Archive for November, 2006

Subway Smells, Deep Holes, and Nonprofit Contact Us Pages

More Google Maps madness. This hint is also courtesy of last month’s Not-for-Profit Webmaster Round Table, hosted by the generous David Milner from the Rainforest Alliance, which is turning out to be quite fertile ground for blog posts.

As Pradeep described earlier, and as has been noted by journalistic entities slightly more reputable than this blog (if such an entity is possible), Google Maps has written an easy-to-use API that lets programmers add information to a Map and implement it on their sites. As you might expect, the possibilities are endless — and, of course, tend toward the slightly ridiculous:

  • Housing Maps overlays Craigslist real estate listings — roomate wanted, apartment available, etc. — on a map of the city where the real estate is located.
  • Dig a Deep Hole asks users (in broken English) if they are “concerned about where you go to arrive if you dig a very deep straight infinitous hole on Earth.” It quiets those anxieities by presenting a map of the world upon which users can click — and then shows them where they would end up if they dug in a straight line through all that red hot magma.
  • My personal favorite, the New York City Subway Smell Map on Gawker, does exactly what you think it does. So now I know that waiting for the train at the subway stop around the corner from my apartment is “like being inside the bowels of a very sick animal.” Ironically, that’s exactly what my apartment smells like, too.

But I want to talk about something a little easier on the olfactory glands. And hopefully more helpful to our clients, many of whom have more pressing concerrns than where they would end up if they started digging in their backyards. Namely: Contact Us pages.

Many of our clients are national or international nonprofits with offices across the nation or the globe. We’ve all seen the standard static contact us page, with a simple listing of regional offices and the appropriate phone numbers, mailing addresses, and the like. But how about using Google Maps to create a more interesting, visual and informative Contact Us page?

You’re right, I didn’t think of this myself. See: the Rainforest Alliance has used the Google Maps API to create a Contact Us page that shows the location of its offices across the world. Each office is represented by a pin on the map. Click on a pin, and you get contact information.

Check it out. And keep the cool Google Maps ideas coming. Just make sure they smell good.


Joomla! Ensures Website Security with Acunetix Web Vulnerability Scanner

AcunetixThe Joomla core developers use a combination of manual auditing and automated auditing. They use Acunetix Web Vulnerability Scanner for the automated auditing which has been donated to the Joomla Project. Acunetix WVS scans the site for SQL injection, cross-site scripting and other vulnerabilities, thereby averting possible hacker attacks.

This tool has been run against the 1.0.x trunk (in preparation for 1.0.12) 3 times in the last two months which gives the Joomla Team valuable reports that allows them to hardens the code. This is a great tool to be using, because we all know about human error.


New MVC framework in Joomla 1.5 too good?

Joomla LogoSitting on one of the Joomla working groups, I see a lot of interesting conversations go across the boards.  Often times, there are quite vibrant discussions on the new Joomla 1.5 framework, especially when it comes to developer opinions.

One of the great members of the documentation working group, Ian, put together the following board post regarding his realization of the power of the new Joomla 1.5 MVC (model, view, controller) methodology that had me laughing.

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Non-Profit Developers Unite!

AspirationOur good friends at Aspiration are always up to something exciting, and this time, they’ve outdone themselves again. Since Gunner has a much better way of putting these events to words than I can, below is a great copy/paste from their email announcement, which I think sums up the event nicely.

What we’re looking forward to is what I consider a cross of management and development skill sets, since this will be more focused on systems than the Advocacy Developers conferences, and more output driven than the tried project management summit in NYC last year. I highly recommend that those in our NPO/NGO community that are pushing forward non-profit software solutions to come join us!

And now, a few words from Aspiration about the event.

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Wanted: Web Project Manager with Putt-Putt Skills

Help WantedPICnet is looking for an entry level Project Manager to help lead the development of Web projects for its non-profit, association, and congressional clients.

We’re looking for individuals with experience in the Web development process and the non-profit community, who are eager to provide high-quality service to our proud client base.

At PICnet, we provide a unique environment for non-profits to build their online presence. Our high-touch, high-quality service is what separates us from the crowd, and keeps our client list expanding.

The individual who takes this position will have strong knowledge of the Web development process and crystal clear communication skills. Juggling multiple projects at the same time is the name of the game, and working with developers located in various locations is the challenge.

Although the position does not require a Web programming background, basic understanding of the Joomla CMS, PHP or MySQL is definitely helpful.

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Mediavolunteer – the Cure for the Political Hangover

Media VolunteerCare of our friend Marty Kearns, we caught wind of something we think is really going to take off in these post election days:

Imagine, only 12 minutes of your time to help shape the media.

The goal here is to make a strong press list of reporters that our groups can utilize to help make the world a better place.

The freshly elected officials and their staffs are going to be looking for new ideas. They are also going to be pushing a different set of issues into the forefront of the American debate. We need to make sure that public interest groups can jump and be a voice in that media discussion.

How to help? Just go to:


Joomla Wins Packt Publishing’s OSS CMS Award

Yet again, the Joomla development team and community has shown its great work by winning Packt Publishing’s 2006 Open Source Content Management System Award.  Here’s the announcement straight from the Packt Web site:

Following a nomination round and eight weeks of voting, Packt are pleased to announce Joomla! as the winner of the 2006 Open Source Content Management System Award. Joomla! collects a first prize of $5,000 and the title of Packt Open Source CMS Award Winner for 2006.

As usual, the top three finalists were Joomla, Drupal, and Plone, which just goes to the point that we’ve been making over and over here at PICnet:  these are the top three CMSes that non-profit organizations should focus on during their investigations for CMSes.

The judges for the competition were individuals from the Open Source Collective, MySQL, the Eclipse Foundation, and 16,000 users from the Packt Web site that voted online. Best of all, it’s a cool $5,000 to the Joomla project!

The judges said the following of the Joomla system:

  • Very easy to install and use with lots of extensions and modules
  • The documentation is exhaustive and concise
  • Admin user interface is intuitive and powerful
  • The backend of Joomla! is very usable and the WYSIWYG editor the content was nice
  • Seems like it would scale well and provides a lot of customization options
  • Large and active community

Congrats again to the community and the core Joomla team!


Official Joomla 1.0.11 User Manual Available

Joomla LogoWhile it’s been out for a little while now, we thought it was important for those people that enjoy reading user manuals in the old fashion format (you know, PDFs and hardcopy) that the latest Joomla 1.0.11 now has an official user manual available for download.

Download Official Joomla 1.0.11 User Manual (PDF – 4MB)

Enjoy the read!


NTEN’s Ask The Expert to feature Joomla

Ask the Joomla ExpertAfter brainstorming with our friend Holly from N-TEN, I’ll be leading the first Ask The Expert session on November 16, 2006. The topic? Joomla!

November 16, 10:00 am Pacific / 1:00 pm Eastern

When I talked with Holly a few weeks ago, she was saying that N-TEN was looking for ways for people to share knowledge with others in the community, outside the confines of the annual NTC. This is a great opportunity to try reaching out to the community with hands-on guidance, something that has been missing (but getting better!) at NTCs.

As the N-TEN site says:

“We know you have questions, and we’ve found a way to make it easier for you to get answers. Once a month we’re bringing an expert online to answer your questions. For one hour at a scheduled time, our expert will be available via online chat to answer your questions and point you to the resources and tools you need.”

So, bring forth your Joomla questions! It doesn’t matter if you’re an accidental techie, a developer, or someone just trying to figure out what the word “Joomla” means. Come one, come all, it’s free!

Update: Johan Janssens, the lead developer of Joomla, might be joining us for the session, per his posting on the Joomla Forums!

Check out the N-TEN blog posting on this.


Buy this book and turn to page 173

Policy and Politics book coverHemingway. Twain. Thoreau. Ozimek.

Finally, after more than a year of preparation, the 5th edition of the Policy and Politics in Nursing and Health Care recently arrived at the PICnet office in DC last week with the poetic writings of yours truly. That’s right, they even were kind enough to put my MPP after my name, something my doctor friends are sure to look at with disapproval.

I had an opportunity to pen a chapter on distributed campaigns, something I’ve been very keen on discussing with anyone willing to listen over the past 3 years. Covering everything from the Deanspace phenomenon to the services of our friends at Democracy in Action (that’s right DIA, you’re in a textbook now), I outline the fundamentals of a online advocacy campaign.

With book companies offering up Clinton-like advances now, I probably won’t have much time to talk if you call with your own critique on the work; however, don’t let that stop you from buying the book. Buy it, turn to page 173, and enjoy. Then, read the rest of the book of course, lots of smart people came together to compile some amazing materials.