About the TTCS

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The Trinidad and Tobago Computer Society (TTCS) is a computer user group based in Trinidad. Formed in 1997, our goals are to :

  • Be an informal forum where computers, related technologies and related social issues can be discussed.
  • Keep current with the events in the local Information Technology (IT) and telecommunications industries.
  • “Network local computer users” so that they can share knowledge and improve upon their experiences with modern technology.

Membership in the Trinidad and Tobago Computer Society is open to anyone interested in computers, regardless of what computer hardware or software you use, or how much computer experience you have, or what job you have or whether you are still studying.

At this time, there are no membership fees. However, there is a small fee (a contribution to the food bill) if you attend a TTCS Pizza Lime™


What does the TTCS do?

For the TTCS to "network local computer users", we have

  • Regular face-to-face meetings : Pizza Limes™ and Tech Meetings/Workshops.

    PizzaLime™ is the name given to our discussion where we eat (pizza of course) and exchange ideas on a variety of technology and social issues. At Tech meetings/workshops, we have computers on site to demonstrate a particular type of hardware or software. Members can distribute/talk about shareware, freeware and open source software which may be of use to others.

  • A ttcs "announce" one-way email list used to inform members about upcoming meetings and other Society activities.
  • A ttcs discussion mailing list where persons can discuss TTCS matters/activities and computer related material/issues in Trinidad and Tobago.
  • Our website at http://www.ttcsweb.org (and a mirror site at http://www.ttcs.net) which has :

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The Beginning of the Society

The Trinidad and Tobago Computer Society was formed in August 1997 at a time when there was only moderate local interest in computer technology and local resources for help were limited. Internet access was two years old and there was concern that competition from the Internet would overwhelm the Society. After all, why would anyone want to ask a group of techies for help when they could just as easily access relevant information from the Internet?

Contrary to the popular belief at the time, there was still a need for the Society, after all if you didn't know how to use a computer or how to search the Internet, you wouldn't be able to access the desired information!

Attendance at the early meetings was small and the meetings themselves were few and far apart. People in the wider community got to know of our existance mainly through word of mouth and the various promotional avenues used for the meetings.

We soon realised that although we focused on tech issues, there was an increasing demand for meetings where we could just talk about tech and related social issues. A decision was made to separate the two: have one set of meetings exclusively for tech topics and another set for just "talk".

The "talk" meetings were orginally held at the same venue as the tech meetings but the attendance was also small. Pizza limes were introduced in late 1999 and there was a corresponding increase in the general awareness of our existance and an increase in membership/attendance at meetings.

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The Present and the Future of the Society

The Society has grown from a group having the occasional meeting on a weekend to a group that has regular monthly meetings; from a group that had only techies in its membership to a group that has IT professionals, end-users, techies, business people, students, technicians, etc. We have a consistent turn-out at our various meetings and enjoy linkages with all the local tech groups.

Where do we see the TTCS in the next [insert a number] years?" To answer that question, we must take the following into consideration:

  • The initial decision to use an "open-source" type, "horizontal" command and control power structure means that the TTCS can easily adapt to new situations. See: The TTCS management structure
  • TTCS is here because of the effort of its members thus the course for the future will be determined by these members.

The future of the Trinidad and Tobago Computer Society is limited only by the imagination, perseverance and committment of its members.

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Operational Philosophy

  • The TTCS operates with a modular structure since we have found this to be the best way in which to organise and channel the energy of an all-volunteer group. See: The TTCS management structure
  • We avoid "biting off more than we can chew". This enables us to avoid diluting the efforts of the group and ending up with mediocre results.
  • We build in increments. Reckless expansion only increases the potential for screw-ups which will ultimately impede our goal of building a community where home users, business people, the general public and all classes of IT workers can share experiances and generally improve the qualiy of the experiance they have while using modern technology.
  • Short term actions can have long term repercussions so we proceed at a steady pace.
  • The Society operates on a "pay as you go" principle, members are therefore expected to render financial assistance when necessary.

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Why there are no membership fees (at this time)

There was an initial membership fee to join the TTCS in 1997 and 1998. In 1999, we decided not to charge a membership fee for these reasons:

  • We had insufficient members.
  • Observations of other groups revealed that too often when people pay a fee for membership in a group, they feel it is the only contribution they are required to make to the group. They then sit back, do nothing, let other members do all the work and are always first to grab undeserved credit for any success.
  • Members are expected to volunteer their time and skills so that is their "membership fee".
  • The "price point" for a membership fee that would be attractive to potential members would be insufficient to cover present and potential operating costs.

The Computer Society Management reserves the right to charge fees for any and all present and future services of the Society.

Note: Any and all fees, including the Pizza Lime™ "contribution", are subject to change without further notice.

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The TTCS management structure

One of the major decisions for the creation of the TTCS was what sort of management structure should be used to operate the Society. These were the options:

  • The traditional/formal structure which consists of an elected president, vice-president, secretary, treasurer, etc. The group must have annual elections, charge a fee for membership, maintain records of payment for membership, etc. Call this a "vertical" power strucure.
  • A non-traditional structure: A core group sets and oversees a timetable for monthly and annual operations, handle what ever paperwork may arise and set initial objectives. All members of this core group would have equal responsibility for success or failure, in other words, everyone gets the glory for success and everyone gets the blame for failure. The general membership would be called upon to volunteer their time and skills to assist in all Society activities. Call this a "horizontal" power structure.

The traditional/formal structure was rejected for these reasons:

  • In those early days we had insufficient members to maintain such a structure.
  • The traditional/formal structure is rigid, it often stifles efforts with red tape and has difficulties in coping with change (something we expected to be a frequent occurence since we were dealing with cutting edge technology).
  • Our observations of other groups which used traditional/formal structure revealed the following:
    • People sometimes take office (e.g. want to be president) for the fame/glory. They do little work, are quick to avoid responsibility for failure and are always first to grab undeserved credit for success.
    • The group can be twisted to serve the self interests of an individual or clique once the "right people" can get themselves voted into power.
  • The traditional/formal structure would be an ineffective and ineffecient way in which to organise and channel the energy of an all-volunteer group.

The decision was made to use an "open-source" type, "horizontal" command and control power structure.

The term "open-source" was not known in TnT at the time but now, we realise we were basically setting up an "open-source" type command and control power structure: the core management group would set the pace but it would be flexible enough for general members to take personal initiative and fold their efforts back into the larger group for the common good.

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Responsibilities and obligations of members

Note: Contents are subject to change without further notice.

  • Behave yourself: we encourage the free flow of information (and where necessary criticism) but anyone who attends our meetings must follow these simple rules:
    • Leave your ego at the door.
    • While our meetings are conducted in an informal social setting, the TTCS is not a dating service thus if you are thinking about attending for that or a similar reason, think again! This is not the place to "pick-up" someone or for activities of that nature.
    • Our membership consists of a wide cross section of people who will certainly have opinions (on any number of topics) that are different to your own. Diversity of opinion is one of the strong points of these meetings. You can learn a lot from listening to an opinion that is different to your own but if your way is the only way then you may be better off elsewhere/not attending in the first place.
    • Attendees of our meetings come from different social/financial/educational backgrounds so if you are one of those persons who feel they must only associate with people of similar status to themselves then do not waste your time or our time, feed your insecuity elsewhere.
    • These meetings are about the exchange of information and ideas/solutions about computers and modern technology and the social issues surrounding them. This is not the forum for discussing controversial topics such as politics, religion, etc.
    • Criticise the concept/idea/solution NOT the person!
    • Constructive criticism is welcome. When you grumble about something, support your viewpoint with relevant facts and counterpoints.
    • Respect the health of others. We do not advocate smoking at any of our meetings. The majority of members who attend the pizza lime do not smoke and the few smokers who do attend avoid smoking inside the building. If you attend the Pizza Lime™ and really need to smoke, please step outside.
    • Alcohol and smoking are not permitted at any tech meeting.
    • If you feel angry about something that has been said and your temper is at the point where you want to be verbally and/or physically abusive, do the wise thing: excuse yourself and leave the meeting (make sure you pay for your food before you do!). Do not suffer needlessly.
    • Having strong opinions about a given matter is not an excuse to throw a temper tantrum or to be verbally and/or physically abusive to anyone who offers/supports a different view at any meeting.
    • Remember, you are in a public place and any type of abusive or disorderly behaviour can and will land you in trouble with the law.
  • Personal equipment: Members who bring equipment (computer hardware, software, etc) to any meeting (including but not limited to Pizza Limes™ and tech meetings) do so under the condition that they alone will be liable should such equipment be lost, stolen or damaged in any way. Members agree to take/accept full personal responsibility for loss of data, financial or any other sort of loss. TTCS and the owners of the meeting venue are NOT liable/responsible for such damage or loss.
  • Money: We do not charge membership fees (see: Why there are no membership fees at this time) thus we do not have a ready source of funds to finance our activities. The Society operates on a a "pay as you go" principle, members are therefore expected to render financial assistance when necessary. For example: helping cover the costs at a Pizza Lime™, helping to defray the cost of rental for equipment and space for meetings, photocopying of handouts for meetings etc. We don't intend to "break the bank" where such costs are concerned but if you are a regular attendee to our meetings, if you are benefitting from the mutual exchange of information, if you want the Society to fulfill its goals, then don't be stingy when financial assistance becomes necessary.
  • Money, part II: Regular members are NOT authorised to solicit/collect: money, donations, charity, goods, services, etc on behalf of the TTCS.
  • Ideas and suggestions: are always welcome but keep in mind, the person who puts forward these ideas and suggestions will have to assist TTCS Management to implement them. As stated in the official FAQ: "if your skill/service/idea etc is accepted, you will be expected to follow through and actually "deliver the goods". If you volunteer to do something, we expect you to pull your share of the workload and when necessary, accept responsibility for your screw-ups".
  • Volunteer: Members are expected to volunteer their time and skills to assist in all Society activities.
  • Making deals: Regular members are NOT authorised to enter into any sort of arrangement/contract/agreement etc on behalf of the TTCS.
  • Read: The Disclaimer

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TTCS Mailing lists

TTCS operates two distinct email lists:

  • TTCS Announce: a list that is used to inform TTCS members about upcoming meetings and other TTCS activities. This is a 1 way list (only the list-owner can send a messsage, however, everyone subscribed to the list receives it). The mailing list is free to the public.
    • Mailing list archive : http://groups.yahoo.com/group/ttcs_announce
    • To subscribe, send a blank email message to : ttcs_announce-subscribe@yahoogroups.com
    • To unsubscribe, send a blank email message to : ttcs_announce-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com
  • TTCS Discussion: an un-moderated list to "discuss" TTCS activities as well as both local and international computer/technology related topics/issues. This is a 2 way list (if one person sends mail to the list, everyone subscribed to the list receives it). The mailing list is free to the public.
    • Mailing list archive : http://groups.yahoo.com/group/ttcs
    • To subscribe, send a blank email message to: ttcs-subscribe@yahoogroups.com
    • To unsubscribe, send a blank email message to: ttcs-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com

Rules for using mailing lists operated by the TTCS

Note: Contents are subject to change without further notice.

  • Members of TTCS Discussion can post messages directly to this list. Such messages will be immediately emailed to all members in this group. [Do not abuse such privileges!]
  • Members are responsible/liable for the content they post to the list. [This is a public forum thus you can be held legally liable for whatever you post to the list.]
  • Members should be aware that any content downloaded or otherwise obtained through the use of this list is done at their own discretion and risk. They are solely responsible for any damage to their computer(s), loss of data or any other sort of loss that results from the download/use of such content.
  • This list is open to subscription from any member of the public (both local and international). It is therefore possible that material you find to be in-appropriate or offensive may be sent to the email address you used to subscribe to the list.
  • Do not abuse your posting privileges by deliberately posting in-appropriate/offensive material to the list.
  • The majority of members on this list are over the age of 18 (the legal defination of an adult in Trinidad and Tobago is someone over the age of 18) thus "mature content" can and will occasionally be posted to this list. [In this case "mature content" is defined as the occasional "bad" language and the occasional risque website link]. Blatant pornographic, racist/sexist material is not allowed.
  • The List Moderators cannot guarantee the accuracy, completeness, or usefulness of any content (i.e.opinions, advice, statements, services, offers, data, or other information) expressed or made available by members of this list.
  • The List Moderators can terminate any membership at their sole discretion.
  • In-appropriate activity/behaviour from a list member is grounds for termination of membership. [If you cannot restrain yourself, then we will have to do it for the benefit of the list.]
  • The 2-strike rule: Members of the mailing list(s) are allowed a maximum of 2 instances of in-appropriate activity/behaviour on the list(s). Should such activity/behaviour occur a third time, membership will be terminated by the list moderator. Membership can also be terminated after the first instance depending on the nature of the in-appropriate activity/behaviour.

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General guidelines for posting messages to the TTCS discussion mailing list

Note: Contents are subject to change without further notice.

  • Avoid typing in CAPITALS: Text such as this is the equivalent of SHOUTING and is considered rude.
  • Use plain text in your messages.
  • Do not use word processor formats e.g. .DOC and HTML formatting in your messages.
  • Do not send email attachments to the lists; instead, provide a viable link to a site from which the file(s) can be downloaded.
  • "cut and paste" the appropriate sections when responding to a lengthy email; do not repost the entire message.
  • Auto e-mail responders cause problems on the lists. As an alternative, temporarily un-subscribe from the list You can always re-subscribe or use another email address without an auto e-mail responder.
  • Do not transmit any content (defined as: text, information, data, binary files, links, software or images) deemed in-appropriate (as determined by the list moderator).
  • Do not use offensive language or make racist/sexist remarks.
  • Pornographic content (defined as information, data, binary files,links, images) is not allowed on the list.
  • Do not promote or provide instructions on how to commit cracking, copyright infringement or any other illegal activity that violates national and international law.
  • Do not "flame" (post abusive messages to/about) other members of the mailing list.
  • Do not post messages about hoax viruses to the list.
  • Do not post "spam" (i.e. "junk" or un-solicited e-mail) to the list.
  • If you must discuss something "in private" with another member of the list, email them directly/off-list. [Do not post it on the regular list for everyone else to see].
  • Make sure you know how to unsubscribe from the mailing list.

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Joining the TTCS

First, sign up on our TTCS Announce email list. This list is used to inform members about upcoming meetings and other Society activities. To subscribe to our "Announce" mailing list, send a blank email message to:

ttcs_announce-subscribe@yahoogroups.com

Second, attend as many meetings as possible and help the Trinidad and Tobago Computer Society in whatever way you can.

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Related TTCS pages