Zend conference

I’m very happy to be participating in the Zend PHP conference October 18 – 21st, here in beautiful downtown Burlingame. I think it’s going to be something a bit different in PHP conferences, because the focus is squarely on real-life business use cases. I’ll be leading a panel called “What is scalability?” on the 19th, and giving a solo preso on building out web platforms on the 21st.

I should reveal that I’ve been serving on the program committee for the conference, so I’m not a disinterested party. Not to pimp my own code, but I’m super-pumped about my track, which is called “Developing, Deploying, and Managing Large-Scale PHP Applications”. I’m a huge believer now in the absolute necessity of close cooperation between dev and ops — none of this “works on my machine, I’m throwing it over the transom” stuff, and certainly no tension between the two teams. Zend is completely of the same mind, and I think we’ll be presenting a lot of great ideas about how to get the whole engineering staff to think through a smooth deployment together.

If you’re going to attend the conference, let me know and we’ll grab coffee!

Face to face

I’ve been doing a lot of business travelling lately — New York, Seattle, and SoCal in six weeks — which is new for me, since until a few months ago I was your typical cube veal. It’s a pain — only slightly mollified by my purchase of a pocket wifi router — but it’s changed my outlook on the whole business communication thing.

Like a typical engineer, I could never see the point in business travel before. I always figured it would be infinitely more efficient and precise and stress-free to do everything by email. But now I can see that looking someone in the eye gives you so much more information than you could possibly get via ASCII alone. You can send email back and forth forever without really being able to tell whether the deal will get done or end up with a reasonable result… but when you sit next to the person, their body language and eye contact and tone of voice tell you most of what you really want to know. And of course your willingness to actually haul your ass somewhere in a lighter-than-air machine gives your interlocutor a lot of information about how important the transaction is to you. Plus, it just goes against nature to do a consequential deal with someone sight unseen.

Not that I plan to become a road warrior or anything — although I’m already scheduled to go to Korea and the East Coast before Thanksgiving, and I’m covertly eyeing a 2-lb bubblejet printer — but I did learn yet again that even in the tech business, our bonobo nature trumps electronic communication every time.

Perfect record ruined

Sigh. So in 19 years of driving, I’ve not only never gotten a moving violation — I’ve never even been pulled over for one. I know people who drive like 80-year old grandmas who have been pulled over multiple times (hi Rifkin!), but I’ve always managed to escape… until now.

Orange County. Dusk. Motorcycle cop. 86 in a 65 zone. I didn’t mind the ticket so much as I minded the stern lecture — just give me the damn citation and get out of my face, dude. Grump. Oh well, it was inevitable given the way I drive.

Another peeve

I’m seeing more and more people yapping on the cellphones while using a public bathroom! There is nothing worse than being forced to listen to someone else’s lame chatter in a tiled, enclosed, brightly-lit space. For some reason, women who do this particularly skeeve me out. Put down the damn cellies, ladies, and do your business in a reasonably hygienic fashion. Man, some people’s mamas just did not raise them right.

Time flies

I was startled to realize that yesterday was the one-year anniversary of my getting fired from my last job. Not to sound totally trite, but it seems so long ago.

I’ve been busy for awhile now with a new thing. As most of you know, I’ve been playing around with a pubsub stack for a long time now without necessarily finding a great application for it — but I finally know what I want to do with the technology. I love LAMP and still use it, don’t get me wrong… but ever since I worked for KnowNow, I had a little bit different idea of what could be done in the browser. And not to take anything away from “Ajax” (or what we old-school people still call “DHTML”), but XMLHTTP is a technique — pubsub is a theory.

I can honestly report that I’m very happy now. I dunno where I’m going business-wise, but I get to work with the greatest small team imaginable on the app I most want to be building. I’ve met so many brilliant, kind, energetic people in the last year — and getting fired turned out to be a good way to reconnect with a lot of old friends too. Silicon Valley is on an upturn, with so many exciting new ideas zooming around. Every day is full of possibility and hard work and fun — and who could ask for more than that?

So all things concerned, getting shitcanned was a beginning as well as an ending. It didn’t feel great at the time, and I can’t say I completely understand it even now… but I wouldn’t trade the last year for anything.