I've been using computers since the fifth grade (I'll leave little clues throughout this post so you can figure out what year that was) when my parents bought me my first Atari 400 computer. I've been in love with them ever since, and have found many different projects throughout the years to work on and create. One thing that I haven done in all of those (brzt) years is go to a users group meeting. I found out there was a users group for the Atari in the area called "MACE - Michigan Atari Computer Enthusiasts" (The only link I can find relates to their BBS Software - AMIS). I never went to a meeting, but it nagged me that I might be missing something by not going to the meetings. Nervousness, and a general fear of large groups of unfamiliar people kept me away.
Up until last night I still hadn't checked out a users group. I've been using Linux since 1995, but let my fears keep me away from users groups. Did I need to be a part of a group of users that meet face to face? Maybe, but I kept rationalizing that I could get everything I need online.
Last night JoDee and I went to the Michigan Unix Group. I've known about MUG for quite some time now, but haven't made it to a meeting for one reason or another. We showed up during their lightning talks, which are a series of 15 minute presentations about various topics of interest. During the talks, my mind kept thinking "why haven't I done this before? This is exactly what I needed. STOOOPID STOOOPID!" (Well, maybe not in those exact words). Afterwards, we went to dinner, and had great conversation about all things Linux.
My advice for anyone, like me, who hasn't gone to a Linux Users Group meeting (or UNIX group meeting) is to find one in your area and just go. You've got nothing to fear except your fear of losing your inhibitions.