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                         Getting Back To Our Roots
  Kermit Woodall                                    kermit@novadesign.com
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Consider this a call to arms or at least a call back to our roots.

When the Amiga first launched it was the user group and developer community
that got it really moving.  It's been the same ever since.  Marketing was
never Commodore's strength.  The Amiga, to so many of us, is a cause and
something worth being an evangelist about.  The Macintosh has its
evangelists, but that was part of a deliberate campaign by it's marketing
people.  Just read Guy Kawasaki's (the leader of Apples professional Mac
evangelists) marketing books to learn about this.  It's different with the
Amiga - it's simply so cool that many users can't help but become
evangelists for it.  We're not part of that 90% Wintel crowd.  It's hard
for them to ally under a name.  What can they say?  Whee!  We're
Windows95Users!?  We're Compac'ters!?  (there's a nasty visual image) We're
PC!?  (sounds like they won't let their kids play Mortal Kombat) We've got
the cool, friendly, name.  We're Amigans! 

I'm going to make some recommendations in this article.  I've been around,
played and worked with many operating systems, and seen how the other half
(or 90%) lives.  I've studied Guy's statements on getting people to become
evangelists, I've seen how Team OS/2 worked for acceptance of OS/2 over
Windows 95, and I've even seen a bit of how the Linux crowd works.  So I'm
going to steal all their ideas and throw in a few of my own and propose we
do something!


The Show's the Thing!

These first ideas can be snapped up by Team Amiga members and User Groups
everywhere. 

When I was part of and (for six years) ran a user group we had a couple of
goals.  Help our members.  Get more members.  One of our tactics for
getting more members was to take advantage of free/mostly free tables at
every single local (or near local) computer event and show.  Almost every
show was really focused more on PCs and other computers - but we'd show up
with our Amigas (generally at least four) and run music, graphics, and
demos all day long for as long as the show lasted.  Our focus was to show
stuff that looked better on the Amiga. 

This should be happening now.  Team OS/2 does this, at least around here,
all the time.  Combining what we used to do in our user group and what I
see Team OS/2 doing, I'll make the following recommendations for what you
can do.

Get a table for every upcoming show.  Get on the mailing lists so you know
about these shows in advance.

Publicize on the internet, local bbs systems and local computer papers that
the Amiga will be shown at these shows.

Organize who will staff your table(s) and who will bring equipment.  Having
a regular 'staff' within your group that handles these things helps make
this easier for all.  Try to bring the latest and greatest Amigas around. 
For historical purposes having an Amiga 1000 isn't a bad idea either.
(show 'em the inside cover!)

Collect the video demo tapes and run these on a large monitor.  My company,
Nova Design, Inc., has a demo tape (free to dealers and user groups!)
showing off our software.  Many other companies offer the same thing.  You
can even find various Amiga based animators have demo tapes as well! 

Keep a 'journal', or a looseleaf binder, with flyers and brochures from all
vendors currently supporting the Amiga.  Even companies that make things
like printers and scanners that work on the Amiga should be included so
people can see that connection to the Amiga.  Call or write every Amiga
supporting vendor regularly and get their latest literature.

If your club has demo copies of software, (and they should!) bring anything
that's currently available and show it.  Don't bring old copies of
GraphicCraft and the like.  People can't buy it, so if you're showing it,
it's going to reinforce the Amiga is Dead fallacy.  If you have old,
unavailable, software on your systems you're using at the show, put their
icons away during the show.

Feel free to show off Newicons, MUI, MagicWB and freeware/shareware things
of that nature.  Just be sure you point out that these packages are
available on the internet or from your clubs software library.

Bring stacks of your clubs newsletters.  Hey! You're promoting yourself too!

Be professional, be polite, let people visiting your table get some 'hands
on' experience.  You don't want to dress like IBM drones.  No suits and
ties here.  Just don't dress like other job that day is to wash your car or
dog! 

Do be prepared to tell people where they can buy the Amiga and its software
for it.  If you don't have a local dealer, give them a list of mail order
houses people in your club use and recommend.

Do this and you'll find yourself having fun and doing something effective
to promote the Amiga!


See What's Developing!

It's been sometime since CATS (the old Commodore sponsored developers
group) died.  Many people forget that the first Amiga developers group was
started by a grass roots effort by the developers directly!  If my,
occasionally faulty, memory has it right, Mike Halverson of Impulse, pushed
the formation of the first Amiga developers group.   We need someone in the
developer community to do this again. 

Why do we need a developers group?  Well, it's much better than having
Company X inventing a 'standard' and hoping everyone likes it - but Company
Y doesn't and goes their own way.  With a developer's group we could
coordinate things, propose and agree on things like extensions to the IFF
and ANIM standards (which need, respectively, 32-bit support and CMYK, new
compression methods, sound and video interleaving, high color ANIM support
and more).  A developers group could also function as a registry of active
developers and show programmers where to go (prehaps via a specific web
site and a mailing list) for publishing direction and advice.   There are
many other things the developer group could do, I can't guess at half of
them, so the quicker we can get this going again, the better!

If you're a developer and would like to jump in on this I've setup a
mailing list you can join to chat with other developers.  Email
newdev-request@lists.best.com and put the word SUBSINGLE in the body of the
message.  The subject, if you use one, will be ignored.  If you need to
unsubscribe later, email the same address with UNSUBSCRIBE in the body of
the message.

I'd recommend even trying to get this started formally at the Gateway
Amiga'97 show in St.  Louis.  Email me, kermit@novadesign.com, if you're
interested.  If I get enough responses, the nice folks with Amiga '97will
loan us some space and time.


Mongering Malfeasance Muted!

One goal we should all set for outselves is to reduce newsgroup
rumormongering and negative chatter about the Amiga.  Platform wars should
be, and are, embarassing for everyone.  If we can clean this sort of thing
up, it will go a long way towards settling things down so we can do some
serious business and have some fun too.

It's not hard to identify a potential rumor, flamewar and the like.  If
someones news isn't prefaced by 'This was in the latest Magazine X',
'Quikpak announced this on their web site', or a similar authoritative, and
verifiable source, then it's just a rumor.  Respond by politely asking the
poster to provide verification.  In other words, 'Put up or shut up
friend!'.  It'll be easy to do and prehaps we can finally ignore the 'Amiga
is dead' nonsense, ignore the attempts to invent news around who's buying
the Amiga today, and just get back to enjoying ourselves. 

Now, flamewars and platform wars are different beasts, but usually if
someone's posts use frequent casual profanity or freely refer to others as
'Stupid', 'Idiot' or other hot button words designed to touch off a fight,
then the best way to deal with them is to politely ignore them and/or
recommend ignoring them.  At most, reponse politely in a manner that
suggests the matter is closed and not worth continuing with.  Sadly, you'll
find that one of the worst sources for this is going to be former Amiga
owners.  They've sold their Amiga, and now they're using a soulless Wintel
box, so they're out to make you feel as bad as they do.  A classic sour
grapes scenario.

Who, What, Where, and When?

Don Hicks and Amazing put out a fantastic hardware and software guide for
the Amiga.  I’d like to propose that either one of the user groups, or
companies, with a large Amiga internet web presence put up a well indexed
web version that focuses on companies that are no longer focusing on their
Amiga product line, but still have a warehouse full of their old Amiga
products to sell.  It should have listings by category, title and company.
Include address, telephone, email, web addresses and product information
breakdowns.  A perfect example of this is The Toaster tally light from
Dynamic Realities (originally sold under a different company name).  They
still have 'em, but they don't advertise 'em.  Grab some old magazines,
track some companies down, and list them!  This be a guaranteed draw to the
web site that hosts it.


Other Neat Ideas

I will be writing again in the future about some other ideas, like how to
coordinate and create wild, cool, new enhancements to AmigaDOS by
approaching the task as a set of small, achievable, steps that can be done
by as many people that would like to be involved.  This project won't
require a lot of management overhead and complements other AmigaDOS efforts
nicely.  It will need it's own web and ftp site, some feedback from the
Amiga community, and any number of programmers interested in implementing
interesting new ideas in software for themselves and others.  The best
thing about it is that so many artists and programmers have already done
much of this - the real goal will be the establishment of the web and ftp
site to organize these efforts under one, dedicated, 'roof'.

One of my favorite new Amiga ideas is the Siamese system.  Check it out at;
http://www.hiq.co.uk


Ideas II - Who am I?

By way of closing let's play a game.  You might remember, or have heard, of
this old game referenced above.  Let's play it... 

I'm a small, stylish, 68000 based computer that comes with an advanced
multitasking operating system that uses a graphical user interface
environment that requires less than 128k RAM to run it and can still load
lots of applications.  With no aggressive company advertising I've still
managed to developed an evangelistic following that has left the Windows
based competition looking bloated and sluggish.  After release I've
gathered a strong presence on the internet as well.  What computer am I?

The Pilot.  A palm, ie: handheld, computer from US Robotics.  A company
mostly known for it's modems.  It weighs about 5.5oz, yes 5.5 ounces!, that
runs on a Motorola 'Dragonball' processor which is based on a 16mhz 68000
series processor.  The whole thing fits in your shirt pocket, has
'handwriting' recognition to let you enter information with its pen, comes
with software for itself and your PC or Mac computer that allows you to
maintain records on both systems that are sychronized at the touch of a
single button on the Pilots cradle.  Recently one of the Pilot faithful
created a Linux application to sync the Pilot under Linux.  Could an Amiga
port of this software be far behind? 

For more info on the Pilot start at; http://www.usr.com/palm or;
http://the-tech.mit.edu/Pilot/ or prehaps; http://pilot.org/ as well. 

(FYI: the 'Windows based competition' referenced above are the Windows CE
palmtops.  They feature a keyboard that's impossibly tiny (it's palm sized
with rubber buttons) and it uses a pen - but only as a mouse.  Their OS is
still bloated, slow, and IMHO it's unnecessary.)


TTFN

That's all for this article.  Email me if you have any suggestions,
directions, or comments on anything above.   Watch for my next article in
the near future!  Ta ta for now!