I recently read on Ajaxian about a recent press release concerning a lawsuit brought on by the National Federation for the Blind. The suit was aimed toward Target (more specifically, target.com) and the poor state of the site’s web accessibility. Great news for the visually impaired – e-commerce businesses in California are now required by law to make their sites accessible (under the Americans with Disabilities Act). This is also a wake-up call to the rest of the e-commerce merchants out there (and really any web developer), that they can no longer ignore this part of the population. We’ve been somewhat guilty of this ourselves; a few web-accessibility issues have been on the “to-do” list for too long; being pushed down the list by other seemingly more urgent things. Kudos to the NFB.
In case you’re interested, here are the slides from my recent talk at ZendCon. My presentation was on E-Commerce and how PHP can be used in many other ways besides just a simple shopping cart. We use PHP in virtually every facet of our company - we really are powered by PHP. I’ve not done public speaking to a larger group in a while, (most of my public speaking experience is through teaching e-commerce) but I fared better than I thought. I usually end up completely humiliating myself in some form or another (ask me sometime about the speech I gave to my high school senior class.)
At any rate, I did get some positive feedback from some attendees - several of which were thankful that someone had touched on PHP in small business use. Again, I want to stress to all conference organizers that not everyone can practically use methodologies that are geared toward enterprise, and smaller, simpler solutions for the smaller dev shops still do have a place at these things. Hell, maybe I’ll organize a new PHP conference (as if there aren’t enough already) that’s geared toward small business and just leave big business out of it altogether .
Overall, it was a great experience as conferences always are, and even though I didn’t get to attend a lot of presentations (due to work and some other external factors) I did pick up a few tidbits here and there. Besides the PHP knowledge you can obtain, another benefit to conferences like these are the social connections you carry home with you. You can connect through IRC, mailing lists, forums, and other ways… but when it comes right down to it, there is no substitute for real face-to-face human interaction. And if it occurs while enjoying an adult beverage or two, and maybe some crazy karate guys chopping up skulls, then all the better. I felt very fortunate to be able to meet several people in person that I had only previously known by name, and to meet some new people as well. Just like college, it’s perhaps not only about learning information but also going through the experience that makes you better off on the other side.
I also want to personally thank Cal Evans and Zend for allowing phpwomen.org the opportunity to promote our cause - it was wonderful to see so much support from men and women attendees alike. I especially liked seeing our signature purple t-shirts everywhere, and I hope everyone wearing one comes to visit our site and forums. A lot of guys brought shirts back to the PHP women working in their department - bonus points for all of you, and we appreciate your help spreading the word.
I don’t know if my liver can handle it, but I do look forward to going to next year’s conference. Hope to see you there!
Some of you may know I’ve been working on writing a novel for a long time. I had recently gotten the urge to pick it back up again and had been diligently working on it the last week or so, when lo and behold today happened. Today was one of those days you’d really just like to forget about… a few things happened which I won’t go in to, but the icing on the cake was when I pulled out my current work only to find the file had completely been corrupted (and although I usually keep a backup on a flash drive, I’d inadvertently overwritten that with another project). Basically months of work were lost in one fell swoop. *sigh*
I’m a firm believer in the “everything happens for a reason” mantra, and goofy as it sounds, there are times when things just work out. In a completely unrelated event yesterday, I was reconnected out of the blue with an old writing buddy from the now defunct Cincinnati Writers Project. A few hours ago, he sent his Facebook contacts a message about this NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). Although I was sick to death to know I’d just lost all my work, I clicked on the link just for the hell of it.
This NaNoWriMo is basically a marathon for writers - the challenge is to write 50,000 words in the month of November. The goal is not to have a completely perfect piece of literature at the end, but to get your mind going and your fingers typing and see what comes out. At the very least, you have a first draft of something you can shape and mold later on. I have been re-inspired by this challenge, and have come to realize that my previous efforts were all a big steaming pile of crap anyway so it’s probably just as well. I feel refreshed and ready to try again from scratch with some other ideas that had been floating around my head… and that I had unsuccessfully been trying to incorporate in my current piece. Apparently I was being pretty stubborn in my current approach and I really just needed a kick in the ass to get me back on track.
So if there are any other writers out there (aspiring or otherwise) - I highly encourage you to sign up for NaNoWriMo and let’s share the pain together.
If you weren’t able to attend ZendCon this year, you missed out on a fun activity put together by the one and only Cal Evans of DevZone - the PHP Trading Cards. The goal was for attendees to collect as many as they could to win a free conference pass back (congrats, Spoon!). At any rate, Cal has released the cards on Flickr, and here’s mine: