While the Boston Computer Society was in existence, it provided a directory of its constituent user groups and a calendar of their meetings. With the demise of the BCS in 1996, there was no place to find out where to contact user groups, or to learn of their meetings. To me, this is one of the greatest losses resulting from the BCS shutdown.
The BCS never did a good job with their calendar. The calendar was prepared for the printed newsletter so listings needed to be submitted six weeks prior to publication. An electronic copy of the printed calendar was maintained on the BCS bulletin board, but it was never updated. Therefore the online data was neither complete nor accurate. This was NOT the way to provide online information.
I felt it was important for someone to continue to provide user group information. CONE, the Computer Organizations of New England, was established in an attempt to fill some of the void left by the demise of the BCS. It would be fitting for CONE to provide a list of user organizations in the area as a public service so I volunteered to be the CONE webmaster. Initially, the calendar was produced as an experiment and feasibility study. This effort has since grown to become an ongoing hobby.
The major segments of this effort are :
I started publishing these lists in the spring of 1997. I used information ferreted out by searching Internet websites, by subscribing to user group mailing lists, and to a very small extent by direct user group communication.
In December of 1997, I sent out a plea for help. Mike Murphy and Jim Nichol responded. Mike has been working diligently since, while Jim contributed to the calendar for over a year. We share the work of maintaining the calendar. It gets updated more than 200 times per year. We strive to post new information as quickly as possible whenever it becomes available. Meeting information is sometimes posted within a few minutes of arrival. The calendar has been updated as often as five times in a single day.
We have been cataloging information about all the non-commercial computer user groups that we can find, limited to those groups within roughly an hour's travel of Boston. For the first fifteen years of collaboration, I had not met nor spoken to Mike, with all communication by email. In 2012 we joined the 19th century and started using the telephone.
Unfortunately, the CONE organization did not survive; the calendar needed a new identity. BUGC stands for "Boston-area User Group Calendar" and was devised to be a short, easily remembered, and descriptive name, and most importantly, one for which a domain was available. The calendar finally migrated to its new identity with its own domain - bugc.org - in December 2001.
At the beginning of 2006, I started using www.ChangeDetection.com to monitor user group web sites for changes. Unfortunately many sites cannot be automated because their content changes too frequently. As a result, the calendar is updated more frequently with a faster response to changes in sites that are automatically monitored. Sites that cannot use ChangeDetection, get updates reported less frequently than before.
In June, 2008, intolerable levels of spam forced us to to change our public email address, and to discontinuing supporting a working email link. We also stopped referencing and linking to our obsolete former list of user groups.
In 2011, I started using RSS feeds for all the user groups that provided them. This made it considerably easier and faster to locate changes. At that time, feeds became available for all meetup groups, resulting in a significant expansion of meetup group listings. We also made calendar updates easier by creating templates for all group listings.
In March 2012, I announced that I would step down from daily upodate activity at the end of June 2012, after completing 15 years of service. A new volunteer (anonymous) came forth and is working with Mike to continue this calendar service.