FACUG Spring Conference

By Jenny Lind Olin, Treasurer, Tampa PC Users Group

Why Would Anybody Want to Attend the Florida Association of Computer User Groups’ Spring Conference? It is a good occasion to have fun, meet a lot of people who talk "computerese," see a lot of software demonstrated, get a lot of free software, or purchase software at reduced prices. You can get six meals for a mere $35.00 per person, the total cost of the registration. You can stay in a hotel, bring your mobile home, stay with relatives, or drive back and forth. So there is no cooking, doing dishes, making beds or housework for two complete days.

The Spring Conference is not all about having fun and getting away from it all. It also provides a great opportunity to talk to other leaders from other computer user groups to learn what they are doing to gain and keep their membership, what kind of programs they offer, how they have solved some of the same problems that may be challenging your group.

Granted, Friday night is mostly social. The only responsibility you have is to pick up your stuffed bag of goodies and study your Schedule of Events. Then, after a couple of hours of socializing with new and old friends from years before, you are on your own until breakfast the next morning. Then it is nonstop all day long.

This year, Apple Computer sponsored the Saturday breakfast and gave a presentation. On our way out of the room we picked up a tube which contained a couple of posters. The Apple hardware design is so modern it makes you want to own something that is not consider a clunker anymore. Apple had provided a free sweatshirt which was found in the book bag (like the ones you carry your books back to the library in) picked up at the registration desk.

Also in the bag was a black tee shirt from Borland with a slogan on the back: "Go.com yourself." I thought that was clever. Those book bags were sponsored by JR Inkjet and Jasc Software. The printing of the Schedule of Events was through the courtesy of Office Depot, who had also given us a small stickem pad and a plastic box for our paper clips, part of the stuffing in our bags. So you see there is a lot of involvement from the vendors to make the Spring Conference a lot of fun.

Adobe Systems Incorporated sponsored the Saturday luncheon and presentation. Everybody was given an Adobe GoLive 5.0 package for Professional Web authoring and site management. The Dinner Event was sponsored by FACUG, but the prizes for the contest winners were sponsored by different vendors. The prizes for the winner of the Home Page Contest and the Newsletter Contest were from Adobe. Adobe is always so generous with those prizes. They helped stuff our book bags with several CDs, which included the latest version of Adobe Acrobat Reader software, Adobe Active Share software and trial versions of about ten of their products in both PC and Macintosh format.

The Logo Contest prize was sponsored by Corel. The Community Service Award was sponsored by FACUG. So you can see where prizes were given out for doing something great or just for being there.

The grand finale for Saturday evening was the Annual Business meeting where the new officers and board of directors were introduced. Our president, Mary Sheridan, was elected the state FACUG secretary. Congratulations are in order for that honor.

The Sunday breakfast and presentation by Mary Sue Cameron, who was very cheerfully animated, was sponsored by Microsoft. Everybody received a backpack from Microsoft. The Sunday luncheon and presentation were sponsored by MGI Software. We all received a ticket each time we entered the dining area. After each presentation there was a drawing and about five big software items were given to those lucky winners. Sometimes they marked one chair or gift package left on the table and so one person at each table received a prize. The suspense was just awesome.

There were several other sponsors who provided prizes along with the above mentioned sponsors for the conference. Then at the Sunday afternoon "Displays," products were demonstrated, questions answered, and free software given out. Then we had "The Big Bang," which is the final drawing where there was a choice of many prizes. Everybody received something, although it was more beneficial for those who were called first. Those sponsors were Aladdin, Borland, Cassady & Greene, Corel, Demo Catz, Intuit (who gave everybody a Quicken 2001 Suite package like the one that was raffled off at our last meeting). Somehow I missed out on that offer. Those packages must have gone fast.

Was it all play and no work? No. We did have two sessions in the morning and two sessions in the afternoon with a choice of four different subjects being covered at each. We had our "Panel / Round Table" meetings offering such subjects as Running a Users Group, New Member Orientation, Building and Maintaining Membership, Programs and Presentations, Publicity and Public Relations, Advertising, Fund Raising, Working with Volunteers, Running a Software Review Program, Treasurer's Q & A, Newsletters, Web Design, APCUG Workshop, and Creating SIGs. One group has a Pig SIG where they meet at a restaurant every month and talk about computer stuff. A good idea for those who need more social events in their lives.

I was very impressed this year by the addition of Tech Sessions where you could go see different software being demonstrated. Some of the demonstrations were Digital Video Editing, and presentations by Adobe Systems, Jasc Software and Microsoft on their particular products.

Now I think I will go dot.com myself. u