Elves – Rolling Out

Elves at work: we’re fiddling with this nice fancy drop down menu of ours, so you might see some debugging code appear on the page.

We seem to have the menu dedupe working, although there are a few more scenarios to test.  You may see some blank screens appear when trying to access blog entries.  That’s because the blog software developers are working on getting various pieces of content to show up where they should – social networking buttons, lists of posts by the same author, etc.

Azrul (the developers of the blogging software) have very kindly fixed two plugins for us.  We’re experimenting with two more so expect some odd behaviour from the site.  Specifically, blog pages will behave strangely for a while.


2011-12-22 we’re updating versions of the social network software and testing.  We’re also moving the site to Germany, where we get the benefit of unlimited bandwidth for the same hosting cost.  We’ve been with our ISP, Hetzner, since 1999 and would recommend them unreservedly, and they’ve done a great job of moving the first batch of No Vanilla sites.  gamadoelas will be shipping out tomorrow morning, so will be down for a while


We are getting very close to rolling out now.  The technical approach we’re taking is to configure the live site up to a point where we’re comfortable that it is usable, and then copy all the configuration data to a development site.  After that, standard change control will apply and nothing will be rolled out to the live site until it has been tested and ok’d on the dev site.  This will prevent disturbances and outages on the live site (it has no effect on your ability to create content or interact with other users).


So for now the site may seem a bit changeable or unstable, but when we’re working on it we’ll post a frontpage article to say that the elves are at it – and you’ll know that there’s a lot of cobbling going on under the hood!

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By Invitation Only – thanks to WMPro!


We’ve got commercial open source social networking capability under the hood, and I started looking around at invitation systems which might give us the capability to run a by invitation network.  They all seemed to be very expensive and full of features which we didn’t need, because we really don’t want to build a big network.

Then I came across Winged Messenger Pro, a very simple and functional invitation system written by Daniel Scheufler at http://www.joomla-fortbildung.de/ .  It seemed to be pegged at exactly the level I was looking for – a straightforward invitation and tracking system with the capability to make user registration invitation-only.  I also liked Daniel’s approach to ‘commercial’ components – make a donation to his pet charity and you can have a copy!

The only hitch was that the invitation-only portion required Community Builder, a free social networking component, and we had decided to go with a commercial component as our needs in this regard were a bit more stringent.

Although I’m a data and business intelligence person by trade, I’ve done quite a lot of work on Joomla components (primarily integrating Docman with Juga, but other bits and pieces as well), soI  decided to get it anyway and tackle the plugin which handles the invitation control myself.

I had some email communication with Daniel about this, including which Joomla events might be appropriate, and before I had a chance to blink, he’d written us a native Joomla plugin to handle the invitation control! It’s in and it’s working! Thanks, Daniel, this is fabulous service, and we’re very happy to be the testers for WM Pro 1.8.

Even if you don’t have a website and don’t need an invitation component for it, please give Daniel’s site a visit.  You might feel inspired to donate some money to his charity, an education fund for underpriveleged children in Nicaragua.


Moving to the country


The answers to that very wide-ranging question are some of the things this site seeks to help with:

  • finding the right property
  • understanding the financial implications of moving to the country
  • work opportunities, and ways in which you might need to change the way you work
  • the inner journey – why do you want to do this, anyway?

And then there are all the usual suspects like:

  • sustainable living
  • growing your own food, and country cooking, of course!
  • looking after old houses
  • natural rhythms – mind, body and spirit slow down and relax
  • alternative medicine (and whether any of it works!)
  • doing good – volunteerism, social entrepreneurship, ways in which you can make a difference in rural communities

Then there are the issues of living in small communities and dealing with (frequently) startling levels of pettiness and conflict if you’re used to the city

  • isolation – we all go out there for the peace, but sometimes it gets really lonely
  • ways to connect – the arts, music, crafters, and the way life in the country can stimulate creativity

…and much more.

How on earth are we going to put such a diverse collection of content together while keeping it useful and well-organised?  It’s a daunting prospect, but two of us have already done the country thing (and the third is planning it), and we see this as being facilitated by our existing networks of friends in the platteland, making use of social networking technology to connect it all up and find more like-minded people (there’s some very sophisticated stuff under the hood of this, um, simple rural website!!).

Watch this space!






About gamadoelas.net

Welcome to gamadoelas.net.  We are in the process of developing this site to be a premier resource for South Africans who have had enough of the rat race and want to make the move to the country, and for those who have already made the move and have experience and advice to share.  Our focus is on on country lifestyle, sustainable living, making a living in the platteland and doing some good in rural communities.  It’s about having a life.


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