ˈvər-chə-wəlˈdā-vəs Serial storyteller, poetry pusher, digital doodler, flâneur.

Migration Time

Serengeti wildebeest migration, Tanzania

Wildebeest Migration, Serengeti National Park, Tanzania (Image by Marc Veraart via Flickr)

Welcome to the future. virtualDavis is migrating.

Unlike the annual wildebeest migrations across the Serengeti, Masai Mara and Liuwa Plain, it’s been almost a decade since my last migration, and I’m not searching for greener pastures. Not literally, at least. I’m not abandoning my URL, but I am transitioning the site from Drupal to WordPress in order to standardize and simplify daily blogging. I am still (and will continue to be) an outspoken Drupal enthusiast and advocate. Organizations and individuals building websites with sophisticated CMS should at least consider Drupal. If they don’t they obviously have time and money to waste. Let them waste it. It will help buoy the economy. I continue to use Drupal for sites that I maintain and/or develop, and I intend to for a long time. Drupal is to website developers what Creative Commons is to content creators. Times ten. Or a hundred!

So why am I switching to WordPress? If Drupal is the CMS Holy Grail, I’ve come to believe that WordPress is the blogging holy grail. It is intuitive, easy to use and teach others to use, incredibly well supported and for all practical purposes it has become the “Dixie cup” of blogging software. I do wish that it offered a bit more robust, non-blogging CMS potential, but for my current needs (blogging across multiple domains), consolidating my interface to a single, effective platform offers me a major value.

It will take some time to make the transition, so until further notice I encourage you to stick with my regular domain where I’ll keep a link posted to the temporary site. Once I complete the migration from Drupal to WordPress, I’ll shift the new site to the old URL. Until then, thanks for your patience. Heck, thanks for following my blog in the first place!

FYI: If you’re looking for current happenings, you might want to check out virtualDavis on Twitter, virtualDavis on Facebook or virtualDavis on Google+. Or drop a note!

2011 New Year’s Resolutions

Hangover remedies shared by @SandraOldfield

Hangover remedies shared by @SandraOldfield

“I do hereby firmly resolve…” Each year as a child I wrote these words on New Years Eve. There was an uncomfortable gravitas that came with putting my resolutions down on paper, sitting in the living room with my parents, my brother, my sister, knowing full well that we would all be expected to share our resolutions aloud. Knowing full well that some of my inked goals were not new, were repeats from a year prior (and perhaps the year before that and so on.) In other words, some new years resolutions represented failures. By reaffirming that I would undertake what I had failed required humility and honesty. It also created optimism and hope. I had failed, but now I would succeed.

“I do firmly resolve…” That’s powerful language. A powerful act.

As an adult the gravitas diminished. Over time I abandoned much of the soul searching and honesty of defining and sharing specific, personal, intentional, meaningful resolutions. Toasts and lighthearted bravado eclipsed reflection and goal setting. Champagne, dancing, singing, hugs and kisses and thumps on the back. Each year I still try to jot down a few goals in my Blackberry to refer to over the course of a year, but the ritual of my childhood definitely lapsed.

Until this morning. I awoke knowing that something was missing. It was time to plant my keister at the honesty table for a little tough love. Did I rock 2010 the way I could have? Did I seize the most important opportunities? Did I achieve or significantly progress toward my goals? Have some of my goals changed? Is it time to weed out longstanding ambitions that perhaps no longer matter and replace them with new ones that do?

Before long my reflection yielded to hopes and plans for the new year. I scrawled out two pages of changes, improvements, goals and accomplishments for 2011, and then I massaged them into a prioritized, categorized layout. An action plan.

I felt pretty good.

But it’s easy to feel good writing lists, dreaming of what we want to achieve. Easy and often fleeting. The gravitas was still missing. The accountability. The humility and honesty that resulted from speaking my resolutions aloud as a boy. From owning and sharing and responding to questions and making a public commitment. “I do firmly resolve…”

Having dropped my parents off at the airport yesterday afternoon to fly home to Chicago, and since my siblings are far, far away, the tried and true ingredients for resolution gravitas were absent. Time for new ingredients. Time for reinvention!

Here’s what I’ve decided. I’m going to share a few resolutions with you to see if there’s gravitas to be had. To see if forging a compact with my virtual family can help me keep my 2011 resolutions. Don’t worry, I’m not going to swamp you with two pages of “Take the dog on more adventures” and “Share better wine with more friends” and “Go fly fishing!”

Like everyone else, I’ve pledged to supersize my fitness regimens. Yes, both of them!

Just as physical activity is essential to maintaining a healthy body, challenging one’s brain, keeping it active, engaged, flexible and playful, is not only fun. It is essential to cognitive fitness. (This Year, Change Your Mind)

That’s right. Part of effective New Years Resolutioning is going on the record and proclaiming your goals openly so that others can help you monitor your progress and ultimately succeed. You in? Thanks.

My #1 resolution for 2011 is to deliver Rosslyn Redux to its audience:

  • to publish the print memoir and the ebook;
  • to record and distribute the audio book;
  • to publish the video series;
  • to perform the one-man show;
  • and to share my quixotic publishing adventure with you as I move toward my goal.

Whiplash? Thwappp! It’s real. It’s happening. It’s now. And I’m going to take you along for the ride via twitter, video, blogging, storify and [hopefully soon] broadcastr. A glimpse inside the adventure of a newbie writer courting a publishing industry doing the funky chicken in time lapse animation. You with me? Hang in there. Things are liable to get even more confusing in the months ahead, but we’ll muddle through. And laugh at ourselves plenty along the way.

Did you read 37 literary resolutions for 2011? I liked Janet Fitch’s marginalia ambitions:

My book-related resolution for 2011: To converse more with my books. To write in the margins. (37 literary resolutions for 2011. What’s yours?)

As I plunge head over heels into an exotic publishing adventure, I’m going to chronicle the conversations along the way. I’m going to write in the margins. And I’m going to share my marginalia with you. In fact, I’ve already started… I hope you’ll help keep me honest, focused and determined. And I hope you’ll bust my chops when I get distracted, discouraged and/or delusional. Thank you!

I do hereby firmly resolve to publish Rosslyn Redux in multiple formats and to share my experiences over the next year while moving toward this goal. Gravitas!

Dries Buytaert on DrupalCon San Francisco

DrupalCon San Francisco ended a few days ago, so once again I’m sitting here with post-DrupalCon blues, trying to wrap my head around what just happened, digging out my backlog of work, and rediscovering my usual rhythm. It happens to me every time, and it is a sign of having had a great time. In short, DrupalCon San Francisco was ‘fantastic’, a word I use sparingly. It is best expressed in numbers, like Matt Cheney of Chapter Three did in his closing session:

  • Roughly 3000 registered attendees at an average ticket price of $205 USD.
  • 357 days of preparatory planning, including 31 general meetings and 105 daily phone calls. Unlike in the old days, I only participated in one such phone call.
  • 408 proposed sessions of which 131 sessions were accepted and presented.
  • Rented 37 conference rooms covering 750,000 square feet of the Moscone center.
  • Organized a core developer summit with 150 attendees, 16 lightning talks, 11 breakout sessions and 1 Franciscan monk.
  • Trained 495 people on Drupal using 20 Drupal training classes.
  • 80 people sprinted on testing.
  • 21 people sprinted on documentation.
  • 120 people trained to be core contributors.
  • 120 BoF gatherings across 11 rooms.
  • 6000 people watched my keynote live, one big stage, and assisted by a backstage A/V team of 6 people.
  • 2 amazing keynotes; one from Tim O’Reilly and one from the Whitehouse, who is now an Open Source contributor.
  • Spent $25,000 USD on scholarship to sponsor 20 attendees.
  • Recorded 131 sessions on video with 24 hour turnaround.
  • Streamed 10 sessions live with up to 3000 simultaneous viewers thanks to Brightcove.
  • Had up to 2200 people use the internet simultaneous consuming a 92 megabit pipe. Whoever did the wifi at Moscone needs a raise.
  • 1100 t-shirts sold along with 320 Drupal umbrellas.
  • Raised more than $400,000 USD from 50 sponsors. Thanks to TrellonGravitekLabs,Chapter ThreeCommerce GuysAcquiaPhase2 TechnologyMicrosoft and Rackspace for being Platinum Sponsors.
  • 50 volunteers helping with registrations on the opening day of the conference.
  • One volcano and no volcano insurance.
  • Had a 24/7 coding lounge named after Chx along with free ice cream.
  • Free parties with open bar every evening.
  • 0 IE6 users on the DrupalCon website, 43% Apple users.
  • 60,000 unique visits and 30,000 unique visitors on the conference website during the conference.
  • 15000 e-mails, 7650 tweets, 35 press hits, 5 press releases and 1 television spot on ABC.
  • $691,677 USD estimated expenses, $1,004,470 USD estimated revenue, $312,793 estimated profit for the Drupal Association.
  • $72,000 spent on coffee.
  • A big thank you for Jennifer Lea Lampton, Stephanie Canon, Lauren Nicole Roth and Matt Cheney and hundreds of other people that helped.
  • Two new Drupal conferences announced; one in Copenhagen, one in Chicago.


I had to pass along these astounding stats that Dries posted on his blog yesterday about DrupalCon 2010 that I was fortunate enough to attend in San Francisco a little over a week ago. I’m familiar with the “post-DrupalCon blues” that Dries describes. I’m still trying to shake them! Frankly it was a mind-blowing few days. It’s thrilling to see how mainstream Drupal is becoming, how user-friendly, how diversified, how multi-media friendly… And 3k attendees?!?! It was totally overwhelming! In the good way. ;-)

And the White House keynote was inspiring. Open source. Open government. Open Democracy. Open world. The future is bright! And everyone’s invited! No silos. Just one big-@#$ circus tent… Come one, come all!

A huge thanks to Dries for dreaming up and sharing Drupal. It’s a major game-changer, not only for websites, not only for web developers and web designers. I think that we’re only just beginning to comprehend the scope and potential for Drupal. And your ongoing stewardship of this wild and woolly juggernaut is commendable too. Thank you.

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Google to Invest $90,000 in Drupal

Google Summer of Code 2010

Google just announced that they will sponsor 18 Drupal developer stipends in this year’s Summer of Code program(SoC). Google provides a stipend of 5,000 USD to each student developer, of which 4,500 USD goes to the student and 500 USD goes to Drupal Association (or to the mentors). With 18 accepted applications this adds up to a 90,000 USD investment over a three-month period, bringing the total investment made by Google in Drupal through SoC to over $450,000 USD.

Read Dries Buytaert’s announcement…

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Skinr for Drupal Theming

Skinr’s main purpose is to allow the theme to define a set of reusable and modular CSS styles, and to make those styles available in Drupal’s UI. Skinr was developed for themers to allow them to tap into the power of Drupal’s modularity and apply those same principles to theme development. It does not provide any styles of its own. These styles are defined in the .info file of the theme (or subtheme), by the themer and end up in various places in Drupal’s UI, such as:

  • Block Configuration
  • Node Type (and Comment) Configuration
  • Panel Panes
  • Views Displays

It also provides a CSS class field, where you can manually add custom classes.

Who should use this module?

Here are a few examples, though there are many more possibilities.

  • You are a themer looking to dramatically reduce the size and bloat of your CSS files.
  • You want to be able to apply the same CSS across blocks, panel panes, views, nodes and comments.
  • You are developing a theme for a client and want the client to have more flexibility and access to a multitude of existing styles, after you’ve completed the project and handed it off.
  • You are a contrib theme developer who wants to provide multiple styles and allow the site administrator to be able to choose where to apply them.
  • You are a rebel who wants to rip out CSS classes in every possible template file and use your own instead, but need a better way to add your own classes back to Drupal.

Module developers can take advantage of Skinr using its API. Detailed documentation on how to do this is included in docs.php.

Skinr information excerpted from

I attended a great presentation by Jacine Rodriguez this afternoon. I’m going to experiment with it when I get home. Is Skinr the panacea it appears to be?

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Semantic Web and Drupal Video

Semantic web and Drupal video via

This video was at Drupalcon 2010 in San Francisco yesterday by Dries Buytaert (@dries) to help introduce the future of RDF in Drupal 7.

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Open Source and Open Data in the Age of the Cloud

This is the slideshow from Tim O’Reilly’s keynote this afternoon at Drupalcon 2010 in San Francisco.

This Road Leads to DrupalCon

I spent Sunday flying to San Francisco for this year’s DrupalCon. Attending this Drupal conference is a first for me. For the past few years. I’ve wanted to attend the conference but either personal or professional distractions came up that prevented me from attending the conference. This year is my year for DrupalCon and I’m anxious to get to know the Drupal community better than I have in the past.

While I do plan to do live blog updates during the Keynote addresses, I’m attending this conference less as a reporter and more as an attendee in a crowd of 3000 people. I spend way too much of my time through the year either leading IT discussions or managing the IT discussions that I rarely get a chance to just observe and listen. There are a lot of smart Drupal people and content management folks at this conference that I would be a fool to not take the opportunity and learn from the experts.

So this week you can expect a lot of Drupal talk. If you don’t want to hear about Drupal this week, I suggest you submit an article focused on your favorite CMS. I have a feeling I’m only going to be writing about Drupal this week…



Hmmm… Where in this conference room is Bryan Ruby?!?! Sitting in front of me? Behind me?

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Count Down to DrupalCon San Francisco


Excited to accelerate my Drupal learning curve! I’ve just finished organizing my conference schedule at DrupalCon San Francisco next month. Flight? Check. Hotel? Check. Registered? Check. Sign-ups? Check. I’m good to go!

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