A new free online magazine for hackers, programmers, and tinkerers promises to rekindle the bygone era of useful technology zines—with a focus on creativity and brevity.
Programmer and tinkerer Gynvael Coldwind has launched Paged Out!, a new experimental free online magazine about programming tricks, hacking, security, retro computers, modern computers, electronics, game development, and more. The goal: a concise, creative resource for programmers and hackers built by the community, for the community.
The zine’s first prototype issue has already been released, and offers readers a wide variety of short, one-page articles on everything from the dismal state of consumer router security, to how to cobble together a motorized shopping cart. The issue also provides tips on how to hack everything from old Guitar Hero controllers to the Populele (a new “smart” ukelele).
Zurich-based Coldwind told Motherboard he was inspired by the kind of zines he used to read while learning to be a programmer, like Bajtek, a popular Polish magazine in the 80s and 90s that offered computer science tips and tricks to aspiring tinkerers.
Coldwind said zines like PoC||GTFO or Phrack were also inspirations, as well as legendary computing magazines like Hugi. He said he’s looking to supplement, not supplant, many of these efforts with a new experimental effort that tweaks the formula a bit.
Coldwind said that in recent years he’d grown tired of reading 20 page articles that lost the plot, so his zine restricts authors to a single page.
“I've been doing reviews for a few technical magazines in the past and with each long article I wondered ‘why can't these be shorter like they were in Bajtek,’” he said. “After some time I decided that short articles might have their own place among other resources, and eventually decided to make a zine focusing on these.”
Coldwind said that while authors are restricted to a US Letter or A4 page, they have near total freedom to use that space as they see fit in terms of formatting and presentation. As a result contributions run the gamut from articles on “accelerating simulations by clustering bodies using the Barnes-Hut algorithm,” to a cramped page full of code for simple video games.
“I wanted to give authors creative freedom on how to use that space they get—so there are few rules about the layout,” he said. “Of course this artistic chaos has its downsides, but I thought it just might work.”
While much of the zine is tailored to hackers, Coldwind and his staff are ultimately hoping that the zine—which he technically considers to be still in beta—will encompass a huge variety of technical subject matter.
“Paged Out! focuses on purely technical content ranging from programming/algorithms, through demoscene, infosec/hacking, retro-computers, down to electronics/hardware,” he said. “We're basically aiming at articles about interesting, clever, tricky, surprising and in general, fun topics.”
“It's not going to be a zine for the 9-5 professional, but rather for the 5-9 enthusiast/hobbyist,” he adds.
Coldwind said that given the zine's focus, it will also try to focus on ethical hacking and steer clear of non technical subjects, with the occasional exception.
“We might accept the occasional cookie recipe,” he says. “Though it has to be a good one.”
Coldwind said he’s fielding submissions for the second edition of the zine, and those interested should read this breakdown of what they should expect before submission. Interested authors will need to submit their offerings by October 20, 2019. Interested readers should subscribe to this newsletter group and enable email notifications to be alerted to new issues.