SC mag - Down to standard.

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Well, today I phoned the local newsagent to check if the latest SC mag
was in. It was, and with eager anticipation I raced to pick it up.

I was hoping to be surprised at the amount of new exciting articles
that it might contain (just like I had for issues of previous months).

Lo and behold, after a quick 15 minute scan it seems the content is
worse than I'd ever imagined possible.

I mean Julian Edgar could have probably filled the mag with automotive
articles and I would be impressed - sorry Julian, I'm sure you know
what I mean.
Ever the optimist I'll wait another month (and hope).

I'm thinking that in the future maybe if we all buy 2 copies that it
may help SC afford some decent articles.
Failing this, maybe SC could fill the mag with half-page pictures
(which seems to be the norm nowdays where content is lacking).

I'm really trying not to bag SC as I really think it's the best
electronics mag around, and wouldn't ever consider not buying it, but
it is testing my faith.

So, I'm hoping for some positive comments from you guys to say that
I'm in fact mistaken, and that SC is improving. If not, maybe some
positive comments about what SC should do as I'm feeling a bit
'negative' at the moment...

Cheers (blah), Phil


Re: SC mag - Down to standard.


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In what way?, all the usual stuff is there.
The vintage radio crap, a couple of general interest articles, a
couple of projects (some fairly good, one crap one), and the usual
columns. What's worse?

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No chance.


SC is not improving, and it's not slipping. I haven't seen any major
change either way in many years.

Unless SC change direction, or some magical new contributors appear
out of nowhere, things won't improve. They will continue to "play it
safe" and stick with the current formula.

What would *you* like to see?

Dave :)


Re: SC mag - Down to standard.


Hi Dave,

Well, I actually went to the trouble of writing you a list of things I
would like to see in SC mag, but on posting it went somewhere else -
the Google trashcan I assume.
I'm really p****d off that a message could be so easily discarded by
Google newsgroups, and not wanting to write it again, won't.
That was an hour of my life wasted, and I don't think I'll be writing
much here in the future given the 'iffiness' of posting.

Cheers (none to Google), Phil.
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Bugger, I know what it's like, that is why I learned to highlight and
CTRL-C before posting anything, not just on Google Groups but with any
type of online form. It has saved my sanity on many occasions. I've
found that the new Google Groups does not tend to loose anything
though, it prints a nice error message and usually lets you try again
if something went wrong, so I don't know what happened to yours.

Go chill out on the couch for a few hours with a cold one and take
some deep breaths, and try not to hurt your computer!

Dave :)


Re: SC mag - Down to standard.


Hi again Dave,

I think you'd already warned me about this, but I ignored and 'clicked-
on' regardless.

After having a quick lie down and beer/s as per your suggestion I
Goo(effing)gled to try to find an answer. The answer was Ta-da!
"Atheism vs Christianity"...
http://groups.google.vg/group/Atheism-vs-Christianity/browse_thread/thread/a6d6291c4dc45ea6

Yep, Google has 'smote', 'smitten' (or turned to stone) my message.
'Get beyond ye Google' I say, lest the Ctrl-C of enlightenment save
me!

Anyway, enough beers for me I'm guessing <g>.

Cheers (hic..), Phil.



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Google Newsgroups ?  They don't 'discard' anything.  This is USENET - try a
real news server. If you posted something it will still be there.


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I'd like to see real substantyial projects like ETI used to do. Not just
'fluff' .

geoff



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"real" news servers can be notoriously unreliable too.
Posts can just magically vanish into the ether.

Dave :)


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Yes, but news servers are peered.

geoff



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I'd like to see real substantyial projects like ETI used to do. Not just
'fluff' .

geoff


****** Substantial???
 ETI????
Surely you jest!!

Brian G.



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ETI 20 years ago.  I think it changed in nature at some stage.

geoff



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No I have a copy of ETI which appears to be substantial.
Some of the circuits were very advanced for their time.

Re: SC mag - Down to standard.


I havent newnewed my SC subscription for 2 yrs but occasionally glance
at newsagent incase Im missing anything,    SC needs more more circuit
and designs  instead of packing it wih Jaycar/altronic adds and fluff.
I really hate it when they plastic shrink wrap it with a catalog (like
this month!)
so you cant even see whats inside, why would anyone buy it at nearly
$10 when you cant even see whats in it!   I bet they have the lowest
sales when they seal the mag.,   I prefer silicon chip to drop the
quality of the glossy printing and drop the price below $5.


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I've solved that problem, I read it in the local library. Only takes about
10 minutes :-(.
If they ever start printing a decent magazine again, I'll start buying it
again, not before. But a lower price would definitely help.

MrT.



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Common fellers, are we to remove SC?
Then all were left with would be the Yankee mags, which maybe they
should take some pages from for reprinting....

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Come on - that feature article on glass was utter rubbish - incredibly light
on technical detail (we were informed that laminated glass is... laminated!)
crap photos that didn't show any interesting detail and the odd reference to
the fact they use computers (who would have thought!) in a lame and sad
attempt to justify its relevance to SC.

It could have been a fascinating article, but it ended up sounding like
lightweight fluff from a press release or corporate profile.



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Probably culled from the Pilkington website or somesuch

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I didn't say the usual stuff was any good, just that it hadn't seemed
to have changed much recently.
I'll have to read the glass article to be able to comment, because,
well, I just skipped it like I do most of the general interest
articles unless they happen to take my fancy.
I actually spent more time browsing the new Altronics catalog than
reading this months SC :->

I've got to admit that I hardly read SC at all any more, a 5 minute
skim is probably about it, as there is very little of interest in it
for me any more. But I still subscribe because I'm "in the game" so
the speak and contribute stuff occasionally, and I feel compelled to
support the only remaining Australian hobby electronics magazine, the
mags I grew up with.

I haven't needed a hobby electronics mag for a long time now, which is
why I find the "industry" mags like Electronics News (excellent local
mag), Circuit Cellar, Electronics Design etc much more enjoyable and
worthwhile reading.

If SC was to move in a new direction I would like to see it become
more of a semi-professional level industry journal with content like
these other mags. Perhaps that is the wrong direction for all sorts of
reasons, and I would hate to see the demise of the sole remaining
hobby electronics mag in Australia, but I'm just thinking that from a
professional perspective and my needs now.

As a pure hobby electronics mag, I think SC is barely there. If you
take away the general interest articles and the vintage radio stuff,
you are left with slim pickings. There just aren't enough projects or
other technical articles to go around. When was the last time they had
an article on general electronics design that wasn't part of a project
I wonder?

So what can be done? Perhaps one way forward would be to drop the
general interest articles (the electronics related ones can be ok) and
have more leading edge projects, even if they are breadboard
prototypes, or simply playing with some new ARM processor development
kit or whatever. Projects don't need to be fancy looking, finished,
and designed so that Jaycar and DSE can kit them up. Most people don't
build the kits, they read the articles.

Review stuff, but don't just write about it, take it apart, explain
how it works in detail, tourture test it until it breaks, Mythbusters
style, that makes interesting reading.

Perhaps scour and solicit interesting technical articles and content
from the prolific authors on the web, maybe from the likes of Hack-a-
Day for example. I just found http://tesladownunder.com the other day
which could make some interesting reading.
There is endless material out there that can be tapped.

That's enough for tonight, I'm tired...

Lets keep this ball rolling.

Dave :)
CTRL-C


Re: SC mag - Down to standard.
Hi Dave (attempt #2),

Excellent words, and pretty much what I was trying to say also - had
Gurgle not failed me. It's taken me a day to calm down, but thanks to
your advice I'm a much calmer person - this damn lotus position hurts
though <g>.

To cut to the chase, I'd also hope to see some articles aimed at the
newbie for circuit design. Simple things like 555 timers, interfacing
MCUs to inputs/outputs, voltage dividers, zener diode voltage
protection, optocouplers, relays, PCB power supplies etc.
Best methods. Why use a BC337 instead of a BC557 (or PN100), why a
IN4004 instead of an IN4001, EMI filtering (which inductors?), comms
(ie. chip/bus standards), basic motor control etc.

Your idea on introducing leading edge articles is also good. I for one
hadn't even thought about using ARM processors until recently. There
are so many other new innovations and ideas that people who also maybe
don't use computers miss. For example, I didn't know until recently
that Maxim had RS232 chips with onboard voltage pumps, magnetic
quadrature encoder chips
http://www.austriamicrosystems.com/03products/products_detail/AS5040/features_AS5040.htm
, creating Luxeon LED drivers with just few components
http://www.instructables.com/id/ERVLPDU5XVEWOF31U3/ etc. etc.

Yep, and pulling things apart to see what make 'em tick. That would be
good to see also. An example from sparkfun...
http://www.sparkfun.com/commerce/present.php?p=Nike_iPod-Internals

Also, getting ideas from non-tech people about what they would like
(without the expense). I was at a Jaycar shop recently and a guy
wanted to know what was required to create a telescope demister,
another wanted to have flashing lights on his jukebox. Probably simple
things for most of us, and maybe I could refer them to SC articles (if
they existed). A guy at work wanted to know how to turn off a pump
when the water ran out and I was thinking of back-EMF from the motor,
but didn't have an idea where he could find this info. My great-auntie
living up a flight of stairs could maybe have a "I've fallen and can't
get up" alarm. Simple projects like this would be good to see I think.

As for the latest SC mag...
Glass, well It's something people use for windows and pouring beer
into. Old radios, something people used to use (excellent work though
Rodney). Advertising...Farting salt shakers (I may be wrong there),
but I'd prefer to see more relevant things.

I really liked some of older articles where (for instance) Ed Schoell
explained his AVR board and went to great lengths to explain details.

Also, a big peeve of mine lately is seeing some projects based on MCUs
where the only download available is a .hex file for programming,
alternatively the chip must be bought pre-programmed in a kit. I mean
what great secret/innovation are you trying to protect? You've shown
the circuit, the components, but the source code isn't available.
Sheesh, that's something to keep secret! Maybe a foreign country could
exploit it!

Yep, I've Ctrl-C'd Dave, and maybe this one will survive the Gurgle
treatment.

Cheers, Phil.



Re: SC mag - Down to standard.
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chipshttp://www.austriamicrosystems.com/03products/products_detail/AS5040 /...
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componentshttp://www.instructables.com/id/ERVLPDU5XVEWOF31U3/ etc. etc.
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sparkfun...http://www.sparkfun.com/commerce/present.php?p=Nike_iPod-Internals

Now that's what I'm talking about!
Fun and interesting stuff.
How about it SC?

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Yes. It's funny how the ads in the other mags are actually a *feature*
of the magazine. You get to know about all the new gear, the latest
chips released etc. Indeed many people read mags like Electronics
Design just for the ads. I actually spend more time browsing through
the ads in Circuit Cellar than I do reading the whole of SC.

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Well, I've keen kinda guilty in that area over the years with some of
my projects, but if someone asks nicely I have always given them the
source code, no big deal.

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Oh, I forget to tell you, CTRL-C is a very advanced technique, only to
be used by the highest of computer zen masters. Once you highlight
everything, a single slip of the finger can wipe your entire post. Not
ensuring the CTRL button is fully pushed before C could result in your
keyboard being used as a POSTAL weapon.
I take *zero* responsibility if you end up on the 6 o'clock news!

Dave :)


Re: SC mag - Down to standard.
Dave, apologies for my possible foot-in-mouth problem.

In hindsight, I should have done a bit of research as to what you've
done for SC.

I also should have thought about your need to make more than a few
dollars from a project that may take heaps of time just coding, how
some people might just use the code and make their own versions of the
project, also how some smartasses might pick at the code and post a
rant to SC (or yourself) on how they could have coded it better.

Mr. T has a good point in "whether that is right or wrong is another
debate".

I'll recant my "big peeve" and turn it into a smally fluffy pet one
<g>.
Also, I appreciate that you do share source code if asked nicely. Good
stuff indeed!

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Haha Dave, I'll try not to go 'postal' :-)
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Cheers, Phil.






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