CFOG's PIP, May 1986, Volume 4 No. 7, Whole No. 43, page 1

Editor's Message

PIP: Where we are and where we are going

We're trying to convince advertisers that (a) PIP is now back on schedule as a regular monthly newsletter and (b) they ought to put ads in. As part of the effort in that direction, the Board of Directors has offered to our two regular advertisers, WestWind Computer and Witt Services, a free page advertisement in this issue. Mark Witt has also taken another page to promote his current ad campaign. We've devoted another page to a FOG membership application. The WestWind ad won't appear this issue, but I'm promised by Dave Price that he will have it ready for next issue, with some special new announcements.

My plan is to have PIP "on calendar" by the end of the year. That means that this May issue goes to the printer about the 1st of July, the June issue about the 21st of July, the August issue in mid-August, the September issue about September 10th, the October issue about October 5th, the November issue about the 1st of November, and the December issue about 23rd of November. That means you should start getting PIP about the 1st of the month in December or January.

I hope that we will have enough material in the future to run 12 pages consistently. That means YOU have to write. I need two or three articles a month from the members, so that our newsletter isn't simply a compendium of articles stolen from elsewhere. If that's what it's to be, you'll need a new editor. So, whatever it is you do with your computer, whatever little mystery of life you have recently solved using it, let's hear about it. There's no reason why we should all be constantly reinventing the wheel.

With nearly 300 members, 30 articles a year means each member has to write one every ten years. Don't think that let's you off the hook, you'll write yours five years from now and be "average". The Talmud tells us that while it is not your job to complete the task, i.e., fill up PIP all by yourself, that doesn't mean you don't have to get started on the job. So do it now.

FOG: Where it is and Where it is Going:

FOG is having problems. FOG is the national and international group out in California, originally an Osborne group, but now more of a CP/M and general microcomputer user group, that this little local group is affiliated with. Last year, FOG expanded its offices and services in anticipation of great growth. It didn't materialize and a big loss resulted. As a result, FOG has had to Iay off most of its office staff and curtail services and benefits. The FOG #3 RCPM has been turned off for want of time to maintain it. On the other hand, this should have no effect on the timely publication of the Foghorn, FOG's monthly newsletter.

I'm not concerned with the internal political ramifications of this. Given the state of affairs, I'm quite pleased at having failed in my attempt to get elected to the FOG Board: they have a tough row to hoe. But FOG must be maintained and brought back to good health. It can't be good for us for FOG to die. FOG publishes a substantial newsletter each month and provides a clearing house for information that couldn't readily be maintained by a bunch of local user groups operated solely by volunteers. Sellers of CP/M and Osborne stuff know that the Foghorn is the place to advertise. If there's no more Foghorn, they won't be able to find all the little local user group newsletters, and besides the cost and logistics of advertising in dozens of newsletters would make such a project unmanageable. If you're not a member of FOG, there really is a memoership application in PIP this month, so get out your pen and checkbook and join.

An Osborne Group Disbands

I just received the newsletter of the Capitol Area Microcomputer Society, Albany, NY. CAMS is an umbrella group with several constitutent "SIGs". One of them was an Osborne SIG. I say was because the June newsletter reports that the Osborne group is disbanding.

Where is CFOG and Where is it Going

CFOG used to have over 500 members. It dropped in 1985 to about 400. This year it has fallen to about 275. In June our Board had a meeting devoted to future planning, and the June downtown SIG and regular meeting were devoted to discussion of future planning. Apparently not too many members have an interest in CFOG's future: only about 20 showed up for the Sunday meeting.

Some decision has to be made. Even if the decision is to keep CFOG going as a purely CP/M user group, the decision has to be made. While it's true that we started out as an Osborne user group, we've effectively changed that in recent times so that we're now a more-or-less generic CP/M user group. At the same time, many of our members have or use other computers: our president and sysop of RCPM #2, Bill Kuykendall and our director at large and sysop of RCPM #1, Glen Ostgaard, work all day on MS-DOS computers; Cedric Chernick, who maintains our mailing list, works all day with a Burrougns system that runs MS-DOS as a task; Dave Jacobsohn, who sends out those postcard meeting notices that you get every month, has an AT&T 6300+ at home; Tom Ferguson, our Treasurer, works all day with an IBM PC; Rand Gerald, our Secretary, works all day with a variety of systems from CP/M to mini-computers. I could go on and on.

Yet at the same time I'm using my CP/M systems every day at home and office and have no current plans to change. Indeed, it's my expectation that I'll continue to use essentially the same systems for two to five years more. In fact, I've just ordered a hard disk for the office. There are no doubt others in the group who are very happy with their CP/M systems and have no plans to change them. Like the old car that you drive to the train station, it still does the job and no matter how fancy the new ones may be there is no reason to replace it even if you can afford to.

What does this all mean? Can CFOG continue to be a CP/M user group with no support for people who aren't using CP/M? Not really, for several reasons. First, as Bill Kuykendall points out, we use WordStar, we use SuperCalc and SuperCalc 2, we use dBase II -- and so do MS-DOS users. So when we support WordStar users, SuperCalc users, and dBase II users, we're not supporting CP/M, we're supporting our users.

Second, a lot of us just barely or just rarely use CP/M. Most of us start out the day firing up our computer with a disk that automatically starts up an application, be it WordStar, SuperCalc, dBase II, or some other program that we work with. At the end of our working session we use NewSweep to make backup copies of our work results. Later we use MEX to call the RCPM where we utilize the Metal Message System to read the messages. Where's CP/M? The fact is that we use our applications most of all, and while the run under the CP/M operating system, WordStar, SuperCalc, dBase II, and MEX all have MS-DOS versions!

Third, many of our most active members are among those who use other systems. I named a few above. They are not going to want to belong only to a group that supports only CP/M. They will migrate to other groups if CFOG doesn't keep their interest. We'll lose more members, and may find it hard to maintain the group at all.

Stay tuned. Read the colloquy that's on pages 3-4 and 13. Then get your two cents in by leaving a message on one of our RCPMs or by writing to our President if you don't have a modem.