Just a quick blog post to announce that I have accepted a new position at UNC Greensboro and will be starting there on July 17th. I will be an IT Manager there, overseeing some of their cloud services (Google, ITunesU, Blackboard CC, WordPress, Drupal etc), and i’m really looking forward to the challenge.
I’ve enjoyed my time at NC State immensely, and have seen a lot of positive change throughout my 5 year tenure. The highlights of which were those more visible projects: Google for all faculty/students/staff, Go Links (3,290,619 hits and counting), Web Hosting Service (CPanel), Hosted Drupal & Hosted WordPress services for campus, and Web Registry.
Thanks to everyone who’ve been a part of my successes and failures here at NC State… it’s been a blast. Special mention must be made of my closest friends and colleagues that I’ve had the pleasure of working with more than most: Jen Riehle, Jason Austin, Garrison Locke, Sarah Noell, Stan North Martin, Tim Lowman, Charles Brabec, Jason Maners, and Leslie Dare.
If you’re looking to stay in touch with me, you can reach me at UNCG via email@example.com, or follow me on twitter: @usaussie.
Today, July 3rd 2013, Go Links was upgraded. This was a long time coming, as the Go Links service was almost entirely still in its original form (as far as a percentage of code goes).
This upgrade included a lot of behind the scenes work, including an upgrade to the version of Zend Framework and OT Framework. All of the kudos for the work on OT Framework should be directed to Jason Austin and Garrison Locke (Outreach Technology, OIT).
The forward-facing changes most noticeably included a refresh of the theme, to more closely match an NC State look and feel.
Some things have been removed from the application, to provide a more efficient service, and other features were tweaked or moved around into a more logical place.
“Themed” links, aka IFrame based links, which showed the toolbar at the top of the page. These are gone, and now all links are pure redirects without any toolbar.
Why? Because the toolbar caused major problems for printing, as well as introducing an additional level of complexity when trying to display a link on a mobile device.
Links now redirect much faster, and work seamlessly on all devices.
Google Analytics can no longer be added to links
With the theme option being removed, analytics are also removed.
Out of over 10,000 links, only 32 used the analytics option (and some of those were mine for testing)
A major improvement for finding your own links, as well as those that have been created by other people
Top 10 Statistics
Use this to view a quick snapshot of the Top 10 lists for common statistic categories (browsers, modifiers, referrers, visitor IP addresses)
Simplified Link Details layout
The link details page is now makes it much easier to find the information you’re looking for.
Those things that take longer to calculate (statistics charts) have been moved to a separate section, thereby making the link details much faster to load for everyone.
Improved Admin Interface
Most users won’t notice, but there’s a much improved administration interface that allows easier searching and management of links, banned phrases as well as investigating wrong links that have been attempted.
A few items of note recently. First of all our buddies over in Engineering have decided to embrace WordPress in a big way and plan to start using it for many of their projects and faculty needs. We’ve already been in conversation with several of the guys over there including Bill, Jason M., Dustin, etc. I’m super-excited to see what we can do together, and what WordPress can do for campus once we have a few more resources and man-hours to throw at it. Thanks very much to the Engineering guys for reaching out to us and I can’t wait to really get going!
Along those lines some of the Engineering developers have been working on updates to the WRAP plugin for WordPress. Once I know more about that and have an official release I’ll link to it and post more info. Meanwhile OIT has been trying to reconfigure our Brand Bar plugin to make it more responsive. Frustratingly, the current brand bar breaks the responsive layout of many of our themes so we’re trying to put together an accessibility-friendly workaround for that. Hope to have it out soon.
And finally I’ve added some functionality to the OIT Flex WordPress theme and pushed an update to version 1.05 (probably will update to 1.06 before EOB today). I’ve created a new template which replaces the header image with a news and profile image slider. Simply tag your posts with the ‘feature’ category (which gets added automatically on theme install) and then set your homepage or news page to the slider template and you’re ready to go. The theme needs a few more tweaks, particularly as I work on ensuring that the slider is responsive, but it should be functional with the latest release so feel free to check it out on Github.
My conference got me excited about Bootstrap and I want to try something out with Bootstrap for NCSU… so as long as I can get some work done and stay out of meeting for a bit hopefully I’ll be back here soon with more theme news. Check back soon!
It’s always hard to judge DrupalCon’s effectiveness, mainly because I am always confused as to how im measuring it.
Did I enjoy meeting up with new and old colleagues? Absolutely.
Were the sessions amazing? Not enough of them were.
Were the BOFs amazing? They would have been better if the more popular ones were in bigger rooms (EDU, Aegir)
Did I enjoy DrupalCon itself? Ask again later.
I’m hopefully going to be able to help with the new attempt to provide a central place for all Educational Drupal users – http://edudu.org
It’s an idea started by colleagues at Stanford, UC Davis, and UC Berkeley.. and now a few of us are going to lend some time to help get it off the ground (and to continue making it a useful resource)
I’m putting this in the “Good” category, because it’s always good to hear what challenges or successes are happening at other institutions, no matter the size.
The take away from all educational-centric sessions, is that NC State remains in the dark ages in terms of brand consistency. It actually emitted open laughing from the audience in 3 different sessions when the premise of a University not attempting to implement a single, unified web brand/presence was mentioned.
It took several conversations and explanations about how NC State is “decentralized” for colleagues to understand why there is seemingly no push from the top to standardize on a platform, or at least a single look and feel.
@theanarcat– one of the creators/core maintainers of the Aegir project attended, and graciously spent time answering questions and discussing things with us.
Aegir should be the gold standard if any one is running a Hosted Drupal Service, and yet some people dont even know about it (see “The Bad” section below for more on this).
For the first time, i was able to share a lot with my colleagues (both old friends and new) regarding the Hosted Drupal Service at NC State…. as well as more compartmental help regarding individual components (Aegir configuration, Views tips, Accessibility tips to name a few).
I am glad im at the stage of being able to give back, rather than just being a taker of knowledge from others.
The amount of BOFs on offer were great, but they were all set up through the Unconference “White Board” method… meaning that the board filled up half way through the 2nd day… and who knows what other topics didn’t see the light of day.
Dries started out by saying we “need to do good” with our time, and our usage of Drupal. IE: to help people, to advance opportunity, to embrace the open-source way of doing things. And i totally agreed, and was on board.
But, then he proceeded to inextricably link his perception of “success” of Drupal with the number of websites using it. I think that a better product will drive more adoption of the product, whereas the drive from Acquia (the business-arm of Drupal, run by Dries) seems to be “lets just get everyone in the world to use Drupal and then everything will be peachy.“
If they fix the editor experience (which is on the cards for Drupal 8), then i think there’s a chance Drupal may become a more attractive option for those people (including me) who use WordPress for more simple blog-ish sites. Hell, this post is on a wordpress blog… because it takes less to maintain than a Drupal site if all im doing is blogging.
As i said above, Aegir should be the gold standard for managing large drupal environments….. but not everyone knows about it.
Aegir sessions were NOTICEABLY absent from the schedule. None were approved. Zero. Zilch. Nada.
All we got was a BOF that almost didn’t make it on the board. And whereas the BOF was great, it should have been more. It should have been a session in its own right, maybe even a panel, in a huge room that im sure would have been packed.
Why is it seemingly blacklisted? Because Aegir represents a way for people to manage large scale services themselves, and therefore would not require the help from the sponsors of DrupalCon. And that’s what is disappointing: the slow creep towards Drupal being a wholly owned and operated system for businesses to make money from, rather than a true open source collaborative community. Acquia has the right to make money from Drupal just like any of us do… but the lines are becoming blurred between Drupal the open source software, and Drupal the business (aka Acquia/New Media/Pantheon/Commerce Guys/the list goes on)
Wrap it up
It was worth attending. That’s for sure. But more now than 4 years ago…. the sessions at DrupalCon are becoming less important for me.
Sure, the people are the best thing about attending a conference, but you at least expect sessions that drive conversation, or enquiry, or collaboration. DrupalCon Portland didn’t do that for me, but hopefully im in the minority.
The next DrupalCon is in Austin. In June. Wow, that’s going to be hot. Not hawt, like awesome dude!…. but hot as in melt your face off hot. And of course im looking forward to it.
Very rudimentary notes that i took in some of the sessions are in this Google Doc: