Even so, its end is sad. I spent many years as a writer, reviewer, columnist and video star on the PC Plus cover-disk. For over ten years I was the Delphi columnist, turning out hundreds of programming columns and tutorials. I was, at various times, also the Java and C# columnist.
And I wrote the long-running opinion column, Rants and Raves, which I created way back in 1988 for Computer Shopper magazine. The editor of PC Plus was so keen on the column that he made me an offer I couldn’t refuse, so I jumped ship, left Shopper for Plus, and took my column with me. To be accurate, the PC Plus editor made me two offers I couldn’t refuse: 1) he would pay me more money (I’ve always had a weakness for offers like that!) and 2) he would give me a video column on the cover disk. My response was “What’s a video column?” His answer was, “No idea. It’s up to you to figure it out.”
And figure it out I did. The first column was a pretty boring ‘talking to camera’ affair. But within a couple of months it had become transformed into a ten-minute blockbuster movie complete with drama, music and cutting edge special effects (thanks to my director, Wendy Smith). My video columns knew no bounds. On the flimsiest of pretexts we would search for beasts on Dartmoor (my excuse was that I was reviewing a CD encyclopaedia about strange animals), we would record a Heavy Metal tribute to The Village People (I was reviewing a CD music database), and we would go hunting for aliens at Area 51 in the Nevada Desert (um, I don’t think I had even a flimsy pretext for that one – I happened to be at a computer show in Las Vegas and hunting for aliens was just too good an opportunity to miss).
Many of the video columns also featured my then Feature Editor, Mary Branscombe. She was a Village Person in the music video mentioned earlier. I even got some work for BBC TV on the basis of those columns. One day a BBC producer phoned up the PC Plus office, said he was a fan of the videos, and offered me some work – which I very gladly accepted. So, in spite of a few differences of opinion with the odd editor now and again, I owe a lot to PC Plus. The magazine gave me lots of work and lots of fun too, over the years.