A couple of months ago, I was told some pretty sad news: after 26 years in the business, PC Plus was closing down. Future, the publishing company that owns it, decided that the magazine was no longer economically viable and that October 2012’s issue (number 326) was to be the last one. The news was made public about two weeks ago:
Yep, we're done: PC Plus 326 will be the final issue of PC Plus. Hope you've enjoyed the mag as much as we've enjoyed making it. Cheers!— PC Plus (@pcplusmag) September 3, 2012
The final issue hit the newsstands in the UK on 11 September (my local Barnes and Noble will get it about a month later). The staff that were full-time on the mag have been redeployed to other magazines in the Future stable.
My final article for them was on Alan Turing and those incredible thought machines he invented. In my tenure as the “Make It: Theory” columnist, I wrote exactly 70 articles, at the rate of one every four weeks. As you can see by viewing the PCPlus category in this blog, I wrote about pretty much anything that took my fancy, although there were a few topic requests from my editor along the way. I still have some dozen still to reprint here, and I’ll continue publishing them at the rate of one a month.
I still remember the genesis of my residence in the mag. In March 2007, I was travelling in England for DevExpress at a London conference; the conference had just finished and I took a quick holiday. First stop was a little pub/hotel in Peaslake in Surrey for a couple of nights until my wife arrived from the US. While I was there I got an email from Richard Cobbett, the Features Editor, asking whether I was interested in a stint writing for PCPlus. Apparently he’d contacted Will Watts, the editor of the long defunct .EXE Magazine, and Will had recommended me. The reason for this sudden interest is that Wilf Hey, their current columnist for computer science and its practical applications – the column was called Wilf’s Workshop – had died suddenly and they wanted to investigate having a theory column, rather than Wilf’s mix of theory and programming. So I wrote the first draft of the first article (on rounding errors when using binary representation of decimal numbers, like monetary amounts) in my room one evening. Richard and the Powers That Be liked it enough to make the column permanent.
I do feel glum about the magazine’s demise: overall I really enjoyed writing for it – even though some articles were squeezed out of me like blood from a stone – and it’s always fun to see your name in print. I also got reasonably good at drawing simple illustrations for the articles with Adobe Illustrator. I guess that “skill” will now atrophy a bit. Of course, the pay was welcome too: a little bit extra to buy some tech gear and software (and if I wrote about it I could claim for it on the taxes).
So, farewell, PC Plus. It was good working for you.