Reviving Quanta

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Re: Reviving Quanta

Postby robheaton » Sat Jan 22, 2011 12:16 pm

Sorry Rich!
It's a real time chat room - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IRC


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Re: Reviving Quanta

Postby RWAP » Sat Jan 22, 2011 12:22 pm

robheaton wrote:Sorry Rich!
It's a real time chat room - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IRC


It is the sort of thing which Quanta should use for their meetings, rather than telephone calls to the committee.

However, the big issue for Quanta is the lack of attendance at recent workshops and AGMs - it would help if they could introduce live streaming of an event, so that international users can see what is going on and get involved - bet their constitution would need changing to allow videos and electronic voting at the AGM though!


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Re: Reviving Quanta

Postby Mr_Navigator » Sat Jan 29, 2011 12:16 am

Sparrowhawk wrote:I think that actually the main problem is that on the whole, QL users seem rather disinclined to advertise the QL - look at these forums for example. You guys have done a great job setting them up, but where are the active QL users? Rich and Dilwyn have made posts here, and Rich especially has done sterling work answering questions and of course he has the wiki and his own site, as does Dilwyn.

I've written an article for QUANTA which I think is going to be in the next magazine where I say all this plus a few other points, from the view of a returning QLer such as myself. Other things I mention are the oddly high price for QL software where other platforms of this age have cheap to free software (Rich is in the right ballpark with his cheap re-releases of old games though). I have seen things like print drivers being sold for over 20 quid. Print drivers!

Anyway, ramblings over. Even if these forums do not take off, even if Quanta folds, even if the QL descends into the murky depths of forgotten technology, I'll still love the quirky little machine ;)


Couldn't agree more, I have as a new returner to the QL scene also written a couple of articles for consideration in Quanta, one also repeats many of the points raised here with a few of my own. My second artcle is based round a programming tip. As I read somewhere else, where is the grab factor to get people (new young people) into retro programming and specifically the QL, what does it have that can get them atleast interested in the QL and what can get people into Quanta?


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Re: Reviving Quanta

Postby RWAP » Thu Feb 03, 2011 9:39 pm

Post sent by Geoff Wicks:

Last weekend several people castigated me for suggesting that Quanta should be wound up.

Now it's time to see if you are prepared to put your money where your mouths are.

I am not asking you to to do anything drastic like joining the committee, but something more simple to show your support for Quanta and the Quanta committee.

Unlike most of you I have frequent unofficial contact with members of the Quanta committee. In public they are frequently criticising the members for their apathy. In private their language and emotions are much stronger. I think it is fair to say they are bitter and disillusioned by the lack of support from the members. They are having to double or triple up committee duties to keep Quanta alive and feel a lack of concern and interest from the members. Over the last year they have continually warned that the future of Quanta was in jeopardy, but apparently no one was listening. At the moment committee morale is at a low ebb and has been made worse by two factors. For the first time a Quanta committee has had to be prepared for the real possibility of advising the closure of the organisation at the next AGM. They have also had to cope with a serious problem, the details of which I cannot go into, that has proved more difficult to solve than first thought. Some advanced plans for Quanta on which the committee have done hours of preparation have had to be put on hold. Inevitably this has led to some tension between members of the committee.

So I am asking you all now to give the committee a good morale boost. Below is a list of the problems that face the committee. It is a little frightening in its length. Let's now give the committee some detailed help and feedback on these issues.


1: QUANTA MAGAZINE

Quanta has been unable to find a permanent editor for its magazine for about 6 years. There is now an acute crisis with no editor or acting editor. Producing a magazine is a highly skilled task and the people on the committee with those skills are already overworked with other duties. I doubt if the committee now has the resources to produce a magazine. What should they do in these circumstances?


2: WEBSITE

The Quanta website has not been updated for 6 months. Although Quanta has had websites for about 10 years it has never mastered the art of keeping a website up to date. How should they tackle this problem?


3: SHOWS

Quanta can now manage only one show per year and the attendance is usually low. Quanta is legally obliged to hold an AGM each year. Although in recent years attendance has improved, three or four years ago attendance levels were dangerously near the quorum. How should Quanta organise its AGMs in future?


4: SOUTH EAST

Apart from a small, and, in my opinion, somewhat secretive subgroup, Quanta has had no presence in the South East for almost 4 years. How do we re-establish contact with the South East?


5: FINANCE

Some years ago I wrote a piece in QL Today about the falling membership and was accused of being anti-Quanta. When I wrote that item subscription income covered more than 80% of expenditure. Today that figure is more like 60%. Quanta has survived financially in recent years because Rich Mellor has traded in second hand hardware on their behalf, but this is a diminishing source of income. What would you do about the gap between subscription income and expenditure? Would you be prepared to accept increasing the subscription to a maximum of £25? (And just a warning for those people who suggest structurally using the capital. You would be condemning Quanta to a short term future. In the worst case scenario you could count the years left on the fingers of one hand.)


6: CONSTITUTION

Several people suggested amending Quanta's constitution to save the organisation. What specific amendments are you proposing? There is no need for detailed proposals - that could be a job for the experts. Bear in mind that constitutional amendments are not a quick fix. The earliest that constitutional amendments affecting the committee could be implemented would be 2013.


7: SUBGROUPS

This still seems to be a fairly successful area for Quanta. However they have great autonomy and, with the exception of London, all the subgroups could continue if Quanta closed down. Is there a need for more structured links between the sub groups and the central organisation? There must be a lot of things happening in subgroups that could be of interest to all members. They are also in a position to provide valuable feedback to the committee.


8: KEYBOARD MEMBRANES

Not really a problem, but something for Quanta to boast about. Without Quanta there would have been no new keyboard membranes. Any ideas for other good uses for the capital? But don't forget you can't use the capital for both projects and to make up shortfalls in the subscription income/expenditure balance.


I want to add some personal comments about the South East situation. Five years ago it was the life blood of Quanta, and Manchester and the north were the poor relations. There was always at least one show, and often two a year, whereas the north had just one show every two years. The last South East show was held in 2007 and the decline in interest in Quanta (and perhaps the QL) was frighteningly rapid. How often do you now see the former stalwarts of Portslade and Byfleet contributing to this list? Almost never.

At one time a quarter of Quanta members lived in London or the South East. I expected to see some old friends at Quanta's centenary, but only one person from the region attended. It appears that Quanta now means nothing to them.

That is a warning for us all,

Best Wishes,


Geoff


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Re: Reviving Quanta

Postby Oliver » Sat Feb 05, 2011 11:37 pm

Some time ago, I applied for Quanta membership, as I also thought it would be a pity if Quanta was wound up after all that time. I received no response so far. :(

Thus I can only comment as a bystander:

- What about switching from annual-fee membership to an open and donation-financed model? For me, if I pay an annual fee, I somehow automatically expect that organization to provide the "entertainment" for me. Also, a more light-weight organizational structure could reduce the effort for the active members.

- Of course, without an editor there is no printed magazine. However, nowadays Internet-based communication has taken over, and whether one likes it or not, Internet does replace paper communication in many areas, and it has its pros in terms of interactivity.

- I confess I do not know anything about the relationship between Quanta and QL Today, but I see that there are two magazines probably struggling with falling membership...

Uses for the capital:

- Keyboard membranes: This is really a great contribution, as providing spares and thus keeping individual QL computers alive helps keeping the community alive. Another suggestion would be using some money to convert more QL software/ROMs to freeware or GPL. Other computers of the 80s have most software and the OS freely available, and QL somehow competes with these machines in the retro scene.


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Re: Reviving Quanta

Postby RWAP » Sun Feb 06, 2011 9:54 am

Oliver wrote:Some time ago, I applied for Quanta membership, as I also thought it would be a pity if Quanta was wound up after all that time. I received no response so far. :(


That is interesting - try emailing membership AT quanta DOT org DOT uk - if you are on my QL mailing list, I sent an email last week including their special offer for new members who can sign up for 3 years for only £35 (with the magazine being sent electronically). You can also pay for membership for one year via the Quanta website (using PayPal) - www.quanta.org.uk

Oliver wrote:Thus I can only comment as a bystander:

- What about switching from annual-fee membership to an open and donation-financed model? For me, if I pay an annual fee, I somehow automatically expect that organization to provide the "entertainment" for me. Also, a more light-weight organizational structure could reduce the effort for the active members.

- Of course, without an editor there is no printed magazine. However, nowadays Internet-based communication has taken over, and whether one likes it or not, Internet does replace paper communication in many areas, and it has its pros in terms of interactivity.

- I confess I do not know anything about the relationship between Quanta and QL Today, but I see that there are two magazines probably struggling with falling membership...

Uses for the capital:

- Keyboard membranes: This is really a great contribution, as providing spares and thus keeping individual QL computers alive helps keeping the community alive. Another suggestion would be using some money to convert more QL software/ROMs to freeware or GPL. Other computers of the 80s have most software and the OS freely available, and QL somehow competes with these machines in the retro scene.


I don't think that switching the model to a donation based model would help - people do not donate if they can help it!

Quanta are having issues with updating their website for some reason, which only adds to the woes of having no magazine editor! There is no relationship between Quanta and QL Today - there was a suggestion a couple of years ago that the two magazines be merged, but to some extent, they appeal to a different market - QL Today is more expensive and some people find it a little too in-depth for them and prefer the more down to earth approach of the Quanta magazine.

As for uses for Quanta capital. Not too long ago, I did make a proposal to the Quanta committee that they provide funding for the QL software preservation project, which runs alongside the QL Wiki to make older software available. Unfortunately, they rejected my proposal.

There are already free OS for the QL and plenty of public domain software - Minerva is public domain, and the sources for SMSQ/e can be downloaded and compiled by yourself.

The original QL ROMs can be distributed as binary code with emulators, but formally still belong to Amstrad, except in the USA, where distribution rights are owned by someone else.

As for other QL software - finding the copyright owners is a massive issue - many of them (if you can find them) are not willing to make the software public domain or release the sources (if they still have them). This was to be part of the QL software preservation project, but unfortunately, that is on a back burner, as without funding, I cannot justify the amount of time it takes - I therefore just concentrate on preserving titles which I have to sell second hand.


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Re: Reviving Quanta

Postby Sparrowhawk » Mon Feb 07, 2011 10:16 am

To address a couple of the points raised by Geoff:

Quanta website updates (lack thereof)


I believe that the Quanta site is based on Typo3, which being a CMS should (I am assuming, based on my own CMS development on other products) allow roles-based access.

So, is there not a facility to give all Quanta members write access to the news section, with say a core team of 10 or so also given publish rights. Thus, anyone could submit news in a format that is already formatted, includes images etc, and then the core team just need to review these to make sure they do not contain anything offensive/patently wrong/whatever and hit publish and the article appears on the website.

In fact, not just news but whole articles could be moved to this model - the role of the editor then stops being one of layout etc, and moves to a more content-review model. Each "magazine" could have its own editorial page with all articles as subpages below it.

The other great benefit of this is Quanta could also enable commenting on articles, and you would get an interactive magazine with responses to the articles content alongside the content itself.

This would take a little bit of effort to set up initially (I don't use Typo3 myself so don't know how easy it would be to bulk-upload user details - I assume it has a CSV import facility though), but thereafter the committee would have to do far less work.

It means losing the print magazine though. But this is 2011 after all... ;)

Low AGM turnout
With regards the AGM: why not stream the meeting online and have a Skype/IRC conference at the same time. Once person at the physical location would be responsible for reading out any comments etc from the online audience.

As long as the AGM location has a good broadband connection and the bandwidth of streaming the meeting were not an issue, the technology required is a laptop, a microphone and a camera with some streaming software (I use a MAc so there is a ton of this kind of software, but I suspect the same is true for Windows or Linux too so that should not be an issue)

My current client uses a similar setup - Skype group messaging and calls, and a video stream (in this case to review software, so it's screens rather than people, but you get the idea)

Taking this further: use a site like LimeSurvey to set up any votes prior to the AGM. It is very straightforward. Then at the appropriate point, all online members can vote via Limesurvey. As there will be somebody with a PC/Mac in the room already, he/she can then just get the online votes, add them to the 'physical' votes and there you go.

This last point may not work with current Quanta rules; I don't actually know what the rules about online voting are, but still, something to ponder.

One last thing
n public they are frequently criticising the members for their apathy. In private their language and emotions are much stronger

I understand that the committee are probably frustrated, but criticising members is probably counter-productive. I'm not sure I'd particularly want to attend an AGM if I were being told I were apathetic, or whatever "stronger" words are being used privately. :D

Hope this helps in some small way.


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Re: Reviving Quanta

Postby Mr_Navigator » Fri Feb 11, 2011 11:53 pm

You know for many people who lurk on email postings or forums such as this is probably all they really want to do, but maybe just maybe there are a few people out there in the QL community who have a variety of small talents such as editing, web design, formatting, checking for typos, creative ideas, brainstorming, devils advocate or whatever.

When they see such ramblings of 'apathy' with members/readers or demands for volunteers, they probably see nothing of the small gratefully received part they could play, instead they probably see an enormous responsibility and many hours of work for no real return. Perhaps the Quanta committee could consider ways in which some of the individual roles could be team based where a lot more people can in some small way make a contribution in whatever form Quanta becomes.

For me I really enjoy editing images, whether it is to make them fit a restriction on file size or creating something to realise a vision. I am sure the Quanta website could use my talents is some way, responsible for images or something like that, but I do not have the abilities to manage the whole site. I am unlikely to volunteer for that responsibility but could definitely help, so how many me's are there out there that together could manage the whole site. I suspect we don't know, so how do we find out, a survey, the last one didn't seem to do much.

Maybe what we need is a 'skills matrix' from all Quanta members so that an identified need can be matched against those with skills in that area and requests made directly to them with no strings and no pressure. We have to make direct contact here there are too few of the QL membership.

So how do we get the skills matrix? hmmmnn still thinking that one through


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Re: Reviving Quanta

Postby Mr_Navigator » Fri Jul 08, 2011 9:06 pm

Well I have thought about it and I will be putting something in the next QUANTA issue about it. ;)


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Re: Reviving Quanta

Postby JonB » Wed May 08, 2013 8:58 pm

What's the state of the Sussex Quanta group? The web site has a contact number.. Is it still active?



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