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Technical Committee Report - AGM 2004
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Technical Committee Report
Chebucto Community Net Society
Annual General Meeting 2004

[Photo: Technical Committee Chair Edward Dyer]

As I sat down to write this report I reflected that it had been a quiet year on the technical front. Then I started enumerating all the things that we had done, and decided that it was not such a quiet year after all, it was just that our Technical staff had accomplished so much in such a quiet, competent fashion that it was easy not to notice them. So first I want to thank Johnathan Thibodeau and Jason McNeil for the contribution they have made over the last year. Second, I want to thank Norman de Forest and the members of the helpdesk team for their ongoing commitment to CCN and their competent work. And finally I credit Andrew Wright for keeping us on track with issues that are relevant to real Chebucto problems.

The last couple of years we talked about SPAM, our greatest problem with e-mail. This year, it is amazing, the amount of spam is actually lower than last year. On the other hand, phishing is with us in a bigger way, and viruses are also still quite common, at about 70% of last year's frequency. Does this mean more people are finally using anti-virus software? Keeping the spam protection up to scratch for our mail system is a continuing battle. Some users think we are too aggressive in blocking spam, others think we don't do enough. I think that means we are close to the right point.

We still support text access and text usage of our system, and quite a number of users find text a worthwhile method of using the net. It is fast, it doesn't show popups, and it doesn't show most of the ads. We are beta testing a new version of Pine, the text-based mail reader, and preparing a new version of Lynx, the text-based web browser. Yes, it will have the most requested feature, the ability to access https secured web pages.

The industry norms for mailbox size continue to grow, and while it would be difficult for us to compete with Google's "gmail" on sheer size, not everyone wants their e-mail supplier to scan their mailbox for advertizing hints. We are planning to increase Chebucto mailbox sizes significantly this year. Of course bigger mailboxes have their problems, most especially when it comes to downloading large attachments, and so we are concerned that users not get themsleves into a situation where their mailbox becomes simply unmanageable. Therefore we will also be making changes to the mail system which will make it easier to delete mail from the system when the mailboxes fill up. We would also like to get some feedback from the users about whether we should automatically delete spam from mailboxes after the message has reached a certain age, especially if the user's quota has been reached. This would allow you to continue getting real mail when your mailbox would otherwise register full.

In 2004, we also changed out a couple of faulty servers, retired the "Provincial Server" which was no longer actively used, set up a new archiving/backup server which will make disaster recovery much easier to do, and a web-cache server to improve the speed of access to frequently-used web pages.

And as always, it seems, we need to mention air-conditioning for the server room again. Our hosts, the Department of Math and Statistics, have had to increase the capacity of the server room cooling to deal with their increased number of servers. This was another quietly successful event.

As I hinted above, we will be bringing more updates to the Chebucto service for 2005.


Edward Dyer

Technical Committee
Chebucto Community Net




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