26 January 2010 | Web Development

Impressive sites built with Drupal

Here’s a list of impressive Drupal sites which I’ve found on the net. There are a few existing lists out there, some of which are at the bottom of this post, but I’m curating my own based on my own taste. If you know of any sites I’ve missed out that should be here, please write a comment below.


Government Sites

Campaigns and Movements


Publications (News, Magazines, etc)

Music-Related Organisations




Tech Communities

Other Communities

Other lists of sites built with Drupal

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4 September 2009 | Web Development

LIVE at DrupalCon Paris 2009: How I learned to stop worrying and love the cloud

Session: Dr Clonelove: How I learned to stop worrying and love the cloud
Speaker: Peter Brownell, Co-Founder of School Of Everything, a Drupal based start-up in London. He is also a Director of Code Positive, and has been involved in the London Drupal Community for many years.

Session: How I learned to stop worrying and love the cloud


MySQL proxy changes the game.

“Clustering involves very high documentation. We run three servers. The idea is to move to small instances of dataases. Amazon gives you two main cluster machines. Large instances are 4 times more expensive than the small one. “

“When we began, it was obvious nothing was persistent.”

Handling failures

If your machine cannot be reconfigured, it can’t be in a cloud. You need to know how your machine was set up. Do things well. Assume that any part of the cloud can die.

  • How do we go about reconfiguring that?
  • Be able to rebuild from backups.
  • Document and blog.
  • Fire drill – practice makes perfect.

Rebuild debian host. Rebuild Drupal site. Drupal’s easy to rebuild. In emergencies, put in on a single server and temporarily disable some admin stuff that you don’t need; and then put it in front of a proxy.

Cloud City

Never have faith in just one ally. Set up a base off the cloud. Keep a backup on the ground. Monitor from the outside. Mail smarthost to avoid auto greylisting.

Foreseeing problems

Monitor as much as possible. Don’t trust anything. Look for clues for where problems arise. Do capacity planning. “We used Nagios and Munin”.


The physical world moves a little slower. Virtual machines are cheap but you need to plan. Configure one original and make many copies, in multiple zones. Only pay for the time you use. It’s not two of everything always, it’s a spare when you need it.

The pieces putting the cluster together

  • How safe is your data on the storage? “For the first month, we ran our MySQL database on EC2.
  • Write to S3, read from local DB.
  • Elastic Block Store – EBS.
  • Point-in-time snapshots.

Clone 2 Clone Filesystem

  • Avoid dependencies
  • ClusterFS sync files instantly
  • Primary webserver uses persistent storage
  • Deliver images off S3. Drupal cloudfront modules makes it easy. Upgrade to Amazon’s CDN for a bit more.
  • Round Robin DNS is a cheap solution for load balancing.


Cloud forces best practice. No time for slacker sysadmins!
Avoid dependencies. Work backwards

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4 September 2009 |

LIVE at DrupalCon Paris 2009: Semantic Web Fundamentals

I’m right now at the last keynote of DrupalCon Paris 2009 – Semantic Web Fundamentals by Dan Brickley who is quite active in the W3C community.

Who is Dan Brickley?

  • Accidental standards-nerd
  • Making things in the Web since 1994
  • Found metadata community & W3C through trying to make better Web sites


  • Web 2.0 mashups related to semantic web – Google Earth / Earthquake maps
  • Layers of data – What links the layers?
  • Linking – Working on ways to identify when two documents mention the same thing and how to tie them tgether.
  • A bit of history – Dan’s showing the first document of the web by Tim Berners-Lee
  • Different layers of how info is used should be linked sensibly if info is common e.g. different websites talking about the same school
  • Gmail – things are linked together e.g. threading
  • W3C POWDR – label pages or collections?
  • All LCSH topics on Paris – why can’t they be associated?
  • Shared datasets in networks of websites e.g. universities with libraries, museums, government departments
  • Yahoo SearchMonkey – a way of of customising search results
  • Adobe XML – stuffing RDF descriptions inside files. Been doing this since 2001 with TIFF JPEG, PNG, GIF, PDF
  • Drupal Fields API – attach arbitrary properties to anything in Drupal 7. RDF does the same for the Web at large. It’s natural to bridge the two.

Drupal & Data APIs – SPARQL is to RDF as SQL is to RDBMs. SPARQL scripting looks very familiar to anyone working with SQL.

There’s a growing ecosystem around linked RDF data including people. Amnesty International’s dev team is getting involved.


There’s a potential for manipulation when people put their info into RDF. What kind of manipulations are already appearing?

We have to expect lies because the Web is full of it, like with HTML. Build as many links to real data as possible. Based on those links, we can filter away fake data.

How do we manage links between the computer and the real world; and the data on our website?

It’s natural for people to make different decisions at this point based on their needs. For example, my info is scattered on different websites e.g. blogs, Flickr. If you have a clear linking model, it doesn’t matter much.

Is there an initiative to collect taxonomies in specific industries e.g. leisure and engineering. Basically a way to register your taxonomy so others can use it?

Good question. We don’t have a nice directory but with things like SearchMonkey, people can choose to see what’s out there to use. That’s something that we’re working on at W3C – some way that’s easy to maintain.

With regards to privacy, is there a way to index my text but not let everyone to view them?

RDF is agnostic and doesn’t care where your data lives. What we found is by putting public data on a public network, we get a huge network of useful data. [NOTE: you can always probably use Drupal’s access control to control access to certain pages for a group of users.]

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25 May 2009 | The Web

How to download videos from YouTube

A friend of mine asked me how to download videos from YouTube so I might as well write it and send her the link. After all, I couldn’t find a guide that could easily explain the steps in a simple manner.

  1. There are a few websites that will let you download YouTube videos. One of them is KeepVid.
  2. In KeepVid, paste in the link of the YouTube video.
  3. Click Download and save the mp4 version.
  4. You should be able to play mp4 files in Windows Media Player. If not, download and install VLC Media Player which is a free and popular program for playing DVDs and video files.

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13 May 2009 | The Web

The easiest way to report phishing emails

Phishing emails are bloody annoying — they’re the type that imitate authentic emails from banks and try to convince you to put in your email and password into a fake page. The best way to avoid falling for scams like these is to look at the URL and check that it’s your bank’s real website.

Most browsers including Firefox 3 warn you when you try to visit a phishing site, but some of the latest phishing sites are not blocked. Do the responsible thing and forward them to this list of organisations below to make sure it’s added to the blacklists of these browsers and other people. The more people that do this, the more pain it causes phishers:

In a nutshell, forward all phishing emails with this in the recipient list:

*reportphishing@antiphishing.org, phishing-report@us-cert.gov

Create a group in your address book with these 3 emails so it’s easier — you can then just forward phishing emails to that contact group.

I just forwarded a site that wasn’t blocked by Firefox to the above emails today; and it was blocked 15 minutes later. Was it because of my reports? No way to tell, but it doesn’t hurt to help make the Web a safer and more fun place especially if it only takes a few seconds of your time.

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5 May 2009 | The Struggle

Gentrification in George Town

It’s been a while since I wrote about anything on this blog, mostly because of Twitter, so I thought I’d start using my blog more to share articles with the world.

Here are some articles regarding the gentrification of shoplot communities in George Town, Penang:


11 March 2009 | Film

FFmpeg 0.5 released

Every release of FFmpeg is a step closer towards creating alternative video networks to YouTube and having people avoid putting all of their eggs in one basket. So it’s good news then that FFmpeg 0.5 has just been released. Major changes include more support for Real, AAC and WMV9. Centralization of video sharing over the Web faces problems when countries only have to block a few video sharing sites to prevent access to human rights related videos, YouTube being the most popular, of course. In fact, YouTube themselves have been involved in the censorship of politically critical videos.

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