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Dymocracy (True Story VI)

Entry 1718 posted in: 6. Self-Made Monsters

Resistance is futile I can be such a prick sometimes and I wouldn't like to be one of my own colleagues.

Because Dell delivered a truckload of computers at the place I pretend to work I found it a pretty neat idea to stick some labels on the machines. I knew there had been a Dymo label maker in our company before but it had disappeared in the mist of time.

Time to call the office equipment department. The office equipment department (OED), in our company, is regarded as the earthly equivalent of a black hole. It is a mysterious place known for sucking in things, like paper, tape or pencils, with almost no chance for the paper, tape or pencil in question to ever appear again. It is a constant fight for our people trying to balance on the office equipment department's event horizon hoping that something might fall out.

One sunny day, a few years ago, I had purchased some laptops but because I would be away for a couple of days I wanted to secure these. So I strolled over to the OED and asked one of the wayward witches if I could put the laptops in their safe. "No way.", was the answer, "There is no place in the safe because we keep our staplers in there." I immediately believed them as it is easier in our organisation to get a new company car than a stapler.

You need to know there have been several stapler wars going on for the past decades in the company I work for. In one of these battles I emerged as a freedom fighter although the OED general staff probably will define me as an Al Qaeda inspired terrorist. One day a stapler squad team, lead by one of the witches, sealed off the building to do a physical inventory. They entered my office and saw my stapler on the desk. "Aha! A stapler!", they triumphantly sneered. Before I could make any move they produced a paper. "Sign this!" I laughingly asked what the paper was for and was explained, in the same tone US marines use when they unexpectedly break into an Afghan hut and ask the owner what he has been doing at his own place, that I had to agree that I was in the possession of a company stapler and that I would be physically and economically responsible if this piece of equipment ever went missing.

I refused. This was clearly a reaction they didn't expect. I took the stapler that had been serving me for the past decade, caressed it for a while, and handed it over to the squad leader. "Here.", I said with a sob in my voice, "I don't need it anymore." I haven't had a stapler since. (Although you probably won't believe me, I assure you this is a true story.)

But, like I have written some paragraphs ago, I now urgently wanted an embosser to stick some labels on some computers. Sweet memories encompassed my mind from decades ago when I was still a young boy and one could conquer the world with a Dymo embosser in one hand and a View-Master in the other.

To my amazement it was immediately agreed on that I was worthy of getting this and, probably a record in the history of our company, a carton box with D-Y-M-O written all over it was brought to my office a couple of hours later. I had hoped for something I could squeeze inside my pockets but the box didn't exactly predict good news.

The apparatus that came out of the box could be easily described as a secret doomsday weapon from a Star Wars movie with more buttons than an average jet fighter. It also came with a USB-cable and a message on the box proudly proclaimed that you could type (and obviously print) your labels using your computer keyboard, making the zillion of buttons on the machine somewhat redundant.

I was willing to boldly go where no man had went before and although the Dymo doomsday machine looked pretty ridiculous next to my slick laptop, a bit like hanging a trailer behind a Porsche, I opened the typical white envelop that contained the software cd and inserted it. The installation went smoothly, but something in the EULA bothered me. The first sentence of the End user License Agreement read:


What I found pretty weird was that some obviously overpaid and overzealous lawyers of the law firm representing Dymo had decided that shredding some paper to pieces in order to grab a CD already was enough to limit their warranty. Probably they had suffered from a million dollar lawsuit in the past by someone who had cut a finger by opening the envelop. I found the first sentence so intriguing that I read the second one as well, that went:


That one made me laugh out loud and several people from the office hid under their desks because they thought there was a hyena on the loose.

Because: in order to read the agreement one has to open the sealed envelop and insert the CD in a computer.
But: if you do not agree with the agreement you are not allowed to break the seal, but that knowledge is only given after you have opened the envelop.
That is what I call a contradiction.

I am aware that Superman with his X-ray vision can read letters through envelopes, but I doubt that Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster gave him the ability to read texts from a CD, bit by bit, as CD-ROM technology was pretty rare in 1932, so I wrote a letter to Dymo explaining my dilemma.

And guess what. They answered. Dymo told me there was indeed a contradiction in their EULA and added they will ask their legal department to come up with a better version. The rain stopped raining, the grey clouds suddenly disappeared from the sky and a giant golden sun painted a rainbow in the skies.

Just a small step for Felix Atagong, but what a giant leap for the world. And I don't even ask a fee for it.

Other True Stories on this blog:
True Story
True Story (the sequel)
True Story (part 3, the horror returns) 
When in shit, call IT (True Story IV) 
True Story V, Atagong's continuing struggle with helpdesks... 


The Relic Samples

Entry 1719 posted in: 4. Orb Weavers, 5. The Pink Thing

There was a time when I would put in the latest Orb CD and murmur blimey! Blimey because The Orb pleasantly surprised you or blimey because Alex 'LX' Paterson and band utterly frustrated you. They had that effect on me for years from their very first album Adventures Beyond The Ultraworld (1991) until the quite underrated Cydonia (2001) and often the wow! and shit! effect could be witnessed on the same disk, most notably on Orbus Terrarum that probably contains the freakiest ambient track ever (the heavenly Oxbow Lakes) but also some of the worst.

The Millennium Orb

After 2001 Paterson continued to make albums under the Orb banner but the wow! effect had largely disappeared and his most prolific output lay on quite a few (from good to excellent) compilation and/or remix albums: Dr. Alex Paterson's Voyage Into Paradise, Auntie Aubrey's Excursions Beyond The Call Of Duty (containing an Orb remix of Rick Wright's Runaway), Bless You (the best of the Badorb label), Orbsessions I and II (outtakes), Back To Mine, The Art Of Chill and last but not least The BBC Sessions.

For ages The Orb has been called the Pink Floyd of ambient dance but the only fusion between both bands was the use of some Pink Floyd samples on early Orb anthems (the four note Shine On You Crazy Diamond signature tune on A Huge Ever Growing Pulsating Brain That Rules From The Centre Of The Ultraworld) and the presence of Pink Floyd bass player ad interim Guy Pratt on a couple of Orb albums. Contrary to a stubborn belief the so-called ambient (and illegal) Pink Floyd remix albums from the Nineties were not the work from The Orb, nor from Alex Paterson. Neither will we ever know Pink Floyd's retaliation: when the band worked on their 1994 The Divison Bell album they ended up with so many left-over material that - in the words of Nick Mason - "we considered releasing it as a second album, including a set we dubbed The Big Spliff, the kind of ambient mood music that we were bemused to find being adopted by bands like The Orb".


Exactly one year ago Alex Paterson, who has always been a bit of a bigmouth, revealed: ‘I’ve just started work on an album with David Gilmore (sic) from Pink Floyd which I think every Orb and Pink Floyd fan will want to hear' but that news was hurriedly demoted by David Gilmour.

On the 17th of August of this year, however, the David Gilmour blog had the following to reveal:

David is not working with The Orb on a new album, contrary to some reports, but you may remember that he had been in the studio jamming with Martin “Youth” Glover in recent months. (…) Alex Paterson was not involved in the sole jamming session and the only plan initially was for David to play guitar on that one track.
However, as it turns out and as you can see, the result of that jam session has now been spread across the next Orb album, Metallic Spheres, which will be released as ‘The Orb featuring David Gilmour’. So there you have it. He was working on an album with The Orb. Sort of.

If I may read a bit between the lines I feel some friction here between Sir David and this Orb thingy. But the next day, David Gilmour's official website had the next comment:

David's 2009 jam session with ambient collective The Orb has grown into an album, Metallic Spheres, to be released via Columbia/Sony Records in October. David's contribution to the charity song Chicago, in aid of Gary McKinnon, sparked the interest of producer Youth (Martin Glover), who remixed the track and invited David to his studio for a recording session.
With additional contributions from Orb co-founder Alex Paterson, the album took shape from 2009 into 2010, eventually becoming Metallic Spheres, to be released by The Orb featuring David Gilmour. (underlined by FA.)

Calling LX Paterson an Orb co-founder is technically not untrue, but it feels a little weird when you have just been presenting Martin Glover. It is comparable to describing Syd Barrett as a Pink Floyd co-founder while discussing Bob Klose. Agreed, Youth (from Killing Joke fame) was probably around when The Orb saw the light of day but it is generally acknowledged that the band was formed in 1988 by Alex Paterson and Jimmy Cauty. Cauty's primary project however, the Kopyright Liberation Front (with Bill Drummond) pretty soon outgrew The Orb and when - at a certain point in time - some Orb remixes were released in Germany as KLF remixes this provoked a rupture in the co-operation between the duo as Alex and Jimmy started fighting over… copyrights.

After the split between KLF and The Orb Martin Glover helped LX out with two tracks (on two separate albums): Little Fluffy Clouds and Majestic, but he did not become a member of the band. Only in 2007 Youth will join The Orb for a one album project: The Dream.

...and gossip

Together with the announcement on David Gilmour's website, and then we're back on the 18th of August of this year, a promotional video for the Metallic Spheres album is uploaded to YouTube. Depicting only Youth and David Gilmour several Orb fans wonder where LX Paterson, and thus The Orb, fits in this all. The first, original movie disappears after a couple of days for so-called 'copyright' reasons but is rapidly replaced with a second version, containing some hastily inserted images of LX Paterson strolling through the grasslands and recording some outdoor musique concrète. It feels, once again, as if the Floyd-Orb connection didn't go down well at the Gilmour camp and Paterson's image was only included on the promo video after some pressure had taken place. But the above is of course all pure speculation and not based upon any fact, so tells you Felix Atagong who has been closely following the band for over two decades.

Bit by bit we hear how the album came into place. It all started with David Gilmour's charity project for Gary McKinnon, an X-Files adhering half-wit who hacked into American military and NASA computers in order to find out about extra-terrestrial conspiracy theories. Because of this he faces extradition from England to the USA were apparently they take these kind of idiots very seriously, see also the 43rd president who governed the country from 2001 to 2009.

It is note quite clear if Gilmour asked Youth (David Glover) to make a remix of the Chicago charity tune or if Youth got hold of the project and proposed to help (I've come across both explanations). The two may know each other through Guy Pratt who played in Glover's band Brilliant in 1986 (LX Paterson was their roadie for a while). In 1990 Youth founded Blue Pearl with Durga McBroom who had toured with Pink Floyd for the previous three years. Amongst the session musicians on their Naked album are Guy Pratt, David Gilmour and Rick Wright.

This isn't Glover's only connection with the Floyd however. In 1995 he teamed up with Killing Joke colleague Jaz Coleman to arrange and produce a symphonic tribute album: Us and Them: Symphonic Pink Floyd, but only The Old Tree With Winding Roots Behind The Lake Of Dreams remix from Time combines a modern beat with romantic classical music.

Island Jam

To spice up the Chicago remix Youth invited David Gilmour in his home studio and out of it came a twenty minutes guitar jam. Glover soon found out that he could expand the session into an ambient suite and asked old chum LX Paterson for his opinion and to flavour the pieces with typical Orbian drones and samples; rather than to turn this into a sheepish Fireman-clone.

The Orb featuring David Gilmour can only be a win/win situation. Orb fans have dreamed about this collaboration for the past two decades and that will add to the sales figures for sure. And although artist royalties go to the support of Gary McKinnon there will always be a spillover effect for the artists involved, good news for The Orb whose last album Baghdad Batteries sunk faster than the Kursk in the Barents Sea.

Rest us to say that an Orb album is an Orb album when it has got the name Orb on it, whether you like it or not (and in the case of Okie Dokie, not a bit).

Metallic Spheres

Metallic Spheres starts with Gilmour's pedal steel guitar over some keyboard drones that makes me think of those good old days when the KLF shattered the world with their ambient masterpiece Chill Out (LX Paterson - as a matter of fact - contributed to that album, although uncredited). But soon after that Gilmour's guitar wanders off in his familiar guitar style with axiomatic nods to The Wall and The Division Bell albums. A welcome intermezzo is Black Graham with acoustic guitar, not from Gilmour but by ragtime busker Marcia Mello. The 'metallic side' flows nicely throughout its 29 minutes and has fulfilled its promise of being 'the ambient event of the year' quite accurately.

The CD is divided into two suites: a 'metallic side' and a 'spheres side' (and each 'side' is subdivided in five - not always discernable - parts). The second suite however, is more of the same, clearly lacks inspiration and ends out of breath at the 20 minutes mark.

So no wow! effect here (but no shit! either)... Youth has done what was expected from him and produced an all-in-all agreeable but quite mainstream product leaving ardent anoraky Orb fans with their hunger, but perhaps winning a few uninitiated souls.

As far as I am concerned this is about the best Orb CD I heard for the past couple of years, but it is still far from Orblivion, U.F.Orb or Ultraworld. But as this is 2010 already you won't hear me complaining.

Previous Metallic Spheres posts
Metallic Spheres 
Pink Dreams 
Previous Orb-related posts
Andy Hughes (1965 - 2009): gone to Orblivion 
zORBa, the G|r|eek 
The Orb On Mars 
The Orb Lives On 
Obscured by Fluffy Clouds 
Apples and Oranges 
Perplexed Orbbery 
U.F.Orb 2007 


Gravy Train to Cambridge

Entry 1720 posted in: 5. The Pink Thing, The Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit

I'll see you at the Holy Church Some changes here at Felix Atagong's Unfinished Projects. Our sister venture the Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit has been vegetating for the last couple of months, due to the fact that the main subject of its existence, Iggy or better said Evelyn, has been found and is alive and kicking at the British seaside.

As the main quest of that blog was exactly that, finding out if Ig was still around, The Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit is now confronted with the fact that its primary goal has been reached.

A crisis meeting was organised and it has been decided that all Syd Barrett related news, that was usually published at Unfinished Projects will now be handled by the Church.

A first post, using this policy, has now been published, so if you are looking for a review of the most recent Syd Barrett compilation called: An Introduction To… we gladly invite you over there: Gravy Train to Cambridge.

Over the next couple of months some Barrett related articles from this site will be transferred to the other, until utterly confusion will be reached and nobody will find anymore what they are looking for.


Ariane's Second Date

Entry 1721 posted in: a. ArianeB

NEW: THE ARIANEB WALKTHROUGHS have now got their own domain:

the redesigned hamburger joint My latest ArianeB related post dates from end July 2010 when ArianeB 6.45 was released and it is pretty sure to be the final version of this (free!) adult simulation game that has attracted a couple of million players.

Unfinished Projects more or less unwillingly surfed on the same wave of success. I started playing the game in 2007 when I discovered the fourth generation of Virtual Date Ariane, probably because it had been mentioned on Shark's Lagoon. I found the game witty, intelligent and sexy - let us not forget the sexy aspect - and it had quite a few expected and unexpected situations.

Should you happen to be one of those people who don't know what ArianeB, Virtual Date Ariane, Ariane Barnes or Ariane Brodie is all about (all the previous names have - at one moment or another - been used) then here is a summary, taken from one of my first walkthroughs for the game:

ArianeB or Virtually Date Ariane is an adult dating simulator with a lot of different scenarios and outcomes. The story is fairly simple, make a date with Ariane and try to get her in the sack! Of course this sounds easier than it is and that is exactly what makes this game worthwhile. The best way is to experiment with the different situations the game offers and to learn from past mistakes. (Taken from: Behavioral Studies, 2007.)

I wanted to explore all possible scenarios in the game (an impossible goal, I realised later) and started to note down my findings although the truth obliges me to say that I pinched most solutions from websites and forums from all over the globe, especially the Shark's Lagoon forum that had (and still has) a quite active adult gaming section. Unfinished Projects soon became the Internet spot containing the most complete collection of solutions for Virtual Date Ariane. I have to thank the fans of the game who send me solutions before I even had the chance to go looking after it or who discovered situations that I didn't see.

The game itself mushroomed, not only in size - rising from roughly 580 images to about 1300 - but also in popularity, and so did evidently my walkthroughs that were upgraded whenever a new version was released. This brought a new set of problems as I merely had been altering or completing previous walkthroughs so that, after a while, nobody could find back anymore what they were looking for.

I found a solution, I think, by adding an ArianeB link on the top right of every page that will automatically lead to the most recent walkthroughs of the game. It might have helped because a couple of days ago I found out that my blog has celebrated its second million visitor.

ArianeB v6.45 is the most recent release of Virtual Date Ariane and it seems that it will be the last for quite a while. Its maker had already hinted in January that he had quite a few new scenarios but that he was thinking to use these for a second game and in April he expressed the wish to 'wrap this project up and start something new'.

Bit by bit we get to know the (graphical) direction the new game will evolve into. In August it was announced that work on an ArianeB sequel had started and that its maker has been redesigning some existing backgrounds, like the town centre with the lingerie shop and the bar, the burger joint and the downtown restaurant.

While the maker has been hinting that Ariane's Second Date (my title, not his) will see new scenes in a hair salon and a movie theatre, he is very reluctant to let us know something about the new scenarios, and quite rightly so. So for the moment all we can do is look at some very promising renders of the new neighbourhood and to forget that there are still over a thousand images to create…

ArianeB, Virtually Date Ariane, Ariane Brodie or Ariane Barnes can be found on about a dozen places on the web, but the official version can be found here, playable online or as a download:
The most recent bunch of walkthroughs can be found at: All in one 
The official ArianeB blog is located at: Ariane's Life in the Metaverse.


Dr Death and other assorted figures...

Entry 1722 posted in: The Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit

When George Melly visited The Cromwellian club in 1965 he found quite a few wrestlers at the bar, what was no coincidence as the club was owned by four of them.

At the left side of the ring we find!
Paul Lincoln also known as Doctor Death!
Judo Al Hayes also known as The White Angel!

At our right side!
Rebel Ray Hunter and
Bob 'the wrestling Beatle' Anthony!

After the fight visit the craps table under the guidance of croupier Randy Steed!
Our club contains many famous guests: Brian Epstein, Georgie Fame, John Lennon, Lee Marvin, Paul McCartney, Omar Sharif, Ringo Starr...

and perhaps... Iggy the Eskimo!

Dr Death and other assorted figures... tickets now available at the Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit.