MINUTES OF MEMBERS MEETING HELD ON SUNDAY 9 February-2014 at 15:00 in the members room.
Ann Saunders Chairperson, Chris Payne Treasurer and Membership Administrator, Amanda Burt Secretary, Richard Wilkin Webmaster and Voice Conferencing Development Coordinator, Justin Macleod Events Coordinator, Carol Forrester Executive Officer.
Alicey Hartog, Carol Eddon, David Richards, Drusilla Insole, Harry Mason, Ian White, Jackie Glynn, Janet Mortimer, John Hosch, John Hinchliffe, John Wilsher, Katie Myers, Keith Waters, Lee Buckingham, Lilian Stubbs, Lisa Peck, Margaret Cooper, Martin Foden, Maurice Pothecary, Mike Brown, Miriam Raymond, Monique Lannott, Peter Beasley, Phil Hartog, Roma Creech, Sal Pitts, Sharon Bowell, Stanley Saunders, Stephen Evans, Stephen Hassell, Steve Pallett, Sue Pallett, Teresa Payne, Tony Bowers.
Andrew Payne, Billy Whitcombe, Catherine McManus, Charlotte Payne, Elisabeth Standen, Gladys Taylor, Lee Studdard, Linda Tyler, Mark Tyler, Michael Payne, John Wells, Paul Smith, Shirley Grant.
Ann requested that anyone wanting to ask a question after a report, sent a text to Amanda, with their name. Ann also explained how this was done.
3. Acceptance of the Minutes:
Proposed by: Michael Brown.
Seconded by: Peter Beasley.
4. Matters Arising:
There were no matters arising from the January minutes.
5. Chairperson’s Report.
Ann said that she had been attending the usual Exec meetings, which were now being held weekly until the end of February.
She is getting all the preparations done relating to the AGM which will be in March. This is an advanced warning as members will get the appropriate letter, probably in a week’s time or the end of the week, concerning the AGM – which this year will be on Saturday 29th March.
It would have been a week earlier, but she was away the previous week on the Saturday, so it will be held on 29th March.
Ann would like to remind members of the Open Forum this coming Wednesday, 12th February at 6PM in the cafe lounge.
The idea was started by this Executive Committee about eight months ago now. We’re having these Open Forums three times a year, every four months. And we’re trying different times, we’ve had one in the morning. We’ve had one in the afternoon and now we’re having one in the evening. So hopefully, people who can’t manage one time, can manage another.
The idea is that you can come in an informal atmosphere. No minutes are taken, and as many Exec members will be there as possible. You can ask them anything you want to, or discuss, make suggestions, say what you like or what you don’t like. This is your opportunity to have your say.
Ann hopes to see as many as possible on the 12th at 6PM.
Another two things. Members have already received the notice concerning requests for comments for putting in the annual report. We’re in the processing now for the AGM and these have to be in by the 15th of February, that’s this coming Saturday.
So just a little reminder, if you wish to make some comments of how you find TAFN, you know – what it’s done for you, please send your comments in by the 15th.
The other letter that’s gone out in the past week, is the letter requesting nominations for the member of the year award.
The member of the year is someone nominated by you the members and nothing to do with the Executive whatsoever. The one who gets the member of the year award is the one who receives the most nominations, and this should be someone who has gone over and above his or her duties, and someone you feel deserves that accolade.
The final date for that is also the 15th of February.
That concluded Ann’s report for this month.
Ann asked Amanda if there were any Questions. There were none.
6. Treasurers Report for January 2014.
Opening balance £2,990.36.
Paid in £3,248.00 as follows:
- Bingo £79.
- Bonus Ball £160.
- Memberships £9.
- Transfer £3,000 ‘This was from the Savings account’.
The reason for such a high amount being paid in, was due to having to take some money out of our savings account towards the ongoing charges that we are incurring. This is for our new website and of course in the near future, our designated server.
Paid out £2,944.99 as follows:
- 1 & 1 Ltd, and technology £826.10.
- Members gifts £1,318.89 ‘This was for the Wishing Well, December 2013’.
- Tech Support £300.
- Transfer £500 ‘This was to the PayPal account’.
Closing balance £3,293.37.
Savings account had a withdrawal of £3,000 leaving a balance of £19,385.84.
PayPal had credits of £512 and debits of £1,261.69, leaving a total of £70.76.
Grand total £22,749.97.
A couple of extra things Chris wanted to say this month regarding the treasury.
He was pleased to give a final figure now for our race night held this year, and that’s made a grand total after pay-outs, of £691.59 .
We have once again had to start sending cheques back to members, that are paying for either their subscriptions, or any other transactions that members wish to make by cheque. The reason these are now being sent back, is because we are unable whatsoever, to accept cheques that are for TAFN. Reason we THINK behind this, is although we’ve been going for the last 8 or 9 years, The Armed Forces Network has been going a terrifically longer period of time and they’re the ones who have those four initials. So members, if you are sending a cheque, could you please make sure the cheque is payable to our actual name: The Accessible Friends Network. And that would make your cheques go through a lot smoother.
Chris stated that he has tried a couple of times now to encourage members, to take up a second string of the bonus ball. We all know that the bonus ball when it was first put out back in 2007, was instigated by Chris as treasurer, and has been a very good earner of funds for TAFN. If we could try and get at least 25 people to take up a second string of numbers, then we would be able to obviously increase the amount of funds coming in terrifically, without having to spend an awful lot as individuals. Each ball costs £5 a month, and you can get full details from Chris by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
When Chris’s last bulletin went out regarding the bonus ball, we do have 2 numbers from the first string that will become available at the end of February, so if anybody is interested in those 2 numbers, then do please also contact Chris.
Moving onto the membership report.
As always it’s very short, because of the dealings we have to deal with the restrictions we still have.
However, Chris was pleased to say we had one new guest, There is another one in the pipeline, but we had one new guest during January and we’ve welcomed two new fully paid members.
On his last report Chris mentioned that he was going to cull our guests and members. With talking to Ann, our Chairperson, we’ve taken the decision that we’re not actually going to cull them to get rid of them altogether. What we’re going to do is We’re going to start using the area of our database which is the suspended area.
All our guests to date, from August through to December, have all been put into the suspended area, along with 8 members who haven’t yet paid their membership fees.
Now one of the things that will happen is that guests and members will stop getting emails, and then hopefully this way we just might be able to safeguard and retain a couple or more of our guests and members, without having to delete them completely.
We’re going to give it a go for three to six months, to see how we go and if that still doesn’t work, then we’ll go back to the drawing board again.
That is the conclusion of both reports.
Ann thanked Chris and asked if there were any questions. There were none.
Ann said that Justin had texted her to say that Richard was having trouble getting in and she hoped he might get in by the end of the meeting. The two reports from Richard are the Web report and the Voice Conferencing Development report. If he doesn’t get in the best thing would be to ask him to send an email to the main and announce lists with the reports written, so the members will know what the situation is this month.
Ann then called on Justin to give his event report, but Amanda said it was her next. Ann apologised for the mistake and gave the floor to Amanda.
7. Secretary’s Report.
Amanda said it’s been a reasonably busy month. She had done the usual announcements such as guide lines and dealing with the member of the year nominations.
She had also sent out requests for comments which she is forwarding to Carol who is kindly collating them.
As well as all that, she has been doing the usual list management, which has been quite busy, because some members and guests have been deleted. So all Amanda really needed to say now is, regarding lists, if anybody needs any information about them, could you please write to: email@example.com and she will give you a list of them and then you can decide whether you want to go on them or not. That is the end of Amanda’s report.
Ann thanked Amanda for her report, and asked if there were any questions. There were none.
Richard Wilkin Arrived.
8. Web Master And Voice Conferencing Development Report.
Richard started by saying that we were probably 80% to 85% toward getting the new server up and running. It’s mainly superficial work, cosmetics really. We need to install a theme for the Web site which won’t take too long, and Colour theming to make sure it’s all right for people with low vision.
E-mails and mailing lists are almost done. We’ve had SSL installed this week, which means we can secure everything. All being well most of it will be finished by next weekend. Richard asked if anyone had any questions on the server, before he moved on to the Web site stuff.
Amanda said no-one had texted her, but she didn’t know if Ann wanted people to ask questions. Ann asked if anyone did want to ask questions, reminding us that we should go through Amanda.
Roma Creech asked: “Do we really need a new server when all this is done?”
Richard asked if she meant the new voice client.
Roma said yes.
Richard said we’ve been waiting for Communicator 3 for several years now. He hadn’t heard anything about a new version, and a lot of people seem to think that we do need new software.
Ann asked if Roma meant the next version of the client we are using now, which has been promised for some time, and we’re still waiting to hear when and if.
Roma said she meant the chat thing. The one that’s going to cost an awful lot of money.
Chris said he did know that the Communicator 3 version of the one we are using now, had been talked about since the middle of 2010, and we’re obviously now at the beginning of 2014.
Ann said this is the problem and unfortunately the old communicator had been excellent, it has been very,very good. But in the past year or so, it’s showing its age within the development of computer technology. And this is one of the reasons why we decided we needed to investigate getting a new chat facility developed.
What Richard is doing now, we’ve changed over to another server, which is more modern and suited to our needs, and we’ll be able to get to the control panel, I mean Richard you’re the technical expert on this, this is really what we’re up to at the moment. We’re using the old server at the moment, because we’re dealing with trying to get the web site back, and getting the e-mails sorted out because 1 and 1 have proved problematic in many respects. And once that’s done, then we’ll look forward to dealing with the possibility of a new voice conferencing client, but at the moment that aspect has not been taken forward much, because other more pressing things that have to be sorted out, with regards to the web site and the e-mails. Am I right, Richard?
Richard said Yes, that’s pretty much correct. To answer the specific question about do we need another one, he thought it’s difficult for a lot of people, because technology is moving on. We’re not on Windows ’98 or XP, We’re now on 7 and 8.
There’s little problems here and there that keep cropping up for different people. We don’t know why they necessarily happen. But we need to get some software that’s more modern. We’ve explored all of the alternatives, none of them seem to suit what TAFN’s needs are particularly well.
They all serve their purpose, there’s no doubt about that, but things like secure storage of member data, there’s none of that. There’s no integration for putting web pages into room templates, like we do now, and all kinds of other little things. Custom built piece of software will give TAFN everything it needs, and everything it wants, funding permitting.
Lee Buckingham said we only have to look at yesterday’s play for example, He thought there’s been improvements, He did not stop halfway through as much as he used to, people kept coming in and out of the room, obviously no fault to themselves, so there are still problems so it does need to be improved.
Roma said she was just wondering how much it was all going to cost and if it was all really going to be worth it, that was all.
Richard said he would mention that in the next report although we haven’t really been doing much because this new server has been taking up most of the priority at the moment. We haven’t actually got a quote yet.
Carol Forrester asked will the new server actually make a difference to the client we’ve got now? Will it work any better or is that not how it works?
Richard said he sincerely hoped so, but getting to the root of the old server problems had never been an easy task for anybody. There are so many factors involved. But we can hope the new server can bring things along.
Harry Mason asked Richard was he not right in saying, if we were to wait around for communicator 3, we are in the hands of Barry Jennings, who has written the previous versions of communicator, and seems to be in no great urgency to get on with it, even if we weren’t going to go on a different route was he right in saying that Richard?
Richard said yes, as Ann mentioned, he remembered this being talked about in the AGM of 2010, which was the first time that he heard about it.
We don’t have a service contract. We don’t have a support contract. If something is wrong, we can just hope that at some point, it will get fixed.
If we have our own software, we’ll have a support contract, which means if things completely and utterly fail, or fall over within a period of time, the company that develops this, will actually have a responsibility to fix it. If we have a service contract, then we will actually have as part of our on-going maintenance agreement, to have bug fixes, to have small updates, to have new releases to make it work for all the different platforms that we want it to work for. And we can make something that we actually have the support and the service for. And that’s very important.
Roma agreed that it was important, but at a price, and was it worth the cost and did we have enough members to cover it?
Richard said there is a sort of plan at the moment, that was forming up. It may be that we go looking for external fundraising or other options. But we have to get a price on it all first before we decide whether or not we need all that. We can have a look at a few different options. Again this is really the next report, but since there has been nothing going on, it doesn’t hurt to be combined.
Monique asked was it really unavoidable to get the web site down, because I supposed it had caused some confusion, Chris has dealt with that. A friend of hers was asking about TAFN, and she wanted to see the web site and couldn’t, so Chris done that so it’s all been sorted. But it could’ve been possible, she could’ve said, oh, the web sites not working, so forget it. So was it really unavoidable?
Richard said yes, it absolutely was, and if there were no more questions, he’d move on to that part of the report.
Amanda said that was fine, no more questions.
Peter Beasley said surely our main problem is that we’re dependant, at the moment, on this communicator – this database, we have to connect via the stage – we have to connect via America,and that’s where the problem is. That’s one of the problems, isn’t it Richard?
Richard said well it is a fairly long round trip, but I believe that is only for authentication when you first log-in. After that, you don’t have that issue, but it’s still a step that could be removed. Hopefully by putting the server in London, where it is now, instead of halfway across Europe, we might see some better results.
Ann said that the second part of Richard’s report, was the voice client development.
Richard said he’d already done that and was now going on to the web site report.
To answer your question Monique, yes, it was unavoidable. A server migration. this was his first server migration, by the way – and he had not realised at the beginning how much work there actually was. It’s been a lot more than he thought. Although it has been done in a very logical way, and it’s a big, big job.
For example, we had to get a server – and unlike installing Windows and having all your basic functions there, you have to actually install each component. So we had to install a database. We had to install a web-server, for the web pages to go on to. And then we had to make the two things talk to each other. And then we had to install the e-mail function, and then the mailing list function and make those two talk to each other.
There’s a whole set of processes and procedures that have to be followed. And then of course, for security, we needed an SSL certificate. That was delayed by almost a week, because at first we actually needed documentation to say – we are who we say we are to the rest of the world, and they want proof of that. So you know, you have to provide photographic ID, that we have to scan and document and everything. It’s actually a mammoth job, it really is. We’re hoping, as he said to have the server setup finished by the end of next week.
The Web site is bigger than he first thought. There was a folder that he missed from the backup file. There were not 300 web pages, there were closer to 600 web pages. And he wished that we could just simply import them all into word-press, and it would all be done. Unfortunately, it can’t, and we’re going to have to hand write each page, and actually put them in. So that’s going to take a little while, as you can imagine, along with all the audio files and the photographs, Which will have to be re-described. We might be able to salvage the description of the photos, He will have a look. So yes, there’s still a lot of work to go. And hopefully we can get that done in a timely fashion.
Chris said he thinks it also has to be stressed to the members, that the 1 and 1 server that we have, wasn’t accessible to the visually impaired at all. And no matter what was tried after the crash, we couldn’t get it to talk to Jaws or even Jaws to talk with it. With what Richard’s now doing, going forward, any visually impaired person will be able to be the Web master of TAFN, and not have to rely on sighted assistance.
Richard said actually it was about 50% accessible in that control panel. So with the right training, it opens up the way for people with the relevant skills to be Web master.
Ann said she thinks basically, once all this mammoth task has been completed, it will be much smoother and easier to administer, than it has been in the past. Is that right Richard?
Richard said it will be. We’ll have accessible mailing lists, there’s an interface for e-mail accounts, so we can get that set up. Word-press itself is web-page driven, so even the old SFTP, uploading your files to a server, is done through an interface on the front end now, which makes life a lot easier for people.
There are all sorts of niceties coming our way in the near future.
David Richards wanted to ask Richard is he getting any help with the migration business? Has he got a web team or something?
Richard said yes. As soon as we get the server up and running, we’re going to have a planning meeting, to discuss how we’re going to do it. Because it’s not just about moving pages from one place to another either. A lot of the pages were not in folders. Richard stated that he had been spending a lot of time, putting together a folder structure, and then putting web pages into them. And figuring out, categorising everything. But the pages themselves have to be reformatted, before they’re put into the new system. So it will take some time.
If we were still on the Windows server, we could unpack the backup file and have it up in about an hour and a half. Unfortunately, getting access to that, is more problematic.
Amanda said no questions.
Ann Thanked Richard and then asked if he wanted to say anything about the new voice conferencing development?
Richard said most of it had been covered in his report, because they have been prioritizing getting things fixed up and running.
Richard said, however, apologies to anyone who had disruptions with their TAFN e-mail addresses. We had a couple of little problems with 1 and 1, and he was very unhappy that we did so.
Just for the record, 2 days after we started the process, He was on to their help desk, and was keeping on their backs, because he was wanting to make sure that everything was going to work smoothly.
There was a problem with sending on the Friday, and apparently, that was a problem with 1 and 1. They went in on Sunday and fixed something, and in doing so, they changed some settings and thought that our server was supposed to handle our emails. This is because our firewall for the Windows server, was configured to work with Microsoft Exchange e-mail.
On the Tuesday of the following week, he got in touch with them again to find out what was going on, and they reported our main servers were locked in a cycle. They did something at their end to the DNS and released them. These are the sorts of things that can’t be done from a control panel, regardless. And I was quite annoyed with them about that.
When we switch from the 1 and 1 to the new e-mail addresses, we’ll not have that level of issue, because we’ve already got the domain name pointed at the new server anyway. So apologies again for anyone who suffered from any issues with that. It was difficult, and that’s the end of the report for this month.
Ann asked Amanda if there were any further questions. There were none.
9. Events report.
Justin said the most notable event was the CAVI presentation of courses, which he mentioned at the last meeting. It was well attended, and seems to have sparked some interest among the membership for people to take courses on various computer related subjects. We hope to hear more from CAVI in the future. Thanks to Monica Moen and Charlene Vormeng for that.
Other than that, it’s been business as usual. We still have no crosswords event, unfortunately, because of Chrissie’s illness. Hope that she gets better soon. Various people have been stepping in to cover in her absence. Thanks very much to them, particularly to Mark and David. Catherine, unfortunately is also ill. So as some of you will have seen from your e-mails, that she cannot do chain reaction tomorrow, so he will be covering that.
In the next crosswords slot, the one coming up this Tuesday, we have an accessible devices event. Its been quite a while since we’ve had one of those. Carol Forrester will be talking us through something called a Jam-box. He cannot give any more information on it because he has no idea what it is, although she’ll be talking us through the look and feel of it and how it works, and whether or not you should get one, and will answer your questions, I’m sure.
There’s been a bit of confusion relating to the computer skills event lately. Leon, owing to personal circumstances, has been unable to host it – there has been a bit of breakdown in communication about that. He has spoken to him about it and he can now reveal that he will be holding the computer skills classes monthly now, as opposed to weekly, on the second Thursday of each month.
So you have Mark’s audio quiz on the first Thursday, Leon’s computer class on the second Thursday and Greg’s brain ache quiz on the third Thursday of the month.
This Saturday we have a Valentine’s Day – just after Valentine’s Day, on the 15th, Rock event which Steve Hyde-Dryden will be hosting at 10.30. A lot of people think that rock isn’t the music of love, and he’ll be playing lots of different melodic rock tracks related in various different and interesting ways to Valentine’s Day. He really encourages you to go to this event., He puts together a really good show, he really knows his stuff about the artists he plays, and he plays a nice eclectic mix of stuff. So that’s this Saturday at 10.30.
And then of course, this Sunday at 7.30, we have the second instance of Mark Tyler’s music quiz, which he’ll be holding on the third Sunday of every month from now on.
Consequently Ian White’s they write the songs event is being moved to the second Sunday of the month. So that’s tonight for all you Jazz fans.
This concluded the Events report, and it just remained for Justin to thank everybody who contributes to events in whatever shape or form.
To promote or cancel or reschedule existing events, please write to:
To provide feed back on events, or to suggest new events, to ask to be able to host an event, that kind of thing, write to:
Ann thanked Justin for his report and asked Amanda if there were any questions. .
Stephen Hassell stated, you forgot to mention Chris and Teresa Payne’s 20 questions was really good.
Justin responded that as the 20 questions was already an established event it did not require mentioning.
Carol Forrester then expanded regarding her event above, anything to do with blue-tooth or i-phone, or anything like that, the event is for you.
Jackie Glynn then asked when the bingo would be, as she hadn’t seen an e-mail regarding it.
Chris Payne Answered that it was the following Saturday.
10. M. A. D. Update.
Stephen Hassell said they tried to have a meeting on the 4th of February, but due to technical reasons, we couldn’t all get together to justify a meeting.
Catherine McManus came in to help us with the change-over. We did eventually get together, but we couldn’t get hold of Ian McNamara. Four of us got together, that was Monique Lannott, Steve Hyde-Dryden, John Hosch and myself.
We had an informal meeting, Steve Hyde-Dryden chaired it on that occasion, but I never received a report from him. so we can only conclude that its been forgotten. Basically, there was nothing actually positive to report. The only thing he can say, is that we are generally going to meet on Thursdays now, and our next meeting is due on Thursday 13th March, which Catherine Macmanus will attend as last year’s exec representative together with the newly appointed exec representative and will help us learn how we do things.
Beyond that he did not think there is anything else he can report.
Carol Forrester said after that she would be taking over from Catherine as the Exec Representative.
Ann said that Catherine will hand over to Carol at the next meeting.
Stephen said there’s something he fails to understand about that. He thought Carol could not take over until April, or has he misunderstood that?
Ann replied that she will explain. After the AGM, Carol will be introduced to the M. A. D. committee by Catherine who will be coming to the March meeting on the 13th. Carol will actually take over in April. In fact,she will be attending the March meeting with Catherine, and from April onwards Carol will be your Exec Representative.
the reason is, when the AGM was changed from November to March, the date for changing the Exec Rep, had to be changed as well. It started in the past, the new M. A. D. came into effect on the 1st of February and as the AGM had taken place in November, the new Exec Rep, was ready to take over in February. Now the AGM has been changed, this happened about two or three years ago to march, so the new Rep, if chosen in November, might not have been on the Exec Committee, in February. So it seemed logical that from the time the elections and AGM were change to March, the new Rep takes over in April. So the March meeting will be the last one that Catherine attends and the first one that Carol attends.
I hope this answers your question Stephen.
Carol said sorry for confusing you Stephen, but we all got confused to be honest. So it wasn’t just you.
Stephen then thanked Ann for the clarification.
Ann let people know that if anyone wanted to contact the M.A. D. Committee, its:
Ann asked Amanda If there were any more questions. There were none.
12. CAMEO Update.
Chris Payne said it was just to let members know that they haven’t been forgotten. Those who have put their names forward for CAMEO 2014, which will be held from, dates have gone out of my head. Someone might be able to come back and tell me.
We will be contacting everyone who is on the list so far, towards the end of February/beginning of March, to get your details of actual rooms you require. We are hoping to have the choice of menus, they will also be handed out as soon as we get them, but I do have to stress the fact that we are still under subscribed. So if you are still thinking about coming, please let us know.
All you have to do to reserve a room or place, is to send a deposit of £25 per head. But that’s about all I can tell you at the moment, as nothing is physically happening to date.
Ann thanked Chris. Then said for your information, the dates for the 2014 CAMEO, which is going to take place in the Sheffield Hilton, are Friday the 5th of September to Monday the 8th of September.
Michael Brown asked if the balance of the payment was to be paid by the end of March.
Chris said no,not at all. please don’t get concerned that you have to make your payments yet. With the agreement we’ve got with this hotel, we’re able to actually add people until the last minute, so we’re actually saying to people and this again will come in the information we’re sending out, that final payments must be in by the beginning of August. So you’ve got an extra three months in which to save.
Michael said thanks very much.
There were no more questions.
13. Any Other Business.
Ann asked does anyone have any other business to bring up?
There was none.
Ann announced the next member’s meeting for Sunday 9th March, at 3PM. in The Members’ Room. She then thanked everyone for coming and then closed the meeting at 16.07.