20 Years of PHP

Ben Ramsey shared how he got started with PHP and had the great idea of asking others to write about their stories and tagging it as #20yearsofphp. This is my story.

When I graduated from college in 2000, I began looking for a job without a clear idea of what I wanted to do. In grad school I had done some projects using HTML, ASP, and ShockWave for various professors and figured I could get a job building web sites until I decided on something. I replied to a job posting (I think it was on hotjobs.com) and in September 2000 I started working as a web developer at Forum One. Thanks to that job, I spent a week working in San Francisco after meeting my (future) wife on a previous trip to California. We’d get married in 2004.

At the time, PHP4 had just been released. I worked on projects which still used PHP3, or interfaced via Perl CGI scripts to save data in a custom-build in-house CMS. I think my first actual PHP project was for a local Jewish Temple. Like other junior devs at that job, I took a shot at replacing the Perl scripts with my own PHP versions. Luckily, I never inflicted them on my colleagues.

From there, PHP was a gateway to learning about Linux, web servers, databases & SQL, and so much more. Thanks to PHP (and Drupal) I worked for my favorite soccer team, D.C. United. Today I’m grateful that, through running php[architect] I get to work not only with Eli, Kevin, Sandy, and Heather on daily basis but also with the wider PHP community through php[architect]’s magazine, books, and conferences.

I don’t think I could have planned the last 15 years better. Here’s to the next 20!

 

A new venture: musketeers.me

This has been in the works for a bit now, and I’m excited to announce that along with Eli White, Kevin Bruce, and Sandy Smith, we’ve formed muskeeters.me. We worked well together at our previous venture, that we wanted to keep it going. The new venture will do the usual web consulting, from strategy and planning, systems architecture with an eye on scaling, through design and development. We’ve also kicked around our own product ideas to work on, which we can share sooner rather than later.

Serenity Parenting Now!

I like his description of Serenity parenting, it matches how we are trying to raise our two sons. I still think I should make a t-shirt that says “My kid’s gonna enjoy soccer wether he likes it or not.”

But twin research has another far more amazing lesson: With a few exceptions, the effect of parenting on adult outcomes ranges from small to zero. Parents change kids in many ways; the catch is that the changes fade out as kids grow up.

Twin Lessons: Have More Kids. Pay Less Attention to Them. – Ideas Market – WSJ

Whoa! Nicholas Turned one already?

Not that we forgot, but its amazing to think that Nicholas is already one year old.  I’ll try to stay away from any cliche in regards to father hood and how quickly children grow up.  A little over one year ago, when he was born, I could not have anticipated how he’d change my life, even though I knew he would.

When you’re expecting parents, time seems to move in lurches, fast at times, and then really slow at others.  You’re days are measured in weeks until term, not months.  The bliss at the beginning gives way to panic as you try to prepare a home for your new family member.  Finaly, those last four weeks, at least for us, seemed to halt to a crawl, punctuated by a routine of doctor checks, hospital visits for monitoring, and then back home, only to repeat again.  Staci was on bed rest that last month, and I can only imagine how stir crazy she must have felt cooped up with mainly her mom and I for company.

The first months after Nicholas was born, we were so focused on taking care of him and learning to understand him, that we didn’t have time to notice how our routines were adjusting.  It was very much focused on taking care of his needs mainl food and sleep.  Tehn the time between feedings slowly increased, and then he started sleeping through the night and we were bonafide parents – able to change diapers in the most unusual places and planning our days around his nap and eating schedules.  Now, he’s starting to parrot words and remember meanings, so we actually have tiny converations.  Albeit repetitive ones like ‘What does the Cow say?’.

I’m indescribably happy to be a dad and to have such a wonderful son.  Its been fun to watch what granparenthood has done to our parents as well.  The highlight of my day definitely is coming home from work and seeing his face brighten and smile when I walk thorugh the door.

First 3 months as a Dad

One of the first things I’ve noticed as a new father is how sensitive I am again to time passing.  After graduating college, my has not been measured in discrete chunks of time like semesters, nor have there been regular events like summer/fall/spring breaks to look forward to as a break in my schedule.  Time was very continuous, between work and the occasional trip or vacation to punctuate the year.  Since we learned we’d be parents, its been back to counting down the days to one milestone or another.  First, it was the trimesters during pregnancy, then the agonizingly slow march to the actual delivery day.  Now, every month has its little milestones.  By the second month, Nicholas was able to follow objects, and recognize voices.  In the third month, he’s learned to squeal in delight, "converse" and respond with baby babble.  Soon, he should be sleeping through the night, which will be a more a welcome relief for Staci than for me, believe it or not.

Besides these developmental milestones, clearly the biggest change is that his health and welfare are our foremost concern.  While I may want to squeeze in an hour here or there blogging, pokig at some code or project, or simply playing a game of FIFA, its been hard to come by those hours without sacrificing a lot of sleep.  And its no joke how much sleep you are deprived of during the first three months.  The first month was definitely the worst, but you get used to functioning with less sleep, or going to bed earlier.  For me, midnight or 1 AM used to be the norm, but just last night we were all in bed at 10 p.m.  It was a good night.

The first 3 months haven’t been all that hard or a very big adjustment, since our main job is to keep Nicholas fed, safe, and stimulated.  There must also be  an evolutionary reason for pushing the harder parenting years to when children become teenagers.  I’m enjoying being a dad, and I"m looking forward to all the new experiences we’ll share as a family in the coming years.

Other things I’ve learned as a new dad:

  • Changing diapers isn’t as hard or messy as I thought it would be, but he hasn’t gotten to a real squirmy phase either.
  • LIttle babies can make some big noises.
  • You have to be pretty creative to keep them entertained, the funny face or noise that worked yesterday probably won’t be as entertaining tomorrow.
  • Its nearly impossible to stop grandmothers from buying new toys and outfits for him.

What I learned from Jon & Kate plus Eight

Or, learning to love process/order and prevent chaos

TLC’s show Jon & Kate plus Eight has both of us hooked.  We started watching after we learned we were expecting Nicholas, partially in a funny "At least we don’t have eight kids" way.  But the show is entertaining, and has given us a couple of clues about being parents that might be helpful down the road.  Nothing super revelatory, but stuff that is good to hear again.

oWatching the recap show about parenting, Kate said something to the effect that "Without order we’d have chaos and then the kids would rule the house."  Specifically, both of them talked about how important it is to keep a very regular schedule for the kids.  So that, for example, they know that noon is lunch time and its time to be quiet and sit at the table.  Of course, as the kids grow they may try to disrupt the schedule, but the every day routine is key to keeping their household running day-to-day.  Not just operating, mind you, but operating so that the parents aren’t over stressed and so that the children also learn how to behave and develop good habits.

Meanwhile, I’ve noticed myself at work becoming much crankier about people not following processes or making up for a lack of organization with "urgency" and hustle. It’s not that I don’t appreciate that, as a client focused services firm the need to be flexible.  Its that, as a programmer, although this goes I think for any role at work, I have a number of client projects that require my attention on any day.  The "little" tasks and tweaks that push themselves to the top of my queue come at the expense of  attention to other client requests.  And when a particular task, like debugging a broken site or implementing a new feature, requires by necessity a good, uninterrupted stretch of time to focus on it, the disruptions are even more magnified.

What am I asking for?  At the core, I’d like to not have tasks dropped in my lap at the last minute, which are urgent because adequate planning was not done to get them assigned and worked on.  I’d also like people to actually follow the recommended best practices for Task delegation, Resource planning, and Bug tracking.

Does this mean I think any of my co-workers are childish, or immature, or somehow not competent.  By no means.  I’m merely saying that work could be a lot less chaotic and stressful if we all were disciplined about sticking to agreed upon processes.  Am I perfect in this regard?  Hardly.  There are a lot of habits I know I need to work on to get better at, particularly in avoiding distractions at work so I’m not wasting time on less important, but sometimes personally more interesting, tasks.

No H20 for Nicholas

Drinking water can be harmful to smallest babies – Yahoo! News It must drive these researchers crazy to hear what their parents gave to babies, grapes, juices, honey…

Babies younger than six months old should never be given water to drink, physicians at Johns Hopkins Children’s Center in Baltimore remind parents. Consuming too much water can put babies at risk of a potentially life-threatening condition known as water intoxication.

Introducing Nicholas

I’m very happy to introduce you to the newest member of our familily, Nicholas Herbert, pictured here taking a nap with his proud dad.  He was born in the early morning hours of April 8th.  Since then he’s kept us busy between feedings, diaper changes, and one to two hour cat naps throughout the day.  He’s got quite a set of lungs on him, to letlet us know when he’s hungry.  Nicholas is also a night owl like me, but hopefully he’ll outgrow that soon.

When we brought him home, we were curious how Simon would react to him.  At first, whenever he cried or made some noise, Simon would run into his crate, but now when Nicholas is being held, Simon wll curl up next to the person holding the baby and occasionally sniff him.