Quick Updates on Reading and Easter

The weeks since the Drupalcon have been a blur, but now I'm fairly well without an excuse for not posting to the blog. I've kept quite busy with work, church, and home related activities, and I think I've started at least a couple blog posts that never saw the light of day. Perhaps for now I'll simply say a blurb about two books I'm reading, post a short poem I wrote for my pastor while he studied for tomorrow's sermon in the same coffee shop as Christina and me, and write a summary thought related to Easter.

First, I'm reading (and recommend) The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism by Tim Keller. He's a pastor in NYC, and the book is essentially an apology for the Christian faith that urges readers of all dispositions (Christians and atheists alike) to examine the claims their beliefs make (whether for or against Christianity) and hold them up to equal scrutiny. I'll post further on this book once I'm finished.

I'm also reading The Cross and Christian Ministry: Leadership Lessons from 1 Corinthians on the recommendation of one of my pastors. It's an incredible book that I'd skimmed before but never really dove into. It's essentially an exposition of 1 Corinthians that is comprehensive and rich, showing without a doubt that Christian ministry ought to be centered around the cross of Jesus Christ. Here in the cross, the wisdom of God and the power of God are clearly displayed through Jesus when he seems at his weakest and most foolish before men. However, God used and continues to use this event to transform men and women's lives, and it's a joy to have a part in such ministry.

The poem I wrote is inspired by the reading I've done and also by 2 Corinthians 2:14-17. It's in lymeric form, but it hardly qualifies as a lymeric beyond rhyme and meter:

A preacher's a man with a story to tell,
And he preaches best who knows the tale well.
So read oft the story,
The gospel of glory,
And spread it in Christ with a heavenly smell.

You'll have to read the referenced passage to make sense of the last line. Wink

Finally, Easter. It was a wonderful time, my first ever actually spent in my home church. I've been in the habit the last several years of driving to my grandparents' in Abingdon, VA to celebrate the day. This year, Christina and I stayed home and enjoyed a wonderful service here at Immanuel. I'll post a link to the sermon as soon as it gets posted on our church's website!

I was reminded of Psalm 22 and the particularly ministry that passage had to me in a time of depression. Here I met Jesus as a tortured soul, someone who could feel and share in the deepest hurts any of us feel. I was intending to write a full post strictly related to this remembrance, but I never got the chance. Suffice it to say that it was very satisfying and healing for me to know in my trouble the fellowship of Jesus as a suffering savior... not feeling at all like he ever looked down on me for the inferiority of my suffering. Instead, it is the suffering, bruised reed that Jesus will not break until he leads justice to victory. We see a foretaste of that in the cross and will have our healing consummated in heaven.

Ubercart Session Online

Shai Gluskin has posted pics of me (sometimes doing funny poses) and the audio to my presentation through his podcast page. Many thanks to Shai for getting this up there.

I'll post my presentation slides here as soon as I can get to a Mac, though the bulk of what I showed were demonstration pages from the Livetest. If you want to check out admin stuff without doing a self-install, you can head to http://demo.ubercart.org.

(You can check out the attached PDF for an early version of my slides.)

Ubercart at Drupalcon a Winning Combination

Well, I'm sitting back at home in Louisville, KY trying to gather my thoughts and recover from a crazy, awesome week in Boston. Here in Louisville we have a foot of snow, but my plane landed fine and I'm happily inside staying warm with my wife. I must admit, coming home to Mrs. Ubercart was the real joy of the week! However, I do love meeting people from around the world that are using and contributing to Drupal, so I certainly wasn't in agony while I was away. This conference was a particular joy to me in that I got to meet face to face with dozens of users, developers, and shops that are using and contributing to Ubercart. I'll expose my naivety and say that I simply had no clue all you folks were out there!

As I chat with the people who stayed behind, I find it hard to describe what the event was like. There are so many things to be said, but I keep coming back to describing the excitement and energy that exists in the Drupal community. Again, I particularly benefited from the energy surrounding Ubercart itself, hence the title of this blog post. This conference helped me to grasp the bigger vision for what Ubercart is and can become and how we can harness all the energy (particularly in volunteer development, design, and documentation hours) to continue to improve the project and expand its reach. Many thanks to the countless folks who introduced themselves and chatted about the project in the halls, over dinners (how about that Ethiopian Uberdinner?), and in a productive BoF session. (I won't name the folks who followed me to the bathroom to chat, too. ;)) Together, you have all helped me form the vision for Ubercart's future, and I couldn't have done it without you.

My recurring illustration is that I feel a bit like Pecos Bill as he stares down a tornado but somehow manages to lasso it and ride it like a bronco... quite a bumpy ride, I'm sure, but he was able to harness and direct a tremendous amount of energy. While you'll probably never find me in cowboy boots, I am excited about the opportunity to lasso and direct the energy building around Ubercart. Drupalcon has shown me the tornado, and I'm getting ready for the ride.

Many thanks again to the sponsors, organizers, and volunteers who made our week in Boston not only possible but an incredibly fun and productive time.

Selling with Drupal - an Ubercart Overview

Ken and Addison have scheduled Greg Bear and myself for a 90 minute session titled Selling with Drupal on Wednesday morning of the conference. Greg and I will join forces to chat about the benefits of using a Drupal based e-commerce solution (as opposed to a dedicated application or a weak integration) and the nuts and bolts of preparing to sell online. Then we'll split up and each have a chance to talk about e-commerce solutions in Drupal. As you might guess, I'll spend my time presenting Ubercart, demoing its simple installation/setup and core features using the Livetest. I'm also excited about the opportunity to showcase some awesome sites that are taking advantage of various core features. We'll close off the session with some group Q&A time and stick around to chat for a while afterwards.

I've posted a brief outline of the Ubercart Overview below. Feel free to comment on either the outline or this event in Boston's history that I was unaware of until today. Wink

Ubercart Overview:

  • Short description of what Ubercart is and what our guiding principles for development are.
  • Brief look at the history and future of the Ubercart project.
  • Overview of a basic installation. (Refer to this thread for more info.)
  • Features overview using the Livetest to demo various customer and admin features. The bulk of my time will be spent here to disseminate as much information about the project's capabilities as possible.
  • Site showcase of a few Ubercart sites I like. I wish I had time for more, but I'll be zipping through these as it is! For those interested, unless things change I'll be showing:
    • Riff Trax for its use of cart links and file downloads.
    • Avenged Sevenfold as an example of Warner Bros. Records' use of the role assignments feature for various artist fan club memberships.
    • Sassy Sweet Treats and the recent H.JLYNN Collection for their look and use of various core and contributed modules to sell their goods... and they do look good!
  • Overview of the various Drupal core and contributed systems that Ubercart integrates (users, taxonomy, themes, forms, Workflow-ng, CCK, Views, Userpoints)
  • An introduction to the community site and resources.

It'll be a flurry of an overview, and I can't wait to do it! I've attached a PDF copy of my slides to this post. They're subject to peer and community review and may be a little different come conference time. I'll post up here if there are any major changes. Wink

I'll be looking to schedule a BoF session for Ubercart developers sometime during the conference, but I suppose that mostly depends on demand for such a session. Personally, I'd love to meet and hash out a plan for updating Ubercart for Drupal 6 and beyond. Any internationalization gurus are encouraged to attend to help us make sure the core aids and abets instead of hinders international and multilingual sites from using Ubercart.

Those interested in an UberDinner meet-up or some site seeing should checkout this thread on Ubercart.org. We're trying to gauge interest before setting definite plans. Cool

See you all in Boston!