Speaking of user group meetings, I'm doing one...tonight! That's right, you can see ME...live and in person, talking about the Provider Model in ASP.NET 2.0! Please contain your excitement. :-)
Actually, providers are indeed a pretty important part of what makes ASP.NET 2.0 rock. It's because of providers that you can, at a moment's notice, swap out the back-end data store for features like Membership, Profile, etc., and substitute one of the other out-of-the-box providers, or a custom provider you create or obtain from a third-party. This means you can take full advantage of the productivity of fantastic new controls like the login control, while not being tied to a specific back-end storage system.
Anyway, I'll be speaking at the Richmond .net User Group meeting in Glen Allen, VA. The meeting starts at 6:30pm sharp, and if you're late I'll eat your pizza!
Meeting details and directions can be found here. See you tonight!