25 December 2006


A few days ago I had dinner with some old friends from my Amiga users group days. It was good to talk about the good old days.

For over seven years, I was involved with the Amiga Users Group of New York, a.k.a. Amuse. Yes, it's a very contrived abbreviation or acronym, if it can be called as such. It was some time in the late 1980s when I first attended an Amuse meeting, held at the School of Visual Arts on 23rd Street in Manhattan, the Amiga computing platform was at its height. The Video Toaster was opening new frontiers in the desktop video, Psygnosis and Electronic Arts, with other big game companies, released titles after titles for the Amiga platform, and AmiExpo events were packed with attendees. At first I was just your average attendee, going to the meeting just to see and hear what's new, in hope of getting some freebies or good deals. One of the freebies was the Amuse newsletter. In the beginning, the newsletter was coming out regularly, then slowly it didn't come out at all. I started heckling then-President Scott M about the missing newsletter. Maybe the action made me more memorable to Scott, for he invited me to a board meeting and I came out of it the group's Program Coordinator. My role was to bring in speakers for the meetings. I cannot remember those that I successfully brought in, but I still remember those that I made so many calls to yet got no results in the end. All that working the phone was done without a cell phone or PDA. Amazing what we can do when we have an undemanding job and NOT married with children. At some point, Mr. Program Coordinator became the Membership Administrator and also served a Internet Special Interest Group (SIG) Leader, as well as Newsletter Contributor. The nice thing with being in charge of the membership list was that I got to know most people by their first names. I think it gave them a good feeling to go to the meetings and be greeted on a first name basis. For the SIG, I regularly held meetings at Internet cafes to introduce to the handful of people that show up the basics of the web. The newsletter, for which I was originally got involved with Amuse, in the end became half-owned by me and another volunteer, Ed L. A desktop publishing expert, Ed produced the beautiful newsletter and even wrote many articles himself. I rounded out the newsletters with news and announcements that I received at the group's mailbox. In the Amiga's heyday, we regularly received sample software or trial stuff, even fully-functional software every now and then.

By and by, the Amiga computer's parent company, Commodore, fumbled in the market and the Amiga technology went through a few ownership. I still stuck by the users group at its many temporary homes - School of Visual Arts, various Internet cafes, Giorgio Gomelsky's Studio, or any businesses that would host us. The final home, even to this day, is New York University. The thing that finally separated me from Amuse was marriage. I moved to Brooklyn after getting married and lived with the in-laws, coming home late three times a month just didn't jive. By then each meeting had only a few faithful and there's nothing to show anyway. I am amazed that my old Amuse friends continue to meet until this day. Supposedly there's an Amiga One computer coming out any day now. Then there's even a Pegasus computer, which is a clone of the Amiga OS. With the computer world largely dominated by Windoze, Mac, and Linux, this piece of news is like hearing about new dialect of some remote island civilization's language.

If you happen to still use an Amiga computer, you can try joining the Amuse Yahoo!Group through the button below. Like all things hosted through Yahoo!, you'll need to have a Yahoo! account to login.

Click to join amuse-ny

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