MINUTES OF THE 28 SEPTEMBER 2002 ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING OF HUMBUG

Edited by Matthew Franklin

The President, Mark Suter, opened the meeting with quorum at 6:05pm and took up the chair. Twenty-four members were present and three proxies were received by the executive.

Minutes

Mark Suter moved that the minutes from the last AGM be acepted; Sandra Milne seconded the motion. The motion was passed unanimously by show of hands.

Reports

Presidential

The President reported that the club had coasted during the past year. In January the club hosted the linux.conf.au, the run-up to which had allowed all executive members to emulate Ray's standard state of 'stress bunny'. The conference ran at a substantial surplus and has been hailed as a great success. Our club's size has stablised; we are not seeing the 'unsustainable' growth of previous years. Our mailing lists are active, especially compared to other similiar groups. And we appear to be enjoying what we do.

The Vice President, Robert Brockway, reported that "he had nothing to say". He went on to note that he plans to leave the country in the coming year.

Treasurer's Report

The Treasurer, Mathew Sellers, was absent at this point in the meeting. Mark Suter reported in his place. The formal paperwork for the year had not been completed at the time of the AGM. We have $3700 in the Bank with no liabilities. Adding in the expected value of the cashbox at the end of the night would take us to around $4000.00. The formal accounts have not been finalised because Mark left it too late to get all the necessary statements from the Commonwealth Bank; in the past these could be printed at a Branch, now they must be posted from somewhere down south. Mark offered his apologies to the meeting.

In the short term the executive expects to have to meet the cost of replacing caliburn.humbug.org.au which failed on 21 September starting at 6:00am with loss of mail and web and continuing to complete failure (no pings) at noon. Miju Systems has loaned the club an IBM xSeries 300 free of charge until Xmas. Robert Brockway noted that we should minute as a 'todo' the need to write a formal letter of thanks to Miju Systems.

At Xmas we either buy Miju's machine at cost fro $2700.00 or we replace it with a new machine of our own. We expect to be able to get a box in the $1000.00 to $1800.00 bracket. If incorporation gets off the ground... but the President remained silent on that point.

Formal accounts will be produced asap.

Secretary

The Secretary, Raymond Smith, reported that things were similiar to last year. Still trying for a proper membership DB. This was interrupted by the linux conference and the real lives of members. The P.O. Box has been taken over but not in name.

Librarian

The Librarian, David Makepeace, was not present at the meeting at this time. Mark Suter provided a report instead. Not much to report, the Library's inventory remains static besides the addition of a few new books. SAMS publishing have donated some books and a stress-ball will be given for each initial review of these books.

Non-Executive

As the meeting moved to elections, Clinton Roy asked if the non-exec could report. Mark Suter then invited thenon-exec members to report.

Ben Fowler, Talks Maintainer, reported that he had finally got some talks rolling in the latter part of the year. He is aiming for fortnightly talks and it looks possible to do talks with such regularity. Proposals, as always, should be sent to talks@lists.humbug.org.au.

Clinton Roy, Web Master, reported that the website is static.

Mathew Taylor, Training Coordinator, was not present to give a report.

Elections

  • President: As is customary, Mark Suter stood aside as chair of the meeting in favour of the Vice President.
    • Mark Suter was nominated by Bradley Marshall; the nomination was seconded by Ben Fowler. Mark accepted the nomination.
    • As there were no other nominations for the position, Mark Suter was elected unopposed. Mark then resumed the chair.
  • Vice President: Robert Brockway announced that he was not standing for election and that the position was vacant.
    • Clinton Roy self nominated; the nomination was seconded by Robert Brockway. Mark Suter noted the 'closed shop' nature of the nomination and asked if Clinton accepted the nomination; he did.
    • As there were no other nominations for the position,Clinton Roy was elected unopposed.
  • Treasurer: Matthew Sellers was nominated by Mark Suter; the nomination was seconded by Clinton Roy. Mathew, although not present, had indicated his willingness to serve again and was taken to accept the nomination.
    • As there were no other nominations for the position, Matthew Sellers was elected unopposed.
  • Secretary: Raymond Smith was nominated by Ben Fowler; the nomination was seconded by Ben Carlyle. Raymond accepted the nomination.
    • As there were no other nominations for the position, Raymond Smith was elected unopposed.
  • Librarian: David Makepeace, who had arived in the interim, was nominated by Robert Brockway; the nomination was seconded by Raymond Smith. David accepted the nominations.
    • In an effort to encourage at least one contested position the President offered custodian ship of the HUMBUG T-Shirts.
    • David Seikel self nominated; the nomination was seconded by Clinton Roy. He accepted the nomination. he candidates then gave brief speeches. A vote was called and the tally was 10 for David Makepeace, 8 for David Seikel. David Makepeace was therefore declared Librarian.

Reports Redux

David Makepeace and Mathew Sellers arrived during the elections. They were therefore called upon to report. David Makepeace noted that not much had happened. Few new books including a copy of Linus Tovald's biography _Just for Fun_. He noted that as Librarian he keeps an inventory of HUMBUG's assets. Only change of assets besides books and Linux Journals has been the purchase of an 80Gb HDD for hydra. David noted that we may need to buy a replacement for caliburn.

Mathew Sellers reported that he had nothing to add to Mark Suter's report on his behalf.

General Business

  • Installfests: Ben Fowler asked if there were any plans to hold an Installfest in the coming year. Mark Suter responded that the answer was 'not really'. Raymond Smith elaborated saying that the initial Installfest was called 'National' by some in the southern states and so all states joined in. 2001 was uncoordnated and HUMBUG forgot it. We could do it, with the help of interested non-exec members. The basic answer is maybe, it is a good idea. Planning and lots of work though. Also we had a good sponsor in the form of AsiaOnline who supplied powerboards and leads to us.

  • CBA: Kevon Cocks commented on Mark's earlier complaints with the CBA. If we were unhappy with them why not switch to the UniCredit Union which offered much better service and low fees. Mark Suter answered that it was mostly due to inertia but noted that we received very good service from the UQ CBA Branch and that our account was a zero-fee with interest account of a type no longer offered by banks.

  • Incorporation #1: Paul Ballard asked after the status of efforts to incporate. Mark Suter responded it looks like a good thing and that Brent Wesley was the member charged with investigating it. At this time the executive does not perceive incorporation to have great imediate benefits for the club. The costs involved are signficant -- especially public liability costs. Having insurance also arguably attracts law suits. We would still like to incorporate in the future as we cannot be sure of always having the shelter of larger entites (UQ, Linux Australia Inc).
    • A member asked if there was some corporate sponsor who could help cover costs? Mark Suter noted that while corporate support is great it would need to be on an ongoing basis to cover the ongoing costs of an incorporated club.
    • Raymond Smith noted that back-of-envelope calculations indicated a possible membership fee of $50.00 being required to existing and incorporation costs.
    • Mark Suter noted that our assets are small. Why sue us? Raymond Smith noted that if people understood incorporation then we were happy for them to present the executive with a costed plan.
  • Membership Fee: Robert Brockway noted that our membership fee has been at $15.00 for some years now and is very low. He argued for the need to increase this fee gradually to a higher level. This would help to support incorporation.
  • Wireless Access Point: Anthony Towns asked for the purchase of a wireless access point for meetings. Mark Suter noted humourously that the President's lack of a wireless device might have some bearing on the matter. Being serious Mark wondered how many members would benefit from such an arrangement. A show of hands indicated that 4 people had wireless that day, 6 more would use it if it were available. AJ said that a wireless card would cost a few hundred dollars while wireless access points should be available in the 500 - 800 dollar mark.
  • Incorporation #2: Anthony Thyseen asked why we would need to increase membership fees if we incorporated?
    • He believed that the Queensland Kite Flyers' incorporation added a mere $32.80 per year. Sarah Hollings suggested that made Anthony our incorporation expert -- a title he was quick to deny. Anthony continued to say there were 80 - 90 families in the club; membership fees are $40.00 per person and $45.00 per family.
    • Raymond pointed out on the topic of minimising fee increases that there are many cool things for HUMBUG to do. It would be great if we had other ways to raise funds.
    • Mark Suter asked if members would be happy to eliminate the stepped fee structure. Ben Carlyle capture the general feeling of members by saying this would be acceptable only if memberships ran for twelve months from date of payment.
    • Mark Suter then called for a show of hands to indicate support for different fee levels. All members were asked to raise their hands and then lower them when their 'pain' threshold was reached. At $20.00 we lost two members, at $25.00 three to four members, at $30.00 we lost half the members present, and at $50.00 we had lost all but four.
    • There was some brief discussion about concession rates. General consensus seemed to be for a $15.00 concession rate along side a $20/$25 full membership rate.
    • Shane Ravenn and Ben Carlyle suggested looking for a way for people to donate money. Shane was willing to identify any figure above $15.00 as 'too expensive' for him. Mark noted that 'donations' had a way of becoming compulsory,a notion that seemed to be shared by many members.

* Supporting Linux: Shane Raven raised the issue of support for Linux.

  • His dealings with a cable network provider was uninspiring with first level support being particularly clueless and answer all questions with a 'not supported' mantra ("Dynamic or Static IP Allocations?", "Not supported". "PAP or CHAP?","Not supported".) Is there a way for HUMBUG to provide suggestions or support to the company.
  • Ben Fowler asked if the essential issue was whether or not HUMBUG should be involved in advocacy. Shane said this was not the case -- he was just interested getting support. David Seikel told of his expirencing with Telstra Bigpond Cable: he had written a HOWTO and offered to assist with a support but was still told 'no'. His suggestion is that community must help itself.
  • Robert Brockway presented his opinion that official support must come from the top down, not the bottom up. His experience was that the real techs in these companies know about Linux. Marketdroids and beuracracy are the problem. We cannot change this ourselves.
  • Anthony Towns provided two points. First, that it was easier to change to a Linux friendly ISP than it is to make an ISP Linux friendly. Second that organisations like UUG are already involved in this sort of advocacy. Raymond Smith noted that Linux Australia had a role to play here too. Another member noted that they sometimes found the best solution was to email requests rather than call.
  • Anthony Thyssen pointed out that this was a cost issue to the companies concerned. Ben Carlyle noted that Linux is often non-standard and requires self-support (although this is difficult if you do not already have net access). Mark Suter pointed out that the uniformity of Windows is an assitance here. But some versions of windows, eg WindowsME, suffer from similiar treatment. It is just like the Dilbert Cartoon: "Yes I am typing in my details again... guess what, it doesn't work". It is an economic problem.
  • Raymond Smith pointed out that while this was a valuable discussion it could not be resolved tonight. Robert suggested using H-CHAT to continue discussions (noting that discussion of ISPs is offtopic for H-GENERAL).
  • Caliburn: Mark Suter provided details of the death of the DEC Multia Box that had been caliburn.humbug.org.au. It was a DEC Multia Pentium-100 with a full 32Mb of RAM. The Alpha versions were much cooler, but this one had SCSI, built in video, etc. Its goal was to be DEC's network computer Slow, but a good size and has worked well.

The Box had mysteriously crashed a few times and became completely unresponsive. When it was retrieved and rebooted it segfaulted with a memory page error when trying to exec shell in single user mode. Didn't investigate thouroughly as Miju had already kindly loaned a temporary replacement. caliburn restarted as a thouroughly upgraded IBM e-Server 300 with software RAID and 256Mb of memory. Robert, one of our sysadmins, was surprised when he saw a RAID sync on a box that he thought was a small, old Multia. The old Caliburn was bought in 1999 when it was already old. It has served us well.

Close of Meeting

As there was no futher general business the chair closed the meeting at 7:20pm.