Interviews



Interview with Devia

Published in Vandalism News #56
Performed by ZZAP69



Ulf "Devia" Diabelez Harries is another guy I've got to know on parties the last five years. Uniting the spirits of the Scandinavian C64 scene by attending to the parties in Sweden and Denmark. Devia is always in a good party mood, composing lovely weird music and yelling something when he is least expected. Constantly with some sarcasm up his sleeve, especially for Rambones, his older brother. The perfect drinking partner, if you ask me. Still there are some gaps in Devia's background I haven't learned anything about. Possibly like many others, I have missed his past while seizing our day with a Slots Pilsner in front of some random C64 demo. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Devia/Ancients!



Z)
How did it all start?

D)
My brother Rambones bought a C64 in '84. Whenever he went to visit his friends, I'd secretly take over his precious brown box of possibilities. Well... the secret part didn't last for long as I couldn't resist writing my own name whenever I broke his hi-scores. I desperately wanted my own C64, but had no money and no parents who could understand why that would be a good idea. So I had to suffice with borrowing my brothers C64 and abusing the bread boxes in school and at various friends. I tried out some peeks and pokes in the late 80s, but didn't really understand much of the "talking to the hardware" part of BASIC which made me lose interest. When I turned 14, I finally got some money and the world had changed. The C64 was dead (or so they said) so I bought an Amiga 500. THAT changed my world.

I learned 68000 assembler, C, Pascal and a bit about the hardware of the A500. I made awful music in various trackers, ugly gfx in Deluxe Paint and generally I was really excited about the Amiga. That excitement never really faded away, but reality caught up with it and teh evil peecees got a place in my home in ‘98 when I got employed at Danfoss. Here I met Lotus and we spend many evenings trying to repair old C64s with lots and lots of beer, since we had no spare parts. This was when I started getting interested in the C64 again. When Lotus, Rambones and I attended X2004 there was no turning back no more. I had no idea that so many active geeks were still into this thought-to-be-dead platform.


Z)
What has it been like to have an older brother sharing your passion?

D)
Without him I would never have had this interest. None of my friends were interested in the technical aspects of computing. They were just gaming and a few made music. His friends became my friends and I found equal minds, so to say.



Z)
Are you a collector?

D)
My wife would say yes. I collect stuff for its weirdness, uniqueness or potential usefulness, not to have complete collections of anything.


Z)
Would your wife say you have any favourite items? And would you? :-)

D)
She's clueless as to what I actually have. All she knows is that I occupy a lot of space with old computer crap and that she better not mess around with it. I'd say that my favourite items beside my first Amiga 500, on which I spent sooo many hours of my precious youth, are two C64s I got from Kaze and Wizz. Back in the early 90s Wizz, Kaze, Rambones and Hagar lived together in a house in Odense and I used to crash there every weekend in their basement. When I woke up, hung over like hell with my head in some random set of tits, I'd turn around and I'd stare right into a cardboard box with two 1541s and two breadbins sticking out. It was Wizz and Kaze's old machines and at some point I asked if I could have that box of goodies as they had completely abandoned the C64 as a platform of any kind of entertaining value. At the time when I got them, they did not work. Luckily I managed to fix Wizz's machine and I consider that one to be my own first C64. It holds a special place in my heart. Kaze's old C64 got fixed by Lotus at some point and if I remember correctly, that was a real pain, because I had already tried to "fix" it... 'nuff said ;-) ...fortunately I got smarter.



Z)
I heard you were involved in hardware projects. Please tell us a little more about it!

D)
In relation to the C64 I made a small Clock-Port adapter for internal mounting. This lets me connect an RR-Net device internally making an Ethernet link possible regardless of what cartridge is mounted. My C64 just has a nice Ethernet plug ;-) This was made because the 1541U batch 1 didn't have Ethernet and I REALLY needed that. Other than that, Lotus and I are working on some SID and VIC stuff which will basically let you have old+new version SID and PAL+NTSC VIC mounted at the same time. Hopefully some prototype can be seen on the next LCP.


Z)
Is it like a switch?

D)
An intelligent software controllable switch, yes.





Z)
You are a family father. How does that go with your scene business?

D)
Not too well ;-) - Small kids are time consuming and exhausting. Not much time is being spent on coding and soldering anymore. Every once in a while I manage to get off a few patterns in SDI, but very rarely anything serious. Luckily I have an understanding wife who lets me go to parties and who understands that the time leading up to a party will take some of my time away from her and the kids.


Z)
You make music on the C64. Do you play any instruments or do you make music on any other platform?

D)
I never learned to play any instrument. I read something about musical theory once and learned the basics. I play piano quite often, but mostly to get new ideas or find interesting chords and progressions. I really suck at it, but I find it very enjoyable. I recently started fooling around on a guitar too... I don't think I have the fingers for that, though, but I find it an interesting tool which sort of invites me to play stuff that I wouldn't come up with on piano. I no longer do music on Amiga, but I sometimes fool around with various stuff on PC. The lack of spare time since I had children has forced me to prioritize on platforms though, and the C64 won that battle.


Z)
I heard you work on Danfoss together with Lotus. What do you do more precisely and do you two have any projects together
also at work?

D)
I've been administering Windows servers since ‘99, making install systems, doing infrastructure design and managing email and database servers. Lately that has changed to something a bit less concrete, with lots of bullshit and not so much action... Lotus and I started out in the same department. Later he moved to do more storage, server room environment and power related stuff, then we got united again and now I have moved to do something else. We've always been under the same roof at Danfoss, though, and basically part of the same organization, so over the years we've worked on projects together. The most important project has been to make sure people didn't throw away hardware without us first ripping all potentially useful parts ;-)


Z)
How did you pick that handle?

D)
I was a teenager, I wanted to signal that I was different... blah... Browsed the dictionary, found the word "deviant", but failed to realise the actual meaning of it. I don't believe I'm one who deviates from the accepted norms, but I do try to do things a little different and maybe move some boundaries here and there.



Z)
You and your brother have something like 3 family names together. Are there reasons for that you want to tell us about?

D)
Two family names. Jan added the middle name of our grandfather to his own... I don't know why actually ;-) The two names we share are just the family names of our parents. They have been for generations, even though they sound a bit exotic for Danes.


Z)
Who is the best charset painter. You or your brother? :-)

D)
Me of course! - but Jan is the most productive.


Z)
What are you most proud of having achieved in the C64 scene?

D)
Did I achieve something? Was that a requirement? ...I dunno, I code because I enjoy it, not to actually achieve anything. Usually I stop whenever I have successfully demonstrated to myself that I can solve the task at hand, thus ending up with a lot of unfinished proof-of-concept stuff. So, I guess I'm kind of proud of ACTUALLY releasing something, although I'm not too proud of the quality of that stuff, since all of it has been rush-work to meet the compo deadlines, hehe ;-)


Z)
You should be proud of that! I think that actually finishing stuff is good as it makes you start on new projects, not getting too stuck in old ones.

Probably many talents got wasted for not releasing anything. I'm also looking forward to see that multi compatible C64 you were talking about. Thanks for the interview!

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