Notes from 2013. ZgPHP meetup

I attended this years’ ZgPHP meetup conference. Although I am not primarily a PHP developer, I’m into web development, and this is the closest meetup by the theme that I can find. As a local PHP group that’s been gathering for two years, this was a second birthday, so it was a not-so-regular meetup/drinkup.

This last meetup was a conference, and it was quite decent for a first-timer.

My overall impression was excellent. The talks were good and technological (mostly) and interesting. Here are my notes from the 8 or so talks.

Miodrag Stefanović from Limundo/Kupindo has shown us a high-level overview of their huge (for this region) site and some of the challenges that they had and won, and some that are ahead of them. It was interesting to hear about their architecture, their clusters, failover settings, their thoughts on testing etc. In my subjective opinion, Miodrag was the best-prepared speaker – he had a clear agenda of what he wanted to show and he did that. Although he pointed out in a slide a bragging right to handling 10,000 rps, he didn’t brag, he was unassuming and confident. He was also well prepared for the Q&A.

Andrej Boboš from Seekandhit presented their work on social marketing tools. Although the social marketing topic is washed out to me as a dev, in a business perspective this is an important topic and it was interesting to hear how they’ve solved some of the technical challenges. Points about Facebook rate-limits were taken, and I was interested in hearing what the Gearman job server does. In the beginning Andrej started talking about their cool technological stuff, but as soon as he got into technical details, it became interesting. I would prefer a bit more technical details. 

Ivan Habunek had a very hands-on presentation about continuous integration testing with Travis CI. It was very excellent and practical and described T-CI as an easy thing to do. Made me think VERY hard about trying it.

Tihomir Opačić has spoken about publishing of Laravel4 packages. Since I’m in the node/npm world for some time now, this was a familiar topic, and although node.js has a long way to go to catch up with PHP in some areas, I think we have packaging well done and we’re ahead. Hopefully for PHP community, packaging for composer for Laravel and Symphony frameworks will make that much better.

On the presentation itself, it was good, but one of the first slides could be made less scary. “14 steps to making a package” sounded misleading and complicated. Considering that it didn’t turn out to be complicated and scary at all.

I enjoyed quick pace that Milan Popović has set when presenting Redis. Considering how most people just use Redis as a session store, this was a great source of information of what can be done and where to look next. I particularly liked how Milan has cathegorized the Redis commands into set. It was good intro to Redis for people not familiar with details, good cathegorization of commands – very meaningful. I guess if he had more time, he would have shown an example or two for actually using this in PHP.
Maja Bilić was probably the bravest of the speakers. She has picked a very real issue – treatment of women in IT industry. It was a big step and talks like this should and hopefully will raise awareness of a very real issue. I believe it took a lot of guts for Maja to talk about this – and that it takes guts for it is exactly the consequence of this treatment.

Maja had a lot of “makes-you-think” facts. She’s also raised some topics, some things that we do to discriminate, and that we’re not even aware of. I’m of a very liberal standpoint and I think that we should erase as much discrimination as we can. If I can help in this issue in any way, Maja, ping me. Although, there is one downer from this presentation. While the topic is important, the facts stand and this is something that needs to be revisited often, I think Maja has had some personal examples in the presentation that were actually counter-productive. I’m trying to think objectively here though, and I do not attribute that to her being a woman, but her being a human being – and we all make mistakes.

Maja, don’t get me wrong – you did not make mistakes with your examples. I just think you did. One example I can single out is the fact she mentioned as “limiting” is her non-technical education. Well, non-FER (Faculty of electrical engineering and computing), but still. I understood that this sounded a problem to Maja and the devs are not taking her seriously because she’s a woman. Well, I also come from social sciences education. I also feel, and in some ways am, an outsider to the hardcode ‘boys club’. Not only that, sometimes I really feel lacking this education in my work. But I decided to take up the challenge and do my best. My point is that Maja could probably find much better examples of discrimination in the industry. I just don’t think it’s discrimination if somebody states the facts.

After the topic heavy on the mind, we again went back to playful topics with Srđan Vranac. He presented how to use Vagrant and Puppet, virtual machine setup automation tools. I’m a heavy proponent of automating everything and what Srđan suggested made me think of trying it. Some of my current projects arent eligible for that, but I a great example of one that does, and I think I might set it up. Again, great topic that made me think of trying it. His slides seemed like they are not directly applicable in sequence (like Travis-CI stuff, which I think you can just copy/paste and it would all work), but still shown a lot of options and possibilities. Also. He has shown great self-confidence in his presentation, he took a lecturer-style approach. His declaratory statements like “This will be your lifesaver” seemed like something you should write down and blindly follow. It was entertaining.

Edit: I’m not complaining, just comparing. To clarify, Travis-CI demo seemed to me as if building on one single app, and then just adding up features, DB support, getting extra stuff etc. And Vagrant demo was more like a set of disconnected examples – which should all work, but show different setups. It seemed more natural that way, considering the topic.

Finally, the Papa Smurf Miro Svrtan had a keynote speak. I’m looking forward to his promises about more workshops. I’m cool with his suggestion for ZgPHP membership fee, and especially like the voluntary-basis approach to this.

I’m definitely going to more of ZgPHP meetups, if I can. It’s a good community event, and this one-day conference was probably small compared to the popular ones, but to me it was a great event and I’m glad I could participate.


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