- Posted: August 21, 2010
On my flight home from California, I finished up Clay Shirkey's excellent book, "Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations."
In chapter 10, "Failure for Free," he discusses open source projects as one of the great innovators in technology. His argument is that companies invest in their best ideas, but open source invests in just about anything. Every once in while, some project becomes wildly successful, like Linux, or Joomla. (Although he doesn't mention Joomla.)
At the end of the chapter, he tells the story of working as a consultant in the mid-90's, trying to convince AT&T to write some code in Perl, an open source language, rather than in C++. C++ was invented at AT&T, and there was someone they could call for support. With Perl, there was no commercial support, just a discussion board where you could go for help. AT&T could not believe that they could possibly put their faith and trust in an open source project, powered by an enthusiastic and helpful community. Even with rapid, correct responses on the Perl discussion group, AT&T could not rely on the faith and good will of the Perl community. Instead, they wanted a contract, which they felt was far more reliable than a bunch of unpaid volunteers acting out of the goodness of their heart.
Of course, years later, Perl is thriving (yes, even now), and AT&T isn't doing nearly as well as it was 15 years ago.
There were two paragraphs that made the biggest impression on me at the end of the chapter.
Perl is a viable programming language today because millions of people woke up loving Perl and, more important, loving one another in the context of Perl. Members of the community listen to each other's problems and offer answers as a way of taking care of one another. This is not pure altruism; the person who teaches learns twice, the person who answers questions gets an improved reputation in the community, and the overall pattern of distributed and delayed payback -- if I take care of you now, someone will take care of me later -- is a very practical way of creating the social capital that makes Perl useful in the first place.
Can we substitute Joomla for Perl and CMS for programming language in the above paragraph?
Joomla is a viable CMS today because millions of people woke up loving Joomla and, more important, loving one another in the context of Joomla. Members of the community listen to each other's problems and offer answers as a way of taking care of one another. This is not pure altruism; the person who teaches learns twice, the person who answers questions gets an improved reputation in the community, and the overall pattern of distributed and delayed payback -- if I take care of you now, someone will take care of me later -- is a very practical way of creating the social capital that makes Joomla useful in the first place.
Joomla's software is indeed special, and it pays my mortgage. But in some ways, much more importantly, my best friends are Joomla people too. I love the fact that I have friends all over the world. I hope to meet them all in person one day.
And when I've had a question, all I had to do was ask it, and there were many people reaching out to me to answer it.
Shirkey closes with another great insight into open source:
What the open source movement teaches us is that the communal can be at least as durable as the commercial. For any given piece of software, the question"Do the people who like it take care of each other?" turns out to be a better predictor of success than "What's the business model?" As the rest of the world gets access to the tools once reserved for the techies, that pattern is appearing everywhere, and it is changing society as it does.
Once again, I found myself reflecting on Joomla over these last five years.
Do we love each other enough, we in the Joomla community, to keep this project going another five years? Ten years? I hope so. The backbiting and nastiness I've seen in the community over the last year is disheartening, to say the least.
Yet I've seen plenty of people in the community move past this and reach out to each other, planning birthday parties for Joomla, working on the Joomla 1.7 user interface, working through bugs in Joomla 1.6, founding new user groups, and evangelizing for Joomla wherever they go.
Do the people who like it take care of each other?
What have you done to take care of your fellow Joomla person today?
- Posted: August 19, 2010
For those of you still running Windows Vista, be aware of an interesting conflict between Skype and WAMP or XAMPP.
WAMP stands for Windows, Apache, MySQL, and PHP. It's used for running software like Joomla on your local computer, generally for development purposes. XAMPP stands for any operating system (they have versions for Mac and PC), Apache, MySQL, PHP, and Perl.
If you load Skype first (or if it's already running), and then you try to turn on WAMP or XAMPP, all you'll see are blank screens when you go to http://localhost.
Be sure to turn Skype off, or make sure it's off, before turning on WAMP or XAMPP. Once they're running, you can turn Skype on and no conflict will exist.
Via Twitter, I hear that there are conflicts with Windows XP and WAMP as well as Windows 7 64 plus XAMPP, so there's a good chance this conflict exists across most versions of Windows.
Philip Locke has a suggestion to fix the problem. In Skype, go to Tools - Options, choose the Advanced tab, then choose Connections. Uncheck the box that says "Use port 80 and 443 as alternatives for incoming connections." Since Apache is also using port 80, this is where the conflict arises.
- Posted: August 14, 2010
Part 2 of my series of 3 articles on ACL in Joomla 1.6 is posted.
This one covers creating, editing, deleting, and editing state (i.e. publish/unpublish/trash) of your Joomla content; logging into the front or back end; managing; and being the admin for your Joomla site.
The article also covers what to do if you manage to lock yourself out of your Joomla admin entirely.
Part 3 will cover different people editing different modules/components on the back end of the site. Right now, Joomla is still a bit too buggy to write about this with any confidence. I'm never sure if I've misunderstood how ACL works, or if I've encountered another bug!
- Posted: August 12, 2010
Five years ago, I went back to work for someone else briefly. It was a small web development shop in my local area. I was employee #4, after the owner, his wife, and the chief developer. I took over many of the smaller websites that needed to be built, completely freeing my boss from having to worry about them. I talked to clients, gathered specs, and built the website while learning Mambo and Joomla.
During the year I worked there, my boss grew the company from 4 people to 12.
This was an excellent lesson for me to learn. My boss was no slouch when it came to coding, but he also had a great personality. People really liked him. He could get technical points across to business owners without all of the geeky mumbo-jumbo. He was good at bringing clients on board, and he was good at keeping the clients happy.
I learned that if the boss gets away from his coding desk and becomes free to chase business, you could really grow a web development company. I learned the boss had to have the right personality to talk to clients all day, and then translate those conversations to technical specs for developers.
In the last year, I’ve migrated to doing the same thing at 4Web. I’ve gotten away from building sites myself in the last 5 months. Instead, I’m intensely mentoring my partner, Heidi Stanclift. I’m working on new videos for Lynda.com and a new book as well. I’m trying to post to the blog more often, and I’m working on getting more connections through social media. I’m still involved in site projects in that I’m talking with clients and translating their requests to specs for Gwen and Heidi. I’m checking their work to make sure it’s done correctly. I’m also helping to figure out whatever problems arise and hiring developers and designers as required to get the job done.
Getting away from coding started as a necessity. I just had too much other work to do to code, and coding was the one task I could offload to Heidi. But as soon as I did it, I realized what a benefit this was to the business.
This summer, we’ve been so busy we’ve had to bring on another full time person to help us get through all of the work (Gwen Ames).
It was hard for me to leave the coding, something I love intensely. However, that’s been mitigated a bit by learning Joomla 1.6, which has been challenging and quite fun. After Joomla 1.6 goes stable and my books and videos are done, what’s next? I’m hoping for more new things to learn – something that’s rarely hard to find in this field.
The end result is that I’ve learned to have fun in new ways. I never ever thought I’d enjoy writing a book as much as I did for my first one, and as much as I am now with my second. And the movies I’m making now with my fabulous producer, Samara Iodice, at Lynda.com are the high point of this summer, even despite some bad tech karma this last week.
Now: how can Joomla apply these lessons to the project? More in my next post.
- Posted: August 03, 2010
I wrote an article for community.joomla.org on the new access levels available in ACL in Joomla 1.6.
Thanks to AyudaJoomla for translating it to Spanish!
Later this week I'll be finishing an article on the editing, deleting, publishing, and management aspects of ACL.
Thanks once again to Brian Teeman for his help in proofreading and testing my examples!