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Nov 13th Wireless Surgery

The second Bristol Wireless surgery will go ahead in the foyer of Easton Community centre on Thursday November 13th between 6pm and 8pm coinciding with the last night of the training course that has been held every Thursday night in the ICT suite for the last few weeks (and with the St Pauls ICT group meeting unfortunately, anyone want to go and be the CLAN rep there?)

We have 3 out of 6 of the students who will be receiving their free computers (the others already have one) so we could set their machines up downstairs with a wireless connection (or cable) so that visitors can look at them while we’re waiting for the class to finish.

Our publicity probably needs a bit of looking at but I expect we’ll get a few people coming in to find out what "BW" is all about, so it would be good to have a few people around to chat about the project, and we can always all go to the pub after. Volunteers? Rich, Paul and I will be doing the training.

Mission Statement

I’ve been working on a new mission statement that will give people a clearer idea of what we’ve been up to and what we want to achieve. It’s now up on the wiki at
Go take a look!

Resident’s computers

26 October, 2003

Dear Computer People

I attach the latest quotation in the battle of quotations between LinuxIT and Evesham.

Once Linux got word that the equipment might be bought from Evesham, they submitted a lower-priced quotation that meets our specification. As this is the case and time is drawing on, and unless I hear any objections by, say, Wednesday, I suggest 10 PCs, the training and support package, flat screens and scanners are ordered next week from LinuxIT.

Having discussed the matter of colour printers with you, it seems that it would be a false economy to buy anything other than laser jets given the quality, reliability, cost of cartridges, running costs of the printers and one of the primary purposes for which they are intended, ie volume printing of newsletters. However to support those groups who may occasionally need to print publicity material in colour a compromise would be to buy one colour laser jet. The price (from Evesham) is £426 + VAT. Depending on whether we (and CLAN) can avoid paying VAT (Dave, my successor, is investigating the VAT situation at the moment), we could buy one of these and keep it at the ERN office. Another possibility is that we could buy one colour printer for ERN and give the 10 month old ERN HP LaserJet 1200 to one of the applicant groups.

Whetherwe pay VAT or not, even after buying one colour laser jet we will still have money left over. Here are some thoughts about how we might use this:

1) Buy more training from Linux.
2) Extend the support package from Linux.
3) Increase the £25 subsidy given to groups for printing and distributing ERN’s newsletter.
4) Buy more aerial points so that the CLAN network can be extended.
5) Buy another set of computer equipment for an eleventh group.
6) Pay for a website design like the St Werburgh’s one.

For some of extras we would have to go back to Neighbourhood Renewal and get the
ir approval. If you have any thoughts, let me know (until 31 October) or Dave Johnston (

The closing date for receipt of applications for groups wanting computers is 31 October. Eventually I sent out 14 application forms and have had 2 back. I am pretty sure we will get more back than that by the closing date but perhaps not 10. Once the forms come back, the group needs to decide whether each of the applicants fulfills the criteria for getting the computer package. (Royce and Ingrid, I’m afraid you won’t be allowed in on this as your group is one of the applicants.) We therefore need to recruit more residents to the computer group. I don’t think they necessarily need to be computer-minded as we will have the done the technical bit of work by then. If you know of anyone, please could you put them in contact with me or Dave.

Lastly, the next meeting of the computer group will be organised and led by Dave as I am leaving my job at the end of next week. It has been really good working with you all and seeing this exciting project develop and I wish you all well with it. If you need to contact Dave before 31 October, you can email him or telephone on 07763 907020. From 1 November, Dave will be using the ERN phone and the number is 07880 963 568.

1st St Pauls Unlimited ICT group meeting

Hi all. Just to let you that the first St Pauls Unlimited ICT sub-group meeting is at 6.00pm on Thursday 6th November in St Agnes Lodge, St Agnes Park, Thomas Street, St Pauls, BS2 9LJ.

Full details can be found on our web site

It would be great if someone from Bristol Wireless and / or CLAN could attend as some discussion will be on establishing a wireless LAN in St Pauls in collaboration with both groups and others as they emerge.

Meeting Tuesday 11th November

Hi all,

things have been a bit slower this month as some of us have been busy with organising the training at the ECC which has been a lot of fun. We didn’t set a date for the next meeting at the last, so I’d like to suggest that we do the next one on Tuesday 11th November at 7.30pm. 2 days before the end of the last training session and the Wireless Surgery we are planning to run that night at the ECC.

As I won’t be able to make the meeting physically, I’d like to suggest that we have the meeting in IRC to see if that increases participation (the last one in June was quite a success – minutes @ ). This could mean a joint RealLife/IRC meeting as there are terminals either at the The Lab (which could be opened for the evening), and 2 terminals at the Chelsea (which is always open) if you’d like to join in that way.

Minutes of the last meeting are at various places – such as here

and an editable agenda can be found here

Hope to "see" lots of you there

Course Materials

I’ve started writing Course Materials (Students Notes and Session plans) for our free introductory courses for novices on the "TempWiki", so if anyone want’s to join in they’d be more than welcome, you can see the sort of format it’s supposed to be in, fairly clearly, I think.

Spell and grammar checking would be equally appreciated as I’m writing them in a bit of a hurry due to the fact we’re supposed to start next Thursday.

There is a meeting next Thursday evening in Paignton, Devon apparently to promote co-operation on a full ECDL wiki for developing Open Source teaching material.

The wiki is

although as you can see it’s only one page so far, perhaps there are people in Bristol who would be interested in getting involved ( as well as me )

Suse in the ICT Suite

Yesterday we got into the ICT Suite thanks to Nigel from Easton Community Association ( trivia: Nigel used to be in Orchestral Manoeuvres in The Dark!) and with the help of Tall Paul we got all the machines dual booting between their default Windows OS and Suse. Partitioning was fast, the install was quick and configuring for the network was very simple (I quite enjoy using YAST ๐Ÿ˜› ) . One machine refused to play ball with the partitioning: we suspect Windows will have to be reinstalled first; apart from that everything went smoothly.

Two things to complete to finish preparation for Linux training –

  • Suse 8.2 doesn’t come with Mozilla default so that has to be dloaded and installed on all the machines, I think we did one, but the rest will have to be done before Nov 13th, not a difficult job, but time consuming nonetheless.
  • We have to sort out the printing, so we don’t disturb the Centre’s Windows network. Matt thinks he has a solution.

Easton is now covered :)

Hurrah! We’ve got the multia mounted and running the new antenna at the ECC; it’s all up and working ! ๐Ÿ™‚ We still can’t see it from the lab tho :/

Lessons learnt: calling a rigger (£60.00) with all the tools makes the process easy. The LDF 450 cable is good but hard to use in comparison to the UM67 cable and the expense makes it prohibitive for smaller nodes. Thanks to John at Westcom for the donation on that one ๐Ÿ™‚

Promoting New Content

This is an invitation to anyone out there with an interest in media content to contribute to a forum that sets out to promote, develop and encourage collaboration and support of ideas – for creative media projects.

This could be:-

  • for an internet based website or for a local wireless network
  • involving training or learning new skills
  • based on radio, video, photography or simply text and graphics
  • the recording of a performance, the telling of a story or the documenting of an event. It could be interactive
  • for art, culture, information, education, health, news, entertainment, commerce – etc etc etc.

Media and consumers are evolving – new media forms emerging alongside new types of consumer.

Liberated from the captivity of elitist controllers, we now have access to the creative tools and to the networks. What do we want to do with this technology?

Please post your views and comments.

Digital Donation Day II

It was raised at the meeting that we could either run a big event like last time at the ECC, or run smaller 2 hour training/giveaway sessions at the office. What’s everyone’s opinion on this? Personally, I think the smaller sessions at the office will be better.

+ Smaller groups mean less volunteers
+ No rental for the ECC room
+ Easier to manage
– Not so good for publicity

As an idea, I suggest we maintain a first come, first served list of people wanting PCs. To get on the list, a message can be left on the office answerphone, an email sent (say, or a submission on the website. When we have machines ready, and enough people to run a course (say 4-8 people), we contact the first people on the list to make a training course at the office. The people turn up to find ready-to-run machines that they will learn to use for a couple of hours before taking them home.

It’s cheap to do, and sustainable. Any thoughts on this?



Another thing that came up at the last meeting is the question of what constitutes membership?

The Rules of the Bristol Wireless Community Co-Operative Ltd. state:

5. The Committee may admit to membership any person or corporate body, or nominee of any unincorporated organisation or firm, who or which is living, working or active within the community served by the co-operative and who or which has agreed to pay to the co-operative any subscription or other sum due in respect of membership.

In practice, this means virtually anybody including the ex-pat Psand lads.

For the purposes of meetings

24. …a quorum shall be one tenth of the members of the Co-operative or five members, whichever is the greater

so we just assumed that for the purposes of the last 2 meetings that everybody was a member thus making them quorate, however we are actually legally required to keep a formal register of membership (each paying £1 for a "share").

One suggestion might be that signing up for this BBS or the mailing list constitutes membership application and unless you hear otherwise (i.e get thrown off for spamming or abuse) sending a £1 either by mail or through Paypal to address confirms membership.


Tutors (payments)

At the last meeting Andy Laurence suggested that if tutors were going to be paid for the courses being run at ECC (which has not been confirmed yet) , it might be a good idea if the payments were paid back into the Bristol Wireless "pot" to fund other projects and development work.

On a theoretical level this is probably a good idea, however on a practical level it may be difficult to get professional tutors (which ECC and Bristol Community Education insist on) to give up time on a regular basis to prepare and deliver the courses as volunteers.

Personally as someone who does quite of lot of work for the project it would be nice to receive a bit of cash doing something I would normally get paid for in my "day job" . However if there is anybody who would like to lead the sessions and donate the money back to BW, then I’m more than happy to forego any financial recompense in return for having my evenings free. I’ll even come along as a volunteer helper on one or two sessions if required. ๐Ÿ™‚

Rigger hire – Erecting the Community Centre Antenna

As agreed at the last meeting we are about to erect another antenna on the Easton Community Centre. This will increase the signal range and accommodate a wider proportion of Easton. The rigger has given us a price of £60.00 and he can fit it on Thursday 14/10/03.

We will be making up some cables for the omni that will come off the Chelsea; this will be connected to a pebble box. We have been offered some LDF 450 cable and fittings from Westcom. We haven’t tried this cable before; it’s less lossy and significantly thicker.

Has anyone got any comments?