a few more things
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|* Allocate more time to documenting and automating myself out of being a single point of failure for the coop|
1. 2014 Board Statement
1.1. 2012/2013 Successes
2012 was a pretty quiet year for the coop: services were reasonably stable (if out-of-date), we successfully transitioned to a new treasurer, and stability seemed restored. We even survived AdamChlipala departing from the board. Member attrition unfortunately continued, but behind the scenes much effort was put into making our infrastructure maintainable again.
During 2013, the previous year of work was realized and our infrastructure was finally modernized. We are down to only one obsolete machine (deleuze), and all member facing services are running on reasonably modern Debian. Our AutomatedSystemInstall and our custom software are ready for an upgrade to Debian Wheezy already. With a RAM upgrade for fritz, the member shell/daemon VM and web serving VM are operating comfortably. The shared services offered by the coop (especially MoinMoin!) are finally managed in an easy to update manner, and we've actually been keeping them up to date!
The new website design from LaurenMcNees seems to have succeeded in making us look less dead to outsiders, and we've been slowly increasing membership (about one member every month, after accounting for members departing... even with the treasurer going AWOL again and losing several potential members during the fall).
A few members are also becoming pretty active, with an HcoopVolunteerDay recently starting. We've got two folks instead of zero with access to the data center, and it looks like we've got at least one other system administrator.
1.2. 2013 failures
The treasury has fallen into disrepair: our treasurer suffered some life events that led to us effectively operating without one a treasurer for several months. It took me far too long to admit that someone else needed to take over, and as a result we lost several potential new members and still have residual problems (bills have not been entered since last August).
This did not help with achieving the goal of 150-200 members; instead we have only modestly increased membership over the past year, and a slight decline over two years ago (however, much of that decline occurred in 2012 and was reversed in 2013).
1.3. Platform for 2014
I don't mind being President, but I think someone else could be more effective in that role. The duties of the treasurer this year will be complicated by needing to enter previous bills, perform the first audit in far too long, and attempt to raise funds for new hardware. As such, I think the burden should fall upon me. Already being forced to perform treasurer duties has resulted in improvements to the portal.
My goals for this term:
- Organize raising funds for new hardware so that we can fully realize the benefit of the last two years of sysadmin work
Finally acquire SSL certificates signed by a trusted third party (StartSSL looks like an affordable option)
- Fix our books by entering expenses back to August 2013
- Make the audit interface usable, and work with the secretary to actually perform an audit
- Improve the financial interface in the portal to make the task of future treasurers easier
- Publish a budget and ensure that our public information on recurring expenses is accurate
- Improve the sign up process
- One improvement is ready to go live: we have the ability now to allow a potential member to pre-authorize a Paypal payment, and could support pre-authorized Stripe payments as well (but don't yet, until we work out the identity verification implications).
- Trusted SSL certs should also help
- Allocate more time to documenting and automating myself out of being a single point of failure for the coop
2. 2012 Board Statement
This last year HCoop has been pretty inactive. We're really doing worse than we could; I'm effectively the primary sysadmin (and I suck at it!) and cat herder (I suck at that too). It appears that AdamChlipala is leaving the board so we're at a crossroads -- we've made it about a decade in one form or another; can we keep going?
This year, hopefully with fresh board members, we can actually accomplish some of the goals I've mused about over the last three years. The first step will be to get a new members server on atop fritz (modern Debian!) and get LaurenMcNees's excellent redesign of hcoop.net online. From there our first priority has to be attracting more members in the hopes that we find a few more self-starting volunteers to enhance our infrastructure.
3. 2010 Board Statement
We have procured a new machine and, after some delays, are near to having it online as our primary file and database server. This will allow us to handle our (finally) growing membership gracefully.
My primary hardware goal for 2010 is to make our central services redundant. At the very least allowing mail delivery, databases, and read-only AFS volumes for all users to continue functioning in case of the failure of one machine.
3.2. System Administration
A year ago DavorOcelic was more or less our only admin, and I knew next to nothing about our setup and could perform only menial tasks under his supervision.
After a year I have become competent enough with the software HCoop uses to provide actual assistance to Davor, thus giving us two primary admins. RichardDarst has also joined the admin team and has been quite helpful with physical hardware visits and is now in our sysadmin group.
This puts us in a tolerable situation, but this is still less than ideal. Currently we are without a maintainer for DomTool or the portal as AdamChlipala (after many years of volunteering) has decided to step down from software maintenance.
Over the next year we will need to bring at least one more person onto the admin team and find a new maintainer for our custom software.
This year I was able to convince the board that $7/month dues were reasonable, and we've managed to bring HCoop to a reasonably stable financial position. We are within 20 members of being able to phase out of the dues system (intended as a temporary measure, but relied upon for far too long to keep us afloat).
My goal of expanding membership to ~300 was unrealistic last year, but now that services have stabilized and our sysadmin situation is better we have been slowly increasing membership month to month. Expanding to 200 members in 2010 would be reasonable without much effort; if we attempted to attract new members we might well hit 300 (and we have the infrastructure in place now to handle this many).
With even 200 members we will be in a position to replace our aging hardware and thus expand the available services to all members.
4. 2009 Board Election
We should take stock of our current hardware, get hopper online soon, and see if it is worthwhile getting xanadu online for shell access.
Right now our financial situation is untenable; we have 134 members with base expenses of over $750 per month and are only able to operate because of members with multiple pledges. The active members of the coop should attempt to get a friend or two to join, and we should address any issues that would prevent someone familiar with UNIX from joining.
A goal of expanding membership to around 300 by next year seems reasonable given the hardware we own, and would put us in a position to explore things like having a part-time paid sysadmin and expanding a bit more aggressively six months to a year from now.
4.3. System Administration
The main volunteer system administrator pool should be expanded from three to four in order to replace mwolson and remove some task burden from docelic. If no one else wishes to volunteer, I should be able to assist, but it has been quite a while since I've done any system adminstration for anything other than my personal machine.
Setting up a firewall and user limits similar to what we used on fyodor is essential to expanding beyond our current membership; right now we have resources to spare and ports a plenty, but I suspect that with 300 or so members we'll be close enough to our hardware limits on at least mire that we'll need to prevent the occasional runaway process from interrupting service for other users.