Jan 22
Latest News Stack

Latest News Stack

Hi All,

Over the last couple of years, many of you have written to me suggesting a number of possible ideas and projects and until now many of them haven’t been practical for me to implement.

Now that I have began a new chapter in my life with the move to Sydney, I have considerably more time and resources to been investigating and actually implementing some of your ideas.

So here are some comments on various projects – and at the end there are some QUESTIONS I’d like ALL MUGs to answer – they should only take a minute (reading the email will take a bit longer – I hadn’t meant this one to become so long – it was just supposed to be a quick heads up 😉

Mailing List Changes

The first and most popular request has been a way for the leadership of Australian MUGs to communicate, simply and easily with one another… sure there are places like the Australian Macworld User Forum, but that is aimed at the end user or members of User Groups. Then there is the Apple User Group Discussion mailing list but that includes MUGs from all over the globe and many of the problems we as Australian MUGs are very different to other regions – we are after all the most sparsely (permanently) populated continent in the world and that means our MUGs are not physically close to one another or even our membership base.

So, I am looking at now having TWO mailing lists – one will continue to operate as it does now, ie it will be a moderated list that I, and hopefully soon, some additional people, will be able to post to… and it will continue to be admission by ‘invite only’ and will remain solely for announcements that affect or concern the Leadership of MUGs ie the Disc of the Month is available for downloading; promotions from vendors etc

The new list will be a far more open list that ‘anyone in Australian Apple User Groups’ will be able to join and will be a ‘Open Discussion Group’ so you’ll be able to ask questions and share thoughts etc with everyone on the list.

Visibly of Australian MUGs

I have been working on a number of different projects with both local and international vendors and when dealing with them I like to be able to quote some basic ‘facts’ about Australian MUGs.

The main two stats that are important are the number of active groups (currently I quote ‘about 25’) and the number of members these groups combined represent (currently I quote ‘over 3000 members combined’)

The first figure is based on the number of groups I communicate with via my current UGR mailing list and the second figure has been based on past discussions I’ve had with some of you and from your websites/membership brochures etc but I would like to confirm my membership numbers are actually accurate, so below in the Question section I have asked if you can supply the number of Members your group currently has.

Now one major problem I am facing when talking to potential vendors and donors of review copies of products and raffle prizes is that almost HALF of the so-called ‘active’ groups in Australia DO NOT HAVE A CURRENT or even VISIBLE web presence, so the vendors can not verify facts nor learn about your group.

In this day and age and considering the nature of our groups, I consider this to unacceptable!

There are some wonderful deals around for domain hosting and I can do some more investigation if groups require… but there are two FREE options I know some MUGs are already investigating
Google Sites –
WordPress –

These are FREE services… and you can have a domain redirected to them

Most MUGs would qualify for a or domain which you can get for $39 for TWO years from Enetica and this domain could be redirected to either of the services above…

Even the smallest MUG should be able to afford a mere $20 a year for their own domain name, which gives you so many other benefits…. but even a vanity domain of say ‘’ is better than nothing at all.

Now, even worse, is a number of groups actually have websites, but they have NOT been updated in Months, and in some cases YEARS!!!!

To keep a website current can only benefit your group – potential members can find out more about what you offer, when and where you meet, how to pay their subscription fees etc. And just as importantly it allows vendors and donors to know that your group IS active and alive and that is IS worth them investing in donating products to you

I believe all MUGs should have the following basic information on their website – and it can appear on a single page if need be;

– MUG Name
List your MUGs FULL name and your Abbreviated Name (ie BAUG, the Bedrock Apple Users’ Group) as many groups have similar abbreviated names which can lead to confusion

– When & Where you meet
A generic ‘We meet on the 3rd Sunday of the month (except December) at the Fred Flintstone Hall, 386 Dinosaur Drive, Bedrock from 6:30pm.’ is a great start and a good summary…

But even better is to also have a section that says ‘This month’s meeting will be held on Sunday 22nd and the topic will be upgrading from carrier pigeon to an iPhone’ is even better – even if you don’t know what the topic will be, still announce the date and advise that topic is ‘to be confirmed’ or consider ‘making up’ a topic – ‘The June 23rd meeting will open with a short Q&A session on ‘Are iLife ’09 & iWork ’09 worth the upgrade?’ then we’ll move on to the Main Presentation, which will be confirmed shortly’

OR if your meetings are adhoc topics that are determined on the day as members ask questions, then have a section that says something like ‘Last month we answered members questions on how to maintain a website and how to register a domain name… this month, on December 25th, bring along your questions and we’ll try to answer them.’


– Fees
Any fees to attend your meetings?
To join the club?

– Contact Details
Make sure these are CURRENT.  The number of sites that list former Committee members from a couple of years ago is appalling!

If possible list a Phone number, and email address (or web form) and a postal mail address.
And it worth listing the President and Secretary’s names, if not ALL your Committee members

The website need not be complex – as mentioned it could just be a single page… but the more info you have online the better.

User Group Conference

There has been an interest in getting representatives of all the MUGs together in one location to discuss issues we all face or are interested in such as;

  • Getting new members and retaining current ones
  • Advertising options and developing relationships with Local Media
  • Presentation Ideas for MUGs and Improving presenter skills,
  • Developing relationships with Apple AU, Apple US, Other MUGs, Local Resellers, Adobe, Microsoft, Mac Shareware/Hardware vendors and industry Bodies ASCCA, Community Matters
  • Participating in Community or other events (such as Software Freedom Day) to raise awareness of your MUG in the local community
  • Acting as ‘advocates’ and promoting issues such as ‘The Clean Internet Feed’ and convincing the ATO to hurry up with a Mac version of eTax
  • Website – Your public face
  • Income ideas – Raffles, Affiliate programs, Disc of the Month, Special Events
  • Finding and applying for Grants

Apple Australia used to host an annual User Group Conference back in the late ’80s or early ’90s and whilst it is unlikely we can get Apple onboard to cover all, or any of the costs, the costs, but they may be able help with a venue or something and we can probably get some sponsorship from other sources to cover or at least offset travel and accommodation costs

The introduction of the ‘Discussion’ mailing list will provide opportunities for MUG Leaders to discuss many of the above ideas… and someone is investigating the options available for ‘conference calls’, webinars etc as cheaper options.

So we’ll see what can happen on these fronts… but I hope we can get at least one conference arranged… even if it is association with another event (The ideal time to have done this was when the first Apple Store opened in Sydney last year 😉

MUG Podcast

I have a person who is very interested in getting a Podcast going later in the year, that focusses on Australian Mac User Groups and I hope we can get this project off the ground… more on this as ideas get fleshed out.


Could ALL MUGs please take a minute to answer the following questions to help me future develop projects for all Australian MUGs

Regarding the ‘Announcement’ list – Would you prefer one ‘long’ announcement/newsletter a month (much like the Apple User Group Bulletin and even many of your own email ‘newsletters’ are done now) or would you prefer to have announcements released as they come to hand (as I currently do)?

How many members does your MUG have?

Do you have a website?
Is it CURRENT (with at least current contact details AND details of either your December 2008, January 2009 or better still Feb and Mar 2009 meeting dates and locations?)

Would you, or any of Committee, be interested in attending an Apple User Group Conference?
Which city would you prefer (Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane – Sorry Adelaide, Perth and all the other places with active MUGs, but these three cities are the most likely locations)
How many ‘delegates’ do you think each group should send? One each; 2 each; or it depends on the size of the group
If you had to cover your own travel or accommodation costs, how would that affect your desire to attend?

Are you, or any of your members, interested in been a guest on an Australian MUG Podcast to promote your group?
Would you prefer an Audio or a Video podcast?
Would you object if there were ‘ads’ from vendors on the podcast? [My thoughts are we don’t actually charge money for the ads, but rather offer ‘air time’ in return for review copies of products and raffle prizes to MUGs]

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: