Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The Berlin Wall - August 13, 1961 to November 9, 1989

I wrote in the past already two blog posts about the subject of the "Berlin Wall", which accompanied videos that I created using moving and photographic images from those historic events.

See The Berlin Wall - History Lessons Learned and The Berlin Wall and the Walls Between Us

I created four versions of my "Berlin Wall" documentary already and also another short video that only depicts the events from 1989 that lead to the collapse of the East German regime. I am still not happy with the last version of it and still work on a version 5 of it. I gathered a lot more video material and found better quality sources for video images that I already used in the previous installments of my documentary.

Also See


I also gathered some more historic facts and created a time-line for me to guide myself in my project. I came to the conclusion that it probably makes the most sense, if I split up the documentary into multiple segments, rather than creating one long video as I did for Version 4 (which is over 30 minutes in length).

I am still undecided, how I am going to present the facts from the time line below; written narration or voice overs where I record myself and talk about those facts. An audio narration is certainly better for the audience and makes it much easier to follow, but I am a bit worried about my own voice and my thick German accent :).

It will still take some time for me to move forward and actually present some new video material, so I am all open for input and suggestions, which you can post in the comment section of this blog post below.

Okay, here is the Time-Line

The Berlin Wall - August 13, 1961 to November 9, 1989

The Wall lasted 10,860 days

136 confirmed deaths (as of 1. August 2008. I posted a list with the names here.), this number is probably much higher, estimates go as high as over 200 and over 1,000 deaths on the entire border between East and West Germany . East German authorities were trying to cover up any incident as good as possible, which makes it impossible to ever be able to determine the actual number of deaths caused by the Wall and the inner German border.

  • 8 May, 1945: Capitulation of Germany and end of World War II in Europe. Germany is broken up into 4 zones, each governed by one of the victorious Allies: USSR, USA, GB and France. Berlin gets a special status and is also broken up into 4 zones.
  • 19 June, 1948: introduction of a new currency in only 3 of the 4 German sectors, the American, British and French occupied. The Soviets responded to this with the blockade of West Berlin and emergency changeover to a new currency for the soviet occupied sector on June 23, 1948.
  • 9 September, 1948: Ernst Reuter makes his famous speech where he appeals to the “People of the World” … “Look at this City!”
    "Ihr Völker der Welt. Schaut auf diese Stadt!"
  • 23 May, 1949: West Germany is founded in the West Sectors (US/GB/FR), „Bonn“ becomes temporary Capital, the „special status“ of Berlin remains. On October 7, 1949 the second German state is founded in the soviet occupied zone.
  • 17 June, 1953: Volksaufstand in Berlin, triggered by an increase in Quota for Workers by the government, but fueled by a general unhappiness with the situation in the Eastern part of Germany
  • 15 June, 1961: International Press-Conference in East-Berlin
    A journalist from the West German newspaper "Frankfurter Rundschau" asked the question, if the creation of a "Free East Berlin" means that a border will be erected at the Brandenburg Gate.
    The East German Head of State "Walter Ulbricht" responded to this question with the following...

    “I understand your question like that there are people in West Germany who wish that we mobilize the construction workers of the capital of the GDR to erect a wall, yes?
    I am not aware of such intention, but that the construction workers of the capital are mainly busy with the construction of homes and that the available man power is used entirely
    Nobody has the intention to build a wall.”

  • July 1961: 30.415 refugees moved to West Berlin, the largest number since 1953. The border between West and East Germany was already shut close and every attempt to cross it a deadly risk. The border between West and East Berlin with the only opening left for people to escape, East Germany was bleeding out, because the people who fled were mostly the young and skilled workers, which had catastrophic consequences for the East German economy.

Wall Being Erected

  • 13 August, 1961 0:00 AM local time: Launch of operation “Rose”, East German Army (NVA - Nationale Volksarmee), Standing/Militarized Police Force (Bereitschaftspolizei), Paramilitary Combat Troops (Kampfgruppen der Arbeiterklasse/Betriebskampftruppen) severed 12 City Train and Subway connections between East and West Berlin, by 1:05 am Brandenburg Gate was blocked, by 6:00 am 193 Main and Side Streets between West and East Berlin were cut off/blocked.
  • 22 August, 1961: the Wall claimed its 1st victim. Ida Siekmann died as a result of her injuries caused by her jump out of the window at Bornholmer Stasse
  • October 1961: 10 Tanks each, US & Russian, 18 hours stand-off at the Wall. Incident was caused because an American diplomat was forced by East German border guards to show papers, which was against his immunity status.
  • August 1962: Brick Wall 7 ½ Miles, 91.7 Miles Fences
  • 17 August, 1962: 18 years old bricklayer Peter Fechter bleeds to death after crying for help in the death strip near Checkpoint Charlie for over 1 hour, in front of West Berlin Police and allied forces who were unable to help him.
  • 1965: Brick Wall replaced by concrete Wall
  • 1975-80: reinforced concrete Wall made of 12ft tall/4ft wide prefabricated segments and top lined with smooth concrete pipe to make it harder to climb


  • 5 February, 1989: the last victim is being shot at the Wall, the 20 years old Chris Gueffroy
  • 2 May, 1989: Hungary begins to dismantle the 150 mile (240 km) barbed-wire fence along, its border with Austria. Hundreds of East Germans illegally cross the border to flee to West Germany.
  • 8 August, 1989: Hundreds of East Germans take refuge in West German diplomatic facilities in East Berlin, Prague, and Budapest.
  • 11 September, 1989: Hungary legalized travel over the border to Austria for GDR (East German) citizens heading for the FRG (West Germany).
  • 1 October, 1989: West German Foreign Minister Hans Dietrich Genscher announces to the 3,500 East German refugees (including 800 children) in the West German Embassy in Prague that they are permitted to leave to West Germany. More than 800 East Germans who camped at the West German Embassy in Warsaw were also permitted to leave. More than 30,000 East Germans had fled by then via the Hungarian-Austrian border already.
  • 4 October, 1989: East Germany allows refugees in the West German embassy in Prague to leave to West Germany via special trains driving across East Germany (implying that those refugees are being expelled from East Germany = legal immigrants, which exempts them from criminal prosecutions in absentia for violating an East German law that prohibits ''flight from the republic.'')
  • 4 November, 1989: largest single demonstration against the regime in Berlin, at least 500,000 people gathered illegally to protest
  • 9 November, 1989 afternoon: Politbüro member Günther Schakowsky announces new travel law in front of the international press :

    “.... and therefore we have made the decision today, to institute a regulation, which permits every resident of East Germany to depart the country through any border crossing of the GDR ....”

               Some members of the press asked

    “When?”, “From Now?”

                 Schabowsky responded:

    “This becomes active... to my knowledge... It’s now ...immediately.”

    Mr. Schabowsky was mistaken. He also missed to mention that East Germans had to get a visa first, which was not to be denied to anybody who asked for it. This visa was to be issued by any police station starting on November 10, not to be valid before the next day, November 11. The visa was a simple stamp that could be issued into either the Passport or the East German ID (which was like a small passport and not just a simple ID card like West German or American IDs)

  • 9 November, 1989 - 10:30 PM local time: The pike fell at the border crossing "Bornholmer Strasse"

The Wall Fell

  • 3 October, 1990: East and West Germany are re-united (4 days before the 41 birthday of East Germany, which was intended)

Putting things in a time-line helps to keep things ordered. Some of the mentioned facts might surprise you, because you did not know about the actual order of them (speaking of cause and effect). The historic facts speak for themselves and I hope that they debunk the myth that the separation of Germany was caused by the Russians as driving force in the process.

I won't deny that they played their own part in it, but I tend to believe that the Russians tried more than any other ally to keep Germany together as a whole and that the drivers behind the separation can be found in West Germany, the United States, Great Britain and maybe also France.

All those events had to lead to the Berlin Wall and make sense in a morbid and cynical way. There is no moral justification for it to make it right though, but then it was the Cold War and none of the participating sides in this conflict can claim that their actions were always good and righteous. The conclusion has to be that War is always ugly, never good or right, even if it is a cold one. 


Carsten aka Roy/SAC

Friday, July 24, 2009

Suspicious, if not Fraudulent AT&T Rebates System

I just posted my article about my bad experience with my new Nokia phone, which I returned to my wireless provider AT&T where I got it from, in exchange for a new iPhone that is currently on back order and hopefully ready for me to pickup and use in one, latest two weeks.att-logo-orange-trans

How about "Semi-Fraud"? 

I don't know what word to use instead of fraud. Fraud implies illegal, what does not seem to be the case here. It might be illegal in Germany or other countries than the United States, but there is no indicator that I can see, which would indicate that it would be illegal here in the States as well. It is certainly suspicious and immoral at best. Beyond that it is up to you to decide what you want to call it or make out of it.

But I also don't have too much nice to say about AT&T. The only people who seem to hold stuff together there are the folks on the "first line of defense", the support guys who can only help as much as AT&T itself of the third party manufacturer of equipment are capable of.

"Heim ins Reich" or Something Like That

Some of the bull that comes with dealing with AT&T is the creation of some master-minds deep within the corporate headquarters of this juggernaut. AT&T was broken up once into smaller pieces, because it became so big that even the "pro-free-market" conservatives in the government knew that something had to be done.

That was several decades ago. My mobile phone provider used to be Cingular Wireless and my DSL (that I recently replaced with Fiber Optics) provider used to be Yahoo-SBC. They are all AT&T now.

This is just a note on the side. Maybe somebody feels the need to check once more, how big that beast actually became since it was cut down into pieces many years ago.

I mentioned fibre-optics already in my previous post. I also got this service (AT&T U-Verse) only recently. I basically ditched my old DSL and my Comcast Cable for TV and backup broadband Internet access and got AT&T U-Verse. Land line and wireless phone were already AT&T, difference there is only that the land line phone uses voice-over-IP (VoIP) instead of the traditional non-digital telephone technology.

Instant Rebate with Delays

AT&T offered like for everything else they have to offer, a rebate to customers, who think about buying a product or service from them. It helps to get the displayed price down, making customers belief that they get a better deal than they might end up getting at the end of the process.

Virtually ALL rebates are those crap-ass "MAIL-IN REBATES". This means that you FIRST pay the FULL price, even if you had to use a special URL or DISCOUNT code to get to the rebate offer in the first place. Then you get eventually the information needed to send something back to AT&T to APPLY to the REBATE. This does not happen automatically and is easy to miss. Learning from past experiences let me keep everything that I receive from AT&T until I got the rebate, including ANY packaging material and ANY piece of paper that comes with any equipment or any other mail (including stuff that looks like advertisement).

The reason for that is that it might turns out that you have to send something back to them that was attached to something that you and any normal human being would consider junk or garbage. Failing to provide this junk typically means to be unable to qualify and get the rebate. Getting a replacement of what is needed is typically impossible to get as well.

Well, I got U-Verse from AT&T about 2 months ago and I got finally the promised $100 rebate check that was advertised with a special coupon and made me respond to it.

Right Check, Right Bank, Wrong Amount

I went to my bank yesterday after my visit of the AT&T store to deposit the rebate check to my checking account. I am with Wells Fargo and their ATM's are capable of reading checks without envelope. That even works with checks that were written by hand (the amounts).

So the ATM sucked in the rebate check and scanned it. Then it asks for the confirmation of the amount and which of my accounts to deposit it to, checking or savings. I almost hit "checking" when I noticed that the amount was not $100 as it was printed clearly on the check itself. It showed $33.54 instead. Luckily I was only trying to deposit this one check. You can batch deposit several checks at once, what is what I typically do.

In that case I would have for sure missed the incorrect amount for the check and deposited it. I would probably notice the difference later at home, when I do my home banking, but at that time, the physical rebate check is gone. I have no idea what would happen, if I had deposited it and then contact AT&T customer service about this error, requesting the outstanding difference of $66.46. I don't know what the result of this would have been and  don't want to find out about myself.


The incorrect amount of $33.54 was read from the check. There is the number 34-54 above the number 730 and above the box with the actual check amount of *******$100.00 printed on that check. The check reader that had no problem with reading the correct amount from a personal check that I got from a friend nor any other check I received from various entities got the AT&T rebate check wrong. Bad enough, but worse, because it thought that it was actually reading the check correctly.

If it would have said that it cannot read the check and that I have to cash it within the bank through a human banker to verify the check amount, okay, a minor inconvenience, but at least one that does not lead to errors that can be overlooked and/or difficult to correct.

law_sign_questionCoincidence? That is Very Hard to Believe

I cannot imagine that this went unnoticed by AT&T, considering the number of rebate checks they must send out every single day for every single product and service they are offering to customers nationwide. My Nokia phone came with a mail-in rebate (which I did not apply for yet) and so does my new iPhone that I still have to receive yet.

What is to Gain?

So is it indented? I am curious to know how many people cash the check without noticing the error and thus get AT&T only a fraction of the rebate they are entitled for. Furthermore, what does AT&T do when I cash it with the wrong amount and demand to get paid the amount that is missing? If they pay up the difference, how long does that take? Playing the interest game, how much money AT&T is able to safe because of

  • delaying actual payment of promised rebates as long as possible?
  • delaying partial payments even further by sending initial rebate checks that are incorrectly processed by consumer banks automated check processing systems?
  • customers who are entitled for rebates not calling in those rebates as fast as possible (often due to the lack of information) or customers who fail to claim their rebates altogether?

You Decide for Yourself

Without knowing exact figures, my gut tells me... it must be MILLIONS of Dollars every month.

I cannot help it, but if this is not being done intentionally, then I must be completely paranoid or stupid.

Yeah, I know, It's because of the economy. It forces the most decent men to turn into vultures and immoral scum-bags Etc. yada yada yada ... Blah.. Right!


Carsten aka Roy/SAC

Nokia Phone E71x Disappointment & The Super Mobility Promise

I was avoiding getting a smart phone with email capabilities and decent Internet connectivity for a long time. The reason for that is simple. I don't want to make myself accessible anywhere and anytime to everybody.

24/7/365 Any-Time / Any-Where Availability Curse

If you respond to any communication almost immediately regardless of the day of the week, time of the day and where you are at the moment, people will get used to it and act weird, if you suddenly change that habit and not respond as quickly as they expected. They might think that something is wrong with you or that they did something to upset you. But the only reason why you did not respond this one time was simply that you decided to take a time-out from your day to day business and personal life.

Making you accessible 24/7 is a double-edged sword. On the one hand it is good that you keep updated of things where ever you go and in almost real-time, at the same time makes this also very difficult to get your mind of things and to relax or to take a step back and re-evaluate your current place in your and your family's life.


Interesting Facts about Taking Time Off

You take your mobile device on vacation for emergencies, but who are you trying to fool? Especially when you start a break, the mind will not be on that new "break'" / "vacation" mode. Even if you traveled half way around the earth and find yourself in a location that is very different to what you are used to, does the mind not let go of things that it is used to do and processes during all the previous months before you started your break.

A new environment helps, but what is needed is time, time that is not spend on anything associated with what your mind kept occupied before you got there. I cannot point to the source, but I heart one time that it takes about 2-3 days to one week for the mind to let go. Only at that point is it necessary for the body and mind truly to relax and to re-charge your batteries. I think it was a German study. It was definitely not something that I read while I was in the United States. That same study stated that this is the reason why a worker should have at least once per year 2 weeks of vacation in one piece, instead of taking a day or two off here and there.

One week to be able to really to let go (= waste) and the second  week to really re-fill your batteries and relax, release accumulated stress and pressure and prepare the body as well as the mind for another year of bombardment with stress.

Germans have more vacation than Americans. I think it is still at least 20 days per year, but typically somewhere between 25 and 30 days for most people. Maybe I read this stuff in a document that explained, why it was (and hopefully still is) required by law that an intern or employee of the age of under 25 years to take two weeks of his (I think mandatory 25 days) vacation in one piece, every year and that the HR department of the company where the young person is employed has to monitor and ensure that this is actually being done.

Making the Switch

Anyhow, I gave in to the pressure put on by myself mostly and got myself a new mobile phone with high-speed Internet access (3G) capabilities and Email support. I made the resolution that I won't change my habits too much when it comes to responding to people's emails to not give them the impression that I painted in elaborate visually descriptive worlds in the previous paragraphs.

att-logo-orange-transI (used to be) a Nokia Evangelist

nokia  iphone-logo

I am a fan of Nokia. I had some other phones by other providers like Motorola and Samsung in between, but always had issues with them that I never had with my Nokia's. Nokia phone used to be user friendly and easy to use without spending much time trying or worse, reading the manual. It had usually good to excellent reception and above-standard battery life.

The phone that I used all the previous years was a Nokia 6101. I went to a conference once and forgot the phone charger. I was horrified, because I knew that I need to use my cell phone constantly while I was at the conference and after (for the networking events and to hook up with people).

The conference was 3 days; I arrived one day before the show. You know what? The phone lasted to the last day. I only turned it off when I was going to bed and switched it back on the next morning. I was talking to people on the phone for hours and made/received dozens of calls. When I am not at a conference, the battery of the phone lasts easily 2 weeks and more. I never opened the user manual of the phone and was always able to do with it what I wanted without extensive searches and trying of all possible options available in the phone to find the one that I actually wanted to use. The option was usually always there and ready to use, when I intended to use it.

So instead of a fancy iPhone or Blackberry, I decided for a Nokia. The E71x to be exact.

NokiaE71xBewareAni2 Nokia E71x Review - Conclusion: HANDS OFF!

This phone did not work nor feel like a Nokia phone early on.

Transferring Contacts between Sim-Card & Phone One-by-One

The first shock I got was when I stored my contacts on my Nokia 6101 to my Sim-card (all at once, via an option that was easy to find, that I don't even know out of my head, where it can be found exactly), put it temporarily into my new Nokia (which came with a new AT&T Sim-card) and could not find the option to load all contacts from the Sim into the phone. I found out how to copy a single contact and how to either show contacts stored in the phone, on the Sim or both.

I gave up and opened the user manual. I quickly found the section that I was looking for, which to my surprise only describes what I was doing already myself, copy a single contact at the time. No mention of how to copy all contact to or from the Sim card. Don't ask, I still have not found that option, but it also does not matter. I don't have that phone anymore. But more to that in a little bit.

I had about 130-140 contacts that I kept in my old phone and needed to transfer to the new one. I did so one by one (which was time consuming, because not just because I had to do it one at a time, and for every phone number for a contact individually also, but because the option to initiate the copy was the most farthest away from when you opened the options sub menu for a contact in the detail page. There was also no short-cut to jump to the option, so I had to use the arrow keys to get there. 5 or 6 clicks, if I remember correctly.... every time, because it did not remember my previous choices of course.

(Short) Battery Life Time - A Crack Addict of the Power Charger

Next thing I noticed was that the phone went off entirely after less than 3 days, even though I just charged the whole thing completely. It sucked the whole thing empty within less than a week. I used the phone (to copy the contacts, configure some settings, browsing the web for 30 minutes and reading some emails) 2-3 hours at the most. The rest of the time the phone was on stand-by. I did not change the default power savings options, but assumed that it does not run on full power all the time as the factory default setting. I didn't check, but this is also not necessary anymore, because I don't have the phone anymore either.

I would compare the battery life-span of this Nokia with the Motorola Flip-phone that I used to have for a short while in the year 2000 (no, not the "Razor", that wasn't even around at this time). The phone practically hung on the charger whenever I was not on the road. I had a charger at home and the office and knew that I would be screwed, if I would forget taking it with me, if I had to leave town for more than 24 hours.

This was the main reason why I ditched that Motorola as soon as I could.

Internet Access - Watching Videos on the Phone - Disappointing at Best

I was able to access the Internet via the phone and checked out YouTube and tried to watch some videos. It did not work properly. I don't know if the connection was bad = AT&T's fault or if it was the phone.

The pre-installed video application, which pulled various videos using the build-in Real Player to access them was working somewhat. It also lagged in several cases, which interrupted the continuous play back of the videos.

Again, in this case might AT&T had to be blamed and not Nokia. I just mentioned it, because I did of course add to my overall experience. Being able to access interactive multi-media content with the phone was one of the more enjoyable features coming with a smart phone where I really looked forward to.

Email Access - Black Hole - No Sync or Recovery - BEWARES!

I found quickly the build in tool Xpress, which was the only one that had something remotely to do with accessing emails from existing email accounts via POP3 or IMAP. I use Google Hosted (Gmail basically) and needed to access it via POP3.

The application allowed me to do that, including the HTTPS secure connection via different ports and authentication for incoming as well as outgoing mails. The option that I could not find was the flag to "Leave Messages on the Server".

The email access on the phone was of course only intended as supplement, complimentary to the email client on my desktop computer. Well, since it had no setting to control this behavior, I wrongly assumed that it must always leave the messages on the server to prevent people from accidentally enabling this option. Well, it actually deletes messages after it downloaded them. Furthermore it also does not keep all messages. It only stores the last couple dozen or so and deletes messages beyond that figure (don't remember the exact number, but it was 50 or 100 at the most). It also deleted the messages that were not read yet.

Luckily for me, Gmail is setup to not delete messages, but archive them, so I did not lose emails entirely. I can still access them via the Gmail web interface. However, I cannot download them to my email client, because I have not found a way yet to reset the download/delete flag for individual or a group of email messages in Gmail. I can reset it for all emails that I have, 150,000+ of them, but I did not want to download all emails since 10+ years ago again to my computer, because I have 99.99999% of those already. But that is a different story. I posted (once again) at the Gmail support group/forum, but Google did not care about this issue when I pointed it out (in a different scenario) in the year 2007 and probably does not care more about it today.

Syncing (Everything) with a Desktop Computer (or Not)

I hoped to be able to sync at least what I got with the PC somehow. So I went and download the Nokia PC Suite software, connected the phone via USB with the computer (not via Bluetooth, which is also an option, because I did not want to take any chances) and ran the synchronization tool.

It downloaded my contacts from the phone to Outlook. It also downloaded my SMS messages that I received with the phone to somewhere. There was no sign of the email messages downloaded by the Xpress application though. I also could not find the option to access them somehow. I even couldn't find a way to access the file system and get the (probably binary) file where the application stores the data to my PC for analysis and possible recovery.

The Wrong Phone in Every Respect - for Anybody

I called AT&T tech support and tried to find out if I missed something here and learn about a way to recover and synchronize the downloaded emails somehow with my desktop email client. The technical support lady was very knowledgeable, I could tell. She was no douche-bag like some of those reps who don't know anything beyond what's scripted for them in the support manual.

No, there is no way and other things that I might want to do with the phone are also not possible with this Nokia phone, which does not follow any standard nor uses any standard software or operating system, no Windows Mobile and also no Android as far as I can tell. The phone was obviously a bad choice, it was not only falling short on what my needs are, it also falls short on what I would expect from a Nokia regarding the fundamental functionality to expect from a mobile phone.

Now I am Getting a Frickn' iPhone Anyway

I went to the AT&T store yesterday and returned it. I was thinking about getting a Blackberry, but then decided for a number of reasons for the iPhone 3Gs with 16 GB memory. I did not get the 32GB one, which is too expensive, but the 16 GB one wasn't on stock due to high demand. I will get the new phone next week or latest the week after that and use in the meantime my good old Nokia 6101, which was re-activated by AT&T for now.

Conclusion for the Nokia E71x Mobile Phone

If you planned to get this new Nokia phone and still do so, then I think that you did not read the previous paragraphs of this post. You might skim it too quickly and didn't get my message clearly. DON"T BUY THIS PHONE. It is not just the wrong phone for my personal needs, but obviously also the wrong phone for ANYBODIES needs. It is simply a bad phone. It sucks and Nokia should be ashamed to ever have put some crap like this on the market. Quality assurance at Nokia must have had time of or a gun at their heads or something like that. I don't know how else to explain how this junk ever got to show the name Nokia with everything that name represents to anybody outside the Nokia research laps itself.

One might think that a competitor replaced the phone with some junk to harm the Nokia brand name. Yeah, this could have been the case, if I had bought the phone off from some dubious seller in Asia, but I got the phone directly and brand new (not refurbished) from AT&T directly. So the conspiracy theory can be thrown out of the windows right there.


One might say that I might don't have enough problems with technology at the moment and just needed another one of those to keep me occupied. Well, if you know me personally or read some of my older posts from end of last year etc. then you know that this statement was sarcasm pure. :|


Carsten aka Roy/SAC

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Trip Back on Memory Lane - Part 4 - ACE Demo Collection CD-ROMs

Welcome to the fourth and last episode of my mini-series "Trip Back on Memory Lane". This episode is about the French demo collection CD-ROM series "ACE" and also a bit about the demoscene and what demos are in general.

Part 4 - ACE Demo Collection CD-ROMs

ACE The ACE demo collection CD-ROMs are certainly not the only CD-ROMs with productions of the demoscene that were released over the years, but I will argue that this series covers more of the whole scene than any other release before and after it.

There were occasionally good releases from the demoparties like Assembly, Mekka & Symposium and X, but those were not consistent and only covered one particular party.

Note: You can find links at the end of this post where you can download the complete ACE CD-ROMs collection, as well as the complete content of many other demoscene related CD-ROM releases, such as the ones that I mentioned in the previous paragraph.

The ACE collection covers the most important productions released by the scene between 1990 and March 1997.

The collection has four volumes and spans 6 CD-ROMs altogether. ACE 1, which was released in 1994 covers the early beginnings of the PC demoscene, up-to September 1994. The same French demosceners would continue to release another ACE collection every year for the next 3 years. ACE 2 covers all productions between September 1994 and June 1995, ACE 3 (2 CD-ROMS) covers all productions between June 1995 and May 1996 and the last volume, ACE 4 (also 2 CD-ROMS) covers all productions between June 1996 and March 1997.

The CDs were sold at demoparties like "The Party", which was held between 1991 and 2002, every year between Christmas and New Year. The Party was the place where I bought my ACE CD-ROMS. I was a bit disappointed, when I was at The Party 1998 and learned that there was no Volume 5 of the collection anymore. I never learned the actual reasons why they discontinued it. Did they not sell enough and maybe even lost money with this venture? Did somebody complain?

Sure, demos are in virtually any case free to share and distribute. However, demogroups made it sometimes very clear in their demos itself that they prohibit the commercial exploit of their works by profit hungry shareware CD-ROM distributors who loved this "free content" to sell it at a profit to mainstream consumers.

What the folks behind the ACE collection project did was indeed very similar to what those shareware CD-ROM distributors did, but there were several things that differentiated them from those sleazy distributors.

  • The CD-ROM creators were part of the demoscene themselves
  • They did not dump the stuff on their CD-ROMs like those commercial distributors, who just collected anything they could their hands on it and then sorted it by vague categories based on how they understood things. The ACE CD-ROMs are well structured and made a serious effort to be as complete as possible. They also covered not just one aspect of the scene, such as Demo productions only, but the complete broad array of productions that came out of the scene, demos, intros, invites, party reports, graphics, music, disk-mags, source codes, tutorials, articles, tools, routines (like mod-players and others).
  • They did not target the main stream market and did not (as far as I can tell), sell the CD-ROMs to be published with a computer or video games print-magazine.
  • The price of the CD-ROMs was fair, which leads to the assumption that monetary profit was not the main driving force behind the ACE project

The reasons why the series was discontinued is unclear and it is sad that nobody picked up on it to continue its legacy. But things changed a bit since the days when the collections were released. The Internet made it possible to provide easy and free access to most of the content ever produced by the demo scene. There are several archives and repositories out there, where you can download releases or watch video captures of them on your modern PC. Some of the old productions for MS DOS do not run on today's Windows 32 machines anymore and it becomes more and more difficult to be able to watch them by using the original executables.

Emulators for the PC like DOS BOX and BOCHS or for the Macintosh like BOXER have to be used. But even they are not capable of running all of the productions that are out there. I failed to run a number of demos and intros that I would like to capture as a video in order to make them accessible to anybody who is interested in this.

For this reason the Hornet Team spent a lot of time once to create the Mindcandy I - PC Demos and Mindcandy II - Amiga demos DVDs, where they captured classic demos using the original hardware and then made the movie DVDs available for purchase. Unfortunately they only covered the most popular demos for the PC and Commodore Amiga, but there are many more great productions out there that are kind of lost at the moment, because nobody transferred them yet to a medium that allows broad access to it. Note: The Mindcandy team is currently working on a third Volume, which covers demo productions that were released between 2003 and 2009. This is nice, but those productions can still be executed on Windows 32 PCs today.

I made many demo and intro productions in video format available on my YouTube channel SACReleases and most of those videos are also available for download in AVI or WMV format from my Demoscene related file-share at

Demoscene Releated Articles of Mine

To learn more about the demoscene and its productions, motivations and history, check out the articles of mine below. I wrote over the past few years a number of articles that talk about the demoscene in great detail.

Here are additional resources and download links to content that you might enjoy also.


Also See

I hope that you enjoyed my mini-series. Cheers!

Carsten aka Roy/SAC

Trip Back on Memory Lane - Part 3 - IBM OS/2 and My BBS Tech History

Welcome to part 3 of my mini-series "Trip Back on Memory Lane". This segment will talk about the 32bit operating system OS2 Warp by IBM, but also about the history of my bulleting board system "Closed Society".


Note: Correction to one of the statements that I made in the video. It was a Pentium 100MHz and not a 486/100 where I ran the BBS with OS/2 on. Sorry for that.

Part 3 - IBM OS/3 Warp 32Bit Operating System

os2warp After I had my BBS running on individual PC's that were connected with each other and a "file server" via Novel Lite and then Lantastic for a long while, I got around buying a single "power PC" (=new) that was capable to run all nodes of the BBS all by itself. 

But let me take you a bit further back in time to when I first got started with my BBS that eventually lead me to the use of OS2 as the operating system of choice to run my multi-node bulletin board system. 

A Brief "Technical" History of my BBS

I had not much money when I started my BBS. I was co-sysop at some other boards and also played around with local installations of Bulletin Board Software. I did not want to start a 1 node BBS (I had a U.S. Robotics 14.4 HST Courier with an "after market upgrade" to a full Dual Standard), which was kind of lame those days already (early 1994). A friend of mine, who was known as "Monday" (Martin) in the scene said to me one day when the subject came up in some conversation that I could use his Zyxel modem, because he is hanging out at my place all the time anyway. I first thought that it was a joke, but it wasn't.

Closed Society V1.0 - 2 Nodes

1x 14.4 HST/14.4 V32BIS & 1x V32BIS

I got a spare 386/25 without monitor around (the first PC that my dad bought in 1991 and that I used, when I was still living at my parents), but did not want to sacrifice my Pentium 60MHz for the BBS. The 386 had 4 MB memory, but that was not enough to run two nodes on it with QEMM/DESQVIEW (the cheap multitasking software solution for MS DOS). I did not have two COM ports with UART controller, which might would have done the job, but I got plenty of scene friends with spare computer parts.

It did not take too long and I had a second PC for the BBS together. A 286/10 MHz, 512 KB Ram+Memory Extension card (full 5 1/4 inch height and length) to get it up to 640 KB, a 75 MB 5 1/2 inch full height, full length MfM hard disc, COM port and even a huge monitor capable of EGA mode. I don't remember if the PC had a VGA card or not or if the monitor simply could not support VGA resolution. :)

I also got a keyboard and monitor switch somewhere and thus got everything that I needed to setup a BBS with two lines. Okay, the phone lines were missing, but I got the two lines within a few weeks rather than months, years or not at all as in East Germany. I don't remember for sure, but the fast availability of the extra phone lines (which surprised me a lot), might have accelerated the process and my efforts to get all pieces together.

I first wanted to use PCExpress instead of PCBoard, because I did not have much experience with it yet, but then decided for PCBoard, after their Version 15.x release, when they introduced the PPLC compiler and the PPL scripting language to customize the system (the compiled PPL scripts, also known as PPE's).

One day I had a serious dispute with Monday and he literally ripped his modem out of the BBS and took it with him. The BBS, which gained more and more popularity up to that point was at risk at that moment. Another friend of mine with the handle (and real name) "Jan" stepped in and loaned me an US Robotics 16.8 Baud Dual Sportster modem, where I could pay him the money back over the course of several months.

Closed Society V2.0 - 3 Nodes

1x 16.8HST/14.4 V32 BIS, 1x 14.4 HST/14.4 V32BIS & 1x V32BIS

Monday and I consolidated our differences a few weeks later and he offered his Zyxel modem back for the BBS. That was the point when I looked into an extension of the BBS to 3 nodes.

The computer for the third node was even cheaper than the one that I put together for the second node. It was a 286/16 MHz with 640 KB or 1 MB memory (I cannot remember) and no hard drive. I booted this node up from a floppy disk, which had the network drivers and the PCBoard start-up files on it. If I re-call correctly was that the reason why I switched from Novel Lite to Lantastic. I could not fit everything that I needed on a single floppy disc with Novel Lite. MS DOS, Himem.sys, Ansi.sys, PCBoard.exe, NE2000 drivers, autoexec.bat, config.sys and network Configuration files all had to fit too. There was little room left for the network software. Lantastic did the job.

Closed Society V3.0 - 5 Nodes

2x 64 KB ISDN, 1x 16.8HST/14.4 V32 BIS, 1x 14.4 HST/14.4 V32BIS & 1x V32BIS

As you can imagine, the 3 BBS computers running 24/7/365 (none of them energy efficient nor low noise by any means), plus my personal PC, which was also running several hours per day and almost all day during the weekends, sucked up a lot of power. It was also heating my one room apartment enough that I did not even had to turn on the heater during the Winter (not one-bedroom, one-room, also called studio). My phone and power bills competed both with my rent and succeeded (in case of the phone bill) or came very close to it (the power bill). It was not just practical, but also cost efficient to move to a different hardware solution for the BBS.

The Pentium processors became affordable and memory prices dropped as well. So I got a Pentium with 100 or 120 MHz (not sure) and 16 MB Ram, which was capable of running the 32Bit operating system OS/2 by IBM and all my nodes on a single machine. I also got around to buy the required UART chips for the COM ports, which were necessary for this as well. I did not use OS/2 before that and knew that I needed help to get it done right.

A friend, who worked in a computer shop and got me a deal for the custom build Pentium PC, helped with the OS/2 installation and configuration, specifically the configuration of the required COM ports for the modems. His name was "Gee", who was also a sysop. He ran the BBS "Skylight" where I created my personal favorite ANSI for.

Gee had a very good, who agreed to help with the installation and configuration of PCBoard in an OS/2 multi-tasking environment. That friend was Cyz, sysop of the non-pirate BBS with the name "Shogunat". Cyz would become also a friend of mine and the first Co-Sysop of my BBS (I did not have one until then and Monday did not count hehe). His BBS "Shogunat" would become also the Superior Art Creations (SAC) Application HQ. He would also become a SAC member, until the PPE division was split-up from SAC to form the new PPE release group "Peanuts".

A Teles ISDN card was also added to the computer, bringing up the number of nodes of my BBS to 5.  That must have been in 1996.

Closed Society V3.5 - 5 Nodes

4x ISDN & 1x 16.8 HST/14.4 V32BIS

During the years 1996 and 1997 the number of modem users declined significantly. Mainly due to the fact that the German Telecom was privatized, had the opening of the market looming on the horizon and used the remaining months it had left as a monopolist to increase (they called it restructuring) of the phone cost to a world-record high.

The phone cost during prime-time (day time) for a LOCAL phone call rose to 23 Pfennig/3 minutes (about 10-12 cents/3 minutes). BBS usage virtually shifted entirely to the off peak hours between 6 PM - 5 am for local calls (where the cost dropped to 23 Pfennig/6 and 12 minutes) and 2 am - 5 am for national long distance calls (I believe the rate dropped to the rate of the local prime during those hours, 23 Pfenning/3 minutes).

I kept one Modem node for the few remaining local callers who did not switch to ISDN yet and for international callers from mostly Israel and Canada, where Blue Boxing and other means of free calling still worked and ISDN was not commonly used.

I dropped two of the modem notes and replaced them with two additional ISDN nodes.

I cannot remember when the BBS ran any smoother than under OS/2. I never had any serious problem with it. Certain things I did not even touch or only once or twice, since the OS was installed with the help of my friends initially. Computer performance became an issue, when I had all nodes busy, which lead to the memory upgrade to take care of it.

I had a QIC-80 tape drive (120 MB capacity) for backups of all the data (warez mainly) that poured into the BBS and out every day and used the software DualStore for OS/2 with it. If more than 2 nodes were busy and I ran a tape backup at the same time, things could become critical, depending on what the users did in the BBS.

The great application WatchCat was a savior on several occasions. The tool monitored all running processes, including the MS DOS and Windows 3.x emulation processes as well as native OS/2 processes of course. I could specify for each process (and application) a priority (in relation to one another). When system resources ran out and a crash imminent, WatchCat terminated processes with lower priority first to get the system stabilized again. It also prevented any process from going rampart and locking up the entire system and killed it, if that became necessary.

I miss a tool like that for Win32 operating systems and I am sure that you do to, every time when you have a process that brings your computer to a virtual halt, making it non-responsive to any attempts to load the task manager and thus impossible for you to kill the process. You end up with two options in this moment. 1) You wait and hope that the process returns to normal and 2) reset/turn off the computer and lose everything that you had open and were working on at that time. Since you don't know, how long it might take for option 1 to resolve the problem by itself, option 2 is more likely to win. This percentage increases the less patience and trust you have for option 1.

I packed the tools that I mentioned and some other tools and things that I used with OS/2 on my BBS machine into a single archive and made it available for download, including some custom made OS/2 program icon graphics that I designed for my own BBS.

Closed Society II V0.9Beta

2x 64KB ISDN & 1x 16.8 HST/14.4 V32 BIS

After my BBS was busted in 1998, I started a new BBS (the one that I was preparing for actually when I was busted). The old equipment was gone of course. I got my personal PC back, which had almost no pirated software on it and I had of course the original BBS software and OS etc. I did not get the BBS hardware back, because it was evidence for my case and would become part of my "punishment" when the case was settled without a conviction.

The new Closed Society was public and entirely DEMO, Art and PCBoard Tools oriented, the stuff that made up most of the software that I had on my private PC anyway. Things changed though and the BBS usage declined after an already  slow re-launch. The time was 1998. I used the Internet myself since 1994-95 professionally a little bit and 1996-97 intensively (privately), mainly IRC and FTP at first, but then also the World Wide Web (WWW) a little bit later. In 1998 I did most of the stuff on the Internet and rarely called other bulletin board systems anymore. Some sysop's hooked up their site to the Internet, providing limited ISP services to their users.

It was the last attempt to safe their BBS for many. I was thinking about it briefly, but realized quickly that those attempts won't change the direction where things were going already. Unlike many fellow sysop's who did not push the "off switch" of their BBS until some hardware or software failure that required some action to be taken in order to bring the system back up, I pushed it deliberately and concisely.

I heard the rumors about Clark Development working on some software to bring the bulletin board systems into the Internet age, but the company went out of business before it could finish a working and public beta version of it. The software was titled "Metaworlds". Clark Development released in October 1995 already tools to connect PCBoard to the Internet, but those were rather crude solutions that fall into the category "workarounds" at best.

They must have almost finished it when they went bankrupt in July 1997, because on August 1, 1997 was still an article published in "Computer Shopper" that announced it (source:

MetaWorlds for Windows 95 and Windows NT
Clark Development Co.
3950 S. 700 E., Ste. 203
Murray, UT 84107-2173
Fax: 801-261-8987

Support: Live phone support, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays (MT); free for first 90 days, annual renewals available; Web; BBS; e-mail

Requires: Windows 95 or Windows NT; 8MB of RAM for Windows 95, 16MB or more for Windows NT; Ethernet network card; TCP/IP networking protocol

Direct Price: Two-user version, $99; eight-user version, $249; enterprise version (unlimited), $499

More BBS functionality and power are hitting the Web with the latest ...

I never saw a copy of the software anywhere though, nor saw any installation of it.

Unfortunately, IBM's OS/2 would follow the route that bulletin board systems went as well. It's a big shame, if not an outright scandal. OS/2 had many short comings compared to Win32 OS solutions by Microsoft, specifically in regards to multi-media support and un-easy installation process, but it had several core advantages that Microsoft has not been able to get right up to this date. Windows 7 looks at first glance promising to deliver on a few aspects of what OS/2 was famous for, 10+ years later.

I am not a Linux guy and admit that I did not even install ANY available Linux distribution yet.  That's why I won't make any comments to that in regards to how Linux compares to OS/2, especially in regards to performance, reliance and system stability. I would only guess and repeat what I heard from someone else, but that does not provide any value to you or me. 

The Banks were some of the last users of OS/2 who did not want to let go of it, so they also did with Windows NT/4. Banks knew why. Reliability and Security are two of the core competencies of a bank. They know what software delivers best on those two things when it comes to general main stream software in the market place.

I am looking forward to the time, when system crashes and blue-screens will become the exception rather than the norm once more. I enjoyed the short period when I was able to experience this myself first hand and won't forget that the things that Microsoft operating systems lag to this day are not impossible to do. OS/2 was not just a proof of concept, but a full-fleched reminder that it is possible to do and therefore possible to do again.

Note: I missed in this episode of my series the user manual and license for my original Windows 98 operating system software. I found it today, but won't spend the time to work it into the video. I just publish it here in this post that you can also see it.




Also See

Trip Back on Memory Lane - Part 2 - PCBoard BBS Software

Welcome to part 2 of my mini-series "Trip Back on Memory Lane". This part is about the famous bulletin board  software called "PCBoard" by Clark Development Company, Inc.

Part 2 - PCBoard Bulletin Board System by Clark Development

pcboard I am a former Sysop of the BBS called "Closed Society" in Berlin, Germany. You can learn more about my BBS in great details (including a video of a captured login session) at my regular web site here.

I had a pirate board running, but I ran it on licensed software, including licenses for the BBS software PCBoard and the OS were it ran on (IBM OS/2 Warp). The cops where surprised about that when I got busted, but more to that at the page about my BBS.

I recently recovered the original installation/setup discs of PCBoard and decided to make them available publicly. It's not like a clean warez/crack installation, because there are also some update steps required to get the version of the BBS to V15.22, capable to run on a 32bit OS like OS/2 or Win32 and to increase the number of node licenses from 3 to either 5 or 10.

Here are my notes as well as some comments to how this affected my own BBS etc.

Floppy Discs 1-3

PCBoard V15.2/2 & V15.2 Setup Disks 1 - 3  = PCBoard Professional Bulletin Board Software V15.2/2 Install Disks (3x HD 1.44 MB). Serial Number: 042421 (License for 2 Lines plus Doors and PPLC) (c)1994 Clark Dev.  Co., Inc.

Floppy Disc 4

PCBoard V15.21 - 5 Lines plus PPLC Lic files provided by POB Support BBS, Ser.# 042421 (As result of license transfer and upgrade), 1xHD Disk, about 991 KB, includes only the upgraded Pcboard.exe. The Pcboardm.exe and PCBoard.ser was supposed to be on there too, based on the ReadMe!.POB text files with installation notes in German by the German distributor for PCBoard,  where I purchased the License Transfer to my Name, the # Lines Upgrade from 2 to 5 Lines and the Print Manuals for PCB and PPLC 15.2.

He did include however, a PCBTEXT. File, translated from English to German, which he did not mention, but I did not care about that one, because I kept the language within my BBS, with exceptions to One-Liners, Personal Messages and funny phrases that  I put out  with the command prompt every time, to the original English Language Version. I had some callers from abroad after all, mainly from Israel and Canada.

The BBS worked fine withe the existing (2 Lines) Pcboard.ser file and the updated Pcboard.exe.

I then got a cracked version of the software anyway, if the cops would have compared the serial numbers used for the running BBS and the printed on my original setup disks and invoices, they would have found out, that they did not match :).

I removed the display of the serial #, the PCBoard version and credits that are usually displayed to a user who connects to the BBS with a HEX editor, because I did not want to rub it under the nose of a stranger who got my BBS phone numbers somehow, that I was running a BBS on PCBoard.

Running PCBoard was a pretty clear indicator that you had a pirate board running. It did not matter if you used a cracked version of PCB or owned licenses as I did. Nobody would believe you anyway.

Well, there were for sure places in the binaries left where the serial number could have been found, but the cops didn't bother anyway. They had still a hard time believing that I ran my software pirating BBS on legitimate software where I paid a considerable amount of money for.

It was also for the first time that they got to see the manuals of the software. The government had obviously not the money to pay for this kind of material that  law enforcement could have learned more about the tools used by their "foes" and thus better able to work against them. Well well.

Floppy Disc 5

PCBoard V15.22 - 10 Lines License File (Pcboard.ser) and Executables (Pcboard.exe & Pcboardm.exe) - cracked/pirated version. 

I only got it because of convenience. I never had more lines than 5 (where I had purchased the license for).
The problem was that I wanted to have a local node for myself (e.G. reading and writing messages, check how the system looks,  develop and test PPE's and upload files).

The 5 lines license did not allow me to setup a sixth "sysop & local only"  line. This is how Clark Development was able to sell stacked licenses (for 1,3, 5,10,25, 100 & 255+ lines). Without a crack for the software was it impossible for a sysop to exceed the number of lines where he had a license for.

The second reason was the missing 5 Lines version of the PCBoardM.exe, which became an issue for me after having my BBS up for a long time and after my free Version upgrade and support agreement had expired already (I believe it was always good for one-year after acquiring a new license for the software.

I used the PCBoard.exe as long as I had also a PC for each line, which were hooked up in a Netware Lite and later Lantastic to a token ring network.

When I got my new Pentium100MHz "power PC" with 16 MB (later 32 MB) RAM and an OEM License for IBM's OS/2 Warp operating system, I could not use the Pcboard.exe anymore, because it didn't run properly in a 32 Bit / Multitasking environment such as OS/2 (or later also Win95). Clark Development provided for this purpose a modified and optimized version of the executable with the file name PcboardM.exe (where "M" stands for "Multi-Tasking Support". They charged extra money for the M version at first, but then changed their pricing model again, providing the M and Standard version for no extra fee.

The was no instant support or Internet around and used for this type of things  back in the days and I simply did not want to get through all the hassle again, like long distance phone calls to the distributor; explaining everything in detail, providing physical proof that I own a licensed copy of the software etc. I was sitting at "the source" after all.

I did bend my licensing agreement a little bit, but did not feel anything wrong with what I was doing.
I saved everybody time and money, that would have been spent otherwise. 


Also See

Trip Back on Memory Lane - Part 1 - Gravis Ultrasound

Okay, Here is the first detailed segment of my mini-series "Trip Back on Memory Lane". 

I thought that I would post that part later, but I was not able to post the intro post or any other post two days ago and yesterday as I intended to, because my AC broke last Sunday and temperature rose in my place to 90 and then 100+ degrees Fahrenheit, which forced me to shut down all my computer equipment, because of overheating.

The AC was just fixed a bit over one hour ago and temperatures are slowly going down to normal :). So here we go now and start with the first segment, which is about the famous PC sound card Gravis Ultrasound (GUS).


Part 1 - Gravis Ultrasound (GUS) Sound Card by Advanced Gravis

gravis In the year 1993 a small US company with the name "Gravis" introduced a sound card that was beating anything that was available at that time in the same price range.

It was a sound card for consumers and amateurs with semi-professional needs. They called their sound card "Ultrasound" and people would soon call it simply "GUS". The sound card was the first in it's class to provide high quality surround sound and programmers on the PC loved the card even more for very different reasons.

The GUS came with an on-board memory of 512KB, which could be extended to 1 MB. This memory could be used to load audio samples that were used in tracker  music files like S3M (Scream Tracker 3) , XM (Fast Tracker 2) or MOD (Commodore Amiga Sound Tracker, a semi-standard for 4CH tracker music files) into its own memory, saving precious memory of the PC's RAM.

The on-board processors also aided with the playback and playing back music on the GUS used up a lot less main CPU and system resources than the semi-standard PC "Soundblaster" sound cards by Creative Labs., inc.

Gravis used this popularity among coders to promote their products, especially in the European demoscene. They sent their hardware free to some of the members of famous demogroups of that time, sponsored some of the demoparty events and had demogroups create some of their promotional advertisement (basically "mini demos" with commercial message).

GUS became a semi standard in the demoscene and support of the sound card in demo productions was not only expected, but went so far that many demos did not even support any other sound card, but the Gravis Ultrasound. The adaptation of support for the GUS among commercial software companies, like game development companies and applications developer was rather slow and sales to consumers lower than many hoped for.

This meant that the GUS did not become a replacement and stand-alone alternative to a Soundblaster compatible card, which made it necessary to have two sound cards running in your computer, if you want to be able to enjoy more than PC beeper noise with all your recent software publications. Setting up the hard and software properly to avoid conflicts and be able to use both cards whenever needed was not easy, which lead to the introduction of new versions of the sound card that was designed to hook up with an existing Soundblaster sound card and the parallel installation much easier.

All this did not help "Advanced Gravis" to gain enough market share (like the Roland MT32 did in its own niche) to make it viable for them to continue competing in this business. Gravis stopped the production of Ultrasound sound cards and became after that only known to consumers as the manufacturer of Joysticks, Game-pads and other PC gaming accessories.


Also See


Carsten aka Roy/SAC

Trip Back on Memory Lane - Summary and Intro

memorylanethumb2Welcome to my mini-series "Trip Back on Memory Lane". Make sure to keep tissues handy and enjoy a trip back to times when the computer world was still "intact" and a lot of fun. I hope to bring back some enjoyable memories back for one or the other of you.

I will go beyond the simple nostalgic parts, which are clearly an important part of this and try to make clear and suggestive cross-references to things, mostly problems, that we did or did not have back then, but sill/again have today, in this advanced day and age.

I created a video where I show some buried treasures of mine and talk about them a little bit. You can watch the combined video, which includes all of them, the Gravis Ultrasound (GUS) sound card, the PCBoard BBS Software, the IBM OS/2 operating system and my ACE Demos Collection CD-ROMs below.

Note: Correction to one of the statements that I made in the video. It was a Pentium 100MHz and not a 486/100 where I ran the BBS with OS/2 on. Sorry for that.

The video is a bit less than 13 minutes long and provides visual images that will bring back memories for many of you, if you shared some of my own personal history of course.

I have actually a bit more to say to each of the treasures and started writing content. What I have written so far is way to much to publish in a single blog post (it might sound strange to hear that from me) so I decided to make it also an article series.

ACE gravis os2warp  pcboard 

I cut down the full video and made individual episodes out of it as well, which I will use as introduction to each of the posts. Last but not least would I include some resources and download links that are related or directly connected to the things that I either mentioned in the video already or will talk about in more detail in the upcoming articles of my series "Trip Back on Memory Lane". 

Don't be surprised, if the articles will be published in wrong order. This is because I will publish them in the order that I write them and I did already write much of the stuff for other parts than 1. (GUS) :).


Also See

I hope you will enjoy the full series of mine. Feel free to share any personal stories, comments and opinions in the comments section of this or the other posts in this series to share them with me and others who are reading this blog post. Thanks and Cheers!

Carsten aka Roy/SAC

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Alegria 25th Anniversary Ed. & Cirque du Soleil '25' Album

I just finished updating my primer post about Cirque du Soleil music CD releases, which is part of my Cirque du Soleil Primer article series (which I also updated and enhanced btw.) Cirque released two new CD's, which I would like to talk about.

The first release was:

Alegria 25th Anniversary Edition Re-Mastered

That release was a major disappointment to me. I don't know what the reason for this release is. There are already THREE versions of this soundtrack CD. The original OST from 1994, the extended version from 2001 and the 1994'er "Re-Release" version from 200x, which is virtually identical to this one. Correction! This version has a cheaper CD case, made up entirely out of paper, no plastic, except for the CD itself... oh and this version costs a few Dollars more.

Brief Detour & ECO-Mania Rant

Okay, somebody at YouTube pointed out to me that this packaging is part of the "protect the environment" ecology friendly packaging material program and not because of saving money. "ECO FRIENDLY" and "GREEN" seems to be an excuse for everything nowadays. Did somebody consider that I want the CD and its casing to last for a very very long time, preferable beyond my own lifetime to inherit it to my children, who I might have one day? I do not want it to deteriorate within the next few years and become compost to be fed to plants in my patio.

The current CD case is not able to protect neither the CD nor its booklet from the environment, not even the calm and peaceful one in my own apartment. Some things should be made to last, many others are not; music releases that are dear to my heard fall into the first category. Shopping bags, food wrappings, diapers, product packaging, disposable pens and lighters on the other hand fall into the second one.

I am neither ANTI-Green nor a GREEN-Fanatic. I do care for this planet and are well aware of the problems and danger our world is currently in. Pro-Earth, being Eco-Friendly etc.; I am all for it, but I hate it, if those words and causes are being used to cut back on the quality of a product, where "easily disposable" and "organic decomposition" are contradicting the purpose of the product itself. It does not help nature either, because I probably need to buy an even worse offender on the ECO-scale, which also comes with packaging and all that crap, in order to protect the original product and ensure is long longevity.

Back to the Soundtrack itself again / Conclusion

I compared this version to the other three (which I also own) and don't know what they "re-mastered". The audio is the same. The music is great, but you are better off with the previous release of the album (Alegría) or better, the extended version from 2001, which has two additional tracks and the same audio quality and a real CD Case (Alegria + Manipulation & Flying Man).

Here is the video version of my review, without the ECO rant and with the sound comparison between the four different Alegria soundtrack releases at the end.

The second music CD release by Cirque du Soleil was:

"25" - the 25th Anniversary 2-Disc Collection

I won't start the same rant about the CD case quality again; the one from above should suffice. Yeah, the quality of the case is as bad as for the "Alegria" re-release; all paper, except for the discs itself :(

The 2-disc special edition collection is worth the money though. You will find 25 songs on two CDs, which each have a name. Disc one is called "Poetique" and disc two is called "Dynamique". CD #1 has 13 tracks and CD #2 12.

"Poetique" may refer to fact that the tracks on CD #1 are usually "slower" in nature, compared to the songs on the second disc. If I understand it correctly, then the CD contains ONE track for each of the 25 productions that Cirque du Soleil promotes to have created within the past 25 years. 25 years, 25 productions; sounds nice.

I was always puzzled by that count, because no matter how I looked at stuff, I either got more than 25 or less than 25 productions as my own count. Well, the CDs only helped somewhat to solve this mystery.

Tracks on disc 1 "Poetique"

01. Ouverture (Cirque Reinvente) 1:44
02. Le Funambule (La Magie Continue) 3:37
03. Meandres (Fascination) 6:55
04. Havi Vahlia (Nouvelle Experience) 4:40
05. Vai Vedrai (Alegria) 4:33
06. A Tale (La Nouba) 4:19
07. Piece of Heaven (Zumanity) 4:58
08. Volo Volando (Corteo) 4:31
09. Beyond the Clouds (Wintuk) 3:27
10. Sexy Pet (Believe) 2:48
11. The Worlds Meet (Zed) 6:36
12. Banquete (Ovo) 2:47
13. Alegria (Alegria, le film) 4:20

Tracks continued on disc 2 "Dynamique"

14. Le Cirque du Soleil (Cirque du Soleil) 3:22
15. Les Pingouins (Cirque du Soleil) 3:25
16. Barock (Saltimbanco) 3:59
17. Rivage (Quidam) 4:10
18. Birimbau (Mystere) 6:10
19. Svecounia ("O") 5:00
20. Ravendhi (Dralion) 4:39
21. Lubia Dobarstan (Varekai) 4:29
22. Pursuit (KA) 5:53
23. One Love (Delirium) 3:11
24. Hum Jaisa Na Dekha (Kooza) 3:45
25. Utinam (Zaia) 6:46

12+12 = 25

It obviously includes the Movie production "Alegria, Le Film"; however, it does not include the IMAX production "Journey of Man", or the TV production "Solstrom". They included the short tour exclusive to Japan "Fascination" as its own production.

"Cirque du Soleil" must refer to their very first production "Le Grand Tour" from 1984, but there are TWO tracks attributed to "Cirque du Soleil" to make the 25 count full. Okay, the "le Grand Tour" had two runs, one in 1984 and a second in 1985 (sometimes referred to as "Le Cirque du Soleil"), but I think that Cirque cheated a little bit here to make the 25 full. But why the hair-splitting and making two shows out of one, if they just could have counted "Solstrom" or "Journey of Man" as a full production like Alegria the Movie and were done with it? It's beyond me.

Previously Unreleased Tracks

You might noticed Track 10, 11 and 12 on disc ONE. Track 10 is another track (after "Rabbits") from the new resident Cirque du Soleil show at the Luxor in Las Vegas, "Criss Angel's Believe". Track 11 is the first complete track released for the Cirque show "ZED", which premiered in October 2008 at Disney World Tokyo (also a resident show) and last but not least track 12 from the 2009 touring show "OVO". For non of those shows was the official soundtrack CD released yet. This is good news for collectors :).

Final Judgement on "25"

I have to admit that the selected tracks (and some times the version of the selected track) are not the very best of each show, so I won't consider this release anything like a BEST OF CIRQUE DU SOLEIL album, IT IS NOT.

If you want to get a selection of popular and famous Cirque du Soleil songs, stick to their previously released "Le Best of Cirque du Soleil" album. It has less tracks and not from as many shows, but there you really get the best known and popular songs of Cirque du Soleil shows and will not be disappointed. I would classify this 25th Anniversary collection as a "Fans Only" release, not suitable for the general public. :)


Carsten aka Roy/SAC & CirqueDuSoleilGuru