Aaron introduces RISCWorld to new readers
This article was originally published in Eureka, the subscription Magazine for ARM Club Members.
I keep getting politely asked if I would like to write an article for Eureka to explain what RISCWorld is, so for those that don't know RISCWorld is a bi-monthly subscription magazine published by APDL, but we will come back to that. So why, after coming up with every more flimsy excuses every time, have I finally managed to get round to writing something. Well it's down to a cunning threat by your tenacious editor, since I can't seem to manage to write an article myself perhaps Dave Bradforth (who contributes to RISCWorld on a regular basis, and helped me out a great deal when I first started editing the magazine) could help. Ahhh, err...right. Well the thing is, although I have the greatest respect for Dave as an author I can't actually write with anyone else. Yes I can edit things written by others, mess up the grammar and generally make a dogs dinner of a well written article, but I can't write in conjunction with anyone else. Why? Well I work in my own way...er...like to get things correct...em...spend ages agonising over the correct phraseology...oh look, I'm an awkward bugger and I do things my way. If it helps you out you could think of this article as being co-authored, I wrote the words and Dave Bradforth wrote the gaps in between, does that help?
Now, back to RISCWorld, as I said earlier (think of this as a sort of "previously in this article" voice over) its a bi-monthly magazine published by APDL. I have been editing it since volume 1 issue 4, and at the moment I am working on volume 4 issue 6. The original editor, David Matthewman, felt unable to continue after a couple of issues and due to a big mouth and an underdeveloped sense of danger I said that it editing a magazine would be easy and offered to do an issue to prove my point. The fact that I am still editing it would tend to demonstrate that I have so far been totally unable to prove this point.
Anyway back to RISCWorld, unlike most other magazines RISCWorld is published on CD, rather than printed. This has a number of advantages such as:
We can print articles of any length
We can "cover mount" the software we talk about without having a cover.
We can tightly control production costs to keep the subscription price low (currently its just under £22 per year).
However producing a magazine on CD does have one disadvantage, you can't read it on the toilet. Actually having just written that sentence I appreciate that it isn't entirely true. If you had a laptop you could put it on your lap (watch out for burns) and read whilst on the loo, also if you had a strong microscope and could read the pits in the CD and convert that data into words in your head, you could also read RISCWorld on the loo. Actually you could also just sit there and read the printing on the CD, but that wouldn't take very long and after a few issues would get a bit repetitive. So lets just say that RISCWorld isn't as easy to read on the loo as other magazines. .
Anyway back to the main thrust of the article. RISCWorld usually has around 22 to 25 articles per issue, we have a number of regular columns covering Games, Public Domain software etc. We have a number of regular columnists some of whom are allowed their own columns. We also commission articles from all sorts of RISC OS users. We also pay money for articles as well, which is quite unusual these days, actually I wonder if I am getting paid for this? I doubt it, still it's 10:30 at night, there's nothing on telly, Hayley's gone to bed, so I might as well sit down and write this. To make it even more pleasurable I am also sitting here with a Bitter and Twisted. Now for those of you who misread that sentence please go back and try again, I didn't say I was sitting here bitter and twisted, but that I was sitting here with a Bitter and Twisted. For those that don't know this is a very fine bottled bitter, which in it's cask conditioned form was voted as the Champion Beer of Britain 2003, well that's what the label says anyway. The reason I mention the beer is in homage to the Arm Club presence at RISC OS Southwest 2004. If there had been a show award for synchronised staggering then I think I could guess the winners.
Ah, I seem to have gone off the subject again. Something else we do in RISCWorld is publish full versions of software, not demos, not shareware, but full on, complete with HTML manuals, software. Since APDL now owns the rights to it's own software, as well as iSV Products, Clares, Topologika, Beebug and countless others we have quite a large back catalogue to pick from. Over the last few issues we have given away Recycler, DrawWorks Millennium, TableCalc, Sleuth 1, Rhapsody and Menubar. On the issue I am working on now we will be cover mounting ProArtisan. We also feature as much of the software as possible that is covered in our other columns, we also include the latest PD/Freeware/Shareware as covered in the PD column as well as any other software that our authors think the readers would be interested in. We also commission software just for the magazine, as well as publish software written by myself and Dave Holden for our own use. Now readers who are paying attention may have noticed a pause of two minutes after the last sentence, this was caused by a faulty beer glass (it was empty), the glass has now been re-booted and normal service will be resumed.
For those that would like to take a look at a sample issue of RISCWorld we have a website cunningly hidden from prying eyes at www.riscworld.co.uk. This contains a sample issue made up from articles mainly from the first couple of volumes, but with a few newer ones thrown in for good measure. You can also find out the latest subscription rates and also see the contents pages from each back issue.
RISCWorld is a bit different from other magazines, I know this because I get told it by our readers, its difference is one of the main reasons we have such a dedicated subscription base. What that difference is I don't quite know. I approach the magazine from a simple point of view, would I like to read each issue. I work out the contents based on what I would like to read myself, and on what our authors want to read, then do my best to get someone to write it. We do get offered articles "on-spec" and this can sometimes prove very interesting, with one article that I wasn't expecting having a knock on effect on the entire issue. Sometimes this can result in large sections being re-written, but it's all good fun. So I enjoy editing RISCWorld, it means I keep abreast of what's going on in the RISC OS world, and it means I get a chance to write for money, which is nice. Actually I could make an advert out of that "Want to write for money? Then talk to one of our RISCWorld advisors...TODAY!"
So so far I have mentioned two of lives essentials, beer and money. What I haven't mentioned is cars, these are another essential, as regular RISCWorld readers will no doubt know. Still I will leave my latest motoring mishaps to my editorial pages, in the coming issue you will be able to read all about my fun and games trying to insure a Shogun, where as anyone with back issues can pick up on the long running saga of my VW Camper.
Anyway I seem to have gone off the point once again. So to finish up what's the perfect RISCWorld article, well it should be interesting, different and not featured in any other magazines. Since so many RISC OS users subscribe to a number of magazines they shouldn't see the same things again and again in different publications. Anyway the key to writing the ideal RISCWorld article is keep it to the point, start with a punchy title, introduce your subject, get sidetracked, waffle on about something that isn't strictly relevant. Then try and get the article back on track, succeed for a paragraph or so and then lose the plot again. Continue until you reach the end where you explain the whole thing nice and neatly.
RISCWorld, it's on CD, it's a good read, we give away lots of software and back issues make an ideal frisbee for rabbits.
Oh, and before I forget RISCWorld readers should remember that they can get a 10% discount off most APDL, iSV Products and ProAction titles when you order direct from APDL and mention that you are a RISCWorld subscriber.
About the Author
Aaron Timbrell was born at an early age. He continued this early success first coming into contact with Acorn computers shortly after the Atom was launched. He wrote a number of woefully unsuccessful shareware programs before working at EFF in the early nineties. He started ISV Products in 1994, in 2001 he sold ISV to APDL and launched VirtualAcorn. Since then he has never looked back (mainly due to a niggling neck injury). He lives in constant dread that one day he might have to get a proper job, the VW Camper still isn't finished.