- learn about the conceptual framework Hodges' model. A tool that can help integrate HEALTH and SOCIAL CARE, INFORMATICS and EDUCATION. The model is situated, facilitates person-centredness, integrated - holistic care and reflective practice. A new site using Drupal is an ongoing aim - the creation of a reflective workbench. Email: h2cmng @ yahoo.co.uk Welcome

Monday, April 28, 2008

Hodges' model and care domain dependencies

Analysis and Synthesis: pretty powerful tools.

Looking at Hodges' model the other day I've thought of the model as a foundation upon which learners and experts alike can build. Looking at the model afresh I've realised that (whatever we all may or may not believe) outside of the model there is the 5th spiritual domain. After this and for some people because of this 5th domain time, energy, matter and love came into being.

So now to Hodges' model itself: we could not have health, social AND pastoral care systems if it were not for the SOCIAL and POLITICAL domains. These two group domains underpin and support the individual domains. There has always been talk of the golden age. These two domains provide the scaffolding for our lives and we would do well to remember this in these burnt umber times.

Reading Michel Serres and other authors you realise that the SCIENCE and intra-INTERPERSONAL care domains depend on the continued support and sustenance of the SOCIAL contract and the POLITICAL contract. I have not written 'social AND political contracts' purposefully as this suggests far greater similarity than I can argue for.

As we look and consider the relationships at work, what else can you see?

Well, we can see the distance between our collective understanding of science AND the distance between many individuals and the political process. Depicted in this way the fragility of things so often taken for granted - research, health care, individual choice, technologically enhanced and aspirational life styles becomes starkly apparent. The things that are granted do rely on contracts. Now though these two contracts themselves depend on the formulation and enactment of a natural contract between the Earth and its inhabitants (Serres, 1990).

Serres, M. The Natural Contract, trans. Elizabeth MacArthur and William Paulson, University of Michigan Press; 1995.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Drupal tinkering - Salamander's in the sand

I keep thinking of drawing a line in the sand as to when the new Drupal site will go live, but then a curious clucking sound takes over and my arms flap uselessly at my sides. The image below is a screenshot using the Salamander theme for Drupal 6.2. As you can see I have not altered the themes default logo, or the colour scheme; but I'm starting to find my way around the menus at last.

I've started to add other users and as you can see have created a forum with topics and posts. The rail ticket image is neither transparent, nor exactly territorial in disposition. It should be possible to set a default vertical and horizontal spacing for images in the archived content. There is another choice to be made in which drop capitals format to adopt. Having read through jQuery in Action, it is time to revisit the book and really experiment.

Assuming there is a community out there - a series of forums on Hodges' model must be at the heart of the new site, but this begs the question of what tools would a community of Hodges' model users need? Drupal's content types can be extended, but how much effort (if any) should go into such resources? Should they be ready-rolled, or should the community identify the need, specify the requirements and produce the goods? Can an MSWord.doc h2cm template provide a start, or is a more adventurous seed required?

So far several people have used the model for their studies or in specific clinical areas. It makes sense then to try to produce a content type that can be configured by the user for these purposes. It makes even better sense to invite registered users to post their contributions. While I continue to piece the new site together, I must investigate the available Drupal modules and Open-EHR. I had heard of 'Open-air' before in passing and last week at Harrogate learned of it in more detail. I wonder what form and scope the archetypes take? Open-EHR may be far too sophisticated for our purposes, but now is a good time to check.

Grammar in Visual Language

I've just watched a Vizthink podcast which I found on Neil Cohn's blog 'The Visual Linguist':

What qualifies as visual language anyway?

As usual - click when running - and the podcast will fill the screen. In addition to the discussion and slides there are many other sources to explore. A news map example had me thinking about Hodges' model and problems within the four care domains. If in addition to clinical staff, managers and policy makers really do want to see evidence of person-centred care and carer's views being taken into account; then how fine-grained should the care map be?

(Or is it just a tick in 'a' box?)

News is one thing, but is there an optimum level for care? Plus of course problems are not the only fruit - there are strengths too...

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Listening and Seeing: The Next Generation

On the latest Sky At Night Sir Patrick Moore brought the most welcome news that Jodrell Bank is not to close due to a recent science funding cock-up. This is a great relief as in addition to seeing - we need to listen too. The Hubble Space Telescope will have its final servicing mission in August.

This will prolong the life of Hubble a true wonder with the images it has sent home to Earth and a fitting last flight for Space Shuttle Atlantis.

As we look forward even further to the Next Generation Telescope now called the James Webb Space Telescope astronomy is not only cool but it's hot and heavy too. Here is a discipline that ensures it samples all the available data streams open to it in order to test, verify, learn and progress. Out on the leading edge of astronomical data windows such as gravity waves, it is a case of discovering just how to listen and see. Diagnostic medicine benefits enormously from existing and new ways to investigate anatomy, physiology and pathological processes.

Astronomers need dishes the size of Jodrell Bank and bigger - such as Arecibo and arrays. People come equipped with telescopes and dishes of their own. As multidisciplinary (multi-eared) research teams develop proposals to take advantage of major initiatives such as the Towards Next-Generation Healthcare programme, let's hope the young stars are able to listen to and connect with the older stars.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Book: "Building Powerful and Robust Websites with Drupal 6" - review

David Mercer's Drupal: Creating Blogs, Forums, Portals, and Community Websites introduced me to Drupal 4.7. When I learned of a new Mercer title from Packt I offered to review Building Powerful and Robust Websites with Drupal 6. If you are impatient and read only the first and/or last para of things then to cut to the chase - if you are new to Drupal and content management systems you need this book. So, go and buy it now!

I've been learning Drupal on-and-off (as spare time allows) since last summer. Reading this latest Mercerian effort I've undoubtedly benefited from reading the Drupal 4.7 text. The 4.7 title definitely got me up and running as a Drupal novice, so this formula and style is familiar to me. There are some physical changes: the paper on this latest offering (my copy at least) has better contrast. I could not find the exact font details, but the print size is larger and so there are fewer words per line which naturally helps readability. Consequently, the 4.7 book's 267 pages translates to 362 pages as measured to the last page of the index.

As a Drupal newbie myself I've struggled due to:

  • The whole client-server set-up and creating a database driven community.
  • Drupal's likeness to an iceberg:
    • what you can see - themes, modules, users, forums
    • what you can't see the MySQL, PHP, CSS, server, template and other files...
    • Oh yes, and the things that are on the water-line - blocks, menus, 'nodes and content'
  • Drupal files and folder structure
    • The location of core Drupal elements vs contributed elements (and your content)
  • Security, access and permissions
    • managing users
  • Upgrading and configuration
    • Drupal is very much a work-in-progress
  • Customisation - themes, styles, being 'original' - extending Drupal.
The first fifty pages provide an introduction to Drupal, how it all started with its creator Dries Buytaert; plus installing server software and Drupal itself. Several pictures of the Drupal website highlight this as a pivotal resource with its forums and great sense of community. Mercer had me wondering that you may not be pushing the envelope if you don't need help at some stage.

On page 32 'The Drupal Environment' a sentence states that readers '... might well prefer to dive straight in and make modifications to your Drupal site.' This seems a bit premature to me, as six pages later we are concerned with obtaining and installing Drupal. As this is my first book review the adopted convention is a stolen sentence or two from Packt's summary of the book, with my thoughts:

Chapter 1 introduces you to the world of Drupal and looks at where Drupal comes from, where it’s going, and what it can offer you. - The Drupal community is an invaluable resource and in addition to reading and struggling I've attended a user group, were everyone has something to offer and there is much enthusiasm and skills on tap. So Mercer highlights the web and forums as a source of support and might possibly have made more (even without specific details) of the number of local Drupal user groups and events. Nonetheless, this thorough introduction is capped off with an explanation about Drupal's status as an open source project and the licence. This more than anything explains Drupal's dynamic credentials. Guidance is provided here on building a website - including 'phone a friend' - and don't forget paper and pencil for planning and developing ideas.

Chapter 2 deals with how to get everything you need up and running on a development machine and also briefly looks at how all the requisite technologies gel together to produce a working Drupal site. ... - Going for a combined package, I tried ApacheTriad and XAMPP before settling on WAMP5 for the Apache server, MySQL and PHP5 software. The thing is don't give up. I installed-scratched Drupal a couple of times; my excuse - I'd give it some time ... and then leave it alone. ... Like many things in life, you need to devote and invest time on which to build your knowledge and skills (even a 10-15 minute session can help). This chapter is very informative whichever server approach you adopt. As the author advises - keep that admin password safe! Mercer's task here must be helped I believe by the Drupal 6 install process. Although not yet 'automatic' it has been greatly improved.

Chapter 3 sees us adding functionality to the newly created site. ... - At this point David Mercer had me wondering: I've heard that a lot of people try Drupal and other CMSs and give up. If there were CMS exit questionnaires what would they reveal? A DHTML menu module is used as a module example and needing to find this again it is there in the comprehensive index. Blocks and menus take some getting used to, well for me anyway. It is not necessarily that they are very complex - they are just cussed on 1st, 2nd, even 3rd acquaintance. If you forget to activate a block, a menu will not show. There are graphic handles for drag-and-drop operations within menus, which helped me to finally grasp things. Mercer's advice to check through the modules that are available for your version is well worth the effort. Yes, the number of modules can be overwhelming, but the diversity and scope provide a reason to forge on and there's more to follow.

Chapter 4 looks at the most general settings that all Drupal administrators need to contend with. ... - This chapter could be titled 'chicken or egg', since you need to understand the functionality of Drupal in order to commit to developing your site. There are a lot of options for site configuration and again it's good advice to take the time and check out the available settings, displayed here in pictures with descriptions. Try to appreciate early on the role of clean urls (and path aliases p.325); using two browser windows can help too.

Chapter 5 concerns itself with the topic of access control. ... - This chapter I will certainly be re-reading. It has prompted me to realise that for my new site a forum is vital. Although I've some static content to archive, this would be a waste of Drupal's power. Here roles are covered, with emphasis on planning and creating an access policy p.116. Throughout the book you are reminded about only giving users the permissions they need to perform task x, y or z and NO more. Mercer points out that what roles you have and what your site can 'deliver' overall is also dependent on administration. Are you a one-admin band or will you have some help? It is always difficult to anticipate the future, hence the need to plan an access foundation upon which you can build.

Chapter 6 gets to the heart of the matter by beginning the book's coverage on content. ... - This chapter sheds light blog entries, book pages, forum topics and pages with these content types just the beginning. The learning here is not just the 'what', but 'how' to administer content, plus distinguishing (or not) between nodes and content. When you are working on your site and styles remember the 'input format' section of this chapter - again really useful. I wondered why my drop capitals and table effects were not showing. It was just that some HTML tags were not allowed through the filter.

Throughout the book the work flow approach helps instill confidence by hand-holding step-by-step and yet also encouraging you to experiment alone. Another insight for me here is the wider potential of Drupal's RSS aggregator. You also realise how quick the publishing turn-around is these days, with the pictures of the feed aggregator dated 02/05/2008. p.166. I have in mind a collaborative book on Hodges' model, so the five pages devoted to the book content type proved essential reading. There are graphic handles for drag-and-drop operations within books, in addition to the menus as mentioned previously.

Chapter 7 gives you the edge when it comes to creating engaging and dynamic content. While this chapter doesn't require you to be an expert in HTML, PHP, and CSS it does introduce you to the basics and shows how, with a little knowledge, extremely powerful and professional content can be created. ... - There are some Drupal pearls here: taxonomy, the content construction kit (CCK) and HTML, PHP and content posting. There's even a brief intro to HTML. Time also for considered reading with descriptions of terms, vocabularies, thesauri and related Drupal elements. With some awareness of clinical terminologies and having read this and other Drupal sources perhaps I'm underestimating the power of Drupal?

The CCK section has me a little puzzled. My next task is to install CCK in Drupal 6.2 as Mercer suggests to see if it works. At the time of writing this review though the Drupal site states they are creating a preliminary, development version [of CCK] for D6 soon. As Mercer acknowledges the CCK is dependent on another module called Views, which is still not yet ready for version 6. In a way something like this is to be expected of a book that is first off the blocks. Mercer still sets the CCK up nicely though, as I'm tantalised by the possibilities, especially when combined with Views as I saw demonstrated at the NW England Drupal user group.

Chapter 8 gives you a run down of how attractive, functional interfaces are created in Drupal through the use of themes. ... - Time to get the hands dirty; first though as with the modules I've followed Mercer's advice and checked through the available themes. You could be excused for believing it is a waste of time poring over all the themes (although not that many are available for D6 as yet). On the other hand let physics work for you and (like me) you will gravitate towards a couple of themes. If bones are essential for structure, support and locomotion, then chapters 8 & 9 provide the meat of the book and Drupal.

Chapter 9 really adds the icing on the cake by looking at a host of more advanced topics. From dynamic and responsive content using JavaScript and native jQuery support to supporting opened and implementing actions and triggers, you learn to enhance your website and add that something special. ... - I blame Mercer 4.7 (plus some exciting demos) for prompting me to invest in a specific jQuery book. (The user group directed me to the seminal Drupal book - the 'Pro' title.) jQuery accounts for a brief but very effective five pages, that I hope to incorporate into my test site efforts very soon. Drupal 6 has seen a major emphasis on internationalization and localisation. This is very welcome functionality for me, that Mercer serves over about 15 pages. My new website must be global in reach, Drupal can deliver and Mercer shows the way. Translation files are still in the future for this Drupal student, but for languages, cacheing, throttling and performance I know where to go for help. OPENID could be a real scoop for user uptake and is covered in just over four pages and begs further investigation. The book is peppered throughout with urls and tips for more resources and reading.

Chapter 10 takes a pragmatic look at the type of tasks in which you will need to be proficient in order to successfully run and maintain a Drupal site. ... - Having backed up the database and run cron jobs manually, there is one major thing I've still to do and that is the non-trivial task of upgrading. The single appendix deals with deployment.

I've a lot yet to prove in terms of learning Drupal and demonstrating proficiency (a deployed website would help!). I'm convinced though that Mr Mercer is helping me move forward with this latest very instructive Drupal book. Significantly there is quite a team behind this title. I wholly endorse this summary from the Packt site:
Written in the same style as the original Drupal title, this book is a pragmatic look at the steps necessary to get a website up and running. Drawing on years of writing experience, David Mercer utilizes a friendly, engaging style that is both clear and concise – perfect for the Drupal newbie.

Good luck - I hope this review helps!

(Many thanks to Packt Publishing for the book copy and acknowledging their support of my blog: Welcome to the QUAD).

Thursday, April 17, 2008

HC2008: Just how did I get out of bed this morning..?

... because I could do with finding out to share with you all.

When I got to work and opened my inbox there was an informatics newsletter c/o Sharon Levy Informatics Advisor at the RCN. Included was an urgent notice about funding to attend Healthcare Computing in Harrogate: HC2008. Well - to cut a long story short I'm now registered to attend next Mon-Weds thanks to the Royal College of Nursing Informatics Group. I have not had time to sort study leave, so it may cost me three days holidays but this would be well worth it. I'll be taking notes as there's a report to write. As ever I'm really looking forward to this demanding mix of conference/exhibition and people-contacts. Friday midday is the deadline for registrations. As I've mentioned here before there is also a bursary scheme, so do check for 2009.

Having tested things in Edinburgh I'll try and post to W2tQ. Must also remember the power cord for the Eee PC this time. That's why the 'live' Edinburgh post was so short, compared with the second on Scotland On Rails.

On the Drupal front - I'm up to page 220 of Mercer's Drupal 6 book and have started to write the review. It is worth buying! I think the penny has nearly dropped regards menus. Currently reading about the CCK - the Content Construction Kit. Next Thursday is the Drupal meeting in Manchester which I also plan to attend. I'm itching to get back to NetBeans and Ruby&Rails, but things take their time hereabouts with pleasant surprises along the way....

Take care. Bye for now.

municipal SOLID waste: Activist tinder - the perpetual fuel

There is nothing like a little bit of local politics to ignite the activist tinder - a perpetual fuel - that can be found in the POLITICAL care domain of Hodges' model.

At the end of February there was a knock at the door @2130 hours on a Sunday. It was a neighbour who lives a few doors away. What transpired was news of plans to extend an existing solid municipal waste plant in the valley between the communities of Blackrod and Horwich.

There was a meeting of the local council the following night and it was vital that people attend to learn of the plans and act on the information as they see fit. The proposal was summarised in the local press as copied below from the The Bolton News:

  • The plant would be capable of processing up to 75,000 tonnes of household and commercial rubbish.
  • It would create recyclable materials and biofuel products and would operate 24 hours a day, six days a week..
  • Four 38ft high bio-filters would need to be built to clean the air produced by the processing plant.
  • Owners say the facility would mean that 48,000 tonnes of waste, including recyclable glass, metal and plastics, would not be sent to landfill sites and that it would produce bio-fuel products, which could be processed to create environmentally friendly fuels. It is estimated the plant would create an extra 20 jobs.
  • Environmental health officers and the Environmental Agency have raised no objections to the plans.
While in the garden last summer I'd wondered about the occasional loud crashing noise. It couldn't be from over the wall (Halloween was ages off). Walking Sam I'd noticed rubbish on the road past the station, but thought it was just vehicles passing through. Well... they were passing through all right. Hearing the details at the council meeting and the smaller group who gathered together made me wish I'd been more curious and not lost in the virtual world. Station Road had been dusty for ages and suddenly it all clicked into place.

I never thought I would be asking myself - "Hey are you playing the NIMBYist?" Getting involved with the Environmental Action Group [EAG] I discovered that NIMBY is not alone:
... As the waste problem gets more acute, site selection for waste facilities becomes conflict-ridden, and the decision is usually met with considerable local opposition, e.g., with BANANA (Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anyone), LULU
(Locally Unwanted Land Use), NIMBY (Not in My Back Yard), NOPE (Not On Planet Earth), or NOTE (Not Over There Either) arguments. Therefore, the solution should not be only cost effective but also environmentally and socially acceptable. Hence, the waste management facility location–allocation problem is characterised by multiple, often conflicting objectives. ... p.1405.
Erhan Erkut, Avraam Karagiannidis, George Perkoulidis, Stevanus A. Tjandra (2008) A multicriteria facility location model for municipal solid waste management in North Greece, European Journal of Operational Research. 187, 1402–1421.
As the environmental action group [EAG] stated at a further public meeting we really DO need new technologies and innovative ways of dealing with waste. Not everyone recycles. Local and national governments are under (fiscal) pressures to reduce landfill. I was immediately struck by the topography: at what height would the proposed chimneys be in relation to the surrounding homes and schools...? What impact would there be on people's mental health, a factor that was already an issue for many homes nearby? Investigating this to put together and articulate objections some key points had been omitted:
  • The publications from the company concerned and DEFRA highlighted these as new technologies, so what about the need for the precautionary principle?
  • Due diligence needs to be demonstrated and proven.
  • The estimates for the increase in traffic and noise did not seem realistic.
  • Contrary to claims made, the citizens impacted by the potential development were not informed.
  • Mention was made of another existing (new) plant, but how did its location compare with that proposed?
The EAG were able to make use of individual and professional knowledge. Other [EAG] people put a lot of work into this, collating, producing and delivering handouts, site visits and making contact with key people. Being at work I could not attend the main council meetings. Over a 1,000 letters of objection were submitted, with contingency plans in waiting.
The news is that the planning application was withdrawn 3 hours before Bolton Planning Committee was due to make a decision: Success (with eyes, ears and heart on the future)!
So, if you're making decisions that affect whole communities - think holistically - it is always best to avoid the BANANAs.
(I would love to map this onto Hodges' model, but no time....)

Monday, April 14, 2008

Hooks - Blogs and Mental Health Care

It seems I'm surrounded by hooks. VanDyk's Pro Drupal book is chock-full of them, so too Ruby (and Rails?).

Sitting and listening to a couple of clients in particular I'm busy trying to locate the hooks:

  • those I need to avoid (get one of these stuck in your lip and you'll end up talking gibberish);
  • those I need to find as ways to move 'things' forward.
So, health care and programming are worlds apart?: don't you believe it!

The book I've to review has arrived Mercer's Drupal 6. I've Drupal 6.2 installed and having been exploring Netbeans and JRuby it's time to revisit the future site c/o Drupal.

Without direct comparison so far the text seems to follow the format of Mercer's previous Drupal 4.7 text. The explanation about Drupal menus - primary and secondary links is really helpful, I'll check this out this week. I've come to the conclusion that Hodges' model needs a forum, encouraged by Mercer's discussion of user roles, permissions and the need to provide a hub for a h2cm community. I've started to map the forum out having also settled on an existing theme. I'd like to avoid the usual 'nursing' forum categories, but this may be difficult. The existing subdivisions are not accidental, so would forums on holistic care and domain specific care be feasible? A key aim is to demonstrate how Hodges' model can also be applied in social care, informatics, education and other fields.

My exposure to NetBeans this past week has highlighted a need to (finally) read about MySQL which is essential for Drupal too. Reading the jQuery book makes a specific glossary page seem redundant, we'll see.

The idea of a community made me think about a conceptual currency - something concrete to help drive development and interchange. About 7-8 years ago when XML was emerging I'd wondered about creating an XML format for Hodges' model. I may still have the e-mails from a couple of people who were interested in this. There was even a web page that included mention of HCML - health career markup language.

In light of this I suppose my latching on to the development of domain specific languages is no surprise. XML has its limitations, but it would be brilliant to have a 'standard' template, a file format for Hodges' model upon which to place key care concepts. I suppose a Word document will suffice for now, but I do believe that much more is possible: hooked indeed. ...

Saturday, April 12, 2008

The Story of Stuff - a 20min video

What is the Story of Stuff?

From its extraction through sale, use and disposal, all the stuff in our lives affects communities at home and abroad, yet most of this is hidden from view. The Story of Stuff is a 20-minute, fast-paced, fact-filled look at the underside of our production and consumption patterns. The Story of Stuff exposes the connections between a huge number of environmental and social issues, and calls us together to create a more sustainable and just world. It'll teach you something, it'll make you laugh, and it just may change the way you look at all the stuff in your life forever.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

"Welcome (nursing) home?"

Sometimes people residing in nursing and residential care facilities become so ill they need to go into hospital. In community mental health terms this can mean that an individual's behaviour can be so disturbed they need specialist assessment and care. It is essential to ensure they can have the best quality of life that their circumstances can provide, without resort to 'care by medication'.

The job means listening to people in care asking to go home. Staff need to be skilled and sensitive in how they respond to such requests, especially when they are repeated time after time. Family members can really struggle with this; should they visit? It is amazing how things can change though...

Quite a while ago I visited a care home and had arrived a bit early. As I turned-up the lady I'd called to see had just returned back from a stay in hospital. It was remarkable to see her recognise the home as home. She responded warmly to the nurse in charge, the many greetings and reassurances offered plus the familiar surroundings. As we accompanied this lady through to her room, it made our day (my week) to hear the deep sigh of relief when the door to her room was opened.

She said, "Oh, it's good to be back."

Walking over to the side of her bed, this highly trained life-trooper stopped.

Sometimes when a tree falls in the forest and someone IS there, there is no sound - just emotion.

Suddenly this lady made like a falling pine in Grizedale forest. In slow motion she fell sideways to greet her bed with another sigh - satisfaction and rest. The home manager and I just looked at each other....

Close call that - just missing the wall - but so good to be 'home' at last.

Image source: http://www.english-lakes.com/grizedale_forest.html

Monday, April 07, 2008

NetBeans, Eclipse and IntelliJ

I've made some progress getting to know Eclipse as a programming environment, but on Friday night (as per the post) I was told about JRuby (which I'd confused with IronRuby) and advised to take a look at NetBeans. So now it's installed, registered and yet another 'hello world' program has run.

Although I know little of Java I recognise an industry heavy weight when I see one. Walking past the coffee house at Oxford Road Manchester I often wondered wish I had time to get to know Java proper. Java's is too much for me and like the armchair astronomer I currently am, in theory so far Ruby has caught my eye and imagination. Behind Java though there is a huge catalogue of libraries and at present Ruby is written in Java.

Apparently the IDE of choice is IntelliJ, but this is not Open Source. I will download this too c/o a trial demo. Wonder if they sponsor worthy causes...? Following Scotland On Rails and Joe O'Brien's observation to focus on Ruby not just Rails, I must also use irb - that is interactive Ruby. It's copied on to the Eee PC now.

I'm working my way through the jQuery in Action book. One existing website page that will benefit from a review and recode is the FAQ. Already I'm thinking about what animations /effects it is sensible to use. It will be interesting to revisit the page created in response to Pippa's question on the humanistic-mechanistic axis. The jQuery used was lifted from a tutorial/blog site and although edited it probably contains some errors / redundant code.

I have not mentioned Drupal for a while, we'll get there.... There's another book on the shelf Learning PHP & MySQL. Must chase the new Drupal 6 book from Mercer too.

Friday night chatting another Ruby-Rails delegate in Edinburgh mentioned having been put-off by the prospect of tackling databases and then I realised: Yes, that's me too - the rabbit like eyes : the glare of headlights - it's all there.
Must seek some therapy, or get off the road....

'A' is for Pippa and thoughts from Bill in Australia

Pippa Crouch has been in touch to update me on her course assignment which was awarded an 'A'. This is great news Pippa - many congratulations!

Regular readers may recall that Pippa, an Occupational Health Nurse Advisor at East Grinstead Hospital, in South East England came across Hodges' model in the new year and found that the model suddenly fell into place for her. Pippa used Hodges' model in a paper studying for her Occupational Health degree.

I'd be pleased to provide some support for people who are interested in using Hodges' model in essays, case studies, posters....

In January I also exchanged a few e-mails with Bill Moloney a Clinical Nurse Consultant in Australia. Here are Bill's thoughts:

Hi Peter,
I am not an academic and respond as a clinician. I endorse your description of this work as a "resource" rather than a nursing model. It provides a wonderful inspirational matrix.

In the context of mental health care delivery it compliments any effort to provide for expansive, inclusive and least restrictive models of care. It certainly supports my opinion that the variables that impinge on the mental health of a community are various and multifaceted and cannot be provided for by any one "stand alone" mental health service. That mental health care is an all of community issue and required are strategies that include collaborative arrangements with services and agencies that influence the mental health of a community in an "All of Community" paradigm. Peter happy new year to you and yours, cheers, Bill
Bill Moloney
Clinical Nurse Consultant,
Consultation/Liaison Psychiatry
AAMHT, WSAHS (west )
Ph : (02) 9881 8888
PO Box 6010
Blacktown, N.S.W.
Thanks Bill and to Pippa for your interest.

One day I would love to travel to Australia, New Zealand or South Africa to see the night sky and of course visit these marvellous nations and the peoples. Amazing gardens too judging from Monty Don's recent travels.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

"Great Scot!" Ruby & Rails - Scotland On Rails

Just back from Edinburgh this evening. Took it steady about 60mph, so used just half a tank of fuel - not bad for 400 miles (return). Had to take it easy as it was just above freezing in places and I ended up playing Star Trek. It was snowing for a time North of Penrith. When I was able I put the head lights on full-beam: warp drive!

Scotland On Rails was great - the organisation, speakers, content and company. The sessions I attended included testing, testing testing, migrating to Ruby 1.9, DSLs .... and the last session on JRuby with the announcement of version 1.1 that provoked a round of applause:

JRuby on Rails: Up And Running!

Charles Oliver Nutter and Thomas Enebo

JRuby 1.1 has been released, and is becoming the Rails platform of choice for many Rails shops. In this session, we’ll show how to start from scratch or migrate your existing Rails app to JRuby. We’ll demonstrate the various deployment options on JRuby. We’ll show how to integrate Java libraries into your app. We’ll walk through NetBeans’ Ruby and Rails support and talk about how JRuby has enabled better tools and better solutions for Ruby developers. And we’ll have a conversation with the audience about where JRuby on Rails should go from here. Be prepared to talk shop and see lots of code and demos.
I'd been really looking forward to Joe's presentation on DSLs and was not disappointed. My enthusiasm here is not because Hodges' domains makes a DSL a dead-cert, far from it; it's just that I miss playing with Plasticine:
Domain Specific Languages : Moulding Ruby

Joe O'Brien

Ever wondered what all the fuss is about when it comes to DSL’s and Ruby? It seems to be all we hear about. This talk will peel away the onion and look at what it is about Ruby that makes it the perfect candidate for creating your own languages. I will show you, through examples, how you can create your own languages without the need for compilers and parsers. We will also cover some real world examples in areas of Banking and Medicine where DSL’s have been applied.
Amid the clamour that is Rails, Joe also stressed that people should focus and explore Ruby itself. Something I need to get on with. Paul Dix's talk this afternoon was fascinating in terms of scale, processing, math libraries and mention of clustering:
Collective Intelligence: Leveraging User Data to Create Intelligent Rails Applications
Paul Dix

Take advantage of user data to create intelligent Rails applications! This talk will focus on data mining to create complex application behavior and gain insight into the patterns and habits of your users. Examples of these techniques can be seen with recommendation systems like those created by Amazon, Netflix, last.fm, and others. Additional examples include spam filtering systems for email or comment filtering provided by Akismet.
I will focus on techniques for gathering data, specific gems and plugins for performing various data mining and machine learning tasks, and performance issues like how to distribute the work to separate servers. Theory in this talk will be light and the specific algorithms will only get a mention by name. We’ll be looking at real world Ruby and Rails code examples for building recommendation, ranking, and classification systems.
I wasn't the only Ruby newbie and met a few of my peers, we noticed on the first day the number of sessions on the theme of testing. Last week I'd watched Matz' February talk on Ruby 1.9 and the future which helped me out through the past two days. Last night in The Crags one of the speakers Ritchie (whose session I missed) kindly explained about his conjoint talk and the significance of JRuby, NetBeans IDE and IntelliJ. Given Richie's knowledge, experience and that closing session, I'll definitely investigate these.

There's only one conclusion - totally overwhelming: but totally worth the brain ache.
So great job and many thanks to Alan and the team, plus the luminous speakers and sponsors.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Hello from Edinburgh Scotland On Rails

Well that's the first day for me here at this event. There's a lot to take onboard and more to follow tomorrow. Blogging through the Asus Eee PC and free wireless.
Bye for now!