The Trinidad and Tobago Computer Society held two types of meetings : Pizza Limes and Tech Meetings. A Pizza Lime is the name given to our monthly discussion forum which is usually held at Pizza Hut, Roxy Roundabout, Port of Spain on the second Wednesday of the month. The tech meeting is when we have computers on site to demonstrate a particular type of hardware or software.
This year, there was only one tech meeting due to a lack of a suitable venue. As a result, there were two pizza limes each month
Wednesday 16th January 2002, 6pm – Pizza Lime
Topics for discussion at this first meeting for 2002 included:
- the launch of Apple’s new iMac.This new iMac is unique in that it combines a 15″ flat panel display connected to a compact 10.6 inch circular base. All models comes with built-in Firewire and USB ports, a 56k modem and 10/100 Ethernet port. The low end model (US $1200) has a CD-RW drive while the high end (US$1800) version comes with a “Super drive” (a combination DVD-R/CD-RW burner) as well as a suite of multimedia software for sound, video and image manipulation as well as Mac OS X.While some at the meeting felt that the new iMac didn’t offer anything revolutionary in the sense that a Windows PC could have the same hardware, others felt that the package as a whole was a better deal than a similiarly equipped Windows PC.
- the “Universal Plug and Play (UPnP)” security flaw in Windows XP and possibly Windows 98/Me.
The flaw is really in XP and will only affect other versions of Windows if the XP client is installed on such a system. It is highly ironic such a flaw would be found since XP was promoted as “the most secure” operating system ever produced by Microsoft. You can learn more about the flaw at Microsoft’s web site.
Steve Gibson (http://grc.com) has created a small (22K) freeware utility to detect it. Read more about the utility (and more importantly, download and use it if you think you are at risk!) on this page.
- future TTCS activities for 2002
Topics and locations for future tech meetings and a possible pizza lime in South Trinidad (at Pizza Hut in La Romain) were discussed during this segment.
Wednesday February 6th, 2002 – Pizza Lime 2
This meeting was held one week earlier to accommodate any overseas members of the TTCS mailing list who may have been in the country for Carnival and because the second Wednesday of February was Ash Wednesday.
Topics for discussion:
- copy protected audio/musiccds:
- the controversy resulting from not telling the public about them.
- Phillips (creator of the CD-ROM) threatning a lawsuit because copy protected music cds violate the CD-ROM standard (and the CD patent/licence from Phillips)
- how it affects both consumers and artistes.
- Lindows and the reaction from Microsoft
- Microsft’s new emphasis on security (programmers will take one month off to fix security leaks in Microsoft software)
- the Niherst survey on the “utilisation of Information Technology by households in T&T”. We were finally able to get a copy of the paper version.
Saturday 23rd February 2002, 6pm – Pizza Lime 3
This special meeting was called because we were contacted by a freelance writer working for a soon-to-be launched local IT magazine. She required our input for an upcoming article about the IT skills gap in Trinidad and Tobago. (Is there a skills gap? If so, in what areas? What are the causes? What efforts are being made to narrow the gap?)
The general consensus of members in attendance was that there isn’t an IT skills gap because opportunities (jobs) are very limited and in some areas of information technology, opportunities (jobs) simply do not exist in T&T.
The few “professionals” out there are already taken, if they are well-paid is another matter. In summary: if there is no demand for jobs in the IT field there will be no need for a supply of IT workers skilled or otherwise! Yes statements have been made by public officials, surveys conducted and experts consulted to support the claim that there is an IT skills gap in the nation, however, no one has truly defined what skills are in short supply. Thus, even if there is a skills gap, the authorities do not know what sort of training would be required to address that shortage.
Wednesday 13th March 2002, 6pm
There were three topics for discussion at our first meeting in March:
- the results of the the survey on electronic e-commerce activity in Trinidad and Tobago by the National E-Commerce Secretariat
- the 2001 performance review of the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Sector by the Ministry of Science, Technology and Tertiary Education.
- the launch of SMS services by TSTT.
The two reports were criticised for basing their conclusions on a sample base that was too small to provide accurate data. According to the reports, appropriate statistical samples were chosen but the response to the surveys was poor. For the most part they summarized existing trends in local IT and telecom and merely confirmed what was already known.
SMS related material from this meeting is covered on our SMS page at https://www.ttcs.tt/2004/06/04/sms-in-tnt-05-jun-2004
Representatives from the local Apple group were on hand to update us on their recent activities.
Members in attendance were also reminded about our first ever meeting in south Trinidad.
Wednesday March 27th, 2002, 6:30pm, Pizza Hut, Gulf View La Romain.
Our first ever official pizza lime in south Trinidad was held at Pizza Hut, Gulf View La Romain. It began around 6:30pm and was well attended (about 16 people).
Unfortunately there were no people from South! all attendees were previous North regulars! 🙂
Wednesday April 10th, 2002
The main points/issues made at the meeting :
- Most persons were of the opinion that the Information Technology Professional Society (ITPS) should not be the umbrella group for the various computer groups but rather a “roundtable” (or group/council/confederation/league) of all the interested computer groups, including ITPS.
- Some expressed that a roundtable would not work unless it is registered as a company/organisation or NGO ; which is why ITPS should be the umbrella group as ITPS is already registered.
- Why the roundtable would not work? Such an unregistered company/organisation would get “no respect” from government.
Others disagreed that a roundtable needs to be registered.
- It would be unlikely that ITPS will want to join a roundtable because the ITPS members pay dues while members of other groups do not. The impression is that other groups are not “on par” with the ITPS because of this. (This needs to be clarified with the ITPS council).
- If ITPS is the umbrella group, who would make the final decision if there are multiple opinions on an issue? Will it the group committee? Or the ITPS alone?
- What is to prevent future ITPS council members from subverting/rejecting opinions from other groups?
Wednesday April 24th, 2002
Topics for this meeting were:
- the “Caribbean policy response to the Information Age” report by ECLAC. It is a descriptive overview of Government ICT policy and services in selected Caribbean countries. The full text of this document is available at the U.N ECLAC’s website at http://www.eclacpos.org
- the Society of Computer Users, a local computer group which was in operation between 1990 to 1995. See https://www.ttcs.tt/articles/history-of-the-society-of-computer-users-scu-1990-1996/ for more details.
Anyone who may have anecdotal information, meeting handouts, and related SCU material is invited to contact the TTCS at: admin[ at ]ttcsweb.org
Wednesday May 8th, 2002
Although no topics were listed in the official meeting notice, most of the talk was concerned with Peruvian Senator Villanueva and his promotion of legislation and attitudes supporting the use of open source software by the government of Peru in order to reduce cost and increase access to information by citizens.
Wednesday May 22nd, 2002
Gaming console wars are heating up. With the cost of both the Sony PlayStation 2 and Microsoft Xbox gaming consoles being lowered to US$199 and the Nintendo GameCube lowered to US$149, is a gaming console in your future?
It is an interesting question since each platform has advantages over its opponents. For example: the PS2 was first to market, has a loyal following, has lots of titles and is backward compatible with original PlayStation disks. Nintendo has a well established children’s market (although it has started to branch out into games with more mature themes). The Xbox has better overall video and audio systems. An informal poll at the meeting showed that most members favoured the PS2 and GameCube with only 2 members willing to buy an Xbox.
Wednesday 12th June 2002
No topics were listed in the official meeting notice but we discussed the following:
- the ongoing feud between the Sunn Group of Companies (operators of several Caribbean Internet casinos) and their gambling software providers Microgaming.
- the setting up of a e-commerce committee by the government.
- Recent developments with the Open CD project (first proposed on the TTLUG mailing list).
Official ending time: 9:30PM
Wednesday 26th June 2002
Topics discussed :
- the launch of a second local/regional IT magazine called “Tech News Caribbean” (http://www.technewscaribbean.com). Copies were available for members to assess.
- An Trinidad Guardian business article about HomeviewTNT possible future profitability. Homeview has switched to a subscription based model and is seeking to increase its revenue. Considering that locals can accessed the various stations via a regular radio, Homeview will most likely get the bulk of its money from abroad.
- recent problems with accessing websites with the .tt domains. According to information received by the TTCS, .tt domains were either completely offline or could only be accessed at random intervals because the primary Domain Name Server (DNS) for the .tt domain (which is NOT located in either Trinidad or Tobago) was being physically relocated and the secondary experienced a system failure.
Wednesday 10th July 2002
Topics discussed :
- the T & T Government’s intention to reopen the bidding process to grant licenses to cell phone companies. What would be the best way to do this: grant licenses to anyone who wants one and let market forces weed out the weaker companies? or have an auction and let it be vulnerable to bias, possible favouritism and controversy?
- the possible activation of the telecom authority as outlined in the Telecommunication Act 2001. This Act is for the creation of the authority. It provides only vague guidelines for actual laws and regulations for the local telecommunications industry. The telecom authority, once established, will have the responsibility of creating the actual telecom laws.
- the “palladium” security concept and its implications ( see News.com article )
Wednesday 24th July 2002
Topics for this meeting:
- Recent announcements from Mac Expo concerning new Mac hardware and software.
- The use and benefits of the open source audio compression format Ogg-Vorbis and whether or not it is a suitable replacement for the proprietary/commercial MP3 audio compression format.
- The news that an American company had filed legal papers to enforce its algorithm patents in relation to the popular JPEG image compression format.
- Also discussed was an email TSTT had sent to its customers in which the company blamed alleged denial of service attacks for its recent inability to provide proper Internet access to its customers.
Wednesday 14th August 2002
- The recent difficulties affecting TSTT Internet customers.Was it really a denial of service attack? or was it actually a domain name system (DNS) problem? International DNS servers which use BIND were recently upgraded to the latest version to patch serious security flaws. As a result, any system using older versions of BIND would have experianced difficulty in accessing an upgraded DNS Server
- TSTT investment in GSM cellular services.
GSM promises users the ability to download email,view and listen to streaming video and audio and a host of other data capabilities that are not available on the current TDMA system. According to some members, the only real benefit would probably be the ability to “roam” with the phone (more countries use GSM than TDMA). But even that ability would be restricted to a few users since roaming fees are quite expensive. Members also expressed the opinion that since most of them need only voice and to lesser extent text (SMS) capability, they would stick with their existing TDMA phones for as long as the service was available from TSTT.
- The appointment of a chairman and other members to the Telecom Authority.
Wednesday 28th August 2002
The topics for this meeting were:
- The need to recycle older computers and the methods that can be used to keep them from polluting the environment. The following link provides a graphic example of the dangers associated with improper recycling methods: http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/static/in_depth/world/2002/disposable_planet/waste/chinese_workshop/default.stm
- Plans by Dell Computer Corp. to sell unbranded personal computers known as White Box D510 to resellers who serve businesses with 100 employees or fewer. See http://groups.yahoo.com/group/ttcs/message/519.
- The proposed “Broadband” internet access from Cable Company of Trinidad and Tobago (CCTT) versus the soon-to-be-launched ADSL service from TSTT.
Wednesday 11th September 2002
The entire meeting was dedicated to:
- The Draft National Policy on Broadcast and the Broadcasting Industry.
The draft was released for public comment in early August 2002 by The Ministry of Science, Technology and Tertiary Education. The deadline for submission of comments is October 31, 2002.Copies of the Draft Policy (in HTML format) can be downloaded from the official Government websiteThe Draft Policy on Broadcasting includes proposals on the ownership structure of the industry, a quota system for local programming content and monitoring of Internet content among other issues.
Wednesday 25th September 2002
This meeting was a continuation of the discussion about the Draft National Policy on Broadcast and the Broadcasting Industry. Preliminary comments by the TTCS about the Draft Policy are available at : http://www.ttcsweb.org/articles/computer-laws/
Wednesday 9th October 2002
- The hardware and software sold by Ectel Ltd at http://www.ectel.com/intelli.htm and at http://www.ectel.com/probe2.htm
- Our final comments about the “Draft National Policy on Broadcast and the Broadcasting Industry in TnT” before submission to the Ministry. Preliminary comments by the TTCS about the Draft Policy are available at http://www.ttcsweb.org/articles/computer-laws/
Wednesday 23rd October 2002
The topics for this meeting were:
- The Government of Trinidad and Tobago’s desire to begin construction of the “Public Service Communications Backbone”.This is the first step towards the goal of providing e-government services to citizens. Microsoft is one of the companies which may be involved in this initiative.Members wondered about the actual goals and implementation of this project since there has not been any detailed description or reason given as to WHY e-government services are necessary at this time. The actual software to be used in the project was also of concern. There is the potential that the relevant authorities may not thoroughly research the long-term effects of the project and simply purchase a proprietary “black box” solution. Such a solution could cause the nation to become an exporter of foreign exchange as it services the licensing fees for such a system with scarce tax dollars. Most members agreed thatan free/open source (FOSS) solution would be more appropriate. Theshort term implementation problems would be more than nullified by thelong term financial savings to the nation as well as the inherent freedom (as in liberty) provided by FOSS.
More information on the philosophy behind FOSS can be found at www.gnu.org. More information on how FOSS can benefit a government/nation was provided by the writings of Peruvian Senator Villanueva. Translations of his spanish commentary can be found at: http://www.gnu.org.pe/resmseng.htmlOther background information on e-govt, and TnT’s Public Service Backbone:
- Trinidad Guardian newspaper articles : http://groups.yahoo.com/group/ttcs/message/591 and http://groups.yahoo.com/group/ttcs/message/593
- A speech given by the Minister of Communications and IT in 2001 about the “Public Service Communications Backbone” : http://groups.yahoo.com/group/ttcs_announce/message/114
- “Putting citizens online, not in line” an article posted at News.com from the McKinsey Quarterly Journal : http://tinyurl.com/22j1
Wednesday 13th November 2002
No formal topics were announced on the mailing list but we ended up talking about the following:
- The renamed Tech Park. According to recent announcements the tech park will now be a light industrial manufacturing estate with a technology susbsection. The emphasis will no longer be purely on technology/IT.
- The GNUWin II cd-rom
- Season 2 of the BMW films.
- Future material for the TTCS web site.
Wednesday 27th November 2002
The topics for this meeting were:
- The launch of TSTT’s residental and business ADSL internet access service. See TSTT’s website on ADSL (with lots of detailed info)
- Our upcoming Tech meeting on Saturday 7th December 2002, which will look at GNUWin II, a CD containing free and open source software for Windows.
- How to promote the use of open-source software and what would be required to “build” and distribute a localised version of the OpenCD open source software project.
- The local consumer affairs division full page newspaper advertisement (Saturday 23rd November 2002)in which the division stated that (in its opinion) cable television is a luxury service, therefore it will NOT intervene with consumers’ complaints of alleged poor quality cable tv service and billing practices
Saturday December 7th, 2002, 1pm
Our first and only Tech meeting for 2002 was held at the offices of Engineering Consultants (ENCO) located at 112A Edward Street, Port of Spain (corner of Oxford Street and Edward street) courtesy of Dev Anand Teelucksingh.
We talked and demonstrated the contents of GNUWin II, a CD containing a wide variety of free/open source software (FOSS) for Windows including an office productivity suite, multimedia applications, games and and software development tools.
Anyone who attended the meeting had the opportunity to purchase the CD for TT $15.
NOTE Copies of GNUWin II are still available for TT$15 per disk. Please email us at admin[ at ]ttcsweb.org and let us know if you wish to purchase one. Walk with your money at the next Pizza Lime or Tech meeting and collect your CD.
Wednesday 11th December 2002
The last Pizza Lime for 2002. We basically recapped what the TTCS has done for the past year and asked members for suggestions as to how the services offered by the Society can be improved.
Also covered were potential topics for Tech meetings in 2003. More importantly, how can members and the general public help us to achieve these goals? The point was made that a (society, group, club etc) can only function if its members contribute to a common cause. While many ideas were put forward, there is a need for members to support and implement them. Management cannot do the job alone.
One of the main topics was how best to accommodate meetings in south Trinidad. Suggestions ranged from having it at the party room of Pizza Hut in La Romain to “renting” space at some business place or even having it at someone’s home. There was no consensus at the time. One issue is clear, we need some sort of liason/co-ordinator in south to help us with these objectives. Any volunteers?