Bryan Ruby

Thoughts, Words, and Deeds

Back in the IT world

As some of you may have noticed, I returned a few days ago from my low-tech week. It's taking me awhile to adjust being stuck at the computer so you'll have to bear with me. It's been tough enough to spend the PC time at work, so spending my "free time" on the PC is challenging. It's kind of like not eating fast food for a week and then suddently having to ingest it for every meal. Drupal addict and Yoga for Geeks guru, Sarah Pullman, mentioned a similar experience in one of her posts. To add insult to injury, I blew up three sites on my VPS and had to put the pieces back together.

So how did I spend my time last week? The family drove north to visit our Canadian neigbors and spend some time camping. We camped near Grand Beach at Lake Winnipeg. Lake Winnipeg is in the Canadian province of Manitoba. It wasn't completely without some technology as we had electricity available for the pop-up camper. Translation...lights, water pump, and even a furnace were available. Considering, I usually spend my time camping in the US national forests without electricity this was a camping luxury for the family.

Surprisingly, we were about the only US citizens in the campground which surprised me. If Texans and Californians can spend there time in would think some folks from the Dakotas and Minnesota could visit Manitoba more often. When I get a chance, I'll have to maybe add a picture or two of our time camping, swimming, or hiking. Translation...I still need to find where we put the digital camera.

FCKeditor in osCommerce

osCommerce LogoI'm working on an ecommerce site using osCommerce to enable the shopping cart functionality for my client's online store. This is the first time I've used osCommerce so I'm still working on improving my comfort level with the application. osCommerce is open source and released under the GNU General Public License. According to the osCommerce site:

osCommerce has attracted the largest community for an e-commerce solution that consists of over 106,100 store owners and developers worldwide with add-ons being contributed on a daily basis. To date there are over 3,500 add-ons available that have been created by the community to extend the features of an osCommerce online store.

Those numbers are impressive, but in my opinion the coding practices of the application are definitely showing its six year legacy of software development. While I have found osCommerce to work out-of-the-box, I must say that I'm surprised that most mods require hacking into the core application. I've been spoiled by working with more "modern" CMS applications with convenient API's and making changes through modules/plugins instead of modifying the core. However, I'm a newbie to osCommerce so maybe there is more to it than meets the eye.

Questioning Ping-O-Matic

I have two Ping-O-Matic related questions that I cannot find answers too. Maybe someone can help me find the answer to these two burning questions:

  1. Why is Ping-O-Matic so popular for pinging the blog search engines?
  2. Is anyone else bothered when they see that the blog at Ping-O-Matic has not been updated since April of 2006?

By no means am I saying anything bad about Ping-O-Matic. I just find it curious that Web applications such as Wordpress and Drupal by default point to Ping-O-Matic. Why not point your CMS to alternative ping services such as Pingoat or Blog Flux?

As to the stale blog at is driving me crazy. I keep hoping when Ping-O-Matic is down for a day or two that they'll post an explanation at their site. Sometimes I would like to know if the problem is on my end or their end. Is a blog really a blog if there are no posts being logged? (Try saying that three times really quick!)

They Hate Drupal, They Love Drupal

Does Drupal make the grade? The answer to that question evidently depends on who you ask. Last week, the Tech Republic posted a review by Justin James on the Drupal content management system. Mr. James concluded that "Overall, Drupal does not make the grade". This week the Drupal community is all a buzz over the decision for IBM's developerWorks to use Drupal for designing, developing, and deploying a collaborative Website.

Why is there such a disparity in viewpoints for using Drupal in content management? For many first time users of Drupal, Drupal doesn't leave them with a very good first impression. It's only after you spend some time with Drupal that you begin to discover it has a number of traits that make it an outstanding application to build your website around. While Drupal doesn't give you a good first impression, it will eventually give you a second or third good impression.

Let's take a look at some of the reasons to why people may not like Drupal. The review written by Justin James for Drupal 4.7 is in an article titled, A product review of the Drupal Content Management System, does it make the grade? The author states that "Drupal does not make the grade". He bases his opinion on issues with usability and ease of installation. With regards to usability he says: