Author Topic: Silicon Chip  (Read 5426 times)

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Offline goldenrebel

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Silicon Chip
« on: October 09, 2011, 12:05:09 pm »
I love Silicon Chip Magazine, especially since the demise of Electronics Australia.  But what is Leo Simpson thinking?  A few years ago I sent him an email explaining that I felt ripped off and the so-called online subscription is a fraud.  Compared to the magazine version it doesn't compare, even though they claim otherwise (graphics that are so heavily compressed that you can't read them, and the inability to have easy off-line access to any of the articles).  That email was ignored, and I fear the future of that magazine.  What can we do do help a magazine where the management struggles to care or understand about online distribution?
 

Offline johnboxall

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Re: Silicon Chip
« Reply #1 on: October 09, 2011, 01:07:36 pm »
The problem with online subscriptions is that they generally appear on various download sites for people to get for free - further devaluing the magazine and reducing their possible revenue. Which further harms the magazine. Etc. I for one support them introducing an Android tablet and iPad application version of the magazine - this would strike a balance between online availability for readers and not being ripped off for Silicon Chip. However I think not too many SC readers would have a tablet computer of some sort to make this a viable proposition.

If you haven't already done so, perhaps email Leo again and articulate your concerns in a well-structured, polite manner - and see what they come up with.

Offline amspire

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Re: Silicon Chip
« Reply #2 on: October 09, 2011, 01:50:58 pm »
It is not fraud, it is just disappointing.

Old media is really struggling to come to terms with the way the Internet works today.

I think ultimately, if you want a perfect copy of a project article, see if they have the original copy of the magazine to sell.

Given the prolific work of Leo over 5 decades in his Electronic Australia and Silicon Chip articles, I can sort of forgive him if he doesn't want to change the fundamental business model at this stage. He has a model that has worked, and that is selling hard copy magazines.

Leo has done an extraordinary job in bringing electronics to the hobbyist and he definitely deserves to be treated with a lot of respect.

I definitely would one day love to see the articles in the great electronics magazines all available in quality scans on the internet in some form before they disappear. There was a British magazine called Wireless World (started about 1911) that did the most incredible articles by top electronics designers.  It is now called Electronics World, and as far as I can see, the Wireless World articles are not available.

Richard.
 

Offline EEVblog

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Re: Silicon Chip
« Reply #3 on: October 09, 2011, 11:16:19 pm »
Given the prolific work of Leo over 5 decades in his Electronic Australia and Silicon Chip articles, I can sort of forgive him if he doesn't want to change the fundamental business model at this stage. He has a model that has worked, and that is selling hard copy magazines.

I've spoken to Leo in person about this very thing, and you are correct. He has a system that works and is very hesitant to change it.
He (understandably) said the magazine and the subscribers base is all he has left, and he can't afford to lose it. And he's not exactly a young risk taking whipper-snapper any more  ;D
He would have to weigh up any potential gain in sales due to popularity of an electronic version vs the almost inevitable loss in sales on the print version. I don't know how thin his financial reserve is, but perhaps he could try it for a few months and see what the popularity is.
In any case, he is constantly considering the idea.

Dave.
 

Offline goldenrebel

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Re: Silicon Chip
« Reply #4 on: October 10, 2011, 08:39:53 am »
Thank you for the replies.  I would like to add an apology to Silicon Chip – using the word “fraud” was out-of-line and poorly reflects my sentiment.

I understand that it’s a tough time to be in the print industry, and I am grateful for Leo and his team’s clear enthusiasm.

We have seen in Electronics Australia what can happen if the winning formula is ignored.
 

Uncle Vernon

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Re: Silicon Chip
« Reply #5 on: October 11, 2011, 12:02:10 am »
I've spoken to Leo in person about this very thing, and you are correct. He has a system that works and is very hesitant to change it.
He (understandably) said the magazine and the subscribers base is all he has left, and he can't afford to lose it. And he's not exactly a young risk taking whipper-snapper any more  ;D
He would have to weigh up any potential gain in sales due to popularity of an electronic version vs the almost inevitable loss in sales on the print version. I don't know how thin his financial reserve is, but perhaps he could try it for a few months and see what the popularity is.
In any case, he is constantly considering the idea.

Dave.
I'll be a little critical here, I understand all of the above, but cannot see how SC can continue for any time without evolving and adopting new media.  To take a conservative approach is good business sense, to stagnate and ignore change is not. It's curious how the sector of electronics publishing which is immersed in new technologies, is also one of the slowest to embrace change.

You only have to read through the letters section to see the lost opportunities and jaded attitudes. Where is the enthusiasm?  Where is the encouragement for potential contributors?

SC embraced Picaxe and then nothing for months, they've all but ignored Arduino and offered little in the way of getting started with PICs and yet these are the real areas of activity for the magazine's target readership. If Dave Jones and John Boxall can provide regular and popular content why can't Australia's last remaining retail publication?

Dave you have approached Leo for discussion. Can I ask if the reverse was true? A SC piece about EEVblog would be very relevent to SC readers and hardly a budget buster. (no I am not insinuating you are cheap  ;) ) The same applies to  John excellent Tronixstuff blog, it would be advantageous for all concerned to share some mentions.

It appears the SC regard any other media channels as competition and that they are still in the siege mentality mindset from the days when their were three Australian electronics periodicals on newsagent shelves.

I'd hate to think of SC retiring with or before it's editor, but cannot help but think that is where it is heading. I still buy a copy every month but now it's more out of duty than for an excitement for what may be printed between the covers.
 

Offline amspire

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Re: Silicon Chip
« Reply #6 on: October 11, 2011, 12:58:57 am »
The work of an Electronics magazine writers and editors is extraordinary.

Coming up with several new projects each month, and they have to be interesting reads, as 99.9% of the people reading a magazine are not actually going to build any one of the projects in the magazine. The projects have to be completely build and tested, using all readily available hardware.

The trouble with things like Arduino is if you are not actually using a microprocessor, reading an article on programming a microprocessor is second only to reading the phone book. You may want to look at it once - but regular articles? Forget it.

I think most designers like do a design in one area of electronics, and then keep designing in the same area, developing their skills in that area.

The magazine writer is working on a Fm receiver today, next month they might be doing an EPROM programmer.  Next might be a lab power supply. and so on. They can hardly ever really work in one comfortable area of electronics, and there are always very tough deadlines.

I think the good regular project writers for these magazines are very rare people, and the truth is it is getting harder and harder to come up with relevant and make able projects.

Many of the mainstream electronic devices that people used to make now just cannot compete with the commercially available products on both price and features.  Same with most instrumentation. Same with most radio equipment.  Somewhere deep in the last century, there used to be projects for things like the ping-pong TV games that were immensely popular, but any kind of game project is now near impossible.

It could be that the project magazines fade away until someone comes up with a new concept.

It is easy to say that they need to change somehow, but how?

It is just not easy until someone has a great idea, and is prepared to risk money on that idea. I suspect the future may be a very international approach with much bigger and more refined projects - perhaps Open Source based projects using a lot of volunteer work. 

For example, I could see a lot of advantage in a big Open Source project where all the different designs share a common compatible and fully defined USB and/or Bluetooth and/or a new interface.  At the moment everything has non compatible interfaces, and things like TV gear has no decent interface to speak of.

Richard
 

Offline EEVblog

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Re: Silicon Chip
« Reply #7 on: October 11, 2011, 01:12:22 am »
I'll be a little critical here, I understand all of the above, but cannot see how SC can continue for any time without evolving and adopting new media.  To take a conservative approach is good business sense, to stagnate and ignore change is not. It's curious how the sector of electronics publishing which is immersed in new technologies, is also one of the slowest to embrace change.

You'd have to know his subscription numbers, and whether or not they are increasing or declining, or steady, and for how long.
Unless they are declining, I can't blame anyone in such a position for not trying radical new directions, regardless of what others are doing.
He may very well be happy with what he's got and what he's doing.

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You only have to read through the letters section to see the lost opportunities and jaded attitudes. Where is the enthusiasm?  Where is the encouragement for potential contributors?

To be fair, none of the magazines I can recall have actively sought out new contributors and articles. They do have a section on the site on how to submit articles though.

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SC embraced Picaxe and then nothing for months, they've all but ignored Arduino and offered little in the way of getting started with PICs and yet these are the real areas of activity for the magazine's target readership.

How do you know this? I have never seem them publish results of their surveys.
AFAIK there is a large proportion of the readership who love vintage radio for example.
Personally I don't think a vintage radio column belongs in SC, but who am I to argue that a lot of people don't like it?

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If Dave Jones and John Boxall can provide regular and popular content why can't Australia's last remaining retail publication?

Technically, Leo has a bigger regular audience (Leo mentioned about 15K+ to me) than either myself or John, so they must be doing something right?

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Dave you have approached Leo for discussion. Can I ask if the reverse was true? A SC piece about EEVblog would be very relevent to SC readers and hardly a budget buster. (no I am not insinuating you are cheap  ;) ) The same applies to  John excellent Tronixstuff blog, it would be advantageous for all concerned to share some mentions.

We once talked in passing about mentioning each other in this way, and I've wanted to do a tour of SC and interview for a long time now.
But no, Leo hasn't approached me about doing any sort of story about the blog, or other engineering social media etc.
Perhaps he hasn't thought of it in that way?
He may very well be receptive to such a submitted article though, if someone suggested it.

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It appears the SC regard any other media channels as competition and that they are still in the siege mentality mindset from the days when their were three Australian electronics periodicals on newsagent shelves.

I'd hate to think of SC retiring with or before it's editor, but cannot help but think that is where it is heading. I still buy a copy every month but now it's more out of duty than for an excitement for what may be printed between the covers.

Maybe that's his plan? To retire the magazine with him perhaps? I don't know, I only offer it up as a possible scenario. After all, he has got to be close to retirement age.

Dave.
 

Uncle Vernon

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Re: Silicon Chip
« Reply #8 on: October 11, 2011, 02:56:27 am »
You'd have to know his subscription numbers, and whether or not they are increasing or declining, or steady, and for how long.
Unless they are declining, I can't blame anyone in such a position for not trying radical new directions, regardless of what others are doing.
You only have to look at the pride of place and number of copies of the magazine held  in a few newsagents to have a fair idea of how it moves. And no, I don't for a moment expect any publication of this type to be a newsagents number one seller. It will always be a niche. As far as subscriptions go, yes I am making what I consider is an educated guess, regarding trends and numbers.

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He may very well be happy with what he's got and what he's doing.
Indeed. And best of luck and health to all concerned, that said its still an issue of relevance. I can't help but feel SC is relevent to an ever decreasing sphere, without some evolution.

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To be fair, none of the magazines I can recall have actively sought out new contributors and articles. They do have a section on the site on how to submit articles though.
True enough but is a real distinction between a section for submission and active encouragement and involvement in the community.

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How do you know this? I have never seem them publish results of their surveys.
Lets just say an assumption based on many years of involvement and observation. I'd very much doubt survey results would offer anything more useful than the published feedback within the magazine once you exclude the inevitable replies the inevitable nutters.


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AFAIK there is a large proportion of the readership who love vintage radio for example.
Personally I don't think a vintage radio column belongs in SC, but who am I to argue that a lot of people don't like it?
If that is truly the situation it makes a mockery of the title. To SC's credit, vintage radio does not exactly overrun the magazine, which may or may not be a good thing based upon that topics apparent popularity. I'm not exactly enthused by vintage radio either but I do find interest in the odd article, I guess it's just a question of balance and ongoing relevance.


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Technically, Leo has a bigger regular audience (Leo mentioned about 15K+ to me) than either myself or John, so they must be doing something right?
I'd doubt the trend figures reflect the same sentiments. Those comments were directed as a bouquet to you and John rather than as any raspberry comparison of numbers. I'd hope there could potential for some interaction or at the very least some recognition of achievements.

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We once talked in passing about mentioning each other in this way, and I've wanted to do a tour of SC and interview for a long time now.
But no, Leo hasn't approached me about doing any sort of story about the blog, or other engineering social media etc.
Perhaps he hasn't thought of it in that way?
He may very well be receptive to such a submitted article though, if someone suggested it.
Well I've suggested it here and would be quite happy to suggest it to SC, if it is seen as constructive.

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Maybe that's his plan? To retire the magazine with him perhaps? I don't know, I only offer it up as a possible scenario. After all, he has got to be close to retirement age.
If that is the plan it would be a real shame. Continuation of the magazine beyond any retirement would be an ongoing credit to Leo. But as we have certainly agreed his choice.
 

Offline EEVblog

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Re: Silicon Chip
« Reply #9 on: October 11, 2011, 03:50:10 am »
Indeed. And best of luck and health to all concerned, that said its still an issue of relevance. I can't help but feel SC is relevent to an ever decreasing sphere, without some evolution.

In content, or medium, or both?

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If that is truly the situation it makes a mockery of the title. To SC's credit, vintage radio does not exactly overrun the magazine, which may or may not be a good thing based upon that topics apparent popularity. I'm not exactly enthused by vintage radio either but I do find interest in the odd article, I guess it's just a question of balance and ongoing relevance.

And therein lies the problem, whether it's vintage radio, construction projects, Arduino/Micro articles, etc.
Who's to says the readers give a toss about Arduino for example? Would having stuff like that bring in enough extra readers to perhaps offset the loss of readers who don't like that stuff and start to see a trend?

Electronics is a very diverse area, you can't please every all of the time, it's impossible. And anyone who produces any content at all for large audiences knows this.
The more I think about it, the more I start to realise that Leo knows what he's doing in continuing to do what has always proven to work, and not changing things too much.

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I'd doubt the trend figures reflect the same sentiments. Those comments were directed as a bouquet to you and John rather than as any raspberry comparison of numbers. I'd hope there could potential for some interaction or at the very least some recognition of achievements.

Perhaps, and I've publicised SC many times in many public sphere's.
But what can you seeing SC do for us apart from a one-off article on what we do?
Do you want me and John to write regular articles for SC?

I know that any article in SC about me would only bring in a relatively small number of regular extra viewers, that's just the nature of Jones's Diminishing Blog Law. And it works both ways too. If I get a mention sometime, great, if not, well, I'm not fussed at all.

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Well I've suggested it here and would be quite happy to suggest it to SC, if it is seen as constructive.

SC get countless suggestions, as do I (and no doubt John). Unless they are backed up with content and action, suggestions are worth a dime a dozen I'm afraid  ;D

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If that is the plan it would be a real shame. Continuation of the magazine beyond any retirement would be an ongoing credit to Leo. But as we have certainly agreed his choice.

I agree, and I don't really seeing that happening, I think he loves it too much.
I can see him ultimately taking more of back seat and handing it over to someone younger.

Dave.
« Last Edit: October 11, 2011, 03:55:19 am by EEVblog »
 

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Re: Silicon Chip
« Reply #10 on: October 11, 2011, 04:42:21 am »
In content, or medium, or both?
I'd say both,  content can do with a little more diversity but the medium for better or worse is a dieing one. Cost, publication delays etc will see a demise in printed media with some of the content providers disappearing with it.

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And therein lies the problem, whether it's vintage radio, construction projects, Arduino/Micro articles, etc.
Who's to says the readers give a toss about Arduino for example? Would having stuff like that bring in enough extra readers to perhaps offset the loss of readers who don't like that stuff and start to see a trend?

Electronics is a very diverse area, you can't please every all of the time, it's impossible. And anyone who produces any content at all for large audiences knows this.
The way I see it diversity is the key, sure there are always a percentage of nutters who expect everything tailored to their particular likes and dislikes, but from what I have seen most who pursue electronics are a little more open minded. Take your forum here for example, while I haven't seen too many posts about vintage radio, you do have more than a few old school hams who regularly contribute on a wide range of subjects.

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The more I think about it, the more I start to realise that Leo knows what he's doing in continuing to do what has always proved to work, and not changing things too much.
Perhaps, I don't know the Ins and outs of his business but I can see a need for some evolution if its to stay relevant. Sure that's remains my opinion, but I doubt my predictions are too far from the mark.


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Perhaps, and I've publicised SC many times in many public sphere's.
But what can you seeing SC do for us apart from a one-off article on what we do?
Do you want me and John to write regular articles for SC?
I could see some SC exposure to the blogs being of interest to the readers. It could help numbers in both directions. You never know one of those vintage radio guys might just become inspired to join the forum and interact, sharing years of skills and experience.
As for contributions by yourself or John that is entirely up to you. Lots of factors come into play. What I can see is a column for something like John's tutorials being a magazine seller. Not for everyone, but then neither is vintage radio. And given that Freetronics stuff is now appearing in one of SC's major advertisers shelf space there could be a little extra incentive.

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I know that any article in SC about me would only bring in a relatively small number of regular extra viewers, that's just the nature of Jones's Diminishing Blog Law. And it works both ways too. If I get a mention sometime, great, if not, well, I'm not fussed at all.
Maybe so, but is it be bad publicity? Who knows what those few new participants can contribute. I sure the forum mentions of the magazine haven't exactly doubled their sales figures either, but those extra sales sure wouldn't have hurt.

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SC get countless suggestions, as do I (and no doubt John). Unless they are backed up with content and action, suggestions are worth a dime a dozen I'm afraid  ;D
I'm sure you all get plenty of suggestions, occasionally even sane and polite ones. I don't see any of the latter as a waste of time, there is no cost associated with receiving a free idea. Receive a few similar suggestions and who knows there may even be something to it worth pursuing.

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I agree, and I don't really seeing that happening, I think he loves it too much.
I can see him ultimately taking more of back seat and handing it over to someone younger.

Dave.
I hope you are right. My hope is for some mix of the youthful experience amongst the wisdom of those older hands.
 

Offline EEVblog

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Re: Silicon Chip
« Reply #11 on: October 11, 2011, 06:20:39 am »
I'd say both,  content can do with a little more diversity but the medium for better or worse is a dieing one. Cost, publication delays etc will see a demise in printed media with some of the content providers disappearing with it.

You may be right, but people do love their printed magazines, and will continue to do so for a long time.
I see no shortage of magazines in the newsagents compared to when I was a kid, in fact I'd say they have increased if anything (likely due to the ease of DTP these days).
As much hype as there is about the iPad and other readers, their numbers are still a drop in the bucket.

But I have long been of the opinion that SC should have a proper and reasonably priced electronic version for those who prefer that format.

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The way I see it diversity is the key, sure there are always a percentage of nutters who expect everything tailored to their particular likes and dislikes, but from what I have seen most who pursue electronics are a little more open minded. Take your forum here for example, while I haven't seen too many posts about vintage radio, you do have more than a few old school hams who regularly contribute on a wide range of subjects.

Whilst I agree in principle, I'm not entirely sure that more diversity in SC will necessarily lead to an associated increase in readership. It's already a good electronics hobbyist magazine at it stands (in fact, it is often acclaimed as the worlds best, in terms of production value and construction projects). But it never hurts to try of course, and I think SC have had a bit of a go at that over the years.

If you or others think that it should be doing more things, like I said, you shouldn't just be suggesting things, you should be offering to contribute.

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Perhaps, I don't know the Ins and outs of his business but I can see a need for some evolution if its to stay relevant. Sure that's remains my opinion, but I doubt my predictions are too far from the mark.

So apart from offering a proper electronic edition, what should they be offering that they currently are not?

The one well publicised incident I of course disagreed on, was over the publication of my µWatch project.
I offered it to Leo first as a world exclusive and he rejected it, saying it would not be popular. He was of course wrong  ;D
He missed out on all the publicity when it got mentioned on every tech blog on the planet.

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I could see some SC exposure to the blogs being of interest to the readers. It could help numbers in both directions. You never know one of those vintage radio guys might just become inspired to join the forum and interact, sharing years of skills and experience.
As for contributions by yourself or John that is entirely up to you. Lots of factors come into play. What I can see is a column for something like John's tutorials being a magazine seller. Not for everyone, but then neither is vintage radio.

The one thing to consider there is that they generally can't just add extra articles and pages without recourse, something generally has to miss out. One of the limitations  of a print version.
So for example, if John or someone else had a new regular 5-10 page column each month (easy with photos), then that's 5-10 pages that doesn't get devoted to other stuff people have grown to love, like say the construction projects.

Other mags like Circuit Cellar have overcome this somewhat by having the extra content in the online version only, and not in the print mag. Thus adding extra value to the online version.
But given that the online version is cheaper than print, and likely fewer subscribers, how do you convince the advertisers to buy space in the electronic version too, and hence pay for the extra effort involved in producing it. Lots to consider...

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Maybe so, but is it be bad publicity? Who knows what those few new participants can contribute. I sure the forum mentions of the magazine haven't exactly doubled their sales figures either, but those extra sales sure wouldn't have hurt.

Sure, and if Leo wants to mention me and/or other blogger and online content, then it would be much appreciated.
It's worthy of a one-off article.

Dave.
« Last Edit: October 11, 2011, 06:22:52 am by EEVblog »
 


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