March 2006 Archives

In case you don't get Gorkana's media alert, today's mailshot contained all the contact details of the ex-Highbury mags that Imagine is going to continue publishing. For the edification of freelances everywhere, I've listed them below. However, I've noticed that some of the names repeat, so either Imagine have some multi-tasking editorial staff, or there'll be one of those Gorkanna correction emails coming out tomorrow. I'll update the entry whenever that happens.

UPDATE: There's a PDF press release detailing all the Imagine titles and teams on the company's site. I've updated the Gorkana information where possible.

Advanced Photoshop (updated)
Aimed at Photoshop professionals, each issue of Advanced Photoshop has inspirational interviews, tutorials and professional tips.
Contact: Deborah Allen, Editor
Emma Cake

Digital Camera Buyer
Digital Camera Buyer is a monthly magazine covering news and reviews of the latest digital cameras.
Contact: Chris Lean, Editor
Rosie Tanner, Senior Staff Writer

Digital Photographer
Digital Photographer focuses on the complete needs of digital camera users, whether they are professionals or enthusiasts. Each issue brings the reader cutting-edge imagery, practical shooting advice, interviews with professionals plus news and reviews of brand new equipment. NOTE: This isn't listed in the Imagine press release, although there is a web site for it.
Contact: Kirsty Eaglesham, Features Editor

Games TM
Games TM is a gaming magazine about past, present and future gaming products. It features the latest news, reviews and previews appealing to both the serious and casual gamer.
Contact: Paul Morgan, Editor, tel: +44 (0)1202 586 257
Rick Porter, Features Editor, tel: +44 (0)1202 586 200
John Denton, Senior Staff Writer, tel: +44 (0)1202 586 239

iCreate is a creative computing magazine for Apple computer users. Editorial focuses on Mac software and hardware.
Contact: Ben Harvell - Editor
Natalie Johnson, Senior Staff Writer

PDA Essentials
PDA Essentials magazine is for dedicated users of PDAs, and covers the very latest news and reviews in hardware developments plus new software and tutorials
Contact: Andy Betts, Deputy Editor

As the longest running PlayStation magazine, Play features authoritative reviews, the very latest in news and the best cover exclusives.
Contact: Nick Jones, Editor in Chief, tel: +44 (0)1202 586 211
Aaron Asadi, News Editor, tel: +44 (0)1202 586 211
Luke Smith, Sub Editor, tel: +44 (0)1202 586 211

Merging the very best of PlayStation and Cheat magazines, PowerStation is packed with detailed guides to the latest PS2 and PSP releases, and all the latest cheats. This magazine is a solutions magazine for keen PlayStation gamers.
Contact: Ryan Butt, Editor
Henry Rowlatt, Senior Staff Writer

Web Designer
Web Designer is the UK's premier publication for the online author. The magazine has a tutorial-based format for learning, whilst also providing the reader with the latest industry news and feature topics.
Contact: Mark Billen, Deputy Editor
Mark was previously the Deputy Editor of Web Developer. There is no editor at present.

Windows XP Made Easy
Windows XP Made Easy is a magazine for the home PC user and covers news, reviews and tutorials on Windows XP and Windows based products.
Contact: Stuart Tarrant, Editor
Steve Jenkins, Reviews Editor
Matt Powell, Technical Editor

X360, the essential magazine for enthusiastic Xbox 360 gamers, is dedicated to giving honest opinions and detailed coverage of the best and most exclusive games on the market.
Contact: Martin Mathers, Editor
Martin previously edited Games TM.

Media Week is running a Q&A piece with the SMD Publishing ad team. If you want to find out what the new owners of Hotdog, DVD World, et al are like, the article seems a reasonable place to start.

Doug Coupland, author of Generation X and Microserfs, decided to interview Morrissey. Although the interview isn't fantastic, descending as it does into Coupland's usual broken style, he does make some interesting and valid points about interviews and interviewing in the age of Google. Worth a look.

“They've no myths, numbers or colours and few words for past or present - no wonder the Pirahã people defy our most cherished ideas about language”. It's another cracking article in New Scientist about language that seems to suggest Whorfian ideas of culture affecting language might be more accurate than Chomsky's universal grammar. Give it a read if you have a mo.

In case you haven't paid them a visit yet (and most of them are US sites so why should you have?), here's a few handy bookmarks for your browser:

Irish theme pubs explained

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On St Patrick's Day, it's nice to see this article from Slate looking into the worldwide reach of faux-Irish pubs. Think Ireland: think pubs. That's a good, non-stereotypical message, isn't it?

Long-time readers will remember my trials and tribulations with First Direct and some slightly dodgy payments from my bank account to a Vanquis Bank credit card (APR 58%) just before Christmas. Just to update you happy few on what happened, First Direct refunded my account both transactions and gave me a new Switch card, which seemed to solve the problem. Which was nice. They never actually told me what happened as a result of their investigations, but there you go.

Interestingly – and whether it was because of the change of card or some artfulness on the part of these particular dodgers, I don't know – there was no third transaction that would have triggered a deeper investigation by the First Direct frauds department. That might have yielded more information, so I'm assuming two dodgy transactions wasn't enough to go on or worth the effort.

Nevertheless, it seems to be the tip of a financial iceberg. I just received this email from another worried First Direct customer (name withheld to protect the innocent, of course):

I have just read your article about being a First Direct customer and Vanquis Bank Chatham taking £250 twice from your bank account. I am very worried now because exactly the same thing has happened to me today. Vanquis Bank has taken £203 from my bank account and like you the First Direct Disputes Department say they will investigate the transaction because I didn't authorise it.

So that's two First Direct customers undergoing the same scam c/o Vanquis credit card customers. Tip of the iceberg or coincidence? Enquiring minds want to know.

After consulting with a number of copyright experts, including the very kind Andy Sivell of Working Titles Publishing, it turns out that I've little chance of doing anything about Mac OS X: The Essential Manual. I could get an injunction out against Smith's at best, but all that would do is stop Smith's from selling the 'book', not get me any money.

Oh well. Figured the chances of cash were small.

Interestingly though, during the course of the consultations, I turfed out the old Paragon Publishing freelance contract that I signed all those years ago when I started writing for iCreate. As well as being self-contradictory, etc, it had one noticeable clause: if Paragon were to ever reuse my work, they would tell me about it in advance (although not pay me, of course). Which they didn't. Twice.

I've signed a few freelance contracts in my time, but the thing that's struck me about almost all of them (amongst a few other things...) is that so much work goes into them, yet it's always the publishing company that breaks them first. Why do they bother?

I'm sure a lawyer could tell me if I asked nicely.

Got a letter from Ernst & Young on Saturday, giving details of the Highbury break-up. For ex-Highbury freelances, the following clauses probably seem the most relevant - if anyone can spot any others, feel free to add comments:

Ion hairdryers again

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A week ago, we bought an 'ion-emitting' hairdryer, which among other things is supposed to get rid of static electricity in the hair and imbue it with moisture.

Oh what a surprise. It doesn't. It's actually worse than a normal hairdryer. Just thought I'd warn all you hairdryer buyers out there before you bit the bullet and bought one.

A question of copyright

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Here's one for the lawyers and the copyright experts.

I'm in W H Smith's today and I notice a 'book' in the magazine section called Mac OS X: The Essential Manual. It's familiar in style to another 'book' Highbury put out in 2004 called Creative Computing Series: Mac OS X, which was basically a compilation of articles from iCreate - quite a few of which I wrote.

So I flick through it to see if I'm right, and whaddayouknow, it's exactly the same: a load of iCreate articles bundled together into a £10+ book. What's more annoying than the previous book, for which I saw not a penny of thanks out of Highbury, is the fact that the articles have actually been rewritten so that all author credits have been removed. (Yet they didn't bother correcting any of the obvious subbing mistakes. Huh.). I'm not even in the contributors section of this one, despite having written most of the main features.

I uttered some swear words to myself and put it back on the shelf. This is exactly the reason freelances are warned never to hand over copyright on their articles - publishing companies can file the serial numbers off the articles, re-use them wherever and whenever they like, and we never get so much as a thank you, let alone a cash payment – in this case, as with the Creative Computing Series volume, I didn't even get told they were doing it. Still, beggars can't be choosers and if you want to work for consumer IT magazines, you have to sign some pretty strict contracts.

However, it occurred to me on the way home that because of the Highbury fallout, I never got paid for most of the articles featured in the book. That means the copyright in the text of the articles still belongs to me.

Which brings me to my questions to the lawyers and copyright experts out there (and probably the NUJ's legal branch next week):

  1. Since Mac OS X: The Essential Manual is 'exclusive to WH Smith's' and they're still selling it, are they infringing my copyright? Or is it still a Highbury matter?
  2. Can I (and any of the other unpaid iCreate freelances) sue Smith's?
  3. If I/we were to do so, how much could we expect - the original fee of the article, or something greater or lesser?

Anyway, the tiny cockles of my heart are warming to the thought of getting paid for something that tried its hardest to disavow me. Once I've heard from the NUJ legal department (which past experience tells me can take a very, very long time and usually results in nothing but disappointment), I'll let you - and the iCreate freelances know what I found out.

Let's start the day traditionally with more tales of green disaster: the first is about how one of the very first projects approved under the Kyoto carbon-trading scheme is rubbish; and the second is about how nuclear energy won't be the greenish solution to our energy problems in the future. Depressing, huh?

PDA Essentials is back

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Spotted PDA Essentials on the shelves again. Unlike games™, I'd had experience of the Highbury version of the mag so I can compare and contrast. On the whole, I'd have to save pretty similar, although I don't recall GPS Advisor having been a bound insert in the previous issues. It looks good, reads well and had a good range of software on the covermount. In fact, it looks almost identical to the Highbury version, but with a bit more polish.

So that's good news for the readers of both PDA Essentials and the other mags that should be arriving from Imagine soon. I hope.

Tell us something we don't know: apparently, the Daily Mail is very guilty indeed of publishing dodgy science stories, according to a completely unbiased thinktank sponsored by mobile phone operators. Well, we knew that: just a shame that the source had to be so tainted.

Not going to quibble the point too much at the moment, since there's blood still coming out of my ears after speaking to someone in Boots today about their ion-emitting hairdryers. Apparently, some hair institute in Bath says they work and the manufacturers wouldn't produce them if they didn't.... Dr Ben's already talked about this but it's now almost impossible to buy hairdryers that don't have special 'ion emitters' as far as I can see. Sigh.

Just in case you were wondering whether Imagine would carry on both its Mac magazines, the answer is no. The Mac Creative web site now says “iCreate incorporating Mac Creative”.

For those paying close attention to the Imagine web site, you'll notice that the acquired mags now feature in the Imagine scrolling portfolio, with a couple still marked as “Top Secret” and wrapped in brown paper. Since iCreate isn't shown but Mac Creative is, I'm assuming iCreate is one of those mags. Since I'm writing an article right now (ah, procrastination, how I love you), I won't bother comparing lists to work out what the other mag is.

UPDATE: Incidentally, according to senior staff writer Ben Harvell on the Mac Creative/iCreate forum, the next issue of iCreate is going to be out on the 16th March.

The niceness of Encanta

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How's this for a happy story from a former Highbury freelancer?

Hi Rob. I freelance for the Radio Controlled Models and Electronics magazine previously owned by Highbury and now a suite of Orpington based magazines owned by Encanta media. I thought you might like to know that Encanta are to pay me in full the missing money I was owed by Highbury. A very kind gesture I thought as they have no obligations to do so. I believe this arrangement is offered to all Encanta freelancers who didn't jump ship as it went down.
A small result but encouraging.

While that's not happening, as far as I know, with any of the titles now owned by Imagine, Imagine are re-commissioning some of the work Highbury commissioned. That means that even if the receivers don't pay up, at least the work will get used and paid for by someone.

As for SMD, I've seen Hotdog and the other titles on the newstands now, but I have no further information on what's happening there. If anyone would like to email me with dirt, the address is [email protected].

One for the designers: a video showing how Microsoft would adapt the iPod's minimalist packaging if they were given the chance.

About this Archive

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

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