First up, sorry to those of you who don't engage with the LUG online in
any way other than the mailing lists and perhaps were wondering what to
make of the lack of any official announcements regarding the LUG -
particularly when it comes to meetings. For those of you who are
regularly on IRC and Discord then you may know some of this already, but
keep reading as there are new bits!
As you can imagine for most of 2020, the offices up at Keele were mostly
deserted. For most of 2021 however, this was replaced with some very
strict rules. These rules, combined with other factors, effectively made
it very difficult to restart physical workshop meetings with any kind of
guarantee of success. It's been difficult to gauge exactly how we'd be
permitted to re-open things when both company and government guidance
we're being regularly updated. Additionally, there were concerns over
entry rules and privacy which just seemed too hot a topic for the LUG
politically. Ultimately out of an abundance of caution it just seemed
safer to wait a bit long.
For a lot of this time, the room we'd normally conduct our workshops has
been used for the storage of excess furniture and given how it's primary
purpose (a disaster recovery suite) didn't really apply during the
COVID-19 lock downs, there was little point in keeping it functional or
even COVID-19 secure. Additionally Keele University (who normally use
the room for fundraising, every November each year) took the view (for
both 2020/21) not to risk it with COVID-19 not completely subsided yet,
but are eager to resume using it next year.
Alongside restoring the room to it's functional state, we've been
finishing some long planned upgrades such as gigabit networking for all
desks, headsets, and other kit. Additionally, we've now got multiple
webcams and a telepresence display that are tied into our Jitsi video
conferencing so that people can now join in remotely. We also now have
a table in the middle of the room (since some cupboards have gone) which
might be great for board games.
Regarding meeting virtually, we did initially in 2020 have a fortnightly
voice chat on Discord which attracted some regulars but not many. This
eventually stopped and we started to use Jitsi for occasional video
meetings, however, there are many in the group who understandably
dislike webcams and only begrudgingly have tolerated them in the workplace.
It's been really good to see more active LUG's like WolvesLUG thrive
online and to share their activities with us, and additionally
cross-post on the mailing lists.
We plan to have in place, by Christmas, a schedule of workshops to cover
at least the first 6 months of 2022 with the first workshop to be
scheduled for late January. Please let us know if there are any topics
you would like covering or would like to present and cover yourselves,
and perhaps consider paying us a visit in 2022 as part of your New Year
Hopefully with 2020 and 2021 shortly behind us, we can all start a fresh
and return to a version of normal life and the LUG can thrive,
particularly in person, again :)
However, that being said if there is adequate interest, I'd be happy to
set up a social gathering around Christmas, COVID-19 permitting.
Staffordshire Linux User Group
Part of Function Office registered in England & Wales number 06745059 at
Innovation Centre 3, University Drive, Keele, ST5 5NL.