Commanding Chaos for Coworking, Open Source and Creative Communities

I'll be Teaching at DrupalCon Chicago 2011

Thu, 01/20/2011 - 09:10 -- rprice

Where can you find some of the most passionate, open, outgoing, and collaborative people on the planet? What is my favorite International happening? Where will I be getting my hands dirty with source code, teaching workshops, taking tons of photos and shaking o-so-many hands?

I have mad so many great friends through this community and these events - I know Chicago will be no different. Another neat thing is the massive number of people who will all be staying in the "Drupal Towers", complete with custom pajamas!

At DrupalConSF I co-presented a Pre-Conference Training session about Drupal Theming - Mike and I had a great time, and we had a good number of students in the class.

This year, I'm doing something very similar, with 2 small changes:

  1. I'm teaching the class by myself
  2. Drupal 7 has landed!

This means I'm going to have more territory to cover, without my second brain. I've certainly done this before, so it should go off without a hitch. Preparation and years of experience are certainly going to help.

Beginning Drupal 7 Theming

This class is intended for people who know some HTML and CSS, and covers the fundamental principles of Drupal theming geared toward people who wish to take a static mockup of a site design and turn it into a Drupal theme. You will also learn about using base themes, grid-based layout and helper modules to streamline and customize your Drupal theme.

Drupal is the industry-leading open source content management platform used to power millions of websites. It’s also a robust community of Web developers, designers, businesspeople, and everyday citizens around the world.

DrupalCon is an international event that brings together the people who use, develop, design, and support the Drupal platform. DrupalCon Chicago will be held March 7-10, 2011, and will feature dozens of curated sessions and panels from some of the most influential people and brightest minds within the Drupal community and beyond, as well as countless opportunities for networking, sprints, informal conversations, and more. Go to to find out more and purchase your ticket today, along with registration for Beginning Drupal Theming!

Hope to see you all in Chicago. We're going to have a blast. Early Bird registration prices have been extended through Friday 1/21 - i.e. Tomorrow, so now is a great time to make your plans.


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Correction: I'm so happy to be here

Tue, 01/11/2011 - 15:03 -- rprice

Referring to my last post about the Orlando Sentinel's first article about Urban ReThink since last March when the bookstore closed: I am really happy about it.

In wanting to post about it, I gave the piece favorable mention in several places. On this blog, however, I tended to focus on certain parts of the article, and it must have seemed pretty ungrateful and irresponsible.

After taking some time to let it sink in, and realizing how many comments and discussions this has spawned, I have to say I'm so happy this happened, and that it happened this week.

Nothing in the article was untrue, or misleading, and I personally believe that we wouldn't be anywhere without Craig and the old bookstore - this article establishes that for the readers of the Sentinel. Kudos. I've been meaning to post this since Sunday, and time has been slipping into the future.

I've got a lot of good things to say about our local traditional media. Collectively and individually, they're doing some great stuff. I mean it.

I have taken this week to introduce myself to Erin Sullivan, the new(ish) Editor of the Orlando Weekly. I heard a little bit about her from a friend, and she has been writing about events at Urban ReThink too. I have to say she is really doing her job in the right spirit.

I'm also happy that a publication like the Orlando Business Journal is spending some energy blogging, and trying to engage readers online.

I stand behind what I write here on my personal space - if you walk in my front door, be prepared to hear what I have to say. At the same time, I forgot to say two of the most important words in the English language on Friday: "Thank You".


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Urban ReThink in the Orlando Sentinel Today

Fri, 01/07/2011 - 03:01 -- rprice

Update: There is more to this post when you're done reading it. I want to make sure and thank Sandra for her article.

Today the Orlando Sentinel wrote a short, one-dimensional piece about our as-of-yet-unopened space at Urban ReThink in downtown Orlando. I really wish we could have a website today - one exists, but with no styling. Ugh.

Here is my quote from "A new chapter opens for Urban Think! as a workplace" by Sandra Pedicini:

"It's trying to create a space that has all of that coffee shop appeal — with structure for people who want to get some work done," said Ryan Price, an Orlando Web site designer who hopes to become a tenant at Urban ReThink.

Sandra and I talked on the phone for about 10 minutes. I talked about our great resource library (AKA LinkedIn on steroids for our Community) and all the other awesome benefits we will offer to members, but the reporter seemed to want to focus on Cow-orking. I also talked about the (at least) 4 year history the coworking movement in Orlando has had, and I get exactly one sentence.

"Tenant" is also really the wrong word. We are saying "Resident".

Update: Over at the Sentinel, there was a 9-comment thread in reply. Sadly, 8 of the comments seemed to be about independent bookstores.

I agree that running independent bookstores has gotten really hard in this day and age. However, this story is not about bookstores. It's about what happens post-bookstore.

Urban ReThink only shares an address with what used to be the bookstore. The space will provide resources to creative people in town. There are already some cool events taking place there, like the Bad Film Appreciation Society, which had it's fifth local screening last night.


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Two new Aggregators

Thu, 01/06/2011 - 17:58 -- rprice

It has been a long time "maybe someday" project for me to build a blog aggregation website for Orlando content, as well as a Podcast site akin to the old ODEO, but again, featuring locally produced podcasts. In the last few months, I finally scratched those two off my list.

Pulpp was an excuse to just install Drupal 7, once and for all, to see what it was like. I figured an aggregator wasn't a bad use of a site like this, so here it is.
Using the Corolla theme, no less! Drupal's Core Aggregator module is also the engine here. I have things broken into a few categories, like Blogs, Podcasts, Video and Mass Media for anything that is a Newspaper, Magazine or TV Station.

Check out

The PodCamp Orlando Site was created 3 or 4 years ago when I thought it could be a good idea to hold a Podcasting Unconference in Orlando. Turns out there are finally bunches of people making podcasts now, so we may be able to pull this off!
orlando podcasters
This is a Drupal 6 site, because I couldn't get the Feeds module to work in Drupal 7. Featuring Jake Strawn's Omega theme.

Check out

Eventually, I would like to have a mobile version, or perhaps a full-fledged podcatching app, with all these pre-loaded in the directory, so a host of one of these shows could tell you to download the app, and poof! You now magically now also know about all the other Orlando shows.

If you want your blog, YouTube Channel or podcast featured on any of these outlets, or if you want to claim your podcast page on OrlandoPodcasters, then drop me a comment here on this post. I will be more than happy to include your feed!


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LA Computer Company, FTW! Gazelle, just fine.

Fri, 12/17/2010 - 08:43 -- rprice

The saga of Ryan's G5 Mac:

Back in 2006 I was getting hard-core about making videos and podcasts. There have been times when I was more active in this arena than others, but I have decided that I truly miss getting to share these stories with others, so I am going through some superficial updating of my hardware.

The fine folks at Apple have decided that anyone who bought a Mac before 2006 and has not upgraded yet is "below them" and deserves no fresh pellets in their hamster bowl, so I needed to get at least a 2007 Mac Pro in order to keep running the latest and greatest Mac OS, Final Cut Pro, iMovie, etc and to use any of the commercially available add-on cards, like the Blackmagic Intensity capture card.

Now I had two goals: unload my G5 PowerMac, and gain a Mac Pro, hopefully for less than $1000 out of my bank account.

I had heard about Gazelle, where you can sell your old stuff for cash. If you opt for an Amazon gift card, you get a bonus, but that doesn't buy me beers at Redlight Redlight. Gazelle has been an advertiser on the TWiT podcasts for a while, so they had a bonus code which was almost as good as getting an Amazon card. Off to the FedEx store to box up the monstrous computer.

I figured this was all way easier than eBay, which I'm not a fan of anyway. I also sent an old cell phone, which could have gotten me $80. I was told the cell phone "does not consistently power on, which affects the offer we are able to make." Affects in that it makes the offer $0. At least "we will gladly recycle this item responsibly free of charge." Like I said, I'm too lazy to try and hock this phone off on Craigslist, so I let that one go. Maybe good Karma will still find me.

Sadly no.

Apparently the inspectors "found some conditions that affected the value of the Desktop." Namely, "Condition was determined based on: Slightly bent out base on back right." If there were a court of appeals here (which there is not), I would have asked to see photos. I could literally find no way to contest my offer, simply accept or deny. I understand this could get seriously tedious for the Gazelle folks, as I'm sure there are lots of legitimate claims.

Original offer + bonus: $732.35
New offer + TWiT bonus: $547

Ouch. I wonder what they would have said had I not asked for the bonus. (It's just the skeptic in me talking, I know it's mean)

I received the check in a timely manner, no feelings hurt beyond repair.

Now it's time to find a Mac Pro, 2007 or later. Magically, I am on a mailing list I can't remember signing up for called the LA Computer Company. Later, I found out I bought a product from a sister site which must use their back-end. Once you reach the end of the story, you'll realize that I'm glad I was on the list.

$1399 MacPro.
Email us today

(at the time I thought I was getting $700+ from Gazelle) I was excited.

I checked out the specs. The machine I laid my eyes on was:
MP/3.0GHz/8Core/500GB/4GB/SD/AP/BT/256VRAM $1599

In English, that means 2 quad-core processors, a 500GB HD, 4GB of memory, SuperDrive, AirPort and Bluetoth, with an ATI 7300 something-or-other video card with 256MB of ram. The weakest part of this deal was the video card. Other deals had better cards, but were only "4Core". It was a trade-off.

I did some research: could I get a used system with similar specs elsewhere? After much deliberation, I decided this was the best deal I could find (at the end of November).

Shipping would have cost almost $50, but I was told if I mailed them a cashier's check or money order, shipping would be free. I guess processing credit cards has gotten to be an expensive and fraud-prone business, and we're talking about almost $1600, so I understand their concern. Free shipping sounded like a good deal, but I was cautious about sending a cashier's check...

At this point I went and did some low-level web snooping: Better Business Bureau, Google the name of the company with "sucks" or "do not buy" after the name, stuff like that. They seemed legit, and had a very good track record, nearly spotless. I think this is the kind of place that only sells to professionals, so they don't get too many people with unrealistic expectations, and as long as they deliver on their promises and fix any mistakes, I think a customer would have no reason to complain.

Once the check arrived, it was almost no time before I was given a tracking number. When the FedEx guy came, I still wasn't wearing pants. I don't mind encountering the religious solicitors in my sleepwear, but this was different. I was surprised to see an original Apple box inside my front door just seconds later. Turns out the box is from a G5, but I pray that the product I ordered is inside.

Success! A Mac Pro with a 3rd party keyboard, mouse and power cord was now mine. No software disc, but it was only loaded with Leopard, so I have to upgrade anyway.

Turn it on: no internet connection. Not even an option to set up an AirPort connection during the "first time" set up. There were lots of other choices on the networking screen, but not Wi-Fi.

Huh? I click through that screen on setup and finish with an Ethernet cable. I open the System Profiler app, click AirPort: "No information found." How about Bluetooth? "No information found."

I shoot an email to Melissa from LA Computer Company, with whom I had discussed shipping and paying by check. She forwarded it along to Nate, who directs me to send him a screen shot of System Profiler. I decided to open the case and send an additional picture of my computer's innards, proving that the "BT" and "AP" on the original product description were indeed missing. Nate promises to speak to his manager.

Within an hour of sending my pictures, I get this email:


I want to say I'm sorry for the typo and all this confusion. I talked with my manager about the situation, and he said that we could send you a USB bluetooth adapter as well as a USB wireless adapter, standard overnight, so it would get to you on Monday.




Thank you Nate, Melissa and the LA Computer Company. That's great customer service.

Now, a USB Bluetooth and Wi-Fi adapter are not the same as internal Apple parts, but there is functionally no difference. I consider this a fair deal.

At the end of this whole business, I am at:
$1599 - $547 - $17 (to box up the old G5) = $1035

Not... Bad.

Before I knew the resolution of the AirPort and Bluetooth incident, I already told a friend of mine about my purchase from this company, with the caveat that I would let him know how this all turned out. I guess I'll find out for sure on Monday.


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Cultural Wasteland or a Football Shangri-La?

Fri, 12/17/2010 - 06:32 -- rprice

I'm a regular reader of the Orlando Business Journal's blogs. As far as I know, they don't post all of their articles online. I get a lot of great info from the blogs though, and they help me keep in touch with my city in ways that I don't get from other publications.

Yesterday Richard Bilbao posted a blog called "Which should come first: Citrus Bowl or performing arts center?" where he asks if the new performing arts center in downtown should get put on the back burner in favor of the stinky old football stadium, because it's old, stinky, rusty, and seen by almost 100,000 people over the course of 2 days in December.

If you ask me, for the rest of the year, it would be lucky to be seen by 100,000 people who aren't driving West on the 408. Since UCF pulled out, very few regular events are left that happen there. This is something that was debated ad nauseum 2 years ago when all this Venues hype was going around, and before tourism taxes took a nosedive.

The second point he makes is that the Citrus Bowl will bring in almost 6 times the amount of tourism taxes. I'd like to see the math on that one. So would commenter David P.:

This is more than a bit misleading. Some (most?) of the noted $200M revenue projection for the renovated Citrus Bowl is ALREADY being generated and thus isn't additive. The projected revenues from the Performing Arts Center are ENTIRELY additive. Come on folks!

The Dr. Phillips Performing Arts Center will have other, non-monetary, benefits as well. Just last night I was talking to some people about the seemingly worldwide perception that Orlando is a "cultural wasteland". I think the DPAC can help us to change that, but not simply by existing. Let me explain:

People in our society fail to take the long view, I think. They say "If I just had another $1000 I could get X and be happy", "If Urban ReThink was just open today, I could get more work done", "If the EDC just gave money to little guys like me, I could make some waves in this town". While any of these might be true, the preconditions are all superficial.

Saying that "If we just had a better performing arts space, we could stop being a cultural wasteland", is similarly flawed, but we know how people think. I could say the same of Creative Village. As someone who has toiled in the Grassroots for the last 4 years, I see the Creative Village as a way to help put Central Florida on the map. I know I'm being narrow-minded, but I still think that. What is really going to put Orlando on the map from a cultural, entrepreneurial, and otherwise awesome perspective is not about the amenities.

At the same time, things like Creative Village and DPAC have some built-in benefits that the Citrus Bowl project does not. DPAC is going to house administrative offices for Orlando's "Big Three" arts organizations. (sadly, the Opera folded, but I'm sure someone is in the #3 spot now) This encourages these organizations to do cross-promotions, collaborate, or just go to lunch and share knowledge. The same will be true of Urban ReThink, and any of the companies that choose to move in to the Creative Village. Proximity is necessary for massive reactions in Chemistry as it is in the Creative world.

What new opportunities will the renovated Citrus Bowl create? What groups, organizations and movements will an updated stadium create or enable? Sure, it will bring some revenue, but in the "big picture" view, a few hundred thousand people get a cushier trip to Florida. I think our amenities are pretty damn world class as it is - let's try to serve our citizens instead of Bowl Game attendees. If Orlando were getting a pro sports team, I'd have a somewhat different view, but not wholly. I'd still think that an updated stadium isn't creating anything on top of income for the local government.

If you think otherwise, or you can prove me wrong, please do so. I'm not trying to say I have all the answers, and up to this point the argument is fairly one sided. Volley served, your move.


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Firefox4 Demo

Thu, 12/09/2010 - 02:26 -- rprice

Looks like I've had a 2-month blogging hiatus... oops! I normally don't go this long with something to write about. Here is something so cool I couldn't avoid posting it:

The fine folks up in Canada (at least I assume that's where this guy is) have done it again! Video via

I have actually been using Firefox 4 in Alpha/Beta for quite some time now, but this video is just such a great demo of what you can accomplish with modern web browsers, and in this case, Firefox.

Notable things are:

  • HTML5 Video. Firefox has had support for plugin-less video (i.e. no flash) for a while, but now that Google has opened the WebM codec, Firefox can have that in common with Chrome, Opera and the forthcoming IE9 (i.e. everyone except Safari). What does this mean? You should only have to encode your video twice now, into h.264 and WebM. You can still do Flash for backwards compatibility, but I fear rendering Flash video will become the "IE6 stylesheet" of the next decade.
  • CSS Transitions and History API. Paul is doing all of his slides (except the page with 5 videos, the film site and the photo grid) in one giant HTML page with a bunch of transitions and the History API, which I assume you access with JavaScript. He then later shows how he uses the Web Sockets (you'll start hearing this instead of AJAX soon, I promise) to control the slides on his computer with his phone, over the cloud (instead of the local network).
  • Hardware accelerated graphics. The browser can talk to the GPU; This goes above and beyond what you can do with Flash, I think, or at least in all but the very latest versions. This greatly speeds up all of the animations and "candy" that Paul shows in his demo. This is cool because the video card in any modern computer is a very capable and sometimes under-utilized piece of equipment, and it's perfect for doing stuff like this. While the contents of web pages will take a few years to catch up with these new developments, we can't have the next quantum leap unless every browser maker is able to accomplish stuff like this GPU-level optimization. (I think this only works on Windows today)
  • 3D. Probably one of the coolest demos, but the one I'm most skeptical about. We've been hearing about 3D in the browser (and Flash) for years and years and years, but it's so different, it's probably just more candy. I don't think today's web designers would know what to do with 3D, and content companies (like game makers) are often way more interested in proprietorship, which is not consistent with the "view source" aesthetic of the web.
  • Drag and Drop file uploads. All I can say is, "Finally!"
  • Canvas.Paul appears to skip over canvas, but I believe that canvas was so instrumental in getting most of these other technologies to be usable in the wild, that I'll give him a pass. I put SVG in the same camp as 3D, though. (I'll believe it when everyone uses it.)
  • He doesn't have demos for some of the other (relatively) new things, like the IndexedDB (see: Google Gears, Flash Shared Objects) or Location-aware browsing. I know there are some sites out there that are making use of the location services, because they are throwing pop-ups and permission requests at me.

Please note also, the title of this post - Firefox 4 Demo - not HTML5 and CSS3 Demo. Still, I think a lot of these things are possible in other browsers, but they don't have this guy with the killer French accent to give the demo. There is also a mobile version of Firefox beta, if you use Android at least (or you're in the Maemo minority).


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I'm teaching a 3-day Drupal Theming Workshop

Thu, 09/16/2010 - 10:29 -- rprice

UPDATE: This training has been rescheduled for October 13-15th.
At the end of this month, I'll be presenting a 3-day long intensive Drupal workshop intended for themers, graphic designers, front-end developers, UX people, or whatever combination of those words you use to describe yourself.

Professional Drupal Theming and Site Building, a DrupalEasy Training Event. Held on Oct 13-15th, 2010 at 701 East Washington Street, Orlando, FL in the Planet Digital building.

A three-day workshop in Orlando, Florida that teaches industry best-practice Drupal theming and site building. Day 1 covers the fundamental principles of Drupal theming geared toward people who wish to take a static mockup of a site design and turn it into a Drupal theme. Day 2 covers using base themes, grid-based layout and helper modules to streamline and customize your Drupal theme. Finally, Day 3 is an advanced site building workshop, covering some of the most popular and powerful Drupal modules: CCK and Views, and modules for content editing, search engine optimization, user-generated content and editorial workflows.

DrupalEasy is the collective expertise of Ryan Price and Michael Anello, who joined forces to provide training and consulting services worldwide. Some of their past clients include Popular Science, Field and Stream and Outdoor Life magazines. Trainer Ryan Price has built entertainment sites, social networks, eCommerce sites and user-contributed sites with Drupal since 2006, and has over 10 years of experience building sites with PHP and other technologies. You can also catch Ryan, Mike and their co-host Andrew Riley on the DrupalEasy Podcast.

Register for my Orlando Drupal Theming Workshop, Oct 13-15.


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Comparison of eBook Readers for Mac: ePUB

Thu, 09/02/2010 - 16:39 -- rprice

At the beginning of the year, I bought an ebook in PDF format, and wrote a post about my adventures trying to get the layout to STAY THE SAME on my Mac. Today I bought a book in ePUB, by the subject of my most recent post, Jeremy Keith. The book is published by one of my favorite websites, A List Apart, and it's their first venture into publishing.

Check out Jeremy Keith's HTML5 for Web Designers at A Book Apart, featuring a foreword by Jeffery Zeldman.

It turns out that many of the programs I liked for opening PDF eBooks are all wrong for ePUB versions... ugh. Also, as before, it seems like several of the programs want to convert these books to some other format. What if I just want to read the thing? I've done a little research, and found a few links.

First, I found Sigil.


It turns out Sigil is not meant to read ePUB at all, but create it. It's quite a lot like Dreamweaver or Coda, with a code view and a WYSIWYG editor preview, which so far works pretty well for reading. What it revealed to me is that ePUB looks a lot like a zipped HTML file on the inside, complete with CSS and images. Useful, but not what I asked for.

Then Google turned up the desktop Sony Reader.


I danced past this one because I assumed it was for people who owned the book reader of the same name. Sony Reader is the first electronic paper reader I know of, but it turns out you don't have to have one in order to use this software. This program requires a restart to install, which I was not prepared to do - I'm in the middle of a blog post here! Caveat emptor.

Next up was Adobe Digital Editions.

Adobe Digital Editions

I'm generally untrusting of anything resembling "reader" that comes from Adobe, because PDF has notorious security holes. For all I know, this is an AIR app, but I'm not sure. The "reading view" seems to work fine, but even on this small 60-page book, I can only scroll in a "page down" fashion, there is no smooth scrolling. This app also asked me activate with Adobe's service, something I really don't need. 2 out of 5, nothing special.

For a review of Stanza, see my previous post.

A promising development was the ePUB Reader extension for Firefox.

ePUB Reader Firefox Extension

I normally use Camino, though I wish they would update the underlying rendering engine, and I normally just use Firefox for "work" because I have lots of extensions installed. Reading this HTML5 book counts as "work", so this extension seems to make sense for now. It does do smooth scrolling, and I was able to open the file just by dragging it to Firefox, something that didn't work previously, despite ePUB's HTML-ishness. This also has a "Library" view, and support for bookmarks, so I don't really see it as missing anything.

So far, none of the tools I've tried have attempted to majorly re-format the book. The world is a happy place.

The award for least intuitive website includes Calibre as a finalist. The other readers weren't far behind.


Also open source and cross-platform like Sigil, this program made it hard to discover that it did indeed open ePUB files for reading. They go on and on about all the different formats for conversion, similar to the 1990s Mac favorite Graphic Converter, but I wasn't sure if it was a decent reader. Once i figured out how to open a book for reading, I found the navigation unintuitive and clunky. The interface really seems geared toward converting and managing the books more than reading them. If that's what you need, I think this program would be pretty great.

Once I came across FBReader, I stopped.

While I am no stranger to code and experimental computer programs, I really wasn't looking forward to taking risks to read a book. I wish the developer the best of luck.

There also appeared to be some readers that worked over the internet, but I tend to see one of the advantages of books to be their on-demand nature. I should be able to read from an airplane, train or during a power outage. I do live in hurricane country, after all.

I hope this little list has helped I think I will end up using the Firefox Extension, when all is said and done. One day, I may just go for a Kindle, but for now I will keep my digital book reading on my laptop.

Credit must be given to the people who wrote this post on epub readers, which was useful in realizing that some of the tools I was passing by actually were meant to be used for this purpose.


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Design Principles of HTML5: Jeremy Kieth Keynote Video

Thu, 09/02/2010 - 09:06 -- rprice

Are you curious about HTML5, and how it REALLY affects the future of the Internet? Long-time web design leader Jeremy Kieth recently gave a keynote presentation on HTML5 during the 2010 Drupalcon in Copenhagen, but don't worry, this video will be useful even for non-Drupal web designers and developers.

Video from Drupal Radar, too bad there is no HTML5 video version. :)

Jeremy goes into some universal Design Principles, like the 80/20 Rule and Postel's Law. He even touches on the current and future state of web accessibility. This video is a must-watch for anyone who writes HTML or creates websites.


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