FLOS Caribbean 2003 Report

FLOS Caribbean 2003 Report

(Updated : March 2015  – added wayback links to FLOS Caribbean website and removed the “contact the creator” section)

Introduction

The Trinidad and Tobago Computer Society was one of the exhibitors at the Free, Libre and Open Source Software (FLOS) Conference.

The Conference and Exhibition was held at the Central Bank, Port of Spain on Thursday 26th and Friday 27th June 2003.

This page provides details about Society activities for the conference.

NOTE: Programs on the GNUWin II CD were updated by the TTCS for the FLOS Software Conference. You can get the CD for TT$20. Please email us at: ttcs at opus.co.tt and let us know if you wish to purchase a CD.

Preparations for the conference

Preparations for the Free, Libre and Open Source Software (FLOS) Conference began in early 2003 when we offered space to operate a booth in the DOT Org section of the main exhibition area by the conference organisers: the Caribbean Centre for Monetary Studies and Trinidad and Tobago Linux Users Group.

During March and April, members were asked to contribute ideas and suggestions as to what could be done at the booth; they were also kept updated on the status of the conference thanks to regular email notices and live reports from Richard J at TTCS Pizza Limes.

Work on the booth began in the middle of May. The objectives were to promote:

  • the Trinidad and Tobago Computer Society.
  • the GNUWin II CD: a CD-ROM containing a variety of open source software for the Windows operating system.
  • Knoppix: a GNU/Linux distribution that runs completely from the CD (no hard drive installation required) and includes recent Linux software and desktop environments.

Sunday 25th May 2003: Created the initial booth layout sketch and equipment list.

Saturday 31st May 2003: Timetable for conference preparations finalised. Began planning booth activities.

Saturday 7th June 2003: Draft versions of the 3 OpenOffice.Org Impress presentations presented to members. CD label designs modified.

Saturday 14th June 2003: Finalised: the Impress presentations, the Society brochure, the one-page flyer (for use with the CD sales), tested the video splitter for the first time.

Saturday 21st June 2003: Tables, chairs and computer equipment were set-up, plugged in and tested. The initial layout was modified to accomadate a “demo” machine. This computer would be used by anyone who desired hands-on experiance with the GNUWin software or Knoppix. Everything worked smoothly. The “Booth Crew” and daily timetable were also finalised.

Monday 23rd June 2003: Informal site visit to the exhibition area at the Central Bank.

Wednesday 25th June 2003:

  • installed and tested the GNUWin software on the “demo” machine.
  • burned CDs for sale during the Exhibition.
  • packed equipment.

The Booth

The Booth was located on the western side of the exhibition area between the TTLUG and TTAC booths.

Diagram showing the general layout of the booth

 

Picture of the booth at the Central Bank

 

Photo of the booth at the Central Bank

 

Equipment used:

  • Three Athlon class machines.
  • Three 17″ CRT monitors.
  • One LCD monitor.
  • One 15″ CRT monitor.
  • One 4-port video splitter.
  • One 4-port KVM switch.
  • One 4-port ethernet network hub.
  • Three tables.

Software on display:

  • Applications and games from the GNUWin II CD-ROM.
  • The Knoppix GNU/Linux distribution.
  • An offline version of the Trinidad and Tobago Computer Society website.

Two of the machines were plugged into the KVM and video splitter. These were used to demonstrate the software on the GNUWin II CD and the Knoppix live Linux distro. The third machine was a “hands-on” demo machine where visitors to the booth were able to use the GNUWIN software. In the case of Knoppix, visitors could boot the machine themselves and use all the Linux software on the disk.

The Society’s FLOS Caribbean “Blog”

Thursday 26th June 2003:

There was a mix-up in the scheduling and we were unable to set up the booth on Wednesday 25th. This meant that we had to spend the first three hours of Thursday morning transporting and setting up tables and equipment. Fortunately, our staging area for the Conference was located in Port of Spain so only a little time was lost due to transportation.

The Conference was well attended on Day One, in fact so many people were present that the initial area set aside for lunch (on the 16th floor) could not accomadate everyone. The Conference organisers decided to split the group: half would take lunch immediately while the other half would go downstairs to the official launch of the Exhibition. The original schedule called for the launch to take place at 1300 hrs.

Many of the Conference attendees were curious about the Knoppix CD since many of them were of the belief that GNU/Linux could only work if it was installed on a hard drive. The GNUWin CD was very popular with visitors since many of them were unaware that there was open source software available for the Windows operating system. Others who were aware, were surprised at the variety and high quality of the available applications. Many of the visitors took the opportunity to try out both the Knoppix distro and the various applications from the GNUWin CD on the Demo machine. We had 30 CDs (19 GNUWin and 11 Knoppix) alloted for the two days of the conference. All were sold by closing time (1700 hrs) on Thursday.

Friday 27th June 2003:

The traffic from Conference attendees on Friday was not as heavy as on Thursday but more members of the general public, Central Bank employees and TTCS members visited the booth. In a way, less traffic was a good thing because visitors got to use the Demo machine for a longer period of time.

A second batch of 23 CDs (11 Knoppix, 12 GNUWin) was burned overnight for the second day of the conference. All were sold out by noon. We had to purchase and burn additional CD-Rs, print new CD labels and handouts.

Closing time on Day Two was about 1715 hrs and all equipment was returned to the staging area by 1830 hrs. There was a get-together after the close of the conference at Pizza Hut Roxy Roundabout (it was not a TTCS Pizza Lime). Some of the TTCS booth crew attended along with other Conference persons such as Robin ‘Roblimo’ Miller, David Sugar and Steve Traguott. FYI: We sold a total of 30 Knoppix CDs and 40 GNUWin CDs.

Comments

  • Overall there was a good level of enthusiasm for the concept and (perhaps more importantly) the products of Free, Libre and Open Source Software (FLOS). Our (TTCS) experiance with booth visitors suggests that local computer users are willing to experiment with alternatives to expensive, proprietary software. If they will continue to use it after the initial “thrill” has worn off is unknown.
  • Awareness of the existance of Free, Libre and Open Source Software (FLOS) is another problem. Local user groups and individuals have been promoting FLOS concepts and products for some time now but mainstream users have yet to hear about them.
  • Many mainstream users who know about Free, Libre and Open Source Software (FLOS) are reluctant to try it because they fear it is not as good as commercial, proprietary software.
  • Acceptance of FLOS is less about technical merit of the software and more about the attitude some i
    ndividuals and comapnies have towards it.
  • There was talk of a need for a “grassroots” movement to spread awareness of FLOS. While it is good to “start small but think big”, persons who are involved with such a concept or who are thinking about becoming involved with such a concept, must remember:
    • There are no short cuts to success.
    • Difficult and thankless work is required to achieve a successful “grassroots” movement.
    • The “grassroots” movement will be in direct competition with multi-million dollar advertising campaigns and other promotional efforts from financially wealthy proprietary software companies.
    • Acceptance of FLOS requires a change in attitude amongst potential users. Changing that attitude will be difficult.
  • FLOS can only achieve its full potential if there is a change in the local attitude towards: self-sufficiency, computers/information technology, data security, the local economy and expenditure of local tax dollars.
  • The FLOS Caribbean Conference was a first step in raising awareness of FLOS and addressing some of the issues mentioned in this list of comments. Attendess, presenters and the organisers must now capitalise on this surge of interest and show how FLOS can truly benefit this nation.

Thanks and acknowledgements

The Trinidad and Tobago Computer Society would like to say thanks to:

  • The “Booth Crew”: Dev, Paul, Colin, Helen, James.
  • Dev, Paul and Anil for donating equipment.
  • Richard, our liason with the conference organisers.
  • All members who took time out to visit us at the Conference booth.
  • All members who contributed ideas, comments and suggestions via email and helped us to have the best booth possible.
  • The Trinidad and Tobago Linux Users Group (TTLUG) and the Caribbean Centre for Monetary Studies (CCMS) for the invitation to take part in the Conference and for providing the exhibition space.

Links to sites mentioned in the slideshow, the brochure and at the conference booth

Summary of TTCS Meetings held in 2002

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
Continue reading Summary of TTCS Meetings held in 2002

Summary of TTCS Meetings held in 2001

Summary of TTCS Meetings held in 2001

We held two types of meetings : Pizza Limes and Tech Meetings. A Pizza Lime is the name given to our monthly discussion forum which was usually held at Pizza Hut, Roxy Roundabout, Port of Spain.

The tech meeting is when we have computers on site to demonstrate a particular type of hardware or software. Tech Meetings were held at the Cyberstate Cybercafe in Tacarigua courtesy of Shiva Maharaj. (Note: Cyberstate has since moved from this location).

The computers used for the tech meetings were provided by Pcw and/or Dave.

Continue reading Summary of TTCS Meetings held in 2001

Summary of TTCS meetings held in 2000

We hold 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. At the tech meeting, we have computers on site to demonstrate a particular type of hardware or software.

Meetings were held at the Brass Institute at 117A Henry Street, Port of Spain (next to Spectacula Forum), courtesy of Francis Pau.

The computers used for the meetings were provided by Pcw and/or Dev while refreshments were provided by Francis Pau and Raul Bermudez.


Thursday 24th February 2000

As one might guess, we ate lots of pizza and “ole talked” about computer technology.

Mr David John, director of Information Systems for Bayerische Landesbank, New York, NY, (visit his website at www.caribone.com), was in Trinidad at the time but was unable to attend. However, he arranged to have several copies of a report documenting global Y2K problems which occured within the first week of this year delivered to those members who attended the “meeting”.

The TTCS thanks Mr. David John for his valuable contribution.

Sunday 9th April 2000, 1pm – Installing GNU/Linux on a Win 98 machine

The meeting was a demonstration of how to install a second operating system on an existing Windows 9x machine using only freeware tools. The demonstration machine had:

  • A 4Gb hard drive
  • Windows 98 installed as the only operating system as one primary partition
  • A fragmented file system

Dev did the following procedures:

  • Defragged the hard drive (using the Windows 98 defrag software).
  • Allocated space on the hard drive for Linux using the freeware tool
    Partition Resizer
    This allowed the existing Win98 partition to be re-sized without destroying the data stored on it.
  • Installed Caldera’s OpenLinux 2.3.
  • Configured LILO (the LInux LOader included with Linux) to enable the user to decide which OS to use when the machine is switched on (in this installation, Linux was the default boot OS).

Dev and Pcw also used Partition Resizer to help a new member successfully install Red Hat Linux v 6.1 on a Windows 98 machine.

Thursday 11th May 2000

The pizza was delicious as usual but this time around we were there to discuss the various proposed computer laws for Trinidad and Tobago.

Members and other interested persons were given brief overviews of the laws and their implications for citizens of Trinidad and Tobago. They were encouraged to obtain their own copies and let their comments be known on an email list that is collecting and forwarding comments about these bills.

Information about these proposed computer law bills is on our Computer Bills page.

 

Sunday 4th June 2000, 1pm – Internet security for home and business users

PREVENTION IS BETTER THAN CURE

This meeting focused on the various Internet security threats that may be encountered by both the home and business user.

Razor described the ways in which:

  • viruses (email, macro, etc)
  • trojan horse programs
  • “spyware” and “adware” (programs that install themselves on your system and track your Internet activities without your knowledge and report to some central server/”homebase”)
  • vulnerabilities in the Win 95/98 networking components

can compromise system security and even your privacy while your computer is connected to the Internet. The emphasis was on preventative measures that both home and business users can take to protect themselves from such breaches in security. Razor also gave demonstrations of:

  • how to uninstall the Windows Scripting Host in Windows 98;
  • what the Zone Alarm personal firewall software fromZone Labs looks like and how it works;
  • where to find the Windows 95/98 networking components and how to modify/uninstall them to improve the security of your Internet connection.
  • how the Shields Up web site at grc.com works and why everyone who uses the Internet should test their machine for security loopholes at this site.
  • a known spyware program

The material presented in this meeting has been downloaded from our
Internet Security page.

Thursday 29th June 2000

There was no formal agenda for this meeting (except, of course, to eat pizza!) so members in attendance discussed various issues such as:

  • The Napster vs RIAA issue; software and other intellectual property copyright issues;
  • New cellular telephone based web browsers, MP3 players and who would use them
  • The current state of international E-commerce and the lessons locals can learn (and in some cases the mistakes they should avoid) in order to benefit from it;
  • Microsoft’s network computing strategy (microsoft.NET)
  • The sudden closure of CECP (a veteran local computer company)
  • Various internet access strategies e.g. caridirec’s satellite download services, cable modems, efreenet and local ISPs
  • Gamecon 2000 – a Starcraft and Quake 3 multiplayer tournament organised by the Gaming Association of Trinindad and Tobago (GATT)
  • The popularity of “retro-computing” e.g. many people are reviving or emulating Commodore 64, Amigas, DOS and arcade games
  • The recent scandal in which Oracle hired private detectives to invesitigate lobby groups affiliated with Microsoft
  • TSTT’s proposed rate change (25 cents per minute anywhere/anytime in Trinidad)

 

Sunday 23rd July 2000, 1 pm – LAN party

The TTCS had its first official “LAN party” at this meeting held at the Brass Institute, Port of Spain. We had three networked PCs running Quake 3 Arena and members in attendance (some of whom never played Quake before) were able to play “deathmatches” against one another and with additional bots. Equipment for this meeting were as follows:

  • 3 PCs with 10/100Mb network cards (“NICS”) and AGP graphics cards
  • 1 Ethernet 4 port hub
  • 3 Cat-5 ethernet cables
  • Network protcol: TCP/IP

The gaming was intense but in the end, Wayne emerged as the undefeated champ in the various death matches. Machines were provided by Dev, PCW and Wayne; hub and cabling provided by Dev.

Thursday 10th August 2000

Eating pizza and “ole talk” were on the agenda for the evening. Topics covered included:

  • Internet security.
  • The new breed of “spyware” based on the infamous Netzip Download Demon program.
  • C and JAVA programming.
  • The launch of linux.co.tt.

Members in attendance were also told about the Java Consortium, a group of local university graduates who program in JAVA to create both open source and custom projects.

 

Sunday 27th August 2000, 1:30 pm – BeOS Personal Edition v5

The focus of this meeting was the BeOS Personal Edition v5operating system from Be, Inc which is free for personal, non-commercial use.

Dev gave a brief history of Be, from its origins as an alternative to the MacOS to its rejection by Apple CEO Steve Jobs and ultimately as a GUI for the x86 platform (there are versions for both Win 9.x and GNU/Linux).

He then showed members how to install BeOS version 5 Personal edition on a Windows 98 machine (a Pentium II 266Mhz, 64MB RAM, 32X CDROM drive, 3Dfx Voodoo 3 video card, 100Mb Iomega IDE Zip drive) and demonstrated some applications.

BeOS has been designed for multimedia work and Dev highlighted this capability by simultaneously playing 2 MP3 files and 2 Quicktime (.mov) files DIRECTLY from the CDROM drive. There were no pauses, skips or slow downs in the music or the video. There was a brief discussion afterwards about the availability of both robust applications for BeOS and development tools for those programmers who wished to create programs for this OS.

Razor then provided an update for the 4th June internet security meeting. He recapped the topics covered at that meeting for those who were not there and then talked about the latest threat: the Netzip file download manager and its derivative spyware; the Java security flaw in Netscape Communicator (all platforms and all versions up to version 4.74); the new personal firewall product from Sybergen; the latest trojan/script based email threats.

Other topics discussed at this meeting: the disappearance of local computer company American Computer Express (ACE), the newly formed Webmaster Association of Trinidad and Tobago and on a lighter note, alternative computer case design.

Thursday 14th September 2000

The meeting began minutes after 6pm after the various introductions. Members in attendance held a lively discussion on the following topics:

  • The advantages and disadvantages of computer networks and internet access in local primary schools.
  • Can computers really “make kids smarter”? or is the money better spent in a more traditional manner? e.g. better training and pay for teachers, school repairs, better school transport etc
  • The american court cases against both Napster andMP3.com
  • Local copyright issues
  • The disappearance of ACE (american computer express) and its impact (if any) on the local computer reseller market
  • The release of Windows Me (released on the same day in the U.S) and the beta of Mac OS X
  • Would the local telecom market benefit or suffer from the introduction of another telephone company?
  • The advantages and disadvantages of the free StarOffice v5.1 and how StarOffice v5.2 to be made available under the GNU General Public License (GPL).
  • The reasons why so many american dot com companies have failed or have yet to turn a profit and what lessons can be learned by locals to avoid such failure.
  • The current and future possibilities for e-commerce in Trinidad and Tobago
  • Violence in both computer and console video games and how these M rated games are being marketed to children
  • The possible advantages of wireless communications in the local market
  • What are the best sci-fi movies ever made 🙂

This meeting is certainly one for the record books: it ended at 9:30 pm!!

Thursday 12th October 2000

On the agenda for this meeting:

  • The Computer Misuse Bill 2000 (which is now before Parliament!).
  • The alleged “hacking” of a local bank.
  • An update about the Infoline Intranet server.

The Computer Misuse Bill 2000 inspired the most discussion. See the Computer Bills page for the points/issues raised.

The second most popular topic on the night’s agenda was the the alleged hacking of a local bank. Members in attendance debated the technical aspects of the claim and concluded that the incident was more likely an “inside job” rather than some one obtaining confidential information via a dial-up connection.

Finally, members were updated on the status of the Infoline intranet server: the machine is up and running, content is being uploaded and the completed project will make its debut on at the next TTCS meeting on Sunday 22nd October 2000 at the Brass Institute.

Sunday 22nd October 2000 – Freeware image tools, short films, GNU/Linux intranet server

The first item on the agenda was a demonstration of the FREEWARE Windows 9x software used for the Trinbago Scenes section of the TTCS website.

Dev demonstrated:

  • Irfanview, an image viewer/converter with basic editing facilities, free for personal use.
  • Digital Camera Enhancer, which easily enhances and clean digital images.
  • Pixaround, the stitching and VR creation program used to create the 360 VRs on the Trinbago Scenes page.
  • JPEG Wizard, a tool for compressing JPEG (and other image formats) without losing quality like traditional compressing prgrams.
  • Imageforge a freeware image editing program with features similar to the shareware Paint Shop Pro.

There was a short pause for refreshments and during that time we showed the two short independent films

  • “Troops” (a Star Wars parody) and
  • “Killer Bean 2” (Note: KB2 was created by Jeff Lew).

After the refreshments, it was time to debut the “new Infoline”. Dev and Pcw used a Windows PC to login over a null-modem cable and demonstrate the capabilities of Infoline, the new dial-in Intranet server which will replace the old BBS.

The GNU/Linux-based server (powered by Red Hat Linux version 6.2) supports many Internet-style features:

  • web page server (using Apache)
  • DNS (using BIND) (so you can enter URLs like infoline.org , ftp.infoline.org, etc )
  • FTP (with resume capability so you can resume an aborted download)
  • e-mail (standard POP3 and SMTP protocols)
  • browser based public forums/message board (using PHP3, Postgres and Phorum)

 

Thursday 9th November 2000

This time around, members in attendance discussed the following topics:

  • Microsoft being “hacked”.
  • The First Citizen’s Bank (FCB) e-banking venture at https://www.fcb-e-bank.com which allows registered users to perform many traditional “counter” transactions online. A representative from FCB was present to answer questions.
  • Electronic commerce, credit card use/misuse, local bank credit card policies and the future of e-commerce in Trinidad and Tobago.
  • BMG’s parent company investing in Napster.
  • The “Starworx”satellite download service being offered by Opus Networx.
  • The Computer Misuse Bill issues which were raised at the ITPS breakfast seminar that was held on Tuesday 7th November 2000.
  • The release of the Sony Playstation 2 and the impact it would have on both the local and foreign game markets.
  • The recent closure of several popular “dot com” companies including Pets.com (remember the sock puppet??), mother nature.com and furniture.com.

 

Sunday 3rd December 2000, 2 pm – second LAN party

The second LAN party at the Brass Institute, Port of Spain. We had two networked PCs running Quake 3 Arena and members in attendance were able to play “deathmatches” against one another and with additional bots. The equipment used was the same used at the first LAN party.

Thursday 14th December 2000

This was the final Pizza Lime™ and the last official TTCS meeting for the year 2000.

Members focused on the following topics:

The TTCS was fortunate to have in attendance, Simone Penco, a commercial manager for the EScotia CardPoint Merchant Service to explain :

  • How the service works (from the time customers enter their credit card number on the secure website, to the processing and finally the acknowledgement that the credit card has been accepted).
  • The various security requirements that businesses must have in place to ensure that both the customer and the merchant can have secure transactions at all times.
  • Why Scotiabank decided to offer this service.

The TTCS was also fortunate to have in attendance Kevin Stewart, an Economic Development Officer from the Tourism and Industrial Development Corporation (TIDCO) to discuss matters related to the local techpark project.

He spoke about

  • the reasons for establishing the park;
  • what sort of investors TIDCO was hoping to attract to the project;
  • what sort of industries were best suited for the park;
  • what TIDCO and the government hope to achieve with the park (e.g. increased employment for citizens, transfer of technical knowledge; diversification of the economy).

Both guests held impromptu question and answer sessions which allowed members at the meeting to ask about material not covered in the general discussions.

It was yet another meeting for the records: it finished at 10 pm!

Electronic Transfer of Funds Crime Act 2000

The Electronic Transfer of Funds Crime Bill 2000 was introduced in the Senate in October 2000 at the same time of the Computer Misuse Bill in the House of Representatives. The Bill was passed with modifications in October 2000.

The main purpose of this Bill is to regulate the transfer of money through an electronic terminal by means of a card for the purpose of instructing or authorising a financial institution to debit or credit a cardholder’s account when anything of value is purchased.

The application of the Bill is limited to bank cards, credit cards or smart cards or other similar type of cards used for purchasing anything of value.

It doesn’t address the use of credit cards online.

Summary of pre-TTCS Meetings held between 1995 and 1997

Trinidad and Tobago Computer Society (TTCS) was officially launched in August 1997. Prior to that launch, the co-founders were members of the (now defunct) Society of Computer Users (SCU) and were in charge of organising meetings and maintaining the Infoline BBS.

This page chronicles the efforts of those co-founders: from the final days of the SCU in 1995, through the official dissolution in January 1996 to the seven months in 1997 leading up to the the launch of the TTCS.

Continue reading Summary of pre-TTCS Meetings held between 1995 and 1997