PBS Engage asks ' What are your information needs?'

Posted on April 29, 2009 by agentrickard

We are gearing up for next month's PBS Engage advisory board meeting. And beforehand, we're talking a bit about what people actually need from their media.

The Knight Commission on the Information Needs of Communities in a Democracy and PBS Engage have teamed up to explore the issues around each citizen's information needs, and we would like to hear from you. See the Commission's draft introduction to its report and please share your answers to our questions.

And while this isn't directly about Drupal, I think that our community has some ideas about what information freedom means, and how to get us pointed in the right direction.

Domain Access update: new co-maintainer

Posted on April 7, 2009 by agentrickard

This morning I added Katrin Silvius (also known as nonsie) to the Domain Access project as a co-maintainer. This is a big step forward for a couple of reasons.

1) She's great. We finally had a chance to meet at DrupalCON DC. And she has already released Domain Blocks and Domain Relationships extension modules.

2) I am swamped, and behind in getting out the stable 2.0 release -- (though rc6 is perfectly fine, it still has some rough edges).

3) Upping the bus factor of a project is always a good thing.

4) And this may be most crucial: nonsie runs DA on a daily basis, managing over 110 sites from one install. This gives her a perspective on usability and scalability that I simply don't have. (The largest site I am currently involved in has 6 domains). Plus, she needs to supply internationalization (i18n) support to her project, which is a critical DA feature.

So this should mean that a stable release comes out sooner _and_ that the code will be more stable and road-tested. It also means that we can start the D7 port sooner.

For those of you interested in the project, here are the issues that are holding up a stable release:


I am excited, and looking forward to the collaboration!

Knight Drupal Initiative: $480,000

Posted on March 5, 2009 by agentrickard

At DrupalCON DC yesterday, Jose Zamora of Knight Foundation announced the first round of grants from the KDI. Below is the press release from Knight:

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Six ideas that will make it easier for anyone to join the digital conversation will be realized with support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. The projects will use the free and popular software Drupal, which allows users to efficiently publish content online.

"These powerful tools will help people exchange information and ideas about their communities -- which we hope will make them more engaged and vibrant places to live," said Jose Zamora, Knight Foundation's Journalism Program Associate.

The Knight Drupal Initiative's winners, announced at the DrupalCon DC Conference, will receive a total of $485,380 to:

* Create concise, up-to-date instructions for Drupal software packages so that tech novices can use the tools; (Winner: Programmer Addison Berry)

* Create a free publishing system to make it easier for several geographic communities to share local news with each other; (Winner: Oregon-based funnymonkey.com)

* Allow anyone, anywhere to easily create a Drupal online news site whose content can be published on Facebook in order to reach an extended social network; (Winner: Software developer Dave Cohen)

* Develop software that allows people to create and share a personalized stream of information within their social network, helping them to filter and recommend articles to others interested in the same issues; (Winner: Instant Syndicating Standards, a Brazilian non-profit)

* Add a micro-blogging function to Drupal that will allow users to transmit brief text updates on their Web sites (Winner: Web developer Rob Loach)

* Create a tool that will help residents better communicate and understand information about their community by allowing them to geo-tag -- or add a geographical identification -- to stories so they can be displayed on a map; (Development Seed, a Washington D.C. firm)

The Knight Drupal Initiative tapped into a massive network of programmers, to get their recommendations for how to hasten media innovation for the common good. The Drupal Community, a group of about 350,000 programmers who write free software collaboratively on the Web, solicited, reviewed and recommended the projects for funding. The Drupal Community also includes the more than 1.4 million users worldwide who rely on Drupal to manage the content of their Web sites. The application process was open, meaning anyone could submit or vote on an idea. Knight Foundation made the final selection.

About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation invests in journalism excellence worldwide and in the vitality of U.S. communities where the Knight brothers owned newspapers. Since 1950, the foundation has granted more than $400 million to advance quality journalism and freedom of expression. Knight Foundation focuses on projects with the potential to create transformational change. For more, visit www.knightfoundation.org.

What can I say, but "Wow." I am especially excited about the Documentation sprint, which will directly benefit drupal.org.

Actions and triggers (who knew?)

Posted on February 27, 2009 by agentrickard

Well, the folks who put Actions into D6 core did. But until yesterday, I had never bothered with actions. Then a client asked for the following:

For certain user roles, any new or edited posts of certain types need to be unpublished and queued for editorial review.

My first thought was: "Well, Drupal doesn't do that." But it does. Thanks to Actions. Here's a little code snippet for you, and it works.

* Implements hook_perm().
function custom_perm() {
$types = node_get_types();
foreach ($types as $type => $data) {
$array[] = "edit $type content without approval";
return $array;

* Implementation of hook_action_info().
function custom_action_info() {
return array(
'custom_unpublish_action' => array(
'type' => 'node',
'description' => t('Unpublish posts by untrusted users'),
'configurable' => FALSE,
'behavior' => array('changes_node_property'),
'hooks' => array(
'nodeapi' => array('presave'),

* Implementation of a Drupal action.
* Sets the status of a node to 0, meaning unpublished,
* if created or edited by an untrusted user.
function custom_unpublish_action(&$node, $context = array()) {
// If the user is allowed to edit, let them.
if (user_access("edit $node->type content without approval")
|| user_access('administer nodes')) {
// Otherwise, unpublish.
$node->status = 0;
drupal_set_message(t('Your changes have been saved. This content
has been sent for administrator approval. Until it is approved,
this page has been removed from the web site.'));
watchdog('action', 'Set @type %title to unpublished.',
array('@type' => node_get_types('name', $node),
'%title' => $node->title));

And that's it. I can't believe it took me this long to exploit this feature.

And I just know that I'll learn all sorts of new tricks at DrupalCON next week, so see you there!

Stealth mode

Posted on December 4, 2008 by agentrickard

I haven't posted in quite a while. Well, I have been very busy working on very cool (but still secret) projects for Palantir. I also just set up my new desk / workstation. I had to change gears and get an adjustable height table to work on, since I am too tall for most keyboard tray / desk combos.

In the meantime, go find something interesting to read over at Looky, Daddy! -- a parenting blog written by an old college pal o' mine. Or, if you're more serious, go see what Yelvington is up to.

On the plus side, the house repairs are all but done. The new fence should go in next week. And then we are done done.

KDI proposals recommend $178,000 for Drupal development

Posted on October 2, 2008 by agentrickard

The October review meeting of the Knight Drupal Initiative saw three new proposals accepted by the community.

KDI logo

These proposals have been passed to Knight Foundation for final review and potential funding.

The Knight Drupal Initiative is an ongoing, open grant funding process for the Drupal open source project. We want to enable more people to enter the digital conversation by lowering the technical barriers to entry. We will provide powerful tools for digital publication, free and open to all. Our goal is to encourage people to improve their communities by supporting the free exchange of information and ideas.

For more information or to learn how to apply, see http://groups.drupal.org/knight-drupal-initiative


Posted on September 30, 2008 by agentrickard

For those of you who like this sort of thing....


Caesar and Mina are very excited to have their floors and furniture mostly back in the right place now.

Woo hoo

Posted on September 29, 2008 by agentrickard

So today, we finally got our furniture back. It almost looks like our house again.

If you look closely at the fireplace, you'll see the new art we bought last week. Ironically, its a painting of three trees.

I have also included a bonus picture of some happy dogs, who now have their house back.






More floor

Posted on September 23, 2008 by agentrickard

Well, we had quite an adventure with the floor install. The product line was discontinued, and the batch we got wasn't milled right. But the team from Lindsey's Flooring hand-milled the grooves between the boards, with permission from the Armstrong distributor, so the warranty is still good.

Some shots from today. They should finish tomorrow.




Knight Drupal Initiative -- September review meeting tomorrow

Posted on September 10, 2008 by agentrickard

KDI logo

After a week of delay due to DrupalCON related travel, it is time for our monthly open review meeting.

We will meet for the next round of proposal reviews on Thursday, September 11th at 14:00 Eastern (US) (18:00 UTC).

The meeting will be held in IRC #drupal-dojo on irc.freenode.net. (See http://drupal.org/irc for information about using IRC.)

We will meet for 1:30 with the following agenda:

1) Review current proposals that need decisions:

-- NewsCloud newsroom module is being reviewed for the second time and should be accepted or rejected at this meeting.

Participants are asked to review this proposal before the meeting.

The project sponsors are welcome to answer questions during this review. The possible outcomes of these reviews are:

* Submit the proposal to Knight for possible funding.
* Reject the proposal, with reasons why.
* Ask the proposal to be revised for the next round of review.

2) Introduce the new proposals for review:

-- Expanding Context_UI, Spaces, Messaging and Notifications, FeedAPI and Maps and Open Sourcing 8trees and Managing News is a new application that needs review and consensus on how to move forward. The application has met the acceptance criteria, but there are outstanding issues regarding the format and scope of the application. See the discussion of the proposal for details.

-- drupaleo - talent growing and hiring for drupal is a new proposal for review.
-- Grant-Making System is a new proposal for review.
-- Documentation sprints for better docs and to grow the team is a new proposal for review.

The purpose here is to get eyes on the new proposal, and let the submitter answer questions.

3) Time permitting, work on publicizing the efforts of the KDI.

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