2015: The Year of Awe

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As 2015 comes to a close, I thought that I would jot down some words to reflect up what can only be called an incredible year.

In April I will celebrate the end of my third year as a Community Engineer Developer Evangelist, and it has been filled with more firsts that I ever thought I would experience.

January 🇺🇸✈️🇧🇪🚆🇩🇪

The year started out pretty standard with PHPBenelux (not that one could ever even suggest that PHPBenelux is anything but an extraordinary event!), but was then followed by the first of three WurstCons, which was actually a mini-tour of Germany.

Yitzchok Willroth (the [in]famous @coderabbi), Beth Tucker Long, and of course, the esteemed Jeremy Mikola and Daniel Cousineau, our organizing team, myself, as well as a host of other folks joined together for the saga that was: WurstCon EU.

ICE Train

We took the train from Brussels to Köln, where we spent two nights and visited a local Biergärten, an experience in and of itself. Here, I tried blood sausage for the first time (which some might find strange, as I am British), as well as pork knuckle.

WurstCon EU

Cologne Cathedral

From Köln, Yitz, Beth, and myself took another train to Frankfurt, while Jeremy flew to Berlin. We spent one night in Frankfurt, before Beth went off, leaving Yitz and I to carry on and meet Jeremy in Berlin.

Frankfurt

Frankfurt Love Locks

February 🇩🇪🚆🇧🇪✈️🇺🇸✈️🇨🇦✈️🇬🇧✈️🇺🇸

After 3 days in Berlin, and 6 days total in Germany, I took the train back to Brussels for FOSDEM.

Belgian Waffle

Brussels

After FOSDEM, where I got to hang out with the irrepressible PJ Hagerty and a surprise visit from Eamon Leonard, I flew back home to sunny Florida where I was greeted by the newly printed Zend PHP 5 Certification Study Guide, 3rd Edition.

Next up, was ConFoo, where I unfortunately had to rush through (one talk before lunch, one talk after, and then a flight 2 hours later…) on my way to PHPUK where I was giving my first keynote.

I cannot thank the PHPUK folks enough for allowing me to have such an amazing experience. This was a professional goal of mine for many years, and I finally realized it on a stage that, being in my home country, made it all the more special. Plus, my mum got to come!

March 🇺🇸✈️🇦🇺✈️🇺🇸

March started with me knocking another two items off my bucket-list: I made it to the Southern Hemisphere, and specifically, to Australia, for PHPAustralia. In Sydney, I got to put my feet in the other side of the Pacific Ocean for the first time, as well as see Koalas, Tasmanian Devils, Wallabies, and even take a Quokka selfie with Jordi Boggiano at Taronga Zoo.

Koala at Taronga Zoo

I saw the Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbor Bridge, another bucket list item (the Opera House is much smaller than I thought!), and the Three Sisters.

Sydney

I even ate Kangaroo (both in Kebab, and steak form, very yummy!), as well as Crocodile (tasted like salt water…).

Kangaroo Two Ways

Most importantly, I met some amazing new people, like Jack Skinner, and my long-ago co-author, Ben Dechrai. These folks in particular are doing amazing things for the tech communities in Sydney and Melbourne (respectively). I also met the fantastic Katie McLaughlin who taught me that we all need a place to hang out hats.

April 🇺🇸✈️🇺🇸✈️🇺🇸

Following on from my longest trip to date, I then took one of the shortest, in what was my least busy month of the year, to one of my favorite conferences, Lone Star PHP. Once again, Lone Star delivered, and I have the nice comfy t-shirt to prove it. I also experienced my first Tornado Siren. That was not on my bucket list.

We also enjoyed one of the best outings for PHP Karaoke for the year. I think this picture from Ben Ramsey captures it pretty well:

I also saw this great talk by Heather White on Teaching, which changed the way I do my slides and I’ve been getting compliments ever since: Thanks Heather!

On the way home from Lone Star, I actually ditched my checked luggage in Atlanta and went to hang out at my first RailsConf, and in fact, my first Ruby-related conference. I had a great time, met some great people, and got to hang out with PJ again. Oh yeah, and Phil Sturgeon turned up too. More karaoke happened.

RailsConf Badge

May 🇺🇸✈️🇮🇹🚆🇮🇹🚆🇮🇹✈️🇺🇸✈️🇺🇸

May was another month for knocking out bucket-list items, I took my wife along to Rome, Italy where we got to see the Vatican City and watch the Pope speak (neither on my bucket list, but highly recommended), I also got to see The Colosseum (the oldest item on my bucket list, I actually cried), Palatine Hill, Trevi Fountain, and much more. From here, we took a train to Venice, another bucket list item, and got to see the islands of Murano (famous for its glassware) & Burano (famous for its brightly colored painted buildings), as well as Piaza San Marco, and some beautiful sunsets and canals views.

The Food of Italy

Our final stop in Italy, was of course Verona, for phpDay, a great little conference, in a lovely town with it’s own historic arena (which is apparently older than The Colosseum), as well as Juliets House, and I got to see the old city for the first time at the speaker dinner.

Italy

From there, I headed on to Chicago, for php[tek], always a good time, and in fact, the last time it will be held in Chicago. I am excited to see what St. Louis brings to the table, and how we will ever replace Shoeless Joe’s. I think I will always remember watching The EuroVision Song Contest with a small group of people on my phone in the Club Lounge after the conference ended…

June 🇺🇸✈️🇺🇸✈️🇲🇽✈️🇺🇸✈️🇳🇱✈️🇺🇸

After a quick trip to Boston, MA, I headed down to Mexico for MagmaConf, an amazing polyglot conference that is only eclipsed by it’s location. If you ever get the chance to go, take it. I had an amazing time for my first time in Mexico (other than the port of Cozumel on a cruise, which I’m not counting) — I flew into Colima, and then, after giving a workshop, took a bus through the hills to Manzanillo on the Pacific coast. MagmaConf happens at Magma Village, a coastal resort where you share a villa with a number of other [random] folks attending the conference. I swam in 7 different pools over the 2 days of the conference, hanging out and meeting new people.
Mexico

I then ended the month at the DutchPHP Conference, this was my second time there, and it turned out to be my last talk for Engine Yard. This was actually quite an emotional thing for me — after almost 4 years, I was no longer a Yardee.

My Last Audience as a Yardee

July 🇺🇸✈️🇹🇷✈️🇺🇸

But, thanks to that quick trip to Boston back in May (Cambridge, actually), I was moving on to a new gig at Akamai Technologies. I then experienced yet another first, this time, Istanbul, Turkey. This was my first experience of a country that didn’t use the Latin alphabet (except Egypt, before I could read 😋), which was quite an interesting experience, and it would not be my last time this year.

Food of Istanbul, Turkey

Istanbul was another amazing city, with so much history and culture. I got to see the underground Basilica Cistern, and sunset from Galata Tower, among other great sights, and attended another great conference, PHPKonf. This was also the first time speaking where I was translated in real time, which was fascinating.

Istanbul, Turkey

August 🇺🇸✈️🇳🇿

August was the start of my longest travel period ever. Starting with a family vacation on the 24th, I was on the road non-stop till October 9th.

Considering I started the year never having been to the Southern Hemisphere, I — much to my amazement – got to go a second time. This time, I headed to beautiful New Zealand, and while I didn’t get to see Hobbits, I did get to enjoy a lovely drive along the coast, and had a fantastic time catching up with friends new and old at the New Zealand PHP Conference.

New Zealand

September 🇳🇿✈️🇦🇺✈️🇺🇸✈️🇧🇬✈️🇿🇦

While in New Zealand, I submitted my first patch for PHP 7.0, adding a few constants to ext/curl for HTTP/2 multiplexing.

Contrary to popular belief, I did not write the patch for T_SPACESHIP in 7.0. I wrote and proposed the T_SPACESHIP against 5.6, and it was re-written independently by Andrea Faulds. She later took on the T_SPACESHIP name after finding my original patch.

P.s. it’s one of these, not a Tie-Fighter or anything else!)

From New Zealand, I headed back to Sydney for a few days, where I got to speak at the SydPHP User Group, and gave my first talk on HTTP/2, a topic that would become a major focus for me for the rest of the year (and hopefully, beyond!). Next, I headed back to the US, to Seattle for the first time, and to meet up with my wife and son, for the inaugural Pacific North West PHP, where I was once again fortunate to keynote.

Beautiful Washington State

Following the event was my second WurstCon of the year, WurstCon NW, at Pike’s Place Market, where we shut down the restaurant for our impromptu private party (thanks to the gracious staff for that!)

WurstCon NW

I enjoyed this conference a lot, and apparently enjoyed Seattle so much (especially the drive through Mt. Rainier National Park) I’m planning to move there this upcoming February where I’ll get to hang out with awesome folks like Margaret Staples and Tessa Mero.

I then flew back to Europe, to Sofia, Bulgaria, my second non-Latin language country of the year. Now, let me stop for a moment and give a special shout out to this conference, easily in my top 3 for the year. The organizers of this conference were so amazing at making the speakers feel welcome, and safe in a country where all but two of us couldn’t even read the alphabet, and the event itself was just top-notch. I absolutely have this one my must-do list next year. Also, I climbed a fricken mountain. And the group hug at the end was epic. Oh, and let’s not forget, so much food meat, including my first time eating Horse thanks to the nicest guy I know, Damiano Venturing.

Thank you to the entire crew at Site Ground, but especially Dima Peteva for being my handler, and for even translating some Cyrillic receipts via IM for expenses after I got home!

From Europe, I took my third and final trip to the Southern Hemisphere for the year for PHP South Africa.

October 🇿🇦✈️🇺🇸

PHP South Africa actually comprised of two events, the first in Johannesburg, and the second in Cape Town. Johannesburg while fantastic, couldn’t have prepared me for our 2-day stop before heading on to Cape Town: Pilanesburg.

Here I got to take another item off my bucket list: we took not one, but two safaris. Despite the bug in my room larger than my head (my wife who was on FaceTime with me at the time I discovered it — and deafened by my high pitched scream — says I’m exaggerating), and losing one of my lenses, this was one of the most amazing experiences I’ve ever had. Seeing Elephants, Rhinos, Lions, Leopards, Hippos, Antelope, Zebras, and more in the wild, was beyond words. No photo, zoo, or wildlife park can do them justice.

Pilanesburg Safari

And yet… even that didn’t compare to the majesty of seeing, and ascending Table Mountain in Cape Town. Although Jordi and Derick actually climbed the mountain, myself, Raphael Dohms and his wife Tiscilla took the cable car to the top, where we were treated to amazing views of the end of the world, and after being joined by the hikers, we enjoyed watching the sun set over the water1.

November 🇺🇸✈️🇨🇦

My final event took me back to the frozen slightly cool North, this time to Toronto for TrueNorth PHP and the final — arguably the best — WurstCon of the year, at Wvrst in downtown Toronto, where I got to split a multi-sausage meal with Margaret and Mr. WurstCon himself, Jeremy Mikola (and we were joined by a bunch of other great folks).

We started with duck, pheasant, venison, bison, and guinea fowl:

Followed by kangaroo, lamb, rabbit, wild boar, and elk :

And finally, ending with Oktoberfest (with beer), Kaas (with cheese!), and then the more traditional Bratwurst, Berkshire, and Tamworth varieties:

And of course, I participated in this work of art:

The Last Sausage

Unfortunately, I was supposed to also speak at RailsIsrael (how this event isn’t called Israils, I have no idea!) but had to cancel due to safety concerns — this also means I didn’t manage to achieve my goal of hitting every continent2.

I also started my first real RFC for PHP 7.1, adding — you guessed it — yet more HTTP/2 feature support to ext/curl, this time in the form of HTTP/2 Server Push support.

December 🇺🇸✈️🇬🇧

December is the first month this year without any travel for work, and I’m looking forward to a full month with my family, to enjoy Christmas, and reflect on the year passed.

Also: my RFC passed with flying colors!

2015 In Summary

This year, I visited 13 countries, covering 162,862 miles (262,101km) on 79 flights via 28 airports. I spent 15.5 days in the air. That’s equal to more than six and a half (6.54) times around the world, and over half way (68.2%) to the moon!

I also tried many new kinds of meat: Kangaroo, Crocodile, Horse, Kudu, Ostrich, Springbok, Guinea Fowl, Pheasant, Venison, Bison, Wild Boar, Elk, Rabbit, and Veal!

2016

As we head into a new year, I’m looking forward to a continued focus on HTTP/2, as well as web performance at all levels of the stack. With that, I hope to attend many different events for 2016, hopefully a lot of polyglot events, but also general web development, frontend, JavaScript, Python, Ruby, and of course, PHP events.

I hope to see all of you again next year, somewhere, and I look forward to meeting new people, and learning even more than I did this year!


  1. You can see an even better time-lapse by Jordi, here 
  2. At least as far the UN 5 inhabited continents model goes! 

Catching Up With Myself

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Prior to November 19th 2006 I was really into PHP. I tested every alpha, beta, and release candidate, I knew every new feature inside and out, and I had plans to contribute… something. I didn’t know what, but I was going to give back to the language I loved.

However, just a few weeks after the release of PHP 5.2, my first wife passed away and I pretty much dropped off the face of the Earth as far as being part of the PHP community is concerned (EartPHP?). I did my job, and very little else. I had pushed out PHAR the year before, and it went on to become part of PHP 5.3, earning me my name in the phpinfo() output — a long time goal of mine at the time — but I pretty much missed the 5.3 release. For all the drama around killing PHP 6, and the huge changes in 5.3, I just wasn’t paying much attention.

I’ve felt like I was playing catch-up to pre-November 2006 me ever since then.

Despite everything I’ve accomplished since then, I never felt like I had reached the same level I was at back then (see: Impostor Syndrome). Till now.

Last week I put my first real1 feature addition to PHP up for voting. This has been a personal triumph for me, finally getting to grips with C enough to contribute in a meaningful way.

This year I also started getting help for my depression, and a few months ago, I started on Wellbutrin. I am sure these two things are related.

Next up, I hope to continue on this trajectory by writing a brand new extension (probably around libcurl) from scratch.

For now, I just want to say:

Dear Past Me,

We did it, finally.

– Future Past Me.


Image Courtesy of Sanjib Mitra, used under a CC-BY-NC 2.0 license.


  1. By real, I mean beyond a simple bug fix, or a copy and paste + modify change. Or adding a simple operator

Farewell Engine Yard!

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After almost 4 years at Engine Yard, my last day will be July 3rd.

It is a sad thing, but it also means I am moving on to hopefully bigger, exciting, more challenging, and better things.

On Saturday I gave my last conference talk as a Yardee, and I think it was fitting that it was about “What’s new in PHP 7”, as my first talk for Engine Yard was at PHPUK 2012 and it was about “What’s new in PHP 5.4”.

I have had an amazing time working for Engine Yard, learned a lot from lots of smart people, been able to travel the world and meet even more fabulous people. I have been allowed to shape my job around the life I want to lead: to be a good person, to teach and help people, and to spread the joy of the things I love to as many people as possible.

I will be moving on to Akamai Technologies on July 6th as a Developer Evangelist.

I will be working on some thing bigger than I can conceive and I’m excited at the prospect of helping people — particularly in the PHP community — to achieve amazing things using these tools and more.

But I wouldn’t be here if not for all I’ve been enabled to do the last four years:

Thank you Engine Yard ❤️

P.S.
Y’all should go check out Deis and Deis.com/Deis PRO, they’re pretty awesome!

Lets Play Catch-up

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Despite my seeming intent at killing this blog, it has yet to happen; in fact the number of visitors that still come is quite amazing to me — thank you.

As you no doubt notice, this blog looks a little different. Unfortunately, due to a stunning number of bad coincidences (two dead hard drives in the space of 6 weeks… mirrored raid ftl) I lost several months of posts — although, thanks to Helgi Þormar Þorbjörnsson I was able to recover the majority of my posts, excepting the ends of those truncated by Planet PHP — and I also made the transition to WordPress, which I must say I’m enjoying far more than Serendipity (sorry guys, but WP 2.6 was good, 2.7 is great).

So what the hell have I been doing for the last year or so? Mostly… nothing. At least, not till about  4 months ago when at a party for my sister-in-law, I met a wonderful girl who has forced me to pretend I have a life. (oh no, twist my arm so hard… not)

I have, in the last year, garnered a new love for typography, reading The Non-Designer’s Type Book taught me enough to truly appreciate just what it is that Chris Shiflett and Jon Tan find so beautiful in “simple” words.

I’ve also thrown myself into twitter and mobile web 2.0 thanks to my iPhone and Tweetie. As well as into photography with my [not quite so stellar anymore but it does the job] Canon PowerShot S2 IS that I thoroughly love, and even after 3 years am still learning the ins-and-outs of.

It’s thanks to this camera that I have been able to capture so many wonderful moments in the last 4 months, and hopefully soon I’ll be able to trade it in for a Canon PowerShot SX1 IS or a Nikon DSLR of some kind (though my wallet shudders at the thought of it being possible to replace the lens on my camera…)

In the last 4 months, we have been to every Disney (Florida) Theme Park; We started with Epcot because I had never been there before… or at least, I thought not — the day before I went, I called my mum to let her know and she told me I had been when I came in 1996… oops. Still, I couldn’t remember it obviously, so, feeling like a kid in a candy store I explored Future World, the World Showcase (during the Food & Wine Festival no less!) and all the wonders that only Disney can bring together in one place… or 5 or 6 places as the case is.

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Shortly after this, I was treated to dinner at the T-Rex Cafe soft launch in Downtown Disney

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[note: the second image is actually a video of the very neat meteor shower than occurs on the ceiling every 30 minutes or so]

Then in November we made it to Disneys Animal Kingdom, then we spent a night at the wonderful Disney Beach Club Villas [where we got to see the Epcot fireworks display, Illuminations, from the balcony!], followed by a day at SeaWorld:

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Somewhere in there, we also got to visit Busch Gardens, our local theme park, Disney’s Magic Kingdom, Disney Hollywood Studios (formerly known as MGM Studios) and Disney Quest, Disney’s take on an arcade, with everything from bumper cars with cannons to classics like the original Pong!

In addition to all of this, we’ve been to nightclubs (OK, one), painted my bedroom (work in progess!) and much much more.

The latest thing has been attending the Alafia River Rendezvous Pre-1840 re-enactment, which was tremendous fun!

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As you can no-doubt tell I’ve had quite the whirlwind time lately, and it doesn’t stop; this weekend we’re planning to go Swing Dancing, which while I am sure I won’t be any good, promises to be tons of fun :)

I hope to start blogging on a more regular basis, I have a custom design with some neat features coming soon, and I will definitely stick to mostly technical topics [and photography], after all, if you want my personal life blow-by-blows, you can follow me on twitter  ;)

– Davey

P.S.

Don’t miss my pictures of the lunar perigee:

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Seven Things

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I figured seeing as I can’t come up with original content for my blog, I’d jump on the “seven things” tagging malarky, seeing as I was tagged by Matthew/Elazar.

My seven things:

  1. I was lead vocalist in a Funk-Jazz band in senior school (high school) called The Funk Junkies — we toured in Spain one summer, it was awesome
  2. My favorite subjects in senior school were History and Religious Education. I never had the option to do anything related to computers.
  3. I don’t have a degree even though I spent 3 years in higher education; I learned far more in ##php (back then, #php) on Freenode than in the classroom.
  4. I consider myself very lucky to be a mutt: half English, half Egyptian, Jewish on my mothers side, Coptic Christian on my fathers side, and living in Florida. This means I had a very colorful childhood
  5. I love to cook, and have had to learn to cook all sorts of things I took for granted in the UK (for example, a decent curry, or good bread!)
  6. I wanted to live in Florida since I was 11, and I came to Walt Disney World® with my mum and sister — I would never live anywhere else :)
  7. I got on the internet (using AOL) in 1997 thanks to my Grandpa. Just the other day I had to remind him about Skype, which he showed me when it was still beta and apparently forgot about ;)  — also, I used a P200 (w/64MB RAM) till 2001, when I upgraded to an AMD Athlon Thunderbird 1.1Ghz, it screamed!

Apparently, I also need to tag 7 other people, so here goes:

  • Paul Reinhiemer for making me squirt tea out of my nose at |works 05
  • Lorna Mitchell for making the best gingerbread biscuits (and for pretending the Smirnoff Ice was for her…)
  • Ed Finkler because I’m pretty sure it’ll piss him off
  • Vidyut Luther because I still remember the night I saved him from killing his mother-in-law over a basketball game ;)
  • Marco Tabini for being the only person crazy enough to publish me
  • Greg Beaver for getting my name into phpinfo()
  • Sara Golemon for showing me around San Jose (and Santa Cruz) after ZendCon… oh and for the awesome food she cooked me!

And here are the rules:

  • Link your original tagger(s), and list these rules on your blog.
  • Share seven facts about yourself in the post — some random, some weird.
  • Tag seven people at the end of your post by leaving their names and the links to their blogs.
  • Let them know they’ve been tagged by leaving a comment on their blogs and/or Twitter.

– Davey

Progress

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OK, so… exercising is hard.

For the first few rides on my new bike, I took it outside, eschewing my trainer for some asphalt… and also because the tires that came with the bike were simply too deeply treaded to use on the trainer.

I did about a mile each time, several revolutions round the few blocks around my house. The heat definitely takes it’s toll very quickly.

Now i’ve picked up some semi-slick tires, which have an (almost) smooth middle-section and tred on the outer edges so it can still be used outside. (Similar to this).

I’m now cycling 2 miles each time (though admittedly, I should be doing it at least every other night, right now it’s every 4 days or so). I think I’ve finally got the trainer setup nicely, to where there is almost no friction on the lowest setting, and it’s right at the top of my strength on the highest (5th) setting. I typically leave it at the 5th, because I find that it’s not the strength required that makes it tiresome, it’s the number of revolutions.

I’m also looking at the One Hundred Pushups Challenge, though my upper body strength is already good, and is mostly what I work out in the pool. I don’t see pushups contributing much to weight loss (compared to say, swimming or cycling), it would just be cool to complete the challenge.

– Davey

P.S.
I hate changing tires/innertubes with a passion