A small company in town Fountain Hills, AZ (and it's a small burb), embeddedarm.com, advertises in the Linux Journal. I have one of their boards. I got it wanting to hide it in the ceiling in the men's bathroom at a Starbucks and have a $30/month T1 almost entirely to myself, but I haven't quite gotten around to it yet. Their ads list their products, key features, and give some sample prices -- they're good ads. But it's a small black and white quarter page ad somewhere in the middle-back. Most of the ads are going to do nothing for the companies advertising, assuming the Linux Journal has a primarily geeky readership. Let's review a few in the latest edition, November 2006.
Inside front cover: Windows (r) or Linux OS... hey, wait, why does "Windows" come first? And how come "Windows" gets an (r) but Linux doesn't when Linux is a registered trademark? Oh, nevermind, you don't care what I run on the damn thing. You're just another whitebox PC vendor cashing in on the mini-boom of putting the cheap parts in a rackmount case.
First page: "Today, Carlo restored a failed router in Miami, rebooted a Linux server in Tokyo, and remebered someone's very special day": shows man holding a white gift box, the kind that's gussied up at the factory to look like it was wrapped even though you can take the top off and put it back on all you like without distrubing the glossy paper laminate and glued on ribbons. Yeah, real special day, I'm sure. Oh, what's this? These guys make remote management software and it can reboot Linux? Are they saying Linux needs to be rebooted? Well, whether it does or not, this ad isn't kissing my ass, appealing to my demographic, and the thought of reading a fluffy whitepaper written by idiots for idiots makes my skin crawl. Next!
Table of contents. Then next page, CoyotePoint Systems. They've got a picture of the top half of a Coyote's head... a hoary, grizzled one, too, not some fluffy cartoon Coyote baby. Prose starts in on performance and price and how they've cornered the market... the market on what? Split Coyote heads? Oh, now they're proving it to The Tolly Group... who the hell is that and why would they think for a moment that would impress me? Apparently it has 40% more throughput... up to 40% more throughput... so that means 40% more than the worst contender. So, what, about 19% of the throughput of the best contender? And they still haven't told me what the hell this thing is supposed to do... but Network Computing gave it an award! And us Linux Journal readers have nothing but respect for Network Computing! Wait, is that a CMP publication?
Oh, now the real table of contents, but it doesnt' list the things on the previous table of contents, or on the cover. And now an ad for Opera. Okay, I'm wondering if this ad is effective, but Opera is obviously a little more in tune with Linux geeks than the other people... they've got a badly made up asian girl who was clearly designed to look vaguely pre-pubescent, complete with girly thingies in her hair, croched accessories, and Punky Brewster-esque punkifying. She's poking her dimple with her pinky smiling at you. Okay, I've got wood, where do I download? The tagline? "Don't browse the Web... Create it!". Whaaaa...? So, does Opera have Web authoring features, or am I, as a Linux geek, supposed to think that "creating the Web" means applying some user preferences to my viewing experience? I'm confused... regardless, no feature list, and in this case, I'm actually somewhat curious what Opera 9, "my web choice", offers. Apparently just faux lolitas. Okay, moving right along.
Now we've got that page that I can't remember what it's called that has the publisher's names and addresses and all that sort of stuff.
Next page, MikroTik (argh... companies with just pathetically bad manglings of other spellings never last... except for Qwest... oh, nevermind). Apparently they're not trying to sell us anything, just rub in our faces how much government money they got to install routers in Iraq, Kosovo, Benin, Denmark (meh?), Mongolia, Mozambique, South Africa, Iraq (again? Fancy that...), and Italy (it looks cold there...). They've got a panarama of their "User Meeting" in the Czech Republic. About 60 old pepole are sitting around, looking bored, facing forward, almost like they're on an airliner listening to the stewerdes give a safety speech for the 300th time, but instead of a detached seatbeat being buckled, someone is standing in front of a... you guessed it, a data projector projection. That's one user group meeting I do *not* want to go to. I didn't know networking could be so boring. Maybe I'll look them up when I get a juicy government contract and ask them for tips on how to blow my money.
Next pages... double page ad! Nexxus Xeon dual core PC clone! Oh boy oh boy oh boy! Someone rammed a motherboard into a case and republished the manufacturer's specs. Computers were so much cooler when they were made by Atari, Commodore, Timex, Sinclair, TI, Apple.. hey, Apple still makes computers. It occurs to me that this Linux Journal is just as fluffy as Mac World but not nearly as compeling. $20,000 for their top of the line white box PC. How about... no.
Double page ad again -- we're on age like 300 here and we've yet to see a single bit of actual content. These guys sell mother boards, cases, fans, CPUs, and stuff like that. Okay, I can dig that. Maybe they've got some good prices from selling in bulk to magazine readers. These "warehouse" style ads are nearly as old as computer magazines. Respect.
Page 12... okay, my page count was off a bit. And we have letters to the editor. These have been amusing in the past, through thoughtful replies, good spective, and bravery and willingness to face contraversy in what they publish.
Next page, ad! Enterprise Open Source Solutions for Demanding Data Center Environments. Okay, they're selling solutions. Here's a favorite solution of mine... 1 part orange juice desolved in 1 part good vodka. If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the parcipitant. Seriously, you're selling me solutions -- does that mean you sell everything under the sun, and you'll come clip my toe nails for me if it means getting my application out the door on time, or do you come in and tell us how to do our business, take all of our money, and bail if things get tense, or do you sell software-hardware combos we're supposed to figure out what the hell to do with when they come down the pike? Reading through a bunch more marketing goop like this, they sell computers. But they're highly rated and have desirable value added services and they do rapid deployment which I can only assume they ship them quickly when you order... okay, now buying a white box PC is a Solution for my Demanding Data Center. Gateway rose to fame by using cows and pastures on their ads. It's lame that that worked, but considering the strategies employed by their competition, not surprising. Oh, and these guys call themselves "Open Source Systems (tm)". I wonder if they really got a trade mark on that...
Letters, continued. Then EmperorLinux. Should I roast them? They've got an IBM (er, I mean Leveno, "we don't support Linux, oh, wait, we do support Linux, but you're on your own, because we're Chinese, and we just integrate parts from across that straight") ThinkPad with lots of captions on it... the captions list features... and all of the features work under Linux, as the machine is shipped, with Linux pre-installed. Okay, these guys at least offer a service. Getting Linux running on a laptop and supporting everything can be a royal pain in the ass. IBMs are among the easist to get going, but these guys also, according to a caption, have machines from Dell, Sharp, Panasonic, and Sony. I would consider buying a machine with Linux pre-installed, with all of the drivers set up, and support for the install. Okay, no roasting. The add is also highly specific, even at the (gasp!) risk of being technical (gasp!). And no spooge. "Linux laptops. Supported." is the tag line. They provide pre-installed Linux laptop solutions (gah, okay, a little spooge) to universities, corporations, and individiual Linux enthusiasts. It's Linux-centric, and they pay hommage to the hobby-God. They even support the EVDO option ont he thing. Okay, off the hook.
Next page: what's new in kernel development! I usually read these. By the way, I read these at the library. I don't subscribe. Needs some work first.
Next page: Some headline snippets and a USER FRIENDLY comic. Levono Makes the Commitment, and LJ Index, which is a sort of Linux tech index and plain tech index (US is 20th in broadband penetration, etc).
Next page: AMD Dual Core to 16 Processors! $17,000 white box PC... certified for AutoCad3007, 3D studioMax/Viz, Softimage, Solidworks. Oooh, and they come with Windows XP. But they put a penguin on the page even though "Linux" appears no where in the wording. Whooopie.
Article: Beginning Ajax.
Next page: 1U PC clones with a "put your logo on our computers" deal so you can more easily resell for them.
Article. Rackable white boxes machines. Article. Ad from Intel -- which is odd, since so far every vendor has been pushing AMD -- "Boost Performance on Linux Clusters". Pushing icc, I see. Code listing. Article and ads on same page -- white box PC with your logo on it. That annoying to read cooking with Linux article. Colo ad sharing a page with part of the article. Article. The Portland Group. Article. White box PCs full page ad. Article plus ISPCON ad, a con for... ISPs... to come buy "the hotest Linux gear"... just like in the magazine? Next page, full page white label PC ad. Rest of the magazine continues along those lines. If you think reading this writeup is boring, try reading the magazine yourself.
I remember a time when I would eager read evey page of magazines, ads and all. I lusted after the video games; I drooled over the hardware; I fantacised about the development tools (oooh, generates code to run in critical vertical *and* horizontal blank interrupts!). That was when magazines were written for hobbyists. Even after I was older, I enjoyed Dr. Dobbs Journal, which, again, was, but now isn't, written for hobbyists. When did being a professional become so cool, and when did it mean that you made no technical decisions, instead defering it all to the pointy haired bosses that this crap was obviously written for? All I can imagine is this isn't actually selling anything, and the turn over rate of advertisers supports this. And since they're whoring out so much of their space to ads, I can only assume they badly need the money. So here's a prediction: this magazine is going to fold, or get eatten by CMP.