Mojo

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Postby Jim Maloney_dup1 » 02/03/07 04:58 PM

I posted this on a few other forums and thought the folks here might be interested as well...

A while back, I promised a review of Mojo. Well, three issues have been released so far (halfway through the current subscription), and I'm just getting around to it now. This is probably good, since at this point, we've got a pretty good idea of the character of the magazine. I'm including a detailed listing of the contents below for those who are interested in what's been made available so far. But first, I'd like to address some of the issues that have caused people concern.

The top of that list is, naturally, the issue of Digital Rights Management. Whether or not you agree with the idea of DRM, Wesley has chosen to apply it. For this reason, those who do not agree with DRM outright are not likely to want to purchase a subscription, so I'm going to address those who are uncertain about it. The main concern is, I think, ease of use: Does the DRM interfere with the ability to readily use the document, making the use of it too frustrating to be worth it? In my opinion, this is not the case here.

Upon signing up, you are asked to sign into the website and answer a couple of questions. The answer to these questions is used to determine your password. This password will be used to open all PDF's that are sent. It's easy to remember -- after using it to open my first issue when it arrived, I have not needed to refer back to the e-mail that contains the password. It would, however, be prudent to keep that e-mail in case you do forget the password.

While you do need to enter this password every time you open one of the issues of Mojo, I have not found it to be terribly restrictive. Would it be easier for me to not need to enter the password? Yes, of course, but I'm not so lazy that I find it difficult to type in a few characters when I open the document.

Another issue that came up is the apparent restriction to a single computer. While I haven't rigorously tested this, I can say that I've opened all three issues on both my work computer and my home computer without any problem. As far as I can tell, this is a non-issue.

The visible watermarking consists of the subscriber's name written diagonally across the page. This was a little dark on the first issue, occasionally causing some difficulty reading where it overlapped with the text, but it appears to have been lightened somewhat on later issues. In the last two issues, it I don't feel that it interferes with reading the text at all. There is apparently secret watermarking as well, though I don't know what this entails -- it's not obvious, and I haven't bothered to look around for it.

That covers the DRM...so now the question is, "Is the actual content worth securing?" Well, I think everyone here is familiar with at least some of Wes's material, or at the very least, Wes's reputation. I think that mostly speaks for itself. But in case it doesn't, I will say that I've found more than one item in each issue that piqued my interest. Whether I actually work them up into performance pieces or simply study them for my own education, I definitely think that the material here is worthwhile.

Before beginning this project, Wes made sure that he had enough of his own material that he could fulfill all subscriptions without needing to rely on other people to fill up the pages. This was to ensure that he wasn't scrambling to find material when it came time for an issue to come out. He's been pretty far ahead with preparations -- when he releases one issue, he's generally about halfway through editing the issue due out in two months time.

Issue #1 contained material exclusively from Wes. Issue #2 was mostly Wes as well, with a joint effort on one item from Wes and Randy Wakeman. Issue #3 was the most diverse, with contributions from Wes, Randy, Carl Albright, and another joint effort, this time from Wes and Matt Sedlak. There are a total of 13 effect across the three issues: three in the first issue and five each in the other two. Page counts are 20 for issue 1, and 19 in issues 2 and 3. Issues one and two also contained an ad from Magical Tools (Wes's company) in between each item. There were no ads in issue three. I don't know if it will remain that way for the rest of the issues or not. I've been told that contributions are expected from Tom Gagnon and Simon Lovell, though I don't know the status of either of those. Both are, I believe, non-card items.

The material that has been release so far ranges from virtually self working to moderately difficult -- if you can palm a card or do a half pass you should have no problem with most of the material here. Each issue so far has contained material that covers that range.

Finally, for those interested, here is the content list for each issue:
Mojo, Volume 1, Issue 1
1. Tippler's Flush, by Wesley James -- Based on an idea from Ron Zollweg, the performer makes a prediction by removing a card from the deck and placing it aside. He then removes all the black cards from the deck and, at the direction of a spectator, mixes them in a face-up/face-down condition. The prediction is shown to reveal the number of face-down cards, which are then turned over to reveal a Royal Flush.
2. Tiger in the Bush, by Wesley James -- A variation of William McCaffrey's Prizewinner, made popular in Eddie Joseph's Premonition. This version can be done 100% impromptu with a borrowed deck. The only requirement is that the deck is complete. Any card can be named -- there is no restricted choice. The title is explained as part of Wes's presentational hook.
3. TreAce Sheik, by Wesley James -- An addition to the Reset genre, based on ideas from Lee Asher and Aaron Fisher. The four aces instantly transpose with the four kings.

Mojo, Volume 1, Issue 2
1. Ace Producer Revisited by Randy Wakeman and Wesley James -- Using Marlo's Ace Producer as a starting point, this handling of the Sleeve Aces plot provides a simple set-up as well as a simultaneous double production of the two final aces.
2. Funky Jazz Aces by Wesley James -- A handling which Wes has kept to himself for close to 35 years, it includes a several presentational and technical touches not seen anywhere else. One one of those touches greatly increases the conviction that each ace is where it is supposed to be before it travels.
3. Jazz Transform by Wesley James -- More on Jazz Aces, this time with a double-kicker ending.
4. I Think, You Thunk by Wesley James -- The performer divines three cards merely thought of by spectators. Includes thoughts on justifying procedures that may at first seem less-than-logical.
5. Poppy's Playboy Prophecy by Wesley James -- The first non-card item to appear in the magazine. A large glass full of coins of various denominations and dates is mixed up and a spectator chooses one of the them. The performer correctly divines both the denomination and the date on the coin. Note that a significant sampling of the coins are dumped into the spectators hand and he may freely examine them to see that they truly do represent a wide variety of dates and denominations, and that the coins are very fairly mixed by shaking them between two glasses.

Mojo, Volume 1, Issue 3
1. Visible Twist, by Wesley James -- Wes's variation of Hollingworth's Waving the Aces, which keeps the hands within the upper-torso frame.
2. No Questions Asked II, by Randy Wakeman -- Randy's take on Marlo's Amazing, Isn't It?, which derives from Mental Discernment/Out of Sight, Out of Mind. Includes a detailed history of the 'Think-a-card' plot, as well as thoughts on limiting the selection. As the title suggests, no questions are asked until the card has apparently already been located.
3. Out of Sight Discernment, by Wesley James -- Wes's refinements on Randy's effect.
4. Nova Sight, by Matt Sedlak and Wesley James -- A variation on Walton's Oversight, where the four aces visibly vanish when dropped face-up upon the deck, only to be discovered when the magician deals out several poker hands, and all the aces appear face-up in his own hand.
5. I've Got A System, by Carl Albright -- A presentation for John Kennedy's Red Black, which gives three successive reaction points at the climax, each building on the one before it.


One last thing...if you do decide to sign up after reading this, please let Wes know that I sent you. Details on signing up are available here: Mojo . You should know that signing up now will get you the three issues listed above as well as the next three which are scheduled to be release over the next few months.

-Jim
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Postby Matthew Field » 02/04/07 05:07 AM

[b] Jim Maloney wrote:

1. Visible Twist, by Wesley James -- Wes's variation of Hollingworth's Waving the Aces, which keeps the hands within the upper-torso frame.
[/b]

Guy's original Waving the Aces is performed with the hands within the upper torso frame.

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Postby Ian Kendall » 02/04/07 08:04 AM

I'm guessing that he's referring to the fact that a hand has to drop out of frame in the original?

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Postby Guest » 02/04/07 08:47 AM

Just a question, but wasn't there a question on weather ot not you can print this for easier reading?

Gord
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 02/04/07 09:49 AM

I was thinking the same thing--supposedly you would not be able to print the file out. If that's really the case, then there would seem to be a wee bit of bias in the original poster's review.
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Postby Evan Shuster » 02/04/07 10:00 AM

For what it's worth... I think that Jim's review is right on the money. I would absolutely welcome an option to print (and given the other security measures in place I don't see how anyone could possibly try to copy or distribute the material anonymously), but aside from that I am quite happy with Mojo's content, and will likely renew my subscription when the time comes.
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Postby Jim Maloney_dup1 » 02/04/07 10:18 AM

You guys are right about the printing and copying -- they are not allowed. I apologize for leaving them out of my original review, but it was not an intentional omission. I guess I'm just used to the restrictions at this point that it didn't enter into my mind when I was preparing this, as I had focused on some of the other DRM issues.

I'm with Evan on this: I would certainly like to be able to print or copy pages from Mojo. However, I'm comfortable enough in front of my computer that I have no trouble learning off the screen. My keyboard is in a drawer underneath the desk, so I have ample space on the desktop to lay out a close-up mat and work on what I'm reading off the screen. Still, it'd be nice to print something out occasionally. I'll likely be picking up the hard-bound compilation that Wes will be making available at cost to subscribers at the end of the run.

Matt: Ian is correct, in Guy's handling, the hands do need to drop out of frame for a moment. Wes has eliminated that in his handling.

And finally, Richard: yes, I'll admit that Wes is a friend of mine and I do want to see this succeed. Aside from that, though, I have no bias and I don't feel as if I've misrepresented anything in my review. Trust me -- if this had been crap, I would not have bothered writing up that huge post above.

-Jim
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 02/04/07 11:24 AM

As far as I'm concerned, if you can't print it out then it's not worth a dime.

Anyone who subscribes merely encourages that kind of outrageous restriction, thereby encouraging other "publishers" to engage in similar behavior.

It's no different than downloading songs or movies from a legitimate company and not being able to burn them onto a CD or DVD.
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Postby Guest » 02/04/07 12:32 PM

I agree with Richard that the no printing restriction diminishes the value significantly. It really sounds like good material, but without the ability to print what you buy... I wish Mr. James would reconsider, but I guess he probably won't.
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Postby Ian Kendall » 02/04/07 03:09 PM

Once again, the no printing issue is in no way a restriction on the ability to print the document. Put simply, again, there's no way to stop someone printing a document from a Wintel PC.

If people want to print it off, they can with minimum effort. This was discussed at length in the original thread.

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Postby Guest » 02/04/07 03:17 PM

I am not a subscriber to Mojo nor am I a friend of Wes (although I respect his work), but I feel a response is in order.

First, whatever one or some publishers do or not is not what matters. What matters is if it turns out to be a success or not. So if you don't like that you can't print it, then don't subscribe. If you don't like the DRM then don't subscribe. But don't try to pin some burden on a publisher to do it the way he wants to do it. If other publishers think this is the way to go then let them go. The success will show the way. Nobody is responsible for other peoples actions.

In the end such experimentation is very healthy and useful, because it will tell us the impact it has.

Second, you can buy a print version at cost later from Wes. This print out is probably cheaper than you could do it yourself because Wes will have some volume to work with and get a better price.

I personally (and with Lybrary.com) am not for putting DRM on digital media nor am I for preventing printing. But I sense some unfair undertone here that I think is out of line.

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Chris....
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 02/04/07 05:53 PM

There's no undertone here: my post exactly stated my opinion, and pretty clearly. If you get something else out of it, that's your business.
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Postby Guest » 02/07/07 09:57 AM

I thought you meant Mojo the Music Magazine. BTW a GREAT read.

http://www.mojo4music.com/

I wonder if the music magazine has the rights to the name?

Or

http://www.mojomagic.net/

Just curious.
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Postby Guest » 02/10/07 09:11 AM

Is Mojo designed for onscreen reading? That is, is the layout (et al) optimized for viewing on a monitor, or is it simply a book or magazine-like design that restricts you from putting it onto paper?

I design documents for a living, and if a document is going to be used primarily onscreen (or exclusively, in this case) then you can't simply use the same layout as you would for a printed piece.

Well, you can, but then it wouldn't be worth a dime, in my opinion, either.
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Postby Jim Maloney_dup1 » 02/12/07 11:53 AM

I just found out via a post by Wes over on the Cafe that he will now be accepting PayPal. Seems he's worked out a deal with them that should prevent the problems he's experienced previously. You can find more details here: The Magic Cafe: Mojo now accepts PayPal .

As far as being optimized for on-screen viewing, I can't really say, as I'm not really certain what would qualify it as being "optimized". I can say that it's not too different from, say, reading a long post here -- substitute the Amazon bar on the right side with some whitespace, and you'll have a fairly good idea of what it's like reading Mojo. I have no difficulties reading it, though I spend most of my day reading off a computer screen, so I may not be the best person to ask.

-Jim
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Postby Guest » 02/12/07 02:00 PM

Jim Maloney wrote:
I'll likely be picking up the hard-bound compilation that Wes will be making available at cost to subscribers at the end of the run.
Jim, do you mean hard copy or is there going to be an actual hard bound book? Also do you know if, in an attempt to prevent knockoffs, the hardcopy/hardbound will be printed with the subscribers' watermarks? Lastly will it be available to non-subscribers?
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Postby Jim Maloney_dup1 » 02/12/07 02:23 PM

Frank,
I don't know the answers to those questions. I'd suggest sending Wes an e-mail at magicaltools@pipeline.com -- he's usually pretty quick to respond.

-Jim
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