prostoalex writes "The premier issue of Make magazine arrived in a thick envelope in my mailbox a few days ago. The magazine has been previousl publicized on Slashdot. Edited (in chief) by Mark Frauenfelder from BoingBoing and published by John Battelle and O'Reilly, this is an attempt for a quarterly publication for hackers, tinkerers, do-it-yourself type of guys and people interested in technology (not necessarily computers)." Read on for Alex's review; this sounds like the best parts of 1970s-era Popular Mechanics.
But enough with the links. On the front page the magazine features 181 pages for DIY technology, promising stories on aerial photography, backyard monorails, XM radio hacks, iPod tricks, DIY magnetic card reader and blogging made simple. Make is roughly half the size of a normal full-page magazine (like PC Mag or InfoWorld) and generally feels like a paperback book more than a magazine. The paper is also not the glossy print you'd see in normal magazines, it says on page 8 that they used New Leaf Paper, made 100% from post-consumer waste. Make generally uses normal-type font, which should be readable by anyone, except for some pages where they switch to really large fonts.
The magazine is broken down into several logical categories. It starts with editors' welcome letters and short features of some DIY projects people have done on their own (this guy's backyard monorail stands out). The Maker pages in this premiere issue contain an interview with Neil Gershenfeld from MIT, an article on heirloom technology, possibility of building an open-source car and an expose of Bay Area Dorkbot group.
The Projects category (starting at p. 49) is where the real fun starts. The projects take up majority of the pages, and it makes sense - looks like the authors put their best into providing excruciating details, pieces of advice and general information, so that anyone can follow their work. The projects are well-illustrated, some contain necessary diagrams and cartoon-like explanations of what needs to be done to assemble the proper devices, the step-by-step pages contain both pictures and text. Each project is sub-divided into several parts - Set up (list of everything needed before you start), Make it (the actual step-by-step instructions and discussion of the projects), Use it (reasons for tinkering with the project in the first place). The setup list is also provided on Make Web site, like here's the list of components for magnetic stripe reader.
The projects for the issue include adding a disposable camera to the kite for aerial photography, a $14 video camera stabilizer, 5-in-1 network cable (the combination of RJ45 and DB9 inputs) and the magnetic stripe reader.
The major projects are followed by the projects consuming less time and efforts. This is mainly for people who would rather spend more money at the spot, buy some cool accessory to complement their electronic device, and do minimal engineering on their own, as far as I understand. The categories include Home Entertainment, Mobile, Cars, Online, Computers and some additional projects that did not fit anywhere above. The table of contents contains the complete list of projects.
It looks like the magazine that is needed in the market. At some point playing with technology became synonymous with running to the nearest mall and getting the latest electronic gadget, and even RadioShack nowadays mostly looks like a flashy storefront for selling cell service plans and new PDAs. Make is the magazine for people who like to look under the hood, who like to work on do-it-yourself projects and who feel great accomplishment when a project is over, even though its practical usability might be questioned. Of course, the amount of projects in the magazine is a bit overwhelming, but my guess is they figure you'll find some extremely interesting and some are just not interesting at all.
Since I grew up in the Soviet Union, Make magazine reminds me of Young Technician (when technician meant someone involved with technology), a Russian must-subscribe boy magazine that would pull the latest science and technology news together, and also dedicate large portion of its pages to readers' projects. Of course, nowadays, in the age of Hack A Day, Lifehacker and numerous HOW-TOs such magazine might not exactly have the exclusive coverage of the DIY projects. Google might turn out more results, but for some of the projects it also looks like the authors were either pioneers or authorities in their field since googling for DIY aerial photography provides just Make article and a bunch of links to it.
Make is a quarterly publication, so $35 subscription fee covers only 4 issues per year. A bit expensive, but if you plan to enrich yourself and spend free time more productively, I think Make has lots of content to entice the reader and keep him busy for 3 months. First impression might not mean a whole lot, but Make was one of few magazines that I enjoyed reading from page 1 to page 192.