Monthly Meeting - 2008-07-08

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Public meeting minutes for 2008-07-08 at 6:30pm
Location: 1820 Pandora Street
Previous: Monthly Meeting - 2008-06-10 | Next: Monthly Meeting - 2008-08-12


Old Business:

Past Events

First Aid Update

Adam Scriven

Schedule First Aid Level 1 Training for July for himself. Commit from last meeting.

Directors insurance update

Budget Meeting

David Repa

A meeting to determine budgets was to be scheduled.

Education Workgroup Update

  • Windowsless Wednesday update

Contingency Meeting for eBay Proposal

  • Summary of meeting

Franchise Process Update

Ifny Lachance
  • Application from Ottawa

New Business:

Choose Facilitator and Scribe for next meeting

Financial Update for June 2008

David Repa

Upcoming Events

Ifny Lachance


To create a paid (piecework) part time position for the repair of LCDs.

David Repa

Proposal Details

Free Geek receives more broken LCDs than it can effectively deal with. LCDs do bring in revenue, and besides laptops, are a extremely high demand item.

This proposal seeks membership approval of a part-time piecework paid LCD repair position. This position could also help document procedures, which will in time help us generate some form of volunteer program to teach LCD repair basics.

To implement this proposal:

After consensus from membership, the HR committee will put together a job description and piece rate for the position. Standard hiring practices will follow.

Questions and Discussion for the Group

1) If we chose not to go this route what options do we have. (Mass scrap out?? Keep only working units?? etc)

2) How can we ask an employee to document their procedures when we only pay them to do the actual work?

To rent a small shipping container to use as overflow storage

David Repa

To rent a 10x8x8(640 cubic feet)container for outside storage.

Proposal Details

Free Geek needs an overflow area for busy days. Most often the warehouse coordinator does not have enough space to effectively and/or safely make CRT skids and computer shell skids. This is especially a problem on Saturdays.

This proposal seeks approval from the membership to spend additional funds on the rental of a container that would be positioned in our parking lot. It would be used to receive and store inbound equipment on busy days thus allowing more space for production in the warehouse.

This container would be rented from Canwest. The rate would be $115/mth with a delivery fee of $175.

To implement this proposal:

After consensus from membership, a contract will be signed with Canwest, and container will delivered after appropriate paper work is cleared.

Questions and Discussion for the Group:

How do we ensure the container is only used for overflow. How long can items stay in the container, How do we find staff time to deal with overflow if the normal business day is already too busy. Do we pay overtime after hours to clean out the can?

To Join the Vancouver Fair Copyright Coalition

Bill ???

That Free Geek Vancouver should officially join the Vancouver Fair Copyright Coalition. VFCC.


The VFCC is an organization formed to fight Bill C-61 Amendments to the Copyright Act and ACTA the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement. Both of these are incredibly subversive and seek to take control of the user space and create a paradigm shift that will deprive computer users of the information freedoms they have enjoyed for the past 30 years of personal computing. DRM, ACL, TPMs and such will create restrictions on how computers can be used under the guise of protecting property and security. Only 'trusted' software will run, and probably only the latest versions of that, every CPU will have an identifier and it will probably be inserted into every packet and email. Audio and Video will only play if 'approved' by software built into your mother- board using 'legitimate' codecs etc etc. The impact on FLOSS will be huge! Hello Big Brother!

The only thing needed to implement this proposal is consensus from the group.

Questions for discussion

1. Would Free Geek/Free Geek people like to become more actively involved?

To Take the Free Software Foundation Pledge

Bill ???

That Free Geek should take the FSF pledge and become a completely free software organization.


That Free Geek should adopt a FSF position with respect:

1. Our website - That all mentions of Linux should be replaced with GNU/Linux, that clear distinctions be drawn between the Linux kernel and the GNU/Linux system and that various links to etc. be included on the website as relevant.

2. Our software - That we should install only free software, ie that non-free drivers are not used by our automated installers.

This could be implemented now with the consensus of the membership.


1. What are the advantages of taking this pledge?

2. Are there any real obstacles?


  • Adam Scriven
  • Bill
  • Bernie
  • David Repa
  • Dina Davidson
  • Ifny Lachance
  • Joe Bowser
  • Kim Kulak
  • Marcel Veronesi
  • Ryan S
  • Ryan Yeske
  • Simeon Veldstra


  • Facilitator: Simeon
  • Scribe: Dina
  • Minutes Checker: Bill
  • Consensus briefer: Joe
  • Regulator: Marcel


Old Business

Past Events


Car-free day on Commerical was a success.

The only WW for July was a success; we saw the usual amount of people, not more as perhaps was expected. There have, however, been calls on non-WW days about when we are next running them.

FG won two awards:

  • A spectacularly welded stick figure from the Recycling Council of BC
  • David and Ifny went to the gala for the RCBC event/conference and received an award (a printed certificate) for being a good employer from Gastown Vocation Services.
  • Now we need a trophy cabinet to keep our awards.

First Aid Update


Adam was to schedule First Aid Level 1 Training for July for himself as a commit from last meeting. No appointment made yet.

Ryan Y

Called to book his spot, but it ended up being dropped before he could call back to confirm; there is a four-week waiting time for the course.

Commit: Ryan and Adam to book their spots together before the next meeting.

Directors' insurance update


She sent out requests for bios to the directors' list.

Commit: Ifny to e-mail Sim & Pete to remind them about insurance

Commit: Pete to fill out form

Budget Meeting


The meeting didn't happen as expected, the commit will be carried forward to the next meeting.

Education Workgroup Update

Ryan Y, Ifny

Windowsless Wednesday update, as the Education meeting didn't happen: a volunteer asked today when we are having WW this week; it is frustrating to provide no tech support.

Decision: we agreed that the first Wednesday of the month will be WW.

All staff shouldn't be obliged to attend, but one staff member needs to be in the building. Ryan S would really like to be involved in contributing tech support to FG, but can't make it on Wednesdays. Discussion about further help from Ryan will be carried out offline.

Decision: The staff will work out how to staff WW without getting paid overtime (either time off in lieu or coming in late that day).

Decision: The Education Workgroup meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, July 22 at 18:30.

Decision: Next WW is the first Wednesday of August.

Contingency Meeting for eBay Proposal


No director showed (though Sim asked if he should come, and was told it was OK not to); low turnout generally (four people showed up); decision was made to go ahead with the proposal (also, no minutes were taken, but a summary can be created):

  • The main constraint is the way that the store currently operates; the store can't currently be (wo)manned by a volunteer.
  • A decision was made to knock down the wall to the store and erect a counter, keeping most of the merchandise behind the counter.
  • The wall has been knocked down, but counters need to be procured, other physical things set up.
  • End of August is the estimate for having the store set up to be
  • Plans that were set in the meeting make sense
  • Will discuss further at the August meeting

Commit: Ifny to create and David to review a written summary of the meeting.

Franchise Process Update


Robert is leaving CanadaGeeks (the proposed Toronto chapter of FG). We have another contact for the Toronto office, and someone will be visiting us in September. Adam will be in Ontario in September, perhaps he can stop by and visit the chapter.

Application from Ottawa: they haven't yet officially applied yet but it seems that will happen shortly; he is coming here to visit in the next few months as well.

New Business

Choose Facilitator and Scribe for next meeting

Date of that meeting: Tuesday, August 12

  • David will facilitate
  • Joe will scribe
  • We still need a minutes checker and a regulator for that meeting.

Financial Update for June 2008


Could the financial reports be published? Yes: they are already in HTML, so that should be fairly simple.

For June: the numbers are very good. Total revenue=$18,089; retail store: $8,478; scrap value: $8,205; total expenses:$10,627; net income: $7,461

  • Pedal was a week late paying their rent this month.

Since Jan. 1, we have broken the 100,000-kg mark. That is greater than a rail car, 15 African elephants, or 39 H2 Hummers. It took 28 trips from Vanguard to get all that gear.

  • Monitors make up the bulk of that (~2600 monitors)

Numbers for our last quarter (April-June): also very good. Total revenue $43,474 revenue; total expenses $34,554; total scrap value=$14,567; total store revenue: $24,461; net income: $8,920

Upcoming Events


The Folk Festival is coming up on July 18-20, we have a booth and we still have some volunteering slots available. Contact Ifny if you'd like to volunteer and take in some music at the same time.

The Practical Python workshop will be July 16, taught by Paul.

The LTSP Conference in Portland will be held later this summer; Ryan Y is going. Let Ifny know if you want to attend.

The Vonic/Freethenet AGM is coming up tomorrow night (July 8) at Spartacus Books at 684 E. Hastings. Joe promises an exciting and interesting meeting (but note that you have to be a member of Vonic for >3 days to vote; all the board spots are open.

Omar is leaving Pedal Depot as project manager; his replacement is Johann.

We are going to start giving out Volunteer Achievement awards. We will be nominating volunteers for this award.

  • David mentions that it would be great to use recycled hardware to create some sort of plaque with an engraving. We may
  • We don't want to make volunteers feel overlooked. It shouldn't just be about productivity--there will be many factors looked at.
  • Time-wise, there isn't a definite decision as to when the awards will be given. It's more likely to be a quarterly event than a montly one.
  • We will give out certificates until we can create the real plaques, which we are hoping that Moko can create.

Under the Volcano is coming on August 10. Joe is interested in helping out with that.

Thursday, July 10, 18:30: Vancouver Fair Copyright Coalition meeting at Harbour Centre.

Commit: David to contact Moko about the prospect of creating plaques for us. Commit: Joe will forward Ifny the forms for Under the Volcano.


To create a paid (piecework) part time position for the repair of LCDs.


We are getting a lot of LCDs that have some problems that can't always easily be fixed with the tools and staff/volunteers that we currently have. The amount of voltage is large, there is mercury in the monitors, and there is a mineral included that will likely be depleted in our environment, so there are many good reasons to fix and reuse the monitors. They are high-demand items and thus are instant cash for the thrift store (when they are operational).

It is proposed that we hire someone (perhaps a retiree) to repair LCDs, document the repair procedures in the wiki; and that we pay piecemeal wages depending on the size of the monitor.

We may be able to get into a government program/get a government grant because of our repair program and documentation if the proposal goes ahead.


  • The piece-rate plan could be problematic because if we need to document the procedures and/or train and teach our volunteers, they will have no motivation to do the extra work to essentially work themself out of a job or to create a sustainable program out of this.
  • Perhaps a part-timer coming in would be better, working at an hourly rate. They could get a bonus per unit repaired; or they could be given a realistic quota for the number of units that should be repaired in the given time.
  • A piece-rate would be different than how all the other staff is paid.
  • Documentation could also be considered to be a piece of work created if we chose the piece-rate option.
  • It might happen that we find someone who is skilled at repair but not great at documenting; we might be able to have a volunteer shadow the repairer and document their work, essentially learning technical writing on the job, and creating the repair procedures.
  • Concerns for paying an hourly rate: sometimes productivity can be hampered because the repairer might take too long to get it done, but will actually be rewarded for taking too long because they are getting paid by the hour.
    • David thinks that a repair should take about an hour for each job; there could be a flat rate for each sort of repair, though we don't have data on that.
  • We do have one employee who makes the same wage as the others on a part-time basis, so there is precedent there for slight variations in how employees are paid.
  • Sometimes a piece-rate will mean shoddy workmanship as the person might want to get as many done as possible. The work would come back to us, and perhaps our reputation might be damaged.
  • A base rate plus an incentive might work.

This could be a short-term position to deal with the backlog, but it 'could' dovetail into a regular-staff position. We might collect data in a spreadsheet to track the sorts of repairs.

  • David: let's create a three-month temporary position, two days/week, paid the normal rate ($11.32/hour), with our usual hiring procedure; documentation and training should be part of the job description. If it works, the job might turn into a full-time position.
  • Do we have the funds? We need to check with Sean about the budget. Perhaps only one day/week is feasible.

Decision: LCD position is a go under the pay terms discussed above, subject to approval

Decision: HR committee to meet and create a formal job description and follow usual hiring procedures. The job description could be vetted on the general mailing list.

Commit: David to call a budget meeting next week to get approval for the funds.

To rent a small shipping container to use as overflow storage


The proposal is to rent a 10x8x8(640 cubic feet) container for outside storage in the NE parking lot, to be used as an overflow area for busy days. On busy days, the working space becomes overfull and working conditions can become unsafe. When the warehouse is full, we can load the container with equipment, which wil be dealt with when we are having a slower day. Pickups could also be done from the container so that early-morning pickups don't involve staff showing up during non-working hours to open the warehouse. Costs are $115/month and $175 drop-off fee.

David: we have the money to do this; it's a nominal financial commitment.


  • When the container is open, the volunteer receiver is standing outside and subject to the elements; people may just drop stuff off in front of the container; the presence of the container may create problems in the parking area
  • Response: the doors don't always have to be open, only when the warehouse coordinator deems that the warehouse is full. Receiving volunteer should wear high-vis gear.
  • We would need to have someone tasked with monitoring the container when it's open.
  • It is not safe and very concerning when the warehouse gets really full. Something needs to be done to mitigate that situation.
  • The container can't be stuffed too full, and it needs to be quickly emptied when it's full so that we don't have the same problem the next time the warehouse gets inundated with equipment.
  • The container would have to be emptied: how do we schedule when it will be emptied so that the container doesn't just become another full storage area?
  • We might consider just buying a container, as they tend to run about $2K. Response: we can consider that in the future if the plan works.
  • If the warehouse is operating efficiently, chances are that the container will never fill up entirely, but right now, it's difficult to get work done because there is limited floor space in which to get things done.
  • The back of the container could be used to hold things that we are currently stockpiling that are taking up valuable sense. We couldn't use it for just one item, such as CRTs, but rather as a triage area.
  • Having more usable space can really increase productivity. It's important that we don't just fill the container full of stuff and thus lose that opportunity.

Decision: We will go ahead with the proposal with the following caveats:

  • Whether the container is working can be evaluated in three months
  • Volunteers (wo)manning the container will be in high-vis gear

Commit: David will call Canwest, and a container will delivered after appropriate paper work is cleared.

To Join the Vancouver Fair Copyright Coalition


The proposal is that Free Geek Vancouver should officially join the Vancouver Fair Copyright Coalition (VFCC), a group organized to fight bill C-61, which is a contentious proposed piece of legislation that will limit and restrict freedom to copy and share information electronically. It could have a huge impact on FOSS. The bill makes recording anything copyrighted illegal. The bill would be unenforcable, but it could be used against parties nonetheless.

Bill is involved in the VFCC and is in discussion with members of parliament to make the group's opposition to the bill known. There are ~84,000 people on the Facebook group opposing the bill so far. A web site and a wiki are currently in progress for the group.

Bill is asking for official support from Free Geek:

  • Formal support wouldn't involve FG doing anything, just simply saying that FG supports the VFCC.
  • The VFCC isn't affliliated with any political party.
  • Bill is keeping the membership informed via the FG-general e-mail list.

Decision: We will support the VFCC.

To Take the Free Software Foundation Pledge


The proposal is that Free Geek should take "the FSF pledge" and become a completely free software organization.

To clarify:

  • That all mentions of Linux on our site should be replaced with GNU/Linux, that clear distinctions be drawn between the Linux kernel and the GNU/Linux system and that various links to [], [], etc. be included on the site as relevant.
  • It is not being suggested that any software that we write use a specific license.
  • We don't need to have a written policy about how to refer to Linux OSes unless perhaps we include it in the style guide for our site as a point of consistency; it's a long and drawn-out argument, and choosing a middle-way approach is probably best for FG. We care about FOSS generally, but we don't choose to take sides in what some consider a holy war.
  • We already have statements on our site about FOSS.

Decision: We already have a policy that we only provide FOSS. We agree that, with Ifny's recent updates to the [Why Free Software?] pages, is sufficient. Any changes to the web site will be reviewed by the communications committee.

Creating a Data Destruction Package


People are concerned about how to destroy their data before they recycle their equipment. The proposal is that we create some sort of procedure to give to those who donate so that they can wipe their data themselves. Using DBAN to wipe data is feasible; providing clients with a script using DBAN to wipe their data is fine and within the terms of its licensure.


  • Kim would like to work with Ifny on how to make this happen.
  • It's suggested that drilling a physical hole through a hard drive is probably quicker and more effective than software-based data-wiping.
  • If we take clients' money for a disk with a script to wipe their data and it doesn't work, we could be liable.
  • This would be better handled outside of Free Geek, as it is outside of our scope generally. It could also be handled in a workshop.
  • The public sector doesn't do any data destruction currently; it's a huge problem.

Decision: We need a formal proposal to the general e-mail list to discuss this before we can make a decision here.

Meeting adjourned at 20:40.