Monday, December 30, 2013

Drupalcon Prague notes

s one might expect, my lofty goal of watching the 20 or so DrupalCon Prague sessions I would have attended in person didn't quite work out... But here are some brief notes on the sessions I've looked at so far:

Frontend development; dancing on the tip of a hurtling rocket

This is almost verbatim why I wanted to be a librarian, and how I came to web development: "What we do as developers is provide content and provide access to that content. That is essentially the value we provide as professionals: There's information out there; we're making it possible for individuals out in the world to get to that content." -Jesse Beach

It's fascinating to think about how accessibility goals can be translated into more general applications later on. With proper DOM semantics and metadata the entire web could be twice as useful and useable.

From Not-Invented-Here to Proudly-Found-Elsewhere: A Drupal 8 Story
Alex Pott- This was marked beginner! I get the general gist, but the code examples were a bit over my head. Recommended reading on PHP- good, something helpful, recommended, up to date.

Drush Optimizations for Your Development Workflow & Drush- Do I Really Have To Use It?
Two sessions on Drush from Prague- One was all about convincing people to use Drush (already there, though not entirely clear on how it actually works with a drupal site... should, again, read the basic docs), and the other was adding Drush functionality to your contrib modules (so too advanced). Had I been in Prague, the "Getting Drush Installed" BOF would have been perfect.

Lisa Welchman Keynote: The Paradox of Open Growth
"Governance is about stewardship. It's about taking care of something." "It seems like it's really just for people who are developers. You could be more inclusive and welcoming" (slight paraphrase). Given that I know people try really hard with mentoring and so on, that seems unfortunate.

And then she brings up shape-note music as a standards practice! Crazy cross-over with my singing experience and hearing from my friend Lynn recently that she had just adapted (with her group) a traditional Chinese piece into shape note.


Monday, October 14, 2013

In which I stumble over PHP

his post was originally just called "learning by doing," but then I was feeling so embarrassed about not recognizing PHP when I fell over it that I renamed it. This post is also on understanding the elements of hook_help() in general in order to write views_help(). Warning: contains questions that are not-stupid!

1. What does $output = ''; do, exactly?
This is most likely a PHP thing, which I have absolutely zero experience with. I know $ as jQuery, but now I'm not even sure that's what it's doing here. Yeah, that would be PHP- the $ indicates a variable. I've been avoiding learning PHP for the timebeing in the interest of focusing elsewhere without distraction, but a quick look through the PHP online documentation will help me with the syntax here. This explains why no one answered my pathetic pleas for explanation on this previously. I feel pretty dumb for not recognizing/thinking of this right off. The functions look enough like functions that I wasn't paying much attention to details, but... yeah.

So, question part B: why so many lines for defining $output? Why not in one big block? Is that just for readability, using a new line of PHP for what would be a new line of HTML? The first line $output = ''; is just initializing the output variable, or rather, defining it. Subsequent lines $output .= ''; are concatenating, or adding, those strings onto the previous definitions. Now I'm looking at coding best practices for Drupal and for PHP. This also spills over into question 2, below.

2. $output .= '<h3>' . t('About') . '</h3>'; What are the periods doing in there? 

The separation of html elements and the string to be translated makes sense, no reason to include code in translatable strings. The periods seem to be for concatenation of strings/elements in the $output variable, since otherwise just using = would reassign the entire variable.

In alexpott's Drupalcon Prague session From Not-Invented-Here to Proudly-Found-Elsewhere: A Drupal 8 Story, he recommends PHP The Right Way, which just happens to have a few more opinions on things than the standard PHP docs (new version in beta!).

In PHP The Right Way, we find a note on concatenation recommending that strings be kept under 120 characters, and that if they should be longer, to use concatenation operators (eg a period, . ) combined with indented newlines for readability. This method is recommended over using concatenating assignment operators (eg period equals, .= ). The example of what not to do looks exactly like our $output variable here.

... which means I found the right bit of doc! and that it's usually impossible to keep up with standards, best practices and the latest in code. Plus, I'm sure I'm still missing some reasoning and background here.

3. More on the translate function t():

In views_help() the translate function is part of the concatenated string assigned to $output. In point two, above, it marks the string "About" as translatable: t('About'). Whatever is inside the translate function is added to the database of strings to be translated into the current language from English, which is the standard. The translate function works with the Localization API to pick out which bits of text are translatable.

The Localization API seems to mostly do the work of targeting strings for translation either through a translate function or "known locations." The translate function identifies strings, and the Localization Server extracts them. You know, I'm a somewhat visual person, I just keep wanting maps for all these things.

EDIT: This bit from the Drupal JS API docs finally explains how the translate function works:
The Drupal.locale property works in conjunction with Drupal.t(), the JavaScript equivalent of the server-side t() function. It holds a collection of string translations so that Drupal.t() can then access the required string from Drupal.locale in order to translate what was passed into it.

4. What are these link tokens? ! is preferable to @?

After my preliminary expectations of easiness on this one were doused, I think I at least determined that this is not the same sort of token as the generic placeholder substitution token. It seems that instead of just using <a> tags, links are created using link tokens and an array. Previously, the links were marked with @, but from a comment on the views_help issue I've gathered that ! is the new @. Perhaps this is another PHP thing. Perhaps I will just go read my PHP books now and call it quits on this blogpost.

Read next: Working with JS in Drupal

And in the meantime: watch session slideshows from DrupalCon Prague! I'm so happy these are available.

And also, finally went to do something with Drush and found it not cooperating, so now I need to backtrack on that, put it back together, and hope that the latest version is really the right thing for D8. Oh, now I really feel dumb. Should have watched this session from Prague first, too. Somewhere in the process of downloading the latest, adjusting .bash_profile and connecting to the example aliases file, I broke it even worse. And creating a mysql file somewhere to cooperate with MAMP.

All this is in the notes on the Drush github page, of course, but after a while I just started feeling like a complete moron. Finally figured out that drush self-update is no longer included (I must've had a much older version installed earlier, not sure how/why), found a drush cheatsheet, and managed to uninstall my modules, check my modules, reinstall... I think I've got it now, but jeez. I keep getting stuck between versions, missing important documentation and feeling really lost, which is incredibly discouraging because then I can't even begin to do simple tasks. Hopefully if I just keep chugging along it'll all work eventually.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Learning is easy, doing is difficult

veryone knows this - the potential for failure increases with the amount of work you're doing. What I need to keep in mind is that it will also plateau and decrease as I gain experience and skills over time, and that it will take time to get there. Patience is not always easy.

I learn by winging it, charging into a project and trying to do everything right away. Once I figure out that I can't bulldoze my way through, I start getting a sense for what I need to know, then I can backtrack and fill in the gaps before going forward or finishing up. It's not necessarily a great strategy, and sometimes leads to excessive frustration and going in circles, so I try to recognize when I'm just wasting time beating my head against something.

One of the things I thought I should do before I get too much further is just to go through some of the basic and general documentation for Drupal, so I have a better sense of how it works on both the front and back end. Sometimes when I start thinking I've got a hold on things I just glance over at the #drupal-contribute channel on IRC and feel humbled. Anyway, some disjointed notes:

Understanding Drupal- the basic stuff, explaining the system from the front.
Drupal 8.x API reference- all the stuff I've felt clueless about; hooks, menus, useful things when you're poking at core.

I had a poke around to see if anyone had something like what I want to do... no luck. Mostly I need to be able to use taxonomy terms on photos and blog posts (and whatever else I may add) and be able to search, sort, combine, filter etc for browsing (hello Views, my new best friend). And I'd like to be able to upload and update directly from Lightroom. I have a Lightroom plugin that lets me upload to Picasaweb and update files remotely without having to touch the site itself. So that's most of my needs, apart from some static pages for "About" and whatnot (see previous post): Taxonomy and ease of upload/modification.

...And someday, e-commerce. At that point, possibly authenticated users who can create little albums of my photos, save and share combinations that explore how each photo speaks to another through composition, color, subject, mood. I'm seeing this with draggable stuff, a large "desktop" where "prints" can be moved around freely, just as you would when laying out a gallery show using contact prints. But that's all someday. Maybe not even until after the D8 release, so going backwards to a D7 site would just flatten my little brain.

Cron jobs- at last I know how this works in the filesystem. (I'm less sure why I kept the bit below:)
  • status: A bitmapped field indicating the status of the file. The first 8 bits are reserved for Drupal core. The least significant bit indicates temporary (0) or permanent (1). Temporary files older than DRUPAL_MAXIMUM_TEMP_FILE_AGE will be removed during cron runs.
All caps is a constant?

I plucked out a new task from the queue for myself, since it looked pretty easy and writing documentation is always a good way to learn more. While I'm in the API docs, I thought to check out how hook_help() works (keep in mind here that I know zero PHP, only some jQuery, and a bit of JS generally). Now I not only have a better idea what I'm trying to write for views_help(), but I have context for understand how hooks work. whee! I've only drafted some text so far, but might go ahead and make the patch so it can keep moving forward. 

There's a doc for writing the help text itself, but I still need to figure out/understand what exactly output=. does and if there's a more sensible way to deal with the translation bits t() than adding them in by hand, not that that would be super difficult in this case. Maybe somewhere in the Multilingual Support docs... Localization API? ah-ha. Well again, at least now I sort of understand all that. 

I think that's enough for one post, more later!

Friday, August 23, 2013

Afternoon coffee (at 7 pm)

hese things always begin with the best of intentions, not to mention quite innocently. I had two objectives this afternoon (oh dear, and I see it's now 7pm. oops):
• Have a cup of coffee and plow through some documentation. And, I prefer having a small snack with my coffee, a croissant, a cookie, a slice of cake...
• Use up the heavy cream I accidentally bought to go in said coffee because I hadn't had coffee yet (the lack of a dilutionary dairy substance being the issue) and so instead of the milk I usually get I got a half litre of very thick, organic cream.

So what did I do? well I tweeted of course, asking for recipes. @HarlanH (data scientist extraordinaire) thoughtfully replied and reminded me of the existence of recipes that aren't for baked goods. Crazy, right? In retrospect, I ought to have just gone with his first thought and done a cream sauce for pasta. Instead, I followed his other recommendation to check out something called Eat Your Books.

As it turns out, Eat Your Books is a handy dandy, plug your cookbooks/magazines/blogs into it-search engine for physical collections. I faintly heard choirs of angels as I poked through the homepage: finally, I can search my cookbooks without pulling each one off the (rather precarious) shelf and flicking through the index, then a handful of recipes trying to find a use for my one stray ingredient! That method works ok for main ingredients, like zucchini, or pork chops, or even chocolate, but not for say, whole vanilla beans, cracked wheat, or, in this case, heavy cream.

I added my top cookbooks with haste. A free subscription only allows 5 resources on your e-shelf: Mastering the Art of French Cooking, The Art of French Baking, The Essentials of Baking, The Joy of Cooking and The Pie and Pastry Bible. That covers everything I usually look through, anyway. And lo, five hundred and forty four recipes appeared!

It being me, I didn't really have many other ingredients on hand apart from the standard baking arsenal, so I used the filters to narrow things down to "cakes." The filters are actually quite useful. Frankly, a paid subscription would be worth it, only $25 a year, I think. I would prefer some integration with other services, maybe add things I bought on Amazon, or pull in my "cookbooks" tag from LibraryThing. More so, I would like to be able to search all my physical books digitally. I can always use Google Books, but I don't think I've seen a service that will let me save my books and then search them. I'd love to be wrong about this, so please correct me if that's the case.

Right, so anyway, I wound up with a recipe from the 75th Anniversary Joy for Black Forest Cake. I made it a little easier, just two layers instead of three, and amusingly enough, I had half as much heavy cream as it called for (still plenty). I also had some sweet cherries I preserved in brandy back in cherry season, so that covered cherries and kirsch, and I had the cream, chocolate, just enough eggs (market tomorrow!). So here it is, the result of two hours, a lot of flipping back and forth in the Joy for base recipes, and some impatient refrigeration time.

The grand irony here, of course, is that I just used up all the cream in the cake, and now have nothing to put in my coffee.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

An Introduction to jQuery [notes]

inally getting on to actual jQuery! This about sums it up: "...we can use jQuery to perform its core functionality: getting some elements and doing something with them." All this reading is well and good, but I need to actually be querying and scripting in order to really understand. Therefore, I think it's time to go back to Codecademy for the jQuery lessons as soon as I read through jqfundmentatals.

The jQuery Fundamentals page links to the CSS2 spec on CSS Selectors, but there are some changes in the CSS3 spec. Memorizing the spec details isn't the most critical thing for me right now, and I have a pretty good grasp of combinators and pseudo-elements, IDs and classes.

The trouble with W3C specs, of course, is that user agent (UA, aka browsers) implementations may vary. Pseudo elements: I should try out :first-letter for drop-caps (though it wont help with my image drop-caps).

Q: So what exactly is a jQuery object? What does one do with it once it's created? Where is it stored and what is its lifespan? Backing up slightly, what does a regular old JS object look like?

A: As usual, I'm complicating things. Your generic JS object looks about like the code below, using literal notation to make the comparison easier. "All objects in JavaScript are descended from Object; all objects inherit methods and properties from Object.prototype, although they may be overridden" (MDN reference) "Objects are a collection of properties, and properties are associations between a name and a value"(more MDN). If a property is a function, then it is a method for that object. Pretty much everything in JS is actually an object. (see also: prototypes and classes)

var Bunny = {
ears : "long",
tail : "puffy",
hop : function (height) {
console.log("Hopped "+ height);

The jQuery object is a JS object in that it stores elements and has methods, but it is an array-like object that just lists the DOM elements from the query. An array-like object has key:value pairs, but the key in this case seems to just be the index.

var a = $('div');
/*returns from my blog homepage, more or less:
0: div#navbar.navbar section,
1: div#Navbar1.widget Navbar,
2: div#navbar-iframe-container,
3: div.body-fauxcolumns...}

The jQuery object can be stored as a variable, or just called once and used, otherwise it disappears after use (?). I'd like to better understand memory and troubleshooting leaks (StackOverflow discussion). Basically, it looks like as long as there's a reference to an object, that object has memory allocated to it.

"Truthy" and "falsy" are a little ridiculous sounding... what's the difference between those and just true/false? Anything that evaluates to True is truthy, to False is falsy, but there are other possible evaluation results as well, like NaN, undefined, null, and any number of things – these are not specifically True or False, but they have trueness or falseness ascribed to them. It's descriptive instead of referring to the specific True/False booleans that you might return. This short article from 2011 explains it much better than I am (and I like his zebra).

Helpful tidbits:
  • $() is a function. Functions in JS are objects and have methods and properties. $() always returns an object, and objects are always truthy.
  • $( 'li' ).eq( 0 ).is( '.special' ); to find whether the selection using .eq() to select a specific single{ element matches the parameter in the .is() method (selector, DOM element, jQuery object, function); returns boolean.
  • Use getters and setters (methods) to do things with jQuery objects. Iteration over elements can be explicit (.each();)or implicit (.html();), and you can chain methods together on a single selection. 
  • Then we also have filtering.not(); .filter(); .has(); on selections, which are more or less "without," "within previous selection," and "contains," respectively. ...many more methods here in the top hit on Google for "jQuery cheatsheet" (includes CSS selectors!). I'm a visual person.
  • Plus, find other items/make other selections relative to a previous selection with things like .children();, .next();, .parent(); etc and add to existing selection with, by george, .add();
  • More on how to use jQuery in the context of your basic HTML page here from the jQuery folks.
That's probably enough for now. I have a bit more of the jqfundamentals page to read through, then back over to Codecademy, then moving on to "JavaScript: The Good Parts." Please comment if you notice something I've got wrong or that could use clarification.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

JavaScript Hoisting

ust in case there weren't enough clueless people on the web trying to figure this out, I thought I'd add a bit here in the interest of my figuring it out. In the process of processing JavaScript (Note to Self: see "JavaScript Interpreter"), things are sometimes executed in ways you might not be expecting. This can change the scope of some variables and functions and confuse the bejeezus out of anyone who isn't paying enough attention. Including me.

Some definitions:
  • A JS function expressionvar myCode = function(a, b) {stuff;};
  • A JS function declarationfunction myCode (a, b) {stuff;};
  • Hoisting: Pretty much what it sounds like, some things are lifted upwards and therefore are executed sooner in the script than where they were originally written. So, something that was written like so:
    function bunny (){
      var carrot= 2;

    Is actually executed like so:
    function bunny (){
      var carrot;  //declaration gets hoisted
      carrot= 2;  //assignment stays put
So, what does this have to do with scope? JS has function level scope. Blocks do not create a new scope (eg if statements do not create a new scope, only functions can. Compare/contrast with a C-based language). This is actually the most helpful block of text (from Ben Cherry) that I've read while pondering all this:
In JS, a name enters a scope in in one of four ways:
  1. Language-defined: All scopes are, by default, given the names this and arguments.
  2. Formal parameters: Functions can have named formal parameters, which are scoped to the body of that function.
  3. Function declarations: These are of the form function foo() {}.
  4. Variable declarations: These take the form var foo;.
Function declarations and variable declarations are always moved (“hoisted”) invisibly to the top of their containing scope by the JavaScript interpreter. Function parameters and language-defined names are, obviously, already there. [names are also resolved in this order] [emphasis mine]

When to use what: If you're aware of hoisting and how things will execute, then use whatever floats your boat, even intentionally use hoisting to get your function declaration moved up. Because a function declaration is all declaration, not declaration plus assignment as in a function expression, the entire function gets hoisted at once. A function expression only has the "var blah;" hoisted, leaving the actual function body (assignment expression) behind. (see also Angus Croll on function declarations/expressions. The fifth time I came back to that page I got the right quiz answers (and not just from memorizing them)).

How functions execute with hoisting when a script runs (examples taken from my hangout on air with JBeach):
Written like so:
(function () {
  a = grapefruit;
  b = applesauce;

  function grapefruit () {  //function declaration
  return 'citrus in your eye';
  var applesauce = function () {  //function expression
  return 'goodness';

Executed like so:
(function () {
  function grapefruit () {  //function declaration hoisted
  return 'citrus in your eye';
  var applesauce; //function expression declaration (?) hoisted
  a = grapefruit;
  b = applesauce;

  applesauce = function () {  //function expression
  return 'goodness';
}()); // returns "citrus in your eye" for a and "undefined" for b.

I think I've got the concept, even if I haven't quite got the details of how it runs (slight lack of applied JS knowledge here, but working on that).

There was also mention of NFEs and IIFEs somewhere along the way here. NFEs are nicer than anonymous functions should you need to track one through a tangle of code. IIFEs are somewhat also known as Self-Executing Anonymous Functions, but with some nuance. An IIFE does invoke itself, can be anonymous or named, and can be self-executing.
  • Named Function Expression (NFE): var myFunc = function myFunc (){code here}
  • Immediately Invoked Function Expression (IIFE): (function myFunc (){code here}());

Disclaimer: For goodness' sake don't take my word for any/all of this if you've just stumbled across my blog. I'm just learning and these posts are essentially my notes. Please do read the articles I've linked to, read as much as you can, experiment, and figure it all out for yourself, too.

And if I've got something not quite right or downright wrong, please leave a comment. Thank you...

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Basic notes on JavaScript

bout a year ago I spent a good chunk of time obsessing over Codecademy lessons and my "streak." Despite the headache I got from figuring out the math on a couple of loops, I really enjoyed JS as a language and am pleased to say I can still just write out a loop (at least for something simple) on demand. I stopped poking at their lessons just because I wanted to move on to some other subjects and work on live projects, but I would still like to finish up at some point. I've certainly learned that everyone has a different style and that syntax/best practices change and vary continuously.

Just did a little brushing up on JavaScript generally going through this JS basics page, then moseying over the Mozilla Developer Network (MDN) pages for further reading. I also have JavaScript: The Good Parts on hand to chug my way through, though I think that may be ongoing and involve more practice/ trying things out, too.
  • Use a function expression (var myCode = function(a, b) {stuff;};) rather than a function declaration (function myCode (a, b) {stuff;};). Finally got a good explanation for this here: "To quote Ben Cherry’s excellent article: 'Function declarations and function variables are always moved ("hoisted") to the top of their JavaScript scope by the JavaScript interpreter.'"
  • Consider scope! Variables declared without var are global, so (almost) always use var.
  • Hooray for OOP. I do like putting things in boxes and generally tidying up.
  • Object literal syntax: var thingy = {property1: 'value', property2: 'value';};  Point: if value is a function (rather than a primitive?), then the property is a method
  • Dot notation: objectname.propertyname
  • Bracket notation: objectname['propertyname']
  • While I can handle this, I don't particularly like this.
  • Ternary operators, shorthand for if/else: var status = ( a === 'aaaa' ) ? 'Panic' : 'Calm'; (had a hard time coming up with a neutral for this one. Essentially: For status, if value of a is panicked screaming, assign value of "Panic" to status. Otherwise, assign value "Calm.")(Personally I much prefer "Don't Panic" to "Keep Calm and Carry On," particular since the latter has been so overused lately)
  • Further reading on JS overview here was very helpful for just clarifying where it stands in relation to Java and ECMAScript, plus some basic properties. Once I found MDN, I abandoned old W3Schools. 
  • I need a better understanding of how code executes. Closures? Hoisting? ack.
  • So, scope? 
Things read: 
& all the links at the bottom of the JS Basics page.
This bit on JS closures (still not sure I understand).
And "If Hemingway Wrote JavaScript," which is amusing even if you don't know anything about code.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

My Dad Thinks Git is Just an Expletive

irst, reviewing some of the Git documentation. The Git book is probably my favorite piece of instructional material available on the interwebs today [that I use/have encountered so far]. Now that I've been doing some branching, checkouts, commits, etc, I'm feeling a lot more confident about this, but wanted to just skim back over things anyway. Also this Git cheatsheet is too pretty.

Some things to clear up:
: The R words: Rebase, Revert, Rollback.
: The difference between Fetch, Pull and Rebase.
  • Rebase is actually a merge, I just happen to use it to integrate the newest origin/8.x into my local branch. Merge is a three way merge, rebase pulls in commits from another branch, rewinds your current branch and replays all the changes sequentially to get you back to your current commit with the other branch merged in. Mostly this makes things neater and erases the history of the working branch, making it look like you've been on the master branch the whole time. Easier to merge into the remote later, too.  
  • Revert means to undo a specific commit without deleting it from the commit history.
  • Roll back, on the other hand, is resetting HEAD to the commit you've chosen to roll back to. This deletes any newer commits entirely, taking you back in time permanently. I think what Git Tower calls Roll Back is git reset <commit>?
  • Git Fetch only fetches an update from your designated remote. 
  • Git Pull pulls that update down and merges it into your current branch. 

My previous questions about Git were things like: how do I use it to track a site in production? I was thinking I would install it remotely on my host and update there.  I think I should work on the site locally and then push up to my server. Haven't actually looked into that yet. This handy dandy bit of documentation on d.o (, I have gathered) should have plenty of info on Drupal web dev with Git. The most difficult things there will be handling the databases and figuring out why I need development, staging and production sites all up at once. I don't think I'm understanding the latter properly.

Now, all I have to do is get a super good grasp of PHP and JavaScript. Right. Starting with the JS and JQuery fundamentals here.

Then later, for fun, I'll poke around a local install of D8! whee! If I could figure out local hosting well enough I'd broadcast my experiments publicly using my handy-dandy built-in Apache server... but that honestly is a total side-trip that I shouldn't take right this moment.

TDL! Finish configuring local hosting capabilities outside of MAMP and figuring out site-serving capabilities. Also read more "history of the internet/web" books, because it fascinates me. Also find those studies referenced in Tim Berners-Lee's book regarding emergent properties of the www.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Drupal 8: Some things learned

ust a quick recap on my last reroll. A wonderfully patient mentor and I spent far too many hours poking at the comments and working back through the entire reroll to figure out exactly what was up. In the end, my original question got answered and some further clues were found in the issue comments. And, I think I finally got the hang of Git/Git Tower (thanks to the commenter on my last post, too)! It felt really good to be flicking between branches and understanding what was where. I need to further define all the "R" things for myself, Rebase, Revert, Roll-back... Just to get things clear.
  • The first helpful thing was the discovery that I was rerolling from the wrong patch. #64 was the actual last successful patch, and #65 (which I had been working with) was just to correct a typo, but also introduced an unintentional error, which no one noticed until #81 posted an interdiff. Note to self: also be sure to add an interdiff when needed and other helpful things as YesCT suggested like links to instructions and better notes on exactly what I did. 
  • One helpful mentor also pointed out that patches/interdiffs could be applied in reverse with curl https://...blah.patch | git apply -R
  • It's also worth remembering to diff a rebased branch against your HEAD branch so you don't wind up with a diff file that includes all the commits between when you started your working branch and the current update of origin/8.x. If that makes sense. I wound up with a very clogged diff by leaving a branch a little too long.
  • Glancing through the interdiff between #64 and #65 added in #81 helped me find the typo in question and then simply modify that file and run the diff. 
  • The biggest problem, and my original question for office hours, was where to put the contents of a test file that had been wiped from 8.x in the intervening year. Eventually we wound up putting that chunk of the patch in a deeper testing directory, but I never would have known where to add it on my own. 
  • The method my mentor used to find that test file I think involved searching for other pieces of the previous, now absent test file, where I had just been searching for the parts of the test file affected by this patch. Still not super confident about this grepping business and I feel like I've heard it belittled somewhere as one of those things newbies abuse/misuse. Could be wrong.
  • Apart from that, the rerolling instructions were pretty spot on. There was a question of branching, and I think everyone just has different styles with regard to pulling down the most recent commits of 8.x and then creating a new branch for the issue you're working on, plus then a temporary testbranch to test the new patch on. 
I'm mostly not tagging mentors here so as not to be a bother/presumptuous/something, but I continue to be grateful for their patience and helpfulness and willingness to spend time bringing new people into the fold. ... resisting the urge to start singing Guys and Dolls here, though I once played one of the Mission Band members on stage.

Now moving on to a JS issue, and first spending some time brushing up my skills there thanks to some prescribed reading. I'm always torn about whether I'd prefer to read tech books on the computer or in print. Staring at the screen for ages gets to me, but a print book is too disconnected from the associated topics (and less searchable). I'll just have to take regular breaks to stare at my blooming sugar snap peas instead!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Drupal 8: Understanding the reroll process

ow that I'm trying to work on a slightly more involved reroll task, I'm coming up with a bunch more questions and some realizations about my workflow. First of all, I need to make sure to use my own time efficiently and not spend hours and hours trying to sort things out instead of taking a break and attacking a different problem. Secondly, I need to familiarize myself further with Drupal as a CMS before I have much chance of patching, rerolling and otherwise contributing to the open source project.

Also I badly need a better notetaking system because Blogger just lost my entire two page blog-post notes I had written here. @%#&! Text files, sadly, would be an improvement. I think I likely also said something about how to prioritize my time in order to become a highly useful Drupal contributor! This probably entails becoming more familiar with Drupal generally, working with it as a CMS, poking around the file tree etc.

This is the second reroll I've looked at, but the first to really be any fuss. Apart from sorting out the reroll system and infrastructure (which I think I've mostly got now), it's being able to parse the code on my own, rewrite it if necessary (?) and in this case update a year-old patch. This should actually be really easy, but I'm just figuring it out, so bear with me.

On applying the patch to the last commit it was known to work with, and then rebasing from the current version of 8.x, I got the following output. Only one conflict, which is nice. What do the lines marked "M" and "A" here mean?
$ git rebase 8.x
First, rewinding head to replay your work on top of it...
Applying: Applying patch from
Using index info to reconstruct a base tree...
M core/lib/Drupal/Core/StreamWrapper/LocalStream.php
A core/modules/system/tests/file.test
Falling back to patching base and 3-way merge...
CONFLICT (modify/delete): core/modules/system/tests/file.test deleted in HEAD and modified in Applying patch from Version Applying patch from of core/modules/system/tests/file.test left in tree.
Auto-merging core/lib/Drupal/Core/StreamWrapper/LocalStream.php
Failed to merge in the changes.
Patch failed at 0001 Applying patch from
The copy of the patch that failed is found in:
When you have resolved this problem, run "git rebase --continue".
If you prefer to skip this patch, run "git rebase --skip" instead.
To check out the original branch and stop rebasing, run "git rebase --abort".
If something is deleted in HEAD but modified in the patch, wouldn't that mean it isn't needed any more and should also be removed from the patch? Or else that chunk of code has been moved elsewhere. I'd like to just glance at the current commit for 8.x, but Git Tower doesn't seem to want to let me do anything without committing any/all changes in my working branch. That seems rather unhelpful, so perhaps I'm missing something about branch checkout?

Why does it look like the reroll instructions are saying I need to rewrite the code in question? I don't have specific experience/context for this patch, so not confident enough to really understand what's going on with it.

Some steps to clarify for myself before I move on from this:

  • Understand output of rebase/apply above: M and A are pretty definitely "Modify" and "Apply," as I had assumed (other options were "Merge" and "Add.") "Modified" and "Added"! 
  • Is file.test still in HEAD? Looks like no? There is no file.test in HEAD, from what Git is telling me. Unfortunately, branching is still giving me issues, and now I seem to have a stray un-named branch and some commits that Git Tower is hung up on. meh. Trying again... Appropriate commit to pull, should I lose things here: git checkout -b symlinks-old fe01ab6e16a73a
  • Ah ha. Ok, so yes, file.test is no longer in core/modules/system/tests/, but it looks like tests have been sorted out a bit, so maybe that chunk of code is somewhere else. In theory, what should happen here is that I ... have 8.x to diff against, and a branch checked out for this reroll. I attempt to rebase in my working branch, and when it doesn't work, I ... add the bit of code that used to be in file.test to wherever it might be now, then git add (being careful not to add files.test back in to HEAD accidentally), then hit rebase --continue, then keep going with the reroll instructions.
  • If not, did the code in this patch move somewhere else? What I did here was an attempt at using grep to search for a line from the file.test file anywhere in the tests directory. No luck. Tested my grepping (sp?) skills by just searching "symlink" and that pulled up a lot, but not the specific line from the file this patch was attempting to modify. So, looks like that test was just deleted/moved somewhere in the last year.
  • Does that mean that the testing part of the patch is no longer relevant, or that it should be incorporated into a different testing file? This is something I'm not experienced with, so can't attack. Will add comment to this effect in a bit, once I double check that I'm not just missing something easy. The lovely mentors at office hours are great for nudging in the right direction.
  • What does comment #61 have to do with this? #61 is just updating the patch to match the changes to the D8 test files, which seem to move around a lot. I had a look at some of the previous patch versions, and my previous bullet is definitely the case. I just can't be quite sure of where to put the tests, or where they went if I'm just not finding them appropriately.

::Take break for dinner and something not-the-computer-screen. I would've succeeded with the two hour task routine if I hadn't lost my notes. Really. Hoping office hours tonight are helpful and that nothing breaks this time (last Monday I spent 75% of the office hours mopping up a broken bottle in the pantry. sigh).

Some goals for this week: brush up on PHP, play with a functional install of Drupal as a CMS so I know what I'm looking at working on the backend. Kind of excited about using Drupal.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Drupal dev env sans MAMP... almost

nother day, another blip on the learning curve. Today I attempt to set up a local hosting environment without using MAMP. Unfortunately, it looks like the doc regarding this manual set up is from 2008, five years and several OS updates out of date, which means I'm winging it, finding new directory paths, etc. At some point later on I may spend some time updating the documentation for all this, but not until I have a full grasp myself.

I'm going to start back here with requirements again, while looking at the manual setup of MySQL and PHP mentioned above. So I'm also looking at this manual setup blog post over here, which should at least point me in the right directions. Managing databases from cli (command line) is not really what I wanted to be doing here.
  1. Apache server. Got it, version 2.2.22. Comes with OS X, all I have to do is turn on web sharing... which I seem to have left running and should probably turn off more often. Configuration is in httpd.conf. It's apparently very debatable just which httpd.conf file I should be working on, or whether I should use a separate file like username.conf. Either way, they are here: /etc/apache2/httpd.conf or /etc/apache2/users/username.conf This part I did previously with /Applications/MAMP/conf/apache/original.
    • Question: what exactly is this /etc/ directory? Heck, what are all these invisible directories? I really don't know how the system works that well, and Mac OS obscures all the useful things from the average user (eg not me, who somehow permanently turned on "show invisibles." Wish I remembered how...)
  2. MySQL: downloaded, install... fix socket? can't find mysql.sock? Oh, initialize grant tables, maybe that's what I'm missing. Need mysql user? Checking that with dscl. Find proper PATH for bash profile, think I got that. Also checking info on MySQL site here for security and initial setup. And here to get mysql OS user account set up? But then that's outdated too, and the data directory is actually /usr/local/mysql/data. And I can't get mysqld_safe to work either. Ok, permissions are wrong on my error log? checked using shell> ls -la /usr/local/mysql/var, but it still says permission denied. And I need a mysql connection extension thing? mysqli? GAH. Alright, I give up. I can connect via cli to MySQL if I turn it on in the prefpane. Not a clue about that extension though. 
  3. Attempted to use Homebrew, but it turns out that it needs XCode, which is only OS X 10.7.4+ and I'm on 10.6 something. At this point, I would like to upgrade, but, more software costs...
Then checked back on the original issue I was following that was messing up MAMP, and it seems there's a patch that fixes the issue, so provided that works, I'm back to figuring out more of Git, rerolling, and possibly creating patches. All of which is really not that difficult, but these background headaches are pretty killer.

And I got my Drupal install page back up, just had to reset my MAMP port to 80. And thank goodness, configuration goes smoothly, no more errors. So the lesson here is that I need a backup server/db environment and more knowledge of how to configure the whole shebang. I'll work on finishing that setup some time when it will be a challenge and not a headache. 

Now on to more patches! yay!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

An attempted re-roll and several more hurdles

ssignment the second! With the help of Git Tower to tidy up my git messes, it's time to try out a re-roll. Or at least, futzing around with a patch until it works. This one was assigned to me during the core mentoring office hours, which meant it was already rather late at night. I couldn't work on it for at least 10 hours, so inevitably someone else had a whack at it first. Not a problem, always good to get things done, and I kind of like the competitive aspect there.

However, the posted reroll failed the automated tests, and a subsequent comment indicated that a single element was missing from that reroll that had (presumably) been in the previous version. Hokay. So where does that leave me? If it's missing just one thing, that one thing can be inserted and then tested again, yes?

Problems: I need to make sure I'm testing accurately, refreshing my entire local repo every time. I need to figure out exactly what is missing and where it goes. Update patch file. Test again. Upload. That seems easy, right? It's the technical details of how to do all that correctly and the first time that I get hung up on and unsure about. I need a lot of practice.
  1. Actually, on this one, I'm going to take a close, side-by-side look at the two versions of the patch and see if I can isolate the missing bits, drop them in, and call it a day. This should also clue me a little more regarding patch structure. I get the concept and the diff and the +/-, but parsing all that together on read through will take some practice. Doing this manually seems to have worked, my patch applies.
  2. Also going to try doing it this way, per berdir on IRC: "one trick would be to apply the previous patch over the current one with --reject, then the file should be added but all other changes would conflict and you can ignore them" 
And said patch passed tests and was reviewed affirmatively, so I guess it's ok. Frankly I'm amazed that things don't get broken more and that so many contributors are also patient mentors. Or my sample from the IRC is skewed, but I'm definitely grateful for that patience. 

Or rather, I'll try that second option as soon as I seriously sort out how to get my branches to work. Seems like changes I make on a checked out branch are still affecting my local head? That doesn't seem quite right. And meanwhile, 8.x doesn't seem to be working with MAMP anymore and I think that's enough for one night. Really looking forward to getting more experienced with all this.

Backtracking: Git review

ome time ago, I installed git and set up a repository or two for personal projects. My needs were limited to keeping track of what I had done and being able to backtrack if I needed to. Obviously, I've been vastly underutilizing git's capabilities, so today I'm going back through some documentation to brush up my existing skills and to add a few more, specifically checkout and branch.

Thanks again to Jesse, who walked me through branching and checkouts via screenshare on Saturday. Otherwise I had things more or less right: pull updates down, wipe db, settings.php, /php and /config files from sites/default/files. I'll want to set up a nice script to do this for me at some point. Note to self: seriously, list of things to do "later." Takeaways: get a GUI for git, test a branch/checkout, and "git is Sliding Doors." Loved that. Oh and try out Sublime. And find a budget for software. phoo.
  1. Install a git GUI. Git Tower is reputedly the bestest, and in the interest of being on the same page, I think I'll just go with that. Free 30-day trial, yay. I do actually like command line, but for things like branches, it does seem like a more visual interface would be helpful to understand where I am. 
  2. Get totally distracted by WWDC stuff. Lament not having every single piece of new tech as it debuts. 
  3. Do some reading/research. Really should have gone through the Drupal Git Documentation earlier. Very helpful. This video on further git usage (sandbox creation, pushing, etc) will be handy later. Note to self: I need a way to differentiate between these learning posts, there's a bit of overlap. Might as well create an SSH key while I'm here... My interpretation of "Patch" is basically "structured diff merged into existing code." Seems very straightforward.
  4. Start fresh with a new clone of 8.x in Tower, changing directory to user/sites/drupal instead of my documents/[complicated] directory. 
  5. Test making a branch and checking it out - nice folder structure in the sidebar. Not quite sure about adding patches though. It seems to apply, but then I get a bunch of things in the status tab. So do I then commit those to my local branch? Does the curl method I've been using do both? Learning yet more software, I guess. Will have to work on that.
Later: reading through some tasks and instructions on in preparation for tonight's office hours. Ask about task assignment and review. Figure out what the heck less and more are/do.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Drupal: Re-checking that last patch?

oday I went back to take a look at the patch I reviewed yesterday, and it looks like it needs a little more review. Unfortunately, by the time I got to it, I think the patch was behind HEAD again, despite a rerolling earlier in the day, but on my second attempt after re-cloning, it seemed to apply ok.

While I'm here, some notes on my updating procedure. I'd love to find some more streamlined notes on this, will have a look in a sec.
  • The method I've been using is just to git pull (super minimal instructions) changes down without examining and merging (slightly more detailed, includes "what if patch doesn't apply") as individual steps. Git pull usually resets the install... I think. Or it did every other time I used it, but not this last time. Question: what's the best way to test that I've got the latest and greatest down properly?
  • So since that usually requires a reinstall, I also have to wipe the db from phpMyAdmin in MAMP. 
  • Apply patch using curl, check with git diff
  • That seems to be it, then I just reconnect to the now empty db during the install process. Usually. I guess this update didn't change anything in that vicinity?
Supposing that I have the newest HEAD (I have gathered this is what the latest version is called) down, let me just make sure I have everything clean and fresh and double check that the patch isn't applying... wipe db, pull, patch. Nope-ity no. 

Time to learn something new! Or just muddle around and feel silly about things, we'll see. What to do if a patch doesn't apply: Applying a patch manually, copy error msg into issue, "re-rolling" and adding to issue queue. 

First I want to test if I get that error I found in my last post without the patch applied. Nice fresh copy, connect db, test. Error is still there. Question: Should I create a new issue for it, if I can't find it elsewhere? 

hm. Ok, now the patch is applying again. Maybe that was just me? And just pulling doesn't reset everything, so how do I uninstall in order to start over? Seems silly to wipe the whole thing and re-clone each time. Grah, ok, wiped sites/default/files/php and /config_*, ditched settings.php and replaced it with a fresh copy, reloaded. 

Retesting patch... only partially works. Noted as best I could on the issue, but am so uncertain about the quality of my testing environment that I don't trust my reviewing capabilities. There's got to be a better way to set up and test without having to completely wipe and re-clone, but just pulling doesn't always reset? Rather confused and going to bed. 

Thursday, June 6, 2013

First Patch for Drupal 8.x

hew! Now that everything is set up, I'm back to the dev env page to get my first patch down, in, tested and confirmed. Hopefully I can get this done before someone else jumps on it. I kind of wish there was a check-out system for issues– oh I see, they're assigned, got it. So, here's my first issue for patch review: Remove drupal_add_css() from book.module.

Actually, step one: blink, get glass of water. Thanks to Jesse for plucking out a nice easy issue for me to start with and being so encouraging about my progress. 
  1. Apply the patch: 
    • First, git pull in Drupal directory. Sigh, right, of course. Configure again. Argh, so now my settings.php file wont write itself. Whelp, no idea what that was about, but I fixed it by creating a new default folder. I think the permissions had gotten screwed up on the previous, probably my own doing? Ok, wiped the entire thing, re-installed, re-db'd, reconnected. 
    • Pull down latest version of the patch. Finally found more detailed instructions on where to download the patch to here, 'cause I wanted to be sure. Went for "curl[patch-name].patch | git apply -" Didn't get any errors, so that seems to have worked. 
    • Run git diff to see changes... shiny, looks just like the view from the issue tracker. Will have to figure out how to use git diff a bit later. Note to self: make list of things to do "a bit later."
    • hm, but if I look at the module code, I'm not seeing the second addition from the patch. ohoh, duh, because that's a deletion, not an addition. Right!
  2. Enable the book module: Well that was easy, yay. This is, I'm a little sheepish to admit, my first time looking at the inside of a Drupal install. But look, the extend tab, logically, is modules, right? And then I just click this handy checkbox... The super easy, obvious UI is making me so happy. 
  3. Put some articles into a book: Articles, or book pages? I'll do some of both. 
  4. Verify that book.theme.css is still loading: tested by a) inspecting elements with Chrome dev tools, and b) using jQuery to find specific selectors in the dev tools console. Seems to work fine. Yay!
  5. Set the issue to "Reviewed and Tested by the Community" or "RTBC": Done. Wrote a nice, hopefully brief enough comment detailing my steps and mentioning the error I got for an unrelated (I think) issue. [Any issues I work will be recorded on my profile (you have to have an account to see my profile, but this issue is here).]
That should be it for now. I'll have to go find another issue to work on next! Well, right after I know that last one went ok. And maybe do a little more reading on patches and contributions and things. 

Local/Drupal: complete!

k, picking up from where I left off yesterday - configuring and finishing the local install of Drupal. References: dev env set up page and installation/configuration instructions. Instructions focus on command line tools, so that's good. Thank goodness I had already installed Git and know a few Unix commands or I'd really be behind the curve on this.

  1. Neat, here's a handy list of best practices for CMS usage. Completely agree about backups, and definitely need to test mine for the WordPress site I'm maintaining. ...Documentation can be such a rabbit hole; if I don't stop myself I'll just keep reading for hours.
  2. First we check system requirements, which I already looked at yesterday. Double checking in more detail now. I will want to enable clean URLs on my own site later on.
    • Web Server: Apache, check. Apache Virtualhost configuration file would be httpd.conf, I think, so I change the AllowOverride to "All" there.
    • DB server: MySQL is what MAMP uses, with PHPMyAdmin, so I should be set there. Not sure how to check what rights my account has or how to change max_allowed_packet, so I'm hoping everything just works. And my PHP is obviously already connected to MySQL. 
    • Good lord I wish I knew what I was doing.
    • Might need to up my memory for my own photography site later on. Maybe by the time I do that, I'll have plenty of experience and it'll be straightforward.
    • My favorite words today: "Enabled by default." 
    • On the bright side, I feel pretty confident about my skills once I have things installed. It's just finding all the configuration files and prying out info about new systems that's challenging.
  3. Download instructions not relevant, already have the local directory and Dreamhost has its own instructions that I'll use for my site later. oop, actually I do need to drop the Drupal folder contents into my specified web root, or just redirect the web root. I "woohoo'd" when I saw this in my browser. A little soon for the woohoos, perhaps.

  4. Oh hey, Mac specific install notes regarding PHP, MAMP and other things from my last post. Whoops. Also this note on CVS repository... Question: is this relevant, and wouldn't the Git functionality supersede it? I should figure out how to keep my local version up to date. I bet that's later in the instructions... 
  5. Looks like Drupal will create its own DB, so I'm off the hook for that... Might have to adjust settings.php, but I know where to find it, so I'll come back to this step if the install script throws an error. 
  6. Checking my MAMP install against the instructions here. Hm. Well this is saying I DO need to create my DB (and here are those pesky user rights from above). hm! all these instructions overlap, so I'm just going to stick with this one, then check back on the INSTALL.txt instructions, and really everything should work fine anyway. Really appreciating the detailed instructions on this link for db creation (necessary or not). Found max_allowed_packet here, too. 
  7. Annd filling out the db info on the install page... looks like I wont need much more from the help docs at this point, though I do wonder if I should do "minimal" or "standard." Standard makes sense for testing, rather than custom, right? right.
  8. Ok, I think... I think that's done. I get the site login page, changed some settings as in the MAMP local instructions above, db works, only thing I feel stupid about is not installing in the directory I should have. Question: how could I move the entire shebang? What's connected? MAMP needs the location, but the installation script wrote a whole bunch of db links I'm not sure about. Not critical, just irritating to my file system.
And with that, I move on to the rest of the dev env instructions and start my first patch/module/test!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

.ignore: Setting Up Local Drupal

y blog here is just going to be very dry for a little while as personal notes/documentation, apologies for that. Once I get some things set up I can filter tags/categories and have sections for tailored subscription... but right now I just need to set up a local install of Drupal 8.x (d8). There are instructions here on on setting up a developer environment (dev env), but I needed a few more steps along the way.

I would have very little idea what I was doing, even with all the documentation, if not for the Drupal Core Mentoring Office Hours, and particularly the very patient help of YesCT on the #Drupal IRC. I will definitely be back for the next office hours session I can get to. And... thank goodness "there are no stupid questions," 'cause boy are some of mine... non-stupid.
  1. The above link includes some requirements for the dev env, but I needed to check a few background items, like PHP, to make sure they also fit the requirements for a Drupal install. Step one, actually, was making sure I had accounts set up on and I was also pointed at issues for the d8 dev env here, just in case anything listed there would trip me up along the way. 
    • The one thing from the dev env list I was obviously missing was Drush, which isn't immediately necessary, but I figured I'd get it out of the way. The best way to install for d8 seems to be a git clone from the Drush project page, then following the instructions in the ReadMe to check that it's "using the same PHP as the web user." Question: Is that PHP version, settings, .ini file? 
    • It looks like typing "php -v" in the shell gives me info on whether it's the CLI variety or not (I'm not going to fuss about understanding that completely right now). 
    • Finally found more explicit instructions on command line install of Drush here. The video is the ultimate answer. 
    • However, got this error: The following restricted PHP modes have non-empty values: [error] magic_quotes_gpc. This configuration is incompatible with drush. Please check your configuration settings in or in your drush.ini file; see examples/example.drush.ini for details. Argh. [turns out there's an easy way to turn magic quotes off. oh well]
    • Ok, so then I go to example.drush.ini in the drush install directory and follow those instructions... Turns out my local PHP is out of date, hence magic quotes (deprecated a while ago). Installing new PHP and god-help-me configuring it. 
    • And back to the Drush ReadMe, I added an export PATH to my bash_profile specifying PHP 5.4, although MAMP is on 5.4.10 and command line PHP is 5.4.12... CL PHP ini file is at /usr/local/php5/lib/php.ini, MAMP file is at /Applications/MAMP/bin/php/php5.4.10/conf/php.ini
    • I want matching memory_limit 512M and time limit 120 seconds in both files, I think. Not sure about what this step is referring to, so hoping it's these two files, not that I should have just one .ini file. Changed memory limits to match. Question: where is the time limit? script execution or input?
  2. Not a clue where I left off... I think the next step is getting my Drupal from version control via git clone.  This really ought to be easy... downloaded just fine.
  3. Then adding the Git Deploy module. hm. Doesn't appear to be released for 8.x. Question: Do I need Git Deploy for patch work? 
  4. Checking back on the dev env page for configuration and other steps... Just need to install? Will have to do that tomorrow.
  5. Then that should probably do it, and I'll leave the rest for tomorrow. I think the next steps are finding a project, and I shouldn't need to mess much with this install until I have something to test. 

Monday, June 3, 2013

Overloaded - Journaling some progress

his will be a less coherent post than usual, just because I'm in process a lot sooner than I thought I'd be. Going back to my Grand List, the intent was that I would research several different CMS platforms (Drupal, WordPress, Joomla etc) before choosing one, or even deciding that a full fledged CMS was too heavy for my purposes. In an ideal world (I've been using "ideal" more lately. hm. Self-awareness?), I'd probably design my own database and create the whole thing from scratch. Since that would require being a db architect, it would take quite a lot longer than winging it in a CMS.

More recently, I had decided to go with WordPress, simply because I have some experience with it already and would be building on that, rather than learning yet another new skill set. I had been thinking that Drupal was the more sophisticated option, and that I could learn yet more awesome new things by installing it, but second-guessed myself into a corner. Really, WordPress has given me some pretty big headaches over the last couple of years.

This past weekend was the National Day of Civic Hacking. Within a span of four days, my whole outlook and project list merged onto a gigantic, fast-moving highway of projects, people, inspiration and busy, busy schedules. Now I find myself wrapped up in Code for DC, a project to map migration and DC school boundaries, hopefully getting further involved with Girl Develop It, and throwing myself at Drupal Core.

The big problem here is that every single thing I just listed has not just a physical group and projects, but Hackpads, Trello boards, Google Groups, Meetups, Twitter accounts, GitHub accounts, CKAN site, IRC channels, calendars, forums, websites and good lord do I have a lot of tabs open. I think I linked up with everyone from the weekend, signed up for everything I needed to... at this point I'm just hoping that anything important will ping a notification to my email, otherwise it'll be lost in the aether.

But back to Drupal. Let's just take a look at where I'm at, mostly for personal reference. I signed onto, and to Joined the DC Drupalers meetup. Have [just] four IRC channels up in preparation for the Office Hours later tonight from the mentoring people (who I hope will be able to give me dummy points on installation and patches and link me up with an appropriately straightforward project [open issue]).

Some questions, having just read the Drupal overview here (front-end installation stuff) and nearly every other page I could find after that:

  • Why XHTML?
  • What exactly happens in terms of nodes, paths, blocks, users when a page is requested? How does the request play out?
  • Wait, so bootstrap, which isn't bootstrapping, or Bootstrap? argh. But sort of like the WordPress Loop, yes?
  • I've really got to learn PHP/more PHP. What are alternatives to PHP? How else can web pages be dynamic?
  • So there are issues listed on and how are they related? Same thing, different interface? (oh, I see, they're linked and the is the main page for info comments etc)

... a bit brain-dead right now, which is unhelpful given that the mentoring office hours are in... an hour!

Sunday, May 26, 2013

How My Time Vanishes

It's not that I'm unaware there are other things I should be doing, it's just that I'd rather be doing something with immediate, tangible results. Presumably this has been part of the appeal of manual labor for this generation that feels stuck and, well, flail-y. So instead of working toward long-term goals, I often find myself taking solace in some small projects around the house and yard.

You're familiar by now with my gardening tribulations, and some of my more notable baking incidents. I also sew, knit, crochet, and macrame, not to mention bind custom books, rewire light fixtures, weave beadwork, and probably a bunch of other stuff I'm forgetting right now. Sometime last year (!) I picked up a pile of various twines from the hardware store to make a few more plant hangers with. After staring at my old project-to-do list for all that time I finally got fed up with myself and have started crossing things off. (First to be crossed-off was the dress I bought at the vintage shop and modified to fit and bit a little more modern (ruffles had to go)).

The next easiest project was the following collection of macrame plant hangers. When my apartments in Vermont and Arlandria lacked window ledges or sufficient sunlight, I started hanging plants in front of every decent sun-source I could. Phototropic, indeed. Some of these are from years ago when I made my first batch. The more recent ones are more awesome, I think. They're labelled on mouseover...

macrame, plant, hanger, basket. craft, spider plant macrame, plant, hanger, basket. craft, mint geranium
macrame, plant, hanger, basket. craft, philodendron macrame, plant, hanger, basket. craft, job's tears, jade tree
macrame, plant, hanger, basket. craft, arum macrame, plant, hanger, basket. craft, spider plant
macrame, plant, hanger, basket. craft, marigold, alyssum Next on my macrame list is a hammock. Anyone have a pattern for a two person cotton twine hammock? I only have a single person sized pattern, not confident about load-bearing capabilities if I double it...
ps. Don't question the table I used to lay these out. It was fast. ish.

Friday, May 17, 2013

The Art of French Baking: Strawberry Frangipane

he Art of French Baking, published by Phaidon, is a beautiful book. The covers are padded and sparkling white, the pages thick and smooth, the photographs well shot and printed, and any cookbook with bookmark ribbons gets a lot of points from me. However, the recipes seem to leave a little something to be desired.

I am an experienced baker. Not an expert, not experimental, and not a chemist, but my pie crusts are tender and flaky, my bread rises and my batters are light and fluffy. Therefore I was somewhat surprised when several recipes from this book did not come together or bake in the way I expected. The instructions are quite brief, which is fine if one already has some technique, but I repeatedly found myself with a dough that didn't hold together despite extra liquid, or choux puffs that simply wouldn't rise (I tried twice in one day), or worse, cookies that burned but didn't bake through.
strawberries, pie, cake, baking, frangipane

So now I've determined that I'll just need to reinterpret and double check the recipe for logic before I start anything. Make sure the oven temperature doesn't seem oddly high, that the wet and dry proportions make sense and that I can adjust here and there. Or at least I can make the recipes with frosting and cover up all the little problems!

Today I needed to use up the last of a flat of strawberries from market, and the Strawberry Frangipane looked pretty easy. It's just egg yolks, sugar, ground almonds and strawberries. Nothing can go wrong! Well, nothing except my being short an egg. Sigh. So I just eased back on the other ingredients. The batter was thicker than I was expected and didn't exactly pour between the strawberries, but it did melt around them once in the oven. Then it was just a matter of keeping an eye on it until the top was the perfect shade of done... except when I cut into it, the inside was not at all done. Not even a little. Back into the oven it goes.

I'm fairly fed up at this point, having never had so much trouble with recipes before. Perhaps it's partially my fault, but with every recipe coming from the same book it seems unlikely that this is entirely on me. I really want to love The Art of French Baking, but it's not living up to my expectations. You all know what the lesson is here, right?

strawberry, frangipane, pie, cake, eggs, simple
Here's a quick list of the things I've made from this book:
  • Sweet orange croquettes- excellent
  • Babas au rhum- pretty good, not as fluffy as I'd like.
  • Pate a choux puffs with pastry creme- total fail, no puff to be had, more like cookies. I have done these successfully in the past with a Martha Stewart recipe!
  • Petit fours with chocolate ganache and sprinkles- worked well in mini muffin tins
  • Duchesse petits fours- Dough didn't even slightly hold together and overcooked too quickly
  • Orange gateau, I think- I have a vague memory of using a pineapple, too. dunno.
  • Sweet slices- basically sugar cookies, oven temp was also too high
  • Strawberry Frangipane- Ha. Maybe once it's baked for three times the suggested time!