Open Source, the Web, Technology, a Drupal Focus

Drupalcon Denver - The Strange Tale of Morbus Iff

Submitted by matthew on Sun, 2012-02-26 20:05 is a very proud sponsor of Drupalcon Denver. Part of the sponsorship includes ads on the Drupalcon site. The team at decided to have some fun with them. Five members of the team were chosen to be "subjects" of each ad. Morbus Iff is the second in a series of five stories.

morbusAn Introduction
There really is no translation for so much of what I'm writing here. I'm doing my best to take something that is so very alien to the human mind and make it digestible and give it context so we, such a small creature tucked inside of itself, can begin to fathom the story of Morbus Iff. His (its/her) species is nothing like we are accustomed to - but, it turns out, they are very very adept with PHP. So bear with me dear reader, as I weave the Strange Tale of Morbus Iff and how he came to develop on Drupal.

Part I - The Seedling
The Seedling had the beginnings of a conscious mind. The very start. The beginning murmurs. A speck of thought. The Seedling was nestled in its incubation node, floating in a warm slurry of nutrients. At this point the Seedling had no name - just an attribution of numbers associated with the incubation node. A name would be assigned based on the order in which the Seedling emerged from the pod and began consuming information and food outside of its current dwelling. This was known as the Extensible Mandible Line - Reproductive Pod Conduit, providing input for the little larvae to survive. Little did it know that it would become central to the most important Content Management System a creature called Homo Sapiens would ever know all those millions of light years away.

Drupalcon Denver - Who is the REAL Rok Zlender?

Submitted by matthew on Sat, 2012-02-25 21:20 is a very proud sponsor of Drupalcon Denver. Part of the sponsorship includes ads on the Drupalcon site. The team at decided to have some fun with them. Five members of the team were chosen to be "subjects" of each ad. After they were done, it seemed it would be fun to include a back story for each.

Disclaimer: THIS IS FICTION. Nothing here bears any kind of truth.
It is complete and utter nonsense.

Rok Zlender makes an audacious claim. He tells us he has been attending Drupalcons since 2006. To debunk this claim, we have to travel back to rural United States in 1898. We need to travel to Damascus Virginia.

Part I - Chipmunks and River Otters
Rok's ancestors aren't from Slovenia as he claims. In fact, his grandfather, Roger Slender, attended the first school in Damascus. It was built just south of the railroad trestle across Beaver Creek. Roger loved "The Little Red School House" with its three rooms. Mr. Jones Baker was his teacher and he learned spelling, geography, and grammar. For three years he revelled in his studies and learned quickly. Roger was a bright student with a bright future ahead of him.

Then disaster struck.

The Little Red School House burned down in 1901. School resumed in the Lutheran Church and Roger's fate changed - and in a strange way would intertwine with Garrison Keillor's - the man that has made Lutherans funny. But that is another story that won't begin until 1942 and has little to do with the man we now know as Rok. Roger came to despise the tiny town - even today it has fewer than 1000 people - that stole his beloved Red School House. He refused to speak and was desperate to get away. Much to his parents dismay, he ran away from home and joined a travelling band of Appalachian Trail hikers who earned a living by selling woven coverlets that were made from the wool of river otters and chipmunks.

Drupalcon Denver - Feb 21, 2012 - LAST DAY FOR EARLY BIRD PRICING

Submitted by matthew on Tue, 2012-02-21 09:03

Want to save $50? If you're planning on going to Drupalcon Denver today is the last possible day to get in at the early bird pricing. At midnight Mountain Time, the price goes from $350 to $400. That extra $50 in Denver would a REALLY nice meal for a couple of people with drinks. It could get two people into the official party. It is an Association membership with $20 left over. Come on? What are you waiting for? REGISTER today to access more than 104 sessions including core conversations, three GREAT keynotes, more Birds of a Feather conversations than you can shake a stick at. That does not even include the networking opportunities.

If you register today, that comes to $70/day. That increases by $10/day tonight (February 21/2012) at midnight.


Drupalcon Denver - What's the ROI?

Submitted by matthew on Tue, 2012-01-24 00:49

Disclaimer: None of the following quotes reflects any specific individual, company, agency, or person.

From Corporate Land:

Why on earth would you need or want to go to this Drupalcon thing? It sounds an awful lot like your just going on a trip on the company's dime! Can't you just learn this stuff from a book?

If you want to go, you need to pay for it yourself and take vacation time.

From Agency Land:

We can't really afford to send all of you, how about we give you a fixed stipend to offset the cost. But we do really NEED all of you to go. Who knows who might be there who is looking for a job that you might be able to recruit. So, you all need to go.

From Independent Contractor Land:

Dear Husband/Wife - Drupalcon just seems like an excuse for you to spend our travel money. Why should you get to go to [insert city here]? And twice a year? We simply can't afford for you to do this!

So, what is the return on investment by going to Drupalcon? How will your experience change over several Drupalcons? What are the best reasons you can give your employer and/or significant other why you should go?

Drupalcon Denver Jobs - Sign Up Now!

Submitted by matthew on Mon, 2012-01-16 21:58

The time has finally come. You can sign up for volunteer jobs and time slots You may have received an email if you signed up previously on the general interest form or you expressed interest through Mailchimp. Sign up quickly for the spots you are interested in!

How can you help? We need tote bag stuffers, power strip placers and strikers, help desk helpers, and room monitors. What's in it for you? Well, first of all awesome karma and the knowledge you are contributing to our amazing community.

Not convinced? Well, you will also get a nifty t-shirt that calls you out as one of the elite - an awesome volunteer!

How do you sign up? Fill out the form below or go directly to the signup sheet.

2011 - Looking Back

Submitted by matthew on Sun, 2012-01-01 17:09

This post has become an annual tradition. Each year, I take some time to look back on the year - I reflect on the good and the bad. A couple of years ago, the sad events surrounding my leaving pingVision sent me down a path of starting a company and beginning work with This year has really involved the maturing the Development engine at Examiner with a great deal of focus on process.

Examiner starting using Drupal 7 before it was much more than a twinkle in Webchick's eye. It was barely committed to HEAD and wasn't even barely close to being ready for prime time. After 1 year of officially having D7 released, started looking at its coded base and the length of time it was taking to upgrade its core to the lastest security release. Many of the forks were related to Examiner's need to have incomplete chunks of D7 working. This year we undid what we had done making core upgrades much simpler.

Being able to do multivariate testing became a high priority for the company this past year. Using Google Optimizer and some clever work from our theme team, multivariate and A/B testing became a reality. Being able to test different layouts and determine the relative success of each layout is a powerful tool in any Website's toolbox.

Days 12 through 15 - Deployment Day and Retrospective

Submitted by matthew on Tue, 2011-12-27 22:00

The next few days are like a timer counting down. Sometimes the conversations feel a bit like a NASA control room. We review and re-review our plans because this deployment isn't going to be a small one. It is likely in the top 3 in scope since I began over two years ago.

Day 12 - Testing

We started with Scrum, Scrum, Scrum, and Scrum of Scrums.

Testing continued on Day 12 - and all the while we continued to work through Product Manager user stories. Supporting artifacts were shared as well. This segued into the Project Managers reviewing points and starting to assign teams for the next timebox. For this cycle, we found that our story points were roughly double to the number of the points available for the next timebox. This requires a feedback loop with the Executive committee to prioritize completed set of user stories.

The Executive Technical Leadership Committee met where we discussed a variety of issues, successes, and follow ups from the prior week. This committee fulfills the role of a CTO.

Finally, I also reviewed a patent application.

Day 13 - Testing, Stories, and Horse Trading

We continued to work through user stories and test. We had a 90 minute meeting with the Executive Committee to discuss the priorities where some items were shifted lower on the priority list and, for intents, got knocked out of the upcoming timebox and into the next.

Testing is coming to an end at this point. Day 14 will be release day and so only the most critical items are prioritised to be addressed before we release. This means several status meetings throughout the day. In this timebox, we were still engaged with status meetings until later in the evening. This was partially due to a timebox that was 25% smaller than our normal 20 day period. It was also in part because we launched our new mobile experience transitioning from a third party, Verve, to an entirely Drupal based mobile site. This shift greatly enhances the user's experience on a mobile device by leveraging block logic from the desktop site and providing access to all content. The Verve experience was limited to the previous 30 days.

Day 11 - Stories, Stories, and More Stories

Submitted by matthew on Mon, 2011-12-19 21:46

We Were Busy
Today was an extraordinarily busy day in the timebox. We're in the midst of attending to revealing defects in our current release, some fairly significant configuration work to support America Inspired, reviewing tons of user stories, writing user stories, and continued work on setting up JIRA with Greenhopper to replace our ticketing system.

The Scrums
The day started out, as usual, with three scrums that cover the work our three distinct teams are working through. The scrums at this point are less about the developers telling us what they've worked on, what they are working on, and what blockers they have and more about the QA team reporting on results that have come through testing. We do look at our story board spreadsheet to confirm that stories are either green or nearly green. We also make hard decisions on features that might not be ready for release in the time box. Those are noted and we socialise that news with stakeholders as appropriate. We're also looking at any stories that might be at risk and identify alternate plans for those stories. That might comprise a) deferring the story for completion in the next timebox or b) completing the work during the QA week or c) releasing the new feature partially. Finally, the project management team got together for a scrum of scrums where we identify any problem areas that might have emerged.

Drupalcamp Austin - My Keynote

Submitted by matthew on Sat, 2011-12-17 02:50

A few days ago Drupalcamp Austin posted the video from my talk. I see things I like in my presentation. I see things that I can improve.

That all said, I think the message is pretty good. You get a little history lesson on Project Management. I focus on Cowboy, Waterfall, and Agile. I talk about communication and expectations. The presentation then discusses, with quite a bit of detail, how our development process has evolved and where we are at this point in time. I'm really proud of the work we've done at - and I'm so very impressed by our team. Everybody has been involved in moving this football.

There are cats, manholes, fighter jets, pyramids, castles, waterfalls, ravens, monsters, wine, books, and just a little H.P. Lovecraft.

Thank you to and to Drupalcamp Austin for facilitating my sharing. You all rock. If you're interested in seeing my remarks - here they are.

Day 10 - The Transition

Submitted by matthew on Sat, 2011-12-17 01:39

The last few days have pretty much been nose down to the grindstone coding like crazy for the development team. Days 5-9 were pretty much the same with a few exceptions.

Day 7
On this day the Epics and High Level User Stories were delivered and these helped define user stories that needed design artifacts. The project team started sifting through the stories to identify any pitfalls or problems. As the Technical Product Architect, I start to think really hard about approaches that we might be able take when we get down to the Drupal part of the implementation. Are there any contributed modules that might fit the bill? Sitting down with various Product Managers we began detailing how the product vision would technically be handled.

Day 9
Largely the user stories were delivered. As a team we really started doing a great job of reviewing individual stories. Certain members of the development team had their features code complete which opened them up to help review the stories that were being delivered. We started looking at wireframes.

During these two days, the Executive Committee were helping continue form priorities for the next Timebox.


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