Bosi Gbangba pt4

Sorry folks, I know this has been long over-due. You can read part 1, part 2 and part 3 first.
=-------=

"What do you think happened?" asked her husband as he joined her on the balcony to watch the coming procession.
"I don't know," she replied, "but it cant be good for 7 people to be carrying our daughter home."
"She's alive isnt she?" the father mused. "Then it can't be that bad. Just calm down."
Thirty minutes later he wasn't sure of his conclusion anymore. The crowd had arrived and were taking up the space in his living room. When he asked what the problem was, they all tried to explain at once.
"Silence!" bellowed Daddy Eko. "Only one person should talk."
"She has a bead stuck in her nose." the sunday school teacher said.
"Is that all?" her mother asked, sighing in releif. "She didn't beat anybody? Didnt steal anything?"
"No Ma." replied the man. "She's a good girl. That's why we're all so concerned."
"I hope there are other teachers with the remaining kids, seeing as many of you as this." Daddy Eko said.
"Yes there are sir." replied the teacher as he realized that only the instructor on the stage didnt follow them to Ajibike's house.
"We will be taking our leave now." he added. "Are you taking her to the hospital?"
"Something stuck in her nose you say?" repeated Daddy Eko as he stroked his thick moustache in thought. "That should be easy to pull out."
"Madam can I get a hairpin?" he asked the mother, who promptly ran into the rooms to get one. She was back seconds later with a black thin piece.
"Thank you." he muttered, as he collected it from her shaking fingers. "Ajibike, come here."
the girl ran to him gaily, smiling.
"Now I want you to do something for me." he said in a softer voice. He waited until her distracted eyes focused on him again before adding, “Stay still. I am going to try to bring out the bead in your nose with this pin. I wont hurt you, but you must stay still so that I can do it properly, ok?”
Little Ajibike nodded in understanding. She looked around again, wondering what the problem was. Her mother looked ready to burst into tears, while her father face held a grim expression. If she didn’t know better she would have thought he wanted to beat her, but she didn’t know what her crime was this time. Surely the bead stuck in her nose was not going to kill her. Couldn’t they all see that she could still smile and talk?
After thirty minutes of gentle rummaging, Daddy Eko raised his eyes to her father and shook his head slightly. Then he asked Ajibike for a favor.
“Breath out like this” And he breathed out.
Ajibike savored the attention she was getting from her Daddy Eko as usual, and obeyed. She breathed in, then she breathed out. Her mother raised her hands to her head and began a silent wail. Her father rubbed her mother’s back and whispered calming noises that Ajibike could barely hear above the din the Sunday school teachers raised at her actions.
Ajibike looked confused. Why did they start shouting? Didn’t they see that she was trying to emulate the deep breath her Daddy Eko just breathed out?
As always, Daddy Eko understood her young mind.
“Don’t try to do it as deep as I did,” he said. “Just breath out with force, you understand?”
She nodded vigorously.
“Now breath out.” He ordered.
She breathed out.
“Harder, Ajibike” he added.
Since there was not enough to breath harder, she breathed in, then out. Her mother started crying seriously.
Daddy Eko pulled Ajibike into a hug then rose from his seat. He and her father thanked the teachers profusely and ushered them to the door. When they were gone, he turned to his friend.
“We have to go to the hospital.” He said. “The bead is round and her nostril is too tiny. They might have to do an operation to get it out though.”
At the word ‘operation’ her mother’s cries grew louder.
“Daddy Eko,” Ajibike said for the first time since she was brought home. “What is wrong with my mummy?”
“She has plenty water in her eyes,” her father replied. “Where is your shoe?”
“It cut.” She replied.
“Go and get another one and lets go.” He ordered.
By the time she had found a complete pair, her mother’s crying had stopped. She came out and handed them to her mother.
“Mummy please help me wear my shoes,” she said. The mother quietly complied.
They entered the hospital through the emergency entrance. When the nurses saw what the emergency was, they began to rush.

=-----------=
THREE HOURS LATER
“Has she woken up yet?” the British doctor interrupted his assistant’s explanation of the procedure they had almost performed on Ajibike.
“She’s stirring sir” the assistant replied, glancing at the girl in her arms, before continuing, “We were supposed to make the incision just above where the bead was stuck, then cut downwards until it could drop freely, but something happened. We could not find the knife to make the incision. This was not possible as I had supervised the cleaning of the tools myself, we were wondering what to do as we had already applied anesthesia and everything, when Dr. Graham interrupted us and asked, “Why not make her sneeze?””
“That was it! By the second sneeze the bead had popped out of her nose, just like that!”
Ajibike’s mother was so relieved that her baby’s nose had not been cut open, she was smiling and praying in Yoruba in short bursts. She prayed for Dr. Graham’s great-grandchildren and Dr. Ogochuckwu’s great great grand children.
Dr. Graham’s attention was more focused on the child that was awakening in Dr. Ogochukwu’s arms. He waited for Ajibike to raise herself and glance around at the people standing over her before he spoke again.
“Little lady,” he said. “If you ever get anything stuck in your nose again, you will meet me in the theatre.”
Then he motioned with his fingers, “I’ll snip snip your nose to get it out.” He didn’t smile as Ajibike shuddered in fear.
To this day, those hairy fingers, making the scissors motion are still vivid in Ajibike’s mind, and she never ever touches her nose with anything, not even a flower.

Bosi Gbangba pt4

Sorry folks, I know this has been long over-due. You can read part 1, part 2 and part 3 first.
=-------=

"What do you think happened?" asked her husband as he joined her on the balcony to watch the coming procession.
"I don't know," she replied, "but it cant be good for 7 people to be carrying our daughter home."
"She's alive isnt she?" the father mused. "Then it can't be that bad. Just calm down."
Thirty minutes later he wasn't sure of his conclusion anymore. The crowd had arrived and were taking up the space in his living room. When he asked what the problem was, they all tried to explain at once.
"Silence!" bellowed Daddy Eko. "Only one person should talk."
"She has a bead stuck in her nose." the sunday school teacher said.
"Is that all?" her mother asked, sighing in releif. "She didn't beat anybody? Didnt steal anything?"
"No Ma." replied the man. "She's a good girl. That's why we're all so concerned."
"I hope there are other teachers with the remaining kids, seeing as many of you as this." Daddy Eko said.
"Yes there are sir." replied the teacher as he realized that only the instructor on the stage didnt follow them to Ajibike's house.
"We will be taking our leave now." he added. "Are you taking her to the hospital?"
"Something stuck in her nose you say?" repeated Daddy Eko as he stroked his thick moustache in thought. "That should be easy to pull out."
"Madam can I get a hairpin?" he asked the mother, who promptly ran into the rooms to get one. She was back seconds later with a black thin piece.
"Thank you." he muttered, as he collected it from her shaking fingers. "Ajibike, come here."
the girl ran to him gaily, smiling.
"Now I want you to do something for me." he said in a softer voice. He waited until her distracted eyes focused on him again before adding, “Stay still. I am going to try to bring out the bead in your nose with this pin. I wont hurt you, but you must stay still so that I can do it properly, ok?”
Little Ajibike nodded in understanding. She looked around again, wondering what the problem was. Her mother looked ready to burst into tears, while her father face held a grim expression. If she didn’t know better she would have thought he wanted to beat her, but she didn’t know what her crime was this time. Surely the bead stuck in her nose was not going to kill her. Couldn’t they all see that she could still smile and talk?
After thirty minutes of gentle rummaging, Daddy Eko raised his eyes to her father and shook his head slightly. Then he asked Ajibike for a favor.
“Breath out like this” And he breathed out.
Ajibike savored the attention she was getting from her Daddy Eko as usual, and obeyed. She breathed in, then she breathed out. Her mother raised her hands to her head and began a silent wail. Her father rubbed her mother’s back and whispered calming noises that Ajibike could barely hear above the din the Sunday school teachers raised at her actions.
Ajibike looked confused. Why did they start shouting? Didn’t they see that she was trying to emulate the deep breath her Daddy Eko just breathed out?
As always, Daddy Eko understood her young mind.
“Don’t try to do it as deep as I did,” he said. “Just breath out with force, you understand?”
She nodded vigorously.
“Now breath out.” He ordered.
She breathed out.
“Harder, Ajibike” he added.
Since there was not enough to breath harder, she breathed in, then out. Her mother started crying seriously.
Daddy Eko pulled Ajibike into a hug then rose from his seat. He and her father thanked the teachers profusely and ushered them to the door. When they were gone, he turned to his friend.
“We have to go to the hospital.” He said. “The bead is round and her nostril is too tiny. They might have to do an operation to get it out though.”
At the word ‘operation’ her mother’s cries grew louder.
“Daddy Eko,” Ajibike said for the first time since she was brought home. “What is wrong with my mummy?”
“She has plenty water in her eyes,” her father replied. “Where is your shoe?”
“It cut.” She replied.
“Go and get another one and lets go.” He ordered.
By the time she had found a complete pair, her mother’s crying had stopped. She came out and handed them to her mother.
“Mummy please help me wear my shoes,” she said. The mother quietly complied.
They entered the hospital through the emergency entrance. When the nurses saw what the emergency was, they began to rush.

=-----------=
THREE HOURS LATER
“Has she woken up yet?” the British doctor interrupted his assistant’s explanation of the procedure they had almost performed on Ajibike.
“She’s stirring sir” the assistant replied, glancing at the girl in her arms, before continuing, “We were supposed to make the incision just above where the bead was stuck, then cut downwards until it could drop freely, but something happened. We could not find the knife to make the incision. This was not possible as I had supervised the cleaning of the tools myself, we were wondering what to do as we had already applied anesthesia and everything, when Dr. Graham interrupted us and asked, “Why not make her sneeze?””
“That was it! By the second sneeze the bead had popped out of her nose, just like that!”
Ajibike’s mother was so relieved that her baby’s nose had not been cut open, she was smiling and praying in Yoruba in short bursts. She prayed for Dr. Graham’s great-grandchildren and Dr. Ogochuckwu’s great great grand children.
Dr. Graham’s attention was more focused on the child that was awakening in Dr. Ogochukwu’s arms. He waited for Ajibike to raise herself and glance around at the people standing over her before he spoke again.
“Little lady,” he said. “If you ever get anything stuck in your nose again, you will meet me in the theatre.”
Then he motioned with his fingers, “I’ll snip snip your nose to get it out.” He didn’t smile as Ajibike shuddered in fear.
To this day, those hairy fingers, making the scissors motion are still vivid in Ajibike’s mind, and she never ever touches her nose with anything, not even a flower.

A Public Apology

Well, I never thought I would do this, but here I am. I had an 'eureka' moment while watching....wait, let me start from the beginning.
In 2006, I looked forward to graduating with the rest of my class, only to find out the hard way that my name was not on the list of graduands - yeah I found out by checking the late brochure, while sitting in the graduating hall, while my family were waiting to start eating (get the full story here).
Anyway, that was ages ago, And I wont rehash the pain and agony I went through trying to rehash the recent past then, trying to find out what I could have done to the department's results coordinator, my course adviser, favourite lecturer and mentor, Mr. Sawyerr. Needless to say his singular action of excluding me from the list caused me a lot of delay in my life's plan, but - I digress.
While I was watching 'Being Erica', it all came together for me. You know, when you sit/stand somewhere, and something flashes in your mind from the past and then you realize you don't feel how you felt right in the middle of the experience. Well, that's how it was for me. I sat there and watched Erica go to the past (as usual) and then the Doc said something that struck a cord within me - 'a setback is a blessing'.
He said that as humans, we always forget what assets 'pain' and 'struggle' are. When we get to the good spots, we always forget how the bad spots helped us to get there. Every setback is always a blessing because it pushes us to move up and higher.
So, in the spirit of 'Being Erica', I'm going to try to patch up my past.
Dear Mr Sawyerr,
  I'm writing to apologise for all the things I wrote and said about you on and off the internet. I was acting through all the pain your actions caused me back then.
 I want you to know that now that I look back, I should have been thanking you instead. So this is to say Thank You.
Thank You for omitting my name on the graduating list. Thank You for excluding my name from the Batch A NYSC list.
You see, that major setback re-arranged my life. Now that I look back, God had everything planned out. All that I viewed as setbacks along the way were actually God-orchestrated stop-gaps to fill in the spaces in His plan for my life.
Thank You most especially for letting God use you. I am most grateful.
Regards,
Daydah

A Public Apology

Well, I never thought I would do this, but here I am. I had an 'eureka' moment while watching....wait, let me start from the beginning.
In 2006, I looked forward to graduating with the rest of my class, only to find out the hard way that my name was not on the list of graduands - yeah I found out by checking the late brochure, while sitting in the graduating hall, while my family were waiting to start eating (get the full story here).
Anyway, that was ages ago, And I wont rehash the pain and agony I went through trying to rehash the recent past then, trying to find out what I could have done to the department's results coordinator, my course adviser, favourite lecturer and mentor, Mr. Sawyerr. Needless to say his singular action of excluding me from the list caused me a lot of delay in my life's plan, but - I digress.
While I was watching 'Being Erica', it all came together for me. You know, when you sit/stand somewhere, and something flashes in your mind from the past and then you realize you don't feel how you felt right in the middle of the experience. Well, that's how it was for me. I sat there and watched Erica go to the past (as usual) and then the Doc said something that struck a cord within me - 'a setback is a blessing'.
He said that as humans, we always forget what assets 'pain' and 'struggle' are. When we get to the good spots, we always forget how the bad spots helped us to get there. Every setback is always a blessing because it pushes us to move up and higher.
So, in the spirit of 'Being Erica', I'm going to try to patch up my past.
Dear Mr Sawyerr,
  I'm writing to apologise for all the things I wrote and said about you on and off the internet. I was acting through all the pain your actions caused me back then.
 I want you to know that now that I look back, I should have been thanking you instead. So this is to say Thank You.
Thank You for omitting my name on the graduating list. Thank You for excluding my name from the Batch A NYSC list.
You see, that major setback re-arranged my life. Now that I look back, God had everything planned out. All that I viewed as setbacks along the way were actually God-orchestrated stop-gaps to fill in the spaces in His plan for my life.
Thank You most especially for letting God use you. I am most grateful.
Regards,
Daydah

10 Tips on How to Work from Home in Nigeria

This is my first post this year and to my readers I apologize. I apologize because it took a threat from one of you to come here.
Its been hectic - Getting adjusted to 'After-The-Wedding' life and new working environment and all that. Although someone will say that working from home isn't a new environment but believe me, it is.
I spent Primary 5 and 6 and all of my Secondary school education as a Boarding student. My Mum usually had to resort to threats to get me to come home when I was in the University, so for me it is a new environment.

The daily routine is ...different because I spend more time working unconsciously. Normal working hours are 8 to 5, but I find myself working longer because I never really leave work. I didnt really see it in this light until my mother came visiting.
"What is your husband having for breakfast?" she would ask, to which I would just point to the fridge.
"What will your husband eat when he returns?" my Mum would ask, to which I would just nod my head. After he left, she gave me THE talk.

I know Nigeria is going to start adopting the work-from-home methods of conducting business so I have a few pointers for the employees that might start jumping up and down if they ever find themselves in such a position [and also for those that envy the home-workers]:

1. Work Area: You need to set a particular area for work and work alone. I learnt this the hard way - first I worked on the dining table, because I felt the study was too 'serious' for me. Then I progressed to the living room carpet with a cushioning pillow under my chest. Then I ended up in the bedroom, but I was still not so comfy until I found myself in the Study. That was the best place for me to work because it was made for work. You need an environment that sets you up in 'Work Mode', that will not let you stray and that you can consciously leave after work hours.

2. Ground Rules: You need to lay some ground rules, and I am not talking about rules for the children. You need those rules for yourself - YES YOU! You need to decide what you will be attending to when you re within work hours and what you can term an emergency. For me I thank God my husband loves Cereal for Breakfast, so its easy to set up his meal before I resume online. After he leaves for work, the only emergency that can get me up from my desk is if the gate is burning. I keep my breakfast within reach so when I get hungry I wont have to stray far. I don't have kids yet, but I am sure most parents can sort out how to keep the kids away.

3. Distraction: This leads to distractions - try to keep them at a bare minimum. For me I keep the TV off, and the Radio, I'm so quiet that my neighbors usually don't even know when I'm in the house. I also stay away from the kitchen and snacks - working from home is one of the fastest ways to gain weight because you are almost always sitting down, and its worse when you keeps snacks around you and just eat and eat and eat. You have to fight the urge to eat junk even more if you work from home.

4. Exercise: Because you sit all through and hardly leave the house, your body will retain everything it takes in because there is no activity to use to burn it out. You have to find a way to stay active. After closing, I go for 30 minute walks that are sometimes brisk, sometimes slow. It gives me time to also think and plan, especially when there is a hard nut to crack on my work-table. You can also do some exercise while working - stand up for a few minutes and len over the table. Walk around the room. Stretch. Go to the front door and return. It will keep your blood flowing.

5. Electricity and Internet: To work efficiently you have to make sure that these two are available to you all the time. The Office wont want to hear excuses like 'NEPA took the light', or 'My Internet finished'. No, they just want you to deliver, and they already feel they are pampering you by letting you work from home anyway so, you have to go out of yourway to ensure that the two are available. For me I have Starcomms internet, and use MTN as backup. I have an inverter that can last up to 5 hours and we just bought a generator recently [#lightupnigeria already!].

6. Follow-up: Whatever you're working on, you have to keep up the communication. Whether its through Yahoo Messenger, or Skype, you must be visible to the office people. What I did was to create a group for office members and every morning I log on and become visible to them during work hours. It is essential that they know that you are working as well. Even when I am mobile, I try to stay online via mobile messenger.

7. Breaktime: Do not joke with your lunch/break time. You need that one hour to do other pressing things like washing the dinner plates from last night, finishing up laying the bed that you started before you resumed work, or grabbing that bite of food. At the same time do not extend the time. Let your system get used to only one hour of freedom before getting back to work.

8. Food: Watch what you eat for lunch. I am talking as a proper Nigerian babe now - don't go and be eating Garri and leftover afang soup, or pounded yam and oha soup o! You will just sleep off for the rest of the day - and that is the truth! Eat light - pretend you are at work physically, would you have packed that pounded yam to work? Would you have eaten it right in the canteen? Seriously? I prefer rice [and beans sometimes] for lunch, and I can even call it breakfast because I do not normally eat before noon. Anything that will take more than one hour to cook AND eat is off your list.

9. Call Base: Even though they can see your mails and messages online at work, it is necessary for you to call the office, at least once  week. This is essential for out of town home-workers like me, who cannot pop into the office anytime. This will keep the memory of you fresh in their minds [especially the accountant who handles the salary].

10. Family : Last of all but not the least, please do NOT neglect your family o! Close on time! Now you have the grace to close on the dot of 5pm! Do not extend work any longer than necessary. Give your family the quality time they deserve.
So its been six months and I finally can balance it all well - I should think so!

10 Tips on How to Work from Home in Nigeria

This is my first post this year and to my readers I apologize. I apologize because it took a threat from one of you to come here.
Its been hectic - Getting adjusted to 'After-The-Wedding' life and new working environment and all that. Although someone will say that working from home isn't a new environment but believe me, it is.
I spent Primary 5 and 6 and all of my Secondary school education as a Boarding student. My Mum usually had to resort to threats to get me to come home when I was in the University, so for me it is a new environment.

The daily routine is ...different because I spend more time working unconsciously. Normal working hours are 8 to 5, but I find myself working longer because I never really leave work. I didnt really see it in this light until my mother came visiting.
"What is your husband having for breakfast?" she would ask, to which I would just point to the fridge.
"What will your husband eat when he returns?" my Mum would ask, to which I would just nod my head. After he left, she gave me THE talk.

I know Nigeria is going to start adopting the work-from-home methods of conducting business so I have a few pointers for the employees that might start jumping up and down if they ever find themselves in such a position [and also for those that envy the home-workers]:

1. Work Area: You need to set a particular area for work and work alone. I learnt this the hard way - first I worked on the dining table, because I felt the study was too 'serious' for me. Then I progressed to the living room carpet with a cushioning pillow under my chest. Then I ended up in the bedroom, but I was still not so comfy until I found myself in the Study. That was the best place for me to work because it was made for work. You need an environment that sets you up in 'Work Mode', that will not let you stray and that you can consciously leave after work hours.

2. Ground Rules: You need to lay some ground rules, and I am not talking about rules for the children. You need those rules for yourself - YES YOU! You need to decide what you will be attending to when you re within work hours and what you can term an emergency. For me I thank God my husband loves Cereal for Breakfast, so its easy to set up his meal before I resume online. After he leaves for work, the only emergency that can get me up from my desk is if the gate is burning. I keep my breakfast within reach so when I get hungry I wont have to stray far. I don't have kids yet, but I am sure most parents can sort out how to keep the kids away.

3. Distraction: This leads to distractions - try to keep them at a bare minimum. For me I keep the TV off, and the Radio, I'm so quiet that my neighbors usually don't even know when I'm in the house. I also stay away from the kitchen and snacks - working from home is one of the fastest ways to gain weight because you are almost always sitting down, and its worse when you keeps snacks around you and just eat and eat and eat. You have to fight the urge to eat junk even more if you work from home.

4. Exercise: Because you sit all through and hardly leave the house, your body will retain everything it takes in because there is no activity to use to burn it out. You have to find a way to stay active. After closing, I go for 30 minute walks that are sometimes brisk, sometimes slow. It gives me time to also think and plan, especially when there is a hard nut to crack on my work-table. You can also do some exercise while working - stand up for a few minutes and len over the table. Walk around the room. Stretch. Go to the front door and return. It will keep your blood flowing.

5. Electricity and Internet: To work efficiently you have to make sure that these two are available to you all the time. The Office wont want to hear excuses like 'NEPA took the light', or 'My Internet finished'. No, they just want you to deliver, and they already feel they are pampering you by letting you work from home anyway so, you have to go out of yourway to ensure that the two are available. For me I have Starcomms internet, and use MTN as backup. I have an inverter that can last up to 5 hours and we just bought a generator recently [#lightupnigeria already!].

6. Follow-up: Whatever you're working on, you have to keep up the communication. Whether its through Yahoo Messenger, or Skype, you must be visible to the office people. What I did was to create a group for office members and every morning I log on and become visible to them during work hours. It is essential that they know that you are working as well. Even when I am mobile, I try to stay online via mobile messenger.

7. Breaktime: Do not joke with your lunch/break time. You need that one hour to do other pressing things like washing the dinner plates from last night, finishing up laying the bed that you started before you resumed work, or grabbing that bite of food. At the same time do not extend the time. Let your system get used to only one hour of freedom before getting back to work.

8. Food: Watch what you eat for lunch. I am talking as a proper Nigerian babe now - don't go and be eating Garri and leftover afang soup, or pounded yam and oha soup o! You will just sleep off for the rest of the day - and that is the truth! Eat light - pretend you are at work physically, would you have packed that pounded yam to work? Would you have eaten it right in the canteen? Seriously? I prefer rice [and beans sometimes] for lunch, and I can even call it breakfast because I do not normally eat before noon. Anything that will take more than one hour to cook AND eat is off your list.

9. Call Base: Even though they can see your mails and messages online at work, it is necessary for you to call the office, at least once  week. This is essential for out of town home-workers like me, who cannot pop into the office anytime. This will keep the memory of you fresh in their minds [especially the accountant who handles the salary].

10. Family : Last of all but not the least, please do NOT neglect your family o! Close on time! Now you have the grace to close on the dot of 5pm! Do not extend work any longer than necessary. Give your family the quality time they deserve.
So its been six months and I finally can balance it all well - I should think so!

Local Drupal Communities in (West) Africa: one step at a time

Just got back from the IDLELO conference in Ghana last week. I’ve posted my wrap-up on the Bantalabs blog, so head over there for more info.

There are some more Drupal centric thoughts I wanted to share here: more African sites are running Drupal than we realize, but because there is no African Drupal Community to speak of, all this work, these references and experiences are largely invisible. We need more visibility, we need more advocates and we need more community.

The South African Drupal Community is doing very well – I’d love to tap into them and see what we can achieve together.

If you’re working with Drupal somewhere in Africa, or thinking about working with Drupal, get in touch. Really, do get in touch. It only takes a few people per country to take the whole continent by storm. Let’s start small, though. Let’s cover our bases, think this through and make sure we pool our resources as much as possible.

As the Wolof proverb states: Only step by step can you get a monkey out of the bushes.

On Drupal, Open Source and Moving to West Africa

As some of you already know my time as project lead and trainer at af83 came to an end last December. Their Drupal team will continue to be lead by the more than capable Damien Tournoud (@damz), one of the most prolific core Drupal contributors out there.

During my time in Paris I had a blast co-organizing DrupalCon Paris, helping grow the French community and being part of the team that founded l’association Drupal France et Francophonie, the French Drupal Association.

It’s made me realize that community work is what makes me get up in the morning: the connecting, the building, the learning. It’s awesome to witness and a privilege to take part in.

It won’t come too much as a surprise then, that we decided to move to Senegal (West Africa) to continue the work started in Paris: to support the use and development of open source software (and Drupal in particular, of course) throughout West Africa.

This work will be funded through three channels:

  • Edulogos vzw, a Belgian educational non-profit my wife and I have been running since 2007
  • A Senegalese non-profit that’s being set up as we speak
  • Bantalabs, a social profit start-up with offices in Paris and Saint-Louis (Senegal)

I’m particularly happy we can finally unveil Bantalabs. Co-founder Simon Elliott and I have been preparing this venture for months – defining the core goals, fleshing out the business plan, connecting with higher education institutions and building the site.

We’re really excited about this new chapter in our lives. We have high hopes and ambitious plans. We’re going to have a lot of fun.

Feel free to follow us on twitter: @bantalabs, @mrsimonelliott, @jpoesen.

FOSDEM 2010 Drupal Dev Room – Call for Talks

Yes, it’s that time of year again: Brussels is gearing up for the annual Free and Open Source Software Developers’ European Meeting. This year Boris Doesborg managed to secure a Drupal Dev Room, so we’re celebrating the Drupal Dev Room’s third Birthday. Yay!

To the point: the Call for Talks ends January 23rd, so if you’ve always dreamed of talking about Drupal in front of the geekiest, Europeanest audience ever, you know what to do!

Not quite the talking type but feel like contributing none the less? Then the Views 7 beta themed Drupal Code Sprint is where you want to be.

A huge shout out to Boris for taking the lead in organizing the Drupal Dev Room this year, and to chx for initiating the code sprint!

Wherein We Muse Over a Case Study of a One Day WordPress-to-Drupal Conversion

A sad tale of neglect

We’ve been running a small educational non-profit – Edulogos – for over three years now. Until recently edulogos.org has been little more than a WordPress blog with a few extra pages and an off the shelf theme. It was one of the first sites we installed on our then brand spanking new Dreamhost account and we were happy with the results.

Over time however, teaching and project work got in the way of publishing much content. Maintenance was neglected and the limits and drawbacks of Dreamhost became a detractor for giving the site the love it deserved.

We decided it was high time to redesign the site and move it over to Drupal to give it room to grow. Like repotting a plant. “Liefde en substral”, as they used to say in our home country.

The road to Drupal

Knowing how data migrations are seldom without incident, we prepared for the worst. Surprisingly the migration was over before we got to our second cup of coffee that morning. The rest of the day was spent selecting and tweaking a theme and setting up some notification functionality.

We kept the new theme and functionality as simple as possible and used only a small number of tools and contributed modules:

Tools used:

  • drush (command line Drupal toolkit)

Contributed Drupal modules:

Theme:

Module download and installation

Using Drush is not required, strictly speaking, but do yourself a favor and get to know it. Drush is a command line tool that lets you do a variety of very interesting things much faster than doing them click by click through your file manager and Drupal administration interface.

In this case, we used Drush to download and install Drupal 6.15 and the modules and theme listed above:

cd /var/www
mkdir edu
cd edu
drush dl drupal 
cd drupal-6.15
drush dl trackback pathauto rules mollom twitter views admin_menu wordpress_import summertime
drush enable trackback pathauto rules mollom twitter views admin_menu wordpress_import

Again there’s nothing stopping you from downloading individual .tar.gz files, unpacking them, moving them to sites/all/modules and cleaning up the archive files. You’ve got to admit though, that drush dl and drush enable are a pretty sweet deal.

Migration and site construction, step by step

1. Export from WordPress
As per the wordpress_import instructions, we went into our WordPress admin interface, exported our content into an xml-file and saved it locally.

2 Import into Drupal
We made sure WordPress_import and its dependency Trackback were enabled and made our life a little easier by installing Admin_menu – we’re suckers for dropdown menus.

WordPress_import takes a previously generated WordPress export file and imports content into nodes, comments into, well, comments and categories into taxonomy terms. Users are created on the fly too, if they don’t already exist.

Knowing how tricky data migrations can be, we were pleased the data import went flawlessly. Granted, the old Edulogos site only contained a good hundred content items, one user and maybe a dozen categories, but still. Kudos to Yann Rocq for a tool that works as advertised.

3. User friendly and search engine friendly URLs
We enabled Pathauto so our blog posts and other content items get nice and tidy urls like /blog/monday-pancake-day instead of /node/42.

4. Avoiding comment spam
Though captchas are an ok solution, we really like the way Mollom attacks the problem. Mollom is a free anti-spam service that will analyze the contents of comments and present the user with a captcha if and when it thinks a message might be spam.

The only thing we needed to do here is create an account at http://mollom.com, generate a set of API keys, enable the mollom module in our Edulogos site, enter the keys and select which forms we want Mollom to protect. In our case it made sense to let Mollom protect the comment and contact forms.

5. Automatic comment notifications
Wouldn’t it be nice if content authors would be notified of new comments? We thought so too. Enter Rules, a marvelous module that allows you to set up specific actions that need to be performed automatically under certain conditions when certain events (triggers) occur.

We set our notification rule up like this:

  • trigger: after publishing a comment
  • condition: no specific condition
  • action: send mail to author of content that received the comment

Action configuration screenshots:


6. Twitter integration
We wanted to promote our twitter account (twitter.com/edulogos_vzw) and show our latest tweets in the sidebar. Walkah’s Twitter module does exactly that. Actually it does much more than we need, so we know there’s some nice functionality waiting for us when we’re ready.

We just wanted to display the tweets of one single twitter account in the sidebar. We entered our twitter credentials and then went to the block administration screen, only to find no twitter related blocks for us to use. After a couple rounds of clearing the cache, running cron and refilling our coffee mugs, inspiration hit us and we turned on the Views module.

Lo and behold, a ‘user tweets’ and ‘all tweets’ block magically appeared. We put the ‘all tweets’ block in the right sidebar, and Bob’s your uncle.

Making her look all nice and purdy

In terms of visual appearance we weren’t going for high originality. We just wanted a nice and clean, professional yet simple design. The Summertime theme fit our needs nicely and we spent the rest of the afternoon tweaking the css, playing around with font sizes and making the Twitter block look nice.

Taking her out and showing her to the world

Everyone has their own way of deploying a site, whether it’s through FTP, SSH, a version control mechanism or a homegrown script. We used git, a distributed version control mechanism, together with Github, a git repository hosting service. How we fit git and Github into our workflow is a story for another day.

A cap, a cap, our kingdom for a recap

We’re very pleased with how we migrated our old WordPress site to Drupal, picked and customized a new design and added new functionality – all within a single day and 8 to 10 coffees.

We were able to keep the number of contributed modules to a minimum and didn’t even make a view for the front page: since we had only one content type, we just use the default front page (http://example.com/node). We’ll have a lot less spam comments by using Mollom and we’ll be quicker to respond to comments now we have automatic notifications in place.

Finally, the code is now under source control and we have a script in place to deploy from Github and restore an hour-old database backup whenever we want, but more on that later.

If you’ve got any short-but-sweet redesign/redeployment stories to share, leave a comment!