Anonym / Nuclear Power Station,
The Magic Forces,
Added on July 24th, 2004 (7223 views)
Tell us something about yourself.
My name is Frank 'Anonym/Padua' Michlick, I am thirty years old and was born in Berlin, March 31st a little more than 30 years ago. I live in Oakville, Ontario, Canada, which is (too?) close to Toronto where I work. I work at Tucows as a Senior Systems Engineer, the largest wholesale domain registrar and supplier of electronic services. I also have my own small consulting business called Degap (www.degap.ca) on the side. I am interested in technology and it's influence on society as well as internet related stuff. ;-) Nature is one thing where I like to be to get away from it all. One of my projects for Degap is www.scenestuff.com, which sells demo-scene products.
What handle(s) did you use and how did you come up with it/them?
I started off as A.N.Onym, after something in a German translation of a play (And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie). Later that was shortened to Ano and finally I became Anonym, which I still use. Also I used the handle Allanon as a member of Genesis Project which comes from the Terry Brooks fantasy series. Another name that I went by was Poing, which was taken from a techno song. However, that one was hardly used in the C64 scene.
What group(s) were you in?
I started out joining a local lamer group called Nuclear Power Station (NPS). They basically concentrated on ripping other people's work. I wanted to get into coding, so I was happy when they supplied me with a disk of routines that I tried to combine.
However I did realize that they didn't really do anything worth bragging about, so together with one of my group-mates I formed The Magic Forces (TMF). This also was when I got my first swapping contact in the real scene - Power of Abnormal (thanks for your patience, since I hardly ever had anything new - without you, who knows if I had stuck around). In any case, I later ended up in Caltex, supposedly a sub-group of Beastie Boys at the time. At least that's what Marc from Munich told us. A week later, Marc founded X-Rated and I joined. X-Rated was my first real group. Due to some internal struggles, we ended up forming our own group Elect, which was in cooperation with Damage (not the Scandinavian group) for a bit. Eventually Elect re-joined X-Rated as a sub-group, but then later again left to form Padua, the group that I'm still a member of.
What roles have you fulfilled?
I've mostly been the organiser in the group. I took care of setting up trips etc. and was doing PR work at the parties. I guess I am also a coder, but I don't really think I am all that great at coding, which means no hardcore timing effects. I like coding effects like animations etc. I also tried being a graphic designer once, but my group mates advised me to stop trying. I used to be into swapping as well.
How long were you active for?
From 1988 up until today - and counting. However, I am not sure if you could call me active these days, in any case, my real life takes precedence. Hey, Padua is 15 years old this year and we haven't done anything special to celebrate this yet.
Tell us about those years and how you got into the scene in the first place.
This happened so many years ago and it's kind of hard to remember. There were several factors. I was exposed to the mailbox scene for a bit when one of my class mates got a C64. Also one of my friends living down the street had a C64 where we ended up playing games all the time. I took quite a bit of interest in the intros in front of the games and eventually also got a hold of some demos.
I think it all got really started when the NPS guys got me a disk with some routines which I tried to combine to create a demo. Supposedly that disk was from Strike Force, but who knows if that was true. This was how I got into coding - trying to understand and combine stuff that was written by others. Of course I also read 64'er magazine and followed their courses.
Who really got me in touch with the real scene was Power of Abnormal. I remember trying to contact tons of people for swapping, but of course no one ever really replied because I was too lame. But Power actually helped me out by providing me with some up-to-date stuff, which I then used to get in touch with other sceners.
Describe a typical day for you in front of the computer.
The majority of my time was spent on looking at demos, but I also used to try to program (starting new projects; hardly ever finishing any of them - just like today), and sometimes I played games. I was also trying to crack games many many moons ago.
Did you personally invent any special techniques or tools to make things easier for you?
Not really, I am a rather mediocre coder. However I do actually sometimes create some basic (not programmed in Basic though) tools to help me with the creation of a demo part, like an editor or so.
When you look at what you did back then, what are you most proud of?
How much time I wasted on this. ;-) The scene helped me to get some self-esteem. While I was labelled a geek in school (notice how this is not a bad word any more), the computer helped me to get over some of my social disabilities.
Who were your heroes on the scene and why?
Now this is really a difficult one. I liked Mr. Cursor, Oliver Stiller (I once worked with him for a week, which was interesting despite the unpleasant circumstances), Mc. Sprite, Gotcha... During my long scene career there were many that impressed me a lot, but I tend not to try to have heroes - I try to be my own. ;-)
What, for you, was the coolest thing ever invented on the C64?
I am not quite sure, there were so many of them. However, I always admired those who were able to combine technical difficult effects with nice design - Crest being a prime example. I never had a deeper understanding of timing effects and such, so those people who layed the groundwork for some of the later effects (which Commodore never planned for) deserve a lot of respect (opening lower and upper border, sideborder, FLD, FLI etc).
Did you go to any copy-parties, meetings or tradeshows?
Tons, but unfortunately I didn't keep record of them all, so here's a few: One Venlo Meeting, some Radwar Parties, some The Party in Denmark, the Brutal Party (Samsö), the Smash Designs party and two Horizon parties. I helped to organise Convention (Potsdam), some Mekka & Symposium parties and Breakpoint (remote help, I never visited one). As for trade-shows, I visited the meetings at the Commodore Booth during many CeBITs, some of the Amiga/World of Commodore trade-shows etc.
In your opinion, what was the scene all about?
The scene was about life, and during a period, it was a huge part of my life. Even though in retrospect I might have spent too much time on some things, I wouldn't want to have missed a minute of it. To me the scene was about friendship, about being able to contact people all over the world and having something common to talk about. It was great when I visited Seattle in 1997 and was able to meet with two entirely different sceners, one without work while the other was working at Microsoft. Or talking to King Fisher about politics in Sweden. It helped broaden my horizon and I made some good friends. Long distance friendships are difficult to maintain, but with the Internet and tons of experience of working in project teams based in different countries, this has been a great experience that has helped me a lot.
What were the particular highlights for you?
My favourite moment was probably when we had the entire Mekka & Symposium audience signing karaoke when we showed our demo Splish Splash (http://noname.c64.org/csdb/release/?id=829). We even handed out some 250 printed copies of the lyrics in advance. We ended up at fourth place, which was quite an achievement with a technically-not-so-difficult demo that was mainly put together during the party.
Any cool stories to share with us?
There are many stories, but I don't have the time to write them all down... So I will just pick one for now: When we were visiting the Radwar Rainbow Party, the driver actually locked our only set of car keys in the trunk. Just as he was closing the trunk, I said to him: "Make sure you have the keys before you close the car". He turned to me and said "Pardon?" as he closed the trunk. None of the oh-so famous crackers (and not even the police who came by as well) were able to break into the car. In the end, the back window was smashed. It was a rather cold drive back as I sat in the back seat on some of the leftovers of the broken window. Even though we sold the console that we won at the party, it didn't provide enough money to repair the window. And afterwards we found out how to open the car without the key - oh well.
Are you still in contact with any old C64 people today?
Yes, many of them, but there are some that I have lost contact with. Everybody seems to have less time now as we get older. :(
When did you get your C64 and do you still have it lying around somewhere?
My PAL C64 is still set up on my desk at home right next to the PC. However, I am still having trouble getting the Retro Replay to work with the Silver Surfer interface so I can cross-assemble from the PC.
Was the C64 really as special as we like to think it was?
Not the C64 in itself, but everything connected to it. It brought me closer to computers and this knowledge still helps me today. I basically learnt to live the hacker attitude; I wanted to find out how things work, which expanded far beyond computers into topics such as politics, finance etc. Then there was the scene that helped me overcome some of my social problems. After all, what is better than to interact with other geeks and maybe even some that are worse off than yourself. ;-)
When can we expect to see some new C64 output from you? :)
Soon - we keep on trying and sometimes we succeed…
Do you have a message for your old contacts and/or anyone reading this?
Hello World! :) Where ever you are, I hope you're doing fine. The ones that I'm not in touch with anymore - contact me and let me know what you do in real life. :) To find out more about Padua, check our website at www.padua.org.
back to the list of available interviews