The Midlands User Group (MUG)

* Notes of a meeting held on 20 May 2006, 2.00 pm

The Midlands User Group (MUG)

* Notes of a meeting held on 1st April 2006, 2.30 pm

Venue 19 Station Road, Blackwell, Bromsgrove B60 1QB

(Home of G Robin Edwards)

Attendees:- Chris Dale

Dave Mullard David Lawson Don Pearce Doug Webb Frank Bellaby John Rickman Martin Wynn Peter Borchards Ralph Sillett Richard Spencer Robin Edwards Ron Briscoe Simon Pyatt Stephen Read

The meeting was necessarily held on informal lines since no structure had been set up at the preliminary small meeting with six participants on 4th February. With a gratifyingly enlarged group it was agreed allround that some sort of committee or steering group would be necessary. In the course of the meeting three people said they would be prepared to act as such a group. They were Doug Webb, John Rickman and Ralph Sillett. Their offer was gratefully accepted by general consent. This was however not the first topic discussed.

John Rickman had helpfully provided handouts for everyone, which included a possible agenda. Its proposals were:-


Objectives/purpose of the group

Election of committee

Locations for future meetings

Communications and Publicity

Member details

Mailing Lists

Web site

AAUG - how active is it?


Topics for future meetings

Apologies :- a telephone call during the meeting from Mark Rowan gave his apologies - extreme pressure of work on his Thesis!

Objectives :- Several headings were suggested:-

Promotion of RISCOS

IT general - covering any aspects of IT thought interesting by members.

To provide a self-help system for the group, which could perhaps be thought of mutual support. Ralph said that we must accept that RISC OS is not the sole player in IT! Networking across platforms should thus form a part of the self-help agenda. John wondered whether subgroups might consider setting up projects on ideas that occurred to them. The idea of producing a "product" was also mooted.

At this point the requirement for efficient communication between group members was raised. This started an energetic hare that was followed at various levels of expertise - some members were clearly au fait with how internet groups and lists operated. Yours truly just listened and tried to understand what they were saying, and I suspect that several others found themselves in the same state. Interest focussed on security - passwords, encryption, "gates" to web sites (I think). The name Toby Smith was mentioned as a possible source of advice in this area. John already has set up a site and was prepared to take an active role - see later.

A short discussion regarding the value (or otherwise) of having a formal Committee took place. Apparently if a subscription to a club is set up there are some legal requirements regarding the Committee that might be cumbersome. In particular a formal Constitution would be required. There was general agreement that (initially at least) any costs, in particular those for hiring a venue, would best be met by contributing "at the door". Such costs would be fairly trivial and it would avoid the need for legal formalities. Later in the meeting we briefly discussed a future venue and Robin agreed to explore further the possibilities close to M5 J4 and M42 J1, which is roughly the centre of the MUG area.

A lively discussion on Group communications (Mailing List)enlightened some of us on how to send emails to a group without everyone seeing the full group list. (I think!) Several members were confident that it would work easily, using the BCC facility of mailing software and that this would be an acceptable way of communicating relatively privately.

Group Web site. John currently runs this and he said he would be prepared to continue. It was clear that the Group as a whole was not expert in the technology of setting up web sites. John's involvement was welcomed. There was a fairly detailed discussion on what the content of the site should include. Date and place of Next Meeting must be prominent! There was general agreement that details of members should be available, and this again raised the subject of privacy. Several contributed to this part of the discussion and some technical matters regarding password protection were raised. One suggestion was that members' details should be kept and circulated as hard copy only. However, the convenience of online information and especially its ease of maintenance and update seemed to make itself-selecting. Suggestions for content included (as far as my notes go) name, address, telephone, email, and then numerous technical matters:- computer type, OS version, networking, browser(s), mail client(s), editor(s), general hardware, broadband user, programming or language expertise. There may have been others that I've forgotten.

This Show is an ideal opportunity for publicity, which requires preparation of leaflets and posters. Don told us that his wife is an artist, who might be able to help in design matters, though she is very busy. She is also a RISC OS user, which is great news. Some action will be needed soon, but my notes do not include how this was to be progressed. Sorry!

Midlands Show. Ralph was able to tell us that the date 26th November had been fixed and a suitable hall booked, near J1 of theM54, which is convenient for many members (and others). He was able to show us pictures of the venue - very nice too! There would be a requirement for volunteer helpers.

Next Meeting - This was arranged for Saturday afternoon May 20th. There was general agreement that due to the widespread geographical nature of the group, evening meetings were not practicable. The venue has yet to be decided, with the fall back being at Robin's home. However, there are other local possibilities which Robin will investigate. Regarding the make up of this or other meetings the notion of guest speakers was brought up. It is clearly an obvious thing to try to arrange suitable speakers, but it was suggested that a "home-grown"one might be a good plan for a trial. Simon said that he would be prepared to talk about Javascript but as he worked mainly in Switzerland and did not have a RISC OS machine there his preparation might take sometime. Such a talk would also really require a projector, as no doubt would those of other potential speakers, (although some might provide their own, I suppose). No-one in the group had access to such a piece of hardware. Something to think about??

After all the talk John and Ron set about connecting Ron's USB radio to John's A9Home. However there were unforeseen technical problems (I think they were software related) and no radio was forthcoming. Steve had brought his laptop equipped with VARPC and was able to show Ralph's photographs of the Midland Show venue in RISC OS as well as a competing operating system that I will not name. Doug set up Robin's laptop that runs RISC OS 4.02 so that it could read the HDs of his RPC and SARPC - though contact in the opposite direction has not been achieved (yet!). This is much appreciated, Doug.

* the above notes were based on the informal note made by Robin and he wishes to say he cannot be sure that they are a complete and correct version of all that transpired.









                                                                                                      Copyright 2006 Michael A Carter