Archive for the ‘open source’ Category

How to easily contribute to the Salesforce Nonprofit Starter Pack

Salesforce Nonprofit Starter Pack LogoIf you’re one of the thousands of organizations using the Salesforce Foundation’s open source Nonprofit Starter Pack, you have a good understanding of the great features and power that comes under the hood.  It’s one of the world’s best fundraising apps sitting atop one of the best cloud platforms, and it’s improving every day.

For some of you, open source software might be a new and somewhat mysterious concept.  Luckily, there’s a not-so-well-kept secret to  but the immense power of it is what enables so many fabulous organizations to use the Nonprofit Starter Pack (NPSP):  you have the power to contribute to it and make it better.  The question is, how?

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A key metric of success for the Joomla community

PICnet PenguinWith Joomla!Day Melbourne 2013 taking place this week down in Australia, and with my upcoming travel to speak at Joomla!Day India in early February 2013, I took a little time this weekend to reflect on the incredible success of the Joomla open source community.  There’s a lot that goes into an open source project that moves it from mediocrity to superstardom, not the least of which is actually the code that people enjoy writing and using.

In thinking about my presentation for Joomla!Day India, one key metric of success stood out amongst all others for the Joomla community:  empowerment.

In my relatively short 15 years in the open source world, I have yet to find another project that is able to as effectively strike the solid balance between attraction of new members that know little-to-nothing about software development, and the hardcore engineers looking to leverage a power web framework.  Based on my years within the Joomla project, and my term serving as a leader of it, I’ve come to realize that the key differentiator for me has been the community’s focus on empowering anyone to contribute.

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Ushering in new era of open source evangelism

President Obama and Michelle ObamaWay back in 1999, when dinosaurs were roaming the planet, a friend of mine and I started off on a path that I’ve been lucky enough to keep walking for 14 years.  As students of public policy, we were eager to use technology to provide individuals and organizations with empowering tools to advance the cause of building a more open and just society.  From the beginning, we knew that open source software would be the necessary DNA running through our work’s blood.

Looking back at those early days, I’m incredibly humbled by the impact open source has had on my life and in our communities.  Now, older and slightly wiser, I’m excited to continue down that same path.  Our company’s flagship offerings (Non-Profit Soapbox and Soapbox Engage) heavily leverage open source software, giving us the headspace and time to focus on shaping software to best serve our community.

At the same time, I continue to find fulfillment in life by using my experience as a backdrop for evangelism of the open source communities that help us deliver services to those who need it most.  While this has recently lead to many hours on planes and trains far away from loved ones, I feel nearly compelled (in a good sense) to work alongside the incredible people building the hammers and nails the world needs to craft more effective and equitable software.

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A safe domain for your sample data and documentation

Have you ever written sample data for your software project and paused, just for a split second, to think about the domain name you’d use for your example content?  You probably ended up using something like,, etc.  Then, when you distributed the sample data to users, they, as you could expect, used the data in their reports/email blasts/actions.


So what’s a software designer to do?  We want to make sure we’re giving useful examples so people can use our software before they fully commit to creating their own data into our systems.

The Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) accepted RFC2606 way back in 1999 to help us all out.  They’ve defined the following second level domain names as effectively “off-limits” for anyone to buy and use.  Instead, all of us in the software development world can use it for our sample data and documentation.


If someone sends a message to those domains, or connects to this domain, essentially, nothing happens.  A safe harbor for your sample data!

So, before you run off and create your next batch of sample data or documentation, just to be safe, consider using these special domains to protect your users from inadvertently sending data to active domains.


What does the end of free Google Apps mean for non-profits?

Yesterday, Google announced the end of their free Google Apps for Business service. Starting immediately, all companies, no matter their size, will be required to pay $50 per user per year for Google’s email and productivity suite.

While the statement from Google says that educational institutes will continue to be provided the service free of change, and while existing clients won’t be affected, it seems unclear as to what this means for our non-profit sector.

Will non-profits continue to receive Google Apps for free via the Google grants? Might this significant change potentially spur fast innovation and tools that are open source?

Update: Google has written their nonprofit pricing model…

U.S. nonprofit organizations with over 3,000 users are now eligible for Google Apps for Business at a 40% discount ($30/user/year). If your organization has under 3,000 users, you can apply for the free Google Apps for Education through the Google for Nonprofits site.


Got some bread? Sow an Appleseed this week

One of the best aspects of working at PICnet is the talented, passionate people it attracts as fellow PICnetters. I’m energized each day by my colleagues and their commitment to improving the public good in meaningful, tangible ways.

Those meaningful and tangible ways often take other forms than just their workaday lives at PICnet. We were excited for Michael Chisari, PICnet Developer, when the project he’s been passionately building in his off-hours scored some free pub on TechCrunch recently.

All the hubbub is about Appleseed, an open source, fully decentralized social networking software suite to rival Facebook and its closed system. Michael’s innovative work on the cutting edge of an emerging movement is inspiring to see and helps to inform the work he does at PICnet while we look to innovate and anticipate the needs of our clients and the nonprofit sector as a whole.

Interested in learning about the open source movement that is seeking to bring about the next wave of social networking? Check out Appleseed‘s site.

Better yet, kick in some cash to help Appleseed meet its fundraising goal this week. Hey! Why not even a whole mess of cash and maybe Justin Timberlake will play YOU in the inevitable Hollywood smash: “The Social Network: The Rise of Appleseed”.


Ryan to keynote Joomla!Day DC

Joomla!Day DC 2010There’s few things I enjoy more in the Joomla! world than having the opportunity to meet members of the community.  Between session talks and evening drinks, the conversations are amazing.

I’ve been to Mongolia, South Africa, Brazil, and lots of places in between, and the stories I hear from the Joomla community are incredible.  People’s rich background of experience, their willingness to contribute, and excitement for the future keep fueling my tank as President of Open Source Matters (Joomla’s non-profit organization).

This weekend (Saturday, Oct 15, 2010), I get a chance to bring it back to the home crowd at Joomla!Day DC.  I’ll eloquently and diplomatically sum up my thoughts in two words:  I’m stoked.

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We Make Penguins Fly

What can we say? We’re a sucker for a little penguin humor – especially being fresh off the 2010 Nonprofit Technology Conference packed with our 75 3 and 1/2-foot tall inflatable penguins that filled the grand ballroom and achieved a bit of music video star status (2:14, 2:33).

So when Paul Wessel with CT Parent Power passed along today’s comic strip from Mother Goose and Grimm by Mike Peters , we just had to share:

Mother Goose Penguins Flying

Want your organization’s website to do more than dream? Learn how we make penguins fly, enabling our non-profits’ sites to take wing and soar to meet their needs.

Thanks for keeping us smiling, Paul!  We look forward to your new site taking flight with us in the near future!


Help DC area schools, churches, and synagogues clean up this weekend

Our Web site has been an extremely useful way for greater DC area residents to post their snow-related problems and solutions.  Now it’s time to focus our energies!

If you’re from a school, church, or synagogue in the greater DC area, post any help you need this weekend for snow clean up, and we’ll crowdsource the community to help you in your efforts!

All you need to do is follow these simple steps:

  1. Go to
  2. Post your request for help using a title in this format:  “School:  Washington Elementary School” or “Church:  Episcopal Church of Washington”
  3. Make sure to specify clearly what your needs are in the body of your report (example: “We’ve got snow covering all our walkways, we need snowblowers and shovels”) and include your location in your report and using the map function.  Also, clearly state when you need people to arrive for help this weekend (example: “we’re looking for 10 people from the neighborhood to come help at 10am on Saturday”).
  4. After your report is approved by our team, you can use the link to your report to spread the word.  We’ll do the same on Twitter (using the #72scu hashtag) and on our Facebook Fan page.
  5. Keep checking the comments in your report, and encourage others to post their attendance in the comments of your report.

We’ll take these reports and highlight them on Twitter, Facebook, and the Web site!  Let’s clean up our schools, churches, and synagogues one snow shovel at a time!


Snowmageddon of interest in our crowdsourcing site

It seems we’ve caught lighting in a bottle here at PICnet. During the course of the past two days, we’ve been honored to have our Web site covered in a diverse and wide array of media outlets. We’re hoping that this outreach will help the DC residents learn about this site and extend a helping hand to their neighbors.

Here’s a few of our favorite hits thus far.

Snowmageddon Site Crowdsources Blizzard Cleanup