"The grass is always greener on the other side of your
SELECTED DISK MAGAZINES REVIEWED
by Richard Karsmakers
As usual, I have once again found a few disk magazines located
in my mail box at various instances during the last few months.
No disk magazine gets away unscathed by my ruthless opinions. It
is the right of the invalid to make jokes about people in wheel
chairs, it is my prerogative to spill forth some thoughts on
other disk magazines.
Some of these may be found below. Uncensored, of course (though
I usually censor myself quite automatically, even before the
thoughts have been condemned to a text file).
DBA Magazine Issue 9 & 10
In the Netherlands there are really only two disk magazines, at
least if you count the ones alive today. "STabloid", the most
promising disk magazine this side of "Interleave", has officially
died. I accidentally spoke to Tjeerd some days ago and the
question "Say, when will the first real issue be released?" was
replied by a firm "Oh, the program is all ready but it's dead."
So there. What we have left here are two paltry defenders of the
disk magazine faith, ST NEWS and "DBA Magazine".
I received as much as two issues of the latter since the release
of the previous issue of ST NEWS (they seemed to have skipped
sending me one in time for Volume 9 Issue 1) so here we go.
Issue 9 was released on September 18th 1993 so it's a bit dated
already. I won't spend too much time on it. It contains 100+
articles (as usual), some good and some rather less good. The
program shell comes in two versions - one for the ST and one for
the Falcon. The Falcon one does not work on a Falcon with VGA
monitor, though, and the ST version does. A bit weird if you ask
me, but, hey, they live all the way up in the North of Holland
where unemployment and various other hazardous things tend to
affect people (of course I am just kidding - or am I?). Anyway,
running the Falcon version on VGA displays the text all wrong,
the ST version just flickers a bit in the page view mode. There
are some interesting programs on the disk (two disks, actually).
Surprisingly, I seemed to notice their quality of English having
regressed a bit. And there was rather a lot of "i" where first
person pronoun "I" was intended. No real error or something, but
those are the things that drive me out of my skull with
Like Nirvana said, nevermind.
Issue 10, containing 100++ articles, was released on May 28th
1994. This time it's fully Falcon compatible, which for me meant
"we threw away the ST version of the program and now you're stuck
only with the Falcon version that doesn't work properly on VGA".
Tough luck for me. It's still readable, but far from perfect. By
the way, this Falcon compatibility brought with it a replacement
of the regular chip music by a selection of two MODs.
One thing I'd like to say right away: When the program boots and
sees the internal Falcon speaker is on, it asks you whether you
want to disable it. If only all programs did that, just in case
you haven't got the CONTROL PANEL loaded with the "shut that damn
irritable internal shit thing OFF!" option defaulted.
The contents of Issue 10, as usual, vary wildly. To piss some
people (including me) off, they've even included some rather
reli-nuttish articles by the hand of a Finnish dude who
propagates the use of extensive prayers to prevents suicide and
that sort of thing. It had me alternatively with curled toes or
with a belly heaving with laughter. Good try. Some of the bits
that appealed to me were a Fried Bits real-time article (though I
feel it could have been edited a bit more where the layout and
simply terrible English and frequent use of expletives is
concerned), an interview with Marc Rosocha (of Eclipse Software)
and a Falcon "soon-coming" games list. Especially this latter
keeps my hopes up high with regard to forthcoming Falcon games,
but it's not exactly realistic all the time. It lists "Llamazap"
for a release date of October 1993. Well, Atari is still hanging
on to a few finished products (amongst which "Llamazap" and
"Steel Talons") that it just hasn't the time for to release. One
rather less good thing about this new issue of "DBA" is that one
of its members now has Internet access. On its own this is good,
but it reflects itself in the contents a bit (i.e. there are
quite a few articles in there that were wholly or in part lifted
off several sources on the Net).
Well...what else is there to say? "DBA" is still a nice
magazine, although especially its English quality where non-Dutch
contributors are concerned is distinctly below par and the
contents may not appeal equally much to everyone.
I can't be too harsh on them because two of its editorial staff
will be here at the finishing of this issue of ST NEWS and
chances are substantial they will read this article and maltreat
me physically if I say the truth...er...anything bad about them
"DBA" is not bad at all, actually, so that makes everything a
If you want a copy of the magazine (Issue 10), make sure you
have a Falcon and send a HD (!) disk with 2 or 3 IRCs in a
re-usable envelope to the address below.
STOP PRESS: There's a new version, patched, of Issue 10. This
also works on Falcon VGA and 50/60 Hz TV! (Wow!)
NL-9200 AM Drachten
(Which is an altogether nice address because it has the word
"bus" in it, a vehicle by means of which retarded people are
driven from the asylum to the swimming pool and back)
Maggie Issue 14
As usual, another review of the latest issue of the hottest and
certainly the best disk magazine on the ST/TT/Falcon, "Maggie".
produced by Chris Holland and a few enthusiastic fellow
operators, this magazine succeeded once more in entertaining
yours truly for the best part of an afternoon I should actually
have spent studying for an "Introduction into Celtic Language
Science" course. Anyway, with half the day thrown away I thought
I might just as well get its review over with as well.
"Maggie" is one of the Falcon-compatible disk magazines,
together with "Pure Bollocks" (rumoured), "Scriba", "DBA" (in
theory, but not on VGA at least) and, of course, ST NEWS.
However, if you want it to run on a VGA monitor you have to boot
from ST compatible medium resolution. Starting from another
resolution will yield results similar to an RGB demo running on
VGA, some sort of total absence of right sync or whatever may be
the technical explanation.
Once it's been booted, however, you get a collection of
interesting, humorous and in this case plainly provocative
articles. Chris has quite a nice sense of humour and I think
there are more insinuations about Sega Saturn inadequacy and bad
Atari marketing in this single issue than you can have a very
zealous person hurl Japanese fighting sticks at. All in strict
good taste, of course. On the provocative side I'd like to
mention interviews with four members of a cracking group called
Cynic (I wonder if these guys have ever heard of the techno
fusion jazz-metal band of the same name). These guys think the
Jaguar hasn't got a chance, the Falcon is crap and actually the
best machine to have is a PC. Hell, they even think "Llamazap" is
a shit game (they don't know the difference between "fiendishly
difficult and severly addictive" and "shit", obviously). Chris
throws in a few comments there, so at least I won't have to go
down to him and plant an army boot amidst his nether cheeks.
On a more serious side, Leon O'Reilly does a review of the "DSP
Programmer's Guide" and seems to get away with it. Well, he's a
programmer after all (did "Tautology") so he'd be expected to. In
between more Sega-related innuendoes (innuendos?) you can even
find some remarks on the "European Computer Trade Show" and some
Jaguar games. I was surprised to see a "hidden article quest"
article, too - for a moment I thought I was reading ST NEWS
Concluding, "Maggie" is again something no enthusiast should be
without. Even the "PEEK_A.BOO" file is interesting and contains
some snippets that weren't available in time to be put in the
Before I sign off I'd like to tell you that the hidden article
is actually very interesting and much worth reading, especially
because yours truly happens to completely agree with Chris'
remarks on the current "ST Format" editor. Chris made me swear
not to reveal how it's hidden, but I think I can help a bit by
saying it's a "click on a specific spot somewhere" kind of hidden
Should you be interested in getting "Maggie" issue 14, and it's
most reasonable that you might be, you should send a disk plus
sufficient IRCs (or UK postage) to:
84 North Street
Northants NN10 9BU
(Which is an altogether nice address as it has the word "Rush"
RTS Track Volume 2 Issue 1
Somewhere in 1992 a new disk magazine started in the
Netherlands. Done by the Dutch crew "RTS" (not a demo crew!) it
was called "RTS Track". Recently I got my hands on their last
issue, Volume 2 Issue 1, which is also the first issue written in
English, released as far back as early 1993.
"RTS Track" is very much in the vein of "Maggie" and "DBA"
insofar that it has a colourful demo-like user interface from
which articles can be selected using the cursor keys and
[RETURN]. Luckily it's not over-the-top such as some "Ledgers"
magazines, and I think it's a close second or third after
"Maggie" where the actual smoothness of the user interface is
concerned (I am not quite sure whether "DBA" is better or worse
than "RTS Track").
Volume 2 Issue 1 features about 40 packed articles, some of
which support one or several low-res pictures amid medium-res
text. Very smooth, although the boundaries between low and medium
resolution tend to vary and flicker on my Falcon (then again, the
editor does not claim it works on the Falcon, and it does so
sufficiently I think). All text scrolling is smooth like it
should be, and the editorial contents as a whole are interesting
(though the whole submenu about SNES programming struck me as a
bit irrelevant, but that's because I haven't got a SNES, let
alone one with a copy box).
The magazine works closely together with Synergy. This is most
evident by the presence of simply drool-provoking music. Wow! But
the graphics look great too, let me tell you that.
I think "RTS Track" has sortof instantly joined the creme of the
disk magazine world. It's not full of obscenities like some of
the demo-oriented disk magazines, offers interesting programs (on
its second disk) and is just really well done.
On the Falcon you have to boot with ST low resolution. On
another machine you'd be better off booting in 50 Hz. It even
works on the TT.
The evening after I got it I decided to call Ferdy Blaset, the
editor. It came as a bit of a shock when he told me there had
been no later issues. Even though he had improved the shell to
include moving demo snapshots within the text and true Falcon
compatibility, his ST had sortof exploded and he hadn't bothered
getting a replacement. He hadn't touched an Atari for about a
year, though my calling made him think once more about perhaps
continueing his stuff.
Should you want to get this magazine, first try to get its
editor to repair his ST so send some positive comments (a
postcard with "I want you to continue RTS Track. I read about it
in ST NEWS and it sounds excellent!" will do). If ever he gets on
the right track (pun intended) again we're bound to see an even
vastly more improved disk magazine that will certainly give
"Maggie" a run for its money.
NL-3318 CP Dordrecht
(Which is an altogether nice address, as it has the word "hall"
in it, which is my third-favourite DSP setting on my CD player
after "Jazz Club" (for guitar records) and "Stadium" (for live
Power Disk Magazine Issue 16 & 17
I have mixed feelings about this magazine. On the one hand I
really appreciate the mere fact that the editor, James L.
Mathews, bothered to send me an issue. Also, I have a natural
feeling of goodness towards disk magazine people because it's a
hard job and it's good to keep the ST scene vibrant. On the other
hand, however, I was not at all impressed by it.
Let me tell you why.
"Power Disk Magazine" is a shareware disk magazine (shareware
fee is £1.25) released by aforementioned James Mathews (a very
young chap, 15 years old). It's written in English and is monthly
- which is quite an effort. Despite the fact that it's monthly it
somehow succeeds in featuring 100 articles. This also makes for a
rather tiny average article size - a mere 3.5 Kb actually (as
opposed to almost 19 Kb in the ST NEWS articles finished so far).
Perhaps it would be more useful if he concentrated on putting
some of them in one file (such as the many small competition or
joke articles), which would make the main menu easier to oversee.
Perhaps they should also include less filler articles (lightbulb
jokes, chat-up lines).
The whole interface - programmed in "STOS" - is quite slow and
does not work on the Falcon though it supposed to work on any
other (1.xx?) TOS. You have to use medium ST compatibility
resolution and then use "Backward" with max compatibility (2 meg
and GEM on though) to get it to work to some extent. Once you've
selected the articles the page viewer is rather slow, too, and
does not support text styles. I find it amazing that their
English leaves to be desired too - after all, they are English.
Now to the crux of my dislike: They think they are the best. If
you ask me it's quite clear that they are not. At least "DBA" and
"Maggie" are better, and I think even with their weird contents
"Scriba" is better too. James even wrote an article explaining
why "Power" is the best. I have included parts of it here, with
remarks where I felt them appropriate.
"For a start, we're just about the only general ST disk magazine
still alive and coming out every month in the ST scene!"
Quite right. So far, so good. If you leave off "general" and
"and coming out every month" I think the outcome would be
altogether different. Isn't "STOSSER" monthly too?
"We're always first to get reviews on new P.D."
True, too. But this is only to be expected for a monthly disk
magazine. Also, don't rule out the fact that it strongly
affiliates with the "Power" PDL.
"We have loads of articles which have made it to POWER first
too. Examples include the big virus scare which made POWER get a
few virus articles out, the glossy mags tagged along behind us."
I tend to doubt this. This may sound frightfully arrogant, but I
always thought the virus-related world was tagging along behind
me as of December 1987 (when "Power" didn't even exist, after all
it started only in early 1993).
"We've been providing up-to-date information and exclusive
articles on the new ATARI JAGUAR for at least 5 months now.
We've given information on the console, the games and even all
the technical information and we've compared the competition. A
copy of POWER was then sent to all the magazines and the
following month, an article very similar to our one was published
in one of the leading magazines. Now, only in the last few
months have the glossy mags started writing about the glossy mags
but we've given ALL the information that the glossy mags have
given plus more way before them!"
If you want hot Atari info nothing is better than "Atari
Explorer Online". I think it's not as if the glossies pinched the
stuff from "Power" - all of them just took it (directly or
indirectly) from "AEO".
"We're now one of the leading disk magazines and have outlived
all others of our type."
"Power" started early 1993, and I am not sure what "their type"
is, but "Maggie" started in 1990 and is still alive. I am not
sure when "DBA" started but they're alive too. If "their type" is
"an ST-only magazine that appears monthly" then they're right,
largely through total absence of others of "their type".
Having said all this, I would like to stress the positive points
of the magazine. For starters they're monthly which gives them an
edge on the rest. There's no way any of the other disk magazines
(even though "Maggie" tries to be 2-monthly) can be as up-to-date
except when info becomes available in the few weeks before their
release. Also, I like the effort as a whole. James is providing a
service to the ST world and we can use everything we get
nowadays. Last but not least, James is a very young guy and what
he succeeds in doing is amazing. I've been hearing things about
James trying to get his act together in the near future and
serious plans on improving "Power". Well, I for one can't wait!
If you want to get "Power" and can't locate a PD library near
you that stocks it, please send a disk plus sufficient IRCs to:
James L. Mathews
3 Salisbury Road
Kent ME14 2TY
(Which is an altogether nice address, because if you throw out
a few letters, add a few, and then perform some anagram
algorithms, you get "MY DYING BRIDE")
STOSSER Issue 14
Even with "Falcon SX" and "Backward" I could not get this to
work on my Falcon. Good thing I still have my old MEGA ST
standing somewhere, though I had to switch from TOS 1.06 to TOS
1.00 to get it to work properly. No blame on the programmers of
the disk magazine here, but on those of "STOS". A darned shame.
When you have a system that "STOSSER" works on, what you get is
a jolly nice disk magazine. Issue 14 is made with a "horror"
theme, which means that all graphics, pictures and menus are
styled in atmospheric colours, whereas the actual pictures also
depict stuff with blood and vampyres and whatnot. I like this
"theme" business, although I would suspect it costs loads of time
to do it.
After an intro (with scroller) you get into a mini menu from
which you can choose F1 (main menu), F2 (displays the
correspondence addresses), F3 (greetings put atop a horror pic,
removed, next name written, etc.) and F10 (quit - though in
reality this is not a quit option but some kind of gag).
Onto the main menu we go, where a horror picture has a kind of
menu "window" that can be scrolled up and down with the cursor
keys. Here you can select one of 30 articles or additional
options (back to mini menu, music on/off, that kind of thing).
The articles cover "STOS"-related matters primarily, though
attention is also given to reviews, competitions, humour, and
even "is piracy killing the ST?". The pageviewer is about as fast
as "STOS" can get, I suppose, and has options that can be
selected by clicking the mouse somewhere or pressing a key
alternatively. Options include top/bottom, select font (3
possible), select colour scheme (2 possible), music on/off, a
search option (including "next"), a help page and line/page
up/down. Who needs more? No "write file" option is needed because
the articles are stored on disk, uncompressed and separate.
Well...what don't I like about it? Nothing much, really. I think
Mr. Keefy and the various other assorted "STOS" afficionados are
doing a good job with this magazine, keeping the scene alive and
all. I only wish they wouldn't constantly use "it's" when
actually it should be "its".
If you want a copy, send a double-sided disk filled for at least
70% with hot now PD software to the correspondence address.
57 Hearsall Lane
Coventry CV5 6HF
(Which is an altogether nice address, as it's got "57" in it. If
you turn this number around it's my target weight that one day
prior to death I hope to reach. It also contains the text string
"all", which is a description of the ST/TT/Falcon society ST NEWS
is aimed at)
Digital Disk ST Issue 5
Yes, another disk magazine discovered only recently, and this
time a multi-format one that is available on ST, Amiga and PC.
This means you've got a core of articles more or less applicable
to all three machines plus some additional machine-specific
articles that you will only find in - in our case - the ST
It doesn't work on the Falcon, but you can get it to work (bar
the music) by using "Backward" maximum compatibility with
settings to 2 Mb, HD on and GEM on. Take care to boot it in ST
low resolution, because it seems unable to get to grasps with ST
medium, at least on the Falcon.
After booting a bit you get the sound of music and page one of
the menu. There are several different musical pieces (3 in this
case) but there's on "off" switch. The menu is divided in 4
screens that can be accessed by clicking on "+" and "-" icons.
Each menu page is divided in departments (such as "games",
"public domain", "misc", "music", "graphics", "serious" and
"humour") with summarizes articles. Clicking on an article name
will load it. Articles are stored in a compressed format. Issue 5
had 10 departments with about 35 articles.
Let's get down to the pageviewer, for that's where I would have
to put in a few negative comments. First of all, since the mid-
Volume 2 issues of ST NEWS I have never seen such a slow page
viewer. It takes well over a second to print just one line. Also,
you can only page down and exit at the whim of the program
(sometimes "Q" is supported, sometimes "q", and sometimes
nothing). Text styles are not supported, but pieces of text can
be highlighted by means of different colours (something I haven't
seen in any other magazines so far). A good thing about the page
viewer, however, is that it supports pictures - though not
simultaneously with the text. Picture format is uncompressed
Well, what to say? "Digital Disk" is not the best disk magazine,
although its editorial contents seem quite in order. The shell
program could use some improving, and I think article layout
could perhaps be enhanced too.
Oh yeah, before I forget: I really like the touch of the
rotating "loading" logo when the program is loading text files.
It's worth checking out anyway (as are all disk magazine unless
they're bad), so you may want to consider sending £2 to the
address below (I think sending US$5 will be OK too).
85 Ceres Road
London SE18 1HL
(Which is an altogether nice address, because if you take the
first number and then substract each following number twice and
add 1, you get...)
Atari United Winter 1994
I only had a brief glimpse at this disk magazine, a fairly new
effort (I believe two issues have been made so far) from the
United States. It's commercial, setting you back US$ 16 for four
issues per year. Not exactly expensive, but you know the way I
think about disk magazines so I think it should be for free.
It works on any machine you care to hurl it at, I'd dare to
wager. It's totally GEM driven with window text display, dialog
article selector and a pull-down menu. It's not as flashy as
ancient "F.A.S.T.E.R." but much better written. It even works on
the Falcon with screen enhancers and loads of resident stuff
The Winter 1994 issue included 375 Kb worth of articles and used
version 1.2 of the AU! Viewer Shell. You can select articles from
three lists in a dialog - Features, Reviews and Columns - and
there are keyboard shortcuts to go the next/previous article. It
has the same kind of quality as "Atari Explorer Online" and even
some of the same authors (such as the Unabashed Atariophile, who
writes hundreds of kilobytes of stuff there).
Apart from lots of articles there are goodies on disk as well,
ZIPped. These are generally interesting.
If you're interested in getting info, send an IRC and stuff to
the following address.
P.O. Box 1982
Ames IA 50010-1982
United States of America
(Which is an altogether nice address, as it has the word "box"
in it, a thing in which you can put computer disks - leaving
aside all rather more obscene connotations of this word, oo-er!)
This is not a disk magazine as such, but deserved a mention
anyway. Stefan already gave it some attention one or two ST NEWS
issues ago, but now I've found it myself too and I'd just like to
tell you that it's much worth getting.
For starters, don't read on if you don't have Internet access.
So you've got Internet access? Right.
"Wired" is a regular paper magazine, and a very trendy and up-
to-date technolust one at that. I have no experiences with this,
however, as only recently Stefan gave me their Electronic Mail
Server address where it would be possible to get back issue
And, at this address, you can simply request every single back
issue article made ever and so make your own complete back issues
of "Wired". A bit of merging and such, and Bob's your uncle. What
you have on your disk is "Wired" minus the illustrations and
advertisements (and we can do without the latter especially, I
Simply send a message with the word "help" in the body followed
by a line containing "end" (if you have a .sig) to the following
email address: firstname.lastname@example.org.
From there on I am sure you can manage yourself.
It should be noted that you have to wait about a month (or even
slightly longer) until the latest issue is available
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.