What I pack

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The trip I'm on is a two week trip but would work well for a trip of any length if you're jumping between places. I pack differently if I'm going to be staying in a single place for a month or longer. It doesn't matter if you wear the same thing everyday if you're always in a new place (as long as it doesn't stink! :) ).

Venice

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I arrived in Venice safe and sound yesterday and hopped on a boat into town. There's a bus you can take if you want and I think it's quite cheap... like 3 euro or something. But I decided to opt for the 15 euro boat trip in, about 75 minutes and well worth it.

I'd not pre-booked any accommodation for this trip, which is a first for me and admittedly I was a bit (irrationally?) stressed out about it :). When I got to my hotel the price per night was significantly higher than was listed on a few travel sites but I decided to stay anyway, mostly since the room seemed ok and I was tired of looking for a place. Everywhere else I saw was somewhat more expensive anyway. After checking in I ended up founding a place that was a bit nicer and the same price so I'll be staying there tonight.

Boy does time fly...

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It seems like ages ago when I was first planning this trip, yet between then and now I've completed only a fraction of the things I had hoped to. I'm currently in Paris awaiting a connecting flight to Venice... I'll be in Venice for two days and then from there I'll head to Ljubljana for Rok and Tamara's wedding!! :)

Deathtrap license?

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Two weeks ago I'd never even sat on a motorbike. As of yesterday, I officially have my class 6 license! This means I can now legally ride a motorcycle without any restrictions (besides those pesky road laws).

Leslie and I were in a time crunch as I'm leaving the country next week, and wedding season is starting for her. Most motorcycle schools are closed from the middle of October through the middle of February and since I was only in Vancouver this time around from the middle of October through the middle or March, this made things a bit tricky :). We ended up finding a great school which I'll blog about in a later post. They started courses on the 7th of Feb and had an option for a 7-day course which we took advantage of.

The reason Les and I decided to get our motorcycle license comes back to a (I think) half-joking half-serious comment about riding up the coast of Vietnam (á la Top Gear). Leslie has spent a couple of years in Asia before, but I've only spent a few weeks there, and the idea of traveling around Vietnam by motorcycle was just too awesome to pass up! We initially talked about doing it at the end of this March but it seemed a bit too intense to go so quickly (since at the time neither of us had any motorcycle experience), and we were both a bit broke.

We're going to aim for March 2012 now. In the meantime though, I plan to buy a bike in South Africa (probably something like a 250cc) and just use it to ride around Cape Town while we're there. Sam has a little mini, so we can easily fit it into the same parking stall.

I loved riding the bike WAY more than I'd expected to so I'm super glad I got it together and did the training and the exams before heading out of the country again. I'm really looking forward to some future motorcycle trips around various parts of the world :-).

One thing for anyone else in BC who thinks they may want to get their license... try and do it this year. Apparently the government is adding a graduated licensing type program for new motorcyclists in 2012 and it could be a much bigger pain if you wait. There's also apparently up to a 6 week waiting list to do the road test in the summer and most schools get fully booked up, so start trying to figure out timing of all that and book a school now. It's better to learn in the rain anyway :)

A bit of an announcement

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It originally started out as mostly a joke, but eventually the joke turned into what seemed like a good idea. For several reasons, Sam and I decided to get hitched in vegas this weekend!! We had a few of our best friends there, my parents, Sam's mom (which was kept as a complete surprise to Sam), and Elvis! The ceremony was quick and fun and we'll have plenty of pictures and hopefully some video up in the next week or so.

We still plan to have a "proper" wedding and reception with everyone, and the date for that will probably be December 14, 2011 in Cape Town, South Africa. We're hoping a lot of friends and family from Canada will be coming too, but realize that it's going to be quite a difficult trip to plan and budget for. We'll be organizing a number of events following the wedding including a trip up to Kruger park for a few days.

As might be expected we'll have a website for our wedding which we'll be spamming everyone about shortly :)

Leslie has already posted a bunch of amazing photos from vegas on her blog. Thanks so much Leslie and Mark for photo-ing us!! :)

Vegas baby, vegas!

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So right now I /should/ be in Las Vegas with Sam at a five star hotel... but instead I'm still in Vancouver and Sam's in Vegas by herself. We're going to Vegas with a few friends this weekend and me and Sam wanted to go down a bit early to have a night to ourselves. We drove down to Bellingham last night to stay in a hotel so we didn't have to stress about the flight the next morning (way cheaper to fly out of Bellingham). While we made it out of bellingham, we didn't both make it out as planned :)...

Quite a year... here's to another!

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I've been pretty quiet online lately, and was even asked the other day if my camera was broken since I hadn't posted any photos for so long! Well, fortunately my camera /isn't/ broken, and Sammy bought me a new one for my birthday!!! (the S95 for those who are curious :) ).

The past few months have been pretty hectic and in fact it's been quite an insane year for me (and I think probably Sam as well :) ). Reflecting on the past year, I thought I'd just post a few of the cool things that have happened:

The year actually started out with me flying in a tiny little airplane. Sam's sisters boyfriend Nick took me up while he was doing training. Really quite an unforgettable experience! :)

A month later Sam and I took a weekend away to an amazing "lodge" where she "reverse" proposed to me and we got engaged! The whole weekend was amazing beyond words.

I flew back to Vancouver only days after our engagement for the Olympics and got to watch the Mens curling team take gold! :)

I was only in Vancouver for a month, before flying back to South Africa with Scott Mac and we did three week road trip from Kruger park to Cape town to Sodwana bay, almost completely circling the country (we really only missed the north west corner). Along the way we saw tons of wild animals, wine tasted in the cape, went great white shark cage diving (where I spent most of the time sea sick over the side of the boat), rode ostriches(!?), went scuba diving, and ended the trip by attended a friends wedding. Some of the driving through rural South Africa is pretty insane, and you really do feel like you're in "Africa". Fortunately out of sheer coincidence Scott Mac was driving through almost ALL of the crazier sections of the road, so Sam and I were able to sit back and just hope we survived.

Shortly after Scott left, Sam and I started apartment hunting in Cape town. We put in four offers in two weeks and our last offer was accepted! We bought our own apartment in Cape town!! w00t! We started doing reno's on it immediately, and as many of you already know we had quite some troubles with our builder. We ultimately had to fire him and mostly start over getting things fixed that he'd essentially broken. We weren't able to 100% complete the reno's before we left in August, but it was done enough that we could have friends and family stay there while we were away.

Our apartment is located only a few blocks from the Cape town soccer stadium and the FIFA world cup started only days after we moved in! The vibe was super amazing. The vuvuzela's (pronounced voo-voo-zella) were a little tedious at times ;).

We flew out to Europe in mid-august for Drupalcon and did a quick trip through a few big european cities (Stockholm, Copenhagen, Berlin, and Paris).

When we got back to Canada, we almost immediately left for a road trip across Canada with me dad in the motorhome! We stayed at my brothers farm in new brunswick for about 3 weeks or so until just after thanksgiving.

We then settled down into Vancouver for a few months and Sam experienced her first "real" snowfall ever! Which she celebrated by face planting herself in a pile of snow. We spent Christmas in Vernon and now we're here!

Through all of this we were also quite busy getting our business wedful.com ready to launch. Which it now finally is!

So ya, it was a fun year to say the least! We got to spend time with so many of our awesome friends too which unfortunately is one of the toughest things for us when moving around so much.

We've got tons of plans already for the new year, and I'm sure it's going to be just as wild as 2010 :). But if all goes to plan, we should have a bit of a slow down in 2012 which should be nice ;-).

Road trip to Bantry Bay Farm - Day 11!

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We left for the farm last Monday and if all goes well we've got only one more day of travel before we arrive on the farm. For those who don't know this already, my brother and a few of his friends decided (mostly on a whim ;-) ) to move out to the east coast and start an organic farm. This is their fourth season on the farm (correct me if I'm wrong, Mike) and they're still going strong. But always happy to have some extra hands out there, so we like to come out every once and a while and pull some weeds and eat their food ;-).

Drupalcon is dead. Long live Drupalcon?

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With Drupalcon Copenhagen now behind us and Drupalcon Chicago approaching, I've found myself thinking about what Drupalcon is and how it's changing.

My first Drupalcon was in Barcelona, I was lucky enough to get to tag along with the guys from Bryght. I had an absolutely amazing time and met dozens of people, many of whom are now quite close friends. To top it off I also met my now fiancee and a future boss (no longer my boss, but still a good friend).

Since then, the twice yearly Drupalcons have consistently been highlights in my year. It's often the only time I get to see many of my friends in person.

Drupalcon is not a conference. At least not in the traditional sense. It's a time where some of the smartest people in the community get together, work on code, figure out problems, and teach each other what they know. It differs from a traditional conference in that there are no paid speakers and it doesn't come with a $2000+ price tag. In addition almost everyone attending is also a participant, whether they're there to hack code, present, contribute to BoF's, etc., everyone at Drupalcon makes it what it is.

Or I should say Drupalcon was that.

Since the first Drupalcon in Antwerp (correct me if I'm wrong), the number of people in attendance has almost consistently doubled every time. With 3000+ people at DCSF and a planned 4000+ attending Drupalcon Chicago, maintaining the personal feel that Drupalcons have traditionally had is simply no longer sustainable and I don't believe possible.

A few of the signs that lead me to believe this are:
* One of the stated goals of DC Chicago in the opening keynote at Copenhagen was to make it the "biggest" Drupalcon ever. I recall in Barcelona the goal was "Best Drupalcon Ever!". Biggest is still a great goal, but it doesn't say anything of the quality of the con, nor if people will enjoy it or not.

* At the end of each conference, traditionally the final keynote includes a slideshow of flickr photos from the conference. This to me is a reminder that the conference was about the attendees. It's an important reminder that the conference isn't so much about the sessions and learning, as it is about the experience of having everyone there in one place at one time. This was absent from this years closing keynote. In fact, this years closing keynote seemed more like the season finale of a reality TV show, than the closing keynote of a Drupalcon.

* DC Chicago will select a set of more "well known" speakers prior to opening up the session proposals and voting to the public. While this is actually quite beneficial to people who need to convince their companies to let them attend it is a big change (possibly the biggest in my eyes) to the way Drupalcons are traditionally a bit more open for anyone in the community to present their ideas. I see this ultimately heading down the road of having the conference organizers select all the speakers, and possibly even moving to the paid speaker and expensive conference price tag model. When the vast majority of the attendees shifts from Drupal contributors to people trying to learn what Drupal is and how it can fit into their company, this is really only natural.

* Lastly, Drupalcons are now being planned multiple years in advance. This is quite different from the planning that normally occurs one Drupalcon in advance.

None of these changes are necessarily bad things, they're just a sign that times are changing.

For me personally, I think Drupalcon will soon no longer be something I look forward to and anticipate, but instead something I go to out of obligation for the work I do.

This doesn't mean I'm not still super excited about the community and new things that are happening in Drupal, but instead that it's time to redirect my energy elsewhere. I think the stuff I'm really gonna be excited about in the future will be the local Drupal camps, and things like the upcoming PNW Drupal Summit (which unfortunately I'll be missing :( ). Also, I think there will be some very cool community stuff happening in new areas with Drupalcon like conferences happening in Asia, South America, and Africa.

The most important aspect of Drupal is the community. It's sad to think that Drupalcons are leaving that behind a bit, but I also don't think there's any other way it can go.

With that said, I had an amazing time in Copenhagen. There were a few issues (as there always are) but overall the conference organizers did a great job putting it together and I thought the sessions had a very good balance from intro to advanced. And I'm definitely looking forward to seeing everyone in Chicago :).

Trust

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I've been thinking a lot lately about the idea of trust. What it means to trust someone or for someone to trust you, trust in new/foreign situations, and most importantly the risks associated with trusting or not trusting. Over the past two years or so of traveling Sam and I have been confronted with a lot of unfamiliar situations and unfamiliar people. Fortunately, both of us have a very good eye for spotting bad situations and if one of us misses something that's potentially off usually the other will catch it.

We've been lucky to have really only been "screwed", taken advantage of, conned, whatever you wanna call it, by only three people in the past two years. The most recent situation was the worst by far in terms of the stress and money involved and I suppose it's the reason I've been thinking more about this now.

Lazy Sunday

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It was a gorgeous winter day in Cape Town today so we decided to go for a little Sunday drive around the city and table mountain. I posted a bunch of photos, mostly all from a moving car.

6 tips for auditing Drupal contrib modules

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One of the biggest tasks when building a Drupal site is selecting, configuring, and integrating contrib modules into your site. For almost everything you need to do "there's a module for that", but whether you should be using that module is an entirely different question.

For every new module I choose for a site, I go through some quick steps and questions (mostly unconsciously now) to determine whether I should risk a module.

Enabling multiple themes in Aegir install profiles

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Couples using wedful.com can select from a variety of themes for their wedding website. So when building the install profile we wanted to have all of these themes enabled by default. Enabling multiple themes in an install profile should be something simple to do. In fact, the install profile api even has a function just for this: install_enable_theme(array('theme1', 'theme2')).

However, due to the issues I discussed previously with static variables, enabling multiple themes from within an install profile is actually extremely difficult.

Hooking into Drush and Aegir

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(Disclaimer: I'm still just learning this stuff, so please let me know if you notice anything wrong in here)

If you build and maintain Drupal sites and haven't used Drush yet, it's time you take a look at it. Even if you only use it for very basic things such as downloading and updating modules it can still be a big time saver.

One of the things that makes Drush so powerful is it's flexibility with hooks. Each Drush command can be hooked in at three different levels; before, during, and after it runs. The hooks are pre, validate, and post, respectively. It works slightly differently than the Drupal hook system but the concept is the same.

A new blog RSS feed

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Since I'm writing a lot more technical posts now than I have historically, I've decided to make another RSS feed for people who don't want the tech posts clogging up their RSS readers. You can subscribe to it here: General posts

If you want to read only the technical posts, but not the other stuff then subscribe to this one: Technical posts

And if you don't mind getting both, then you don't need to change anything.