October 8, 2007
Well, a couple days ago I finally got around to reading a children's book I randomly picked up at the library, <em>The Little Prince</em>. Little did I know this was an international hit, one of the 50 most popular books in the world with more than 50 million copies sold in over 160 languages!<sup><a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Little_Prince">1</a></sup> Apparently, this charming book by Antoine de Saint-Exupery, a French aviator, is quite the children's classic... and I had no clue! I put off reading it so long I had to renew my rental from the library, and I now having read it I think I should've read it five times during that time. :)
So, a little bit about the book itself... The story was inspired by an actual incident in Saint-Exupery's life when his plane went down in the Sahara. The main character of the book has himself had an engine failure and is right in the middle of fixing the plane before his water runs out when he meets the curious little prince. (There is a pretty funny introduction about the main character's childhood as well.)
The little prince is actually the owner of a small "planet" (<a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Little_Prince#Astronomy">asteroid B612</a>) and has come to Earth after visiting other small planets. On each of these planets he encounters adults who fill their days pursuing real "matters of consequence" but really thinking only of themselves. Only one of these adults gets sympathy from the little prince, because he is dedicated to his job as a lamp lighter on a world that has a two minute day... he works all the time to keep up with the fast pace of his world, and so he is frazzled and tired, but he is at least being dutiful instead of selfish. There are others driven by much lesser things... like vanity, pride, selfishness, and more. All in the pursuit of "matters of consequence." (You see I'm putting quotes around that. That must be a clue that this is a theme of the book. ;))
Anyways, the little prince eventually gets to Earth and talks about his planet and his prized possession (a flower he thought was unique in all the universe but is actually a common rose!) to a fox who gives him some advice as a parting gift... "What is essential is invisible to the eye." "It is the time you have wasted for your rose that makes your rose so important." "You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed." These words, Saint-Exupery is saying through the words of the fox, lead us to real matters of consequence. It is not the busyness of our lives or the selfish dreams we pursue that really matter. These things are really insubstantial compared with things like love and devotion.
The book is a charming little children's tale, but the message is broadly applicable and indicative of Saint-Exupery's own philosophy. I believe his thoughts coincide with the Christian wordlview that teaches that it is the unseen that is consequential/eternal (2 Corinthians 4:18), the love of God and for one another that should be our primary pursuits. I really encourage you all to read this book, and I think I might just be buying a few copies for family members for Christmas. :D
October 6, 2007
Well, I spent most of my day today starting to refinish the floors upstairs in my house. I've got some cool before, during, and after shots to post up, but I left the camera upstairs and don't have all the strength necessary to go get it and find the firewire cable to put the images on this computer. Instead, I'm just unwinding in my recliner while studying the children's Sunday school lesson for tomorrow.
Which brings me to the point of this post. A bed time snack is a good thing to have while reclining in the living room just before bed. I decided to have a pudding cup. While banana and butterscotch are my favorites, this one was chocolate. It was good enough, but it reminded me of the fundamental flaw of the pudding cup. Nobody just wants a cup of pudding. I don't think I'm alone when I say I'd much prefer a pudding bowl.
October 2, 2007
I've spent a couple hours today beginning to rebuild a website that I intended to offer up as a community activity tracking tool for the open source BASIC derivative language called FreeBASIC called the FB Tracker. Notes about the language itself (which rocks) aside, the site would be a fairly basic matter of allowing users to post and track projects, tutorials, snippets, sites, etc. through a single source. Most of this can be accomplished through some skillful use of Views + CCK, but there are a few community features I'll most likely be writing a module to implement. I have dubbed the module User Favorites and will post a few of my brainstorm ideas below...
I searched for a module similar to what I'm looking for and only found the Favorites module which is a far cry from what I need. The User Favorites module will actually allow users on a site to add content to a favorites list. It makes sense to give users the option of creating multiple favorites lists and will be fairly trivial to implement. Any of these lists may be set to be private or public lists. Users on large community or directory websites will be able to tag and track content through the site itself using their in site favorites list as well as provide feedback to the community regarding the value of content on the site.
Users will be able to browse the public favorites lists kept by other users as well as see who else on the site has favorited a specific piece of content. Favorites lists will be broken down by content type and sorted alphabetically, with users having the option to star a specific piece of content to make it sticky at the top of a list. Integration with Views means site developers will easily be able to create and sort lists of nodes ranked by how many times they've been favorited and/or starred. (Perhaps for the purposes of ranking, favorited content should count as 1 point while starred content should count as 3. Or rather... I can simply make that an administrative decision.) Integration with Userpoints means you can give users some love for providing feedback to other members of the community.
I'm happy to consider any further integrations with this module and am quite excited at the prospect of it being a first of its kind. However, if someone else knows of a module that may do something similar, please post it up here so I don't needlessly duplicate someone else's effort.
EDIT: A Tuesday morning, it's no longer past midnight, idea struck me on the way to work... I forgot to mention the idea of favoriting other users. This would allow you to track content posted by others and allow a ranking system for users similar to the one I mentioned above for content. It could be fun to use these statistics to display user relationships, user favorites compatibility (how much of your favorites match?), and other things like that. Maybe I can get Balazs to draw me up a user relationship graphic with his Drawing API.
EDIT 2: Several folks have been posting up some very helpful pointers to modules that implement different parts of this idea. Let's just say... I'm never going to start a new module without doing a post like this first. This has been an invaluable learning experience, and hopefully I'll find some time to review the various modules and build on someone else's foundation.
October 1, 2007
I recently posted a page to Ubercart.org titled, Why use Drupal for e-commerce?. In it I made some observations about Drupal and how it is the perfect platform on which to base an e-commerce site. All the things we wish other e-commerce specific systems would do (or that we have to hack to get done) Drupal does out of the box. Feel free to give it a read and offer up any feedback here.
A brief summary of my reasons include:
- It's got great search engine optimization (including easy SEF URLs with the path and pathauto modules).
- It's nice and secure with an active security team. (I've even got an e-mail in the past with someone from the team pointing out a hole in my code who had never even used the module! Kudos to the security team at Drupal.org!)
- It's a very powerful content management system, which is a must for future e-commerce sites and a great benefit to companies that market products supported by a niche market or particular community.
- There are many folks out there (like me!) who are available to help and to work for you as you start to setup your Drupal + Ubercart site. Having the whole directory of contributed modules and themes is great.
Anyways, enough shameless promotion of Drupal and Ubercart for now. I'm just about to roll out the Alpha 7d release and need to do one final test on an update from a previous version to make sure I don't go breaking anyone's site with the release!