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The past year in the Hunter Region could not by any stretch of the imagination be described as boring. Periods of total chaos have been interspersed with brief periods of unheard of stability and smooth operation. The majority of problems encountered came from sources beyond the region's control, which in hindsight has made it a particularly frustrating year for the regional committee, the admin team and all the region's members.

Telstra has been a major player in the problems we've encountered. Failed connections due to faulty lines have not only seen us lose members, but they have also increased our costs. Problems were also encountered with our Ozemail connection, although since upgrading that connection to 56K the service we've received from them has improved dramatically.

Our membership is down 7 from this time last year, but, while Telstra costs have increased our overall costs have been reduced and our income has remained about the same placing us in better financial shape than previously.

The electrical supply problems that have plagued us over the past 3 years have practically disappeared - only one occurrence in the past 3 months - since the computer circuit was isolated from the general household circuits.

During the course of the year most of our equipment has been upgraded or replaced with niggle being the only machine still as it was post-relocation. The rebuilding of cray, giles and bombadil has resulted in a more stable network - it's been two and a half months since any of them were rebooted. The installation of the 32-port Cyclades (almost 4 months ago) has also contributed to network stability by allowing power supplies and modems to be better placed for maximum airflow to prevent overheating. As a result only one modem became unusable in that time without the loss of any of the power supplies.

March was the most harrowing month of all in the past year. With new problems surfacing daily on all fronts - including the relocation of our two most experienced sysadmins to the south. However since April they have come to our rescue with some long distance adminning to help us resolve any problems (mainly involving news) that the local members of the admin team were unable to resolve.

Most of the calls I've received from members have been concerned with failure to connect or disconnections. There have only been a few instances where this involved the failure of modems to reset properly which was able to be instantly remedied. The majority were the result of changes to configurations or misconfigurations on the member's computer caused by new software installations or their operating system reverting to its defaults. A few calls prior to the upgrading of the machines involved problems accessing mail caused by mailbox corruption on bombadil or members having changed their login password but not their home directory password to match. Most of these problems were able to be handled by phone but in a few instances I either travelled to the member's home or they brought their computer to me to help them sort out their problems. When members have suffered hardware failure various spare items belonging to the region have been loaned to them to use until they can have their equipment replaced or repaired.

Thanks to members heeding my plea to pay their fees promptly, the region was able to end the financial year in the black. The financial forecast for Hunter for the coming year looks healthier than it ever has but it will only remain that way if all members continue to provide the region with the financial support it needs to meet its monthly commitments.

The region currently comprises 51 APANA members - 28 dialin, 2 organisational, 6 permanent-connect, 5 uucp, 6 mail and news only, 1 ethernet-connected and 3 additional in household members. Our yearly income is $8,860 and yearly expenditure $6,974 (figures include GST) leaving a balance of $1,886 to cover miscellaneous regional expenses and increased charges for the next 12 months.

Some advertising to recruit more members was carried out at the end of last year but none has been undertaken since then as finances would not allow it. For the moment and until our account balance improves over the next few months the region must rely on its current members to recruit new members to ensure that the region continues to be able to pay its own way without relying on financial support from National APANA.

Carolyn Baird
Regional Co-ordinator
Hunter APANA