Bryan Ruby


Thoughts, Words, and Deeds

Wrong Turns Matter

Most people regret wrong turns. When my son was 20 months old we visited his grandparents in Kansas City. He was a great little traveler on the way there but on the way back he hit his limit to being "uncomfortable" in the back seat. When we saw a train on the tracks east of the Interstate, I decided to take the next turnoff in hopes the train would distract him for a few minutes. Unfortunately, once committed to the new highway there was no way to turn around for 18 miles. My 5 minute pause delay turned into a much longer detour. Worse, we failed to grab our prize as the train was long gone from our view. Eventually, I yielded to our fate and made another turn for the country roads. 

Sometimes you have to accept wrong turns as part of the journey. My son and I rode the Iowa county roads over rolling hills. We shouted "Up!" when we went up the hill and we shouted "Dooowwwwn!" when we went down the hills. We saw farms, we saw tractors, we saw cows, we saw horses, we saw dogs, and we saw each other laugh. Once we got back on the Interstate, my son lost his patience once again and the remainder of the trip was just as uncomfortable as the first half. But for that brief hour, Dad and son were able to relax and smile. Anyone with a small child, knows that such an hour is more precious than any fast but miserable trip home.

The next time work or life takes a wrong turn, you have a choice to fight it or accept it. Often we believe the heroic thing to do is to fight the wrong turn. Too often or not, heroes lose sight of the value in accepting wrong turns as an unexpected gift of the journey we take each day.

Breaking Out of the Box

Last year, Kevin Drew Davis gave a keynote at CMS Expo titled, "Humanity Before Technology". That speech reminds me each day to be something more tomorrow than I am today. Mr. Davis asked, what would be the endless possibilities for the smartphone we carry in our pocket if we didn't call it a phone? He then went to explain that the names of things can sometimes limit our understanding of such things.

Almost a decade ago and after a few years of blogging, I stumbled on a particular genre of software that interested web developers, marketers, business owners, consultants, and analysts. So I did what any self respecting information technologist would do, I registered the perfect domain name and built me a website. The site became so successful that what I had intended to be my personal blog eventually evolved into a nice side business. Suddenly, I not only had name recognition in the content management industry but I also had sponsors and advertisers knocking on my door. It was and still is the classic story of a blogger not intending success but achieving it nevertheless. 

The irony of running a successful website is that as the site becomes more popular you're compelled and obligated to give the reader and the advertisers what they want. While always grateful for all that I have achieved and have been given, I have found that success also can box someone into a space that is often not big enough. I'm wise enough to know that running from such successes is not the answer. At the same time, I have a fire in my belly to explore additional paths as an individual that are not predetermined by labels. So, for those friends that saw the subtle hints and cared enough to ask why, you now have a vague answer to your question. The names of things can sometimes limit the understanding of ourselves. Unless, of course, that label is our own name.

On this blog you will see an inclusion of "best of" articles from various sources that I view as milestones to the past. From this post forward, you will also find my thoughts, words, and deeds with a style and voice that has often been encouraged but seldom spoken.

Drupal says farewell to PHP 4

Well, this certainly wasn't on my radar. Gábor Hojtsy, Drupal 6 lead maintainer, announced that starting March 1, 2014 support for PHP 4 in Drupal 6 will end. I wasn't surprise to hear about Drupal developers dropping support for PHP 4. Instead, I was in shock to hear that Drupal didn't drop support for this ancient version of PHP sooner.

To put this announcement in perspective, the PHP project developers said their goodbyes to PHP 4 back in 2008 and I personally said my "see ya later" back in 2007. Needless to say, I don't think anyone with merit can complain Drupal is dropping PHP 4 support. In Gábor Hojtsy's words:

Drupal 6.0 was released almost 6 years ago in February 2008. The Drupal community is committed to release Drupal 6 bugfixes until Drupal 8.0 is released and with recent changes provide security fixes much longer.

The hosting and development landscape was very different in 2008 though. PHP has gone a long way since we released Drupal 6. While Drupal 6 is still supported on PHP 4.x, the PHP developer community itself end-of-lifed PHP 4 just half a year after Drupal 6.0 came out. According to public statistics and data available to us about Drupal 6 sites, we estimate that there is a very small number of Drupal sites which may still run on PHP 4. We also don't believe it is in our best interest to support Drupal 6 on a possibly insecure but definitely unsupported base system, so we discussed and decided to drop support for PHP 4 on March 1st 2014.

Typically, Drupal has dropped support for an older versions of Drupal when a new version of Drupal is released. The expectation was Drupal 6 support would be dropped when Drupal 8 becomes an official release. I suspect the delay in dropping Drupal 6 support is postponed partially due to a change in Drupal 8's new site migration approach. There is a new workflow for site migration that has the potential for site owners to migrate their content not only from Drupal 7 to Drupal 8 but also allow Drupal 6 sites to migrate directly into Drupal 8. Until the new migration approach is proven, it is in everyone's interest to continue support for secure Drupal 6 sites. For the "secure" mandate to be supportable no website should be running on PHP 4. 

Joomla! allows you to go your own way with Joomla Framework 1.0

A couple years ago, if you would have asked me what I thought about Joomla! I would have told you I think they've lost their way. Their community of developers seemed to be searching on how best to innovate and take risks with a well established stable content management system. I feared that the open source group was stuck looking back and that all we could expect was dull incremental changes to their CMS. Despite the fear, I knew better. Open source communities have a way of reevaluating their priorities and creating spectacular results where you least expect them to do so.

In the second half of 2012, we started seeing something "new" from Joomla! As they started to embrace displaying and managing content on mobile devices, they also embraced the idea that not all core development has to be confined "in-house". With Joomla 3.0 they became the first major CMS that included the Twitter Bootstrap framework to help make their CMS better in the mobile arena. This week, Joomla! has turned the tables and now offers the opportunity for you to allow their framework to make your own web applications better. With Joomla Framework 1.0, Joomla! has proven that they're much more than content management but also a platform for developers to spread their wings.

The Joomla Framework is a new PHP framework (a collection of software libraries/packages) for writing web and command line applications in PHP, without the features and corresponding overhead found in the Joomla! CMS. It provides a structurally sound foundation that can be adapted and extended. This new initiative enables developers to more easily combine features from the Joomla Framework with features from other open source frameworks as they custom-build their own app or CMS.

Technology is no longer a disruptive force

Google Fiber

When Google announced in 2012 that they were bringing Google Fiber to Kansas City, my father called me and said he was interested. As an information technologist, I was excited. I told the “old man” that Google Fiber was going to change everything. Last month, Google Fiber finally came to my parents' neighborhood, and I made the six-hour drive to visit the house I grew up in.

After watching my parents interact with Google Fiber, I confirmed not only that Google Fiber was a game changer, but I also discovered something I hadn't expected: in a world where technology companies prefer to deliver shock and awe, Google made every effort to deliver no surprises to homeowners. On the surface, my parents weren't doing anything different than they had before Google brought their tech to town. This ultimate game changing disruptive technology could not be more non-disruptive to the families who are about to consume it.