SYDNEY, Australia, 24 April 2007
Grant McHerron always has a joke and formidable technical skils to share. Or so it
seemed when APCNews ran into APC.au’s technical director in Sydney, Australia,
during the APC’s Asia-Pacific members meeting, held in mid-April 2007.
APC.au Ltd is a non-profit organisation founded in 1997 to undertake the work of the international Association for Progressive Communications (APC) in Australia and the Asia-Pacific region. APC.au grew out of the former Pegasus Networks, a co-founder of the APC network and the earliest national community network provider in Australia.
The early days are over
Earlier, the APC and its nodes across the globe played a key role in giving non-profits (and even journalists, like this writer, in some cases) access to webspace and email. Now, with the market offering multiple options, its role has changed.
McHerron agrees: "We have a small, core user base in the web and email hosting business – about twenty to 30 clients."
But APC.au is currently in the process of reviewing its hosting business (more commonly known as c2o) with the possibility of outsourcing it to a dedicated hosting provider. "We want to focus on the bigger APC projects without being distracted by the day-to-day hosting issues," McHerron explains.
Says McHerron: "I’ve been involved in the periphery of the core APC activities, working with the team to improve the system we’re running, especially the server. With the assistance of another tech, we have transitioned to a new, more powerful server. Now I’m looking to get more involved in the processes around ICANN , post-WSIS  as well as Creative Commons."
1 ICANN is the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, a large non-profit responsible for managing the major technical questions related to the working of the internet. Among them, there are the country name extensions like .au, .fr or .in.
2 WSIS stands for the World Summit on the Information Society, a UN summit about communication and telecommunication that ended in November 2005 in Tunis.
So what are APC.au’s priorities in a fast-moving tech-for-non-profits world?
"(We intend to do) project co-ordinating as an integrator and manager of projects for non profit organisations (NGOs). We work with NGOs to identify their goals and the work required to meet them, help them get funding and bring together a team to implement it. We’re working with other groups who have the same beliefs as APC," says McHerron.
"We also have a couple of commercial clients, including www.lambsgobar.com.au. They help us because they want to support what we do," explains McHerron, who has been in commercial IT since 1985.
"I started as a programmer and am now a project manager," says the 39 year-old. His programming experience touches dBase, Clipper ("it goes back to then… do you really want to know?"), VB, MS-Access, C, C++ and Pascal.
"For the last ten years I’ve basically been more into analysis and management. And hands-on support, which I’m still doing, for APC.au on [GNU]Linux-based systems plus Microsoft platforms and even Mac OS-X," he explains.
Some of the websites APC.au hoists are:
The International Education and Resource Network (iEARN).
AID/Watch monitors how Australia is spending its aid money abroad.
Pacific Media Watch is "an independent, non-profit, non-government organisation comprising journalists, editors, researchers, lawyers and other media workers, supporting media freedom, and examining issues of ethics, accountability, censorship, media freedom and media ownership in the Pacific region."
The Rowville Lysterfield History Project. Rowville and Lysterfield are not just new suburbs that have recently appeared on Melbourne’s eastern rim. This site contains photos and stories from the late 1800s and early 1900s.
The Rengah Sarawak site provides news and information about the Sarawak area of Borneo, including election monitoring and the general human rights situation there. Sarawak is one of the two Malaysian states on the island and is the largest state in Malaysia.
[Wikipedia background: Sarawak was naturally blessed with vast areas of both lowland and highland rainforest. However, Sarawak has been hit hard by the logging industry and the expansion of monoculture tree plantations and oil palm plantations. Malaysia’s deforestation rate is increasing faster than anywhere else in the world. Statistics estimate Sarawak’s primary forest has been depleted by around 90%.]
Photo: Never an offline moment? Andrew Garton of APC.au.
Photo by Frederick Noronha, April 2007.