[Menai-LUG] Meeting/event - notes from the meeting

Kevin Donnelly kevin at dotmon.com
Wed Apr 4 15:01:14 BST 2007

Sorry for the delay in posting these - some home stuff intervened.

We had the meeting on Thursday, in Wetherspoon's - present were Phil Baker, 
Liam Kurnos, Gordon Ross, Richard Smedley, Phil Thane, and myself.  We went 
over a summary of the previous discussion on the list, and had a very 
agreeable couple of hours.  I've combined the comments and suggestions from 
that with a few more suggestions from myself on the way forward.

Name and strapline for the event:
We didn't discuss the name in detail, but I'm now going to suggest Flourish 
(Ffynnu in Welsh), perhaps with "Choose Freedom" added - comments welcome.  
The strapline, using suggestions from the meeting, might then be something 
like: "Solve your business computing needs affordably and sustainably using 
adaptable (versatile?) free (GPL) software".  Again, comments welcome.

Partner organisations:
A variety of these were suggested, but I think I need to have a fairly 
clearly-defined programme in mind before I approach them.  I would plan to 
start doing that in May.  M6-IT has kindly offered to host a "computer club" 
on the day.

These are such that breakeven would only come with around 170 participants, 
although the breakeven would be lower if presenters do not take up the full 
amount allocated for expenses.  It is unlikely that we can attract this 
number (although I have no hard info to support that), so I will need to try 
and get sponsorship/support for about 50% of the cost.

We decided on a Friday - 12 or 19 or 26 October.  All are free at the minute.  
The next best day would probably be a Tuesday.

We agreed a price of £40, with reductions for early booking.  As Richard 
pointed out, though, the real price is the cost of someone being away from 
work for a day.

We decided this would be too complex to do on the day, and that giving out 
Knoppix or Ubuntu CDs would be better.  This could be backed up by having 
running demos of booting a LiveCD on various pieces of hardware.

Pilot project:
We agreed this would be too complex to run, so that idea is shelved.

Most of the meeting was taken up with discussing the programme.  The key 
question was "who is this aimed at?"  Most SMEs will not have a resident 
geek/tech bod, so going into various pieces of software in depth may not make 
much sense to them.  On the other hand, just telling people this sort of 
software is available without showing them how to set it up or seeing it in 
use is of limited practical benefit to them.  It's a question of what we can 
explain sensibly in a given time to a given level of expertise.

It's difficult to square this circle, and one suggestion was to keep the 
business track fairly general, and have a separate technical track for people 
who want to get into the details a bit more.  One track might then be shared 
(a half-track) between social enterprises and education.  The problem about 
expanding too much is that the possible costs for speakers also rise.

Another issue that came up was the need to have people up to speed on teh 
jargon (eg proprietary, GPL, FSF, distro, repository, etc).  Rather than have 
a presentation on all this, the best thing would probably be to have 
shortish, simple factsheets on the website (along the lines of the briefing 
sheet series being developed by Richard Smedley's company, M6-IT), so that 
people can at least get used to the terminology beforehand.

Another point was that for consistency it might be better to choose one distro 
for all the presentations, so that newcomers don't get too twitchy when they 
see four or five different-looking desktops.  The problem here is, which 
distro do you choose?  The earlier point, that we should standardise on 
Ubuntu+GNOME and openSUSE+KDE, may be valid, and that would allow both to be 
used in the presentations - that shouldn't be too confusing for the average 

So an initial programme (subject to cost concerns!) might look like this:

=Plenary session=
- Introduction
- Keynote - Perhaps someone from FSFE?  Covering what free software is, why 
software patents are bad for business, why open formats are vital, how the 
flexibility of free software gives a competitive edge and feeds into 
bottom-line benefits, etc

=Business track=
- Getting your bearings - practical implications of the free software outlook, 
security implications, etc
- Basic office tasks - email, web, word-processing
- Collaboration in the office - using groupware and other CRM software, wikis, 
- Remote working - using a VPN to take your office with you
- Expanding your website - using content management systems, e-commerce, etc
- Business necessities - payroll (eg Thyme), accounts (eg GnuCash)
- Tying it together - using a Linux file/print/proxy/mail server in a 
non-Linux network

=Technical track=
- Start here - installing and running Linux
- Setting up Linux file/print/proxy/mail servers (several sessions)
- Setting up a VPN
- Linux for network security (Gordon Ross?)
- Support - an overview of sources

=Social enterprise half-track=
- The ethics of free software - social responsibility, social exclusion, etc
- Moving to free software - what is involved, where are the pressure points
- Perhaps repeat some of the subjects from the business track, boiled down a 
bit?  And/or offer hands-on experience in teh computer club?

=Education half-track= (actually, this looks more like a full track)
- Flexibility and savings - a case-study (Powys? Handsworth?)
- Not more IT! -  Linux for beginners for a teacher's viewpoint (Phil Thane?)
- Overview of relevant software - software specifically aimed at, or useable 
in, the curriculum, and management software like Schooltool (giving existing 
shortcomings where appropriate)
- Distance learning - Moodle
- INGOTS - an open IT qualification
- Taming your library - Koha
- Out of the Box - Karoshi

=Welsh track= (or perhaps a half-track?)
- Why free software supports Welsh better
- Doing it yourself - how to convert a program to Welsh (KD?)
- Office software in Welsh (Agored?)
- The cutting edge - lexical resources, text-to-speech, etc (Canolfan Bedwyr?)

=Plenary session=
- Q&A session with panel
- Wrap-up

Any comments on the above would be very welcome.

I was also wondering about whether we should look for a VIP to launch the 
event (ie before the keynote).  The question is, who?

We decided that streaming would be too difficult and expensive (unless we 
could partner with a college multimedia unit where the students wanted/needed 
to do a practical), but it would be worth trying to record at least some of 
the presentations for delivery via the website later.  It was also suggested 
that we circulate a Flickr tag, so that if people want to upload pictures, 
they can be grouped in one place.

I think that's about all!  The next step, after any further suggestions, would 
be to start working up a website, as a basis for further planning.  The draft 
timetable afterwards would be: website and approaches to speakers by 
end-April; presentation summaries and approaches to potential partner 
organisations by end-May; approaches to potential sponsors by end-June; first 
publicity ads and opening of registrations in July; presentation drafts by 
end-August; further monthly publicity August-September; finalise event 
details by end-September; weekly publicity in October.

Any offers of (non-financial) help are always welcome, eg help on the day, a 
presentation you could give, someone you know who might be a partner or 
sponsor, contacts in the media, etc etc.

Pob hwyl / Best wishes

Kevin Donnelly

www.kyfieithu.co.uk - KDE yn Gymraeg
www.klebran.org.uk - Gwirydd gramadeg rhydd i'r Gymraeg
www.eurfa.org.uk - Geiriadur rhydd i'r Gymraeg
www.rhedadur.org.uk - Rhedeg berfau Cymraeg

More information about the Menai mailing list