Mike, please introduce yourself to our JCM readers.
Well, on August 10th I will be 38 years young. So feel free to send gifts, LOL. I have been married to my beautiful wife Cathy for 18 years on August 29th. I have three awesome children that don't really understand Joomla! but they know I love working with it.
Being a long-time trainer in vertical markets, I dreamed up a small start-up company in 2004 with the primary focus on corporate training solutions. I am the CEO of Integrated Technology and Design, and the well known online storefront called Joomla Showroom. My firm created and produced the first Learning Management System (LMS) for Joomla!, called Joomlearn LMS, to serve a primary market of corporate education-driven solutions. From that point forward I have been HOOKED and never looked back.
Happy birthday, Mike! How did you first learn about Joomla!?
I have been using Joomla! since its inception and followed the fork from the (cough, cough) Mambo days. I've seen the project go through its ups and downs over the years but regardless, Joomla! has always remained a growing and viable CMS not only for my own businesses but also for my clients. So I have stuck with Joomla! because I know it is the absolute best open source CMS framework available anywhere.
Do you have any interesting stories about early Joomla! projects or websites that you worked on?
One of the most interesting project that I helped work on in the early stages of Joomla! was a 911 emergency call center for the Orange County, Florida (the same county where Disney World is located). The call center used Joomla! 1.0 back then as a training and resource website for 586 emergency 911 call center employees.
Another more prominent site was working with the Linux Foundation. The Linux Foundation had contacted me about helping them get an Event Registration System in place for a few of their event and training sites and they continue to use our software to this day for all their worldwide events and training classes.
What caused you to decide to volunteer to help support the Joomla! project?
I've been wanting to get involved in some capacity for years but wasn't really sure where I would fit in. So when the first Joomla! Developer's Conference in December 2009 was announced I became a sponsor of that event and really enjoyed meeting a lot of the team leaders and OSM board members at that event. I had discussed many ideas I had and got to know a lot of people over the past 9 months. I was amazed at how dedicated everyone else was at making the Joomla! Project more successful. I obviously wanted to be a part of that.
What different areas of the Joomla! project are you currently involved with?
Right now I am a member of the Joomla! User Group (JUG) Team and helping out some with the people.joomla.org site in relation to JUGs.
What goals do you have for improving the areas of Joomla! that you are currently volunteering with?
I am currently working to drastically streamline the JUG approval process as well as talking with other Working Group Leaders about improving the domain and logo submission process on the Open Source Matters website so that the community will not have to wait so long for official approval responses. This has been a big area of concern and the current systems in place are creating a bottleneck effect on the approval process. Simplifying processes and using the right tools for the job should help get things moving much quicker for the community in these areas.
What are some of the challenges you face in the areas of Joomla! that you are currently volunteering with?
I would have to say that language barriers are a big issue in our area. Sometimes communication can be difficult at first but I have found that there are so many avenues to other volunteers that can help out with language specific issues that it really helps. I speak only one language, English, so for me sometimes communicating with someone that does not have a good understanding of what I am trying to communicate can be a little difficult.
What do you enjoy the most about volunteering?
Just being able to help out. I love being able to bring fresh perspectives to the project and offering ideas to all aspects of the project that I can see the need for improvement. It has been a real eye opener for me to see the inner workings of the project from behind the scenes. I can tell you this, “THERE'S A LOT GOING ON ALL THE TIME”. It is a lot to keep up with but it is so cool to see a simple idea blossom into reality. I have been able to meet a lot of very brilliant people that are involved in the Joomla! project and for that I am blessed.
What do you find the most difficult or challenging about volunteering?
The sheer amount of people that are involved. I really had no idea how many people it really took to make the Joomla! project run smoothly. Trying to keep track of who is who and what everyone's role is can be quite overwhelming sometimes. But you start to just figure it out over time.
What do you like the most about Joomla!?
The thing that really impresses me the most is how dedicated the volunteers are to their assigned areas. Without all these volunteers, Joomla!, as great a software as it is, would never be able to cater to the community as well as it does. Can some things be done better? Absolutely, but it is the dedication of each team working together for the community that keeps it moving forward.
What would you personally like to learn more about which is related to Joomla!?
Everything! I have always said, “Knowledge is Power”. When you think you know it all, that is when you stop learning. In the software world things are always evolving so rapidly that you can never know enough. So I learn as much as I can at every opportunity so that I can in turn pass on what I've learned.
What opportunities for improvement would you like to see happen in the Joomla! project?
My primary focus right now is to work with the Working Group Leadership to create a combined directory site for all JUGs and their events. I want to have a combined facility site that would allow more exposure to the Joomla! User Groups and their events overall worldwide.
What would you say to someone who is thinking about volunteering to help with the Joomla! project?
Well the first thing someone should do if they want to get involved is to just start helping the community in any aspect possible. I think if someone has a certain passion for a specific area they would like to work then that should be the best place they should start, because they will enjoy working in that area more if they have a passion for it. All you have to do is contact someone, anyone on the Joomla! teams and start a dialogue. I started a dialogue many months before I finally got an opportunity to help out in an official capacity. My best advice is to not give up. Just help where you can and don't stop.