Local Development for Drupal: Acquia Dev Desktop

Recently I had my first opportunity to work on a Drupal site. There were several fixes the site needed and since I was new to Drupal so I knew I needed to get an easy to use local development tool. Luckily, I had attended my first meeting of the Boston Drupal Group a few weeks before then.

The January Boston Drupal Meetup was held at the offices of Genuine in Boston’s South End. There was a series of lightning talks and one was about using Dockers and example of a configuration. That is when I also learned for the first time about Acquia Dev Desktop and got to hear some feedback about the product from an Acquia employee at the meeting.

When it came time to do my Drupal work I considered Dockers, Acquia Dev Desktop, and Vagrant Drupal Development. I have experience using Varying Vagrant Vagrants for local WordPress development and while it works well, it takes a little time to spin up a new installation of WordPress so I definitely knew I wanted to try something different.

Looking at the documentation for Dockers and Acquia Dev Desktop,  I decided to try Acquia Dev Desktop first. Well it turned out that it was so easy to use I was up in running almost immediately and I started working on my Drupal contract.

If you have local development to do for a Drupal site I highly recommend the easy to use Acquia Dev Desktop. Though, I’m still looking forward to trying Dockers when I get the chance.

Tech in Motion – Year End Event

Yesterday was my second visit to Hatch Fenway for Tech in Motion’s End of Year Celebration. One of my favorite parts of Hatch is decidedly low tech, the swing set! Below is a photo of the view from the swing set I took over the summer.

View of Fenway Area

 

Opening Presentation

First Matt Rogers of JobSpring, the event sponsor, gave a brief presentation about searching for new jobs. The talk was 4 myths of job hunting. Here is a quick summary:

  • Myth 1: You need to have all the skills listed to apply for a job. Not true. If you have at least 60% of the skills a good cover letter could help to sell you into the position. If you have 80% or more of the skills you are likely a strong candidate and the employer could teach you the rest on the job.
  • Myth 2: Job Hopping is bad. Not true. It really depends on the reason for the changes. If the reasons are valid and explainable it is likely OK. If it is about chasing an ever higher salary that could be frowned upon.
  • Myth 3: If the company has no positions on it’s website there are none available. Not true. Often 70% of tech jobs are not posted online.
  • Myth 4: If you are the top candidate for a job you can go as high as you desire in your asking salary. Not true. Matt gave an excellent summary about appropriately asking and the timing of when to ask for a higher salary.

 

WordStream Interview

After the words from the sponsor there was an interview with Larry Kim founder of WordStream. Larry was interview by Dylan Martin of BostInno. It was great detailed interview about the founding of WordStream.

WordStream logo

One of the great moments of the interview was when Larry started talking about the culture of the company as it began to grow. As he hired new people he wondered why after a few days they all started to show up for work in shorts and flip-flops? Then he realized that they were following his lead! This led to insight/discussion about how the culture of a startup company grows from the top and how to maintain that culture as it grows. Larry wasn’t wearing flip-flops for the interview.

The other thing I remember most from the interview is about starting out and gaining funding. When Larry went around and initially talked to venture capitalists all he had was an idea. It was a profitable idea as an independent contractor but wasn’t formulated as a business enterprise. The VCs denied him and gave a list of things to do for them to consider the business in the future for funding. Larry went and did all the things and went back a year later and the VCs where surprised! Typically people fail to follow through on the recommendations but Larry was one of the few that did and received his first round of funding. WordStream now has approximately a half-billion in annual ad spend across over ten thousand customers.

I know Larry is a hard worker, the very next day he followed me on Twitter!

Larry Kim Twitter Request

 

For more info about the event and detailed bios checkout the listing of the event on Meetup.

Tech in Motion’s End of Year Celebration

Thursday, Dec 8, 2016, 6:30 PM

Hatch Fenway @ Landmark Center (8th Floor – East Elevators)
401 Park Drive Boston, MA

615 Technologists Went

From autonomous vehicles and reusable rockets, to ubiquitous VR headsets and universally-popular AR games, high tech went mainstream in 2016.It’s not only SpaceX, Google, and Niantics that have challenged the status quo. It’s our local and national tech communities who are the catalysts for large-scale innovation and we’re celebrating their wins!…

Check out this Meetup →

Underscores and Bootstrap – Starter Themes

  • While I’ve been making WordPress sites for several years I don’t have a starter theme that I use for my projects yet. Mostly I’ve been working on projects for other people, using their starter themes, editing existing themes, or doing work with child themes. Since I’m doing more work on my own I thought I should begin creating a starter theme of my own with code I commonly use.

Of course my first thought was to check out Underscores because it is made by the folks at Automattic, makers of WordPress itself. But I wondered if there was a theme that incorporated Bootstrap into it already? Through my search I found two themes that interested me, one was no longer maintained but it was created by somebody who had moved on to work for Automattic and the other was Understrap an actively maintained current project.

After trying both themes out they both seemed like they could be good starter themes. I want to go back and check out Understrap in more detail. But what I quickly realized was that for the project I was looking to complete (this site) I already had a prototype built in HTML & Bootstrap and fitting that into an existing setup wouldn’t be an efficient way to go. So I decided to go with Underscores and build out from there.

The process with Underscores was simple and straight forward for me. First I removed all the reset.css provided and then installed Bootstrap. Then I copied over the CSS from my prototype and began to adjust my PHP page templates. It was easy to edit the HTML and adding my classes for containers, rows, and columns. In all it took less time to do it then I spent looking for existing starter themes!

While using templates can be great to get started sometimes it’s faster to write your own code. It’s a balance of the learning curve and repetition versus one off creations.

 

“Tubes: A Journey to the Center of the Internet”

Recently it was recommended to me to read Tubes: A Journey to the Center of the Internet by Andrew Blum and I was instantly curious. I’ve used the Internet for years and thought I had a good conceptual grasp of the Internet, but I’m always curious to learn a different perspective. 

Book: Tubes A Journey to the Center of the Internet

“For all the talk of the placelessness of our digital age, the Internet is as fixed in real, physical places as any railroad or telephone system ever was. In basest terms, it is made of pulses of light. Those pulses might seem miraculous, but they’re not magic. They are produced by powerful lasers contained in steel boxes housed mainly in unmarked buildings. The lasers exist. The boxes exist. The buildings exist. The Internet has a physical reality, an essential infrastructure, a ‘hard bottom,’ as Henry David Thoreau said of Walden Pond. In undertaking this journey, I’ve tried to wash away the technological alluvium of contemporary life in order to see—fresh in the sunlight—the physical essence of our digital world.”

—from the Prologue

What I got was definitely a renewed perspective of what the physical internet looks like in context of the world. The excitement that Andrew shares in his hunt to find the various places of the Internet around the world is fascinating. Now on my daily walks when I glance up at the sky, clouds, and sun I also occasionally look around for signs of the physical Internet around me.

While definitely not a book to give a deep technical understanding of networks, it does give a decent broad stroke explanation of the pieces of the Internet. So you can read this and not feel overwhelmed by acronyms like DNS, IP, TCP/IP, or FTP and still learn a general explanation of the Internet. If this piques your interest there are plenty of good networking books and courses to take!

WordCamp US – Philly

This past weekend I attended the inaugural WordCamp US in Philadelphia. It was a wonderful experience and amazing to see and meet many of the faces in the WordPress Community. The speakers were amazing, the venue was great, the food was wonderful, the vendors were generous and amazing! Thank you to the volunteers.