Disability Discrimination

Blogging against disablism day Much like web design could be considered a hidden profession, disability discrimination is a hidden problem. Where web design hides behind different job titles, disability discrimination is wrapped in the even softer swaddling of misconception, ignorance, and stereotype. Today is Blogging Against Disablism Day. Here are a few thoughts.

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Bicycle Brand Blank Books

I picked up a really cool sketchbook a few weeks ago while on vacation in Bangor, Maine. It was in a little bookstore I stumbled upon while on a brief photowalk with my Special Lady Friend. It came with a photocopy of a wonderful article that described the creator of the books, one G. Wayne Wilcox. Based out of St. Louis, he makes all sorts of stuff out of recycled material, such as a bicycle trailer that doubles as a hearse, glasses made from spokes that flip up when he doesn’t need them, and these books.

Bicycle Brand Blank Books The books come in a few different sizes. I got one of the smaller rectangular shaped ones, which fits wonderfully in the back pocket of my bag. It’s built sturdy, with heavy stock for the pages and black construction paper wrapped around it in a folding kind of cover. It’s partially bound with glue (for the back of the pages) and strips of rubber bicycle inner tube, which doubles as a strap to keep the book closed. Since the cover folds and wraps around the book to protect the pages, there’s enough room to fit a pen in between the outside of the pages and the cover.

I’ve begun to draw, sketch, or doodle in mine every day. I’m enjoying this thing so much that I’m considering purchasing more in case I can’t find them again. Mr. Wilcox doesn’t seem to have any web presence that I can find, just a phone number printed on the books. Maybe I’ll give it call. Does anyone know where you can buy these things, other than by phone? Is this guy still out there making them? I’d love to find out more information about this fellow and his work.

I’ve posted a few more pictures of the book on Flickr, tagged with bicyclebrandblankbooks.

The Upcoming API as a CakePHP Model

As part of a calendar-of-events application, I needed a way to easily publish and update our events to external services, such as Upcoming or Eventful. Here are a few tools to help you integrate your CakePHP application with the community events service formerly known as upcoming.org (now known as just simply, Upcoming).

Felix Geisendörfer has an excellent series of REST API tutorials for CakePHP. These were mainly applied to Google services, but the examples he gives were more than enough to get me started. While Felix’s examples give a framework for integrating this into CakePHP, most of the “meat” (ganache?) of the functions was gleaned from the example file that came packaged with one of the Upcoming API wrappers.

First things first

In addition to needing some version of an Upcoming API wrapper in the vendors directory, you’ll of course need an API key. Don’t forget to read through the community guidelines and the other API documentation – especially the information regarding what to do with your test data. Got all that? Ok, then, let’s get started.

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Hunger strikes, struggle, and history at UVM; also, the web design survey.

In light of the recent UVM SLAP hunger strike, someone sent me a fascinating (and disturbing) account of UVM History.

One directory up there is more information, some of it much deeper. See the History of Racial Diversity, LGBTQA History, and the President’s Commission on the Status of Women. All recommended reads, wether you are part of our “sleepy” New England community or not.

I Took the 2007 SurveySpeaking of the status of women, there has been some discussion recently out there regarding the presence (or lack thereof) of women in IT fields. The organizers behind the web standards conference An Event Apart have begun looking for more information on this issue, including commissioning a report, and launching what is to be an annual survey. If are in the IT field and you haven’t taken it yet, well, what are you waiting for?

Oops, I almost forgot to mention my standard writing-about-my-employer “disclaimer” – I do work at UVM.

The Blog as the New Resume

The best part about coming late to a conversation in the blogosphere is that by the time you get there, your main points have already been made, often better than you could have. While putting a post together last night, I came across a recent post from Joshua Porter entitled “The Blog is the New Resume“. Joshua was referencing a great post by Adam Darowski with the same title. Adam has an extensive followup to his post that collects a lot of the past and present discussion around this subject.

I got pretty excited when I saw this discussion, as it’s something I’ve been talking about in conversations and workshops for some time. It’s really gratifying to stumble upon stuff like this, all laid out for you. It also makes blogging that much easier :) . I haven’t dug through everything out there, but here are a few points I have found myself making to friends, colleagues, and workshop participants.

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A blogging curriculum

In a recent post, one of my favorite local bloggers mentioned (almost offhandedly) that she was training a cadre of new bloggers. While I can’t wait to check out the new blogs from one of my favorite local establishments, I am intrigued by the idea of a blogger education program, as it raises some interesting questions.

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CDI opens it’s doors with a virtual tour

And a virtual guest book. If you can’t make it over there for the open house, Winona has posted a “virtual tour” of the facilities, as well as of the site itself. More information in the news section of the CDI site.

By the way, how about that UVM Libraries Flickr account? Or the meebo-enabled Ask A Librarian live chat page?

Upcoming.org API wrapper for PHP4

Sounds like Upcoming.org is set for some upgrades (does version 2.0 of a Web 2.0 application == 4.0? :) ) next week. Aside from a yahoo account merge, they are keeping things pretty close to the vest. Maybe the documentation wiki will be reincarnated. The suggestion board is nice, but doesn’t have the same information.

A little while ago, I made a few changes to their original PHP 5 API wrapper, so that it works with PHP 4. By the way, I can’t seem to find the original wrapper mentioned in that post – maybe it got lost when the wiki went away? I’ve kept what I believe is the original example file that was bundled with the wrapper. You can download it all here:

All I did was replace the use of the SimpleXML extension in PHP5 with the PEAR XML_Serializer package. In other words, switching out calls to the simple_xml functions with $unserializer->unserialize().

A number of the PEAR packages on our system were either missing or not the right version. Here are the PEAR dependencies I ended up having to “install” locally. Installation in this case meant download and unpack vs. $ pear install, since the latter wasn’t behaving th way I needed it to.


Oh. Since we wanted to be sure we were doing things right, we went ahead and asked if we would need an official/corporate API key (more on this project later). What a nice surprise it was when the founder replied directly. For me, this really gives Upcoming that small business, customer oriented feel. For some reason I didn’t see this coming from something that is part of such a big organization like Yahoo!

Constants, Paths and ecetera in CakePHP

It took me longer than it should have to find the Global Constants And Functions section of the CakePHP Manual. At least I seem to remember searching for it a few times. Maybe I was looking for something with a vague keyword. Ah, yes – how to get the path to a specific directory in an application (see WWW_ROOT versus WEBROOT_DIR). There is a lot of good information in that chapter. You can find the path to almost anywhere in a CakePHP installation with the constants near the bottom of the page. Looking through the functions list turns up a number of tricks as well.

If you’re looking for more information on paths in CakePHP, there is an article in the Bakery that has a little more info on getting the path to webroot from within views and helpers.

You might also find one of the various cakeinfo() tools helpful. Although I have yet to try them, they look super handy.

Ski it if you can, the African bumper sticker campaign

As I mentioned previously, my brother returned this past January from mountaineering in Africa. On his trip up and down Kilimanjaro, he took this picture of a Land Rover with one of those iconic Mad River Glen “Ski It If You Can” bumper stickers on it.

ski it if you can, kilimanjaro style

Some time passed before I finally got a chance to ask him about it.

“Is that bumper sticker for real?” I asked, figuring maybe they had one with them and gave it to the driver.

“Yeah, we couldn’t believe it either,” he replied.

A few months went by, and I had almost forgotten about it. One day, as I was processing a bloated inbox, I glanced through the Mad River Glen newsletter before recycling it, when I came across an item of interest in the letters to the editor section. The lead read, “Sticker sighting in Tanzania,” and sure enough, there was a picture of a truck with a red and white bumper sticker on it.

More on MRG bumper stickers in Africa

What really struck me, however, was that the image showed a sticker on what was most certainly a different truck. This begs the question (or at least I like to think it does) – is the MRG advertising department on a guerilla marketing campaign to sticker every back country rig in Tanzania? WHat about the other seven summits?

Thanks to Wes and his poetic closing day post for inspiring me to finally put this post together. If only Ihad been more inspired to get out there on the mountain this season…. oh well, there’s always next year!