Do you believe that:
- Misery loves company
- The more the merrier
- Many hands make light work
- If two lie together there is warmth (Ecclesiastes 4:11)
- All of the above
What’s a user group?
A user group is a collection of computer users who get together for mutual support. Sometimes they are organized by program or platform, sometimes by industry and sometimes by other characteristics such as demographics. However they are organized, though, they aim to help each other out and support one another in getting more from their technology. Think of it as a mutual aid society for people living hand-to-mouse.
The easiest way to find a user group is just to visit Google.com and search for “user groups” but a lot of user groups also advertise their services on local bulletin boards (the physical kind), in local newspapers or computer magazines, and at other places such as computer stores or senior centers. Some have a very specific and technical mission while others have a more general focus, as shown by the Senior Computer Learning Center’s mission of “seniors helping seniors.”
Portland-Area User Groups
Below are links to some of the Portland-area user groups that I mention and recommend most frequently to my clients in the Portland (Oregon) metro area.
- Portland Macintosh Users Group
PMUG is probably the most successful user group in the region, with over five hundred members, several “special interest groups” (SIGs) and a dedicated facility in downtown Portland offering weekly clinics and several classes each month, including a Wednesday-evening class which is free for members. With memberships starting at $42 per year, PMUG is easily the best training value in the region.
Older than PMUG but now more like it’s little sister, AppleVan holds a monthly meeting in Vancouver WA for Macintosh users north of the river. AppleVan meetings are always free and open to the public since 1999.
- Senior Computer Learning Center
With the motto of “seniors helping seniors” the SCLC provides inexpensive computer training to people over fifty-five from its location near Lloyd Center in Portland OR. They discontinued Macintosh offerings in 2001, but continue to be an excellent resource for older users of Windows, and an excellent place to learn what you need or volunteer to teach others.
- Portland InDesign Users Group
At the other end of the technical spectrum is the Portland InDesign Users Group, focusing on professional graphic designers and folks like me, who support them. A membership organization which meets almost monthly, this group is officially affiliated with Adobe.