Open Source

By Mike Gifford on 09/11/2008
Well, I just got back from a whirlwind tour of Toronto.  I had agreed to present at the LabourTech 2008 conference back in March, when Chris Lawson, CUPE's Webmaster, asked me to participate.  I was very impressed to see the turnout this weekend.  There was quite a large turnout from Canada's Trade Union community.  It is the first event of it's kind I know about and it was great to see this many people get out and discuss.
I was part of a 3hr panel, the Open Source CMS Smackdown, which was a very friendly review of open source content management systems and a more in-depth comparison between...
By Mike Gifford on 02/10/2008
I had to write a short note about a concern that was passed along to me about having public facing websites having databases on them.  The opinion passed along to me was that it was insecure to have a database driven dynamic website for a public government department because the database made the whole system less secure. 
I just needed to state clearly that it is the scripting languages that interact with the browser that are the main point of concern, and these are well used in most GoC sites.  Yes, if the .asp or .php scripts that are driving a page were badly written or just not monitored...
By Mike Gifford on 02/07/2008
The great news is hat wiki's are becoming mainstream these days and increasingly we are being approached by people particularly in government who want to adopt some type of collaborative and spontaneous editing environment that made wiki's famous. Unfortunately some of the elements of wiki's that have made them successful also makes them more difficult to adopt by non-technical and more bureaucratic organizations.  
Resources like Wikipedia have proven how valuable information can be freely organized by a community of users quickly and efficiently. Wikipedia is a great model and fortunately...
By Mike Gifford on 12/05/2008
I don't write about podcasts I listen to unless they are particularly interesting, and One Nation Under Google certainly fills this need. Taped by CKUT and available through Rabble Podcast Network, Darren Barney's done an excellent job to challenge how we think about the politics and technology in our modern world. He reframes the definition of citizenship to be based on the practice of judgment, rather than a right of membership. This is particularly useful when we start discussing about global or wired citizens.
He does touch a bit on some of the new technologies which have been used to...
By Mike Gifford on 06/01/2008
We've had a couple exchanges with clients lately where they wanted us to develop code for their Drupal site, but they wanted to own the code outright and not have it licensed under the GPL. I thought I would outline here some of the reasons why this is problematic for us and why it isn't part of our business practice.
The first thing is that realistically in most open source software if new features are developed they are rarely done from whole cloth. With Drupal, we might need as little as 200 lines of code for a new module. To save everyone money, increase security/performance and be able...
By Mike Gifford on 05/10/2007

I was happy to stumble across the Architecture for Humanity Cafe Press Store earlier today. It sells funny t-shirts that promote the organization with simple text like "Design Like You Give a Damn", "Running for Humanity" and "This Building is esthetically Displeasing".

I had heard about this group first through Cameron Sinclair's TED Prize presentation on a open source architecture to house the world. Architecture for Humanity is a a nonprofit that helps architects apply their skills to humanitarian efforts. It's interesting also to think about what could happen if we all worked...
By Mike Gifford on 10/08/2007
The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), a long-time client, recently approached OpenConcept about content management systems (CMS) and the potential transition from what they are using now. CUPE’s website is currently running on a highly customized version of the Back-End (BE) CMS. BE’s existing, extended functionality is based on several modifications made by CUPE staff and contracted developers over the past few years. However, BE as an open-source CMS is no longer being developed – meaning that no additional features or updates are being provided by the open-source community, and...
By Mike Gifford on 20/07/2007
Like everyone else out there I'm sick of spam but like the idea of bringing user feedback to blog notes like this. I thought I'd list some alternatives to those wiggly letters that are so often inconsistently applied and are often difficult to read. CAPTCHA stands for Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart. Solving captchas should be fun, or at least less monotonous. I'd like to see these implemented in open source applications like Drupal and perhaps we'll get the time to do this ourselves at some time.
Type in the time displayed on an analog clock or type...
By Mike Gifford on 13/07/2007
NOTE: There is a new effort to do this in Ottawa with Tech4good.
Earlier this week I went out to Green Drinks Ottawa and had a really good conversation with a table of committed and very experienced environmentalists. Open source came up in conversation, and one of the people brought up security concerns as the main reason that their organization had decision not to use open source software, but rather to develop custom applications. I brought up a couple examples of how pretty much every big corporation is using open source software these days and are investing in its long term development....
By Mike Gifford on 01/06/2007
The following list is good practice regardless of the conditions of the tech's departure. In the case of a firing, these are all the more important, and will require more planning.
Basic Authorization
change basic usernames & passwords for all services above.
ensure that the emails for all services above are valid and pointing to your new techie or a generic tech account.
contact service providers and ensure that they all have the new contact name, phone number and email.
tell your clients that the departing techie is no longer working there.
Company Resources
back up and then delete the...