Free Parking

Shiuming Lai discovers another good reason to visit Cheshunt Computer Club


Summer this year has been a whirlwind of events in the UK scene. I was still very excited for days after Classic Gaming Expo UK at the end of July, I certainly wasn't getting any work done on MyAtari, so thought why not take time out to visit Cheshunt Computer Club as well, and challenge some of the boys to my new 2600 games!

I had a late afternoon job booked on the day, so took my own car instead of the rattly old company transport, thinking to burn rubber all the way as soon as finishing the job. Unfortunately it wasn't to be, there were jams all the way, and I also had to suffer a couple of louts in front of me driving a clapped out repmobile minus its hub caps, attempting to do burnouts as we crawled from Gunnersbury Park up to Hangar Lane.

Eventually I arrived over an hour late, to face more frustration in the form no parking spaces in front of Wolsey Hall, so into the neighbouring car park I went. It's not expensive, but my loose change was about five pence short of the fee required by the ticket machine. By now feeling the steam coming out of my ears, I spent more time charging around looking to get some change then read the notice more carefully and deduced that parking was free at that hour anyway. I wonder how much money I've wasted over the years paying for parking there.

The evening was in full swing, Steve Sweet came out to help me bring my kit indoors, and he brought along a portable television for me to play my Atari 2600.

As soon as I set myself up, next to Felice and Ian Smith with their Falcons (Felice's one in need of technical attention from Steve later on), I went out with some of the lads to get some much-needed grub, as I had not eaten all day! Ian, Felice and Steve's son, Marshall, came with me to Pizza Hut, where the girl at the counter cut me a good deal on a deep pan Chicken Supreme with some burnt garlic bread thrown in.

Back at the club, how difficult do you think it would be to share one's nosh? I nearly had to eat all that lard myself! Surely this lot aren't all health fiends?

[Screen-shot: Steve Sweet fixing a Falcon]

Steve attending to Felice's non-working Falcon.

Fed and watered, I felt suitably refreshed to participate in the meeting more fully. Mark Branson had his super CT60 Falcon tower again, this time sporting a proper badge. SCSI problems stopped anything too exciting happening on Mark's Falcon. A few new members were in attendance on the PC side, where Steve was also doing some repairs and upgrades, although one particularly ancient PC amusingly choked on a 200 GB hard disk. I could have told them that for free!

Peter West was not doing much translation work this time, he is currently rather engrossed in the game that was given to the first 50 attendees at JagFest this year, Oxyd. This is a cult classic. I've been so snowed under, my copy is still in wraps, but it definitely looks like a game with long-lasting appeal. Anyone mind if we suspend the magazine for six months while we try out all the goodies we've picked up this year?

[Screen-shot: Peter West looking busy]

Peter West looking busy, number 1,345,120. Young Marshall witnesses the grand master's devastating skills.

Derryck Croker was chatting to a first-time visitor who was into collecting all manner of vintage computers, starting with Atari 8-bits. It seems the club is still managing to attract new visitors, which is great.

[Photo: Club in action]

[Photo: Felice and Steve]

[Photo: James, Peter, Ian and Jeff]

[Photo: Marshall playing Activision Tennis]

[Photo: Mark's CT60 tower]

Before long it was my turn to get Steve's technical assistance, with a failed Falcon power supply. Steve always comes well tooled up to these meetings and rushes from one job to another with precision that belies the state of this makeshift workshop, my power supply took less than five minutes to fix. Of course it helps to tell Steve in advance of the symptoms, and bring gifts of spicy food or the odd bottle of finest whiskey.

[Screen-shot: Fitting new capacitor]

Fitting a replacement, uprated specification capacitor.

[Screen-shot: Testing]

Testing the repaired unit under load.

The fun was over too soon for me. Maybe I could take the day off work next time, but then I always like the rush of trying to get there on time straight after work, it's like part of the event itself.

Big thanks to Ian and Felice for the drinks as well, a most refreshing treat after a long trek to the club! I look forward to meeting again this month, at JagFest Vindaloo Reloaded.

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MyAtari magazine - Feature #4, August 2004

Copyright 2004 MyAtari magazine