Dec 22



The Bellarine Mac User Group, BMUG, is a growing and vibrant Mac group based on the Bellarine Peninsula near Geelong in Victoria, is known all over for its surprisingly comprehensive range of Apple manuals and they are proud to share their latest volume, The BMUG Troubleshooting Guide, with Apple User Groups in Australia and around the world.

The BMUG Troubleshooting Guide is intended as the first place Mac users should turn too to help self-diagnose many common problems that occur on Macs and how to take steps to prevent problems from occurring.

The Troubleshooting Guide introduces the basics of establishing a regular backup routine and where to get initial help, advice and assistance when problems do occur. Some of these places seem obvious but in moments of high stress when a problem occurs, they are often overlooked in the panic.

Then the Troubleshooting Guide covers;

  • Some basic solutions for getting your new printer or scanner working;
  • How to perform some basic maintenance tasks including running Software Update;
  • How to recover a vital file or folder that you’ve deleted;
  • Fixing problems with iPhoto locking up (or pictures or albums are missing);
  • How to fix problems when Apple Mail to send email when it can receive them (or vice versa);
  • Dealing with System Bombs and Kernel Panics;
  • Resetting your Admin Password

How did the BMUG manual project come about?

The club sells the full-colour coil-bound manuals (typically about 14 A4 pages) for AUD$5 at meetings, and for slightly more, to cover postage, online from the BMUG website. BMUG’s committee never aimed to make money from the manuals as a primary objective, rather they wanted to share with the Mac community. They have been content to cover their costs.

As far as we know, this is a unique publishing venture, as the field has generally been left to the publishers of enormous $80 books like Pogue’s, or to publishers of highly detailed ebooks, like Adam Engst’s Take Control series. We had different aims. The Committee reasoned that few of BMUG’s members could afford a dozen or so $80 books, and further, that they’d never find what they wanted in such detailed references.

They needed something different, but what form would it take? For years, while running a family desktop publishing business, Steve Craddock, currently the Vice President of the BMUG, as well as been their Manual & eNewsletter Editor, had been in the habit of writing little manuals for himself, covering tasks he did relatively infrequently, and that he would otherwise forget how to do. When BMUG was formed and the Committee got to know their typical members, it became apparent that the manuals that had been so useful to Steve’s wife and himself, and their friends, would be equally helpful to BMUG members, with a few tweaks.

Rather than being just lists of steps, to be useful to a less expert audience they also needed heaps of illustrations — often screenshots of panes; of ‘before and after’; and of column view Finder windows, showing the path to a file. We also included images of representative pieces of hardware, like external hard drives, or movie cameras. Above all, they had to encourage self-help, confidence and fun.

In the beginning, BMUG had just 2 or 3 titles which were printed in greyscale, stuck a staple in the corner, and sold them for a mere $2 each. When the first few were stacked on the table at the entry to the BMUG meetings, they simply vanished — and it could be seen that there was going to be a huge demand for such non-technical, ‘easy to read’ resources! So the BMUG Committee became more ambitious — They applied for and got a Government grant to buy a colour laser printer and a binding machine.

BMUG Troubleshooting Manual Cover

BMUG Troubleshooting Manual Cover

Now there are 17 titles, but the philosophy hasn’t changed. Each manual deals with a tightly focussed field, say iPhoto; Safari; Mail; Photoshop Elements. Each is intended to help the user move on to independence and gain basic confidence in using the software. They are intended to be used as ‘step by step’ guides, open on the desktop alongside the computer as you do the task. They provide just enough detail to get you started.

Steve writes them all himself, but club members help; by suggesting new titles, by proof reading, by suggesting improvements, and by filling in the numerous gaps in his knowledge. BMUG have sold extraordinary numbers, and clearly buyers are telling them that thier manuals fill a niche.

Finally, BMUG have also written a number of similar publications, and video tutorials which they make available free to the world-wide Mac community online from the Downloads and Troubleshooting pages at the BMUG website.

If you haven’t visited the BMUG website, we recommend you do so, and that you check out the Manuals pages. BMUG hopes you’ll enjoy our publications and that you’ll mention BMUG to your friends 🙂

Note: BMUG manuals all come with a caveat — you may find the version of the software that you are using is different from that used to make the screenshots. Nevertheless, the principles remain the same.

BMUG manuals currently include:

  • Advanced iWeb with your Mac
  • Advanced imaging projects in Photoshop Elements 8
  • Backup your Mac
  • Beginners guide
  • iChat with your Mac
  • iMovie HD with your Mac
  • iPhoto with your Mac
  • iPod with your Mac
  • iWeb with your Mac
  • Mail with your Mac
  • Music & listening with your Mac
  • On Safari with your Mac
  • Photoshop Elements with your Mac
  • Scanning with your Mac
  • Security on your Mac
  • Sharing with your Mac
  • Writing & word processing with your Mac

[Steve Craddock is currently the Vice President of the Bellarine Mac User Group, as well as been their Manual & eNewsletter Editor]

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