Newest Review: ... brilliant reviews on items that have just come out like the latest phone, laptop or some other tech gadget just arrived on the scene. It ... more
Member Name: fruitcake
Date: 04/07/00, updated on 04/07/00 (87 review reads)
Advantages: It opens up the computing world to beginners.
Disadvantages: It could point more technically-minded readers in thr right direction.
I first acquired a PC some two years ago – and what a shock to the system that turned out to be! My only previous experiences of a computer were with a much-loved Amstrad CPC 464 almost a decade earlier, and it was evident that things had changed a great deal since then. Faced with icons, drop-down menus and an avalanche of error screens, I had no idea where to begin. Most baffling of all, why did you need to go to the ‘Start’ menu when you wanted to shut the thing down?
It’s always darkest before the dawn, however, and when a friend took pity on me and lent me the first three issues of ‘Computeractive’, a thousand light-bulbs seemed to come on at once.
The approach of the magazine is more ‘hand-holding’ than ‘hands-on’ - it’s firmly aimed at beginners, and has won an award from the Plain English Campaign. The basic workshops in the centre of each issue are informative, without blinding the reader with science, and many articles are accompanied by a ‘jargon buster’ column, explaining technical terms in a very simple way.
It’s largely because of this clarity that I outgrew Computeractive before very long, together with the fact that it likes to shelter the gentle reader from what it seems to see as the darker side of computing – programming. Long before my PC, I was into programming in a big way, and while I wouldn’t expect Computeractive to terrify its readership with tutorials on the subject, I don’t think they’re doing the readers any favours by not mentioning it at all. If you’ve got a PC and you don’t even know that it’s possible to programme it yourself, then you’re missing out in a big way.
I do still buy Computeractive, because the product reviews come in handy from time to time, and because, being a fortnightly publication the news items are more up-to-date than most things on the news agent
s shelves. I can find out virtually anything with my all-singing, all-dancing, internet-capable PC, but I’ve yet to discover a way to take it into the bath with me.
In conclusion, this magazine is an ideal way to open up the world of computing to newcomers - but once you know what you’re doing, don’t expect to take very long reading it.