Solve problems and stop failing with PHP

Imagine living in a 500 square-foot store, in a strip mall. The back half of the business was as expected, with a bathroom, 2 small offices, and work area. The front was a bedroom barely large enough to hold a bed, and a living room barely able to contain a couch and TV. The only thing separating the living room from the sidewalk, and the busy main street, was paper taped onto the floor to ceiling windows. And behind that, some vertical blinds to make it more home-like.

In 1996, that was my life. I was broke, and could no longer afford an apartment, so I moved into the front half of my failing business. I had one employee, who believed in me so much they were willing to donate their spare time to help me because I couldn’t afford to pay them.

Up to that point in my life, I had never made more than $9,000 in a single year. I was a failure, and couldn’t find a way out. I was living by eating a single Subway $5 foot-long sub…each day…for weeks, because that is all I could afford and I didn’t have a kitchen. And friends contributed cigarettes to keep that habit alive.

“I was living on a single Subway $5 foot-long sub…each day”

To top things off, I was experiencing anxiety attacks multiple times each day. After a couple of trips to the emergency room convinced I’d had a heart attack, I finally gave up going there because the bill was already thousands that would continue dragging my credit rating even farther down.

But then, something happened that changed my life as a nurse in the emergency room was asking me general health questions, such as age, height, weight, how much did I smoke/drink? (I answered 2 packs of cigarettes and 2 pots of coffee a day.) She looked at me with caring eyes and asked, “Do you think God intended you to put that much poison into your body?”

For some reason, I’d never thought of my bad habits in that manner, and it made sense to me. So, at that moment I quit smoking and stopped drinking coffee. This caused me to suffer from bronchial spasms severe enough I could visually see my chest quivering despite wearing a shirt, and even more anxiety attacks over the following month.

I moved in with family at the age of 30 and started searching for a job. In northeast Ohio, that is no small task. That area of the country has been abandoned for so long that the population of Youngstown, Ohio has declined from 160,000 in the ’70s to only 60,000’ish in 2017. (http://worldpopulationreview.com/us-cities/youngstown-oh-population/)

Finally, I found a job selling cars for about a year, which paid fairly well. And luckily a friend of my mom offered me a job as a service person with a cabinetry company, which was the best job I’d ever had to that point. I loved it and thrived.

As one part of the job, I generated my own reports allowing me to grow quickly over a couple of years from District manager to Area manager. As I was being considered for Regional manager, the company offered me a job in Florida generating reports for the entire country, which meant I needed to move to Florida. I took it, and in 2000 I moved to West Palm Beach.

This is when I was introduced to programming as the events of 911 caused me to lose my job. In 2002 I started learning to program with PHP and accepted funding from Florida to get some training to learn system administration.

After a job as a system administrator, I decided I liked web programming more and focused on finding a new job doing that.

Over the following years, I continued gaining skills and moved from one job to the next to ensure my level of compensation kept up with my newly acquired skills. I also took up long distance ultra-running, and Judo, as I continued to improve my life and grow personally.

Today, as a senior/architect level web developer, who has also worked as a consultant and now as a developer advocate, I’ve gained much over the past 21 years with many amazing accomplishments.

Maybe I would have achieved these things regardless of the technology used, and PHP enabled me to do it more easily than I think any other programming/scripting language would have. Looking back, it was the approachability of PHP that allowed me to start solving problems quickly and allowed me to continue growing my skills as PHP itself continued to mature.

You may ask, “Why are you sharing this?”. Or you may get the impression I’m bragging. And perhaps that is a little true. But most of all I wish to share 3 thoughts, which is why I am sharing my story in such an open way.

#1 – If you are down on your luck, and struggling to get by. Know that as long as you continue to push forward, great things will eventually happen. Don’t stop.

#2 – If you are doing well, and feel comfortable. Don’t look down on others who may not be doing so well. And, if you are able, help those less fortunate. I am not saying to give them money, or things. Because I know, from experience, that will not really help them. (unless they truly need that level of help) What I’m saying is, be supportive, and don’t let them stay down alone. Encourage them to continue pushing, even though it is hard and they want to give up.

#3 – Don’t look down on PHP. There are many technologies available to do various things. But I feel PHP is still the easiest way for beginners to get started, and to facilitate growing their skills. Though I’ve learned other stacks, I still use PHP to solve problems.

And, though I continue to have frequent anxiety attacks…because that never seems goes away. I’m a much different person than I was 21 years ago living in a storefront, and you can/will be too in the years that follow.

So, what are your experiences? Don’t be ashamed to share. There are others who need your story. Let me know it, in the comments.

Changes

It was 6 years ago when I was last looking for a change after being a freelancer for a very long time. The idea was simple. I was tired of being the accountant, salesperson, consultant, developer, collections, sysadmin, and more. As a freelance “developer” I had to be all these things to support my family and live in a manner I was accustomed. But I was growing tired of it all, and wanted to have a little more fun by doing the parts I enjoyed most…consulting.

A good friend had been working at a well-known company for about a year and was very happy doing it. He also had grown tired of being a freelance developer, and a job at the company was his answer. So, when I saw an open consulting position on their website, I applied for it.

About a week later I received a call, then went through the typical round of interviews and questions. I was hired!

It was an exciting time, filled with learning new systems, people, and experiences. I was suddenly thrust into meetings with very large companies, and large teams of developers, who needed my help. There were new problems to solve on a weekly basis, and with each problem came new challenges. The number of things I learned during my six years of consulting at the company was mind-blowing, and with each day I discovered there was more and more I didn’t know. I basically went from knowing a bunch of things to village idiot overnight when I was hired.

“I went from knowing a bunch of things to village idiot overnight when I was hired.”

As I transitioned from one customer to another, it also led to traveling quite a bit. I spent half of each year away from home as I went onsite to meet new teams, learn network and application infrastructures, and build relationships with hundreds of people.

I continued to learn a great deal, and with each engagement, I spent less time on search engines and could draw from my own knowledge more often. (Of course, there was still a bunch of searching, but it was less. I’m still the village idiot learning daily.)

As a user group organizer, and speaker, I’ve always enjoyed teaching and sharing, and it was wonderful that my employer encouraged this activity. So I tended to share my knowledge with anyone who would listen, as I began speaking at conferences, user groups, and online from blog posts, podcasts, and videos, as well as through code via online source code repositories.

Through the process, I also did a fair amount of evangelism around products, libraries, and frameworks I believed in and witnessed some real growth from these efforts which drove me to do more.

However, as times change and acquisitions happen, so do the directions companies take. For good, or bad, companies are forced to make decisions and make changes to help them move forward and grow. I’ve witnessed and lived through some events these past couple years that have left me feeling dissatisfied and a little disconnected from the things I’ve come to hold dear.

This doesn’t mean the company is bad. It simply means our paths have diverged for the time being. Therefore, I will be leaving my current employer, as it is time once again for a change.

10 reasons to become a consultant or have a consulting business

In this video I share 10 good reasons to start a consulting business or become a consultant. Before you start looking into how to become a consultant, Adam Culp of Beachcasts PHP videos shares points from his experience to help you figure out if being a PHP consultant is the right job for you. As you look into how to become a consultant, and before you become a consultant, consider these things carefully.

Or you can view this video on YouTube at: https://youtu.be/J7gpMYAKmDM

Items:
#10 Multiple Hats
#9 Constant New Problems (to solve)
#8 Always Learning
#7 Helping (mentoring) People
#6 You’re The Fixer
#5 “Expert” vs “Resource”
#4 Fame!
#3 Sell, Sell, Sell!
#2 Travel
#1 Flexible Schedule

BONUS considerations for the self-employed
#1 No Dress Code
#2 Unlimited Earning Potential
#3 Unlimited sick days / vacation
#4 Flexible Work Location
#5 Freedom to say “No” or turn down jobs

Zend Framework becomes Laminas project

Today it was announced that Zend Framework is being rebranded as Laminas project. (drawn from the meaning “a thin layer”) Along with the rebrand comes some other important changes as well. Yes, this includes Expressive and Apigility, so continue reading.

Some History

Zend Framework is one of the largest and oldest PHP frameworks and has become a staple for enterprise development around the world. As of April 2019, it has over 400 million lifetime downloads of all packages associated with the project, which has seen a 4-fold increase in just the last 2 years alone. Despite this amazing track record, up to now the project has been supported and guided single-handedly by Zend Technologies, and later Rogue Wave Software.

Awesome Changes

Therefore, to continue this growth and receive the best support possible, the Zend Framework team is announcing that all projects under that umbrella will rebrand to a newly formed “Laminas” project“, which aims to continue their mission as an open source project hosted by the Linux Foundation. The transition will enable more companies to provide support for the projects they’ve come to depend on and help it continue to grow. As part of this transition, it is important for them to differentiate the open source project from the Zend commercial brand. Therefore, the new name “Laminas” project was created.

As part of this move, the Expressive microframework, Apigility api framework, as well as the MVC framework will all be part of the Laminas project.

I will try to add more details as they become available to us all, and will likely also do a Twitch stream and YouTube video with Beachcasts and that video can be viewed HERE.

Support Laminas Project

For more information, please see the new site dedicated to the Laminas project, and if you would like to become a member and/or support the project at the Linux Foundation (their blog post), please join and become a member.

Impact to current users

The framework team is working on scripts and tools to help users update namespaces and vendor packages with the renaming. See the video below for more info.

Beachcasts Video

I added this, and a little more content about the Zend Framework rebranding to Laminas project under the Linux Foundation. Check it out below.

10 bad things about consulting, and why it might not be for you

In this video I share 10 bad things about being a consultant, and why a consulting job might not be a good fit for you. Adam Culp of Beachcasts shares points from his experience to help you figure out if being a PHP consultant is the right job for you.

Or you can view this video on YouTube at: https://youtu.be/ELE0G3e7h3c

Timeline:
#10 Travel
#9 No set schedule
#8 No upward mobility
#7 Not for the introverted
#6 Communication, communication, communication
#5 Swallowing pride
#4 Always be selling
#3 Problems!
#2 Expected to “know it all”
#1 No “new” projects

BONUS considerations for the self-employed
#1 accounting/collections
#2 taxes
#3 No sick days / vacation