Thursday, March 17, 2011

Interview with the ElePHPant

Many of you may have seen or heard of the PHP elePHPant. He has been making the rounds to different events around North America and is looking forward to another exciting year of visiting different parts of the country and the world to meet & greet the PHP faithful wherever they are playing.

This entry is a very special edition where we get an exclusive interview with “the” PHP elePHPant! Many of your questions about this mysterious creature can be answered here finally and for the first time. We are very lucky to have bumped into the elePHPant at an event in Texas. Here is his story.

Mike: You have been reclusive and it seems that last year you came out of hiding to meet folks around the world who are doing PHP. What is your background and where do you hail from?
ElePHPant: It is really very boring story, but if you insist, I was born in Kenya. Although there are many who wish to dispute that. After growing up with a couple of my siblings I got the itch to move beyond the limitations of the African continent and started traveling the world.

Mike: So great to hear about where you came from, where do you call home today?

ElePHPant: Today I live in suburban Chicago. It is a great town for pachyderms and other wild life because there is very little that impresses the typical Chicagoan. Looking forward to the new mayor as some say he used to work for an ex-Kenyan.

Mike: You mentioned that you have siblings. Have we seen any of them?

ElePHPant: My brother is mascot for Republican party and since I live in Chicago he doesn’t come by to visit very much. Nice guy but ironically he can be a bit of an ass! Some years ago my sister got hooked up with some bad folks back in the old country and ended up doing taxi work in India, got a small family, etc.

Mike: I hear you’ve been sighted all over the states: Orlando, San Antonio, San Jose and Chicago.

ElePHPhant: Yeah it’s been great. Although I fly SW and they get a little cranky when I take up two seats. I am an elephant for heaven sake. What are they thinking? With a little luck I will get to Minneapolis, St Petersburg and possibly Europe. But those long flights in coach can really be a challenge.
Mike: Why do you fly SW, someone with your notoriety should be able to get 1st class on a major carrier.
ElePHPant: Two words: Free Peanuts!

Mike: I guess that makes sense…How did you ever get connected with PHP?

ElePHPant: Well, to make a long story short, I just couldn’t get my trunk around Java. I bumped into a couple penguins while vacationing in Madagascar. They were talking about how their guy Rico was able to throw up a web site with no cash and serve up some content for their “clients.” I chatted them up and they were happy to share a little, but they were rather cagey about the specifics of their content. Then I turned around and they were gone. They struck me as really nice fellas, but a bit paranoid. Later, this guy in France saw me on IRC and asked me if I’d mind posing. Then this hits the street and the rest they say is history!

Mike: So I have seen you at a couple of shows, most notable the IBM conference called COMMON and the PHP tek conference in Chicago. While you are obviously a huge fan of PHP I see you have a Zend cape. Does that get you into trouble with the PHP community who may not look favorably on a commercial endorsement?

ElePHPant: Look, I’m not looking to piss off anyone but I got my own family to feed. Work has been tough lately and as you can guess, my grocery bill isn’t exactly small. I used to compile my own binaries and stack. It was pretty cool to optimize everything EXACTLY as I liked it. But, after a while, the maintenance got a little old. I was more interested in the development of apps and the constant changes to PHP for security and other reasons was a real hassle. Then a guy turned me on the Zend Server CE and I became a fan. It has just about everything I want and now a local shlub at the customer site can maintain the server and I can focus on developing apps. That’s just how I roll these days and would not deny anyone the opportunity to experience building the stack from scratch. But I’ve ben there and done that so it’s time for me to move on.

Mike: So do you use Zend Server CE exclusively or are you using some of the supported features of the full Zend Server product?

ElePHPant: It really depends on the client. Sure there are a lot of cheap companies out there and they know I’ll work for peanuts. But then they find out just how many peanuts I need and they change their tune pretty quick! I show them the advanced features and set up a demo with Ed or Mike at Zend. They really do all the heavy lifting as far as showing the solution. But the real benefit is the ROI. Having access to Code Tracing means I can get home at night and tuck in the little ones rather than calling on my cell phone, yet again, to wish them goodnight! Keeps the Mrs. Happy, too. Have you ever seen an overworked female elephant with an attitude? It’s not pretty. You know the old saying, if big momma isn’t happy, ain’t NOBODY happy! Zend Server helps me code in PHP all day, get home at night, and I can still play on other side jobs with the same distribution whether it is full Zend Server or CE! Consistency is key!

Mike: But what’s with the cape? I mean, did Zend pay for you to have a little space on your…ahem…back for advertising?

ElePHPant: Listen, that cape is symbolic as it really implies that I can fly. And, with the bytecode, data and page caching features of Zend Server my sites fly. There is no formal agreement with Zend but when I’m in the Zend office they have these really cool macadamia’s they fly in from Honolulu and I’ll do just about anything for those! I’m such a tramp!

Mike: Well I want to thank you for the time you spent with us today. If you had one thing you would like to share with the masses about PHP, what would that be?

ElePHPant: Just do it! PHP is pretty hot right now. Sure there are plenty of Java bigots out there who feel the need to slam PHP, but at the end of the day you just need to play and then decide for yourself. One third of the internet running on PHP and 1.7% of the Internet sites worldwide running Drupal is kind of hard to sneeze at. Although, when I sneeze, folks do take notice…