"America is so vast that almost everything said about it is
likely to be true, and the opposite is probably equally true."
James T. Farrell
AN INTERVIEW WITH DAVE MOONEY
by Richard Karsmakers
Quite a few years ago I got in touch with a guy who did another
disk magazine. The other disk magazine was "ST Enthusiasts
Newsletter", also called "STEN", and the guy was Dave Mooney. I
was impressed by his efforts, and I believe he was similarly
impressed by ST NEWS. What started was about a year - or were
they two? - where we occasionally used each other's articles.
Helped each other out, that kind of thing. Then, now two years
ago, "STEN" folder. There weren't enough people writing for it
and Dave and co-editor John Weller simply no longer had the time
to do everything themselves. It is probably the single saddest
event in disk magazine history (just imagine what things'd be
like if suddenly "Maggie" or "DBA" quit?!).
Some time ago a need becrept me to interview Dave. Although no
longer "with us", in a manner of speaking, Dave was the only
serious disk magazine editor so far lacking from the interview
history of ST NEWS. Sietse "DBA" Postma and Chris "Maggie"
Holland had already gone before him. As he had in the mean time
revealed to me his presence on the wide and wonderful Internet,
it became a mere matter of sending him a text file with
His replies took a bit long to come my way. And even when they
did, Dave wasn't really too satisfied with what he had written. I
suggest you judge for yourself. Here it is, an interview with
Dave "STEN" Mooney...
Well, Dave, can you tell the readers something about yourself
Dave: Hi, Dave Mooney here. Ex-editor of the ex-ST disc mag
STEN, you asked me to take part in one of the famous ST NEWS
interviews even though I have passed on and am now on 'the other
side'. Hopefully I still have something interesting to say and
can provide confirmation to anyone else considering moving to the
PC that the scene is no longer full of 'suits'.
First, a little about myself...
Born on 25th October 1955 in Wishaw, an industrial town in
Central Scotland. My first job was as an industrial chemist in a
large steelworks before transferring to the coke ovens as a
battery supervisor. During this spell I studied for and passed a
degree in mathematics. In 1991 I asked to be made redundant and
returned to university where I obtained an honours degree in
software engineering. Since then I have researched (read as -
took a year out) graphical user interfaces prior to setting up my
own business in July of this year.
I met my wife while she was training to be a teacher and we have
now been married for almost fifteen years and have two kids, a
boy of seven and a girl of two. My main interests are computing,
restoring old motorcycles, I've got a Norton Commando, a Triumph
Cub and a Kawasaki in my garage just now, and wargaming.
What about your surroundings, the town where you live, your
home, and your computer stuff?
Dave: We live in a cottage in a small village (Morningside) on
the urban/rural border. To one side the population/housing
density almost continuously through to Glasgow. On the other side
is open country, forestry and moorland with only occasional farms
and villages through to Edinburgh.
My house was built at least 90 years ago and has fairly large
gardens, stables (at one time) and a small barn. The stables have
long since been demolished but the barn has been converted into
an office from where I run my business.
As an ST freak I never had a great deal of equipment simply
because the cost of hard drives, memory, monitors, etc. was
always more than I was prepared to pay for. I had an STFM 520,
upgraded to 1 Meg, with second floppy drive. Also in the box was
a Mastersound sampling cartridge, the Ultimate (sic) Ripper and a
joystick I had left over from my Spectrum days.
Probably the most 'cherished' piece of kit was GFA Basic, this
programme was far ahead of anything else and hasn't been bettered
since. The ability to 'fold' procedures is something that I would
love to see in every language.
Today I use PCs simply because they are what provide me with an
income. I have a couple of networked 486 PCs with SVGA monitors.
One is a spare and can be cannibalised at any time should my main
machine fail. As such it is full of games for my kids to fight
over. My main machine has 8 Meg of RAM, a 1.2 Gig hard drive, a
quad CD ROM drive, 16 bit sound card, 28,800 baud FAX/modem, 3
1/2" & 5 1/4" floppies, 256 colour scanner, 240 Meg tape back up.
Other accessories are a HP IIIP laser with postscript cartridge
and 2 Meg memory upgrade, a Citizen 24 pin printer and Panasonic
Nightlife here consists of the occasional fox running through
the garden or the herons pinching our neighbours fish from their
pond and in winter, deer coming around the houses. It really is
very quiet. But I guess that wasn't what you meant...
Locally we only have bars which seem to be emptier. The but
every other week we can catch the tractor with clean hay on the
trailer and get into the big city where there is the normal range
of pubs, clubs and cathouses. Seriously, living away from town is
no disadvantage as we can either get a taxi or drive there in
twenty minutes. Conversely the advantages are that the pace of
life is a bit slower, everyone knows each other and community
spirit is high.
What do *you* look like? Or, at least, how would you describe
Dave: My mates keep telling my that I am a fat-retro-biking-
f*cker, but considering that these descriptions come from a fat-
jap-biking-git and an east-coaster I tend not to believe it.
Basically I am about 6' 2" and 16 stones (1.9 m & 101 kilos in
metric now that the UK has to conform to Euro-standards), broken
nose, going bald - so I keep my hair really short, and have hands
like size 10 shovels. What more can I say... Dress is almost
always denims and t-shirt, jackets are either leather or denim,
footwear is boots or trainers. And a suit when I have to visit
What are your worst habits?
Dave: Without a doubt this is spending too much time at the
computer, either working or playing, next must be drinking too
much beer. Bit of a sad case really.
Have you get any pets and, if so, would you care to elaborate
somewhat on them?
Dave: Zoo more like! Although specifications change continuously
at the moment we have an aviary with ten cockatiels, and a quail.
In the house we have two cockatiels that I hand-reared last year,
one that can't fly for some reason, a siamese cat and a tank of
goldfish. In the office the kids keep their three. No seven. No,
definitely, eleven Siberian hamsters. My wife wants another dog,
preferably a boxer. And not forgetting the two rug rats who are
more of a handful than all the animals put together.
Suppose I were to visit you. Where would you take me on a night
Dave: I would assume that you would like to go to places that I
enjoy. Depending on the type of night out it would either be:
A visit to a local bar for beer and conversation with a bami-
goring (Singapore special noodles for anyone who can't get the
real thing) carryout from the local Chinese restraint and a
A night on the town would start somewhat earlier with an
afternoon at the pub, followed by dinner at a pizza joint, then
some live music - preferably blues or rock, finished with a Kebab
and back for a game of "Doom" networked between as many computers
as we can manage. Time things right and maybe we could attend
the Blue Angels annual bike show - a great day/night/weekend out
with loads of great bands, beer and whatever else you want.
Definitely never a rave or night-club.
What other work do you do besides the stuff we already knew you
Dave: I sometimes restore bikes. At the moment I have a Triumph,
Norton and Kawasaki awaiting my attention, but due to projects
and contract work they will have to wait a bit. A pity as this
summer would have been an ideal time to get a lot completed. The
British bikes will probably be kept for my own use (Norton
definitely will as I have had it for 20 years and my wife would
cut my goolies off if it was sold). The Kawasaki will be sold on.
What the local ST/Falcon scene like around your neck of the
Dave: I'm afraid to say that the ST/Falcon scene for me has
died. Probably the single most reason for this was that Atari
could not live up to their original mission statement for the ST
- 'Power without the price'. While the dedicated Atari freaks
will all scream that hard drives, CD ROMs, powerful processors
*ARE* available and I should have upgraded, or bought a Falcon I
can only answer...'Yes, but at what price?'
For me cost is everything, mainly because I don't have a lot of
money to spare, and must make the best of what I do have. So when
the choice came to buying a 240 Meg hard drive for the PC at the
same cost as a 40 Meg one for the Atari the choice was simple...I
got a PC.
Did I turn into a suit? Like hell I did! It would seem that a
lot of other Atari, and Amiga, and Mac owners are doing the same
Yeah. It's a sad state of affairs but those who need to earn
some money with computers seem definitely better off in the PC
world. Anyway, on to the next question. What books have you read
recently that you think people ought to check out?
Dave: Most of my recent reading has been confined to course text
books which are mainly dry, uninteresting and not recommended to
anyone. At the moment I am reading through a technical manual on
Windows programming by Charles Petzold. Surprisingly it is well
laid out, extremely readable and an excellent reference for
Books that have made an impression would be:
"Soul of a New Machine" - Tracey Kidder. This is the story of
the creation of the Data General Eagle way back in the days when
computers were the size of wardrobes, words were 36 bits long and
memory was almost as big. Lots of insight into the development of
70s computers and what the development teams got up to both at
and away from work. These guys didn't eat quiche unlike 90% of
todays analyst programmers.
"Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee" - Dee Brown. The story of the
American Indian, sorry - Native American to be politically
correct, and how even in the 'good old days', we could commit
atrocities when it suited our needs. Mankind can really be a
bunch of shits at times.
"One Flew Over the Cuckos Nest" - Ken Kesey. Set in a mental
institution in the early sixties, the patients of a ward are
totally dominated by the ward sister until a criminal feigning
mental llness is admitted for assessment. Your emotions are
constantly raised and dashed from start to end.
One of my pet hates about most film versions of books is that
the American audience seems to demand that films all finish in
such a way that the audience leave on a high. No unpleasant or
thought-provoking endings for the children of Uncle Sam. This
often reverses the entire message trying to be put over in the
book turning the film into some sort of pleasure bite, watch -
enjoy - forget.
What is your favourite of the four seasons?
Dave: Definitely spring; from late autumn through winter we have
cold, bitter wind and rain. Over the past five or six years there
has been very little snow in this region, maybe three or four
days all season. Instead we have cold, wind and rain almost
Around May the weather improves dramatically, the trees blossom
and the scene is generally much more cheerier, people feel
better. Even the rain is warmer in the summer.
What music do you like?
Dave: Ah, a difficult one... Generalising I'd say anything that
isn't played on Radio 1. My favourite era would be 1970 - 78, but
I also like a folk, traditional, blues. I tend to only buy albums
and have listed a selection of my CDs. No comment as to why these
were chosen over others... Roger Waters - "Radio KAOS"; "Deep and
Meaningless" - John Ottway and Wild Willy Barret, "Bitter Tears"
- Johnny Cash, "Still Got The Blues" - Gary Moore, "City of
Lights" - RunRig, "Ancient Heart" - Tanita Tikaram, "Bad for
Good" - Jim Steinman; "Danceband on the Titanic" - Harry Chapin;
"Fog on the Tyne" - Lindisfarne; "City to City" - Gerry Rafferty.
What computer hardware not mentioned before do you have?
Dave: I've got a ZX81 with 16K rampack too!
Which computer tools do you use?
Dave: For program development I use Visual C++ or Visual Basic
development software from Microsoft. Unfortunately the C++ bit is
absolute crap and I tend to ignore it. This leaves me with the
editor, visual designer and on line help which is still pretty
useful as I can write the source, compile and debug all from
within the one environment. Visual Basic on the other hand is a
really nice development tool but suffers because it is an
interpreted language. Borland have brought out a new visual
programming tool wich seems to have a lot of promise. Delphi is
probably easier to use than Visual Basic and the native language
is Pascal which means it should run a lot faster.
Word processing is done on Word Star for Windows V2. Due to
earlier WordStar releases being dire this one was released at
£50, but bought for £29 from a discount shop. It has been
completely rewritten and must almost be the bargain of the
decade. So far it has been extremely stable unlike its more
expensive rival Word V6.
DTP, presentaion graphics and manuals are created with PagePlus
3. This package *is* the bargain of the decade, comes on CD, and
tends to wipe the floor with more expensive rivals. Cost? £60!
What were your essential accessories back on the ST?
Dave: My favourite of all time on the ST was Fastcopy Pro which
I would have been more than happy to register. I did try writing
a couple of times and even got a friend to tanslate one letter
into German for me. The author never replied even though he was
still active and releasing upgraded versions. I feel this gives
shareware a bad name and an excuse to users not to bother
registering anything (even when they never intended to in the
first place). On the other hand I did register a Visual Basic
specialised control through Compuserve after eMailing the author
to check some facts. He replied next day and the package arrived
within ten. A lesson to be learned?
Are you still in some way active on the Atari platform?
Dave: I'm afraid me and the Atari scene will never be one again
although I still help out some of the guys still producing disc
mags with text files pulled from CD ROMS when I can. The first
program that I wrote for the ST was probably the shell used for
STEN. This was fairly poor, but improved rapidly as I became
familiar with GFA Basic. An interesting point is that the program
compiled under version 2 was slower than the interpreted code
running under GFA Version 3.
What do you like and dislike about the computer industry?
Dave: What I like about the computer industry is all the good
guys that there are out there. They can be programmers, sysops or
just enthusiasts but each and every one is willing to put a
little more back into the system than he gets out of it.
What I hate as the parasites that live in the shadow of the
innovators, and make (a better) living to boot. They know who
they are, die horribly!
What is your favourite game at the moment, and what is your all-
Dave: Favourite game of the moment and all time is VGA
Planets. This game is a multi-player game of galactic conquest
and trade. Each player takes on the persona and attributes of a
race, maybe one will be good at building space mines, another
will be able to rob ships, and another can assimilate natives.
The races are all based on Star Trek, Star Wars and Battlestar
Galactica. Turns are played on the players own computer and then
uploaded to the host via a modem for processing and the results
made available for the next turn. As with all role playing games
communication, alliences, and bluff all play an important part.
The beauty of this type of game is that it is not emdemic to the
PC and could just as easily be written for the ST. Traditional
computer favourites are Dungeon Master on the ST/PC and the PC
variations such as Eye of the Beholder, Lands of Lore and Ultima
Underworld I & II.
What's the recent film that made most of an impression on you?
Dave: The Lion King. I didn't think I would have liked this one
when I took my kid to see it over the holidays but I was hooked
from start to finish. The story is good, the hyenas hillarious
and the animation fantastic. Surprisingly, the sound track by
Elton John and Time Rice was memorable unlike most of there other
And the most crap film?
Dave: The one film that I can remember walking out off was Close
Encounters of a Third Kind. Everyone had been raving about how
good, how deep, how meaningless (surely meaningful, ED.) it was
but I got so bored half way through I ended up in the pub early.
What is the most stunning beauty to roam the earth, you think?
Dave: The most stunning beauty to roam the earth was a certain
Norton Commando... what do you mean stunning beauty of the female
kind? That's hard, I certainly wouldn't include any of the
current crop of supermodels as I am not particularly impressed
with any posturing.
When you'll die in, say, well, dozens of dozens of years, what
song would you like to hear (well, be played, anyway) on your
Adve: How about 'Maggies Farm' by Dylan, the line... 'ain't
gonna work on Maggies farm no more' seem pretty appropriate
today. Another that I particularly like is 'Vincent Black Shadow
- 1952' by Richard Thompson... 'I see angels on Nortons coming
down from heaven, black leather and chrome to carry me home'.
What is to you the music release of 1995 so far?
Dave: So far the only thing I have heard that has been decent in
1995 is re-releases of old songs. Probably the Jimmy Page/Robert
Plant rework of Gallows Pole is most appealing so far.
What's your fave holiday destination?
Dave: If it was a fantasy holiday where I didn't have to take my
family I would go to Canada, buy a Harley Sportster, a tent and
tour from coast to coast. If I had to take my family it would
still be Canada but with a camper.
What's been your most embarrasing moment of all time?
Dave: Lots to choose from here. Probably the one with the
greatest potential was when I was on a course at Reading
University and had been out drinking with some RAF guys. Anyway I
got back to by room slightly sozzled and went to bed. Later I had
to get up to visit the toilet, which was outside of my room. I
got to the corridor, heard the door clicking shut and realised
that I had no socks or shoes on, then no shirt.... thankfully I
still had my denims on. But I was locked out and didn't know
anyone in the rooms next to me. The problem was what to do. Kick
down my room door and probably get chucked off the course for
vandalism?... Waken some one at random and borrow some clothes -
with my luck I'd get some woman screaming that the half-naked
Scotsman was trying to get into her room? - Nah, none of these
The only thing left was to find the janitor. Now he lived in the
bar area, I was in the halls of residence and between was about
300 metres of parkland, trees, lakes and 40,000 ducks and geese
which covered the paths and grass in bright green bird shit...
At the bar I met some guys playing cards, at 3 in the morning. I
don't know what they thought of me but I remember thinking they
must have been a bit sad sitting up playing cards all night when
they could have been sleeping in bed. When I found the janitor I
must have been a sight with my green feet and all, but he took it
all in his stride and came down and let me into my room.
Moral of the story.... Go before you get undressed, and if you
can't do that wear the room key around your neck at all times,
and if that's too difficult make use of the sink in the room.
Pretty embarrasing indeed. No green feet syndrome for me so far!
Now on to your favourite food and drink. What are they?
Dave: Bami goring - Thai dish made from lots of different meats
in a hot, dry curry powder plus noodles.
Pizza - Spicy chicked, pepperoni, mushroom.
Donner kebab - Do you know that if all languages were
standardised on the two words Lager and Kebab it would be
possible to survive anywhere?
What invention would you like mankind to come up with soon?
Dave: A retribution machine. This would orbit the earth and
repay the actions of individuals with like actions. Hopefully
this would make people think about the consequences of their
actions before they do anything. Just think about it...all those
warmongers getting shoved into the front line, polititians being
subjected to their own bureaucracy, thieves having there homes
violated. The Almighty God is an angry and vengeful being.
If you were ever to set up your own cosmetics line of products,
what would you call the perfume?
What do you think when you look at the moon?
Dave: How small we are and how much further he still have to go.
Now, then, to the words association game. The first word is
Dave: It's no different from any of the other racial conflicts
that have occured, are occurring or will occur somewhere else in
world. As usual it is either polititians and gangsters using the
people's fears to get their own way. What amazes me is why the
people put up with it.
The Ozone Layer.
Dave: We humans are really incredibly stupid. We not only tend
to follow and believe everything that goverments and/or religious
leaders tell us, we are also slaves to the greater god of
advertising. As a result we are happy to destroy the earth, water
and air for all future generations just so that we can spray a
little chemicals on ourselves and imagine that some beautiful
person is going to drop everything and fall at our feet when we
walk past wafting who knows what chemicals at them.
Dave: Don't know, I've never seen it.
Dave: BITCH! That word brings to mind images of sheer greed,
corruption and wasted opportunity. The UK is the poor relation of
Europe now because of what the present govenment have done. They
have systematically dismantled everything that was good and
worthwhile, grabbed the proceeds of selling it off and put their
sycophants in control of the privatised offshoots.
The UK no longer has any manufacturing industry, unemployment is
rising despite what the government says, available jobs are low
paid and off the wrong type. We need a manufacturing industrial
base and NOT a service one.
At least the people of Scotland have the sense to see the
Conservatives for what they are, a fourth rate party in fourth
(I actually meant "Maggie", the disk magazine, but Dave seemed
to have a grudge against the Iron Lady... ED.)
Dave: Mutant Camels. It's been a long time since I have seen any
ST games. Has he done anything since Mutant Camels? I found a PC
version of this one on a games CD the other day. Nothing
different from the ST or Commode 64 one either.
Dave: One of the best ST disc mags around. I first came across
it just after the Maggie had become a joke. DBA was a very good
magazine, get it, read it, enjoy it.
"ST Format" & "ST Review".
Dave: For the greater part of their time they were both crap,
although Jake Bain tells me "ST Review" is trying a bit more now.
Basically the content was aimed at kids with no articles of any
substance. It was often quite amusing to read the anti-piracy and
anti-porn campaigns sitting side by side with adverts that wanted
contacts with the express purpose of piracy or ones offering
'adult' software. The magazines themselves never baulked at
showing a bit of tit and bum when it came to illustrations for
(In the mean time - Dave wrote his replies some time ago now -
"ST Review" has folded, ED)
Dave: It was pretty dire at one time but has got a bit better
over the years. The latest version, 6.22, contains many of the
programs that could only be found in third party software a
couple of years ago. As it is, it comes with editors, virus
checker, disc compression, back up utilities, one pass disc
copying and lots more as standard.
Only a small subset of the DOS commands are loaded and these are
available instantly. The rest must be loaded as required by the
user when needed. If the system was floppy-based this would be
intolerable but hard drives mean that there is no appreciable
delay in using any of the functions. The only thing I would like
to see replaced is the ancient 640K memory limit. Extra memory is
available using various drivers and most of the time the user
doesn't have to worry about memory pages, segments etc.
Dave: The existance of disc magazines means that there is still
some interest in whatever subject they cover. Like everything
else there will be good and bad magazines and nobody is forced to
read, or like, every article but support and feedback is crucial.
If a magazine is enjoyed then the authors should be told, he
will feel good and be encouraged to produce more. Equally if it
is poor then some positive feedback saying what would make it
better is also important.
Dave: Does it really work? Yes, for some programs. I have
registered for a number of programs that I have thought to be of
use and not regretted any of the payments. I have also tried to
register for lots more but never received any replies despite
enclosing self-addressed envelopes with my enquiries. If
shareware is to work it must be supported by the author as wel as
Dave: Surely some mistake?
Dave: Kills disc magazines stone dead. It takes a hell of a lot
of time and effort to produce disc magazines. I don't think one
person could accomplish this and still lead a normal life so help
is always required. Many people are happy to take the magazine
every month, read it and then wait for the next issue. If enough
people do this the magazine will die a slow lingering death.
'But I can't write articles...' is often the war cry. OK, help
the editor out by writing in with your thoughts and suggestions
on past issues, ideas for future articles, tell him what you
would like, send an extra disc or stamps every now and again.
Every little helps keep things going.
Dave: It should be banned! Religion is probably the biggest
common cause for all of the trouble in the world today. How many
wars and terrorist acts are fought in the name of Protestants,
Catholics, Jews, Muslims...
Most religeous leaders will say that their cause is only being
used as an excuse for the attrocities committed, which may be to
some extent true. Look at the Nazis and the Jews, the Spanish
Inquisition and just about any free thinker. What we need is a
bit more tolerance and a lot less dogma.
Dave: Brilliant, 'nuff said.
Alright, Dave. Thanks for your time and good luck with whatever
The text of the articles is identical to the originals like they appeared in old ST NEWS issues. Please take into consideration that the author(s) was (were) a lot younger and less responsible back then. So bad jokes, bad English, youthful arrogance, insults, bravura, over-crediting and tastelessness should be taken with at least a grain of salt. Any contact and/or payment information, as well as deadlines/release dates of any kind should be regarded as outdated. Due to the fact that these pages are not actually contained in an Atari executable here, references to scroll texts, featured demo screens and hidden articles may also be irrelevant.