I’ve not written at all since the COVID-19 pandemic took over the world. Since I’ve been work from home since March of 2021 and have pretty much only left the house to go get groceries or pick up/return my children from/to their mother, I’ve not had a ton of desire to add more time in front of my computer screen. However, after a full year of lockdown, the end is finally in site. Last week I got my first shot of the Pfizer vaccine. I’m due for my second one in a few weeks. 2 weeks after that second one, I’ll be safe to return out into the world. To go to movies again. To go to bars again. To see my friends again. I can’t even begin to describe what getting the first shot felt like. OK, yes, it was a vaccine shot, but I mean emotionally. For the very first time, it seemed real that this nightmare might finally be closing down. That the ever present specter of death looming over me and my loved ones was finally going away was almost overwhelming. I was able to get the vaccine in the earlier stages because of my role in the IT industry. My parents are all in the final stages of their second shots so their risk is almost gone now as well. I’m honestly not sure what it means though. The world has changed dramatically over the past year. We’ve learned that many modern industries can survive and even thrive with a 100% remote work force. My company went 100% remote a year ago and have had one of our best years ever. There’s talk of returning to the office full time sometime over the summer but there is lots of rumbling coming in from my coworkers who definitely do not want to do that. Personally, I’m of a mixed mind on it. On the one hand, working from home is super nice. I can sleep later, stay up later and wear pajamas most of the day. But I miss the social interactions with my coworkers. I miss going out to lunch. I miss the happy hours after work. I’m honestly not sure where we’ll end up at work. I wouldn’t mind working from home a few days a week and going in a few days a week. I’m pretty sure the CEO wants everyone in the office. We’ll see how that goes. All I know is that soon I will be able to go out and have a drink with my coworkers, go see a movie with my friends and actually get back to some semblance of normality.
So, I do a tremendous amount of things in the computer industry. My current job is focused on DevOps. I maintain the cloud accounts for my employer and help to maintain and configure the architecture all our applications run on. And in that regard, it’s pretty much just me. No one else in the company really has a solid grasp on what it is I do. I also write software for the company when there’s too much for the Engineering team to handle. I’m also the database administrator for all of our MariaDB, PostgreSQL and Snowflake environments. I also function as the main systems administrator and network admin. In other words, I wear a whole lot of hats in my role. I’m definitely in a unique position. But, when people ask what I do, I generally say I’m a software developer. Why? Because that was honestly my first love. Writing code. Creating solutions from nothing. If you ask what my favorite language is I will always respond with C++. Why, because it was also my first love. There is no other language that I’ve loved and hated more than C++. I’ve not written anything with it in probably 12 to 15 years but it’s still my #1 joy. If you ask me what language I would love to program in every day? I’d tell you PHP. Why? Because there’s no language I know better, no language I am better at finding solutions with, no language that I can write faster in. It’s the only language I would ever assuredly, without question, tell you I am an export in. Because I am. :). So what’s all this got to do with? In a word, WordPress. Well, that’s kind of two words smooshed into one but you get my meaning. The thing is, WordPress is the tool that made and continues to keep PHP in the forefront of languages. Keeps it on the scene and relevant and moving forward as a language. And for me, that’s a problem. Why? Because WordPress is a hugely bloated, monster of a software base that’s just terrible. The only problem is, it’s the least bad option of all the options. But that doesn’t make it less terrible. I work with WordPress pretty much every day. Our company runs 100’s of websites and about half of them are WordPress and that number is growing every day. I am the back end administrator of those sites though. I don’t do theme or plugin development. I only pitch in and help when we run into PHP issues that no one else can figure out. Some days I look at WordPress and think, I should join the community, help make it a better product. But then I remember how much I hate it. And then sometimes I think that maybe I’ll go read up on how to make plugins or themes. Refresh myself on how it all works. Because I used to know how. Then I remember how much I hate it. The unfortunate thing is, that no matter how hard I try, I always come back to hating WordPress. So either I suck up that hate and try to help make it better or continue my sullen refusal. So far, the sullen refusal continues to win out though my resolve has been lessoning over the past few years. We’ll see where it all leads…
So I used to review movies on here before I realized nobody read my blog and nobody fucking cared. That was back in the day when the thought that someone might stumble upon my blog and go,”Hey! This guy is cool! I’m going to read all his shit and be moved by his prose!” still somehow seemed realistic. These days, nobody cares. Unless you’re buying traffic, you’re not going to get traffic. Unless you’re an actual author or something. I’m not. I know no one is reading this. I do it for my own edification. A place to spew my unending thoughts and opinions into the tubes of the internet so that some internet archeologist may find my random sputterings a millennia from now and go “Hey! This guy was stupid! I ain’t reading this shit!”
Anyway, movie reviews. There was one movie reviewer in my lifetime who I agreed with. Just one guy. Roger Ebert. I loved his reviews. He was super cool. I miss his weekly reviews very much. We rarely disagreed on things, mainly because he reviewed every film in the light that it was intended. Not every movie is meant as an Oscar contender and should not be reviewed with those that are. Anyway, even Rotten Tomatoes reviews leave something to be desired. I bring all this up because there are two movies currently out that I was very excited to see. One is Peppermint, with Jennifer Garner. The other, The Predator, with a bunch of no name actors. I made the mistake of looking at Rotten Tomatoes this weekend to see how the reviews stacked up. The critics universally despise both movies. It was disheartening. The audience gave Peppermint a decent rating but not the Predator. So I then had an issue. I was going to see one on Friday night and one on Saturday. The reviews so disheartened me, I skipped going on Friday. Instead I feel asleep on the sofa and drooled. Saturday, I said “Fuck it!” I’m going to go see Peppermint. And so I did. And it was glorious. I enjoyed every minute of the movie. Was it high cinema? No, absolutely not. In fact, the snotty reviewer that called it Gun Porn was probably pretty on target. But it was fun. It made me laugh and groan and have a good time. And that’s what I wanted. So, having now reassured myself that critics, both professional and non, can go suck a fat hairy donkey dick, I’m going to go see the Predator as well. Fucking hell. Stupid critics.
Oh, yeah, one word of caution. I have been told, repeatedly, that I have a super high tolerance for really bad movies. It’s like a super power. Anyway, don’t ever listen to me about whether a movie is good or not unless you know me really well. Because generally speaking, if you trust my movie reviews enough to go see a show, you’re going to hate me for lying to you and yourself for listening to some random lunatic on the internet.
I should have something to say. I do have something to say. But it’s not coming to mind. Maybe it’s the lack of sleep lately. Well, if the term lately can encompass the past 25 years. Maybe it’s the alcohol this evening fuzzing my brain. There’s just not a whole lot tumbling around up there except a nice fog. Maybe it’s the Godsmack playing on the Echo. I’m not sure but my head just wants to nod with the beat and sing along. But nothing fills my mind. It’s blank. Nothing to spew forth. No hatred, no anger, no diatribes of indignation at the world. My spitfire is turned to lukewarm drool. How’s that for a visual?
Ok, how’s this? Strongly vs loosely typed languages? Which do you prefer? In my younger days I was filled with the conviction that the only true languages were strongly typed ones, like C, C++, and Java. Damn it, if it’s a number, what kind? Is that integer signed or unsigned? It fucking matters! Why would you want to store a string in the same variable type as a double or a float? Sheer lunacy!!! I had my reasons. I was 100% confident in my convictions truthiness. 20+ years and a plethora of languages later, I realize it just doesn’t matter so much to me anymore. In fact, now I find strongly typed languages annoying. I mean, I still know how to use them. I know how to cast and such but it’s just a pain. Give me a loosely typed language any day of the week. Granted, I’d still rather use Java or C++ or even C over something like Ruby or Node but I’ll definitely pick PHP or even Python over a strongly typed language. Maybe I’m just lazy in my old age? Nah, I’ve been lazy my whole life…
So nine years ago today I announced the blog was dead. (https://www.friedcherries.org/2009/07/). And for the most part I was right. I posted twice more after that post over the next two years. Then nothing. I’ve been feeling the want to write on here again but, as always, my ideas either hit to close to my personal/professional life and I’ll offend someone, or I just start something and never finish it. So today I’m going to write and post whatever the fuck I come up with.
You know what? Ima bitch about food for a second. I work for a lovely company that caters free lunches for its employees twice a week. That’s one of many awesome perks my employer provides. The problem with it is that I’m a vegetarian. (I’m actually a pescatarian but no one knows what that means) Anyway, so every Tuesday and Thursday these lovely meals are catered in for all the employees of the company. Now, there used to be really nice vegetarian options for those of us who do not eat meat. There are quite a few of us so it’s not like one person. Now a days, with the office manager we’ve had in place for about a year, vegetarians get salads every fucking meal. And to be clear, I’m not talking giant delicious salads that have lots of good toppings and fill you up. I’m talking lettuce and dressing. Oh, and it’s generally the salad being served with the rest of the meal. If it’s not a salad, it’s a tortilla with lettuce inside it. You know, a wrap. No, that’s just fucking lettuce in a tortilla. Fucking hell. The main issue is the woman who orders the food just doesn’t give a shit. She also doesn’t like me (for a totally different reason) so she’s even less likely to listen when I tell her not to bother ordering me salads. Anyway, it’s frustrating and stupid and it’s not that big of a deal but it still pisses me off.
Why doesn’t she like me? That’s easy. She’s a bitch and I don’t really like her. And she heard me telling a co-worker that I really missed the previous office manager about a month after she started. She’s not really liked me ever since. But that’s ok. I don’t mind when people don’t like me. It’s kinda fun.
Fuck. I’m hungry and the Tuesday catered lunch just showed up with chili dogs for the meat eaters and, you guessed it, a salad for the vegetarians. I think I’m going to go to Chipotle’s.
So I am a PHP developer and have been for about 12 years. I am currently Zend Certified for PHP 5, 5.3 and Zend Framework 1.5. I love coding in PHP and mostly like the language. About four months ago, I quit my job of 12 years at a local educational institution and moved back to the corporate world. The position I took is with a company whose entire web presence is done in Ruby with Ruby on Rails. Talk about a culture shift. It’s a very strange experience going from being an expert in one language to a beginner in a new one. I have spent the past four months learning the basics of Ruby and Rails as I could but have not had a huge chance to do much Rails development however, that is hopefully changing soon. I plan on posting my thoughts about the differences between PHP and Ruby and what I think of Rails from the perspective of a PHP developer. I can already say there are several things I really like about Rails and some that I don’t. So, watch for upcoming posts about PHP and Ruby and how the Rails environment compares to using such PHP Frameworks as the Zend Framework.
So, I LOVE the Zend Framework. I love it so much, in fact, that I’m a ZendFramework Zend Certified Engineer. However, I have one rather large gripe about ZF and that’s its documentation. At first glance, and even when you first start using it, the documentation seems rather good. It covers lots of salient points and always gives you the quick and dirty way to get started. The problem with it is that while the breadth of the documentation is very wide, it isn’t deep at all. Simply put, the documentation is good if you’re doing simple things. If you want to do anything complex at all, it’s fairly useless. There’s a pattern I find myself following whenever I delve into a piece of ZF that I haven’t used before.
- Check out the ZF Documentation. See if it answers all your questions
- Do a search on Google to see if anyone else has used the component you’re wanting to use in the fashion you want to use it
- Check out the ZF Reference API
- Crack open the ZF source code
Generally speaking, if you’re willing to spend the time to follow these four steps, you can figure out what you want to do. The biggest problem with this is that sometimes after investing the time you realize that the coponent you’re researching doesn’t do quite what you want. Frustrating!
Now, my wife always says you shouldn’t complain about something unless you have a solution to offer or are at least willing to help with the problem. So, my solution is to write better documentation! OK, that’s a no brainer. I think the biggest frustration I have with the documentation as it stands is that there seems to be pieces missing when you’re reading it. For instance, if I want to write a Plugin for the MVC components, there’s documentation that kind of outlines how to do it, but not really. You really have to dig to figure it. Now I know that sometimes digging through source code and trial and error coding is a great way to learn stuff but sometimes I just want to take a peek at the documentation and say “Oh! That’s easy!”
Here’s the kicker. ZF is a very well designed. Generally speaking, it will do what you want it to do. It’s just the figuring it out part that is the issue. And yes, all you trolls and haters out there, I use the documentation on an almost daily basis. I recognize that what is currently there is good. I even recognize that for a free product it’s even better. Having said that, you need to acknowledge that a for profit company is tooting it’s own horn over ZF. They have a team of paid developers working on ZF as their full time jobs. I think that they also need to apply that method to their documentation for ZF. It’s the logical next step to making a great framework even better.
As evidenced by my lack of writing the past year and several other blogs that I used to follow, the personal blog seems officially dead. No one seems to have the time or energy to update their personal blogs on a daily basis anymore. Facebook and Twitter status updates have taken the place of the long, utterly boring diatribes of days gone by. Is this a good thing or have we sentenced ourselves to a literary loss of epic proportions? Yeah, right.
So, obviously I’m not writing anymore. This begs the question: what am I going to do with this website? At this point, I haven’t decided. I will keep this blog up as the main page for now but it will eventually be relegated to a sub folder of the site. What will be on the main page I have no idea. I honestly have no idea. It may just stay a forlorn forgotten blog. We’ll just have to wait and see.
I had a co-worker in another department come up to me today with a question about whether or not he could do something. See, we have about 20 computers on campus with a specific type of software and correlating hardware installed on them. Due to the nature of the programs, the regular campus technicians aren’t allowed to service the external hardware nor the connections to the computer. Frankly, it pisses this guy off something fierce. I’ve heard at least five times “It’s just a couple of USB cables! Why can’t I remove them or set them up?” Honestly, if I had my druthers I’d let him but I can’t. Anyhoo, one of the offices with these computers installed is getting new machines so we have to re-install all the software and hardware on the new machines. No big deal. It’ll probably take me an hour or two. Well, this guy, let’s call him Smithers comes up to me this morning while I’m putting stuff in the fridge and says “Hello.” I assume he’s just being friendly and start to leave when he says my name. When I turn around I find a visibly nervous Smithers. So nervous in fact he’s practically out of breath. Wants to know if he can make an image with the software and drivers already on it to save some hassle. We go back and forth on it for a while because he’s not being clear AND he’s being an arrogant ass. When I finally get the giste (he wants to make an image to use for the 20 machines with the software on it and then throw it out when the new machines are done) I tell him he needs to talk to the project manager for the overarching project. At this point he gets huffy about the whole thing. Says he’s just trying to make things easier for everyone. I’m not sure why he’s so concerned about this software other than he’s not allowed to touch it. In all honesty, it probably wouldn’t matter if they put it on an image but I’m not willing to let it happen. In the end, if something goes wrong, I need to know with 100% surety that the software is installed correctly. I just can’t be if those jokers get to monkey with it. Anyway,? what really caught my attention about the whole thing today was how downright scared Smithers was to talk to me about his idea. I don’t believe I’ve ever given him reason to fear me. I’ve certainly never yelled at him or threatened him. Maybe he knew I’d say no but was hoping I wouldn’t. Anyway, I have no idea what his damage is or why he’s so intimidated by me. Probably just that low self esteem kicking in. Poor Smithers…
I noticed the other day I’m starting to feel old. Not that I am, mind you. I’m only 34 but I’m starting to feel old. It could be the gray hair in my beard and on my chest or the fact that my oldest child is now ten that makes me feel old. It could be because the legal drinking age signs now all read “You must have been born after 1987 to buy alcohol” and I was in 7th grade then. It could even be because I’ve started saying things like “I can remember when gas only cost $0.79 a gallon!” But if I told you that’s why I feel old it’d be a lie. The main reason I feel old has to do with where I work. I work at a community college. No, I’m not a teacher (though I used to be part time). I’m a computer programmer. When I first started working at the college I was 25. I still felt connected to the student body at the time. Sure, most of the students were five or six years younger than me but we were doing the same stuff. I actually fit in better with the students than most of my co-workers. Now when I look down the hall at all the students I see a group of people that I am no longer connected to. I wonder what they could possibly thinking in wearing what they have on. I shake my head at the sheer absurdity of some of their actions. I find myself thinking things like “My friends and I couldn’t have possibly been this stupid at that age!” And that’s generally where I stop and shake my head. I shake my head because I know I’m lying to myself when I say that. My friends and I were complete morons at that age. It’s a wonder we made it out of high school, let alone college. When I think of the absurd things we did; the crazy stuff we said; how we believed we were the end-all-be-all. It makes me laugh! It also makes me smile fondly for those days gone by. But I also am thankful I’ve moved on and grown up. It makes me appreciate what I have, where I’ve been and where I’m going. We all go through the stupidity and some of us actually make it to the other side. I try to remember that as I look around at school feeling old and grumpy at all these half naked children. If I don’t remember that, I’m afraid I’ll turn into just another grumpy old man who no one but other grumpy old men want to talk to. And let me tell you, having to talk to people like me in my old age would be a severe punishment. So, enjoy being stupid all you young whipper-snappers. Your gray hairs are coming…