Minutes:2009 ConfCall


  1. Old business
  2. New business
    1. BOSC
      • BOSC 2009 (Kam)
        • Money spent/made attendee number, any other feedback
      • BOSC 2010 – held with ISMB2010 in Boston, MA, USA
    2. Treasurer’s 2009 report (ChrisD)
    3. BoD membership and succession.
      • Nomination of Nomi Harris for election to the BoD
      • Need plan to elect new BoD members and rotate officers.
    4. OBF Hardware & Sysadmin report (JasonS and ChrisD)
      • Domain names currently registered, upcoming expirations, newly purchased names
      • Proposal to purchase new hardware – 2009 hardware purchase proposal
      • Proposal to purchase box for upstream SPAM filtering
      • System Administration status & coverage report (who, what, issues, future)
      • Consider possibility of moving code mirroring to public (code.google.com; etc) mailling lists to googlegroups?
    5. Hackathons 2010 (Tokyo hackathon in Feb 2010) will involve some OBF projects/developers
    6. Additional topics proposed by community

Minutes from the meeting

Venue: held by conference call, scheduled for 4pm EST (21:00 UTC).


  • Directors: Kam Dahlquist, Jason Stajich, Chris Dagdigian, Hilmar Lapp
  • Directors nominee: Nomi Harris
  • Guests: Darin London, Scott Markel, Peter Cock (joined later)


Hilmar calls meeting to order at 4.04pm EST.

  • Approval of previous meeting minutes.
    • Hilmar moves to approve, Kam, Jason, and Chris second. 2008 minutes approved by unanimous consent.

BOSC 2009:

  • 97 registrants
  • have spreadsheet on accounting from Stephen Leard, only one keynote speaker is showing, needs to be investigated and possibly fixed
  • Currently the balance of the escrow account is $12,553. This hasn’t changed very much over the years.
    • Need to further digest the accounting spreadsheet to figure out the exact surplus amount for BOSC 2009.
  • Our registrant count has held relatively steady.

BOSC 2010:

  • The full proposal is waived for SIGs in good standing (which we are).
    • Instead a letter of intent is required, which Kam submitted in time. We should hear back from the SIG committee on Dec 18.
    • Kam is contacting 2009 committee members. Two have so far responded positively.
  • We will be using the Open Conference System again for 2010. Call for abstracts is targeted to go out after the holiday break in January.
  • Received a generous sponsorship from Eagle Genomics that would support keynote speaker expenses and student travel fellowships.
  • Signed an agreement for Proceedings in BMC Bioinformatics for the 2009 conference, which we ended up not pursuing. Planning to revive this though and pursue this in earnest for the 2010 conference.
    • Would anticipate up to 20 papers of 4-5 pages each. Quote that we received from BMC amounts to around 500GBP in page charges per paper.
    • Should talk with the folks of the BioLINK SIG, specifically Lynette Hirschman. They planned to organize a proceedings for 2009 in Lecture Notes for Bioinformatics.
  • In terms of publicity, could aim for a published meeting report (e.g., Briefings in Bioinformatics, or even a more scholarly journal).
  • Press release could also be effective to generate more publicity. Nomi has done this before and offers to help.
  • Chris offers to help with organization as a local. Are there plans to expand the conference agenda?
    • We did not have any free time at the end of the days really. The plan is to pretty much go with the same outline of the conference as last year.
    • Still very open to hear suggestions for how to expand or change the meeting outline.
    • Could consider sponsoring a mini-hackathon, where we can sponsor travel (airfare? or hotel?) out of BOSC escrow funds. This seems like a really good idea and make the trip worth for more people.
      • Brad Chapman (Biopython) is local (to BOSC 2010) and indicated earlier that he would be willing to help with this and may be in a position to take a lead on finding rooms.
      • ACTION: Kam will look into policies governing what we can sponsor from the escrow account.
      • ACTION: Kam will contact project leaders and see whether possible leaders self-emerge that would be willing to organize all this.
  • Can we make an agreement with ISMB to fix a ceiling for the escrow amount, and pay out to us funds above that.
    • Need to review the agreements that govern this currently. Not even clear whether we are allowed to move money out. Kam will look into this.

2009 Financial Report

  • Chris presents 2009 Financial Report. We have about $31k in funds sitting in the bank.
  • The 2009 donation is not yet deposited. ACTION: Chris will deposit by the end of the 2009 calendar year.
  • Travel reimbursements for BOSC 2009 organizers have not been made, and have not been requested.
    • The principle (discussed at an earlier Board meeting) is to assume the organizers’ sponsoring organizations will sponsor their BOSC attendance. If not, they should request sponsorship from OBF.
  • Hilmar moves to approve the 2009 Financial Report. Kam and Jason second, approved by unanimous consent.

Board of Directors membership

  • On behalf of the Nominating Committee, Hilmar nominates Nomi Harris for election to the Board of Directors.
    • Nomi introduces herself. She has been in Bioinformatics since 1986, worked in a variety of well-known large genome informatics projects, on the ISMB organizing committee once, and many times on the BOSC committee. Would like to promote open-source, and help extend what OBF does to reach out into the larger bioinformatics community, help foster collaboration, help OBF be a more central part of the evolution of bioinformatics as a field. She is also particularly interested in medical informatics, and how to bring that into the OBF community. Is interested in social mechanisms to encourage and incentivize open-source development and contribution.
    • Held secret vote on election. Results: 4/4 votes for, 0/4 votes against, and 0/4 votes abstain. Nomi Harris is elected to the O|B|F Board of Directors.
  • Jason presents the question of needing a timeline for rotation of officers, and to get new members onto the BoD.
    • Successful recruiting should be improved on by identifying people who we want on the BoD and the approach those people.
    • Could be more active on this at the BOSC-located BoD business meetings.
    • The Nominating Committee should ask project leaders for suggestions, and whether they would be willing to serve.
    • Should also look beyond our own member projects to identify people who advocate and promote open-source, specifically in bioinformatics.
    • Should we plan and hold a Board meeting that is specifically for BoD membership. In the same vein, ask member projects what they need from the OBF as an umbrella that is currently not provided.
    • Could integrate this into the BOSC agenda as a panel discussion with OBF directors as the panel members.
    • Could try to connect with organizations and people who use open-source in teaching, and teach open-source reusing and contributing. Kam has identified contacts. Should we also connect with the ISMB Student Council.
      • Having distributed open-source project contribution on the CV is valuable.
      • Should try to get into the Google Summer of Code program again in 2010. Hilmar is very interested in orchestrating that, but will need help in advertising, publicizing, and recruiting mentors.
      • Should we also have something less formal, simply encouraging mentorship. OBF as the umbrella could use some its funds to reward the most prolific contributors in different areas.
    • In general, we need to embrace more the social aspects of recruiting new members.
  • Jason would like to be able to rotate off the President position in 2010. Chris is happy to continue serving. Hilmar is happy to continue serving in his current capacity, too. Kam is willing to serve as an officer, but is not comfortable serving as president yet.

OBF hardware and domain name assets

  • Part of our identity is still owning the code repository and support infrastructure for open-source development. Going forward though, the volunteer manpower seems insufficient to sustain the required maintenance burden.
  • Is hosting the infrastructure ourselves still the best way to invest our resources? Would moving mailing lists and wikis to other hosts (such as SourceForge, Google Code & Groups) be the better direction?
  • Our hardware is donated and old. They are difficult to distribute administrative control over.
  • If restructuring our hardware, the goal would be virtualization, based on current, upgraded, 64bit hardware.
  • Spam moderation on OBF mailing lists is highly insufficient, yet still consumes a major amount of volunteer time.
    • BioTeam has been using an out-sourced solution for spam-detection and deflection that Chris reports to have been highly effective for BioTeam.
  • How could projects become OBF-affiliated when they have hosting etc already in place, externally to OBF-controlled hardware?
    • The OBF infrastructure was not designed for being able to add projects as easily as possible. Instead we have focused on projects that seemed to have sufficient critical mass behind them to withstand the test of time.
    • Our biggest asset is the community. Our mailing lists and wikis are branded, and it is important to keep that. How transparent can these be sourced out?
  • There are some bad experiences over time with some of the most prominent providers of open-source development infrastructure. Would need to see a lot more data and experience on envisioned hosting provider candidates.
  • For Biopython, having website and branding available under the OBF infrastructure is really valuable.
  • The intent here isn’t really to move away from having our own hardware, but to advocate why we have it, and that it takes effort to maintain and administer it.
    • Some of the member projects run some of their stuff externally, which can give an odd impression.
    • ACTION: Jason and Chris to articulate and publicize this among member projects. Identify and delegate training of new root admin volunteers.
  • No actual decision on the hardware purchase proposal made. We first need to hear more input from our member projects, and some evidence for how the necessary system administration resources will be provided through volunteers and continued training.

Meeting is adjourned at 6.12pm EST.

Project reports filed

Any reports that need to be recorded for 2009 can be lined here. Summary of O|B|F supported projects: projects are active(?), need more support (?), have had releases(?)

  • BioPerl
    • 1.6.0 released in Jan 2009, 1.6.1 released Nov 2009
  • BioJava
  • BioPython
    • Biopython 1.50 released Apr 2009, 1.51 released Aug 2009, 1.52 released Sep 2009
  • BioSQL
  • BioMOBY
  • BioDAS
  • BioRuby?
  • BioLib?