Bryan Ruby


Thoughts, Words, and Deeds

Drupal Newbies and Contributed Modules

The Newbie Issue

DrupliconI received an interesting e-mail the other day through the contact form at my site regarding the social bookmarking "features" I have for my posts.  The questions asked to me are quite common among new users of any Web content management system.  While the questions in this particular e-mail I received would be more appropriate to be asked and answered in the forums at Drupal.org, there were some things in the message I felt the need to address though my blog.

The first e-mail went like this:

I am new to Drupal publishing, and I noticed your "Bookmark/Search this post with: Delicious Digg Google Yahoo Technorati Icerocket " feature. How did you code that? Or- where could I find out how to do that? I have searched Drupal.org but find it frustrating to search, and searching for modules is so frustrating I gave up. Scrolling through the categories is about the best I could do. I found the Submit to Digg one- but your system seems so much more simple.

The second e-mail though is what caught my attention and depending on interpretation somewhat alarmed me.

Identifying Open Source Winners and Losers

Very interesting article from InformationWeek, How to Tell the Open Source Winners from the Losers.

There are 139,834 open source projects under way on SourceForge, the popular open source hosting site. Five years from now, only a handful of those projects will be remembered for making lasting contributions--most will remain in niches, unnoticed by the rest of the world. For every Linux, Apache, or MySQL, dozens of other open source efforts fizzle out.

That's a dilemma for the many companies that are expanding their use of open source. Corporate developers and other IT professionals must get better at divining the winners and ignoring the losers. The wrong picks can lead companies down a rat hole of support problems and obsolete software.

Not sure if I agree with everything in the article.  For example, the 9-point checklist  of what is required for a successful open source project is surely up for debate.  However, the article is a very good starting point for companies and their IT managers to identify the more successful projects.   According to the article, some of the up-and-comers in open source include Alfresco (CMS), Subversion (version control), and Hyperic (system management).

It's funny though, I remember visiting SourceForge quite a bit years ago.  These days though, I seem to find the project directory through "word of mouth" via the blogs.  Amazing how blogging continues to change the IT landscape.

Taking 'no' one step further

On Planet Drupal, there have been a number of posts lately about the difficulty project leaders and developers have in  saying "no" while working on a project.  As much as Project leaders want to please both their client and their team members, real leaders understand the responsibilities they have in saying "no".  More specifically, I'm talking about Boris Mann's post, "Susan Mernit on the role of "no" in product development" as well as Laura Scott's own post You've got to know when to 'no' them .

This is all interesting to me because for some time I've wanted to talk about Aaron Mentele's post, Every once in a while you need to fire a client.  Aaron Mentele is a web designer and co-owns a web design company based in Sioux Falls, SD.

There comes a time when most project leaders have mastered the the ability to say "no" to certain requests.  But what happens if you find yourself not really saying "yes" to the client?  Do you have it in yourself to recognize that by having to answer "no" so often in a project you likely shouldn't have taken on the project in the first place?  What are you to do?

Recovery Time

I know, I've been a little too quiet on this blog.  I've been busy with my latest project, CMS Report.  It's a site I designed to talk about content management systems and other information systems.  The site has really taken off with about 25 visitors reading my pages at one time.  Sometimes as many as 150 people are visiting at one time.  A lot of geeks out there!  Isn't that great.

Also for those that know and don't know, I'm spending my time this month recovering from surgery. As most of you know, a year ago I started dealing with a problem where the primary nerve for my left arm was being squeezed in my neck near C6/C7 causing pain and weakness in my left arm. The procedure I had was a microdiscetomy and foraminotomy which basically means the neurosurgeon enlarged the window where the nerves for the arm leaves the spine. As intense as it sounds, I'm recovering rather well and needing a lot less pain medication than the doctors expected me to need. With the pain I was dealing with my arm...a cut in the back of my neck is a walk in the park.

Recovery time can range from two weeks to six week. My goal is to be back at work in two weeks though I will be starting my first week with half days. Meanwhile, my "recovery" has been spent so far by watching football, KU Basketball, and watching the wife in the freezing cold snow blowing the drive. The only real exercise the doctor wants me to do is walking...so I've been walking in the gym as Logan and Karen spend time in the swimming pool. 

I've also been doing some computer stuff, but at the moment I can only stay put in front of the computer in one hour increments.  Hard to believe my career in information technology takes so much back muscle...

Is your Internet site accessible?

This fork of Joomla to improve accessibility interested me

Accessible (a8e) Joomla! is a Joomla! fork that conforms to accessibility guidelines and web standards. A8e Joomla! will follow regular Joomla! releases. The project should implode when regular Joomla! finally conforms to the standards.

Accessibility of Internet sites is very huge within the federal government and addressed by Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act, 1998.

In 1998, Congress amended the Rehabilitation Act to require Federal agencies to make their electronic and information technology accessible to people with disabilities. Inaccessible technology interferes with an individual's ability to obtain and use information quickly and easily. Section 508 was enacted to eliminate barriers in information technology, to make available new opportunities for people with disabilities, and to encourage development of technologies that will help achieve these goals. The law applies to all Federal agencies when they develop, procure, maintain, or use electronic and information technology.

About every Webmaster that I've talked to about accessibility, inside and outside of the federal government, agrees with the goals of accessibility. They're just not sure how best to design and manage their pages due to the rapidly changing online technology.

For example, you have a site that now introduces a podcast (audio recording). In order to make the contents of the podcast accessible to the hearing impaired...are you going to provide transcripts? If you're part of a large organization, the answer should be yes. But what if you're an independent blogger? You still have the same goals but do you really have the means to make that podcast accessible to all your visitors?