Mar 31 2013
Mar 31

Am back in Islamabad after two very long and tiring days to Lahore and a full on Camp!  details to follow, this is abridged version for the experience!

Drupal Cam Pakistan in Lahore was a strange affair, all in all a great experience, met all my objectives of promoting Drupal and the power of OS in creating jobs, opportunities and prosperity… introduced Drupal to a small army of students,  but could not quite understand the industry representatives in Lahore! of the 60 odd registered from Industry only 20 odd showed up… total count on the day was about 70+ of which the majority were students – which was great but would have been better for the industry to turn up to network and guide the local student population!

Stranger still was discovering that a perfectly normal Drupaler I know in the community in Pakistan turned out to be a bigoted, racist ignoramus! not so nice known ya fella’

We linked up with the Drupal Community in Bangalore and this guy went off on a nationalistic ignorant rant with them on Skype! of course I used my 6’3 110kg mass to push him aside and apologised for giving the podium to a bigot!

Any hoo… the Camp was great, we trained 41 newbies in Hello Drupal and expect the vast majority to keep at it… we linked up with the Faculty lead on relations with industry and convinced Bilal Arshad from UCP to introduce Drupal in their end of year projects for students.

The next camping trip for Drupal Camp Pakistan is in August to Karachi and then I am off Camping in Dubai to build links with the community in the GCC region…

As for right now… am off to host the inaugural 9others meal in Islamabad… more on that later.

Mar 29 2013
Mar 29

An evangelist’s log: Star date – 28th March

Drupal Camp

0730 –  landed in Islamabad, 30 minutes in the immigration queue, walked to the carousel and my luggage is right there! out by 0815 – has to be a new record flying coach! Straight to the Crane’s nest, up since 0700 the day before, Bialetti on the stove, quadruple espresso and the world starts making sense again!

0930 am informed by one of our crane also a trainer for DrupalCamp that there has been a slight oversight on his part for the 30th March camp… it also happens to be the day his sister-in-law is getting married! in all the excitement of the Camp it slipped his mind that his attendance at the wedding is not optional! a key crane has to be excused, but an ex-crane steps in to save the session!

0940ish Asif our network ninja informs me that the net speed in Pakistan is not running at its best because of a damaged submarine cable! but the powers that be are working around the clock (somewhere under the Suez canal) on fixing it asap! I get online, start streaming off Vimeo and yes the speed sucks!

1000ish Fida our organiser supremo informs me that Campus at University of Central Punjab has a fantastic mega fat pipe line… the submarine cable damages comes to mind!

1200ish Atta sends me an article from the Guardian – Cyberbunker is kicking Spamhaus’s behind and the end users are paying for it with reduced speed! the Rock’s largest DNS attack is in play! and the net speed in Blighty is suffering! a three word expression come to mind!

But it would be no other way, the camp is going to Lahore home to the not so famous Lollywood, where the action movies would send Action Jackson cowering; featuring horses and Drupal Campriders who can cover great distances in a flash… from Times Square NYC to Lahore Central in less time than it takes for a villain to pull off the distressed damsels veil, XXXL heroines doing Shakira numbers and heroes who would scare the pants of Jet Lee, guns that never need reloading, heroes who can spill more Red than the Red sea and still manage dialogues and live to fight another few dozen baddies in the next 30 seconds, actors with phenomenal stamina to shout out dialogues over 2+ hours!… and directors who evidently compete on how absurd a movie they can make!

There has to be drama involved! this is LAHORE not Sparta!

#Drupal #DrupalCamp #EmergingTechnologies

Oct 02 2012
Oct 02

Gerard and Gordon at Ealing Half Marathon 2012

Sunday morning, 30th September 2012, I found myself standing under the criss-crossed, vapour-trail etched skies of Ealing with my brother-in-law Gordon. Steam on our breaths and goosebumps on our arms, we were there for the first ever Ealing Half Marathon.

It wasn’t just Ealing’s first half-marathon, either. It was mine, too.

What was nice about turning up for the Ealing Half was that it felt like coming full circle. A couple of years ago, when I was just getting started with running it was Gordon who tricked me into running distances I would normally have run. During that time, I hadn’t pushed my distance past a couple of miles, but on a visit to London, he took me out for a run along Regents’ Canal and kind of tricked me into running twice the distance I’d normally have run. That sealed the deal, and today I’ve got over 650 miles under my Asics trainers.

Now, we did something that in hindsight seems a bit ill-advised. The day before, Gordon and I went out for a 4.5 mile run. It was supposed to be a relaxed run, but we ended up breaking the sound barrier. Or something like that. Either way, we did a great time, averaging 7 minutes per mile, but I ended up with a niggling IT band pain which was not how I wanted to be starting a 13 mile race.

As a first time racer, everything is fresh and new. The little electronic chip you have to secure to your trainers. It records your start and finish time as you cross the line. The gathering crowd of athletes, amateur and professional – how do you tell them apart? The novelty runners. People wrapped in bin liners for warmth. The starting ‘funnel’ where everybody bunches up and gets ready to run. The hilarious motivation music which ranged from Born To Run to the theme from Baywatch. The excitement of standing waiting for the race to start, bouncing on your toes to keep warm and burn off that nervous energy.

Start line of the Ealing Half Marathon 2012

The race begins…with a shuffle. Yeah, everybody’s in such close proximity that it takes a few minutes for the runners to spread out and hit a decent stride. And for the first mile in Ealing, that’s what happens: dodging slower runners and trying to keep a relaxed pace so as not to burn yourself out too quickly.

Ealing rocked. The residents were extremely gracious about having their entire town cordoned off so that 4,600 mad runners could take it over. Many of them stood by and cheered us on, whether they knew us or not. We ran past one house which was blasting Simply The Best from unseen speakers for our benefit! Some spectators were out in their best dressing gowns. One woman waved enthusiastically from her bedroom window. I think she was clothed. I hope she was.

The course, however, was tougher than I expected. Hills. Lots and lots of hills. You’d climb a hill and the course would seem to level off, only for everyone to turn a sharp corner and go up…another bloody hill!

From about mile 3 onward, my IT band was playing on my mind. The IT band is a tough band of tissue that runs down the side of your leg, around the knee and attaches to the side of your calf. It’s a common problem for runners to experience tightness in this, and when the IT band rubs across the knee bone, it causes friction, then inflamation, then excruciating pain. I’ve had it before. It’s impossible to confuse an aggravated IT band with – for example – tickling. When your IT band is on fire, it’s like being stabbed in the side of your knee. Repeatedly.

Anyway, there was no way I was limping away from this race without finishing it. My survival strategy? A combination of ‘boxing off’ the pain in my head, forgetting it was there, and favouring my left leg. This was especially important whenever the pain started to get worse: focusing on the strength in the left leg would help get me through it.

Finisher's medal for Ealing Half 2012

Much of the race was a blur of leafy avenues as we wound through the labyrinthine but picturesque streets of Ealing. There was one memorable road which was lined with trees. It was hilly, so climbing it was a bit of a struggle. Then, from out of nowhere, the wind picked up and conkers started raining down around us. They were bouncing and rolling around our feet and banging off the tops of the parked cars. Luckily, no-one around me was hit, but it was a memorable moment of jeopardy!

Closing in on the finish line was tough. Mentally, I segment a 13 mile run into 4 lots of 3 miles, which leaves that final mile sticking out like a sore thumb. Honestly though, the last three miles were hard work. Leg pain and fatigue were draining me. So I picked up the speed and ran a little harder. One mile went down. Then the second last mile seemed to take forever, but recognizable milestones started appearing – Ealing’s main street, places we’d run through on the way out.

And then Lammas Park appeared. The finish line! But what’s this? We’re not finished yet. Yes, we had to do an entire circuit of the park before we hit the finish line. And there was the best part of a mile left to run. For a moment, all the fight went out of me. Luckily, there was a 1:45 pace runner ahead of me – they were focal points for runners who wanted to finish in a particular time – and I fell into step with him. Then the 400 meter sign appeared. And then the 200 meter sign.

And as quickly as that, it was over. The finish line came and went and the running became stumbling around, trying to get out of the way of the other runners. Stopping to have the chip removed from my trainers. Grabbing a bottle of water from one of the helpers. Being handed a finishers’ medal. Hobbling back to the Northfields tube station with Gordon as the overwhelming pong of sweat engulfed us (and the poor Sunday travelers who’d had the bad luck to pick our carriage).

As quickly as that, first half-marathon over. Back to central London for a quick shower and change and then I was en route to Gatwick for the return flight. I have to say a big thank you – to Gordon for inviting me along, to Lisa for giving the green light to the trip and to the organisers of the Ealing Half Marathon. It was a fantastic event, we had a great day for the race and I’d happily do it all again. Once my knee gets better.

Sep 01 2011
Sep 01

As it turns out, I really enjoyed my time in London. Getting to visit old, historic cities is quite a treat for someone from the Midwest in the U.S.A. There are no castle towers on hills or centuries old steeples gracing my skyline in Louisville, KY, and I'm quite a sucker for both. Getting to visit the Tower of London, which supplies arms to my local museum, turned out to be a special treat. I'm also a sucker for good food and drink (who isn't?), and while it's not the height of elegance, my first experience of fish and chips with mushy peas was good, too. Note to Americans: it's mush-y, not moosh-y.

Fish and chips with mushy peas. Mmm!
Fish and chips courtesy of The George.

My first couple of days in London were my busiest. I delivered a Drupal Commerce training to a room full of students with Greg Beuthin (a.k.a. smokinggoat), our in-house trainer par excellence. Unfortunately, he and I both had sniffles and scratchy throats, so I can only imagine what those reviews will say about our delivery... C'est la vie. We survived, but my day was only just getting started by the end.

For most of the next day and a half I was minding my queue in preparation for the 1.0 launch of Drupal Commerce. With the help of Bojan Zivanovic and Damien Tournoud (and a few others throughout the day), we were able to close out a variety of issues and ensure all of our automated tests were passing when we finally packaged the 1.0. In a feat of endurance sure to be remembered for ages to come, Damien and I outlasted Bojan's youthful energy to finalize the release after postponing dinner for a couple hours. That's what experience gets you, folks.

Excited Damien

An excited Damien is never too hungry to celebrate.

Proud father

It's a boy! He weighs 8 lbs. 6 oz. and is 22" long!

Coming to DrupalCon to collaborate with the other Commerce Guys and the various contributors from across Europe was the greatest part for me. Without the community, we wouldn't have the 1.0 that we do, a solid e-commerce framework that is not limited to a particular use case or locality. We're standing on the shoulders of Drupal core, the contributions of Merfago, and the dozens of patch contributors who have helped ensure Commerce can accommodate all those crazy taxes around the world. I also personally wouldn't have known that mushy peas are better with malt vinegar mixed in without John Albin Wilkins.

With the 1.0 out, my attention is now focused on ensuring our essential contributed modules are ready for use. I'm focusing specifically on making product administration simpler, ensuring Commerce Shipping supports calculated shipping quotes, and pushing code upstream from a local project into Commerce Addressbook. I always have a half dozen payment related projects in the works, too.

If you want to hear more about Drupal Commerce in person, I'll be talking about the project as an international community success story at DrupalCamp Atlanta. I'm busy compiling statistics on committers and contributions to share along with my usual hand-waving, mile-a-minute overview of the modules' functionality.

I'll also deliver a show-and-tell style training at this year's Do It With Drupal in NYC. I love DIWD as a more intimate gathering of module authors, core contributors, and web pros from outside the Drupal community. It's a great place for attendees to soak in a wealth of information and run their project needs by the folks writing the code they'll use. Today is the last day for early bird pricing, so if you're on the fence, you may as well make the impulse buy and come hang out in New York with us.

I hope to see many of you at those events and many more minding the queues.

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