Podcasters Across Borders (PAB) 2008

PAB 2008It's hard to find a conference dedicated to podcasting, especially in Canada. The best I've been able to find on the left coast are occasional presentations at venues like Northern Voice or Net Squared Tuesday. Back East, there's Podcasters Across Borders. I wanted to go this year, but couldn't justify the travel costs (and I think I made a mistake).

But there's good news, the presentations were taped and posted online:

And I'm having a blast listening to them!

Anyone that listens to the Canadian Podcast Buffet knows there's a strong podcasting community back East. The conference podcasts certainly can't reproduce the face-to-face goodness that conference goers experienced. But, as the saying goes, they're the next best thing and well worth a listen in their own right.

If you have any interest in podcasting I strongly recommend checking them out.

And props to organizers Bob Goyetche and Mark Blevis. Awesome presentation choices, guys!

Remembering the User - Vancouver League of Drupalers August 2008 Meeting

Oliver (Olly) Walker shared four techniques he uses for making Drupal easier for his customers at the August 28th meeting of the Vancouver League of Drupalers. Olly, better known as baronmunchowsen on GDO, is a web developer who specializes in websites for small businesses. He's promised to post presentation slides and we were fortunate enough to catch him on tape. The video is available below or at blip.tv as Remembering the User - 4 Drupal Enhancements.

Update Sep 4/08: Slides are now available at Slideshare: Vancouver League of Drupallers - Remembering the User (August 2008)

Archiving Large Files to a FAT Drive

Book DriveManaging personal data storage is one of those ongoing challenges, especially as digital data sources increase in size and frequency. One of my archive solutions is a Western Digital Book Drive (so named because of it's size). It's 500 gigabytes and has both Firewire and USB2 connections, perfect for use on both my MS Windows XP system and Macintosh PowerBook G4. It's been painless, up till now.

To use it on both systems I need to use the FAT file system, which is the file system it comes formatted with out-of-the-box. This was fine until I started video editing. Now I have files exceeding the maximum file size FAT can handle. This is doubly bad since I do my video editing on my Powerbook with it's 80 gigabyte main disk drive and CDROM. Not only do I need all the space I can get but most video projects exceed 640 megabytes, so archiving to CD is tedious in the extreme.

OS X Unix to the rescue. I've solved the problem of archiving to my Book Drive by using the tar and split commands. Open a terminal console and go to the directory you keep your projects in. For example, Movies. For the sake of this example, we'll say the files are in a directory called Project1. To archive:

Email Newsletters and the Simplenews Module

In April 2008 the Vancouver League of Drupalers featured a presentation on email newsletters by Monique Trottier of Boxcar Marketing titled: Email Newsletters: WTF?, and an overview of the Simplenews module by yours truly.

The video of Monique's presentation turned out well and can be viewed with complete show notes at Email Newsletters: WTF? (6 Mistakes to Avoid), or by watching the embedded video below. It's filled with practical information and a must-see for anyone serious about using newsletters.

My presentation didn't video so well, so here's the recreated notes:


Simplenews is a module that adds newsletters to Drupal. It has the following major features:

Zoom H2 Recording with Two External Microphones

The Samson Zoom H2 digital recorder allows 2 channel recording from external sources but uses a consumer 1/8" stereo jack for input. Even though it has those independent channels the standard microphone cabling options only allow for connection of a single device. It makes one envious of those Zoom H4 owners and their two individual input jacks. Fortunately there's a simple non-standard cable option for dual mono channel recording!

Supposed stereo/mono adaptor
Alleged stereo/mono adaptor. Didn't work.

This is purely an electrical problem, we need a cable or adaptor that splits the 1/8" stereo jack's connections into 2 - 1/8" mono jacks. Those of you comfortable with a soldering iron could put together a cable like this in 15 minutes. It's been around 15 years since I've done any component soldering so I opted for a purchased solution.

A stereo to dual-mono adaptor seems like a no-brainer, but be careful. I thought I'd found one fitting the description at a local electronics supply store, but in spite of the correct textual description the adaptor wasn't wired the way I though it was (They really need to include schematic diagrams).

My solution was slightly different. Using a stereo 1/8" plug to dual RCA connector cable as a starting point I knew I had the left and right audio channels properly separated. To complete the cable all I needed was RCA to 1/8" jack adaptors. An additional advantage of this cable over an adaptor plug is the cable doesn't stick out as far from the side.

Zoom H2 with dual mono cable

This cable is field tested and works like a charm with my Zoom H2. I've recorded "two microphone" interviews with great results.

Free Scriptwriting Software: celtx

celtx Screen ShotsA company named celtx has released version 1.0 of their free (and open source) scriptwriting software of the same name. The website is a little plain-jane, go to the Features Tour page for videos of what the software can do.

I've downloaded and played around with it a little bit. They've included a couple of samples projects so you have some real stuff to check it out with. Looking good so far!

It supports the following formats:

  • Screenplay
  • Stage Play (international and US standard)
  • AV scripts (documentaries, music videos and advertising)
  • Audio Play (radio plays and podcasts)
  • Comic Book
  • Plain Text

But it's more than just formatting, it also does story boarding, tracks characters and does scene breakdowns. A full set of features listed here: http://www.celtx.com/features.html

Although Celtx isn't overtly intended for book writing some of the tools look like they could be useful for book authors. If you've ever wished for tracking tools it might be worth checking out. The caveat is your working style needs to match the celtx workflow .

celtx also has online publishing and collaboration services, which where they make their money. One of the more intriguing services is the ability to view a project via an iPhone.

I'm looking forward to trying some real work on a podcast project to see if there's some substance to the flash.

Tip of the hat to Podcasting News (Free Open Source Scriptwriting Software).

WordCamp Fraser Valley July 2008

WordCamp Fraser Valley BadgeKnown as a Drupal (fan) boy, an evening of WordPress might be the last place you'd expect to find me. But I know a lot of people running Wordpress, and have even recommended it on a number of occasions. And I'm a bit of a conference whore. So there I was at WordCamp Fraser Valley, which had nothing to do with Microsoft Word and everything to do with the WordPress blogging platform.

The first pleasant surprise of the evening was open wireless. A big thank you to Think Referrals for sponsoring this.

I'm certainly not the first person to observe this, and it wasn't a surprise, but it was still really interesting seeing how different the WordPress audience was versus a typical Drupal audience. Many, many end users versus a tiny number of developers. It really brought home how successful Automattic is evangelizing their product with WordPress.com and making it accessible to non-technical types.

The evening consisted of lots of interesting short talks. For the best coverage of the evening, see Miss 604's blog post: WordCamp Fraser Valley Liveblog.

WordCamp Fraser Valley

Surrey Drupal Meeting July 2008

Last night at the Surrey Drupal Users Group Rick Vugteveen from ImageX Media gave a great presentation on creating a blog site in Drupal 6 using CCK, Views and a number of support modules. He lugged his 20 odd inch monitor for the presentation and it worked rather well at the restaurant table. Not sure if he's going to post his slides. I haven't asked him yet, but hoping we can get a repeat performance for the Vancouver group.

Surrey Drupal Meeting July 10, 2008

In an interesting experiment the Surrey group has decided to go with a presence on Meetup: http://drupal.meetup.com/18/ in addition to hanging out with GDO Vancouver. I'm curious to see if and how this influences the community development.

Props to ImageX Media for their community support. They were one of our star sponsors for Drupal Camp Vancouver by being one of the first to sign up, first to get their cheque in, and additionally making office support staff available. If they keep this up they'll do for Drupal in Surrey what Bryght did for Drupal in Vancouver. It was, of course, fated that I misremembered and horribly mangled company president Glenn Hilton's name no less than three times before my miserable lump of a brain found a neuron cluster capable of simple long term retention. Sorry about that, Glenn!

And thanks to Katy at Seascape Web Design for taking on the group organization.

NetSquared Podcasting for Social Change Presentation

NetSquared LogoFor those that might be interested I've posted a recap of the Net Tuesday Podcasting presentation over at Digital Doodles: Podcasting for Social Change. There's lots of links to event coverage and a couple of photos.

A User Facing Content Management View

Drupal does not have user facing content management out of the box. Fortunately, a user facing content management page can be created in 5 minutes using Views. It's not a panacea, but can provide part of the solution.

User Content Management View

I typically use this view in conjunction with a menu block. The menu block has visibility set by role and contains links useful to the user, such as a link to this view, the content creation URL (node/add/foo), and the user's profile.


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