The President's Message

September 2002

Andy Toth

Ken Church and I just returned from the 9th Annual Southwestern Regional User Group Conference in San Diego, Aug. 9-11. I do not believe we have ever sent anyone to this event in the past. This will be a yearly event for CIPCUG. User groups are still alive and vary in size from a few dozen to 2,500+.

I will also admit this was the one of the most grueling conferences I have attended. It was nonstop from 6 p.m. Friday to 3 p.m. Sunday. Well, there was one other, a personal improvement conference I went to that started at 8 p.m. on Friday and by 2 a.m. on Saturday each attendee walked a 40-foot burning bed of coals in bare feet; then it really got hard.

The conference concentrated on issues relative to user groups and the changing relationship between user groups and vendors. This relationship is changing, not disappearing. The conference hosted one meal; the remainder were by sponsors: Adobe, Jasc, Intel, Handspring and Microsoft. These meals included a presentation by the vendor and, of course, very generous raffle prizes. For your information, Dave Whittle, who has done numerous presentations for us, is now a consultant for Intel. Some of the presentations concentrated on new products, others were more of a technical nature, but all were positive toward the user group-vendor relationship. There were more than 50 participating sponsors and vendors for this conference. Every member of this group has software and hardware from many of them.

How is that relationship changing? I have a feel for it, but I cannot express it absolutely. As a group, we are considered passionate about computers. However, we are not the only group. "Gamers" are an example of another group of the many in this category. Each group has talents and assets that make it attractive to maintain a relationship. We have demonstrated and are demonstrating our passion for computers. What we need to do to evolve to the next level is not exactly clear. We are evolving as I write this, independent of the discussions that took place at this conference. We are, can, and will continue to provide the vendors with what they are looking for. How will we do this? Simply, by just putting into action the very reason each of us joined CIPCUG in the first place.