Why be a MUG?

Nicholas Pyers
25 February, 2008
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Have you joined or even just visited your local Macintosh User Group? Do you know what a Macintosh User Group is, what they have to offer, or where to find them?

Macintosh User Groups, commonly referred to as MUGs, are just a group of ordinary Mac users, just like you and me, who get together to discuss and learn things about their Macs. There are active groups throughout every state and territory within Australia, in the capital cities as well as many in regional centers. Most have regular meetings, usually monthly, but some have multiple meetings month and a few only physically get together just a couple of times a year.

These meetings are the single biggest benefit of joining a MUG as you get the opportunity to meet other Mac users in person and directly ask questions and learn more about what your Mac is capable of doing, all in a friendly environment. Most also have some form of online presence and discussion groups, using web-based forums, mailing lists or dedicated forum software, that allow you to ask questions and get answers and stay in touch with your Mac using friends.

Some groups maintain extensive book libraries with titles from major publishing houses like O’Reilly, PeachPit, Pogue Press and Take Control, and as a member you can usually borrow the latest books about Mac OS, iLife, iWork, Final Cut Studio, getting the most out of your iPod and more, all for free.

By being a member of a User Group you can often get discounts on a variety of products and services including, and certainly not limited to: books;,magazine subscriptions, commercial software, computers, consumables like ink and paper, laptop carry bags, training CDs and DVDs and tonnes of accessories. Examples of such offers are reasonably easy to find.

Yes a lot are from US-based vendors, but local MUGs often have arranged discounts with local suppliers as well, so be sure to check the local MUG web site or magazine for the latest deals.

Finding your local MUG. The simplest way to find a MUG close by to you is to visit the Australian Macworld Events Calendar. Every Macintosh User Group that we know about has its meetings listed there each month, along with a link to their website and details of what is to be presented and discussed at the next meeting.

If there isn’t a MUG near you, then consider starting your own. There are plenty of resources available to you to get started and I’ll cover that in a future blog. In the meantime if you know of a user group that isn’t on the calendar, feel free to contact me.

Disk of the Month. Australian Macworld has partnered with Australian Mac User Groups to provide a new benefit to their members — Each month a new Disc of the Month will prepared and released. You’ll be able to find out about the Disc in the Australian Macworld printed magazine and through the Ausmac archive you’ll usually be able to download individual files, but User Groups will be selling a CD, or occasionally a DVD, with all the content on it for just $10 for a CD and $15 for DVD releases.

The first title released is called Publishing House and it has a selection of some very inexpensive, or even free, software, so you can generate your own;
• Greeting Cards
• Envelopes & Labels
• Flyers & Newsletters
• Calendars & Scrapbooks
• Banners, Signs & Posters
• CD & DVD Labels, Covers & Inserts.

Back in the mid-1980s, the killer application that made the Macintosh, with its tiny nine-inch 512×342 pixel black & white screen, into a success was Aldus PageMaker, which in turn spawned the entire Desktop Publishing industry.

A lot has happened in the last twenty years — Screens have grown to 30 inches or more and they support millions of colours. But you can still turn your Mac in to an all-round Publishing House using the tools and packages found on this CD.

Many more titles are already under development, including Discs with Games, Productivity tools, and some amazing collections of resources to use during various festive and celebration periods.

MUGs known to be supplying the Disc of the Month titles currently include;

AMUG Sydney
AUSOM Incorporated
Central Victorian Macintosh Users Inc
Geraldton Macintosh User Group
Gold Coast Apple Users Group

and more are coming on board as I type.

If you would like your local group to supply Discs of the Month, get them contact User Group Resources and we’ll provide them with all the details they need to access the original disc image, along with support files like flyers, promotional videos and disc labels templates.

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