The First 14 Programs I Needed

A little while ago my Windows computer became unusable and it was time to reformat and reinstall. The sordid tale is even documented: Hi Ho, Oh No, Installing I Must Go.

Like most people, I'd collected a variety of programs that were used seldom or not at all. Starting over with a clean desktop, it was fascinating to watch which programs I installed because of immediate need. Here are the first fourteen.

Happy Retirement Lionel!

Lionel TolanMy first job in my chosen career was technologist in the Technical Support Workshop of the Computer Services department at Simon Fraser University. I worked there for almost five years in the early 80s. It was a great starting job, a great place to work, and I made some life-long friends. And there's even a few people up there who remember me, though now there's one less.

Lionel Tolan ran the Operations section when I started at SFU. He was extremely personable and boy could he tell a story. And he had ideas. He was one of a handful of people there that made a big impression on me, though at the time I wasn't quite sure what to make of him. Little did I know then I was talking to a future mover and shaker in the SFU community. I moved on to a better job and Lionel ultimately became Director of University Computing Services. After 38 years at SFU Lionel decided to retire.

It was with pleasure I was able to attend Lionel's farewell reception last Wednesday. It was clear from the testimonials he's extremely well respected by both the people working for him and the academic community. An incredible feat, especially if you know any of the history of computing at SFU. And he still has the same spark that impressed me 25 years ago.

Once again, all the best Lionel! I'm sure this isn't so much retirement as a career change. Best of luck in what ever you do next.

Photo by Grant Dimock

Drupal Camp Vancouver is a Go!

Shuttle Launch

On the eve of DrupalCon – Boston, a Drupal Camp in Vancouver finally became a reality. I'm very excited!

We Vancouver Drupalites had elevated talk of a Vancouver Drupal Camp to that of discussing the weather (Canadians talk about the weather a lot, eh). Nice day, wouldn't a Drupal Camp be a good idea. It's raining, something indoors like a Drupal Camp would be nice. Smells like cannabis, oh, wait, wrong kind of cloudy day. Anyway.

Dave O started turning the talk a bit more serious a bunch of months ago and even took notes. We were on the verge, all it took was: Vancouver DrupalCamp this summer?. Ariane has secured her place in history as Vancouver Drupal Camp's catalyst. Or maybe Godmother.

The post resulted in a meeting last night and the talk turned into action: Drupal Camp Vancouver the first week of May. We have everything left to do, but we've started.

Way more to come. If you're interested in helping out please join the discussions at

Shuttle photo by p_c_w

Northern Voice Wrap Up

Moose Mosaic by Duane Story

Northern Voice is finished for another year and we had awesome sessions! And talented/awesome participants, the moose mosaic was produced by Duane Story from 1600 of the some 2700 Flickr photos taken.

It doesn't seem that long ago I was seated at a table with the other organizers in the speaker/session selection process. We had a great batch of submissions to pick from, which is exactly the situation to be in, but with the downside we couldn't accept all the sessions we wanted. There was much discussion around number of tracks, session length, over-all day length. So many trade-offs. This is a great bunch of people to work with and I witnessed one of the smoothest journeys to consensus I have ever seen in a room with more than four people in it (including Darren and Julie with a virtual presence from Malta!).

Of course there were bumps along the way. There always is. Hiccups with the web site because of misbehaving software, teething pains with payment gateways, last minute venue details big and small (we did try to get a coat rack this year, honest) and sadly, rubber duck fratricide. Did I mention the organizing committee is a great bunch of people to work with? All these issues and more were handled with grace-under-fire. And then the day of the conference was here.

Why Drupal and Joomla Are Good For Each Other?

One of the open source dynamics I find interesting is how associated communities borrow the best ideas from each other. It's true in the Drupal/Joomla/Wordpress space and true in the Python/Perl/Ruby space. It's been the observation of many that all the communities benefit from the diversity of their "sister" projects. Some say it's just healthy competition. Research highlighted in this Indiana University press release, The downside of a good idea, indicates it's deeper than that:

Goldstone found that the fully connected groups performed the best when solving simple problems. Small world groups, however, performed better on more difficult problems. For these problems, the truism "The more information, the better" is not valid.

"The small world network preserves diversity," Goldstone said. "One clique could be coming up with one answer, another clique could be coming up with another. As a result, the group as a whole is searching the problem space more effectively. For hard problems, connecting people by small world networks offers a good compromise between having members explore a variety of innovations, while still quickly disseminating promising innovations throughout the group.

My heart is with Drupal, may it lead the pack, but I hope our fellow communities thrive as well!

No, Really! ... It's a Contribution

This paragraph from Jody Hamilton's post, Drupal Time-savers made me laugh:

22 Interview Tips

Thomas Clifford

Seen via life hacker:

My 22 Best On-Camera Interviewing Tips Ever by a fellow named Thomas R. Clifford.

The comments are worth reading, as well.

Geoff Hankerson's 10 Tips for Better Sounding Podcasts


A "new" Drupal blogger with audio expertise has appeared on the Planet Drupal scene. Geoff Hankerson's blog has a mix of Drupal and technical audio pieces. Excellent! There are very few people with a solid foot in both worlds.

Announcing This Day in History

I'm pleased to announce my first Drupal module contribution: This Day in History. It provides an "on this day in history" feature block for your website. For example, if today was January 6th the birth of Joan of Arc (born January 6, 1412) might be displayed in the This Day in History block.

The module adds node type: Historical event, and supports the Node import module for importing historical events. Any number of display blocks can be created, and the events displayed can be selected by a number of different criteria, including randomly. If no event exists for the current day, no block is displayed.

Low-Cost Multi-touch Whiteboard using the Wii Remote

This is absolutely super-cool amazing! In this YouTube video a fellow named Johnny Chung Lee at Carnegie Mellon University shows how to use a Wii Remote to create a light pen based touch screen white board. He also shows how to apply the same technique to a regular computer screen. I can see manufacturers coming out with a $100 version of this for any computer in the near future.


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