Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Apple Users Groups -- Where are they?

One of the interesting items of talk over the years has been the Apple Users Groups and their relevance in today's computing world. For many years, I was a member of the largest users group of its time, Apple Pugetsound Program Library Exchange or A.P.P.L.E. for short. It was just one of thousands of groups in the US at the time.

But then the membership started to wane in about 1987 as did many other groups. But then where membership in our group waned, other groups popped up. One such group was the Willamette Apple Connection or WAC, Inc. as it became known. A small group in southern Oregon, it grew to about 30-40 members and stayed at that number for the duration of its life span.

What is interesting is that the group was successful in spanning the timeframe of the first Internet usage and the closing down of the Apple ][ series production in Cupertino. What spelled a death knell for most groups even before this time, did not spell the end of WAC, Inc. for almost a year and a half. But in time the end did come, primarily because no one wanted to take over the work of doing the newsletter for the group.

But even though they are long gone, the materials the group produced are still alive thanks to the materials being preserved by the owner of the group for more than ten years. Now they are available online for all to see at:


It will be really interesting to go back 50 years past the time frame of the Apple ][ computers and look back at this material and be able to see what the inner workings of the groups were like.

Are We At The Cold Reality Now?

Is this the year where all of the predictions of the abnormal weather patterns comes back to haunt to world full force? So far, in Europe and parts of the United States, this has been the case. Originally from Seattle, our family has never seen weather like this years.

I personally can recall 13 inches of snow in 24 hours on Thanksgiving Day 1987 but that was just a freak storm. Not two weeks of snow and now it is happening again. Snow in Seattle and then ice storms in the mid west stretching from Texas to New Hampshire. It is almost ironic that this is not the only place we have seen the weird weather.

Two weeks ago, 90% of Europe was facing snow including the traditional hot spots in Spain. You can just imagine going to Europe for the vacation and having to walk through 6 inches of snow. But that was no dream, it was reality. And now this week, heavy wind storms. This is not normal and the fact that it lasted so long made it unbearable for many people.

For many years the scientists have been talking about the repercussions of the global warming problem and the massive pollution issues that have been wrecking havoc in countries like China and the US. But no one listened until this year or so. Now everyone is talking about it and there aren't too many folks with any solutions that are viable or even being funded now that the global economy has sank to the point where there is no money or even concern for it.

But we must get back to being concerned about it. We all stand around with our hands in our pockets saying that these things are not our problem or that we are already making an effort or buying so called Carbon Credits. But this is all malarkey and really does not solve the root issue of the problem.

The real problem is that no one person can buy off their carbon imprint or footprint as it is called. You have to make an effort in your own home, life and work place in order to change what is going on.

The first area is the automobile. We have been societies that have traveled by car and truck for just over a hundred years now and we are still using very similar technology to the very first fume spewing jalopies of the the automotive awakening. To answer this, many people are recommending Hybrid cars that run on both gas and electricity. But Hybrid cars are just the start. Hopefully,we can switch totally to hydrogen or electric vehicles sometime in the next 10 years. That will kill a large percentage of the pollution problem especially if countries like India and China get on board with making it a requirement to have electric vehicles instead of gas driven ones.

If we can go to electric vehicles, then the next generation of self driving car would also come along quicker making the full circle of the automotive pollution evaporate because the car would be efficient, electric and would not be crashing like humans do.

The next issue is the deforestation of the world. The removal of forests all over the world has contributed to this weather and pollution problem as well. Having looked at satellite photos of my home state, I can tell you that there are large tracts of land right around my home that have been clear cut. Now this is not unusual activity in the Pacific Northwest, but when it happens in the largest forests in south America at a pace that is unseen since the dawn of mankind, it will definitely change the the world weather patterns. We need not just concerted efforts in the re-greening of massive areas of the world but also we need efforts on the parts of individuals to stop this crazy pattern of weather and the associated pollution.

But as I said earlier, the resolution to the real issues rest not at the corporate level or even the town or city level but with each individual. Re-cycling, not wasting as much or using as much natural resources, using paper instead of plastic, and things like riding your bicycle or walking instead of driving are great places to start. Even mass transit can be better than driving your own vehicle in the pollution arena. Car pooling is the one thing that needs to occur more and more.

But will these things change the weather? Not likely until every person, company, city, and country on this planet makes the effort. Will that ever happen? Well maybe not everyone but the ones that start will be seen as the forerunners of the effort and will wield great influence on those that do not. So just like our new president has called for civic responsibility, so am I. We all need to make the effort. It is up to all of us!