Lightbulb police? (was RE: Anyone off to VCF-UK)

Ray Arachelian ray at
Sat Jun 5 09:40:43 CDT 2010

On 06/04/2010 03:19 PM, Tony Duell wrote:
> Eeek!. Considering that I regard most UK magazines are being pretty 
> awful, yous must be downright useless :-(
They are, they're mostly filled with ads and the articles are fluffy at

A few years back when internet access was on a slower DSL line for me, I
used to buy stuff like Linux Format because it came with CD's or DVD's
full of Linux distros.  While I think the magazine cost $15 or so, it
was worth not having to tie up the line for an hour or so to download a
distro.  I never bothered to subscribe, instead I went to a nice large
magazine store that also had a deli as part of it. I'd buy the article
and a sandwich, and it would make for a nice way to spend a lunch hour...

A few years back I did an experiment, I ripped out every page that was a
full page ad on both sides.  I left the pages that had articles on the
back, or pages that had smaller ads and article text around them.  More
than half of the pages I removed from the magazine was ads!  And of
course the remaining had some ads at least on half of the pages.  Of the
remaining article pages, a lot of the articles were really product
reviews, which if you think about it, are really promotions for those
products.  Sure, a lot of the reviews do provide value - if you're in
the market for whatever it is they're reviewing, if you're not, they're
just as much noise as ads.

It also was fairly obvious that the larger articles jumped around from
the start to the back, so you'd have a higher chance of being exposed to
the ads as you went from the front towards the back.
Once on the back pages, some of the articles were further chopped up, so
they'd be continued on pages past a section that was entirely full of
little ads - something like two dozen pages, each with a dozen ads per
page surface.  And within the magazine, about 5-6 fall out subscription
cards, designed to fall out in your lap as you flipped through the
pages.  These I found especially annoying when I've already subscribed! 
Some of the ad pages were made of cardboard - supposedly to pop out at
you to get your attention, some, annoyingly were perfume ads.  Yuck! 
Not only did they bombard us with ads, but also with their stench!  Some
had fold out pages, that is pages that were 2x the size of a normal
page, but were folded, and when opened, guess what, more ads inside. 
Some were a bit creative, they used shiny plastic or cutouts, or had
little wheels inside of them to make the ads more fun, but in the end,
they were just ads.

I vaguely remember a car ad for some SUV that contained a flattened
dried out sponge in the shape of a sponge of all things!

I think the only such ad-riddled magazine I still subscribe to is
Wired... only because I started out early and have every since since the
first. :)  It makes for a nice historical record, (if I'd want to find a
reason to justify keeping it.)

I used to get MacWorld and MacLife, but then, I stopped since a) they're
just full of ads, and b) the "articles" are reviews of products mostly
and rarely anything useful and c) any "news" they might have, I've
already read online two months ago, despite the magazine's date saying
it was for next month, and d) the content was so piss poor that I'd be
able to read all the articles of interest in less than half an hour
(skipping the stuff that wasn't interesting), and then into the recycle
bin in went.  Dr Dobbs and C Users Digest used to be good stuff, but
they're no more...

Now, since the new (greater? lesser?) depression, it's gotten better
since there are less companies who buy out ads, but why bother?  firefox
with adblock, noscript, ghostery, and better privacy,  is a far better
way to read stuff.   No ads, no punch the monkey, no continued on page
260, no perfume ads, no annoying cardboard pages, no annoying fall out
subscription cards when I'm already subscribed, etc.

Yes, I know, the more ads in a magazine, the more articles the publisher
can afford to put in an issue.  Call me a selfish bastard, but I hate
ads, and besides, despite my paying for the magazine, it turns out they
make more money from the ads than they ever do from me, so why isn't the
magazine free to begin with?

I don't even bother watching the news on TV, or reading actual
newspapers anymore.  The stories from the newspaper's websites,  the
dashboard weather widget, plus the stock widget get me enough of what I
care for.  I'll probably mess with an RSS reader to make it easier than
having to reload a dozen firefox tabs every morning at some point, but
I'm still too lazy at the moment. :)

The few annoyances I get on the web is when you have an article that's
really a blog entry, that points to another, that points yet to
another.  Thanks, but I don't need a summary of a summary,  Just point
me at the original material.  (The only time I find this kind of thing
useful is when the original material is behind a paywall.)  

Or worse when they chop up an article into multiple "pages" -as if I
can't be bothered to scroll, or if it was paper...  Same as magazines'
behavior where an article is continued at the end.  Yes, I knowm they
want me exposed to as many ads as possible (which I filter out anyway)
and that's why I always reach for the "Printer view/Single Page"
whenever possible, or if not switch to the "Basic" Page Style and get
rid of all the fancy extra shit.  Another annoyance is this - my machine
has a lovely wide screen, why would anyone center their content with a
fixed size in a narrow 5" view and put other crap to the left and
right?  I don't mind scrolling, but my display can handle a lot more
text, it's the text I'm after, not their background images or borders...

I suppose based on my usage behavior, one might guess I'd be the perfect
candidate for an iPad, but no thanks.  I'm the exact anti-candidate.  I
already have a good notebook with a full OS and a great browser, why
would I want a crippled one that's locked down to a "store", and even
worse, its browser won't filter out the ads!  Why bother when I can
already get everything I'd want for free anyway?  As for reading books,
the wife did buy me a Kindle for xmas last year.  I wound up going back
to real books anyway.  There's something annoying about it, either it
doesn't look as high res as actual paper, or it's too heavy for its form
factor with a tiny screen (when compared to a paperback) or maybe I just
like real printed books, not sure...  Or maybe the idea of some vendor
controlling what I can read, or having the ability to remotely delete or
invade my privacy is abhorrent.

I might consider an iPad when I can get a full OS on it with a properly
functional firefox that includes noscript and adblock+, and yes, even
then I will jail break it, Steve Jobs be damned!
Actually I do have a tablet computer - an old Motion Computing tablet
that I installed Linux on, but I rarely use it.  Somehow the idea of
lounging around on the couch and surfing the web while listening to
mp3's, is not as appealing as sitting at my desk infront of my notebook
and doing the same whilst having a full keyboard at my disposal.  I
thought I'd love to have a tablet, but maybe I was wrong.  Still, it
makes for a very nice kitchen computer, once docked and attached to a
keyboard + trackball...

We used to get a ton of junkmail too, but that's dwindled to the point
where at first we were wondering, did the mailman actually come by
today?  But then we realized it was just that not many companies could
afford to spam us anymore.  I guess that's bad for the economy, but good
for the environment, and really, it makes my life a lot easier too since
I have less junk to have to sort to.
(Yes, I know, I could sign up to have the post office not deliver any
catalogs, but there are some I do want occasionally.)

Worse yet, apparently our mailmen here have been told to stick actual
letters inside of catalogs, or those supermarket ads that are printed on
the same paper as newspapers...  So they make you flip through the pages
to get at the actual important mail. Bastards!  Any one have that same

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