Time is what keeps everything from happening at once.
This is a legacy page — much of its contents are at best apocryphal. Time has transformed some of them into outright lies. We regard it as a relic of a simpler age. Nothing at this page should be regarded as factual, accurate or correct.

This admittedly rather immense document represents the collected works of the Alchemy Mindworks frequently asked question compilers. Some of these questions go back some while, and in fairness, the original documents have been weeded to remove the questions that don't get asked much any longer. All the really strange ones remain, by virtue of their strangeness alone, and we've tried to keep most of the ones which engendered interesting or unusually sarcastic replies.

The legendary disclaimers are all here too — they may look like they're just fine print at first, but read 'em anyway.

As much as is possible, this document has been organized into categories. You'll probably have to do a bit of searching to find what you need none the less — lots of information just seems to call for lots of text to convey it.

Many of these responses date back to a simpler time, when "political correctness" meant not having lunch with liberals, "dialog" was a noun rather than a verb and the F in RTFM was regarded as a special case, and not considered particularly rude. While the information in this document is largely correct, we'd like to take this opportunity to caution the easily offended to brace themselves.

If you don't have a few hours to kill reading this entire file, you can jump to one of the following sections:

But first, a word from our sponsor...

Some of the graphics at this page were created, managed and enhanced with Graphic Workshop Professional and GIF Construction Set Professional from Alchemy Mindworks. You'll no doubt see banners here that were assembled with Animation Workshop. To learn more about these applications, please click on the foregoing links or visit the Alchemy Mindworks home page.

The Alchemy Mindworks page also features Pagan Daybook to start your day with whichever god seems appropriate — the painting to your immediate right was drawn from its database of artworks — Presentation Wizard to assist you in creating multimedia Windows presentations, The Ultimate Screen Clock to give you unprecedented mastery over time and space... well, over time, anyway... and various other epic works of software.

Modesty would forbid my mentioning the extensive listing of my books herein if I were at all modest.


The contents of this page are copyright © 1995 — 2018 Alchemy Mindworks. Some portions are copyright © 1995 — 2018 Steven William Rimmer. The copyright holders specifically prohibit reproduction, transmission, duplication or storage of this page or any portion thereof in any electronic or physical medium, under any circumstances. Reproducing all or part of this page against our express wishes may result in severe civil and criminal penalties. The lawyers made us say that.

Please contact us for reproduction rates if you'd like to reproduce all or part of this page on paper. If you like this page and wish to share it, you are welcome to link to it, with our thanks.


Disclaimer: This document may not be duplicated, transmitted, stored, genetically manipulated, spindled, folded, mutilated, crushed, cracked, stapled, punched, bound, photocopied, autopsied, tenderized, ignited, lunched, launched, lurched, flocculated, fluctuated, fornicated, arched, axed, actuated, confabulated, congratulated, hyprinfundibulated, pressed, hydrogenized, pasteurized, homogenized, carburetted, liberalized, disinfected, disenfranchised, disemboweled, disinformed, disinterred, displayed, disfigured, distrusted, shredded, diced, pureed, masticated, archived, buffed, rebuffed, refrigerated, retrieved, reformed, rebuked, returned, retreaded, sawn, shingled, lobotomized, appendicized, amputated, articulated, artheroscoped or sent by special messenger to a small poorly-lit restaurant in an unnamed village in the south of Albania where it might be recycled into political statements about the lack of comfortable leisure seating without the written permission of Alchemy Mindworks.

Please be sure you have read and fully understood the foregoing before proceeding.

Q: What makes you think people ask a lot of questions about Alchemy Mindworks?
A: This is our web page — we can believe whatever we like.

Q: Who is Steven William Rimmer and why are there ads for his books in the Alchemy Mindworks shareware bundles, rather than say, ads for New Improved PhosphoBrite laundry detergent with miracle ingredient X-22.5?
A: Steve owns the company, while he has no stock in any firms that make soap.

Q: Speaking of those book ads, what presentation package did you use to create them?
A: The older ads, which only displayed a single picture, were just graphics converted to Windows EXE pictures with Graphic Workshop for Windows. The more recent ad, which displays several images and an animated flame, is a custom application written specifically for this task. There are a number of very capable applications to create things like this, but they all proved to generate massive executables. A custom program was the only way to keep the advertisement down to a reasonable level of hugeness.

Q: I need a custom version of one of your applications, or a custom written program. Can you do this for me?
A: Yes, but you might not want us to.

People say a lot of really wonderful things about us from time to time — thanks, you know who you are — but no one has ever called our custom software development "inexpensive." We're not really set up to handle this sort of work. In most cases we'll be happy to quote you on custom programming — we recommend that you be sitting down when you read the quote.

Q: Alchemy Mindworks used to post answers to questions in various Usenet newsgroups, but this seems to have ceased. Am I reading the wrong newsgroups?
A: While it's an unofficial policy, we've largely given up providing suggestions and technical support through Usenet. Most of the newsgroups that deal with graphics and web page design have turned into food fights of late — it's hard to find the postings with intelligent questions amidst the "make money fast" scams, the requests for nude photographs of Cindy Crawford and the users trying to figure out how many furlongs are in an angstrom.

A secondary consideration in this decision was the sudden appearance of dozens of new spam e-mail messages every time we posted something to a newsgroup — resolving the question, at least in part, of where spam generators collect address from.

While Usenet has its uses, it has arguably evolved — or perhaps devolved — into a medium less than ideally suited for user support and product information. It seems better disposed to casual recreational discussion — a noble undertaking, to be sure, but not one that usually fits into our relatively full days.

We'll be happy to answer questions sent to us by e-mail.

Q: How many people work at Alchemy Mindworks?
A: Define "work."

This varies — for the most part, we usually check "1-25" in the "how many employees at your location" box on forms when we're being honest about it. Sometimes we lie and check "more than 10,000." Oddly, none of the parties responsible for the forms in question seem to notice one way or the other.

Q: I'm thoroughly outraged and morally indignant about the demeaning pornographic depictions of women at your web page. If you don't remove them immediately I won't buy your software. When can I expect to see them gone?
A: No foolin' — this was real question.

We assume that by "demeaning pornographic depictions of women," you mean the nineteenth-century pre-Raphaelite art at Indecent Images, and a few other places around our page. While we periodically surprise ourselves by what we're prepared to do for twenty dollars plus shipping, acceding to the demands of knee-jerk moralists arguably goes beyond the pale of mere avarice.

Check back with us in a decade or so — we'll let you know how things are coming.

Q: Can I get a job working for Alchemy Mindworks?
A: We're not hiring anyone at the moment. Most people wouldn't want to live out here if we did. Cows are such poor company.

Q: Where is Beeton, Ontario and how do you fit an entire software company into Box 500?
A: Beeton is some distance north of Toronto — that's an easy one to find on the map. If you climb the cellular-phone tower on a clear day you can just about see the Kremlin.

Alchemy Mindworks is not actually located in Beeton — that's just where the post office box resides.

Q: Why do you guys have pagan graphics, political diatribes and other non-serious elements at your web page? Software companies usually just have software and smiling pictures of their CEOs.
A: When we originally filled out the incorporation papers, we listed the CEO as Octavius Dreadlord Murphy, who is real, but something of an overweight Labrador retriever. Lacking the requisite facial muscles to smile, Murphy has proven unsuitable for the visual representation of our chief executive officer.

We believe that the people who look at our page aren't "software users" — rather, they're people who use software. Some of them are also, presumably, people who read books, people who like art, people throw polecats at their elected officials and so on. Just as life is a continuum rather than a discipline, so too do we strive to make our web page diverse.

This probably honks-off the odd suit, but Fortune 500 middle-management rarely registers shareware.

Q: Why don't you advertise in magazines — it must work, as many other software developers do.
A: Define "work."

The economics of advertising are a bit sneaky. Display advertising in computer magazines is really expensive — plan on five figures to sit in on the game, with several more figures to keep playing.

Yes, it very often does work — that is, a well thought-out advertising campaign will sell more software, and ultimately generate enough revenue to pay for the advertising and still allow the developer in question to come out ahead. The catch is that the price of said ads have to come from somewhere. Somewhere is usually in higher software prices.

Making our customers pay for an advertising campaign to get us more customers seems a bit underhanded to us.

Q: I sent impolite e-mail to Alchemy Mindworks and I got back a really rude reply. I'm a customer — aren't you guys supposed to kiss my butt?
A: What a novel suggestion.

Just about everyone who sends us e-mail is polite and articulate — it's almost enough to make you wonder if all the violence on television news is being beamed down from another planet to cause unrest and soften us up for an invasion. However, with all this good will and mutual back-slapping going on, when the occasional message from someone having a bad hair day does show up, it's a serious shock.

We feel that no one — least of all our staff — should be required to smile and tug at their virtual forelocks in these situations. It gets the people involved stressed out, spoils their days, contributes to ulcers and makes them want to run over poodles for no reason. Actually, this last point is somewhat subjective — we feel that there's always a reason to run over poodles.

Stressed-out, poodle-killing people don't do their best work. We believe that our other customers should not have to deal with our staff when they're not at their best.

If you contact us in a manner which we feel is impolite, rude, abusive, pig-headed or excessively liberal, we will do one of the following.

  • Tell you that you're being rude and abusive and ask you to get in touch with us when your bad hair day is behind you.
  • Accidentally delete your e-mail without replying to it.
  • Add your name to the list of our CancelBot, which will automatically suppress all further messages from your e-mail address until January 1, 2020. This is something we usually reserve for extreme cases and speculation about the sexual preferences of ourselves or our closer friends.
  • Reply to you in less than polite terms. This isn't at all zen-like, but sometimes it feels good and allows us to be less stressed and better disposed to assist more worthy souls.

If you need help or wish to have a problem resolved, please contact us in a civil and professional manner. If you just want to rant, contact our complaint department directly at president@whitehouse.gov — they'd love to hear from you.

Q: I called your technical support line and got a voice-mail machine that said you were unavailable, and that you would not return calls for technical support. Why is this?
A: We feel that our applications are very reasonably priced, and more to the point, we feel that this is what software should cost. People should be able to have the software they need to be productive without having to sell a few pints of blood.

Some while ago, we noticed that our long distance phone bills were beginning to catch up to the federal deficit with alarming speed. We did some analysis of our telephone traffic and came up with the following conclusions.

  • About three quarters of the calls we were returning were being left in the wee small hours of the morning. People would call and talk really quickly, leaving their phone number and their name. Clearly, they wanted us to call them back so we would be paying for the call, at which time they'd be at leisure to speak more slowly. Alchemy Mindworks staff who happened to work late often got phone calls wherein the callers hung up as soon as they realized they hadn't reached the voice mail.
  • A very tiny proportion of our users were calling for technical support at all.
  • A very tiny proportion of the users who did call asked questions that weren't answered in the documentation for the software they were calling about.
  • We spent an awful lot of time on hold and playing phone tag when we did try to return calls. When we left voice mail for users who were not available, many of them called back in the wee small hours, and the whole circus started over.

We faced a decision — we could either increase the price of our software and pass these costs along to all our users — even though most of them would never benefit from them — or we could refuse to return technical support calls. Charging people for benefits they don't receive sounded an awful lot like what our various levels of government do. We feel that our various levels of government are in the process of destroying civilization as we know it, and as such, emulating them even on a small scale was repellent and deplorable. We chose to let the phones cool down.

If you need to get in touch with us for help with any aspect of your use of our software, please either call between 10:00am and 5:00pm or — better still — send us some e-mail. E-mail is pretty well free, and we're usually able to answer it within a few hours. If you do get the voice mail machine during business hours, all our people are busy with other calls.

Q: Are you guys in league with the devil?
A: Don't laugh — we get asked this one frequently.

Some of the people who work at Alchemy Mindworks have pagan beliefs, and some vaguely pagan iconography has appeared in our literature and example graphics. The most overtly pagan images arguably turn up in the "click me" advertisements for Steven William Rimmer's novels, which are themselves fairly pagan.

This document being about software rather than about comparative theology, we won't get into the distinction between that which is pagan and that which is occult or satanic, save to note that there is a really huge difference between them.

We have been surprised — or perhaps more correctly, disturbed — to find that some fundamentalist christians seem to equate pagan traditions with worship of the christian devil. Our reply to this is "not even close" — and their reply to our reply is very often "that's just what I'd expect the devil to say."

Well, we aren't. If we were, we'd no doubt have a much more convincing rebuttal.

Should the pagan graphics trouble you, you can convert the distribution versions of most of our applications into politically correct, culturally neutral packages. Delete the "click me" advertisements. This arguably doesn't apply to Pagan Daybook, which is pretty well pagan to the core.

Q: How long has Alchemy Mindworks been in existence.
A: Since the world was flat.

Actually, since 1982. We began as a consulting company. Our first shareware application, Graphic Workshop for DOS, was released in 1986.


Please read the following disclaimer before proceeding — your use of the information in this document constitutes your acceptance of these terms.

Disclaimer: All rights reserved. No part of this document may be reproduced by any means without the written permission of Alchemy Mindworks. No responsibility is taken for any loss, damage, expense, bodily harm, confusion, obfuscation, precambrian micro-organisms, liberal tendencies, linguistic complications, sheep, unexpected spleen removal, unsightly stains, the heartbreak of psoriasis, brain damage due to cosmic rays generated by extraterrestrial spacecraft, enlarged feet, outrage, premature combustion, pregnancy, lack of pregnancy, uncontrollable stuttering, early battery failure, road-kill cats, grave offense to the deity of your choice, tasteless pink plastic flamingos appearing without warning on your lawn, spontaneous human combustion, laser rot, Levis, plagues of locusts, Elvis having left the building, the disappearance of your pet fish named Sluggo, Jehovah's Witnesses, the president of the United States suddenly dressing up in a neon-green clown costume and pedaling a unicycle at high speed down Pennsylvania avenue while reciting "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" backwards in garbled old high Frisian, body hair which might be difficult or embarrassing to remove, the planet Jupiter, Central Pacific Time, pieces of string in excess of eleven inches, his most exalted majesty Price Gregor Mesopotamia of no fixed address and any unexpected electrical shocks, however they are caused.

Q: When I try to download a file from the Alchemy Mindworks web page, I'm told that there has been an FTP error, and that the maximum number of users has been reached. What does this mean?
A: The computer that manages downloads, the server, can handle a maximum number of simultaneous users at a time. When this number of users is reached, the server refuses to accept any more new users until someone currently using it logs out. If you see this message, you can either wait a few minutes and try again or try one of our mirror sites. Links to download files from our mirrors can be found right below the links to our primary FTP server.

Q: Microsoft's Internet Explorer tells me that "extended information has been returned" when I try to download a file. What does this mean?
A: This appears to be a bug in Explorer. It's trying to tell you that the server is at capacity. Please try again later, or use one of our mirrors.

Q: What are the blue butterfly icons at your web page for, and should I be using CRC file integrity checks when I download?
A: Every file is a long string of bytes. It's possible to perform a check on a file which generates a unique number based on the value and location of each byte in the file. This process is called a "cyclical redundancy check", or CRC. If even one byte in a file changes, performing a CRC check on it will result in a different CRC check number. The odds of two files having the same CRC is one in about four billion.

CRC checking ensures that the files you download have not become damaged in transit. A CRC check can be computed for the file in question on our server, and then for the file you have downloaded. If they match, the downloaded file is identical to the file at our server, and as such has not become corrupted.

The blue butterfly icons at our web page generate CRC checks for each of the files they pertain to. The CRC application, available for download at our web page, will perform the same check on a file after you have downloaded it. If the numbers match, your downloaded file is intact and safe to install.

The CRC page will explain this process in greater detail and provide links to the downloadable CRC checking software. It's dead easy to use, and will save you some measure of frustration if you download the various upgrades and patches available at our server from time to time.

The CRC checking function is particularly useful if you encounter a downloaded Alchemy Mindworks software installer that refuses to install correctly. It's a simple, completely reliable way to make sure that the file is intact before you start looking for other potential problems.

Q: I am unable to download a file from the Alchemy Mindworks web page. Can you e-mail it to me as an attachment?
A: 'fraid not — we're unable to e-mail large binary files. Please try one of our mirrors.

Q: I've heard that I can achieve faster downloads if I put a block of ice on my modem to keep it cool. The problem is, the ice melts after a while and makes the modem spark. What can I do?
A: Please call our offices during business hours — we have a deal on some prime swamp land in Florida we know you'll be interested in.

Q: I have tried to download a file from all your mirrors, and none of them work. I get a partial file each time. What's wrong?
A: Have a word with your system administrator or internet service provider. This is either a local network problem at your end or a really devious conspiracy by the New World Order. Most often, it's the former.

Q: I'm trying to download a file and it's taking forever. I've tried it from all your mirrors and the speed is still glacial. Could this be the result of corrupt government employees stealing some of the bandwidth of the internet and trading it for drugs?
A: That's certainly one possibility, although if it were the case you'd no doubt have heard about it on Oprah or some other branch of the media.

Here's a more likely explanation. When the server you access the net through connects to another server — such as the one which supports our FTP site — the connection is actually passed through many servers across the Internet. A connection between two servers in North America may involve upward of a dozen of these intermediate servers that you never hear about. Each of the intermediate servers receives the "packets" of information that form your download and sends them along to the next intermediate server in the connection.

If one of the intermediate servers slows down, your download will slow down. This can happen if a server is overloaded, or if part of it goes off line for maintenance.

Our mirrors are located all over the world — it's unlikely that all the mirror servers will get bogged down at once. It's much more likely that an intermediate server on the Internet that your packets always get routed through is having temporary problems.

To verify that this problem exists, ask your ISP or system administrator to run "traceroute" between your server and the server you're trying to download from. This is a program which gauges the response time of all the intermediate servers and spots the unusually slow ones.

Slowdowns on the net are not uncommon — in most cases, you just have to try again later.

Q: If I'm unable to download the files I want from the Alchemy Mindworks server because the server is full, is there anywhere else I can find them?
A: Each of our web pages with downloadable files has links to several mirrors from which the files can be accessed. These include the Alchemy FTP — our primary server — the Castlegate FTP, the Thecia FTP and so on. Try these alternate links if the Alchemy FTP is busy. If all the links are busy, we recommend that you try them at one-minute intervals until a slot becomes free.

Q: Can I download one of the software betas from any of your mirrors?
A: We usually only maintain the betas at our main site and at the Castlegate and Thecia mirrors.

Q: I downloaded a file and when I went to install it, Windows told me it had to be run under Windows, even though it was being run under Windows. What's wrong?
A: Your file was damaged during download. Try it again. Always check your downloaded file size in bytes against the file size stated at our web page or at the FTP site you downloaded the file from. If they don't match, you have a damaged file. Also, use the CRC check feature of our web page, discussed elsewhere in this document.

Q: When I download a file through Microsoft's Internet Explorer, I'm told that it might contain viruses. What should I do?
A: Nothing. This is a rather ill-chosen feature of Explorer. It's warning you that any executable file could contain viruses in theory, rather than actually performing a virus check on your downloaded software.

Q: Norton Antivirus told me that one of my downloaded files contains a virus. What can I do?
A: Norton Antivirus reports "false positives" on occasion, that is, it warns its users about viruses where none exist. It's by no means always wrong, but it is arguably a bit untrustworthy. Before you lunge for the big red panic button, we recommend that you check your downloaded file against McAfee's VirusScan, which has proven somewhat more reliable in our experience.

Q: Any chance you have a BBS with these files available?
A: A BBS? Is that some sort of primitive recording technology once used by the ancient Mayan scribes to enumerate the payment of taxes by local indigenous farmers?

Actually, no — ancient, barnacle-encrusted relic that it was, our BBS was taken off line in early 1998 because of lack of use. We have no plans to return it to service at this time.

Q: I began downloading a file and the download stopped part way through. What happened?
A: Something really bad... but no one knows exactly what. Sometimes the Internet just does this, for no obvious reason. You must download the file again.

Q: I went to download a file from your web page and it just seemed to take forever. Is this normal?
A: This depends on what you define as "normal." As a rough guideline, on an average day on the 'net with a dial-up 56K modem connection, you'll see a transfer rate of about 1.5 to 4.5 kilobytes per second. If the 'net's really busy, or if our server is nearing its capacity, this can drop considerably. This is just part of life on the Internet.

Q: Is there a time of day when Alchemy Mindworks' server is less busy?
A: Things seem to be a lot quieter before noon EST — that is, before the west coast wakes up, sucks back its cappuccino, eases into those Gucci loafers, cranks up the Beamer, motors down the Champes d'Buena Vista and power-brunches its way onto the 'net for the day.

Q: If I don't want to bother downloading files, can you send me a disk with the files I need by snail-mail?
A: Sure — we offer an evaluation disk CD-ROM of all our applications for $10.00 (US). Please see our ordering page.

Q: How about if, rather than downloading files, I just register the shareware I think I'll like and return anything I turn out not to want?
A: This would be a bad idea. We do not offer refunds on registered shareware under any circumstances, unless you're God and can produce three pieces of photo-ID to prove it. Library cards don't count. We strongly urge you to try the shareware before you register it.


Disclaimer: All rights reserved. No part of this document may be reproduced by any means without the written permission of Alchemy Mindworks. This document may contain opossum dandruff, desiccated hectoliters, psilomelane, heterocercal mesothoractic dorsal fins, maleic acid, hypostatic secretions, wolfsbane, orobanchacite, vacuolated hematite, aromatic essence of giraffe, hydrogenized gouda cheese, iguana nostrils, mellifluous swamp byproducts, ommatidium, palindromes, argentite, a tendency toward Einsteinian shift, oil of venus flytrap, zoroastrian running shoes, samphire, mitochondria, road-kill skunk, gamma globulin, lead acetate, fissionable isotopes, recycled post-consumer waste, roseola, abatoir left-overs, brake drums from a 1963 Chevy Biscayne, lost wax, armageddon, Grimm's Law, sprues, hogfish parts, dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane, Saint Profundo the Minuscule, all or part of the remaining wardrobe of the former inhabitants of Atlantis, polysorbate 80, mantoids, the lesser Magellanic cloud, Morgan the unspeakably large Newfoundland dog, a plague of espresso makers, powdered toe of liberal, the complete works of William "Sheep Juggler" Shakespeare III and the president of the United States dressed up in a neon-green clown costume pedaling a unicycle at high speed down Pennsylvania avenue while reciting "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" backwards in garbled old high Frisian — although the odds are very much against it.

Please be certain that you have read the foregoing carefully before proceeding.

Q: How can I contact the technical support desk for Alchemy Mindworks' software?
A: You can get technical support by e-mail — questions sent to us are usually answered within a few hours.

You can also call us at 1-705-789-5238 between 10:00am and 5:00pm EST Monday to Thursday, and 10:00am to 1:00pm EST of Fridays. If you get the voice-mail machine, all our lines are busy. We will not under any circumstances return calls for technical support. Please do not call the 800 number for technical support — this connects to our order desk. The order desk operators know less about software than most liberals know about fiscal responsibility. They cannot transfer you to someone who knows any more than this.

Please read this document in its entirety and the documentation file for the software in question before you call technical support.

Q: Is there anything special I need to do when asking for technical support by e-mail.
A: Just one — quote all your previous messages in your dialog with our support staff. We answer hundreds of e-mail messages per day, and we delete the messages we answer as soon as they're done. We have no way of referencing earlier messages in a conversation. If you reply to a question without quoting all the messages that went before it, we will most likely have no idea what you're on about.

Q: What does Alchemy Mindworks charge for technical support?
A: Unlike some larger software developers, we are in the business of developing software, rather than that of selling support. We will not charge you for reasonable technical support for our products.

Q: I have a version of Graphic Workshop for Windows 0.8 which was released during the late middle ages. Can I get technical support for it?
A: Probably not without a functional and fully certified time machine. While we will attempt to assist users of older copies of our software, our revision lists and other documentation are typically only maintained for a year or two. If you have an old copy of our software — 'specially if it's a shareware copy you're evaluating — please download the current version from our web page and see if you still need technical support.

Q: I'm having trouble with Netscape Navigator or Internet Explore. Can you assist me?
A: Neither Netscape nor Internet Explorer are our applications. While we use both of them to some extent, we are not sufficiently familiar with them to assist you. You must contact their developers for assistance. For service in Swahili, please push eight on your touch tone phone.

Q: Every time I send an e-mail message asking for technical support, I get told that my message has been deleted by the mail server and I'm asked not to send any more messages until January 1, 2010. Why is this happening?
A: Welcome to the mail server kill list. The kill list only gets to delete your mail if you were a really impolite bastard in an earlier message. Merely french-kissing your poodle during a funeral will not suffice to get you added to the list. Your earlier messages must have included speculation about the sexual preferences of Alchemy Mindworks' staff or close personal friends, a lot of expletives and typing in capital letters, vulgar deprecations of our software or other products or the expression of a profound admiration for Nintendo. The kill list is the list of last resort — talk to you again in the next millennium.

Q: Can I get technical support for Alchemy Mindworks software even if I'm not yet a registered user?
A: We will, at our discretion, provide limited technical support to unregistered users to help you evaluate our software. Please note that we reserve the right to discontinue technical support to specific unregistered users if we feel that your requests on our technical support facilities are excessive, or if your questions are answered in the software's documentation.

Q: I e-mailed for technical support, and I've been asked a lot of questions. Is this really necessary?
A: Unless you're being asked very peculiar questions — anything having to do with feathered boas, rituals for ascertaining the current whereabouts of Elvis or exotic applications for soup constitute very peculiar questions — this is the usual process for working through technical support issues.

In a few rare and fortunate cases, we receive technical support questions dealing with problems we've encountered before. These issues can be resolved quickly. For the rest of the time, it will be necessary to find out what's happening on your system. Since we can't sit down in front of your computer, we'll have to ask you what it's up to.

Some really intractable problems can require a fair bit of dialog.

Q: I received Alchemy Mindworks' software on a CD-ROM entitled "Lewd and Grotty Adult Images Volume 6" and it doesn't seem to be working. Am I entitled to technical support?
A: 'Fraid not. If you found our software on a collection of adult images, it was put there without our permission. While we have nothing against naughty pictures, our lawyers have recommended that we not grant our consent to have our applications included with discs of them due to the copyright problems which usually go along with said discs.

Because the creators of the CD-ROM in question did not obtain our permission to include our software with their collection, we do not have a copy of the disc on file. As such, we have no idea what version of our software is on the disc, whether it's complete and functional and how to access it. If your use of this image collection is predicated on your being able to use this software, you have been ripped off and should proceed immediately to obtain a refund for the disc.

We urge you to download a copy of the software in question from our web page at http://www.mindworkshop.com. If you have any difficulties with the downloaded software, please get in touch with us as discussed elsewhere in this document.

Q: What information must I provide when I ask for technical support.
A: This will be determined to some extent by the nature of your question. Common sense prevails.

To begin with, no thought of requesting technical support should be permitted to dimly form in whatever part of your brain you typically reserve for dimly formed thoughts unless it's accompanied by a statement of:

  • The application you're using.
  • The version number, revision letter and patch level if applicable of the application you are using.
  • The version of Windows you're using.
  • The amount of memory and other hardware features in the computer you are using.

Alchemy Mindworks' current applications include a document called Bug Report. Please complete this and e-mail it to us when you're requesting support. It will provide us with a lot of the initial information we need, and save a considerable amount of time.

Note that the date you downloaded the software, the archive file size, the archive file date, the phase of the moon at the time of download and the colour of the installer application window are not suitable substitutes for the version number.

You can find the version number of the software you are working with in the About dialog of the software, or in the case of unregistered copies of GIF Construction Set Classic, in the lower right corner of the main application window.

If you are reporting a suspected bug in an Alchemy Mindworks application, please be sure to state:

  • Precisely what you did prior to the appearance of the bug.
  • The precise error message that appeared, if this is applicable.
  • What other software was running on your system when the bug appeared.

Be sure to attempt to repeat the problem several times, preferably immediately after rebooting your computer. Windows is a somewhat unstable operating system, and is itself responsible for the occasional software crash. If you can't make a bug happen repeatably, the odds against us being able to do so such that we can fix it are about as long as the odds against a housecat surviving being dressed up as a moose and released in the woods on the first day of hunting season.

Q: Exactly what are the odds against a housecat surviving being dressed up as a moose and released in the woods on the first day of hunting season?
A: The odds may be approximated as one in:

H2 * B3 * Igcl * Fodc

where H is the number of hunters in the woods in question, B is the aggregate number of cans of beer consumed by said hunters, Igcl is the number of pieces of ineffectual gun control legislation in force in the jurisdiction where the woods are located and Fobc is the number of funky orange baseball caps worn by the hunters in question. Multiply this by a factor of three if any of the hunters are using helicopters.

Q: Is there a limit to the amount of technical support you'll provide me with?
A: We would like your use of Alchemy Mindworks' software to be as effortless and productive as possible. As such, we do not impose specific limits on technical support — if you're genuinely having a lot of problems, we're here to get you through them. However, technical support is not a talking manual. We reserve the right to refuse to provide technical support to users with questions which are answered in this document, or in the software's documentation.

If you're really new to computers, to Windows or to the net, you might need to read up on these areas before we can assist you with specific problems in Alchemy Mindworks' software. We consider that the question "which one of the plastic things on my desk is the mouse?" is a good indication that you have some way to go before you need to talk to us.

We will usually not be able to help you with applications from other developers, even if you're using their files with our software, or our software's files with them. We cannot direct you to books to read or places on the web to find out about things other than our software.

We cannot provide technical support in languages other than English. That's contemporary English, by the way, rather than, say, Chaucerian English. Neither jive nor val-speak constitute English for the purposes of this discussion. Inserting the word "blimey" into another language at regular intervals doesn't qualify as English either.

Finally, we will hang up on, shred or delete requests for technical support from users who are rude or abusive.

Q: How much technical support am I actually entitled to as a registered user
A: Actually, none. The registration fee of Alchemy Mindworks' software does not include payment for technical support. We provide technical support at no cost as a courtesy to our users. However, we do feel that this is a reciprocal courtesy — if you're abusive, nasty or unhelpful, we reserve the right to stop doing so.

Q: Is there any way to call technical support without my paying for the call?
A: Aside from relocating to beautiful Adjala township in central Ontario to raise potatoes and drink warm, flat beer, no. Unlike many software developers, we do not impose a per-call fee on technical support, nor will you find yourself on hold for fifteen minutes listening to elevator music if you call us. However, the only way we could provide toll-free technical support would be to increase the price of our shareware to cover the phone costs. This would, in effect, impose the cost of technical support on everyone who uses Alchemy Mindworks' software, even though only a few users would actually be calling for technical support.

We feel strongly that people shouldn't be required to pay for services they don't actually get. We believe that this would be fundamentally wrong. We further feel that if our various governments felt the same way, our various economies wouldn't be melting down as you read this.

Q: I'm having difficulties with an image file. Can I e-mail it to you so you can see what's happening?
A: Please query first — your problem may be something we've heard of, and we'll be able to recommend a solution for it immediately. Under no circumstances should you e-mail us a file which is over 50K in length. Our mail server automatically deletes files bigger than this, as well as the messages they're attached to.

If you do e-mail us a file, please send it as a MIME-encoded attachment. Do not uuencode it, or try sending the binary file as a text message.

Q: The example image file I'd like to e-mail you is of an adult nature. Is this a problem?
A: This must be the nineties — that which would have been referred to as "a nice bit o' smut" or "good clean dirty fun" a decades ago is now "of an adult nature".

We're not usually bothered about erotic graphics per se, but these sorts of pictures are somewhat subjective. That which you find attractive might really gross out whoever happens to be answering the mail when your message shows up. Employees of Alchemy Mindworks are by no means required to work with pictures they find objectionable — they're permitted to delete anything that's sent to them which they find objectionable. If you have an example which is not of an adult nature, you might get a more timely answer to your question.

Q: What is the longest recorded flight of a chicken?
A: Thirteen seconds.


Disclaimer: This document may not be duplicated in any manner without the express permission of the publisher, including but not exclusive to photocopying, lithography, facsimile, calligraphy, hand-written reproductions, impressing into wax tablets, writing in Nile mud, carolingian miniature script, translation into haiku, uncial illuminated manuscripts, rendering as verse in iambic pentameter, bellowing by an overweight Prussian ferret rancher through a distorted megaphone in the town square of a small but populous market village in central Europe, graffiti, bawdy sea chanties, engraving on the head of a pin, microfilming for discrete infiltration into an unnamed but potentially volatile guerrilla camp high in the mountains of Tibet, carving into the trunk of a redwood, tattooing across the broad, muscular buttocks of a professional female nude grape jelly wrestler, branding onto the side of a yak with a laser, scrawling in ball point pen on the back of a sleeping brother-in-law, skywriting, snow sculpting, painting in oils, sketching in partially coagulated goat's blood on the forehead of a liberal politician running for re-election on a platform of prosperity through higher taxation of anything impertinent enough to move or uploading to God.

Please be certain you understand and are able to comply with these terms before you proceed.

Q: I registered an Alchemy Mindworks application but I've lost my registration code. Can I get a replacement?
A: No problem. Please visit the on-line registration code generator and request a replacement.

Q: How long is my Alchemy Mindworks registration good for?
A: Until the sun goes nova or you lose interest in the software, whichever comes first.

By registering Alchemy Mindworks software, you have purchased the right to use the copy you have registered in perpetuity, subject to the terms of use of the software in question.

Q: Can you notify me by e-mail whenever updated versions of my registered software are available?
A: Glad you asked. Yes, we can — just sign yourself up for the Alchemy Mindworks update mailing list. You'll receive automatic e-mail messages as we release new applications, updated versions of our existing applications or other products.

Note that this service is available to anyone who wishes to use it — you don't have to be a registered user of one of our applications to add your name to the list. The rumour that our leather winged demon of the night has figured out a way to e-mail itself to the unworthy and rip out their spleens is wholly unsubstantiated.

Q: I have a shareware version of an Alchemy Mindworks application installed on my system and I have registered it. My registration code was e-mailed to me. How can I install it in my shareware copy to disable the beg notice?
A: Run the software and select Setup from the File menu. Enter your registration code in the top field and your name in the bottom field. Your name must match the name we used to generate your registration code exactly.

Q: I have entered my name and registration code into the shareware version of an Alchemy Mindworks application and I'm told that they do not match? What's wrong.
A: Here are a few common problems to check.

  • Are you sure you're entering your registration code in the top field and your name in the bottom field?
  • Are you sure you're entering your name exactly as it appears in your notification e-mail or invoice? Case and punctuation matter.
  • Are you sure you're using the appropriate code for the application you're attempting to register?
  • Any chance you've confused the Classic and Professional versions of Graphic Workshop or GIF Construction Set? The classic versions have one field for the code, while the processional versions have four.

Q: I registered GIF Construction Set Classic and received an automatic e-mail message. However, I can't find a registration number in it. What's wrong?
A: Aliens might have eaten it.

Actually, GIF Construction Set Classic registers with a code word, not a number. The code word appears in automatic e-mail messages after "REG CODE", about a third of the way down the message. It appears in the line item for GIF Construction Set on paper invoices register after "REG #".

Q: Can I transfer my registered copy of an Alchemy Mindworks application to someone else?
A: Sure. Just have the portion of your brain which contains the memory of your registration code surgically removed and sent to us. We recommend that brain segments be sent by insured mail or FedEx — a mind is a terrible thing to lose in the post. As soon as we have ascertained that you have sent us the correct bit of brain, we'll send you a registration code for the new owner of the software.

Q: I registered Graphic Workshop Classic. I'd like to update it, but I don't have my registration code any more. Can I find it in the software?
A: Yes you can. Open the Setup dialog — this is the green wrench button in the graphic button bar. Click on the Register button near the bottom of the Setup dialog. Your registration code will appear in the Registration Number field.

Q: My Graphic Workshop Classic registration code is 65535. Can I update to a new revision of Graphic Workshop with this code?
A: 'fraid not. That's a dummy registration code, indicating that the software in question is a shareware copy. If you have registered in the past, you should have a registration code less than 65535.

Q: A prematurely-bald fourteen year old kid in a trench coat with "Alkemy Mindworkz" written on the lapel in green crayon sold me a registered copy of Graphic Workshop last week as I was leaving a downtown brothel. It worked for a while, and then it started turning all my pictures green and erasing parts of my hard drive. Can I update to a more stable version?
A: 'fraid not. We make sure that all the prematurely-bald kids we hire are at least sixteen years of age. You have encountered a hacker. Some hacked software includes viruses, and some of it has things other than its copyright message and beg notice broken. Surprise!

Alchemy Mindworks will not support or replace software which has been hacked or otherwise modified without our permission. If you telephone us for technical support and we ascertain that you are using a hacked copy of one of our applications, you will hear the official Alchemy Mindworks hacked software signal. This is pretty well indistinguishable from a dial tone.

Q: I registered GIF Construction Set Classic and received my registration code word. I don't like the code word — can I have a different one?
A: Registration code words are based on a checksum of your name. If you register under a variation of your name, you'll get a different word.

Should you really, really hate your code word and want it changed, please e-mail us with:

  • Your current registration name and code word.
  • A variation on your name, such as your name with a middle name or initial included.
  • Your complete shipping address and the date you registered.
  • A plausible and creative reason for issuing you a new code. "It was the last thing I said before my pet anthrax bacillus Dorothy died" won't cut it.

Q: I have Graphic Workshop for DOS. How much will it cost me to upgrade to Graphic Workshop for Windows?
A: $44.99 (US) plus $8.00 shipping. We do not offer an upgrade path from the DOS platform to the Windows platform.

Q: Can I get my Alchemy Mindworks software registered to my pet anthrax bacillus Dorothy, or to the name of my company?
A: We prefer to register shareware to individuals, such that when we send out update notices they'll arrive on the desks of real people, rather than in a mail room with nowhere to go. We will use company names if you insist — bacteria, invertebrates, small mammals and extraterrestrials are out unless they have credit cards in their own names.

Q: If I register by credit card, how quickly can I get a registration code by e-mail?
A: Within three business days. We usually manage it somewhat sooner than this. Note that business days do not include weekends or Canadian holidays.

Q: I registered my copy of Alchemy Mindworks software but it timed out and refused to boot anyway. Is this caused by excessive radon gas seeping from microscopic particles of Uranium 237 mixed into the clay use to make the bricks in my house, or is there a more terrible reason still?
A: Radon's a possibility — if you're concerned, have one of those discrete radon survey companies that drive the trucks with the huge yellow radioactivity symbols painted on the side come to your digs and scare your neighbours into a partial coma.

Actually, what you have there is an expired beta. Prior to releasing a new build of Alchemy Mindworks software, we run a beta cycle to let our users beat up on test copies of the applications and help us find potential bugs. While our release software does not have timers built into it, the beta copies do, such that we won't be answering questions about buggy betas from now 'til the turn of the century.

Just download the current non-beta version of the software in question from our web page, install it and enter your name and registration code if you're prompted for them. The "expired beta" message will go away.

Q: I created some animated GIF files with GIF Construction Set before I registered it. Now that I'm registered, they still say that they were created by an unregistered copy of the software. Do I have to rebuild them all from scratch?
A: No, just open each one with a registered copy of GIF Construction Set and delete the UNREGISTERED SHAREWARE control block from the file. Save the file back to disk and all will be well.

Q: I registered GIF Construction Set to my name, but I'm using it to create animated graphics for someone else. I would like not to have my name in these files, but the identity blocks insist on putting it there. What can I do?
A: You can disable the creation of identity blocks entirely by switching them off in Setup. You can also have GIF Construction Set use text you've created for its identity blocks, as discussed in the GIF Construction Set documentation.

Q: How can I tell whether my pet anthrax bacillus Dorothy is really a girl?
A: Current sex-discrimination laws do not permit us to answer this question. In fact, they prohibit it from being asked in most jurisdictions. If yours is one of them, you should probably expect a visit from the political correctness police in the next few weeks, followed by several months of sensitivity training, gender-awareness orientation and attitude re-adjustment.


Disclaimer: All rights reserved. No part of this document may be reproduced by any means without the written permission of Alchemy Mindworks. No fur-bearing animals were harmed during the creation of this document. Allergy alert: may contain nutmeg, but we doubt it. Return for refund where applicable. Not recommended for persons with sugar-restricted diets. Batteries are included — best of luck finding them. Proud sponsor of the 1934 penguin olympic games at McMurdo Sound, Antarctica. May cause irritability, sleeplessness or warts after prolonged use. Contents under pressure. BHT added to preserve freshness. Caution: this product has caused some laboratory rats to rip through their cages, fly across the room and brutally murder hundreds of innocent people. Shake well before using. No vacuum tubes or other user-serviceable parts inside. Not to be combined with other radioisotopes except under the advice of a physician. Avoid prolonged exposure to ultraviolet light. The truth is out there. Use no hooks. Not intended for use by children or liberals under the age of five. Printed on unrecycled endangered dead trees and we're proud of it.

Q: I have a web page. Can I have a free registered copy of GIF Construction Set in exchange for advertising your software at my page?
A: 'fraid not. Most of the civilized world has a web page, and were to swap software for links, we'd quickly have no money and lots of links. At such time as we're able to barter some of these links for groceries, we'll reconsider this policy.

Q: Does using an unregistered copy of GIF Construction Set to create a few graphics for my web page constitute a fair use of the shareware?
A: In our opinion it does not. The shareware release of GIF Construction Set is provided for you to evaluate. If you find it to be good enough to create GIF files for use on a web page, we feel that it is good enough to register. If you don't agree — that is, if you find it to be unsuitable for your needs and as such not worth registering — please delete it and any graphics you created while you were evaluating it and accept our thanks for trying it out.

Q: Can I pay for Alchemy Mindworks' software by purchase order?
A: No. If you want to buy 100 or more copies, please get in touch with us. Sadly, the purchase order system has seen considerable abuse in recent years — while few institutions issuing purchase orders flat-out refuse to honour them, we have found that many purchase orders are accompanied by extensive documentation requirements, lengthy waits for payment and the need to follow up and beg for money multiple times before a cheque actually gets cut. This probably makes sense if the purchase order has been issued to pay for a Cray supercomputer or a couple of B1 bombers — it's not workable for a $20.00 shareware registration.

Q: Before my company will cut a cheque to register Alchemy Mindworks' shareware, we require that you complete a W-8 tax form, a W-9 tax form, a year-2000 compliance document and several other forms. Is this a problem.
A: Yes it is. To be blunt, the cost of someone's time required to complete this documentation is typically worth more than the registration fee for our shareware — and no one here really likes filling out forms. We do not have the resources to complete additional documentation for single-quantity shareware registrations.

Q: Do you offer an educational discount for Alchemy Mindworks' software?
A: No, we don't. We feel that the fairest price is one which applies to everyone equally.

Q: Do the registered versions of Alchemy Mindworks' software come with a printed manual?
A: No, it comes with complete documentation on disk which can be printed out if you require a paper reference. A paper manual would double or triple the cost of the applications in question — we feel that software should be affordable.

Q: If I register GIF Construction Set and the leather-winged demon of the night comes by to rip out my heart before the registration key arrives, what can I do?
A: Running away isn't an altogether bad idea. Painting its nose with Keen's extra hot mustard has been known to work as well. Keep in mind that the leather winged demon of the night has been lunching down those still-beating hearts in record numbers of late, and is getting a bit porky. It can't move like it used to. Do not attempt to use high explosives or small tactical nuclear weapons against leather-winged demons of the night, as this just irritates them.

Q: I received a message from Alchemy Mindworks saying that I have a GIF file created by an unregistered copy of GIF Construction Set on my web page, and asking me to register the software. I only created the one GIF file while I was evaluating the shareware version — don't you people think that coming after me this way is somewhat unreasonable?
A: A considerable pontification follows — this is not recommended for anyone with a short attention span. See the question following this one as well.

We receive a number of messages each week from registered users of GIF Construction Set which say, in effect "I paid for the software. I've found a GIF file which was obviously created by someone who didn't. Can't you do something about this?"

In one light, this ignores the reality that shareware developers are ultimately powerless to stop users of their software who are determined not to pay for it — we can't call in the shareware police, and as should be obvious, we wouldn't even if we could.

We're also unable to ascertain how long someone has been evaluating an unregistered copy of GIF Construction Set, of course.

At another level, however, we feel that this is a reasonable concern. Users who have supported the shareware they use should feel a bit abused when they see others who do not. We don't believe that shareware which seeks to compel its users to register it — with 30-day timers and other restrictions — is really in keeping with the spirit of shareware. However, getting in touch with the owners of the web pages in question and mentioning that they've used GIF Construction Set without paying for it doesn't seem unreasonable.

The messages we send to the owners of web pages which include GIF files created by unregistered copies of GIF Construction Set seem to evoke one of three responses. Some of them are ignored — this is especially true of messages sent to large corporations and branches of the government. The White House web page, for example, had two GIF files of a waving American flag on it for a long time which were created by an unregistered copy of GIF Construction Set, ignoring several messages from us.

Some of the people we contact actually register GIF Construction Set, which is, of course, very heartening.

Finally, a few of the replies we receive express howling, lethal outrage at our having contacted their senders. These seem to be from younger users of the Internet, or possibly from people who feel that a good strong offense is the best defense. These replies usually include sentiments such as "you have no idea how shareware is supposed to work", "I only used the software once", "you have some nerve demanding that I register your shareware", "you're spamming my e-mail", "I'm just evaluating it and haven't decided whether I like it" and "I'm so offended that I'll never use your software again, and I'll tell all my friends what bastards you are".

This latter point is a somewhat hollow threat — users who had no intention of paying for GIF Construction Set in the first place can't very well threaten not to do so in the future. As to our "demanding" payment, the most coercive line in the message we send to unregistered users of the software is "we would like to ask that you register GIF Construction Set..." — not exactly a leg-breaker.

We feel that software should be regarded as you would any other tool — for example, a hammer or a power drill. If you only needed to drill one hole, you'd still have to pay for a power drill — the price of the tool isn't predicated on the number of times you intend to use it. Admittedly, this precludes users who would buy the drill, use it for the one hole they needed drilled and then return it, claiming they didn't like it — a practice at least as unethical as using unregistered shareware.

The distinction between GIF Construction Set and a power drill is that the people who sell power drills have pretty tight control over the number of people who use them versus the number of people who pay for them. Shareware developers must, by nature, be resigned to a level of abuse that the manufacturers of more conventional tools need not concern themselves with. Some users of shareware might regard this as a degree of license to abuse the software they download.

Our perception of shareware — albeit from the point of view of shareware developers — is that shareware which is being evaluated should not be used to do productive work, and that shareware which is doing productive work is no longer being evaluated. In the case of GIF Construction Set, "productive work" would be creating GIF files which wind up on a web page. If it's good enough to create images for your web page, it's worth paying for.

License to evaluate shareware should not be regarded as the opportunity to get as much productive work done during the evaluation period as possible, and then to "decide" that the software isn't worth registering. If there's a distinction between this and the aforementioned example of returning a tool to the shop where you bought it after you're done with it, it eludes us.

In conclusion, then, we don't feel that our messages asking unregistered users of our software to pay for it are unreasonable or out of keeping with the spirit of shareware. They're certainly less so than the level of crippling we see in other shareware packages. Parties who use shareware and don't pay for it make it more expensive for the ones who do — doubly so for the users who don't pay for it but call our technical support line anyway. (You know who you are.) Users who claim to have only used GIF Construction Set once can take heart — we're only asking you to pay for it once.

Q: I received a message about an animated GIF file on my web page having been created by an unregistered version of GIF Construction Set. I found that GIF file on another page — do I have to do anything about it?
A: This is the Internet — you don't have to do anything.

We feel that using an unregistered shareware application to do productive work is software piracy, no less so than using an unpaid-for copy of a commercial application. Someone used a pirated copy of our software to create the GIF file in question, even if it wasn't you or anyone you know.

You might want to consider whether you wish to support software piracy by using the product of a pirated application.

Secondly, you might want to consider whether you want people who browse your web pages to know that pirated software was used in part to create them. They certainly won't know where your animated GIF file came from.

Ultimately, it's your decision whether you want to remove the GIF file in question from your page, register GIF Construction Set to make it legal or just pretend we're extraterrestials and wait for us to beam up and go away. To phrase it another way, you're free to decide whether you see yourself as being part of a lawless Internet, wherein everyone does as he or she pleases — presumably doing it to you one day soon — or whether you feel that the Internet has a conscience and a sense of ethics, of which you are part.

If you're not prepared to register GIF Construction Set, we would certainly prefer to see you remove any GIF files created by unregistered copies of it from your web page, however they got there. However, as was noted earlier, this is the Internet — no one is going to force you to do so.

Q: If I have a registered copy of GIF Construction Set, do I have to pay a royalty to Alchemy Mindworks if I sell the animations I create?
A: No. Your intellectual property is yours to do with as you like. You also don't have to acknowledge the software you used to create 'em, although you're welcome to do so if you like, with our thanks.


The contents of this page are copyright © 1995 — 2018 Alchemy Mindworks. Some portions are copyright © 1995 — 2018 Steven William Rimmer. The copyright holders specifically prohibit reproduction, transmission, duplication or storage of this page or any portion thereof in any electronic or physical medium, under any circumstances. Reproducing all or part of this page against our express wishes may result in severe civil and criminal penalties. The lawyers made us say that.

Please contact us for reproduction rates if you'd like to reproduce all or part of this page on paper. If you like this page and wish to share it, you are welcome to link to it, with our thanks.