Paypal’s Jonathan LeBlanc chats about taking chances and code beginnings

Web & PHP Conference 2013 is finally here! With our Workshops kicking off today and the free expo and conference kicking off tomorrow. We spoke to Paypal’s Principal Developer Evangelist and Web & PHP speaker Jonathan LeBlanc and got some interesting responses with our Web & PHP interview questionnaire! 

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Jonathan LeBlanc is a technology evangelist, Emmy award winning software engineer, and author of the O’Reilly book “Programming Social Applications”. Specializing in user identity concepts and data mining techniques, as well as open source initiatives around social engagement, Jonathan works on the development of emerging initiatives towards building a more user-centric web.

W&P – Describe what we can expect from your talk at Web & PHP Con in 140 characters.
JL – We’ll learn how identity and personalization are playing pivotal roles in everything we do online, and how to begin using that ourselves

W&P – How did you first get involved in coding?
JL – It’s not as exciting as most developer stories. I first started coding in high school when I took a class in Basic. Around that same time I was building websites for fun and teaching myself from the source code of other sites I liked. It wasn’t really until I left college degree paths in fine arts and classical studies, and pursued a degree in computer science that I found my passion for development.

W&P – What advice would you give aspiring web developers?
JL – Take chances and suck in as much knowledge as you can from others. The best way to grow in the field is to surround yourself with people who are much smarter than you are and listen / be involved in as much as you can until your skills are on par with their own.

W&P – Which individuals do you most admire in the tech world and why?
JL – The people that I most admire, or enjoy surrounding myself with, are those who truly see our industry as both a career and a passion, instead of a clock in and clock out job. I feel that people with this drive are those that can truly affect change, and push our industry to whole new levels.

W&P – If you could have 3 famous people round for dinner (living or dead) who would it be?
JL – Nikola Tesla, Albert Einstein, and Leonardo da Vinci (a big table of awesome)

W&P – Would you rather fight one horse-sized duck or 100 duck-sized horses? Explain your reasoning.
JL – Definitely a horse-sized duck. If you’re fighting 100 duck-sized horses you will eventually miscount and think you’ve won, then as you’re taking your victory lap, POW, right in the kisser.

W&P – What are you most looking forward to at Web & PHP Con?
JL – Besides seeing more of the community and getting a sense of where the collective industry is trending towards, I want to see the innovation coming from companies, startups and developers, those that are breaking the typical models of technology implementation.

“I say neigh, don’t egg them on.”

The countdown to Web & PHP Con 2013 is on! There’s less than 2 weeks to go before we descend upon San Jose Convention Centre, CA, to bring you the latest in cutting-edge practices from the industry’s top web developers. Talking of the industry’s top web developers…over the last couple of weeks we have been running short Q&A’s with our speakers in order to get to know them a little better and find out a bit more about their session.

Today is the turn of Mike Stowe.

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Mike is a professional software engineer, PHP 5.3 Zend Certified, and has over 10 years of PHP hacking experience. In those 10 years he as had the privilege of building numerous websites and applications, including applications for the medical field, law enforcement, one of the leading audio and lighting dealers, large and small non-profits, and numerous industrial companies. He has also spoken at numerous conferences, published multiple articles on PHP and security, is an active member of OWASP, and helps organize MNPHP, Twin Cities Software Engineers, and the MidwestPHP Conference. He currently work at Constant Contact as a Developer Advocate, representing developers and their needs within the company.

1. Describe what we can expect from your talk at Web & PHP Con in 140 characters.  

An introduction to Agile methodologies in the workplace and a look at some of the benefits and challenges of Agile

2. How did you first get involved in coding?

I was a sports guy who ended up having a knee injury…so instead of basketball practice I found myself on the computer creating a personal webpage using a free service called HotYellow98… but I wanted to do more, so ended up looking at this thing called HTML, and well, I was hooked.

3.What advice would you give aspiring web developers?

Get involved and go for it. There are a lot of great developers out there who are more than willing to help you out. Join a user group, join the mailing lists, and experiment with your code. It’s ok to make mistakes, you’ll learn a lot more that way. Push your skills to the edge every single day.

4. Which individuals do you most admire in the tech world and why?

This list would go on way too long… there are a lot of great people in the tech community who have really helped me out. But a big shout out to the local user group organizers and conference leaders, I don’t think people know how much work it is to put on these events and keep them going. Also a shout out to the speakers who give up their time to go out and share their knowledge with others.

5. If you could have 3 famous people round for dinner (living or dead) who would it be?

I would love to have done dinner with Steve Jobs… but who wouldn’t have lol. Also wouldn’t mind talking with Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King Jr.

6.Would you rather fight one horse-sized duck or 100 duck-sized horses? Explain your reasoning.

I say neigh, don’t egg them on. (hey, had to have a pun somewhere).
7. What are you most looking forward to at Web & PHP Con?

Meeting a lot of great developers and getting to learn what people are doing in the industry.

 

Mike Stowe will be down at Web & PHP Con this September 16 -18 in San Jose, CA giving his talk on ‘Agile in the Workplace’.You can attend this talk and all of our other sessions and keynotes for free! Just register on the website.

Laughter, tears, and time travel.

Wow! There’s less than 2 weeks before Web & PHP Con descends upon San Jose, CA. It’s hard to believe it’s come around so soon! And we still have a few speakers still to get through. So let’s get to it. Next up we have Ben Straub who keeps it short and sweet.

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Ben has always been a programmer, and loves making things work. He’s a maintainer of libgit2, an api-focused implementation of git internals.

1. Describe what we can expect from your talk at Web & PHP Con in 140 characters.  

Level up your git game with Ben Straub from GitHub. There will be laughter, tears, and time travel. Bring clean water.

2. How did you first get involved in coding?

My dad bought us a Commodore 64 when I was 9 or 10, and I couldn’t help myself.

3.What advice would you give aspiring web developers?

Make sure you learn something new every day.

4. Which individuals do you most admire in the tech world and why?

People who have created popular frameworks, mostly. DHH, Mark Otto, Steve Sanderson. It’s because they not only solved their immediate problem, they solved it in such a way as to make that problem completely go away for thousands of others.

5. If you could have 3 famous people round for dinner (living or dead) who would it be?

I really want to pick heavy intellectuals, but I think that Louis C. K., Zach Galifianakis, and Russell Brand would provide me with gut-busting laughter for a few months afterward.

6.Would you rather fight one horse-sized duck or 100 duck-sized horses? Explain your reasoning.

100 tiny horses. They can’t climb, so I could pick them off from the top of a big rock. Plus, they’d be SO cute.

7. What are you most looking forward to at Web & PHP Con?

Meeting interesting people and finding out what they’re working on.

Ben will be down at Web & PHP Con giving his talk on ‘Git (and GitHub) for Ninjas’. Remember, you can see his talk along with the rest of our great line up for FREE!

Knowing me, knowing you – A ha!

Over the last few weeks we’ve been making it our mission to get more information and gossip on our Web & PHP Con speakers. We know they’re an awesome bunch but we wanted to make sure you knew that too…and let you know what you have in store at one of their sessions!
So today is the turn of Joshua Thijssen.
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Joshua Thijssen is a freelance consultant, systems administrator and developer. His passion lies in designing and working with complex projects, working on high scalability and availability projects and helping other to achieve higher standards in both coding and thinking. He’s the author of the upcoming book “Mastering the
SPL library”, lead developer of the upcoming web language “Saffire” and is regular speaker on both web development and system administration conferences.1. Describe what we can expect from your talk at Web & PHP Con.

I’ll be talking about public key encryption. I will show you how simple
math helps keeping our world-economy afloat and how it can help you
secure your own data. Furthermore I will be talking about how we can
quickly find issues on a (production) server that is on fire (not
literally, obviously). Rumors have it that my talks might be accompanied
by big sound & light shows, a ticker-tape parade and special guest
appearances by unicorns and rainbows (not yet confirmed though).

2. How did you first get involved in coding?

When I was 5 or 6 on a C64 in Basic and very quickly later on in
assembler. With the help of dad, programming simple applications. Pretty
much stopped playing games, and started to create them myself.

3.What advice would you give aspiring web developers?

RUN AWAY!  But really: don’t focus too much on one single framework, on
just doing wordpress or just doing jquery. Focus on the WEB as a whole:
the languages (not only php), the infrastructure, the tools, the
scalability, the protocols. Know how the system you are building works
with the rest the web and eventually this will result in you writing
better and more robust applications and sites.

4. Which individuals do you most admire in the tech world and why?

Not particularly one person, but I admire everybody with a passion for tech.

 5. If you could have 3 famous people round for dinner (living or dead)
 who would it be?

Linus Torvalds (living) – Einstein (dead) – Schrodinger’s cat (living
AND dead)

6.Would you rather fight one horse-sized duck or 100 duck-sized horses?
Explain your reasoning.

100 duck-sized horses obviously. It’s easier to outrun tiny-legged horses.

7. What are you most looking forward to at Web & PHP Con?

Meeting new (and old) friends from all over the world, plus: free buffet!

Joshua will be presenting 3 sessions at Web & PHP Con:

Alice & Bob: Public key cryptography 101
(re)discovering the SPL
Don’t reboot, debug!

(And remember, you can check out all of these talks and more, absolutely FREE. Just register for your place here.)

Go forth and experiment!

Today we’re getting to know more about Sebastian Bergmann…no, not the main character from the Swedish police drama now being shown on BBC4 …but one of the speakers who will be down at Web & PHP Con 2013. With less than a month to go before the conference we thought it would be a good idea to get to know a little more about our speakers and what they will have in store for you during their sessions. So let’s get to it…
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Sebastian Bergmann is a mastermind of PHP development and PHP quality assurance. He has instrumentally contributed to tranforming PHP into a reliable platform for large-scale, critical projects. Companies and PHP developers around the world benefit from the tools that he has written.
1. Describe what we can expect from your talk at Web & PHP Con in 140
  characters.
I have a workshop,a keynote, and a session. I don’t know how to describe them all in 140
characters!

2. How did you first get involved in coding?

I wrote my first program on an Amiga 500 in AmigaBASIC when I was
twelve years old. AmigaBASIC quickly made way for Assember and C.
Most of my programming on the Amiga, however, was in ARexx. Soon after
I got my first X86-based PC in the late 90s a former contact from
within the Amiga Scene asked me to help with a dynamic website. He
gave me the choice between Perl and PHP both of which I had no
knowledge of. I briefly looked at Perl, discared it quickly, and
fell in love with PHP. The rest is history, I guess.

3.What advice would you give aspiring web developers?

Alan J. Perlis said “A language that doesn’t affect the way you think
about programming, is not worth knowing.” So go forth and experiment
with different programming languages and don’t be religious about them
(or frameworks). Look beyond the syntax and understand unique concepts.

4. If you could have 3 famous people round for dinner (living or dead)
 who would it be?

Alexander von Humboldt, Konrad Zuse, Alan Kay

5. Would you rather fight one horse-sized duck or 100 duck-sized horses?
 Explain your reasoning.

When my busy schedule allows it, I play World of Warcraft and raid
with my guild. During most raid encounters you have to deal with one big
enemy and once in a while with many small enemies. Since I am playing
a healer my job is to prevent my team mates from dying. That means I
do not care all that much about whether they are fighting a horse-sized
duck or 100 duck-sized horses.

6. What are you most looking forward to at Web & PHP Con?

The hallway track! Every PHP conference is a gathering of the PHP
community. I love to catch up with friends old and new to exchange
ideas.

Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger

And we’re back!

A new week means a new lot of speakers to introduce you to before Web & PHP Con kicks off this September! So let’s get to it. Today is the turn of Marco Emrich.

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Marco Emrich started professional software development in 1993 and has used many different languages and technologies. He holds an academic degree in computer science (German Dipl. Inform.) and did some research for the Fraunhofer IESE Institute in the area of generative programming.

Currently, he is employed by webmasters-akademie.de, a German IT training center. There, he works as author, trainer, software developer and project manager. He speaks at various IT-conferences (OOP, Seacon, Webtech, SoCraTes, …), writes articles (ObjektSpektrum, RailsWay, PHP & Web Magazine) and facilitates code retreats. He is an active member of Softwerkskammer.de, Webmasters-Europe.org and Ruby User Group Nuremberg, where he shares his insights and tries to push software development to new levels.

In his spare time he works on his pet projects, like fantasy-cards.net and plays video games with his son.

1. Describe what we can expect from your talk at Web & PHP Con in 140 characters.  

Faster-Websites has a mix of proven and emergent optimization techniques. Code Retreats are pure fun AND great learning. Don’t miss it 🙂

 2. How did you first get involved in coding?

My first encounter with a computer was in 1987 during a physics class. This particular one (a Commodore C64) went immediately to my Xmas wish list. When I teared away the gift wrapping, I found the datasette broken. A datasette was a tape drive using audio cassettes for storage – without it, there were no chance to play any of the bundled games; what a sad day for a young boy.

The machine itself, however, worked fine. Bundled with it was a well written manual. Unlike most manuals today, this one didn’t treat their readers like complete morons and even included a course in the GW-Basic programming language. So I decided to learn coding my own games till a replacement arrives. I was fascinated, in love, and just couldn’t stop coding. More than twenty years later, I still love to code.

  3.What advice would you give aspiring web developers?

Don’t follow every hype. Concentrate on the basics instead. Learn HTML+CSS+JS well – these technologies are here to stay. Also learn the principles and methods of our craft: agile methodologies, tdd/bdd, software design, clean code…

4. Which individuals do you most admire in the tech world and why?

Phew. Difficult question. Let’s check twitter  There are a many great people I follow, watch their talks, or read their books and blogs etc. Here is a random selection ‘Aaron Patterson, Adewale Oshiney, Addy Osmani, Avdi Grimm, Brendan Eich, Brian Marick, C.J. Date, Corey Haines, Chris Granger, David Chelimsky, Dan North, Dave Thomas, Douglas Crockford, Eric Evans, Gojko Adzic, Jeremy Ashkenas, J.B. Rainsberger, John Resig, Jose Valim, Kent Beck, Kevlin Henney, Markus Gärtner, Martin Fowler, Michael Feathers, Nat Pryce, Obie Fernandez, Paul Irish, Robert C. Martin, Sam Stephenson, Scott Ambler, Stefan Tilkov, Steve Klabnik, Steve Souders, Stoyan Stefanov, Yehuda Katz, Yukihiro Matsumoto’.

 5. If you could have 3 famous people round for dinner (living or dead) who would it be?

If you allow me some freedom here, I would like to meet with Robert Abbott, Michael Moorcock and Peter Molyneux. Maybe I could talk them into a common game project. I’m convinced, that this would become a masterpiece!

 6.Would you rather fight one horse-sized duck or 100 duck-sized horses? Explain your reasoning.

I would like to answer this question like any good consultant: “It depends!”. Does the horse-sized dug also wear a bigger weapon? Does a magical bonus apply? Do the horses wear duck armor or the duck wear horse armor? How angry do they look? And most importantly, what is the current moon phase at the time the fight is scheduled?

 7. What are you most looking forward to at Web & PHP Con?

Hard to say. There are so many interesting talks. I’m mostly excited, however, to meet other developers from all over the world.

Marco will be down at Web & PHP Con 2013 giving two presentations – Faster Websites and Code Retreat.

 

Hi! My name is…

Unless you’ve had your head in the sand or sleeping under a rock you will have heard about Web & PHP Con coming to San Jose, CA this September 16-18 2013. We have so many great sessions, keynotes and workshops in store (check out the website for more info) but that’s not all! We have so many awesome speakers lined up too! So we thought we’d get to know them a bit better and find out what they have in store for us at the event by doing a short Q & A with them.

We’ve already had some great answers from our speakers that you can find in the older blog posts. But today it’s the turn of Wim Godden.

Wim Godden has been working with PHP since 1997 and has been involved in open source projects such as phpAdsNew/OpenX.
Next to PHP, he’s worked with a wide range of technologies (from database clusters to Internet backbone design) and focuses a lot of his time on high-scalability projects and on coaching/training PHP engineers.

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1. Describe what we can expect from your talk at Web & PHP Con in 140 characters.

Caching & Tuning fun for high scalability :

How (NOT) to cache properly, why you should look beyond Apache or simply put :

How to survive a site going from 3 to 3 million visits/day
The why and the how of moving to 5.4/5.5 :

What features in 5.4/5.5 do you really need, why you can’t stay at 5.2/5.3… and how to migrate codebases safely to 5.5

2. How did you first get involved in coding?

I started with Acorn Basic back in 1986, typing programs I got from books (yes you had to copy the code from them, no casettes or floppy disks), then gradually changing them to do what I wanted them to do. Later I built a race result management system for the running club I was a member of, first in Acorn Basic, later in Visual Basic. Along the way I picked up about 10 other languages, before discovering PHP in 1997.

3.What advice would you give aspiring web developers?

Web development takes more than just writing PHP code. The impact your code has on the entire PHP ecosystem is huge. So stop for a moment, look at your code and think about what each line will do to your web server, database server, network, etc. – a wonderful world will open up to you 😉

4. Which individuals do you most admire in the tech world and why?

I have the most admiration for people who aren’t afraid to not only think outside the box, but actually go for their ideas. They’re the ones who actually make a difference.

5. If you could have 3 famous people round for dinner (living or dead) who would it be?

Archimedes, Plato and Aristotles… nothing beats the classics. And I think their insights on modern technology and way of life would be an eye-opener.

6.Would you rather fight one horse-sized duck or 100 duck-sized horses? Explain your reasoning.

Considering that horses can’t fly, I’d prefer to fight the 100 duck-sized horses. There might be a 100 of them, but as last resort you can always climb in a tree, where the horse-sized duck would definitely get to you.
On the other hand, if I could tame the horses, they might make for a fun attraction with a sleigh behind it, whereas with a duck that would just look silly 😉

7. What are you most looking forward to at Web & PHP Con?

Meeting people, all with their unique ideas and technical insights, discussing technical problems (and solutions), having a laugh while writing code that you decide to rewrite 2 days later because you learned something that makes it so much easier/better (“what was I thinking writing it this way ?”).

Wim will be doing two sessions at Web & PHP Con:

The why and the how of moving to 5.4 / 5.5
Caching and Tuning fun for high scalability

Want to come and see him for free? It’s easy! Just register for your place. We look forward to seeing you there!