How do you decide what computer you want to buy? How do you get help solving technical issues? How do you connect with other people who have interest in, or own the same brand, or even model of computer? Chances are, you hit the web and visit manufacturer websites, discussion forums, or start your journey by entering a couple keywords in Google or Yahoo!. Whatever did people do before the web and all these great virtual communication technologies came along? They formed local area user groups, sent out monthly newsletters, and got together at regular intervals to trade freeware, listen to guest speakers, see demonstrations of new systems, or share their latest PC and peripheral mods. These were times when interfaces weren't fully standardized - parallel was called 'centronics' and often required a small interface box between PC and the printer, while serial devices were referred to by their I tripple E designation, like " IEEE-488 ". Compatibility wasn't assumed, and PC hobbyists enjoyed the challenge of getting PC and peripherals to work together. Times have certainly changed in that regard... I remember joining several local user groups. We'd meet about once a month, taking turns hosting small groups in our homes, or perhaps booking space at the local library, or rec center. Later came the dial up BBS systems and early message boards. The BBS was really the first step toward the online communities we have today. Broadband access and rich online environments now allow the whole world to connect in ways that local / regional dialup never could. Has the web now relegated the user group to history, along with dot matrix printers, cassette tapes for mass storage, and dial up modems with acoustic couplers? Who is a member of an active PC user group today ?