Giving Up The Day Job

The In-A-Nutshell Version I have resigned from Ibuildings. I will complete my notice period here in a couple of weeks and then move on to a wide and interesting variety of well-paying freelance assignments covering development, consultancy, writing and speaking. Hopefully.

The slightly longer version really is this. Two and a half years ago, I left a job at a type of company I usually describe as a yet-another-website company, where literally every new project was another CMS website. Which was fun for about the first 4 months and got old pretty quickly. Two and a half years at Ibuildings and I haven’t done yet-another-anything, the projects have been technical, challenging and my colleagues are the best qualified set of people I’ll probably ever work with.

Along the way I’ve also done a wide variety of other things, most of which are achievements beyond my wildest dreams, some within the scope of this job and some on my own time but of course influenced by all that I’ve learned. I’ve delivered training, led projects, been published, become a regular conference speaker and travelled internationally doing so, collaborated on an open source project, edited a developer portal and hosted a major international PHP conference. I’ve even learned to say those things about myself in public without feeling too much of a fraud!

At this point, there are so many things I want to be doing, writing, speaking and so on, as well as some interesting development projects, that holding down my 9-5 as well has become untenable; that’s the main motivation for this change. I don’t intend to take another full time job, although I don’t have a lot of paying work lined up so please bear in mind that I am looking for some ;)

Things I would like to be doing:

  • Working with development teams on skills, tools and process (think teach a man to fish, rather than sell him a fish)
  • API development
  • Technical writing
  • Meeting cool and interesting people and embarking on cool and interesting projects together

Advice on achieving any or all of the above is appreciated – if any of you can also think of me when discussing business, write me a linked in recommendation, or retweet my announcement of my news, that would be fabulous!!

If you’re still reading, then I’ll share a little something with you. I decided that with a career move, I needed a little rebrand, so here is my new angel avatar. I hope you like her :)

Wish me luck in my new (ad)venture, I’ll be keeping everyone up to date as always!

Announcement: Editor-in-Chief of Ibuildings Techportal

A few weeks ago I got a call from my employers, Ibuildings, asking me how I felt about changing my role a bit and taking on some of the functions of our PCE (PHP Centre of Expertise). This area of the company does some super-cool stuff and so I said I’d be interested. Fast forward a bit and I’m on a call with Ivo Jansch (our CTO, who also oversees PCE) talking about what kind of things I could be involved in. I cannot describe the surprise I felt when he asked if I would take on the role of Editor-in-Chief at our developer portal site, techPortal … and of course I jumped at the chance.

I’ll be picking up a few other community-facing functions for Ibuildings but techPortal is the headline news, I’m super-excited to be entrusted with this project as our existing Editor-in-Chief, Cal Evans moves on from Ibuildings. Now the announcement has been made I guess its real … wish me luck :)

Dutch PHP Conference

Often when I attend PHP conferences, I blog as I go along, upload a few photos and generally share with others who aren’t in attendance. At DPC this year I completely failed to do any of the above – no excuses, I was just having too much fun :)

I travelled over on Wednesday and met up with a bunch of colleagues/friends at the airport, so we could make our way to the hotel together. We arrived to find colleagues and speakers already in the bar and it was great to see so many old friends and meet new ones. Thursday was tutorial day, this is a separate day with in-depth sessions that run all day. I attended the Zend Framework tutorial delivered by Matthew Weier O’Phinney from Zend, which was really good. There was a similar session last year but that was quite basic – since then I’ve worked a bit with Zend Framework so this session suited me really well and showed me some stuff that I’ve been struggling with. We rounded off the day with an Ibuildings social, giving me chance to catch up with my colleagues and enjoy the free bar (thanks Ibuildings, great opportunity to see everyone!).

On Friday the sessions got off to a flying start with the keynote from Andrei Zmievski, Open Source Fellow at Digg. One thing that I always find simultaneously wonderful and intimidating is how the speakers at these events mingle with everyone regardless of how qualified they are. This creates a great atmosphere at the events, and makes the speakers very available. You couldn’t pay for the experience of running into someone in the bar whose talk you saw and having them happy to answer a couple of your questions about it. I have no idea if this happens in other industries but it surprises me every time.

Probably the biggest “problem” at this conference was the excellent schedule. Its a good problem to have but it does mean that I had issues with every session deciding what I wanted to see – more so than any conference I’ve been to yet (are you listening, conference organisers?). I only sat out for one of the time slots and that was mostly because I was very tired and the talk I wanted to see was packed :) Friday ended with a happy hour social at the bar next to the venue, which was great – it seemed like all the speakers and most of the attendees were there, and everyone was moving around and talking to everyone else, which was a lot of fun.

Saturday was more great sessions and held a couple of highlights for me – two friends of mine, Ian Barber and Juliette Reinders Folmer, gave their first conference talks at DPC this year, in consecutive sessions. I was able to attend both sessions and they were both excellent (and handily they both spoke on subjects I was interested in!) – and I even managed to put my head around the door of the Oracle Installfest which was also happening through Saturday morning. Saturday afternoon saw the last of the sessions and a closing keynote entitled “The Cal and Ivo Show (with friends)”, in which Cal and Ivo talked over a couple of points between themselves and then invited some of their “friends” onto the stage to be asked a few questions. It turns out I fall into the “friends” category so despite the fact that I wasn’t there as a speaker, I still managed to find myself on stage with a microphone!

I’m a big fan of conferences, I like to get to a few each year. Sometimes I’m an attendee, sometimes a speaker, and sometimes an organiser – if you’ve seen me talk about communities, professional development, or speaking then you’ve probably heard my thoughts on these events and how much can be gained whatever the reason that you attend. DPC is a pretty special event – Amsterdam is well connected and we had attendees from all over Europe, some from the US, and even a few from further afield! The sessions, as I say, were the best I’ve seen and I wish we could do it all again so I could try to get to the bits that I missed. Its a great crowd at the Dutch PHP Conference, always someone to talk to and I actually know quite a few people who attend – and I don’t often manage to see some of those as they live elsewhere in Europe.

I hope everyone who attended had as much fun as I did – see you all next year!

DPC – Dutch PHP Conference June 2009

I keep getting asked about the Dutch PHP Conference so here’s a quick outline about the event.

The conference is in Amsterdam, on 11th to 13th June 2009. Thursday 11th is the tutorial day, Friday and Saturday are the main conference days. The schedule is entirely in English and it looks excellent to the point that I am wondering how I can clone myself to see multiple sessions. – don’t think I’ll be seeing much of the hallway track at this one.

Since this event is organised by my employers, Ibuildings, I get to attend, which I’m very pleased about – and I’ll also get to meet up with all my colleagues which is always great fun. The phpwomen will also be in evidence. The speakers list includes people from all over Europe and also North America which is nice, there will be some crossover between existing geographical communities which is always good for swapping ideas (and conference anecdotes of course). Its a varied linedup of talks but its all pretty advanced, so I’m looking forward to learning a lot even though I’ve already attended quite a few PHP conferences.

I notice the early bird pricing is valid through to 30th April so if you are thinking of coming along then its worth making your plans sooner rather than later – its very easy to get to from pretty much all of Europe so no excuses! Hope to see some of you there, do come and say hi :)

PHP Training Courses from Ibuildings

Ibuildings (my employers) have announced their public courses in the UK – this is very exciting as its been in the planning for a while and of course it means more people can be using PHP to build excellent applications. There are more details on the Ibuildings site of the courses and dates available.

Our classroom training is a bit different in that we send one of our real, live software developers to come along and teach the course. I actually really enjoy doing training as part of my day job rather than as a separate job that I do instead, because I actively do the thing I’m trying to teach and find it easy to think of good examples of when a particular thing does or does not work. If you’re thinking of getting some PHP training, then have a look at the courses.

techPortal – new PHP developer resource

There is a new resource for PHP developers available from today – techPortal from Ibuildings. First, I must add the disclaimer – Ibuildings are my employers, so I’ve known about this project for a while. I helped set up the site and the first tech article on there is mine. With those aside though, this site is going to be a really valuable resource – with content on advanced topics mostly written by my colleagues. Ibuildings employs some pretty accomplished people and has a steady stream of interesting projects, I get to chat over these things when I see the guys (and girls) in the bar; it’ll be great to have it written down and shareable.

The “share” aspect of techPortal is really key – we have all learned a lot from other people publishing and sharing their knowledge, and this is a central point for all our developers to contribute in the same way. I’m also very excited on a personal level since I’m already published on the site! My article Getting Started with Memcached is my first contribution to this new venture and I’m looking forward to seeing what else will follow :)

(I should point out that the article is now a few weeks old and doesn’t include anything about the new memcached extension recently released by Andrei Zmievski. Perhaps there could be a sequel … )

DPC 2009 – Currently Calling for Papers

The Call for Papers for the Dutch PHP Conference 2009 is currently open – with only a week left, it closes next week on Friday 13th. I went to this conference in Amsterdam for the first time last year, when I was still relatively new in my job at Ibuildings. This year, I’ll be there again and looking forward to attending the sessions, the social events – and of course a great excuse to catch up with all my colleagues and the wider dutch PHP community. Hope to see you there :)

Ibuildings Seminar, Leeds

My employers, Ibuildings, have been running a series of seminars where we invite a few people (and it is a few, they are generally small events), bring some of our developers along, and have some technical tutorials, demonstrations and general discussions, and some food. The previous events have all been well-received and sound very civilised (and there’s food, which is always good!)

I’m happy to announce that Ibuildings is venturing north of the Watford Gap – and the next event will be in Leeds, on the 9th September, the full details are at The main tutorial session will cover source control with Subversion, including advanced concepts such as merging and repository structures. We’ll also look at deployment strategies for different types of software development processes and tools that can be helpful in this area. I’m delivering the main tutorial at this event, and if that wasn’t enough incentive, I’m also bringing the nabaztag as my glamourous assistant!

We’ll be running events in a lot of other areas of the UK as well, so if you can’t make this one then watch out for more announcements or tell us where we should be running the next one! If you have any queries about any of these events then feel free to contact me, I hope I’ll see some of you in Leeds in September.