A few notes on upgrading a Drupal dev workstation from Ubuntu 12.04 to 14.04

Sun, 04/20/2014 - 10:30 -- John Locke

After using the latest Ubuntu Long Term Support release (14.04) on my laptop for the past few weeks, I upgraded my home workstation on Friday. And hit a few upgrade challenges I thought worth jotting down for posterity (and the next poor sucker who can't find an answer on Google).

(Yes, I did install on my laptop a few weeks early -- I was traveling for a conference and 12.04 was practically unusable on the thing, nice performance improvments on 14.04, and no issues with it -- but I did do a clean install).

Heartbleed - Do you need to do anything?

Sat, 04/12/2014 - 16:46 -- John Locke

Everybody is writing about Heartbleed this week. The reason? It probably affects more people than any other vulnerability we've ever seen. If you ever log into any web site, anywhere, your password might be revealed -- and that is just the start. The biggest problem? Nobody really knows if somebody actually used this attack.

Now Hiring: Drupal Developers

Fri, 03/14/2014 - 17:58 -- John Locke

Why is it that there is no top-notch Drupal shop in Seattle? There are several small shops here, and several large companies with branches here, but no really top-shelf, world-renowned Drupal shop based in this great city.

We aim to change that. We have built dozens of Drupal sites, and helped hundreds of customers succeed on the web. Now we want to build the top team of Drupal developers in this corner of the world.

Would you like to be a part of that? Here's the kind of traits we're looking for:

Successful projects, part 5: A custom web site is like a building

Thu, 03/13/2014 - 13:47 -- John Locke

Previously we learned why a custom web site is not a car. But it is a lot like a building.

"Make me a building. How much is it going to cost?"

Can you imagine what the response to that might be? What kind of building do you want? What kind of budget do you have? What do you want to put in the building? Where are you building it? What construction materials do you want? Do you already have plans?

Successful projects, part 4: It costs more if you do half the work

Thu, 02/27/2014 - 12:11 -- John Locke

"My budget is really tight, can you get the project started and show me what to do to finish it?" -- Yet another request from several different prospective customers.

This sounds appealing, right? Drupal does put a huge amount of power and control in the hands of users. Aside from custom theming, many of our projects don't involve writing any code -- it's more a matter of mapping out the user stories, putting an appropriate set of modules together, and configuring them to deliver the desired result.

Successful projects, part 3: A custom web site is not a car

Wed, 02/19/2014 - 16:53 -- John Locke

"I just want a web site to do memberships, events, and e-commerce. How come you can't tell me how much it's going to cost? I just want to know the price, like when I buy a car."

That's the essence of the question I've heard from at least 3 or 4 customers or prospects recently. I don't know what it is about cars and web sites that make people think there is anything at all similar about buying them.

Bitcoin: the future of e-commerce?

Thu, 01/23/2014 - 09:17 -- John Locke

I've long been a Bitcoin skeptic, not necessarily seeing the point of it. While I've kept passing tabs on its progress, I did not think it was viable, or worth much beyond pure speculative game play, a forum for making bets that today are up quite a lot.

At last night's Washington Technology Industry Association's "Tech in Focus" primer on Bitcoin, I changed my mind.

Successful projects, part 2: Paying for Deliverables

Mon, 01/13/2014 - 08:55 -- John Locke

Clients love fixed-price projects, because they have transferred the risk of the unknowns to the vendor. Even so, if the vendor cannot fully handle those risks, the entire project might fail. is a great example of this -- poorly defined, rushed out project with no prior on-the-ground working system to uncover what was unknown before starting.

Successful projects, part 1: Paying for Attention

Fri, 01/10/2014 - 09:16 -- John Locke

Ask any contractor the most economical way to get a job done, and the answer will be "Time and materials." The reason? You are taking on all the project risk.

Risk is, after all, the big question when it comes to any project -- what are the risks to the project? In software development, projects run over the initial budget all the time -- and that's generally because the scope of the project was unknown, poorly defined, or changed.


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  1. If you are a user of business software and are interested in finding out more about open source options for your business or office, you may be a little bit frustrated about the lack of introductory-level information on this topic... The best single source of such information that I have found so far is John Locke's "Open Source Solutions for Small Business Problems." It provides an excellent introduction to the concepts, advantages, and disadvantages behind open-source.

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