History & Philosophy
When we first set up the Lochac IT systems, there was no such thing as Facebook, or Skype, or Twitter, or even Gmail. The tools we built for ourselves were the only choice for a lot of the basic needs of our kingdom.
Now, an increasing number of our citizens are using third-party products to do the things we used to have to do for ourselves. The most obvious change is that the Shambles, our old email discussion list for chatting about anything and everything, has been replaced by the Lochac Facebook page. We have also replaced most of our manually-edited websites with WordPress or Drupal systems, which are so much easier for non-technical people to edit. Plus, we’ve also started to depend on tools like Dropbox, Skype and SurveyMonkey.
…and lots of other tools – because it seems everyone has a favourite.
This is good news – it means we can use free services to replace things we used to have to build and maintain for ourselves. It is also a problem, because most of those cloud-based services don’t come with a user manual or a (usable) helpdesk. So the role of the Masonry team is evolving to include tech support for people using those tools to run their groups and events. But our resources are (very, very) finite, and that means identifying the most popular, or best tool for each function, and making sure we have someone on the team who can support that tool. Not only would it be a herculean task to provide support for every different product our citizens might be using… we’d be missing an opportunity to build kingdom-wide systems where the groups plagiarise (sorry, capitalize on) each other’s work.
Hosting of Lochac servers has changed over time. The old system was based on population in each of Australia and New Zealand. The Kingdom paid half (from Kingdom Levy and Kingdom events) and the corporates paid half, split between them based on membership (paid out of membership fees). When this first started, 4:1 was about right.
Today, Kingdom continues to pay half. Australia and New Zealand then split the bill based on the adult members in each country on June 30 (or near enough) rounded to the nearest 10%. This date was chosen as it was about this time when the calculation change was made. The annual adjustments accommodate the changes in proportion without creating an excessive workload for the exchequer. The proportions are based on adult memberships because minor memberships are close to mandatory in AU and rare in NZ.
Until the current virtual hosting service was established, small ex-gratia payments had been made to acknowledge the support provided by those who host the two servers (one based in Australia, and based in New Zealand). Now, that the Australian server has migrated to a hosted virtual machine, the payments cover commercial virtual hosting (at a discounted not-for-profit rate), and the ex-gratia payment to cover the other server continues.