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New Articles?

When we ran the survey in December we were curious about area we might be completely missing, partly because the news had dried up a bit at that time. With the new year and Macworld Expo in San Francisco, though, the news picked up and we had no trouble thinking of things to write about. The common theme is that we don’t know everything, and we don’t write much about things we don’t know. The remedy for this situation, other than us becoming omniscient? Write an article and send it to us! In any event, here are some suggestions of new types of articles from the survey and our comments on them.

"Possibly one-line summaries in the reviews section. However, I fear that this might be hopelessly difficult and/or biased." [Summaries would be nice, it’s true, but very difficult and treading on the copyright line.]

"More about MIDI vs Mac" [Love to, want to write me an article? I know nothing about MIDI.]

"Complete reviews of products (NISUS 3.0 !!!)" [Well, we’ve done a couple now, and I hope they’ve been useful. Nisus isn’t on the list for upcoming ones right now, if only because it’s so powerful that it would take a long time for a review to do it justice. I can’t recommend Nisus highly enough.]

"I miss the home gardening features you used to have. No, wait… that wasn’t you. Well… how about info on product UPGRADES and how to get them?" [We’re anxiously waiting to see how the irises we transplanted last fall come up, and our patch of garlic and chives is doing well. Upgrades? When they’re interesting enough, they merit an article, such as the Double Helix upgrade we wrote about recently.]

"Other sources of information i.e.. real people and an description of what they are doing, more articles from your user base." [We take what we can get in terms of articles from our readers.]

"Perhaps a series of short articles on how to get information about the Mac (such as stuff from Info-Mac or Apple that you can get by FTP)." [Good idea, we’ll keep it in mind.]

"Survey result of users of various commercial/non-commercial products, gathered from on-line users; by reading Usenet Mac newsgroups, especially comp.mac.apps, I think many many people would willingly participate surveys conducted by you expecting their information would help a lot of TidBITS readers." [Unfortunately, although this is a good idea, surveys are just way too much work. Look how long it took us to finish this one. 🙂 It is a good way to gather information if someone else wants to write an article for us, though.]

"Perhaps a frequently updated column of the "N most asked questions (with frequently updated answers)" could be handled well with HyperCard. Readers could continually add refinements which would be edited into comprehensive answers." [A good idea, but not really in our scope, since a FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) file (a) isn’t really news, and (b) is already being done in comp.sys.mac.announce on Usenet. If asked, we might publish that file once, since it does carry a great deal of useful information.]

"How to articles for beginners & experts, or summaries of where these can be obtained." [Again, not quite in our scope, because such articles have a relatively small appeal (since few people are both interested in and ignorant of the same subject. Also, the main magazines do a bunch of these sort of articles.]

"Trends in consumer satisfaction or dissatisfaction. For example, many people who were burned by Jasmine could have avoided it if they had access to honest information rather than the fluff that was being published by all of the Mac magazines six months after it became apparent on the networks that Jasmine was in deep trouble. Alternately, there could be more user promotion of underdog products like Nisus whose treatment in the popular press seems directly related to the amount they spend on advertising." [Good points, and we do try to reflect the tenor of the net conversations. Sometimes we hit the trends, other times we miss them. Our Usenet access is a pain right now (VMSNEWS via 2400 baud, ech!), so we aren’t as up on the nets as we should be. If someone sees a trend on the nets, please tell us about it!]

"I’d like to see a regular letters to the editor card. I think it’s a little intimidating to have to write a whole story in response to a minor point. I would like to see articles on cutting edge uses of technology and future trends." [Excellent idea, which we’ve recently implemented as MailBITS.]

"Interviews with Mac Weenies." [Difficult to carry on via email, which is the only way we wish to afford to communicate. Long distance calls add up fast when you’re interviewing people.]

"I like the content of TidBITS pretty much as it is, but if pushed, I would like to see comparative articles. E.g., which is better (and why): StuffIt, Compactor, DiskDoubler, MacCompress, Diamond etc.; or Maple vs. Mathematica vs. Theorist vs. etc." [These are certainly in demand, but are often beyond our resources. Ken Hancock did an excellent compression comparison, and the other subjects are wide open for the rest of you.]

"Reports on interesting things at the big computer shows, MLA, and other events I don’t get to." [If you don’t get to them, we probably don’t either. Our standard offers still applies. If you want to cover a trade show for TidBITS and write articles on what happened, we’ll write you a nice letter to the management saying that you are a member of the press and should get a press pass. If you fail to deliver on the articles, though, you won’t get a second chance and we’ll be irritated at you.]

"Vertical-market specific articles. How are people employing existing technology to produce results." [Interesting stuff, I’m sure, but we don’t generally come across it. Let us know if you see something interesting and want to write about it]

"Announcements of new university-level educational Mac software" [Since we’re not heavy-duty educators, this is hard for us to cover. I realize I’m starting to sound like a broken record, but if it interests you and will interest others, write about it for us, whatever it is.]

"I hate to say it, but more coverage of the DOS side would be useful." [We cover DOS stuff when it’s interesting, which isn’t all that often, unfortunately."]

"How about an electronic version of MacUser’s MiniFinders?" [MacUser already has a HyperCard stack with their MiniFinders in it, and they promised to send it to me when I renewed my subscription. I haven’t received it yet and am getting a little irritated.]

"A section with technical TidBITS-type tips on HC 2.0?" [We try to avoid concentrating on a single program like HyperCard because many people are likely to be uninterested.]

"No suggestions, just a request to keep "how to" articles out of TidBITS." [Within limits, I agree, since they generally target too small of an audience.]

"I like to see more MacNews, because it takes 2 months for a piece of information to get from US to the Nordic MacPress." [We try our best, but we also want to keep each issue small so it doesn’t become a major time drain to read.]

"How about keeping track of software versions – this could be a real task in itself, but it would be nice to have a stack that was updated monthly that contained this info." [A good idea, but not really suited to TidBITS.]

"Well, since you asked, how about digitized computer cartoons" [Augh, and we wanted to move to a text-only format! Well, there’s a possibility of binhexed pictures in the text, but it starts getting really messy then.]

"Why not include a few IIgs TidBITS – it has hypermedia too" [We’d love to, but we don’t have a IIgs and don’t hear any information about it normally. It was nice to hear that someone on GEnie converted the Xanadu special issue into IIgs HyperCard format.]

"I’d like to see more cutting edge stuff (i.e. Xanadu, AI, Neural nets 3D displays, etc.)" [We try, but sometimes it’s hard to find that sort of information.]

"More info on great shareware utilities." [Agreed. We’ll work on this.]

"Is there any chance you could include Murph’s monthly Vaporware column in TidBITS?" [We’d have to ask Murph, but my impression is that much of what appears in his column is either covered in TidBITS or judged by us to be not worth an article. Also, his column is closer to misappropriation since he’s not adding much to the news from the magazines.]

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