Serverlessconf 2016 – New York City: a personal report

Serverlessconf 2016 – New York City: a personal report – is a fascinating read.  Let me get you hooked:

This event left me with the impression (or the confirmation) that there are two paces and speeds at which people are moving.

There is the so called “legacy” pace. This is often characterized by the notion of VMs and virtualization. This market is typically on-prem, owned by VMware and where the majority of workloads (as of today) are running. Very steady.

The second “industry block” is the “new stuff” and this is a truly moving target. #Serverless is yet another model that we are seeing emerging in the last few years. We have moved from Cloud (i.e. IaaS) to opinionated PaaS, to un-opinionated PaaS, to DIY Containers, to CaaS (Containers as a Service) to now #Serverless. There is no way this is going to be the end of it as it’s a frenetic moving target and in every iteration more and more people will be left behind.

This time around was all about the DevOps people being “industry dinosaurs”. So if you are a DevOps persona, know you are legacy already.

Sometimes I feel like I am leaving on a different planet.  All these people are so close, yet so far away …

International PHP Conference 2014, Berlin, Germany

As many of you already know, I’ve spent most of the last week in Berlin, Germany, attending the International PHP Conference 2014.  Here’s the short story:  it was another great event (yes, I’ve attended this conference before).  The conference seems to grow and mature.  There were plenty of engaging speakers and insightful topics.  If you haven’t been to one of these yet, and you are involved with web technologies in general or PHP in particular, you definitely should attend.   It’s worth every dime.

Now, for the long story.

Continue reading “International PHP Conference 2014, Berlin, Germany”

On the matter of technical conferences

While reading Ben Ramsey’s blog post “The Fall of PEAR and the Rise of Composer“, I caught myself thinking of entirely different subject – technical conferences, in general.  Two bits in particular pushed my train of thought.

The first one is Ben’s experience as a first time speaker at a technical conference.  We’ve all probably been to one or seen one on YouTube, but that’s from the audience perspective.  Here is how it looks from the other side:

Palms sweaty, stomach aflutter with butterflies, I stood before my first audience as a technical speaker. It was a time of many firsts for me—my first PHP conference, my first time in Europe, my first technical presentation. I had been accepted to speak at the 2005 International PHP Conference Spring Edition in Amsterdam. I was nervous, jet-lagged, and tired from an all nighter working on slides.


After my presentation, I found myself downstairs during the break, discussing the topic of frameworks with a German gentleman. I don’t recall much of our conversation, but after a while, I made the biggest mistake I have ever made in my entire career as a speaker. I asked the question “how did it go?”

“Oh, I think we both know how it went,” responded the gentleman drily.

“No. No, I don’t think I do. Can you elaborate?” My second mistake.

“It was horrible!” he exclaimed.

Wow. I was floored. I had to get out of the conversation quickly. I thanked him for his frankness and excused myself. I found a quiet room and sat down for a while, taking deep breaths, trying to calm myself and recover before giving a second talk that day. If I was nervous before, I was frantic now. I didn’t think I could muster up the courage to give another presentation, but I pressed on, and I’m better for it.

That day, I learned two valuable lessons: 1) after giving a presentation never, ever, ever, ever ask someone how they thought it went; let them volunteer that on their own, and 2) unless you want a brutally honest response, don’t ask a German for their opinion.

I haven’t spoken at any major events yet – just a couple of local Linux user group meetings – but I can attest to the very humbling and crushingly nervous experience.  It gets easier, I guess, but who would want to listen to you when your first few times suck so badly?

The second bit that got me thinking was the this one:

At php|tek 2009, a group of leaders from a few of the frameworks and libraries communities got together to, as David Coallier described, “develop a set of common standards which PHP projects can strive towards adopting.” This moment represented a turning point in the PHP community. All modern PHP development hinges on this moment. As the Doctor might say, it is a fixed point in time.

This group produced what would become known as PSR-0, an autoloading standard for PHP userland frameworks and libraries, and the group’s name would eventually become the PHP Framework Interop Group (PHP-FIG). It was this autoloading standard that I think changed the course of all PHP userland development.

Quite a few people I know are under the impression that technical conferences are a waste of time.  People just go there to escape a day or two from their work.  And maybe learn a thing or two.  But it’s not just that.  It’s not only about the sessions, workshops and learning.

A great deal of networking and cross-industry communication happens at these events.  Some of these just forge friendships and beer sessions.  Yet others develop into powerful partnership and great accomplishments.  Like the one mentioned above.

Like it or not, but even the techiest of techiest among us need an occasional face-to-face session to fix “lost in translation” things, to discuss and argue about everything, and agree on something.

Attending PHP UK Conference 2009

Security centered design

The conference day.  We woke up early to get in queue at registration which opened at 08:30.  When we got to the Olympia Conference Center, which was about 5 minutes walk from our hotel, it was full of people.   More than a hundred people already, and we were early.  Got our badges and notepads, grabbed a coffee, and started wondering around.  There were a few sponsor stands, so we had something to do.

Honestly, I thought there would be more stands, and from companies which are closer related to web development.  We got to O’Reilly to buy some books at 35% discount (I was the first customer of the day, beta-testing the receipt issuing procedure, hehe).  Looked at iBuildings stand briefly.  Looked at Sun MySQL something to do with reporting tool something.  It was crowded over there and I had a cup of coffee in my hands, so didn’t get too close.  Saw a few people playing with Wii and some more with MS Xbox 360.  Seemed like fun.

The conference itself featured a few talks, and it was a double track, so each attndee had to chose from one of the two concurrent speeches which to attend.  Here are the ones that I went to:

  • Keynote talk: The future’s so bright, I gotta wear shades by Aral Balkan. It was a bit too lengthy for the points it made, but inspiration non-the-less.
  • Sharding Architectures by David Soria Parra.  Very interesting discussion on scaling database across several servers. Sharding technique described can be applied to much more than just that.
  • Of Lambda Functions, Closures and Traits by Sebastian Bergmann.  A look into some advanced features of PHP 5.3.  These will make writing PHP code a bit more fun, and result a bit more pleasant to look at.
  • Living with Frameworks by Stuart Herbert.  Nice, balanced look at why frameworks are important.  It was a bit misplaced though, since it was more for people who don’t yet use frameworks, while most of the audience was from the frameworks camp.
  • Myphp-busters: symfony framework by Stefan Koopmanschap.  An overview of Symfony framework, which made me love CakePHP even more.
  • Security-Centered Design — exploring the impact of human behavior by Chris Shiflett. Interesting descussion (with cool examples) of social part in security approaches.

Sharding Architectures and Lambda Functions were two of my favourite talks for technical insight.  Security-Centered Design and Living with Frameworks were the two favourites for non-technical inspiration.

After the last talk there were a few free beers at the venue, and after that there was another beer session at Brook Green Hotel.  Quite a few people, quite a few pints, quite a few interesting conversations and contacts made, excellent buffett, and overall a time well spent.

A note to conference organizers: I know you guys worked hard to make this happen, and that you are a bunch of hobbyiests who are not getting paid to do this, so, first of all, thank you.  I really enjoyed the event.  Here are a few things that I think could be improved, just in case  you will have control over them the next time:

  • WiFi coverage.  Yes, it was there and it was sort of working, but it was also slow and unstable.  At the beginning I thought that was just me for some reason, but then heard a few more people complain.
  • Power sockets.  I remember seeing only 3.   Maybe I just didn’t find them, of course, but they are sort of important.
  • Beer is the ultimate conversation maker.  Have it nearby from lunch on and more magic would happen.  (It doesn’t have to be free)
  • Mechandize.  Stickers, t-shirts, badges, etc to help remember and promote the event.
  • More stands.  I wanted to see people who do hosting, consulting, trainging, build tools, and more of the related.

As I said, I had an excellent time, learned a few new things, got inspired, met interesting people, etc.  An event was definitely a success and I’d gladly attend the future ones as well.  Oh, and I made a few pictures, which are available in my PHP UK Conference 2009 Flickr set.

PHP UK Conference 2009, here we come!

All the stars have aligned properly for yet another conference visit.  This time I am going with two colleagues to London, UK.  We are attending PHP UK Conference 2009.  It’s my first visit to UK, and I wont’ have much time around, but if you have any suggestions on what to see, where to go, or if you want to meet for beer, let me know.  We are arriving today around 21:00 and flying back early Sunday morning.

Tweets, blog posts, and pictures are coming soon.

Wakoopa – one of those things that I don’t get

There are things that are as obvious as daylight.  There are things that I need to research and think over to understand.  And there are things that feel like I’ll never understand.  Wakoopa is one of them.

I first heard about Wakoopa back in April when I was in Amsterdam, at The Next Web 2008 Conference.  Wakoopa is a European social network that unites people who want to share the information about software they use.  If you are one of them, all you need to do is register at the network and download client software to install on your computer.  Once you are done, Wakoopa will track which software you use and how (often).  It will then upload these information to the social network, where you will be able to find other people who use the same software (advice? shared experience?) as well as other software that people similar to you use (expanding horizons?).

The booth of Wakoopa startup was one of the busiest at the conference.  And the company went through a few investment rounds, one of which I just read about in The Next Web blog.

And I still don’t get it.

First of all, I have the feeling that software moves to the web.  Not all of it and not as fast as I’d like it to, but the future seems to be pretty much web-based.  Secondly, those people who are technically literate enough to find, download, and install Wakoopa, are, I belive, literate enough to figure out their issues with current software and find similar software if need be, using nothing by Google and IRC.  Thirdly, there is this evergrowing privacy concern, that itches every time words “tracking” and “sharing” are used. Fourthly, there is the question of licensed software vs. pirated software, which needs to be addressed by way too many Windows users (primary target for Wakoopa software and social network).  Fifthly, there are likely to be quite a few conflicts between people at work and corporate sysadmins. Sixthly, …

With all that, I can still see that there will be a few people here and there who would probably like to participate in this experiement.  But, the thing that I don’t quite understand is how this experiment became so large.  I mean, there are millions of investment, thousands of users, and lots and lots of hype.  I don’t get it.  Anyone care to explain? Or guess maybe?

P.S.: Not that I am jelous of Wakoopa or anything.  They are doing something that apparently has a lot of demand, so I wish the best of luck to them.

Virtual presence with Twitter

Twitter is many things to many people.  It’s a lot of things to me too (status updates, communication channel, notes application, self-reminders, etc). But for the last couple of days I am having a new experience with it – virtual presence.

Last year I attended Greek Blogger Camp.  It was a lot of fun.  This year however I didn’t manage to get in due to some work obligations.  However those guys who are there, they twit a lot (particularly Stefanos himself).  That sort of brings me there without any travelling.

Yes, I miss a lot, I know.  But getting SMS updates with pointers to what is going over there helps quite a bit.  And not only I get a part of the atmosphere, but also some helpful tips from the presentations that are going on.  Then, with Google in my hands, I can dive deeper into the subject, and even somewhat participate in the discussion there by twitting my questions and getting answers.

This digital world sure is amazing!

Mibbit – IRC the easy way

IRC is one of the best things that happened in the world of online communications ever.  But, it’s a pity that most non-technical users have no idea of its existence.  Getting on IRC usually required downloading and installing a client software, and then going through a list of networks, picking a server, a nickname, and finding a channel to connect to.  While not exactly rocket science, it was more than enough to seriously decrease the user base.

Via this Web Worker Daily post I learned about a great tool – Mibbit.  It is a web-based interface to IRC.  It is straight forward, easy to use, and doesn’t require one to know much about IRC.  No installation or registration is needed – you can jump straight into it.

In fact, even many technical people who use IRC will find Mibbit useful.  It adds some useful pieces of functionality which many traditional IRC clients miss (unless, of course they support plugins).  Two things that I was glad to see were Paste Bin support, which is a quick way to send around pieces of text, often with syntax highlight, and editing capabilities; and integrated translations.  You can pick the language you want your messages to be translated to, as well as the language you want other people’s messages to be translated to.  Of course, the translations are done automatically, so they aren’t of the best quality, but at least you’ll get a slight idea of what those other people are talking about. In case you don’t speak a common language, that is.

I also liked the interface of Mibbit.  It is clean, simple, and fast.  You can participate in multiple discussions, which will appear as tabs, which you can switch between.  Updates are fast and the whole thing feels very much like a desktop application.

Thanks to Web Worker Daily for bringing attention to this service, and, of course, to Mibbit developers for making a useful tool.

P.S.: If you are trying to get a hold of me on IRC, my contact page has all the information that you need.

Amsterdam, Netherlands

Tomorrow morning I am leaving for The Next Web Conference, which will take place in Amsterdam, Netherlands.  I spent a few minutes in Wikipedia, reading about both Amsterdam and Netherlands.  Here are some interesting highlights (direct quotes from Wikipedia):

  • The Netherlands is often called Holland. This is formally incorrect as North and South Holland in the western Netherlands are only two of the country’s twelve provinces. As a matter of fact, many Dutch people colloquially use Holland as a synecdoche, being well aware of the widespread use of this name.
  • The Netherlands is also one of the most densely cabled countries in the world; its internet connection rate is 87.8%, the 2nd highest in the world.
  • A remarkable aspect of the Netherlands is its flatness.
  • The people of the Netherlands are amongst the tallest in the world, with an average height of about 1.85 m (6 ft 0.8 in) for adult males and 1.68 m (5 ft 6 in) for adult females.
  • There is a tradition of learning foreign languages in the Netherlands: about 70% of the total population have good knowledge of English, 55– 59% of German and 19% of French.
  • Amsterdam is the 5th busiest tourist destination in Europe with more than 4.2 million international visitors. The room occupation rate is the 2nd highest in Europe in 2007. Tourists can choose from 350 Hotels, 17 of which are fivestar hotels. 18,000 rooms and almost 45,000 beds are provided.
  • Amsterdam’s largest religious group are the Calvinists followed by Islam, mainly Sunni Islam.
  • Amsterdam is one of the most bicycle-friendly cities in the world and is a centre of bicycle culture with good provision for cyclists such as bike paths and bike racks, which are ubiquitous throughout the city. There are an estimated one million bicycles in the city (total population is 742,884 people, as per January 1st, 2006). However, bike theft is common, so cyclists use large secure locks.