Archive for the 'Micro Mart' Category

10
Apr
08

millenium micro mart

Not many productions of whatever type reach 1,000 in number. But this coming week, the magazine for which I primarily write reaches that special issue number. Obviously I’d like to take more credit, but I only appeared on the pages from roughly issue 400 onwards, and it’s only been the last six years that I’ve become a regular contributor.

So what’s special about Micro Mart, other than without this mag I’d be starving? Well, for me it’s a publication without pretensions, which is something I personally associate with, and because of that it makes its own furrow through the sometimes lumpy field of technology we’re confronted with these days. And, rather than having a single unified identity, it’s a blend of the writer’s views which can present entirely different perspectives on where computers might be leading us, and if we really want to go there. So many publications don’t allow their writers these indulgences and differences, and Micro Mart is better read for it. As a reviewer if you’ve not got the cohunes to slam an equipment maker who’s just let you have a nice piece of kit, or exalt another whose product turned up in pieces, then this is possibly not the publication for you. Myself, I love it.

But for the many people who have contributed to Micro Mart over the years, it’s a common bond that remains after they’ve gone to do other things, or retired.

In the 1,000 issues probably 100 or more people have written reviews and features. Some never to be seen again, others to establish a following and fan base over hundreds of pages and issues, bitten by the Micro Mart bug.

So I’d like to congratulate those that work on this noble rag, especially the current editor Simon Brew and his team, for making this such a uniquely British institution and reaching such an impressive milestone.

To the next thousand issues, and beyond!

11
Sep
07

AMD system build

I’ve created a feature which details the building of a PC using an AMD 690G motherboard.

26
Aug
07

Bioshock – maybe not!

After playing the demo of Bioshock I was all up for the full title, which hit the streets on Friday. But reports about how 2K decided to protect their games with SecuROM DRM technology have entirely put me off. Developed by Sony it plumbs itself into Ring 3 of the OS, and monitors data coming from the CD/DVD and also refers to an online distribution service. The original release allowed the game on two machines, and you had to deinstall it from one of those to use it elsewhere, and have the original disc. Within hours people reported failed installs and revoked codes.
From all accounts this is an amazing game, but there isn’t a remote chance I’d let it anywhere near my working PC, or any that I rely on. I know 2K has relaxed that original 2 machine limit a little, and their working on a code reclaim application if you can’t deinstall because your PC dies. But I can’t really accept that a game deserves to decide what other than itself should be on my PC (as this install does..), or that comes with such draconian Digital Rights Management. But I’m sure someone else will get to the Micro Mart review copy before me, so it won’t be an issue. I’ll let it muck up their system instead!

Update: AH! It’s already messed up, because the demo put SecuROM on my system, and didn’t remove it when I uninstalled it.  These people need a kick in the head!

23
Aug
07

Are Journalists threatened by Bloggers?

Last week I went an event called PlayBite, which was to bring Journo’s and various hardware makers together for mutual benefit. There I was able to talk to Seagate, Toshiba, Belkin, ZyXEL and others about current and upcoming products and potentially plan some reviews in advance.
Good stuff. But what was also interesting was the questionnaire they asked me to complete as I left, which seemed to be concerned about the impact of Blogging on us erstwhile hacks!
I know that some people are very worried about this, and I can understand why, but myself I’m not. You see I don’t see bloggers are actually a threat to conventional journalism, but another potential outlet for people with genuine writing skills. By day I’m a ink journalist, meaning by work is printed and distributed, in much the same way that it’s been for hundreds of years. Yes it’s all composited on computer, and sent to a computerised press, but it’s an ink and paper deal like it’s been since Caxton.
Luckily I work for a weekly mag, so there isn’t a huge time difference between the actual events we discuss and them going into print. It’s not got the instant appeal of a blog or online mag, but sometimes it’s good to let a little time go by without spouting, to get a better handle on the underlying story.
So will this type of product go away entirely and be replaced by Bloggs? I don’t think so, not in the short to medium term. If you go back in time you’ll find that people predicted the demise of print when Radio and TV was invented, and again when the Internet took hold. But it’s still going, and many of the daily still sell more than a million copies!
Now I’m writing a Blog, and it’s given me a whole new perspective. This is an immediate medium that allows me to talk about things that don’t generally fit into either the readership or interest of the print publications I produce for. It also doesn’t currently pay me anything, but it’s a ‘work in progress’ so I’ll accept that for the moment. At some point I’ll expect it to pay it’s way for the time I spend on it, or I’ll reduce the amount I do.
Looking at what other Bloggers are doing, I don’t see anything different from what most journalists do, which is the see an idea or a story and then find their own angle. The Blogs that do well are either written skilfully or have imagination, despite what some think there is no ‘free lunch’ for the Blogger. Those that manage to get large numbers of people reading them have had to work hard to achieve that. Their are millions of bloggs that are read by few people, and some that will never get thousands of people a day tuning in.
The medium might have changed, but the rules remain the same. If you can produce material that people like or interests them then you’ve got a future, if you don’t you haven’t.
I think those in the printed press that feel the Bloggers are going to consume their occupations, by offering something similar for free are missing the point, I’d suggest.
In the same way that a picture taken with a mobile phone isn’t going to make you Photographer of the year. Those with genuine skills will shine through, irrespective of how they’re labelled.
The interest I’m seeing is that marketing people like the ‘new and exciting’ aspect of commercial Blogs, which they see as easier to influence than the battle hardened hacks they’re used to dealing with. Once the Web 2.0 world has matured a little, I think they’ll find it isn’t any different, and many of those hacks are the same people they will deal with in a new context.
In the meanwhile, I’ll just keep writing…for any medium that has an outlet.

08
Aug
07

Alas poor Stinkpad!

William ShakespeareWednesday is usually the day I get my Micro Mart, which is good because I get then to see what they’ve published, and what I’m going to get paid for. I know that might seem a bit ‘commercial’, but I’m never going to get rich writing and getting what I do in is half the battle.
This is a typical week for my on the Mag, which I’ve written for since 1988. Their are three review, a group test and ‘Logging Off’ which I alternate with Leo. That’s about 13 pages in all, but that’s along way sort of my epic ‘Micro Mark’ issues where I’ve topped 30 pages. I did suggest once, rather stupidly, that I’d like one day to do the entire Mag, including all the news and the Experts sections…so ‘Ask Mark’ for six pages. But thankfully Simon Brew rejected the idea. That’s unusual because he’s usually up for my wackier ideas, like the one I had where I was going imagine I had a time machine, and could send products back through time to have famous people review them. And to prove the concept I wrote a review of the then IBM Thinkpad, crafted in Elizabethan English, in my poor imitation of the style of William Shakespeare….

Here is what I wrote, which explains entirely why I never wrote any more. Apologies to the Bard.

Be thou blest, Mr. Ibm. Ye able courier carried forth thine ‘Thinker Pad’ mechanism some six days past, and I am so full of businesses, I cannot answer thee acutely.

Guidance proffered in ‘Users Manuscript’ made most virtuous companion. Within such wisdom of the ages, cured by the gods, enlightenment and illumination flowed with passion and haste. Delivered on to me the ‘on’ button, and forthwith dispensed its wondrous sanctum entombed within.

What majesty that is revealed in Mycrosoft’s the Orifice is truly a modern wonder, casting word and rhymes on a glowing page like shooting stars upon a winter night. But within its noble heart lies an evil and disturbing sprite, fashioned such as an ill made buckle. As I carried forth my duties tempted it to be summoned, casting ill comment on my very works and purpose. I felt no amusement of it.

By heaven , declining solace I persever thyne compass course. But alas, it did strike again, and again. “I prithee, dost thou fashion a sonnet? Pray you, let me help?”.

This eleven spirit mocks from within the Thinking Pad and would not be dispelled and travel hence.

‘I countenance not thy council, for under god and the Queen my title proclaimed is Bard!’ my protest to such point of rage became me that I swore in the manner known only to bawd women of Bankside. Not till morning fell did I banish the rascally knave, cast away by spells of hiding.

Once cleansed forth of this mischief, and proud with burning light the Thinker Pad did follow my bidding most honourably, and without delay.

Talk of the wonders of the ‘Thinker Pad’ abounded, such that many noble and villain alike descended on my door. As you did prithee, I declined them all audience, though Willaim Caxton did persevere as if driven by the very devil himself.

But alas, contentment quickly passed and travesty, nay! Tragedy beckoned. Taking well fed horses we did set a fine gallop yonder to the fair City of London, and did shout out to all assembled ‘Where set these fine WiFi hot spotteries?’. Witchcraft and dark forces abound in those parts, for we found not one in many hours rode! Close a tavern a mile west from traitor’s gate we stumbled on that oaf Raleigh, attempt to deflower some young maidens. Truly, is he not a lamentable puddle hiding rogue?

On my conscience, thy hand was racked and providence rose to strike him with the Thinker Pad from my noble steed.

Pleasures did soon dispel, for while that foul Jackanapes still warms his bones in mortal flesh, the virtuous Thinker Pad breathes no more.

Alas poor Thinker Pad, I knew him, and his demonic spirits.

William Shakespeare
thebard@globetheatre.co.uk

26
Jul
07

A printed Blog…surely not!

For those that would like more information about how ‘Unleashed’ came about, I’ve talked briefly about creating this blog on pages 58 and 59 of this weeks Micro Mart magazine (issue 963), available at most good newsagents in the UK.
Welcome to anyone who’s come along here after reading it! You’ll find the blog a bit different from what I normally write in Micro Mart, but all in my typically reserved style. Enjoy!

25
Jul
07

Crazy Computers – updated

I’ve added some new machines and pictures to the Crazy Computers page. Enjoy!
UV Extra




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