I got me a Bumblebee

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Zendcon is around the corner.  I was at Adobe MAX last week and so I was debating whether or not I would stay the weekend in San Francisco.  I'm not much of a night life person, or a partier.  In fact, I usually prefer to work behind the scenes (kind of odd given my role next week).  However, what I love to do is drive.  Long, lonely highways or crazy windy roads.  I love both.  However, I live in Texas.  We have plenty of long, lonely highways but nothing that's really crazy windy (as in wind-y).  So, if I ever stay in San Francisco over a weekend I like to take my car out and drive some of the roads out here.  There are some great roads in the bay area that feed the crazy, windy person in me.

So what I usually do is rent a nicer car and drive some of those roads.  This time I had booked a full-size car, which is usually like an Impala or something like that, which is really a pretty decent car.  I wouldn't buy one, but for a week-long rental for some decent driving it's OK.  But this time I asked them if they had any sports cars available and they said they had a convertable Mustang and a Camero.  The Mustang was a little out of the price range I wanted to pay, but the Camero was only $90 extra for the full week and a half.  So, I thought about it… for about 2 seconds and said yes.

So I was waiting for it to be pulled around and I saw it.  I'm not really a Camero guy, but ever since I saw Transformers I must admit that a yellow Camero does have a certain appeal.  Thank you Michael Bay.  So, imagine my glee when they pulled it around and I saw it.


I'm kind of a Ferrari guy, but, seriously, I drive a Honda Accord at home.  I foresee this weekend to be full of all kinds of awesome.

Oh, and I intend to obey all posted signs and speed limits………..

Zendcon coming up

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I had just tweeted something about Zendcon; how there were so many good sessions that it sucks that attendees have to choose between so many good ones.  I mean, look at the sessions that immediately follow the keynote on Tuesday.

  • Integrating PHP with RabbitMQ – Alvaro Videla
  • A new approach to object persistence in PHP – Stefan Priebsch
  • The State of SOAP in PHP – David Zuelke
  • Advanced Date/Time Handling with PHP – Derick Rethans
  • Documents, documents, documents – Matthew Weier O'Phinney

How many of those do you think I want to attend?  2? 3?  How about all of them.  In fact, out of 60-ish or so (I only kinda counted them), there are only a small handful that I could afford to miss.  I've been at Zend for over 4 years now and have been to as many Zendcons and I don't recall being as excited about our list of talks as I am this year.

But it's not just topics, but also partners, customers and vendors who are talking.  Sometimes people think of these as "marketing" talks, and, as such, worth ignoring.  But we've got talks by Ryan Stewart at Adobe, who knows his stuff. Josh Holmes, who knows his stuff (and is bringing brownies…. for real…. actual brownies).  I've not met Jeff Kibler from InfoBright, but I know what InfoBright does and it's pretty cool.  We've also got VMWare, PHPStorm and Oracle giving presentations as well.  I can't speak for all of those talks but these seem to be TECHNICAL talks and not just stuff from the Marketing Slime… (I'm in Zend's Marketing dep't).

We've got seriously good content which should make for a seriously good Zendcon for 2010.  If you haven't registered by now you need to get your butt in gear!

Could your PHP application benefit from asynchronous computing?

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Tis the season for Zendcon.  I am going to be giving a talk at Zendcon called "Do You Queue".  It will be about doing asynchronous computing in PHP.  In order for me to gather some data I posted a twtpoll poll.  The response has been pretty good.  However, there have also been several misunderstandings as well.  A few of them:

"hello zend ,you guys are not ready with php6 having unicode support….
and why are you trying to break existing php code with asnychronous support………"

""are threads useful ??" ROFL"

"That's what things like Gearman and Beanstalk are for."

" I do that already by handing data off to gearman. I don't know that it's complexity I need in the language itself."

I would like to clarify some things. Not because these people are misunderstanding me but because I think that due to some of the comments on the PHP internals mailing list any type of talk about asynchronous anything is automatically looked upon with suspicion.  For good reason, I suppose.  So here's a few points.

  1. Threads should not be in PHP.  One of the reasons for PHP's success is that it does not have a bunch of complexity in the language.  Adding threads to PHP would break one of PHP's strongest features; the Shared Nothing architecture.
  2. I am not advocating any specific tooling in this poll.  All I want to know is "COULD your PHP applications benefit from having some mechanism to handle either data processing or job execution seperately from the front end?"  That's it.  Why?  Because I want an interesting chart for my talk.  That's all.  Well, maybe also to convince other people of some things, but mostly for my talk.

The music from Zendcon 2009

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So there's been a little bit of interest in the music I wrote for Zendcon in '09.  Some people liked it, some didn't.  I remember reading some of the Twitter posts on the wall and feeling a little nervous.  The sound guys played it more up-front than I was expecting.  I had no idea that they were going to turn it up the way they did.  It wasn't that loud (according to Kevin's reckoning ) but I was expecting it to be background music.  So the fact that I wasn't chased out of there with pitchforks made me glad.

The way I had started it was about a month before Zendcon I pinged Eli with a very, very rough cut of a song and said that he could use it for Zendcon if he liked.  I had recorded the rough cut for Zendcon 08 but I didn't have the time to properly do it and give it to Cal.  So I figured I'd try for 09.  Eli mostly liked it but said it needed to be longer.  It was originally about 3:40, I think, and he wanted 6-7 minutes.  So I basically started from scratch since the originaly recording was pretty poor.  I recorded about 75% on the second Saturday before Zendcon.  I had the riff, the beats were easy, but i had to come up with 6-7 minutes of solos.  So what I did was played through the song and did about 5 or 6 takes, improvising the solo.  Then I took the best parts out of those and started splicing them together to form some semblence of structure.  The guitars are all live, and I've played it front to back several times, but I didn't write it that way.  I sent it off to Eli and the next time I heard it I was sitting at Zendcon waiting for the keynote to start.  I had no idea that he had decided to play it (since I had told him not to worry if he didn't want to).  So when I heard it I almost started jumping up and down and screaming!  Susie, head of Global Services, had no idea what I mean when I was saying "I wrote that!  I wrote that!"  She thought I was talking about the twitter stuff on the wall.  So, I definitely owe Eli a beer for making it so prominent.

For those who are interested; a word on gear.  I don't have much, but it's good enough for what I do.  It was kind of funny.  I was taking part in the "Meet the team" event as the representative for Global Services and the only question I was asked was "What kind of guitar do you have?"  I was, of course, more than happy to say.  It is an Ibanez JS-1000 which is a lovely piece of work.  It was also the only part of the recording that was real.  Pretty much everything else was synthesized.  The guitar was plugged direct in to an M-Audio Audiophile 192 interface and recorded clean.

From there I kicked in the distortion using Guitar Rig 3 LE with a compressor in front.  The way I got the sound was basically take two EQ bands in the upper register and boost the bands.  That was the lead sound.  The rhythm sound had the same setup but just dropped the highs down.  Guitar Rig 3 LE doesn't have a compressor so I put a compressor in front of it on the track in my DAW (Digital Audio Workstation).

Speaking of, I use Sonar 8 Producer.  I haven't upgraded to 8.5 yet.  Why am I not using something like ProTools?  Good question.  Sonar is incredibly unstable.  Every session is marred by at least one crash, usually many.  The features are great, but the stability royally sucks.  So why not ProTools?  I guess because I know Sonar and it's got some really good synths with it, though it looks like ProTools is adding a bunch of stuff.

The drums were Session Drummer 2.  I like that I can seperate each drum into its own audio track.  The bass was a sound in Dimension Pro.

The listening part (i.e. studio monitors) was done using my Behringer B2031A's.  However, at the time I didn't have my B2092 sub and so I had to crank the sub frequencies way up.  It sounded great on those speakers but I didn't want to push them too hard since I had the low end EQ shoved way up to compensate for the dropoff at 50-60hz.  With the B2092 now that's no problem at all.  It's 360w of pure fun.  It's not the greatest sub in the world but for what I paid, it is frigging awesome.  I think I voided the warranty on my house when I first got it.

But enough about that.  If you want it, here it is for your listening enjoyment.  It's free, though I ask that you use it for your personal use.  If I hear it in a car commercial I'll, well… probably do nothing, but still. 🙂

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