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 Dr. Mac: Mac User Groups

 
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  2-12-04 | This column originally appeared in the Houston Chronicle.

 

High on the HAAUG:
The Houston Area Apple User Group

 


By Bob LeVitus

It’s a fact: People who use Apple computers enjoy hanging out with other people who use Apple computers. That may be why you’ll find literally hundreds of clubs and organizations all over the world serving up news and information about Macintoshes and the people who use them.

Macintosh computers are different and so are Mac users. Getting involved with your local Macintosh User Group (M.U.G.) is a great way to:

  • Connect with other Mac users with interests similar to yours.
  • Get your toughest Mac questions answered by an expert (or many experts).
  • Learn a new Mac skill from someone who knows.
  • Get a second, third, and fourth opinion about anything Mac related.

Apple supports user groups with several excellent and informative Web pages (www.apple.com/usergroups/). Among them is an online user group locator (http://www.apple.com/usergroups/find/) that finds the closest user groups based on your zip code. You may not need it, though. We are blessed with at least one excellent Mac user group right here in Houston, the long-running and ever-popular Houston Area Apple User Group (a.k.a. HAAUG). HAAUG holds its main meeting and presentation on the third Saturday of each month, offering a full day of Mac activities with a main presentation and dozens of hour-long sessions covering topics such as: Quicken, spreadsheets, ClarisWorks, PowerBooks and Mac Fundamentals. The festivities start around 9:00AM and continue until 4:00PM. All day long you’ll find plenty of experienced Macintosh users on hand to answer help you out, and you can wander in and out of sessions according to your interests (and are encouraged to do so).

The meetings dish up presentations by software and hardware vendors, authors such as yours truly, other experts, Apple representatives, as well as from group members with special Mac knowledge. Then there are the Special Interest Groups (or SIGs), smaller, more focused groups that focus on a particular topic or program. If there’s a program or process you wish to know more about, chances are there’s a SIG for it.

HAAUG also publishes a newsletter and maintains a Web site (www.haaug.org). The site has scheduling information, SIG topics meeting times, and more; the newsletter—The Apple Barrel—provides meeting information, plus tips, hints, and product reviews each month.

And being a member of HAAUG (or any user group) has another benefit: Many fine hardware and software products are offered at an exclusive “user group” discount, only available to members of bona fide user groups.

I’ve been to hundreds of User Group meetings all over the world and the one thing they all have in common is that everyone learns a lot about using their Mac, and everyone has fun.

Don’t take my word for it, though—come on out and see for yourself next Saturday (February 21st). I’ll be speaking at the next HAAUG meeting, at Micro Center (1717 West Loop Drive). The SIGs start at 9AM and I’ll present an irreverent “State Of The Mac” address followed by a rocking demonstration of Apple’s amazing new song-making software, GarageBand, starting at 11:15AM. There will be SIGs galore all day long including Green Apples and Mac 101 (for new Mac users) at 9AM; OS X, PhotoShop, and Mac fundamentals at 10AM; Mac Utilities and one-on-one assistance at 12:30PM; and mobile computing and more Mac utilities at 1:45. Around 3PM we head for my favorite activity of them all, the barbecue SIG, held at a nearby meat emporium.

There’s no cost for visitors and you’re all invited as my guests. So come on down and check it out and I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.


Bob LeVitus is a leading authority on Mac OS and the author of 41 books, including The Little iTunes Book and Mac OS X for Dummies, 2nd Edition. E-mail comments to doctormac@boblevitus.com.

Copyright © 2003 Bob LeVitus

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