Author: Gerry Kirk

Working for Democracy

Vote for MMP

I’m not getting much blogging done here lately because I am focused on getting people to vote for change in the upcoming electoral referendum in Ontario, Canada. Elections Ontario is trying so hard to be neutral, in my opinion that it is not doing its job to educate voters, so it’s up to ordinary citizens to make this happen. This is an historic opportunity for Ontarians to finally say farewell to its antiquated First Past the Post voting system and join most of the world’s democracies who dropped it 50 to 100 years ago. It’s also the first referendum since Ontario joined the Confederation in 1792. That’s heavy, important stuff, and why I’m using whatever free time I have to organize a local campaign.

Here are my latest articles:

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Ask the Readers: Can Plone be Green-Powered?


Data centres consume vast amounts of energy, and the situation is only getting worse. Luiz Andre Barraso of Google stated in a published paper last year that every gain in performance has been accompanied by a proportional increase in overall platform power consumption. ZDNet UK reports that the average energy costs of running a data centre in the UK will double over the next five years. The European Commission is now considering a voluntary code of conduct on energy efficiency for data centre operators to help address this issue.

No wonder consumers are looking for greener hosting choices. A potential client of mine is interested in hosting his site with a provider that uses green energy. This interests me as well, in my pursuit of leaving a smaller footprint on our planet.

The one he found uses 100% renewable energy (wind and solar), plants a new tree for each client, and believes in social responsibility through how they work, including telecommuting and a mostly paperless office. Unfortunately, their offerings aren’t suitable for Plone, and that is the same story with every other hosting provider I found, including ones listed at If there is a “green” option out there for Plone, I haven’t found it.

So, is there an option for environmentally conscious organizations / individuals who want their Plone site consuming less of our natural resources? Let me know by posting your comments.

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My new gig

The following editorial is my first entry as a temporary columnist on SooToday, a local online newspaper here in Sault Ste. Marie.

People of Ontario, this might be the most important vote you’ll ever make.

On October 10, we the people of Ontario will be given a historic opportunity to change democracy for the better, for our province and ultimately for our country. On that day, in addition to voting for your elected representatives and for a new government, you will choose the voting system for future elections.

Why should I care?

Why does it matter, you say? What’s the big deal?

I believe our voting system is the root cause of much of what is wrong with democracy and governance here in Canada. Really.

But don’t take my word for it, listen to why the members of the Ontario Citizens’ Assembly voted for change, and why they chose MMP.

October 10 is Decision Day

So what will you do?

Will you stick with the current 200 year old model, known as First-Past-The-Post (FPTP)?

Or will you choose the voting system chosen by the Ontario Citizens’ Assembly on Electoral Reform, known as Mixed Member Proportional, or MMP?

Can’t Sit Still

I’m no different than you. I’ve got a busy life, especially with a 3 yr old girl and 9 month old twin boys. Spare time is more rare than spare change. Despite that, I’ve decide to coordinate the local Vote for MMP campaign, because I believe a proportional system will finally make democracy work for the people who mark the X’s, and darned if I’m going to sit back and let this opportunity pass me by!

For the next 5 weeks or so, you can expect to read:

  • In-depth analysis of the two voting systems.
  • An article from David Viitala, our local representative on the Ontario Citizen’s Assembly.
  • What’s going on locally
  • Ways you can get involved in the campaign. The government and media aren’t doing enough to spread the word, so it’s up to us to make it happen.
  • Opinions from prominent individuals on both sides of the debate.
  • Your thoughts! Let’s have a healthy debate on this topic, using the Response option at the bottom of each column. The more insightful comments will be mentioned in future postings.
  • Obligatory bad jokes about democracy and voting (I’ll try to be gentle)

Vote for MMP web site –

MMP supporters Facebook group

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How To: Save Money and Hassle on Travel


I don’t get out of the house much these days, but for those of you who travel to sprints, conferences (like the upcoming Plone conference in Italy – wish I was going!) or fun exotic locations, Web Worker Samuel Dean has some tips for using and to get the best deal on your travel options.

In a nutshell: use Kayak’s slider tool to quickly adjust departure and arrival times to find additional options and check Farecast’s price trend on your chosen fare to make sure today is a good day to buy.

Click-and-Drag to Save Travel Dollars and Avoid Hassle [Web Worker Daily]

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Friday funnies in the #plone room

#plone is the online chat room where people hang out to learn, help and talk about their favourite CMS Plone. There are always lots of people online and it’s a great resource for anyone new to Plone who needs some immediate help. And if your brain is slowly turning to cheese on a Friday afternoon, hop into #plone for some low powered entertainment. Here are some samples for you:

andym : lol UndoError: Undo error None: non-undoable transaction

[3:20pm] PloneUser684958: sdfjdlskfljk

[3:20pm] PloneUser684958: slkfjsdlkfjlskfjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjsd

[3:20pm] PloneUser684958: jjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjj

[3:20pm] PloneUser684958 left the chat room. (“Bye bye”)

[3:21pm] gkirk: a keyboard streaker!

[3:21pm] darci|lunch: LOL

[3:21pm] ErikRose: Good, I was almost out of j’s!

[3:21pm] limi: ErikRose: that’s Perl

[3:21pm] ErikRose: Oh.

[3:21pm] limi: or, hang on

[3:21pm] limi: ^T$@(*#)^* is perl

[3:21pm] andym: limi: no its readable

[3:21pm] limi: my bad

MatthewWilkes: andym: Did you remember to uninstall It removes the requirement to specify yes_really_i_didnt_call_this_api_for_amusement

[3:41pm] runyaga_: do we need a reality check?

[3:41pm] runyaga_: is it a CMS ?

[3:42pm] runyaga_: is your adapted result a CMS?

[3:42pm] runyaga_: or a nuclear powered semantic web engine?

[3:42pm] runyaga_: Plone is a CMS

[3:42pm] runyaga_: if you try to make it a semantic web engine or a ERP system you are going to hate your life

Do you have a favourite quote / conversation from #plone? Add yours to the comments.

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Twittered tips

Now that I have a number of people in my Twitter circle, the social utility is improving. It’s interesting to find out what other people are working on and learning about. Here are some tips and entertaining bits that have been shared in the past couple of weeks via Twitter (what is Twitter and why should I care?):

And most important of all, Rob Porter got engaged! How it all happened is an entertaining story in itself.

Want to join the circle? Sign up at twitter and then choose to follow some of the Plone people using Twitter.

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How to promote Plone using Twitter

What is Twitter and why should I care?

TwitterFrom Wikipedia: “Twitter is a free social networking and micro-blogging service that allows users to send “updates” (text-based posts, up to 140 characters long) via SMS, instant messaging, email, the Twitter website, or an application such as Twitterrific.” Anyone who has signed up to follow your account gets your updates as part of their Twitter feed.

Twitter is a lot more fun once you have a group of people you know twittering as well. You can also sign up to feeds from high profile politicians, news services and metropolitan fire departments.

How to get started

Create an account on, it’s free. For Mac buffs, download Twitterific. Trust me, you’ll be glad you did.

Find some people to follow, including some of the plonistas mentioned in my earlier post, friends who are already using Twitter or search Twitter for other people who have similar interests. You can invite others to join as well.

Most twitter posts, I’ve noticed are about what people are doing as they go through their day. While some of that can be entertaining, I’m mostly interested in Twitter as a shared learning tool, so I try to post one entry a day about something I have learned or done.

Use to include links, since you are limited to 140 characters.

Twitter as a Plone marketing tool

Mr. Topf provided some excellent suggestions as a comment to my earlier posting about Plone and Twitter. I’ve added a few of my own as well:

  • Post interesting stuff about what you learn about Plone to your twitter feed (like “reading nice howto on X: http://…“) and the like. Just look at what sort of posts your friends do
  • Talk about projects you are using Plone for
  • Provide tidbits on Plone, including new releases, how much fun the community is, when the next Plone event is, interesting Plone screencasts (or do them yourself) and so on.
  • Point people to naturally

Over time, you’ll reach more and more people who don’t know about Plone. Imagine that, people who have never heard about Plone before!

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People who use Plone who use Twitter

Mr. Topf just finished creating a Plone twitter feed so now you can get tasty bits of Plone news and information throughout your day. Head to, or subscribe to the RSS feed.

There are also a number of people active in the Plone community who are twittering as well. Here are their twitter coordinates:

Are there any other twitter plonistas out there? Please raise your hand by posting your twitter url as a comment.

Updated July 30, 2007: added other Plone people who are using Twitter to the list above.
Updated August 2, 2007: added two more people to the list.
Updated August 7, 2007: Germany has two more representatives
Updated August 16, 2007: one more twit, er twitterer

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New beginning

Starting this month, I am back to working self-employed, something I haven’t done since I first came back from Bangladesh in 2002. My first attempt was only a few months and not very successful, but this time around I am more hopeful.

I’ve been working part-time the last two months for Jazkarta, a company delivering Plone-based solutions. My primary role is project manager but I also moonlight as a sales guy, process improvement nut and irc joker.

<shamless plug>
Any other Plone companies out there looking for remote project managers are welcome to contact me at gerry_kirk AT alumni DOT uwaterloo DOT ca.
</shameless plug>

Everyone at Jazkarta is home-based, with home being in places across Europe, North America and parts of Asia. I plan to write more about the tools and processes we use to get work done.

Working from home has been a great experience. I love the flexibility of switching between work and family life, or just getting out to do other things when I want to. It’s a busy life at home with twin baby boys and a 3 year old girl, so mommy appreciates the extra hands when the fire alarms go off. 🙂

So, I’m not sure where the future road lies, but right now I’m happy to be focused on pm work using Plone as a technology solution. The Plone community is full of great people to interact with, and many of the clients I work with are non-profits working to improve our world by tackling social, environmental and science issues.

Now I just need to save up enough $$$ and get my passport in time to attend my first ever Plone conference, something I’ve been wanting to do since the early days. This year the conference is being held in Italy, and looks to be a great event. Most of the Jazkarta folk will be there, too, which would be my first time seeing them in 3D. Keeping my fingers crossed for now! 🙂

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