Business Marketing Association

Personal Computer User Groups

Trade Groups

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Networking & Trade Groups

These articles were published in U.S. 1 Newspaper on January 6, 1999. All rights reserved.

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Business Marketing Association

The real value of a trade association, most agree,

is that being a member gives you the right to call up another member

and "pick their brain," so to speak. The president of Business

Marketing Association (BMA), Tom Lento, says that the other

members "can really help you out when you are facing a problem."

A graduate of Boston College (Class of 1965) with a PhD in English

from the University of Iowa, Lento is manager of market communications

at Sarnoff Corporation.

"Even when I was talking to competitors, says Lento, "if I

ever had a question, I never got anything but help, never an `it’s


"BMA is a great place to learn practical skills, anything from

how to write a better direct mail letter to designing a web site,"

says Jack E. Appleman, director of communications for the Tribus

Companies, an insurance brokerage firm, based in Wayne and with an

office in Jamesburg (E-mail: He earned his CBC (Certified

Business Communicator) designation through the organization’s national

testing process.

"I have used vendors or consultants whom I have met through BMA.

When you get involved in a group, the value of networking comes when

somebody develops a level of trust. At BMA that happens very fast

because of the type of people who are active members, always willing

to help and offer suggestions."

"It’s been an extraordinary experience, says Terrence Pranses.

"Each meeting has a speaker with a point of view and a wealth

of experience. Each meeting brings up new ideas. An alumnus of Wharton,

Class of 1972, Pranses has an MBA from Ohio State and did corporate

work (for such firms as RCA) and agency work (for Young & Rubicam)

and in 1993 founded his Hoboken-based firm, Pranses Research Services.

He does such custom market research as focus groups, in-depth interviewing,

and telephone survey work.

"BMA has also become a support group in a business-positive sense,"

says Pranses. "Beyond the networking, there is a real camaraderie,

and people who are active and take on board functions are a phenomenal

resource for referrals, for help on projects, and for finding capable

people on a project-need basis.

He says his biggest single contact last year came from a BMA member.

"I can only say incredible things about BMA’s impact on my bottom

line. The quantity of leads is not that huge, but the quality is enormous.

The caliber of the interaction is a marvelous prescreening process.

The next BMA meeting is on Tuesday, January 12, at 5:30 p.m. at the

Somerset Doubletree. For information call 800-664-4BMA or 732-940-0545;

fax, 732-369-3809. Home page: Meetings

are on second Tuesdays and cost $25. Dues are $215 to $225 per year.

Pranses echoes what most people believe is one of the chief values

of a trade association: "Many of us have learned different things

form the school of hard knocks. We trade a lot of war stories and

realize we are not the only ones out there." Needless to say,

trade associations are also a great place to network for a new and

better job.

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Personal Computer User Groups

by Sol Libes

I joined my first Computer User Group in 1969, 30 years

ago. I had decided to build a small digital computer at home. It was

an unheard of idea. I was an engineer and intrigued by the inner workings

of a digital computer.

Computers were thought of as giant electronic brains located in specially

constructed air conditioned rooms sealed off from access by all but

a few all-knowing engineers. How quickly times have changed. Almost

everyone I know today has a personal computer at home and can’t imagine

getting their everyday work done without it.

When I joined the Amateur Computer Society it was already four years

old and had almost 200 members. Several had working computers at home.

The computers were primitive. We were hobbyists intrigued by their

inner workings rather than using them as tools to accomplish tasks.

That too has changed.

I joined the group, the only such group in the world, because I needed

help in my intended construction project. Where could I find parts,

plans, books, and so on?

Today, I can buy a personal computer in any one of more than a dozen

stores in the area. Computers have gotten incredibly easier to use

to do productive work. However, personal computers are still rapidly

evolving. Many of my friends have bought their second and third systems,

each with new and more powerful features. But we all agree that personal

computers are still not that easy to use. They are still complex mysteries

with frequent problems.

Personal computer hardware and software vendors are trying to help

with the situation. However, they are limited in what they can do.

To deal with the situation many personal computer users have taken

the initiative and created "User Groups," or "UGs."

(Computer users love acronyms.) The UGs are comprised of people using

the same computers — PCs, Macintoshs, Linux systems, etc.

These UGs are, in essence, mutual help organizations, where people

gather to get help and help others, with their personal computer problems

and how to use them more effectively. The UGs are non-profit organizations

with no manufacturer affiliations. Hence, their members voice strong

and independent views that frequently run contrary to the manufacturer’s


There are a large number of personal computer UGs in our area, and

they vary in size from a few dozen to several hundred members. All

provide a way for members to gather and exchange information and help

one another. They also provide other services to their members; some

provide more services than others.

Meetings: Typically there is a monthly meeting, which

is generally open to anyone, and attendance is free. The meeting will

usually begin with announcements of events, special purchase deals,

etc., and this will usually be followed by a "random access session"

where people ask questions and get answers. Lastly there will be a

speaker for the evening. The speaker may be a vendor presenting some

new application software or a club member discussing how to do something

(e.g. create a web page). Often, there are door prizes and drawings

for products donated by vendors and members. Typically, one must be

a member to participate in drawings.

Newsletters: Most UGs have monthly newsletters with articles

such as reviews of new products, how-to articles, current issues,

etc. Many of these newsletters can also be viewed on UG internet web


Web Sites: Most UGs have pages on the World Wide Web.

These pages publicize the group’s activities and usually provide information

that anyone can access. Many will also have their newsletters on their

web sites for people to read.

Special Interest Groups: Many UGs also have sub-groups

catering to special interests. These are "Special Interest Groups",

referred to as "SIGs." For example, many UGs have SIGs for

people using personal computers for genealogy, investing, internet,

etc. The SIGs may meet on different days than the regular monthly

meeting, or on the same day as the regular monthly meeting (typically

at an earlier time).

Software Libraries: Some UGs have software libraries from

which members can copy non-copyrighted software. Although this used

to be a popular service of UGs, its importance has decreased with

the emergence of software that can be downloaded from the World Wide


Help Lines: Some UGs have members that can be called for

help with specific applications such as a spreadsheet, database, or

word processor. These people are usually listed in the UG’s newsletter.

Store and Group Purchase Discounts: Some UGs have arrangements

with computer stores that will grant discounts to UG members when

they show their UG membership cards. Frequently vendors will offer

substantial discounts on products when purchased as part of a UG group


Below is a list of personal computer user groups in Mercer County

and the surrounding areas.

ACM/IEEE Computer Society — Princeton Chapter. John

DeGood and Dennis Mancl, co-chairs. Box 1324, Princeton 08542, 609-924-8704.

Meetings are free and open to the public. Refreshments are served.

Dues are $10. E-mail: Web page:

Newsletter: monthly. Meetings: Third Thursdays at Sarnoff Corporation,

October to May.

IEEE Computer Society – New Jersey Coast Section. Web


Princeton Macintosh Users Group — PMUG. Seth Eberhardt,

president. Stanhope Hall, Princeton University, Princeton 08544, 609-258-5730;

fax, 609-258-1301; hotline, 609-252-1163. Dues: $30. Systems: Apple

Macintosh and compatibles. E-mail: Web page:

Monthly newsletter. Meetings: second Tuesdays at 7:15 p.m. in Jadwin

Hall, A-10, Princeton University. A "how and why" SIG (all

general Q&A) begins at 6 p.m.

Princeton PC Users Group — PPCUG. Paul Kurivchak,

president & newsletter editor, Box 291, Rocky Hill, 08553, 908-218-0778;

fax, 908-231-8996. Systems: IBM-PCs and compatibles. Dues: $25. E-mail: Web Page:

Monthly newsletter. Meetings: Second Mondays at 7 p.m. at Mercer County

Library, main branch, East Darrah Lane and Route 1.

Princeton Apple-II Users Group, 100 6th Avenue, Trenton,

609-587-8334. Dave Ciotti. Systems: Apple II. E-mail:

Meetings: second Fridays at 7:30 p.m.

55+ Computer Group. Systems: PC, Macintosh and compatibles

Web Page:

Meeting: typically second Thursdays at 10 a.m., in the Princeton Jewish

Center, 435 Nassau Street, September to June. The group caters to

seniors 55 years of age and older.

Ewing Senior Citizen Computer Club. Systems: PC and compatibles.

Contact: Art Kleineman Meetings: Monthly, during

the day at Ewing Senior Center, 320 Hollowbrook Drive, Ewing.

Central Jersey Computer Club — CJCC. Systems: IBM

PC and compatibles. E-mail: Web page:

Meetings: Held fourth Fridays at 7:30 p.m. in Room 156 of Armstrong

Hall, College of New Jersey, Ewing.

Trenton Computer Festival — TCF. Systems: PC, Macintosh,

Linux, Atari, CP/M and compatibles. Web page:

Annual event (May 1-2) is the oldest and largest show for personal

computer users; it features talks, forums, and user group meetings,

plus more than 400 indoor exhibitor spaces and more than 1,000 outdoor

flea market spaces. The computer festival has been moved from Mercer

Community College to the New Jersey Convention Center in Edison.

Amateur Computer Group of New Jersey — ACGNJ. Systems:

PC, Macintosh, and Linux. Web page:

Monthly newsletter. Meetings: several each month at various locations

in New Jersey. Has a large number of SIGs. Bulletin Board System and

members provide support for certain applications.

Brookdale Computer User Group — BCUG. Systems: PC,

Macintosh and compatibles. Web page: Monthly

newsletter. Meetings: third Fridays at 7 p.m. at Brookdale Community

College (Forum 103), Lincroft, 732-229-2959. Has a large number of

SIGs that meet on dates other than the main meeting, plus a software

library, BBS Discussion Board, auctions of software and books received

by the club for review, listings of "For Sale" and "Wanted"

items, and members who provide application support.

Philadelphia Area Computer Society. Systems: PC, Macintosh

and compatibles. Contact phone: 215-842-9604. Web page:

Monthly newsletter. Meetings: third Saturdays, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

at Upper Moreland Middle School, 4000 Orangeman’s Road, Hatboro, Pennsylvania.

SIGs: How-To SIG (PC), Internet, IBM, MAC, and Microsoft Windows,

The group also has a bulletin board system and literature library.

Lower Bucks Computer Users Group. Systems: PC and compatibles.

Web page:

Monthly newsletter. Meetings: first Sundays at 2 p.m. at Bristol Township

Senior Center, 2501 Bath Road, Bristol. SIGs: Genealogy, Internet,

and Office Software.

The organization known as the Amateur Computer Society closed

down in 1975, and simultaneously Sol Libes founded the Amateur Computer

Group of New Jersey and served as president for

six years. The ACGNJ is the oldest personal computer UG in the world.

The following year, he co-founded the Trenton Computer Festival (TCF)

TCF is the oldest, and largest show for Personal Computer users in

the world. Libes is retired from teaching electrical engineering and

computer programming at College of New Jersey; he has had 16 books

published and numerous articles. He can be reached at E-mail:

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Trade Groups

Go to the Business Directory and search on trade groups to get complete listings of all the trade groups.

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