The Very First Indian Palm User Group Meeting.
 

City: Bombay.
Venue: The Royal Bombay Yacht Club.
Date: 22nd January, 2001.
Time: 1900 to 2230hrs.

Attendance: 50+

The meeting was summed up best by these words from Aquin George :

"...as if they were kids who suddenly learnt that their toy aeroplane could actually fly."

Note: For those of you who do not have the time to go through this long review online, we have made it available to you as a .prc file for your Palm. Please download it by clicking on the following link :

http://www.notcomguys.com/palm/firstmeet.prc

Please install the firstmeet.prc file to your Palm as you would normally, i.e. double click the firstmeet.prc file, then HotSync your Palm. You can then view it in any text reader installed on your Palm. It will list as IPUG_Meeting_Review.

Introduction:
 
The first IPUG meeting saw an attendance of 50 odd members. The primary objective was to have members interact with other users and learn a little more about their Palms, other handheld devices and their uses in everyday life.
 
This was the very first IPUG meeting, so everyone was anxious. No one was sure what to expect. Neither were we. But it turned out great.
 
At a little before 7 p.m. the first few members started coming in. Each wondering what would be in store for them. Wondering whether they had worn the right kinda clothes and stuff like that. Some were formal, some were casual, and some couldn’t care less. 

A little after 7 p.m., and we had what could qualify as a crowd. Idle talk ensued for about 15 minutes, while we waited for the latecomers to join us. Maybe the Churchgate fast wasn’t fast enough.

During this time we walked around, introducing ourselves to others, making light conversation about anything under the sun. There was delight in everyone’s eyes to be part of this unique event.

After a reasonable amount of time had passed, to allow for late office hours, slow trains, misguided directions and habitual impunctuality, we decided to begin with the meeting.
 
I introduced myself and the other founders of the IPUG. Spoke about the reasons the IPUG was formed, and the directions it plans to take. Briefed the gathering about the activities that the IPUG has been involved in, and the visions of the IPUG for the coming months.
 
Kersi Aga (Co-Founder, Chairman - IPUG) then spoke about his trip to Palm Source 2000, in California, where The Indian Palm User Group was invited on a sponsorship by Palm Inc., and along with The International Palm User Group represented Palm User Groups around the world.

Kersi spoke about various new products expected in the market soon. Brochures and pamphlets collected at Palm Source 2000 were passed around, so that members could have a look at what was going on in the world of handheld technology.
 
The meeting was then thrown open for discussions and queries that the members put forward. Technical difficulties, general user questions and specific troubleshooting of members’ handhelds were tackled. The User Group meeting is probably the best place to get your Palm issues resolved. Problems that took some members hours to figure out were solved within minutes by other members with varying degrees of knowledge about Palm computers. 

Reviews:
 
We then began with the reviews.
 
Hardware:
 
First up was the awesome foldable Palm V/Vx Keyboard.
This keyboard fits in your pocket. Opens up into a full size keyboard, and folds back thrice over when you want to tuck it in.
 
Next up were modems.
 
The Palm V/Vx modem was shown to all members. A brief description, followed by a few examples on how a modem would enhance the Palm experience were discussed.
 
Then came the Handspring Visor modem. A compact, snap-on modem, that fits snugly into the Handspring’s ingenious springboard expansion slot. The concept of the Handspring Springboard module was explained.

We then displayed a unique Pen-Stylus that could be used as a ballpoint pen as well as a stylus. Simple, convenient and very useful. On various occasions I have been asked, "Excuse me, do you have a pen on you?", and I respond with, "Nopesy, I use Memo Pad :)" Well, now I have a solution.


Software:
 
Chalomumbai.com on the Palm. A sneak preview.
 
We offered our members a sneak preview of the Mid-Day online site, Chalomumbai.com, which will shortly be available on the Palm.
 
It contained sections such as Breaking News, Movies, Restaurants, Emergency services, etc. Your essential and real-time updated guide to Bombay, with the latest news and happenings around the city. Finished a meeting, want to find something to eat? Wondering which movie is playing down the road? Haven’t had the time to read the papers? It’s all on your Palm.

Chalomumbai.com was also our sponsor for the evening. We thank them for that.
 
Autopond - a game : 

We then reviewed a software called Autopond. A game. No ordinary game. Here’s why.

Palm Inc. had put out a developer challenge, over the last year, worldwide, to all those who develop for the Palm OS. The challenge would culminate in a winner being announced at Palm Source 2000 in December.
 
The Winner, over thousands of entries, was Autopond. A game. The prize money to the developer of Autopond was US$10,000. No ordinary game.
 
The concept of the game is to collect your 5 goal cards. You start with 7 cards, none of which are of use to you. Your objective is to go up to other members and barter, beg, steal cards from their Palms till you get your set of 5.
 
Of course, it wasn’t that simple. There were hundreds of cards in the game and you needed 5. The chances that you got all 5 were slim.

The game created a ruckus :) . Everyone was moving from table to table, group to group, to find his or her goal cards. There was a prize for the member with the maximum points at the end of the meeting.
 
The beauty of the game is that it can be played across meetings. So expect it to be played at our next meeting too. For those who came in late, you can catch up at the next meeting. You can join the game at any point and you won’t be at too much of a disadvantage. As long as you can use your charm, money, or tears, or whatever else it takes, to get other members to part with the cards that you need. 
 
Give-aways:
 
After the reviews came the freebies. Isn’t this the reason why most of us turned up :) . Yeah, Yeah, someday we’ll offer a Palm Vx or a Visor Prism as a freebie. Stay tuned.

Pen-Stylus: We gave away, after a lucky draw, a number of Pen-Styli.
 
200hr Internet Accounts: Chalomumbai.com offered the winners of our games five 200-hour Internet accounts.
 
 
The Fun Element:
 
Now that we’re done with the structure of the meeting and what was said and what reviewed, let’s take a look at what really happened. 

We had fun :) . And how!
 
A lot of members were initially apprehensive of what the mood of the meeting would be. By the end of the meeting, they were chillin’ out :)

There was a general expectation that the meeting would be a "sit-around-the-table-and-listen-to-one-boring-person-speak" kinda thing. It turned out quite the contrary. To the point where we should have called it a party instead of a meeting :) .
 
An excellent example was when one member came up to me and said, "I was wondering whether to bring my kids along, ‘coz they’re interested in technology, but I wasn’t sure how the meeting would turn out, so I left them behind. Now I wish I had brought them along."

Please bring your kids if they’re interested. The heck, bring your teddy bear if it likes handheld computers :) .

There were drinks (non-alcoholic) and food on the house (Courtesy Chalomumbai.com). Laughter and excitement. Questions and answers.
 
There was free-flow. Of ideas, suggestions, criticisms, compliments.
 
 
The Beam War:
 
Then there was the Beam War. I call it the War, because it took an almost war-like footing.
 
Members were all over the place trying to beam and receive the coolest programs that other members had. At the end, one new-user, who bought his Palm less than a month before the meeting, went back with "Memory Full".

The scene was akin to animals piling up food stock for the winter :)
 
Conclusion:
 
When we scheduled the meeting for 7 p.m., we were still unsure what time it would end. It ended at 10.30 p.m. We knew everyone enjoyed it. One developer actually flew all the way from Bangalore to attend. And his parting words were, "It was *so* worth it". Incidentally, the cost of his flight and stay was the cost of a Palm IIIe :) . 

The meeting received an excellent review in the Mid-Day. A quote from the article goes"...as if they were kids who suddenly learnt that their toy aeroplane could actually fly." A copy of that review is available online here.

Thank you all for being there, and making it the blast that it was.
 
We look forward to seeing you at the next meeting.

Until next time,

Ashish Gupta.
The NotComGuys.

Founder, President.
The Indian Palm User Group.

Email: palm@notcomguys.com
Site Url: http://www.notcomguys.com/palm
Mirror Url: http://www.interpug.com/ipug