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Written for Qercus? Send it to Drobe

By Chris Williams. Published: 8th Apr 2006, 17:50:12 | Permalink | Printable

But issues 277 and 278 are in the pipeline

Qercus logoEditorial Some six months have passed since Qercus readers have seen a magazine. A twelve issue subscription will set you back 50 quid, or 86 Euros if you live on the European mainland. Editor John Cartmell has given no verbose official word on the fate of his publication, whose last issue was number 276 in September 2005. Readers are left to sit tight patiently, demand a refund, or turn to the few other outlets for their RISC OS news and features fix.

In November last year, I was asked by John to produce some articles for him. I eventually wrote three feature articles, including an interview with an ex-Tematic engineer and a beginner's guide to producing illustrations using stock images and other photos. At the time I was a freelance writer, yet didn't mind being paid next to nothing for writing over 6,000 words with graphics - well below NUJ recommendations, in fact. John says he still wants to use them, yet when the next Qercus issue will appear is uncertain. The fact that I haven't been paid yet isn't the issue; I would rather have my work published and read by RISC OS users, than lying dormant on John's hard disc.

I'm not the only writer left in this position. Others too have contributed to the magazine, yet can't be sure if the fruits of their efforts will ever make it into print. If you've written a piece for John, I'd like to invite you send it drobe.co.uk. We can make it suitable for the web, and publish it for the thousands of people who visit our website every month, month after month.

I contacted John about this last night, and he asked me to hold off publishing this article for two more weeks - although declined to explain what would happen in that time. Within an hour, John emailed Qercus contributors apologising for the delay, again blaming production and printing issues for causing the hold up. He also explained that an increase in the cover price to meet extra costs would be unacceptable to subscribers, and it sounds like John's still pursuing the noble goal of trying to produce the whole publication on RISC OS - leading to problems with passing on the right materials to the printers, it's believed.

Issues 277 and 278 are apparently finished, with 277 in production and 278 to be updated with the latest news and printed once 277 is in the post. Contributors are expected to be paid after the Easter break, and then be asked to write again for the magazine.

If you want to share your work with drobe.co.uk, drop us an email to discuss your plans. If you aren't a Qercus contributor but have an article idea, get in touch. Hopefully we can work out something that will be of a benefit to everyone concerned.

Incidentally, David Bradforth is toying with the idea of producing a magazine exclusively for the Wakefield show.


About drobe.co.uk Qercus formed from Acorn User and Acorn Publisher merger

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Of course, instead od sending your article to Drobe you could send it to RISC World instead. RISC World always appears on time and we pay for all contributions. :)

Contact the editor at editor@riscworld.co.uk if you've got anything you'd like published or have any ideas you'd like to discuss.

 is a RISC OS Userapdl on 8/4/06 6:10PM
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Someone modded Dave down. Why? He has a fair point and it's completely on-topic. Stop abusing the modding system.

I agree with Dave. Excellent though Drobe undoubtedly is, it does make more sense for a writer to actually get paid for his work, and Dave seems to have the upper hand at the moment!!

 is a RISC OS Userarenaman on 8/4/06 6:44PM
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I don't want to knock JC too much because his heart is in the right place. However, the quality of the last two or three AUs was pretty poor - to the extent that I let my ex-Acorn Publisher subscription lapse when it expired.

Since we lost AP, I believe that the best paper magazine has been Archive. Paul B has produced this about as long as we've had ARM-powered "Acorn" computers (and longer than we've had RISC OS) and it's still going strong. It's a more modest publication (no colour, small format) but the quality has always been good - perhaps this is the secret of its success.

So Paul ought to be on the list of receipients for any "orphaned" articles. I think we need at least one paper magazine to complement Drobe et al.

 is a RISC OS UserTonyStill on 8/4/06 7:43PM
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As for "John's still pursuing the noble goal of trying to produce the whole publication on RISC OS - leading to problems with passing on the right materials to the printers, it's believed.".

This is an amazing statement and hard to believe - not that he wants to use RISC OS but that there are problems with passing the material to the printers. Producing Postscript output should not be a problem (if you want the sprites to be of reasonable printing quality convert them to e.g. JPEG, put them in an ArtWorks image and put that into the document to print). Furthermore creating PDF for those less versatile printing offices who can't handle Postscript is no problem at all - be it using Ghostscript, or by now RiScript.

GAG-News is being published since 1992 regularly every two months with Impression and since 1993 using Postscript output which is then passed to the printers (in the very first days I printed it and used a quality copy shop until circulation allowed me to use a more professional approach). True, GAG-News is perhaps simpler than Quercus since it is in black and white. But I did the odd colour work and it went the same way, that is using Postscript and this time with colour separation.

The only two issues I had to look into are 1. set the lpi/dpi, that is resolution and halftoning/screen to sensible values - for simpler work 600 dpi/150lpi is fine, for high quality try something around 2500 dpi/150 lpi but the printer will tell you. 2. The way RISC OS Postscript includes sprites and perhaps other bitmaps etc. into colour Postscript output is bad news for bigger images - they do it in a manner which is formally correct but such that even good raster image processors can run into problems. Here again the trick to convert it into a JPEG (even with 100% quality) and then put that into an ArtWorks image for inclusion in Publisher - that works like a treat; it might work with other bitmap formats as well but I never tired.

If Qercus 277 and 278 are finished perhaps John might want to produce both in one go and send them out in one go. That might save hime a bit money (e.g. in postage) and work (just one mail shot) and make the subscribers a bit happier (average of 2 issues in six months instead of just 1) ;-)

 is a RISC OS Userhzn on 9/4/06 7:19AM
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Sorry, this doesn't work for me. If the problem is with the printers, change the printers. If it's a money problem, fair enough - all publications run into them from time to time, but 6 months between issues? That really is taking the biscuit.

Come clean John.

Even during the Tau Press days when Steve was writing a fair chunk of the mag it was never this bad. If you can't handle it, either let the mag die or sell it on or make it an online, wiki based system. Folks have fond memories of AU (including me!) and what has happened since it was sold is bloomin' awful.

I'm not taking sides on this as from my experience, putting together a magazine is not an easy thing to do. However, you owe it to your readers and subscribers to explain fully and frankly what the problem is. Don't hide and duck lest you end up like a certain Saltly based RISC OS company...

 is a RISC OS UserNodoid on 9/4/06 11:02AM
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I know from experience getting printers to except full colour print jobs that have been produced under RISC OS can be tricky these days. Printers are increasingly using digital presses to help keep costs down. These tend to be fussy about the file format and it can be tricky to set up the available RISC OS software to meet their requirments.

I as a subscriber would be happy for John to break his rule a bit of only using RISC OS to produce the magazine if this would sort out the delays.

 is a RISC OS UserIanK on 9/4/06 12:28PM
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Chris conveniently forgets to mention that the e-mail that I sent to him and other contributors (prior to issuing a public statement to confirm that we had been able to ensure that Qercus continues) was marked IN CONFIDENCE. I've no intention of debating his misleading article in this forum in view of the cavalier manner in which Chris misuses personal communications.

 is a RISC OS Userjc on 9/4/06 12:31PM
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On the subject of magazines I sent a press release to Chris Williams about RISCWorld subscriptions. He declined to publish it, unless we paid him. I did e-mail him back, but he's ignored me. So instead I will reproduce it here:

RISCWorld, the CD based subscription magazine for all RISC OS users, is delighted to announce two new subscription offers:

Offer 1

Get RISCWorld "Just The Words" FREE with a years subscription, only £21.90 for UK subscribers, £24.50 overseas.

Anyone subscribing to Volume 7 of RISCWorld will get a free copy of RISCWorld "Just The Words" on CD. This contains the entire collection of articles for the first six volumes of RISCWorld. That's over 650 articles about RISC OS and RISC OS related issues. Plus, of course, subscribers will also receive each issue of Volume 7 as it's published.

Offer 2

Get the complete RISCWorld collection on DVD with a years subscription for only £35.90 for UK subscribers, £38.50 overseas.

Not only do you get all the articles from the first six volumes of RISCWorld, you also get all the exclusive cover mounted software as well as all the featured software on one DVD ROM. RISCWorld has published a large amount of full commercial software over the last 6 years, including:

DrawWorks Millennium, FontFX6, TypeStudio, Rhapsody, Sleuth, Sitewriter, NightSky, WebFX3D, Mr Clippy ...and many more...

And they are all included on the DVD! Plus of course you get every issue of Volume 7 as they are published.

A RISCWorld volume 7 subscription runs from March 2006 to March 2007.

For more details please visit the RISCWorld website at [link]

 is a RISC OS UserVirtualAcorn on 9/4/06 1:00PM
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In reply to jc:

I agree Chris Williams does have this habit of ignoring confidental information when he thinks he can score a point. He says its he's right to a free press and freedom of speech. In these cases he is mistaken.

Regarding Qercus, I am concerned that we have still not had 277 and that 278 is not ready, You should have some 8 issues ready for publication by now since Sept 2005 was the last one.

Really John if you can't do them monthly - do it bi-monthly. But get them out. The now very poor excuse of printers not doing what you want is now extremely boring and unimpressive of the quality we should be expecting. If they (the printers) can't handle the RISC os based output files for whatever reason you need to start using the current tools for the jobs, which probably using a mix of Mac/Windows and RISC OS. You might then manage to actually produce a magazine.

Others have offered you assistance in producing the magazine. But you decided you knew best. Fine. But either get the magazine out or get someone to do it who can.

277 was supposed to have been at the printed in December - your own words John.

As for Drobe asking contributors who have written articles for Qerucs to send them the articles, it again seems Drobe don't understand copyright law. The authors of those articles could well be breaching their contracts etc., with Qercus if they did. New material would be fine. Athough I can fully understand the author fustration at the appalling lack of progress in getting Qercus out after nearing 9 months!

 is a RISC OS UserWakeman on 9/4/06 1:19PM
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I note with sadness that Drobe has apparently chosen to remove Aaron's posting of 1pm today. So much for Drobe's stance on free of speech etc..

Sad to see this form of censorship in operation, but I suppose I should not be surprised really.

 is a RISC OS UserWakeman on 9/4/06 2:36PM
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Er, no. Aaron's spam was moved to the forum.


Also, for more info on the copyright status, see the NUJ link in the article. Given that John hasn't used the copy and hasn't paid for it, he really can't have any rights over it.

 is a RISC OS Userdiomus on 9/4/06 2:41PM
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In reply to diomus:

Thank you for clarifing what you did with Aaron's posting, I still disagree with what you have done and also that it is spam. Especially since we have a modding system and users could have modding it down if they felt it was not appropriate.

I note your comments regarding copyright and have read some of the linked item. Whilst it is true that authors can retain their copyright it will depend on the terms of the agreement/contract between in this case Qercus/Finnybank and the author of the article(s).

 is a RISC OS UserWakeman on 9/4/06 3:14PM
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In reply to Wakeman: As no agreements have been sent out to the contributors as of this time, it is still up to the contributor to decided if the item is still to be published by Qercus, or another medium.

Due to the long period in between the last issue and forthcomming issue, I would have expected Qercus to contact the contributors to confirm it is still okay to use their material.

 is a RISC OS Usersa110 on 9/4/06 3:31PM
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In reply to JC: Perhaps a general press release stating the current state of Qercus, would have been more appropriate, followed up by a email to contributors advising them of any additional information(marked private and confidential, not for publication).

 is a RISC OS Usersa110 on 9/4/06 3:39PM
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Now here is the fun thing with email. It is up to the recipient to decide what to do with it - it is just like if you get a letter marked "Private and Confidential", if you decide to put it on the web, there isn't anything anyone can do about it - the letter belongs to the person who received it [1]. I know I've sent stuff to Chris and he's published it, but then again some he hasn't. I don't believe it is point scoring either, nor is it "freedom of the press".

Drobe is a news place with items of general interest and other such material. As the current situation with Querus is both news and of general interest, it has a place here. If the postings had appeared on csa.misc, I doubt there would be anywhere near as much "reduced noise" commentary. While some may complain at what Chris did (and again, I repeat that I'm not taking sides here), the situation and excuses coming from Finnybank hold almost as little water as the fake AU editor and excuses for lack of QC when Tau had it and in this instance, Chris, as a contributor, had as much right as you or me to publish our personal emails.

jc : if you want help getting things done and printed, email or phone me and we can get something going, but for goodness sakes, stop sticking your head in the sand; you'll end up with a well kicked ass!

 is a RISC OS UserNodoid on 9/4/06 4:09PM
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[1] within the confines and statutes of pertaining laws

 is a RISC OS UserNodoid on 9/4/06 4:10PM
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In reply to diomus: Sorry, but I don't agree that my posting was Spam. Drobe advertises itself as "RISC OS News, software and Information". The information I provided was all three. Not only that, but this article was about RISC OS magazines.

Whilst I wouldn't expect a full article about RISCWorld I would have expected at least a mention in one of the misc roundup articles, two of which have been published since I first contacted you about the new subscription offers. Indeed you could have mentioned it briefly in this article, but you choose not to.

 is a RISC OS UserVirtualAcorn on 9/4/06 7:42PM
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Nodoid: "it is just like if you get a letter marked "Private and Confidential", if you decide to put it on the web, there isn't anything anyone can do about it"

If someone does publish something marked "not for publication" or "private and confidential" then they become responsible for any harm it causes, e.g. if it's libelous or if the publication does any harm to the writer.

So although it's technically true that you can publish material in this way it can backfire because it's the *publisher* that then becomes responsible for any consequences, not the writer.

 is a RISC OS Userapdl on 10/4/06 7:26AM
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What gets me is JC spends all day and all night on the newsgroups, making vast amounts of posts usually serving no useful purpose, apart from engaging developers in protracted arguments on issues he has little grasp of. If my main roll in the RISC OS market was producing a magazine, with such a poor record of getting things out to subscribers, I'd be hanging my head in shame and keeping a low profile until I'd done my job.

 is a RISC OS Userdruck on 10/4/06 9:20AM
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bit late for april fools init? magazine? oh yea that folded piece of a3 with the csa newsgroup posting printed in it.

 is a RISC OS Usernex on 10/4/06 10:49AM
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Has it really been six months? Tempus fugit.

Because of the delays. I came close to letting my subscription lapse. But there was a good article in the last magazine: iirc it was to do with creating obey files (which I have never got into in my 14 years of using RISC OS). I enjoyed the article, which was said to be the first of a series, and decided it was worth resubscribing for. It is only just over a month since I phoned John to renew and the money has been charged to my credit card, so I hope this is a good sign.

I too like Archive and I feel there is room in the market for a monthly magazine and an intermittent one, but six months really is too long. If my twelve-issue subscription lasts for the next six years I really will have to rethink if it's worth renewing next time.

 is a RISC OS Usercables on 10/4/06 12:58PM
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seems the editor or quecus is too busy to make a magazine. He's reading drobe emailing anyone who makes jokes about his magazine, or perhaps looking for something to copy and paste.

 is a RISC OS Usernex on 10/4/06 5:31PM
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nex : that's a bit harsh isn't it? Let's be objective here. I've offered jc help and heard nothing (cue Chris posting it as a new item ;-p) and people are getting a bit miffed at the lack of mag, but that jc seems to be on usenet quite a fair bit.

Something has to happen. I want AU/Querus to continue, but at this rate, I'll give it until June before it vanishes for the last time. And I don't like having to say that.

 is a RISC OS UserNodoid on 10/4/06 8:28PM
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apdl : "So although it's technically true that you can publish material in this way it can backfire because it's the publisher that then becomes responsible for any consequences, not the writer. "

To an extent. Yes, the publisher is ultimately responsible, but I doubt any court in the land would judge totally that way - some of the blame would probably end on the mat of the original poster.

 is a RISC OS UserNodoid on 10/4/06 8:29PM
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I have an idea, why doesn't Qercus get issued released under the GPL, then anyone can compile their own issues from freely available libraries :-)

 is a RISC OS UserVirtualAcorn on 10/4/06 10:54PM
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I believe some libraries may differ, although to the lay reader they might appear to be the same. However, we can just comment out the editorial and see what happens... ;-)

 is a RISC OS UserVinceH on 11/4/06 12:10AM
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Dare I suggest that perhaps another publication could co-operate with Qercus, or are the memories of the ROL-Castle saga too painful ;)

 is a RISC OS Usertimephoenix on 11/4/06 6:29AM
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Nodoid: That would be the case in the usual way, but if the writer had clearly indicated that the material was *not* for publication then the *publisher* becomes 100% responsible for any and all consequense, including any damaging consequenses to the writer, and cannot pass any blame back to the writer.

Copyright with letters (and hence email) is very complicated and only people with very good lawyers and lots of money to pay them should step outside the usual conventions.

 is a RISC OS Userapdl on 11/4/06 7:21AM
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