In my Internet travels today, I came across this excellent reference article on CSS Floats. I am constantly intrigued by the principles of design and how to get stuff to look purty. Although I lack the talent to actually create something unique, I sometimes try to copy something I think looks cool. I got through about a third of the article before my eyes started to glaze over and I went into that “what the hell am I reading” state of mind I used to experience in Business Law 201 in college. Notwithstanding my own ineptitude, I was able to glean a few tidbits of info and I’m sure I’ll be coming back to this page next time I can’t get my damn box to float where I want. Thought I’d pass it along to anyone else stumped by floats.
I just read a little blurb that says the average preschooler requires attention once every 4 minutes, which works out to 210 times per day. 210 times of “mom!” 210 times of “I need help!” 210 times of “I have to go potty!". No wonder I’m a wreck by the end of the day sometimes!
I do have to give credit to Will and Emily who are super-sensitive to Mom’s work time (I’ve worked at home since 1996 - way before they came along), and who I would guess fall well below this average. However, that being said, even intermittent interruptions wreak havoc on a person’s concentration level. A while back I came across an article , based more on interruptions from email and such, but still pertinent:
…when someone is interrupted, it takes 25 minutes to cycle back to the original task. Once their work becomes buried beneath a screenful of interruptions, office workers appear to literally forget what task they were originally pursuing. We do not like to think we are this flighty: we might expect that if we are, say, busily filling out some forms and are suddenly distracted by a phone call, we would quickly return to finish the job. But we don’t. Researchers find that 40 percent of the time, workers wander off in a new direction when an interruption ends, distracted by the technological equivalent of shiny objects. The central danger of interruptions, Czerwinski realized, is not really the interruption at all. It is the havoc they wreak with our short-term memory: What the heck was I just doing?
I worked at a very high-paced, high-stress office for several years before I quit to work at home, so I feel as if I’ve been trained to handle interruptions most times (most times being the operative phrase here). And my family can usually tell when it’s “time to give Mommy her alone time.”
But the moral of my rant is this: ATTENTION DADS. Want to give your wife something she can really use for Mother’s Day (especially if she’s a stay-at-home mom)? Screw the flowers and the candy. Forget the cards. Take the kids out for some ice cream, or to Chuck E. Cheese for a few hours. Let your wife be in her own house without any interruptions to do her own thing. She may or may not choose to relax, but at least she’ll appreciate the mental break if nothing else.
Now, what the heck was I just doing?
I finally made it back Thursday night from this year’s php|tek conference. Despite the flaky internet connections (which is problematic at a lot of hotels and something over which you have no control) I think Marco and his team did a fabulous job, especially considering that there are companies whose job it is to only plan and run conferences… there weren’t any major issues or problems, and everything went off without a hitch (and with class I might add). Job well done, especially for a bunch of PHPheads
I don’t get to attend too many of these, but I was especially pleased to see a relatively high percentage of women there (and by high I mean 10% or so). And of course it was great meeting them and some of the other attendees. I really enjoy seeing how people are using PHP and hearing their stories. I only wish I’d had more time to mingle around and chat.
It was also great to meet people that I had chatted with over email or IRC and to put faces with names. It is funny to me when I meet people whose blog I regularly read - I feel like I know them, but of course they have no idea who I am, so it makes me out to be somewhat of a stalker. Sorry about that, Derick and Lukas.
The talks were very interesting, and as usual I found myself conflicted with wanting to go to more than one talk being held at the same time. What’s an attendee to do? As expected, there were several based on security, and I found the rest of the topics to be timely, helpful and diverse. I was able to glean good information from every one I attended. These speakers know what they’re doing and they do it well.
Marco and his team did a great job including innovative and interactive activities, like the php|tek live site with a photo stream, links to all the slides from the speakers, the conference program, and all kinds of other pertinent info for the attendees. We also got some great schwag and I loved the PHP Trivia contest, which challenged randomly chosen members of the studio audience to a battle of PHP wits. I know they’ve done the trivia contest in the past, but they shook it up a bit this time which was nice.
A couple of interesting observations I made while I was there:
- The diverse level of experience of the attendees. There were quite a few who had just started learning PHP, and there were many others who had been doing PHP for years. I think that it would be nice to see some talks or even a full track just for beginners – I wondered if some of the talks might have been a little robust for them. The tutorials are obviously helpful, but I wonder if that same line of thinking should be extended throughout a conference?
- I was surprised at the number of people who had not heard of the Month of PHP Bugs. I think it was Ilia who asked it in his Securing PHP Applications talk, and only about 10-15 people raised their hands. Call me naive, but I thought that was some pretty big news in the PHP world, and I was shocked that not more people had heard of it. I’ve been thinking for a while that there might be a huge chasm between the everyday PHP developer and PHP goings-on in general, and I think this backs up my theory. I realize not everybody has time to read all the blogs in the PHP blogosphere, but I would have thought something like the MOPB would have been something that was familiar to everyone, especially given all the press it received. As an aside, when I mentioned to my local users group that I was going to be here, there were several members who had not heard of php|tek and weren’t familiar with the php|architect magazine… further backing up my theory. More about this later.
- I know that PHP in enterprise is a common theme with many talks, and that many attendees come from big corporations, but I met numerous developers that were either the only one at their company, or one of a handful of PHPers. I hope these individual entities don’t get lost in the enterprise shuffle
- I heard some very lively (and yet still diplomatic) discussions/disagreements between members of PHP internals, which was educational to say the least, but it also got me thinking. What if the internals had their own conference once a year, just to meet face to face and rationally discuss some of the issues on the table? Surely it’s easier to remove oneself from political BS over a beer, and face to face. You know, something like this, but maybe with a broader inclusion of internals and more on a regular basis? Ah well, what do I know, I’m just a kibitzer.
So anyway, mad props to the php|a guys for a great conference. All your hard work really paid off. And for those who want the full photo spread, you can find it at Flickr.