Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day, PHP and tek…

It is Memorial Day as I write this. For several years, our parish priest would print in the weekly bulletin a story about the song Taps. Whether you are familiar with the song or not, the lyrics and the story behind them are both sensitive and compelling. It speaks not about the politicians or the bureaucrats who try to make decisions on our behalf, but of the soldiers and the citizens they are sworn to protect.

But now on to more geeky fare. I got a chance to attend to the php|tek conference again. Last year I was on a different blog where all the pages were destroyed. So, for those of you who missed my summary I will restate a lot of the points again this year. And yes, I was once again the most overdressed person in attendance as I did have a collared shirt on.

Organized by Marco Tabini and Associates, php|tek is an event held twice a year. Spring in Chicago and fall in another location like Orlando or something. I am really not sure and Marco has not updated the site with the next conference yet. Last year I was new to a lot of things - New to Open Source, new to Zend and new to php|tek. I found the event last year to be VERY interesting as I met MANY friendly people. Some of which were Zend employee’s I met for the first time! Last year no one knew who I was. This year a couple of folks recognized me not because of my meager PHP skills but because I am the i5 guy.

So on behalf of SystemiNetwork and Zend, I had the chance to not only attend php|tek, but I also got to speak! This was a big deal for me as this event is all about the technical side of PHP and the community. I chose to speak on two topics and sandwiched between them was an IBM speaker named Erwin Earley. If you have never met Erwin, please seek him out at the next event. He is a hoot and know a TON about Open Source on IBM i. My first session was “PHP on IBM i:What the Heck is That?” This session focused on giving the folks in the LAMP community a perspective on what and IBM i really is. I expected no one to be interested or care about this topic and was pleasantly surprised to find a few folks actually coming to see it. I got a chance to meet some new friends and catch up with a couple of old friends.

If you r are even remotely interested in the fabric of the PHP community and how they think, operate and grow, this event is worth checking out. There is a ton of great content and really great people who make it up. I had the opportunity to meet with a developer from MySQL as I was killing time getting caught up on email and attending a conference call. She was very instrumental in helping me understand that this event is all about the community. So, as a relatively new member of the community, I asked her share some thoughts about the community. She immediately sent me to a web page that has the manual about how to ask a question.

You might think that asking a question is a fairly straight forward thing. But in the open source community time is time and energy is precious. So these folks, while helpful, do not like to waste time. This was very helpful to understand as the IBM i community tends to clash with the
Open Source community. It really has to do with self-reliance. The Open Source community prides itself of not needing anyone and asking for help only when every other avenue has been exhausted. Check out the directions on how to ask a question and they are both enlightening and hilarious!

Although one might think this is the only event that draws a PHP crowd, it isn’t. This fall you can expect the annual ZendCon – the premier PHP conference. This event will be wall to wall with great PHP content, tutorials and opportunities to meet and network with peers and members of the community. As I indicated, networking is my favorite part. This is where you lean the most about things you just can’t get out of a book or wiki. How and why people attack certain situations and the methods employed to help achieve the goal. This is where it’s at! Sometimes getting an education at an event like this is somewhat akin to getting a drink of water form a fire hose! So what I do is set my sights in a different direction. I come prepared to learn a thing or two. But I really am there for the networking. I want to know how people are using PHP in the enterprise to solve real life problems. This is what drives me as I am intensely curious about how PHP is making life better for everyone!

Most of you know my position on education. If you don’t just read up on a few of my older blog articles. I really do not care how you get it. I would hope that you come to Zend, but books, websites, and OPC (Other Peoples Code) don’t hurt. The point is that you MUST keep current in IT if you want to maintain your competitive advantage. An old boss of mine whom I respect a great deal used to say: “There will always be a shortage of GOOD programmers!”

1 comment:

  1. The story about the song TAPS is a legend. The real story can be found on Just search for song TAPS. It was written by Dan Butterfield, a union army commander who was an innovator in using bugle calls to alert his men in the days before loudspeakers and public address systems.


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