Categories
Burningbird Technology Weblogging

Another year, another web server

Drupal 7 is right around the corner, and my efforts to see how it would work on my existing server made me decide it is time to move to another hosting company. I need more control over my own space, and what is, or is not, installed. After discussions with the inestimable Laura Scott (@lauras), my go-to person for anything Drupal, I’ve decided on a Linode VPS account.

Linode has attracted a good Drupal community, which is important to me. In addition, it provides an extremely easy to use interface, which makes it quite simple to manage the space. I also like the fact that the company provides a good selection of documentation on how to do things geared to its own environment.

Since I’m making a major Drupal upgrade and moving to a new server, now is the time to look seriously at how my web sites are configured and designed, and make changes. I think this is one of the advantages to major releases—they provide a time to stop, think, and decide if you want to keep what you, or if now is the time to make all those other little changes you’ve been thinking about.

Since I’ve designed my own Drupal themes, I need to upgrade them to Drupal 7, as well as incorporate new HTML5/RDFa features. I may even do a re-design, not sure yet. I don’t like web site designing, so I may just grab one of the existing Drupal themes, and tweak it.

Several of my sites haven’t been updated in a donkey’s age, so I need to figure out if I’m going to continue writing at the sites. I probably will keep most, if not all, but I may do some major re-organizing.

I’ve not been taking many photos this year, as some of you have noticed. I need to re-design my photo pages to incorporate Drupal 7 changes and also my changed photography habits.

I’ve become much more interested in eBooks and the ePub format this last year. I was looking at creating an ePub module for Drupal, but someone already started this effort(Drupal ePub Module). However, there’s been little work on the module, and I’m thinking that an extension to the Print Module is a better approach. Or perhaps the best thing to do is just create an ePub friendly XHTML theme, and do a wget or curl on a book’s pages and use one of the many existing ePub publishing tools to create an ePub eBook. It’s better to be a smart developer than a clever one, and smart developers use what exists. Plus the same pages can be used to create a Kindle book, a Nook, and others.

I have been thinking of incorporating Disqus into some of my web sites. I’ve used this service at other sites, and I like how it works. Commenters can edit their comments, track their discussions across many sites, and they don’t have to provide a username and password for each web site (*cough* Gawker) to expose to hackers. Plus, if I turn comments off, the people still have access to their own writing. And Drupal has a module for Disqus, though I’ve not been able to get it to work with my theme (another reason to re-design my pages).

One thing I really like about Drupal 7 is if you don’t like the new administration interface, you can turn off all the new bits. You can turn off the overlay (don’t like), the page-top toolbar (still considering), and the new Dashboard (a keeper). I also like the fact that all the modules I use now are either incorporated directly into Drupal 7, or the developers have guaranteed a first day Drupal 7 release. Most of the modules have also committed to accessibility—that’s something you don’t often see with content management systems. Or W3C specifications.

Categories
Technology

That’s just not right

Earlier, I found a PR release from the AVMA (American Veterinarian Medical Association) undermining Missouri’s Proposition B in favor of its “model bill”. In an associated video, the AVMA’s CEO, Dr. DeHaven, states that Proposition B only sets limits on the number of dogs that can be kept, when in actuality, Proposition B does more (DeHaven’s video)—much more than the AVMA model bill, which relies almost completely on a commercial dog breeder honor system (and large scale commercial dog breeders are not necessarily known for their honor).

Afterward, I received an email related to a bug I’m following in the HTML5 working group. In response to detailed, thoughtful request for a way to provide alternative text for a video poster, the HTML5 editor, Ian Hickson, declined, writing as rationale:

The request here is just cargo-cult accessibility and would not
actually improve the life of any users, while costing authors in wasted time
and effort.

I reacted the same to both: that’s just not right.

You would think that humane treatment of dogs and ensuring accessibility for folks would be no-brainers, equivalent to being “agin sin”. You would think so…and you would be wrong.

Whatever sense of empathy and compassion we had, once upon a time, seems to have been left in a long ago forgotten consciousness. Today, what rules is the bottom line, and if that bottom line must run over the bodies of puppies and disabled, equally, run it must because there’s a new sense of pragmatic necessity that rules in the land.

Those who cannot see do not really need to know what the poster to a video is all about, because authors can’t really be bothered to provide the information. It’s not pragmatic to even consider the option. As Hickson stated earlier in the discussion of the bug:

I’m confused. Why would you (a blind user) want to know what the poster frame
is? How does it affect you?

How does it affect you‽

The welfare of dogs is important, yes, but not at the cost of the rights of the breeder. Weighing the needs of the dogs over the wants of the breeder is not pragmatic. The AVMA invited Wes Jamison, a communications professor from Florida, to speak about the role of veterinarians in today’s society. What he said explains much about the AVMA position:

Dr. Jamison … indicated that the veterinary profession, by emphasizing the importance of the human-animal bond, enables consumer hypocrisy, which is exploited by animal protection organizations. He argued that the AVMA should abandon advocating for the human-animal bond in favor of fighting for the right of animal owners to use animals as they choose, whether that entails companionship, food, or labor.

The human-animal bond is hypocrisy‽

Pragmatic hell, that’s just not right.

Categories
Critters Political

Election, undone

So much for the importance of the vote. So much for the will of the people.

Other stories have popped up about Missouri state representatives deciding to undo Proposition B in the state legislature. Not a lot of representatives, and none from the urban areas:

That Missouri lawmakers would even consider overriding the will of the people is disturbing, but to do so in support of animal cruelty is astonishing.

This year, one of the most important movies is “Winter’s Bone”, a movie about a family in the Ozarks caught up in the Meth trade. Due to the critical acclaim and popularity of the movie, this is how many people will “see” Missouri.

We do not need to add to this story that Missouri also condones puppy mills, and disregards the vote of the people. We need to re-write the tale that is Missouri into something better.

As for some state representatives thinking that they can overturn Proposition B, I am going to borrow from history and promise that I have not yet begun to fight.

update The Humane Society of the United States responds to the recent discussions.