"A secret is something that people find too unimportant to keep
secret or that they find too important to keep secret."
A.C. (think about it)
DISK MAGAZINE REVIEW: STABLOID, THE PREVIEW ISSUE
by Richard Karsmakers
Yes! Slagging off time! Finally! I've waited long enough,..
John de Bruyn, our regular disk magazine reviewer and part-time
Michael Jackson fan, has quit writing for us. To tell you the
truth, I had twofold feelings about him leaving. First, I was
relieved to see that back of him - I hate Michael Jackson.
Second, I was somewhat disconcerted - for now it meant we had
nobody left to do the disk magazine review section beside the
actual editorial staff members such as I.
I am reknown for my slagging off of other disk magazines,
especially other ones made in Holland (need I mention "News
Channel" that was at a bit of a war with us back in Volume 3?).
It will maybe not surprise you that some of the people who did
"News Channel" are now in fact working with "STabloid".
That whetted my appetite for destruction. I sat down to load
their premier issue with saliva dripping from my fangs.
So hold on to your seats, dear "STabloid" editors and writers!
For about a year already, people have been whetting our
appetites with regard to the forthcoming launch of a fellow disk
magazine to be published in Holland for an international
audience. "STabloid" this magazine would be called. It would be
made by some infamous people from the demo scene (like CIA of
Galtan Six and Scum of Sewersoft), with assistance of various
other talented people all over Holland (various Aenigmatica chaps
would write for it, and Serve Hermans - also of Galtan Six -
would do the music).
At the Düsseldorf Messe 1991 the time had come upon us: The
first issue of "STabloid" was inserted into my greedy hands. Or,
maybe I should hasten to ad, the first preview of "STabloid".
Unfortunately, the first true issue has yet to appear.
I took the disk home, sat down with wetness dripping from
between my teeth. Finally another Dutch magazine to slag off! I
had waited for this occasion for two or three years. Fate now
smiled at me. I felt a strange tingling sensation all over my
skin, crawling down through my nerves into my guts, my brain and
other vital parts of my body.
Unfortunately, it turned out to have been too good to be true -
in other words: Not true at all because it was good. Pretty damn
The User Interface
The thing that strikes the reader first is the user interface.
No dull menu system here (not even a custom one), but a fully
graphics-orientated interface that allows quick point'n'click
selection of options and items. Upon selection of a topic, a
small animation (all grfxx by Angelo Bod of Sewersoft)
acknowledges its selection. This doesn't do anything to improve
the interface with regard to its usability, but just proves that
these guys want the best and don't particularly ease down on the
bits that need to be worked on.
This point is even more evidently made clear by the setup of the
user interface as such, which was programmed by Diederik (CIA of
Galtan Six). At the left and right there are graphics in low
resolution, and the middle bit of the screen is meant for medium
resolution text. Yes, people, they have different resolutions on
the same vertical height of the screen. Quite a programming feat
there. "STabloid" therefore works from low resolution as well.
F.cking A., Diederik! Ace programming!
At the right of the screen you will find the several options the
user interface offers. In the preview version, this is limited to
several series of articles, a music selector (four pieces of OK
music by Serve Hermans) and a couple of credits screens. The
ability to display pictures (and a lot more) is promised for
The user interface only has one disadvantage in its current
setup: It requires the user to move the mouse 'across the screen
border' (e.g. from the rightmost move right and then end up left,
and vice versa) which is not particularly intuitive. One gets
used to this, however.
The Pageview Mode
One word applies to the "STabloid" pageview mode: Fast. It is
probably the fastest pageview mode I've ever seen. It employs a
slider bar at the right side that can be dragged and all, just
like GEM (and ST NEWS). Only thing I'd like to see in a future
version was the slider thing to be relatively sized (smaller and
bigger if the article is bigger and smaller respectively). It's
really neatly done and all, with smooth fading in and out when
'paging' or dragging the slider bar.
Credit for this goes to Tjeerd Bruinsma (QX satellite,
The preview "STabloid" issue did not yet offer an abundance of
articles, probably because programming had taken up so much time
that there was barely enough time left for decent writing. One of
the more striking articles was one that covered part of the
"Spirits of Doom Mini Convention". This Convention was held
during 20 days that TS's parents weren't home, and many people
visited his abode. Among the attendants (most of which were there
at totally different days for a couple of hours or a day at the
most) were some Lost Boys, Tanis, the Resettables, Fury,
Aenigmatica persons and myself. It all came down to drinking and
watching videos with not much going on with regard to computers -
but it was good fun nonetheless! There was plenty of beer and
Plantiac and horny females and gory videos and everything else a
computer freak may want.
Anyway. That's all beside the point here.
A pseudo-real-time article covering this Mini Convention was
featured here. Also, there were articles about a "Sample Packer"
and various editorial articles that whetted peoples' appetites
for things to come in future issues.
The "PROGRAMS" folder featured some hot packers, as well as the
"Sample Packer" about which the article I mentioned earlier was
For sake of the neutrality of this review, I have not listed the
bugs that I found. There are quite a lot of them (most of them
esthetical or small in another way), but this is only logical as
it's their premier issue and I would not want to distort people's
opinions about "STabloid" right away.
I have sent a bug list directly to the programmers.
"STabloid" beats all existing disk magazines with regard to the
neatness of its user interface. The editorial contents of the
preview are not typical for a real issue and thus cannot be held
against them - nor can the bugs. If they throw in a good demo or
two, they will beat "Maggie". If they throw in more and better
articles they will beat ST NEWS.
When (if) the people behind "STabloid" ever succeed in coughing
up a real first issue, I think they will sweep many people off
their feet. If the preview is anything to go by, I think
"STabloid" will instantly be among the very best of the disk
magazine with that unparalleled, flashy user interface of theirs.
I, for one, can't wait until this first issue comes out.
If you want to check out what this preview looks like, send a
disk in a re-usable envelope with 3 International Reply Coupons
to the following address:
NL-2611 AH Delft
If you already have this preview version and just want to nag at
them for hurrying with the first issue, this is also the address
to send your naggings to. Nag a lot. It will pay off in the long
run. Maybe you can also convince them not to become commercial
(for they intend to, which I think is a shame).
Sorry for using the phrase to whet your appetite three times. I
just felt it was appropriate where used. You are invited to write
to us if you disagree on this subject.
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.