The President's Message

February 2000

As you read this issue, you will notice the change in the by-Line of the General Meeting notes, the Q & A and the executive Board Meeting Notes from Bob Fischer to Laura Pacheco. Bob has found it difficult to attend both meetings on a regular basis and it was deemed necessary to find a replacement. I had asked her to fill in on Saturday and again on Tuesday while she was attending the board meeting. I asked her if she would stay on as recording secretary and she agreed to do so. Thank you, Bob, for your past help and support and thank you Laura, for assuming the task at this time.

The challenge at APCUG (Association of Personal Computer Users Groups) (which is now ten years old) is to bring the beneficial aspects of the Fall Comdex event to all of the member user groups, (not just those who attended in person) and make them available throughout the year. APCUG is making a huge effort to provide more and more valuable services and benefits to their member groups.

One example of a great service that we can take advantage of is the APCUG webboard service implementing the free search functionality so that visitors to the web site can quickly search all user group sites at the click of an icon. APCUG's web page is where they post information about upcoming regional events.

While mergers and changing times have forced some longtime APCUG supporters out of the picture, they have a whole new batch of vendor sponsors interested in working with user groups. Vendors now face expensive airfares, and time constraints. Software and hardware companies merge and budgets not only get smaller, but really slashed. An example was given by Patricia Hill, Board of Advisor, Region 7. She said they attended the APCUG Fall Conference in Las Vegas. In the not too distant past, when you attended a vendor sponsored meal and presentation, everyone received some software and maybe a t-shirt. Not this year! The budgets are being slashed so drastically that in most cases the vendor held a raffle rather than providing software for everyone.

Let's face it, when a vendor comes to visit a user group, it has to be a "profitable" trip. Each vendor measures "profitable" in a slightly different way, but the common measurement is numbers. How many people where in the audience to which he or she could introduce the product? Was it worth his or her time?

SCRUGS is an organization of user groups located in Los Angeles, Ventura, Santa Barbara and Kern counties who work together to bring the latest and greatest vendor information to its user groups. Officers of member groups meet quarterly to share ideas and information. We received an invitation to join them Saturday January 15th. None of the club officers were able to this time but we hope to in the future. Toby attended one of them and they appreciated his input very much.

Many User Groups are looking for ways to attract new and keep existing members. It is a challenge for User Groups to keep current interesting and increasing the knowledge level. Some of the observations and complaints from the various groups are as follows:

1. General Meeting presentations by Vendors are interesting, entertaining and educational, however the presenter is usually biased to his companies' products. (Most vendors require 100 to 250 minimum number of attendees to do a presentation.)

2. SIG's are one of the main reasons for membership and usually very informative, however there are never enough volunteers to lead them. (We thank all our own club members who have and are willing to continue doing them. Please show your appreciation by attending and thanking them including Rabia and Gateway Computers.)

3. Most people that are joining User Groups are beginners and after a few years in the User Group they feel that they have learned all they can, then they leave. We have been fortunate to have a number of members who have continued to stay on sharing their knowledge and expertise by doing SIG's, helping with the Q & A sessions (Kudos to Toby Scott who does a wonderful job informative, never boring), and articles for our newsletter, the TOE. Without these people, our club wouldn't be nearly as successful.

4. Two major problems every Program Coordinator faces are getting good ideas for programs and then attracting the right vendor to make a presentation. Our Vice President, Nita Lang has done an excellent job. Thanks, Nita!

5. No New Blood. Clubs complain most attendees come to be entertained. Some come to get answers to questions and only the techie guru types come to really learn something. Their membership average age goes up every year. They claim this seems to be common in every group. (We welcome people of all ages and levels of expertise.)

Our thanks to members of APCUG quarterly report for this information.