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rdanzey
05-01-2001, 09:49 PM
I've been watching the horizontal mill series with interest. However I am struck by a problem I have reading such articles, and it's been a consistent problem over time:

I have no idea what this machine looks like. Many past articles suffer from this same shortcoming. Sometimes, even at the end of the series there is still no real good 'overview' type photo, something to give the machine/project context.

In a more general sense, I often feel as though the articles start somewhere in the middle, give no perspective, and end without a proper summation.

I may be the problem, not your articles, and I don't want to seem negative, since I believe HSM is vastly better now than once it was. (It was always worth my time.) But perhaps others feel this way, too.

If you could supply me with a MS Word file of a recent series, I would be happy to go over it and explain where (if) it seems to miss the boat, why, and what I might suggest to improve the overall article, from my own perspective. As the editor, you could judge for yourself if my suggestions might help with comprehension and readability.

I hope if others also have my problem, they will speak up too. Kindest regards...

danz

Joel
06-06-2001, 02:59 AM
I suspect that sometimes you are the problem and sometimes the article is. When writing technical articles the author must assume a particular base of knowledge. That is to say, they and the magazine cannot take the space to explain everything to everybody in terms THEY can understand. I suspect another issue is that the majority of authors are machinists, not English majors, and are sometimes not as clear or complete as they could be. As for the photos, I assume the editor is trying to pique interest as well as show specific procedures in a limited space. I personally, rarely have any complaints about the photos, but sometimes a described procedure has been unclear enough to cause me a fair amount of confusion. I doubt the world is overrunning with people who are capable of the many skills needed to author the perfect article. There are many articles in each of the publications, and there are many issues each year, so I am tolerant of imperfection. I would not like to do without my HSM and my MW, I do however agree, that there is always room for improvement, and clarity is paramount to the readership.
Kindest Regards as well, Joel


[This message has been edited by Joel (edited 06-06-2001).]

SGW
06-06-2001, 06:41 AM
Having been a technical writer (computers) for the past 20+ years...you're right. It's difficult to find the correct balance for an article. One has to assume a particular level of knowledge of the reader. A level of detail that would bore one reader to death could seem inadequate to another.
It is also just plain difficult to write a clear description...of anything. Try writing a description of EXACTLY how to make a peanut butter sandwich, for instance, starting with describing how to open a jar.
Good technical writers are few and far between. A good editor can help a lot, if there is time for editing reviews, but HSM doesn't have the resources for that. I expect Joe and Clover, the HSM editors, have all they can do just fixing minor spelling and grammar details and laying out the magazine pages. Suggesting content and structure changes to the authors would be too much.

Speaking of good technical writers: Kozo Hiroka (sp?) is about the best technical writer I've ever seen. His descriptions are incredible.

h.w.evers
06-06-2001, 10:43 AM
I can sympathyze w/rdanzey and agree w/Joe. There have been several times when I wished for an assembly sketch or picture that gave an overview of the completed item.I think the worst was when an article started with "The first part is made with a piece of 3/4" CRS, turned to a diam. of....." or words to that effect. No introduction at all, no reason for the initial idea, etc.. We don't need (or want) a novel, but...

Howard W. Evers

------------------

h.w.evers
06-06-2001, 10:44 AM
I can sympathyze w/rdanzey and agree w/Joe. There have been several times when I wished for an assembly sketch or picture that gave an overview of the completed item.I think the worst was when an article started with "The first part is made with a piece of 3/4" CRS, turned to a diam. of....." or words to that effect. No introduction at all, no reason for the initial idea, etc.. We don't need (or want) a novel, but...

Howard W. Evers

------------------

gggwood
06-06-2001, 09:41 PM
I have to agree with rdanzey. The inconsistency/poor articles combined with 4 to 6 part projects, 6 issues a year publication rate and the overall 'thinness' of the magazine make it almost not worth the money. I, however, am desparate. I suspect many others are as well.

I could see combining HSM and MW into a singlge rag and going with a more conventional printing stock would allow a higher quality and more frequent magazine. Ad revenue will at least remain the same vs. 2 individual magazines and will likely increase due to increase in circulation.

I wonder if there is a problem with lack of quality articles to publish?

rdanzey
04-28-2002, 12:01 PM
Hello, again. After I posted my original comment, I never saw any of these replies. I don't know why. Purely by accident, I came across the thread today, and I apologize to everyone else whose comments I missed.

I guess I need to learn more about how to use this BBS. I'll look into it.

Thanks to all who replied. I didn't want to be negative, but it is frustrating to jump into an article or series without context or perspective. My guess is one or two short paragraphs at the beginning of an article, and a carefully chosen photo or illustration could make all the difference to my enjoyment and use of the articles.

I would still like to make my offer to edit an article. I'm not looking for a job. I'm not looking for a venue for my editing skills. I'm volunteering to make an effort; a contribution, with an eye to improving the magazine.

BTW, in recent months there have been many changes, and I enjoy the color as much as any of them. Somehow, black and white photography seems most appropriate to the HSM/MW magazines, and I really relish and appreciate when the authors supply crisp well lit, well conceived photos. Color in select places probably enhances your 'product' immensely, but I hope you will stay with predominantly black and white photography.

Once again, kindest regards...

danz



<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by rdanzey:
I've been watching the horizontal mill series with interest. However I am struck by a problem I have reading such articles, and it's been a consistent problem over time:

I have no idea what this machine looks like. Many past articles suffer from this same shortcoming. Sometimes, even at the end of the series there is still no real good 'overview' type photo, something to give the machine/project context.

In a more general sense, I often feel as though the articles start somewhere in the middle, give no perspective, and end without a proper summation.

I may be the problem, not your articles, and I don't want to seem negative, since I believe HSM is vastly better now than once it was. (It was always worth my time.) But perhaps others feel this way, too.

If you could supply me with a MS Word file of a recent series, I would be happy to go over it and explain where (if) it seems to miss the boat, why, and what I might suggest to improve the overall article, from my own perspective. As the editor, you could judge for yourself if my suggestions might help with comprehension and readability.

I hope if others also have my problem, they will speak up too. Kindest regards...

danz</font>

Indexer
04-28-2002, 02:06 PM
Danz,

Having written for HSM, I appreciate the concerns expressed in this thread. And with new material currently in preparation, I would certainly appreciate a critical eye on my work. The point of writing for HSM, after all, is to share the results of my efforts with others in this hobby . . . it doesn't pay enough to be a way to make a living.

The age of this thread suggests that Village Press is not going to take you up on your offer, so perhaps I can offer up my own, "The Universal Plain Dividing Head" which appeared as a 4-part article in 1997, for your review. I can provide both hard copy and Word versions, although the photos and drawings were sent separately as jpeg files rather than integrated into the text. (The photos and drawings are a sizeable portion of the aggregate digital size.)

Let me know how you would like to proceed.




------------------
Rich Kuzmack

Pi = 355/113 . . . to
&lt;85 parts per billion

Thrud
04-28-2002, 06:19 PM
Indexer

I thought you might want to know that JPEG is a lousy format for editing or archiving as it loses resolution each time it is opened and saved due to its nature (high compression). A better format is .TIFF which does not lose resolution even though it uses more disk space than JPEG, CD-R's are cheap - what the heck.

metal mite
04-28-2002, 08:11 PM
Rdanzy,
How about writing something about a project you've done.

The authors could use it for an example.
One thing that bugs me is the guys happy to criticize your work, who have nothing to show themselves.

One guy says to me "You don't have a clutch in that thing (After working two years and a half years on a half scale Case who wants to hear that? Does he think I don't know there's no clutch in it yet?).

Was that a kit? Just glue it togather?
You know what those polling pockets are for?
I love genuine questions, but to criticize when you got notting to show yourself.
Get a life.
mite

Indexer
04-28-2002, 08:21 PM
Thrud

You are absolutely correct about jpeg vs tiff. It would have been better to be able to avoid any compression losses, but the work was done during the 1994-1996 timeframe, when the reasonablly available storage technologies were not quite as robust as they are today.

Then, too, they were developed, edited, and maintained in native Photoshop (psd) format until they were ready to transfer to Village Press, where Photoshop was also in use.

Finally, the magazine is produced at 133 lpi, limiting the usefulness of the available resolution to 266 dpi.

The shortcomings in the final product reflect more of my own limited abilities as a technical photographer, and not very much of the compression-induced losses from using jpeg as a transmittal format.




------------------
Rich Kuzmack

Pi = 355/113 . . . to
&lt;85 parts per billion

rdanzey
04-29-2002, 11:12 AM
Indexer, thanks for your response. I now understand your user name&lt;G&gt;.

You have posed, for me, quite a challenge, and indeed, given my limited actual experience as a machinist, quite a shock, as I reviewed your articles.

I'd be happy to receive digital copies of your articles and make an effort to suggest editing changes. Your articles are hardly examples of what keeps me from maximum benefit of HSM and MW.

I would probably modify my 'mission' a
little, to do an analysis of what's appropriate and helpful as much as editing, since, at first blush, not much seems needed.

I don't know if there are limitations which would prevent sending the articles by email, but a try would work, or it wouldn't. If not, perhaps they could be placed on an FTP site where I could download them. My address is rdanzey@nalu.net

Thanks again for your offer. Best wishes...

danz



<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Indexer:
Danz,

Having written for HSM, I appreciate the concerns expressed in this thread. And with new material currently in preparation, I would certainly appreciate a critical eye on my work. The point of writing for HSM, after all, is to share the results of my efforts with others in this hobby . . . it doesn't pay enough to be a way to make a living.

The age of this thread suggests that Village Press is not going to take you up on your offer, so perhaps I can offer up my own, "The Universal Plain Dividing Head" which appeared as a 4-part article in 1997, for your review. I can provide both hard copy and Word versions, although the photos and drawings were sent separately as jpeg files rather than integrated into the text. (The photos and drawings are a sizeable portion of the aggregate digital size.)

Let me know how you would like to proceed.

</font>

rdanzey
04-29-2002, 11:41 AM
mite, I'm sorry you find what I've said and done offensive. I meant no offense, and said so.

I have done some writing, but most unpublished. None was 'technical', in fact, I consider technical writing (and the attendant photography) one of the most difficult, and valuable, forms of communicating. It is one reason why I wrote in the first place. It would be nice to improve in some places where indicated, and I was hoping I could do something to help the process.

I am not an accomplished machinist; far from it. I have done little I am proud of and nothing I'd want the general public to see. That is why I subscribe to the magazines, and pay attention in the metalworking forums here on the 'net. I am not criticising anyone's (metalworking) work. And, in fact, not criticising anyone's writing. I know how difficult it can be.

I have a life; one I enjoy quite a bit. I don't spend it tearing things or people down. I had hoped to improve something by taking my own small initiative.

BTW, I don't understand your reference to 'polling pockets'.

As I was reviewing this reply to you, I had the thought that an article about how to write an article for HSM or MW would be a legitmate piece of editorial content. I would be delighted to collaborate with you on such an article, and in so doing maybe I could 'get a life', and even a new friend. Kindest regards...

danz


<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by metal mite:
Rdanzy,
How about writing something about a project you've done.

The authors could use it for an example.
One thing that bugs me is the guys happy to criticize your work, who have nothing to show themselves.

One guy says to me "You don't have a clutch in that thing (After working two years and a half years on a half scale Case who wants to hear that? Does he think I don't know there's no clutch in it yet?).

Was that a kit? Just glue it togather?
You know what those polling pockets are for?
I love genuine questions, but to criticize when you got notting to show yourself.
Get a life.
mite</font>

lynnl
04-29-2002, 12:14 PM
From my perspective this is a non-problem. Even lacking a professional machining background, I've seen only rare instances in the 6 or so years I've subscribed to HSM and MW (old PIM) in which an article was even moderately incomprehensible due to the presentation style. Granted, some times I've had to reread the material, maybe several times, before the content became clear. Also in many cases I have to do other research to fully understand some of the subject matter. But I view that as more of a positive than negative. Now obviously, as stated before, every article could be better. But considering the finite resources available to authors and publisher I think all the articles are superb. If I had even half the machining and creative talents of most of the contributors I'm not sure I'd be inclined to pore over every word, drawing, photo, and sentence to try to reach every conceivable expertise/background level of every reader. No, I'd probably be out making chips and creating!

rdanzey
04-29-2002, 12:24 PM
(I kind of messed up the quote system here. Sorry. I've tried to clear it up a bit.)


Hello, Joel.



<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Joel:
I suspect that sometimes you are the problem and sometimes the article is. When writing technical articles the author must assume a particular base of knowledge. That is to say, they and the magazine cannot take the space to explain everything to everybody in terms THEY can understand.

danz said:
I agree. Perhaps you can agree, however, that there is an awful lot of white space in the magazines (at least it used to be so--I'm not able to comment, yet, on the newer format, however) which looked like nothing so much as 'taking up space' rather than taking every opportunity for clarity and comprensive coverage of the topic. There are, at least, a couple of ways the problems I have can be dealt with. One is sidebars. The present layout is not real conducive to sidebars.

Another technique is a column, usually at the beginning, that provides some perspective about the articles in the issue. This is not a technique that could best deal with my comprehension problems, but it is useful.

A third approach might be an ongoing series of articles designed to provide the understanding to all those that might pick up the magazine out of more than idle curiosity. A kind of 'editor-supplied' meta-article that addresses itself to all readers of all the articles. The magazines *are* hobbyist oriented, and as such should cater, to some extent, to those early on the learning curve. Or somehow define themselves as not for beginners. Maybe that's what is actually happening, to me, and I am finding myself 'defined out' of the intended audience&lt;G&gt;.

Joel said:
I suspect another issue is that the majority of authors are machinists, not English majors, and are sometimes not as clear or complete as they could be.

danz said:
Joel, especially for a 'reader written' magazine that seems to me to be an editor's role. An author is responsible for spelling and grammar and such, but the editor bears final responsibility for what gets printed (or is it the Publisher?) and so plays the final filter through which the author's work must flow. In fact much of what I see as difficulties with the editorial content of the magazines could be considered the editors' baliwick. It was an unspoken subtext in what I wrote earlier on. I don't mean to be derogatory, though, since that gets us no further toward a more interesting and readable magazine.

Joel said:
As for the photos, I assume the editor is trying to pique interest as well as show specific procedures in a limited space. I personally, rarely have any complaints about the photos, but sometimes a described procedure has been unclear enough to cause me a fair amount of confusion.

danz said:
I give the greatest amount of lattitude to the photography, and to some extent the other graphics, since those disciplines are more difficult to edit. In the case of photos, once the right time for a photo is past, it's not feasible to return and try for a better shot. But as I approach senility (some would contend glide serenely through it!), I find myself more and more reliant upon the graphics to help my understanding.

Joel said:
I doubt the world is overrunning with people who are capable of the many skills needed to author the perfect article. There are many articles in each of the publications, and there are many issues each year, so I am tolerant of imperfection. I would not like to do without my HSM and my MW, I do however agree, that there is always room for improvement, and clarity is paramount to the readership.


danz said:
Ah, clarity! *THE* goal.


Joel said:
Kindest Regards as well, Joel


[This message has been edited by Joel (edited 06-06-2001).]</font>

Thanks, Joel, for your reply. Best wishes...

danz



[This message has been edited by rdanzey (edited 04-29-2002).]

rdanzey
04-29-2002, 12:43 PM
HGW, I have saved your note for last. I stand in awe of technical writers. I suspect inside my withered intellect there squirms a technical writer wannabe&lt;G&gt;.

I once depended upon John Deere technical writers to get me past the humps my own innate ability couldn't negotiate. To this day, their manuals are the best I've seen. However it's been many years since I relied upon them, and some mighty 'technological' changes have occurred since then, including computers and the internet. Hopefully, their systems still work as well, but I'd not be too surprised to find, that technological teething problems have insinuated themselves into the process. It's about time for these new technologies to be mature, and I'd expect John Deere to emerge as among the best, as before.

I understand the resource limitations the editors have, and must say that the last many years has seemed to be somewhat more prosperous for the magazines and the product shows it. More advertising pages, diversity of content and other changes have been welcomed changes. I hope, the supposed newfound prosperity will allow the greater editorial attention that will make them better magazines.

I will look for some of Kozo Hiroka's (sp?) work. Is his work written in English, or translated to English from his native language? Interesting challange--translating technical writing&lt;G&gt;. Thanks for your reply, and best wishes...

danz



<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by SGW:
Having been a technical writer (computers) for the past 20+ years...you're right. It's difficult to find the correct balance for an article. One has to assume a particular level of knowledge of the reader. A level of detail that would bore one reader to death could seem inadequate to another.
It is also just plain difficult to write a clear description...of anything. Try writing a description of EXACTLY how to make a peanut butter sandwich, for instance, starting with describing how to open a jar.
Good technical writers are few and far between. A good editor can help a lot, if there is time for editing reviews, but HSM doesn't have the resources for that. I expect Joe and Clover, the HSM editors, have all they can do just fixing minor spelling and grammar details and laying out the magazine pages. Suggesting content and structure changes to the authors would be too much.

Speaking of good technical writers: Kozo Hiroka (sp?) is about the best technical writer I've ever seen. His descriptions are incredible. </font>

JCHannum
04-29-2002, 03:49 PM
Kozo Hiraoka learned to write the English language to publish his articles in Live Steam Magazine.
We can't be bothered to learn to spell his name correctly.
Kind of humbles you, doesn't it?

rdanzey
04-29-2002, 08:04 PM
JC, your comment tweaks some long dormant brain cells. I seem to remember about such a writer. I don't subscribe to Live Steam so it was probably hearsay. Yes, I have a hard enough time with my native language. I'll have to look for his work online. Thanks for your reference. Regards...

danz



<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by JCHannum:
Kozo Hiraoka learned to write the English language to publish his articles in Live Steam Magazine.
We can't be bothered to learn to spell his name correctly.
Kind of humbles you, doesn't it? </font>

rdanzey
04-29-2002, 09:22 PM
OOPs, I mean Hiraoka...
Sorry.


JC, your comment tweaks some long dormant brain cells. I seem to remember about such a writer. I don't subscribe to Live Steam so it was probably hearsay. Yes, I have a hard enough time with my native language. I'll have to look for his work online. Thanks for your reference. Regards...

danz

PS I just did a Google search and found mention of a 1987 article on springs done by Hiraoko. I checked it out and understand why he is so highly regarded. His article seems like a model of clarity and 'authority'. Just what I need. Perhaps others, too?

danz



<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by JCHannum:
Kozo Hiraoka learned to write the English language to publish his articles in Live Steam Magazine.
We can't be bothered to learn to spell his name correctly.
Kind of humbles you, doesn't it? </font>



[This message has been edited by rdanzey (edited 04-29-2002).]

Thrud
04-29-2002, 09:37 PM
rdanzey:
Jumping in the middle can be challenging and/or somewhat annoying - but that is how you learn things. No big deal. And all suggestions have merit - you should voice them if you feel it is an issue to you.

One thing I would suggest is to remove the quoted text from your replies as it makes some of these rather long threads hard to read at times. Just mention their name or handle - they will figure it out (all smart guys & gals here).

[This message has been edited by Thrud (edited 04-29-2002).]

rdanzey
04-30-2002, 07:21 PM
[QUOTE]Originally posted by Thrud:
[B]rdanzey:
Jumping in the middle can be challenging and/or somewhat annoying - but that is how you learn things. &lt;snip&gt;

Thrud, I think you're right. I think I'm lazy&lt;G&gt;. I don't intend to let my subscriptions lapse, though. Pretty good thread. Thanks, all...

danz

metal mite
05-01-2002, 06:08 AM
Rdandy,
No Offence taken. Not talking about you.

I was talking about those guys at the shows always ready to point out your shortcuts, and errors, but never got anything to show.
Put a model up and you're asking for criticism from some "Experts".

Don't see how you could possibly write to suit everyone with different skill levels, and machinery to work with.
They do the best they can.

I don't read the how to storys as a rule.
Just look at the pithers.

That story about hobbing on the mill, just come out in hsm is really great.
That guy is a sharp cookie.

mite

metalman
05-01-2002, 01:58 PM
A PICTURE OR DRAWING IS WORTH A THOUSAND
WORDS.

rdanzey
05-01-2002, 06:09 PM
mite, I'm glad.



<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by metal mite:
Rdandy,
No Offence taken. Not talking about you.

&lt;snip&gt;

Put a model up and you're asking for criticism from some "Experts".


Enough said!

&lt;snip&gt;

That story about hobbing on the mill, just come out in hsm is really great.
That guy is a sharp cookie.

mite</font>


No doubt. It's what we all try to be as we solve problems. He's good at it. Regards...

danz

rdanzey
05-01-2002, 06:26 PM
lynn1, you may be right--a non-problem. I was probably just venting, in the final analysis.

As I get older I am overcoming a natural tendency to complain or whine when things aren't 'just so'. My lovely bride of 34 years has taught me much about tolerance. Sadly, I still have some ways to go.

Nevertheless, I'm looking forward to an improved HSM and MW in the future. Maybe I will have done a little to help them get that way. Thanks for your message...

danz


[QUOTE]Originally posted by lynnl:
[B]From my perspective this is a non-problem. Even lacking a professional machining background, I've seen only rare instances in the 6 or so years I've subscribed to HSM and MW (old PIM) in which an article was even moderately incomprehensible due to the presentation style.

&lt;snip&gt;

Neil
05-02-2002, 06:15 AM
This has been an interesting and informative thread!

All of the commentaries have merit as they are based on individual readers' feelings about the value of the magazine. That's where it becomes important to me.

Some of the concerns voiced here can be initiated fairly easily. Others will take time to duly inform authors who can then make adjustments to their submittals.

The bottom line is, I appreciate the input.

Thank you, readers.

Neil