President's report 2017-2019
Kia ora koutou. After a strange couple of years, here's my more-or-less annual President's report.
We had a bit of a blow at 2018's AGM - we were not able to achieve the 75% support of our members to fix an oversight in our existing Constitution to address a historical problem: the 3rd bullet under the "Council Meetings" section: "The quorum for meetings of Council shall be seven members." The rest of the constitution always uses a percentage (e.g. 75%) or proportion (e.g. more than half) to describe council required numbers. So for most of the past year - we decided to streamline our council, inspired by LinuxAustralia's similar move to make getting everyone together for monthly meetings a tractable problem - we've had at most 7 and more recently 5 councilors, meaning we're technically in breach of the Constitution, even if not the spirit.
Things have been up and down since the last elections - we've had Rob Elshire and aimee whitcroft stand down from Council. We're sorry to see them go, and thank them for their great contributions to the NZOSS. The current "interim" council is
who've done an admirable job, despite each of us being flat-tack with our day jobs. I'd especially like to thank Carl Klitscher for accepting the dual role of Secretary and Treasurer to help keep things ticking over nicely. In addition he did the heroic heavy lifting on the long awaited and desperately needed upgrade to the NZOSS website (from Drupal 6 to Drupal 8) the result of which you're looking at now.
Despite the disappointment of the Constitution vote and our falling Council numbers, we have nonetheless managed to achieve quite a lot since my last report. I'll tell you about that shortly - but first, I'd like to tell you about our new Council - this year's Special General Meeting, intended to replace the AGM which we couldn't bring off a few months back due to insufficient Council nominations, will involve a full 7 member Council thanks to two new councilors accepting nominations:
We would like to welcome them to the Council! Both bring a wealth of knowledge, experience, and credibility to their roles. Jo runs VentureCentre in Tauranga, a fully open source co-working space which provides great services to their community. Eliot is a long time open source contributor and developer and a regular contributor to Open Street Maps.
Both have lots of great ideas, energy, and we're excited to have them working with us! Both Eliot and Jo have been a great help in pulling together our draft Constitution with Eliot taking a lead role in creating the document. Jo, in addition, has introduced us to the idea of "Fiscal Sponsors" - a category of charitable organisations in the US, who allow informal groups to leverage their formal organisational structure and provide practical things like a bank account, organisational support, and other services, in line with their charitable charters. We will be looking at how we might provide similar support for informal groups here in New Zealand in the coming year.
So, what has the Society been doing since my last report? Quite a bit.
Monthly Face-to-face meetings
Both the WOSSAT (Wellington) and Christchurch Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) Gatherings (our GetTogether and Meetup.com listings) have been meeting regularly each month. The WOSSAT has been running great presentations from a wide variety of folk each month to healthy audiences, and Christchurch groups have been somewhat smaller and informal, but with great, wide ranging discussions and lots of impromptu presentations which can run late into the night.
Our Auckland gatherings haven't had a regular organiser, so they're been far more sporadic... if anyone would like to organise one, please let us know! The group on Meetup.com has hundreds of people...
More Free and Open Source Software services for NZ
Thanks in large part to generous onshore discounted hosting from Rimu Hosting and, more recently, fully sponsored OpenStack infrastructure from Catalyst Cloud (which has allowed us to update our hosting infrastructure and address our substantial technical debt and vastly increase the flexibility, scalability, and reliability of our systems!), we have been able to provide a broad range of fully Free and Open Source Software services for our own use, and to make many available for anyone in NZ to use, providing practical exposure to these world-class FOSS tools for many who aren't familiar with concept!
In the past couple years, we've expanded those services to include
our membership management system with online payments via Credit Card (built on the Odoo open source ERP platform) - we have Rob Elshire to thank for setting this up for us!
our surveying tool, available to be used for votes and surveys (built with LimeSurvey).
our marketing automation tool - email lead gathering and newsletter and other mail outs. Like MailChimp, but on steroids. It was used for managing the Linux.Conf.AU communications with attendees (built with Mautic)
our document management, shared calendaring, online polls, etc. platform built by integrating NextCloud, Collabora Office, and since last week, the impressively powerful OnlyOffice, providing a collaborative process comparable to Google Docs and Google Drive (plus a few other apps).
our main toe hold in the Fediverse, our community-run, open alternative to Twitter, our Mastodon instance - now with 205 users, who've collectively made 18,338 posts...
email seems to be diminishing in importance, especially for the younger set. Most of our Council communications have moved to our chat platform, our own Rocket.Chat instance.
our upgraded and smartened up NZOSS website - now on Drupal 8, but preserving its historical content.
our freshly minted webinar platform instance - built on BigBlueButton, a FOSS alternative to Zoom.
our recently adopted self-managed, multi-domain, full-function email system built using the incredible (but unabashedly goofily-named) Mailcow project.
our source code repository, our own instance of the superb Gitlab platform.
And we've got further services in mind to add to this rich FOSS software service ecosystem.
ITx 2018 FOSS Stream
The NZOSS ran a full day stream at 2018 ITx Conference featuring
- An unconference (MC'd by Carl Klitscher)
- Sam Muirhead - Design by Committing, not by Committee - Open Source Collaboration in the Arts
- Clare McLennan and Menno Finlay-Smits - Saving New Zealand's Birds with Open Source Technology
- Kristina Hoeppner - Who Creates Open Source Software?
Many thanks to the presenters who made it a great day and a great introduction to FOSS for many of the attendees at the ITx conference!
We co-sponsored LCA 2019 (21-25 Jan 2019) and provided logistical and software support for the organising team, based at the University of Canterbury. They ran a brilliant conference, and provided a welcome showcase for FOSS in the shaky city of Christchurch!
We co-sponsored ITx 2018 (11-13 Jul 2018) - a conference combining the interests of 12 NZ-based technology communities, including the NZOSS.
Co-sponsored the NZ Open Source Awards 2018 (23 Oct 2018) - and participated in the judging - the winners, and some photos...
The year to come
And there you have it - the highlights of the past year and a bit - I hope to have lots more things to post here next year, following, I hope, a positive vote to adopt our new Constitution, our investigation into a NZ-based concept equivalent to Fiscal Sponsorship, and plenty of other educational and community-focused initiatives!
Dave Lane, President
(for reference, here's last year's President's report)