“A wakeup call for the Drupal community”

Freeman recently wrote A wakeup call for the Drupal community and I wish I could have put the failings of the Drupal CMS as well as he has:

This is a common theme in the community. You can kludge your way to victory with just about any feature set you can think of if (and only if) you write enough hook_$n_alter() code, can find some contrib modules to pick up the slack, and have a designer who can code php tucked in your back pocket

Freeman’s states that the reason Drupal failed to win CMS of the year over WordPress is because WordPress is simply easier to use.


CMS Madness

Unix gets a bad rap for having an abundance of many needless flavors when — since they all use the same OS — most of the time you’re getting a choice of vanilla, french vanilla, and fat-free vanilla.

But worse than that is the proliferation of more varieties of content management systems then there has any reason to be. Why should I feel limited to just Drupal or Joomla, when there’s tons of suck to go around? If you’re building a new website and would much rather learn some other programmer’s (or worse, a committee of programmers) byzantine system of content management, visit to view this utterly baffling plethora.


Joomla vs. Drupal

It’s been my experience that content management systems are each their own special flavor of bad, in particular because they all seem to do a lot of things except the one thing you absolutely need them to do.

As a programmer, I find it a little backwards that I learned PHP and MySQL so I can create my own applications, but with a CMS I am not using those skills — instead I spend most of my time figuring out someone else’s idea of how to build applications and trying to see if what they wrote will work for me.

Awhile ago, CMS Report did a comparison of Joomla vs. Drupal, and as a survivor of building websites with Joomla, I was interested to hear whether there was anything good to say about it.

Drupal fails on such elements as Shopping Carts, Event Calendars, Document Management, and Themes. The majority of these items are functions or features which are considered lacking in the Drupal CMS. Regarding the other CMS, Joomla fails to deliver in such elements as user permission, content management, multi-site management, and standard’s compliance. Joomla fails in elements that are more architecture centric.

Let me go over that again: Joomla fails at content management. For a content management system, that’s pretty bad.

Banned from the iTunes store

It has come to light that two applications written for the iPhone have been denied a place on the iTunes store, not because of some malicious intent, or because they enable users to violate the law, but because they duplicate features already offered on Apple software. Which Apple doesn’t like.

Daring Fireball has already commented on how the Podcaster app has been rejected though it doesn’t actually break the iTunes SDK agreement (apart from a nebulous part about Apple excluding apps it doesn’t like).

MailWrangler has also been snubbed for “duplicating functionality”.

What I don’t get is if these apps cost extra, and do the same thing as apps Apple includes on the iPhone for free, and people need to buy an iPhone in order to use these apps in the first place… what is Apple afraid of?

Finally, if you’re still confused how apps get approved for the iPhone, The Joy of Tech will spell it all out for ya.


I don’t care, I like PHP

I’m a PHP developer, and I am going to out myself as a naïve n00b by saying I’ve never had a problem with writing applications for it. Yes, I may even enjoy programming in PHP. This is why I’m linking to an article Jeff at Coding Horror wrote on why PHP Sucks, But It Doesn’t Matter.

The TIOBE community index I linked above? It’s written in PHP. Wikipedia, which is likely to be on the first page of anything you search for these days? Written in PHP. Digg, the social bookmarking service so wildly popular that a front page link can crush the beefiest of webservers? Written in PHP. WordPress, arguably the most popular blogging solution available at the moment? Written in PHP. YouTube, the most widely known video sharing site on the internet? Written in PHP. Facebook, the current billion-dollar zombie-poking social networking darling of venture capitalists everywhere? Written in PHP.

Notice a pattern here?

Architecture astronauts may have a problem with the language, but the fact is PHP is getting the job done. Now Javascript on the other hand — scattered documentation, poor debugging support, the OO-over designing pitfalls. I don’t see how anyone can get anything done with it. Some people can, but not me.

I, um, blame the tools.


Internet on the iPhone: separate but equal?

Much has been made of Apple’s lack of support for Flash on the iPhone, with Apple passing on it in favor of open standards, using AJAX, canvas and the HTML 5 spec to achieve the same slick interfaces that have until now only been seen within Adobe’s Flash player.

Apple has famously proclaimed that the web on the iPhone isn’t the mobile internet; not the “watered down internet” — and yet, it’s not quite “the” internet either.

On Apple’s iTunes page, you get a very cool interactive slider listing all of the company’s hot iTunes-related products, all presented using CSS and Ajax. All done in the browser, all done using open technology. Yeah, holy shit is right.

iTunes store on the web

Now take a look at the same page on the iPhone. It’s similar, but it ain’t the same.

iTunes store on iPhone

Since Javascript can detect which browser you’re using, Apple seems to be slightly modifying its web interface to account for the iPhone. But how many web designers are going to get caught up in Apple’s iPhone-led redesign of the web, only to find out that their spiffy new interfaces won’t work on the very device they’re redesigning their websites around?

Sweetened with CocoaAn internet built on open standards, pioneered by Apple would be pretty spectacular, but Apple is going to have to work out these ‘gotchas’ first. Otherwise, I feel this open initiative will go the way of many of Apple’s previous efforts: Cocoa (the other one, but that’s a whole other article), OpenDoc, interactive QuickTime movies, the Pippin game console and other promising technology that Apple left to rot on the vine.

I for one will support Apple’s initiative because I like open standards and I like the idea that when publishing my videos I can “encode once, run anywhere” — on the internet, iTunes, the iPod or an iPhone… pretty much anything starting with a lower-case i.

And in a perfect world, I wouldn’t be the only one. But I don’t see Jobs’s idea of the standards-based open internet catching on. For better or worse, the web is a heterogeneous place, so any kind of consistency is rare indeed. And for all his shrewd maneuvering, Jobs still has a very pie-in-the-sky idea about human nature. Would you expect anything else from an aging hippie? He should already be able to tell that consumers don’t always choose the best products, and quite understandably, people will make choices that immediately benefit themselves.

It made sense for YouTube to re-convert all their videos into the open H.264 codec to get an exclusive spot on Apple’s hottest new product, but would every Tom, Dick and Harry go out of their way to re-encode their entire collection of failed motorcycle stunts, backyard wresting clips and lip-syncing videos, just in support of open standards? My guess is no.

It would be great if we lived in a world where everyone drove a Prius, roommates would wash their dishes, and everything on the internet was open and free for anybody with a good idea, but as a poet once said, “We live in a world where good men are murdered and mediocre hacks thrive.”

It’ll take some very real incentives for Apple to lure web developers away from closed, propriety systems and into an open and free internet, not just because it’s the right thing to do. If I were to offer my two cents, it would be to make the tools for realizing your vision more available, and make them easier to use. Make it easy for people using your software to get results. (I think you used to have an OS that did this back in the mid-’80s.)

Finally, for those of you at home who want to see the web the way the iPhone does, just modify your browser’s user-agent to this string:

Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; U; CPU like Mac OS X; en) AppleWebKit/420+ (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/3.0 Mobile/1A543a Safari/419.3

…just resist the temptation to touch the screen.

The Internet: Let’s call the whole thing off

According to this article on Yahoo! News, Researchers are exploring scrapping the internet.

Because the one we have now isn’t working out? I wasn’t really sure what brought on a need for a new internet, but some researchers think that we need a new internet because the one we have now barely works. But it isn’t too long before the article gets to the more cynical reason:

The first time around, researchers were able to toil away in their labs quietly. Industry is playing a bigger role this time, and law enforcement is bound to make its needs for wiretapping known.

This is exactly why a new internet is a bad idea. Just like including DRM in digital music at the behest of the RIAA, and the MPAA enforcing region codes on DVDs, the telecoms and wiretap-happy FBI are pushing for new features without any regard as to whether the end user actually wants them. And why should the average internet user trust the government and telecoms to have their best interests in mind? Anyone remember Net Neutrality?

Sporty Spice’s Subatomic Superstore

Who says I didn’t do anything worthwhile in school? As a downright spectacular internet programmer, I had to get a start somewhere and — though this isn’t it — this is a project for my Programming in Computing class that always brings a smile to my face. I figured if that Spice Girls thing didn’t work out, Melanie Chisholm could always become an atomic wholesaler. I mean that’s what Girl Power was all about, right?

Sporty Spice’s Subatomic Superstore!

Sporty Spice’s Subatomic Superstore!

Click the image above for the best website 1998 has to offer!


Make tonight a Weak Night

When I was at UCLA, probably the most significant thing I did was partake in a student-run television show some friends and I aired on campus TV. Sad, I know. Well, several years down the road, those of us left have endeavored to capture lightning in a bottle a second time, and the result is called Weak Nights:

Visit Weak Nights

I have to say that, much to my chagrin, my user profile on the site is a family tree that does not branch. Instead of making videos, I’ve been spending my time programming the site you’re waiting to look at in that new browser tab. So go there, click around and see the totally amazing videos my friends have produced. And if you’re going to comment-spam, just remember the person who made it all possible.


The 1981 Computer Will Seduce You

This is a surprisingly less-than-dated look at the future of computers from a 1981 news piece and, unsurprisingly, it gives me a big nerd-boner thinking about the home computer as “the world’s biggest backyard fence to talk over.” Of special note is millionaire Steven P. Jobs discussing how computers will “seduce you.” Done and done!