February 2006 Archives

Imagine Publishing has started the process of integrating its new titles into its operations. First up, some new web sites. Games™ is already on the shelves of WH Smith's so it's not surprising its web site is also the most advanced.

Of interest to readers of the other acquired mags is the pull-down menu at the bottom of the front page that provides links to the other new Imagine titles, as well as the existing ones. None of the sites seem much further down the line than “Under construction” and there are no hints that mags other than the ones we already knew about are being worked upon, but it's good to get some confirmation that the mags are definitely on their way.

Life at The Economist it seems, according to this Guardian profile. Sounds almost like paradise there. Sigh. It's no wonder it's such a good read.

games™ is now on the shelves. Looks good (from a design perspective. I have no idea, content-wise), so I have high hopes for the remaining mags.

Still no word, incidentally, on which other titles have survived. Sorry.

We all know that most of the time, the journalist who writes an article rarely writes its headline. Now sometimes the headline can differ from a story because the sub didn't really understand the piece. Sometimes it can be downright misleading.

But how about this from journalism.co.uk? The article is about Ricky Gervais' decision to charge for his record-breaking podcast. Now look at the RSS feed details

Gervais smells the money and abandons Guardian
“I was a fool” to give record-breaking podcast away for free, says British comedian.

I don't think he says that anywhere in the article. How worrying, given that's quite an explosive quote if it's true.

So it looks like there's something else web subs are going to have to pay attention to in future.

Someone reckons the UK is the most loved country in the world, based on a survey of 26,000 Internet users. Anyone spot the flaw in the methodology?

There's some handy tips on how to avoid losing your freelance gigs over at Washington City Paper today. It's aimed more at Washington Post contribs, but some of the advice is universal, I think.

Seems like every day this week, there's been some terrible news about global warming. Today, we have the news that Greenland's glaciers are sliding towards the sea much faster than previously believed. Then there was that forecast yesterday of an 11.4m increase in sea levels worldwide by 3000 if we don't cut emissions. On Wednesday, plants turned out to be using CO2 so efficiently, there's an increased risk of floods. All this in the week the Kyoto Protocol celebrated its first birthday.

We're doomed, as they used to say on Dad's Army. Oh well.

Handy advice for Dick Cheney

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How to use a gun safely in the form of a poem. Sweet.

Imagine's put up a press release that lists some of the titles it's continuing with. They are:

  • gamesTM
  • iCreate
  • X360
  • Play
  • Windows XP Made Easy
  • PDA Essentials
  • Digital Camera Buyer
  • Web Designer
  • PowerStation
  • Advanced Photoshop
  • Digital Photographer and
  • Go>Play

Damian Butt also adds: “We have made a commitment to honour all subscriptions for magazines we intend to publish, and we are keen to retain the support and enthusiasm of our loyal subscribers. We will also offer an alternative offer for those with subscriptions for magazines that will not continue. All subscribers will be informed by letter within two weeks.”

So good news for a few mags at least. Note, this doesn't mean the other titles aren't continuing, only that the ones listed are the only ones that are carrying on for sure.

The British Council is arguing that teaching children French in school is a bad idea: what we really need to be doing is teaching them Mandarin. Well, okay, they're actually arguing that teaching languages is a good thing and we need to step up our efforts. But they're also saying perhaps we ought to try languages like Mandarin and Spanish in preference to French.

Do they live on some parallel plane of existence? We've been trying to teach kids French and other European languages for decades. Are we notably bilingual now? Can the majority of British people fluently speak a language other than English as a result of their schooling? Do we, through our best efforts, close relative location and membership of the EU, happen to have a glut of French, German, Spanish and Italian teachers?

All the answers to these questions are “No”. So, exactly how quickly and how well does the British Council think any attempts to produce fluent Mandarin speakers will pay off? Given that the government only just over a year ago ended the compulsory teaching of foreign languages to all 16 year-olds, exactly how much extra effort is going to be needed anyway?

Plus Mandarin: not the easiest language in the world to pronounce correctly. Going to need a lot of native speakers for this one...

The Lost Mags of Highbury

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Sitting in a warehouse, somewhere in England, are the last unpublished Highbury issues of Digital Photographer, XBox Monthly and Web Developer. No one wants them. So there they lay, collecting dust. How sad.

Does this mean Imagine isn't going to carry on publishing these titles? There are good reasons why Imagine wouldn't want to - and probably wouldn't be able to - ship these particular issues of the mags, including copyright, branding, currency, ad revenue and so on. So we shouldn't necessarily read too much into this. But if you want copies of those mags, I might be able to put you in touch with a man who can help out...

Imagine still in talks with staff

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Well, the reason for Imagine's silence seems to be that it's still in consultation with the former Highbury staff about which magazines it's going to continue and whom it's going to offer jobs to.

At the moment (according to unconfirmed reports from my sources), Tuesday or Wednesday next week looks like the end of the consultation period, and it's likely only 50% of the magazines are going to survive. The sad corollary is that only 50% of Highbury's staff are going to be offered jobs. Some have already decided they're going to look for jobs elsewhere anyway and some are being told they're too valuable to head off into the sunset and would they like a job now? Certainly, some of the key mags from Highbury are already up and running with some ex-Highbury staff.

The only ones we definitely and absolutely know for sure are going to continue are iCreate, Web Designer and games™. Play and one of the Xbox 360 magazines are liable to have survived as well, but we've not had that confirmed.

As for the previous list of titles that Imagine's receptionist claimed were surviving, it's entirely possible that she actually gave a list of titles that weren't going to survive, since it looks like Digital Creative Arts and Web Developer won't be weathering this particular storm. That doesn't leave Advanced Photoshop in a particularly good place if that's the case.

Incidentally, I've had another letter from a former Highbury subscriber. The current information deficit clearly isn't going down well with the general public.

Excellent blog - as a reader since first publication of Digital Photographer I was shocked to see a magazine of such quality disappear without trace... I was referred to your blog via a forum with Digital Camera Magazine and read it avidly! Although you mention the publication in passing, I see no news of any relaunch so if you hear any more about it, I would be interested and will follow your blog when I can (I travel a fair amount).

Just thought it would be nice to thank you for letting the victim subscribers know what's going on, as nobody else has.

Imagine the sound of silence

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Still nothing more from Imagine about what titles they're carrying on with, although it looks like Web Developer might be history. I did email MD Damian Butt at the weekend to ask if he'd like to give me a list of the continuing titles so that I could help him get the word out. But so far, I've had no reply. Maybe I've been spam-filtered. Maybe he's busy. Maybe he hasn't decided. Maybe he's trapped under something heavy.

With none of the Imagine staff, old and new, willing to post the info here (they are kind of busy, I suspect), at this rate, it's looking like we're only going to know once the magazines are on the shelves. Oh well.

Continuing our theme of “which ex-Highbury magazines is Imagine going to continue publishing?”, it turns out the receptionist at Imagine may have spoken to soon: Digital Creative Arts may not have a new life after all. I'll get confirmation of that on Monday, hopefully, along with a fuller list of the rejuvenated titles.

But in the meantime, I can tell you that Windows XP Made Easy is one of the survivors as well. Have a nice weekend!

Let's be honest, children

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Which of the hobbies listed on children's clothier Boden's customer feedback form is the odd one out? I'll give you a clue: “Graffiti/Casual Vandalism” is not generally considered a hobby...

Today is Day of the Journalist

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Apparently, in Latin America, today is Day of the Journalist. What do journalists do today?

“Mainly delete the standard e-cards sent to us telling what a great value to society we are”

Hmm. Can't see it taking off here. Sniff.

UPDATE: Actually, it turns out it was yesterday. Digest versions of mailing lists: I curse you!

The readers want info

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Just got this email from an iCreate reader. Seems like my suggestion about Imagine leaving info here might be a good idea:

I'm not in the industry, just an avid reader of iCreate magazine. I'd been wondering why the latest issue was taking so long to come out; at first I thought it might have been delayed due to Christmas, then I'd heard rumblings that Highbury had run into trouble. No-one though, not W.H Smith Customer Services, not the Highbury website not even trade publications like Media Week seemed to have any information.

That is until Google led me to your blog. I just wanted to say thank you for letting people know what's going on with their favourite publications when the companies involved seem so completely incapable of passing on any information either through their websites or through newsagents. Happily iCreate appears to be coming back. I look forward to picking up the next issue and hope that it's as lovingly written and produced as before.

Imagine begins to speak!

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No sooner do I wonder what's happening with all the ex-Highbury magazines and why Imagine's being so quiet than messages start to come out: I'm guessing everyone was under orders to keep quiet until now.

Only a couple of magazines so far have confirmed their existence, but I'm sure more will be emerging into the light in the coming days. Looks like the first new issues will be coming out this month and next month. Anyway, here's a round-up of what we have so far:

gamesTM: Will continue, according to Imagine MD Damian Butt.
Web Designer: Will continue, according to emails sent out by the new team. Working on issues 116 and 117 right now. Former contributors are being approached. At least some of the old team are running it as well as, I'm told, the former editor of Web Developer (who might also be editor of Web Developer, but I've no information about that title at the moment). The new contact email address for the mag is webdesigner@imagine-publishing.co.uk
Advanced Photoshop: The receptionist at Imagine says the mag will be back.
Web Developer: Ditto
Digital Creative Arts: Ditto
iCreate: Will be coming back and former contributors are being approached. Further details are available in this Mac Creative forum thread.

Anyway, that's six titles out of 24, so there's some way to go before we know the fates of all the mags. But I've had an idea. Seeing as

  1. there's a bunch of people at Imagine who come to visit this blog every so often (yes, I can see you) and who are presumably in need of content quickly
  2. plenty of former Highbury Entertainment freelances come here, wanting to know whom to approach about contributing articles
  3. plenty of subscribers to the magazines come here, too, wanting to know what's happened to their favourite mags
  4. Imagine's Flash-based website is probably a bugger to update and is none too compatible with search engine indexing

why don't the new Imagine teams leave their magazines' contact details here in the comments section, along with any information about their respective mags that they want subscribers to know? Alternatively, they can email me. In both case, I'll add a blog entry with the appropriate details so that the information's obvious and clear. That's probably the quickest way to get word out to contribs old and new, as well as subscribers, don't you think? Let me know if you agree or disagree.

And if SMD feel like doing the same, that's just dandy: I'm already getting lots of people asking me for their contact details and BT.com doesn't yet have a number for them.

Is this the face of a criminal?

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Photo Fit picture
Police photo-fit technology could do with an improvement, it seems.

The quietness of Imagine

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There's been a slight quietness from Imagine of late as to which magazines it's going to continue publishing and in what forms. There's also a quietness about how many from Highbury have been offered jobs at Imagine. Given the interviews were supposed to be over a week ago now, that doesn't bode well.

I've tried phoning; I've tried emailing; I've tried instant messaging.

Quietness.

Some news has leaked though, as previous blog entries will show. There have been various assurances given that the Imagine versions of the surviving mags will appear at the end of this month or in March.

But there are a few questions still on my mind

a) has anyone from the old Highbury been offered a job yet?
b) have any of the former Highbury freelances (who weren't also Imagine freelances) heard from the editors of the new titles yet?
c) which magazines are going to continue?
d) are the new mags going to be pure Imagine, without any input from the former contributors, a mix, or a continuation?

If you have answers, could you leave a comment on the blog or email me at blog@the-word-is-not-enough.com? Let me know if you'd like the information published or not. I'm hoping it'll be good news for the ex-Highbury lot, at least.

Since a lot of people now come here (and link to here) because of the Highbury goodies herein, I've set up a 'Highbury' category so you can all get your information undiluted by any of my other ramblings. Its URL is /finance/highbury/ if you feel like linking directly.

I've not yet created an RSS feed for the category, but there is a feed for the whole blog so you can subscribe to that if you'd prefer.

While it may be aimed at kids, Colin and Cumberland is an excellent site for absolute beginners trying to learning Irish Gaelic, Scottish Gaelic or Welsh (North and South). I've not tried the Gaelic versions but the Welsh one's good.

Too old to learn languages?

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Slate has a vague stab today at trying to explain why someone might want to spend £100 or so on Rosetta Stone. I've tried Rosetta Stone's German course and wasn't desperately impressed: you essentially end up with a brain full of vocabulary and no grammar or useful phrases, if you're lucky; if you're unlucky, you'll have a different kind of learning style altogether and none of the images actually sink in, leaving you considerably out of pocket and no wiser.

I personally prefer the 'Instant' books, which get you up to a rudimentary level in a short time. Certainly, they help more with reading foreign languages than Rosetta Stone does, unless you're learning a language with a non-Roman alphabet such as Greek or Japanese - the 'Instant' books use transliterations instead of the native script.

There's a useful amateur podcast on learning languages as an adult that's far more use than the Slater article, though. It's called Trying to Learn Spanish, and while later episodes are far more concerned with Spanish language learning, the first few podcasts look at more general approaches to language learning as an adult.

A rather lovely piece, I think, by The Hitch on the current cartoon feud. Compulsory reading for anyone who thinks he's re-aligned himself with the right-wing of late.

Ernst & Young are currently sending out letters to Highbury freelances, advising them of where they stand. If you don't receive yours within the next few days and Highbury owe you money, you should give Lukshmi Arulkumarasan a call on 020 7608 6304 (she's Margaret Mills' assistant).

There are a few notable points in the letter:

  1. E&Y won't pay for any work delivered after 20th January, unless it was approved by one of the Joint Administrative Receivers (herself, R J Beard and S J Edel).
  2. If you're working on anything for Highbury still, even if it was “ringfenced”, stop now or you'll probably be doing it with no payment in sight. You should also send a statement of any Highbury orders that you haven't completed.
  3. You need to send Ms Mills a detailed statement of any sums you're owed.
  4. If you have a preferential claim under section 386 of the Insolvency Act 1986, you need to advise her immediately. That's very unlikely though
  5. You may get VAT bad debt relief on anything older than six months. You'll obviously have to be paying VAT to qualify for that.
  6. She considers it unlikely there will be any surplus available for non preferential creditors. However, she'll be preparing a report in three months' time to deliver the bad news and give an indication of likely dividend prospects.

She also says that the company directors haven't yet submit a statement of affairs so the company's full financial position isn't known yet. Want to bet it's probably a lot worse than we already thought?

Media Week has a few more facts on SMD Publishing, confirming that it's a subsidiary of Remnant and that Attitude and What's On in London will be joining SMD from Remnant.

This letter from Damian Butt to a subscriber of gamesTM was posted to the EuroGamer forum recently:

With regards your worries about gamesTM, have no fear. Imagine Publishing will honour all current and future subscriptions for this title and we are even now working to increase the quality and bring it back to its former glory.

I'm afraid however that we cannot deliver any issues you are missing until the first Imagine issue hits the shelves. This is because we have no control over what has already happened, and there is an issue of gamesTM that has not yet been printed. As such there may be one or two issues missing which were produced while Highbury was going into receivership. As soon as the Imagine issue hits the shelves though you will receive every issue until your subscription runs out or you renew it.

If you are contributor to EuroGamer then please spread the word, though do bear in mind that if people have tried to subscribe in the last few months, the records may well be incomplete and we may not get the names and addresses.

I know it's not like me to mock one of the magazines I work for, but how's this for an article intro?

How Open Source Frees the World
Enshrining openness in what was hardly more than pseudo-legal terminology codified the belief that spreading technology and the means of universal communication did more for the cause of social democracy and capitalism than maintaining a technological edge using military-style secrecy.

Everyone clear?

If you're owed money by Highbury, the London Freelance Branch of the NUJ has published the following advice:

If you are owed money by Highbury House Communications plc, note that it was put into receivership on 20 January. You need to file a creditor's claim form with the liquidator: write to Margaret Mills at Ernst and Young, 1 More London Place, London SE1 2AF. If you do so you should receive a proportion of what you are owed.

If you're a contributor or subscriber to Web Designer, Digital Creative Arts, Web Developer and Advanced Photoshop, the thread in this forum should give you some hope and information about the future of the mags – and your subscriptions.

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from February 2006 listed from newest to oldest.

January 2006 is the previous archive.

March 2006 is the next archive.

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