Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Events Abound

As a speaker in the IBM i community we are in the midst of “high” season for events.  Having just wrapped up the RPG & DB2 Summit in Dallas last week and WMCPA the week before, we came away with some strong impressions.    Great turnout at the workshops and sessions leads us to believe that folks are definitely looking to improve their applications and skills and PHP is near the top of the list.

How many using PHP?

We had a chance to meet a bunch of folks gearing up for PHP on IBM i and also some loyal Zend Server folks who are already using it.  The keynote by Ian Jarman highlighted the Help Systems survey that shows 25% of the respondents indicate using PHP for new application development on IBM i.  That is a HUGE statistic and we’re excited about it only getting bigger.  

New sessions!

I launched two new sessions at the WMCPA conference and then at SUMMIT.  The first is a session inspired by Ted Holt, senior editor at Four Hundred Guru,  called “30 PHP tips in 60 Minutes”.  This session is a collection of PHP and IBM i tips I’ve amassed over the last few years and at least one attendee walked out of it with a page full of notes on things to do when he got to the home office.  The second session, "Exploring DB2 data Access in PHP", is a deep dive on the usage of the DB2 extension in PHP.  It was inspired by a recent ZendCon attendee who was new to IBM i and has been struggling with accessing the native database.  A lot of the code samples that were used to educate that newbie have been decomposed and detailed in this session.  If you’ve been wondering how to manage the library list in SQL calls or wondered how to use the data cache in Zend Server, this is the session for you.

Coming to COMMON?

I’ll be taking these sessions and many of the updated classics on the road to events all around the country this spring and of course at COMMON in New Orleans!  Have you made plans to attend the annual Conference and Expo?  Please swing by the Zend booth(#114) if you can.  We’ll have some goodies to pass around and, of course, the Zend IBM i team will be there to answer any questions you might have.  I see many sessions on PHP and other open source topics and even a brand new session on a cute little database called Maria.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

What's in a champion and why?

What is a champion and why?

IBM has named a new group of Champions and your truly has been added to the VERY prestigious list of folks that have been selected.  I am honored and quite thrilled to be added to the list.  But it does get one to start reflecting, “What is a champion?”  

The word champion often times refers to the “winner” or “first place”.  Certainly not where I would put myself in any way, shape or form.  I’ve never been athletic and I’m not terribly competitive unless you count the Doctor Who trivia contest at the Panopticon Conference in 1983.  I believe IBM’s connotations for Champion in this context is more along the lines of Advocate.  Yes, this is where I fit in to the term “Champion”. 

I joke that I have been dialing the IBM support line number for more than 30 years.  Since that predates my tenure on IBM i and its predecessors, I have no choice but to acknowledge my roots as an IBM mainframe geek.   Working as a computer operator and then programmer at a bank in Chicago was a great experience.  But the coolest bragging right I have was operating one of the first partitioned systems implemented in Chicago somewhere around 1990.  

As I got into programming I used the standard TSO editor in ISPF and thought that was all I had.  When taking a refresher course on COBOL at Moraine Valley Community College (where I now moonlight as a PHP instructor) I met the AS/400 and immediately fell in love with PDM and CL.  The rest as they say is history.  

Fast forward a few years and I found myself getting involved in many activities such as my local user group, The Omni User, where I have held several posts including conference chair and president.  But the most poignant opportunity came as I was recruited to the COMMON Americas Advisory Council where I submitted my charter requirement to bring PHP to IBM i.  

I was just a customer, development manager, at the time looking for a way for my mixed RPG and Microsoft development team to modernize the look and feel of the bulletproof IBM i applications.  My CIO shipped me off to a one week boot camp on the LAMP stack and I came back a believer.  I wondered why IBM did not have something like PHP.  But they did!  Net.Data.  So we built applications using this.  But Net.Data fell out of favor with the greater IBM and soon became “stabilized”.  It was then that IBM and COMMON were looking for folks to resume the “requirements” process and I submitted my ideas and got selected to the CAAC.  Little did I know that would be the beginning of 10+ years of service to COMMON where I have had the honor to be a speaker, subject matter expert and member of several different committees.  

So what makes a Champion to me is simply put, having passion about something.  For me, I am passionate about the IBM i community and I want to see it thrive and flourish.  I am lucky enough to get recognized by some for my passion and I appreciate that.  However, I would like to salute the folks out there who have passion and are champions but have not been recognized.  If you have made it this far and know of someone worthy of this recognition, consider nominating them for the honor of being an IBM Champion.  We are all part of a wonderful community that I hope to enjoy for another 30 years with as much energy as I had when I started this journey in 1985!