This leaves me with a bittersweet feeling. On one hand, I really do appreciate your extreme willingness to try and help.
This said, and as I very much appreciate the kind and continuous
support of my HP-related activities that many HPCC members and MoHP frequent visitors have demonstrated in the past, I think all of you deserve to be given a complete picture of the situation as I see it, which
will be necessarily long but completely to the point, except I won't name names nor will I attempt to guess underlying personal motivations, let's everyone make their own minds on this. Here we go:
About my commitment to regularly provide articles and the 'membership offered in return',
some people really have taken this arrangement
so much at heart that it seems they won't stop at anything to see it undone. Initially they
simply anonymously posted frequent public criticism in a most unpolite way each
and every time I tried to promote Datafile or post about some new articles
published there. It was really unfair to me and certainly attempted to sabotage
my well-meant efforts to promote Datafile, but they were anonymous 'trolls' and that was it,
nothing for me to do except stand it as well as I could.
Then the offensive scaled up one bit when I was told that some HPCC members
had violently opposed this arrangement at public HPCC meetings, and some of them
even went as far as to oppose in written form, by sending
letters to the Chairman. This resulted in the topic being voted upon, and the
majority decided to keep it as it was. It was even debated at some AGM, with the
same result. That should have ended it all.
However, I was greatly surprised when one of my latest Datafile promotional posts
at the MoHP was suddently attacked in the very same style and nearly the very same words
by some person which, far from being anonymous, is one of the most well-known
HPCC members and further, he's a member of the Committee !
Thus we have the strange and unprecedented
case of a member of the HPCC Committee who publicly doesn't abide by the very
Committee's decisions and arrangements, and feels free to ignore their democratically
voted decision and continue to publicly and unpolitely harass some other member who
is just trying to help, and further, utterly sabotage his Datafile promotion attempts.
This, of course, was the last straw as far as my patience was concerned, so
I formally requested an official, public statement by the Committee endorsing our
agreement and supporting me against the unfair detractors. The Committee discussed
the matter and the results were that they would do *nothing*. They would *not*
reprimand the offending members, despite they unfairly attacking a fellow member
and sabotaging his efforts to promote Datafile and despite they not abiding by an
official Committee agreement, and they would also post or publish *nothing* in
my support, not even simply just saying that it was true that we had an official, voted, approved
arrangement and I was properly fulfilling my part of it. They would do *nothing* of the sort, of any sort.
I was profoundly disappointed to realize that I had no support at all from
an organization to which I had contributed so much (more than 30% of each issue
on the average for a number of years), not even from some of the people who should
be most grateful for it, and I certainly wouldn't suffer being treated like that,
so I withdrew from the agreement and called it null, stopping my contributions to Datafile as a result.
How came this arrangement to be in the first place ? Well, it's quite
simple. I've been a member of HPCC for seven years, and three years ago I saw that the
club was heading extinction. It was losing membership at an alarming rate (already
under 100), and besides the contents of Datafile were extremely poor, IMHO, with small
24-page issues which did only cover RPL models and scarcely at that, to the point
where Palm coverage was attempted as well, in an effort to have something to fill
those meager 24 pages with.
Seeing this, I decided this kind of contents were not of my interest, and
further decided to cancel my subscription, as many of my friends had already done,
because I didn't want to pay for those uninteresting contents that I wouldn't even
However, this saddened to me no end, as HPCC was practically all that was left
of the golden PPC times, and I was very sore of seeing it go to extinction too. So I
came up with the idea that the best way to help wasn't keeping an unwanted subscription for
some unwanted materials, Datafile would decline all the same, but rather contribute
by developing, writing, and submitting good-quality articles for publication, which
would provide both quantity and quality, the kind of articles I loved to read back in PPC
times, the kind of articles I would love to read now.
However, these articles of mine would be precisely the only ones who would
interest me among all of the contents, the rest being uninteresting to me,
and I would certainly not pay a subscription just to read an exact facsimile of my
own articles (!), so I thus intended to cancel my subscription at once all the same. But this
brings the problem that I certainly need to see how my articles appear in print,
because a number of times errors do crept in during the editorial process, and I
would have to warn Mr. Editor about them (formatting and such were the most
In order for me to be able to see the printed article, it would be utterly
necessary for me to be sent a printed copy of the relevant issue. But I certainly
didn't want to pay for it: after taking the considerable trouble, effort, and time to
write 10-16 page quality articles, having to pay to get to see them in printed
form would be like we in Spain say, "hacer de p*ta y poner la cama", which roughly
translates as one acting as a prostitute for free and, on top of having to perform that arguably disgusting activity, having to pay to do it. This obviously
wasn't acceptable to me, so I contacted Mr. Editor and made him a proposal,
namely I would commit to send long, quality articles on a regular basis, and I would
get a free printed copy of each issue featuring one of my articles, for checking and reference purposes.
He thought it was a very good idea, which would alleviate a whole lot his
continual, cronic need to try and get articles from whatever sources he could, thus making
his already hectic editorial life much more pleasant to bear. He consulted the proposal with the
Committee, which also agreed, and considered the arrangement as a "free subscription"
in exchange for articles. Most probably, wording the arrangement that way was what
prompted some people to violently oppose to it, on the basis that other people
submitting articles weren't expected to receive any "payment" at all.
The truth, in a nutshell, is that I was about to end my subscription to
Datafile in any case: I wasn't going to pay to read uninteresting (to me) contents, nor would I pay just
to read my *own* articles, so they would never get my money no matter what. I just
offered them a solution to their problem, out of a desire to help, though I knew
it would be a *lot* of work and there would be times when I wouldn't feel like
writing anything because of workload, or grave familiar situations, or health problems. All I asked in return
was to have a printed copy of each issue containing one of my articles, that's all
I asked for, and that seemed reasonable enough to me.
It goes without saying that I could'nt care less for the few sterling pounds
a yearly subscription costs, I spend twice as much twice a day, each and every day,
just to get a taxi from home to work, so that is no money to me, it's peanuts.
But, out of respect for myself, I'm not going to spend 80 hours each and every
two months, time and effort which I detract from my other hobbies and my family, to
submit a publishable article for Datafile, then having to *pay* to get to check it.
No way I'm doing that. I'm the one helping them, not the other way around.
In fact, you've probably noticed the impact: the previous Datafile issues
were 40- and 44- pages long, if I'm not wrong, with some long articles and all.
The current issue, which features no article from me, is just 24 pages long, and
most "articles" are extremely short and mostly focused on RPL models or obsolete
hardware, with the one and only exception being an 8-page financial article for
the HP-12C. I very much doubt Datafile will be able to subsist on that kind of
contents for long, though fortunately for them the release of the new HP35S will mean a wealth of publishable materials which will help alleviate the situation for a while.
As for committing to write good-quality articles on a regular basis,
you can't really know just how much effort some of
them require. The latest one, "Identifying Constants", took me more than 4 hours
a day, *each* and every day for a whole month (that's about 100+ hours) to create,
from the idea, to the programming, to the many, many well-chosen examples I had to
laboriously create, to the setting and typesetting of the nearly 50 very complicated
mathematical expressions, then writing it all in MS Word, checking it all by typing
by hand every line of code and running every example on the actual calculator, etc,
etc. There's no way a single, free 40-page printed issue (of which 16 pages are my own !) can pay for so much work. Not at my professional hourly rate anyway. :-)
Finally, after this nasty turn of events, I was very sorry for those
people who might have joined HPCC after reading my promotional attempts, with
the idea of getting first hand my articles, and felt morally obligued to lessen
the impact on them of a situation they had done nothing to create and could do
little to solve (I can only think of they politely writing the Committee expressing their
opinion on this).
Thus, I fully intend to write the very same 4 articles I would
have written and submitted to Datafile for publication this year, with the same
formatting and quality, then send those articles in PDF format to each and every
person who newly subscribed this year. All 4 are already written, in the sense of the
corresponding program and examples already existing, but still need to be set up
in MS Word and be exhaustively format-checked and run-tested.
Well, sorry for the extreme length of this post but I felt that all of you deserved
a thorough explanation. It's been useful to me as well, I feel better now.