UGNN : the end of an era, goodbye to this old mouse

InfoManager : what's new onlineIn the famous words of Jimmy Buffett, here we are : “Who would have thought those flames would still be burning?”

fred_and_odinI watched my son showing his new son how to do gestures on an iPad. I was immediately taken back to my son (his father) sitting on my lap learning to use the mouse. Twenty-five more years slipped away. Yes, the world of Apple and the User Group life created many fond memories — standing in the hallway with John McWade waiting to be called to the podium at Apple World ’87. Guy Kawasaki poking fun how honored he was that I payed the most ever for one of his books — Rye Livingston refusing to give up his original Apple tshirt for the charity auction. Standing with Lynn and David Pogue giving awards to user groups. All of those faces and all of those places, I wonder where they all disappeared.

fred_1988 Thirty years, a dozen operating systems, fifteen Macintosh computers, the first ImageWriter, the first Thunderscan, the first Digital camera, the first Pilot, the first tablet, three early lap tops (including Outbound), iMacs, iPods, iPads, dozens of hard drives, tape backups, zip drives, Syquests, upright monitors, track balls, printers, and lots peripherals — not to mention all the software, all the swag — yes, and all the travel woven into a tapestry that makes up my user group history.

Then there was NAUG: do you remember the one when everyone got food poisoning? How about Chicago? The wonderment of that late night talk session with Bill Gates, and Jean-Luc Lebrun after the conference! A kiss on the cheek from the director of marketing at U.S. Robotics for introducing the first ever palmtop device at NAUGSAW. (Darn, I cannot even remember her name, but I still have that Pilot!) (See full size program cover)

NAUGC_program_t Then there were twenty-three Macworld conferences! Do you remember when they rolled out OS/8, and how we stood in line for hours just for one of those Microsoft jean jackets! (I think I’ve worn it a total of three times!) The dinners at the No-Name with Don and the gang! The table full of empty beer bottles at Cheers in Boston, with Don, Kathy and Steve boasting how we would squash Compuserve. The day Kathy called to invite me in on the AOL IPO at a buck-ninety. Lost, walking in Boston with Dan, running into James Brown entering the back-stage door — only to learn later we were on the back-side of the venue where ‘the hardest working man is show biz’ would perform for the big Apple party! Learning that Apple was ending eWorld because “online” didn’t fit their future plans. The letter from Mark (“T” somebody, can’t remember his name) at Adobe thanking Barrie and I for our proposal to build a font display engine on the internet — telling us that “the online world doesn’t fit Adobe’s model!” A closet full of memorabilia and T-shirts — oh the fun, the glory and the strange twists and turns on the winding road of user group people and events.

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Doing sessions at Macworld, giving demonstrations, was huge … meeting in the speakers’ lounge sharing pipe dreams with other speakers. Lunch with Lynda stirring up followers for a new training web site she was planning. Peggy Kilburn calling to see if I could add a last-minute seat to my “Great Graphics” session so that Russell Brown could introduce some new product from Adobe! (Which turned out to be Photoshop!) Then a couple years later, getting pitched by Scott Kelby to start a new Mac publication. Sparring over the pronunciation of the term “Gif” with Robbin Williams to the amusement of 2,500 graphics tips session attendees. Watching audiences in shock in sessions about net safety, spam and computer security.

Toward the late 1990s, it was becoming increasingly obvious that the internet was developing a robust underbelly. I became an active spam fighter and computer safety evangelist. The Federal Trade Commission Anti-Spam Forum, and the Internet Caucus with Senator Goodlatte. Washington D.C., Boston, New York, San Francisco. Helping Diane brainstorm on how to build a more effective marketing tool for Apple. Betrayed, railroaded, tarred-and-feathered at the AACUG roll-out — unable to sell the vision. Learning how it feels to be ripped off, stabbed in the back and fired in order to preserve the power-hungry. Learning that not all friends are really friends.


CUSR_1990 Then there were the awards, with Don, Kathy and Terri … then Lynn, Dan and David Pogue… then Lynn, Adam Engst, Bob LeVitus, Bob Platt and Steve Wozniak… many years, many thousands of dollars and many happy user groups! We succeeded in making the UG community a better place.

Through good and bad, the User Group Network and the Infomanager were a huge part of all this. From the Mug News Service disks for 1,500 user groups to the User Group forum on eWorld, sold to Quantum who changed the name to America Online. Then kicked out of AOL and on to a blossoming internet with the User Group Network and the User Group Academy, and millions of characters, hundreds of thousands of words and web pages.

It was all tied together by the InfoManager, an email newsletter spanning nearly 30 years and 1,350 issues every Monday morning — a treasure trove of over 7,000 individual blurbs that user group newsletter editors reproduced in their local club newsletters. Sunday morning newsletter production became a way of life. Carrying a laptop so I could mail the InfoManager from no matter where I happened to be; Virginia to Zanziabar, or Maui, Toronto, Mont Tremblant, to Belgum, to the Serengeti, the west and north costs of Africa to Florida. Watching the diversity and value list decline from over forty thousand to less than two thousand. Watching social media replace us along with the user group community at large … good or bad.


Folks, it’s been a great time.

Thank you, so much, Lynn Wegley for staying the course. You are a true gentleman and an unfailing pillar of the community when all but a few faded away. Who would have thought InfoManager would retain its usefulness through all these years. Thank Jerry for inviting me into this crazy track — and Don for sharing the dream so unselfishly — and George for inspiration and leadership — and you Ilene, Gail, Mo, Del and Gary for reminding us when we slip and keeping us straight. Thank you dearest Saundra, Kathy, Ellen and Terri; I love you all. Most of all I thank those who have contributed, commented and expressed thanks. And thank you Steve Jobs, where ever you are. People like you made it the reason we wanted to be the best we could be.

Quoting fred showker begins The past is over my shoulder, I can’t look back for too long — there’s just too much to see waiting in front of me, and I know I cannot go wrong Quoting fred showker  ends

Herein, I am resigning as editor and publisher of the User Group Network, UGNN and the InfoManager. For now, I haven’t quite figured out yet what happens to the site(s) and the Facebook page and all of the user group domains. Although Lynn and I have decided to keep on blogging and keep in touch — you’ll be seeing a lot less of me. I retired, closed the business and sold the building two years ago.

Although I may spring for a new iPad, my last Mac OS is 10.8 and my last of Photoshop is CS6. I’m slowly divesting myself of the dozens of internet holdings I’ve maintained, but I hope to move forward with a simple blog while remaining active in and The Appleseeds Foundation.

1701_fred I’ve got a bucket list a mile long with my wife, Carol, family, friends — oh and two very cool grandchildren! I’m planning on getting back to a full-time life and more time traveling the highways and waterways playing music with my friends.
We’ll see’ya around.

And, … Thanks for reading

Fred Showker

      +FredShowker on Google+ or most social medias @Showker
      Published online since 1988

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