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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/

/Dev/Hell Podcast:
Episode 42 Hacking Difficult People
March 26, 2014 @ 11:48:47

The /Dev/Hell podcast has posted the latest episode of their show, Episode #42 - Hacking Difficult People. This show features hosts Ed Finkler and Chris Hartjes joind by guest Laura Thomson, a Manager at Mozilla.

For episode 42 we are blessed by the wonderful and talented Laura Thomson, Senior Engineering Manager at Mozilla. Laura drops science on managing engineers, Minimum Viable Bureaucracy, HHVM and Hack, and her mid-Atlantic coast accent. This is a must-listen for folks who manage tech teams.

Some of the topics mentioned in this episode include RCS, "The Tyranny of Structurelessness", the HHVM blog and the CodeIgniter project's search for a new home. You can listen to this episode either through the in-page player or by downloading the mp3.

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Link: http://devhell.info/post/2014-03-24/hacking-difficult-people/

Sherif Ramadan:
Password Hashing And Why People Do It Wrong
June 03, 2013 @ 12:18:26

In a recent post to his site Sherif Ramadan looks at the topic of password hashing and why most developers are (still) doing it wrong. He notes that "fixing the people" and their mindset about hashing/salting is much harder than just fixing the code.

Beyond just writing code I also have to solve some very tough problems on a regular basis. Some of which don't stem from code at all, but from the people behind the code. Fixing code is easy for me (computers just do what I tell them to do), but fixing people proves to be a lot more challenging. Unfortunately some people are of the mindset that they aren't wrong simply because they've never been proven wrong before. To some people being proven wrong goes beyond just words. Some of us are a lot more stubborn than others and so explaining something may not be enough. This is called the wisdom of humility.

He points out that even those that immediately think "rainbow tables" when they think about md5 hashing are behind the times. Most processing methods, including the use of a GPU, can be used much more effectively and don't require the overhead of the large tables. He illustrates with a "random" md5 generator that outputs around 916 million variations. With a GPU running 4k million per second, this kind of cracking won't take long. He also talks about salts and how they can help the situation - but not just append it, hash with it.

It's usually the result of several underlying factors that people end up making poor choices about security. Some times it's due to incompetence. Other time it's due to politics. Whatever the reasons are they are never excusable, because there are better alternatives out there and it's not as though they are more difficult or less available than others. So there really are no good reasons [not to do it] here.
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Link: https://sheriframadan.com/2013/05/password-hashing

Marco Tabini:
Duck blinds
July 20, 2012 @ 09:03:14

In this new post Marco Tabini gives his take on "language haters" and how it's less about the language and more about what you do with it.

The reason why I'm here is that, on occasion, a person decides that it's time write Yet Another PHP Bashing Post. Typically, this is followed by a bunch of Posts Defending PHP. [...] Saying that PHP is horrible or great is no more useful than saying that a hammer is horrible or great (regardless of the number of claws it comes with). [...] The real question is whether PHP - or any other technology - is good for you.

He goes on to mention current successful projects that use PHP, but focuses on the people and the ideas that made them happen, not the language "behind the scenes". He also comments on what he thinks makes a good programmer (and one that has matured past the "X language is the best!" stance):

And this brings me to the crux of the matter: The trick to being a great programmer is to learn as much as you can about as many programming languages and techniques as you can. Eventually, you'll learn that any language is excellent at some things, good at others, and a poor choice for many others. It's all about the context, and finding the right tool for the job.
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PHPMaster.com:
The PHP People
November 22, 2011 @ 15:31:18

On PHPMaster.com there's a new post by Michelle Sanver about The PHP People, a.k.a the PHP community, and some of the great resources you can use to get help on a problem or just reach out and meet some other PHP-ers in your area (or at a national conference!)

If you're ever stuck on a problem, Google it and you'll find a swarm of users have most likely experienced the same issue and have already shared their solution. If it's not out there, ask in a public forum and people will help you find the answer. And if you've managed to solve it yourself, then write about it! That way you'll be contributing to helping others the same way others are willing to help you. That's one part of the PHP community that makes it really stand out - people share their knowledge and are more than willing to help others along their journey with PHP.

Some resources/places to meet like-minded developers include:

The community in PHP is huge and is growing every day, and it's all about sharing. If you see someone in need and you're able to help, offer him guidance. If you see an open-source project that's great; contribute and help it grow.
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CohereCommunity.com:
Where (And Why) Do Communities Happen?
October 03, 2011 @ 13:03:58

On the CohereCommunity.com blog has a (slightly older, but still good) post about communities and the "when" and "where" of them happening.

I'm talking about people trends and community and HOW. WE. CONNECT. I decided to start old school stylie, and looked up the word 'community' in the dictionary. [...] So community literally means to give gifts to and among each other. Which in turn means my community is a group of people who welcome and honor my gifts, and from whom I can reasonably expect to receive gifts in return.

They go on to talk about the three key elements any good community relies on - the people that make it up, the places they meet (real or virtual) and the "things" that bring them together.

If I could make a single plea to every researcher, academic, economist and reporter it would be to stop counting us and start communicating with us. Learn more about where, why, and how our communities form, and why they're so important to us (even when they don't make us any money).

If you're not already involved in a local user group or haven't attended a conference, it's an experience completely different than sitting behind the keys, hacking day to day. PHP.net has a list of both PHP conferences and upcoming events - find one near you and make plans to attend. You'll be glad you did!

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Zend Developer Zone:
Conference Guide 201
October 18, 2010 @ 14:14:08

Even if it's not your first time to attend a tech-related conference, you should take a look at this refresher course from Keith Casey on the Zend Developer Zone for getting the most out of your experience.

To be able to go to any of [the conferences], most likely you had to convince your boss that the conference is relevant to your job, worth the cost, and you'll bring back the best ideas to share. After days (or weeks!) of making your case, they relented and you're getting ready. First of all, congrats. Many bosses don't have the foresight to send their people go to conferences. But that means above all, you have to keep your side of the deal.

He suggests a few things that you can do to not only help you get the most "bang for the buck" when it comes to the content of the conference, but also on the people side of things:

  • Meet people
  • Take notes and share them
  • When in doubt, ask questions
  • Eat lunch with different people each day

Of course, as he states, these are just recommendations and what you get out of the conference(s) you attend is really only up to one person - you.

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Davey Shafik's Blog:
Making the case for PHP
June 09, 2009 @ 09:32:57

In a recent post to his blog Davey Shafik proposes that you take a look from another angle when considering what to use for a project (PHP, .NET, Java, etc) - think people, not so much technology.

One of the biggest decisions you can make for any project is the environment it which the project will be written. Most developers mistake the word environment for the word "technology" or "software". [...] With this in mind, I then would say that the language capabilities themselves, are the least important factor in choosing your environment. This then brings me neatly to what else that environment encompasses. These, to me, fall into three categories. People, knowledge and penetration.

By breaking it out into these three categories you can better understand what the project needs and which direction it might need to go: can you find skilled people to write the code? do they have access to good resources during development? what kind of market penetration does the technology have?

He evaluates each of these from a PHP perspective with the result of PHP having "the trifecta" - filling all of the requirements to their fullest.

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Community News:
Stefan Esser in eWeek's Top 100 (Blogger Responses)
April 14, 2008 @ 11:11:47

Two bloggers have commented on the recent nomination of Stefan Esser to eWeek's "Top 100 Most Influential People in IT" - Ben Ramsey and Stas (on the PHP 10.0 Blog).

Ben congratulates Stefan for the nomination, for making the list when others in the PHP community didn't.

Stas, on the other hand, disagrees a bit with some of the comments made by the reporter that wrote up Stefan's piece:

I do not see how reporting a bunch of vulnerabilities (most of them fixed by the time of publication - for which thanks to Stefan Esser as the responsible reporter) is "thoroughly exposing the insecure nature of PHP". Bugs and bug reports - including ones that may affect security in one way or another - are nothing but commonplace in both open-source and non-open-source software worlds.

You can check out the full list for yourself on the eWeek site.

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PHPWomen.org:
php|tek 2007 Wrap Up
July 19, 2007 @ 07:13:48

For anyone that didn't get to attend this year's php|tek in Chicago, you really should check out this (very through) summary written up over on the PHPWomen.org site by Elizabeth Smith.

Chicago Illinois is the third largest city in the United States. It's also very different in personality and structure than other large US cities, taking on the rather laid back flavor that defines the Midwest, but also has the dubious distinction of being the "travel hub" of the United States. The size and travel possibilities made it an ideal location for the php|tek conference in May, hosted by php|architect.

She talks about the speakers, the location, people she met, keynotes (Rasmus and Marco Tabini) and tons of other great info. Check out the full post for the complete story.

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