[Linux-aus] Candidacy Support Statement - President or Ordinary Council Member

Anthony Towns aj at erisian.com.au
Fri Dec 9 12:56:45 AEDT 2016

On Wed, Dec 07, 2016 at 10:49:40AM +1100, Hugh Blemings wrote:
> The tricky bit with this will always be whether we can have tools that are
> truly maintainable in the long term versus varying degrees of commercial
> offerings. While in some ways unfortunate, the move to Xero does seem to
> have paid other dividends, but perhaps this could have been accomplished
> with Libre tools as well ?

You could easily have said the same wrt using Windows 95 or NT or Solaris
7 back in the day. There are obviously plenty of practical benefits to 
using proprietary software -- if there weren't, no one would use it and
no one would make it.

One of the huge benefits of Xero is direct, automatic integration with
major banks, so reconciliation is relatively easy. And that's going to
remain a benefit of proprietary solutions over any open source approach
for quite a long time [0].

An easy way to rely less on Xero would be to work on scripts to pull
info out of it, so that interested people can work on LA's accounting
data with free software like ledger. Doing that might eventually let LA's
use of Xero be limited to being an I/O method for our bank accounts, ie
the one thing open source can't reasonably do. And, like I said, I made
a bit of an effort towards that end a while ago. But that still requires
effort and interest and a willingness to put up with some inconvenience
just for the sake of being able to do stuff in an open source DIY manner,
rather than with prebuilt proprietary stuff, and for whatever reason
that really seems to be swimming against the tide to me in LA. [1]

> I'd, truly, love to be proven wrong in this, but given the difficulties we
> face as an organisation just keeping what we have ticking over with
> stretched but capable volunteers I'm frankly unsure where we go in the pay
> versus roll your own equation

Well, Kathy has presented a plan for some time now that suggests going
significantly towards the "pay" side of that equation: the "Inflection
Point" doc answered that unequivocally:

   Should the organisation hire paid staff and/or outsource some initiatives?

   Yes. Although the measures outlined above will help to increase the
   Volunteer capability and capacity available, it still won’t be
   enough to undertake growth and advancement activities.

Paying people to do things that we traditionally have volunteers do isn't
innately a bad idea; if not for hiring an event organiser lca2014 would
not have happened, for instance.

> - I trust others smarter than I to research, report and implement.

And if that's the case, well, Kathy did two out of three of those a
year ago, and continues to propose to do the third.

(I'm still curious why the council hasn't already gone further forward
with this; I assume Kathy tried to get the quote executed sometime in
the last six months, but there aren't any minutes since June that I can
see that might document any concerns, and I haven't seen any hints at
discomfort with the approach from anyone else that might've presented
a blocker)

> I'm going to suggest something a little radical perhaps too - is it worth
> convening an actual real-time conversation (say teleconference) to kick some
> of these things over amongst interested folk.  Email can at times be a blunt
> instrument ?

I don't really see the point of that; I spent about three days
thinking about what I wanted to say in my previous mail, and a good
twenty-four... uh, thirty-six hours or so now for this one and the
next. In particular, that included doing a bit of web searching and
delving through my archives to try to ensure I'm not talking completely
out of the wrong orifice... So real-time conversation really doesn't seem
like an advantage, unless, I guess, the goal is for me to say something
(even) stupid(er)?


[0] At least until Rusty finishes the lightning network, and bitcoin
    becomes a practical and cheap payment method, and we get an open
    source API to money in general as a side effect.

[1] I'd much rather applaud the LCA2017 team developing their own
    improved conference registration system [2] and consider that approach
    [3] the normal, expected, recommended and generally ideal approach
    for LA teams to take when they want improvements...

[2] https://github.com/lca2017/registrasion

[3] AIUI, this was funded by two PSF grants totalling about $10k USD:


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