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Meeting held at the home of Carolyn Baird.

  1. Meeting declared opened at 2.20pm.

  2. Members Present:

    • Carolyn Baird
    • Gavin Condon
    • Peter Longworth
    • Nigel Bell
    • Jemina Pickering
    • Craig Pickering
    • Ben Eisel
    • Andrew Glazebrook
    • Darren Porter
    • Ross Slade
    • Helen Donaldson
    (Atmosphere provided by Nyshall Pickering)

  3. Apologies:

    • John Neilsen
    • David White

  4. Minutes of November 14th, 1999 Regional Meeting: A printed copy of the previous minutes was circulated and read by all present. Jem approved the minutes. Seconded by Peter. Accepted unanimously.

  5. Regional Report: Carolyn gave an oral presentation of the Co-ordinator's report and a printed copy of the Treasurer's report for end of December and the Co-ordinator's forecast for the month of January were circulated.


    • Finances:

      During the months of December and January, our finances continued to improve. The ad in The Star in December and the letterbox distribution of our flyer have brought in sufficient new members to cover the expenditure for that purpose.

      Our yearly income currently stands at $9200 which exceeds our Ozemail fees and Telstra charges by $2500 per year. This is enough to pay off our debt to the national body within the next few months provided we can maintain our membership at this level or higher until the APANA debt is settled. Once that is achieved we can finally start making plans for the future with regard to increasing the number and quality of services we are able to offer members.

    • Equipment:

      The problems with the newserver seem to have been finally resolved thanks to the implementation of an automatic script by our very able sysadmin to restart nntp as soon as it fails. Although this takes about 15 to 20 minutes before the newserver is accessible again it is a vast improvement.

      On two days in the past month, heatwave conditions and massive power spikes coupled with the failure of some equipment (2 ethernet cables and cray's IDE controller card) have resulted in the network failing and some ensuing downtime while the cause was analysed and the necessary repairs/replacements carried out. However, only the listserver, cray was out of service for any length of time. Cray's services are currently being provided by Gavin's machine which he loaned to us for that purpose until cray can be rebuilt. Fortunately thanks to the generosity of members, Alan Gillanders (IDE controller card) and Chris Baird (500MB hard-drive),it appears that we have the spare parts required to rebuild cray at no cost. The faulty ethernet cables are repairable for less than $10.

      Alan Gillanders has donated a number of spare-parts to the region some of which have already been utilised to keep the system operational and no doubt more items will come in very handy in the future. (Thanks Alan!).

    • Members:

      The total of members receiving access through our system is currently 47. Although 2 of that number appear to not intend to renew their membership because of connection difficulties which they were not prepared to allow us to help them sort out.

    • Complaints:

      After a few initial setup problems (which appear to have now been satisfactorily sorted out) and two members who required additional assistance following mishaps with their computers; two members experiencing difficulties with their browsers and a further four members needing help to configure their browsers to use the proxy - personal help was provided on five of these occasions by Carolyn with phone support being sufficient to resolve the remainder of the members' problems.

      Most members now seem to be enjoying substantially lengthy connects without any difficulties (based on the frequency with which the boot-script has been activated in recent weeks).

      No complaints as such were received from existing members during this period. However, it was gratifying to receive calls from members alerting me to the fact that they were experiencing difficulties which allowed me to resolve the problem without delay if originating at this end or help them to resolve it if it was at theirs.

    • Expenditure:

             The Star ad 15/12/99                                   $  56.00
             Letterbox deliveries 18/12/99 & 28/1/00                $  25.00
             Optus:                                                 $  34.31
           (MC Meetings/Ozemail/Regional calls - Sept to Dec)
             KIMWipes & Cleaning Solution                           $   4.55
                                                                    $ 119.86

      Approved for reimbursement by Gavin. Seconded by Nigel.

    • Conclusion:

      A special admin day was held here on Saturday, January 8th for the purpose of urgent hub maintenance and indoctrination cum training session for newest member to the admin team, Nigel Bell. All members of the admin team were present on that day (Craig Pickering, Gavin Condon, Ben Eisel, Nigel Bell and me) as were two of our newest members Ross Slade and Kevin Bingham.

      The implementation of two-way feeds between local lists and local newsgroups has seen a dramatic increase in requests for assistance and other types of interaction between members. Members can now select whether they prefer to read/contribute to the support or general groups by using the mailing lists or newsgroups.

      The Hunter Region's membership has now reached a level where we are financially viable in the long-term and have sufficient resources currently available to be able to provide members with a reasonably quality service in the short-term.

  7. System Administrator's Report:

    Pik advised that the Friday before last he sent an email to Ozemail Corporate Support requesting advice re the low-speed of our connection to them since their webpage indicates that we are on their 56K Flex nodes yet we have never received a connect in excess of 28.8K. He followed up his original request 4 working days later but still had received no response to either email.

    Gavin reported some problems with the squid proxy but (in hindsight made the fatal mistake of saying) everything else appeared to be running smoothly.

  8. Policies
    • It was agreed unanimously that no further changes will be made to the boot policy before the next meeting. In the interim Carolyn is to conduct a survey of all members to determine which options are considered most reasonable by the majority of members and/or for suggestions of other options.
    • Carolyn proposed that to entice more members to take out permanent connections, the regional access fee be reduced to $350 per year for the second and subsequent years of the permanent connection's operation. Approved: Nigel Seconded: Jem. Passed unanimously.

  9. Advertising

    Carolyn advised that the letterbox deliveries of a total of 2050 photocopied flyers had been carried out in the Glendale, Cardiff and Edgeworth areas on December 18th and January 28th. No more letterbox drops are planned at this stage.

    It was felt advisable in view of the current membership and our limited bandwidth due to the slow connection to Ozemail that no further newspaper ads be placed until the finances were available to upgrade the network.

    Carolyn reported that APANA Hunter Co-ordinator's entry has replaced her private residential entry in the online White Pages.

    No entry has been detected in the online Yellow Pages as yet.

  10. Ozemail

    Our Ozemail link was down on January 6th for a number of hours due to problems with the 56K Flex nodes attached to their Newcastle server. The sysadmin is querying with Ozemail the status of our link whether it is 56K as this would suggest or 33.6K and why we have only ever received a 28.8K connection from them.

    Discussion of other options ensued but no further actions were recommended pending the outcome of Pik's query.

  11. Discussion

    Carolyn suggested that with the balance owing to National APANA still around $1200 most discussion of the future of the region at this point in time would be premature.

  12. Other Business

    No other business being tabled the assembly agreed to close the meeting and proceed to 'playing with the machines'.

  13. The next meeting will be held on Sunday, March 26th at 2pm at the hub.

  14. Meeting declared closed at 3.25pm.

(prepared by Carolyn on 2/2/00)