Open Source

By Mike Gifford on 10/09/2010
I was invited by Dennis Lembree and Ross Johnson to contribute some audio for their 84th podcast celebrating the Web Axe 5-year anniversary. They have had a huge impact on the community over that time and really appreciate the work they put into raising awareness about accessibility. Please subscribe to the Web Axe podcast if this content is interesting to you.
The following is the text prepared for the podcast. I want to thank Cliff Tyllick for his help on preparing this:
My name is Mike Gifford and I am the president of OpenConcept Consulting, an Ottawa-based Drupal shop working closely...
By Mike Gifford on 08/04/2010
One of our most popular pages is the Text List of All Countries in the World. Strangely this little piece of data has gotten over 60k hits since we posted it and has received a wide range of very positive reactions from around the world. What started as just something that annoyed me personally (how to get an updated list of all of the World's countries in on easy to copy/paste location) proved to be something that a lot of other people were looking for too.
Now, when I first did this I didn't expect that generating a list of countries was going to be quite so controversial. Apparently, lots...
By Mike Gifford on 23/03/2010
Earlier this year I found out about Ada Lovelace Day (March 24th), and decided that I would pledge along with 1600+ others to blog about women who have contributed to science and technology. Fortunately, I am a Drupal developer, so there are lots of great examples of women taking leadership roles. I'm called to blog about the contributions of Angie Byron, known in the community as webchick.
Now Angie's been a Drupal user for 4 years 41 weeks (six weeks longer than I have), but according to Ohloh (a free public directory of open source software and people), she's put in 2x2 years of CSS &...
By Mike Gifford on 16/03/2010
5 years after writing this blog post, most of the concerns I raised have been addressed.  The URLs are still horrible, but GEDS is in a much more usable state now.
OpenConcept works for several federal government departments and we often need to find contact information for government staff. For those of you who may not know the GEDS is the Government Electronic Directory Services and is the federal government's main public staff directory. It's also been a source of frustration for many so I thought I'd outline some of the things that something like this could do and how it would help...
By Mike Gifford on 28/09/2009
The following article was prepared by OpenConcept for Summit Magazine, Canada's magazine for public service procurement. The full article is available within the PDF copy of the magazine.
After publication I was sent this PDF about open source procurement in the Netherlands that was worth sharing.
How Can Government Responsibly Procure Free Software?
Free software is “free” in two senses: it is distributed free of charge, and can be freely used and shared because it is unencumbered by onerous and restrictive licenses. This software model has been refined over the past twenty-five years, and...
By Mike Gifford on 01/05/2009
This is a reprint of the article originally published in OSBR's May Issue under the title The Feds are Ready for a Change
"OSS is indeed the start of a fundamental change in the software infrastructure marketplace, but it is not a hype bubble that will burst and [the] UK government must take cognizance of that fact." Douglas Alexander
Canada is at the tipping point for acceptance of open source. Open source software (OSS) and culture has reached a critical mass in the business world and it is also being actively deployed within the Canadian government. While open source has contributed...
By Mike Gifford on 08/04/2009
Quick update, OpenOffice now ships with macro security set for 'High' so that "Only signed macros from trusted sources are allowed to run. Unsigned macros are disabled". By going to Tools -> Options -> -> Security -> Macro Security You can also set the security level to 'Very High' so that "Only Macros from trusted file locations are allowed to run. All other macros, regardless whether signed or not, are disabled." So if you are concerned with these articles, use OpenOffice.
Listening to CBC's Search Engine Podcast (which was removed by CBC sadly) I was reminded...
By Mike Gifford on 04/04/2009
I was fortunate to be invited to participate in a panel discussion organized by Andrew Ross of Ingress. The panel from left to right Roger Burkhardt (Ingres), Jean Bernatchez (Enterprise Stewardship and Internal Services Strategies, Chief Information Officer Branch, Treasury Board of Canada), Dave McIlhagga (DM Solutions), me & Donald Smith (Eclipse):
Business value of open source panel discussion from Andrew Ross on Vimeo.
I had a hard time focusing on what I was going to say to some of the questions that were presented to the panel, because of the responses from the other panelists...
By Mike Gifford on 05/03/2009
One of the things is common in technology conferences these days is side gatherings that are informally called to discuss certain issues.  They are generally referred to as Birds of a Feather Gathering.  Today I participated in two sessions (discussing nonprofits & CiviCRM) and initiated two (focusing on governments & unions).  All were quite interesting and a good opportunity to talk with people passionate about a sector they are involved in.
In both sessions there were nearly 15 people involved.  Considering the multiple presentations and discussion sessions that were available at...
By Mike Gifford on 03/03/2009
I think there are a number of ways that Drupal 7 could be much more accessible out of the box than it is right now. I've spent a bit of time working on a few items to improve and document some accessibility enhancements. Spent some time going through WCAG 2.0 documentation & comparing it with Drupal Core. And have been making patches and proposing best practices enhancements for a number of projects.
I'm definitely much more of a PHP/MySQL developer, but the complexity of finding a neat solution that works for SEO, across all major browsers, and also with several screen readers is pretty...