IT Development/Technology committee meetings/Minutes 3 December 2014

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These minutes were approved at the Tech Com meeting on 26 January 2015.

Attendees[edit | edit source]

  • Harry Burt (HB) Chair
  • Charles Matthews (CM)
  • Michael Maggs (MM)
  • Richard Nevell (RN) Minutes

Apologies[edit | edit source]

Carol Campbell and Mike Peel sent their apologies

Meeting began at 17:40

Minutes of the previous meeting[edit | edit source]

Discussion on the technology@ mailing list led to an amendment to the minutes of the previous meeting. Otherwise, no other changes were suggested and the minutes of the last meeting were approved.

DECISION: Minutes approved

Matters arising from the previous minutes, not otherwise covered on this agenda[edit | edit source]

No matters arising, however HB did note that there are currently no standing items for strategy and the scoping exercise which may need to be addressed.

Ex-toolserver hardware[edit | edit source]

RN updated the committee, noting that he has approached WMDE to ascertain shipping cost. He will follow up on this. He also added that the charity's revised budget for 2015-16 might mean we need to reconsider use of the servers.

CM wants it to be freely accessible to volunteers. Tasks such as processing 3D graphics were mentioned as possible uses; it is a case of finding out what volunteers would use the capacity for and engaging with them. HB shared the view that it could be good for engaging volunteers and felt it could potentially be quicker and more flexible than existing cloud services.

MM pointed out that the main part of the cost would not be shipping the servers

MM noted there will be overhead costs for maintaining the server, and this would have to be agreed as falling within the scope of the charity's budget. Also considered whether access to the server would be physical or remote, the latter of which may have cost implications. CM replied that Doug Taylor has offered to help with maintenance and hosting, both in terms of hardware and software. Bandwidth would still be an issue. HB felt that we need a ballpark figure for the ongoing cost.

ACTION: CM to discuss costs with Doug Taylor

Online voice recording (AM)[edit | edit source]

HB emailed Andy Mabbett today; there is no other update. The draft tool remains available.

Bugzilla and Phabricator[edit | edit source]

No update on Phabricator. It will be removed as a standing item.

In advance of the meeting CM had inquired about using Bugzilla to manage bugs around Wikisoba. RN reported that Emmanuel's concern was that he might not have much time to spend working on Wikisoba. CM noted that Bugzilla would be very helpful for managing the project as a volunteer, and would provide somewhere he could direct other volunteers to in order to illustrate progress.

ACTION: RN to follow up with Emmanuel Engelhart about setting up a component on Bugzilla specifically for Wikisoba.

HB is keen to ensure that volunteers, staff, and the board are all on the same page regarding the use of Bugzilla as a project management tool.

At this point the opportunity was taken to discuss the role of funding and technology within the charity in light of the FDC's recommendations concerning Wikimedia UK's funding.

In the future funding may be project based with specific deliverables, prioritising effective projects we can afford support our charitable objectives. HB asked whether would be used to encourage the tender of projects, a model used for |Individual Engagement Grants, or whether projects would be proposed and then funding sought. MM felt that a mixed approach would have best results. The charity may apply for external funding to support technical development if appropriate. HB mentioned the Google Summer of Code model as one to consider: bringing people together to write tools with minimal administrative overhead. Another approach might be to approach the winners of the Summer of Code as they will have proof of concept and offer them support beyond the summer. MM noted that a day of technology discussion was mooted at the volunteer workshop at the end of November, in a similar vein to that suggested by Mike Peel earlier this year. Tasks the charity might be able to take on include supporting some of Magnus Manske's tools. There are two issues in this regard: fixing bugs as components change and previously compatible items are modified, and effectively turning the tool on and off again. The latter takes a considerable amount of Magnus' time and is the less complex of the two tasks. It could also be done very quickly.

ACTION: HB to email technology@ about seeding ideas from the Google Summer of Code

Safe Sandbox (CM)[edit | edit source]

As previously, HB has developed a prototype. It could allow pupils at school to learn how to edit in a private environment. Currently waiting for feedback on the requirements before the tool can be progressed further.

VLE report[edit | edit source]

CM reported on the Virtual Learning Environment, noting that the content is in a good state. The single sign on (SSO) module has not yet been installed. The former toolserver servers would help with performance issues. Additionally, Moodle needs updating from version 2.6 to 2.8.

Wikisoba report[edit | edit source]

CM reported that Magnus Manske has agreed to help make the front end of Wikisoba mobile device compatible (version 1). There is currently not standard quiz format on the web. CM is happy with the progress. The intention is that Wikisoba will host the current VLE content including videos. Magnus Maske will probably decrease his involvement when work begins on version 2 and writing the back end.

Date and chair of next meeting[edit | edit source]

The six week cycle would avoid the board meeting (13th and 14th December) and the Christmas holiday period. A date in the week beginning 12th January was suggested.

ACTION: RN to circulate a poll to settle on the date

AOB[edit | edit source]

HB asked whether the board expects a report from the committee, what the contents would be, and who was expected to write it. MM replied that committees are asked to submit reports for each board meeting, and ideally volunteers would write the report. In terms of content, the board is familiar with how the committee works, and would instead like to know about what work it has undertaken and what projects the committee would like to see supported. CM offered to write some bullet points and circulate them via technology@ on Thursday and HB offered to help write the report over the weekend.

Meeting closed at 19.15