Archive for August 2005

shiny new job

I have a new job.  I am working for George Schlossnagle at OmniTI.  I am pretty excited about it :)

(I will be finishing up my teaching of "Web Servers and Web Technology"  this semester in parallel, and yes, I will be finishing my PhD, before anybody asks.)

Incidentally, to go with my shiny new job I am in the market for a shiny new laptop, probably a Panasonic Y4.  All feedback appreciated.

php job market

Later today Zend has a WebCast about the state of the PHP Job Market.  From their website:

"The PHP job market is booming. But recruiters and hiring agents often have a difficult time assessing potential
PHP developers. Meanwhile, PHP developers often have difficulty conveying their skills and expertise in their
field.

Join our panel of industry experts, and hiring decision-makers, to find out what skills are coveted, how to
find people with those skills, and how to advance your PHP career." 

It is on at 9am PDT on Wednesday 24th August which I believe is 2am Thursday Melbourne time, for those locals that are interested.

rest web services

I keep getting questions about where to read more about REST web services.  There is some great material at  http://www.xfront.com/, along with some other XML related tutorials.  In particular,  an excellent overview can be found here [PPT].  (Thanks to Roger Costello for this goldmine of information.)

monday laughs - “backstroke of the west”

I’ve been too busy with work to blog much, so we pause for this humorous interlude…this is excerpted English subtitles from a Chinese pirate DVD of Revenge of the Sith.   (Contains a couple of swearwords  but otherwise work safe).  I haven’t laughed so hard in weeks.

OSDC call for proposals closes Friday

The second Open Source Developer’s Conference will take place at Monash University in my hometown Melbourne, Australia from December 5-7.  The call for proposals is currently open and closes this Friday.  This is a great conference.  Topics include:

Languages
  • Perl
  • PHP
  • Python
  • Java
  • Ruby
  • C/C++
  • C#/Mono
  • Web - XML/HTML/Javascript
Areas
  • Security
  • Education
  • Business
  • Databases
Operating Systems
  • OS X
  • Windows
  • Linux/Unix

There is also the category "Other"  :)  (There is also a refereed paper category for academics.)

More information here:
http://www.osdc.com.au/

will the real zak greant please stand up?

I was a little freaked to discover my good friend Zak Greant (formerly of MySQL, now working for eZ systems) has not one but two dopplegangers.  (Does that make them triplegangers?)  I was honored to photograph them together.

You can see the photo on FlickrZak is in the middle, Dan Scott on the left, and Kees on the right.  Apparently you must look like this if you would like to give a talk at next year’s OSCON.

oscon wrapup

I am back in the land of the living.

When Nat Torkington was designing the schedule for the last day of OSCON, he wanted to put up some really exciting talks that would keep people there until the end.  I think he succeeded as the talks I attended were just fantastic (with one exception).

The "lightning keynotes" were mostly good, in particular two.  First,  Danny O’Brien On Evil , where he reminded us that evil occurs when good men do nothing, and that his empirical investigation into this - Project Do-Nothing - was going well.   I also greatly enjoyed the presentation on Howtoons.    These guys do cartoons (and parties) teaching kids to build really cool stuff, such as bottle rockets and "hoovercraft" (a hovercraft built with a vacuum cleaner).  They are looking for syndication and I really hope they get it.  Go to their website and watch the videos.  Amazing. 

There is a DIY trend going on at the moment with the advent of Make magazine, from O’Reilly.    Luke and I bought all three issues that have come out so far and then subscribed because it’s so cool.  I went to a presentation on the last day of OSCON by one of the editors,  Phillip Torrone, who showed us how to blow up balloons with lasers, build a rotary dial bakelite cell phone, make bad things with old ipods, and hack your PSP.

On a slightly negative note, one of the last day keynotes was a very negative vendor keynote which just pushed the vendor’s own product.  Not the done thing, old chap.

Over the last few nights I had the chance to catch up with many old friends, to make new ones, and to get to know some people a little better and that was also fantastic.  Hopefully I convinced some of them to submit talks for OSDC, an Open Source conference located in Melbourne in December. 

Overall it was a great conference.  My fifth OSCON and probably the equal best one I have been to.  (The first one was equally good but had the advantage of dot-com euphoria.)

Best things:
- The talks,  of a very high standard this year.
- The new venue, large and nice.
- The usual networking and socializing.
- Giant exhibit hall.
- Hearing about new and exciting technologies

Not so good things:
- Vendor keynotes.
- Exhibit hall reception - with live band - was incredibly loud.
- No central area for people to congregate in.

Buzz for this year was around:
- Hacking Firefox and Mozilla, learning XUL.
- AJAX and related technologies.
- Digital identity (a good one for me from a research perspective).
- DIY hardware hacking.
- Security.

Note that the first two items both involve programming in JavaScript, a technology that was becoming vestigial and is now important again.

Tim O’Reilly did say that "SQL is the new buzz technology" (which made me laugh), based on number of mentions in job advertisements.

Final tangent:
One thing I haven’t mentioned anywhere yet is the talk/musical presentation given by why the lucky stiff, author of the Poignant Guide to Ruby.    Definitely the weirdest conference presentation ever.  On the DIY theme, read his article, "The Little Coder’s Predicament", on the barriers to entry for kids who want to learn to program these days.

Let me know your thoughts  for next year as it appears I will be involved in the organization again.

oscon day 4 - part 2 - shortage of PHP developers

I’m currently sitting in Andi’s talk on "PHP is ready for big business".  He mentioned that there’s a shortage of PHP developers in the Bay area.  (You can see that here from the amount of recruiting going on and the number of job ads posted on boards around the place.) 

<tangent>
I was just talking to Andy Oram from O’Reilly - my university is the source of six PHP and|or MySQL book authors and he wants to know why.  I was thinking about this - RMIT is really a center of excellence in teaching PHP, which is part of the reason, but I think that we were all users of PHP before we started teaching it.  Anyway, we should export some (more) of our graduates to the Bay area, where the salaries are great (especially to Australians), the weather is nice, and they seem to like our accents.  :)  I have thought about exporting myself to the Bay area a few times now but I love living in Australia.
</tangent>

I have been to a couple of other PHP talks today - Wez on PDO and George on Berkeley DBXML.   It’s an OmniTI miniconf.  They were both good useful talks.

oscon day 4 keynotes.

OK, now I’m up to date.
Today I missed the first couple of keynotes but I got there in time for a few.
I got to hear about HP’s guide to the Open Source world.  In 25 words or less: Open Source is like the ocean.  Proprietary software is like the desert.   If you combine the two and don’t give back to the community it’s like living in a swamp.  If you give back then it’s like living in Venice.
I am not really a fan of the trend towards vendor keynotes at OSCON.

The one on Computational Origami was much, much cooler.  I can’t find the photos online but will provide a link when I can.

oscon day 3 recap

I have now achieved the usual state of zombie-head information overload that one experiences at OSCON.  It’s day 4 now, but I will recap on yesterday.

Yesterday I attended a bunch of really good talks.  I started off at Shane Caraveo’s Firefox extensions talk.  His blog has links to the slides and code examples which are great and really easy to understand and get started with.  I also got all excited about Yahoo! Widgets (formerly Konfabulator) and I’m now hugely motivated to go and start making things.

I also enjoyed the Oracle and PHP talk given by fellow Melbournian Richard Rendell.  We use Oracle and PHP for a few internal applications inside the university and it’s good to see it getting some airtime.  Zend seem to be building relationships with the big name vendors such as Oracle and IBM very well.   There’s a whole bunch of articles about Oracle and PHP at OTN.

I finished off my day with some PHP talks - Joyce Park on XSLT and Rasmus‘ State of the Union.
Joyce’s talk made me laugh - she talked about FastXSLT, maintained by Sterling Hughes, who said he would only update the extension if she would say publicly "Sterling Hughes is a super pimp".  Which she did.  Rasmus’ talk was good as usual and gave people an idea of what’s been happening with PHP recently.

At that point I gave up and headed off for an iced mocha frappacino - I had jetlag - before the exhibitor hall reception.  This was fine but a little loud - there was a live band there.  Despite the huge size of the conference, the exhibitor hall is much quieter than in previous years.  I don’t know why this is.  After the reception I had planned on going to the world-famous Stonehenge party, but instead I ended up drinking margaritas with Luke, Damon Jordan, Kit Kemper, and Zak Greant.  Apparently the party had a long queue and was very hot - close to 100 (38) degrees in Portland yesterday and today - so I’m glad I stayed in aircon with a cool drink.