Personal

28 Days Later

Well, unfortunately, this year’s Nanowrimo has come to an end and I’m just over the halfway mark on my “piece of literature”. I started a little late – the 2nd – so it’s been a catch-up game since. It’s been an interesting experience so far and different than I thought it would be. I suppose I’m too used to writing to more technical things – tutorial copy only has to explain what’s already there – and not things that are plucked right out of nowhere. I can do short fiction (have in the past, at least) so I thought I’d try my hand at taking the month to work up what I could. I only really got the chance to work on my lunch breaks, so I didn’t think 27k-ish was too bad.

So anyway, here’s a few things I’ve learned from the experience. I thought they might be helpful to someone out there:

  1. Planning is sometimes not such a bad thing
  2. Working with two or three major characters is much easier than six or seven
  3. It’s okay to kill people off
  4. Stick with a concept – don’t write to write to whatever comes to mind
  5. Write where and when you feel comfortable
  6. Know what you’re talking about – readers can tell when you’re faking it
  7. Yes, it’s a lot of work, otherwise everyone would do it

Having been on the other side of writing – doing technical stuff – it’s funny to see how many of these same things apply there as well. Well, okay…with the exception of a few. It’s been an interesting experience and I’m going to go as long as I can on what I’ve come up with so far (27k+ words) and I’m going to keep updating my count on the right to keep up with it. I figure that if it took me about a month to get here, I can get a lot done in December and maybe hit the 50k+ mark by the beginning of next year.

Oh, and Elizabeth, you’re not giving up either 🙂

A Shiny BlackBerry Pearl?

So I’ve been thinking about upgrading my cell phone for a little bit now (stupid tempting ads in the mail) and I’ve been looking around for something I thought would make a nice upgrade from my current flip-phone. What I really wanted was something with a bit more power so I took a look at the PDA/Smartphone category on my provider’s website. There were some nice ones on there (expensive ones too) but the one that really caught my eye was this one:

I’ve been using a BlackBerry (older model) at work and have found it pretty easy to use. The one for work is a bit bigger and older, so the slightly smaller size of the Pearl would be nice. The only problem I’ve come across, though, is the differing opinions as to the quality of the phone and things like battery life, signal strength, etc. I’ve seen a lot of people on forums swear by them and, two threads down, people cursing them after having to exchange them four times already.

Has anyone out there had any experience with these phones? Are they worth making the upgrade to or should I just walk on by?

Webmaster Jam Session 2007

Yeah, so it’s a little late to mention it (the conference starts bright and early tomorrow morning), but I’m going to be hanging out the next two days at this year’s Webmaster Jam Session here in Dallas. Looks like a good lineup this year – I’d wanted to go last year, but scheduling conflicts didn’t allow it.

Being all PHP, all the time is a nice place to be, but it’s good to branch out and get a little bit of the other side of things. My inner designer is practically jumping for joy.

Webmaster Jam Session 2007 at the Adam’s Mark Hotel in Dallas, Tx

Fun is…

…finally getting to the vacation spot (after two plane trips and a 1 1/2 hour layover – did I mention with a 3 month old) only to check your work email “real quick” only to discover that the SSL cert for your companies website expired the morning you left.

Nothing like 50 panicked emails sitting in your inbox from customers and fellow employees alike to make you feel bad for leaving on a work day – heh.

Little Baby Connor

Well, this is the first time that I’ve managed to get back to a net connection where I can add this new post, but I wanted to share with everyone the latest addition to our little family – Connor:

The Results are In…

Well, no more being anxious about the Zend Certification Exam (taken two weeks ago – does that make me impatient?) – an email came today that sealed my fate for the PHP 5 version of the test…

I passed! 🙂 I am officially a PHP 5 Certified Engineer 🙂

Woo! It’s funny how, no matter how old you get, you always (well, I always) seem to feel the the same way after I’ve taken a test and am waiting on the results. Either way, it’s always a relief to find out the result – good or bad. Thankfully, it turned out good this time 🙂 Congrats to all of the others out there that took the test and are new ZCEs!

My New Addiction

My wife and I visited England (up by York and Manchester) and much fun was had by all.

Too bad I came back with an addiction. It’s taken hold of me and is constantly with me. I can’t stop thinking about it and I wonder when I can get my next fix. I feel the constant need to spend lots of money to feed my habit (and with the exchange rate right now, that’s not a good thing), and I just can’t get the stuff I need over here.

That’s right, I’m an addict.
I’m addicted to Tom Holt books (not quite what you were expecting, eh?)

Yes, I casually picked up one of his books (“Falling Sideways“) in a shop while we were over there and finished it in about two days. I have to say, I haven’t read anything so delightfully light-hearted and funny in a long time (we’ll, that wasn’t something I’d read a million times over).

Alas, my probem still remains – the Amazon.com US store doesn’t carry them all (only like 10 or so) and ordering them from overseas is a bit expensive right now for us U.S-ers. I’ve ordered “Omnibus 5: Tall Stories” and “The Portable Door” from Amazon, and I’m counting the days.

It’s always fun to discover a writer you really enjoy, especially when you find out that that writer has loads of books for you to catch up on 🙂

Re: Reading Tech Books

Following in Lig’s lead on the number of books she’s reading, I thought I’d take stock of what kinds of books I’ve been reading on lately. Now, whether I’ll make it finishing them by the end of the year – that’s another story, but at least I’ll have a better idea of where I lie.

These aren’t in an order either other than my own train of thought as I write this:

  • php|architect’s Guide to PHP Design Patterns
  • Theo’s book, Scalable Internet Architectures
  • Ajax in Action
  • Creating Web Pages with Ajax

And, I dont know if it counts, but I also read over 205 feeds worth of information each day to grab the content for PHPDeveloper. Of course, those are all quick reads (well, most of them – some of you bloggers out there get a bit long winded at times – hehe).

Oh, and as far as fiction – I’m rereading the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy for the umpteenth time, but it’s always a good, light read.

Talkin’ T-Shirts

So, remember the t-shirt idea I mentioned before for the conference? Well, I’ve thrown something together for it and wanted to get some feed back on it from all of you lovely readers out there. Here’s the thumbnails.

I wanted to keep in mind both promoting the site (woo!) and the community too (yay!), so I kept the front simple with the PHP opening tag and my domain on the front and on the back….drum roll please….a tag cloud of the people/projects/companies that help make the PHP community what it is today. The different terms are different sizes, but that’s more for stylistic reasons than any kind of reference. There’s no way I could ever figure out how much each of them has contributed to the community and rank them, so I just went with picking at random.

So then, two questions for you all:

  • First off, do you like the design? Would you wear it and enjoy it?
  • And, secondly, would you buy one? Really what I’m getting at here is asking how big of a first run I would need to do. I’m going to have them at this year’s Zend Con but I didn’t know what the demand would be for them outside of that.

So, let me know on the above points – I’d appreciate any kind of feedback you can give!