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Mark Angelo Askew is the author of "Fimark's Family Reunion Planner Guide Workbook and Keepsake" and the founder and director of the Family Reunion Planning Group that established November as Annual Family Reunion Planning Month.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Family Reunion Planners Competency Test

Every so often the true nature of family reunion planners are tested.  The purity of our honesty, loyalty and love. At other times our skills and competency are tested.  For example, just how well are we keeping up with this ever changing world of advanced technology? Little did I know that my time of testing had arrived. In a matter of days the truth shall be revealed.

I have a Yamaha keyboard plugged into my Dell laptop, both nicely situated near a window that looks out onto a spacious well manicured lawn and a tall, shady widespread maple tree. One of my favorite past times is to write family musicals and compose music for upcoming family reunions while enjoying the view out my window.

So I'm returning to my keyboard to compose a musical score for a family reunion music video I'm working on and I plug the audio line into my laptop line-in. Aargh! What's this? No sound comes out of my headphones -and no wonder. The plug input is broken. Not Good.

The whole point of having the headphone input is to test the sound quality of a completed composition while using headphones. The other dilemma is that I would have to forfeit composing music in the afternoon or late nights while Brenda lay sleeping. I say again, not good!

There has to be a quick solution other than moving all the files to another laptop. While I do backup my hard-drive from time to time, all my recent movie and music composition files are on the hard-drive of this laptop and quite frankly I favor using it over the computer devices I have.

The time of test has arrived. Just how technologically savvy am I? One thing I do find reassuring is that I can actually use the words "technologically savvy."  The other is this... The smart phones we ordered weeks ago have finally arrived in the mail. Did you know that using the word lookup feature on your smart phone can help raise your IQ exponentially?

A Solution In Theory
It was time to compare smart phone accessory prices at my most favorite online shopping mall I noticed that I could save over 30 dollars making my purchase online instead of at the local store. I theorize that their must be a USB line-in device that could replace the broken line-in module. It's time to test this theory using a real time model. But time is wasting. I must move expeditiously. I perform a search using amazons search feature and a few well thought out keywords to locate such a device. To my delight I find a cheaply priced USB audio sound card device. Score!

According to the description I should be able to plug the device into my USB port.  It's plug and play feature loads the sound card driver onto my device. I then should be able to plug my headphones into it and boom. I have functioning audio sound. Perfect! In theory this should do the job. If it does I'm back in business.

Beating The Money Game
I place the USB audio device in my shopping cart to see if it will qualify for free shipping. A message appears. In order to take advantage of free shipping I would have to buy another item. Since my headphones were well used I decided to upgrade them with a brand new set I was eyeing at To my delight the free shipping feature kicked in. So not only did I save money purchasing my smart phone accessories online, I was also able to order two additional items while staying within the phone accessories budget. Score!

In just three days my package arrived in the mail. Carefully removing the USB audio card from the package I read the instructions and plugged it in. But nothing happened. Was I doing something wrong? I read the instructions again. All the steps were followed, nothing seemed to be missing. Is it a faulty device, was I handling poorly written instructions or... could it be me. Have I reached my limit of comprehending the complexities of today's advanced instructions manuals? Considering the fact that the manual consisted of about 50 words I think the latter is highly unlikely.

Suddenly the catecholamines of my brain feels fully charged. The dendrites are energized and bolstered as synaptic bridges form and snap into place connecting streams of raw data packs one to the other gradually revealing the true intellectual capacity of the family reunion planners mind. I hypothesize: Perhaps the new sound card driver is conflicting with the other audio driver and thus not initiating. If I take the USB device out of the port, reboot the system and then insert it back in again it should work... I test this hypothetical proposition and suddenly to my delight a blue light emits from the device. I plug in the headphones and whalla we have sound. Beautiful quality sound at that. Yet another score!

So how do Family Reunion Planners measure up to todays technology use?

Take the Family Reunion Planners Competency Test.

1. Do you engage in practical smartphone usage?
2. Do you use social enabled devices to communicate with family?
3. Do you save money and time making purchases online?
4. Do you use apps and or ebook to plan your family reunion event?
5. Do you take advantage of free shipping when you do?
6. Do you find the event planning process both exhilarating and rewarding?
If you answered yes to the above questions the competence of all family reunion planners with today's technological advancements has been vindicated

Yes, family reunion planners are highly intelligent creatures to be greatly esteemed and loved. Labor Day is an ideal day for a family reunion. Put your event planning and computer skills to the test. Plan your family reunion today.

In the weeks ahead I will be featuring sound bites from each composition to be accessed from Fimark's Family Reunion Planner Social interface. The music can be used as background music with the free slideshow app featured on the interface or with your own preferred music video software.

For more ideas to get your family reunion off the ground consult Fimark's award winning Family Reunion Planner Social web app for use with the latest Chrome, Internet Explorer or Firefox browser. What, don't have FRP Social yet? Good news. The interface provides access to all our standard event planning templates, printables, worksheets and the reunion planning spreadsheet. The app is reduced from $49 to only $40 for a limited time. Go to and get started on your family reunion newsletter, slideshow and event planning.

There is nothing like the convenience of bargain hunting online. You get to read reviews from real people and weigh the pros and cons of each product. The reviews even provide trouble shooting tips and creative use ideas. I call it smart shopping. In addition there are return policies and free shipping offers so you save gas too. Next task. Shop for family reunion music titles, party favors, table setting, certificates and school supplies at

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