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December

Meeting held on December 6, 2006.

There were only 2 days since the last MC meeting on which there were any problems. The first required bombadil (our main server) to be rebooted to resolve the problem and the second which occurred yesterday was the first time since we changed to Internode that we had problems with the ADSL link. However, it was only of short duration - possibly due to Telstra doing work on the lines. Only one member reported that there was a problem with mail was on the same day that bombadil experienced its problem.

Otherwise nothing out of the ordinary has happened and things seem to be running relatively smoothly.

November

Meeting held on November 15, 2006.

Not a lot to report apart from an increase in spam which Chris has taken care of ...also an increase in membership by 1.

October

Meeting held on October 18, 2006.

ARM Meeting held on October 21, 2006.

This month has been an eventful one.

We experienced a week of unconnectivity from 21/9/06 due to the shutdown of Veridas. However, I allowed members to use Helen's and my private wireless connection for proxied web traffic when it became apparent that the problem was going to be of indeterminate duration.

Our churn to Internode was completed on October 5th with no hassles once Telstra and SIS were out of the picture. When I rang SIS to cancel the routing of our subnets, it was disclosed that SIS had submitted a churn order for our connection on Thursday, 21st September (the same day that I rang them and was told the loss of our connection was due to equipment burnout and the service would resume that afternoon). So I was right in suspecting that their order caused the delay in our churn to Internode being actioned.

The routing of our subnets with the help of Peter Brockbank (SA) went more smoothly than I've ever experienced or heard of before. Within minutes of making the first connection mail started to come in. While the bill for the setup and 2 month's connection to Internode has been received, there appeared no charge for routing of the subnets - which was quoted on the phone to me as $100 per subnet per year. In addition Chris has informed me that we appear to be getting significantly more unmetered downloads than he has calculated (around 1GB more so far this month). The charge for routing the subnets may appear on a later bill (if it does Hunter doesn't have any problem paying for it), but if it doesn't then it appears that SA's long term good relationship with Internode will be beneficial to any APANA region who chooses to change to them as our connection to Internode will actually be cheaper (and more reliable, no doubt) than our previous one. It is now apparent that SIS group are a reseller of a reseller of Telstra services which explains the reason for a lot of the downtimes we've suffered during the period of our connection to them (risk doubled by the connection being dependent on 2 ISPs rather than just one). If we had been aware of that, it is unlikely that we would have used them at all.

The 'Simple TCP/IP' problem on XP machines has to date been fixed on 7 Hunter member's computers requiring 3 home visits (2 by me and 1 by Ross); 3 were brought to me to fix here while the other was my own machine - which although it doesn't require dialup facilities, it did affect the speed at which data was uploaded using WinSCP. It is suspected that the default MTU setting of the updated 'Internet Gateway Discovery and Control Client' which is the default setting for Windows XP and only utilised in DSL connections is incompatible with dialups and other programs which rely on TCP/IP. Instructions for rectifying this problem was posted to all members so how many were actually affected remains unknown.

Numerous reported problems with Hunter's proxy turned out to be mainly due to the 'XP bug', although there was a minor problem with it but that was quickly fixed.

There will be an RC meeting today at 2pm to finalise all the arrangements for the AGM. Although only a handful of local members have responded to my request to rsvp by today, it appears that we'll have a quorum which is the most important requirement.

September

Meeting held on September 27, 2006.

Most Hunter members seem to be taking the loss of connectivity due to the shutdown of Veridas in their stride. Only a couple of members with email only accounts have expressed 'dissatisfaction'.

The churn application was faxed to Internode last Sunday but as yet I have had nothing from them apart from confirmation on the phone yesterday that the application had been received and was being processed.

A member in Sydney rang yesterday to tell me that our routes had 'completely disappeared' so it may take some time before mail is working properly again even after our connection comes up.

August

Meeting held on August 16, 2006.

The ADSL connection has experienced a couple of days this month when it was highly unstable, but only a few members noticed that there was a problem. It appeared that either Telstra or our ISP was the cause of these.

Late last month Giles (our terminal server) died and was replaced with the ex-Wollongong server for a couple of weeks. However, it was discovered that it was at risk of overheating in that role so when the opportunity arose to take the network down last Saturday (to replace a household powerpoint), Chris swapped the machines serving as Giles and Kildall. During that downtime Chris also reorganised the setup of all the network equipment - utilising 2 switchboxes to attach all machines to one monitor - and in the process all the network equipment was 'springcleaned' and cables tidied: http://kildall.apana.org.au/~cjb/wordpress/archives/136

On Sunday the new arrangement was tested when there was a short circuit of the household power supply. The only machines which went down were those not connected to a UPS - all my machines and Kildall (the ex-Wollongong server) since it was considered too 'power-hungry' and would quickly drain the UPS to the detriment of our other servers.

My VHS to DVD project has gained momentum with the purchase of "KWorld DVD Maker USB2.0". It cost $99 but has been a good investment since it meant I can convert multiple tapes each day. It captures, converts and burns a 90 minute tape in around 2 hours while allowing the host computer to be used for other purposes. All the free software I found took around 12 hours for each tape of similar length and drastically reduced the computer's performance for any other task. My offer to convert any member's VHS tapes to DVD can now to be extended to members of any region...just mail your tapes to me at 21 Reservoir Road, Glendale 2285 and I'll mail them back to you along with the DVD copies. I'll advise the cost of this service after I've discussed it with the Management Committee.

July

MC Meeting held on July 19, 2006.

Last weekend there was a problem with Telstra's routing and as a result we were without our ADSL link for a number of hours. Over the past month there's also been a suspected problem with the modem on the last dialin. However since it rarely is used it's been difficult to test it properly to ascertain whether the modem is actually faulty and needs replacing or the problem is with the modem at the other end of the connection since only one member has complained about not being able to connect on that line.

The Newcastle Lapidary Club joined us as a new organisational member this month.

This week I've been working on copying my most precious VHS tapes to DVD. If any member would like me to provide that service for them, I'd be happy to do that for the cost of a replacement DVD or free if you provide your own. Or if you'd like to know how to do that yourself, I can show/tell you how to do it for minimal cost.

June

Meeting held on June 28, 2006

Hunter gained a new member this week. Overall both numbers and yearly surplus are down but the region still remains viable.

A problem with the last dialin modem - hadn't connected in almost a month - was resolved.

In an attempt to limit the amount of spam reaching member's mailboxes, graylisting along with 'delayed connection' was implemented on incoming connections to our mailserver, giles. According to Chris he is seeing an 80% reduction in the amount of spam reaching members mailboxes as the result of these measures.

May

Meeting held on May 17, 2006.

It's been a fairly quiet month. AGM plans are on hold awaiting a quote for bus hire following the RC meeting on April 30. Once it's been determined that that will be affordable further arrangements can be made and a schedule of activities advised.

I had planned on not only writing a 'proper' report today and also completing the minutes of the last RC meeting held on June 18, but unfortunately a family medical emergency overnight prevented that from happening....so here's my 'quick and dirty' report for the meeting tonight.

Hunter gained a new member this week. Overall both numbers and yearly surplus are down but the region still remains viable.

A problem with the last dialin modem - hadn't connected in almost a month - was resolved.

In an attempt to limit the amount of spam reaching member's mailboxes, graylisting along with 'delayed connection' was implemented on incoming connections to our mailserver, giles. According to Chris he is seeing an 80% reduction in the amount of spam reaching members mailboxes as the result of these measures.

April

Meeting held on April 19, 2006.

Most Hunter members seem to be taking the loss of connectivity due to the shutdown of Veridas in their stride. Only a couple of members with email only accounts have expressed 'dissatisfaction'.

The churn application was faxed to Internode last Sunday but as yet I have had nothing from them apart from confirmation on the phone yesterday that the application had been received and was being processed.

A member in Sydney rang yesterday to tell me that our routes had 'completely disappeared' so it may take some time before mail is working properly again even after our connection comes up.

3 new members were gained and make up for the 3 who were lost.

March

Meeting held on March 22, 2006.

This month has not been quite as busy as previous months - still I have had enough to do to keep me out of mischief.

No hardware problems with member's machines and only a few software problems requiring my assistance were reported this month. In most cases these were able to be resolved over the phone as they were due to configuration errors - most common of these involved Outlook Express having reverted to using its default settings.

The most interesting problem involved numerous bounces received by a member who was trying to email all the members of her local hobby group by including all those addresses in the 'To:' field. I resolved her problem by creating a new mailing list for her group on lists.apana.org. The members of that group have expressed their gratitude to me for having made their efforts to communicate with each other much simpler. Any APANA member who regularly emails a set number of addresses is welcome to have a mailing list set up for that purpose on lists.apana.org. These private lists will not be advertised and replies can be directed to the owner of the list rather than to everyone on the list if required.

Routing of http://www.ourcommunityplace.org.au to its home directory on Hunter's network was successfully completed earlier this month. Many thanks to those who assisted with that.

Hunter gained a new member this week, but it looks likely that we'll lose up to 6 members in coming months. Fortunately this will not have a significant impact on the region's 'bottom line' as the majority of these members are APANA members only who joined for support in fixing their computers...so unless they have another problem before their membership runs out it's unlikely they will renew. It is hoped that new members will be found to replace them before those old memberships expire.

The major problem we currently face (throughout APANA not just Hunter region) is a few members who have become a bit slack in paying their fees by the due date. To keep fees as low as possible it is imperative that the income is realized before the bills arrive. The ability of National APANA to subsidise any region in which this doesn't happen is fast declining and it's likely that within a few months each region will be left to its own resources. Hunter is currently recording a loss of $165 for this month and in the past 12 months has made exactly 8 cents profit, but while all those members with fees due this month have paid there is still an amount of $216 outstanding from previous months. With our ISP bill for next month due next week, this situation requires immediate attention to resolve and keep the region viable. Although there are sufficient reserve funds to meet all regular expenses for a number of months, these funds are meant to be used only for repairs in the event of equipment failure and having them being used to cover the day-to-day running costs is not advisable.

The phone line left unused when one of our permanent members moved to an ADSL connection has been disconnected and its modem moved into 'spares'. The options in front of the Regional Committee were to disconnect it or add it to the dialins. However in light of the amount in overdue fees it was considered that saving the cost of the line rental was the more prudent action to take at that time. Considering the frequency with which the boot script has run in recent months, that extra line would have been beneficial to all members if only finances would have allowed it. It can be reconnected if our financial situation improves.

There was expenditure of $40 for 128MB DDR RAM so that the ex-Wollongong server could be tested. This machine is currently on loan to Chris (System Administrator) for use until repairs to his private machine (brushtail) are completed.

No problems with the network machines or other equipment so far this month.

February

Meeting held February 22, 2006.

It's been another busy month at the hub.

1. A number of members have experienced problems with connecting or remaining connected. In all cases the problems were fixed by modifying settings, reinstalling software and/or replacing equipment at their end.

2. The major task that took many hours but has now been completed was the migration and setup of all my mailing lists on http://lists.apana.org . All four lists and associated webpages are now operating on that domain. There still remains some tidying up to do but that will be done as time permits. (With Mailman's inbuilt spam-filtering there's been a dramatic reduction in the amount of spam I'd been receiving which either Listerv or Majordomo bounced - Mailman holds it all until the owner gives instructions on how to deal with it or discards it automatically if previously instructed to do so. In just 3 weeks the spam redirected to me from the Autism Listserv has gone from around a hundred messages to less than 5 each day that Mailman asks me about).

3. The next task is the migration of other Hunter member's mailing lists to lists.apana.org (from Majordomo to Mailman).

Once setup a Mailman mailing list can be entirely configured and maintained via the web by the owner of that list so a direct connection to Hunter's servers is not required. This means that not only will this service be available to other Hunter members, but that it will be available to other APANA members regardless of the region to which they officially belong...especially ICR members whose ISP doesn't permit them to run mailing lists or in other regions where that facility doesn't exist.

January

Meeting held on January 18, 2006.

It's been a very busy month.

1. 3 network machines went down one after the other requiring major component replacements. Giles's hard-drive had to be transferred to a new box; Niggle's hard-drive had to be replaced while Cray only needed a new power supply. Chris broke all records in getting Giles and Niggle back on the network since they went down within an hour of each other as he was waiting to be picked up to be taken away on holiday....he finished about 10 minutes before his lift arrived. Cray was more obliging, it started making 'weird sounds' the day after he arrived back home.

2. Before Cray was placed back on the network it was setup to host the lists.apana.org domain.

3. Since then Chris has been busy updating old software and installing the new software that will be required on both Cray and Kildall (which will host the webpages for the lists on lists.apana.org) and configuring both machines to work together as well as resolving all the problems that I'm encountering in becoming familiar with that new software. Yesterday morning he submitted the DNS updates to hostmaster but he has already set up a 'draft' new webpage for http://203.14.157.23 which will be the index page for lists.apana.org.

4. Apart from constantly annoying Chris, I've been busy preparing all the webpages and files for the Autism List (which I've maintained for the past 7 years) and installing them on kildall. The Listserv at St Johns which currently hosts that list is closing down on January 31 and the migration of that list has to be totally completed before then. I can do no more except 'tidy up' until the DNS updates are in place.

5. In the past 2 weeks 6 members have/ have had major problems with their computers - 3 of which I managed to repair while I was waiting for processes I was running on kildall to finish....(this also is why I have the time to write this now) and one of which Helen volunteered to repair on my behalf. The other 2 obligingly said they were happy to wait until after Jan 31. Two of these machines seem to have lost all the individual files in their C directory including their 'command.com' and many in lower level directories as well. In C: only 2 directories remained C:\Programs and C:\Windows but both were severely depleted of files and programs. It looked very much like someone had run 'del *.*' on all higher level directories....yet I know that no-one else with sufficient knowledge to do that has had direct access to those machines...so I currently suspect either a virus or internet hacker although one machine did have a firewall installed. When I checked those machines there was no evidence of an existing virus...but does anyone know of a virus that will do that and then delete itself or anything else that can cause that to happen?

6. I've also been pre-occupied spending time with my 6 year old grandson who is visiting from Darwin - the first time I've seen him in 4 years. He will be here again tonight so I doubt I will be available for the MC meeting since this will be the last time I'll see him before he returns to Darwin tomorrow so it could be a 'late visit' and I would appreciate it if anyone has a problem that they don't ring me after 3pm today....and unless they have a major problem ('can't connect') or they want to pay their fees that they don't ring me until after January 31...just send me an email and I'll attend to it when I have a spare moment.