Mimi Lafrenz Jett
Interactive Composition Corporation
1466 NW Front Avenue, Suite 200
Portland, OR 97209-2820
The growth in our membership between 1997 and 1998 confirms a positive trend for TUG. After several years of decline, our numbers have been increasing steadily for two or three years now. There are many contributing factorsan energetic, proactive board; outstanding volunteerism in the membership; ongoing R&D; and of course, the strong TeX community. At this time, we count 1856 members representing 48 countries. Such strong membership has allowed us to return the support to our members in many ways. For example, we publish quarterly; distributed TeX Live 2 in 1997 and TeX Live 3 in 1998; and 4allTeX and the CDs in 1998; hold outstanding meetings such as TUG'97 in San Francisco, TeX/NE in New York and TUG'98 in Torun (Poland); provide the Technical Council; bursary funds; and training/workshops. Benefits of membership are numerous, but the biggest benefit of all is the community. The ability to share, learn, and teach each other outweighs all the software distribution we might consider.
Growth has not been without trouble. Issues of office staff and organization have hampered our ability to provide great service to our members. Just recently, we have hired an outstanding office manager who is already making a difference. Dick Detwiler has a strong background in not-for-profit organizations, publishing, and fundraising. Dick understands the importance of responsiveness from the office, and has received raving compliments from people trying to work with us (or join us!) in the past months. One advantage to having Dick on staff is the instant gratification of having a live person answer the telephone. Even if the caller gets our voicemail, Dick is paged with the message and returns calls quickly. The biggest mess we have had is the Institutional Memberships renewals. I apologize to all of the fine organizations that had trouble with their TUG renewals, and hope that we have finally straightened out all of the kinks.
Our annual conference and meeting is coming up this Summer in Poland, hosted by our good friends at GUST. TUG'98 will be held in Torun, at the Nicholas Copernicus University. How fitting that we meet at the birthplace of the man who first realized that the earth was not the center of the universe, just as it is becoming obvious that, in the universe of mathematics, TeX is the center! OK, maybe I am a little zealous, maybe TeX is not the core of science, but it certainly gives us a language in which to communicate. The conference will include many important presentations and provide hands-on workshops in the week surrounding the meeting. There are exciting events planned, both cultural and recreational. Please check the Web site, http://www.gust.org.pl/TUG98/, for more details. We look forward to seeing you in Poland!
In the damage repair department, I would like to stress that TeX remains freely available, as it was intended by Professor Knuth when he created it many years ago. One of our long-time members, and resident jokesters, posted an April Fools' Day notice about Knuth selling out to Microsoft. Please understand that this is only a joke, and although it was published in MAPS (by NTG), with color photos of Don and Bill, it remains a joke. What would Microsoft want with such a powerful piece of software anyway? For more about this, please see the article on page 95.
And finally, we would once again like to let you know that the CTAN CDs in this issue are a gift from DANTE e.V. and a valuable repository of the CTAN archives. Our thanks to DANTE!