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A retirement, or a death?

When a corporation like Interex — multi-million-dollars strong and carrying a 30-year history through an industry with an attention span of six months — when that kind of resource goes belly-up seemingly overnight, it's easy to call it a death. Many HP 3000 community members point to the user group's performance for the 3000 as a symptom of its mortal wounds.

But even as Encompass readies to reach out to the stranded Interex members, another member of the 3000 community suggests Interex hasn't died off, but simply retired. Doug Mecham, the founder of the group, shared his observations with us for the August printed edition of the NewsWire this week. But he just added this postscript, which we share here until his Q&A interview appears next month.

Rather than any negative or derogatory term used to describe the situation, perhaps we should just refer to the “change” as “RETIREMENT” of Interex as we would an old friend. This situation does open up possibilities – opportunities for new lives in different directions, each person taking the spirit and success knowledge elsewhere in the World.  Interex will not long be forgotten, for it represented an organization of professionals that made a mark in the computer world, second to none. I doubt if very many can say they did not grow personally (I know I did) and gain good value for their involvement with Interex; it was a “family” of many passionate people working on a common theme of collaboration and growth for all.

Doug Mecham
Proud Founder of Interex

Encompass president Kristi Browder wanted her members to know that the departure of Interex was no barometer, in her opinion, of the user group concept. A letter from Browder said in part:

...We express our deep regret to the members and community of Interex during this difficult time. As a former partner and colleague of Encompass in serving HP technology users, Interex has shared similar goals, passions and dedication to the HP user base. There are many things being written and I’m sure there will be even more articles published this week. I want you as an Encompass community member to know that this is no indication of the downturn in the value of Encompass or user groups in general.

Our quick check of the Bay Area US District Court showed no bankruptcy papers had been filed by Wednesday afternoon for any company called Interex. We didn't search online, but used technology from the era of 1984 — the year the user group started to call itself Interex — to call up the courthouse. I didn't think to ask the clerk to check for "The International Association of Hewlett-Packard Computer Professionals." But it seems plain that if the user group will file bankruptcy — it pulled all of its Web pages off the Web yesterday, save one  — that filing would have to be a Chapter 7. That's the permanent retirement, in financial terms, despite a lively discussion of a "Virtual Interex" over the last two days on the 3000-L mailing list.

All that talk of retirement aside, the HP world, including the 3000 neighborhood, now has conference papers that may never be delivered, because the conference they were written for has been cancelled. The HP World paper submission deadline rolled over just this month. Wirt Atmar and others are suggesting that a virtual conference, powered by a technology like Atmar's QCShow, could let those presentations emerge.

What's unlikely to be duplicated is the networking which made the conference travel worthwhile. I'm going to miss the face-to-face contact I was assured each year by going to HP World and Interex before it. The situation seems to call for an annual reunion of some kind among the longest standing branch of Interex, its founders and veterans like Mecham. Put the NewsWire down for some help in making that annual retirement party a reality.