[HCS-D]HCS in 2005

Matt Gline gline at fas.harvard.edu
Tue Dec 21 02:09:19 EST 2004

(02:07:11) FluxDrip: you stole my job!
(02:08:06) Gregory N Price: You mean the sending out an email?
(02:08:19) FluxDrip: yeah
(02:08:40) Gregory N Price: What would you have done differently in it?
(02:08:45) FluxDrip: I would have made it funny :)


On Tue, Dec 21, 2004 at 12:47:03AM -0500, Gregory Price wrote:
> Excellent meeting today.  I was elected president.
> No, actually, we did more important things than that.  We started a
> conversation that I've been having with Matt for most of a year and
> with some others of you in small bits and pieces; namely, what should
> HCS aim to accomplish -- not in the next week and the next, but in,
> say, the next year.
> I set the following goal: let's get to student groups the tech
> services that will help them do what they want to do.  
> We see a lot of folks going to outside services like Yahoo Groups; and
> for services that Yahoo Groups doesn't have we see groups trying a
> bunch of mediocre services and struggling with all of them.  I think
> we can do a lot better.
> I think we can get to a state where the great majority of groups at
> Harvard find their needs are met by our services, and where most of
> the exceptions are groups like the Crimson that make so much money
> from whatever it is they're doing that they can get it done
> themselves.
> I'd like to get there in the next year; so that by the time my
> successor takes office in February 2006 we have people happy.
> I think we've got about a 50-50 chance of achieving that.
> A sampling of the resulting conversation:
>   - File sharing is one service some groups want.  Ivan says Samba
>   gets ugly with lots of users and shares on one machine, but an
>   alternative called WebDAV works well and we could do it.
>   - We're not ever going to compete with GMail, as Ivan points out.
>   - Some groups use Yahoo Groups because lots of their users want to
>   read and post to the list on the web, not by email (eg a group Ivan
>   works with.)  Anyone know of good software for doing this?
>   - We should publicize the fact that mailing lists are now open to
>   the whole College.  A press release for the Crimson would be good.
>   We'll first want to polish the page so its context is self-contained.
>   - We've said a lot about what groups want, Matt points out, based on
>   our limited anecdotal evidence.  We should go ask them.
>   A mail to house lists inviting input is in order.  So is talking to
>   individual groups and emailing them, and asking the UC and the
>   Student Activities Office for help.
> An excellent start.  I'm sure we'll think of more, and in January 
> we will move on at least some of these as projects.
> A couple of points in the what-can-we-do-for-student-groups
> conversation touch on software or patches we'd likely have to code
> ourselves if we wanted to provide certain things in certain ways.
> Ivan points out that there are lots of very smart programmers at
> Harvard, and it'd be great if HCS became a place where some of them
> got together and made cool and useful software.
> Matt and I, who've read emails and meeting minutes from the archives
> of HCS, are cautious because those archives are full of exciting
> programming projects that never succeeded.  This doesn't mean a new
> project can't, especially if its goal is set conservatively with this
> history in mind.  And, as a recent story illustrates, an exciting
> project can bring in sharp new people who get involved in the broader
> work of the Society and by the time the project fizzles are already so
> well drawn in that they stay involved and remain a tremendous asset.
> We should tell HASCS to put Firefox on lab machines, Ivan reminds us,
> and officially tell people they're ill off using IE.
> We should talk to our alumni more; an excellent start would be to
> contact those whose email addresses we have handy and invite those in
> the area to get together with us for dinner sometime.
> Matthew (for so we now call Matt Fasman in contradistinction to Matt Gline)
> will try installing RT on the SparcStation dopey.hcs, where the freedom of
> a box nobody uses and the bliss of, say, `apt-get install rt' will with luck
> give relief from the maddening task of installing RT on frog.
> Steve now takes a hard line on exploitable PHP scripts: chmod a-x and notify.
> Summary:
>   * fit our technology to student groups' needs: so eg
>      - file sharing by WebDAV or otherwise
>      - webmail (maybe)
>      - web-based mailing-list-connected fora (perh unlikely)
>      - mailing lists for everyone, publicized
>      - survey those needs
>   * some exciting development project to attract bright young programmers
>   * contact with alumni
> See you all in January.
>                 Gregory
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