DrupalCon Hungary

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As per usual, prior to leaving in August I had all these great hopes that I'd actually update my blog while I was traveling. However, and for some reason this always happens, it turns out there's other things I'd rather do in a foreign country than update my blog and post photos to flickr.

Overall the trip was great, I enjoyed this DrupalCon a lot more than Boston's, but I'd say I had a better time in Barcelona last year.

Anyway, I've posted a bunch of photos from the trip and of the NowPublic dev team here.

I also did a couple short photo walks around Szeged and Budapest, will be posting those shortly.

DrupalCon Lanyard

20 Hours in New York

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On my way to Hungary and currently at my first stop over on the way there in New York. I arrived just after 9PM and leave at 5:40PM the tomorrow. This is my first time here and I'm pretty excited about it. So far my only comment is that this city is /big/. I'm actually a bit overwhelmed right now :-).

NYC Boarding Pass

On the airplane I met a couple guys coming here to skateboard for the weekend, so we caught a cab downtown together and I walked around there for a bit while I tried to get a hold of the person I was staying with. After finding some pizza I caught a cab and headed to the apartment in harlem (the customs officer gave me a hard time about it :-) ).

The flight was really good. I flew Cathay Pacific and I'm definitely impressed. All the flight attendants were really nice, good amount of leg room, comfy seats, and a great in flight entertainment system. Just how great? Well check out this pic from when it was rebooting :-):

RH Linux on the in flight entertainment system

Tomorrow I mostly just plan on wandering around manhattan with my 60lbs of luggage, finding some donuts, bagels, pizza, hot dogs, maybe a burger... you know, just the healthy stuff. Maybe hit up some record stores and mostly just walk around and take photos.

manhattan from the plane
ultra-high resolution photo of manhattan from the plane

DrupalCon Szeged 2008 Fast Approaching

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drupalcon hungaryWith just over one week remaining, Drupal's bi-annual conference is fast approaching. This time around the conference is being held in Szeged, Hungary. I'm no expert, but this could be one of the most exciting things to happen to the city since the birth of one of NowPublic's own developers, Peter Galiba.

Drupal is a web development framework and content management system. It's the base of the NowPublic website and quickly growing as one of the most popular CMS's on the web.

With just shy of 500 registered attendees, this will prove to be the largest European DrupalCon to date. There will be over 50 sessions in 4 tracks over the 4 days of the conference. Rasmus Lerdorf (creator of PHP) will be giving the Keynote for the conference. A lot of the sessions look interesting, but a few of the ones I definitely plan on attending are:

I hope to be posting updates and photos as the conference progresses, so stay tuned :). I'll be tagging everything with drupalcon and drupalconszeged2008.

(re-posted on NowPublic.com)

Blog upgrade

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Decided to spend a bit of time tonight and upgrade my blog to drupal. Some of the old "perma" links probably won't work (but I've tried to create proper aliases to any posts that had been linked to externally), and you may get a bit of funkiness in your feed if you've subscribed, but hopefully not. I think this is the 4th blogging platform I've used in the almost 4 years that I've had this blog.

The last being wordpress (w/ akismet, which caught me a pretty 250,000+ spam comments :) ). Not that I have anything against using wordpress, but I wanted to start doing a bit more development again, and tbh, developing for wordpress has always been much more painful for me than developing for drupal.

Please let me know if you have any problems. I'm going to be trying out mollom to handle comment spam for a while instead of akismet.

k.i.c.k.a.s.s. that's the way we spell success

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My alarm woke me up at 8 o'clock, I hit the snooze button and asked myself if it was Saturday and whether I could sleep in... then i realized it was 8pm and a friend (thanks Ariane!!) had hooked me up with free tickets to tonights Matthew Good concert. Matt seemed a little bit jaded about music reviewers, and I'm sure for good reason... to quote "people who can't play music professionally can write about it" - well, I can't do either ... and don't worry I'm not really gonna attempt to.

Lights
Photo by Duane Storey

Matt's easy going "doesn't give a shit" attitude really made their stage presence a lot more enjoyable. I've seen him in concert twice before and this time was easier going and just all around funner on stage. The "lounge music" sections of the show were particularly enjoyable :).

The first thing that really stood out to me was the lighting. Amazing lighting, timed perfectly with the music. The lights seems simple enough and kudos to the lighting people who put that part of the show. Combined with the occasional smoke, the visuals in the show were great... a lot of awesome photo opportunities tonight.

Now, I'm normally the guy at the concert that when the encore comes around I kind of hope the band doesn't come back out. Not that I didn't enjoy them, I'm just ready to leave and get on with other things that have started to occupy my mind. This was the first concert in a while that I felt the opposite. And both encores were great. It was a great crowd tonight too... clearly a lot of the fans in the audience have followed him for 10+ years since before his popularity started to fade. For some reason it seems like Vancouver concert crowds tend to be a bit quiet or reserved. Tonight everyone was singing along and really getting into a lot of songs. I was in the perfect mood for it too.

thanks for a good show

Fisherman's Wharf

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Finally made it out to fishermans wharf today for the first time since I've lived in Vancouver. I'd been meaning to go there for the last two years, but for some reason just never quite made it. My parents were in town for about an hour for lunch today and needed something relatively quick, having heard heard they were some of the best in the city, I suggested fish and chips at the wharf.

FIshermans Wharf

fish and chips

The fish and chips place is called "Go Fish". Definitely not disappointed, good sized portions and about between $8-10 for a 1pc fish and chips. They were also selling spot prawn skewers, though I didn't have one, I may go back tomorrow and try it out. That was the other thing, when we arrived they had just started selling live prawns, an hour later when we went to buy some, they'd already sold out. I'll probably head back over tomorrow to pick up a pound of them for dinner.

Dad eating soup

Yesterday was the summer solstice, so happy summer everyone! I dropped by this odd but kind of cool little thing that was going on at English bay with Ariane last night to celebrate the solstice - "Circle Event - Sun Sea Cycle". Which was suppose to be a video (15 mins or so) showing the tides and sun crossing the sky over the course of the day. Unfortunately the battery for the projector only lasted 2mins, but nonetheless it was still enjoyable, and some good hippie poetry to go along with it.

Back from South Africa

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They've got barely understandable accents, drive on the wrong side of the road, their toilettes flush in the opposite direction and safe sex means doing it with a can of mace and a taser under your pillow. Kinky... I know, but that's how they roll in South Africa. I returned May 7th and just finished uploading the rest of my photos to Flickr. I didn't really feel like blogging as I went, instead I just tried to upload Flickr photos... which proved difficult at points with crappy internet connections and power shedding.

Everyone seems to want to know what my favorite part of it was. Unfortunately I don't really have an answer to that question. I just went to visit friends and relax, I didn't go there to go on a safari, diving, or any other things someone might want to do while in South Africa. I guess the best part was the people who I spent my time with there (oh, and thanks for letting me crash at your places too :-) ). That said, I still did some pretty cool things... like tasting crocodile (among other animals), driving through joburg's lion park, feeding giraffes, eating penguins, and visiting the wine lands outside of cape town.

The crime there didn't seem nearly as prevalent as everyone led on, but then again... wait, I meant watching penguins, not eating them! Who could eat a penguin!? Anyway, there are definitely some cool areas in Joburg, but the suburbiness of it kind of turned me off. After a week in Joburg (and one stomach flu later) I went to Cape Town with Sam and her friend Sara... I took this week completely off work. Cape Town is a beautiful city. We stayed for the first few days with Guy at his place (I believe in or near the Camps Bay area) on the side of the mountain overlooking the ocean. We spent the rest of our time at Adrian's mostly just chilling and video gaming awesomeness :).

A few of the trips extra highlights... getting lost trying to pick up Adrian's brother Jo and turning a 30 minute drive into a 3h drive... driving through the wine lands and doing tastings (at one place we had like 5 or 6 good sized tasters for like $1.50 CAD!)... and of course arriving at the Cape Town airport, waiting in a 2h line-up and yelling at the ticket guy only to find out we'd shown up a day early. And oh yeah! The afternoon in downtown London, England was nice too :).

Flickr photos are here! But these are some of my favs below.

Non-realtime liveblogging of my flight - Vancouver to London

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15:28
* Arrive at AirCanada international bag checkin. Why do all these people appear to be losers? What have I done wrong in my life to be standing in a line full of losers?

15:30
* Ahh... a) I have checked luggage and b) I didn't do the web bag checkin. Oh well... I guess I'll be a loser this time around.

16:45
* Walking around international airport wing of YVR. It's actually a gorgeous airport.. happy to see my $20 of airport improvements fees is going towards something
* Airport is pretty dead

16:50
* SWEET! Found a set of hidden seats in the airport that have foot and head rests and power. How wicked.

17:24
* Find my seat. Window seat. Kind of a nice plane, much more leg room than the United flights to Boston last month. There seat plan is 2 4 2, so getting out should be easy.
* Older fellow sitting next to me... seems nice but doesn't wear deoderant.

17:30
* Fall asleep - wake up 200 miles west of Edmonton, apparently.
* Guy sitting next to me seems annoyed. I think maybe I had tried to cuddle up to him a little bit.

18:35
* Reading.

19:20
* The attendants bring around food. Youngish girl (between 8 or 12) sitting two rows up doesn't want "chicken or beef". Neither do I. The flight attendant says "It's a long flight... you /have/ to have something. We have chicken or beef." She persists. He persists. But she's young and he wins out.

19:31
* Attendant asks me "chicken or beef". In defience I say "neither thanks :)". He says... "it's a long flight" I say "I'll be ok, thanks". He gives up. Scott: 1, Flight attendant: 0.
* I have a philosophical thought to myself about "children" vs. "adults" and decide to start writing a "insightful" blog post about it and how I can't be friends with people who are unable to act like children...

19:40
* Blog post idea was retarded. Writing a "live blog" style post instead.

20:14
* The guy in office space who invents the "jump to conclusions mat" just walked by.

20:25
* Wide awake now... and it's 4:30am London time. Sweet. Time to do some work.

20:26
* I just realized that I can't remember what the 'M' stands for in LAMP. WTF!? What is the other key ingredient besides Linux, Apache and PHP???

20:28
* Ugh. MySQL. Idiot.

20:32
* Dude in front of me just reclined his seat. What ho!

21:28
* Meh. BSG Time!

22:34
* Decided to watch Lost instead... started crying part way through :)
* Sleep time.

01:30
* Bastards waking me up with breakfast. I'm sleeping!

03:21
* Plane landing.... girl puking across the isleway, yay!

traveling adrenaline

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It's funny how you get a certain excitedness for trips. I imagine that people who travel all the time eventually lose most of this. For me, the mere act of flying in an airplane is enough to get me excited. New places seem to have some sort of mystery to them that gets the adrenaline flowing.

I've been more or less seriously planning to go on this trip for the past month, joking about it since about December when a certain Vancouver blogger suggested it :-p .

The reality that I was actually doing this started to set in when I got immunizations for four different diseases and prescriptions for two others. Buying the plane tickets is always the most surreal part of it. No matter how much I talk about it or prepare for it... until the tickets are bought I haven't committed to anything.

One of the goals I set for myself earlier this year was to travel more... and more specifically fill up my passport this time around ;) (I got a new one in February). This trip should put two (maybe three) more stamps in there.

While I'm on the topic of going places... anyone want to go to Tofino with me this summer?

Photo by imnewtryme

march 2008

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march is quickly wrapping up and i never did post a DrupalCon wrap up post. i figure i'll just through all of march into one quick and dirty post. i ended up not going to nearly as many sessions as i'd hoped, and instead spent most of my time chatting with and meeting people.

it looks like a number of people at the conference ended up getting the same flu that came through vancouver in full force last month. fortunately i was already several weeks deep into the sickness by then, so i was safe.

the final day had all the remaining people went to MIT for a Drupal code sprint. a few of the NowPublic dev team flew back into vancouver to work out of our main office and meet some of the vancouver peeps the following week.

it was great having some more developers in the office for a change... but don't worry, we still only communicated via IRC/skype instead of in person.

last weekend (easter weekend) steven, alexa, and myself all went to victoria. our plan was to ferry there and fly back on one of the float planes.

i was surprised how quiet victoria is. i think living in downtown vancouver for a year i've gotten desensitized to how busy it actually gets down here. friday and saturday nights on a long weekend in victoria, and the place was practically dead.

after we arrived we did some quick shopping and decided to look for spinnakers brew pub... ended up getting lost wondering around esquimalt and when we eventually found it ... they'd already done last call ... at 10:50 ... on a friday night. ahh well. ended up at the sticky wicket instead :). we went to a pretty sweet club saturday night... which i'd talk more about, but what happens in victoria stays in victoria?

flying back on the float plane never did happen due to a storm coming in right before our flight and the winds being too high. ended up taking 6h to get back home instead of 30 minutes. :-/

well.. there goes march.. and in case you were wondering... i'm still sick right now :) (at least i had a few days off before getting another cold).

Drupalcon Day 1

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So day 1 of the conference has wrapped up. Overall pretty good. Adrian and Konstantin both flew into town today too. Btw, if anyone wants to get a hold of me while I'm here I have a US cell number for the week.. 1.617.922.1385

usability panel

I started off the day with the Drupal Usability (Report from formal Drupal usability testing at the University of Minnesota Libraries). This was basically an update from some usability testing that was done shortly after the D6 release. Pretty interesting, though I wasn't /overly/ surprised by there results. The cool thing about it was the eye tracking software (including eye tracking heat maps) to track where people were looking for things on the pages. This next photo shoes where a user was looking on the page to create a new content type.

eye tracking map

This particular user looked everywhere on the page with the exception of the tabs that you actually need to use to create the content type. I think this kind of thing is great for Drupal. If this was done, maybe even more extensive testing, prior to the development starting for every release, it could really help things out.

Choice quote from a tester:

this software's going to be really interesting when it's finally released

This was followed by Dries' keynote. Very cool. He talked about drupal's current momentum in the industry, some D7 things, automated testing, and RDF and the semantic web. Djun was live-blogging it a bit via jaiku and I liked this one:

puregin#drupal: Dries: every Drupal site can be an RDF repository. The social graph connects people... the semantic graph will connect _everything_

There were open questions at the end of the keynote, and again (as in barcelona) the theme seems to be on test suites and automated testing. This is obviously still a major issue in Drupal. The other focus this year seems to be the semantic web. A lot of interesting stuff.

Boris Mann

Lunch was insane. 800 people all at once in a 5 restaurant food court. I don't think so. In addition, the food there was total nastiness. I really wish I'd recorded a video of the insane line. I ended up with a bag of chips and a milky way. But went back at 2pm for a burger (which I regretted shortly after my first bite).

Went to Boris's session after lunch (Mapping business requirements to Drupal modules: a gap-fit process). Really enjoyed it. Don't really remember what he was talking about... but I'm /really/ excited about it ;-p. Just kidding! It was a good talk... more of an overview of various PM things, how to deal with changing requirements, yadda yadda.

geek interaction

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over the past year (actually.. pretty much since northern voice last year) i've gone to increasingly many "geek" conferences and events. most being in vancouver. you'll see the same faces at many of these events. you get to know who does what, blogger, photographer, developer... maybe you even read some of their blogs or follow them on twitter, jaiku, or flickr. through these ad hoc interactions you get to know the person a little bit. however, you've never really talked to them.

a quote i saw recently i think really fits

i'm not antisocial i'm just shy. you can talk to me!

maybe you've met them, exchanged a few words, but your online interaction as acquaintances far exceeds your real life interaction. so even though people "know" you and you "know" them (through the online world) you're still a bit afraid that... well... maybe they /are/ antisocial. of course, they aren't. so far i haven't met one person in this community that isn't really nice. even when they seem "too cool" or just plain snobby at first, odds are they're just a bit shy and might even /want/ you to talk to them and say hey.

this brings me to another thing i've noticed... ultra-micro celebrities. people who's blogs i read but who i've *never* actually talked to before. they write well, maybe personal blogs, and generally on topics i'm interested in. i see them at these events and feel almost a bit like a stalker. like i know this person, but they don't know me. and then when i do meet them, do i pretend like i don't know who they are? or be like "hey, you've got a great blog... i totally stalk you in my google reader."

DrupalCon Boston 2008 - Some Sessions

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Just for fun... I thought I'd put up a list of a few of the DrupalCon sessions I'm excited about. I'm going to try to blog daily and maybe post photos daily too. I was also thinking... since it seems to be getting popular to take pictures of people taking pictures, I'm gonna try and take as many pictures of people taking pictures of people taking pictures as possible.

Monday 9:30 - Drupal Multimedia (Presenters: Aaron Winborn, James Walker, Darrel O'Pry, Nathan Haug) - "This session will guide you through the steps necessary to build image, video, and audio into your sites."

Monday 1:30 - Mapping business requirements to Drupal modules: a gap-fit process (Presenter: Boris Mann) - "Join me to talk through a process of building repeatable processes in selecting modules and implementing a gap-fit analysis of which modules your new Drupal project is going to need."

Monday 3:30 - OpenID and Identity in Drupal: the future of user.module (Presenter: James Walker) - "This session will not be why OpenID, but rather what’s next with OpenID."

Monday afternoon NowPublic will be at the job fair, so drop by and say hi! :)

Tuesday 9:30 - The Future of Fields (Presenters: Barry Jaspan (bjaspan), Nedjo Rogers (nedjo), Karen Stevenson (karenS), Larry Garfield)

Wednesday 9:00 - SimpleTest: Because clicking on forms is for suckers (Presenters: Angela Byron (webchick), Rok Zlender, Karoly Negyesi (chx), Jimmy Berry (boombatower))

There's plenty more... but I think this is a good start.

And now I'm off to the airport.

EDIT:

Missed one!

Wednesday 9:45 - Practical jQuery - how to act like you're JavaScript-smart (Presenter: Dimitri Gaskin) - Dimitri is Drupal's 12 year old developer. I'm really looking forward to watching this presentation.

Northern Voice Photos, Finally Posted

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Considering I still have yet to post my photos from /last/ years northern voice I think I've done pretty good this year ;).

P.S. does anyone know of a tool that will generate a thumbnail list of your flickr photos like this, but actually have the thumbs be clickable?

Managing Teams Remotely

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In late November I started working for NowPublic as their Director of Development. My job more or less consists of working with the product managers and developers to schedule development resources and build out project timelines, make sure things are running smoothly, and manage many of our technical projects. So far it's been great, there's now 11 people on the dev team and I've definitely learned a lot more about managing teams since I've been here.

One of the most interesting aspects of my job is the fact that of the 11 people on the dev team 9 are remote (including my boss). A bunch in Europe and the states... 4 different timezones in total. Almost all our communication is done via an IRC chat channel, skype, trac, and email.

This has presented a couple interesting issues. To actually connect with someone using only text takes a lot more work and time than in person. I'm not sure what it is exactly, but there are a lot of subtle cues that you use for in person communication that are simply not possible with your average emoticon (if you can believe that!). It's tough to tell whether a person is unusually "quiet" in text because they're upset, just working on something at the same time, or something else altogether. You don't get the same kind of "water cooler" talk that you do in person. When people are chatting it's work related. I'm trying to make a conscious effort to talk about more casual things and joke around a bit. But the environment takes some getting use to.

Another issue with so many people being remote is surprisingly not miscommunication... but missed-communication. The whiteboard discussions and decisions that happen on the fly at someone's desk. It takes a bit of extra effort to make sure that the developers that are sleeping while this is happening are made aware of them.

IRC is used for 95% of our developer communication. Everything is logged. You can choose to either be involved in any conversation you want to be a part of. This is in contrast to conversations that happen at peoples' desks or offices that you may never know about, regardless of if it affects you. IRC lets you "highlight" key words that your interested in, so you can drop in only when those things are mentioned, or just follow along passively when you need a break from whatever it is you're doing. Anything you miss, well, it's all in the logs.

IMHO, in person is a lot better. Significantly more bandwidth. Primarily text based communication works, especially in a development environment where for the majority of the time the developers have their head in their code and don't need their flow broken by common office distractions. But conversations happen slower, things get missed, and more effort needs to go in to ensuring everyone has the information they need (which isn't necessarily a bad thing). With the right tools I think the remote thing can be very close to /as/ good as in person. We're going to start doing more video and voice chats and I'm constantly looking for tools (and looking for suggestions for things :) ) that will help enhance the environment. Virtual whiteboards, online video conferencing, better web based project management tools, etc.

It's pretty tough to grab a beer with someone who's working 5000 miles away from you. With that said... the team is going to be together in in Boston for DrupalCon this next week. It should be sweet... I'm pumped to hang out with every one in RL ;).