Open Source

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...
By Mike Gifford on 31/05/2007
Worth noting that there is now an interesting install profile for conferences available for Drupal.
I started writing this post shortly after DrupalCamp Toronto, but didn't have a good time to finish it off. James Walker provided a good example of how to reproduce a conference registration site in his workshop "Building an event site in an hour". This functionality is useful for all sorts of organizations including the Drupal community, this recipe has been used for the Open Source CMS Summit at the Yahoo Campus and also at Toronto's Drupal Camp and will be rolled up to be used for the next...
By Mike Gifford on 24/05/2007
Email is becoming an increasingly complex and unreliable medium. We expect email to be instantaneous and all pervasive. We depend on it arriving moments after it is sent because it almost always does.

Last fall we switched to using Google's Apps domain hosting service to see if we couldn't test out this product before recommending it to our clients. Email hosting is a difficult thankless task because it has become such a critical form of communications. In general we've been very happy with the services provided by Google - particularly with spam reduction. But even with all of the...
By Mike Gifford on 17/05/2007
Being based in Ottawa, it is hard to ignore the opportunities available in providing services to the government. With federal, provincial & municipal governments all with offices in the city there is a huge opportunity for innovation and cooperation between different departments. Most Canadians don't realize this, but our country's largest single software producer is our public service sector and yet the experience, tools and intellectual property developed by government workers is rarely shared with other divisions let alone with the citizens who paid for its development.
I have received...
By Mike Gifford on 25/04/2007
I want to start out by saying that this isn't just something that is an issue with unions and locals, but is also a challenge with any organization with member groups that end up needing to have a website. This could be riding associations for political parties like the NDP or local chapters of the Sierra Club. There are a number of reasons why national or regional organizations like these need to be investing in the net on behalf of their members.
The easiest way to do this is to offer sub-domains to member organizations so that they can set up a website without having to keep track of the...