Minutes - 2004-02-06

Posted on 6th February 2004, Categories: Meeting Minutes


h3. CompSoc Minutes - 6th Feb 2004

h4. Present

* Christian Bates
* Paul Broadbridge
* Chris Boyle
* Richard Wilson
* Sophie Marshall
* Phil Stoneman
* Euan MacGregor
* Pete Ellis
* David Buckley

h4. Meeting scheduling

Given how the last few meetings have been held on Fridays, it was decided to move meetings permanently to Fridays (until the next time we change it).

h4. LANs

Next LAN is in LIB1, the room is booked and Phil will sort out signups and ensure that we have a working network port.

h4. Academic

h5. Swing

A Swing tutorial is to be held next week by Phil and Andrew Sully; however Phil has yet to book the room. It should be booked on Monday (thus don't know time/location yet). It wasn't advertised in ISE due to a lack on inclination for people to attend to ISE, and there aren't any other major forthcoming lectures for us to mention it.

h5. Steve Jarvis

There was going to be a lecture given by Steve Jarvis on grid computing next week but he asked us to reschedule; Pete will talk to him tomorrow or Monday. It'll probably be rescheduled for towards the end of term.

Sadiq suggested recording the lectures, but we require the equipment and to investigate any legal issues with doing so.

On a related note, Andrew Sully had mentioned to Ashley Ward about possibly plugging this, but due to a miscommunication Ashley announced it as definite. He has been subsequently informed of the recent change in circumstances.

h5. Bletchley Park trip

This will happen on the Sunday of week 9.

Phil is now qualified to drive the Union minibusses. There are two university minibusses: they're charged at 83p per mile; Phil would prefer it if we could use one of these. An alternative is hiring from "KVR", who charge £70 per day plus petrol; we have also been told £45 by Chris Endicott.

We'll be charging attendees £10 entry person plus transport costs.

Sadiq, Pete, Richard and Paul have offered their cars; they'll need to register their cars with the Union's insurance (the process was started at the meeting). The union may require us to account for a per mile cost for using our own cars if we wish to get reimbursed for this. The rest of the details are to be discussed at the next academic meeting.

h5. More lectures

The academic team will be mailing other computing societies around the country to get a list of interesting lecturers to give talks. Richard will be mailing Steve Mathews.

h5. OSP

Rewriting Bichatse as an OSP was mooted as an idea.

h4. Technical stuff

Tech team meeting tonight. The state of the servers will be discussed. It would be good to identify the skill sets of the first years who have approached the tech team. Pete said the Union website is lame (being not very capable of handling load from lots of people trying to cast their vote).

h5. MySQL Migration

There will be a move from MySQL 3 to MySQL 4 from 11pm this evening (Richard has written a method statement to shift things over in as short a timeframe as possible). The Unix domain socket in /tmp for MySQL3 will be symlinked to MySQL4.

h5. Website

The website runs fine under the webmaster's private Apache2 instance, but requires a final audit before going live.

Phil thinks the layout of the site could be drastically improved, e.g. the navbar is too small, behaves inconsistently and overly complex.

Phil has produced a mockup of a new design for discussion: http://www.uwcs.co.uk/~phil/uwcs5.png.

The general consensus was that it was good, with some comments from Pete suggesting condensing most of the quasi-redundant information like "The society runs socials", etc. from the start of each section to go in a paragraph at the top of the page. Pete produce a version incorporating his changes and will send it to the exec list.

The yellow stripe in the logo is to be removed following a vote of 8 - 1.

New server hardware has been ordered. Insomnia's hardware will become the new member's server (twilight). The new Insomnia will be a dual XP 2600+. The migration plan is to remove Insomnia from ITS on a Wednesday afternoon remove return it the next day, giving us plenty of testing time.

Molotov's crashing might be fixed by the introduction of memory quotas (50Mb). MFJ has already asked for an increase as he runs some Java things which dislikes such things (this may be JVM related, but switching JVMs is very problematic especially with supporting tomcat).

h4. Socials

A meal was had and it was good. There's going to be a karting social on the wednesday afternoon of week 7 around 3pm. 25 signups guarantees us the place and there's an approximate maximum of 35 places.

h4. Membership fee

Phil has spoken to and gotten approval from Steve Pretty about dropping the membership fee in favour of charging for tov accounts, LAN attendance, etc. The main reason for this is for increasing our membership and making us more attractive for sponsors. It might also encourage second years to rejoin. The merits of taking this action were then discussed in depth:

SUMMARY: We can keep it as is, change it to a nominal fee (pound), or remove it. Discussion to take place on exec list and in meetings over the next few weeks. (The rest of this section is a summary of that discussion)

Bucko thinks we don't do enough on the academic front to entice people to join entirely for the academic things, even if free to join. He also thinks we currently don't get any more than 50 people at any event; Richard commented that some events have a hard maximum for attendance: a bit more than 20 for gaming, 30 for LANs and 40 for the BFL.

Furthermore, the question of "what does my £2.50 get me" was also discussed. Sadiq noted that he had problems selling CompSoc at the last freshers fayre from an academic perspective as the points he raised were not very convincing (e.g. students already have shell accounts on at least primrose, non-members can attend guest lectures as well).

We might not be able to restrict recordings of guest lectures to members only for legal or politeness reasons (some lecturers might dislike us (appearing to be) charging for them). One resource that will eventually exist are revision guides, which would be prime material to restrict to members only.

Pete noted that removing the fee altogether might impact badly on the image of the society: it might end up seeming to be just another random free society.

Sadiq related on how RAW got a significant boost in members last year when they only charged a pound for membership, but this was probably mostly because Warwick TV were charging four pounds (i.e. people would be interested by WTV, discouraged by the price and then found RAW to be fairly similar and cheaper). He also noted that this year they lost a lot of what they gained last year.

The mechanics behind letting people be able to join the society at events were also discussed: FilmSoc face a significant number of problems with verifying that people are SocsFed members to the extent of having to purchase a laptop/receipt printer from the Union and spend hours wrestling with the Union's software.

Pete inquired about Molotov usage stats as a barometer for active members. There are approximately 80 home dirs with about 40 active users, but Richard will get more accurate stats later.

Sadiq thinks the society has nothing to lose by adopting a per service charge in lieu of the membership fee: We'll always have an active set of core members, all/most with Molotov accounts and it's a given that LANs will be full.

Christian noted that only half of our income comes from membership fees (about £400), but the alternatives would bring in at least as much.

Richard enumerated the three options: keep things as is, drop the joining fee entirely or lowering it to a nominal fee (e.g. £1). There was an informal show of hands which showed a consensus for the final option, but this topic is to be further discussed on the mailing list. Richard suggested dropping to nominal now, and then leaving it for a future exec to decide whether it was a good thing.

h4. Budget

Would be good to get the budget done early. Christian didn't bring the budget this week but we've roughly already budged for £500 (excluding RAID cards). Christian will post the budget to the exec list. There wasn't anything budgeted for academic things but following discussion these will be added:

* photocopying onto transparencies
* tea and biscuits for after guest lectures
* paying A/V services for equipment rental
* organising three trips a year (minimum of £50 for transport costs).