Q: Why "ashes"?

A: When we joined Demon back in 1993[1], our machine had just died with a spectacular bout of W*ndows inspired disk corruption[2], and was effectively out for the count. We considered taking the hostname "phoenix", but thought that might be tempting fate (also, people would probably spell it wrong); we settled on "ashes", the state of the machine at the time. I am happy to say that, after a couple of days with the Norton Utilities and backup tapes, the phoenix did indeed rise from the ashes!

[1] Back then, you stood a good chance of having your call answered by Cliff Stanford himself if you rang Demon (it was he who persuaded us to buy a modem and join up); there were only about 1,400 Demon hosts (there are now over 120,000); you never received junk email; Usenet signal-to-noise ratio was good for 11 months of the year; spamming articles to newsgroups was virtually unheard of; AOL didn't exist; and you could buy almost any publication you wanted to without coming across any mention of the Internet (try that today!).

[2] We had a SCSI card and a MIDI card in the machine; the SCSI card used a fixed base address of 330, which is also (through some almighty piece of misjudgment on someone's behalf) the default base address for MPU-401 compatible MIDI devices. Since we couldn't vary the SCSI base address, the MIDI card was set to a different address (334), and W*ndows and all the other software was configured to use this address, which should have been fine; but the 330 address seems to be hard-wired into some MIDI code, so that certain operations (like opening a DOS box after using the MIDI device) would send data intended for the MIDI card to the SCSI adaptor, with predictable effects on the contents of the SCSI disk. We identified the software responsible for this crash and removed it, allowing the phoenix to be reborn; but the bugbear still lurked in the heart of the system, so that (after two further crashes with appropriate disk corruption) we downloaded new code for the SCSI card's BIOS and programmed new EPROMs for it, to change the base address to 334. With the MIDI card now able to live at its default address, all was well. Isn't it wonderful when people make software configurable, but ignore the configuration settings?

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