Tonight at 6 p.m. will be our Redwood Coast Mac Users Group Meeting at the Del Norte County Library.

This is amazing because I just got some sad news from our friends up in Brookings that May 6 will be their last MUG meeting and they will be disbanding.

It brings up the question: Are Mac user groups still relevant in the age of the Internet and iOS devices like the iPhone and iPad? Why meet once a month in person when all the answers are online with just a simple search away?

And, who uses Macs anymore when an iPad or iPhone can do most of the things, like surf the web, get email and watch videos, that a Mac does?

Well, I believe user groups are still relevant and I'm going to tell you why. Even though some of us have iPhones, iPods and iPads and we take them everywhere collecting pictures, shooting video and posting on Facebook, we still need a central place to bring all those great memories back to store them, manipulate them and share them with our families and friends. We do that on our Macs with the free software Apple ships with them: iPhoto, iMovie, iDVD, iWeb, even iTunes.

It's awesome having mobile iDevices, but when you really want to get serious work (or even fun gaming) done, it's done on your MacBook or iMac or Mac Pro, where you can put together a slideshow or memory book or YouTube movie or DVD or website ... the possibilities are almost endless.

When it all comes down to it, you really need a place, a group that can help you with these programs and can give you great ideas on how to best use them to share your life, your kids' lives, your pet's life, with your friends and family.

A users group can do that. Meet face to face with other people who have similar hobbies or interests and have gone through the experience of using these great iApps that you want to go through. They can walk you through the steps to make that awesome photo album or show you the best way to edit that great vacation video or just help you through some minor problems you've been having with mail. Only a user group can give you face-to-face answers or get you connected with people who can.

Of course, with the internet and its instant answers, user groups have become a little bit less needed. And now that Apple makes far more iDevices (iPods, iPhones and iPads) than Macs, it almost puts your Mac in a lesser role, but only because you can't carry it everywhere ;-).

The times, they are a changin' and so must user groups. No longer can we be exclusively Mac users groups. We must be Apple users groups and invite all of our iDevice-wielding friends in and show them all the great stuff they can do with their iDevices; and then we can show them what we can do on our Macs and soon they will be Mac owners, helping us use iDevices.

It's called the halo affect and if people buy iPhones and iPads, they probably will buy a Mac sooner or later. And we'll be ready to help them use it.

I'm working on changing our name and look to reflect the new world order of iDevices, but we won't change how we meet: nice and casual; talking about what we've been up to; and just helping each other out.

That is the main reason users groups will be around for a long time. Ours is almost 10 years old (October 2003) and a lot has happened since we started but the one constant is that we always will need some help from time to time.

So Apple Heads, join me and other like-minded people this coming Tuesday and we'll sit around and help where we can.