HINT: New computer users may be unfamiliar with some of the terms used in this column. If you come across something you are unfamiliar with, you may wish to go to the Computing With Bifocals Index for help.
What is a MUG?
This past week I had an opportunity to visit the local MUG in Austin, called CapMac. (I love being retired and getting to do just what I want to do! Working for a living is highly overrated.) A MUG is a Macintosh Users Group. As a general description, they are usually not-for-profit organizations that offer the Mac community opportunities to get together, help each other, etc. They are basically just like any other organized group of people interested in the same thing. Apple even has a Web page dedicated to the concept, with links to local MUGs. My MUG, CapMac, has more than 100 registered members, but each MUG is going to be different depending on the location and the interest of the members. Some seem to be state wide organizations rather than local ones, especially in the North East United States.
There is a local Apple office in Austin, along with lots of Mac users and a large university willing to share technologically prepared space. The organization meets in a classroom complete with individual computer hookups at each work station, plus huge screens easily visible to the entire room. About half the attendees at this meeting arrived with their laptops and immediately got them hooked up and going. I attended my first MUG meeting because I was invited to attend. I mention this because it might behoove other MUGs to remember to seek out older Mac users and extend an invitation to them as well.
I attended with some trepidation, knowing how little actual technical knowledge I possess, and assuming most of the members would be rabid teckies. I was right of course. I spent too many years as a ham radio operator attending ham meetings to not know what to expect. However, it really did not seem to matter. I met a few people who were very interesting, made contacts for future assistance if needed (to give or receive), and heard a great presentation on using iPhoto.
It was this last item that really made the MUG meeting valuable to me. It was great to have someone actually demonstrate the application, walk through the steps necessary to use it, and point out all the special features without focusing on the technical aspect of it. In short, the presentation met my primary goal for my Mac: I don't care how it works, I just want to be able to use it to do what I want. I have used iPhoto several times, but the presentation gave me knowledge that I did not possess that will allow me to do more with it in the future.
One of things discussed by the speaker was a few Web sites that offer more information about using iPhoto. I found the following to be most helpful, and wanted to pass it on to you.
http://www.atomiclearning.com/freeiphoto.shtml offers a tutorial for using iPhoto (QuickTime must be loaded on your computer to view the tutorial). Lo and behold, when I clicked on the first session of the tutorial, a window opened and I was visually and auditorily led through the steps to become familiar with iPhoto. This is a great tool and a great site that I did not know existed.
An Easy Craft
It is November and I have shown remarkable restraint in not previously mentioning the upcoming holidays. Past readers of this column will know that all my holiday gifts are not only already purchased, but wrapped; and I have my Christmas cards ready to mail, and have started the baking. What can I say? If you yourself have not finished and want to do a quick, personalized gift, you might consider using your Mac to make individualized tee or sweat shirts. I tried this a couple of years ago but was not particularly pleased with the outcome, but I have discovered a new product that gives a more quality finish. The product is called Perfect Peel. I am sorry that I do not know the company that makes it, but it should be available in most office supply stores. You will need shirts, a color printer, an application that allows you to create a design, and an iron.
On To Macworld
The next Macworld convention will be held in San Francisco early in January. I will be presenting a break-out session concerning ways to encourage your parents and grandparents to use a computer. I would like to have your input as I prepare my presentation. What was the most confusing thing you encountered when you first started using your Mac? Please take a few minutes to let me know.