August 25, 2009

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IBM Drupal Drop-in Clinic

I love this! I’m practically running an IBM Drupal drop-in clinic at 120 Bloor E, helping five developers on two projects become that much more productive. They’re all working with Drupal 6, but my experience with developing and debugging on Drupal 5 is still helpful, and I can navigate through Internet posts pretty quickly too. I get to help with the tough and interesting bits without needing to set up my environment or work on the boring bits. ;)

This is definitely worth the subway ride. I create more than CAD $4.50 of value and save people more than 60 minutes of time total. Besides, I usually get to sit down and write a blog post during the commute.

Some things from today:

  • Want to protect files from being downloaded? Set your Drupal file system handling to Private, manage your view uploaded files permission, and don’t forget to add an .htaccess in your files directory with the following:
    SetHandler Drupal_Security_Do_Not_Remove_See_SA_2006_006

    Options None

    Options +FollowSymLinks

  • Use hook_form_alter to print out the form_id if you want to change where a form redirects. After you figure out the form_id, set the appropriate form’s #redirect property.
  • var_dump may look different if you don’t have xdebug installed. Check the HTML source for your expected output.

Lots of other HTML- and Drupal-related things, too.

Good leverage on time and experience. =D I wonder how to get even better at this…

Growing as a presenter

After attending a full-day IBM course on creating effective presentations last Friday, I felt like challenging myself to figure out how to make good corporate-ish presentations. The instructor joked that I could probably give the course, and I laughed and said that the end results would look nothing like IBM presentations. But maybe I can help figure out how corporate presentations can be engaging…

Practically all of my external presentations are non-IBM-standard. I use hand-drawn stick figures, full-bleed stock photography and Creative Commons-licensed images, and very little text. They’re also almost all meant to be delivered as part of a highly interactive session, unlike the stand-alone slide decks that are popular within IBM. I have hardly any speaker notes because I have short presentations with memorable key messages. My presentations are idiosyncratic. They fit my style and my knowledge, but they’re not easily reusable by others.

There are a number of ways I’d love to grow as a presenter.

  • I’m working on learning how to make IBM-branded presentations at least for internal use, using the color combinations and slide layouts suggested in our presentation guidelines. There are plenty of opportunities to practice on the presentations I find internally, and I can fiddle with their logic along the way. I can also practice this in the process of developing some of the enablement material I’ve promised to do in my personal business commitments.
  • I’d like to collect and eventually contribute to examples of good corporate presentations: charts and slide layouts that work well, good flow, good supporting logic… There must be awesome presentations out there. If I can collect them, highlight them, and talk about why they work, then I can help other people learn more about presentation skills. Kinda like Presentation Zen, but with examples that corporate speakers can identify with.
  • Someday, I’m going to learn how to make those ballroom-type presentations that look really more like ads. You know, the quick, punchy, animated presentations like “Did You Know…” and “Smile and Move”. In order to learn how to do that, I’ll need to learn video advertising techniques and new tools. It’ll be fun!

Good presentations help people understand complex issues and move themselves to action. Good presentation skills help speakers structure thoughts, build credibility, and facilitate change. Definitely worth looking into. Who wants to learn with me? =) Send me examples of things you like and why you like them, tell me stories about what you’re learning, and share your tips! =)