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Erika Heidi Reinaldo:
Productivity and The Pomodoro Technique
October 09, 2013 @ 09:26:24

While not specifically relating to PHP, Erika Heidi's latest post talks about a technique that could help you be more productive in the coding work you do - focusing in on your "time problems" and possibly using the Pomodoro technique to help correct them.

This is a quite famous quotation that is being repeated through the years. "Time is money" is a very contrived way to say that if you lose time, you might be losing money. I personally don't like this quote; lets refactor it to something that better reflects reality: "Productivity is Money" sounds way more realistic. [...] What we really need is to figure out a way to better use the time we have. How do we maximize our productivity?

She breaks it up into four things that can help identify these "time problems":

  • Diagnosing your time problems
  • Managing your Focus
  • Self-sabotage by the scumbag brain
  • The Pomodoro Technique

In this last section she introduces the technique (and tool - the tomato timer) and how it works. She points out the places where the process is flexible and how, especially if you're deep in code, getting to the point of taking a timed break (and sticking with it) can help give perspective.

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Link: http://www.erikaheidi.com/2013/10/08/productivity-pomodoro-technique/

Anna Filina:
Like Athletes, Developers Need Practice Before Performing
March 22, 2013 @ 13:51:55

Anna Filina has a new post to her site today suggesting that developers are like athletes, they need to practice before they can be good at what they do.

Think of a developer as an athlete. He or she is aiming for a medal in a competition. A figure skater can't just perform a triple axel in the Olympics after seeing it done on television. This requires a lot of practice, so that when the time comes, the performance is flawless. Of course, programming doesn't have to be flawless. One must remain pragmatic, yet it still requires practice before a concept can be safely implemented without breaking the project or missing deadlines. Who will pay for that practice?

She relates the development manager to the coach of a sports team, being the one that guides the developers into being all they can be and trying out new ideas in the process. She also recommends making use of idle time between projects to prototype, do R&D and learn in general.

Developers need a sandbox. If you don't give it to them, you can end up with one of the following issues. Your entire project could become a sandbox, making it unstable. [...] If you want your developers to get better, allow time for practice, not just learning. It's necessary, easy to do when planned and provides countless benefits to your company. Let me know how that advice worked out for you.
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PHPMaster.com:
The Importance of Code Review
August 31, 2012 @ 12:08:50

PHPMaster.com has a new article about a practice that's becoming more popular in recent years to help increase the quality of code that comes out of development - code reviews.

Every developer knows the pain of banal mistakes. A wrong attribute here, a misspelled property there, an accidentally duplicated line of code which you missed because of the coffee-fueled 16 hour hackathon you've been on. [...] Code review is simply the act of having someone else look at your code to find the mistakes you missed.

The tutorial talks about the types of code reviews (three of them with varying levels of involvement) as well as some best practices to follow in your reviews like:

  • Know your common mistakes and actively fight them.
  • Peer code review means being reviewed by someone of equal or greater skill.
  • Collect metrics.
  • Be mindful of the social aspect - finding bugs is good, not bad!
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DeveloperDrive.com:
6 Ways Web Developers Can Damage Thier Career
July 30, 2012 @ 08:14:28

In this new post to the Developer Drive site today, they share six things that you, as a developer, can do to hold you back in your career (or development growth in general).

The web development industry is one that is always growing because of how we use the web. No longer do we expect the Internet to simply host a digital pamphlet for a business. The expectations nowadays are for a site to be rich with content, provide the means for visitors to interact and be dynamic in every interaction. With the demand at an all time high, freelance web developers may think that there is little they could do to harm their career. Unfortunately, there are many ways that people in this industry sabotage themselves when it comes to their career.

Among the things they recommend avoiding are practices like clinging to older technologies, failing to network with other developers and market themselves and forgetting why you were hired in the first place.

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Ralph Schindler's Blog:
PHP Constructor Best Practices And The Prototype Pattern
March 12, 2012 @ 11:26:10

In this new post Ralph Schindler takes a look at the Prototype design pattern and uses it to illustrate some best practices in using constructors in PHP.

If your knowledge of constructors ends with "the place where I put my object initialization code," read on. While this is mostly what a constructor is, the way a developer crafts their class constructor greatly impacts the initial API of a particular class/object; which ultimately affects usability and extensibility. After all, the constructor is the first impression a particular class can make.

He starts at ground level, reintroducing what a constructor is and what it should (and shouldn't) be used for. He talks about constructor overloading, constructor injection, dynamic class extension and using the Prototype pattern to create "an unlimited number of objects of a particular type, with dependencies in tact, each with slight variations." He gives an example with a "DbAdapter" class, showing dynamic class instantiation and how to, using the Prototype method, inject a DbAdapter object and have your class use that instead.

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PHPMaster.com:
Practicing Regular Expressions with Search and Replace
November 23, 2011 @ 14:27:59

On PHPMaster.com today there's a new tutorial that shares a few regular expression tips about doing some search and replace in your content.

So how can you practice using regex if you are limited to just using them in your code? The answer is to use a utility, of which there are many, that uses regex for performing search and replace. I'm sure everyone is familiar with the standard "find x and replace it with y" type of search and replace. Most IDEs and text editors have built in regex engines to handle search and replace. In this article I'd like to walk through a series of exercises to help you practice using regex.

His examples are based on Netbeans but can be used in just about any IDE that supports regex (or even just your code). He shows how to match word boundaries, do some grouping, work with back references and doing some search/replace based on multiple groupings.

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Stefan Mischook's Blog:
The 'Good Enough' Principle and PHP
September 01, 2011 @ 12:20:44

In a new video blog post on his site today Stefan Mischook talks about PHP development and the concept of "good enough" that some developers can have a hard time with when trying to perfect code.

One of the mistakes web developers make is to spend too much time perfecting the code base in a project. This waste too much time and ignores one very important fact: you need to get the software into the users hands as quickly as possible, so they can give you feedback.

In his short video (stick with it, he talks dev at about 2:35) he talks about the concept of not getting caught up too much in quality of the code at the sake of the progress of the project. He mentions a non-programming related allegory of the PS3 and XBox 360 and the "first to market" advantage that it has.

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Mike Bernat's Blog:
Zend Certified!
February 10, 2009 @ 12:05:29

After having recently taken the PHP5 Zend Certified Engineer exam, Mike Bernat decided to shares some experiences about the time he spent preparing and his opinions on the test.

I decided that I wanted to take the test about 2 1/2 months ago. The first thing I did was visit the site and learn more about the exam itself. I discovered it covers almost every facet of the language and its use. [...] It's been mentioned before and I agree that none of these resources [websites, books, etc] alone are enough to make you feel confident going into the test. Rather, a combination of each resource should be taken advantage of to feel fully prepared.

He specifically mentions two books - the official Zend guide and the php|architect study guide - as well as some of the online testing he went through.

On the real test, he warns those looking to task it in the future of a few things - the trick questions, code blocks and some of the tougher subjects to watch out for.

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ServerSide Magazine:
Session Hijacking
December 12, 2008 @ 10:23:42

In this recent article from ServerSide Magazine they look at a security issue that can be hard to detect if you're not sure what you're looking for - session hijacking - and how you can help to prevent it on your site.

A must have for the attacker in a session hijack is the Session Identifier so he can impersonate the attack. Let's presume for example that you have your website hosted on a shared hosting on which PHP is installed as an Apache module, thing that makes session files belong to the web user, in other words: accessible.

He breaks it out into three potential kinds of session hijack methods - prediction, capture and fixation - with definitions for each. He also makes recommendations of some secure practices to follow to help prevent some of these issues (like not trusting users, using $_COOKIE and $_SESSION correctly and using a security token too along with the session ID).

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Ibuildings Blog:
Is PHP an Agile Programming Language?
August 15, 2008 @ 07:56:06

On the Ibuildings blog there's a new post that looks to answer the question "is PHP an agile programming language?"

In raising the question about whether a specific programming language is agile I want to avoid exploring what makes a language agile, or comparing PHP with other languages. The intention here is not to associate PHP to agile as a natural relationship, as much as to try and understand if we can find the ingredients in the PHP world, for creating an agile environment.

He (Marcello Duarte) first defines agile development practices for those not familiar and talks about the tools that PHP has to offer that fit in with that goal. He notes that PHP fits in well with the goals of agile development in being both light and powerful.

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