Airport Codes

http://airportcod.es

I saw this featured by Typekit today and it was something that was right up my alley. Not only is it a really well designed, cool web site, it is also hosted on Github and folks can add additional airports through pull requests. This evening I added ACC to my fork and got the pull request in, so hopefully it will be added to the site soon.

Ghana Mission Trip

Just about two years ago, I was privileged to go on a mission trip to Ghana that deeply affected my life. This year I am lucky enough to get to go back to Ghana again at the end of May for 2 weeks. This trip is going to be focused in the Kumasi region of Ghana at the Tetrefu Integrated Community Center for Employable Skills (ICCES). The goal of this school is to educate both men and women in a trade skill that they can use to make a living.

The biggest challenge the school faces is lack of desks and tools. Our group is going to bring funding for supplies to create new desks, then help at the school to build the desks while we are there. The Tetrefu ICCES also is looking to have a new water pump and store installed to help at the school. Our group is looking to help raise money for the trip, including the supplies and the water pump. You can find more information about the fund raising at http://www.youcaring.com/project-fundraiser/fumc-ghana-mission-trip/318478.

I am super excited for the trip and to experience a different area of the country. As with last time, I will be journaling the entire trip to share when I get back, as well as doing some presentations, so if you have questions, feel free to send them along in the comments.

Backdrop Does a Disservice to Developers

I have been thinking awhile about why the Backdrop fork bothers me so much. At first I thought it would just be the fact that it will be splitting the community some or taking resources away from the Drupal project. But lots of projects I have worked with have been forked in the past, and it is almost aways a good thing, so why would this be different?

Thinking about it more, it dawned on me that Backdrop is the easy way out. People can put all sorts of spin on it, but at the end of the day Backdrop is going to cater to developers who don’t want to learn the new development methods in Drupal 8. I understand that mentality, why learn something new when what you know has served you so well for so long. If you jumped on Drupal at version 5, you have had 8 years where you can build awesome web sites and just learn how to develop things the Drupal way.

The thing is, lots has changed in the last 8 years outside of Drupal. I personally think Drupal 8 is a great thing. It is bringing more modern development practices, like object-oriented programming and test-driven development, into the project. It is also doing this by not reinventing the wheel, but by using an established framework in Symfony These are all really good things, not only for the project, but for Drupal developers as well.

Right now, a Drupal developer who just knows Drupal 7 or earlier has limited job opportunities outside of the Drupal community. If they have not kept up on things like MVC frameworks or how to write tests for code, they are behind a lot of other developers. 1

Letting developers live in this world longer, Backdrop does a disservice by having their skills fall further and further behind. I realize, no one is making anyone use Backdrop but by advertising it as “the comprehensive CMS for small to medium sized businesses and non-profits” and talking about how it is easy to convert from Drupal 7, I feel it is making it too easy to suck developers in without thinking about the potential consequences to their careers.

  1. This is just for back-end development, not front-end coding but some of this applies there too

Considering the Tradeoffs

I know that BDConf had to be a decent conference for me because four months later I am still thinking about it. Right after the trip, I was focused more internally because the conference was a good kick in the pants that there is a broader web world than just Drupal. The last three years, my job has kept me so focused on Drupal that I had lost some of that perspective, so it was good to get me thinking of the broader world again.

In the time since then, I keep wondering about the tradeoffs Drupal has caused my team to make for our development. Don’t get me wrong, any programming language or platform has tradeoffs, whether it is about complexity, performance, stability or a number of other options. When I mentioned Drupal at the conference, one of the reactions I got was “so many divs!” with a look of distain on her face. That sort of thing makes you take pause and it got me wondering whether we tradeoffs we made when picking Drupal originally still apply.

I still don’t know the answer, I spend more time thinking about it than I probably should. The “so many divs” comment is an example of this. I realize that by having the community develop Drupal and it’s add-ons, our team has been able to make a lot of really cool web sites. But that means that we don’t know what every part of our site is doing, so we have sites that average 1.5-2MB in size routinely with likely inefficent queries, markup, styling and Javascript in there. As someone who came to Drupal from straight HTML, PHP and .NET, this drives me a little bonkers and makes me wonder, is this the right tradeoff to make.

Tangentially to this, I have some thoughts about the Drupal 8/Backdrop too that I am working on another post for. To the web folks out there reading this, I would love to hear your comments because with this spinning in just my head, I am not getting as far as I would like.

Rio in 10K

I have different thoughts about this video. First, the technology is cool. Super high definition images allow for the zooming effects in this video without losing any data. While the cameras will be able to capture more than we can see with our eye, the photos that are created can be manipulated so you can see it all. I don’t even want to think about the future storage of this stuff though…

My other thought is about Rio itself. That first shot shows the density of people living so close together. While times I can’t imagine living in a place like that, other times it seems like it would be fascinating to live in a situation so different to what I am in now.

Soccer’s Dirty Secret

It will be a surprise to no one that I am a huge fan of soccer. I was hooked by the Premier League initially and now follow the MLS more closely. I, of course, also love the national tournaments too, whether the World Cup, EURO, African Cup of Nations or Gold Cup. Seriously, of all the sports, soccer is the one I enjoy watching the most.Soccer would be the perfect game, in my opinion, except for one thing. Tiebreakers.

Today is a perfect example of what bothers me. In the Cup of Nations today, Ghana and the Ivory Coast played 120 minutes of scoreless soccer. These teams played qualifiers to get to the tournament, then past the group stages and onto 2 knockout round games to get to this match. Months of work went into getting this far and both teams were dead even this day. So how do you decide it? Penalty kicks.

It isn’t quite a flip of the coin, but for a game that requires teamwork and tactics for 90 minutes to come down to basically a crap shoot feels pretty much sucks.

I don’t know what the answer to this should be, but it at least feels like these major tournaments need something else. The golden goal isnt much better because as the teams get tired, they get sloppier and more prone to mistakes. Even then, though, it is the team working for the goal together, so it seems a little more fair.

Honestly, my ideal would be having the teams play 3 days later again with the golden goal in extra time if needed. With 3 days, it would be equal rest time for the teams and the coaches would have time to game plan. It would cause some problems with organizing the tournament, I am sure, but it just seems more fair to me.

Desk

It is interesting to see how little things can turn into much more interesting things in life. At BDConf back in November, one of the presentations was something totally out of left field but might be one of the most important presentations I will ever see.

I had never heard of John Saddington before he walked up to the podium to speak. It did not take long for me to realize that this was not a normal tech presentation. John proceeded to go through his experience as an iOS developer, having his app explode in popularity and then the turmoil it caused in his life after. It was a completely honest and candid story about failure and what it can do to you and the others around you. There is a good chance that John will never give that presentation again, he even said that it was more for him than it was for the rest of us. Still, it was striking to have something so honest said to a community where failure is never talked about, just your successes.

I had the chance to catch John walking to lunch that day and thanked him for the presentation. Later I found that John is followed by over 100,000 people on Twitter and there is a good chance he would never remember that encounter, not just cause it was some random guy saying thanks, but after an emotional personal experience like that, the next bit of time can feel like a blur.

After I got home though, I followed him on Twitter and found out about the Mac app he was developing to stratch his own itch to write better. Soon after it came out, I started seeing it pop up all sorts of places, sponsoring Shawn Blanc and then Daring Fireball. I saw it featured on Beautiful Pixels and then in the Mac App Store. It was like I was being told that I need to be doing something.

Over the next month or so, I started really processing John’s message of sharing your story. What would it mean to really share my story, what is my story to tell? I still don’t know the answer to these questions, but I started taking some small steps here and there to see how it felt. First, I scrapped the last version of my web site and went back to simple WordPress. I didn’t even write a theme, just grabbed the latest one WordPress provides.

Next, I figured out how to share links, videos and my posts easily. Now I can do it from my iPad, laptop or even phone if I want. Finally tonight, I decided to buy Desk. I had been thinking about it for awhile, but when I saw that it was included with the productivity sale on the App Store right now, it made it a no-brainer. This app is fantastic and to know that John will be getting some money from the purchase makes me feel even better.

Thanks again John, I appreciate your talk and your work. I hope to keep working on telling my story.