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Allright. I’m back in full swing, with all the appropriate keyboard mappings in place. Last week’s blunder was actually a brilliant segue into what has become known as the Collins Incident in several college communications classes.

When Waco’s K X X V’s regular TV sportscaster became ill, college freshman Brian Collins agreed to step in. All you have to do is read the lines, right? Not too tough… Unless you happen to have been working with an inexperienced teleprompter operator who accidentally fast-forwarded through each of the scripts, leaving Collins with only a few occasional words to use. The video can be found on YouTube, and is fairly painful to watch. When you *do* get to that magical meme, Boom Goes the Dynamite, you will have suffered sufficiently to knowingly command the phrase yourself. Don’t cheat. Feel the pain. It’s the kind of awkward pain that probably made The Office such a hit…

Now that the president has delivered a teleprompter-error-free State of the Union Address and Jobs, who also achieved elocutionary excellence, has dropped the iPad on the nation, it’s time for our own local State of the Mac address to be given by Bob “Dr. Mac” Levitus at the general meeting of the Houston Area Apple Users Group next Saturday, February 20th. That gives you a full week & a half to make peace with whatever feelings you may have about the Apple iPad before Dr. Mac puts his finger in the wound once again.

I’m not letting my own personal feelings show, am I?

A number of Special Interest Group meetings take place between nine and two, with the main presentation kicking off at eleven. 7008 South Rice Avenue at the Bellaire Civic Center is where you want to be to hear what Dr. Mac has to say about everything Apple. Hit www.haaug.org for details and directions to February’s general meeting and to catch up on the group’s activities.

And if you find yourself on the PC side of the fence… Amend that. If you find yourself on the *North Side* of the PC fence, then you may want to check out the 1960 PC Users Group. That’s Farm to Market 1960, not a group of people still stuck on the Intel 4004 processor. They’re a support group of volunteers from the Spring, Tomball and Northwest Houston areas of Texas with an interest in personal computers and their usage.

And as luck would have it, their Investors Special Interest Group is meeting tomorrow night, Thursday February 11th, from seven to nine PM. This month’s special topics include Preferred Dividend Stocks and Exchange Traded Funds. There will be an open discussion during the meeting, at which point you could pose questions about modifying your investment strategy to siphon off a few dollars every month for KPFT.

I’m guessing that they would probably tell you that you’d be hard pressed to find a return similar to the one you would realize by investing in KPFT at any one of our various membership levels. Now, I haven’t looked at a prospectus in ages, but I’m pretty sure none of the Fortune 500s are offering coffee cups and t-shirts along with welcome letters. You’ll also get better voting rights with KPFT. One share out of 906 million won’t sway any elections at Apple, but a single membership in KPFT has the same voting weight as our very own Jay Lee’s membership.

Once you’ve devised your new investment strategy, you may wish to display it graphically. A personal investment pie chart, with a big slice for KPFT may be the way to go, but you’ll want to spruce it up a bit with some text overlays. If that’s the case, then next Thursday’s Graphics SIG may be for you. In addition to following up on some questions as to ‘how best to overlay text onto a photo’, the group will be discussing some non-photographic uses of graphics editors, as well as taking a quick look at the photo organizing program, Picassa.

Both of these meetings take place at the Cypress Creek Christian Community Center, located at 6823 Cypresswood Drive in Spring, Texas. The group’s website is www.1960pcug.org, where you can find a full calendar of the group’s monthly SIG meetings.

And finally, if you’re not on either side of the PC vs Mac fence, but are instead frustrated by the lack of a third option, then the Houston Linux Users Group, aka the HAL-PC Linux SIG, is where you will find like-minded individuals and a quality presentation over something Linuxy. The group meets this Saturday from two to four in the afternoon at the HAL-PC Headquarters, located ever so close to MicroCenter at 610 and San Felipe. Hit www.hal-pc.org then surf to their SIG Calendar for further details and directions.

That’s it for forcasting your financial future and that’s that for BarretTime.

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