Bryan Ruby


Thoughts, Words, and Deeds

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?

Are certification programs a scam?

I have never really worried whether I was certified or not. This Computerworld article gets right to the point:

Depending on whom you talk to, certification programs are either borderline rip-offs that provide little useful knowledge, or valuable hiring tools that make it easier for IT execs to pick the most promising new employees.

Available from vendors focusing on their own products, or outside organizations offering multi-vendor training, these certificate programs are expanding to fill the many specialized technology subsets that have multiplied along with the growth of data storage and other IT areas.

Now this isn't to say that I don't have a few IT certifications under the belt and didn't receive some benefit from them. One of the most intensive IT certifications of recent years was in IT security and another to "please" the crowd was a certification for migration to Microsoft's Server 2003. By the time I was done with those certifications though, I didn't know enough to get the job done.

IT and Personal Goals for 2007

For the most part, I usually say "no" to making New Year resolutions and IT predictions. I never really get things 100% completed to say I've resolved those things that I previously promised. I have yet to ever fully predict what is just around the corner for IT (actually it almost usually turns out better than even my most optimistic predictions). However, no matter the time of year, I always have goals that I strive to meet.

The following are some of my open source IT goals for 2007:

  • Return of the Geek. Outside my "day job", the past year has been filled with freelance projects designing and hosting sites for various clients. As I wrote a few months ago, the whole experience of working outside of work for cash has led a bad taste to my mouth. When you really don't need the money, why do it? For 2007, I rather spend my time contributing to open source projects such as Drupal. I've been a wall flower for too long and I think the core developers would like to see wall flowers not be wall flowers.
  • For sites that I own, I need to do a better job of installing the betas and release candidates. For example, when I started CMS Report it was with Drupal 4.7 Beta 1. I'm sad to report that this site is still using Drupal 4.7. It's very hard to contribute to open source if you're not willing to go on the edge with some of your production sites.