Sunday 23rd of February 2020

Form letter module

Hi, I've just started work on a form letter module for drupal/cs, which integrates with the contact manager to allow users to collectively author letters to a set of recipients, and to have them emailed or printed through the site. Basically the procedure is this.
  1. In Contact Manager create the different sources you want people to be able to select, such as state politicians, news papers, ceo's, etc
  2. Add the contacts, with the postal, and email information
  3. Set up the letter template in admin/settings/form_letter
  4. Post a blog or story on a given issue.
  5. A block will appear listing all the current letters, as well as having an "add new" link.
  6. When adding a new letter you must select the recipient source, as set up in Contact Manager.
  7. Put in the title and the body of the letter and save.
Now, once published, the letter will appear in the block on the given blog or story. People can comment on it, and the author, and other editors can modify it accordingly. Then when someone wants to send it:
  1. Select the letter of interest
  2. Click on the Send this letter link
  3. Select the recipients you want to send this letter to, possibly filtering by address components (state, postcode, etc)
  4. Edit the body to suit your own opinion
  5. Click Email to place the customised letter in the email approval queue
  6. or Click Print to open a new window with the letter, individually addressed to each of the recipients on separate pages, which can be printed from your browser.

This module will be publicly tested (somewhere) in the near future so we can get some real feedback, but for now I am after comments about the scope and operation of this module, as outlined above.

For fellow drupal/cs hosters I've attached the current version of the module for your private testing. The table is created when you visit the admin/settings/form_letter page.



Download module

Chinese Checker Tables, Technobabble and Gestalt

I'm sitting in a loungeroom that Tom Baker Dr Who fans would compare to the secondary control room of the TARDIS.  There's a a 1920s replica radio sitting on  an original 30s (which only needs wire insulation and a couple of valves to be a goer, the bloke who gave it to me assures) a  a twenty five year old colour telly with huge built in speakers but the bloody volume marks and channel numbers on the screen as the as the remote the burglar nicked with the CD player wasn't the one he needed  (won't have to pay $200 for a replacement though, will he).

 On top of the coffee table that I ripped the back of to make a speaker shelf sits the VDU, on which I read and write from the couch via a tandy-esque remote keyboard... bear with me, there's a point to this.

On top of the telly is the present I bought my daughter for her seventh birthday, yesterday.  It's a Game Box. Made out of wood, with shelves for different boards (draughts, snakes and ladders, tic tac toe) to lay on the top.  The chinese checkers section is built with walls.

 I taught my daughter to play chinese checkers tonight, sitting on cushions on the floor with the Game Box, and realised that the game board was a perfect height to play with on the floor when the chinese checkers unit was placed on the top.  This was the purpose of the unit- everything else was extrapolated and probably superfluous to this primary function.  The last layer created a naturally comfortable height for everyone to play at, when sitting on the floor together.

Talking with Hamish in the chatroom I found we both shared an appreciation of John Wyndham's The Chrysalids.  I'm assuming he would have also read Theodore Sturgeon's 'More Than Human" which examines the psychology of improvising a gestalt (or at least the last of E.E.Smith's Lensman series, Unit) and and in what manners things can go skew-whiff.

 The point I'm getting to is this new software.   I tracked back the site though the referrals to YD, and without nore technobabble than it takes to write a Year 9 french lesson on a  1980 48k Apple, I am surmising you're introducing the software that facilitates collective letter writing.

If this is the case then there is much to do.  For those who aren't going through the referrals I suggest they try it.  It's fascinating to see by what websites and which searches people come here.  They are the site's demographic and future participants, and, hopefully part of the gestalt.


Form letter module - what is it?

RT is partly correct - yes, this addition is meant to facilitate letter-writing campaigns, but it's the start of much more than that. Nigel's post was actually written for Drupal/CivicSpace developers rather than specifically for YD members. At this stage the additional software module is not really ready for public release - we still need to do quite a bit of testing and no doubt there'll be a few changes. Nigel wrote this for Drupal/CivicSpace developers because we use open source software for the YD site and this is a development which ight be of interest to them, ie beyond just the YD audience. So what is this all about? Well, part of the original YD software specification was the development of an 'activism' button. This is a link attached to various blogs, forum posts, comments, etc which would allow users to participate in a variety of 'actions' such as a letter-writing campaign, or e-mail or phone campaigns, meetings, protests, etc. The trial action is a letter writing campaign. To paraphrase Nigel: Members can take part in producing the body of the letter, suggesting entire letters or simply paragraphs. Once the letter has been written, members can choose from the YD list of contacts who they want to send the letter to. They can then either generate emails or cutomised letters (similar to a mail-merge, but easier!). Currently the email part is disabled, so only the customised letter part will work. Customised letters are in a form in which they can be cut and paste into the member's own word processor. It would be up to the individual member to actually print and send the letters. I hope this clears up any confusion.

Fixed download

Just a note to say I've just fixed the download link following the site upgrade.


People participation on Your Democracy

If this posting was written for technical people, why not leave it as a strand for technical questions regarding the site ?  A strand regarding site ethics could run beside it, or even within it/

My most burning question at the moment is how we cultivate more people speaking their minds here.  Whie I have learned much from the likes of TG Kerr, John Richardson and Gus, I would like to hear more opinions from others.  How do we make thiis happen?

I had an initial thought that a section devoted to essays of personal interpretations of democracy by anyone with a view could create an interesting "cultural snapshot", especiially if we invited high school students to contribute.  A political process observed throu gh many eyes might initiate a few different lines of thought 

participation .....

Hi Richard.

I'm embarrassed & sorry to say that I almost missed your post.

I think your suggestion re participation is excellent - hasn't there been some previous involvement by high school students?

Also, I think it would be interesting to get the views of students on a range of other contemporary issues - it could be quite enlightening & maybe give us old folks (referring to me of course) pause to think.

I also think it would be of interest to seek contributions from politicians & other noteworthy individuals in the community?

Maybe Hamish can provide the high school contact?