This site is the personal opinion of Alex Hudson. In particular, this does not reflect the views and/or policies of the Association for Free Software

(The agenda for this was CtteAgendaOct2004)

Those present:

  • Richard Smedley (Chairing)
  • Alex Hudson (Minuting)
  • Adam Bower
  • Brian Gough
  • Mark Ray

1. Apologies

  • Kevin Donnelly
  • Ian Lynch

2. Minutes & Matters Arising

Minutes of the last committee meeting were approved.

Brian wished to record the fact that he felt the minutes of the last committee meeting did not accurately reflect the decision made about the publicising of the grants scheme; and that suggested that there would be an unfair advantage to AFFS members. We agreed generally that we just need to move the grants process forwards quickly.

[KD - Hopefully Brian has also committed to spending a bit more time reading the draft minutes from now on.]

Mark asked for his report on the training day and his expenses forms be approved; they were.

3. Treasury Report

Profit and Loss (P&L) and cashflow reports have been posted to the mailing list. Currently we have around £2991 in total assets; £35 in NoChex, £1500 ringfenced for the grants, £20 held for the Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE).

4. Membership Report

There are currently 109 members. A recent trend has been that we have been losing approximately three members per month. Retention of members is therefore a problem.

This problem could be mitigated by making membership more attractive; this would retain members and cause more to join. We could look at other benefits beyond our current discounts package - for example, offering services such as help and advice to our membership. Alex suggested treating membership essentially as a campaign.

5. Free Software Credit Card

A few Free Software hackers have been looking into whether or not it would be possible to get a bank to issue a credit card, part of whose proceeds would be donated to a Free Software organisation. Essentially this doesn't look worthwhile; the Co-op (for example) require 100'000 card holders. Some think that it doesn't necessarily look like a good deal for the card holders either.

Linuxfund have an MBNA credit card, we don't have any other information about it though. Parking this discussion for now, and thanking Simon Waters, Paul Cooper and Richard Stallman for their help and advice in this.

6. Co-operative Community Donation Fund Application

There is a small grant available, between £500 and £1000, for projects that have quantifiable social benefits (create jobs, improve the environment, etc.) The allocation happens in the 3rd week of October and then again in April. Couldn't think of anything that we could suggest to get money. Alex suggested that Gavin Hill (doing work on films related to free software) might be a good candidate. Brian suggested putting this information in the newsletter.

7. Campaigns

The Open Information Pledge (OIP) project will be launching a campaign in the very near future. The project will initially be dealing with publically accessible websites that do not follow web standards. [This information has been abridged from the full discussion]

Software patents (swpat) - little happening at the moment. Waiting for the European Council to actually sort out their position, as it appears that the vote they held on an amended version of the EP directive was faulty. Expecting more action in the latter stages of this year.

We did attempt to donate to the FFII-UK in the past; contacted James Heald but could not handle the donation at the time. Will re-fire the conversation again - we want to give money to some anti-swpat group. We will give the current FFII-UK a week to say whether or not they can handle the money (or suggest someone better), and then talk to FFII if that comes to nothing.

Discussed again treating membership as a campaign. A general need to improve PR - more news, making sure people know what we're doing, etc. - was evident. We will be more pro-active about trying to generate stories for the press from our news in the future.

8. Expos & Events

European Social Forum (ESF), North London 14th-17th October. £30 entry, Mark is speaking on Saturday at 2pm. ESF is an assortment of NGOs organised by the Mayor of London. There will be a report from the ESF in the newsletter.

Copyright in Europe, Cambridge, 18th Oct. Being run by FIPR, free entry. Mark will be attending and will take a poster and some leaflets. This will be held in the "William Gates III" building, apparently.

FOSDEM, February 2005. Will anyone go? We could look at getting a stand their, either on our own or with the FSFE. Mark will be there chairing a Gnustep meeting.

Free Software @ (BETT). Should we look at getting a stand their? Will talk to Ian.

9. Newsletters

[Some initial discussion under this heading was divergent: we should be using AFFS-Project more, and that our stock of leaflets was beginning to run out]

We agreed to setup a more formal newsletter process. We would aim for a monthly release of newsletters; and the process would be:

  • have draft ready for the 1st of the month
  • three working-day review period
  • issued to members

This would mean that the latest a newsletter would be issued would be the 6th of the month. This setup would be trialed for a period of three months and reviewed at the next committee meeting; Alex would be the editor for the trial.

10. Website review

Brian has been making a number of changes to the website that he proposes for inclusion. Primarily, the "join" and "donate" actions are more prominent on the homepage, and only a single click away. Sign-up is easier to use, and there is customised feedback in the form of e-mails and web pages sent to people who sign up.

We discussed briefly the function of the website: is it there to get people to sign up/donate/etc., or is it there to get people (esp. members) to help out? General feeling was that the website is more of a marketing tool, and that it isn't going to help to encourage people to help out primarily. Should be focussing on signing up members and disseminating information.

We also need to make it easier to submit news stories. Brian asked that the account name on the NoChex system be changed from a personal address to a generic one.

The concept of a web shop was discussed briefly; this could be used to both sell merchandise but could also stock leaflets (etc.) that people might like to order from us. We already have some interest in LUG packs. We agreed to trial this; Alex will set it up.

11. Review of frontdesk@

Mark raised a number of issues with the MailManager (MM) software, and proposed that we go back to forwarding frontdesk@ mails to a mailing list. There was also some confusion about how the system had been implemented, compounded by the fact Alex hadn't been party to the original discussion. However, the system is in place now and working, and we will continue to trial it.

Alex will setup a bug list category or mail box on MM for people to send problem reports to. Richard also needs more information on how the system works.

The amount of spam that frontdesk@ receives was also discussed. Brian suggested turning on a sensible RBL such as the ROKSO listing, and also using a greylisting system. Mark expressed concerns that some legitimate email might not pass such a system. We agreed to trial a system and attempt to deal more forcefully with the spam, since we can then turn on some useful MM features that would otherwise become annoying.

Brian suggested using the MM system as a tasklist, and also having a single person responsible for MM on a weekly rota. This was generally agreed to be a good idea that we should try.

12. Grants

We agreed that the proposed PR looked fine, and that we should accelerate the grants process. A URL of http://www.affs.org.uk/grants was agreed, Alex would implement.

13. Any Other Business

a. Procurement with petty cash

Alex raised a problem where it was currently uncertain whether or not certain things could be purchased on behalf of AFFS with cash, since it wasn't clear that AFFS would re-imburse someone. A number of examples were given (where the good could only be purchased in person with cash, where the seller would be unwilling to issue an invoice given AFFS does not issue purchase orders, where time is short), and we agreed that AFFS should re-imburse cash purchases. This would be the last purchase option available though, and would not be used where possible.

b. FSFE-UK & Georg

Georg will be coming to London on the 15th of October. Ian will be able to attend, as will Alex. Richard and Alex will discuss FSFE-UK possibilities further out of the meeting.

c. Local free software group

Richard wants to setup a Merseyside AFFS local group, and asked whether or not we could setup resources for it (website, etc.). Agreed this was possible.

d. Public Relations

Brian proposed that all PR to mailing lists (this includes anything which states AFFS policy, internal business, or any other public statement) should be checked over by committee unless being issued by a "nominated" individual as part of their specific responsibility. We agreed that this would be a good idea.

We further agreed to treat all correspondence to *@affs.org.uk addresses as being official, and that we should use these addresses when performing such "official" work.

e. Donations

We still want to give £250 to the FFII(-UK) somehow. Brian proposed also giving £250 to the FSFE legal fund that is trying to stop further anti-competitive practices by Microsoft; this was agreed.

13. Date of next meeting

South Chesire, Tamworth and Bristol are all potential venues for an AFFS committee meeting. Agreed that the next meeting would be sometime around 12th-15th January 2005, although we could have a teleconference/IRC meeting before then.

End of meeting.