Using RSS Tools to Feed Your Information Needs

This article was originally published at Idealware in March of 2009. The Internet gives you access to a virtual smorgasbord of information. From the consequential to the trivial, the astonishing to the mundane, it’s all within your reach. This means you can keep up with the headlines, policies, trends, and tools that interest your nonprofit, and keep informed about what people are saying about your organization online. But the sheer volume of information can pose challenges, too: namely, how do you separate the useful data from all the rest? One way is to use RSS, which brings the information you want to you.  Many of… Read More »Using RSS Tools to Feed Your Information Needs

RSS Article is up

I spent a good chunk of December and January writing what I hope is a very complete guide to RSS (Really Simple Syndication) and how you (whomever you might be) can use it. The article takes on the ambitious goal of identifying the types of information available in RSS format, the types of programs that can be used to reed RSS feeds, and the best ones for different types of use, from tickers to email add-ons to full fledged RSS readers. I’m proud of this one – I think it’s a new approach to the topic that should be helpful for anyone who’s tired of hearing that they should be using RSS and, instead, would like to know why and how. Choose your portal, as it’s at Idealware and Techsoup.

The Perfect Fit: A Guide To Evaluating And Purchasing Major Software Systems

This article was originally published at Idealware in September of 2008. A major software package shouldn’t be chosen lightly. In this detailed guide, Peter Campbell walks through how to find software options, evaluate them, make a good decision, and then purchase the system in a way that protects you.  A smart shopper evaluates the item they want to purchase before putting money down. You wouldn’t shop for shoes without checking the size and taking a stroll up and down the aisle in order to make sure they fit, would you? So what’s the equivalent process of trying on a software package will size? How can… Read More »The Perfect Fit: A Guide To Evaluating And Purchasing Major Software Systems

Here, There and Idealware

It’s official – I’m not even trying to keep this blog up to date anymore, because I aaccepted a volunteer gig blogging regularly at Idealware. As I’ve mentioned before, Idealware strives to be the Consumer Reports of nonprofit software, and, in my opinion, that description doesn’t do the site justice – it’s long been one of my most referenced resources; the place that a nonprofit can go to get focused, concise answers to those tricky questions like “What software is out there?”, “Which one fits my needs?” and “What are the best practices for deploying it?”. I have two things up on Idealware this week:… Read More »Here, There and Idealware

Web Site Update

Over the weekend, I downsized, something I probably should have done close to a year ago, when I started my job at Earthjustice. What’s left is pretty thin, and is less of a web site than it is a supplement to other things online. Some say that we’re moving away from blogging to the next trend, dubbed “Lifestreaming“. But I wouldn’t call this a lifestream. “Stream-supplementing” might be more to the point. I hang out in a number of places online, the key ones being, in some kind of meaningful order: LinkedIn – this is where I keep my resume and stay connected with… Read More »Web Site Update

What I’ve been up to

Ah, poor, neglected blog. Wanted to post a few things here: The Techcafteria website has been cleaned up a bit – consulting pitch removed, as I’m fully employed at Earthjustice; I also beefed up the documents section. I was happy to find my Non-Profit Times article on Data Management Strategy is now available in their free archives. Upcoming articles: I’ve submitted a draft of an article on Document Management to Idealware, which might see publication in the next month or two. I’m a big proponent of enhancing the process of saving and opening documents, and I have a lot of experience with it, having spent… Read More »What I’ve been up to

XML, API, CSV, SOAP! Understanding The Alphabet Soup Of Data Exchange

This article was originally published at Idealware in October of 2007. Let’s say you have two different software packages, and you’d like them to be able to share data. What would be involved? Can you link them so they exchange data automatically? And what do all those acronyms mean? Peter Campbell explains. There has been a lot of talk lately about data integration, Application Programming Interfaces (APIs), and how important these are to non-profits. Much of this talk has focused on the major non-profit software packages from companies like Blackbaud,, Convio, and Kintera. But what is it really about, and what does it mean… Read More »XML, API, CSV, SOAP! Understanding The Alphabet Soup Of Data Exchange

Data Exchange Article Up at Idealware

My article “XML, API, CSV, SOAP! Understanding the Alphabet Soup of Data Exchange” is up at This is intended as a primer for those of you trying to make sense of all of this talk about Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) and data integration. It discusses, with examples, the practical application of some of the acronyms, and suggests some recommended practices around data system selection and deployment. Credit has to go to Laura Quinn, webmaster at Idealware, who really co-wrote the article with me, but didn’t take much credit, and our reviewers, Paul Hagan, Steve Anderson and Stephen Backman, who added great insights to a… Read More »Data Exchange Article Up at Idealware

What happened?

Well, work happened, and I have to admit that I am not the driven blogger who can maintain a steady flow of posts while working full-time. I’ve been doing a consulting/contracting gig in San Jose that not only keeps me busy, but takes huge chunks out of my day for the commute, so my attention to Techcafeteria has suffered unduly. I’ll be wrapping up the work in San Jose and transitioning to a new, full-time position over the next month or two, returning to the ranks of Non-Profit IT Directors that I didn’t imagine I’d stay out of for long. More on that position later… Read More »What happened?