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Reply to Tim Monroe about MacTech

I was honored with a reply by Tim Monroe to my earlier comment on MacTech magazine. The reply started taking too much room in the edit box, so I'm posting it. I beg your indulgence.

Your complaint about late-arriving issues is a valid one, but I'm not sure how that reflects on the content of the magazine. Is the info really that time-sensitive? No. Aside from the single April Fools article, all the other articles could reasonably have appeared in a June or July issue.

It's not any time-sensitive nature of the articles that bothered me. You're correct; any of the other articles don't depend on time.

But you're making my point inadvertently. My point is that this should be the June or July issue. In all my other magazine subscriptions, I'm now getting the July issue. That means that MacTech is three months behind in putting out magazines. The only explanation that I can come up with is that MacTech simply doesn't have enough content coming in to actually put out a magazine once a month. But you can't maintain the illusion of being a monthly if magazines come out once every 5-6 weeks.

The reason I make such a big deal about the April Fools article is because it snapped me back into reality. It made it obvious to me that MacTech has some very big problems.

Rest assured that all 12 issues will appear for each year.

I appreciate your assurances, but I'm not sure I can just accept them. If I see MacTech pick up its pace and start coming out with issues more often, I'd feel more confident.

I'm glad that you found the QuickTime article "cute"; that's exactly what it was meant to be. More important, however, I'm sad that you seem so utterly disenchanted with the magazine.

I'm not sure what to say about the accusation of being disenchanted. I guess I am, but I look back at the older issues of MacTech. (strolls to the bookshelf in the back) Looking at the years from 1992-1994, there are themed issues! The math issue, the AppleEvents issue, the dragging lists issue, the Bedrock issue, the AppleScript issue, the animation issue, the C++ issue. There were several major articles about some new technology, and reviews of new tools.

There were articles that took several readings for me to understand.

That's what I miss.

Today, when I get an issue in the mail, I can thumb through it. There's always your QuickTime article, which is very good (though unfortunately not relevant to me). But half the articles seem to be about network administration (I guess from the other magazine you rolled in—what was its name?) or gadgets you can buy or anything other than actually writing software. And the software articles always seem to be beginner-oriented.

And that's why articles like this are such a tragedy. When you do print an interesting technical article, it's out of date.

What ever happened to the Tip Of The Month? Or the Programmer's Challenge? A tool vendor's Top 10?

Mac OS X is a totally different beast than OS 9. Can't we get some serious technical articles about it? I'm not talking about Carbonizing, or yet another beginner's article on Cocoa. Things like:

  • Starting servers at boot time: StartupItems vs 10.3's Bootstrap Daemons
  • Mach message ports: What are they, and what can you do with them?
  • Advanced Cocoa: Beyond the word-processor-in-12-lines-of-code (this could be a whole series: Distributed Objects/NSProxy, custom widgets, etc)
  • Carbon NIBs: How to move from the Dialog Manager to a more modern architecture.

That's just 15 minutes of ideas. Have them. Please.

By the way, what in the world happened to develop magazine? When you "absorbed" it, I suspected that you would just run all the articles waiting to be published and then it would fade away. Unfortunately, I was right. Where are the Apple articles about cool new technologies?

Not every article is a home run, but the Dave Mark and John Welch and Scott Knaster columns are always solid contributions. I just wish Vink would get off his b*tt and write more of the puzzle articles.

I loved the KON & BAL articles. Did you know that I originally wrote up K&B:PB&J as an article for MacTech? I don't mind the rejection as much as the fact that that I sent it in and didn't hear back from MacTech for weeks. Not even an acknowledgment of submission. It took me days of calling by phone to find out that it was rejected.

MacTech is still viable. As much as I tease it, I would terribly miss MacTech if it were to disappear.



Allow me clarify two issues. First, although I am a contributing editor at MacTech, I do not and cannot represent the magazine's interests in this sort of conversation. You raise a number of interesting and correct points, but you are addressing them to the wrong person. I would recommend sending a slightly less confrontational recap of your concerns to Dave Mark, the editor in chief (editorial@mactech.com). He really will take your suggestions and concerns to heart, and he (not I) actually has the power to take action on them. On one point, however, I can ease your mind: the delay in publication is not caused by a lack of content. My own page count has actually been cut back to make room for other articles. I myself don't really know the cause for the delay, and I'm not inclined to speculate. It's your 'blog, however, so speculate all you like.

My second point is this: when you say that I inadvertently made your point, I think you are either confused or being disingenuous. To the contrary, I explicitly agreed with your point. The magazine *should* appear on a more regular schedule, one that more closely approximates the actual calendar. Please help me understand where the inadvertence lies.


I read your note from a few weeks back, and I thought it warranted a reply. As the publisher, I'm as much the "horse's mouth" as one gets.

Your complaint about the April fools aritcle is valid. It was caused by a production error, and once we realized it, we decided to run it anyway. It should have run in the earlier issue, obviously.

The magazine's overall schedule has changed. We did this, in large part, as we were working on the new MacTech coming out later this summer. If you haven't seen the announcement, it's at http://www.mactech.com/news/mt-news-detail.mgi?id=00000c60bd061c82

MacTech is following Apple's lead and redefining what "developer" means ... as well as including what the market is asking for ... articles on all kinds of tech topics, not just Cocoa or Carbon. Apple is thrilled that we're doing this, and there's a lot of cool stuff getting into the pipeline now as we work on the new MacTech.

There are more people working on MacTech magazine now than at any point in the magazine's history. The direction of the magazine is going to allow us to get more people doing cool things with their Mac, and creating more software on their Mac.

You specifically mentioned "Tip Of The Month? Or the Programmer's Challenge?" When we talked to the readership, a VERY small percentage of readers wanted these articles. Since we are about our readership, we did what was asked and sent them to pasture.

"A tool vendor's Top 10?" Please drop me an email with a little more on what you are thinking. We've done some stuff in the past, but I'd like to hear your thoughts.

"By the way, what in the world happened to develop magazine?" First off, develop was an incredible publication with pristine articles. That said, the articles took an average of 9 months to get to a point of publishing ... that's not something that would work today. Worse, it had a business model that made it unsustainable for Apple. Furthermore, it had a mere fraction of the readers that Apple did ... there aren't enough people that want this kind of magazine to make it make sense. develop was great, but it didn't survive for a reason. MacTech, on the other hand, is in it's 20th year, and is about to get a serious revamping as it has evolved.

"Did you know that I originally wrote up K&B:PB&J as an article for MacTech?" Let's talk more. Drop me a note.

Neil Ticktin
Publisher, MacTech Magazine


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