"Undermining my electoral viability since 2001."

The Con is On

Overnight flight to Boston. DrupalCon. My third. The first one was kind of magical, back in 2006, Vancouver BC, getting the real buzz for the first time. I haven't been able to explain very well to my non-geek peers how awesome this software project is, which is a shame. Because it really is pretty rad.

To wit: some Belgan computer science students started working on a system for their dorm-hall community to use to stay in touch after graduation. Eight years later the open-source software, Drupal, is powering hundreds of thousands of websites, including bigshots like The Onion, MTV UK and others. But that's not even the cool part.

The truly awesome thing about this project is that it's been built by literally thousands of people. For free. There are a core cadre of a few hundred or so coders who do a lot of this, most of them (like me) making a living off it in one way or another, and an even smaller group of legendary developers at the center of all of it. But it happens openly, as a community affair, and it works in large part people people are friends over it, taking pleasure from working on something together.

This is what open-source is really all about to me. It's the recognition that programming is an act of creativity, and the growth of communities of creators around their project. It's no coincidence that many Drupalists have artistic backgrounds; it has many aspects of a theatrical troup, of a band.

This is a kind of cultural production that's really new. Never before have people been able to be intellectually creative in this way and on this scale, and it's deeply gratifying to be a part of this scene, exploring a new mode of association and camaraderie, proving that the ethos of a community can outperform that of a corperation.

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A Little Volunteer Work

So on Thursday a message came across the Redwood Tech Consortium mailing list proposing to set up a website to help offer housing for people displaced by the SoCal fires. I thought it sounded like a good idea, and me and a few heads from the Drupal Dojo created a site in one night that's up for the job:


Big ups to Matt Koglin for cooking up an excellent design, Michael Welch for snagging the domain, and to Larry Goldberg for spearheading the organizing. He's working w/the Rotary club to get folks registered, and gotten the site some press:

”We are going to simply be a broker between people in need and people who have housing to offer,” he said. “People, especially with children and families, who need to get out of the smoke can go somewhere temporarily until literally, the dust settles.”

Those who can provide housing type information, such as the number of people and pets they could accommodate and whether smoking would be permitted, into the Rotary Home Matching system. The site then matches volunteers with those in need, and it's up to the person providing housing to contact the other party.

”We're a facilitator, it's up to the volunteer to contact the person,” Goldberg said. “It's just a person-to-person endeavor.”

Anyway, it's pretty neat that this can be done in a matter of hours. Speaks well to the potential for the internet to continue driving change.

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Best Use Of Cell Phone Yet

This is one of the many reasons to go to conferences. You might end up at your nominal competition's rented beach-house, watching drupal 5.0 release maintainer Neil Drumm open beers with a cellphone.

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Overheard at Drupalcon

A few quotes from a an interesting couple of days:

"This [the registration table] is nice: it's all really nerdy guys and really hot girls. I like the future... Let me at this corporate campus." (franz)

robertDouglas: "I was doing so much underpaid work, like 'let me do this whole website that takes six months... for $300' type stuff."
moshe: "I remember those days. You can't even talk to me now for $300."

"I am not able to code everything. There is too much to do." (chx)

"You need that charismatic leader... Chant! Chant! Chant! Drink. Die." (jjeff)

It's been a good time here. Corporate campus and Sunnyvale aren't as much fun as a University campus (more open) and Downtown Vancouver (less driving), but the level of attendance and intensity is up.

It feels like the End of the Beginning. I do believe this is the year that things will tip and change quite a lot.

Also, if you're in college and you want to spend the summer getting paid by Google to write Drupal code, you can apply here this weekend.

...Later on, back at the Zack shack:

Farsheed: So what goes on at these things?
Zack: I imagine drugs, sex, stripping; things like that.
Farsheed: What? That's the opposite of what I thought! I thought it was a bunch of guys sitting around with laptops and pizza!
(everyone confused)
Me: Oh! You're talking about Super Happy Dev House; they're talking about the stripper-party.

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Dirtstyle 2.0

Here we go, yo.

I decided I liked this simplistic layout enough to make it the new theme for the blog as I rebuild. I want (need) to get back to using this outlet, and building it up from scratch is appealing. So here it is, dirtstyle, with big ass images.

There's more on the way. The writerly mission is to start delving into the sorts of things you'd find in the archives, a kind of personal wiki. I'm toying with the idea of mixing in real gonzo-style stuff with the usual autobio/about-me crap, taking things a little bit further, maybe making up a bunch of pseudonyms. In any case, I'm going to get back into writing about the juicy stuff.

On the coding end, I need to figure out some clever way to deal with categories and the like. I also need to figure out how best to incorporate all the varied content. Not just the archives, but also the old blog content, and disparate things like Vagabender. It'll be an evolution.

I'm looking forward to it.

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Form Up!


This is the best metaphor for how we roll: Voltron. Each individual spaceship/robot tiger is a formidable beast, but when we pull together we become a super ass-kicking machine.

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OG Dojo

Dojo Art

One of the young rockers from the dojo made that. Pretty sweet.

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SmartyPants Test

This is a test of SmartyPants module, which should (like my old WordPress blog) convert two minuses into dashes -- allowing me to make my much-beloved paranthetical insertions like this -- as well as doing "curly quotes" and other such punctuation...

Yep. Works. Also added tags.

This may be nerd-prejudice talking, but in my years of experience, if you want to publish yourself online, you should become HTML literate in the basics like bold, blockquote, link, etc. These basic tools plus smart ASCII conversion like SmartyPants or even wiki-like Textile (which does bulleted lists, etc) are going to continue outperforming javascript-based markup toolbars for some time, and will be much more portable.

All that changes if/when Google releases the toolbar they use in Gmail and their web 2.0 office apps for public consumption, but I'm not holding my breath on that one.

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