Speaking at PHP London, October 2010

In October I will be speaking at the PHP London user group on Thursday 7th at the Theodore Bullfrog pub in London. I'm giving a new talk called "The Source Control Landscape", looking at the products currently available in the source control arena, how the distributed systems have changed the landscape, and how we can choose between them all today. I'm really looking forward to the event, it's always a good crowd and I love to meet new people as well as meet up with existing friends - see you there :)

PHP London Conference: In Review

I'm really late with this post, but I wanted to write about the PHP London Conference which was held in London last Friday. The event was in a great venue and had hoards of people - this was my fourth year in attendance!! They do, however, have the longest twitter tag in history #phpuk2010!

This year I had the privilege of speaking at this event, although I was concerned that I had to stay coherent and alert right through to the graveyard slot at 4:30pm (conference organisers take note: I really am much sparklier in the mornings!). I kept myself awake by attending what I affectionately refer to as the "Ibuildings track" - with 4 speakers at the event, it did feel like a bit of an invasion by myself and my colleagues. In our defence I can only say that we are a pretty big local PHP employer and, as a developer, I'm happy to be working for someone who sends all their developers to these events, and even happier to be in the company of those other excellent speakers as colleagues!

My talk was entitled "Best Practices in Web Service Design" although perhaps "Things I Wish Web Service Creators Would Consider Before Writing Unclear and Unstable Useless And Frustrating Services" would have been a better title! I talked about web services in general, a bit about HTTP and the various service types, and also gave some general tips and tricks for writing good, stable services. In a bit of a break with geeky tradition, I then talked about services as a whole package, and how to deliver and document them in a way that helps users help themselves. If you are interested the slides are here:

http://www.slideshare.net/lornajane/best-practices-in-web-service-design

The experience was overall very positive for me, I haven't spoken at this conference before and I was very pleased to be included. My talk went quite smoothly, with my nerves nicely hidden away (I've had issues with this lately), and I also avoided falling over either the curtain or the piece of screen that was carefully placed to trip unwary speakers! I'd like to thank everyone who came and asked questions afterwards, and all those who saw my talk and left comments for me on my joind.in talk page - it all helps me to do better next time, thanks and I'll see you all next year!

Visit To PHP London

Last night I had the opportunity to speak at the PHP London group, giving a talk entitled "PHP Deployment with Subversion". This is the talk I will be giving next week at the Dutch PHP Conference in Amsterdam, and giving the same talk last night was the last step in a whole series of preparation for next week. (The slides will be available after the Dutch conference)

As ever it was great to get to the event and meet the people there, I don't make it to the PHP London meetings very often but I always have a good time when I do. Although this talk was supposed to be a "test drive" for next week, I was actually very squeaky happy to get the invite to speak! Anyway the guys there were great as usual, helping me get set up with the projector, providing a pep talk, and buying me a beer afterwards.

The talk itself went fine, nothing more and nothing less. It was perfect for time, which is excellent as I had absolutely no idea how long I would talk for. I was greatly helped by using Powerpoint (yes, I had to boot into windows, scary!) with its Presenter View which has a timer. This view also shows you your current slide, the notes for this slide, and the upcoming slides which is all good (so long as you can read very tiny writing from standing 4 feet away from your laptop - happily I'm long-sighted!). The content I think is OK - lots of questions came out after the talk which was really interesting, and I certainly realised there were a few points that I need to mention when I give the talk again. The slides perhaps leave something to be desired, colours look different projected and there was a particularly horrible shade of yellow which appears on quite a few slides - oops!

I had a great night and although I wouldn't say I'm feeling confident for next week, I feel like there are fewer unknowns. I also came to terms with the idea that feeling terrible about a talk is just not something I'm going to get over until I have done the talk - its all part of the preparation I guess.

PHP London Meet and Some Heckling

I've been in London on business again this week (hopefully my wild travelling will calm down a bit now) which had the nice side-effect of allowing me to get to the PHP London meetup on Thursday. It was nice to see people that I met at the conference the previous week and also to meet some people who I hadn't managed to catch up with previously.

The talk was from William Coleman of Microsoft talking about FastCGI and using PHP on Windows. He'd have done better to not say "We're all guys here" in his opening remarks as I found myself heckling a speaker for the first time in my life!! I counted 4 women there out of 35 or so people, so a minority but a definitely existing one. He did apologise (about 17 times and after digging a bigger hole) and I had a brief chat with him later on, and gave him my phpwomen.org business card.

The talk was good and interesting, and he brought with him a remarkable sense of humour, which he probably needed since there were lots of smart comments coming from all angles. He did however impress upon us that performance of PHP on Windows is now comparable to performance of PHP on Linux, which was actually very interesting to know. Personally I have been staying away from PHP on Windows for 5 years or so but since I now work for Ibuildings who are Zend partners, then I guess I need to have more of a clue! Other than a few confusing moments where a comparison was made between running PHP on Windows against running it on Apache (what? Is Windows a web server now?) it was a good session and its nice to hear about these developments. My feeling is that no matter how stable PHP is on Windows, its the stability of Windows itself that means I'll be avoiding it in my production servers for some time yet.

The punchline of the evening? Apparently microsoft have invented this great thing, called a shell, where you can just type comands in to your server rather than clicking on things, so you can manage servers remotely ...