Monthly Meeting - 2009-11-10

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Public meeting minutes for Tuesday, November 10th 2009 at 6:30pm
Location: 1820 Pandora Street
Previous: Monthly Meeting - 2009-10-13 | Next: Monthly Meeting - 2009-12-08


Facilitator: George L.
Scribe: Devenne D.
Regulator: Ashley S.
Consensus briefer: Joe B.


George L., Devenne D., Chris H., Ray G., Manish T., Ifny L. (late), Ashley S. (late), Joe B. (late), Steven S. (late)

Consensus briefing

  • Joe explains consensus
    • Doesn't necessarily mean that everyone strongly agrees, but that everyone is comfortable with a decision.
    • Concerns are really important to express to the group
    • People can block a proposal if they're not feeling comfortable with the discussion regarding an idea.



Presented by Ifny

  • There was a press conference at Free Geek last month with several other organizations:
    • Metro, City of Surrey Councillor, and London Drugs (old computers brought to London Drugs for recycling will be donated to us)
    • Patrick responded to Chinese interviewers
  • CTV was here
  • There will be a story in The Courier about Free Geek that focuses on "the characters of Free Geek."
  • Free Geek was on a speakers' panel talking about the AGPL license.
    • Jessie from Rise Up and Megan from Resist were there.


No report this month


Presented by Ifny (Packets of financial reports are distributed)

  • The budget for next year is starting to be planned
  • We can't afford to expand yet, but there might be enough to give staff a raise next year
    • Further detail moved to an agenda item


Presented by George Sales totals for last month:

  • Net: about $16,000
  • Retail: about $13,300
    • Retail sales exclude donations, wholesale
  • Days open: 21
    • Avg. per day: about $633 Retail


No report this month


Presented by Ifny

  • Jane is no longer with the organization.

No other report this month


Presented by Ifny

  • Talked about the break-in and the things we're implementing to prevent/protect against another robbery.
  • Talked about occupational health and safety.
    • Two more staff are getting first-aid training.
  • Talked about donation pick-ups.
    • Pick-ups were reduced to once a week.
    • Logistically they're difficult, but they do benefit Free Geek, so donation pick-ups were returned to twice a week.
  • Discussed controlling the heating bill.
  • Some roaches were discovered in the bathroom.
    • They've been exterminated.


  • Ray asked if there's a delivery route.
    • Ifny answers that pick-up requests go through a form on the website, and through a pick-ups mailing list. Every week, the pick-up driver reviews the applications to create optimized pick-up routes.


Presented by Ifny

  • When staff thought Free Geek wasn't doing OK, staff discussed cutting their wages.
    • Shows staff dedication
  • There have been activities to make staff more cohesive.
  • More items are being moved to the operations work group, allowing staff better focus.
  • There was a staff/directors meeting.
  • Staff discussed whether or not to replace the Education Coordinator position right away.
    • Decision was to postpone rehiring.


Presented by Ashley

  • Directors went to the staff/directors meeting!
  • Directors are planning their next meeting.


Presented by Ifny

  • Ifny attended a BAN webinar this morning as a qualified E-Steward.
  • We have until 2011 to get audited to maintain E-Stewardship.
    • BAN has been working to make it so small organizations like Free Geek (less than 25 employees) won't have to get ISO 1401 certification, but it looks like we might need to
      • ISO 1401 certification is very expensive.
  • Ifny is chairing the Provincial Recycling Committee next month.
    • Ifny's goal is to try and make the meeting more constructive for committee advisers (Free Geek is one).
  • Gold prices are up.


Presented by Ifny

  • The Free Geek database is being updated since it was way out of date.
    • It should be up and running by the end of the year.
  • GnuCash has problems handling international currency.
    • Moved to an agenda item


Presented by Jessica

  • Please come to the Support Volunteer meeting on Thursday!

Old Business

Previous Commits

  • Chris added a list of work groups to the reports section of the wiki.

New Business

Free Geek Finance Report

Presented by Ifny

  • There was a Finance meeting on the 5th of November.
    • Mahmoud, our accountant, introduced himself.
      • He has a MA in accounting.
      • He used to work at Coopers, a firm in the UK.
      • He has done work with other organizations in the downtown east side.
  • Mahmoud prepared the printed reports for this meeting.
    • We are doing a lot better than we had thought compared to this time last year; operations have improved.
    • Most of our assets are liquid (cash).
    • A brief summary of report contents:
      • Last year at this time, our total liabilities and equity was $38,194.56, and this has about doubled this year.
      • In 2008, scrap revenue totalled $33,104.84.
      • Our total revenue is almost double.
      • Our expenses are higher, especially in payroll.
  • There was some confusion from when the Vancity grant money was put into a deposit account.
    • Most grants don't give money right away, unlike the Vancity grant.
    • The grant money was given to finance two paid positions (Build Coordinator and Education Coordinator), but we have been paying these positions on our own.
    • We've only recently started to draw on this deposit account.


  • Manish asks about the USD Chequing account.
    • Ifny answers we use it for payment to FedEx, and we have a couple of downstream companies who pay us in USD.
    • Ifny expands that some of the numbers aren't correct as a result of the GnuCash errors, but she would have to confirm with Mahmoud which numbers were affected in the reports.
  • Manish asks what contractors have we hired.
    • Ifny answers we've paid contractors to train our warehouse staff.
  • Manish asks what the Ebay shipping number was for.
    • Ifny answers we were selling a few things for a trial period on Ebay. There were lots of pros and cons; it's just really difficult to coordinate, and we just don't have the resources, so it was discontinued.
  • Manish asks if we have considered raising prices for some of our products.
    • Ifny answers one of Free Geek's goals is to make technology affordable.

Next steps for budget

  • Mahmoud is helping us with budget planning--for pay--but he is extremely helpful and affordable considering his expertise.

GnuCash Issues

Presented by Ashley

  • There are some problems with GnuCash.
    • Some grants and government agencies have extremely extensive and precise requirements for accounting; GnuCash isn't accurate or reliable enough.
    • Foreign currency isn't being reconciled correctly (needed for our USD account).
      • When Mahmoud uses GnuCash on his Windows machine, the results are different than when using GnuCash on a Linux machine.
  • The question is to let Mahmoud use propriety accounting software for tracking Free Geek's finances until proper patches are applied to GnuCash.


  • Joe asks who is in the software work group.
    • Ifny answers lots of people (too many to reasonably read through).
  • Joe suggests there should be a meeting about the issue.
  • George is worried about opening up the door to more proprietary software.
    • Ifny understands, but our mandate does say we will use free and open source software "whenever possible," and we have been trying our best with free and open source software for this.
  • Ray asks what Mahmoud typically uses.
    • Ifny thinks it's called "Simply Accounting."
  • Ashley wonders if it's necessary to send this issue to the software work group.
  • Chris asks when the last software meeting was, as it may be a way to re-invigorate the group.
    • Ifny answers it has been a long time, but they typically correspond via email.
  • Ifny does feel uncomfortable that agenda for this meeting wasn't distributed to people who might be concerned about this, and so another meeting could be beneficial.

CONSENSUS: To further discuss the GnuCash/proprietary software issue at another meeting.

General Meetings

Presented by Joe

  • We really need to make sure meeting minutes are posted promptly.
  • Advertising meetings is equally important.


  • Joe suggests we need to cut meetings off at the ending time.
    • He also thinks we might want to consider shortening the meetings.
  • Ifny thinks maybe a facilitator workshop would be a good thing.
    • She also thinks it might be helpful to have reports emailed prior to the meetings.
      • Ashley was just going to say that!
  • Ifny would like to see us getting better at regulating each other.
    • Maybe we should have people consistently assigned to this.
    • The legacy of the previous month's facilitator also needs to help the next facilitator.
    • Maybe directors would be really good to help with this.
  • Ray thinks a workshop would be a good idea--even books or online links are good!
    • Ifny has found a place ("Hollylock," Sunshine Coast) that does meeting workshops (consensus based).
      • It could be nice to have an external person do a workshop, but we can always organize one in-house.

Museum update

Presented by Ifny

  • Ifny and Mike MM were tasked to get the museum stock out of storage.
    • One of our staff suggested to simply sell the museum items.
      • This way, the pieces are preserved, although we won't be able to see it (then again, we don't see it now).
  • In the meantime, we should be working on the moving the stock to a cheaper storage space, and a few volunteers that really know old hardware will continue to go through the pieces, try to blank the drives, and if not, will remove hard drives (so that no proprietary software is sold and is in-line with our policies).
    • Software cartridges for gaming consoles will not be sold (again, in accordance to our policies).
  • By selling the museum pieces, we also wouldn't have to catalogue the pieces as extensively as for a museum (only basics for selling would be required).


  • Steven would like to ask if the group could give him a month to find people who would take the collection as a whole.
    • Ifny reminds it's seven skids of pieces... it's rather large.
    • Ifny went to a TV museum while on vacation, and she had asked about their museum.
      • When it comes to curating a museum, it's serious stuff. Temperature and humidity readings had to be recorded a year in advance.
      • The TV museum's collection had been started by a private collector.
  • Steven really wants to try and find people to take the museum collection.
  • Joe asks where the cheaper storage is.
    • Ifny answers it's currently at Maple Leaf Storage. The Hackery is willing to store the collection cheaper, but for limited time.
  • Joe thinks selling the collection is a great idea.
  • Ashley thinks it would be lovely if the collection could find a single home, and he would prefer if Steven could find a home for it... but can't this be done in parallel?
    • Move the collection to cheaper storage, and if we find buyers for individual pieces, that's fine. If we find a person to take the whole collection, that's fine too.
  • When would we sell museum pieces?
    • Ifny answers during weekends (Saturdays).

CONSENSUS: To move the collection to The Hackery. Moving will be done on Tuesday. Knowledgeable volunteers will help catalogue the pieces on Wednesday. The first weekend of museum sales could be last weekend of November, but likely will be the first weekend of December. In the meantime, if a benefactor presents them self, the selling process will be interrupted, and the collection will go to the benefactor.

Last Question:

  • Ashley asks if a benefactor presents them self, how would we screen them?
    • We can ask them to send an application/cover letter to the Staff and Director mailing lists.

EcoAction Grant

Presented by Ifny

  • The EcoAction grant is a government grant by Environment Canada.
    • We applied for the grant about 1 1/2 years ago.
      • We originally planned to apply the grant to the build program.
      • Our application was accepted, but we responded "maybe" to the grant offer.
    • We're being asked again whether we want to accept the grant.
      • It requires extensive financial information and documentation.

Discussion and Questions:

  • Ashley asks if accepting the grant is contingent on our GnuCash issue.
    • Ifny answers no. It will be difficult, and lots of numbers will likely need to be computed by hand, but it's possible.
  • Joe thinks we should accept the grant, since he feels we're in a better position now.


Next meeting

  • Facilitator: George Leung
  • Scribe: Devenne Drege
  • Consensus briefer: TBA