News And The Internet

By Dave E

Originally published in EUG #58

Perhaps it is somewhat ironic that, just as the celebrations of this opener have finished filling the screen, we must announce that after 58 issues (And 59 if you include EUG #0!), three editors and over ten years of quality programming and atrocious spelling, the decision has been taken to bring this last surviving BBC Series User Group to a close.

Whereas there should be no tears or big speeches at this particular moment, it behoves me to attempt to explain this "enthusiasm u-turn"; particularly to all those new readers the magazine has recently picked up. Equally disappointed will be some long-standing readers, who have been with EUG from its early days as an A4 photocopied bundle. They will point out that EUG has never had a huge membership and never been as professionally produced as it is today.

Sadly, it appears that hand-in-hand with the programming done by myself has been deepening apathy and lack of interest. These really are the reasons, predictable as they are, for the magazine's demise. Although the title of the magazine stands for Electron User Group, the reality is that the User Group which it also once stood for has long since ceased to exist. Its old (and regular) contributors have moved on to pastures new. Those of them who do still subscribe now admit they no longer read the disks they receive until many months after they arrive.

News of this sort determines that EUG's prospects for the future are pretty bleak. When coupled with the large proportion of members who have been content not to let appeals for submissions past their thick skin, the situation worsens. But, even with the benefit of the doubt being given to the reams of "if I had more time" letters, the clincher as to answering "Shall we call it a day?" in the positive has been the large proportion of 'members' (They know who they are!) who simply ignored any EUG request.

As it's been said many a time that EUG depends on contributions, it has been policy for over a year that such contributions equal free issues. After this policy was introduced, as was pointed out in EUG #55, there was no noticeable effect whatsoever on the submission rates.

The next step was to send extra preview disks (for review) to readers in the hope of some feedback. In 80% of cases, this was a dead end and, as noted in EUG #57, this was notwithstanding that some readers had actually promised their skills in a chosen field beforehand.

With these factors, and that EUG #56's "Send something in or the mag will stop" appeal yielded next to no response, it was impossible to come up with any contingency plan. By the look of things, 'No more Mr Nice Guy' ideas (like tripling the price of EUG for non-contributors or foisting a contract upon all readers with a "Termination of membership in the event of less than one contribution per year" clause) would only have only have resulted in the membership petering out anyway.

Closing down the magazine has been no easy choice but, by means of a "Countdown" icon which will appear top-right of each of the final four openers, everyone will have ample time to have their say before EUG does shut down. This method also means the magazine can stick to its usual full quota of BBC contents until the very end, instead of becoming thinner and thinner with each edition.

To those who've just joined, apologies. But regretably the situation does not appear reversible (to me, at least!). Your suggestions, views, grumbles or hysterical outbursts can however be posted or emailed to

On a happier note, with over ten years' experience, EUG has outlasted both the lifespan of many glossy computer magazines (noteably Electron User) and all other comparable User Group disks/mags (for example 8BS, 6502z80 and Solinet), showcasing many talents in the meantime.

Anybody who keeps an eye on the 8BS website will have seen that the very first issue(s) of EUG on disk have already been made Public Domain and, now the EUG era has ended, each month a further disk will join them and bring the talents of readers to a whole new audience. Also, as all of these disks have now been completely debugged, spellchecked and re-ordered into the AAUG-style menu system for much easier reference, each monthly re-release will be well worth a look for existing readers too!

On the financial side, any reader who has paid in advance for issues of the magazine subsequent to #62 will receive a refund on those issues. After these payments have been deducted from the EUG account, any remaining money will be divided up between the existing membership.

In the meantime, please please please strive to make the closing chapters of EUG the most interesting. Those mathematicians among you will have deduced that a final 62nd issue leaves eight months for you to make your mark. There can be no excuses for anyone who does not send at least something in this space of time. A typical article, not even necessarily about the Acorn range, takes just two hours to write.

Finally, if any email or letter received at EUG HQ after the publication date of this issue contains nothing but a few lines assimilating the phrase "if I had more time", the sender will immediately have his outstanding money returned and be named and shamed in the subsequent issue. You have been warned.