Summary of TTCS Meetings held in 2004

We hold two types of meetings : Pizza Limes and Tech Meetings. A Pizza Lime is the name given to our monthly discussion forum which is usually held at Pizza Hut, Roxy Roundabout, Port of Spain on the second Wednesday of the month. The tech meeting is when we have computers on site to demonstrate a particular type of hardware or software.

Wednesday January 14th, 2004, 6pm

Topics discussed :

    • The launch of the National Information and Communication Technology plan in December 2003.The TTCS obtained a copy of the NICT plan (which was launched in December 2003) from the Ministry of Public Administration and Information on Monday 12th January 2004. It is not yet on the Fastforward website due to the size of the Adobe Acrobat PDF file being 30MB (likely due to the size of several scanned images in the document). The report is also 290 pages long.Update : the NICT plan is now on the FastForward website, with the document split into separate PDF files.
    • TSTT re-enables the SMS internet gateway to allow internet users to send text messages to cell phones in Trinidad and Tobago.

Just in time for Christmas 2003. However, a newspaper report mentions that in April 2004, cell phone owners would have to pay to receive SMS messages from the internet.

    • TSTT introduces ‘619-easy’ Internet service for modem users
      • Visitors with laptops in Trinidad staying at a place (relative’s home or a hotel) without internet access.
      • Persons (with computers) without a regular internet account who heard of this “internet thing” and want to see what the fuss is all about.
      • Those persons who think that they can manage their time online without regular internet access (“all I need is to check my web email once a week for 5 minutes”).

Advertised in print, the 619-easy Internet service allows anyone with a modem to call and access the Internet for 75 TT cents a minute (the cost is added to the phone bill) without paying a regular internet access bill at an ISP. Theories as to who would be the target market for such an internet service, given that that local cybercafes offer internet access as low as $5 TT/hour :

The focus was on Apple new $249 US 4GB mini-iPod. Many felt the cost too high given Apple’s $299 15GB iPod.

A useful site for some of the highlights of CES (and interesting gadgets in general) : http://www.gizmodo.com.

Saturday January 24th, 2004 – “Automating Windows Software Installations”

This was a repeat of the 13th September 2003 meeting.

Wednesday February 11th, 2004, 6pm

Topics discussed :

Wednesday March 10th, 2004, 6pm

Topics discussed :

  • The spread of the Beagle and Netsky worms and its variants.The Beagle.J variant was more devious in previous worms ; the email containing the executable attachment is in a password protected ZIP file (thereby preventing many mail server anti-virus software from scanning the contents) and spoofed the email address to appear as if it comes from the administrator or support of the recipient domain (ie from the ISP). Discussion continued as to how to educate/prevent end users from falling victim to emails that get them to run the attachment. It was agreed that it would be difficult to do so, considering many people still fall for spam, chain letters and 419 scams. A possible solution mentioned would be to prevent spoofed “From:” email addresses from being delivered to end users by having mail servers do a DNS lookup. However many email servers (including those of several financial institutions in Trinidad and Tobago), don’t implement their email servers properly for this to work.
  • The SCO Group filing lawsuits against AutoZone and DaimlerChrysler in its continuing legal battle over the Unix and Linux operating systems.

Wednesday March 24th, 2004, 6pm

Topics discussed :

  • The Telecommunications (Amendment) Bill 2004.
    It was agreed that the Telecommunications Amendment Bill 2004 was needed to correct the flaws and loopholes in the original Telecommunications Act 2001 as mentioned in the Explanatory Notes accompanying the Telecommunications (Amendment) Bill 2004. Noted was the that VOIP was mentioned as a telecom service which would fall under telecom deregulation.Discussion continued about what possible telecom competition would take place and when. Mention was made of the issue regarding the Americas 1 fiber optic cable passing through Trinidad. Currently TSTT is the only entity allowed access to this cable. Would the Telecom Act allow for other telecom providers to be able to access this link?
  • our plans to develop a replacement for the GNUWIN CD (open source software for Windows).The ideas behind the replacement for the GNUWIN CD is explained in this post on the TTCS discussion list.

Saturday 27th March 2004, 1pm – plans to develop a replacement for GNUWIN CD

We discussed the ideas behind developing a replacement for the GNUWIN CD. Some of the software which could go on such a CD was demonstrated.

It was decided that the TTCS is going ahead with plans to develop a replacement for the GNUWIN CD. The first step is to determine what software should go on the replacement CD. A email was sent to the lists asking for software suggestions.

Wednesday April 14th, 2004, 6pm

Topics on the agenda :

Saturday 24th April 2004, 1pm

Discussion on the development of the open source software for Windows CD concerning its implementation, design and marketing.

Wednesday May 12th, 2004, 6pm

On the agenda :

  • The Ministry of Public Administration and Information’s proposed policy to “exempt licensing of systems operating in the 2.4Ghz and 5.8Ghz band for the provision of affordable wireless connectivity and Broadband Internet Access”. Key issues :
    • The policy states that operators using the 2.4Ghz band to provide internet connectivity or services to anyone outside of its premises should not be allowed. At the recent TTCS pizza lime on May 12th, 2004, many felt that this restriction should not be imposed.
    • The import controls and practice (“All transmitting equipment must be inspected by the Authority to determine their frequency of transmission, and hence may be withheld in Customs & Excise until clearance from the Authority is provided.”) would increase the delays in clearing computer equipment from Customs. Equipment operating at 2.4Ghz (802.11b, 802.11g, Bluetooth) should not require inspection and testing from the Telecom Authority.
  • The Association of Independent Internet Service Providers (AIISP) position on the Telecommunications (Amendment) Bill 2004.
  • The Sasser worm.

Wednesday May 26th, 2004, 6pm

What was discussed :

  • The Ministry of Public Administration and Information’s proposed policy to “exempt licensing of systems operating in the 2.4Ghz and 5.8Ghz band for the provision of affordable wireless connectivity and Broadband Internet Access”.The deadline for comments was Friday May 28th, 2004. The TTCS submitted comments to the Ministry on the proposed policy. Our main point in the comments on the proposed policy :

    The 2.4GHz band should be given the same privileges as the 5.8GHz band and let users/market forces decide which band is more appropriate for their needs. In other words, 2.4GHz systems should be allowed to be deployed for both public and private network services, just like 5.8GHz systems.

    Read the TTCS comments submitted (PDF ; size: 150K) to the Ministry..

  • The Telecommunications (Amendment) Bill 2004 which was passed with amendments by the Senate on 18th May 2004.Read our Computer and Telecom related laws in Trinidad and Tobago page for more details.

Wednesday June 9th, 2004, 7pm

Held at Pizza Hut, Valsayn. Topics discussed :

Saturday June 26th, 2004 – “Webpage creation”

Dev demonstrated Blogger and showed how easy Blogger makes creating, maintaining and hosting a website (currently for free) by doing just that using the browser. Blogger’s easy interface allows anyone to create the website without special knowledge of HTML and CSS as there are many You can view our sample blog at ttcs.blogspot.com.

Next, Paul demonstrated TWiki, which is one of many Wikis available. Wiki software installed on the web server allows webpages to be edited by anyone using a browser. One of the most popular Wikis on the Internet is Wikipedia, an open content encyclopedia.

Anil demonstrated Apache Forrest, a multiplatform (using Java) tool which allows the generation of websites and other formats like PDFs from one XML file. The XML file can be created and edited with OpenOffice.org.

Dev then showed several other types of content management systems which aims to allows users to create, maintain and add content to webpages from your browser:

The installation of such software on your web server requires more indepth knowledge than casual web users, there are some websites which offer webhosting with such software installed. All of the software mentioned above is available under the GPL, except for MovableType, which is available in free and commercial versions.

There are many other content management systems. Weblogs Compendium has a list of such software. And opensourceCMS has many such content management systems installed for you to experiment with, saving you the hassle of installing each one on your server to try them.

Afterwards, Gunther Richter of TrinidadShopping.com demonstrated internet access via GPRS (GSM Packet Radio Service). His Sony Ericsson GSM phone was connected to a computer using Bluetooth and the computer was able to access the internet using GPRS with the cell phone. The speed obtained was 40kbits/s.

Wednesday July 14th, 2004, 6pm

What was talked about :

  • The proclamation of the Telecom Amendment Act, 2004 and the formation of the Telecom Amendment Board.
  • TSTT repeats its intention of adjusting local line phone rates as it announces a reduction in overseas phone rates.
  • The impending launch of GPRS (GSM Packet Radio Service) from TSTT.
  • Email storage wars – Yahoo! Mail and Microsoft’s Hotmail.com increase their email storage space in response to Google’s Gmail. One attendee’s comment regarding the increase in email storage space : “It’s about time!”

Saturday July 24th, 2004 – OpenOffice.org, modifying Windows XP to look like Mac OS X’s Aqua interface

Installing and using OpenOffice.org v1.1.2 for Mac OS X.

Mike T demonstrated how to install OpenOffice.org v1.1.2 for Mac OS X with the assistance of Gunther R.’s laptop. X11 for MacOS X was installed first and then OpenOffice.org v1.1.2 for Mac OS X. Installation went smoothly.

Once it was installed, Mike started OpenOffice.org. The look and feel of OpenOffice.org on MacOS X is similiar to the Windows and Linux versions. The “File Open” and other such dialog boxes in OpenOffice.org for MacOS X does not follow or resemble the Apple Human Interface Guidelines. Mac OS users not accustomed to other operating systems such as Windows may find this daunting at first.

OpenOffice.org v1.1.2 for Mac OS X was then tested with several documents created in Microsoft Office 2003 for Windows. Despite minor formatting errors (bullets not appearing, a font appearing larger), the documents was readable, and editable.

Updating the toolbar icons in OpenOffice.org using icons from Ximian Desktop.

Using the icons from Ximian Desktop, Mike Peterson of Petersen Computer Consulting has packaged a icon theme for OpenOffice.org for Windows.

The instructions for downloading and installing the theme for OpenOffice for Windows (along with a screenshot of the theme) can be found at http://www.pcc-services.com/ooo-theme.html.

Modifying Windows XP to look like Mac OS X’s Aqua interface.

The emphasis was on using freeware to make Windows XP look like Mac OS X’s Aqua interface. You should backup your data and create a system restore point in case anything goes wrong with your Windows XP machine.

  • Download and run Uxtheme MultiPatcher which patches Windows XP’s uxtheme.dll to allow unsigned Visual Style themes to be loaded in Windows XP.
  • Install a Visual Style theme which looks like Mac OS. Themes from StudioTwentyEight are very good. We chose StudioTwentyEight’s Panther v1.5 theme which also includes a Aqua-like desktop wallpaper.
  • Download, install and run Y’z ToolBar (Google for it), a discontinued freeware app which changes the toolbar icons in Explorer and Internet Explorer.
  • Hide the Windows taskbar and install ObjectDock or Yz’Dock (discontinued ; Google for it). Either of these docks support docklets which are applets which run inside the dock. A good source of Docklets to download is www.dockex.com.
  • Download, install and run Y’z Shadow (Google for it), which adds drop shadows to windows and transparency effects to pull down menus.

Community websites about making Windows XP to look like Mac OS X :

Other step by step articles on modifying Windows XP to look like Mac OS X’s Aqua interface :

Demonstration of VMWare Workstation.

Gunther R. demonstrated VMWare Workstation software which simulates different hardware configurations aka virtual machines on a single PC running Windows or Linux. Within a virtual machine, you can install a variety of operating systems such as DOS, Windows 3.1, Novell Netware, Linux and Windows 9x, NT and XP. Gunther showed the installation of Windows XP Home Edition in a virtual machine under VMWare. He also showed the ability of VMware to pause, suspend and resume the virtual machine without loss of data.

Wednesday August 11th, 2004

Topics discussed :

  • TSTT Mzone service (Internet access via a GSM phone).It was noted that unlimited Internet access from your GSM cell phone is cheaper than unlimited TSTT internet dialup. Since it is possible to have a computer use a GSM phone to access the internet, could a owner of a GSM phone save money by paying for Mzone and discontinuing TSTT dialup access? Many GSM phone owners would probably have faster internet access (“broadband”) and most GSM phones cannot be used for internet access and telephone calls at the same time.
  • The first free public access Wi-Fi hotspot in Trinidad at Movietowne.
    A person attending mentioned that he was able to connect with his WiFi PDA inside the cinema lobby ; the Wi-Fi network range does not extend outside the cinema lobby to the car park. Questions/Issues raised :

    • The legal status of Wi-Fi in Trinidad and Tobago ; a license would probably be needed since the proposed policy of 2.4Ghz and 5.8Ghz systems in Trinidad and Tobago has not been implemented at this time.
    • Having free Wi-Fi access at Movietowne makes the cinema more attractive for theatre rentals during weekday mornings.
    • There appears to be a increase in the use of Wi-Fi by individuals and companies in Trinidad, as shown by the increasing amount of Wi-Fi gear being sold in computer stores.
    • Would you pay for Wi-Fi access at Movietowne? Wi-Fi access at MovieTowne is free for “the summer”. Some felt that MovieTowne is not conducive for bringing and using Wi-Fi laptops.
  • Government reviewing stake in TSTT.

Saturday August 14th, 2004 – Windows XP Service Pack 2

Dev installed the 266MB network version of Windows XP Service Pack 2 on a machine with Windows XP Home Edition (Service Pack 1a). Installation took about 10 minutes and went smoothly. After the reboot, the various features of Windows XP Service Pack 2 were shown.

For more details about Windows XP Service Pack 2, see http://www.cs.tt/articles/windows-xp-service-pack-2/

Saturday August 28th, 2004 – Software Freedom Day

The Trinidad and Tobago Computer Society (TTCS), along with the Trinidad and Tobago Linux Users Group (TTLUG) celebrated Software Freedom Day (SFD), a grassroots event meant to promote the virtues of Free and Open Source Software (FOSS), and encourage its widespread use.

Attendees at this meeting received complimentary copies of OpenCD v1.4.1, a CD of Free and Open Source Software for Windows and Knoppix SFD version, a Linux Live CD that boots and runs Linux completely from the CD. Demonstrations of both these CDs were done, along with other Linux distros.

Also present was Christopher Ottley, author of the Mozilla Archive Format (MAF) extension for Mozilla Firefox which allows complete web pages to be saved in a single archive file.

Christopher demonstrated the MAF extension in Firefox and elaborated on the use of Mozilla Firefox as an application platform ; the Mozilla Amazon Browser was shown as an example of this.

Wednesday September 8th, 2004

Among the topics discussed :

  • The effects of Hurricane Ivan in Trinidad – what IT-based preparations were taken?
  • The launch of the iMac G5 at the Apple Paris Expo.

Also attending was Mr. V. Kissoon from the Guyana Linux Users Group.

Wednesday September 22nd, 2004

Topics discussed :

Wednesday October 13th 2004

Topics discussed :

Saturday October 30th, 2004 – our plans for an CD of open source software for Windows

Dev showed what has been developed for the CD of open source software for Windows :

  • The web based interface ; See screenshots of the interface for the CD : snapshot.png (PNG: 94K) and snapshot1.png (PNG: 103K).
  • The layout of the files on the CD.
  • How the data file for each program is used to generate the web page for the program.

Saturday November 6th, 2004

Held at Pizza Hut, La Romain. Talked about a variety of topics ranging from the proposed Government Wi-Fi policy to the impending launch of Firefox 1.0.

Wednesday November 24th, 2004

Topics discussed :

Saturday December 11th, 2004

The end of year meeting :

  • recap TTCS activities for 2004
  • discuss TTCS activities for 2005 (possible topics for future tech workshops, content for our web site, Our replacement for the GNUWIN CD, a CD of open source software for Windows.

Wednesday December 22nd, 2004

At this special meeting held at Engineering Consultants, we discussed two draft policies released by the Telecom Authority of Trinidad and Tobago (TATT) in December 2004 :

  • Draft Policy on Micro, Small and Medium-sized International Public Telecommunications Services and/or Network Providers in Trinidad and Tobago.
  • Draft Policy on Cable Television Networks and Services.

As per the TATT announcement in the papers, the Trinidad and Tobago Computer Society (TTCS) obtained the paper documents and scanned and converted them into unofficial TATT PDFs (ZIP file containing PDFs ; size 774K)

For more details, including the final comments of these draft policies, see our Computer and Telecom related laws in Trinidad and Tobago page.