Monday, August 16, 2010

Book Review for "Plone 3.3 Site Administration: Manage your site like a Plone professional" by Alex Clark

Book Review for "Plone 3.3 Site Administration: Manage your site like a Plone professional" by Alex Clark.

Are you a Plone administrator or content editor? If so, there's a new book from Packt that's worth your attention.

"Plone 3.3 Site Administration: Manage your site like a Plone professional" guides the reader through site installation and configuration of many useful add-ons. The tool of choice for a modern Plone site is 'zc.Buildout', and this book makes extensive use of buildout in each chapter as the author guides the reader from a basic Plone site to one well adorned with add-ons to enhance the appearance, functionality, and scalability of the site.

One thing I'd like to emphasize is that this book is all about configuration of these add-ons. As an example, the book will introduce the reader to some desirable non-standard bit-- let's say the Varnish HTTP accelerator-- and give step-by-step instructions on how to get Varnish downloaded and configured for your Plone site. What's missing is an overview of exactly what Varnish is. There are no diagrams and not much text explaining how it works. This pattern is repeated nearly everywhere-- you get the buildout configuration (and the response to expect when running buildout), but it's up to you to get your head wrapped around exactly what it is that you're adding to your site. I find this ok, given that the book is targeted to readers who are already site administrators and should recognize most of the products we're dealing with. (For the products that I didn't recognize, Google was able to round out my education, so I didn't feel slighted.) I did think this was an important thing to point out so a first-time reader of the book will recognize what's in store in this book.

There's a lot of good advice that's not Plone specific. Best practices regarding version control of configurations, database maintenance, database packing, and more are covered. These are the sort of thing that an experienced administrator will see value in, and a new administrator will appreciate having spelled out for them. (One way or another, new administrators will adapt policies like these. Maybe after reading some text and realizing the value, maybe after getting burned once or twice and learning it the hard way.) In that regard, even one of these tips is probably worth the price of the book.

I continue to be impressed by the Plone community and the effort they have put forth to build the impressive ecosystem around this impressive CMS. This one's for the admins, an audience that probably doesn't get as many books as they should.

The book can be found here.

Happy Administering!


Monday, August 9, 2010

2010 Open Source Awards now open

Do you have a favorite open source project? Would you like to thank an open source provider in a tangible way? How about nominating them for the 2010 Open Source Awards, a contest put on by Packt Publishing that offers US $24K in cash awards?

Nominations are accepted this year for the following categories: Content Management Systems, E-Commerce Applications, Graphics Software, and JavaScript Libraries. On a side note, nominators are entered into a drawing for a free Kindle, so maybe your kindness will be rewarded as well.

Happy Voting, and to ALL the open source coders-- Thanks!


P.S. For those interested, I'll include the Packt Press Release in it's entirety:

Packt launch fifth annual Open Source Awards

Birmingham, UK. 9th August 2010

The 2010 Open Source Awards was launched today by Packt, inviting people to visit and submit nominations for their favorite Open Source project. Now in its fifth year, the Award has been adapted from the established Open Source CMS Award with the wider aim of encouraging, supporting, recognizing and rewarding all Open Source projects.

WordPress won the 2009 Open Source Content Management System (CMS) Award in what was a very close contest with MODx and SilverStripe. While MODx was the first runner up, SilverStripe, a Most Promising CMS Award winner in 2008, made its way to the second runner up position in its first year in the Open Source CMS Award final.

The 2010 Award will feature a prize fund of $24,000 with several new categories introduced. While the Open Source CMS Award category will continue to recognize the best content management system, Packt is introducing categories for the Most Promising Open Source Project, Open Source E-Commerce Applications, Open Source JavaScript Libraries and Open Source Graphics Software. CMSes that won the Overall CMS Award in previous years will continue to compete against one another in the Hall of Fame CMS category.

These new categories will ensure that the Open Source Awards is the ultimate platform to recognise excellence within the community while supporting projects both new and old. “We believe that the adaption of the Award and the new categories will provide a new level of accessibility, with the Award recognizing a wider range of Open Source projects; both previous winners while at the same time, encouraging new projects” said Julian Copes, organizer of this year’s Awards.

Packt has opened up nominations for people to submit their favorite Open Source projects for each category at . The top five in each category will go through to the final, which begins in the last week of September. For more information on the categories, please visit Packt’s website’s-2010-open-source-awards-announcement


Julian Copes

PR Executive, Packt Publishing |

About Packt

Packt is a modern, unique publishing company with a focus on producing cutting-edge books for communities of developers, administrators, and newbies alike.

Packt’s books and publications share the experiences of fellow IT professionals in adapting and customizing today's systems, applications, and frameworks. Their solutions-based books give readers the knowledge and power to customize the software and technologies they’re using to get the job done.

For more information, please visit

3 Great (and Free!) Tools for Knowledge Workers

Once in a while I happen across a tool that helps me in my work. Here are three.

This website helps me to read material at a much faster rate than I normally would. You can dial up the rate (in words per minute) so you can control how fast you read. You provide the text, via cut-n-paste. Sometimes I miss having the diagrams, and the structure of the words is lost, but all things considered this is a great tool.


This desktop app is great for helping you round out your ideas. I'm not sure why it helps so much, but for me it does. You quickly get used to adding new ideas, prioritizing them, shuffling them around, etc. It's really very easy to get started.


Here's another desktop application, this time one that helps me to remember things. As an example, I am just terrible at remembering people's names-- but jMemorize helps with that! By making electronic flashcards (yes, images can be put on one side!) you can use the provided 'Learn' mode to review all the cards in a group, removing the ones you get right. It's easy to use, you just run the java jar and away you go.

I hope these are as useful to you as they are to me.

Happy Thinking!