie 'n' eel shops of my own city's East End, but it was a fair imitation. More fridge-emptying then ensued, during which time some software was written for the digitiser, and it was used to grab some frames from the big film of the evening, the name of which I have forgotten! Neil and Andrew and I stayed up after Jonathan and Chris retired, and we spent all night, or so it seemed, discussing just how secure a file server and associated hard-drive could be. This may seem to have been a rather strange thing to spend so long discussing, but apart from the fun I had winding Andrew up about his beloved file server, it did serve a useful purpose, as I will explain later. Dawn broke to see us still at it, and Jonathan's fridge emptier. The others arose later, having missed another wonderful sunrise. All but me seemed to have left their "Advanced Kettle User Guide" at home, and as Jonathan hadn't finished writing his version of it yet, once again it fell to me to try to fathom out the operating system of that most difficult-to- master piece of hardware. Suffice to say that sundry teabags and 43 grains were duly hydrated, and we were off on another day. Mick Needham 'phoned during the morning offering a lift to anyone who might fancy going to a boot fair. All except Andrew said yes please, and Mick picked us up just after midday. Unfortunately by the time we got there the boot fair was all but gone. We had a quick walk across the field and around both the remaining stalls, found nothing of interest and went back to the car. We went past a bowling green between the car park and the field, and I thought it looked a bit strange on the way to the field, so I had a closer look on the way back to see what was wrong with it. The grass was nice and short and smooth, if a bit yellow, but slap in the middle of the green was a huge bump! Our greens down South are like billiard tables, so I was shocked to see this one in such a poor state. I am amazed the club allow the groundsman to get away with such poor workmanship. Even if the home side have managed to get used to playing on such an undulating surface, it must make playing the game horrendously difficult for visiting teams, and I am surprised the local League haven't done something about this less-than-subtle piece of gamesmanship. We got back to Jonathan's, more software was written, copied, and discussed, taking us to nosh-time. Chris and Neil and I walked down to the chippy, but being Sunday it was shut. We therefore set off towards the Chinese take-away at the other end of the main drag, but this was not yet open. Totally drained by the day's exertions in such terrific heat, and unable to manage the climb back up to Jonathan's, we established base camp in a local hostelry, re-hydrating ourselves with some falling-down-water whilst letting Neil win most of the pool games. We just about managed to restore our fluid levels before the take- away opened, and thus refreshed, quite easily managed the walk there and thence back up the North Face to Jonathan's. Some very good food was then swapped and shared around. We then somehow got onto the ( contentious as it turned out ) topic of which animal is the most accurate timekeeper. I put forward the chimpanzee, but despite having letting him win at pool, Neil got extremely argumentative in favour of the elephant. In the end, Chris stepped in and refereed several one-minute rounds. Although I was consistently more accurate, Neil would not concede defeat and accused me of cheating. Everyone else then had a go at judging one minute of elapsed time ( no, sorry, it wasn't a fight ) and my method ( one-chimpanzee, two -chimpanzee, etc ) proved the most accurate. Neil sulked off into another room, threatening to open the argument up to the membership in an attempt to prove me wrong. In an attempt to restore harmony, Chris produced yet another of his goodies, this time a miniature video camera. It proved difficult to grab a good still from it, but Andrew wanted one of himself and went through all sorts of contortions to be the star of the show. At one stage we had him pinned behind a chair to keep his head still, a light shining on him from each side at close range to get enough light for the camera to work ( well that's what we told him and he believed us ) making him sweat a bit. It looked like we were interrogating a suspect! One of the results of this exercise is also on the discs with the scanned-in photos. Apart from the video digitiser being used to grab some frames from the program about the Page 3 girls ( sad really, isn't it? Before you ask, no I don't know what happened to them! ), that was just about it for the weekend. Chris gave Neil and I a lift down to London. I said that it was a bit far to go, but he said it was OK cos he was giving Andrew a lift back to Newcastle and it was on his way. With those sort of map-reading skills, don't get ill in Hull folks, the ambulance may take a while to get there! I may have missed out a few things ( but hopefully not any people who were there ), and what I have put in may not always be in the right order, but Chris asked me to write a short ( some hope! ) piece about the weekend as I remembered it, which is what I have done. The main product of all the discussions over the three days ( and nights, as I mentioned earlier if you can remember back that far ) was a plan for the future of 8BS, which I know Chris will write about it in his Editorial, but I will give a brief outline here. The entire 8BS PD Library, present and future, is to be placed onto hard disc, with members being given direct access to it via modem. All the necessary hardware for the system ( working title, EbTel ) has been donated, so the only costs to the membership will be the purchase of the modem for those who wish to use it. EbTel will be complementary to, not a replacement of, the present system of sending discs by post, and it is hoped to have it up and running by next Summer. If you have any comments, advice, suggestions, or queries about it, do send them in. After all, 8BS is run for YOU and you have a say in how it is done. The only things remaining to do now ( and probably the only things that there are room for at the end of this epistle ) are to thank all of those who were able to make it to our first ( Not The ) Acorn User Show, and especially to thank Jonathan for putting us up and putting up with us over the weekend. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and look forward to invading your space again next year, if you will have us?