Washington Apple Pi

A Community of Apple iPad, iPhone and Mac Users

October 1995 General Meeting

by Lawrence I. Charters, Vice President, Macintosh

Freebies and Special Offers

Writers often wonder if anyone reads what they write. Tom Clancy (a Macintosh fan, by the way) knows people read his work; his bank accounts contain ample evidence. But if you aren't Clancy, how do you know?

The answer: phone calls. When the Journal is delivered, the Pi office and Pi officers get many phone calls, asking about things mentioned in Journal articles. Specifically, they get a barrage of calls asking about special offers or drawing prizes from the General Meeting, and asking how they can take advantage of these? The answer is simple: attend the meetings.

Vendors make special offers for meeting attendees because they want a big audience. To a hardware or software vendor, making a presentation at a General Meeting is a form of advertising, and the larger the audience, the better the advertising. Often they have special, limited time pricing on select items, again as a form of advertising. But if you aren't there, you aren't part of the audience.

"But," the phone callers say, "I was busy that day," or "I was on vacation," or "It is so far from where I live/work/loiter," or (my personal favorite) "I didn't know they were going to offer that." A select list of answers:

Washington Apple Pi is a non-profit, volunteer group. We do not represent the vendors, so please don't call the Pi office or Pi volunteers and complain about not getting goodies. However ‹ if you call the vendors directly, and act both civil and desperate, sometimes they will extend a special offer past the expiration date. But it is their choice.

Interactive Movies

There were no special offers at the October meeting, but there were lots of prizes for the drawing. In fact, for a time it looked like we would have more prizes than chairs: we ran out of chairs.

The meeting was held at the DoubleTree Hotel in Rockville, MD, which used to be called the Crowne Plaza Hotel, instead of the regular Northern Virginia Community College site in Annandale, VA. The change of locations and the change of names seemed to confuse lots of people, but soon there was a large crowd, not enough chairs ‹ and nobody to do the presentation. The hotel quickly solved the chair shortage but as for the featured speaker, things were looking rather bleak.

Just as we were preparing our famed "Marathon Question and Answer Session To Stall For Time," Rand Cabus of Cyberflix (cyberflix@aol.com) arrived, literally straight from the airport. It seemed the airline had decided to send his luggage, including a color PowerBook complete with his demo, somewhere else. He tried repeatedly to recover it before giving up and dashing to the hotel.

Under the circumstances, his demo was excellent. Sleep-deprived, anxious about the loss of an expensive computer, and working without several scenarios prepared in advance to illustrate his subject, he gamely (sorry) took control with barely a chance to catch his breath and booted Dust: A Tale of the Wired West.

Dust is many things: a CD-ROM based game that contains several other games; an interactive movie that includes you as one of the characters; an exotic way to show off multimedia technology; and an example of a great parody on shoot-em-ups, westerns, American stereotypes, and even politics. As a stranger wandering around the high desert town of Diamondback, New Mexico, you can gamble in the saloon, or get into a gunfight. But you can also get dating tips from a meddling matchmaker, advice from a Chinese coolie, and funny political philosophy from Dr. Hillary Rodham, the local physician with definite ideas on health care.

Bill Appleton, the founder of Cyberflix, is a Mac legend: he wrote World Builder, Course Builder, SuperCard and HyperDA. The first two Cyberflix offerings, Lunicus and Jump Raven, offer a similar blend of action and humor, but Dust is in a class by itself, especially if you happen to be a Spaghetti Western fan. With a list price of $49.95, I found it irresistible.

[Late-breaking news: Dust was selected Best Multimedia Game of 1995 by MacWorld magazine; details are scheduled for the January 1996 issue.]

A few of the games within Dust are available as demos on the Cyberflix Web server at http://www.cyberflix.com. Be warned that they are all over 2 megabytes in size; you might find it faster (and a lot more fun over the long run) just to buy the CD-ROM.

Open House

After the General Meeting, the audience adjourned to the Pi office for an Open House. This proved to be one of those Good News/Bad News events: on the good side, the Pi office was just a few blocks away, so virtually everyone hopped in their car and drove over to see the (almost) completely remodeled spaces. On the bad side, it seemed everyone took at least two cars: for the first time ever, the parking lot was filled to overflowing. This wasn't a problem ‹ there is lots of parking available in the neighborhood ‹ but it certainly was a surprise.

Also a surprise: the speed at which the refreshments disappeared. The Pi is, after all, a computer user group, so the refreshments were appropriate for the occasion: soft drinks, chips, dips, nuts, donuts, pretzels, and a few things that looked suspiciously good for you (OK, so someone made a mistake). But in the time it took to answer a few questions I discovered the table was laid bare: even the Formica top was gone.



I will be retiring as Vice President, Macintosh, as soon as possible. Immediately, if a volunteer steps forward and the Pi Board of Directors approves.

Why? In a word, time. While the job itself isn't that time consuming, there are other Pi jobs I'd like to work on, and I can't afford to do these other jobs and serve as Vice President.

I have been a user group President, Vice President or board member continuously since 1978. I've lead Radio Shack, Osborne, and Apple/Macintosh user groups in San Francisco, Daly City and San Diego, CA, Bremerton and Tukwila, WA, Yokosuka and Tokyo, Japan, as well as the DC/MD/VA-based Washington Apple Pi. I've met at one time or another virtually all the "industry leaders:" Bill Gates selling cassette-based Level III BASIC for the TRS-80 from a tiny booth at the West Coast Computer Faire; Steve Wozniak explaining how to hook an Apple II to a television set (also at the West Coast Computer Faire); Adam Osborne predicting that Osborne Computers would crush Apple, Atari, Commodore and that new upstart, IBM; John Sculley insisting that Apple did not consider user groups as "just another marketing vehicle;" Steve Jobs claiming that his NeXT computer was "what the Macintosh could have been" if he'd had more time to think about it; Charlie Jackson explaining how the San Diego Macintosh User group and Silicon Beach were both "created" in his kitchen; Marc Andreessen insisting that Netscape was more than just a rewriting of "Mosaic without the bugs."

Volunteer now and you, too, will have a chance to meet the rich and famous.

Coming Events

The first meeting of the new year on January 27, 1996, will feature Megahertz, a PCMCIA modem manufacturer which has recently entered the Macintosh market. Another vendor will also be there, but we (we?) still need to iron out a few details.

Clones will be the topic at the February 24, 1996 meeting as Power Computing comes to the Pi to show off their Power Mac line. Prolific author Bob LeVitus, who serves as Power Computing's evangelist, will be the main speaker. Before getting to Clones, however, we'll hold the Second Annual Washington Apple Pi QuickTime Festival, showing off the creations of the Pi's highly enthusiastic QuickTime SIG (Special Interest Group).

Drawing Winners

Lifetime mouse pad (Lifetime): Robert Pagelsen
Deltec mouse pad (Deltec): Allen Kent
Internet mouse pad (PC World): Ken Clare
Internet road map (Ziff Davis): Bob Ketchel
Mac applications ballcap (Microsoft): Dail Doucette
Wingz gym bag (Informix): Joseph A. B. Winder
MCD T-shirt (MCD): Etelka Horvath
QuickDraw 3D demos CD-ROM (Apple): John J. Ruffolo
Now Contact, Now Up-To-Date demo CD-ROM (Now Software): Fred B. Miller
InTouch CD-ROM (Prairie Group): Melvin J. Mason
MacWorld CD-ROM (Power Computing): David R. Arday
HSC demo CD-ROM (HSC Software): Mary Keene
PCI demo CD-ROM (Apple): Richard O. Nugent
MacBench 2.0 CD-ROM (Ziff-Davis): Ron Evry
2 Market CD-ROM (2 Market): Mike Walker
Real Life Software CD-ROM (Claris): Mrs. Richard L. Cleveland
Lunicus T-shirt (Cyberflix): Kim Stark
Jump Raven T-shirt (Cyberflix): Beth Trever
Dust T-shirt (Cyberflix): Bill Wydro
Dust T-shirt (Cyberflix): Attila Horvath
Dust T-shirt (Cyberflix): Walter Sistrunk
Jump Raven CD-ROM (Cyberflix): Jim Voeller
Lunicus CD-ROM (Cyberflix): Jim Graham
Dust: A Tale of the Wired West CD-ROM (Cyberflix): Don Meyer
Dust: A Tale of the Wired West CD-ROM (Cyberflix): Dave Ottalini
Dust: A Tale of the Wired West CD-ROM (Cyberflix): Larry L. Ichter
Dust: A Tale of the Wired West CD-ROM (Cyberflix): Blake Lange
(there was one additional Cyberflix winner, but the details got lost somewhere)

Send meeting comments to: lcharters@tcs.wap.org.

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