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Sunday, 19 February 2006

PCPlus and animefringe

2005 left and took with him two items from my monthly reading list: PCPlus Malaysia and animefringe.



Not all computer magazines are written equal. That's why at most I only grab one computer magazine a month.

PCPlus Malaysia is the local version of the UK monthly. It covers mostly what other magazines of its kind do (feature articles, hardware, software, news), but with a slight difference in the humour department. Not in the ha ha, ROTFL kind of humour but more of the subtle, hidden gems in between lines that pops up when you least expect it. Not very surprising considering that it hails from the land of Brit.

There's something to be loved about Brit humour. It's often less calculative, formulaic or culturally driven than the typical US humour we get in many sitcoms. Brit humour leans towards being witty, spot-on imitation of life and because of this it may not appeal to every people. They don't shy away from the ugly truth or the mundane. Old ladies obsessed with biscuits and tea, sensitive punk rockers or even dodgy-looking MPs, no one is safe from their target.

The magazine's shining edges are Masterclass (tutorials on stuff like video editing, PC case modding, Perl programming, etc.), Helpdesk (technical Q and A) and the unmissible Mailbox (there's often some good stuff from the senders and the editors here). The UK-style of writing requires a bit of getting used to but reading technical stuff sprinkled with a dash of witticism certainly makes it more interesting.

But the thing I'm going to miss most about it is the bundled CD. Unlike other magazines, PCPlus CDs are often loaded with full functional software (freeware, previous versions, free versions or open source) instead of just demos or trial versions. Demos and trial versions have time and feature limitations, which is why I believe a free version like the ones offered by Winamp and ZoneAlarm is a better deal. Fully functional free versions are made available alongside the purchasable full version for users who can afford them.

PCPlus Malaysia exited the market somewhere in the third quarter of last year.




A labour of love by a band of anime and manga aficionados, this online-only publication has been a staple diet of many fans including yours truly. animefringe made its debut on January 2000 and released its final issue last December.

The site is a joy to read, thanks to its clean layouts and a highly accessible navigation menu. Packed with reviews, previews and interviews, animefringe also offers a look at many things that make up the whole anime/manga culture (conventions or cons, original soundtracks or OSTs, Japanese culture, etc.). It deserve high points in my book for not only covering popular titles but also give due attention to the lesser known ones.

The articles are well written, with enough pictures to give readers a good idea about the stories. You don't have to be highly knowledgable about anime/manga to understand the content, but it sure would help. I admit that I felt lost when I first discovered it, but crazed fans like me don't let things like that stop us.

I am indebted to the writers there for helping me to discover some of the best animes that would appeal most to my liking. They helped me to check out Osamu Tezuka's Hi no Tori (Phoenix) and Urasawa Naoki's Monster, among other things, titles which seem to escape the knowledge of many.

The final issue of animefringe also includes a special feature called Curtain Call, parting notes from the editorial team and previous contributors to the magazine. Reading it was a misty eye moment for me, as I truly wished that the final issue was nothing more than a very early April's Fool joke and come January I would be sitting at my desk with the month's issue right on the screen before me.

To the folks at animefringe, I thank and congratulate all of you for an effort well executed. It's time for everyone to move on to others things, and for me to find other items to fill in my monthly reading list.

2 comments:

dzul said...

Patut la dah tak nampak PCPlus kat newsstand tempat aku, rupa-rupanya dah tak publish lagi. Aku ada jugak beli volume yang awal-awal tu pasal aku rasa menarik tapi lama-lama bila dah boring dengan mag tu aku dah tak beli dah. Lepas tu aku beli HWM pulak, hang pernah baca ka mag ni? Komen aku pasal HWM :- crappy mag, buleh kata majalah iklan. Haha, walaupun aku cakap macam tu (orang lain pun ada yg. cakap macam tu jugak) aku tetap beli majalah tu lebih kurang dlm. setahun sebab aku suka tengok iklan -_-; tapi la ni dah tak beli dah. Hihi, buleh kata macam Windows jugak la, orang kata crappy punya OS, tapi disebabkan Windows OS-tans punya pasal aku tetap guna Windows jugak :p.

rol said...

HWM = majalah iklan. Aku pun rasa macam tu. Kalau ada money to burn, OKlah baca. Kalau tak, takde point sangat pun. Eye candy, most probably.

Windows = crappy OS? At times, yes. Fortunately XP has improved a lot. But many aspects of it like huge resource requirement (huge hardidsk space, fast and big RAM etc.) and Microsoft's attitude in doing business is making more and more people dislike Windows. Linux has a long way to go before it can become as user-friendly as Windows, and Mac OS is still not an option yet because of the difficulty of getting the software to run on it.

Ultimately I think the reason why we still use Windows is because of what we can do with it, and not because we love using it. Linux is flexible but has poor support for printers, gamepads and other peripherals. Mac OS is super cool-looking, but it's cheaper to do things with Windows machine than with a Mac. At least in Malaysia ceritanya begitu.

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