By KYRA GOTTESMAN-Correspondent
“It’s for anyone who wants to learn and have a good time enjoying everything Apple. That’s what we’re all about, learning and fun. We’re just a group of regular folks who want to learn to get the most out of our Apple products” said Ron Brooks, the group’s librarian.
Booting up in ’85
In 1985, a year after the first Macintosh were released, a local personal computer retail store created a Mac users classroom with 10 tables and five computers. The store hosted free weekly tech-support classes. Brooks was one of the first customers to attend.
“I bought my first Mac and printer in 1985 for $3,500. Other than the basics, I didn’t know anything so the class was great,” he said.
As Macintosh gained personal computer market share, the class continued to grow to overflowing. By 1990, the user group changed locations and began meeting at Chico Community Hospital. In the mid- to-late ’90s, with more than 125 members, the group moved again to Enloe Conference Center. In 2013 MacChUG, as the group calls itself, moved its now monthly meetings to the Elks Lodge.
With the influx of new Apple products, more people became iPad, iPhone, IOS and OSX software users, so the group expanded its interest base to include the new products and their users. “There are so many other Apple products now that more and more people are using. Including them in our group was a natural evolution,” said Scott Evans, president.
Mac vs. Apple IOS users
MacChUG meetings are a two-part affair. Before the general meeting starts, two special interest discussion groups are held. One group is specifically for Mac users while the other is for Apple IOS product users.
“Each group briefly discusses a topic that pertains to the products. After that, we open it for questions that don’t necessarily pertain to the topic. People can just ask about problems or issues they are having with their devices. It’s like a personalized tech support appointment,” said Evans. Discussion groups are popular among members, especially new Apple-product users who appreciate learning from a “live human being, instead of a voice on the phone or instructions on line,” said Evans.
Mike Miller a 25-year PC Windows user said he “came over to the dark side, at the urging of my many Apple cult friends” after his PC system experience a bad crash — for the third time. He bought his first Mac last August and joined the group.
“I poked and punched, like a monkey, this strange fruit in my hand. I could do basic email and Google but that was all. I was universally impressed by how helpful the meetings and people were. They didn’t belittle me like a tourist in strange land. The natives were friendly. I appreciate the structure and the camaraderie fraternal collegiality,” said Miller.
After just four months with the group, Miller was proficient on his Macintosh doing everything he had done on his PC.
“It’s a miracle,” he said.
MacChUG’s general meetings start at 7:30 p.m. and typically feature presentations from industry experts. Among those who have spoken at MacChUG meetings are Randy Singer, co-author of”The Macintosh Bible”; James Wills, author of “Make a Movie Using Just your iPad”; and Bob Bishop, founding member of Apple’s research and development team.
This month, the guest speaker will be Christian Pickman from Micromat, a company that provides Macintosh diagnostic, troubleshooting and repair utilities.
“That’s what really makes us unique. We get big name industry speakers,” said Brooks.
When industry experts are unavailable to speak at a meeting, group members, who are “highly proficient” in a particular software program or app, fill in.
“That’s another reason our group is so great. About 60 percent of the members are first-time or novice users and 20 percent are intermediate users. But the remaining 20 percent are advanced users who are happy to share their knowledge and teach others,” said Evans.
In addition to the nearly one-on-one education and support, there are other perks for MacChUG members.
The group publishes a monthly newsletter that includes information articles about existing and new Apple products and software; reviews and summaries of the previous month’s guest speaker and information on topics ranging from how to restore old iWork documents to tips on speeding up a Mac.
MacChUG has a lending library of 150 Apple product books available for members. Members also receive a 10-percent discount on Apple and Apple related products at Chico Best Buy.
While the group is busy with all things Apple, they do take time out to make a difference in the community.
In December, MacChUG participated in North State Food Bank’s canned food drive. As first-time participants, members donated 44-pounds of food.
Once a month, MacChUG members volunteer at Chico library’s Tec Tuesday User Group meetings.
“They help teach everybody and not just on Macs. They help people with iPads too. They are fabulous and we love having them. We really appreciate them so much,” said Maureen Jeffers, a library staff member.