Joe's blog

Crypto Wars and Back Doors

"The crypto wars are back in full force, and it's time for everyone who cares about privacy to stand up and defend it: no back doors and no bans on the tools that protect our communications."

Check out the Electronic Freedom Foundation's post on the recent New York Times front page story on the US Government wanting to insert back doors in all the cryptography systems:

Design Study: East Hill Tree Farm

I was sorting through a list of cards while cleaning out my wallet and came across Nicko's card. Nicko runs East Hill Tree Farm in Plainfield. Check out for a great simple site with some super design elements.

The logo and graphics in the block print style fit perfectly with Nicko's focus: "to reestablish the garden of Eden." The site communicates clearly. It has directions to the nursery prominently featured on all pages. The main navigation elements are simple and uncluttered.

Spider Spider in the Web

We've recently written a spider for a client that walks their whole site and lists all connections between pages. This produces a brute listing of 29,000+ connections. We're doing this in preparation for a Drupal 7 (that's right d7!) transition. All links in the site content need to go to the correct new locations in the new site. For this to happen we need to correlate the new locations with the old locations so we can correctly rewire the new links.

Old Spokes Home Launches

The Old Spokes Home is a great old bike shop in Burlington's Old North End. We are proud to announce that we just went live with their new web site! Check out for the new Old Spokes Home online.

The OSH has lots of great new and old bikes on display in the shop. They do great custom work on new and old bikes. The new website highlights some of the incredible museum pieces that the OSH has. I think they're the most extensive bike museum in the Northeast.

The OSH had a nice website before we did the overhaul. The new site has more graphic flair than the old site, maintains the unique antique look and feel, but also has space for the new and updated material. The new site is also simpler than the old and should navigate more smoothly for site visitors.

It's been a pleasure working with Glenn and Chris on the website and we'll make sure it serves them well into the future. Swing by and check out the bikes and the shop!

Vermont Open Source Software and Open Standards Policy and Guidelines

The Department of Information and Innovation recently made a big announcement promoting open source and open formats in all branches of state government. See section 1.2, Purpose, quoted below.

The purpose of this policy is to encourage departments and agencies to consider the use of open source software and proprietary software that incorporates or utilizes open standards when making decisions about procurement of software solutions.

Windows USB Battery Charger that Tunnels through a Firewall?

This is not a joke. This was posted on the US-CERT site. US-CERT is the operational arm of the National Cyber Security Division (NCSD) at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). It is a public-private partnership.

Courting Open Source

Found this gem on the VAGUE list. If you're interested in Open Source in VT. Check out their site and get on their mailing list.

I think RMS looks really sweet in this picture. Anybody who's met him in real life knows he's not always so mild mannered. He's an Open Source revolutionary. What can you expect? Is it just me or does he look like Jesus? Check out his online personal at

Also on the VAGUE list "Open Source Software and Open Standards Policy and Guidelines" for the State of Vermont (see attachment!). In these times of economic crisis could the state be coming to its senses?? Open Sourcers rejoice!

Google Analytics vs. Webalizer

We're working on a website makeover and dealing with an unfortunate client who is running only webalizer for web stats. Webalizer doesn't discriminate between people and robots (spidering programs), so we're looking over their web stats, trying to find out what's popular and what's not.

Without Google Analytics or some other statistics gathering tool that doesn't show robots, it's hard to know what's hot and what's not. In general, you don't care how many robots hit a page. With the webalizer data, you can still make out what's popular, but all the data needs to be taken with a grain of salt. For most sites, the visits by robots vastlty outnumber the visits by humans, so counting the robovisits can dilute and skew your stats.

CiviCRM Custom Reports for the UP

We're just completing a great project for the United Professionals here in Burlington. They're ramping up for a new campaign to get a group of hard working Vermonters to organize for better representation and bargaining power. We helped them set up a CiviCRM system that integrates their internal data with multiple database exports from the State of Vermont. This allows them to focus and organize their lists so they know who they need to talk to, who supports them and where their strongest support is concentrated.

Open Source For America

Open Source for America (OSFA) represents more than 1,600 businesses, associations, non-governmental organizations, communities, and academic/research institutions who have come together to support and guide federal efforts to make the U.S. Government more open through the use of free and open source software. We applaud the Obama Administration’s Open Government Initiative and the December 8th Directive requiring all federal agencies to promulgate Open Government Plans. We offer the following recommendations for essential elements that belong in every Open Government Plan:

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