A Book Burndown Chart

You might have noticed that things have been a bit quiet around here lately … that’s because I’m writing a book and doing a lot of editing at the moment. I love doing both of these as part of my work, but it turns out that when you’re already writing/editing 3k words a day, it’s hard to find more words to blog with (well, and I usually blog whatever code I’m writing which isn’t a whole lot right now). I did however want to share with you the news that I’m working on a book (about PHP, for the lovely Sitepoint).

I’m completely new to book-writing and it felt like a mountain to climb. I have five chapters of around 8 thousand words each to write for the book (I have co-authors, who are also lovely), and the general advice I got was to just take it all one step at a time. This sounds a lot like the way I teach project management and time management to developers, so I used those same skills and created a burndown chart (I blogged about creating these before):

As you can see, there have been some great days, and some quieter days. The flat lines are mostly weekends or days where I was out of the office with other clients. Although I feel slightly overwhelmed (and this doesn’t show the edits that come back after I submit each chapter), the graph is at least going in the right direction!

Make Blogging Your New Years Resolution

Do you have a New Year’s Resolution? Is it to blog (or blog more often)? If so, keep reading!

I’m coming up to my 5th anniversary of blogging and looking at my stats, I’ve written around 150 posts per year for most of that time, although in 2010 I “only” wrote 102 posts, possibly because one or two other things happened in my life. So many people tell me they want to blog, or they have a blog but can’t find the time to write, that I thought I’d try to give some pointers for those resolving to blog this New Year.

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Advice To Another Blogger

Recently I was approached by a friend of mine looking to start his own technical blog. I’ve been blogging here for some years, and he wrote to ask my advice. I replied to him, but thought that the ideas could be useful to others in the same position, so here’s that email, published here for anyone else who wants to see it:
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Geeks Can Write

A couple of weeks ago I gave a lightning talk at the PHPNW user group entitled “Geeks Can Write” or “Can Geeks Write?” – basically shooting down the worst of the excuses for not writing that I’ve heard and asking everyone to give it a shot! If you are interested, then the slides are on slideshare. Happy writing :)

Magic Methods on Think Vitamin

I’m happy to announce that my new post 9 Magic Methods for PHP is live on Think Vitamin this morning. I’ve written a series of posts about OOP for the site, with a few more to come, and these “underscore-underscore” methods make for some very neat tricks with PHP, which I’ve tried to show in the post. Hope you like it :)

OOP Articles on Think Vitamin

I’ve been working on a series of articles for Think Vitamin, the Carsonified blog, about OOP in PHP5. In fact I’m wildly excited about this, partly because I love to write and partly because its such a cool site to write for! The first two installments are now live:

  • Getting Started with OOP PHP5 – which is a very gentle overview of why OOP is such a buzz word, and shows off some very simple examples on how to begin and what the terms mean
  • Getting Started with OOP PHP5: Part 2 – a follow on post showing constructors, static properties and methods, and also looks at how PHP handles objects.

None of it is rocket science but these are important topics often skated over by writers wanting to get to the complicated bits! Hopefully these posts bridge the gap between the very dated introductory PHP content that is still lying around on the web and the tutorials about shiny new stuff that are more typically found elsewhere. The community over on Think Vitamin is great, the comments and retweets have been very constructive and I’m very excited to be involved.


I find I’m writing for a few outlets other than just my blog these days and often want to refer people to that content as well, so I’ve added a “Publications” page, linked from the left hand sidebar. This will keep up with the articles I’m posting elsewhere, interviews, and anything else along those lines, all in one place.

PHP Advent 2009

I’m very proud to be able to say “I’m a PHP Advent author” – I’ve been invited to take part in this year’s event and my article One Step at a Time is now live!

My post this year is aimed as a reminder to us all that we can all aspire to better things, and lots of “better” eventually adds up to “pretty damn good”! If you read the post and have comments, add them here – and if you’ve chosen what one thing you’d like to change next, I’d be delighted to hear it. Whatever your next step, good luck :)

Email As a Means of Social Communication

Recently I’ve been spending a lot of time away from home, and busy with clients within office hours, which means I’m not available via my usual real-time communication mechanisms. This has given me the opportunity to enjoy email as a means of staying in touch with people that I would more usually chat with on IRC or some form of instant messaging.

When I write an email, I’m usually (mostly) doing that one thing, and the result is quite joined-up. Anyone who has had the experience of trying to carry on a conversation with me over messaging when I’m doing multiple things knows that I can easily lose the thread of an explanation and I often find I have to read back the logs of a conversation to be able to keep up.

When someone takes the time to write an email, the reader can’t interrupt or divert the writer and so the writer is able to express their points at their own pace. Email is also easier to re-read and reformat, if you are the kind of writer that doesn’t necessarily think of everything that needs to be said in quite the order it ought to be said.

When someone is emailing asking me to do something, I won’t lose an email (you’d be surprised how often I lose things people ask me to do on IRC, its on a par with asking me in the pub). Admittedly, my inbox can be several months deep but when I have time to attend to your query, I will – and that goes for social correspondence as well.

Finally, and most importantly, it enables me to stay in touch with people whose committments don’t fit around mine in terms of online availability due to work, life, or timezones.

I’m quite enjoying a slightly more formal exchange of the written word with those friends who are emailing me while I’m on these little jaunts – you know who you are and I don’t enjoy being away from home so those little messages are welcome, thanks :) And for everyone else – next time you are lurking online looking out for someone, take the time to write an email instead – and let me know how it works for you.

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 :)