[texhax] steady decline in tug membership ?

Fehd, Ronald J. (CDC/CCHIS/NCPHI) rjf2 at CDC.GOV
Wed Jan 30 16:29:40 CET 2008

warning: editorial, 3 screens

> From: debian <debian at benburb.demon.co.uk>

> I read somewhere on the tug website that there has been a steady
> decline in membership.  Why is this ?
> Could it be that non-members find they don't really need it ?
> I have joined only recently.
> Just curious.
> Joe

Here are my views on my five years of TUG membership.

** Background: 

I am a programmer with 20 years experience 
in the statistical programming language SAS.
Since 1989 I have attended SAS user group conferences.
I began publishing at these conferences in 1997.
My professional success is related to my attendance
and participation and networking at SAS User Group (SUG) conferences.

Five years ago, when I was beginning work on a book on my SAS niche
I had the choice of (La)TeX or Word.
I had a background in typesetting back in the 1960s: 
using IBM's Magnetic Tape Selectic Composer (MTSC) 
(also MTST==Typewriter) --
so I chose LaTeX.
Learning Curve happens!

YeahBut, unlike with MS products, once I learned it stayed learned.

Once TUG started the PracTeX conferences,
-- as opposed to the Developers conferences --
I thought that networking with dedicated users
would be A Good Thing for me as a novice user.

Yes, they are. I have attended PracTeX since the beginning
and each year have come away with more than one pearl
to take back and study.
For my work that is: FancyVrb and Beamer for presentations

** Is TeX Free Software!

I don't think so!
Anyone who has any sense of the value of their own time
knows that TeX's steep learning curve is not for the faint of heart
nor easily discouraged. In my own case I would not have persevered
without my BS/Computer Science and my 15 years SAS programming
Compared to my very limited experience with MS Word
getting LaTeX to print my programs is easy!

** My TUG Membership

I am both a dues-paying member and a regular financial contributor.
For me, I pay for good advice. 
Compared to what I pay for my participation in SAS User Group
my TUG membership and contribution are juice that is worth the squeeze.

** How Often is Ofter-Enough?

SAS Institute supports an annual international conference in the spring.
There are half a dozen independent annual regional conferences in the
U.S. during the fall
In addition there are state and city user groups.
Regular meeting schedule is quarterly.

** What is missing?

Local or regional meetings or conferences.
I think we need to raise the bar for long-time TeX users.
It is time to expect Old-Timer to pass on their knowledge.

See Steven Covey's book: 
The Eighth Habit: From Effectiveness to Greatness


** What is 'Better' for TeX?

* improvement in TeX strength?

* making TeX strength 'easier' for new users

** Modest Proposal

I am aware of Scientific Word and PC-TeX but have not used either one.
Due to work pressure I am a Windows user.
I use UltraEdit as my text editor, which I purchased before I began to
work w/LaTeX.
XeMacs is on my to-do list and maybe once I start aspiring to be a Unix
I may get there.

Q: Should the TeX community, or TUG,
engulf and devour a Really Good TeX(t) Editor
in order to make TeX strength 'easier' for new users?

Ron Fehd  the {SAS} macro maven  CDC Atlanta GA USA RJF2 at cdc dot gov

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