Skip to main content


Showing posts from 2008

Eating my dog food

I was carrying home a bag of dog food recently for my dogs when the neighbour made jokes about eating dog food and the coming recession. I think recessions are like winter - you know it'll come eventually, but it's hard to imagine in the depths of summer.But my point is really about dog food, and eating it. The woman who sells me Nutromax claims the salespeople eat it to prove it's good. As a computer-geeky guy, I'm familiar with the expression "eating your own dog food" to mean, using your own software. I just looked it up on wikipedia and discover that the original idea did indeed come from an advertisement about dog food, and that it's now used mainly about software. Here's what wikipedia says about the idea:
Using one's own products has four primary benefits:

1. The product's developers are familiar with using the products they develop.
2. The company's members have direct knowledge and experience with its products.
3. Users se…

Infrastructure projects

I've been running my own server for a year and a half now, and have been surprised at how trouble free it's been. I attribute this to:luckgood planninga decent upstream providerthe maturity of linux distribution maintenance tools (e.g. yum)In this case, good planning means:keeping it as simple as possibledoing things one at a timei'm the only one mucking about on it And so this month, inspired by some Drupal camp sessions, I decided to take some time to make a good thing better. My goals were: Optimizing my web servicing for more traffic.Simplifying my Drupal maintenance.Automating my backups.And here's the results ...Web Servicing OptimizationsThis was relatively easy - I just finished off the work from here:, i discovered that I hadn't actually setup a mysql query cache, so I did that. And then I discovered that it was pretty easy and not dangerous to remove a bunch of the …

CiviCRM Case Study:

These are my notes from a CiviCRM data import for Fair Vote Canada I did on April 16/17, 2008.
Fair Vote Canada is a small NGO, has been around for about 7 years, and is a public interest lobby group for proportional representation-type voting systems in Canada. If you care about democracy, then they're worth supporting. One thing I find particularly interesting and important is that they're cross-party. Obviously, depending on whether they're in power or not, parties have a very biased opinion about proportional representation, and regardless of their statements of principles, that's not going to change with any changes of government, since parties exist to win power, or they don't last long. So Fair Vote Canada decided early on to be strictly non-partisan, and they have some energetic and high-profile supporters from across the political spectrum.
On the technical side of things, they've had a Drupal site for a while, but were still using Excel spreadsheet…

Drupal + CentOS + optimization

I've been working through various optimization issues today and thought i'd share them with my future self and anyone else who reads this. mod_deflate I'd heard that getting apache to gzip your non-compressed data was a good idea and thought I was probably already doing that with my default apache2 setup on CentOS 4.4. What I learned was that: For apache2, the relevant module is mod_deflate (it used to be mod_gzip)My CentOS included the apache module by default, but didn't enable it. I did that according to the excellent documentation on the apache web site.I found a test site, which says that the html is now about 25% of what it was, saving me bandwidth and increasing the apparent response of my sites.wim leers I found a great article about drupal optimization here: improving drupal's page loading performance. He refers to a firefox plug-in developed by Yahoo that looks like a great tool, as well as a list of key issues to analyse for any site, and how those ca…