"Bombs don't kill people.
Explosions kill people."
SELECTED DISK MAGAZINES SEEN AND CONSEQUENTLY COMMENTED UPON
by Richard Karsmakers
I'd like to start off this article with something that some of
you may consider a bit unusual. It's an apology, or perhaps just
an elaboration upon a rumoured fact, I don't really know and I
don't really care that much. The reason why I put it here, in the
Disk Magazine review section, is that this fact/rumour arose
mostly from other disk magazines. I won't name any of them.
You see, during the last years I have been repeatedly confronted
by the fact that people go around thinking I consider myself as
some kind of demi-God at the least. That happened for the first
time when I was still at Thalion and Jurie "Relayer" Horneman
joined the staff there. He told me he was pleasantly surprised by
what kind of person I actually was, and when I asked him why,
nonplussed, he said there was this story going around that really
I was a very arrogant sod, claiming my English was superior even
to Queen Elizabeth II (as a figure of speech) and all kinds of
crap. It turned out most of the Dutch scene thought like that.
And recently I read some comments on me in a fellow disk
magazine to the effect that "I was an OK guy", and it seemed as
if that was all really a surprise to the guy who'd written it. So
I'm going to try and explain that here.
ST NEWS is a good magazine. It's not the best I think, but it's
good. That's got nothing to do with arrogance, it's a simple fact
(some people would claim that's arrogant to say, too). I don't
believe in false modesty, something which I guess is clear now.
If someone thinks what he does is "good" (or even "excellent") I
would not expect that person to go fishing for compliments by
saying it's "rather OK" or something. I'd rather have plain
honesty, none of that hypocrisy, and I expect people to take me
like that, too. If you have difficulty with that, well, that's
The main reason why ST NEWS is any good is because I dare to do
things. I've got a mouth and, even though people sometimes say I
should put my foot in it, I use it to get what I want. I write to
companies, I get review stuff, I get interviews with sortof
famous people, just because I ask. Sometimes I bluff my ass off,
too. It helps to be able to show a decent magazine such as ST
NEWS. It's just important for companies and the like that they
see you're serious. And I do take the things I do most seriously.
ST NEWS and the "Ultimate Virus Killer" are my life. I take my
I am OK at English, though no way near "near-native". I might
begin to start thinking I am "perfect" at English as soon as I
can actually find the words (in English) to write to Karin how I
exactly feel about her. As I can't, I won't. And people who have
seen me teaching English to secondary school classes (part of my
teacher's specialisation) will agree that my English is not at
all beyond reproach.
People might get the reason I think of myself as a superior
creature when mastery of the English language is concerned
because I sometimes criticise some other magazines for their
comparitively poor use of English. It's just that those magazines
could improve drastically if only they'd know the difference
between "too/to", possessives/plurals and adverbs/adjectives.
These are really basic things that could easily be fixed. It is
my opinion that you should refrain from doing things you can't
do, which is the reason why I don't spend any attention in ST
NEWS to things I don't like myself. Some people might consider
that as a major character flaw, and indeed I think it is.
I guess much of the criticism I get is partly caused by people
feeling envious. But most people don't realise they could have
been in my exact position themselves if only they'd asked more,
spent more time doing the things they need to do to make
everything work out. I know what it's like to feel envious. Last
year I couldn't get an interview with Deep Purple, for example,
because the major Dutch hard rock magazine got preference over
me, obviously. I f*@kin' hated that, but there's no way it could
have been otherwise.
I am not sure if I've got my point across here, but I'd like to
keep it at this. I just want you all to know I'm not as arrogant
as most people think, though I can be fairly blunt (and I don't
mind people being blunt at me unless it's in an unfair way). I
always try to be objective and I don't get rough on people unless
they get rough on me.
Enough of this crap. Disk magazine reviews now!
DBA Magazine Issue 11
Mid February this year, quite a few unexpected months too late,
on my doormat I discovered an envelope containing "DBA Magazine"
issue 11. Falcon-specific, it's a preview version of possible
better things to come - a magnificent text displayer screen with
an ad-libbed main menu that will be replaced by something much
better if ever issue 12 gets released.
For if there's not going to be enough response to their plea for
reactions, they're thinking of ceasing the whole magazine stuff
completely. Of course, that would be a major loss to the Atari
world. We can't have any of the top disk magazines quitting like
that, can we?
I realise that this is a preview version of better things to
come, so I'll refrain from commenting on the main menu mode, but
still I'd like to mention some things I liked and some things I
liked rather less.
+ The pageviewer is droolworthy now. Eight-colour background
fills can be switched on, sometimes adding an Escherian
depth to the thing. There's full support of 16-colour
graphics, which really add to the whole experience.
+ One of the article consists mostly of a few self-made
"Gigaman" cartoons. They are quite funny!
+ Some of the articles had me rolling with laughter,
especially the "Winkel Kritiek" article (in Dutch). Some
other articles were very interesting too, such as an article
about Smoking and Nicotine and quite a few
+ Overall standard of writing is high. Overall, the articles
cover a wide variety of topics and are interesting.
+ Totals a size of 2.4 Mb (including >1 Mb of MODs, almost
half a megabyte of (65) articles and over half a meg of
- Use is made of only a limited part of the ASCII character
set. Some obscure (but not too obscure) characters get
- Some of the articles have their right edges justified, some
haven't. Some articles are 80 characters wide, some much
less. I think articles should look more similar, so as to
create a kind of specific "DBA" style.
- Text styles are not supported.
I think DBA are on the right way for issue 12, to which I have
to say I am looking forward a lot. I just hope the newly planned
main menu won't be too much like a "megademo" screen thing (like
some of the "Ledgers/Untouchables" issues used to be).
And, er, one suggestion that I think might be difficult to
implement but would make the pageviewer ever so much more orgasm-
provoking: Why not try to make the text scroll at a larger speed
than the background fills? That would give a nice 3D effect...
Those of you interested in "DBA Magazine" issue 11 should send a
High Density (!) disk plus sufficient reply postage or IRCs to...
P.O. Box 506
NL-9200 AM Drachten
DBA Magazine Issue 12
Written during a weekend in April:
Honoured significantly and equally enormously, I was allowed to
witness the semi-sacred finishing of this hallowed issue with
mine own two eyes in the weekend of April 29th and 30th 1995 in
the town of Drachten, somewhere in the north of the Netherlands.
Sietse "Slimer" Postma had invited me over to spend the weekend
and experience that most significant of human achievements
attainable. Well, it wasn't the finishing as such, actually, but
instead just the pre-production process involving some last
debugging, some article finishing and editing. It's very much
like finishing an issue of ST NEWS, really, with the exception
that ST NEWS is finished just by one person (a sad, lonely
individual) and "DBA Magazine" seems to be some kind of almost
preternatural conspiracy between a varied host of individuals
plus an assorted and highly exclusive gathering of likewise
minded people on the external side of things.
The people present at the finishing (for I shall call it that
even though it wasn't) were Alexander (Bonus Software) and Sietse
(Slimer), who had both been present in my ex-abode at the
finishing of ST NEWS Volume 9 Issue 2, plus an added coder in the
form of Marco (OTM - that's "On the Move", after a song by Racer
X (probably not)).
On Saturday, April 29th they fetched be from Steenwijk train
station and moved on to Drachten. There I met he who is me in
the Disk Busters Association - Mr Slimer himself.
Need I tell you about all the things that went on in that
weekend? Need I mention the obvious MacDonald dinner? Need I
mention the ice cream, the software swapping, the videos
(including a "Fried Bits Party III" one), the pastry and the
almost obligatory gazing at profoundly impressive things to gaze
at? Need I tell you about the far too early hour that Sietse
woke us up from semi-comatose states, the scent of coffee (which
I hate), the jump-starting of Alexander and the coldness of the
And, of course, there was a moment or two of heart-melting
touchedness when I discovered that this bunch of lovable,
huggable disk magazine people - who are themselves totally of the
non-alcoholic persuasion - has purchased especially for me a
small bottle of Plantiac...
This is the kind of stuff that really makes it difficult for me
to slag off the magazine.
So let's get down to a review then, shall we?
Written at a rather much (too) later date:
Somewhere in the middle of May I received the issue; late as
usual, but worth the proverbial wait.
The pageviewer is still as droolworthy as the previous one, and
the overhauled main menu is also pretty spiffing, with bits
scrolling in and out and being blotted into and out of the screen
whenever needed. Really smooth and exactly what I had expected
them to make. I think "DBA" and "Maggie" now have the finest disk
magazine shells one would care to have, even though they differ a
fair amount. As to which one I like most? Well, they each have
their good and less good bits, shall we keep it at that?
+ The pageviewer is of a kind to cause cateracts of saliva to
erupt from your mouth. It's got all the knobs on that you
might want, and I really like the ability to handle
pictures, different palettes and background patterns. And
the scrolling is awesomely smooth, of course.
+ A widely varied contents, this time including interesting
snippets in the ZIP Drive, Falcon plans at Wizztronics, and
an extensive "Falcon Scene Encyclopaedia" by Slimer. The
usual load of sense and nonsense, with something there for
everyone I should think. On the down side there's a rather
less useful Atari CD ROM summary, and the "Gigaman" cartoons
+ A host of >4 voice .DTM modules (over 1 Mb on disk!) to
choose to run in the background.
- The picture fade-out routine is not too nice, I think (do
note: I don't meant the menu<>pageviewer fade-out here, for
I love that one, including the 'star' effect!).
- Article size is fairly limited, causing the original amount
of about 51 articles to have to be split up into over twice
that amount of files.
- The same "negative" points that I mentioned for the previous
issue are still valid.
Those of you interested in obtaining this mega-massive issue 12
should send two HD disks plus sufficient return postage (and,
please, no stamps if they aren't Dutch!) to the address mentioned
Maggie Issue 16
I think "Maggie" just has to be my favourite magazine (do
notice, I say "magazine", not "disk magazine"). The user
interface looks slick and is getting serious competition from
"DBA Magazine", but there is no way anyone outside England will
ever write like they do. Chris and his friends should all be
writers for the professional computer press (read: "Atari World")
if it's up to me, and think both Slimer of "DBA" and myself
always read with envy whatever they cause to flow from their
fingers. I love the colloquialisms and the boyish enthusiasm, the
sarcasm, and the multiple synonyms for The Dread Magazine
(ranging from anything between "ST Floormat" to "ST Doorrat" or
I think "Maggie" is very much a hate it or love it thing, and
for me it's firmly the latter. If ST NEWS quits I will certainly
beg Chris to admit me within that hallowed enclave of
I hate reviewing disk magazines because they usually amount to a
summary of what's in them, which is boring as hell to write. But
I guess it's the kind of thing we editors always end up doing.
The freelancers always do the fun bits anyway, barring a few
So, well...what's in "Maggie" issue 16, then?
Of course there's the usual sarcasm and insult aimed at whoever
works for "ST Format" or Sony, in a way only Chris can.
Occasionally, the PC also gets a firm metaphorical beating. Game
reviews of "Obsession" (rather more in time than this ST NEWS
issue's one), "Zero 5", "Doom" (Jag) and "Alien versus Predator"
(Jag) are to be found within, as well as actual Lynx reviews
(would you believe it?). Plenty of Falcon demos are covered
among the total of around 55 articles, as well as a "View of
1994" article and reports of a lot of computer shows and places
visited (including Tenerife). It's evident that you have to in
the UK to ever get a chance to see worth while computers shows,
for here in the Netherlands there really isn't anything happening
in that field.
"Maggie" is a stonking good read. Sorry, but I simply had to use
that downtrodden cliché eptitaph because, simply, it's as close
to the truth as you can get. If you want to get a taste of the
brilliance that is called "Maggie" - this issue also including a
preview version of the hallowed Reservoir Gods' "Bubble Bobble"
for the Falcon - you should send a disk and sufficient reply
postage to the following address.
84 North Street
Northants NN10 9BU
Somehow I think chances of your being disappointed will be close
Maggie Issue 17
And I might as well go straight ahead with "Maggie" issue 17. I
already shot all my load when writing a kind of introductory
thing for "Maggie" issue 16, so let's cut around the excrements,
cease whipping the bush and generally get down to the big I.T.
On May 30th, "Maggie 17" finally fell into my mailbox. I don't
actually know who sent it as there was no specification of
sender, so somehow I don't think Chris Holland did it. Anyway,
whichever kind benevolent person did it, thanks manifold!
(I later found out Chris had indeed been the person to send it)
Although not boasting quite as many articles as the issue
before, it is yet again a very interesting offering that includes
interviews with Rich "FOG" Davey and Arnaud "Lasers and Men"
Linz, reports on Fried Bits III, ECTS and SCES (though the latter
was taken from Atari Explorer Online) and a load of reviews as
per usual (including Lynx ones). There is also an interesting
article on using the Jaguar Powerpad on your Falcon, and there is
rather another blatant display of Apex Media addiction/idolatry.
Well, I can't blame them. If I had seen it, I would probably be
too. The "ST Format" polemics are taken even further with James
"He's got the Power" Matthews joining in in mock letters that
really don't leave a doubt in anyone's mind as to what they think
of "ST Ferment". And rightly so, from what I could read ("ST
Doormat" isn't available in the Netherlands...).
There is one thing that made this "Maggie" issue very special
for me. In the "\GOODIES\TUTORIAL\" folder was a picture called
"ANGEL.GIF" showing a rather beautiful girl from behind. I know
this will kindof sound incredulous to all of you, but the picture
is exactly like Karin except for the fact that my love's hair is
about 5 inch shorter...
It made this issue very special indeed.
So get this issue right away, people, if only for that picture
(no, just kiddin' here). The details can be found above
Power Issue 25
Somewhere earlier this year I received a disk from James L.
Matthews, the main man behind the rather frequently released
"Power" disk magazine. Although the letter claimed it should now
work on the Falcon, too, both Chris "Maggie" Holland and myself
only found out that now it doesn't even run with "Backward" any
So this isn't much of a review, much to my regret, because I so
much long to give James the credit and acknowledgement he very
much deserves for his incredible efforts. So if you want to find
out what "Power" is like, just send a disk plus 2 IRCs (3 if you
live outside Europe) to the address below (if you have an ST,
3 Salisbury Road
Kent ME14 2TY
Power Issue 26
Yes, another issue, released in May 1995. Still not Falcon
compatible, so it's of less use to those with such machines.
Issue 27, to be released ion July 1st 1995, will be Falcon
compatible (James promised solemnly!), so let's cross our fingers
and wait for that to happen.
Those with an ST variety of computer may want to check it out.
For order details, see above.
Undercover Mag 4
The other day I was FTP'ing a bit. It was a "seeing if it would
work" session, and it appeared to work fine (FTP is the Internet
File Transfer Protocol, via which you can download huge amounts
of files from anywhere in the world).
Anyway, I came across two >1 Mb UUencoded files containing
"Undercover Mag" issue 4, released around Christmas of 1994 (in
the mean time issue 5 has been released, around May, though not
yet seen by me). This magazine, released by The Naughty Bytes,
was reviewed in an issue of the German magazine "ST Computer"
some months ago and was seen there as God's answer to the disk
magazine world. Well, this kind of hype (and misplaced
chauvinism, because both the reviewing magazine and "Undercover
Mag" are German) seems to make me very sceptical indeed. So I was
quite eager to have a look at it.
"Undercover Mag" comes on two maxi-formatted disks. Separate
program code is used for either the Falcon or ST. The magazine is
entirely written in German with the exception of one submenu.
Apart from the usual load of articles there is >0.5 Mb of goodies
in the form LZH-archived programs on the disks.
The user interface, and this had already been pointed out to me
by "DBA Magazine" founder Sietse "Slimer" Postma, looks a bit
very much like a rip-off of his magazine. The actual editorial
contents were just ordinary, either. I wouldn't say it's a bad
magazine, for it isn't, but the enthusiasm displayed by the "ST
Computer" reviewer seems largely unfounded.
"Undercover Mag" offers articles (about 125, a total of 380 Kb
compressed so probably about 760 Kb uncompressed), pictures (6 of
them, varying from mediocre to quite good, 106 Kb) and modules (4
of them, taking up 237 Kb, they're all quite OK). The articles
cover topics such as Falcon demos/games, ST demos/games, charts,
craptalk (including blonde jokes and a list of smileys), stories,
a music corner and news items. It offers something for everybody
(don't all disk magazines?) and belongs in the upper half of all
magazines. It is not God's answer to the disk magazine scene, at
least not like was said in "ST Computer". All in all I think that
review didn't do them any good, at least not for me.
The program shell is executed very well, though on Falcon VGA
(don't know about Falcon RGB or ST) the lower border is always
filled with garbage (buffered text graphics, etc.). Most
important, however, is that it works.
The address to write to for more info about "Undercover Mag" is
More disk magazines will be viewed and commented upon in the
future, too, so check out the next issue of ST NEWS as soon as
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.