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APCUG Reports
July-September 2007

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Did You Learn One Thing?
by Sam Wexler, APCUG Advisor
President, Valencia Falls Computer Club

At the beginning of every club event, I tell the attendees our goal is for them to learn just one thing while they are at that event. If they learn two, then they are in bonus territory. At the end of the event, I would ask: “Did you learn one thing?” and always received positive answers. Now I get the answers without asking the question. Most attendees leave with a positive feeling. The rationale behind this process is as follows. Some people view a club meeting like a show and expect the jokes or songs to keep flowing. That is usually not the case. There are parts of every meeting that are absolutely boring to some people, but if you direct their attention to their personal “one gem of wisdom gained” they will most likely give the meeting good marks. Try it at your next meeting and let me know what happens. It can’t hurt and it could help with very little energy used.

On the rare occasion when you have a bad meeting, nothing will save you. The problem is you could have a good one hour meeting but the attendees will focus on the 5 bad minutes instead of the 55 great minutes. Using this technique, your attendees will give your meeting high marks. Also in a meeting there always seems to be a vocal minority that you can almost never satisfy. If people leave talking about the one or more things they learned, then that negative vocal minority will have a very difficult time being heard. Try this process at your next meeting and then analyze what happened. Remember it can’t hurt but it could help a lot.


I bought one of my laptops a little less than 3 years ago and had the wisdom to buy a three-year warranty. In less than three years it has been sent back to the manufacturer for repair four times with hardware problems. Three of those four times the hard drive was replaced and the fourth time they never told me what they did. Those who think lightning doesn’t strike twice should know it actually struck my Systemax at least three times and maybe four times. All my research then and now says this laptop is a quality product and it was probably my bad luck to buy the PC equivalent of a Monday car. The reason for this story: anyone out there who doesn’t backup regularly is an accident waiting to happen.


You ask how do I get my members to back up? Once a year at a club meeting I ask the attendees to repeat after me and I say: “I told you so”.

The room vibrates with a heavy loud “I told you so”. I then tell the attendees everyone in the club has been told a zillion times to backup so when their hard drive crashes and they lose all those non-replaceable pictures, financial records, emails, etc they would be a physical wreck. At this point they would hate me if I told them “I told you so” so I tell them to remember when the entire Computer Club said it and now we know they were talking to you. This process works!


Jim Smith, VP for BPMUG in Central Connecticut has a process that works for his UG. During each meeting, he has a Q&A session. To introduce it, he asks the audience if everyone's computer worked perfectly during the last 30 days. No issues? After the chuckles and guffaws die down, he invites anyone with a problem to stand at the microphone and tell of their problem so that others can try to offer a solution. It seems to kick off their Q&A in a light-hearted manner and reminds the audience that they aren't the only one with computer problems.


At the appropriate spot in each meeting (probably near the end), ask the question: “Did you learn one thing from this presentation?”