Vegan food with Sean Bonner of Metroblogging

Sean Bonner On a bit of a whim, we were invited to have dinner with Sean Bonner and Jeffery Simpson at The Naam in Vancouver last week or so. Sean was in town on a whirlwind tour of the greater northwest, stopping in Seattle, Vancouver, and Portland to check in on the Metroblogging meetups for each of those cities. Reason being, Sean Bonner is the guy behind Metroblogging, starting the first site in L.A. and now up to 50 cities around the world.

We were able to meet up with Sean and some of the other Metroblogging Vancouver crew, of which Rebecca is a member of, the next evening. Still, it was a neat chance to find out more about the man and his methods of madness in terms of how the network operates on top of what he has gone through to grow the blogging site to what it is today.

What is Metroblogging?

Metroblogging started off as a more locally focused alternative news source in Los Angeles and has turned into the largest and fastest growing network of city-specific blogs on the Web. We got sick of reading local news that was syndicated from the other side of the country, or was just repurposed national chit chat that had nothing to do with our city. We created our first blog as a throw back to the days when a local news paper focused on local issues, and you could walk down to the corner coffee shop and chat up the reporters whose column you read earlier that day. This idea didn’t stay in one city for long and before we knew it there were Metblogs in Chicago, Portland, Karachi, and Vienna. Today there are over 50 Metblogs in countries all over the world. Local politics, event reviews, lunch recommendations and ways to avoid that big traffic jam downtown. If it’s happening in our cities, we’re on it.

We are bloggers first and foremost, and we love our cities. Even the parts we hate. [metblogs]

The project that Sean now heads is daunting, to say the least. It was interesting to learn about the trials and tribulations of the original structure of Metroblogging and the recent migration to WordPress to run the back end for all their city sites. That kind of a roll out has got to be a challenge, and there has been a lot of elements to work through for them.

Now with the hard parts are out of the way, Sean gave hints as to things they are working on because finally, with a WordPress engine running the site, they have the ability to start doing things they’ve been wanting to do for a really long time. I’m just not going to tell you what they are because you’ll have to check out the nearest Metroblogging city to you.

Side note, The Naam[googlemaps] on 4th Street in Vancouver is amazing. Vegan food that even non-vegans would love. I could have been fine with the sesame fries and fried tofu, but the chilaquiles were pretty awesome.

Vancouver Facebook Garage thoughts and follow up

Before I talk about the event I attended tonight, let me just start out with the fact that Facebook has probably changed my, and our, lives. I’ve long lived by the principle that social networking sites are not that affective when it forces us to sit behind terminals and not interact, calling each other friends when we’ve never even met in the really real world. Doesn’t sound very social, does it?

Facebook, on the other hand, falls outside of that premise. Granted that in the days that Friendster actually held ground, I was stuck in the Midwest of the U.S. where you tend to think of meeting other users to be utterly geeky, if not insanely dangerous or bizarre. In Vancouver, on the other hand, it’s made our lives incredibly busy, and that falls outside of things you do with your friends. And those are friends that I’ve actually made contact with in some way, most likely face to face.

In a way, that kinda brings us to the Vancouver Facebook Garage that occurred last night. Rebecca was sponsored to do the live blog for the event, and I should add that she rocked it. So much so that I’m not going to do much to recap it because all the details you need to know are there.

Facebook Developer Garage
Photo credit: kk on Flickr

I will say that my major contribution to the night was bringing along my tripod for Roland to use for the live video stream of the entire event, but all of the presentations were of unique interest.

They all had something that you could take away from them if you looked at the overall, big picture of how a Facebook application could imply a concept to a different or new idea. I know that I took a lot of ideas away from the night for potential projects in the future, but those will remain to be seen. Plus, I wouldn’t have a clue as to where to start to make my own Facebook application.

Not to rip into the event, but there were some certain aspects of the evening I would have reconsidered if I had planned it. Perhaps I should have payed more attention to the Facebook event, but I didn’t know that the evening was scheduled from 5:30PM to 8:30PM. By the time the evening was over, there wasn’t much time within the eight minute break to find some food to put into my very empty stomach, not to mention any ideas as to where I could get water or find the washroom. Being the maiden event in Vancouver, I’m sure things will adjust for the next one.

Also, Kris Krug took some amazing photos during the evening, so you can check his flickr out for more shots from the event.

I’m not sure what or how I can take away some of the things that were presented last night, but there are a number of concepts that I can think of as to what I would add to Facebook in terms of an application. I’m just a little fuzzy as to how I’d do it, yet alone where to start. Maybe I’ll learn that in the next session where someone can point me to how a newbie can make a Facebook application.

Giving a presentation at the Vancouver Drupal Meetup

Photo credit: uncleweed on Flickr

Last night, I was invited to the monthly Drupal Meetup for October in Gastown. Boris and I have had numerous conversations about various projects that I’ve been working on, and the one that stuck out to him was the site I generated for I wrote about this project some time ago, and you can read that post here.

The point of having me talk about the site was to talk about the development process of how the site was originally created in WordPress and then ported over into Drupal. As Boris was saying in the meetup, it’s not often that you hear of a site having this done because using Drupal was seen to be easier than WordPress.

Allow me to explain that a little better because WordPress is something I am familiar with and use it for this blog on a regular basis. I’d even say that I love WP. I’ve built five sites using WordPress, so it is a CMS that I am comfortable with. It was that reason that, and this would make it six WP sites that I’ve built, I originally chose to have based in WordPress. On top of that, the plan was to build something that would enable church members the ability to interact with the site, adding and removing content as needed.

The site was based primarily on categories and a few, key plugins. The categories made particular posts appear in certain locations in the site, and not choosing these correctly would cause the post to not show up when and where it was intended. The plugins were subtle manipulations of posts, listing certain posts in an event list as well as an automatic deletion plugin to remove the posts once they expired. Both are very cool tools, but those are two extra fields in the post editor that the submitter had to parse through.

Vancouver League of Drupalers October 2007 -Image1010
Photo credit: roland on Flickr

Being contacted about the site after a time of decreased to little activity by church members, they wanted to be retrained on how to add posts to the site. Over time, they forgot the process and were confused by the site after logging into it after an extended period of time away from interacting with it.

It was at this point that I decided, based on things I knew about Drupal, to port the site into the new CMS. There wasn’t a lot of content to contend with, so manual transfer was the path I took. However, I knew that the CCK and Views modules could solve the multi-step process that came from WordPress and, in turn, having to teach that process to users with novice to intermediate understanding of how to interact with a web based CMS.

With the revamped look to the site in Drupal, the Calendar module brought a new level of listing events to the site that wasn’t there previously, but requested. When a user logs into the site now, they are directed to the area of choosing which type of content they wish to create(using the Login Destination module). The only fields they have to worry about are the ones they are presented with, making it a streamlined, simplified process of making sure everything they need is there before they hit the submit button.

Vancouver Drupal Meetup - October 2007 Additionally, step-by-step instructions are at the top of the page to guide them through the process, something much more difficult to do inside of WordPress, and these can be adjusted as need be to better reflect the needs of the users over time. This helps when someone goes for extended periods of time between logging into the site, forgetting how to interact with the editor that is presented in WordPress versus the custom page they are presented with in Drupal. Listing events on the front page, displaying news items, and listing sermons are all things that are coordinated on the back end through the Views module.

When it comes down to it, Drupal was a better route to go for what the church wants and needs. They want to be able to interact with the site and need to have something that can work for them without being overly difficult to use when it comes to their level of understanding. It’s also not as much as the ability for a church to have a website for its current members as it is to have a way of expanding their community and allowing others to find the site to get information about becoming apart of their organization.

I had a lot of fun speaking to everyone about the project and did my best to answer their questions. Not being the Drupal ninja compared to some other folks I know out there, I never felt out of place, and that is a very welcomed feeling. However, I did spike a massive fever when I got home and am still recovering from it today, so let’s hope that isn’t Drupal related.

If you would like to find out more about Drupal user related events going on in Vancouver, check out their page at or visit to find a Drupal community near you.

Vancouver Podcast Meetup: September 23, 2007 (follow-up)

It’s been a while since the Vancouver Podcast Meetup on September 23, 2007, but better late than never to post a few notes and pictures of the event, right?

Bottom line, it was a great night, and that’s aside from the round of beer that Mark bought in celebration of my birthday that was the next day. There weren’t too many who showed for the event, and everyone had familiar faces from the previous meetup in February. The boys from Foreskin Radio, DaveO, Rebecca, John Biehler, Mark Blevis, and myself.

There were a a variety of things that were discussed, namely an around the table mentioning of the podcasts that we each listen to. I stirred up some debate when I said that, yes, I still listen to Adam Curry’s Daily Source Code, but that’s because I derive an element of satisfaction from his shenanigans and mindless dribble, even if he is a millionaire. In the end, as podcasters, isn’t that what we all hope that people enjoy about what we do? Minus the whole millionaire thing…

There are a lot of podcasts that I listen to when it comes down to it. I was even thinking of listing them all here, but seriously, that would just take too long to do. iTunes isn’t friendly in terms of exporting a list that is friendly to posting, but I will say that I do listen to anything Dave does, Clubside Breakfast Time, CBC Radio: BC This Week, Democracy Now!, Fitness Attack, Geek.Farm.Life, Island Podcasting, NPR: Hourly New Summary, The Onion Radio News, Podrunner, Spike O’Dell, Vanmega, and Kaflooey, just to name a few podcasts that I’d like to plug.

We’re really behind on producing an episode of RadioZoom, but The Crazy Canucks are pushing out content like there is no tomorrow. We’re ramping up for the season, so it’s time to get excited for sure. Don’t worry, the RZ fun will continue. Just stay tuned.

Vancouver Podcast Meetup: September 23, 2007

It’s getting to the point where I’m bypassing the spam that comes in my email, but luckily, I was able to catch an email from Mark Blevis about an upcoming Vancouver Podcast Meetup that he’s bringing together during a business related trip out here.

I am taking advantage of a work trip to Vancouver to organize a meetup of podcasters, podcast listeners and the podcast curious. The event will take place 7:00pmPT Sunday, September 23 at the Steamworks Brewing Co. Gastown location (375 Water Street) — makers of great beer including their Nirvana Nut Brown Ale.

Please RSVP so that we can warn Steamworks about our numbers.

The event is open to everyone so, even if you find out about this gathering at the last minute, show up. [markblevis]

This is a day before my birthday. That makes Mark 2 out of 3 so far for important dates to us, the last meetup landing on the same day as our wedding anniversary. I guess that just means that we’ll have to get Mark out here to do another meetup on or around January 9th, Rebecca’s birthday.

Vancouver Blogger March Meetup

Running into David Drucker at the Massive Tech Show on Wednesday, he clued me into the March Vancouver Blogger Meetup that was taking place that night. I gathered Rebecca kind of last minute and we made our way out to The Whip for our first venture with this group, but this isn’t the first time that we’ve heard of these meetups. It was about time that we crashed the party though.

Vancouver Blogger Meetup
Photo credit: Rebecca on Flickr

There were a number of familiar faces, and this will completely sound like a Wizard of Oz moment. There was David and MJ, who we met at our first meetup ever in Vancouver, but that was for podcasting. And Pete was there, Tanya from, Nancy, Jonathon, and Jan was there, too!

It’s always fun to bridge that gap between people you know through their postings, and this meetup allowed me to do that a little bit more. Rebecca has a nice follow-up on this, and Jan did the same in as well as posting a review of The Whip itself. I’ll echo his thoughts and say that it was a pretty swanky place, being my first time there. I hear it has changed, and they might see me there again if I’m ever in the area. Yam fries are tasty, and the beer selection is… Well, it’s good, but I just hadn’t heard of nearly all the things they had on tap. Don’t think anyone complained though.

All in all, a really good time with lots of great conversation. I think it’s natural when people of the like mind get together like that, it’s hard to not talk, especially at great lengths, about the things you are passionate about. Otherwise, you wouldn’t be there, right? It’s those reasons that encourages me to go to meetups like this.