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.
There are two major segments to this effort:
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.
Not unusual for Internet collaboration, I have never met nor spoken to Mike or Jim. All our communication has been by email. 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.
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. (Added 4/17/06)