Matt Inman on Group Intelligence

Group intelligence is multiplicative when idiots are involved - combining a half-wit with another half-wit does not result in a full-witted person, it results in a quarter-witted person (1/2 x 1/2 = 1/4). Combining a full-witted individual with a half-wit still only yields a half-wit. The more of these "wrong kinds of people" you have involved in the process, the worse things get.

- Matt Inman, SEOMoz Blog

To Hell and Back: One Day and an evening to an Ajaxy, Popup, Node Photo Gallery

The requirement was:

  1. Build an image gallery that can be associated with single nodes
  2. Images should be added within the content form
  3. Images must be accessable via a link in the node
  4. The gallery itself is to be in a popup window
  5. Images are to be selectable without page refreshes
  6. Each image needs a caption

I am proud to annouce that a solution has been found. Actually I'm not proud. The horrors that I saw... the suffering, the screaming, the cries of agony... I will never be proud of what I accomplished. The experience of it defies words. I can only hope that I will have some solace when I release the solution.

By Far the Dumbest Thing I've Read Today

Sometimes, when I'm out to eat, a friend of mine will take a bite, grimace, and then exclaim, "uhg, this tastes terrible... try it!" I usually do in a heart beat. There's a priceless hilariity to be found in the horrid. 

Similarly, I grimaced while reading this article titled, "Why Enron Chief Was Better Than 'Philanthropists'". The title itself is like a cankorsore -- it's annoying, and hurts -- but for some reason your tounge can't leave it alone. 

Now this article suffers from numerous faults. However, what bugs me most was lines along the lines of, "Now we're supposed to be shocked and awed by Buffett's decision to give $37 billion--about 85 percent of his assets--to Bill Gates' foundation."

Drupal: Enterprise Edition

The title is an oxymoron, and half a joke. However, it seems that at times, websites require a very strict process of development. Typically the flow is development (either the developers localhost, or a communal crap site), to staging (where there's testing) to production. I'm going to go out on a limb here, and declare that drupal handles this kind of enviroment HORRENDOUSLY.

Today, I attempted to briefly map out how the hell one was supposed to manage updating a site's configuration without changing user generated nodes, comments, files, terms, accounts, or any other thing "non-configuration setting". This was my recommendation:

A Texan's View on President Bush

Unlike President Bush, I'm a Texan. Strangely, however, being a Texan seems to put me initially at odds with various continental types (who happen to make up 35% of my readership). Being a Texan, so their argument runs, I must like our president -- we're from the same state after all! It pains me to see that some Europeans have such a simplistic world view. So briefly, I'd like to set the record straight.

Firstly, I'm from Austin -- not Texas. There is a big difference, and anyone who's visited Austin will testify to that. Generally, speaking, Texas is a very stupid state. This stupidity can be easily detected by observing this state's voting habits, its "values" (if that's what you call them..), and its distinct fondness for truck commercials that re-emphasize that Texas is big; and therefore Texans should like Chevy's big trucks.

Drupal and XML: Looking Forward

In preparation for my trip to Washington D.C. next month, I've begun to develop a module that integrates the CAP XML format (Common Alerting Protocol) with drupal's node, location, google map, category, and CCK modules. Put plainly, the CAP format seeks:

"[to standardize] the content of alerts and notifications across all hazards, including law enforcement and public safety as well as natural hazards such as severe weather, fires, earthquakes, and tsunami. Systems using CAP have shown that a single authoritative and secure alert message can quickly launch Internet messages, news feeds, television text captions, highway sign messages, and synthesized voice over automated telephone calls or radio broadcasts."

Having spent about 8 hours researching and experiementing with drupal, xml, and the CAP alert format, I've come to a few conclusions:

Does Ugly Design = Successful Website? Or do designers just see everything as a question of design?

Jon Lebkowsky is right, this is an eye-popping thought: Ugly design = successful website. It’s a controversial claim; and but that’s about all it is.

You needn’t know a thing about design, or websites to see why this claim is complete humbug. Observe the logic:

Premise 1: Myspace, google, and craigslist are successful websites

Premise 2: Myspace, google, and craigslist are badly designed

Category Module: A Solution to Everything You Hate About Taxonomies and Books

I’ve been watching the category module since January. Today, I’m ready to make a rather controversial assertion: this module has rendered both the taxonomy, and book modules obsolete.

It goes without saying that when making a serious decision, such as going to war, or declaring the taxonomy module obsolete, one better have a reason. Here are just a few of my reasons:

  1. It converts the book module’s flacid, pseudo menu into something useful: a real menu. In other words, it enables you to create a global navigation scheme (menu trees, and breadcrumbs) that will expand in response to whatever node your users are currently viewing. Before, books were invalid mini-sites that were seperated from the great context of the menu tree. They were a bad solution that one had to make, because there wasn't an alternative. Let us join hands, and celebrate the passing of that dark age.
  2. The category module not only gives you the option of automatically generating a menu item for every node that you file under a certain category… it gives you the option to create an pseudo menu item – so you avoid cluttering your menu, but have the benefits of context in terms of breadcrumbs and menu trees. Some "experts" say that its important for your navigation to a) show the user where they are, b) show them where they can go, c) show them where they've been. It was very sad that this simple goal was so hard to achieve in the past. Well, it is no longer, thanks to the category module.
  3. Every “category”, and every “container” are nodes. And wait, this should be explained:Foreach (TAXONOMY) { category = term, container = vocabulary }Foreach (BOOK) { category = child, container = parent} Every container, and category have an RSS feed. And since they are nodes, they can be themed like any other node. This = presentational freedom that both taxonomy and book sorely lacked.
  4. Pathauto now has native category module support. In otherwords, I dare you to see what happens if you set every node’s default path to [menupath]/[title], and every category and container to [menupath]. What you will find is SEO, and URL heaven – never again will you need to scheme of ways to make URLs, breadcrumbs, and menus all agree.
  5. We all know that the views module allows you to differentiate between taxonomy, and node types (just nod along like you knew that…). In contrast, the category module has full fledge views support. I’ll say it again: you can extend the category module’s organizational freedom, with the universe of presentational, and conditional options of the views module. That makes me a very happy person.
  6. In general, the new concepts put forward by the category module offer superior freedom in terms of the way content relates, is displayed, is navigated, and can be consumed. For the first time, you can build a comprehensive organized sitemap, using the sitemenu module. Oh – and did I mention, it has a bulk editor that makes complete reorganizations of a site’s structure take LITERALLY 1/40th of the time they would take with book, or taxonomy modules. F@ck yeah!
  7. I will never have to explain what a taxonomy is again. I will never have to show someone the difference between vocabularies and terms. Even better, never again will I have to hypnotize some poor bloke into believing that the seperation between taxonomy/menus/book hierarchies is a sensible thing. Though, its worth noting that I've become a good hypnotist.

Learning How To Theme in Drupal, Starting at Square One

Note: I'm going to start regularly answering questions I get via email by blog. The reason being that email is a blackhole; and I am getting too many good questions everyday. When I have a few moments to answer, I figure I should make them available to everyone.

A reader by the name of Fouad writes:

Foundry Theme Nearing Release

Foundry[1], a new theme I'm working on, is getting close to release. Here's the latest screenshot. 

This theme is something of an anthology of design/templating/css solutions I've found over the course of this year. My most recent of which is a horizontal nested menu tree (contained within a div rounded using javascript), with background images, and support of infinate levels. Oh, and it works on the big browsers: IE6, IE7, Firefox, and Safari. 



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