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Clearwater Beacon
Computer society celebrates 30 years
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CLEARWATER – The Tampa Bay Computer Society invites the public to celebrate its 30th anniversary Saturday, May 31, 2 to 5 p.m., at 1510 Barry Road.

Cookies and treats will be offered to guests as they learn what the computer society has to offer.

“Pay it forward” has been the motto of The Tampa Bay Computer Society since its inception more than 30 years ago.

“It was founded by a group interested in the new and exciting world of technology as an effort to meet the needs of others trying to figure out what in the world it was all about,” said society member Donna Ryder, in an email.

The Tampa Bay Computer Society membership was officially sanctioned in April 1984. It now offers as many as 50 free classes a month to members. Special Internet Groups cover many topics and ability levels, including Microsoft Windows and Office programs, Excel, PowerPoint, Word and Access. There are classes covering Free Open Option Software and ongoing specialties including Word Press, Visual Basics, Digital Audio as well as information about Facebook and the Social Networks.

People who are interested in their family history or are camera buffs may want to take advantage of the opportunities offered in the genealogy and photo shop classes. To keep up with the recent advances in technology, the computer society provides the opportunity to become more proficient with iPad, E-reader or the Web Entrepreneurship programs. There are classes on how to sell on E-Bay, as well as online investing.

A couple of the society’s most popular groups are the people-friendly Novice and Intermediate classes. These programs vary and answer questions presented by the group members who range from beginner to experienced. Many have attended these same classes for years since the programs are always fascinating and constantly updated and changing. Interested individuals are welcome to attend several classes to familiarize themselves with the options available before making a decision to join TBCS.

“With the amazing equipment in our Audio/visual lab, our experts can convert well-loved tapes, slides or pictures taken long ago to a new convenient CD or DVD. How wonderful for parents to be able to share ‘Back in the day’ photos with their children as they refresh special memories of their own youth,” Ryder said.

Periodically free classes are offered to the general public after a break in employment. Email, Word and Excel are the three basic computer skills needed to return to the workforce.

“These classes are occasionally available as a public service at no cost to the general public but even our members find them a helpful refresher,” Ryder said. “It seems we all tend to keep doing the same old thing, not bothering to keep up with the latest improvements available, so it becomes an update for members also.”

The administrative staff is comprised entirely of volunteers. Classes are taught by college professors, Microsoft certified professionals, self taught ‘Techies,’ special Software company representatives and even students in high school who have excelled in cutting edge technology.

“We are grateful for our talented experts who respect our program and are enthusiastic about being a part of it,” Ryder said.

Members receive a free computer check-up once a year with additional tune-ups available for $20 if a virus is accidentally downloaded.

“There are no tricks; no unnecessary maneuvers and we never try to sell you equipment because we have no products to sell. If a new component is needed for repair the reason will be carefully explained, then if you decide to make the purchase we will install the product when you return with it,” Ryder said.

Monthly meetings include experts in a variety of interesting fields and have included representatives from major companies like Adobe and Microsoft as well as individuals who are comfortable explaining and working with the latest software. Meetings also are social events with many ideas, problems and suggestions discussed after the actual presentation.

President Dave Dockery leads a Socrates Café type group called ‘Doc’s Café’ once a month at the society’s location on Berry Road. Members from different backgrounds gather to share knowledge, thoughtful ideas and coffee as they discuss various things presented; TED talks, short movies, current events or timely topics that vary from month to month.

“Similar groups are meeting all around the world, to promote understanding as people begin to realize that asking questions and communicating are the best ways to learn from one another,” Ryder said.

For additional information about the Tampa Bay Computer Society, visit www.tampa-bay.org or call 443-4433.
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