VRN: A0026600C
ARBN: 081 355 722
ABN: 84 081 355 722



VRN: A0026600C ARBN: 081 355 722 ABN: 84 081 355 722


Garry Ford

Just another quiet year in APANAville. Who cares that this year spanned two millennia!

Unfortunately, "who cares" is a phrase that appears to be buried in the sub-consciousness of many APANA members: even closer to the surface with a few. This year has seen a very marked decline in numbers with over 100 members leaving the family in the past twelve months. Many have asked the question "why?" and even found plausible answers, but few have really been working on a solution. 

Every person has their individual excuses, even myself who has had massive personal problems, but unless everyone works on finding a role for APANA in the face of cheap connections being offered by ISPs all around the country, the existence of APANA itself will be in jeopardy within a few years. Growth only seems to be occurring in the small population regions, while some regions such as Sydney have almost insurmountable problems: Sydney has run up massive debts and has a membership less than its neighbours in Newcastle and Wollongong.

There are two main targets for the coming year, which must be met if APANA is to survive:

(a) Overheads must be reduced in most regions to avoid losing the more casual members to ISPs offering $10 a month connections; and

(b) APANA membership has to mean more than just a cheap connection to the Internet for our members.

In the past APANA has been at the forefront of technological advances, a place of experimentation and knowledge sharing. It also has offered leaning experiences for prospective ISPs. 

Broadband connections have taken many serious users from our midst as is evidenced by the growth in the Independently Connected Region. The problem these members have though is the ability to legally and reliably use fixed IP addresses: at least they have stayed with APANA though.

To firstly address (b) above, APANA needs to emphasise its social and education roles more. No ISP can offer these benefits. All members have to feel they are in a club, not just paying an ISP for a service. More social get togethers, on-line library of technical manuals, and the training network offering access to different operating systems to "play with" (still under construction) are just some of the methods by which this can be achieved.

This brings us back to (a) - reducing overheads.

While every region has different circumstances, all can make economies in this area. Several regions have already changed ISPs to greatly reduce their costs. Others have cut back on the number of phone lines they are using. These are simple and straightforward measures easily implemented. It is the novel solutions that interest me as president, as these are in the true spirit of APANA.

Several enterprising members of the Perth Region have set up a wireless LAN link from the hub to their base location. Apart from providing better than a broadband connection bandwidth wise, it also eliminates the middleman - Telstra, saving around $400 a year for an initial outlay of about $500. Semi-permanent members in other regions with "line of sight" to their hubs are considering similar links. Daisy chaining members offers a potential to extend this concept further - Food for thought!

Further new initiatives have come from the Brisbane Region thanks to their new ISP. While wireless distribution is being considered in metropolitan areas, probably Sydney at first, for large customers, the ISP offers a service not provided by any other ISP in Australia to its users.

Most people are not aware that for the last ten years or so, it has cost Telstra no more to carry an STD call of any distance, than a local call. This fact is not widely publicised outside a small aspect of the industry for obvious reasons. 1800 and 1300 numbers and the like use this facility. Brisbane's new ISP uses it and offers it to its Internet customers.

This service is of immense benefit for APANA as the following three provided options show:

(a) Joint membership of the ISP and APANA using their existing untimed local call access from almost anywhere in Australia. (as current APANA dial-in members);

(b) As in (a) but with the operation of operating a VPN Australia wide using APANA IP addresses through their mega pops; and

(c) Operating our own pop servers (hubs) through their mega pops.

While the first options requires no outlay from APANA, each of the succeeding ones is more expensive, starting with around $2900 set up for (b) going up to around $1500 per month per location for (c).

Any of the three options means that APANA is no longer restricted to the large centres where we have the numbers to establish a viable region. We can offer membership to people all along the east coast, southwestern WA, Tasmania and the Northern Territory, all provided with untimed local call access. The only drawback with the first option is a four-hour connection time limit.

This is the type of forward thinking that a few of the "caring" members have come up with. These are a only a few of the possibilities. If everyone thinks hard enough, I am sure a lot more ideas will be forth coming.

Finally, I wish to thank all the members of the Management Committee and the Regional Committees who have helped during the past year. Particularly I single out Dean Hollister and Doug Young who have been of tremendous help with the presidency while I have been otherwise engaged with my personal problems. A special thanks to John Childs who has guided our finances through these troubled times. It is a shame that John's arm broke before he agreed to stand again as Treasurer. John's expertise will be greatly missed. John will have a void in his life that I'm sure Cindy will help fill for him: she will probably be glad to have him back, the time he spent doing APANA business. Thanks Cindy for loaning him to us. And one must not forget Mirko without whom APANA would just not function at all: another year of faithful service. Thank-you Mirko.

Without the members there would be no APANA. Thank you all for remaining loyal to your club and supporting its concept. Lets rejuvenate APANA, change direction and power forward in 2002.

Dean Hollister

This year has presented itself with many challenges to many regions. However, overall, in agreement with the President, the year has been relatively quiet.










Down 27





No change





Down 7


Independently Connected Members



Up 3





Down 20


Northern Wollongong



Up 2





Down 20


South Australia



Up 6





Down 27





Down 90


This year's result has improved significantly on last year's annual figures, being an overall drop of 90 Members this year, as opposed to 168 last year. 

Both Sydney and ACT recorded similar drops in Membership. Perth appears to be consolidating its Membership to what is expected to be between 120 and 140 Members.

It is pleasing to see Wollongong, ICR and South Australia report gains. This clearly demonstrates to other regions that it is possible to maintain a healthy Membership level in the Region.

Membership Database

Relocation of the Database to was completed towards the end of last year. This relocation to a much faster link has resulted in a significant improvement on the overall speed of the database and has enabled Mirko Fluher to decrease the man-hours required to process Member payments and handle Member enquiries.

Melbourne this year has revised its volume charging structure, opting for 3 monthly billing of usage. It is of concern that Melbourne has a large number of outstanding payments for these fees. Perhaps other methods of obtaining these owed funds need to be explored.

I would like to extend the warmest of thankyous to Mirko for the hard work and time he puts into the Database. You work does not go unnoticed - without your efforts, we would not have a Database of the quality we enjoy now.

National Server

As a result of Brisbane Region dropping Asia Online as its service provider, the Committee has determined that the cost of continuing to locate the machine with Asia Online is an inefficient use of Member funds. There is also the problem of the machine not being located in the same State as the Secretary, meaning technical issues with the machine cannot be easily rectified.

The server will be relocated with Perth Member Jeremy Malcolm, sharing the benefits of a fast link he has recently installed. APANA will in turn reap the financial benefits of the greatly lowered volume costs that Jeremy enjoys.

Property Rights

The association's Trademark "APANA" has completed is registration requirements with IP Australia. As a result, APANA is now protected against unauthorised use by other parties, such as in email Spam. Members must be diligent in their daily use of the domain, to ensure that illegal use does not occur. Members' assistance in reporting any inappropriate use to the Committee is greatly appreciated.

APANA continues to intermittently receive [unsubstantiated] copyright complaints from individuals/groups representing the "Church of Scientology". Events this year resulted in Melbourne's connection to Telstra Internet coming under direct threat. 

Finally, on behalf of all Members, I would like to express a warm thank you to John Child for his five years of service to APANA as Treasurer. We wish you all the very best with your future endeavours.

John Childs

The formal "Financial Statement" can be found elsewhere. That statement has been prepared on an "accruals basis" for the combined regions. "Cash" based statements for regions are provided to the management and regional committees on a monthly basis.

In my 2000 report I undertook to migrate all accounting to MYOB. For many reasons this was not done but I have now done so and commenced recording the 2002 transactions using the package. I trust this will assist my successor. 

This is my fifth and final end of year statement. In the past two reports I commented that those years had been financially difficult. In hindsight the 1999 and 2000 years were a breeze compared to the 2001 year.

In my 1999 report I commented, "members continue to seek more benefits for less fees". This trend has continued and placed financial challenges upon your regional committees. Unfortunately in the most regions fee receipts have decreased at a faster rate than expenses for running the regions.

Enough of the gloom and doom. I am still of the belief that out there somewhere there are people who want to know how networks work, not just be a user / abuser. These are the people we need as core members. How to find and attract them is the question that each region must address and come up with the answers.

Personally, I thank all RC representatives, Presidents and Secretaries over the past five years for their assistance. I hope we can keep in touch, and should you ever be in Adelaide please give me a call and maybe we can share a Guinness (or two).

I wish APANA every success.


Australian Capital Territory
Edwin Gibbons

In this last year the ACT region has suffered a significant reduction in membership caused by many of the pressures touched on in the President's and other regions' reports. The progressive cabling of Canberra's suburbs with high speed fibre / copper cable by Transact combined with the takeover of several of the smaller ISPs (with subsequent low "introductory offers"), may in part account for some of the losses. As Garry Ford has stated elsewhere, APANA cannot compete with commercial ISPs if we try to be "just another ISP".

A year ago we made the decision to move from a central "internet" feed towards each MAS being responsible for it's own connectivity. This has caused several structural changes, and will require further changes as we attempt to react to our changing "internet environment". It is our hope that this will allow an increased flexibility as we fact the changes that are certain to come in the short to medium term.

Finally, I am reminded of a conversation I had, soon after joining APANA, with the then Regional Co-ordinator of the day. He told me that when I saw Internet connectivity being offered freely 'outside' at rates that APANA itself cannot better, then I would know we have fulfilled our purpose; we appear to have done so. The real questions now are, where do we want to go tomorrow? And who are we to become? I look forward to seeing the answers to both these questions being worked out in the next year.

Doug Young

The 2000 / 2001 year was relatively quiet for the Brisbane Region for the most part, although the change of location provided its share of events. The region has traditionally had a trickle of new memberships, certainly in excess of those lost for various reasons, however the increasing saturation of the 64k link & increasing availability of affordable broadband have provided reasons for some concern. During the first half of the 2001 calendar year investigations were commenced into alternative connections & ways to maintain / add profitability.

The necessity of a move had been on the agenda for some months, however the considerable drop in service standards by our previous provider in June gave us no alternative. Overall operating cost in the new location is similar but we now have a 128k link instead of the previous (questionable) 64k. Data cost is significantly less than previously but phone line rental is higher since they are now charged at business rates. This isn't a problem with dial in accounts, but requires us to charge a higher rate for permanent connections. The committee plans to rectify this situation in the immediate future by installing a broadband wireless link between the POP & the residence of el presidente', then progressively move the permanent accounts over & use the much more cost-effective Optus residential phone lines at around half the rental of business lines. The possibility of moving the POP directly from Fortitude Valley to the el presidente' premises was investigated & discarded when Telstra advised they required some $6000 to transfer the required 30 lines (as compared with $1500 for the co-host situation)

We are well advanced on implementing strategies to increase membership sufficiently to recoup the cost of the move & allow for significant upgrading of both the existing link & hardware. Items involved include the considerable work expended by BRC member Pauline Sheppard on a number of grants for support of aged / handicapped / underprivileged / etc & a number of systems to promote the value of APANA membership to specific target groups which have been identified as traditional sources of members. Present indications are that we can expect at least 10 new permanents & 40 new dialups during the second half of the 2001 calendar year.

Our 2001 ARM was held on Sunday 1st July, and marked a change away from the traditionally formal meeting attended by mainly the "hard core" APANA-ites to a more social event mitt BBQ. A number of regular members attended & pronounced the event a success, consequently its intended that a regular get-together will be held probably every three months.

The first BRC meeting for the year was held last Sunday (22nd July) & a number of changes were discussed. The more significant of these were

(a) Status of grant applications

(b) Improving support / communication channels between committee & members

(c) Strategies for increasing member involvement in APANA activities

(d) Strategies for increasing membership

(e) Traffic monitoring software

(f) Mirroring of Brisbane Region homepage

(g) VPN facilities for non-connected Brisbane members

All necessary work on grant applications has now been completed & submissions lodged. Initial feedback has been encouraging, so hopefully we'll have several sources shovelling money into our account shortly. :)

Measures underway for improving communication involve appointment of a number of "mother hens", each of who will be assigned 5 or 6 "chickens". Each mother hen will have contact details of at least one committee member & will act as an intermediary between the BRC & their respective chickens. This should provide a way for some of the less active members to find out what's happening when things break, without being made to feel they are "mushrooms" (a la at least one major telco) and without inflicting 100 odd phone calls on any BRC member unfortunate enough to have their phone number known.

Strategies for increasing member involvement include both the mother hen" / "chicken" system & also more social events. In addition to the planned quarterly BBQ's, we've also had one very successful scotch whisky tasting (more planned) & several other events on the drawing board.

Strategies for increasing membership have been covered previously.

Traffic monitoring software has recently been installed on our dial in server (gargoyle), and this allows us to keep a check on the load on the link / excessive use by members.

The Brisbane Region homepage has for some time been hosted on the personal machine belonging to ex RC Gary Richardson. This has enabled Gary to devote more effectively what little spare time he has to developing the site, however it occasionally creates a problem with access to our local membership records when the machine is offline. We now plan to migrate the Access database to MySQL & replicate the database on one of our hub machines so that the information is more reliably accessible.

With the move of a number of permanents to broadband, we've recently configured VPN access so that we retain members who wish to retain public IPs & consequently retain income. This is drawing some interest but only a couple of takers to date. At this point we've only managed to get W2K clients connecting but hopefully will figure out what's needed for FreeBSD / OpenBSD / Linux / etc in the near future. We continue to research broadband options ... expecting our provider to have wireless broadband available by end of 2001 & also looking for members in high places :) where we can locate aerials for our own wireless links. Plans to offer ISDN to members have been put on hold until we know more about the suggestion that Telstra will block use of DOV in the immediate future.

In conclusion, BRC believes the future for the region is good & that recent move was essential, both to prevent loss of membership because of the previous sub-standard service & to allow for future improvements. We have expended considerable effort toward increasing communication & member involvement, and have instituted strategies to attract the numbers needed to maintain / improve the financial viability of the region.

Carolyn Baird

The past year in the Hunter Region could not by any stretch of the imagination be described as boring. Periods of total chaos have been interspersed with brief periods of unheard of stability and smooth operation. The majority of problems encountered came from sources beyond the region's control, which in hindsight has made it a particularly frustrating year for the regional committee, the admin team and all the region's members.

Telstra has been a major player in the problems we've encountered. Failed connections due to faulty lines have not only seen us lose members, but they have also increased our costs. Problems were also encountered with our Ozemail connection, although since upgrading that connection to 56K the service we've received from them has improved dramatically.

Our membership is down 7 from this time last year, but while Telstra costs have increased, our overall costs have been reduced and our income has remained about the same placing us in better financial shape than previously.

The electrical supply problems that have plagued us over the past 3 years have practically disappeared - only one occurrence in the past 3 months - since the computer circuit was isolated from the general household circuits.

During the course of the year most of our equipment has been upgraded or replaced with niggle being the only machine still as it was post-relocation. The rebuilding of cray, giles and bombadil has resulted in a more stable network - it's been two and a half months since any of them were rebooted. The installation of the 32-port Cyclades (almost 4 months ago) has also contributed to network stability by allowing power supplies and modems to be better placed for maximum airflow to prevent overheating. As a result only one modem became unusable in that time without the loss of any of the power supplies.

March was the most harrowing month of all in the past year. With new problems surfacing daily on all fronts - including the relocation of our two most experienced sysadmins to the south. However since April they come to our rescue with some long distance adminning to help us resolve any problem (mainly involving news) that the local members of the admin team were unable to resolve.

Most of the calls I've received from members have been concerned with failure to connect or disconnections. There have only been a few instances where this involved the failure of modems to reset properly and was able to be instantly remedied. The majority were the result of changes to configurations or misconfigurations on the member's computer caused by new software installations or their operating system reverting to its defaults. A few calls prior to the upgrading of the machines involved problems accessing mail caused by mailbox corruption on bombadil or members having changed their login password but not their home directory password to match. Most of these problems were able to be handled by phone but in a few instances I either travelled to the member's home or they brought their computer to me to help them sort out their problems. When members have suffered hardware failure various spare items belonging to the region have been loaned to them to use until they can have their equipment replaced or repaired.

Thanks to members heeding my plea to pay their fees promptly, the region was able to end the financial year in the black. The financial forecast for Hunter for the coming year looks healthier than it ever has but it will only remain that way if all members continue to provide the region with the financial support it needs to meet its monthly commitments.

The region currently comprises 51 APANA members - 28 dial in, 2 organisational, 6 permanent-connect, 5 uucp, 6 mail and news only, 1 Ethernet-connected and 3 additional in household members. Our yearly income is $8,860 and yearly expenditure $6,974 (figures include GST) leaving a balance of $1,886 to cover miscellaneous regional expenses and increased charges for the next 12 months.

Some advertising to recruit more members was carried out at the end of last year but none has been undertaken since then as finances would not allow it. For the moment and until our account balance improves over the next few months the region must rely on its current members to recruit new members to ensure that the region continues to be able to pay its own way without relying on financial support from National APANA.

Independently Connected Members
Matthew Geier

Been a generally quiet year for ICR as expected, due to us having no infrastructure and its attendant costs to worry about.

There as been a small increase in membership from members of the regions getting independent connections and thus finding their local infrastructure centric region no longer suits them.

One new member joined up from outside APANA, but was a former member.

Most members continue to be from the independent PA site pax.

The region will hold its regional meeting this year just before the National AGM in the hope that enough of its geographically diverse members will be able to attend.

John Newnham

This year has been a rather hectic one. We have had a few new people becoming involved in administering the Melbourne hub, which is a good thing, because many of the "old hands" are getting rather busy with work and family commitments.

Bad News

We have had to deal with money problems this year, and we took a careful look at our costs versus income. We realized that the sporadic nature of our income, where we got large lumps every six months, was actually disguising a net operating deficit. Also, our UUCP lines were being effectively subsidised by our IP connected members. So, unfortunately, we have had to put our connection fees up. We expect to lose a few sites due to this (indeed, we have already lost a long-time APANA UUCP site,, so we have also taken steps to lower our costs. We can no longer afford the cost of first-tier connectivity via Telstra, so we have moved to other connections. We currently have a a 56 Kb link to teragen for our news feed, a 56 Kb link to Optus for squid traffic (this is only up some of the time, but we are still tuning exactly how much to use it) and a 64 Kb link to Pacific for everything else.

Good News

We are still an active group of hobbyists (or net-nerds, if you prefer), so we are looking at new things. Our ftp mirrors are being quite heavily used (indeed, a significant portion of our traffic is now to local content, particularly news and ftp), so we are looking at ways to provide better access to this resource. We are considering burning CDs of our ftp mirror on a monthly basis, and selling them at our meetings. We are also investigating the possibility of offering DOV access to members - already two members have had ISDN lines put in at home in anticipation of this!


Melbourne has an enthusiastic group of people who value what APANA has to offer in terms of network access, technical opportunities, and social activity. Here's to another year of APANA!

Northern Wollongong
Chris Roughsedge

Our Region has remained fairly stable both at the hub and in regard to membership. We have lost some members but appear to have gained a few more. I believe we are at saturation point now and need to upgrade to remain viable. Unfortunately we have a deficit that I hope will be addressed by October. We have a lot of member's fees due in September and this should address this issue substantially. 

We changed our provider from Connect to Pacific Internet during March and noticed a slight improvement in service. We are also discussing with Doug Young our interest in the mysterious ISP offering huge discounts for ISDN. If we can get a 128K connection for $330.00 as indicated our problems will be diminished, as we will be able to encourage greater membership. At the moment, I feel we will be able to just make ends meet by the end of the year with the current expenses.

We also held our regional annual meeting in April and elected a new regional committee that includes Ben Hitchcock and myself as officeholders.

We were thinking that the Hub would have to be moved as one of the Moir children required some personal space but this has been resolved. Most of the hub room is dedicated to a home office and they like that especially when they have an Ethernet connection to the Internet. Anyway, there has been a request from these gentlefolk that we try to reduce the size of the hub. Doug has been offering a 16PT modem card rack and we would like to purchase this for the region. The 16 'unstackable' modems we have been a pain right from the start so we would be very interested in acquiring one of these. We will also be attempting to build the whole shebang into a closed off but insulated built in cupboard with a fan.

If we manage to get out of debt by the end of the year, reduce our ISP fees and at the same time increase our bandwidth I think we will be able to maintain regional membership and hopefully increase it. I also believe that a small increase in regional fees could help a lot and I will be putting this to the membership soon.

Jeremy Malcolm

This year APANA WA rationalised its services by cutting our 128kbps ISDN service back to 112kbps Data over Voice, which has enabled us to remain financially stable despite reduced (and reducing) membership numbers. Promotional efforts during the year included an address I gave to the WA Internet Association public meeting about APANA, and a presence at the Linux Install fest.

Thanks to our cost cutting, we have not had to increase our fees; in fact we have reduced the cost of our permanent accounts (but without inducing an influx of new permanent members). If our membership falls much further however, we may have to look at disconnecting lines (increasing fees is clearly not a popular alternative to this).

Two new Member Access Sites have been (or are in the process of being) established during the year, which will allow us to offer some new services to members including 56k permanent accounts from the West Perth MAS. Surveys of our members have indicated there is also interest in casual 56k accounts, and we are investigating our options in this regard.

In line with our philosophy of promoting APANA as a club for networking enthusiasts, we have held several more workshops during the year that attracted a small number of members to fiddle around with system installations and networking. We are overdue for another of these, so the Regional Committee will be tossing around some ideas at our next meeting.

Our physical network has not significantly changed since last year, apart from the location of our remote router and the establishment of a wireless link to the South Perth Church of Christ. The HDSL link at the West Perth MAS has not involved APANA in the purchase of any new equipment, although it is likely will soon be stationed there.

2000-2001 has not been APANA WA's best year, but we are progressing on a stable footing and our core of loyal members is reportedly satisfied with our service, which is not an insignificant accomplishment for a non-profit organisation staffed by busy volunteers. We hold out hope for some new networking enthusiasts to join us in 2001-2002.

South Australia
Dave Edwards

The SA region remains healthy. We have had our share of ups and downs but overall the year was a good one.

Our cash reserves in July 2000 were $3,656 and we now have a balance of $3,395. This shows that our running costs are covered by our income that is always a good position to be in. However, we've made almost no investment in hardware this year so the position is probably not as good as it seems. 

Membership has remained stable, only dropping from 120 to 118 over the year but this is a cause for concern as membership is our lifeblood. On the other hand we are now the second largest region in Australia and have increased our membership share from 13% of total APANA membership last year to nearly 16% this year. So we have probably weathered the winds of change better than most other states at least. 

Our infrastructure has aged but still copes well with the load. Our major machines are low-end Pentium class and running FreeBSD 2.1 and 2.6. This is very old software and is an issue that needs to be addressed urgently. We are reduced to two hub machines now as our News server is still off line and has been for a few months now. Chuckie is fondly remembered but luckily not badly missed.

Our Internet connection remains our best asset. We are very lucky that one of the major ISP's in Adelaide is managed in the main, by ex APANA members. Our thanks go to the people at Internode for all the support they've shown us. Our connection is 2Mbit at the moment and capacity wise, this is likely to increase in the near future to 10Mbit. Our bandwidth is capped at 40 GB per month and we are running close to 35GB at the moment so we will need to look at either lifting the cap or reducing our usage in the near future.

There are a number of issues that confront us at the moment. The major one we share with all the other regions apart from the Independently Connected Region, and that is the inability to be able to offer broadband or even 56k access to our members. There are a number of possibilities in the wind including a rather interesting offer noted in the Presidents report and so there may be some light at the end of the tunnel.

The other main issue we face is the lack of members willing to take an active role in the club. Most of the support staff have been around for a long time and are now finding it very difficult to make time for APANA. Given this, I am surprised that we still have a very good record for service provision. Downtime is very rare indeed and although there is no doubt that there are problems for some users, it seems that they are not major ones at the moment at least. We need to find a way to bring more people into the support loop not only to relieve the load on current staff but also to provide fresh ideas and enthusiasm.

We now need to look to the future. APANA is still a worthwhile organisation and has a lot to offer members but the challenges ahead are huge and need serious thought and attention if we are to remain viable as an organisation both nationally and in the SA region.

John August and Craig Dewick

The past year has seen APANA Sydney in financial crisis, with little assistance from our landlord, or from the rising costs charged by Telstra for ISDN and other mandatory services needed to handle member's permanent links and dial ins to member-access sites.

Membership levels have dropped. This seems to be mostly due to a larger number of members leaving (presumably) to join commercial ISP's for cheap access to high-speed modem dial-in and cable/dsl services that we are unable to provide due to the high costs of dedicated digital access servers and the required telco services to feed into them.

Nevertheless, the core of active members (especially the current RC) is continuously improving in ability to deal with hardware and other issues that arise. More involvement from more people in APANA Sydney would be nice, but we are coping reasonably well, and the contribution from the admin group and committee has been great.

A number of major infrastructure changes took place during the last 12 months:

- We changed upstream ISP from Telstra BigPond to Goanna Internet formerly SGT),

- We installed and commissioned several Netcomm ProRack modem arrays that were donated by Nick Andrew of Zeta Internet (not part of Pacific Internet). These modem racks replaced the array of individual member-owned modems and give much higher levels of reliability for member's permanent link connections to the hub,

- Craig Dewick established an ISDN-based link between his network that contains Jedi) to the Sydney hub to work out limitations on analogue modem connects caused by Telstra's exchange equipment at Waterfall. In the last few months he successfully upgraded his link to work at 128 kbps via a pair of Cisco 1003 routers using untimed data-over-voice calls with Telstra's Onramp Home Highway service used for the ISDN line at the far end of the link.

- Another initiative we have started is training workshops with an internet and/or networking focus:

- Recently, we have conducted an HTML course in conjunction with Community Activist Technology Sydney (CAT), and David Fisher and myself have attended CAT's activist fair, where there was very healthy interest in APANA.

- We plan to run Perl/Linux courses in the near future.

On other fronts, we are almost ready to modify the configuration of our main ISDN-based PPP link to our upstream ISP so we can draw on Craig's success with untimed data-over-voice calls using Onramp Home Highway, which will further lower our recurring costs. This will involve Telstra changing our outgoing ISDN line at the hub from a TS-013 based Microlink to an ETSI-based Onramp Home Highway service sometime in the near future.

An extra benefit of the change to ORHH and the ability to reduce the Telstra-side costs of our ISDN to very low levels is that we have pursued and now secured a deal from our current upstream service provider to upgrade our Internet feed from 64 to 128 kbps once the ORHH conversion is done. We have decided to stick with our existing provider for the 128 kbps + DoV upgrade after considering similar offers from other providers.

Another plan we're considering is to perhaps co-locate with CAT in a rent for bandwidth type swap, but we need to wait to see where CAT relocates too. If this does not happen, we will look at alternate arrangements for accommodation.

The unfortunate side effect of having to relocate would be the costs to re-establish all the Telstra services, etc. At present this is not economically feasible until recurring costs for the main ISDN link are reduced significantly, and a solution is found to attract more new members into the fold.

During the year we tried paid advertisements in various publications (for example, we ran an ad for three consecutive months in 'Computer Market' magazine), but these have been largely unsuccessful; the activist fair and other grass-roots exposure seems like it will be a much better way of doing things, but there is still a place for low-cost paid advertising if it's well-targetted.

We have also introduced fees for the hosting of websites, email services, etc. for non-profit organisations ( or .org mostly). The Sydney Speleological Society (at "") is a group that has joined the APANA Sydney network, and we are optimistic about more coming on board.

Craig Dewick has started an initiative with Jedi to offer extra services that will allow the construction of more dynamic websites. These services will include SQL and PHP as a starting point, with more extensions planned for the future. Hopefully this will be an attractive feature to other non-profit organisations that are looking for more than just a simple website hosting service.

It would be foolhardy to ignore the fact that as the Internet matures, it's becoming a more dynamic and interactive environment, so non-profit organisations will want to take advantage of that just like commercial organisations. APANA Sydney is in a good position to capitalise on the growing maturity by offering extra services on top of the basic membership options.

These service extensions, combined with other initiatives such as the workshops being conducted with CAT, should hopefully result in a significant turnaround in membership numbers, and a consequential improvement in our region's financial position in concert with reductions in the costs for the main ISDN link, over the next 6 to 12 months.