President's Report 2012

In the last year...

We've got a few new faces on our council, and have retained most of our movers and shakers.

The Council is made up of:

  1. Ian Beardslee
  2. Brenda Chawner
  3. Don Christie
  4. Mark Foster
  5. Peter Harrison
  6. Matthew Holloway
  7. Carl Klitscher
  8. Dave Lane
  9. Scott Newton
  10. Vik Olliver
  11. Daniel Reurich
  12. Alick Wilson
  13. Brent Wood

The officers are
Treasurer - Daniel Reurich
Secretary - Brenda Chawner
Vice President - Peter Harrison
President - Dave Lane

NZOSS Achievements in 2011-2012 year

Engaging the Membership

The focal point for most NZOSS members is the OpenChat mailing list. This is where most of the society's positions get hashed out, and where we (the council) gauge the tenor of the group. This year there were lots and lots of socio-technological discussion, including some philosophical and pedagogical explorations. Topics were many and varied and included:

  • Cicso's ill fated attempt to "monetise" its hacker community
  • many TPPA (Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement) related discussions. This "High quality" (no longer "Free") trade agreement is increasingly dominating our FOSS-political landscape.
  • the guy who's trying to spend a year 'living open source'... He's based in Berlin, but is a kiwi.
  • Software Patents
  • NetHui
  • Copyright legislation
  • Discussions on our "PR" practices and how we might raise our game (thanks to Brett Roberts for this astute food for thought)

We also started the idea of relatively regular "meat space" meetings in some of the main centres where there're enough NZOSS members to book a table at a pub and engage in scheming about ways to achieve various NZOSS goals.

There was an inaugural meeting in Christchurch, and I believe a few others around the country. I had a great opportunity to catch up with a large number of Auckland FOSS supporters when I visited Tangleball (maker space) in November 2011.  

Putting aside our slight institutional bias against Facebook, we augmented our mailing list and website with a Facebook group, and rekindled our Twitter and accounts to help reach a broader audience, rather than simply preaching to the choir (and I mean that in the least religious way possible).

Socio-Political Action

  • authored letter to Min. Craig Foss requesting clarification of delays to Patents Bill. Got InternetNZ, IITP, and NZRise to lend their weight and credibility as co-signers.
  • we were involved in the Office of the Govt CIO/NZICT Group workshop to discuss how Gov't should engage with people and businesses online: - Don Christie rightly took the Minister Chris Tremain to task after he proudly announced the completion of the G2012 agreement with Microsoft as if it was a good thing.
  • we assisted an Otago-based provider of health care services who laid a complaint with the Ministry of Health due to a compliance requirement to use a specific web-based software tool to submit crucial records. This software tool *only* worked with Microsoft Internet Explorer. The health care services provider has a Linux-based desktop environment (and is very happy with it, and the cost savings they've experienced) and is unwilling to shift to MS Windows to be able to use this software.
  • many of us were involved in various SOPA and PIPA awareness raising and protesting activities, including a full blackout of the NZOSS website. This was the front page of the site on 17-18 January, the global day of protest against these two disastrous pieces of US legislation: /content/sopa-and-pipa-are-full-of-fail
  • although non-partisan, the NZOSS congratulated the Labour and Green parties for having the most FOSS-friendly election platforms

Profile Raising

  • the NZOSS had a stand at the 2012 NetHui in Auckland. A fair number of NZOSS members were in attendance, and many volunteered a few hours to talk to people about FOSSy topics. Thanks to Peter Harrison and Brenda Chawner for providing some printed material, including a pamphlet introducing the NZOSS and copies of a collection of Richard M Stallman's essays on Free Software.
  • I represented the NZOSS at the Privacy Commission's Forum in May, representing the NZOSS' position on privacy concerns with Cloud Computing.
  • I represented the NZOSS at two Brightstar conferences for Accountants - the "One Stop Update for the Accountant in Business" in both Wellington and Auckland. I presented (directly after the Microsoft Cloud Computing marketing manager) on "maximising value for money from Information Technology"
  • I was interviewed on the Software Patent issue by 95bFM:
  • there were many other media interviews and opinion pieces from NZOSS officers and council members in IT media like Computerworld ( and the National Business Review (
  • I represented the FOSS-in-business viewpoint at ITEX 2011 in Auckland, one of three people sitting on a panel moderated by Sarah Putt, editor of Computer World magazine


  • NZOSS has signed onto the Fair Deal campaign to help raise awareness among the general public about the impact that the TPPA is likely to have on NZ and its people.
  • we encouraged ZaReason to set up shop in NZ (they've opened an office in Wellington - providing Linux-based hardware, e.g. desktops, laptops, tablets, and peripherals. We do not endorse their products (as most of us haven't used it personally, as yet), but certainly encourage NZOSS members to consider them and support them when purchasing new hardware.
  • NZOSS has accepted an invitiation to become an OSI (Open Source Initiative) Affiliate - US-based open source (as opposed to Free Software) organisation. We might not be completely in accord with all of their positions, but it's easier to influence their priorities from within than without.

In Progress

The NZOSS is involved in the 2012 NZ Open Source Awards as a sponsor, and I will be among the panel of judges. The event will take place in Wellington on 7 November.  We want the awards to reflect the best work being undertaken by the FOSS community in NZ, and we hope you'll all beat the bushes to tease out the best and brightest - some have a tendancy to be head down working, or too humble to put themselves forward!

Going Forward

It feels like we've achieved rather a lot over the past year given that we're a relatively small, volunteer-driven organisation, and all of those volunteers fit their NZOSS work around their fully time work and study activities.

That said, there're plenty of additional things I know I'd love to see the NZOSS undertake in the next year. Things like:

  1. improve our communication with the membership, mostly via the OpenChat list
  2. clarify our policy on company memberships - costs, benefits
  3. improve our financial membership process to make it
    1. more straightforward and
    2. instantaneous (i.e. online CC payment)
  4. define a financial student membership
  5. increase our education activities
    1. increase our participation in SoftwareFreedomDay
    2. look into setting up student competitions with a FOSS focus
    3. establish closer ties to the Ministry of Education to raise the profile of FOSS for schools
    4. get at least a couple more pilot FOSS programmes in schools, learning from and building on the successes and lessons of Albany Senior HS and Warrington primary.
  6. raise our marketing game
    1. ensure that we have regular postings to the NZOSS site,
    2. make sure we tie-in our activities (e.g. make sure there's a specific page on the NZOSS site to point people we meet at NetHui 2013 to, to provide a tailored message for that audience, better coordination between our website and social media promotions, etc.)
    3. a coordinated campaign on the benefits of licensing simplicity that come with FOSS over, say, MS or Apple or Adobe or Oracle software (to name a few). This is a strategic area where we haven't placed enough focus in the past.

All this takes dedicated volunteers and/or paid staff. I think the NZOSS should consider offering grants/limited contracts to individuals next year to help move some of the society's goals forward.