A Weekend Like No Other (with no BarCamp)

03:01, 27 August 2005 . . Slowpokeiv . . 1600×...
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This was supposed to be my review of BarCampMilwaukee6, with all the usual comments on what I learned, what I shared, and how much fun I had with the always-unique band of BarCampers. Only problem is that I missed it, for the first time.

I don’t know if this qualifies as a legitimate excuse, but there was a unique confluence of sporting events in Wisconsin last weekend:

Like 225,000+ other Brewer fans, I tossed my name into the virtual hat to get what limited seats might be available for a playoff game at Miller Park. Astonishingly, I was one of the 5500 names selected to buy tickets for the Division Series. At the time, nobody knew when the games would be, so there was a chance that BarCamp wouldn’t be affected at all. But I had a plan, just in case the games were on the weekend: I’d buy tickets for the Sunday game, and go to BarCamp Saturday.

When the time came to actually login and buy the tickets, the Virtual Waiting Room was not kind to me. By the time I got through, there was just standing room available for Game #2. Didn’t want to spend $25 to walk around the ballpark, so I dropped out.

What I didn’t know at the time was that my brother-in-law got tickets for Game #1. After he offered me one of his tickets, I was on Plan B: I’d see baseball on Saturday, and go to BarCamp Sunday. This is what happened last year, when I went to the Farm Aid show at the same location. This would be fine.

Until Thursday. I was working hard when I got a call from my boss’ boss. This sort of thing never happens. Any worries I might have had about the subject of the call were dissipated early. The CEO was wondering if I might be interested in using his tickets to the Packer game Sunday.

For a multitude of reasons, I said ‘yes.’ I was immediately glad I didn’t get those Sunday baseball tickets. But now what? Plan C goes into effect: Baseball Saturday afternoon, BarCamp in the evening (I could forego the Badger game), Green Bay on Sunday.

We had a great time at Miller Park Saturday afternoon. What I was not expecting was that my back would suddenly start acting wacky the instant I came home from the ballpark. I literally could not get out of my chair without great pain. So I was hosed.

With several big doses of ibuprofen and a long car ride to Green Bay, I somehow managed to make it through the football game too. It was my first time at the Temple of (American) Football, and it was certainly unforgettable. But I felt pretty bad about missing my favorite (un)conference. This will be different next year.

Anyway, if you’d like to see what we all missed, here’s the schedule.

If you went to BarCamp, please share some highlights in the comments. Feel free to denounce me for my wicked choices too.

Have you ever had a conflict between two or more events that you had major passions for? How did you resolve it? Was it the right decision? Comment below.

One more thing: GO BREWERS!!

BarCampMilwaukee6 Just Two Weeks Away!

Have I mentioned this lately: I love conferences! There’s not much better times than the opportunity to get together with folks of like interests, like mind and similar skills, get away from the day to day and schmooze. Occasionally, even learning takes place. For serendipity and wide-ranging topics, few conferences beat the ones falling under the  BarCamp umbrella.

A week from Saturday (October 1), BarCampMilwaukee 6 opens at Bucketworks on South Fifth Street in Milwaukee’s Walker’s Point neighborhood. If you happen to be within traveling distance, you should come. You will meet fabulous people, eat marvelous food, play with assorted ideas and toys,and probably get a t-shirt too. For the second year, there will also be KidsCamp, which should be great fun. As always, there will be robots, too. Did I mention it’s all free of charge? Unless, of course, you want to make a donation.

You can peruse the Conferences and such category here to learn more about all six versions of BCMKE. Register for BCMKE6 at the site. Watch this space for further reminiscing.

And speaking of conferences, watch this space too for some WordPress news.

It’s BarCampMKE Time Again!

With August upon us, can the first weekend in October be far behind? This week marked the launching of the new, Drupal-based BarCamp Milwaukee 5 site and the traditional self-organization of the untraditional tech unconference has commenced. My goodness, in four days there are already almost 30 proposed sessions (of course, by the time you click that link there are likely to be even more!).

BarCampMilwaukee is truly my favorite weekend of the year, and it’s a little hard to believe I’ve been to all of them. I could reminisce endlessly about stuff I’ve learned and fun I’ve had, but I’ll hold off on that (for now, at least). Since my man Gabe has already given the reasons you (or your company) should sponsor BCMKE, today I want to give you a few reasons why you should plan to come.

  • You want to learn something. Take a look at those sessions again. If you’ve got curiosity about any of them, the people who are presenting are passionate about their subject(s), and probably know as much as anyone on the planet about that. If you’re curious about some topic that isn’t on the list yet, put it on the list (sooner, rather than later). Chances are somebody else either knows enough to put a session together, or perhaps a bunch of people with a similar curiosity can help you research the topic so you can all learn together!
  • You want to share something you’ve learned. I’ve been working with open source software for so long, it’s almost second nature to want to help others learn what I know. BarCamp is one of those places where you can do that without having to know everything about your topic. You can comfortably stand on the shoulders of giants here.
  • You want to improve your social skills. Whether it be that fear of public speaking (see above), or that gnawing feeling that you have been collecting Facebook friends that you’ve barely met. Conversations start pretty easily at BarCamp.
  • You want to hang out with the cool, smart kids. Whether your social skills are polished or not, BarCamp is a place to meet all sorts of interesting people in a very non-intimidating space.
  • You want to meet some of your favorite bloggers. Not just me, though I’ll be there too.

There’s lots more reasons (did I mention it’s FREE!), but all I have time to write about now. Go and register now, and I’ll see you October 2-3 at Bucketworks!

More on the Advanced Side of DrupalCamp

Here’s another look at DrupalCamp Wisconsin from Larry Garfield’s GarfieldTech blog. He seems to have had as much fun as I did.

As befits someone of his standing in the community, he spent most of his time in the Advanced track, so if you’ve read my notes, you’ll get a more complete experience reading his comments.

Now to tackle my own Drupal site. It has suddenly become much closer to reality after this weekend.

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DrupalCampWisconsin: A Summary

What a terrific day it was at DrupalCampWisconsin yesterday! An excellent turnout from all over the Midwest, fine sessions, and good company all day long, and into the night.

If you weren’t able to attend (and maybe even if you did), you’ll find interesting stuff on the wiki. The Flickr feed is here. You can view a bit of the video feed at UStream as well.

For your convenience, here’s a list of my session notes of the “newbie track,” liveblogged yesterday. I’ve cleaned them up a little, and added pertinent links.

A full day, by anyone’s standards. With more stuff for the more advanced folks.

It was great to meet so many folks, and talk Linux, Drupal, and other geeky topics. Thanks to the Web414 crew who organized it, the sponsors who fed us all often and well, Bucketworks for hosting the after-party and everyone who came out in the cold.

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Drupal Theming 101

(Update: This is the last in a series (except for the summary) of live posts from DrupalCampWisconsin, with a little cleanup and added links.)

Blake Hall presents.

The professor ran late, so no break between 100 and 101. Blake made this presentation to the Madison PHP Meetup a few days ago. Also stolen from Pro Drupal Development.

Three Theme Engines in Drupal: PHPTal, Smarty (CiviCRM), TPL (Core)+Template.php

Blake is porting a WordPress theme into Drupal. See blakehall.org for what’s “nearly there.”

Every time I hear Blake give a presentation, he always says “the next version is way better.” So it is with Drupal v6, especially in theming.

Larry Garfield picks up with “what’s new in v6.”

Aim: Theming Nirvana. Not there yet.

v4.5: Theming Hell
v4.6: Purgatory, aka Xtemplate
v4.7: Limbo, aka PHPtemplate. Page, node, block and comment templates. Currently the dominant engine.
v5.0: No changes
v6: Pure CSS themes, drive toward separating out presentation. Info files create themes.

Displays the structure of Info files: Stylesheets, scripts, regions, features.

More granular control over content. Data sanitized; fewer inadvertent security holes.

Some code comparisons. Way better.

v6 offers theme inheritance. Set base theme, make whatever changes you want. Use well-named classes to identify areas (though not yet complete).

Template engine is now just a set of tags.

Time to show some code! (Writes 4 lines into demo.info) This is a naked Drupal. No Divs, no Tables, a semantic page. Adds another line: base theme = garland. Looks like Garland (standard theme).

Adds another line to reference a stylesheet. To override an existing stylesheet, reference the same name as the existing stylesheet in the Info file.

Default node template: node.tpl.php. Copy file into your site and modify (un-comment) as you wish.

Cool stuff!

There is one more session scheduled, but this reporter’s brain is getting full. I believe I’m going to call it a day, blogging-wise. I’ve got some summary ideas, which I’ll share when I get refreshed. I’ll also add links and otherwise make pretty. Thanks for reading along. Please comment as the spirit moves.

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After Dinner: Web Standards 100

(Update:  This is the eighth in a series of live posts from DrupalCampWisconsin, with a little cleanup and added links.)

Steven Merrill, Bradley U professor presents.

After a fine pizza dinner, we are having joint sessions on theming. It begins with a web standards lecture from Prof. Merrill.

Zeldman (Designing with Web Standards)
Web Designer’s Reference
Save the Pixel

A List Apart
CSS Zen Garden

Basic review of HTML history, from Vannevar Bush’s Memex to Tim Berners-Lee.

HTML Page Structure: Head and Body. That’s it.
HTML Grammar: Tags and Attributes

Page titles are important, especially with tabbed browsers. Google also searches page titles.

Point behind web standards: Understanding the separation between HTML (Structure), CSS (Presentation) and JavaScript (Interactivity). Peruse CSS Zen Garden to see how different stylesheets display identical HTML text and tags.

Ooh, screen shot of the original Mosaic home page.

Browser feature wars makes HTML more presentational, less semantic. Also made pages work in only one browser. Web standards represent the backlash: Semantic HTML.

Switchy McLayout: JavaScript handles many different screen sizes. From A List Apart.

(Crowd agrees: presentation so far too basic. Moving on to advanced elements)

<Typist’s Aside: Is there a real purpose to GiantURL.com?>

CSS Positioning: Floating, fixed, and something else.

<Typist’s second aside: Missed some of the important stuff due to being pinged on IRC. I admire those who can multitask in this fashion. Meanwhile, must look at video later.>

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Ubercart: An e-Commerce module

(Update:  This is the seventh in a series of live posts from DrupalCampWisconsin, with a little cleanup and added links.) 

David Needham, a Bradley University student presents.

Ubercart works with PayPal to drive purchases.

Single package includes a core set of fields, with -extra, -fulfillment and -payment options.

Pet store example

Product Catalog: Dogs, other
Create options (Leather and Gold collars)
Create a Dog: Dalmatian. Include image, define a SKU, list price, cost, height, weight, etc.
Add Options to Product page.

Can create roles for a store, like a “member” who registers for discounts. Tried to find the setting that notifies the expiring member to renew; not in Notifications, but it’s here somewhere.

Set access control by taxonomy for “members only.”

Add Shopping Cart block to page.

Shows his PayPal Test Accounts.

Store Management in Ubercart activates the page, pointing to the PayPal Sandbox (test account).
PayPal Test Store page is customizable.

“Hey, I’m a member!”

Visit davidneedham.net/drupalcampwi to see the store.

Google Checkout: Not supported yet.

Pete Prodoehl notes the Ubercart docs are excellent.

You can create bundled ‘product kits’ for multiple items. Should work for tickets too.

Ubercart handles inventory management.

Both David and Pete couldn’t get core e-commerce module to work, and went to Ubercart instead. Others found OSCart much more hassle. ZenCart “just about impossible to train” (James Carlson).

You can also visit livetest.ubercart.org to try it out.

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Podcasting with Drupal

(Update:  This is the sixth in a series of live posts from DrupalCampWisconsin, with a little cleanup and added links.) 

Gabe Wollenburg presents.

We’re content creators, not “podcasters.” We write for audiences, not media.

Gabe’s way

Free hosting for Photos, Audio, Video, Live Streaming, Documents
These services are outside the walled garden of your site. Tags and other metadata bring people to your site.
Server problems are Somebody Else’s Problem.

Problems: Outside your control. Backup is hard. Availability is Somebody Else’s Problem. Take care of copyright issues (YouTube takes all rights, Blip.tv doesn’t).

Drupal makes all this easy.
Drupal makes RSS for breakfast.

Audio module: creates individual audio nodes.
Need Views and some other parts.



Audio module sends your podcast to the iTunes directory, with appropriate tags.

Remote Enclosure module. Limited use.

Blake suggests CCK Embedded Media for exploration. We look at that, and it sure seems like the right thing.

Let’s create some content!

Gabe posts Jonathan Coulton’s Code Monkey to writelarge.com. Cover art shows up funny, but you can presumably tweak that.

Still a lot of room for improvement, but I’ll probably learn more too.

You can find another fine podcast at Web414.

Again, the question of how to find “the right module” comes up. This may be what Dries’ company may help with. As noted in the opening session, this is an ongoing discussion and need. How to do this right?

Blake: Check out Lullabot’s “50 Tips and Tricks” podcast.

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Drupal Views in depth

(Update:  This is the fifth in a series of live posts from DrupalCampWisconsin, with a little cleanup and added links. As I look over these notes, the “in depth” part of the title may be somewhat misleading. Blake’s presentation was much better than these notes may indicate. Must have been tired and/or hungry.)

Blake Hall presents. Promises we will probably reach his knowledge ceiling, but muddle through eventually.

Views don’t seem like much in description, until you use them.

Example: BarCampMilwaukee2 site.

Views “cross-grid” module

68 Views modules.

Provide Page View / Provide Block View.

Select fields and nodes to include in the View.

Generator module puts fake text in blocks to test.

Lots of other fun.

<Typist’s Note: Starting to drag a little. Missing stuff.>

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