John Jacobs shares a few leads

Drupal 7 news


The new version of Drupal is getting close to release. I am exited about this because the social media site I’m working on – Pool is using Drupal 5. This was the best version a few years ago when the  Pool project began development but since then the Drupal community has been hard at work improving it’s code base. Their latest stable release is 6.14.

When Pool first started planning Pool V2.0 we were anticipating to go to Drupal 6. One good thing about our slow process of redesign :~) is that D 7 is now getting close to release and we may actually be able to jump straight in to it! This will bring lots of enhancements and enable us to deliver an even better open media platform to the Pool community.

If you’re interested to find out what the future holds for Drupal and enjoy listening to friendly open source nerds chatting, dip into this podcast

It’s great to hear Angie Byron A.K.A. webchick, one of the D7 lead developers talking about her work on the project and some of the features to look forward to.

Some of my favourites are:

  • Streamlined uploads
  • Meta taxonomies
  • Better geotagging capability
  • Reduced reliance on theming for functionality
  • Automated testing framework
  • Admin. dashboard
  • Elimination of user vs. node tensions

If you have read this far then you might also be interested in the User Experience project that has made a significant contribution to the D7 release.


Filed under: Media, , , ,

The Art of Community – a review

9780596156718_catI have mentioned the Art of Community book here before but have now read the first two chapters and am getting a lot out of it.

I recommend it to your attention if you are a social media worker or in some ways in the role of a community manager.
It initially suffers a bit from a lack of sub editorial tightness – starting off with a few too many geeky rambling stories as examples for my impatient taste – perhaps an artefact of a freely downloadable book project.

But do stick with it because once Jono Bacon gets down to the business of sharing his years of free software CM skills from the KDE and Ubuntu communities his programmer’s mindset comes to the fore and a nice set of dot pointed tips and steps emerges as a good structured framework for community building.

Read about the book here:

Download it here:

Quote from the project site:

Every software project, online site, or company has to manage the community of interested people surrounding it. The community is the source of new ideas, a reliable support network, and the best marketing tool. When money is tight, making the best use of the community is even more critical.
Author Jono Bacon has been building and managing communities for a decade, particularly in areas of open source software such as KDE and Ubuntu. He currently is Community Manager for Ubuntu, probably the largest community in the open-source software area. His experience and his relationships with other communities and leaders provide a rich and deep well of expertise for this book.
In The Art of Community you’ll experience the broad range of talents required to recruit members, motivate them, manage them, and make them happy to be part of your community. Bacon takes you through the different stages of community and covers the information you’ll need, ranging from software tools to conflict resolution skills. Topics include:
• Sustainable processes for management – how to create day to day processes that are simple, effective and always representative of your community and its members.
• Tools and infrastructure – give your community simple and friction-free tools that they need to do their work, complete with effective communication channels.
• Building buzz – think outside the box and excite and enthuse potential community members to join your crusade, build capacity and keep the train running.
• Measuring aspects of community success – understand, assess and measure your community, discover what can be measured and how to react to the results.
• Conflict management – manage strong personalities that clash, and untangle contentious situations in the open and transparent manner that your community expects.
• Handling live events – organize and schedule productive, fun and engaging live events that get things done and re-affirm social bonds between your community members.
• Scaling the community – as your community grows, things change and adjust to the size, scale and throughput of your membership: handle these changes with as little disruption as possible.
The Art Of Community underlines and illustrates this large body of knowledge with a compendium of stories, anecdotes and tales that bring the concepts to life. Bacon’s amusing and witty writing style makes the Art Of Community a fun read that is sure to help you build strong, effective and engaging communities.

Filed under: Media, , ,

The art of persuasive writing – a book review/summary

I have lots of really great ideas. If only people would put them into practice the worlds problems would be solved.
Sadly this has yet to happen. So what’s missing? Hmm, perhaps if I could write more persuasively….

Enter Lindsay J Camp and the distillation of his 25 years as a copy writer, “Can I change your mind: The art of persuasive writing”
I swallowed this very digestible book almost whole in one sitting. It is both amusing and nutritious.

What really resonated with me being a User Experience guy is his key point – Always think of your reader first.

That, like the rest of the book, is deceptively simple but very potent. You’re probably time poor like me so here’s a summary of the tips for writers that caught my eye.

  • Always think of the reader first. (Never waste their time or speak down to them)
  • Address an individual.
  • Have a goal.
  • Have a clear message.
  • Summarise in an introduction.
  • Speak as you write.
  • Vary sentence length.
  • End sentences on the down beat.
  • Use rhetorical questions, they stand in for the voice of the reader.
  • Don’t worry overly about punctuation.
  • Use the simplest word that still conveys the meaning and satisfies the reader.
  • End with a clear call to action

Extra strategies worth trying

  • Key phrases in bold or in pull-out boxes.
  • Use a PS to sum up and make it visually findable, as readers often skip to the end to see if it is worth reading through.

You can read a few excerpts here

Filed under: Media

Random audio editor freeware program

Stephan Brion's EVPMaker using Speak JetEVP Maker is an interesting piece of free software. It comes out of left field and it’s lack of orientation to what are the dominant musical and compositional concerns are what makes it shine.

It is designed to generate recordings for use in studying EVP or Electronic Voice Phenomena. This is a field of paranormal studies that is interested in the voices of ghosts or spirits that can be tapped into using electronic devices.

The author has included a number of unusual features for creating chaotic randomisation of the edit process, including combinations of bitmaps, random numbers generated live by scripts on websites, unrelated audio signals and values extracted from the envelope of the source signal. Top stuff.

On this page Stephan is mashing his EVP ideas with the capability of Speak Jet a solid-state allophone generator that is worthy of investigation separately there is a forum here.

You can record all this back as wav files to your computer and analyse them to hear the voices of the dead. Or to make contributions to the Utter project.

Maximum respect to Stefan Bion for having the unique vision to create this wonderful software and then sharing it for free to anyone.

If you would like to go deep into his free thinking on these matters look at this page where he describes how to make an EVP generator with crumbled carbon and a cork! (In German)

Image illustrating this weblink by S. Bion        Download for free and read more about EVP Maker here

Filed under: Art, , , ,

Social Media: The Five-Year Forecast

Social media has only just taken off says media analyst Jeremiah Owyang — and his Future of the Social Web report says social networks and marketers will have to change their strategies. He projects forwards five years and comes up some pretty radical points. He is mainly writing from a marketing perspective but this can be transposed to a creative industries focus. Three points that peaked my interest are;

  • Sites themselves will become less relevant as brands deliver content based on social network identities instead of requiring consumers to surf and search.
  • Social networks will no longer be destinations as much as they will be “aggregations” of communities unattached to individual sites.
  • The successful brands, Owyang says, will be the ones that “let the most popular content spread to the community and the customer[s] where they exist.” 

The executive summary of Jeremiah Owyang’s report can be found here.

I first saw this report mentioned on a Customer Relations Management website here

Filed under: Media, , , ,

Remix trophy

I am on the panel of judges for the ‘We are what we share‘ competition as part of the Ideas festival at the State Library of Queensland 28th March. We didn’t want to have a prize of money so I thought a hand made object would be better.

The We Share remix swift whip trophy

Here’s what I have come up with. Its a Swift Whip hand powered cake mixer atop some melted letters from a speaking toy.

For me it’s been a nice reminder to experience what it’s like to come up with an idea, bring it into the world, become attached to it and then to give it away. Ahh the bitter sweet joy of shared culture.

Filed under: Art, ,

Super Glitch Barbie


Here’s my latest circuit bent toy sound maker based on a Super Talk Barbie doll voice circuit.

It’s super simple and lots of fun! All I’ve done is added a power starve control, a trigger switch and a reset switch to recover from crashes.

Unlike like the more conventional unbendable ‘black blob’ talking toys of this era that simply played one shot samples this kind of toy gets pretty quickly into complete gibberish and phoneme tone loops. I think the circuit is particularly susceptible to disruption by reduction of supply voltage because the microchip plays a sequence of random phrases to construct the output. Starve the voltage and the data address lines go crazy %~)

Tip: Clear plastic lunch-boxes with resealable clip lids make excellent quick D.I.Y. project boxes, easily worked, light, sturdy and stylish.

From a Barbie bending idea shared with me by Nick Wishart from Toydeath

Listen to a sound clip at sound sharing site

Good backgrounder to circuit bending here

Filed under: Art

Short wave obsession

I am getting right back into listening to Short Wave radio broadcasts.

80 meter band frame antenna

It’s a backlash against so much time I spend in the world of online audio I guess.

It’s also because nothing sounds quite as romantic and evocative than any signal that has been subjected to the shifting, phasing noise of travelling half way round the the world’s ionosphere.

There are plenty of good net resources on the topic of Short wave one of my favorites is Shortwave Music.

I am in the process of researching and building antennas for better DX reception and also as part of Rod Cooper’s “Vessel” project. My assignment for that has been to evoke the sound of sea navigation. I think the phasing hiss and chatter of the Tropical bands may fit the bill nicely.

This is my latest antenna it is from a design here

Filed under: Art, , ,

Furby gurdies!

I thought one glitching Fuby as enough, but David Cranmer has really gone one step beyond with his Furby Gurdy. He is a really amazing DIY bender and has four Furbies talking gibberish to each other in his wacky Furby Gurdy. For more of his wonderful creations check out his website at http://www.nervoussquirrel.comfurby gurdy under consruction

furby gurdy under construction

Filed under: Art

Vintage tech, it just gets better!

Don’tcha love that pale blue box with the chunky red buttons?

The longer that piece of classic tech sits gathering dust, the better it will look when some one finally ebay’s it.

If you’re like me you’ll enjoy reading Jason Savitt’s blog Vintage Tech Collector.

I first heard about it over At NPR’s feature on dotmatrix printers making music

Filed under: Uncategorized


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