Pierre, please introduce yourself to our JCM readers.
Hello, my name is Pierre Gazzola, also known as lafrance. I am retired from the City of Edmonton due to illness, which gives me more time to help on a project I believe in and love. I now live outside the city in a small town of 5,400 people where the pollution is not so bad.
Since my illness, my hobby has been more in helping others on the forum.joomla.org, when I have the time on irc, or directly for the project itself. Computer software help is also another thing I love to do.
How did you first learn about Joomla!?
I was a hard core WordPress user, however, I found it was really limited to what I wanted to accomplish. So I tried many other content management systems, but I wasn't comfortable with any of them until I came across Joomla!. It really did look odd to me after so many years with WordPress, however I got the hang of it and was hooked.
Do you have any interesting stories about early Joomla! projects or websites that you worked on?
Oh goodness, so many to talk about. How about re-installing Joomla! ten times in a row because I did some crazy mistake? Mind you, I did not mind as I learned a lot from those mistakes. I used to maintain over ten websites, however, due to time, I am now down to only one domain that is about our military overseas and news related to it. I have helped many users with setting up their websites too, many from irc.
What caused you to decide to volunteer to help support the Joomla! project?
How can you not give back to a project that is free and does all you want it to do? In my view, if you can not donate money, you should donate time to the project to help it grow.
I started helping on irc and the forums. Then I helped mandville on the Vulnerable Extension List (VEL), which is our list of reported exploits. I also helped with the docs.joomla.org site to remove spam. As I had more time, Elin asked me to help with a few projects that I gladly accepted and did quite fast, in fact, some were too fast for her to keep up.
I was then asked if I would help with Open Source Matters (OSM) and hunt down some trademark violations. This was a bit harder, however, in less than 48 hours, I found over 300 websites that were not up to par, and some were just plain file-sharing websites. Then, I bugged poor Lorenzo Garcia every month to be part of the Joomla! Extensions Directory (JED) as an editor. I had a goal to remove exploit extensions from the JED as they were still listed at the time.
What goals do you have for improving the areas of Joomla! that you are currently volunteering with?
My goal is for Joomla! 1.6 to be free of exploits. Don't get me wrong, I know it's not possible to remove all or find them all, however with the launch of Joomla! 1.6 I want to see Joomla! free of exploits. All new extensions should go through a security check before they are published. I also want to help educate developers and new people about the process to follow and to make them understand that the process is there to make Joomla! better and to work with us.
I hope the VEL can have its own website and coordinate more with the JED. The VEL should be a list of developers who do not comply with updates if an exploit is found.
I also wish that the JED had a JJST member so we can do better security audits. With the new members of the JED, along with Matt Lipscomb, and you, Paul, the JED is moving in that direction.
Another feature I would like to see is a trademark checking system, so that when a developer enters their domain into the JED it will automatically check with OSM to see if it is registered, and if not, they cannot proceed until that is done.
What are some of the challenges you face in the areas of Joomla! that you are currently volunteering with?
What I find most challenging is when I get cranky if another JED editor has not contributed more time per day or week to Joomla!. That is one of my bad habits, as I spend over 12 hours a day, so I expect others to, but I should not. However, I think 30 minutes a day would not hurt any one. This is for today's view, but with Matt's guidance and Brad Baker's cooperation, they are working on a few scripts that will make it much easier on all editors.
Our biggest problem is developer's expectations that they should be taken care of right away. So many people forget that we are volunteers working on many areas on JED. It is an old system which also does not help.
What do you enjoy the most about volunteering?
That’s an easy one. When a user thanks you for helping them, that always makes my day. Solving problems and finding resolutions.
What do you find the most difficult or challenging about volunteering?
Well, as I had a stroke in 2000 and lost so much of my memory, I have to really think, and after that, I got a brain tumour and now I have a strange illness that causes dementia, so nothing is easy for me. The upside is that my doctors said that all the work I do is what keeps my mind active and my dementia has not progressed.
What do you like the most about Joomla!?
The community. Think about it, over 6 million people, each with their own views. Disputes make it interesting, however in many teams, disputes and arguing bring the best out of those teams and we find resolutions at the end of it all. You can't ask for a better way than that.
What would you personally like to learn more about which is related to Joomla!?
I would love to understand code and how to detect code that can cause exploits. Also, I would like to learn more about the defined roles for teams. Many are a bit vague in their definition.
What opportunities for improvement would you like to see happen in the Joomla! project?
My dream again is zero exploits, better coding practices from developers, and better cooperation from developers would be great. If you want to email us that would be great, however please be kind and do not use an auto responder or ticket email.
What would you say to someone who is thinking about volunteering to help with the Joomla! project?
Do it. Get involved, stay away from politics as it can get you distracted, and enjoy the ride. It's fun, it's great and down the road you can say, 'yes I remember helping with that'. Wouldn't that be great instead of saying, 'I remember this policy'? Do like I do, leave the policy rules to others, do what you like and you will have fun and your reward will be greater.