MUG Shots: AMUG Sydney and AUSOM Incorporated

Nicholas Pyers
19 May, 2008
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This month’s MUG Shot covers two of Australia’s largest Mac User Groups: AMUG Sydney, based obviously in Sydney; and AUSOM Incorporated, which is Melbourne-based. In recent weeks both groups have totally revamped their web sites, making it easier to find out about the extensive range of services and benefits they both offer their members.

AMUG Sydney. AMUG is one of the larger MUGs in Australia and provides a wide range of services to help Mac users learn more about getting the most out of their computers. Up until August 2003, AMUG produced a printed magazine, Applecations. At that time it moved to a HTML based e-newsletter, which is still produced each month and can be viewed online form the AMUG web site.

On the First Monday of each month, except January, AMUG meets from 6:30pm in the Sir Robert Webster Building at UNSW. This chiefly takes the form of a Q&A session, where anyone can ask Mac-related questions and hopefully get an answer on the spot — if not, they’ll be followed up and all the questions and answers are posted to the AMUG web site. Then a Main Presentation, raffle and refreshments are held.

Then on the Saturday morning following the Monday Meeting, Computer Workshops are held in Computer Lab located within the same building. These workshops provide one computer per person — using either your own laptop or one of the lab computers, to provide hands on learning on various applications.

AMUG has an extensive Members Only section on its web site that provides access to various discount offers, a great archive of the Q&A sessions and presentation slides from past meetings. The Australian Macworld Discs of the Month are also listed in this section, including how AMUG members can purchase them for just $5.

AUSOM Incorporated. AUSOM often uses the tag line "Australia’s Leading Apple Macintosh User Group" which, based on the number of services it offers its members, seems quite accurate. Plus with around 800 members, it is also one of the largest Mac User Groups in the world!

AUSOM conducts three meetings each month (except January).

The First Saturday is the Main Meeting Day, where there are over 20 different presentations and discussion groups. No, that is the not a typo, there really are over twenty different Special Interest Groups (SIGs), which start at 9:30am and continue through until 5:00pm at Swinburne University Prahran Campus. There are sessions for beginners in the 1-on-1 sessions through to Advanced Mac OS X or Programming, and in between there are topics of interest for just about any Mac User including iWork, Digital Photography, FileMaker, Microsoft Office, Photoshop, GarageBand, movie-making and even a session covering iPods. There is also a Main Presentation, often from a leading industry partner like Apple Australia, Microsoft or Adobe.

The next meeting is the Macintosh Multimedia Group [3MG], which is a joint venture with iMug, another Melbourne based MUG that I’ll cover in a later blog. The 3MG meets on the Second Tuesday from 7:30pm at the Balwyn Baptist Church.

The following morning, aka the Second Wednesday, from 10:00am AUSOM hosts the Retirees & Others Group — that is also held at the Balwyn Baptist Church. These sessions have two informal presentations separated by a coffee break, which quickly becomes an extremely friendly social chat.

AUSOM is one the few User Groups to still produce a printed magazine each month called AUSOM News, which predominately consists of articles, tips, and personal computing experiences written by members for members. Back issues can be found in PDF format on the web site.

Each month, AUSOM also produces a podcast that features an interview with a person who helps make AUSOM run, along with a informative Tip of the Month.

An extensive book library is maintained by AUSOM that includes many of the latest titles for the Mac, along with manuals of older applications, which can be borrowed free of charge by members. Also available are a wide range of training discs for many popular applications that can hired from only $5 per month.

A friendly online forum is maintained by AUSOM using a specialised client system, FirstClass. AUSOM maintains the Australian mirrors of Ian Page’s MacTracker and Paul Taylor’s Hints&Tips newsletter on its web site.

The Disc of the Month project that many other MUGs have now embraced was originally pioneered within AUSOM and — in addition to the tiles released in conjunction with Australian Macworld — it continues to produce many unique titles of its own, which can be purchased via a new online store.

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