A Consuming Experience

Thoughts on my experiences as a consumer of products, services, people (well maybe not that last one...), from reviews to raves, rants and random thoughts - concentrating on technology, gadgets, software, product usability, consumer issues, customer service. Including some introductory guides and tips on various subjects (like blogging!) which stumped me until I figured them out. And the occasional ever so slightly naughty observation.

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Drupal 25 May 2007 meeting: podcasts etc

Tuesday, May 29, 2007
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I went to the London Drupal user group meeting on 25 May 2007, at the kind invitation of Robert Castelo of Code Positive. I meant to go on to Minibar after, but stayed too long chatting... It was hosted by design company Imagination at their spiffy offices near Goodge Street, and a very nice meeting room it was too, wi fi, projector, comfy chairs. Thanks to Imagination for the drinks as well as the space and facilities. No prizes for guessing who's SuperDrupal in the pic above, but I thought I'd just keep you wondering for all of about half a second, or however long it takes you to scroll down and look at the other pics!

I'd heard of Drupal before but never used it: Wikipedia describes it as a "free modular content management framework, content management system, web application framework and blogging engine", and the Drupal site as an "open source content management platform".

The theme was very broadly, but not confined to, the use of Drupal in business - or enterprise, as seems to be the trendier way to put it. The presentations were very interesting and helpful, comprehensible (mostly!) even to a non-Drupaller like me. (Is there a generic word? Drupalites? A collective noun? Robert told me there's a Drupal song, surely there must be something...).

Below are the podcasts, in order of the speeches. One or two of the talks aren't so easy to follow without the slides, I'll try videoing them another time, but they're still well worth a listen if you missed the meeting. If the speakers would care to upload their slides somewhere, I could add the links to them? After hearing the presentations, I do mean to download Drupal and have a play, time permitting - it sounds excellent, and I like the modular nature of it, flexibility and user control are always good news as far as I'm concerned. So, here are the presentations and some pics of the speakers (UPDATE: Hmmmm. Playing the files using the Delicious Playtagger controls below makes them sound like, well, chipmunks. Sorry guys, I swear I didn't do anything, never had that happen before. Please click the MP3 links direct, or try the links on my Ourmedia page instead if you can't manage to listen for more than a few seconds without cracking up, well I couldn't! Still comprehensible though, talk about the podcast equivalent of speedread! Anyone know the fix, please drop me a line. You should still be able to tag a presentation on Delicious, though, while it's playing via Playtagger.):

  • Jonathan Laventhol (above), head of technology at Imagination - welcome and why Imagination use Drupal: MP3

Robert Castelo, left; with Shakur (aka flk), winner in Google's 2006 Summer of Code
  • Robert Castelo of Code Positive - on his terms and conditions Drupal module (for users to accept before joining a site, including when terms change; may be hard to follow in part without the visuals): MP3

  • Giles Kennedy (above), of Gelst - illustrative use of Drupal (may be hard to follow in part without the visuals, I didn't edit out the "technical problems" interlude, you can fast forward through that!): MP3

People I met, as well of course as the speakers - forgive me if I can't recall everyone or misspell any names. Business cards are excellent memory joggers, I collected a few, but quite a lot of people hadn't brought any. So, based on cards gathered plus my sketchy memory: Jeff, David, two guys who are / were at the Law Society (Richard and Tunde??), Barry, Mike from Imagination, Colin from Futurescape (who I'd met before at the Tim O'Reilly geek dinner, trust Colin to remember where precisely), Matt, Shanyin, Clement, Shakur, ?Mamia, Richard and Eugene, and Charlie.

There were loads of others I'd have liked to meet, but just didn't get the chance to before I left (they all went on to a nearby bar, I think; I had things on the next day so I couldn't stay late). Everyone was mostly very friendly. I think it's easier to chat to people in a nice big meeting room where there's a relatively small group, than a dark noisy huge bar with zillions of people, so if there's another clash with Minibar I'm going for this one - assuming I get invited back, that is! I'll be downloading Drupal ASAP, I will, honest...

  • Photos taken with LG Shine cameraphone.
  • Audio recorded (on medium sensitivity) to MP3 at sample rate 44.1 kHz and bitrate 96 kbit/s, using a Zoom H4Handy Recorder, my new Klingon depilatory aid - I'll be posting a full review on it ASAP. Audacity for the audio editing (normalise and amplify are my friends, I should have put the Zoom's sensitivity on High for a couple of the speakers); and Stamp ID3 tag editor.
  • Audio files hosting - I tried to upload the files to Ourmedia, which I thought particularly apt given their Drupal connections, but it proved even more of a nightmare than trying to sign up for Ourmedia. The first file uploaded OK but still hasn't appeared on their site, 2 days later. For files after that, I kept getting "Specify valid file" even though they were in the same format as the first one. Then, I tried using their recommended software SpinXpress2 next, which took ages to install, plus I had to allow Windows Installer to accept connections from the Net, which I'm never happy with - and it wouldn't install unattended, I had to keep going Retry, I assume because the server it was connecting to was too busy. One file uploaded via SpinXpress2, but when I went back to its Publish view to upload another file, everything was greyed out. I finally managed to upload the rest via SpinXpress after contacting SpinXpress support who (thanks for replying so quickly!) said there was a bug and suggested I download an alpha of a new release, which did then work. But other than the copyright statement, the info I completed in the SpinXpress uploading wizard didn't get reflected on Ourmedia and I had to edit the details after upload (e.g. audio type, keyword, copyright holder, date created, format (stereo), intended purpose, date created). You can't in fact change date created even on editing the page for the file, it's stuck at date uploaded. Some links on the Ourmedia site to SpinXpress work (like http://www.ourmedia.org/tools from the audio upload page), but the link to http://www.ourmedia.org/tools/spinxpress on their general Upload page says I'm not authorized to access it though I was logged in. Pages on Ourmedia now don't look right in Firefox either, cut off on the right with no scrolling so you can't see the button to Browse for associated pic etc.
    My advice if you're trying to upload to Ourmedia: don't upload via their site, use SpinXpress (but use the alpha of the next release UPDATE: should be generally available today, thanks Eric), don't bother filling in more than the minimum accompanying info (metadata) as it won't "take", instead
    after it's uploaded edit the metadata on Ourmedia but ideally don't use Firefox (though hah the site won't even let me sign in via IE or Opera now, unrecognised user/password despite copy/pasting the same user/password as I used in Firefox!). If I sound grumpy, it's because I spent hours on a Bank Holiday weekend trying to upload the MP3s to Ourmedia and editing/re-editing the info. I tried a free file host Filenanny, and it took 5 minutes for all the files to upload successfully and they played fine. I love the concept behind Ourmedia, but there's clearly a lot they still need to sort out.

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1 Comment(s):

As ever, a pleasure to see you, thanks for coming. A big thank you also for the write up and podcasts which are superb!

I've put up a few photos of the event on Flickr , and will make the slides available soon.

(By Robert Castelo, at Wednesday, May 30, 2007 9:41:00 PM)  Edit Comment

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