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Introducing Recourser

October 29th, 2013 Benjamin Horst

My team and I recently launched a new web project by the name of Recourser. It’s a web directory of online courses and MOOCs, to help people find courses and even careers that fit their interests.

We’re building something that we think will be fun and useful for many people and we’re quite excited about it.

The site is new (and very beta) and will have some bugs and missing pieces but we’d love to share it and hear folks’ input. Please take a look around and let us know what you think and where we can improve. All of your ideas and feedback are welcome!

http://recourser.com/

Feedback: http://recourser.com/feedback

Wishler.com

January 24th, 2010 Benjamin Horst

Wishler is our new social wishlist sharing service. Using a bookmarklet, Wishler users can add items from any online store to their wishlists, and share them with friends. Our current site is a beta and we plan to continue adding features and improving the interface with community feedback, so please let me know what you think of the site: www.wishler.com

Thanks.

DrupalCon DC 2009

March 4th, 2009 Benjamin Horst

Today is the first full day of DrupalCon DC, by far the largest DrupalCon to date. Last year’s US conference in Boston had 800 attendees, and this year over 1,300 tickets sold out a month before the event.

This morning Dries gave his keynote on the state of Drupal, including plans for Drupal 7 and how Drupal and its community can contribute to the future of the internet (the “semantic web”, “web 3.0″, the “giant global graph” or whatever else it may be called).

He also reviewed the history of Drupal, which stood out because it illustrated just how quickly the community and the power of the software have grown.

Many many Drupal experts and development companies are in attendance, and all of them seem to be quite busy–converting most of the web to Drupal, it seems!

DrupalCamp in the NY Times

March 3rd, 2009 Benjamin Horst

On Saturday February 28th the New York City Drupal users’ group held its sixth DrupalCamp NYC at NYU Poly in Brooklyn.

I’ve been to four or five so far and each one was great. Following the unconference format of a BarCamp, DrupalCamps always teach me something new and useful, as well as provide an opportunity to enhance the social and business ties of the community.

Unique to this latest camp, a New York Times reporter and photographer wrote a piece on DrupalCamp 6. (Yes, I am visible in the extreme top-left of the photo.) They did a good job understanding what goes on at DrupalCamp and some of the core motivations of the community, pulling some good quotes from interviewees:

Andy Thornton, 36, a programmer from Astoria, Queens, who works at the United Nations, said the egalitarian nature of Drupal was “almost the epitome of what the Web promised at the beginning. This is very much a democracy. It doesn’t have a top-down authority.”

Recovery.gov Runs On Drupal

February 25th, 2009 Benjamin Horst

As I have been watching the rumors to see how explicitly the Obama Administration supports, promotes and uses open source software (I’ve posted on this thrice so far: 1, 2, 3.), naturally their choice to deploy Drupal for the Recovery.gov site is quite exciting!

Indeed, Recovery.gov is designed for transparency in multiple ways. First and foremost, its entire purpose is to make the details of federal government spending on the stimulus package visible to anyone and everyone, which should set a strong precedent of fiscal accountability that has been lacking for too long.

Second, to those geeks interested in infrastructure, the choice of running on an open source software stack is another vote on behalf of transparency. The software has a community of users and developers and has earned trust and respect through its open design and development process. This is subtle, but important, because it shows the depth of commitment to the ideal of transparency, when an organization chooses transparent, openly-designed tools because they are honestly committed to the concept.

More thoughts on the issue can be found at TechPresident in Why the White House’s Embrace of Drupal Matters. Author Nancy Scola also points out the well-known fact that open source software means no licensing fees were spent in implementing the software, further saving scarce dollars for other investments.

SnowWrite’s Top Five FOSS Projects

February 13th, 2009 Benjamin Horst

It’s always instructive to see what other open source fans consider their most useful FOSS applications. Generally, this tracks well with their occupation, where developers will choose text editors and Linux distros, designers will choose graphics applications and page design programs, while others will choose communication and media distribution programs.

I came across a blog post by SnowWrite titled, “In Open Source I Trust: Top 5 Projects for Daily Use.”

As a web designer and developer, she chooses the following:

  1. VirtualBox
  2. Plone
  3. Firefox (and the Web Developer Toolbar and Firebug Extension)
  4. TweetDeck
  5. Ubuntu

I agree that each one of these is a great and essential program (except TweetDeck, which I have not used myself and cannot comment on).

Her runners-up are GIMP, Amarok, and OpenOffice.

My own top five list would look pretty similar and include the following (but not in a particular order, and I listed seven or eight, depending on how you count):

OpenOffice (Useful every day, and important strategically as an introduction to FOSS for many users, as well as significant cost savings for students and small business owners.)

Firefox (The guardian of open web standards, and flat-out great as a browser.)

Miro (A vanguard in open media access and standards. If I had time to watch videos, I’d love it.)

Eclipse and Aptana (Text editors useful or optimized for website development.)

Drupal (My equivalent to SnowWrite’s choice of Plone. Both good CMSs, but I found installing Drupal on web hosts much easier to get me started.)

GIMP (Unique user interface, but very useful for lots of image editing tasks, and it can read Photoshop PSD files.)

Adium (Cross-network IM client.)

What are your top five open source apps for your personal use?

Open Source Schools Site Launches

October 9th, 2008 Benjamin Horst

Ian Lynch pointed out a new UK-based resource site for schools using open source software, called Open Source Schools.

“The Schools Open Source Project is an initiative to help schools with awareness, adoption, deployment, use and ongoing development of Open Source Software (OSS)…

“The project will provide an authoritative, informative and impartial website that will raise awareness of how OSS can be used to enhance teaching and school infrastructures. The project will then develop and support a community of practice that engages those who are currently using OSS and welcomes and supports new members.”

The site is very attractive, built in Drupal, and provides many community features, so I expect it to become a very useful resource as it continues to grow.

Open Source Geospatial Foundation

September 19th, 2008 Benjamin Horst

Ever since I first learned of GRASS GIS many years ago, I’ve been interested in open source GIS, partly as a way to achieve liberation from the Windows platform where most commercial GIS apps are mired, and partly because of the extra innovation and broader use of GIS that open source could engender.

Enter the Open Source Geospatial Foundation, created a few years ago, and dedicated to supporting and promoting open source GIS applications, data and systems.

With an active community, informative website, and legal and organizational structure, OSGeo.org’s mission statement reads:

“The Open Source Geospatial Foundation, or OSGeo, is a not-for-profit organization whose mission is to support and promote the collaborative development of open geospatial technologies and data. The foundation provides financial, organizational and legal support to the broader open source geospatial community. It also serves as an independent legal entity to which community members can contribute code, funding and other resources, secure in the knowledge that their contributions will be maintained for public benefit. OSGeo also serves as an outreach and advocacy organization for the open source geospatial community, and provides a common forum and shared infrastructure for improving cross-project collaboration.”

Drupal Museum: a Themes Showcase

July 24th, 2008 Benjamin Horst

The site Drupal Museum provides a showcase of excellent designs implemented in Drupal websites. This is a fine resource to refer back to for inspiration, and for website designers to aspire to inclusion one day.

Success Stories of Free Software in Schools

June 11th, 2008 Benjamin Horst

From a post on EdTech, I was introduced to a collection of Success Stories of Free Software in Schools.

They have collected a number of links to articles about Linux adoption in schools, and also note adoptions of Moodle and other FOSS apps.

This reminds me, I have not been keeping my open source adoptions page updated lately, but it’s tough to keep track as so many places are now making the switch! (And there are many listings on the OpenOffice.org major deployments wiki page to keep track of too.)