Despite its rather odd name, the organization dubbed MIAPUG! has nothing to do with chubby smash-faced dogs that roam wild through Miami International Airport. The moniker actually describes a group of enthusiastic PDA aficionados. Okay, we'll stop with the acronyms. PDA stands for personal digital assistant, the latest accessory people have been carrying around to look important since the cell phone lost its cachet by being glued to every ear. PDAs start at about $150, tell time, store thousands of phone numbers, keep appointments, allow you to take notes, create a to-do list, and can be synchronized with your own computer. More expensive models can connect to the Internet, allowing users to send and receive e-mail; read newspapers, magazines, or novels; monitor stock prices; check out restaurant and film reviews; and even find their way through the world with a global-positioning system. Made by companies such as Compaq, Sony, Hewlett-Packard, and Handspring, PDAs were first introduced by Palm, whose operating system almost everyone uses, and who, with eleven million devotees for their Palm Pilot, is by far the most successful manufacturer of the little gadgets, according to a recent New York Times article.
Founded in October 2000 by local writer Bill DuPriest, MIAPUG! (Miami Palm User Group) counts about three dozen members from all fields and meets the last Thursday of every month. For two hours Palm users socialize in a Star Trekian sort of way, beaming information to each other, sharing games and programs, and listening to presentations about programs they can utilize. (A representative from AvantGo, a popular software program, will conduct a workshop for the curious this Thursday.) Best of all you don't have to be a PDA owner to participate. You just have to wish to arrange your life sans pen and paper. DuPriest, owner of a slim elegant Palm Vx, rhapsodizes: "It's such a helpful little device. I spent 50 years of my life trying to get organized and this is the greatest single tool for getting organized I've ever had."