Category Archives: Uncategorized

a decade of php

Today is the 10th birthday of PHP.  I’ve been using it for a long time now.
I started using PHP on a project for a law firm with Luke Welling.  Began in Perl initially, but the sysadmin – a guy called Adrian Close –  said "here, use this, you’ll really like it".  He was right.
Weirdly enough Luke has recently begun a new job (at hitwise.com) and he’s working with Adrian.  Small world.
After banging our heads against those legal applications – including all kinds of stuff that seemed revolutionary in 1997 – we spent many evenings at the pub (the Cafe Hotel in North Melbourne, gone now for apartments) talking about writing a book on PHP, since there wasn’t one at the time.  That’s how PHP and MySQL Web Development was born.
Half of the interesting things I’ve learned and done and the best people I’ve met in the last ten years  have been thanks to PHP and its fantastic community.  Thanks to PHP and all its developers and users all over the world.  Thanks especially to Rasmus for coming up with it in the first place and evangelizing it ever since.   Many happy returns.

(And thanks Zak for the reminder.)

freshers

There’s an interesting article about first year uni students in the Age, linking to a new study.  I was interested to read that:

  • students now have less contact hours
  • although more students work, they work no more hours than ten years ago
  • students from a higher socio-economic group work more than students from lower socio-economic groups.

Counter-intuitive and therefore interesting.  I hear a lot of complaints (from both students and academics) about the amount of outside work that students take on, and it is often cited as a reason for failure.

learning management systems

I didn’t get to that seminar, too busy with visitors from a Chinese university.

I have been reviewing some FOSS Learning Management Systems for possible use within the Web Discipline.

Moodle: http://moodle.org/
Widely used,
probably the most feature rich of the ones I’ve looked at,  including a built
in Wiki and good facilities for tracking learner usage.  There is a nice summary
comparing Moodle to Blackboard here:
http://www.humboldt.edu/~jdv1/moodle/all.htm

.LRN:
http://dotlrn.org/
This one was developed by
MIT but I am not keen on some of the features, such as using
WimpyPoint for presentations.  (While WP is a nice piece of software this would be
a barrier to entry for some.)

ATutor: http://www.atutor.ca/
This one is focusing
on being accessible and meets WCAG 1.0 accessibility specifications.

Have
people experienced using any of these packages or have opinions about the
goodness or otherwise of any of the above?

We are getting an in house Moodle server that I will co-administer for test purposes.  Should be interesting.  And it is of course much cheaper than the solution the university uses at present.

trip report: amsterdam, tokyo

Back from the trip.  Internet access was fairly shocking in both places so no blogging occurred.  No access at the International PHP Conference.  Some at WWW2005 but in the hotel it was only by perching in one corner of the hotel room that I could use wireless from presumably some other nearby building.  (Thanks guys!)

The trip was sensational.  Met some lovely people in Amsterdam: old friends Christian Wenz, John Coggeshall, and Andrei Zmievski , and new friends Ben Ramsey, Tobias Hauser, Dan Scott, and Stefan Neufind.  Lovely place, very easy to get by and no real worries.  Heard some good talks at the conference, especially Christian and Ben’s security talk, which had great demonstrations of attacks.  I think it really brought it home to people just how easy it is to attack thoughtlessly designed web apps.

We continued on to Tokyo, where I presented a paper in the Workshop for Innovations in Web Infrastructure at WWW2005.  Good workshop, met some interesting people including workshop organizer Simon Courtenage, Juan Ignacio Vazquez from Spain who is working on the same research problem as myself from a different angle, and Cai Ziegler, a PhD student from Germany who works on recommender systems.  There were also heaps of Australians there, including Liddy Neville (W3C Accessibility), Carey Patterson from Ntech media who I will meet again at Ausweb next month, Robert McArthur from DSTC (also catch up at Ausweb I hope), and David Hawking from CSIRO, who I have narrowly avoided meeting on previous occasions when he’s visited my workgroup, the Web Discipline at CS&IT.

Japan was truly amazing.  I have never been there before but talking to Christian and John the week before they had both recently been there and found it hard going.  I loved it.  It’s clean and safe and the people are unbelievably nice to idiot tourists such as myself.  The food was awesome as well.   Since I got back people keep saying "I hear steak is $90" but who eats steak in Japan?  Gimme all the fresh seafood I can handle, yeah baby.

I also bought a PSP.  It is rather nice if I say so myself.  I strongly suggest that no other research students buy one.  Addicted?  No, I’m not addicted….

shiny new blog

Here it is.  This blog might move or disappear if I get bored but I finally got around to starting one.

The motivation for starting this now  is that I am about to travel to the International PHP Conference in Amsterdam, and then on to WWW2005 in Tokyo.  A good excuse to have something interesting to write about.

We’ll see how long it lasts.  Yes, I am being lazy and using typepad rather than getting around to installing Serendipity or similar.  This is basically because I am only thinking of this at 1am the night before I go and I need sleep.  If it catches on I will have to roll my own.

I have not been to either destination before.  In Amsterdam I will give a few talks and hope to catch up with old friends Christian Wenz and John Coggeshall.  Tokyo is more about plugging my PhD research.  With grace and luck on my side the PhD should be finished at the end of the year.  Fingers crossed.