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
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
Every meeting has attendees from Pennsylvania, Maryland, the
District of Columbia and Virginia, and frequently from Delaware, West
Virginia and other states and countries. If someone from Pennsylvania can
attend a meeting, a Virginian can cross the Potomac to Maryland, or a
Marylander can cross the Potomac to Virginia.
We are all frequently busy. Going to a General Meeting is but one of
many choices on how you can spend your time; if you attend a General
Meeting, you benefit from that choice.
Check the TCS, the Pi's computer bulletin board, or the Pi's World Wide
Web site (http://www.wap.org). Meeting
summaries are usually posted on the Web site long before they appear in
print, and usually special offers are also posted on the TCS.
Special offers and give-aways are controlled by the vendors, not the
Pi. If they say the special offer is good for 15 days, and you don't attend
the meeting and don't hear about it for 60 days, there really isn't anything
the Pi can do about it.
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.
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 (firstname.lastname@example.org) 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
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
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.
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
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
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).
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