Lead Infiltrators

User Group News

User groups around the nation have been scrambling to respond to Steve Jobs's challenge made at NeXTWORLD Expo to "infiltrate PC user groups." Two leading groups are KYnug in Kentucky and PhANG in Philadelphia.

Neil Greene, Kevin Solie, and Brian Bias founded KYnug three years ago at the University of Kentucky at Lexington. They've always been on the leading edge of NeXT users, with Greene and Solie even becoming VARs to sell NeXT and NEXTSTEP when there was no other outlet in central Kentucky. So even before Steve's call to arms, the group held a joint meeting for over 100 members of the Central Kentucky Computer Society, a major PC user group.

Their program was well received, especially by developers, with the message concentrating on the themes that will be used nationwide in these venues: Stress object-oriented programming; highlight Windows compatibility; and make it clear that rather than trying to convert users from PCs, NeXT wants them to just add another piece of software to their machines and remain PC users.

For years, such a message would have had no luck in traditional DOS-bound PC groups. But with the switch to Microsoft Windows, users are already used to the concept of changing operating systems and moving to a new base of application software. With Microsoft trying to move people to Windows NT, there is a golden oppor- tunity to get influential, early adopting user-group members to move to NEXTSTEP instead.

At press time, the Kentuckians had planned to give a full-day seminar in September at the University of Louisville South Central Bell Research Facility during a health-care symposium. This will be an opportunity to reach users from the entire spectrum of the health-care community.

"We'll focus on free joint seminars with PC and mainframe corporate developers, because they are the most receptive to NeXT's offerings right now," Greene says.

KYnug is working with Peggy Thompson of the Puget Sound User Group in Seattle to help groups prepare for visits to PC users. The discussion is centering on pairing user groups with NEXTSTEP VARs for presentations to prospective customers.

Mike Matlock and Jon Hendry, with the support of Greg Anderson, their boss at Anderson Financial Systems, have been storming a variety of PC audiences with the NEXTSTEP message. These leaders of PhANG, the Philadelphia Area NEXTSTEP User Group, also led the infiltration groups by doing a demo for over 100 members of the Philadelphia Area Computer Society last year. They did a general NEXTSTEP-for-Intel demo on their own that drew 60 people, including 30 new prospects, in May. And they were scheduled to speak to 150 PC users at a July meeting of the South Jersey PC User Group.

Their message is much the same as KYnug's, stressing NEXT-STEP as both an alternative to, and an extension of, Windows. "We present to developers as much as we can. People using Windows at home don't really see the need for NEXTSTEP yet. But they will. After all, NEXTSTEP runs Windows as well as NT will," said PhANG President Matlock.

The 30-member, two-year-old PhANG widely advertises its seminars and demos, dropping off fliers in computer shops and getting in the calendar listings of local computer-oriented newspapers.

In addition to barnstorming, PhANG provides members with meetings, a newsletter, and technical assistance. The newsletter is in color, thanks to help from a Canon subsidiary, DupliFax, which provides color copying. The group has fifteen people on its list of available experts.

by Dan Lavin