ADMIN: Contributions

Lyndon Nerenberg (VE7TCP)
Tue, 14 May 1996 05:32:30 -0700

[ My aplogies in advance. I never seem to send out *short* messages. ]

[[ This message originally started out as "A *short* update ..." :-) ]]

[[[ ... about two^H^H^Hthree^H^H^H^H^HFOUR hours ago ... ]]]

An update on the status of the contributions ...

They are rolling in -- thanks!  (And the mail lady *hates* you!)

After the first couple of days I decided to hold off opening and
tracking them until things slowed down. Big mistake :-)  I'm now
at the point where if I don't get to the bank *soon* the tellers
will shoot me if they see me walk in with all that paperwork.
So, tomorrow I will be dusting off the abacus and adding
things up.

[  BTW -- If you have spare peecee peripheral hardware (i.e. disks,
serial port cards, etc.), consider sending them in. After talking
to the local hams it turns out there is a market for fiddley-bits
that will work with their 286's. Trading this sort of equipment
for $5-$10 here and there can quickly add up to additional RAM or
disk for the server. (It surprised the hell out of me! I've been
spending too much time working on large systems I think ...)  This
was also mentioned by a couple of folks who didn't feel they could
contribute cash to the fund, but had equipment in the basement they
were willing to send along. I apologize to any of you who I may
have discounted before on your offers. It was obviously a mistake
on my part. I was mostly worried about being saddled with a lot of
old hardware I couldn't dispose of. It turns out the local hams are
still discovering the bronze age, so that shouldn't be a problem.

Well, except after they read this and I go to check into the net
next weekend. ]

Now, some updates on where the money (looks like it) will be going ...

After a promising start, the mail server project has stalled out.
The software vendor is refusing to provide a native port to our
version of UNIX. I'm not going to spend money on software that runs
under an emulator that I don't have control over. Right now we (the
list maintainers) are in a bit of a quandary. It will be a few
weeks at least before we work this one out. (At this stage, it
looks more and more like I will end up writing the bloody software
myself ... This could prove to be a source of future funding :-)

On the network front, we have received a short term solution from
my Internet provider, who has allowed me to move the server onto
his network. This gives us a 128 Kb/s Internet pipe for now (T1
coming shortly). How long this will last is not known. Meanwhile, I'm
looking at picking up [1] a pair of 3COM ISDN network cards. I will
have to write a UNIX device driver for them, so they won't come
online for at least a month or two, but once they are running they
will provide a good fallback scenario if/when we lose our current
connectivity. I've also been offered a donation of a pair of 2.4
GHz spread-spectrum data radios.  It's not clear if the data
interface to these radios will be something that we can wire
to the server, but if they do work out they will give us a 700 Kb/s
half-duplex link. It's still my preference to install a pair of
WaveLAN cards (~2 Mb/s) if we can pull it off. This most likely
requires a donation of hardware, though, since the cards run close
to $1000 each. [ Welcome to Canada :-( ]

[1] Subject to funding. (I haven't cracked the envelopes yet.
The cards are about $550 my (dealer) cost (Canadian undervalued dollars))

Regardless of the above, the server will be seeing an upgrade. At
minimum we (you!) can count on looking forward to the following

	Pentium @ 100(+) MHz (currently a 486-DX @ 33 MHz)
	32 MB (maybe 64) RAM (we currently run 32 MB)
	2.8+ GB hard disk (vs. the current 1.4 GB, all of it full.)

	There's a good chance the machine will inherit the
	left-over SCSI disks from my in-house fileserver. (About
	4 GB worth.)

	(Rumour also has it that some of the funding will go
	towards fixing my currently dead DAT tape drive. I know
	working backups would make *Jim* happy at the very least :-) :-)

[ The server upgrade will be heavily impacted by some other system
  upgrades that are happening here. My plan is to throw all the
  surplus hardware that falls out from the "work machine" upgrades
  at the ve7tcp server. (The trickledown effect :-) ]

This will speed up both the mailing lists and the web server, and
will make life nicer for the people who log into the machine to
run Spice or the satellite tracking software. It will also allow
us to start implementing some of the filter and antenna design
software I've been muttering about for a while now ...  This upgrade
should happen within the next two to three weeks. (And if anyone
can steal W3LPL's bandpass filter designs, I'm ready to write some
software for the web pages :-)

As an aside, when the new hardware is installed the old server will
be put to use to provide web and e-mail QSL log searches for the
upcoming Heard Island DXpedition. (No, it won't be going to the
island ...) It will then be "retired" to service as the network
hub at the VE7ZZZ contest site. (After all that, the machine deserves
a plaque of some sort :-)

During the previous go-around about upgrades on the local mailing
lists I mentioned the idea of setting up a list dedicated to
discussing future growth of the ve7tcp server. This has been done,
and I would like to invite anyone interested in this area to
subscribe to the mailing list. (Via the
usual convention:  send your subscribe requests to Be aware that this will be a list
for *DO*ers. If you jump in and say "I want this" you will be
volunteered to implement it. There will be *no* room for bitching
and whining. This list, and the people on it, will become a very
important part of the community. I can no longer
keep up with all of the maintenance and programming tasks required to
keep the system operational. My expectation is that the people on
the futures list will be the ones who ensure the ongoing viability
of this system as a service to the ham community.

--lyndon (still looking for a few good C programmers ...)

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