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Archive magazine reviewed

By Mark Stephens. Published: 23rd Oct 2007, 15:46:44 | Permalink | Printable

A media watch special

Archive magazine is under new management after Jim Nagel recently replaced Paul Beverley as editor. Is Jim the next e.e. cummings and where will he take the RISC OS subscription magazine? Mark Stephens takes a look at Jim's first issue to find out.

archive logoIn the heyday of the home computer boom, there were two crucial reads for the RISC OS and Acorn enthusiast: Archive edited by Paul Beverley, and Jim Nagel's column in Computer Shopper. Jim has been quieter on the scene since his slot was dropped by the mainstream IT magazine. However he has kept himself busy as a journalist for all sorts of other publications, including the Times newspaper.

When Paul announced that he was stepping down as editor of Archive, there was some relief that the magazine would at least continue under the new stewardship of Jim. The first issue has arrived in the post, so this seems like an opportune moment to have a look at Archive and see how it is evolving.

New volume
Jim has chosen to take over from volume 21 and has ghost-edited Archive in the past when Paul was busy building up his proofreading and copy-editing business. So there are therefore no major changes expected. The October issue is 64 pages long and will look reassuringly familiar to subscribers. The paper quality feels nicer than that of volume 20.

Archive magazine has always featured a selection of long-running series and regular writers mixed in with lots of other contributions - generally with some link to RISC OS or of interest to RISC OS users. Mentioning other OSes is fine so long as there is some link back to RISC OS usage.

The usual regulars are all still there: news, the free software column, the new commercial products round-up, and so on. The list of authors on the front cover will be familiar to readers. In this issue there are also articles on handling website statistics, transferring files to Vista, and distributed computing.

Most magazines and non-daily newspapers seem to focus less on breaking news, where you can never quite compete with online sites, television and radio, while concentrating more on useful and in-depth material. In line with this, Archive is a mix of reviews, tutorials, interesting snippets, ideas and suggestions. The technical level has always been varied and it stretches from easy-going to extremely involved - such as compiling the RISC OS shared source with the GCCSDK.

The layout and style of the magazine are essentially unchanged. Being very picky, as I'm getting old and intolerant, there were a few uninvited spaces in the email addresses printed at the end of articles, which I am sure will be sorted in the future. Overall, there is still the same attention to detail with layout and spelling - although the editorial's near total lack of capital letters, as you can see below, is hard to miss.

Jim has started to add some nice little flourishes to his magazine. Boxes featuring hints and tips now appear as little fillers throughout the magazine and there is a small biography and photo for each author at the end of every article - so they will no longer be able to hide anonymously at shows. I was quite surprised as some of my expectations of what some authors looked like and their age were way off. I did notice the editorial section lacked this detail so we will have to wait for the next show to see what Jim Nagel looks like.

Archive was always a very personal magazine where the editor said what he thought and Paul also had his 'God slot' for sharing his thoughts with his readers. It's not clear from Jim's editorial whether he plans to continue the monthly column based around the Christian faith, but he lays out his thoughts and plans for the magazine very clearly and eloquently. So rather than poorly paraphrase them, below is a scanned copy, republished with permission.

Click for a larger image.

Archive is still one of my highlights of the month and it's good to see it going forward under an enthusiastic and capable new editor. If you have not tried Archive or have let your subscription lapse, now is a good time to have another look at it. It's great to have Jim back and I hope Paul will continue to contribute to Archive and the community.


Archive website Drobe contributes a regular news summary column to Archive on a pro bono basis.

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I like the style of Jim's introductory piece there in the scan. However, the lack of capitals is really going to get old very soon! (*finds his cheque book*)

 is a RISC OS Userfylfot on 23/10/07 7:27PM
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fylfot: Indeed - it's almost as if Jim's shift key is malfunctioning. I'm told the rest of the magazine does not suffer from such constant diminutive lettering, however. Perhaps this was a one-off. Also, don't be a stranger fylfot, you're sorely missed on IRC.

 is a RISC OS Userrjek on 23/10/07 7:35PM
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Jim's column in Shopper was great, back in the old days. I too found that snippet a bit difficult to read, though.

 is a RISC OS Userkillermike on 23/10/07 8:44PM
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It is only the editorial that lacks caps, thankfully. I hate it too.

However, the rest of the magazine is the usual Archive fare and seems to sustain the normal high quality (hmm, that was all meant to be complimentary, lest it sound like faint praise). I've said it before but I'm relieved that Archive is in safe hands.

 is a RISC OS UserTonyStill on 23/10/07 9:23PM
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I'd perhaps only half-noticed the lower-case in the main text, and certainly not in the section headings, but what I had noticed was RISC OS with the large 'R' and smaller 'ISC OS' (all caps), that's got to take some effort?. None of it bothers me though. At the SE show, Jim was asked about the e.e.cummings style and put it down to having to scribble notes on punch cards in ages past, but looking at the pages shown above, he has used capitals for all the names (6 times in 8 words for Andrew Bissex...), so why not at the start of sentences and for the 'I's? I guess it's just his style, so no problem here!!!

 is a RISC OS UserTimDWest on 23/10/07 11:38PM
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Perhaps the new Style Tracker functionality in TechWriter would help sort this out :-)

Archive is RISC OS institution and long may it continue

 is a RISC OS Userstevek on 24/10/07 6:02AM
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Nice to see that the first issue by Jim got out and I hope that he manages to continue Archive on a regular time frame - there are not many RISC OS magazines which have such a good and long standing track record, that is have appeared for so many years and in time for each issue! Hi jc, no need to comment: Archive like GAG-News in Germany have the small advantage that printing is less complex since they're in black&white.

I agree with the odd one here that the lack of caps in the editorial looks strange and the mis-caps-ing of RISC OS is a bit too much but hey, we're on the editorial page and that's where it is allowed.

Good luck Jim!

 is a RISC OS Userhzn on 25/10/07 7:27AM
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At Jim's talk he said the spaces/caps were font mapping issues in Postscript which should now be sorted.

 is a RISC OS Usermarkee174 on 25/10/07 5:03PM
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Not got the magazine yet - has it been posted?

 is a RISC OS UserCKH2 on 27/10/07 8:52AM
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Yes, the October issue has arrived here, at least for me.

 is a RISC OS Userdiomus on 27/10/07 12:01PM
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