Behind The Scenes: The Making of a Maker Faire

I am the founder of an organization called Make:KC. Inspired by Make Magazine and the Maker Faire’s in San Francisco’s Bay Area, Detroit, and New York. We gained permission from Dale Dougherty, founder of Maker Media to use the Make:KC name and held our first meeting in July of 2009. One of our goals was to bring a full Maker Faire headline event to Kansas City.

In August of 2010 we produced the first Kansas City Mini Maker Faire which was quite successful. We were invited to become part of the 43rd. annual Parkville Days Riverfest. Parkville, MO is a suburb of the greater Kansas City metropolitan area. We managed to attract over 40 Maker exhibitors in addition to the more than 100 artists and craftsmen already part of Riverfest. We produced a one day mini faire on Sunday where the event saw over 10,000 visitors. This attraction encompassed the downtown area of Parkville, a city parking lot housing a full carnival, then around the driveway into a beautiful shaded park nestled between a railroad and the Missouri river. A walkway through the park was lined with vendors selling food and drink along with pony rides for the kids, a wild west show, musicians, and other live entertainment. We were able to reach many people that day who had never heard of Make Magazine or the maker movement.

We produced our second Mini Maker Faire in August of 2011 despite record flooding along the Missouri River putting the park underwater forcing the event to move to higher ground.

This coming August marks the fourth year I’ve worked to gain support for a Maker Faire. Kansas City has achieved the distinction of being one of the top four faires this year positioned as a mid level event alongside Detroit. This is my first post about the personal costs of achieving this goal.

About SomeoneKnows
(c) 2012 Vince Thompson


TAD2012: Day1 – Tools to Make Tools


For Thing-A-Day I wanted to make use of tools that are available for members of the MCC-BTC Fab Lab. Day 1 is spent making a drawing for my first project, creating a template for a router table base plate. The drawing shows a basic layout that can be used when building other custom tool configurations.

I also hope to use a different tool available in the Fab Lab each day. Today I’m using the Table Saw to cut up some template blanks.

I’m using the DraftSight program to draw my base plate layout. DraftSight is a great CAD program I recently learned about. It is AutoCad compatible, free to download, and best of all it works with multiple platforms, Linux, Mac, and Windows. I’m using Ubuntu so it’s the Linux version for me.

See, TAD2012 – Day 1

Date and Calendar in Drupal 7

I have to wonder how many of those early release books written for Drupal 7 will end up becoming trash. I’m sure they will contain useful information but things are still changing. I discovered a good video titled Date + Calendar from the Drupal Therapy guys and decided to work through their example. It goes through the steps of installing the Date and Calendar modules then creating a new Event Content Type.

The problems started when I got to the steps they lay out for configuring the Date’s Views. It was helpful while frustrating because the Views settings page has changed so much. I finally got through the Views configuration without error messages and got the Calendar to display the correct date. As suggested, I replaced the downloaded Views, Calendar, and Date with the most recent Dev versions.

In the Administration->Structure->Views page for Calendar (Content) the page layout has changed substantially from the Feb 11, 2011 date the video was originally produced (not too surprising). There is not a Defaults selection or Arguments selection on the configuration page anymore.

I made three changes:

  • Replaced the values in CONTEXTUAL FILTERS with – “Date: Date (node) (Content: Date (field_date))
  • Under FIELDS set values to – “Content: Date (Date)
  • Under FILTER CRITERIA set values to – “Content: Published (Yes)” and “Content: Type (= Event)

My problem now is after the Event is published the Date and Body only show up when I select the web site’s home page. If I click on the Event article to view or edit, the published Date and Body disappear. Is anyone else having that trouble or know of a solution? (I do have Organic Groups installed in this site too if that matters).

 About SomeoneKnows 
(c) 2011 Vince Thompson

A Closer Look at Drupal 7

I use Google to find many of the things I want to learn about. Sometimes the list of links it returns can be a little disappointing. Upgrading from Drupal 6 to Drupal 7 is one of those situations that is bringing a variety of results that don’t quite hit the mark. Of course what I’m finding today will change in the days and weeks to come so your experiences will vary. I hope to continue updating this article as I find more useful information.

Sometimes the most obvious places get overlooked. For instance, the Upgrade.txt file in the Drupal7 installation is a good place to start looking. Here are some other good places I’ve started looking:

From the Drupal Handbook Documents Administration Guide look at these sections:
After you get a fundamental Drupal 7 installation working the following guides are helpful:

Database API

I haven’t found a nice pushbutton solution to upgrading the databases between D6 and D7. Diving into relevant database documentation is the best choice as I can see it right now.

Links Found That May Be Useful? 

I haven’t read the following articles yet but they may have some useful information so I’m bookmarking them here for now:

Database Migration

 About SomeoneKnows 
(c) 2011 Vince Thompson

Drupal 7 – Are We There Yet?

When I started picking up on Drupal I began learning about Drupal 6 because Drupal 7 was off in the distant future. Well, Drupal 7 was released for production on Jan. 5 this year and I’ve still been in the “sometime in the future mode” until the last few days (peeling back the onion some more) Now, work has begun on Drupal 8 to be released sometime in the future.

Drupal 7 has some features that make sense for a new web site I’m working on – Organic Groups and Web Services. While these aren’t new they have some updates to the way they work. The CCK and Views have been two of the most important modules for Drupal 6 web sites. It appears that Drupal 7 now replaces them with Fields. Drupal 8 is planned to include some features I want to design for like incorporating a higher degree of web services. I ordered another book that should arrive today, this one about Drupal 6 Web Services. I see web services as an important component in connecting interactions between Drupal and MicroStation, AutoCad or other future CAD/CAE systems. Since I’m starting off with a new web project is seems like the best time to jump into Drupal 7 development.

Using Git to Download Drupal 7

I don’t understand enough about Git yet but was able to use it and get a copy from the Drupal Git repository. I was worried about making mistakes in setting up my local repository like where it should reside how can I undo a mistake. I made a few mistakes along the way and learned they could be erased by deleting the “.git” folder. If it turns out I overlooked something about erasing a repository I’ll add more information here. This article seemed to be helpful: I managed to get a local site working with Drupal 7 last night.

I got a rudimentary install with Organic Groups and several other features set up within a Drupal 7 environment. So far, so good. Something I could use some help with is finding out what the recommended practice are to take the MySql database from its Drupal 6 configuration to Drupal 7. My initial search didn’t come up with a worthwhile suggestion yet. Maybe I’m just not looking in the right place.

 About SomeoneKnows 
(c) 2011 Vince Thompson

Drupal Taxonomy

Drupal has an unbelievable collection of features. So much of the time I feel like I’m constantly peeling away different layers of an onion trying to get to an understanding of what it does and how to make it work. It is designed to separate the programming code from the information. The information – things like labels, values for check boxes, radio buttons, or selection lists gets stored in the database while modules provide the programming framework. Drupal is a true database driven system

Taxonomy reinforces this separation of programming features from the information (data) and what it means. If  you’re spending some time learning about Drupal I thought you might find the following video interesting to watch. It is a bit long around 50 minutes but it does make some good points about taxonomy and how its used.

Setting Up an IDE for Drupal Development

I founded a group in Kansas City called Make:KC in July 2009 inspired by Make Magazine, their Maker Faires, and the web site. I started with a MakeKC WordPress blog using WordPress’ free blogging site. Then I registered our domain name and started using Drupal in December 2009. Make:KC is a non-profit organization.

I’ve tried setting up an Integrated Development Environment (IDE) using Eclipse and then NetBeans. Both seem to work well as editors but I was having trouble getting a debugger working that would allow me to step through the PHP commands on our web site. Most of the time these tools have not been needed while using Drupal’s menu style configuration. But I’m wanting to work on developing some modules too.

NetBeans and xdebug

I tried to get debugging working for Drupal sometime last year. At that time I tried Eclipse and NetBeans. I’m spending more time learning to develop in Drupal so I need this to work. It helps to step through commands with a debugger and learn what takes place in Drupal’s code; learning why, how, and when commands are executed.

I’m sure Eclipse is a great IDE to work with but I managed to get debugging working in NetBeans first. I had an older version already on my computer but installed the newer NetBeans 7.0 version today and now I have debugging working on the server side.

I had already downloaded the xdebug program but setting it up to work with the IDE was my problem. I found this web site with some answers I needed:
The section about adding the following instructions to my /etc/php5/apache2/php.ini file seemed to make things work:


; Remote settings

; General

; Trace options

; Profiling

I need to read the article “Introducing xdebug”, it looks like it has some really good information:

 About SomeoneKnows 
(c) 2011 Vince Thompson