Open Source, the Web, Technology, a Drupal Focus

Drupalcon Munich - Manage Projects Like a Pro

Submitted by matthew on Tue, 2012-07-10 23:26

Drupalcon Munich Drupalcon Munich is just around the corner. I'm busy revamping my presentation on Project Management, thinking hard about what I've learned since the last couple of times I've presented on this subject. The truth is, I'm constantly learning new tips and tricks from the people I work with. These days, I'm busy learning the styles of an almost whole new crew of folks. One guy, Morbus is a well known quantity.

My role at Trellon is somewhat different than what I was doing at Examiner. Examiner was leveraging my overall experiences and allowing me to take part in some strategic decisions - but wasn't fully making use of my experience since 1995 when I got into the crazy business of information technology. Strangely enough, my work in Technical Theatre was some of the best preparation for the Internet world. I'll write more on that another time.

In Munich, come to my session and learn why:

Anatomy of My Site's D7 Upgrade

Submitted by matthew on Sun, 2012-06-17 20:08

A couple of days ago, I attended meetup in Boulder. I like to try and get to local meetups on a regular basis - they give me a chance to hear what others are doing in the community, shake some hands, and break bread. There was a discussion on responsive design and a couple of pretty cool related demos. All this inspired me to upgrade my site to D7. Fortunately, being between Examiner and starting with Trellon gave me some time to work on this project.

Step 1 - I needed a copy of the database. I used PHPMyAdmin on the site to export a copy of the database
Step 2 - On my localhost, I imported the database using Bigdump MySQL import tool.
Step 3 - I grabbed a copy of my Drupal site code and updated it and its contrib modules to the lastest versions in D6. Drupal 7 will not allow you to upgrade your instance of Drupal 6 to 7 unless you are at the latest security release.
Step 4 - I grabbed the latest version of D7 and the D7 equivalent versions of D7 contrib modules and went ahead and upgraded locally.
Step 5 - I started looking through a bunch of different contrib themes and finally settled on TouchPro.
Step 6 - Installed Backup and Migrate locally. This module allows you to backup and restore databases really quickly. I created a new MySQL database on my localhost, and backed up the database to that database. I pointed the settings.php file at the new instance of the database just to verify it would work.
Step 7 - I started the process of re-configuring the site. I also made some CSS additions to the theme to support padding, bordering, and background on images that have a "left" or "right" alignment in the tag. Mostly it was straight forward, but I did encounter a few interesting twists:

  • Tokens in D7 have changed. This meant that the paths defined in Path for aliasing were all broken. If you are upgrading and find your self challenged because when defining your patterns for paths indicates you must have at least one token, take a look at this thread on Drupal.org.
  • Default RSS feeds from core have changed a little bit. There also appears to be a bug that displays unpublished content in core feeds. The feed I have used to push to Planet Drupal is http://www.dogstar.org/drupal/taxonomy/term/6/0/feed - I needed to recreate this path. I used views and created a custom defined path for the new feed.
  • XML Sitemap takes an extra push where you tell Drupal which sitemap it should update at admin/config/search/xmlsitemap.

My New Workplace - Trellon

Submitted by matthew on Mon, 2012-06-11 21:44

trellonA few days ago I wrote a goodbye post to Examiner.com. I said I had an informal interview within hours of my first social network blast. That company was Trellon. We spent the next week getting to know each other by voice, through IRC, and Skype. A couple of friends who I have worked with in the past vouched for me. Over the course of that week a good rapport built between myself and the Trellon leadership.

It is my great pleasure to being joining the team later this month as Chief Technology Officer - work that I had essentially adopted while at Examiner.com. I'm looking forward to the challenge - and I'll be writing a post in the near future about the job itself.

I want to thank everybody who pitched in to help me in my job search. Your warmth and support was amazing. Network - YOU KNOCKED IT OUT OF THE PARK. A special thank-you goes to Morbus Iff who made the introductions.

Finally, thanks Trellonauts! I'm thrilled.

Being of Service in Drupal

Submitted by matthew on Sat, 2012-06-09 18:49

What do the following have in common?

  1. Church
  2. Foster Care
  3. Charter Schools
  4. Drupal

I've been involved with all four - and they all require members of the community to be Of Service. Without those, who are willing to take time to to benefit a greater good, a community collapses.

I learned about service from a very young age. I became a chorister in St. Matthew's Church when I was 6 or 7 years old. This church choir is an amazing place, producing some of the finest choral musicians of my generation. I had the good fortune of rubbing shoulders with the likes of Gerald Finley, Matthew White, and Daniel Taylor. As a chorister there, I spent every Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons practicing with the other boys. Friday evenings were devoted to full practice with the entire men and boys sections. Then the choir would sing two services on Sundays - one in the morning and one in the evening. The excellence would not have emerged, without those willing to sacrifice personal time to a greater good.

As an adult, I continued this legacy of service by engaging the Foster Care System. The Foster Care System tries to protect/support/save the most vulnerable members of our society. The stories you hear are heartbreaking. This ultimately led to the building of Trauma Adoption, a site devoted to supporting Foster Parents and Adoptive Parents of children who have suffered trauma at a young age. Children would remain parentless, without support, aging out at 18 without those willing to sacrifice personal time to a greater good.

Charter Schools are an interesting entity. They are part of the public school system, but are often instantiated by parents who feel the overall public school system has not served the needs of their children adequately. The formation requires a "charter" which outlines accountability that the school must adhere to in exchange for the partial autonomy it receives from the the system. Charter Schools have governance from a Board of Directors who look at high level issues like HR when they are escalated, the budget, and school adherence to policies. I've been on the Parent Teacher Association Board at one school. I was recently elected to the Crown Pointe Academy Board of Directors. These are volunteer Boards. The school would cease to function properly without proper governance without those willing to sacrifice personal time to a greater good.

How does this relate to Drupal? Understanding the idea that Drupal is a community of Developers, Strategiests, Business People, Project Managers, and so much more is the beginning point. Many of these people are giving of their own time in benefit to the overall community. There is an altruistic element to contributing/sharing/helping - but there are also lots of profoundly good personal reasons to:

Goodbye Examiner.com, Hello Future

Submitted by matthew on Sat, 2012-06-02 14:44

a sunset

Want to help me out? send this article out on your social networks - http://bit.ly/Lbrf5h

I'm sad to say that last Thursday was my last day on the Examiner team. All good things come to an end, and it is time for me to transition to something different. So, what's next? In the near term, I'll be focusing on Vintage Digital LLC a bit. I'm planning on taking on additional contract work. I'm also on the prowl for a new full time work home. If you need or know a company that needs an awesome Internet Strategist/Product Manager/Project Manager, I'm your guy. Feel free to get in touch if you have contract or full time work available.

If you are curious about my experience, you can check out my LinkedIn Profile.

But what an amazing ride! In 2009 I was brought into the Examiner team to shepherd the migration of the site, in cold fusion, to Drupal 7. Keep in mind that Drupal 7 wasn't much yet - it was committed to HEAD, but it wasn't even near an Alpha state. In fact, it wasn't going to be ready for release until January of 2011.

Gymnastics, 3000 BC, Munich and Drupal

Submitted by matthew on Thu, 2012-05-10 20:47

Drupalcon MunichHere we go again! Drupalcon Munich is just around the corner - August 20 - 24th. That may seem like a long time, but for a veteran of organizing one of these events, I can tell you that the work is ramping up rapidly. All my best to our friends and colleagues over the pond who are, undoubtably, working like crazy. I'm looking forward to enjoying the next convention not being behind the scenes.

Agile Gymnastics and Timebox Tumbling - A Hybrid Approach

Over the last few months I've presented on Agile Scrum twice. Once, as one of the Drupalcamp Austin Keynotes and a second time at Drupalcon Denver with my good friend Stacey Harrison. The presentation evolved from one of the events to the next. I've continued to wear my presenter hat and am ready to do Mark III on the topic of Hybrid Agile Project Management.

Learn from the experiences of Examiner.com's team. We've done it all - cowboy, waterfall, extreme, and agile scrum.

Learn why...

  • Waterfall doesn't always work
  • Agile has a place, but isn't the holy grail
  • Cowboy can kill the relationships you have with your stakeholders
  • How "Fixed Scope" is a lie
  • That a combination of approaches is the answer
  • The Examiner team has carefully honed, updated, improved, and iterated its process for over two years. It continues to evolve, improve, and make development more consistent and predictable.

Drupalcon Denver - My Wrap Up, an Insider's View

Submitted by matthew on Sun, 2012-04-01 18:21

Drupalcon Denver Group Image
Denver was my 9th Drupalcon. It was also the Con that opened my eyes. I became part of a very exclusive club and I'll never see another con in the same light.

Being on the Local Organizing Committee was exciting, exhausting, satisfying, and completely worthwhile. So, if you want to spend a little time with me looking back, I'd like that.

Many Many Months Ago
I heard a little yippee from the cube beside mine in the Examiner.com offices. It was a little nervous but definitely excited.

"Hey, hey Matthew. Pop onto #dcondtown."

I popped into the IRC channel and there was a little celebration going on. Denver had been selected for the North American Drupalcon in roughly 18 months. Contracts still needed signing - we were told to keep quiet. This needed to be SECRET until Drupalcon Chicago. But were going to start planning. We were a tiny team at this point - 10 or 12 of us.

We established a weekly meeting time - generally we would meet in Skype, although sometimes we would simply meet in IRC. We needed to finish doing things like:

  • Finalising the Venue
  • Figuring out the food
  • Organizing Partys
  • Line up local volunteers
  • Secure Hotels
  • Figure out our Social Networking Strategy
  • Build the Website
  • Fill the Website with Content
  • Organize Local Marketing and Communication
  • We had Local and Global Track Chairs
  • We needed to work out the Keynotes
  • We had massive amounts of signage to design
  • Badgelets
  • And SO MUCH MORE

Drupalcon Denver - Matthew and the Manly Flowers

Submitted by matthew on Tue, 2012-03-13 22:03

Examiner.com is a very proud sponsor of Drupalcon Denver. Part of the sponsorship includes ads on the Drupalcon site. The team at Examiner.com decided to have some fun with them. Five members of the team were chosen to be "subjects" of each ad. I am the fifth subject in a series of five stories chronicling different community member's alternate time-lines. Or am I? Sometimes life is a stranger the Fiction. I bet you can weed through what is and isn't real.

REGISTER FOR DRUPALCON DENVER NOW!

matthew saundersIntroduction
Saunders sat at his little Macbook Air. He tapped away with the force of a small pony. He was writing short stories about people he knew, people he cared about, people who he respected. Square orange pictures were the starting point for each of the Drupal stories.

Saunders was a Drupal Cuckoo - he started as an outsider. To be honest, you could classify a lot of members of the Drupal community in the same way - but he really did come far afield. Years before, he had been heavily involved in the arts community and theatre communities. His degrees were not in Computer Science or in Information Technology. Saunders was an artist. He found technology by accident while working for an Experimental Dance Company in Ottawa called Le Groupe de La Place Royale. He was deeply saddened in 2009 when the company that started his obsession with technology closed.

What started him down the path was a wild and crazy live video project in a festival called "The Edge" - it changed everything and started a chain of events that brought him to Drupal in 2006 at think-tank style meeting.

Drupalcon Denver - Marc and the Shetland Pony

Submitted by matthew on Sat, 2012-03-10 19:40

Examiner.com is a very proud sponsor of Drupalcon Denver. Part of the sponsorship includes ads on the Drupalcon site. The team at Examiner.com decided to have some fun with them. Five members of the team were chosen to be "subjects" of each ad. Marc Ingram is the fourth in a series of five stories chronicling different community member's alternate time-lines.

REGISTER FOR DRUPALCON DENVER NOW!

Prologue

"There's no place like home. There's no place like home", Marc muttered as he tapped his ruby slippers together and fiercely rubbed his Druplicon stress ball. The damned community had gotten him into this mess - but, frankly, it had also gotten him out of worse messes in the past. Toto jumped out of the basket and ran down the street directly at a man in a blue suit. "Oh Toto, I don't think we're in Kansas anymore!" Ingram quipped. This was because the man wasn't in a seersucker suit, a tuxedo, tailored, or even a cheap suit of the rack. This man, was more ball-like and alien than man-like. Who on earth was this and why would he put up with wearing the "ball"?

Toto sank his teeth into the man's svelt and hosed leg. The man screamed. Ingram looked down at his frock and cursed, "I blame the whole event on the 10 pints of beer I had...." The truth was, the beer had nothing to do with this situation. Fortunately, the situation had helped him focus on the "REAL Marc" - not the one in the pretty dress. He closed his eyes and slipped back into his happy place. That badass kick-boxing place. A place where his code reviews ROCKED and where he had pwned Drupal. A place where that damnable Toto had never come into his life.

The Allegory of Kévin DuPont

Submitted by matthew on Tue, 2012-03-06 19:58

Examiner.com is a very proud sponsor of Drupalcon Denver. Part of the sponsorship includes ads on the Drupalcon site. The team at Examiner.com decided to have some fun with them. Five members of the team were chosen to be "subjects" of each ad. Kevin Bridges is the third in a series of five stories.

Kévin DuPont was the gatekeeper and blacksmith in the Town of Master's Branch. Not only did he create the things that held the town together - nails, hammers, picks, and saws, but he also watched carefully to ensure the evil and dark mole creatures could not, would not ever enter the town.

He was named DuPont because his father had build the one and only bridge that crossed the mystical lake to the island. The island became a walled city - safe for all those inside, built stone by stone by the band of protectors. The bridge served as the one and only entrance to the magical town and was known as the Terminus.

The water surrounding the walls was filled with magic that repelled all those that didn't know the special key - the sorcerer's name and the sorcerer's secret words. This Halt Terminus Access spell was designed to only allow those who knew the special words a way in. Those who were granted access would experience such wonders! The city was full of flowers, fine tapestries (made from the fur of chipmunks, river otters, and voles), and libraries full of books. All of these wonders were discoverable by the Indices of Mongo the Great.

Mongo was one of the greatest magicians the creator had ever brought forth. His speed was beyond compare. He had an older brother - a brother who had been relegated to the basest of functions in the town. He would wake the town up if the town ever slept. He was responsible for each of the doors in the town. He kept the town census. My Sevinus Quirrel was often known simply by his initials - he quietly kept things running in the background.

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