What I do…

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…

Movie reviews

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.

Happy Sunday!

Damn fucking blank screen

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…

9 years ago today…

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.

Language migration

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.

Zend Framework Documentation

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.

  1. Check out the ZF Documentation.  See if it answers all your questions
  2. 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
  3. Check out the ZF Reference API
  4. 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.

The Blog is Dead

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.

Hostility in the work place

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…

Getting old?

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…

Second Grade Fisticuffs

When I was in the? second grade I was an ornery little shit. Okay, I’m still an ornery shit. I’ve just gotten bigger. Anyway, a certain event taught me a valuable lesson when I was in the? second grade and it started with a sand pit and three? third graders.

On the far side of the playground of my elementary school was a large sand pit. I’m not really sure why it was there as the teachers always told us to stay out of it. Of course no one listened but I digress. One day, there were three? third graders playing in the pit. They had drawn a line in the sand and were seeing who could jump the farthest past it. Very simple game but it looked like a great deal of fun. I asked if I could play and they adamantly refused. Being the little shit that I was, I said “Fine!” and sauntered through the sand pit, making sure to scrub out their line as I did so. No big deal but obviously meant to antagonize. Well, it worked. I made it about 100? feet away when I was jumped from behind and forced to the ground. The fat kid sat on top of me and started pummeling away while the two smaller boys got in pokes and prods however the could. Well, being the fight to kill type of person, the first chance I got I sank my teeth into one of the little fuck’s hands and boy did he start howling. He startled the fat kid so much that Fatboy? stood up just enough for me to slam my leg between his legs. It didn’t hit very hard but it was hard enough and he fell on his side out of commission for the rest of the rumble. I quickly stood up and punched the only one left standing right as a teacher started frantically blowing her whistle. We all scattered as she came running over. Unfortunately, she recognized me.

As a second grader, having the principal come down to visit you outside your class is a humbling thing. Actually, I was just afraid my mother would find out. Anyway, the first thing he did was admonish me about biting. Evidently the teacher had seen the bite. Then he asked who the boys I’d been fighting with were and I told him. He went and got them out of class as well and had a chat with us all about the incident. That was pretty much the end of it as far as school was concerned. The only thing I felt horrendously wronged about was that the third grades claimed I destroyed something they’d been building in the sand box and the principal wouldn’t let me counter it. I was furious!

So, the valuable lesson. When I got home from school that day my father was outside mowing the lawn. As I approached he shut off the mower and said “Mike, I don’t want you fighting at school no more! You hear me?” I nodded meekly and headed into the house. What he said sunk in on a subconscious level and I didn’t recognize it for what it was til years later. Do you see the important part of that statement? “Mike, I don’t want you fighting at school no more!” No? How about “Mike, I don’t want you fighting at school no more!” See it now? He wasn’t telling me not to fight. He wasn’t angry at me for that at all. It was because I did it at school that he was mad. What’s even worse is that just as I was about to go in the house, he shouted after me “Did you win?” My answering “Yes!” got me a grin and “That’s my boy!”

Did I stop fighting in school? More or less. Sometimes you just can’t help it but mostly I kept it out of school. The best part of the whole thing is that Dad never told Mom. It ended with him. I think he understood that sometimes you have to defend yourself. Besides, Mom would have just made a big deal out of nothing. After all, it was just schoolyard brawl.

What? Oh right, the valuable lesson. It’s okay to fight. Just don’t get caught.