"Cross: A thing they nail people to."
AN INTERVIEW WITH OFIR GAL
by Richard Karsmakers
A very active person on the ST is a chap called Ofir Gal. This
Isreal-born Englander is most reknown in the Atari scene for the
best benchmark testing program, "GEMBench". He wrote it because
he felt "Quick Index" (which you get with "Quick ST" and "Warp
9") and "GEM Test" (which you get with "NVDI") tend to use biased
criteria that might make specific products seem better than they
are. "GEMBench", by the way, is an excellent shareware program
that costs £5 to register. Even I registered it, and I don't use
it that often really but I think a guy deserves some money for
Anyway, what with both Ofir and myself roaming through the vast
web of Internet cyberspace, I reckoned it would be a good idea to
submit him to a few questions, of which the result can be perused
below. It's a bit shorter than intended, basically because he had
forgotten all about it and had to do a quicky before the
deadline. Even so, I think it gives some interesting information
about Mr. Gal.
Can you give us a short biography of your life, education,
computers, work and social status?
Ofir: I was born in Israel on November 19th 1964. Left school
when I was 15 and studied at home for my graduation exams. I only
got into computers through music and had no interest in them
previously. I am married and live with Hannah in south-east
London. No children yet...
Can you give us a short description of the surroundings where
you live? Its nightlife, its people?
Ofir: Beckenham, where I live, is a stock broker belt suburb.
Very conservative with lots of pubs. I rarely go out, I prefer
watching films on TV with Hannah (my wife), and programming.
Can you give us a description of your home, most specifically
the room where you do your work or another room that you perhaps
think deserves to be known better?
Ofir: I work in the living room. Hannah has a 16 MHz ST and I
use the Falcon, although she always takes over the Falcon when
I'm not looking.
How would you describe yourself?
Ofir: No idea, I'm a pain in the ass <grin>.
What is your worst habit?
Do you have any pets?
Ofir: No. The landlord does not allow pets. I have a Falcon
If I were ever to visit you, where would you take me for a night
Ofir: I wouldn't have a clue. Probably to have some Falafel in
Do you do any other work except for that through which most
people tend to know you?
Ofir: I have just completed co-producing an album for Sony
Holland. The band is called KRY and will be releasing their first
single end of July if all goes well.
What is your local ST/TT/Falcon scene like?
Ofir: My next door neighbour has an ST which he uses with
"Cubase". System Solutions, who are one of the major ST retailers
here, are not too far from where I live. When I have some spare
time I like to visit them and check out the latest software.
Other than that, I don't know.
What programs in your AUTO folder or ACC directory would you
rather not be without?
Ofir: "NVDI", "SpeedoGDOS", "Let 'em Fly", "WinX", "Kobold",
"ScreenBlaster", "Selectric" and "XBoot".
What is the latest program you've done?
Ofir: I am currently working on a Voice Mail system for HiSoft.
The program will probably be called "MasterPhone". I also develop
the HiSoft BASIC GEM Toolkit with Dave Nutkins. This allows
programmers to use non-modal dialogues, toolbars, window menus,
popup menus and keyboard shortcuts quite easily. "GEMBench" and
"MasterPhone" are built around the Toolkit.
What program(s) can we expect from you in the near future?
Ofir: I will release V4.00 of "GEMBench" once I finish the voice
mail project. With V4 you will be able to compare a Wizztronics
040 Falcon board to a PAK3/030 if you wanted. User reference sets
for any hardware configuration could be created by users and
spread on the nets.
Which book have you read recently that made most of an
impression on you?
Ofir: I don't read much these days and if I do it tends to be a
manual of a program I'm reviewing. The last book I read that left
an impression was "A Brief History Of Time" by Stephen Hawking.
I read it too. Did you find it easy reading?
Ofir: Not easy, but worth the effort. I read at least 5 times
and I intend to read it again at some point because I find that
each time I understand it a little better.
What's your favourite season, and why?
Ofir: No favourite one, but I detest the Christmas period.
Nothing gets done. I don't like breaks, I'm a workoholic!
What's your favourite music?
Ofir: I like many kinds of music. My greatest loves are The
Beatles, Pink Floyd and Weather Report. I like to listen to a
wide range of stuff, but I guess Jazz is high on the list.
What computer hardware do you have?
Ofir: I have a Falcon with ScreenBlaster, an Apple CDROM, 1 GB
hard disk, modem, 15" AOC SVGA monitor and a SyQuest 105MB drive.
This is my main machine which I use for programming, comms and
writing. The second setup is an accelerated STFM with a 200 MB
hard disk and a monochrome monitor. It is mainly used for word
What computer tools do you use for your work?
Ofir: I mainly use "Calligrapher" and "Papyrus" for WP and
"HiSoft BASIC" for programming. Other programs I use are
"Connect", "Everest", "Lattice C", "STraight FAX". I'm not a
CLI/MiNT freak and prefer a GUI most of the time.
What is the computer game you play most at the moment?
Ofir: I do not play games. I played "Tetris" for a few weeks
solid and decided that I have too addictive a personality for
this sort of thing.
What is the film you've been to recently that made most of an
impression on you?
Ofir: Altman's "The Player" and a French film called "Ramauld
and Juliette" are the first that come to mind.
Do you remember a film that struck you as being especially crap,
a film you was tempted to get a refund at the cinema for?
Ofir: Yes, "Once Upon a Time in America" with Robert De Niro. I
was especially disappointed because I like De Niro.
Who do you think is the most stunningly beautiful female to roam
Ofir: My wife of course <grin>.
Do you play any musical instruments?
Ofir: I play guitar and most people think I am very good. In
fact they sometimes pay me good money to do just that.
Personally, I think I'm average at best.
Have your creative guitar antics ever been put on vinyl or CD?
Ofir: My first 'proper' release will be available in Holland on
25th of July. The record is called "Don't Matter to Me" by KRY.
The album "Miles Away" will follow.
You are connected to the Internet. What would you advise other
Internet users to check out without further ado, i.e. what would
you have parted with your right arm for to have someone reveal to
you when you started out?
Ofir: FTP sites are very useful. I am still learning about the
Internet myself and find it amazing.
What is to you *the* music release of 1993?
Ofir: I don't know. Generally, I think pop music had its day.
Bands do not put as much work in as they used to. It seems that
much more effort went into the recording process especially in
the late 60s and 70s.
What is your favourite holiday destination, and why?
Ofir: I haven't been on a holiday for 14 years. But I guess my
choice would be Israel to see my friends and enjoy my mother's
Is there something you see everybody likes but you that you
loathe most intensely?
Ofir: Many things. Religion, PCs, TV soaps and misinformation
are high on the list.
What do you remember as the worst ever moment in your life?
Ofir: I had a dream once that my Falcon exploded. That was
Most cliché question of the interview (possibly): What's your
favourite food? And favourite drink?
Ofir: My favourite food is Couscous Morocan style. I also like
to try different recipes myself. There's nothing like a good cup
of coffee. The worst thing is British Rail coffee.
What is your favourite fantasy?
Ofir: Who's got time for fantasies?
OK. Now for the ever-favourite (?!) words-to-react-to segment.
Ofir: War is a sad thing. How can anyone kill someone's father
or son is beyond me.
Ofir: 24 hours a day of music and all they play is the same
crap. Too much market research and not enough taste. Why don't
they ever play Jazz or Classical music? No Beatles? No variety,
just chart music. Sad.
Ofir: Absolutely terrible.
Ofir: Too much money, too little brains. Good sense of rhythm,
repetative melodies and too simple harmonies.
Ofir: Terrible business.
Ofir: An excellent idea which I fully support. I have registered
several programs so far. Some programs, like "Connect", are
better than any commercial alternative I know.
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.