Computer user groups

You're likely to have at least one of these groups, with regular, face-to-face meetings, in your local area.
 
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01 .Join a group

Computer user group

Before the internet and even bulletin board systems, computer clubs, or groups, were a lynch-pin for education, helping people to learn the ins and outs of these masterful new machines.      

The first computer clubs started around 30 years ago. The internet has revolutionised how we communicate, but computer user groups are as important today as they were back then – they still cater to novices and experts alike, provide a forum for people to share their passion with others, and help to educate and maintain a community of like-minded people.

How it works

Most groups require you to become a member, although the Canberra Linux club is at least one exception. It invites interested people to come along with just a donation for the pizza that is usually ordered on the night! Membership costs vary between different groups, between about $25 and $65 per year. This covers administration costs, venue hire, web hosting, newsletters and so on – many clubs produce their own newsletters to keep members up to date on upcoming events, club news and workshops. Newsletters are usually available by mail, online, at meetings and some clubs have a buy and sell service.

Some clubs have 'q and a' sessions where members are invited to share problems and solutions, and some offer software on CD that can be purchased for a nominal price, like $2 or $5, usually collated and tested by a club member to ensure it’s safe and useful.     

To join a group simply contact them, or if you want to see what it’s like, find out when the next one is being held and tag along. Most groups are happy to have guests and if you like what you see, you can sign up to be a member.

Groups often have a website these days so you can explore their online help resources and see what courses they provide and find out when and where their next meeting will take place.


 
 

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Computer user groups are usually organised geographically, the easiest way to meet other members. Groups typically meet once a month at a community centre or similar venue, although some of the larger, more established clubs have their own function rooms.

Some benefits:

  • Education – learning more about all the different aspects of computing.
  • Some run specialist workshops. The cost can be cheaper than courses provided by private training companies and is often tailored to the membership e.g. courses in Office applications such as Word or Excel, an introduction to making phone calls online using Skype, how to make greeting cards, digital photography or building a family tree.
  • Clubs charge different fees and costs can vary from $30 for short, introductory courses to $200 for longer, more advanced courses such as computer programming.
  • Some groups cater to particular interest groups (seniors, users of particular applications such as Adobe InDesign).
  • Some groups cater for particular platforms – such as Mac users and the Linux operating system.

User Groups PresentationDifferent levels of computing experience are supported. Members can meet each other, socialise and learn about a wide range of topics, everything from using an operating system to photo and video editing, design and publishing, productivity programs, music, media and more.

Some clubs have an online help service where members can log a computing problem and other members will help resolve the issue.

Computer user groups will also offer specific training services, and these can include guest speakers from a particular company or vendor, as well as expert members themselves leading workshops, which are a great way to expand your skills at very little cost. If you are an expert in a particular area, you can help out and share your knowledge with others too.

Some of the larger groups can provide other services as well, such as an email address, subsidised or even free dial-up internet access, as well as facilities such as meeting rooms and computers on the club premises.

Mike DinnMike Dinn
PC Users Group (ACT)

As an electronic engineer, I was fascinated with the “what” and “how” of PCs. In the early days, I could comprehend PCs at the chip, pin and machine code level. The PCUG membership was of like mind, to varying degrees. We have regular get togethers to solve just about any problem with a PC. We have a weekly morning gathering where problems are listed on a whiteboard and the collective wisdom and knowledge of the group provides the answers. Written summaries are then posted to a mailing list for the benefit of those who couldn’t attend and to form an archive. The topics aren’t always strictly PCs; we often drift onto topics such as mobile phones, digital television, Microsoft and Google activities and the like.
The Canberra PCUG was one of the first ISPs in the town in the early 90s. It continues to supply services to many members – via the efforts of a number of dedicated volunteers. Its performance is usually far better than commercial ISPs too.
pcug.org.au

John SymondsJohn Symonds
Sydney PC User Group

I wanted to join a group that goes beyond the beginners’ level and has a diverse range of activities. We have a monthly meeting with leading presenters from the IT and computing industry. There is also a question and answer session where members help with each others problems and a raffle for a prize often donated by the evening’s presenter.
We also have a series of special interest groups. Members meet regularly for presentations and to help others resolve any problems in an informal environment. We have a website that provides news about upcoming activities, a review of past meetings, a blog and lots of useful information. A weekly email newsletter details the coming activities for members. Anybody can subscribe to the newsletter to see if the group interests them.
The great strength of our group is the friendly interaction between members. We enjoy each other’s company. Visitors are always welcome!
www.sydneypc.com

Iris MeekIris Meek
Launceston Computer Group

I initially joined to gain more confidence and knowledge of computers. The group was so friendly I kept rejoining.
I like being in the position to help others, particularly people older than myself. I am really interested in family history and searching convict and immigration records. My other great interest is graphics. We learn to manipulate and enhance photographs, even restoring old, torn and discoloured photos. We have open classes which are kept to manageable numbers with volunteer tutors helping students learn and keep abreast of the latest in computing. Members run special evening workshops where all club members have the opportunity to see or hear something interesting or new, such as software, equipment and so on.
Students of our special interest group OPEN (Older Persons Electronic Network) have classes five days a week. We also have a large band of would-be genealogists who surf family history pages. Ours may be a rather unique club as it has grown, along with technology, from specialist Mac and PC clubs to a combined group with both OPEN and LCG conducting monthly meetings.
www.lcg.org.au

Trisha MossTrisha Moss
Perth PC Users Group
I joined the Perth PCUG in 1998 when we bought our first computer. I was looking for a good ISP and came across the PPCUG who used to provide dial-up internet for its members at a very good rate. I have had so much computer help over the years I estimate it has saved me many hundreds of dollars, maybe even thousands. I also value the friendships I have gained from this help and from attending different special interest groups.
Our members receive telephone and personal help in most aspects of computing including software and hardware, eleven magazines a year, monthly meetings with guest speakers and demonstrations, heavily subsidised training workshops, special interest groups (SIGs) throughout the metro area and, most importantly, make great friendships along the way.
www.perthpcug.org.au

Mark JoffeeMark Joffee
Computer Pals (NSW)
Computer Pals was set up to assist seniors learning to use a computer. In the past 10 years we moved from teaching only the basics of Windows and Word processing to all the office programs, digital photography, internet and emails. We hold a general meeting every month and try to obtain speakers to discuss subjects of interest.
The internet has changed many of our seniors’ lives. Many of them use it to research their family history and to keep in contact with family. Some do research on the history of various countries and others like me read newspapers from countries around the world. It is very enjoyable to attend and to meet members from other clubs, find out what they have achieved and make new friends.
www.computerpals.org.au

Diane BrentnallDiane Brentnall
Australian Seniors Computer Clubs Associations (ASCCA)
Nearly 12 years ago, I read an advertisement for seniors to learn computers and thought I could always use some new skills. I realised that I already had existing skills that the seniors could benefit from as well, and because I was a qualified trainer it didn’t take long for me to create some beginners classes with defined lessons. This became the foundation of a senior’s computer club structure.
Most seniors believe they are getting left behind with technology, there is no advertising now that doesn’t give you a web address for more information. While the initial drive to join a club may be directed by fear of not being able to keep up with society and in some cases even members of their own family, especially grandchildren, they actually find a whole new world not only of learning but also friendship, purpose and a feeling of accomplishment.
There is not a doubt in my mind that many seniors prefer face-to-face. Joining a senior’s computer club gives the person much more than a learning experience; they meet new people, make new friends and discover new interests. This can’t happen with online groups, although many would argue that’s what Facebook is about!
www.ascca.org.au

04.Computer User Groups National List

 
National Computer Interest Groups

The Australian Seniors Computer Clubs Association
Australian Delphi User Group
Australian Developers Network
Australian Network for Art and Technology
Internet Macintosh User Group
Internet Society of Australia


Sydney & NSW
Avalon Computer Pals for Seniors
BUGS- BSD Users Group Sydney
Byron Shire Mac User Group
Byron Shire Seniors Computer Club
Clarence Valley Seniors Computer Club
Club Mac at Crows Nest
Coffs Harbour Apple Mac Users Group
Computer Pals - Holroyd
Computer Pals - Newcastle
Computer Pals - Northern Beaches 
Computer Pals - Parramatta 
Computer Pals - Turramurra 
Crows Nest Centre Computer Club
DB2 Users Group - Sydney
Endeavour Seniors Computer Club
Forest Computer Pals for Seniors
Gorokan Seniors Computer Club
Hawkesbury Seniors Computer Group
Hunter Valley Linux User Group
Hurstville Seniors Computer Club
Illawarra Computer Enthusiasts
Kempsey Shire Linux User Group
Mangrove Mountain Seniors Computer Club
Newcastle Coders Group
Orange Coast IBM PC User Group
Penrith Valley Seniors Computing Club
Seniors Computer Club Central Coast
Shoalhaven PC Users Group
South Coast Linux Users Group
Southern Highlands Computer Users Group
Sydney Apple Macintosh Users' Group
Sydney Australia Java UG Project
Sydney Clarion Users' Group
Sydney Deep .Net Users Group
Sydney Flash Platform Developers Group
Sydney Linux Users' Group
Sydney Mac Users Group
Sydney MySQL Users Group
Sydney .Net Users Group
Sydney OpenSolaris User Group
Sydney PC Users Group
Sydney Perl Mongers
Sydney PHP Group
SyXPAC: Sydney's XP Activity Club


Brisbane/QLD
Apple-MAQ Lions Club of QLD
Apple-Q
Brisbane Seniors Online
Brisbane PHP Meetup Group
BRISBUG PC User Group Inc.
Carlyle Garden Seniors' Computer Club
Clarion User Group Queensland (CUGQ)
Home Unix Machine - Brisbane Users Group (HUMBUG)
Noosa Linux Users' Group
QMUG - Brisbane Adobe Designer and Developers Group
Queensland MSDN User Group
Sunshine Coast Computer Club
Seniors of Caboolture Computer Club Inc
Toowoomba Seniors Computer Club (Part of TOPAP)
The Toowoomba Apple and Macintosh User Group (TAAMUG)
North Queensland Macintosh Users Group
ASCCA The Australian Seniors Computer Clubs Association Inc
Gold Coast Seniors on the Net
Gold Coast Apple Users Group
Gold Coast Macintosh Users Group
Gold Coast Linux User Group
OntheNet


Adeliade/SA
Adelindie
Adelaide AMIGA and PC User Group
Adelaide Dot Net Users Group - development of software and technologies
ARPA Computer Group - basic computer skills for retired people
AutoCAD users Groups of South Australia
Fleurieu Computer Users Group
Information Systems Audit and Control Association - SA Chapter
Linux SA User Group
Seniors-On-Line - Adelaide
South Australian Apple Users Group
South Australian Clarion Users Group
South Australian Internet Association (SAIA)
Southern Districts Computer Users Club Inc.
Southern Vales Linux Users Group (SVLUG)
The Database Developers Association of South Australia
Vahalla LAN Parties


Canberra/ACT
ACS Australian Computer Society - Canberra Branch
ACT Apple User Group
ACT SQL Server User Group
ACT and Region Coldfusion Users Group
Amiga Downunder User Group
Australian Delphi User Group
Canberra .NET User Group
Canberra Developer Users Group
Canberra Institute of Technology Computer Users Group
Canberra Java Users Group
Canberra Linux Users Group
Canberra Macromedia Users Group
Canberra Schools Linux Users' Group
Canberra Sharepoint User Group
Endeavour Web - Computer Clubs for seniors
PC Users Group (ACT)


Darwin/NT
Darwin Gamers Association
Darwin Seniors Computer Club
Darwin Wireless
Alice Springs Linux Users Group


Tasmania
Hobart Computer Users Group
Hobart Dot Net Users Group
Launceston Computer Group Inc
Linking Seniors "Seniors helping Seniors".
NexusLAN
N. W Computer Users Group
Tasmanian Linux Users Group

Melbourne/VIC
Apple Users Society of Melbourne (AUSOM)
Ballarat Linux Users Group (BLUG)
Central Victorian Macintosh Users Inc
Linux Users of Victoria
Macromedia Users Victoria - now also looks at other Adobe related software
Melbourne Linux User Group
Melbourne MySQL User Group
Melbourne .NET User Group
Melbourne Novell Users Group
Melbourne PC User Group
Melbourne Perl Mongers
Melbourne PHP User Group
Melbourne Sharepoint User Group
Melbourne Wireless
Melbourne Visual FoxPro User Group
Melbourne XP Enthusiasts Group (MXPEG)
Microcomputer Club of Melbourne
Newlands Project
VicFUG - Victorian FreeBSD Users Group


Perth/WA
ColdFusion Users Group
Perth PC Users Group
Perth Linux Users Group
Perth .Net Community of Practice
Perth Sharepoint Users Group
NET Community of Practice
Society of Linux Professionals
Western Australia Macintosh Users' Group
Western Australian Internet Association
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