Publishing/Computing Deja Vu

Elastic Path ImageElastic Path is a Vancouver based commerce vendor who not only "get" business blogging but prove it by doing it well on their Get Elastic blog. They recently did a video-cast on their thoughts at the close at the Book Expo of America: Breaking Down the Book Expo. Book publishing is a topic I've loosely followed for quite a few years, so it was very interesting to hear their take.

A large part of their discussion involved changing distribution channels. Their comments resonated with my memories of this playing out in the computer industry as computers became cheaper. The established companies struggled with whether or not they should use sales channels that allowed them compete with their own distributors. The book industry has many notable differences from the computing industry of 20 years ago, so direct comparison isn't useful. However, I suspect there's some useful lessons buried in the past!

And I can't help but think, the more things change, the more they stay the same. Or is it same crap, different day?

Canadian Podcasting Legal Guide

First seen in Stephen Downe's fire hose of an aggregation feed at

Podcasting Legal Guide for Canada

Podcasting Legal Guide ImageNow, Creative Commons Canada is proud to present the Podcasting Legal Guide for Canada! More than just an adaptation of the original U.S. Guide, this version required an almost complete rewrite of the copyright sections to describe Canadian law, as well as substantial changes to the discussions of trade-marks and publicity rights.

Podcasting Legal Guide For Canada: Online (HTML) Version | PDF Version

I haven't read it in detail, but the sections I did read were very understandable. Definitely a great reference.

June 2007 Van Drupalers Meeting: Amazon Web Services

Alex HarfordThe Vancouver League of Drupalers June 2007 meeting topic was Amazon Web Services, of which S3 is arguably the best know. It was given by Alex Harford (pictured right, photo by Roland). We heard about him and his Amazon knowledge though the local Linux community. He graciously accepted our invitation to speak.

Alex's presentation slides, available at, are quite good. If you're interested and want an overview of the services I encourage you to browse them.

Some things I learned:

  • The simple storage service, S3, is very straight forward. It has an option to serve your file by bittorret and is scriptable.
  • The SQS: Simple Queue Service was interesting but I wasn't sure why I'd want to use it until I understood what EC2: Elastic Compute Cloud was.
  • EC2: Elastic Compute Cloud is a virtual private server (VPS) service you can rent by the hour. Firing up new instances is a menu click and is scriptable. (Hmmm, need a new build server but only for a couple hours …..)
  • The Mechanical Turk service seemed gimmicky but the idea hamster for one of the attending Drupaler's went into overdrive.
  • There are web and Linux clients for handling files, so no programming is required to get something basic going

Even though I have no current requirement for Amazon Web Services I wish I did. I'd love an excuse to play with them!

Drupal Camp Seattle 2007

Drupal Camp Seattle PictureCongrats and thanks to Robin Barre (robeano),, and Gregory Heller (GregoryHeller), CivicActions, for a great DrupalCamp Seattle 2007. Good job you two!

Also thanks to the sponsors, CivicActions, Pyramid Communications, and Uptown Espresso for the food and coffee. The coffee was great and the snacks were a first class nice touch.

And we had real wireless this year!!! It wasn't blazing, but it was solid enough for Roland to stream video. Or maybe it wasn't blazing because of Roland's streaming ....

This year's event was a one day affair. On the plus side it meant I could hitch a ride down for the day and not have to worry about a place to stay (though getting up at 4am to do it was brutal). On the down side there was less opportunity to mix. Still, socializing did occur and it was nice to touch bases with some folks I hadn't seen for a while.

Highlights for me were Robin's jQuery session and seeing how Gregory approached creating the demo website.

omg my mom joined facebook!!

Susan Mernit posted on this New York Times article: 'omg my mom joined facebook!!' with a quote I simply couldn't resist:

"...unfriend paige right now. im serious. i dont care if they request you. say no. i will be soo mad if you dont unfriend paige right now. actually."

Theming 101 – The theme_links Function

This article is an in-depth look at the theme_links function. Two notable uses of theme_links are theming a site's primary navigation links and, as of Drupal 5, the link list appearing in a node (nodelinks) i.e., Read More, Comments.

Changing these lists is a common theming requirement. After reading this article you'll be able to quickly determine if theme_links can handle your changes or if a new formatting function is required. You may also find the theme_links function appropriate for other uses in your theme or module.

ze frank on Customer Communications

Seen on The NOSE and too good not to share: ze frank's "educational video" on communication: Communication #1.

ze frank' Communication #1

New Zend Podcast: PHP Abstract

Zend has a new PHP Developer Podcast called PHP Abstract:

PHP Abstract LogoEach episode features a different special guest bringing you their expertise, compressed into a five to seven minute package.

We will be covering a broad range of topics. From security to project planning and hiring good developers and much more.

Their first podcast, PHP Abstract Episode 1 - PHP Security Tips, featured Eli White. What a relief to have someone skip over the same rehashed security material into things less commonly talk about.

Off to a good start in my books. At under 10 minutes a shot I'll be subscribing to check them out. (And have already suggested Dries as a great guest choice! ;)

Creating Links (aka Anchor tags) - The "l" Function

Note: This article covers the l function for Drupal 5. While most of the information is still applicable to Drupal 6, the function call has changed. See for the Drupal 6 version of the call.

Why would anchor tags warrant attention? It's just a text string after all. Concatenate a variable or two with some text to create the link and you're done, right? Maybe.

Do you want to move your code between different Drupal installations? If the answer is yes you need to worry about handling the differences between servers, things like whether clean URLs (1) are enabled or the instance is installed in a base directory (2).

Having to test and determine output based on specific conditions sounds like a good candidate for a function. The Drupal programmers who came before you though so as well, thus we have the "l" function.

The l function brings with it other advantages. If the link is Drupal content with a URL path alias the l function will automatically use the path alias, even if it's passed the Drupal "system" URL. If the URL you're specifying happens to be the current page, it automatically adds class="active", which is very handy when using CSS to theme navigation links.

Screencast on RSS

Brian Lamb PhotoBrian Lamb is an innovator in the local education technology sector, which is to say he's an online educator with a very active idea-hamster in his head. The stuff he's doing with RSS aggregative is wicked-cool.

In a recent blog post, Quickie screencast - distributed content publishing via blogs, RSS, whatever..., Brain gave a flavour of the possible.


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