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Comment CiviCRM on Drupal, Joomla or Wordpress (Score 1) 281

CiviCRM and the CiviCase module will do what you want out of the box. CiviCRM is open source and free. While I wouldn't really suggest WordPress to setup CiviCRM, I did get it to work for me. I chose Drupal to put it into because Drupal offered much more customization.

I've set up CiviCRM in Drupal on Linux within a Virtual Box. I use the module CiviCase. You can even get a CiviCRM virtual machine from if you want it as simple as it gets.

If you don't have to import data CiviCase will work perfectly out of the box. Importing data from another database can be a challenge, but there is some help out there. There is a large community of CiviCRM users. Search for "what is civicase" to get an overview.

The people who are designing and developing CiviCRM and CiviCase are doing an incredible job. I studied their database and it is well normalized. I have built a few customer relations databases over the years and will never again have to struggle with designing again thanks to these people. It is designed with non-profits in mind, CiviCase in particular is designed around needs of small clinics.

Comment civiCRM (Score 4, Informative) 120 is extraordinarily powerful for community work. It can deal with any number of different organizing needs from paying for classes to calendaring, from constituent matters to membership sites. Check it out. I'm currently working to make civiCRM work as a law practice management solution. It needs some significant tweaking to make it work for that purpose, but for you needs it will probably work "out of the box" so to speak. Like any major software package it requires setting up, but there a lots of people around the world who have experience setting it up, you can even just pay to get the settings you want.

Comment Things get complex, then get simpler (Score 2) 480

IMnsHO, corporate information systems have reached the level of complexity where they will either find simpler methods or they will collapse under their own weight. Most of the complexity comes from profit motives (both the corporation's and the consultant's).

There is a shift happening, starting at lower levels and in new businesses and governments, as you indicate. Being almost 65, I doubt I'll see the simplified versions ... but maybe!

Comment Re:Documents vs Records; the paperless office (Score 1) 480

If you need to edit a PDF then it's a document, not a record. If you really need to do it then it should be a hard thing to do, just so it stays a record. It is possible to OCR the PDF into Word (or RTF) and then edit it or use it as a template.

Something like an operating manual is a living document, not a record (at least it shouldn't be etched in stone). And I would say that a document's portability is relative to the complexity of it's formatting. Why not use RTF, or keep the formatting to basics. And really, since operating manuals vary so much they would probably be best in a database or, as you say, something like a wiki (though I hate editing those).

There are advanced PDF formats, just like for documents. It's all about keeping it simple. The PDF archive format is best for records. Also, yes there are problems but a record in a PDF is more likely to be readable on common software in ten years than a Word document (mostly because PDFs are being positioned as the record form of choice in most paperless systems).

Thanks for you comments. Very thoughtful.

Comment Documents vs Records; the paperless office (Score 2) 480

The problem is that people fail to understand the difference between records and documents. The transition to effective digital communications is still in process and has some way to go before it matures.

I help attorneys transition to paperless offices and I would make three comments.

1) PDFs are the only fair way to share written and graphic records, yet people continually share word processing documents as records. A record is different than a document. A record might be commented on, but the base information should not be changed because it is a record of an informational transaction. A document is used more for a data gathering or information organizing process. A document will become a record when it is completed. For example, I might write a letter in a word processor and share the drafts with a co-worker, but when it is ready for printing/emailing I turn it into a PDF and save the PDF as the record in a folder of, for instance, the client. I would then delete the word processor document unless I want a template for further work (in which case the template is not stored in the same place as the record).

2) Almost all documents are over-formatted using proprietary software. That's the main reason why PDFs work best to turn a document into a record. Good OCR software can take just about any PDF record and turn it into either a Word or a RTF document. RTF is probably the most universally readable document even though it allows moderate formatting.

3) Many documents in a modern business or government agency have macros and/or database connections for automatically creating records. These macros and database connections are not easily transferred from one word processing program (or spreadsheet) to another. Most of the attorneys I work for use WordPerfect because they always have and they have hundreds of little macros. This is where the transition from one office suite to any other suite becomes technically difficult.


Submission + - How to boil water without bubbles (

ananyo writes: "One trick to test whether a frying pan is hot enough is to sprinkle water on it. If the surface is sufficiently above the boiling point of water, droplets will skip across the pan. Those jittery beads of water are held up from the hot pan by a cushion of steam. The vapour cushion collapses as the surface falls below the 'Leidenfrost temperature', causing furious bubbling and spitting when the water droplet hits the surface and boils explosively.
The Leidenfrost effect lies behind the discovery, published today, that water can be made to boil without any bubbling if a surface is specially treated so that the vapour cushion does not break down. The key is to make the surface very water-repellent (abstract). The effect might be used to carefully control how metals are cooled and heated, or to reduce drag on ships. There's a video in the source showing the effect."

Comment Re:Action Vs. Words (Score 1) 305

I agree with your observations. Years ago there was a national march to free Mumia Abu-Jamal. 10,000 people marching in San Francisco alone. I'm not sure how many in NY but I seem to remember twice that or more. I think the organizers were surprised by the turnout. I traveled from southern Oregon to attend in SF. That march could have shut down the city, causing exactly the economic pain you see as successful. Instead, everyone was nice. We broke the march at intersections so cars could get through, otherwise they would have been jammed for at least an hour while everyone passed...and with a little random action that could have been extended even more. We could have shut down downtown SF, and I'm sure the NY march could have shut down at least parts of Manhattan. I hadn't thought about your take on it, but at the time I did think we should have marched to the Examiner or Chronicle newspaper offices, circled the block and shut their business down for awhile. As it was, there was very little press locally or nationally...and, based on your observations, it's because there were a lot of people but no economic impact. Liberal people are just too nice, I guess. During the civil rights movement, free speech movement and sexual liberation movement people got beat up, gassed and even killed, there is much more restraint now because they understand how to understate the power of the people.

Comment Wells Fargo (Score 1) 359

I was able to download multiple years worth of banking data, though I had to click a few extra times to get the extended download. The last three months was an easy one click. I would prefer to use a credit union, but Wells Fargo holds my mortgage, credit line and an unfortunate credit card I stopped using but am still paying off. Until my income improves and I can change my loans I'm stuck with Wells Fargo

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