Monthly Meeting - 2008-06-10

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Public meeting minutes for 2008-06-10 at 6:30pm
Location: 1820 Pandora Street
Previous: Monthly Meeting - 2008-05-13 | Next: Monthly Meeting - 2008-07-08

Facilitator: Luke Closs

Regulator: Ashley

Scribe: Marcel

Minute Checker: Simeon Veldstra

Joe Bowser, David Repa, Ifny Lachance, Ryan Yeske, Doug, Mike, Len, Mike McManus, Adam Scriven

Called to order at 6:30pm

Old Business and updates

Past events

  • Pirate Party:

We raised $700.00 from the Pirate Party at the ANZA club held by Velofusion. Thanks to everyone who helped out!

Ifny proposed we skip past events.

First aid update

Presented by Ryan

There is an end of month booking for Ryan Yeske with St. John's Ambulance. The course is $97.00 per person. Private sessions are available with a minimum of eight people there is a 10% discount on the fee. The course is 8 hours. There is about a three week lead time to book a class. The plan to train one staff member per month as a way of spreading out the cost was confirmed. The July session will be taken by Adam Scriven, he will handle the booking.

Director's insurance update

Apparently Peter Lypke is handling this. Peter is not present. Insurance has not been purchased.

Debit card service update

Presented by David

We will not be pursuing this in June due mostly to cost.

Budget meeting update

We have not scheduled a meeting to create a budget yet.

FG Franchise process and FG Toronto update

Side notes:
  • Some people in Ottawa have asked to start a Free Geek.
  • We are expecting a visit from a member of the Toronto group in September.

During Ifny’s trip to Portland there was much discussion on the Intergalactic franchising process (i.e. how new startups become Free Geeks).

The franchise application process is being revamped and formalized. Lots of interest in starting up new Geeks -- it's hard to keep up with the number of applications. Also, the process is being made more transparent (e.g. articulating the steps better, revamping timelines, documenting everything on the wiki).

The franchising process is fairly new and still needs some work. There has been some confusion over the rules for using the name 'Free Geek' and the status of the trademark. Ifny is working with Portland to help clarify the process.

There are still communication issues that need to be resolved between Intergalactic and Toronto. Ifny feels that these issues can be overcome.

Removeable media incineration-Update from BAN

Montenay has been contacted and can take our removable media (e.g floppies) for incineration at any time. BAN was consulted and their opinion is incineration is a suitable means of disposal for this material. We need to contract with a trucking company to haul the material to their facility. The estimated cost of a shipment is $500. This is expected to be required about once a year. We won't be sending our cds here; we'll still keep recycling them.

New Business

Facilitator and scribe for next meeting

Facilitator will be Simeon

Scribe will be Marcel

Financial report

Presented by David

Free Geek has remained solvent, but our expenses are growing apace of our revenue.

Upcoming events

Presented by Ifny
  • We are going to receive the Recycling Council of BC's Non-Profit Sector Achievement Award this year. They have sent us a letter of congratulations. There will be a ceremony and an award will be presented to us at their upcoming annual general meeting in July. David & Ifny will attend & accept it.

Note: Unfortunately David was not elected to their Board of Directors.

  • Potluck dinner with our neighbours

This Saturday the 14th starting at 5pm there will be a potluck dinner with our neighbours. Come to 1814 Pandora on your own, or come to FG and we will go over there together at 6pm. Bring food/drink to share. It's a good opportunity to meet all the different community groups next door.

  • Champlain Heights Community Festival:

Also on Saturday at Champlain Heights there’s the Champlain Heights Community Festival. We could use a vehicle to help us get there.

  • Carfree Vancouver:

This Sunday June 15th is Car Free Vancouver Day. There are Car Free Days in various neighbourhoods. Commercial Drive is a big one and we are going to have a booth. We need volunteers for this. It would be nice if a lot of people came and just spent a couple hours talking to the public, or even just dropped by to see if we need a break or snack. That way the volunteers don’t have to stay as long and can have some fun enjoying the festival.

  • Ubuntu Vancouver:

Ubuntu Vancouver meets at FG on the 19th of June.

  • Folk Fest:

We have a booth at the Folk Fest for all three days. July 18-20.

  • OSCON + Intergalactic Free Geek Convergence:

There is also the OSCON open source convention in Portland. It goes from 21 July to 23 July. The price is $1800.00. There will probably be a convergence of the Free Geek Intergalactic Federation before or after. Also there will be a LTSP conference after.

Hiring Review

Presented by David

Detail: review of the hiring done in March. Back then we committed to a review after 3 months to see how things are working.

Hiring Adam has been positive overall. The cost of wages and overhead for a full time employee is $1800/month at the moment.

Windowsless Wednesday

Proposal Summary: To cancel Windowsless Wednesday and have another educational event in its place.

Proposal Details: WW proposal details

  • While it was announced that WW was cancelled, this was with out full consent of the staff and it has been moved to General Meeting.

* Staff agreed that WW should change, and not be a weekly event, but a more structured education night.

  • There was concerns that non-staff education minded people were not engaging enough to make a new night possible. Education nights cannot solely be the responsibility of staff.

David: Staff is tired. It's not sustainable for them to be responsible for keeping Free Geek open for it every week. Staff hadn't reached consensus about it, and also it is not a decision that staff should make on their own.

<Discussion ensues>

-Should it be replaced by something?

Ifny: There are two big functions that are filled by WW, and we should find replacements for both of them: tech support and education/installs. Currently, WW ends up being mostly Tech Support. It fixes people's problems but does not necessarily empower them to solve their own problems; it ends up draining energy form other types of education. We definitely need to facilitate tech support, since we get people started in Linux. Also we need to offer Install-fests, and do more focused workshops.

Joe: There needs to be a more classroom environment to replace “Windowless Wednesdays”

Q: What does Portland do?

They have a designated staff person who does tech support. They have a full roster of classes and programs. Their LUG helps too. There is a combination of paid and unpaid people including interns that help participate.

Doug: I was brought into the organization through “Windowless Wednesdays.” It was really helpful. If it has served its purpose please replace it with either O.S. or hardware training; for example, how to get beyond the GUI and learn command line.

Ashley: It would be a shame to let it go. A solid plan to replace it with something else is required. It is great for outreach.

Sim: Someone should volunteer to keep it going or else it should be cancelled. Perhaps we could investigate a position for the future if we want to implement this service.

Ifny: “Windowless Wednesdays” should maybe be scaled back to once a month. There should be an educational meeting to figure out what to replace it with. Currently discussions have been ongoing with Ubuntu Vancouver to see how they can help our educational programming. Also there is a growing Education section on the wiki.

David: Should we cancel or not and then brainstorm later for a replacement for W.W.?

Simon: How about both a reduction to once a month & start an educational meeting?

Joe: Does everyone agree that an educational group should meet?

<nods and agreement from everyone>

Mike: Something educational is needed to replace Windowless Wednesdays.

Ashley: I am happy to hold the keys and run W.W. until a replacement for W.W. is found.

David: Let's keep running W.W. without staff commitment. I am interested in doing more classroom style courses. It should continue as an organized event.

Ifny: It's not ok to have WW without at least one staff person here. There's too much to keep track of for one person: store needs to be open in case people need RAM, we have to keep an ear/eye on the warehouse, etc.

Sim: Requests to defer this topic for one month or until a proposal is submitted.

David: Acceptable compromise: what about 1 Wednesday per month,

Ifny: Make it the first Wed of the month for now.

Summary: 1st Wednesday of every month is Windowless Wednesdays.

Ashley: I have reservations. Three weeks of no momentum may be a problem. COMMIT: Ifny will schedule an education meeting.

Selling Proprietary Software

Presented by Ifny
PROPOSAL SUMMARY: Free Geek should sell and/or give away proprietary software.


There seems to be confusion on Free Geek's software policy.

This appears to have resulted from a failure to communicate by Free Geekers who designed and adhered to practices without setting them in writing. Therefore it is time we articulate and mandate a policy, and sufficiently communicate it to ensure consistency.

In recognition of past practices, we should consider newer practices to be the proposal under consideration.

More info on this proposal here: Selling/Giving Away Proprietary Software Proposal
  • Should F.G. sell or give away any of the proprietary software we receive?

Ashley: What are our current practices? What is our proposal?

Ifny: We separate CDs from paper and jewelcases. Cds go out for shredding and materials recovery (aluminum etc). Paper is recycled. Jewel cases are given away to people who want to reuse them. Floppies are stockpiled (after being removed from paper/plastic cases). These have been our practices since we were in our old space.

David: Example: We won't give out a spare OS that is supposed to go through a licensed dealer.

Ifny: We made this decision thinking it was not controversial, and in my understanding it's been this way ever since. If we want to change how we do things, then we need to look at adopting a new practice.

Mike: There should be a clear message sent out about what the policy is.

Adam: We are talking about sealed software, not just any software.

Joe: There's software from O.E.M.'s and Retail Sealed. What regulations are there for whoever can sell this? Most of it is less than $1000, would it be worth our while?

Sim: I think it is a legal minefield to resell software. We don't want to get involved in a legal fight. The cost of a lawsuit, even if we win, would likely bankrupt Free Geek.

Joe: Binary drivers, a pragmatic approach; someone can come in to Windowless Wednesdays and have a proprietary driver installed.

There are free alternatives to proprietary drivers. The demand fuels the development.

David: We have so much work to do already. We have our hands full with hardware. I agree with Sim. The legal issue is the main point. It trumps all other arguments.

Adam: Why does the legal argument trump all others? It seems convenient.

Ifny: Because we're talking about something that could harm Free Geek. The benefits of changing do not outweigh the risks. For clarity we need an official statement about distribution of sealed software like:

"Free Geek will not distribute sealed or unsealed software."

Ashley: What do we do with ATARI games? They are software aren't they?

Ryan: We should have exceptions to, "Nothing is sold or distributed". We may choose to keep certain items for historical reasons.

  • So an amendment should be made to reflect that. Basically any removable media is up for consideration because we may choose to

keep certain items for historical reasons, but it will not leave Free Geek's possession.

David: We could self-limit with a fixed amount of allocated space and a group gets together once a month or so and decides what stays and what goes; a Cruft Night.

CONSENSUS & Final summary for the record: Free Geek will not distribute non-free & open source software on removable media, over the Internet or installed on hard-drives.

Ebay Contract position

Presented by David

Proposal Summary: To contract eBay work.

Visit Proposal Details here: Ebay Contract Position Proposal 1

There is a lot of opportunity here. We haven't realized its full potential.

The proposal has been altered considerably from that submitted as an agenda item.

The new Proposal:

  • David will step down as revenue coordinator.
  • The revenue coordinator salary will be used to hire a new staff member.
  • The store duties will be split between the staff. The new staff member, in addition to helping run the store, will coordinate

builds and possibly handle other tasks.

  • A new position will be created as an experiment: eBay coordinator. Initialy, the new staff position will be paid on a

100% commission basis: 20% of eBay sales with a cap equal to the current staff salary. If the position reliably generates sufficient revenue, it will become a permanent, salaried staff position.

David feels able to generate sufficient revenue through this scheme, but wishes to take on the risk personally. He feels the store is a solved problem.

The initial eBay experiment has generated good sales despite having little time available to work on listing and managing auctions.

There is a large class of objects that have considerable value, but a very limited local market. Tapping the global market through eBay will considerably improve our ability to reuse hardware and pay our bills.

Joe: I think David's plan is good. There should be another meeting.

Ifny: I didn't like this idea at first but I like it more now. It still needs development though. Timeline and transition are really important. We have to be careful about how this is implemented. The store is a revenue engine. We want to protect that. We can get a "build coordinator" grant but not a "store position" grant. One possible transition could be David spending half his time on ebay and half his time training a store person.

The other staff do not want to work in the thrift store.

Sim: We need to schedule a contingency meeting for this.

Ashley: 80% of the revenue is the store. My concern is that we are risking this.

Ryan: I like the plan a lot more now. I would like to see a business plan for this and how volunteers would fit into the store.

David: We just need a successful model. We need systems that work regardless as to whom occupies the position. The bigger gamble is relying on people. The risk is that someone could burn out and we lose them. We need real systems that can handle the inflow. The meeting should be within this month with a proposal done by week's end.

The meeting for this will be at 6:15pm Tue 24th June 2008.

Meeting adjourned ~9:40pm