Migrated from Drupal 4.7 and relaunched

After sitting for about 2 years on a Drupal 4.7 to Drupal 7 migration of this site, I finally went live. In the process, I'd also let the original domain (professorbikeybike.com) expire, and that proved exceedingly difficult to get back, so I went with the .org domain.

Now I actually have to start adding content again (it's been 9 years since the last post!).

In the meantime, here's a picture of some rye bread:

Country blonde rye

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Drupalcon: Life, The Universe, and Everything

LifeThe UniverseEverything

I made it back from Hungary last Friday, and am only now starting to convince my body that it really isn't 9 hours later than it is. After Drupalcon, I managed to make it out to Eger, for castles and a valley of wine cellars (thanks for the recommendation Chrys). Following Eger I returned to Budapest to explore more castles, a Cold-war-era statue park, and some labyrinths all made possible by some of the best public transit I've experienced.

Being back, and having had a bit of time to process all that I took in at Drupalcon, I wanted to do a bit of a review of some of the highlights. For most of the talks I mention below, there are either slides, video or both available here.

The venue and organization

Babel fish t-shirt

The venue itself was very nice. Spacious and airy, it was the perfect place for Drupal geeks from all over the world to congregate and talk about, well, Drupal. Also, many thanks to all the volunteers and the Hungary Drupal community that made Szeged a reality.

I know where my towel is

I can't talk about the venue and the organization of the event without at least mentioning the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy theme. I won't go into too much detail, as the pictures do that, but suffice to say I thought it was awesome and thorough (42+ languages, a babelfish, don't panic and the certainty of knowing where one's towel is).

The State of Drupal

Dries, while opening the conference with his State of Drupal talk, hit on many aspects of the future of Drupal.  One highlight was the idea of embracing RDF, which not only makes for richer content, but addresses the problem of importing and exporting for Drupal in an application-independent manner. Another very interesting point was that most Drupal developers feel they are best at HTML, and by the same token, want to learn about HTML the least. That's good I suppose...

Drupal 7 preview

Many of the sessions I attended provided a very exciting preview of Drupal 7, and I came away with high hopes for the new version.

Larry Garfield proposed the idea of getting handlers into core. My favorite example of why this might be useful was about the idea of swapping out default file handling, for say, a file handler that sends all images to Flickr, and all videos to YouTube, but behaves normally for everything else. To do this without handlers, one would need to either hack core (oh noes), hack image and video modules, or write a custom module. With handlers, the modules can simply be concerned with the Drupal API, thus making this sort of behavior module-independent. Essentially, handlers are one of the last steps towards making Drupal completely customizable without hacking core (thus saving kittens).

The very next day, Larry gave an overview of the new database layer that landed, which takes advantage of PHP's PDO abstraction layer, shortly before Drupalcon. The short of it is that the new abstraction layer looks awesome. The dynamic query builder will take the place of complicated string concatenation and pattern matching that plagues certain hooks and modules today. The new layer also provides—out of the box, so-to-speak—the ability to support master/slave replication and transactions, to name a few. Also, since this is all object-oriented, simple (but fragile) INSERT statements are no longer directly coded into modules. Instead, inserts and updates are built up using placeholders, and can be reused. Finally, the new db_merge() function will make checking for an existing record (in order to determine if an INSERT or an UPDATE is needed) a thing of the past.

Barry Jaspan gave a talk on the Field API that will hopefully be landing in Drupal core for 7 (ie, CCK in core). However, the field API isn't just about moving the CCK module's functionality into Drupal. Along the way, the code will be transformed into a real API (so that the creation and modification of fields is no longer dependant on a form submission). Another key change is the idea that fields will be attachable to anything, not just nodes. During the talk, field definitions looked to be custom classes, which seemed very clean and extendible. It was later rumored around the halls that this idea had been scrapped, but I'm unable to find any hard evidence indicating one way or another.

Peter Wolanin discussed the idea of page rendering being capable of outputting many different formats in Drupal 7. The central idea of the talk was to move page rendering to a later stage in the process, so that data can be rendered as, for example, JSON, XML or XHTML, depending on any number of factors. The only way to currently change format, is to either pre-empt the rendering level (by exiting the script early) or to re-render data, which is inefficient at best. Needless to say, this would be a welcome change.

And finally, the new file handling patch continues to get closer to RTBC.

So long, and thanks for all the fish

That's all I have time for now, although there were many other very exciting and informative sessions/BoFs (I saw a demo of the progress being made with the Geo module, as well as the work Development Seed is doing with Mapnik, and am very excited about the future of mapping and Drupal).

Drupal bicycle

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Downtown Kumasi via Autostitch

Downtown Kumasi I had great problems getting Autostitch to create this panoramic for me, because all the images were rotated. It hadn't occurred to me that this was the problem, since Autostitch usually detects such things. Anyway, the above is the finished product...

Mt. Rainier via Emmons Glacier

Emmons Glacier from Camp CurtisEmmons Glacier from Camp Curtis

We attempted to summit Mount Rainier via the Emmons/Winthrop glacer route. Unfortunately, I was hit with AMS at just under 12,000 feet, forcing us to descend. This was a major blow, but I felt better after getting back to camp. Aside from not summiting, the trip up to Camp Schurman via the Inter glacier was fantastic. The climb is almost exactly 5000 feet from the White River campground, over the course of about 6 miles. I think the yeti talk might have started while doing rope/crevasse rescue work at Volunteer Park the previous Sunday. The theory—this is unproven, mind you—goes something like this: modern glacial geologic theory is completely wrong. Instead, glacier movement is dictated by large groups of highly organized yetis. The apparent sound of crevasses is really nothing more than the incredibly irregular and un-rythmic sound of the yetis' drums. These drums are to keep the yetis moving the glaciers down the mountain. If they can move a glacier faster than it can rebuild itself, the glacier recedes. Otherwise it grows in mass, and their work becomes more difficult. Keep in mind that this theory had nothing to do with altitude.

Arriving at Camp SchurmanArriving at Camp Schurman

Once at Camp Schurman we melted snow and went to bed around 6:30. We set Run for the Hillsto wake us at 11:45 that same night. We started hiking around 1:00 am, and made remarkable time. The crevasses and unstable snowbridges were navigatable in the dark, but on the return trip, many of the snowbridges looked much more dicey in the daylight. We managed to get to 11,700 feet by about 4 in the morning, and this is when the altitude sickness hit. We sat around freezing for about 45 minutes, but my condition didn't improve, so we started the long cold walk down to camp.

Crevasse and Curtis HeadwallCrevasse and Curtis Headwall
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Read Google News from other countries

I was recently taught a very quick and easy way to read Google News from other countries, thus gaining a more international perspective, even if you don't speak the language very well.

  1. Go to Google News and scroll to the bottom of the page, where a series of links to news for other countries is available. For example:
  2. Once you have the link, use Google's language tools to translate the url from step 1.
That's it. Links clicked from within the translated page will automatically be translated...
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Les Bières (The Beers) of West Africa

I have managed to gather and scan all the lovely beer labels from my recent trip to the countries of West Africa. All the labels are here, and photos from the Bière Niger factory tour here.

Bière Niger: 600 cfa for a gran bière. Excellent.Bière Niger: 600 cfa for a gran bière. Excellent.
Castle Milk Stout: Definitely the best beer in West Africa, possibly one of the finest beers in the world.    There are also images of the back label and the front label.Castle Milk Stout: Definitely the best beer in West Africa, possibly one of the finest beers in the world. There are also images of the back label and the front label.

Snowking Mountain via the Northwest Route

Snowking Mountain

(If your are looking for the correct way to do this route, jump to How I would do it if I had to do it again section) All photos for this trip can be found here. The trip started with a quick tour of Seattle to round up the various participants in Bettsy the Trooper. After caffiene and greasy goodness from Don's Restaurant in Marysville, we hit the 21 mile FS16 road, or Illabot Creek road, for those desiring a less beauracratic naming convention. Midway up the road we managed to break Bettsy's door so that it took 3 people pushing, and one person pulling to bend the metal back just enought for the door to shut. Then we were back on our way to the trailhead. The hike to Slide Lake went about as quick as could be expected. That was the end of the easy going. About mid-way through the length of Slide Lake, the trail becomes a track, marred into oblivion by downed trees and brush. This quasi-trail ends with the lake. Fun We managed to find the "fisherman's trail" paralleling Otter creek, but quickly lost it. This wasn't so bad, until we made the horrible mistake of crossing the creek, and headed up the wrong creek valley. Once we realized our mistake, we had gained enough elevation that turning back seemed like more effort than making do with our current course. At one point we were climbing 50 degree vegetation high above a waterfall. Once we found a place to re-cross the creek that should have never been crossed in the first place, we were well off course, and had to contour back north to regain the proper drainage. All in all, this detour probably added 2 hours to our approach time for Enjar lake, thus making the total time to base-camp roughly 6 hours. We still had enough time to relax with some blueberry cheesecake (but we forgot the scotch). With the alarms set for 3:30 am, we crawled into our tents and bivies, only barely surviving an encounter with Mr. Bivy.Mr. Bivy Attacks!Mr. Bivy Attacks!   Iron Maiden's Run for the Hills woke us at 3:30, and we were hiking by 4:30. We quickly repeated the mistakes of the day before by trying to cut through brush on the north side of Hamar lake. This sapped much of our energy, and probably added about half an hour to an hour of time to our trip. After stumbling out of the aforementioned brush into a gulley, we ascended to the left of the cliff bands on our way up to the saddle. Remarkably, we found a semblence of a trail winding up through the cliffs. Skirting Snowking glacier: That's Mt Baker in the distance.Skirting Snowking glacier: That's Mt Baker in the distance. From just below the saddle, the route gets really good, and we were almost able to forget the hellish approach to Enjar (although we knew it would be reversed after the summit). We bi-passed the lower saddle, and instead aimed directly at the upper saddle. Once this saddle was gained, we "cramponed up", and began the long arcing traverse towards first the saddle directly north of west peak, and then continuing below the west and middle peaks. Conditions were such that we were able to stay high enough to avoid the scramble down to the base of the snow ramp, and also avoid the glacier by passing above and around. Karl on summit ridgeKarl on summit ridge The final 500 feet of the climb are on a 3rd class ridge, and a talus slope. We reached the summit around 11:00 am.

How I would do it if I had to do it again

The hardest part, as might be obvious from the above dialogue, was getting to and from Enjar lake. That being said, here is my revised and in retrospect route description. At the end of the Slide Lake trail, locate a campsite overlooking the Otter Creek inlet. From this campsite, follow a faint trail up (bearing east-northeast) and away from the creek, into the woods. Do not follow the track immediately paralleling the river. This trail, as un-maintained as it is, will still lead all the way to Enjar lake if you manage to follow it for it's entire length. If you lose the trail, back-track to the last known location of the trail and try again. Any time wasted in this effort will be made up for by the much worse prospect of going on without a trail. Pass Enjar Lake on the north (or on the south, if you prefer talus to trail-less forest), but then pass Hamar lake on the south, to avoid horrid bushwacking. Once you pass Hamar lake, the Beckey description is spot-on.

Map Northwest Route: The dashed line is the route we took. The solid line represents a better route around Hamar lake.Map Northwest Route: The dashed line is the route we took. The solid line represents a better route around Hamar lake.
The northwest route from upper saddleThe northwest route from upper saddle
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