www.RMIUG.org
April 9th, 2002
Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact Information: Dan Murray Ph: 303-447-3475 dan@rmiug.org

April Fool's Prank Sends Humorous Jolt Through Colorado Technology Community

Phony Meeting Announcement Hoodwinks Some Members of Local Internet Group

BOULDER, CO, April 2, 2002 - The Rocky Mountain Internet Users Group (RMIUG) admitted today that it pulled an April Fool's gag on its 3200 members yesterday by emailing a fake meeting announcement which said famed inventor Dean Kamen was coming to Boulder with a fleet of his prized new inventions -- the Segway Human Transporters -- for members to try out.

The announcement, emailed at about 8:00 AM on Monday, April 1st to three of the group's email lists, proclaimed, "Try out the new Segway Human Transporter (HT)." It stated that Dean Kamen, Chairman and CEO of Segway LLC, would be speaking to the group about the process he used to invent and develop the Segway HT and would introduce a new Internet-enabled model, called the Segway-RMIUG.

There were several clues in the email that something might be amiss. First, the location given for the April 9th meeting was the nonexistent "Boulder Innovation & Technology Center" at the intersection of Broadway and Foothills, two streets that don't exactly intersect. Also, the announcement stated that a Segway HT would be given away as a free door prize (note: the first Segway HT was recently sold at auction for more than $160,000).

Finally, the notice declared that although the meeting is free, "we may pass the hat to help reimburse investors Credit Suisse First Boston Equity Partners, L.P. and Kleiner Perkins Caulfield & Byers for the costly Segway development."

"The tech community is a bit gloomy right now and we wanted to play a joke to lift people's spirits," said Dan Murray, founder of RMIUG. "Many of us are looking for work, some local companies are still downsizing tech positions and we're seeing some people lose heart during the downturn. We thought an April Fool's hoax like this might give people a chuckle and perhaps brighten their day a bit."

The response from RMIUG members was immediate and widely varied. "Some people immediately recognized it as a joke and wrote us to say thanks and let us know it made them laugh," said Murray. Others were puzzled and sent in questions about the confusing location - a nonexistent intersection in Boulder. "I'm sure there was a measurable spike on search engines that day for the 'Boulder Innovation & Technology Center.' Some people even thought it was for real and wrote back to RSVP for the event."

As the day progressed, more people seemed to get the joke. "One software engineer wrote us asking where exactly that intersection is," continued Murray. She then sent back another email 15 minutes later that said simply "Cruel! Cruel!" after she got the joke.

RMIUG is no stranger to suspicious email postings at the start of April, either. "The Internet is known for some famous April Fool's pranks, and that gave us our initial inspiration to try one ourselves," said Alek Komarnitsky, who co-founded and helps run the group. "Back in 1996, we posted a meeting announcement on April 1st that said Bill Gates and Al Gore would be speaking at our next meeting. We were flooded with replies from members, some laughing at the joke, other taking it seriously."

That infamous email was forwarded far and wide until Bill Gates' office started getting calls from Denver-area reporters who wanted to interview him during his Colorado visit. "Finally, the head of Microsoft's Colorado office called us to say he enjoyed the joke but we needed to post a retraction to the list because it was spinning out of control," said Komarnitsky.

What does the future hold for pranks from the group? "Check back with us in a few years in early April and see," says Murray, with a wink in his eye.

Web links to RMIUG's April Fool's meeting announcements: "Try out the new Segway Human Transporter (HT)" http://www.rmiug.org/meetings/02_04_09.html

"Al Gore and Bill Gates Speak at RMIUG" http://www.rmiug.org/meetings/96_04_01.html

About The Rocky Mountain Internet Users Group (RMIUG)

RMIUG, which currently serves over 3200 members, was founded in February 1994 as a vehicle to help members learn more about the Internet through face-to-face meetings and email forums. The group is run by five volunteers and meets every other month in Boulder, Colorado (second Tuesdays, odd numbered months, 7:00 PM at the National Center for Atmospheric Research ). Microstaff, a Colorado-based ebusiness staffing firm, sponsors the group. RMIUG has four email lists for members, a job posting list, an announcement list and general discussion list and a job discussion list. Membership and meetings are free and the group's web site is located at: http://www.rmiug.org/

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