What would I do if I wasn’t in IT?

Andy McKay asks, “If you were going to throw in the chips on an IT career, what would you do?

Entertain. I’d get into voice over work or television in some capacity.

Prior to my kids and the necessity to make a decent living and support a half-a-dozen human beings I loved community theater. I was a singer, dancer, comedic actor but only locally ;-). I even took a 9 month course on becoming a dj (during the commercials on an 8-track tape era). I was told (by one instructor) after I’d paid the big bucks to take the course that I’d never make it in the radio business because I sounded too much like a female version of Mr.Rogers. So what is wrong with sounding like a sweet compassionate lady? huh? Guess if my speaking voice sounded more like Grace Slick or Stevie Nicks I might have been more successful. Although my favorite part of the entire course was the splicing and combining reel-to-reels to create commercials and song mixes. It’s been 22 years since I took that course. Time flies.

I never had the usual dream of going to hollywood to become an actress (had a girlfriend go to hollywood to ‘make it big” and come back within 60 days totally dejected, poor baby) I still love singing but my foray into the technology field has made it really tough to make time for my first love, performing.

Working on a computer and doing all the ‘research’ required to stay ‘current’ has pretty much planted my rather ample behind in this chair permanently! As I’ve gotten older and wiser there are a lot more demands on my time in front of the computer. I sit here a lot more. It’s hard to get motivated to take a walk or go outside when there are 25 tabs in my firefox, each with something I really wanted to learn. My chosen technology, Plone, is not easy to learn and always changing and it takes me longer than most to grasp some of the concepts so I read and experiment sometimes for hours on end.

My kids are all pretty much grown. When they were little I chased after their active little selves and walked them back and forth to school and took them to the park. I was healthy and got a lot of sun (even though I looked like a little lobster all summer, I thrived in that sun and just felt vibrant and alive). Now my kids don’t want to be seen with their, “moOOmm” anymore so I don’t HAVE to go anywhere. Heck I can order anything I want online!!

I often fantasize about making it big in technology then quitting the industry and becoming one of those actors/actresses who started in the entertainment industry really late in life. I mean you have to have a grandma or mean old lady in every show right? (not sure I could pull off mean, but that’d be the ultimate in acting prowess)

I love what I do right now, but no it wasn’t my first choice. Though my foray into online training is giving me the opportunity to utilize my voice and personality to help others learn my favorite technology, Plone.

In Open Source I trust: Top 5 projects for daily use

There are days when I marvel at how far I’ve come since 2001 when the extent of my web experience was Front Page and basic html. In 2001 I met my boyfriend and he introduced me to the wonders of Open Source. Need a word processor or spreadsheet prograqm? Try OpenOffice. How about a graphic manipulation program, Gimp is just as good as Photoshop he’d say. I was sceptical and it took me a long time to “get it” but today as I open up VirtualBox once more to work on a client site with my favorite text editor Kate it dawned on me that the utilization of Open Source on a daily basis has crept into my routine and I’m loving it.  Excuse me while I fire up Amarok here and I’ll tell you about my top 5.

Although I use more than 5 Open Source projects in my daily routine the following are the ones that get the most use and the most attention.

VirtualBox – In February 2008 I wrote this post about my foray into desktop virtualization. Since then VirtualBox has become a mainstay on all my computers and laptops. I use VirtualBox everyday for the following tasks:

  • A sandbox for trying out Linux Distros before I install. Satisfies my curiousity about up&coming distros without having to wait around for hardware resources to be available. See DistroWatch for Linux/FreeBSD Distros to try
  • Testing out new versions of Operating Systems. I tested out Windows 7 last week in a VirtualBox on my laptop without having to build a new machine to install the OS.
  • Trying out new Open Source projects before we dedicate hardware resources (especially content management systems).
  • Installing a commercial application (closed source) like QuickBooks on a VirtualBox for testing (test compatibility with your OS on a test instance without breaking your base OS)
  • Installing and testing bug trackers, server maintenance and SaaS ready applications. Examples of applications we have tested in VirtualBox include Mantis, vtiger and Nagios.

I tried all the desktop virtualization options available and I found VirtualBox to be the easiest to use and I’m still using it a year later.

Plone – Plone is a Content Management System built on the Zope Application Framework. Written primarily in Python (with a little C thrown in for good measure) this project has grown in value as the community has grown in strength. Plone was my first real involvement with an Open Source project and the Plone community is what keeps me involved. It’s open, helpful, charitable idealogy keeps me hooked. I spent 70% of my day working on client sites developed with Plone.

Firefox – As a web developer whose primary focus is look&feel the web developer toolbar in Firefox has become invaluable to me. Firebug is essential to my daily tasks, I just couldn’t imagine trying to track down a css issue or a javascript issue without Firebug. Firefox has become my primary browser and the only time I open IE is to check a client site for cross browser issues. Although Google’s Chrome browser is much lighter I only use Chrome for non-work browsing because Firefox has so many great third-party tools that help me do my job everyday.

TweetDeck – I have used TweetDeck on both Windows and my Ubuntu box. I’ve tried quite a few of the Twitter clients and Tweet Deck is the easiest and has the prettiest interface. I find it extremely intuitive and it helps me to organize tweets. I’m looking forward to even more features and functionality as TweetDeck matures.

Ubuntu – Although we have been using Debian for years on our client servers (as well as virtualization) I wanted something on my desktop that was easy to use. Ubuntu with KDE (I install kde from source, but you can get KDE on Ubuntu by downloading Kubuntu) is a great combination.  You can make your desktop OS your own through customization. Ubuntu doesn’t use as many hardware resources as Windows and it’s free.  I’m not going to lie to you, I ran into some issues with the video card and some audio/speaker issues but there are forums and tons of tons of tutorials on troubleshooting Ubuntu. I work with Ubuntu everyday in some capacity and find it’s a quality distribution and easier to pick up than most of the other distributions.

So there you have it, my top 5 Open Source projects, VirtualBox, Plone, Firefox, TweetDeck and Ubuntu. Other projects that I use on a weekly basis, Gimp, Amarok and Open Office.

If you haven’t tried Linux yet, download VirtualBox onto your Windows (or Mac), grab an iso from DistroWatch and you should be only minutes away from experiencing the joys of Open Source!

World Plone Day – November 7, 2008 (Bay Area)

On November 7, 2008 C Squared Enterprises will be participating in the “World Plone Day” event.

We will be hosting two sessions, one in the morning (10:00am -noon) and one in the afternoon (1pm – 3pm).

We will present an introduction to Plone and then take questions about Plone from participants. Lunch will be provided and we will give away up to 6 books – including the new version of :”The Definitive Guide to Plone” and the “Plone: Through the Web” book due out real soon (winners of the last two books will receive their prize when the books are published).

We will provide lunch and encourage open discussion and networking.

After the event, all that are interested will travel over to Fry’s Electronics for coffee.

More information about our World Plone Day event at http://www.plone.org/wpd/san-jose-california

No matter where you are, meet Plone and discover the benefits of using it in education, government, ngos, and in business.

Hope to see you there!!

Pycon Call for Proposals closes today

If you were considering submitting a proposal for  Plone tutorial today is the deadline.

http://us.pycon.org/2009/tutorials/proposals/

I probably won’t be able to attend (though I’d like to) but didn’t want our community to miss out on the opportunity to evangelize and promote Plone!

Also, keep an eye out for OSCON 2009 in July (I will definitely be attending as it’s here in California this year)

Comparing Plone to WebGui – Part 1

As a long time “user” and “integrator” of Plone I wanted to evaluate the difference between two Open Source cms communities as I have the opportunity to work with Plone and WebGui on two projects simultaneously.

Initial differences (I could be mistaken on some of these points, so please correct me if something has changed):

  • Plone is written in Python, WebGUI is based on Perl
  • Plone uses the Zope Application Server, WebGUI uses WRE (WebGUI Runtime Environment)
  • Plone has both a browser interface (Zope Management Interface) and filesystem access, WebGUI has a browser based interface for customization and development.
  • Plone has multiple third-party products for things like blogs, forums, ecommerce that are developed by multiple authors (examples, GetPaid, EasyShop Quills, CoreBlog, Scrawl), WebGUI has one blog, one ecommerce offering, one forum offering, all included in the core, all worked on by the core development team (I’m planning an entire blog post about this particular topic). Add-ons for WebGUI are feature enhancements and themes.
  • It’s easier to install Plone for testing and development (thanks to the unified installer), WebGUI has a VMWare image but I wasn’t able to get it installed, my very technical boyfriend had to set up an instance for me.
  • Plone is supported by the Plone Foundation, WebGUI is supported by Plain Black, Inc.

According to ohloh.net Plone has a much more active community but the WebGUI project is in the top 10% of javascript projects for their commenting practices .

Initial similarities:

Plone and WebGUI cannot be hosted on $8.00 a month environments (WebGUI requires root access to stop and start mod_perl, apache, mySQL, etc, although you can restart them through the WRE browser interface too after you get everything setup)
Plone and WebGUI can be installed on any OS
Plone and WebGUI both have a high learning curve (we purchased 4 WebGUI books just to get started, which we are still waiting for, hoping we get them next week)
Plone and WebGUI are being used in University and Government projects
Plone and WebGUI have been around for a long time (both went official in 2001)

Plone as a community is much larger than WebGUI. WebGUI appears to be a core group of developers, very tightly knit and controlled. No questions like..”Who is maintaining project x?”. I haven’t decided yet which is better, we will see as I get further into actual integration. So far the WebGUI guys (and gals) have been very accepting of a couple of Plonista’s encroaching on their channel. They know I am a long-time Plone integrator and yet they are extremely helpful.

Next article – Comparing Plone to WebGUI – Part 2
Quality vs Quantity: Comparing offering multiple “third-party” products to including core products that have been tested