New Writing Gig

published: Wed, 14-Mar-2007   |   updated: Wed, 14-Mar-2007
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I've got a new writing gig with PCPlus magazine in England. Either the Brits are extremely fortunate or you should commiserate with them and buy them a round at the pub. I'm not sure which myself.

This is one of those fortuitous things that just seem to come about by chance. But not at all: Richard Corbutt, the Features Editor for PCPlus, needed another programming columnist after Wilf Hay passed away at the beginning of the year. Wilf had pretty much been with the magazine ever since its inception, and had a column called Wilf's Workshop where he discussed algorithmic type topics. So Richard was left with a hole from the April issue onwards. He emailed Will Watts, the ex-editor of .EXE magazine (now defunct), who was kind enough to recommend me (I'd written three articles for him way back when - the first is here). Richard checked out some of my blog articles, sent me an email, and history was made.

The new column is probably going to be called In Theory, and in it I'm going to be talking about the history of computing, programming theory, and, well, algorithms. In no way could I emulate Wilf, but I hope to have some fun and be able to teach some fundamental concepts on what we all take for granted.

Compared with writing for The Delphi Magazine, this is going to be very different. I have a strict word-count limit. I must have sidebars of varying sizes, and I must have images. Each article must be self-contained - no rambling about a topic over several articles. In return, I get two pages of the magazine every issue with no ads.

I've just completed my first article, which will appear in the May issue (I think). It's on rounding errors with floating point variables, a nice easy, yet informative topic. The horror of it was I wrote it without considering the image requirement. Richard rightly flipped it back to me, saying it must have an image or two. I couldn't think of anything. I then spent an evening googling for images of floating point operations (no, the Internet is not exactly awash in such things), before plumping for a kind of flowchart showing how to convert a decimal fraction to binary. Next time: I'll start with the ruddy image and go from there.

Anyway, if you're in the UK, check it out. For my readers in the US, it's expensive: my local Barnes and Noble has it for $16.99 an issue, probably because it has a DVD-ROM in each issue. Eek.