MUG Shot: Bellarine

Nicholas Pyers
24 March, 2008
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Down in Sea Change country, the Bellarine Mac User Group is one of the newest Mac User Groups in Australia, having formed just over a year ago, yet it is one of the most vibrant and dynamic groups in the world.

BMUG is situated down on the Bellarine Peninsula just over an hour’s drive from Melbourne and about 10-15 minutes from where the outdoor shots of the ABC television show Sea Change were filmed.

When it first formed, BMUG met in a local neighbourhood centre in Ocean Grove, which comfortably supported 30-odd people each meeting, but already the group has outgrown that venue and now meets at Marcus Hill Community Hall, on the corner of Bellarine Highway & Banks Road, Marcus Hill (about half way between Ocean Grove and Queenscliff).

Meetings are held on the second Wednesday of each month, except from January, and run for about two hours commencing from 4.30pm. In 2008 BMUG has taken a novel and interesting approach to its meeting schedule, which is working incredibly well. There is a Presentation on a topic one month, which is a standard lecture-style presentation to the entire group. Then the following month there are small group workshop sessions, where attendees can bring along their own computers to get some personal assistance on the topic.

For example on April 9th, BMUG has a presentation on "Making the most of the Internet" where you’ll hear about everything you need to know about getting the best out of your time online including using Safari, how to surf the web, use Google, get online to do your banking, and discover useful widgets etc. Then on May 14th, the topic is "Making the most of the Internet — THE MAC WORKSHOP" so after seeing it all in action in April you get the "hands-on" session.

BMUG offers two levels of membership: Full member ($40pa) and Remote membership ($25pa) for those who can’t get to meetings. And you can join at any meeting or via an online membership form.

By joining the Bellarine Mac User Group you get access to a monthly eNewsletter, a book library, Mac Pals (experienced Macintosh users who offer one-on-one assistance and in-house tutoring) and the ability to purchase comprehensive printed Beginners Manuals and downloadable tutorial videos, as well as the Disc of the Month.

A number of sample titles from the Beginners Manual range can be downloaded free of charge, in PDF format and the video tutorials are available in QuickTime format.

One unique benefit BMUG offers members is a free web hosting account, with very generous specifications including 500MB of storage space, unlimited mail accounts, WebDav support (for publishing iCals), support for WordPress and Joomla (two popular blogging packages), QuickTime Streaming and PHP, MySQL and Ruby on Rails support. Plus you can have your own domain or use one of BMUG’s sub-domains. The only condition is the free package can not used for commercial purposes, but things like personal blogs or family photo albums are fine.

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