Australian Public Access Network Association Incorporated
ARBN 081 355 722 VRN A0026600C


President’s Report:

John Fisher

This year has been a time of some turmoil for APANA, my term as president was faced with a number of issues that had been outstanding for some time, and that were the cause of not inconsiderable friction throughout the organisation. However as the year has progressed I do believe that some of these issues have been resolved and progress made on others, but we do have a long way to go.

We are very fortunate to have the services of Garry Ford and John Childs and I wish to convey my personal thanks to them for their efforts over the last year.

It has become apparent that the level of management expertise needs to be increased. There is a number of outstanding issues that are very complex in nature, and cannot be left un-addressed. This requires that office-holders be prepared to give large chunks of their time to administrative matters, and as a number of government dictates effect us in the future this will become greater and more widespread. We cannot simply rely on ‘part time’ effort, members seeking office. They should keep in mind the demands the office will make of them and their time.

A year is a long time so I started making notes for this report to you some time ago so I’ve decided to format it in a time-line manner.

August 1998:

I was very pleased at the good turnout and atmosphere at the AGM in Melbourne, I think I can say it was an event that went off well and that those attending it enjoyed being there, the Melbourne RC should be congratulated for the organisation they put into the AGM and associated events during the day.

My first task as president, a very pleasant one, was to liaise with the Perth region with regard to the AGM here today.

At my first MC meeting I was requested to take certain steps with regard to the way APANA DNS was administrated. After some consultation it was decided to implement a plan to increase DNS related skills throughout APANA and a small number to textbooks were purchased on APANA’s behalf and made available to members.

Subsequently to this the SA region set-up a “training DNS system” which together with a mailing list has helped dissemination of knowledge on this topic throughout APANA.

The concept of an APANA technical book library was also raised.

It was at this meeting that it was agreed to help fund the formation of a hub and infrastructure of the Northern Wollongong region by way of a loan from the national fund to the newly formed region. Getting them off the ground and on-line.

September / October 1998:

I was pleased to be able to host our National Secretary, Garry Ford during his stay in Melbourne. Garry came to Melbourne with a number of tasks to do, which due to a number of events blew out to involve a ten-day stay in Melbourne. This period was one of great“happenings” and led to my offering my resignation as president to the Management Committee, which they declined to accept, at the time. 

I would like to place on the record that the reason for the action I took was due to my perception that my independence as president was being compromised by my close association with the Melbourne region. Also, that undue pressure was being applied to get me to agree to certain issues that I considered would not be in APANA’s best interests and that my ability to remain impartial was effected. I therefore took several steps to rectify the situation including resigning from the post of Melbourne regional contact, and from the Melbourne region itself. 

There is I believe a need for the officers of APANA to be seen to be impartial and independent and I am of the viewpoint that it is wise for officeholders to take steps to ensure that independence.

There was a suggestion made at this time that the MC regress to being a very informal low key body with only a token income, and that most power be devolved to the various regions. I firmly oppose this, and am of the opinion that the Management Committee should remain the top level decision making body for the organisation. It is not in APANA’s best interests to become a group of “isolated “ introspective regions, in fact as more and more APANA members obtain their internet access from sources other than APANA “hubs” it makes sense to have a more centralised management structure.

November / December 1998:

A great deal of time and effort was put into investigating and developing APANA “policy” regarding the status and behavior of public access sites, and quite how they were required to operate within APANA’s rules and regulations.

From the outset of this process it became quite clear that this situation would not have arisen if members had all conformed to the rules that were in place at the time. I firmly believe that all members have an equal obligation to obey the rules regardless of their status or past history of service: anything else will just cause chaos. I urge all members to do their best to ensure they are conforming to APANA’s various rules and regulations.

This investigation uncovered what were believed to be serious concerns regarding APANA’s rules and AUP and lead to a request for legal advice of a number of issues.

January / February 1999:

In January at the request of a number of members I called a special MC meeting to discuss a number of issues that had become urgent. It was also decided at this time to purchase a new machine - - and that this machine be used to host a number of national services, including the national web site. 

We received the legal advice we requested from our solicitors and it was decided that a special working committee be formed to make recommendations to the MC for various rule and policy changes that the legal advice indicated were needed.

March / April 1999:

A major issue at this time is the demand that APANA join the TIO scheme and unfortunately the issue of PA sites allowing non members to connect is again being raised. I must add however that the vast majority of sites have conformed and are in compliance with APANA’s rules.

I have indicated firmly to the MC that I now consider that it is time that the matter of non members connecting be resolved, all feedback from the membership indicates that the vast majority of APANA members insist that APANA facilities be available only to members. 

The MC must accept the responsibility for this ¾ “The buck stops here”. Failure to act on this issue will cause significant damage to APANA for which the MC would be held responsible.

This issue firmly points to the need for the MC to be the top level management body within APANA, there is a requirement that at some times it will need to make unpleasant or unpopular decisions. The MC however should expect the cooperation and support of all other APANA members in the implementation of its properly arrived at decisions.

The working committee looking at the legal advise from our solicitors has made some progress, the most significant being that it has recommended to the MC that the MC follow the policy that all persons using APANA facilities be APANA members. I believe that this is a “key element” and should be a cornerstone around which future APANA policy, rules and AUP should be built.

The Latter Period:

At this Point I’m going to abandon the “diary” format of this report to you.

APANA is at the crossroads, where it goes from here is up to you, many harsh words have been said, its essential that they are now put behind us and that everyone in the organisation work together for the future of APANA

I’m sure all of you are aware of the happenings of the last few months, so I don’t intend to raise passions by going over it all again.

To finish this report on a positive note, I would like to congratulate both Perth and Wollongong regions on achieving the large growth in their regions.

“Well done!”

Also I should mention the formation of the Independently Connected Members’ region. A number of members approached me at various times during the year. They all had a common problem in that they had for various reasons decided to obtain their Internet connections from sources other than the existing APANA hubs. Thus it was decided to form the ICR. This allows great flexibility in operating their various systems but allows them a way to remain within APANA and to relate to others who are in a similar situation. I see this as a great way to expand APANA membership into non-traditional areas.

I wish you all well for the future.


I would like to thank Mirko Fluher, without whose contribution APANA would be in a very difficult position. Mirko empties the mailbox each day and processes membership and payment details into the APANA database.

I would also like to place on the record my thanks to John Newnham for his assistance in certain issues.


Secretary’s Report:

Garry Ford

The last twelve months have been even more interesting times for APANA than the previous year. The highlight has been the purchase of another box to contain all the national body’s data. This brings to two the computers the national body now owns. One box, nitrogen, currently runs the DNS under the able stewardship of Scott Neville, while the other, national, is situated in Brisbane under my control.


The year has finished on a high note with the membership topping 1000 again at last.

Large membership losses have again occurred in Melbourne and Sydney. The membership loss can be directly attributed to the loss of a Public Access site in Sydney and perhaps loss of membership through spasmodic activity of one other site and in Melbourne’s case, to their internal problems resulting from bandwidth congestion at the hub. Melbourne has since changed its charging methods to a volume based one, and it is hoped this will help alleviate the congestion and thus member dissatisfaction.

Unfortunately some members have already left the Melbourne Region and many have joined the Independently Connected Members’ Region rather than wait to see the outcome of the new method of charging.


Percentage of membership
Down 6
Down 3
Up 12
Independently Connected Members*
Up 32
Down 88
Northern Wollongong
Up 61
Up 31
South Australia
Up 13
Down 24
Up 27
* The Independently Connected Members Region was formally recognised on 21 April 1999. Many members transferred from other regions, particularly Melbourne.

In addition there are still a total of 5 memberships pending – 2 in the ACT and 3 in Melbourne. This category of membership has been abolished and will not appear in future reports.

Fortunately the trend of APANA members migrating to cheap ISP’s appears to have reversed as many cheap providers go out of business through an inability to pay for their connections. 

Membership losses were more than compensated for by the smaller regions which all showed excellent growth figures.A special commendation must go to the Perth/Western Australia Region which is now the largest Region following another magnificent year of growth.

Northern Wollongong rates a very special mention in this year’s report.It started off the year with 10 members and following a six-fold increase now is larger than the Brisbane Region.Hunter has also shown a fifty percent increase in membership.

Overall, most regions except the aforementioned Melbourne and Sydney have either grown or remained much the same in size.

In addition, many organisations are now turning to APANA for cheap, reliable Internet access that they cannot easily obtain from commercial ISP’s. This is opening up a new market for membership in all regions. Development of this market is to be encouraged as it represents a steady cash flow to the regions.

New Region:

Special mention must be made of the Independently Connected Members Region, which was recognised in April 1999.Its membership initially consisted of members no longer connected to existing hubs, usually because of lack of local call access, but in recent months greatly increased following an influx of members from the Melbourne Region.

Membership Database:

The membership database is still giving us problems from time to time. It is planned to move it from its current box to one dedicated to the database alone.When this eventuates it is planned to have the working copy for general access on the national machine, while the original will reside on the dedicated machine. Each day changes will be automatically uploaded to the national machine from the database machine. This will give us much needed added security of what is our most important asset.

Mirko Fluher now is in charge of maintaining and overseeing the database.

Thanks to Mirko, Chris Cogdon, Dave Keller, Scott Neville, Andrew O’Rorke, and Greg Patten for work done on this “monster” from time to time.It is essential the workings of the database be fully overhauled and updated, as without it operating smoothly, our cash-flow will dry up as members fail to renew because they haven’t received notices.

National Site:

Ever since APANA has started the National Site has been hosted on core in Melbourne (most recently hydrogen). 

Because of the slowness of access through Melbourne hub the decision was taken mid last year to transfer the National Site to the nitrogen.The opportunity was also taken to redesign the site and to obtain a new logo.Thanks to Chris Roughsedge of Northern Wollongong for the design of the new logo.

The new site was transferred to nitrogen during my visit to Melbourne in October 1998.Unfortunately, at the time, other problems arose in the Melbourne region that necessitated my full attention, and that of the Melbourne Regional Committee and helpers, and although the site was ready for activation, for various reasons the final steps were not taken by the Melbourne people after my return to Brisbane.One of the reasons for this was that the DNS master was of the opinion that operating the site on the same machine as the DNS Server would lead to DNS instability.

Early in the new year the Management Committee resolved to buy a new machine to host the National Site.That machine is on its own direct Ethernet connection to AUSBONE through Brisbane Internet Technologies, courtesy of former member Brent Padden and his company. Thanks are also due to Ed Beaumont for his assistance in setting up and installing the new box.The machine is also linked to the Brisbane hub by Ethernet, which makes updating very quick indeed.

Like Melbourne, Brisbane too had problems with its hub, and the very few members of Brisbane support group had to give priority to rebuilding the Brisbane hub first.As a result, the new machine did not go on line until the beginning of August.Currently takes you to the new machine in Brisbane.

Apologies for the many “under construction” messages, but the tumultuous problems that have emulated from the Melbourne Region since last October have meant that I have not been able to finish many pages.Many of the pages also required to be on-line to allow the completion of links, especially those to the ftp site.

Once it was decided to move the site, work on placing minutes of Management Committee meetings on the site was halted.Now the web and ftp sites are finally in operation again, this will be resumed again.Thanks to Dave Keller who is uploading the minutes from the Management Committee mailing list and apana.announce where they were regularly posted.

Official Documents:

Regions are advised to ensure they only have the latest versions of official documents on-line. Apart from the inconvenience and confusion this causes to members, there are also serious legal ramifications. It is best if they link directly to the national APANA pages rather than mirror them locally.

All agendas and minutes of meetings should be posted as soon as they are approved to relevant pages on the web.As an interim they can be posted to the relevant newsgroup in the region.Some regions failing to do this in a timely manner has generated many complaints over the past twelve months.Because of the nature of APANA the minutes are the only way many members keep up with what is happening.We must all ensure we do not deny them this opportunity through late posting of minutes.

Regional Committees are also reminded of the importance of keeping accurate records of loans and donations of equipment.

All official documents will eventually be easily found on the new site once it has been fully redeveloped.

SPAM/Security breaches:

As E-Commerce becomes more popular on the Internet, we can expect more SPAM to occur.Many groups who want SPAM outlawed are lobbying the Commonwealth Government.Unfortunately, the Direct Market Association and other such groups are pushing for a similar law to that currently in America SPAM can be sent but there must be a way to cancel it in the future from that sender.

While suitable to those who want to harass people in the mail, on the phone, with faxes, and now by email, it definitely does not suit operators.Everyone is requested to lobby your federal and state members for a policy that ensures people must opt in rather than one which asks them to opt out, after receiving the SPAM in the first place.

Ed Beaumont is currently working on a policy for APANA.

Email relaying:

All members operating on-line servers are reminded that it is APANA policy that they be configured so that non-APANA mail cannot be relayed through them. 

It is an embarrassment to both APANA and the member (or regional hub in at least one case) concerned when someone complains about SPAM emulating from a particular site.


During the year Dean Hollister was appointed Newsmaster. He is currently rationalising all newsgroups to remove those that are no longer used and introduce new groups when required.

Would all site operators please note that ALL APANA newsgroups are private newsgroups and as such are not available for distribution to non-APANA sites/members unless prior approval of the Management Committee has been given.Any such external sites must guarantee not to pass on APANA newsgroups to the outside world.

All members please note.To avoid APANA newsgroups leaking it is essential that you do not cross-post APANA newsgroups with other newsgroups.Cross posting seems to be the way many non-members have found out about our newsgroups.

While all this may seem draconian to some members, it is essential if we are to:

(a)retain APANA newsgroups as places we can all, as members, freely exchange ideas and thoughts without fear of outsiders seeing what we say and therefore free of certain legal implications; and

(b)avoid receiving tons of SPAM in our newsgroups, something that happens every now and then only at present.


The view taken by the Management Committee is that anything can be posted by members providing it doesn’t bring the good name of APANA into disrepute or is in breach of the laws of Australia and its states and territories.

It is not the policy of the Management Committee or anyone else in APANA to censor what is published on the Internet by APANA members and through APANA sites providing:

(a)APANA has not been instructed by the relevant government authorities that such and such a posting is illegal;

(b)the material posted is not in breach of our Acceptable User Policy and/or Terms and Conditions of Connection; or

(c)the material is not in breach of copyright.

Members should bear in mind that what they publish and how they say it reflects upon them as a person as well as APANA as a whole.Sometimes the harm done to your own reputation and even APANA’s as well at times, can be quite enormous, from a few words badly chosen in haste.At times, some members forget this when posting to newsgroups from apana domain machines, especially when involved in flame wars.

Minute Secretary:

Unfortunately, after the last Annual General Meeting our long serving minute secretary, George Hansper retired from that position.George was very quiet at most Management Meetings just organising the phoning of everybody, supply several phone lines, and of course taking the minutes.It is not until someone leaves that you truly appreciate their worth. 

Since George’s departure I can say without a doubt, that APANA has not run as smoothly.A much larger workload has fallen upon the Secretary and as soon as problems arose, there was no one there to assist, as in previous years.The result has been that the workload of up to 100 hours per week has become too great in the past few months, especially with regards to trying to build a new site, sort out the Melbourne problems and still deal with normal APANA business.I’m sure all members of the Committee agree with me here when I say thanks to George for a job well done. You are surely missed.

It is essential that in future, there is a minute secretary to assist the Secretary.

Networking the Nation:

During the year the Northern Wollongong Region applied for funding under the Commonwealth Government’s Networking the Nation funding program.Unfortunately they were unsuccessful, but the experience gained through the application has been invaluable to others.This was a good initiative introduced to APANA by President John Fisher.

Currently Perth Region is sponsoring an application to enable a new region to be established in Geraldton. Perth has to be congratulated on this initiative.

Other regions are also considering applications for funding.This is a way that APANA can spread to rural, remote and regional Australia. 

TIO Membership:

Although in 1997 APANA was informed that it was thought it didn’t have to join the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman Scheme (TIO) in April this year we were formerly asked to join following, it is believed, complaints against one of our Public Access Sites

To join the scheme as it currently exists would mean the end of APANA.If we have to provide all the trimmings ISPs currently do, including a 24 hour help desk in all our regions, it would cost at least $4million dollars per annum.

Currently APANA is attempting to seek an exemption but the Australian Communication Authority (ACA) is being far from helpful as they have not answered the questions we need answered to complete our application for exemption.

For instance, the key element is the meaning of “reward”.If the same meaning is used by the ACA and TIO as is used by the Tax Office (money, kind or service), then it means all members of APANA who let any other person use their connection for reward, will also have to join the TIO.While this might not sound too big a deal, it means if you let your child access the net in return for doing household chores, then you have to join the TIO. Likewise if you let borders use your connection.

The matter then becomes complicated for not only do you have to contribute to the running costs of the TIO, you then are ineligible to lay a complaint against fellow members e.g. Telstra, Optus, Vodaphone and other phone companies, for whom the TIO was original set up to enable citizens and small businesses to complain to about bad service, billing, etc.

The Future:

As we approach the second last year of the millenium APANA is at the crossroads.

Internet use is exploding and even small country western towns now have ISPs.Although we are still basically a hobby group in that we experiment, give our services voluntarily to APANA, and don’t expect the same standards of service as we would receive from an ISP, we still must be professional in our outlook and attitudes at all times.

If APANA is to retain members and grow we must show our professionalism proudly.We must:

(a)ensure members receive the highest possible service at all times;

(b)keep our equipment in A1 reliable condition to minimise downtimes;

(c)recover from downtimes and system failures as quickly as possible; and

(d)respond quickly and courteously to all members’ inquiries and problems.

Although we are not an ISP, we should try to match their service standards as closely as possible.All the officers, committee members and other key personal may be volunteers, but we are still all stakeholders in a quite large corporation, and we should endeavour to give our best at all times.

As a further inducement to membership perhaps regions could enhance their regional meetings and engage in more social activities of various types that could include guest speakers or workshops on various aspects of the computing industry.

In conclusion, last year President Mark Purcell made reference to the fact that 200 seemed to be the magical maximum size for a region, after which it self-destructs.

These observations have proved to be correct regarding the Melbourne.Congested bandwidth and over-use of existing telecommunication lines mean that members become dissatisfied with the speed of the service and leave.The two alternates are to increase bandwidth by increasing the capacity of the ISDN connection - very expensive; bargain for extra bandwidth with ISPs through internet exchanges such as what Perth and Adelaide do; or split the region so as to gain a second ISDN line at the cheap rates.The latter by far is the best long-term solution.

It is my belief that once a region reaches the magic 100 members, it should be planning for a split into two regions once it reaches 150 members.This keeps the group relatively small, family like, and thus is less likely to lead to the development of “groups within the group”, factions, and lessen all the other problems which eventually lead to mass dissatisfaction and ultimately the destruction of the region.

Finally, I would like to thank all those members who have given me assistance during my time as your Secretary, especially Mirko Fluher, without whom my job would be even much more difficult, if not impossible to perform.


Treasurer’s Report:

John Childs

In putting finger(s) to keyboard I have had the benefit of having read John and Garry's reports.

I note that John opened with "This year has been a time of some turmoil for APANA ..." while Garry commented "The last twelve months have been even more interesting times for APANA than the previous year."Neither was making comment upon the "financial position" of your organisation, though Garry has highlighted the expenditure on purchase of a National PC.

It is pleasing to report a reasonable financial result despite the pressures being placed upon APANA (in particular the high costs of ISP connections).The statement of Fees Received and Outgoings (P&L) and Balance Sheet are attached.These statements are prepared on an "accruals basis" for the combined regions."Cash" based statements for regions have been provided to each regional committee.

As a not-for-profit organisation, each year the National Management Committee and your local regional committees, aim to attain a "breakeven" funds position and if possible a modest surplus to ensure room for contingencies.I would like to offer my thanks to the regional committees for their efforts.I particularly commend Dean and the Perth team for taking the region from “whoa to goer” in the past year.A clear demonstration of what can be achieved when members work together.

Where next?Despite the constant change, two matters are certain for the next year: there will be even more financial pressure on APANA as members continue to seek more benefits for less fees and the impact of the GST.At the time of writing this report I do not have sufficient information to reliably estimate the impact of GST on our fee structure, but being conservative I would suggest our costs will increase between 4 and 7 percent.

Much of your committees' time and efforts (and funds) have been taken up on consideration of the rules under which we run.I ask members to give time to consideration to the rule changes on which you are being asked to vote at the Special General Meeting.

As I report for the third time, I thank members for allowing me the opportunity of being Treasurer.Personally I enjoy the interaction and learning opportunities APANA provides, while professionally it provides me with a "small window of opportunity" between my full-time employment and the "real world".

Please see separate documents appended for the financial returns of the APANA.



Regional Reports:

Australian Capital Territory

Edwin Gibbon

1999 has been a year of stability for APANA in the ACT region, we have had a few system failures, hard disk crashes etc., but overall no major problem has "blown us out of the water".This may be because of the existing infrastructure set up by the previous Regional Committees.

ACT has maintained it's membership level, attempts to increase our membership numbers towards 200 have had little lasting effect.This will be an ongoing challenge for future Regional Committees, in their attempt to 'balance their books'.

Further challenges and opportunities are on the horizon. The TRANSACT cable rollout throughout the ACT by our local ACT Electricity and Water company promises 'megabit' communication speeds from home to local service providers (ISP, video and music) and slowly moves from successful trials in a suburb towards territory wide implementation (we hope and pray).

We do seem, as the Chinese proverb says, to "live in interesting times". 


Gary Richardson

Steady year for Brisbane.

Membership levels have remained in alignment with support and MODEM/User ratios.

Finally we have upgraded to ISDN (our uplink provider being Brisbane Internet Technologies, Thank you BIT). We do need to grow by another 20-30 users in order to sustain ISDN connection. Should Brisbane not be able to accomplish this we will be going back to our 33.6kbps link into Telstra Big Pond Direct. ISDN connection currently still in the name of BIT, In order to save APANA Telstra's ISDN connection and installation fees BIT passes their invoice onto APANA.

We do intended to purchase another 5-10 telephone lines from BIT over the next few months (BIT currently moving away from their analogue servers releasing telephone lines only costing APANA $50.00 per line compared to $173 for each new line installation).

One of our servers ( mainly used for news and UUCP access has been inoperative since January. Troll has been removed from its current location and is currently in the process of being "looked at" by one of our Support members.

Due to hardware restraints BRC has decided to no longer provide UUCP access.

BRC will be having their 99 AGM first Sunday in September.

Brisbane has been able to avoid similar problems encountered by the larger regions as we implement strategies immediately. For example, We do not permit PA sites to access our servers, all access is for individual use only and we do not permit accounts to be held in the name of minors.

Brisbane strongly believes we are not an ISP and therefore have no intentions to grow beyond any support/hardware capacity.


Brisbane currently supports 71 users as follows:

Trial members7

Dial-In Members40

Permanent Members17


Organisational Members2

40 Dial-In Members share 7 MODEMS.

Our annual income is currently below our projected annual expenditure due to ISDN upgrade however sufficient funds are in account to sustain ISDN connection until next July without any new members.


Carolyn Baird

The past year in the Hunter Region can only be described as chaotic.

The year started with negotiations for routing of our subnet by Ozemail still pending, while the region's bank balance was being eroded by rental for phone lines installed at the new location unable to be used since the relocation was to be delayed until the subnet was routed correctly.With a membership freeze in place on the decision of the previous Regional Committee until after the relocation (which at the time was thought to be imminent), no additional finance was being gathered by the region and a number of members failed to renew as their subscriptions became due.

This was the state of the region when the previous Regional Co-ordinator (who was also the sole system administrator) and Deputy Regional Co-ordinator resigned on September 29th.After numerous attempts at negotiations with Ozemail and the invaluable assistance of the Treasurer, Ozemail finally routed the subnet at the end of October.The relocation then followed on November 1st.It took some weeks before our reverse DNS was correctly assigned, but that was just the first of the problems following relocation.


Constant complaints of disconnections by members and our Ozemail link dropping out on a regular basis continued through to the end of the year and into the beginning of this one, with some members considering not renewing because of these problems.The source of these problems turned out to be threefold:

1.Line noise on the new lines.Telstra was asked to check them when the problem first manifested but a subsequent check showed significant problems still on those lines.Members were also advised to have their own lines checked for quality.

2.The new Roadster modems turned out not to automatically invoke error correction.Installing an appropriate modem init script on the system rectified this and members were advised how to initialize their own modems with a similar script if disconnections were still a problem for them.

3.After only a few months use, the power supplies for the new Roadsters started failing, resulting in disconnections at first followed by a failure to reset until they died completely.Two of these were replaced but the financial position of the region by this time didn't allow replacement of any others so with each failure the number of dialin lines had to be reduced.Fortunately a new member added in March was able to repair all the defunct power supplies so all the lines and modems have been able to be utilised since then.

Barely had these problems been sorted out when the onset of colder weather brought with it severe fluctuations in the electricity supply causing extensive file corruption on all machines.However it wasn't until after a UPS (on loan from a member of the region) was connected to the region's machines that the file corruption on our main server was found to have a different cause - vibration from the CDROM drive (donated by a member in November) which had been installed in the same box as our high-speed drive.

The CDROM drive was relocated to another box at the end of last month and since then there have been no further reports of new file corruption occurring.However the last episode of file corruption was so severe that work is still continuing on replacing all the missing files as their absence is made known.

In addition, our secondary server was crashing on a regular basis due to mail overload.This problem was fixed by reconfiguring the sendmail system to allow it to handle the increased volume of mail caused by the relocation of one of the Regional Co-ordinator's larger mailing lists to her own machine (which had previously been considered the cause of all the bandwidth problems until smarthosting was implemented for both her machine and the region's machines).

The past 3 months have also subjected our system to ongoing problems with Ozemail's Newcastle servers.Mostly they've only been of short-duration except for twice when our link with them was down for around 20 hours both times.However, through the efforts of the admin team in redirecting traffic over the permlink to Macroportal (courtesy of the Deputy Regional Co-ordinator), only the minor inconvenience of not receiving incoming mail or being visible to the outside world has been experienced by our members.

The region however has suffered the additional expense of massive increases in our call-charges as the result of the Ozemail link dropping out and failed subsequent automatic attempts to reconnect until such time as it's manually stopped.

Since the relocation, nnmaster has continued to cause us grief - collapsing almost on a daily basis.Despite cutting the number of newsgroups to only those specifically requested by members in addition to all the APANA groups, news still remains a problem although only two members consider themselves inconvenienced by it.

The only optimistic thing I can think of to say at this time is that I haven't received any complaints of something not working properly in the past five days which over the past 10 months is getting very close to setting a record.


At the time I became Regional Co-ordinator the database had the Hunter at 24 members, 6 of whom have since failed to renew their membership or have left the region. One member added after that date has since resigned his membership.

The lifting of the membership freeze and a push for new members started immediately following the relocation.However, the 5 advertisements in 3 separate newspapers we lodged between February and May of this year did not produce the results we had hoped for.The fliers placed at the TAFE brought at least one new member, but there's no doubt that our increase in membership is almost solely due to 'word of mouth' from existing members of APANA - some local and some interstate.The database currently has us with 37 Active members.However, 5 of those have either not paid their regional access fee or have indicated that they will not be continuing with us.

Since last September we have added 21 new members, 15 of whom are still with us plus 17 longer-term members.


Of our 32 members, 2 have UUCP connections; 2 mail/news only; 3 secondary members in a household (only 2 of whom pay an access fee) which forecasts a yearly income of $5,300 for the region which just covers the cost of our Ozemail and basic Telstra charges, but not call charges if we have any more months like the last ones.It doesn't however provide for any additional regional expense or repayments of our APANA loan.It is therefore essential for us to increase our membership by 10 to 20 members within the next few months.Our record to date shows that it is possible, but it depends heavily on help from APANA members in all states who have contacts in this region.

The region's finances were set back by the increased charges Ozemail levied between December and May; by the need to purchase two additional modems; replacement power supplies and a few other miscellaneous items such as advertising costs. Fortunately a lot of additional expenditure has been avoided by the donation and loan of equipment by Hunter members.

Income for the month of August to date has exceeded charges so we should start to see a reduction in the loan amount to APANA by the end of the month.If all other charges can be kept to a minimum this trend should continue over the next few months as more of our members renew their membership for the coming year.


The system currently consists of:

niggle - terminal router

giles- terminal and mailserver

bombadil - mainserver

cray - Majordomo listserver(still in the process of being configured - donated by Chris 


5 Roadsters 56K modems

2 Chilli 33.6K modems (donated by Andrew Glazebrook)

1 3Com US Robotics 56K modem (on loan from Gavin Condon)

2 Maestro 33.6K modems (on the permlinks)

1 UPS (on loan from Gavin Condon)

1 CDROM Drive (currently in cray - donated by Jason Mulligan)

We are currently seeking the donation of a larger hard disk for cray so that it can be better utilised.


There's not much to add except that things could be a lot worse for the Hunter Region.We have a dedicated Admin Team and a host of members willing to help the region or individual members in any way they can - which makes my role of Regional Co-ordinator a LOT easier than it might otherwise be - and having survived the last 12 months, I'm confident that as a group we can survive anything.

Independently Connected Members

Matthew Geier

The Independently Connected Members region was formed out of the desire of a number of members who had taken up their own personal connections to the Internet to stay members of APANA, but to be no longer be associated with their local infrastructure centric region.

The formal adoption of the region also stopped a practice of 'non connected' members moving to the 'national' region of APANA, i.e. requesting to stay members but NOT to be accounted to their old region when renewing membership. In a way the Independent members region existed previously, but with out the proper regional management structure.

Many of the founding members of the region felt that some of the existing regions have become so tied up in the provision of infrastructure and supplying ISP style services to members that much of their original reasons for joining APANA seemed to have fallen by the wayside in the rush to 'grow or die'.

Even though some of us have 'split' from our local regions infrastructure wise, ICR members do often 'consult' to their original regions, advising on various technical issues, and assisting with problems as the need arises. 

We are not connected, but still part of the community.


Donovan Baarda

It has been a very eventful year for the Melbourne region, characterised by fee changes, conflicts with the MC, hub improvements, and increased active involvement by members.

This year has seen a significant decline in the number of Melbourne members. However, this does not overly concern the region. The Melbourne region does not offer casual dialup access, and collects nearly all of its revenue from IP and UUCP connected sites. In the past, casual dialup access was offered by public access sites that saw the region's membership grow to nearly 500 members at its peak. Since then, commercial providers have totally replaced any need for sites to provide such a service. We are still shedding the dead wood of disinterested compulsory members accumulated during those days. 

Of more concern, the Melbourne region has begun to feel the affects of the second wave of commercial ISP competition; hugely discounted permanent connections. Large ISP's with high performance backbones have been offering low price permanent connections that have seduced many sites away from the Melbourne hub. Our old fixed fee-pricing model meant that small sites were paying much more for a slower connection with more usage restrictions than they could get with a commercial connection.

However, the Melbourne region has finally implemented volume fees, after first proposing to do so two years ago. These fees came into affect on 1 July 1999, and the immediate result was a sudden dramatic improvement in our network performance. The more equitable fees and better network performance has halted the exodus of sites to commercial connections, and has started to attract new connections. It has even started to attract interest from sites that only recently left our hub for commercial alternatives.

Two years ago when volume fees were first proposed, the Melbourne region sought to have the compulsory membership for casual dialup users removed. With the successful implementation of volume fees, this issue once again raised its head. Additionally, the increased competition and loss of active members to commercial providers with less usage restrictions led us to question the limits imposed on commercial activity. Rather than request changes to the AUP that would be imposed on other regions, we chose to pursue regionalisation of the AUP. This would have allowed us to tailor our own AUP without affecting the operation of other regions. However, due to our previous experiences with the MC on these issues, we also decided to pursue separation from APANA as an alternative to regionalisation of the AUP. A survey of the Melbourne membership was conducted that showed overwhelming support for this proposal. The debate that followed was ugly and inflammatory, and all regions and members were dragged into public debate of what we considered a predominantly regional issue. Since then the conflicts have subsided, but the issues are still unresolved.

Meanwhile, quietly in the background, the Melbourne region has been steadily improving its hub. Three new high performance servers have been purchased: boron, lithium, and beryllium. A keyboard/monitor switchbox has been installed for the servers, and all the hub wiring has been tidied up and documented. Mira Networking kindly donated a rack of 28.8K netcom modems to the Melbourne region. One of our Cisco's has finally been upgraded (ROM, RAM, flash, everything!) enough to perform port blocking/redirecting which we have desperately wanted for ages. The annex upgrade is not yet complete, but has been making progress. The old server "core" has been retired, and all national services have been separated from regional services.

Most of what has driven the hub improvement successes is increased active involvement in hub maintenance by members. In the past the Melbourne region has suffered from reliance on a small number of people to perform all the tasks at the hub. This resulted in poor transfer of skills to members and severe skills shortages when these people left. We are now finally seeing new blood being inducted into the hub maintenance roles, and increased distribution of responsibilities. Many roles are now filled by both a master and an apprentice to help improve service and ensure transfer of skills.

The Melbourne region exists because of its hub and the sites connected to it. The strength of the Melbourne region is not measured in its total number of members, but in the number of actively involved members and sites connected to the hub. Under these metrics, the Melbourne region was declining at the start of the year, but has begun to strengthen again. As long as there are enough sites connected to the hub for it to be viable, the Melbourne region will continue to exist. Despite the threats to our existence, it looks like we are going to be around for a while yet :-)

Northern Wollongong

Joel Moir

The past year for the Gong has been unbelievably good. Membership has gone from basically zero to the high 70s. In terms of finance, we now have money in the bank.

Upgrades to 64K are to take place in the next couple of weeks, and this will greatly improve the performance of the link. So far it has been absolutely saturated and it is very difficult to use it at the moment.

Plans are being made to get a dedicated news link, as we want to maximise the new 64K as much as possible.

Membership continues to rise, although we are not too keen for it to rise too quickly too soon. 100 - 110 members would be a good figure to stop at. However, we will see what comes!

Perth/Western Australia

Jeremy Malcolm

This year has been a very bright one for the WA region.Membership currently stands at 194, which is at the desired limit of our current capacity (and, for the first year, makes us the largest region within APANA).Once the capacity of our outbound link has been increased, consideration will be given to the purchase of an additional serial panel that will allow membership to undergo further expansion.Our first priority however is to ensure the quality of our service is maintained.

As far as networking changes have gone, our 64kbps link has been moved from iiNet to Telstra Internet, and is shortly to be moved once again to with the intention of increasing the capacity to 128kbps.This will coincide with the decommissioning of our 128kbps link to the WA Internet Exchange (WAIX) which has been underutilised since it was brought on-line.These 128kbps links have been made possible by the purchase of a new Cisco 2610 router late last year.

Our news link to Ozemail by modem was decommissioned earlier in the year and replaced with a newsfeed across our WAIX link from Digital Media Corporation Pty Ltd.A (near-) dedicated news machine using DNEWS was put in place to handle the increased load of articles, which together with the moving of the Squid proxy, has resulted in a more stable main machine (Odyssey).Our network currently consists of four machines (including a recently co-located Web server for the Australian Institute of Environmental Health).

The region has registered its intention to apply for Commonwealth Government funding under its Networking the Nation project for the establishment of a Geraldton point of presence and/or region.Two possible stumbling blocks with the application have been raised by the Networking the Nation secretariat, and these are currently in the process of being addressed by the RC in conjunction with our would-be Geraldton system operator, Steve Branch.

The WA region is greatly looking forward to hosting the national Annual General Meeting that will coincide with the formal delivery of this report in September 1999.Two interesting speakers are planned for what will no doubt be a very full day in the pleasant surrounds of Perth Zoo.APANA WA's Web site has been updated with full details of the meeting, its venue, and accommodation in Perth.Our members will be sure to extend Eastern States visitors a warm welcome.

South Australia

Dave Edwards

The South Australia Region is maintaining steady growth.We have focussed during the last year on consolidation and building a reserve to allow further bandwidth expansion.As a result of this, we are in the process of installing a new link with 3 times the bandwidth that we have had up to date.

All our hub equipment has been upgraded during the last year.We now run 3 Pentium class machines and our Unix sandpit (shell accounts) is our only 486.We now have a total of 64 serial ports on our access server with 38 in use.We have 25 permanent connections and 13 modems for casual dialup.Our news server is the only machine that has given us any trouble over the last year but we are on the home stretch dealing with that I hope.

We continue to hold training sessions on an irregular basis.The last one was to help casual members build a Unix router.We helped two people move from casual to permanent connections that day.

We have a strong core of technical people helping the whole thing run smoothly.Our policy of assigning each new member a "mentor" or admin contact from our pool of administrators has also proved valuable both in training of future technical support people and sharing the load.

Our hub site has been an absolute boon.We are very lucky to have an area in the CBD that we can call our own.This location has meant that we can connect cheaply to ISP's in Adelaide that will allow us further growth.


John August

1999 has seen changes and problems in the Sydney region, but in spite of the problems, I think we are now much stronger.

We've had several crashes to deal with, and the departure of one PA site, sysx. But in spite of several disconnections from the hub, we have had new hub members connect, and some new PA sites have shown strong growth.

Our financial situation remains reasonably stable, though I would of course prefer to see the funds increase rather than fluctuate as they now do.

We have changed from Connect to Telstra, and our Sydney Uni Newsfeed has been cut off. But connection to a new ISP for a newsfeed is progressing.

We've had several crashes - some spontaneous, some which can be traced to electrical storms. We seem to have had a few more lately compared to "golden period" of about a year or so back. I don't know whether this is real or just the sort of statistical fluctuation you'd expect.

We now have some continuity in volunteers, who have made the Sydney region operate effectively. We have also learnt a lot, and are more able to cope with crashes.The challenge is now to document our knowledge before too many changes take place.

The RC have embraced the idea of documenting procedures in the Sydney region, and changing administration so things run more smoothly and we can be confident of tracking our charges.


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