Posts from the nest
From Drupal, PHP to the future of SmartTV and gamifying education our blog is on occasions rants of an over active mind….

DrupalCamp Helsinki – Drupaling in Espoo and sharing experiences (to HEL and back)

DrupalCampFi Sept 2012 DrupalCamp Helsinki   Drupaling in Espoo and sharing experiences (to HEL and back)The 6th official DrupaCamp in Finland was held at the Aalto University the second-oldest technical institution in Finland, based in Otaniemi in Espoo at their Open Innovation House which officially opened on 10th of September 2012. DrupalCamp had the privilege to use the venue for the first ever DrupalCamp in Finland organized together with a university and I had the privilege of 20120921 110138 e1348432450525 1024x768 DrupalCamp Helsinki   Drupaling in Espoo and sharing experiences (to HEL and back)being invited to the event to speak about my experiences as a serial tech entrepreneur and a Drupal evangelist at this landmark occasion for DrupalCamp Finland.

In a word DrupalCamp Helsinki was awesome, in a few it was educational, inspiring and a lot of fun. The sessions that really jumped out were Sass/compass and icon fonts by Greg Fedorov; Greg did well to remove the mystery around Syntactically Awesome Stylesheets  with a very informative, free of jargon introduction to Compass. And a word for the developers ours and all those on the third rock wondering where to use SaSS… if a theme uses CSS it can benefit from SaSS too! and some tools to explore include LiveReload, FireSass for FireBug. And if you want to use SaSS and Compass with Omega or Botstarp take a look at Sassy.

20120921 103126 300x225 DrupalCamp Helsinki   Drupaling in Espoo and sharing experiences (to HEL and back)The session by Kalle Varisvirta on High performance on Drupal 7 was very informative his tips included using VARNISH in front of Drupal see: Varnish HTTP Accelerator Integration, also see Cache_Control. On the optimising social networking where a small amount of personalised content to slow the whole thing down Kalle’s suggestions included loading the whole page from varnish and then refreshing the live data feed parts with javascript – which is not the ideal solution as you have to then theme everything in javascript@ keeping themes updated in two places! but to get around this see: Front_Themer.

The last session that went down a storm for me was about an open source product called Galera by CoderShip, Galera is 20120921 100022 300x225 DrupalCamp Helsinki   Drupaling in Espoo and sharing experiences (to HEL and back)synchronous multi-master cluster for MySQL databases which in plane english translates as Galera gives your MySQL database awesome scalability capabilities without the usual headaches. And a conversation with Seppo and Sakari from CoderShip during the coffee break was a real eye opener, is coming the UK in December (3-4th) and Seppo will be speaking at the Percona Live MySQL Conference. I suggest those of us with an interest in scalability and DB performance get in touch with Seppo and if you don’t fancy the conference you can meet up with Seppo for drinks after the conference… don’t know where but I am going to be grabbing the crew from CoderShip for some drinks in London around the 4th or 5th of December.

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As for my session, it was fun! and Teppo Kallio from OneBro made my day but letting me know my talk inspired him! and then Jukka Paulin topped it by letting me know he’s been inspired to delve deeper into Drupal after my session… and meeting a a fellow Englander in a foreign land is always fun, Mike beers on you the next time I am in HEL or on me when you are back on the island!


The other high notes were discovering a taste for Lapin Kulta with Aaron Porter from Aberdeen Cloud… a cool dood from Nevada in Helsinki via Malta and a whole bunch of other places! looking forward to meeting up with Aaron in England. Could have been DrupalCampNW in November but am going to be out in the Eastern parts of the third rock on those dates…  and of course meeting the organiser Emma Mäkinen from Wunderkraut in person was great.

As for Helsinki/Finland, this was my second trip there and the opinion remains unchanged COLD country Super WARM people!… and looking forward to the Spring DrupalCamp in Helsinki.

Smart & Social the future of TV

 Smart & Social the future of TVOk this is a tad bit out of date for the Social TV Summit was way back in the summer… but its been a busy summer icon wink Smart & Social the future of TV

The Social TV World Summit 2012 in London was a mixed bag! one of the downers was that the world wasn’t represented and the other being the thought leaders (bar a few) did not seem to know where it is heading or are driving it down the wrong path (in my opinion). But i’ll be fair this was the first ever Social TV event in Europe (so informa tells us) so it was testing the waters.

What the mini-conference was good for was networking and bringing potential partners together under one roof! so yes @ikonami will be attending next year too!

The talks and presentations were awash with the second and third screen experiences, but what most folks seem to have forgotten is the focus should be on the TV screen! isn’t keeping users engaged with the TV screen what the advertisers are paying broadcasters for, isn’t anticipated viewership what productions houses sell their wares for? So why is every one hell bent on disrupting that very experience that the money bods hold sacred?

Convergence is not just a buzz word people it has a definition  and by definition it means platform agnostic content and experience not distracting apps for apps sake. Take  Smart & Social the future of TVmost second screen Apps.. why are they so busy and why do they work so hard to disrupt my experience of the 1st screen!… TV is already social people – what the industry thought leaders ought to be looking for is extending that sacred experience and not disrupting it!

Companion apps I get, believe in and see as the future, but this whole thing about 2nd screen experiences in tandem with the first screen though sounds very snazzy but will have little room in the future when Smart TVs are ubiquitous and our second screen of today (our smart phones) would be an extension of the 1st! so why wait till that day when we can do that today… a smart few are already doing so!

Which brings me to what I heard folks describe and demonstrate as a companion app! were not in majority companion apps… detractor apps yes (if it takes me way from the TV Screen experience how is it a companion?) the best sessions were from Jerry Kramskoy a Senior technologist at the BBC R&D labs… but then you’d expect that from the BBC. Mark Ghuneim from Trendrr was phenomenal with his big data presentation on tracking TV trends over social media and the most innovative idea in the building by far was from Vincent van Witteloostuyn from and I’ll let Vincent tell you all about it in his interview with The Next Web at IBC more recently:


BadCampUK 2012 – Drupaling in Brighton and getting fired up at the Chilli Festival

 BadCampUK 2012   Drupaling in Brighton and getting fired up at the Chilli Festival

Would have been great to stay for the BoF days on Sunday but had other commitments for Sunday…

So here a recap of BadCamp…. in a word it was the BOMB… in many it follows:

There were some pretty good sessions, and a few awesome sessions, personally I havent coded for 12+ years and since I mostly wear commercial and community hats I sat through the business and beginners track.

The day kicked off in a  typical Drupalistic unorthodox style.. Steve gave the floor to the audience for 10 secs each (OK some of us went over board) to

DrupalCampBrighton 03848 300x225 BadCampUK 2012   Drupaling in Brighton and getting fired up at the Chilli Festivalintroduce ourselves and WHY we were all so into Drupal! to be there on what turned out to be an awesome sunny Saturday in Brighton, with the beach about a kilometer away, a chilli festival in ful swing and well in Brighton when its sunny!

 Richard Jones’s session on Commerce kickstart v2 was brilliant, the live demo went down a storm with all of us interested in Drupal Commerce but I would like to see a live head to head between   Drupal Commerce and Ubercart. There was a session on Ubercart later in the afternoon by Arnaud Lepron but would have been useful to have combined session or right after so the audience could really interrogate the  pros and cons with Richard and Arnaud.

Of super personal interest were two sessions, the first by Ben Wilding , Edward Crompton and Michael Lenahan - covering the importance of community engagement, and how to get the nerves to start contributing on D.O. With my own struggles to preach, convey, convince and sell the benefits engagement with the Drupal community to the Drupal Community in Pakistan… this session was great, and something that needs to be covered in Pakistan’s first ever DrupalCamp coming up on the 17th of November 2012 (after a failed start in June this year!). And the spirit of the community was not lost when I asked Ben and Edward to sign up as virtual speakers for DrupalCamp Pakistan to repeat their sessions on community building and contributing (thank you guys).

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The other session I was curiously waiting for yesterday afternoon was Building a Testy Backend by Jennifer Tehan on simplifying the administration or the business end of Drupal sites regardless of scale. Indeed less is more and the challenge is always giving the admin/editor users what they need and limiting access to what they dont, could be confused by or worse still use to break the site! Jenni has provided access to the sandbox for a tasty backend and  it comes with a caveat – read the documentation! her use of the context_admin, field_group, short_form and role_delegation modules in simplifying the backend is pretty ingenious  and  late in the afternoon this also happened to be the ‘woke me up’ session.

By no means is this a session review post (so am not covering each and every session here!)… the other session that I found really interesting was a pure site build session by the British Dutchman Stefan Van Hooft - Stefan demonstrated the power of Drupal for non-coders! and on his blog the use of location mapping using GPS tag captured by Smartphones/smart camera’s is pretty awesome! and more so the simplicity of ‘how i did it’ – thanks for a no nonsense session Stefan.

Chilli Fest 259x300 BadCampUK 2012   Drupaling in Brighton and getting fired up at the Chilli FestivalAnd needless to say the best part of the day was meeting new folks in the UK Drupal community from all over the island! and lastly the icing on the cake for a chilli geek like me was the Brighton Chilli Festival  and having tried most of the goods on offer the one that towered above the crowd was Kam’s Pepper sauces  their sauce and pickle were kick-ass and the secrets the no nonsense recipe… you can actually taste the different ingredients, it is     HOT but wont send you chasing honey, water, sour cream and celery all at the same time! (by the way.. they could do with a new online store!)

and thanks Steve for putting on an awesome Drupal Camp!



FunCon München – it wasn’t all about Drupal… well mostly it was

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While still digesting all the info from DrupalCon Munich and day dreaming about Drupal 8 one aspect of DC Munich not yet reflected on our blog is FUN! yup it was a blast! (no not that kind…)… with a contingent of 6 we had plenty of it and Munich was most hospitable! and its peeps warm  (the city lived up to its motto: München mag Dich) with the exception of the odd d*ckhead every major city has to live with.

So instead of a travel log… I give you the must eat places, the must drink places and the do not even bother places in Munich (strictly our experiences and if you are the proprietor of an establishment listed here and happen to chance upon this blog… well next time you better put your best foot forward!)


The absolute must eat at places:

Dehbaschi on Dachauerstraße  – for some really good Iranian food, a little over priced though


Orients Kebab House also on  Dachauerstraße (towards/closer to Hauptbahnhof Nord  – for some really good Iranian food, reasonably priced, a family run place with incredible service.

The personal favorite eatery we came across has to be  Deeba on Barerstrasse; an authentic Pakistani restaurant no mutton dressed as lamb here! the nearest station is Odeonsplatz and it is a 10 minute wok from the station and the food is finger licking good, the hospitality of Mr Malik is worth the trek, and it stays open till midnight, and the must try is lamb Karhaee (it is not on the menu, simply ask for it and it shall be prepared!).

Places to avoid

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Ali Baba – you know what I’m sayin!

Ali Baba on Schillerstrasse – never really ate here, there were two separate forays to this establishment, the first time they did not have anything advertised other than doner kebab that did not look appetising and the second time went deeper into the restaurant to find sticky tables and severe lack of hygiene,  the place needs a serious refurb and new management! and oh yes the dood behind the counter could do with lessons in hospitality and customer service (even though we never quite became customers to Ali Baba).

The italian on the corner of Schillerstrasse and Schwanthaierstrasse  – the only upside is that it stays open late but then so does McDonald’s and we should have gone to McDonald’s… I think that is enough said.


Watering holes… in München

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…a hand… anybody!?


As for weißbier… The English garden with the Chinese tower were obviously great but for a more local vibe head down to the beer garden in Westpark (nearest station is Partnachplatz)… and who ever picked Kennedys for the Brit meetup… bless you! great staff and an almost Londonish atmosphere… heck they even had an imported  bouncer form London!


With DrupalCon, its pre and post events I don’t think any one of us from team

DSC 0337 300x200 FunCon München   it wasnt all about Drupal... well mostly it was

.. you need to get some protein in you Khoomy!

ikonami could do Munich’s tourist trail justice so the decision is to head back as soon as is possible with only chillaxing on the agenda… and planning a few extra days have to be set aside for DrupalCon Prague next year.

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…and some of us had better ideas for R&R than others!

Munich 2012 Rainbow 1024x597 FunCon München   it wasnt all about Drupal... well mostly it was

..this sums up Munich and DrupalCon for us



Addressing Drupal community challenges in the East – follow up from DrupalCon Munich

The silent communities of China and Pakistan found a voice at DrupalCon Munich, undeniably a game changer for the Drupal Communities in the neighbouring countries. Ironically the audio recording failed and what you can view from the session is a silent presentation! murphy’s law! let me assure those who were not there that neither Liang, myself nor the audience were silent; we had a healthy and focused discussion that you folks unfortunately can not be privy to unless someone builds a time machine! and for those with the patience to sit through a 52 minute long silent movie here you go!

Our AV nightmare would have continued and we would not have even had a silent presentation if not for Jons Slemmer from as the AV equipment did not want to talk to my Mac and Liang’s Mac did not have Keynote! Jons got repaid by Karma as it was unanimously decided by team ikonami that the winner of our Android tab give away had to be Jons! (and team Joy Group got kicks from an Android tab called Pacpad! wonder if Kamra would get taken to court for a billion dollars!?)

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Jons Slemmer takes the Pacpad home!

Anyhow a quick recap of how the session went, in a word ‘awesome!’, and in many: way better than we expected! firstly there was the turn out, we never expected to pack the room but were pleasantly surprised by the number of people who showed up, validating our belief that the wider community is curious as to why two large swathes of the Drupal community are under represented on

And the mix! it wasn’t an Asian affair! Drupal Watchdog was represented by Peta Hoyes, Drupal community in the UK by Ben Wilding, Marcus Oaten, Richard Moger, Belgian Drupal rockstar Dominique De Cooman, Kawai Man,  and a many more… well not exactly hundreds but we had a good turnout of about 18 odd people! from Hong Kong, Korea, Netherlands, China, Belgium, UK, Pakistan, USA and Germany to list a few… and apologies if you attended, were vocal and are not listed here (and  Kawai Man… dood I could not find you online… you like some Drupalistas in the East are off the grid!).

The discussion that followed the presentation was  beneficial for those of us working to develop and link communities, it was great to hear of the audiences perspective on reasons for the Chinese and Pakistani Drupal communities aloofness (lost for a better word to describe the state of affairs!) and the possible avenues for the active members of the Drupal communities in Pakistan and China to follow to change the status quo.

There are the usual suspects; Drupal Association and Acquia; how can the local communities engage with the DA and Acquia and draw them to support, sponsor and engage with the local community… to this end the Chinese community has taken advantage and received four scholarships to various DrupalCons, I am pretty certain no one from the Pakistani Drupal community would have even applied! (I would love to hear from anyone who has but been unsuccessful). For Acquia to put boots on the ground the potential of the local markets needs to be sold, particularly the Pakistani market, very few people outside of Pakistan know that the local web economy is worth US $1.2 billion and this is with none of the popular payment gateways operating in Pakistan, imagine the potential when the digital economy in Pakistan is truly liberated! it would be an ecommerce tsunami!

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A lively audience


Ben Wilding (organiser of Drupal Pub Meet in London) shared his experiences of developing a lively community and with much needed words of encouragement for the Pakistani contingent in attendance… keep at it even if no one turns up! (which happened in Pakistan with the very first Drupal meetup)! The other really useful tip was to concentrate on one city until a critical mass is reached, I know from the on-the ground Drupalistas in Islamabad who have been thinned out trying to reach every major urban area where Drupal shops exist…. and have had little to show for their efforts.

Other tips for the communities were the more obvious one that local organisers and farangi mentors have been too blinkered to see…!  what an awesome resource! never knew it existed!

Clearly the state of the far flung communities bothers us all in the wider and more engaged communities, I got an email from one of the attendees; Alex Van Der Klij the week after DrupalCon with a another brilliant idea on getting the Pakistani Drupal community active… tap into the expats abroad to contribute to the community… and learn form the Wallaby and Kiwi experiences of community building!… thanks for that Alex.
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The  most essential lesson for me was to engage with my own local Drupal community in London more often,   learn from their experiences and get help for my mission of trying to get a remote and silent community thousands of miles away active! tsk tsk! and a lesson learned… I attended my first Drupal Pub meetup and it was awesome! in fact since DrupalCon I have made it to more meetups than I did in the first half of the year!



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