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Did you know, it's been twenty years since the first issue of Frobnicate was put together. If you were in the Acorn/RISC OS scene back then, you'll be running your hands through your hair (if you still have any) and saying something that would be printed as random punctuation marks.
If you are newer, perhaps of the web generation, it was a sort of magazine that I used to create - often with the help of others.

So to celebrate twenty years (&#%$!!!), I present to you the first dozen issues of this illustrious and completely serious user-driven magazine. If you haven't yet noted the sarcasm, you'd be best not bothering to download any of these...

This remembrance was triggered by ZeroSquare who mailed me earlier in the week (sorry, I was rather poorly) to ask if the early versions were on my website. Yes, they are, but I'm not going to tell you where as they have all kinds of quirks such as using custom fonts and such, which mean that seeing Frobnicate as it was intended would be...well...unlikely.
Therefore I have spent this afternoon scouring my backup CDs looking for the fonts and such in able to get the issues to load correctly. I even found a copy of the original Ovation that was used to write them, though OvationPro does a good enough job of loading the older files that it wasn't necessary.

A few minor tweaks have been applied for changes of the past two decades (like the introduction of the Euro symbol); but the primary change is that most of the images have been converted to medium quality JPEGs. The reason for this is that the standard RISC OS PostScript printer driver is appalling when it comes to outputting sprites and would actually build an image from rectangles for each pixel. Accordingly we'd be looking at PDFs that you can see redrawing (even on a fast PC) plus megabytes each. Using JPEG allows the images to be directly output. Not everything is JPEG, I have left most of the icons as sprites (life is too short...), but all of the pictures are.

Looking back over the content of the issues, there are numerous things that could probably be omitted, and some stuff falling into the "harsher in hindsight" category that probably ought to be omitted. However, this is what it was in 1995/1996 so I have taken the editorial decision to make changes for technical reasons only and leave the content as-is. After all, it isn't as if you couldn't download it from somewhere else if you really wanted.
Just remember, though, as you read it - this stuff pertains to the mid nineties. Whether or not it is even remotely relevant nowadays is a pretty good question. ☺
For what it is worth, ZeroSquare isn't the only person to have asked about Frobnicate recently. I'm pleased, I guess, that there is still some interest in it. I'm damned if I can figure out why though.
Anyway, without any further mumblings, here are the first 12 one of those little time capsules you dig up, scrape the mould off, open it, scrape off more mould, then really wish you hadn't. Yes, oh my God, you were so into Kylie and Jason weren't you? And now your kids (who have no idea who those two are) are totally laughing at you because, well, look at them - what's with the hair?. But, don't worry, in a quarter century we'll surely be saying the same thing about Taylor Swift...


Frobnicate issue 1
(June 1995; 16 pages)

Build yourself a modem to modem link (plus old phone schematic), hacking protected BASIC programs, etc.
Frobnicate issue 2
(July 1995; 22 pages)

DIY serial port for A3000, using the serial blockdrivers, Tornado (aka Wimp2), ArmBBS, etc.
Frobnicate issue 3
(August 1995; 24 pages)

BBS security, 2nd harddrive for A5000, password "obviousness" checker, slicker program presentation, etc.
Frobnicate issue 4
(September/October 1995; 40 pages (!))

How discs work, know your SysOps, Ants!, etc.
Frobnicate issue 5
(November 1995; 20 pages)

On-line (as in BBS) games, the invisible SysOp debate (shrug, WTF was that all about?), teletext, etc.
Special nod to Emlyn for the epic front cover artwork.
Frobnicate issue 6
(December 1995 / January 1996; 24 pages)

Starting a BBS, Fidonet, beginner's guide to Wimp programming, more invisible SysOp nonsense...
Frobnicate issue 7
(February/March 1996; 18 pages)

Wimp programming, hacking, more on starting a BBS, etc.
Frobnicate issue 8
(Summer 1996; 18 pages)

The crazy fiction stuff starts here, females in computers, CDTracker, Digital Oasis, etc.
Frobnicate issue 9
(Autumn 1996; 40 pages (!))

Setting up your own Econet, OvationPro, DDA, more fiction, and "how advertising is corrupting our morals" by my mother, etc.
Frobnicate issue 10
(Autumn 1996; 14 pages)

Looking back, Databurst electronic magazine, meeting John and Helen, fiction, etc.
Frobnicate issue 11
(Christmas 1996; 22 pages)

About using Windows (95), Using Econet, Assembler, a résumé of websites (that probably no longer exist), possibly the dumbest Christmas card image I've ever made, etc.
Frobnicate issue 12
(Spring 1997; 24 pages)

About Amiga owners, standards, DIY VCR controller, Acorn's machines, MTerm, and some more fiction, etc.

There you go. Throw that lot at your printer and waste 282 pages and a cartridge or two...


Note: You can read the final ten issues here.



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Zerosquare, 15th May 2015, 01:22
Thank you very much! 
I would have been happy with the Ovation versions, but PDF is even better :) 
As to the "why"... let's just say I enjoy obsolete/alternative/obscure computing things, and I find your writing interesting.

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