bookmark_borderThe Checklist Manifesto

At SunshinePHP this year, at one of the talks, the speaker mentioned a book called “The Checklist Manifesto”. I started reading it yesterday and I’m halfway through it already. It’s a good read that explains why checklists are so vital in complex tasks.

(Posted as part of my new initiative to chronicle my learning journey through PHP)

(Finished it on 2/20/15)

bookmark_borderSunshine PHP 2015

This year’s Sunshine PHP conference is only the second I’ve attended. My first was Tek in Chicago, in 2013. Having 2 years of PHP experience behind me now has made a big difference in my understanding of the topics presented in the talks.

Here are a few of the talks I sat in on in 2013:

  • Overview of Symfony2 for Beginners
  • Five Tools for Better PHP Development
  • Best Practices for the Sole Developer

Obviously entry level stuff. I actually had a little difficulty trying to pick sessions, because most of the topics were way above my level. But I received one piece of advice that I found very helpful. I don’t remember who it was, but it was suggested to me that I should not shy away from some of the more advanced topics, because I would pick up bits and pieces of information that I might use later. I am finding this to be true.

Here are a few of the talks I selected this year:

  • My App Is Secure…I Think
  • Developer Experience In The PHP World
  • Advanced Adventures In Git
  • Beyond Design Patterns

As you can see, these are a bit more advanced topics than what I chose 2 years ago. In fact, in reviewing what was available in 2013, I saw a few topics that I would love to attend now, but did not even consider two years ago.

At PHP Tek 2013, this blog was born, after one of the community members suggested that I should have one, not so much for other people to read, but rather, as a place to record what I learn. That was extremely valuable advice, and I’m glad I took it.

This year, I was invited to join the Hackathon – something that in 2013, I felt kind of intimidated about, and didn’t participate in. Not only did I learn how Open Source Software works, I was able to participate in a real project, and submit a code change, which was accepted. All in about 3 hours, while enjoying free pizza.

The information presented at these conferences is very valuable, but that is only a part of what makes conferences so good, and so valuable. The bigger picture is the community, and the environment. By community, of course, I’m referring to all the other programmers and experts who are at the conference. Spending time around them, and getting to know some of them is very valuable. The other thing, the environment, is the part that I actually find most valuable.

In my opinion the experience of isolating yourself from your normal day to day activity, and entering the “bubble” of a conference, is very beneficial. It allows you to enter, and stay in “geek mode” for several days, without the usual daily concerns. It is in this mode that great ideas are born, and concepts that you are learning begin to solidify. I’m sure that some people live in this mode a lot more than I do, but for those who don’t, getting away in a conference “retreat” is really a good thing.

I look forward to attending the next conference. With only two under my belt, I can already conclusively say that I leave them better than I went in.


bookmark_borderWhich way is better?

While going though some code in a plugin (not one I wrote), I came across the following snippet:

if ( !isset($update_transient->checked) ) return $update_transient;
	else $themes = $update_transient->checked;

Looking at this makes me cringe. Here’s how I would write this:

if (!isset($update_transient->checked))
   return $update_transient;

$themes = $update_transient->checked;

There is no need for the else statement. If the condition is true, an early exit will occur. Otherwise we always want the $themes variable to be updated.

In my opinion, my version is much easier to read. But I’d like to know what the PHP community thinks.

Please feel free to comment and share your thoughts on this.

bookmark_border2014: A look back

So here we are on the eve of a new year. 2014 has been a good one for me. I decided to look back over my posts for the year, and discovered that I only posted 10 times in 2014!  Down from 18 in 2013. This could be because when I started my blog in 2013, there was a lot more learning going on, since I had just switched to PHP. However, I have learned a lot this year as well. Apparently, just not as much as last year. Or, I just got lazy with recording what I learned.

2015 will be an interesting year. We’ll be launching a new site at work, done completely in WordPress. I look forward to seeing what new knowledge I’ll record in the upcoming months.

I wish everyone a happy and prosperous New Year!



bookmark_borderMy Experience at Tek13

I attended the php[tek] 2013 (tek13) conference for the first time this year. After coding ColdFusion for the last 12 years, I am now diving into PHP. I have not been involved in the ColdFusion community, so when the decision was made to switch to PHP, I decided that I would make community a major part of that conversion.

Tek13 was a great experience for me. I met a lot of great people, and learned a lot of tools and techniques centered around the PHP universe. I was told that I chose the right conference for meeting the community. Apparently, the php[tek] conferences are more centered on community than some other major conferences.

There are a bunch of great people in the PHP community who are willing to offer their time teaching, both by speaking at conferences and by helping out on IRC and other channels.

The content taught was in many cases more advanced than I’m ready for at this point, but more than one person encouraged me to sit in on some of the advanced topics anyway. The idea was that someday when I need that info, I’ll recall some of the information.

I think the most valuable thing I got from the conference was all of the great people I met. So many people were willing to welcome me into the community. It was also great hearing the speakers present. Each one brought something unique to the conference, and their willingness to share was very valuable.

The sponsors that made the conference possible were really friendly. I may have even found a company or two that we can use at my workplace.
As a result of going to the conference:

  • I now have a blog at where I am keeping notes of what I learn.
  • I will be attending my local PHP user group regularly.
  • I will be getting active with a local WordPress user group.
  • I am now active on IRC again (first time since the 90s!).

I really hope to be able to attend this conference each year, so that I can continue to build friendships in the community and learn new things. Eventually, I hope to be a speaker there.