%%                Houston  Blinkie  Letter                %%
%% Issue Two, Number One                     November 6   %%
%%   An American Nihilist Underground Society Publication %%
%%                                                        %%


     Well, blinkie running in Houston has suffered lately because of the
weather, so we've had to turn to indoor entertainment to keep our psychotic
little minds busy. Naturally, this means that we've developed new techniques
for nifty things you've always dreamt about.
      As you read through this issue, you may notice various usages of words
like "bingos", "dinks", "scam", "blinkie" and other things not commonly
associated with the English language.  However, just like that II+ you're
taking to college, English needs a lot of modification before it can
comfortably do some chores.  A case in point would be saying "Night-time Safety
Flasher" for "blinkie" in every one of our text files.  Kind of redundant, si?

Last Rites

     Given the fact that the Houston modeming community, especially for Apple
users, was never that good, it comes as no surprise to many people that it is
now totally dead. There are now two remaining Apple boards in Houston; one of
them is a munchie haven ad the other is rapidly descending in that direction.
With two boards recently pulling any decent transfers they had left off their
hard drives or going down, it seems that the funeral of Apple II support over
phone lines in Houston is close at hand.  Too bad, and we didn't even ask to
live here.
     Since modeming has tubed for the most part, with Houstonians receiving new
software for download days or even weeks after the rest of the country, many of
us are turning to new ways of acquisition.  Sometimes this means phreaking or
liberation of software, but more often, it means watching month-old betas crash
out on your machine.  What most people fail to realize is that many of us in
Houston don't want to do a lot of long distance calling; our computer is not
our life.  We enjoy modeming or computing as a hobby, but don't want to
dedicate too much time, money or effort to it.
     Naturally, this gap in the software acquisition game means that all of
four people left in Houston haul out their Apple Cat and ragged copy of Phantom
every other weekend and hit their favorite PBX or extender to gain some
long-distance sustenance.  Of course, every few months one or more has an out
of body (out of anus) experience with the American "legal justice system."
Slowly but surely, a John Sculley wet dream is coming true in Houston: Apple II
support is collapsing.

Three Ways to Get Free Disks

     As anyone who has ever owned any Apple knows, disks seem to disappear
rapidly, especially when new software comes bounding in over the phone lines.
To secure more of these precious objects, one must either a) buy them, or, the
more favorable b) steal them.  Shoplifting a whole box is a nice way to do it,
but as more and more people explore this new way of gaining magnetic media,
shopowners and exployees alike are taking precautions against unauthorized disk
     This situation leaves the average user in a hole.  How to get disks
without much risk or cost is a simple endeavor, given the nature of major
     Apple people are unique in that the one or two magazines put out for the
Apple don't come with a disk inside the magazine but instead force the user to
subscribe or mail-order it.  Amiga people, on the other hand, are prone to
leaving magazines full of disks loaded with junk programs nestled among the
others on the computer racks. Several of the more well-known magazines that
carry disks are: Antic's Amiga Plus, Compute's Amiga Resource and AmigoTimes.
These magazines all bear the prominent label "Disk Inside" followed by one or
more exclamation points in bold type.  If you open the magazine to the center
of bulk, you will find a disk sealed in a plastic or paper-product envelope,
hopefully safe from the casual thief.  Wrong.
     Any major bookstore will carry one or more of these magazines, usually at
one end of their computer section. Generally the salespeople ignore these
magazines, since all sorts of funny-looking people come in to examine them.
Also, most major bookstores are crawling with people doing strange things
anyhow, and there are usually only two salespeople trying to cope with the
masses wriggling their way through the store.  As a result, lifting these disks
becomes child's play in the hands of anyone even remotely professional.  The
needed skills are smoothness and some dexterity, but nothing a rhesus monkey
couldn't handle.
     Proper attire for this event are pants that are baggy but not overtly so,
and accompanying casual but not cheap shirt and shoes.  If you have an Polo or
Izod shirt and some dockers or good khakis, wear them along with some
comfortable dress shoes.  Don't come in in your Metallica: Metal Up the Ass
T-shirt and sandals, but do dress casual. This way, you don't merit a second
glance in the eyes of most salespeople.
     Bring with you a small but sharp pocket knife and a friend.  As you go
into the shop, take notice of your surroundings, especially any security
cameras or funny-looking mirrors.  Also, get a visual count of salespeople, and
how many people are in the store.  If the salespeople appear to be almost
constantly busy and more customers are coming in, go to work.  Amble leisurely
over to the magazine rack, and start reading something like Road and Track or a
similar car magazine.  Instantly, you've become the antithesis of a threat in
your average salesperson's eyes, and he ventures off to help someone else.  As
soon as the visual contact from all salespeople is diverted, pick up a stack of
Amiga magazines and hand it to your friend.  Do the same with every magazine
that has a disk in it, taking all but one, and replacing them with a
similar-size magazine from another stack, leaving one magazine on top.  Sneak
the magazines to behind one of the bookshelves and let your friend keep watch.
Quickly, open each to the page of the disk, and slit open the envelope. Yank
out the disk and store it in the confines of your pocket.  Once you've
liberated each disk, stow the stack of now-useless magazines underneath some
coffee-table books and leave the store.
     A crafty person can come out of an average bookstore with ten to fifteen
disks, but it's best not to overdo it, so only take 3-5 from each store at
maximum.  If you hit three or four stores, you can easily equal the take from
one big store without blatantly alerting them to the holes in their security.
The mentality runs like this:  they expect a certain percentage lost, so if
five magazines disappear from the racks, they don't worry, even if it happens
month after month.  But if one day fifteen of such magazines turn up gutted,
they will react in some unpleasant way.  It's always best to hit chains, since
they're the slowest to react since most policy is made at the regional
headquarters office and not at the store.  Also, chains take the loss much
better than a Mom and Pop place.
     Of course, you could always liberate five magazines, but it's much safer
to walk out of the store with a pocketful of disks instead of a bagful of
magazines.  At many stores, most notably B. Dalton's, security is so lax that
it would be incredibly easy to liberate multiple media, but be careful not to
overdo it, as it can alert the shopkeepers to a potentially serious problem.
     Another way to get easy and free disks is to hit demonstration computers.
Radio Shack is the best for this, since they always have out one of their
Mickey Mouse compatibles, usually with a drive loaded with a one megabyte 3.5"
floppy all ready to go, and often with more copies of useless Tandy utilities
scattered on the desk.  Salespeople are usualy off helping someone find some
microscopic resistor in the bargain bin, and if not, friends of yours can
appear wanting to discuss the intricacies of VCR's, stereos, TV's and talking
dolls if necessary.
     The stores have only one disadvantage: the security dome mounted on the
ceiling of most stores.  Often, these things are not in operation, but it's
really impossible to know.  Also, there is often a one-way window mounted at
the back of the store, but this is usually not actively manned, and cannot see
most of what goes in toward the front of the store due to poor visibility and
obstructions in the line of sight.
     Generally, every store has one of two configurations: the bowling lane or
the jungle.  The bowling lane is the kind that most often lacks security
cameras, but always has the magic window.  A store that is one long strip, with
displays on either side leading to the back of the store would be classified as
a bowling alley store.  On the other hand, a store where displays are clumped
toward the front in no particular order, other than to sometimes channel people
toward the expensive and worthless Tandy computers, is usually known as a
jungle setup.  Either one is easy to hit for small stuff, because pillars,
bookshelves and computer setups obscure vision from most areas.  Also, the fact
that Radio Shack attracts lots of people who are interested in small,
complicated and hard-to-locate gadgets is your ally. Salespeople are most often
busy locating and describing some electronic device and don't pay attention to
innocuous people in average clothes.
     The easiest way to snag is to walk in with a small bag containing, say, a
magazine or paperback, and sit down at a Tandy generic computer.  After the
salesman has either queried you about your desires or ignored you due to
business needs, punch the button on the disk drive and grab the disk when it
pops out.  Slide it into your bag.  If you are in a direct line of sight with a
security camera, have a friend bend over the computer and shield you.  Grab
disks until you've exhausted all of the exhibits, but remember to look around
you, since often whole boxes of them, filled to the brim with useless
TandyWare, are left near a demonstration model.  Grab these, too.
     Tandy disks are of good quality, especially the 3.5"'s, and if you cover
them with a mail-order disk label, aren't bad aesthetically, either.
     One of the easier ways to shoplift disks is to avoid taking them out in
the box, a common error made by many tyros to the task.  Wear a bulky jacket or
loose pants to a store and casually peruse the 3.5" disks.  When no one is
actively watching you, carefully slip the box of disks into your pants or
jacket.  Next, walk to a secluded corner of the store and take out the disks.
With your handy pocket knife, slice open the box of disks and empty equal
amounts into pockets.  Drop the trashed disk box on a shelf someplace and get
out of the store.  This defeats any hidden security mechanisms in the wrapper,
UPC symbol, ID sticker, etc. and is safer than walking out with a whole box
crammed in your crotch anyway.

Blinkie News

     Although recent runs have slowed, we still haven't neglected our civic
duty to steal blinkies.  Unfortunately, it seems that the City of Houston's
irregular buying pattern has complicated things unnecessarily.  More new and
heinous designs of bolts created to complicate our thefts have appeared.  They
have been divided into three categories: variations on the 19mm bolt, roundhead
bolts and forget it bolts.  The third category is named because it is not worth
messing with - the tools required are too specialized and would take up too
much time.
     The 19mm bolt comes in a standard sheathed version, a version with one
corner sheared off and a "figure eight" version.  The standard version can be
cranked off with a blinkie tool, and the "figure eight" bolt can be removed by
inserting needle-nose pliers into the two indentations and twisting.  As for
the sheared bolt, we don't have much information on it at this time.
     Right now, Houston is experiencing a blinkie lull - not many blinkies are
appearing on the streets now due to lack of construction sites to put them on.
However, Houston is gearing up for numerous construction projects in 1990,
starting in the first few months and stretching well into summer.  Judging by
the speed at which construction progresses in Houston, they may even stray on
well into the next year as well.
     ANUS members are preparing for the next onslaught of blinkies, keeping in
mind that the mayoral election will decide much of what will occur in the world
of blinkie running in the future.  If contender Fred Hofheinz wins, it is
likely that more corruption will break loose in the construction ranks, leading
to cheesier blinkies more like the "Flasher Flare."  These blinkies will be
easier to steal, but won't be worth keeping.  It is probable that if incumbent
Whitmire takes the race, Houston will continue to have a steady supply of
decent quality blinkies worth stealing.  Hopefully, whoever wins will decide to
put more money into driver protection, especially in the wake of recent
accidents in which drivers have gone off roads and into ditches around
construction sites.


     This issue of HBL has contained what we hope are useful data to all of you
out there.  If you've enjoyed this file, or have any
suggestions/ideas/corrections, let us know.  You can find most ANUS members on
Houston's remaining Apple II boards.


"Bend over and cough"
          -- John Sculley

          -- Houston's "Sysops For Responsible Modem Use"

"M - Change Handle"
          -- From the main menu of the Rooftop Hideaway, another great Houston
             Apple board

          -- J. Danforth Quayle

11/6/89 -- CC/CD/RF/MO

Copyright © 1986-1997 American Nihilist Underground Society. All rights reserved.