The CCN Information Provider Committee met on Thursday, December 10, 5:00 - 7:30 at the Pearson Institute Reading Room, 1321 Edward Street, at Dalhousie University.
Present: Tony Cianfaglione, Ed Dyer, Ashwin Kutty, Christopher Majka, David Potter, Mark Rushton, Jack Uthe, Andrew Wright
Sending Regrets: Angela Horne, Susan Lilley, Peter Mortimer, Sue Newhook, Michael Smith, & Colin Stewart.
There was considerable and spirited discussion on this topic. It seems (from recent analysis by David Potter & Christopher Majka) that most IPs (95%) on the CCN are aware of our graphical capabilities and so this is not a major factor in terms of IPs migrating from our service (with some exceptions).
A key area is developing methods (perhaps through an IP Loyalty Program of the type suggested by Richard Rudnicki) of creating/solidifying a relationship between the CCN and the IP organizations which goes beyond the relationship we have with the IP Editors.
An important aspect of our service which we should/need to stress/publicize further is our extensive support of mailing lists. We need to try and convey to IPs the functionality and advantages of mailing lists.
Technical representatives agreed to examine the possibility of creating an in-house graphical URL statistics display/script, something which it was felt would be easy to implement and attractive to some IPs.
It was noted that the Halifax Regional Library keeps an extensive catalogue of clubs, groups and organizations in the HRM which would be a good potential source of organizations who it would be worth approaching viz-a-viz becoming Information Providers.
There was some discussion of how to actively recruit IPs to the CCN. Some of this can, and indeed is, done by CCN-IP members on a sporadic basis, however a wholesale campaign of this sort is really a function that should be carried out by staff and is sufficient work that it is beyond a purely voluntary capacity.
Congratulations were extended to Michael Smith for his work in helping to get this functionality up and running on the CCN, a feature which is of definite and great interest to many IPs. Tests thus far indicate that it is very simple to us, robust and works flawlessly. A great technical plus is that the FTP 'put' function automatically generates and includes the correct <link> elements and the RCS comment files, thus neatly solving one of the potentially problematic areas of FTP to IP directories.
Michael is still soliciting other volunteers to 'torture-test' it for any bugs before the service come out of beta-test. Once this is done, the intention is to implement it across the board automatically for all IPs and IPEs to be able to take advantage of.
It will be necessary to create some documentation for this (which Chris M. & Michael S. have volunteered to do) and thence to integrate this aspect of functionality into IP Training.
Congratulations were extended to David Potter on all his hard work in getting this feature of the CCN Interface up and working. It is now fully operational and working correctly. The degree to which various CCN groups are taking advantage of its capabilities is still quite varied. All units of the CCN should be encouraged to make the most of it so that it assumes its full role as an important conduit of CCN information.
David Potter also discussed the future possibilities of using group mail to convey messages to identifiable groups on the CCN through the vehicle of the Welcome Page.
There was some discussion viz-a-viz how long it takes to load, however, David Potter's monitoring scripts seem to indicate that it reliably does so within 6-15 seconds. There was also some discussion on how users could opt-out of the Welcome page to default to the Home Page, however, it was decided not to emphasize this since the entire raison-d'etre of creating the Welcome Page had been so that we could reliably communicate with CCN members logging in to the system and convey certain information to them. Thus to facilitate opting-out would be to shoot ourselves in the foot.
The Featured IP link is now up and running at http://www.chebucto.ns.ca/Policy/messages/ip/docs-html/featured.html and two IPs have thus far been in the rotation. It was noted that we should endeavour to keep this information fresh so that the Featured IP changes every two weeks or so. Chris M. has a couple of entries in the queue and is waiting for copy from them. He will also shortly publicize the feature to all-ips and solicit further entries.
Chris Majka noted that the Featured IP capability was palpably achieving its purpose in that URL hits to the Law Reform Commission had jumped enormously (perhaps five-fold!) in the interval after the link was introduced. Some of this may be attributable to other sources however it is very clear that a substantial number of people are actually following the link and learning about a CCN IP. He also noted that he plans to introduce some sort of simple icon that recipients can add to their websites identifying them as such, giving a certain degree of cachet to having been thus selected.
David Potter noted that we would look at the script to check to see that this link was not appearing overly often in the Welcome Page rotation.
There is now (as per Mark Rushton's suggestion) a web-based set of links (from appropriate IP pages) to the Featured IP page, thus making this resource accessible to our web-users and hence opening up the possibility of adding logos and other graphic elements to the page.
The CCN site map is now up and running at http://www.chebucto.ns.ca/site_map.html. Congratulations were extended to Christopher Majka in getting this interface feature up and running. Mark Rushton had fixed a coding bug; Tony Cianfaglione pointed out a spelling typo.
There was considerable discussion of this topic, particularly the rate structures that the Board of Directors is proposing to charge our non-business IPs. The IP Committee was unanimous in its conviction that a $400 annual fee was:
A rate of $400 as a one-time set-up charge followed by a $100 annual fee was floated as something which represented a much more realistic fee for non-business IPs and which many felt was much more apt to be 'sell-able' to our IP constituency.
We have set up a few VDN's thus far, both in the *.ca domain and through Internic, and the process, although having suffered a few glitches, is slowly being solidified thanks to David Murdoch's yeoman efforts. Congratulations to him and Kassiem Jacobs in getting the technical and procedural aspects of this process working!
There are now a couple of pages (located at http://www.chebucto.ns.ca/Services/IPSupport/premium.html) which detail the process and procedure of what we are tentatively calling the CCN IP Premium Package.
Warm congratulations were extended to David Potter who has solved a long-standing IPDB bug, namely that of the non-creation of ml-pub lists. As a result of his recent work with the IP Database scripts the creation command is now correctly generating both ml-priv and ml-pub lists. Yea!
Still on the IP wish-list of things to be fixed viz-a-viz mailing lists is a way to synchronize edit-group members with ml-priv lists members. There was considerable discussion on this matter and David Potter mentioned that some programming in this direction had already been done. Worth investigating was a way in which the CRON would run a routine to synchronize the membership of both groups. Exceptions to the one-to-one equivalence of these are so infrequent that, as a general rule, it would be worthwhile having a simple system to keep them in synch.
The CCN's Portmaster and PP services are now up and running with fourteen lines currently on the Portmaster. The service is running very well and supports all aspects of HTTP, EMail, Usenet, Telnet and FTP functionality.
The CCN is in the process of developing a 'Chebucto Plus' service for members which will, initially be offered to our Sustaining Members as a trial group. Based on the success of this the plan is then to extend the service to our Supporting members.
Documentation and Support materials and services are in the process of being developed and written, many of which are available as of this time.
The IP Committee continues to be interested in having the possibility of extending these services, at least in some measure, as a benefit to IPs and IPEs for their use in proofing their sites in graphical browsers. Perhaps we could look at integrating this PPP service with our Chebucto IP Premium package in the future?
The Chebucto Beacon has been up and running for some time at http://www.chebucto.ns.ca/Newsletter/Beacon/index.html. Andrew Wright discussed the Beacon at some length. He noted that unless he received more news submissions in the next couple of weeks he was going to scrap the News section of the Beacon for lack of input.
Glen Euloth email@example.com has been writing articles on the IP sector for the Beacon and all CCN-IP members are encouraged to contact him (and CC Andrew at firstname.lastname@example.org) with ideas and/or information for articles.
In the somewhat limited time available there was preliminary discussion on a number of topics pertaining to this area. Discussions centered on:
Both these latter areas highlight our increasing need to have some funds to pay for such endeavors. We again are reaching the limits of what volunteers can reasonably be expected to undertake.
Further discussion on this topic will take place at the next meeting.
Discussion of this item was postponed to the next meeting in the new year.
In general the IP Committee underscored the fact that it was 'alive and well and living' (and not in Paris!) and that rumours of its demise had, in the words of Mark Twain, "been much exaggerated."
Merry Christmas and Season's Greeting to all!