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Author Topic: Gizmo's Tech Support Alert Newsletter Merges with Windows Secrets  (Read 23213 times)
mouser
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« on: July 09, 2008, 06:23:08 PM »

This is pretty big news in the computer newsletter world.

Ian "Gizmo" Richards' newsletter "Tech Support Alert" has been a favorite newsletter among those who love to keep up to date with windows software news, and Gizmo's Tech Support Alert website and list of top freeware is a huge favorite of many people (a lot of people found out about DonationCoder.com from gizmo's site).  Ian is a great guy with an eye towards the little guy and that makes him a hero in my eyes.

The Windows Secrets newsletter gets slightly more mixed reviews from DC readers i think but it's still been a reliably good resource, and they also did something we love, which is they made the paid subscription version cost completely up to the reader.  So subscribers can now decide exactly how much they want to pay for it.  Love this idea.

Today the Windows Secrets website announced that Windows Secrets is going to merge with and fold in Gizmo's Tech Support alert newsletter (and retain its Windows Secrets name after some temporary period), with Ian as the new Senior Editor.  Seems to me this could be good news for everyone and could make Windows Secrets one of those must reads.

My only comment is to the Windows Secrets editors to redouble their efforts to purse the highest ethical standards regarding recommending software; Windows Secrets makes money from software advertising in their newsletter in addition to the paid subscriptions, and it's very important that such things are made very clear to readers and that the editorial content not be biased by the paid advertisers.

Quote
A bigger, better newsletter with Support Alert
By Brian Livingston

I'm extremely proud to say that Windows Secrets is joining together with the Support Alert Newsletter, a major tech publication.

When our two newsletters merge on July 24, we'll reach over 400,000 subscribers in total and add new content from one of the world's best sources of Windows software reviews.

Meet our senior editor, Ian 'Gizmo' Richards

Ian Richards The Support Alert Newsletter has been edited since 2002 by Ian Richards (left), known to everyone as "Gizmo." Prior to that, the newsletter was run by tech writer Robert Schifreen. At its inception in 1998, the publication was entitled PC Alert, but was renamed Support Alert in 2000.

Gizmo's made quite a name for himself on the Web by writing today's best danged reviews of downloadable software, especially free software. He built up Support Alert to the point that it had about 150,000 e-mail subscribers.

By merging his newsletter with Windows Secrets, Gizmo liberates himself from the production drudgery of e-mail publishing (that's my job). Now, as our senior editor, his time will be free to concentrate on rating free software for our more than 400,000 combined subscribers. Watch out, Microsoft — there's no stopping him now.

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PhilB66
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« Reply #1 on: July 09, 2008, 06:38:20 PM »

 thumb down

Oh no.... hopefully he doesn't follow in Fred Langa's steps.
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tsaint
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« Reply #2 on: July 09, 2008, 07:16:21 PM »

I really looked forward to Fred's newsletter. Then after the "merger", reading windows secrets was nowhere near as good (for me). It seemed like rather than reading 100% of the content, I only read something like 60% of it.
Now I'm really fearful of history repeating itself - I want a newsletter for which I find 100% of it interesting and wish Gizmo was staying unchanged.
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mouser
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« Reply #3 on: July 09, 2008, 07:28:30 PM »

Only time will tell, but let's give them a chance..
My impression from reading the announcement was that Gizmo's content would become the main content, while at the same time freeing him from having to worry about the technical details of sending out the newsletter and managing subscriptions.  if you combine that with the new pay-what-you-want model for subscribers, it could be a win-win for everyone.  But only time will tell.  I hope that readers will post follow-ups here to let us know how they like the new version.
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lanux128
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« Reply #4 on: July 09, 2008, 07:55:21 PM »

this is a very interesting development. only by reading the next 'post-merger' issue, will we know the extent of this collaboration. at least Gizmo is now officially "will be free to concentrate on rating free software".
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mouser
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« Reply #5 on: July 09, 2008, 11:31:34 PM »

From Gizmo announcement:

Quote
On July 24, the Support Alert Newsletter will merge with the Windows Secrets Newsletter to bring you a better publication on software and technology.

 The amazing growth of the Support Alert Newsletter has made it too much work for me to handle by myself. The administrative requirements of 150,000 subscribers meant I was spending too much time sorting out subscription problems and not enough time finding you the best free products.

By merging the two e-mail newsletters into one, I'm getting production and administrative help from Windows Secrets, which will free up my time to write more stuff for you. That means more great freeware finds and more useful and practical PC tips.
 
  I'm becoming the senior editor of the combined newsletter, which will be called Windows Secrets & Support Alert, as shown in the image at left. (After a transitional period, we'll shorten the name.) After the merger, the combined newsletter will reach more than 400,000 tech users.

 The combined newsletter will come out weekly rather than monthly, and my  freeware reviews will be in every second issue. That means you will be hearing from me twice as often as before. However, each newsletter you receive will be shorter (but more timely) than the old, monthly Support Alert.

While Windows Secrets & Support Alert are merging our newsletters, we are not merging our websites. My website techsupportalert.com will continue on as before. Indeed, in its new  freeware wiki format, I will be giving it my full personal support to make it the best freeware resource on the web.

I'll be working on the combined newsletter with editorial director Brian Livingston, who is the co-author of 11 books in the "Windows Secrets" series. Some other writers I'll be joining with are Woody Leonhard, the co-author of several "For Dummies" books, and Scott Dunn, who's been a contributor to PC World magazine for 15 years.

 I do hope you'll support my new writing project. I'm sending you this special announcement today because there are are just a few small steps you need to take.
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tomos
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« Reply #6 on: July 10, 2008, 03:13:13 AM »

hmm,
there seems to be some confusion ...
I got two identical [well, I thought] mails headed "Gizmo's Support Alert Newsletter Special Announcement, 9th July 2008"

The link for managing my subscription from first "special announcement" mail, didnt recognise my Support Alert subscription and asks me to subscribe/donate - turns out this is sent to Windows Secrets subscribers where I'm not a paid subscriber.
The other mail recognised my subscription

Also Gizmo's stuff seems to be only in the paid version from now on (I'm not objecting to that, just stating it!)

Quote
What you get                                       Free     Paid
The newest Windows tips you need              Yes  Yes
Gizmo's newest ratings of free software               Yes
In-depth analysis of Windows' latest patches         Yes
How to guard against unpatched threats                 Yes
Access to all old and new paid content                   Yes
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Tom
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« Reply #7 on: July 10, 2008, 03:21:38 AM »

Also Gizmo's stuff seems to be only in the paid version from now on (I'm not objecting to that, just stating it!)
That would be a shame, at least we still got the wiki.
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40hz
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« Reply #8 on: July 10, 2008, 08:49:02 AM »

I've got mixed feelings. Big time.

I think it's been pretty obvious that something was going on over at Tech Support Alert since the beginning of this year. Long time readers couldn't miss how the newsletter seemed to be getting...shall we say... less substantial, recently?

But the thing that really hit me over the head was when Gizmo asked for people to become section editors for the freeware list. Now I can understand how he might have been feeling the need for help. Anybody that runs a website knows all about that. But it just seemed strange that somebody, who was as militantly individualistic about his newsletter as Gizmo, would hand over full editorial duties to somebody else.

Then along came the wiki.

I don't have anything against wikis per sce. But to my mind they smack of "self service." Right up there with pumping your own gas and checking your own groceries. If you want to encourage discussion, a forum is the better way to do that.

Now I can't speak for everyone, but the thing that made it for me with TSA was the "tone', the style...the voice of the man himself. Lots of other sites carry much the same information. I didn't go to TSA to find out about freeware. I went there because I wanted to hear what Ian Richards had to say about freeware. And I can't see how that voice can become anything but more diluted by this change. Especially when it's merging with something many of us always felt was a TSA wannabe.

I'm glad to see things are going well for Mr. Richards. He's put a lot of time and work into creating one of the arguably best websites around. And I sincerely hope this is going to get him some of the recognition and financial rewards he deserves. But there's a saying by Spider Robinson: "Nothing really good ever survives being discovered." And I'm afraid Tech Support Alert has been discovered.

And I sincerely hope that I'm wrong.

« Last Edit: July 10, 2008, 10:47:38 AM by 40hz » Logged

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CWuestefeld
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« Reply #9 on: July 10, 2008, 11:58:57 AM »

Chiming in with my identical two cents.

Actually, I'd recently cancelled my (free) subscription to Livingston's thing. It seemed of late to carry content that targeted the less technically savvy.

Really, TSA and the DC newsletter have been the only ones that I look forward to anymore. I hope that list doesn't lose one more.
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« Reply #10 on: July 10, 2008, 12:00:59 PM »

Okay here I am, the Sayer of Doom.

I hate Windows Secrets.  I only subscribed so that I could continue to get Fred Langa's newsletter.  Other than the few bits he did for them, I have never seen anything useful come across their page.  The only reason I hadn't unsubscribed is that frankly, it's easier to delete it from my inbox than to go through the process.

As with Fred, I have been a follower of Gizmo's newsletter for years.  Now I'm afraid I'm going to have to kiss that one goodbye too because frankly I have no faith that *any* useful material from his publication will make the free side of Windows Secrets.  I have already written Gizmo to tell him how I feel.

However, I *do* understand how this will benefit Gizmo, his newsletter and his paid subscribers, just as it promised to for Fred Langa.  Larger distribution, some paid advertising to make the effort worth it and all the goop that goes along with that.  Plus they have all the people and processes in place to make the job less onerous.

Frankly, I have always been the type of freeloader who gobbled up the free stuff but never forked out a cent for the rest and so in that manner, really never directly helped support eithe Fred or Gizmo's newsletter. So I am in no position to point a finger at anyone for anything.

However, I don't think that in either case Windows Secrets is the right venue.  I think both Fred and Gizmo and any other useful publication out there would do better by joining forces and doing their own thing.  Or maybe find a publication that puts content ahead of advertising.  Or at the very least puts *good*, *useful* content into their *free* side, rather than the pathetic, minimal gruel offered up by Windows Secrets.

My last mainstay is Scot Finnie's newsletter which is largely a blog now.  And if I find out he's moving to Windows bloody Secrets, I think I'll pitch myself into a volcano.
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40hz
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« Reply #11 on: July 10, 2008, 12:18:35 PM »

hmm,
there seems to be some confusion ...
I got two identical [well, I thought] mails headed "Gizmo's Support Alert Newsletter Special Announcement, 9th July 2008"

The link for managing my subscription from first "special announcement" mail, didnt recognise my Support Alert subscription and asks me to subscribe/donate - turns out this is sent to Windows Secrets subscribers where I'm not a paid subscriber.
The other mail recognised my subscription


Could you send the link you got that worked? I'm a paying reader and I haven't received anything so far. Thx Kiss
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« Reply #12 on: July 10, 2008, 12:48:46 PM »

Put me down as another member who doesn't like Windows Secrets. It seems to be more advertising than useful content.
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tomos
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« Reply #13 on: July 10, 2008, 01:57:29 PM »

Could you send the link you got that worked?

well the problem is it wont work for you smiley - it has my member number in the link & all my details come up - you should be getting mail about it soon - they probably working through the alphabet...
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Tom
40hz
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« Reply #14 on: July 10, 2008, 03:13:46 PM »

Could you send the link you got that worked?

well the problem is it wont work for you smiley - it has my member number in the link & all my details come up - you should be getting mail about it soon - they probably working through the alphabet...

Figures...

Oh well, I'm paid up through September at any rate so I'm sure there'll be something in the next newsletter. Thanks anyway! smiley
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« Reply #15 on: July 12, 2008, 06:16:01 AM »

Quote
Re: Gizmo's Tech Support Alert Newsletter Merges with Windows Secrets

As a non techie I happily paid Fred and Gismo for their ideas, suggestions and direction.

Windows Secrets payment schedule is "Pay what you think we're worth".

That is why I am paying ZERO.

We'll see. Hopefully we won't lose Gismo.
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tomos
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« Reply #16 on: July 12, 2008, 06:34:34 AM »

That is why I am paying ZERO.

We'll see. Hopefully we won't lose Gismo.

We'll see as you say,
but, as said above, Gizmo's content seems to be planned for the paid version only
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Tom
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« Reply #17 on: July 12, 2008, 04:01:30 PM »

Tech Support Alert has had a paid premium section for a long time, and if you like it, as everybody on this thread seems to, why haven't you supported it by paying for the premium stuff (which I find definitely worthwhile)?

The new setup will honor premium subscriptions to TSA. Mine is supposed to be paid until December of this year. So, one will find out, won't one?

It's hard to believe anybody who likes Richards' writing and info can't spring for $5 or the equivalent just to see what the new merger will be like. Yeah, I'm not very optimistic either, but let's wait and see.

Tiesenhausen
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tomos
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« Reply #18 on: July 13, 2008, 04:14:04 AM »

Tech Support Alert has had a paid premium section for a long time, and if you like it, as everybody on this thread seems to, why haven't you supported it by paying for the premium stuff (which I find definitely worthwhile)?

not sure if that's directed at me (or just more generally) - in case, yes, I have a subscribtion, & definitely worthwhile as you say thumbs up

re springing money to see what somethings like - ok, it doesnt have to be much but I'd find it hard to do - personally I think they'd be better off doing something like giving everyone a few issues of the paid version so people get a taste of it & then splitting it up into paid/unpaid

but as we all keep saying - we'll see cheesy
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« Reply #19 on: July 13, 2008, 03:38:49 PM »

Wasn't directed at you, tomas, or anybody in particular. Obviously, we all wish Gizmo and the whole crowd well. I still have my big fat Windows Secrets book by Brian Livingston on the shelf, and consult it every so often.

Best to all, Tiesenhausen
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justice
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« Reply #20 on: July 14, 2008, 03:38:04 AM »

Tech Support Alert has had a paid premium section for a long time, and if you like it, as everybody on this thread seems to, why haven't you supported it by paying for the premium stuff (which I find definitely worthwhile)?
I found it interesting to read but think that I can find the same information elsewhere but with more effort. So I read it but I don't pay for it.
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« Reply #21 on: July 14, 2008, 06:31:37 PM »

I'm actually very unhappy with this. 

I was a subscriber of Fred Langa's newsletter for a VERY long time (since 1996!);  when he went pay, I paid. 

When it went Windows Secrets, I paid;  and I was not thrilled with the "gruel" (thanks for the word, dude!), either.  So I stopped paying. 

When I stumbled on Gizmo's letter, I found it so useful I paid for it, for the last three years in fact. 

Then this happened, and at the moment, WS doesn't even acknowledge that I'm a paying Gizmo subscriber, and I never got the paid-member link.  I guess the WS crew don't think I count. (shrug)

I'm thinking I'll give them a chance and subscribe, but my gut says that it'll be a waste of money, that the good stuff that was Gizmo (and Langa) will largely be sublimated by the marchitizing crap they seem to prefer to push, instead of real information.  At least Gizmo was balanced and did stuff for both the Windows side and Linux side, and didn't pander the the Wintel hegemony.

At least we have DC and Neowin/TechSpot...:rolleyes:
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tomos
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« Reply #22 on: July 15, 2008, 02:45:57 AM »

Then this happened, and at the moment, WS doesn't even acknowledge that I'm a paying Gizmo subscriber, and I never got the paid-member link.  I guess the WS crew don't think I count. (shrug)

they, dont - that's up to Gizmo - i.e. you get the mail from him - I got mine on the 10th - seems like it shouldnt take this long to get around to everyone?

in fact it was quite oddly done - my mail to my Windows Secrets email address came from Gizmo as well and had no mention of Windows Secrets in the subject line ...
as said above
I got two identical [well, I thought] mails headed "Gizmo's Support Alert Newsletter Special Announcement, 9th July 2008"

The link for managing my subscription from first "special announcement" mail, didnt recognise my Support Alert subscription and asks me to subscribe/donate - turns out this is sent to Windows Secrets subscribers where I'm not a paid subscriber.
The other mail recognised my subscription
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Tom
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« Reply #23 on: July 15, 2008, 04:51:11 AM »

Ditto - I don't hold out any hopes for the new combination.

Experience seems to tell that when people merge with WS they start to take a back seat (or just don't get much space). Fred Langa wrote brilliant newsletters but hardly contributed anything useful to WS.

I have come to find WS (and it super heavy advertising - even in the paid premium version) very irritating.

In the days of Langalist I read every word the day it arrived. Most of the time now WS gets binned before I even bother reading it - it is just depressingly uninspiring and I have come to expect no better. I won't be subscribing again next time it comes to renewal - and am seriously considering unsubscribing to avoid disappointment each time.
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« Reply #24 on: July 15, 2008, 06:53:49 AM »

I won't be subscribing again next time it comes to renewal - and am seriously considering unsubscribing to avoid disappointment each time.


I'm offering a new service.
It's in its early stages.
Limited to DonationCoder members until the international roll-out.

For a small annual fee you can redirect your copy of Windows Secrets to me and I'll be disappointed on your behalf.

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