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Phil Sturgeon:
PHP Wars Attack of the Clones
October 21, 2014 @ 10:18:02

In one of his recent posts Phil Sturgeon talks about what he calls the "Attack of the Clones" on Packagist. In this case, he's referring to the number of packages that all pretty much do the same thing, just in slightly different ways.

n the last article I said I wanted to write about when its a good idea to release a component. A lot of this comes down to: is there one out there that does what I want, and if so, can I use it. This blog post is going to touch on a lot of points already made well by Anthony Ferrera. His article Reinvent The Wheel! says many of the same things, so if you only have time to read one article right now, go and read that. I've been talking with various people on Twitter about how I see a lot of people building what I consider to be clones. [...] It should go without saying that I'm not trying to quash innovation; I just don't think building identical shit over and over again is innovation. I see people wasting their time, and I know that time could go to better use.

He talks about how he's not opposed to innovation and development for the sake of learning, but that often the packages released are lower-powered versions of already established, well-tested packages. These kinds of packages can clutter the results when the packages are searched and prevent developers from finding the best fit for what they need. He mentions frameworks, but doesn't dwell on them as they're a bit more "self-contained" than just packages. He also touches on the curation of packages (guiding people to the right ones) as a possible solution and looks at how some of the other communities out there handle this same problem.

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Link: https://philsturgeon.uk/blog/2014/10/php-wars-attack-of-the-clones

SitePoint Web Blog:
How Do You Work With Other People's Code?
September 26, 2014 @ 10:58:56

The SitePoint Web blog has a recent post from Matthew Setter offering some helpful hints on working with other people's code. In it he shares suggestions ranging from the technical out to a bit more "learning oriented" to get up to speed on concepts and techniques.

Dealing with code created by other people is a fundamental skill for a developer. Give it a year and other people's code could even be your own. Today I'm going to look at some of the best approaches for how to deal with other people's code, read legacy code, effectively. It's not an easy topic to cover.

He's broken it down into a list of several different topics, each with their own descriptions and links to tools or reading resources for more information:

  • Interact
  • Observe
  • Run Tests
  • Fix Bugs designed for Newcomers
  • Find Available Resources
  • Use a Good IDE
  • Read Books & Blogs
  • Contribute to Documentation
  • Be Considerate

He puts some good emphasis on that final point, reminding the reader that it's not just years of experience that make for a better developer, it's more about skill.

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Link: http://www.sitepoint.com/work-peoples-code/

Loosely Coupled Podcast:
Episode 11 I Learnded Goodly
September 25, 2014 @ 11:48:26

The Loosely Coupled podcast has posted their latest episode today - Episode #11, I Learnded Goodly. Hosts Jeff Carouth and Matt Frost talk from some of their own experience when it comes to learning (and teaching) as developers.

In this episode Jeff and Matt talk about how we teach and how we learn as developers. Often subjects such as testing or object-oriented programming are taught in ways that could be considered the most difficult way possible. This episode covers some advice about how teach these types of subjects in an accessible way and, even better, how to go about learning difficult subjects.

You can listen to this latest episode either through the in-page audio player or by grabbing the mp3 download for listening at your leisure. Be sure to subscribe to their feed and follow them on Twitter if you enjoy it!

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Link: http://looselycoupled.info/blog/2014/09/23/episode-11-i-learnded-goodly/

Cal Evans:
Learn from NO
August 19, 2014 @ 11:51:56

Cal Evans has posted the next in his series offering advice to companies (and recruiters) out there looking to hire good, qualified and technically competent candidates. In this new post he suggests that these organizations learn something from when they get a "no" from the candidate.

Most companies have some variation of [the same] process for interviewing developers. [...] Between each bullet point is a decision point on the part of both your company and the candidate whether to move to the next step. Don't assume that just because you have a job, the candidate will be willing to move forward at each step. Some candidates will excuse themselves from the process for a variety of reasons.

He suggests that it's important to learn from the "no" and change things up accordingly. If you can find out the "why" behind the "no", you can make a change for the better. He reminds companies that "no" could also mean "not right now" or "not without extra information I don't have".

Set aside some time in your schedule soon after the break, but not immediately after - to contemplate why [the candidate said no]. Yes, this is largely navel gazing but it is important navel gazing. Did they see something in your team that you can correct? Is there a problem you can work on? Not every NO will be something you can fix, or even your fault, but make sure you spend a little time thinking about it.
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Link: http://blog.calevans.com/2014/08/18/learn-from-no

Voices of the ElePHPant:
Interview with Joel Clermont
July 30, 2014 @ 09:37:56

The Voices of the ElePHPant podcast has posted their latest episode in their series of community interviews. This time it's with Joel Clermont, an organizer of the Milwaukee PHP User Group.

They talk some about a newsletter Joelputs out "learning how to learn" based around a conference talk he's proposed/given. Joel also mentions the book he's working on following the same topic. They also talk some about his involvement in the Milwaukee user group.

You can listen to this latest episode either through the in-page audio player or by downloading the mp3 directly. If you like what you hear, consider subscribing to their feed too.

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Link: http://voicesoftheelephpant.com/2014/07/29/interview-with-joel-clermont

Dawn Casey:
Things Developers Say
June 05, 2014 @ 09:13:45

In this new post from Dawn Casey (wife of the infamous Keith Casey) she talks about some of her "growing pains" around becoming a new developer and the learning process. She's come up against some interesting problems in the course of her learning, both good and frustrating.

In the course of my learning development (seven months at this point) I've heard quite a few things from other veteran developers, all of whom were trying to be helpful. Or I'd ask a question and get one of these things in response because it makes sense to *them*…they don't realize I have no point of reference. [...] I'm frustrated because they can't explain whatever it is I don't understand..mostly because I don't understand exactly what it is I'm not understanding.

Her frustration comes not only from not being able to ask the right questions, but also from being a "blind deaf alien" thrown into the world of development. She point out an issue common to those trying to get into programming: the wealth of information one needs to know before getting started. She also mentions another common problem, particularly for new developers (or those looking to improve one certain skill): the sometimes unhelpful nature of other, more experienced developers. While some are happy to help and guide you through the learning process, there's others that will just toss you a tutorial link and call it a day.

Here's the gist of what I'm saying: There is so much back-knowledge needed to be a web developer today that many are derailed for months trying to learn everything they need to know before they can learn anything at all. PLEASE REMEMBER THIS!!
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Link: http://sdawncasey.wordpress.com/2014/06/04/things-developers-say/

Reddit.com:
Frameworks, is the learning curve too steep
October 04, 2013 @ 12:58:17

Over on Reddit.com there's a great conversation happening after the poster asked if the learning curve is too steep for most of the PHP frameworks these days.

Does anyone else find the learning curve for most frameworks just too steep, so many times I've started a project and within a day or 2 I just think fuck it and start again with raw php, I just seem to be so much faster that way. But I know, well I think I know because everyone else says, frameworks speed up development, so how do I get over the initial learning curve, so I can get on with the project and not get stuck in laravel/symphony/yii/framework-of-the-month documentation?

There's a lot of comments on the post (100+ at the time of this posting) with a good range of opinions including things like:

  • it's not that the framework learning curve is too high, it's that the learning curve of PHP is too shallow
  • It might seem too steep to those not familiar with the concepts behind frameworks
  • Learning some of the basic design patterns to figure out how a framework works
  • Frameworks seem to be more useful when it's a larger project with a larger team

Want to contribute to the discussion? Head over here and add your opinions.

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Link: http://www.reddit.com/r/PHP/comments/1nno0q/frameworks_is_the_learning_curve_too_steep/

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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Chris Hartjes:
The Birth of Grumpy Learning
December 03, 2012 @ 12:51:45

Chris Hartjes (aka "The Grumpy Programmer") has made a name for himself in the PHP community as a big proponent of testing of all sorts in web applications. He's taking things to the next level with his own "Grumpy Learning" grouping.

As I also create more products I need a place for them all to live. I have books, and now a course I can teach and I am planning on producing screencasts for sale as well. With that in mind, I am happy to announce I have created Grumpy Learning, an umbrella site for all my training and teaching efforts to hang from.

His first book covered writing testable application, his second book looks more specifically at using PHPUnit. His latest offering is a PHP Testing Bootcamp - a three-session guided look at some of the concepts he shares not only in his books but also from his own experience (January 3rd, 10th & 17th).

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Ian Barber's Blog:
Linear Regression in PHP (part 2)
October 19, 2011 @ 12:40:16

In a previous post Ian Barber started looking at code you could use to determine linear regression in PHP. In part two he restructures the code into a more manageable class rather than the mostly procedural process it was before.

In the last post we had a simple stepping algorithm, and a gradient descent implementation, for fitting a line to a set of points with one variable and one 'outcome'. As I mentioned though, it's fairly straightforward to extend that to multiple variables, and even to curves, rather than just straight lines. For this example I've reorganised the code slightly into a class to make life a little easier, but the main changes are just the hypothesis and learn functions.

He restructures the learning method to make it easier to reuse and includes a "scale data" method to compensate for irregularities in the data and compute the variance.

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