Holida-ay! Celebra-ate!

20 March, 1998

Apologies to Madonna. And if you don’t get that, well, never mind. Here’s my hot tip for the day -

Don’t order your Net Yaroze if you suspect it might arrive close to an important exam.

Thankfully, mine wasn’t too important but I can tell you I’m not looking forward to receiving the results! And where was the damned ‘Honey Bee Cognition’ question anyway? But, I digress…

After the exam from hell yesterday (when you leave an exam and you actually feel quite elated - just because it’s over - and the full realisation of how miserably you performed only hits you when you wake up the next morning), I had a lovely evening out with my girlfriend and saw her off at the station this morning. I also think I have so far neglected to mention that I am flying out to stay with my parents in Hong Kong for the next fortnight tomorrow. Exciting as that may sound, I predict a fortnight of C "coding" (if I can give myself that much credit yet), Playstation and (gulp) N64 gaming, and not-inconsiderable consumer spending. On my return I think I’ll be staying with Kate (the aforementioned gf) for a week and then, to top off my busiest holiday ever, attending a CRAC (!) management course at my university in Edinburgh. Fun, fun, fun!

Aside from packing, changing money and some very last-minute exam revision, I did find time over the last few days to explore the official Net Yaroze members-only sites, homepages, newsgroups, play some demos and gain a general impression of just what the "scene" is like. It’s still early days, so I really only looked at SCEE (Sony Europe) members and sites, although the omnipotent Mr Frosty pointed me in the direction of some excellent US sites. Sadly, I am still far from the position of needing many of the programming tools made available by Sony - and some immensely talented members - so I focused (as is my wont in life) on the games and the people.

Well, the SCEE site is OK, but I think the SCEA site has a much better layout. Sorry SCEE guys, as a newbie I have to say that the info up on the SCEE pages is fairly outdated and quite confusing. Perhaps an explanation of some of the more bizarre compression formats (LHA? More like WTF…) and a little reorganisation of the files system (with more detailed explanations) may be in order? Official site aside, I have to congratulate many of the SCEE people whose homepages I visited - excellent work! I only visited those sites that had been updated in the last month or so, and I gather that many other pages have been "dead" for some time. Well, I think that my advice (as the owner of 2 homepages, and a writer for many others) would be to keep your page simple so that updating isn’t too daunting a task! My SAQnet homepage (formerly on Geocities) was maintained for over 2 years using only my basic knowledge of HTML and Notepad for Windows, so don’t think you need all those fancy FrontPage-style programs!

The homepages really conveyed the feelings I have as a new Net Yaroze member - one of excitement and a real sense of community. The newsgroups were also a very welcome surprise; no flame wars, no system advocacy - just sensible, civilised debate. In fact, it’s a testament to the maturity of the Yaroze newsgroups (thank God they’re private!) that reasonable, albeit forceful, posts are not interpreted as flames. I hate having to fluff egos in the regular groups so as not to start a flame war… The obvious wealth of technical expertise available from both members and staff in the technical groups is invaluable, especially for a beginner like me! Plus, the freetalk groups are a great platform for ideas, thoughts, plus the odd grumble or two (yeah, where IS the multi-tap support, Sony? Snowball Fight demands it!)

I downloaded a few demos, too. Mostly those I had heard about from magazines like EDGE and talking to Mr Frosty. Graeme Evans’ Pune was a notably playable and amusing bugger, and some of the older Yaroze demos I had a look at were most impressive for first efforts. The first EDGE competition entries I found included the technically impressive Z2, and Blitter Boy. James came round this afternoon packing a number of discs worth of SCEI and SCEA material - some of which I’d played at his place (Hover Racing, Terra Incognita, Gasgar) but never seen in colour. We made a demo tape of Snowball Fight, too - my TV/VCR-in-1 coming in handy for a change, although the picture quality wasn’t up to much (even coming from an RGB source)!

I made the last-minute decision to pack my Yaroze after all at about 2 in the morning, and stayed up till about 4am looking at stuff on the web and uploading my own Yaroze homepage. With the combined weight of C for Dummies Volumes I and II, a Net Yaroze, an N64, and numerous videos, CDs and clothes my suitcase was disturbingly heavy for a two-week trip. Ah well, I can’t say when I’ll be writing again (term starts 21 April) but look for a lengthy and entertaining update soon after I get back to university! Happy Easter

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