Tag: personal

Seven Things - Tagged by Keith Casey

I'm really not sure I understand these "seven things" or "tagged" memes, but I'm going to give it a shot, after Keith Casey did a drive-by tagging of me on New Year's Eve.

So, without further ado, seven things you may not know about me...

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2007 Retrospective

2007 was a busy year, both personally and professionally. I won't go into the personal too much, because, well, it's personal, and some of the details are simply inappropriate for blogging material.

Here's the short version:

  • One trip to Belgium and The Netherlands.
  • Two trips to Israel.
  • Two trips to Atlanta, GA (not counting the return trip from Europe, when I was stranded for a day due to storms in the Northeast).
  • Three different user groups attended, with three presentations.
  • One major Zend Framework release
  • One PEAR release.
  • One podcast.
  • One webinar.
  • One book published.
  • One conference attended.

What follows is my month-by-month breakdown:

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I is a published author!

So, in addition to it being my daughter's birthday, which is exciting enough in itself, I received a package from my publisher, SitePoint, with my author copies of The PHP Anthology. Very exciting to see stuff I've written published!

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Transitions

Life is in transition for me now. Two weeks ago, we got to bring our handsome baby boy home, and I haven't been sleeping much since (though more than Jen). On top of the sleep deprivation, however, comes more exciting news: I've been hired as a PHP Developer by Zend Technologies!

I was approached by Daniel Kushner in late July regarding another position at Zend, and was flown out at the beginning of August. While I felt the interview went well, I harbored some doubts; work got fairly busy shortly thereafter, and then, of course, Liam was born, and the interview went completely out of my head. Until about three days after Liam's birthday, when Daniel contacted me again about the PHP Developer position.

Work started yesterday, and I was flown to Zend's offices in Cupertino, CA, for orientation and to sit down with both Daniel and others to prepare for the projects on which I will be working. Thankfully, the job will not require that I move, and I will be working out of the 'home office' in Vermont when I return later this week.

The decision to leave NGA was difficult, but the opportunity to work with Zend is just too good to miss. I am honored to be selected by them, and hope this is the beginning of many good things to come.

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ZCE - Results are in!

Got the official notification: I passed the Zend PHP Certification Exam, and can now report I'm a Zend Certified Engineer (ZCE)!

Zend Certified Engineer

Thanks go to my bosses at NGA for giving me the opportunity to attend php|Tropics, to Marco Tabini for offering the ZCE exam as part of the php|Tropics conference fee, and to my wife, Jen, and daughter, Maeve, for putting up with me while I studied... and being good sports about having to stay home while I went to Cancun. Hopefully next time I can take you along!

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Moving into City Living

We did it... we moved, again.

However, unlike our previous two moves, which were interstate, this time we stayed in the same state. The same county, even. What made (makes; we're still finishing up as I write this) this one so jarring is the fact that we're going from the rural mountainside to the fourth floor of a new apartment/condo building adjoining an interstate spur.

Why would we do this?

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We're having a baby!

I can't believe I haven't announced this to the world yet, but Jen and I are expecting another baby! The due date is mid-September. And.... we decided at the ultrasound this past week we would go ahead and find out the gender... and....

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Enter the Matrix

I couldn't resist... the car model demands it...

For those not familiar with where I live, my family and I live in West Bolton, VT -- about 20 miles from Burlington, and at the base of Bolton Mountain. Our daily commute is 4 miles on a dirt road, another 3 to 4 miles on some twisty two-laners at 35mph to the interstate, and around 10 miles on the interstate into Burlington. Then there's all the miles in town getting Maeve to day-care, Jen or myself dropped off, and whomever has the car to work. And we only have one car.

So, you can imagine the crisis when, almost a month ago, our Toyota Rav4 died on the way in to work.

We started it up that day, and it had this funny knocking sound. I remembered a similar sound in my old pickup back in Montana... the one that died. I determined to get it into a shop that day to get it diagnosed. The noise came and went while we were on the backroads, and because it wasn't constant, I figured it couldn't be too serious.

And then we tried to get to highway speeds.... a few miles on the interstate, and it was evident we were in trouble. The Rav was having trouble maintaining 60mph on the way up French Hill -- when it normally was able to accelerate past 70mph. And the knocking sound was getting worse and louder.

We resolved to pull off at the first exit, at Tafts Corners in Williston. I pulled into the first gas station there, and as we tried to find a place to park the vehicle, a mechanic was flagging at us to stop the car. He came over to where we parked and said, "Sounds like you've blown your engine."

These, of course, were the absolute last words I wanted to hear.

To make a long story short, apparently a bearing was thrown when we started the engine that day, and because we decided to drive it, we basically destroyed the engine. The cost to replace it: around $6,000.

Now, we're not exactly what you'd call "financially secure". We've had a lot of transitions in the past five years, and except for the past year and a few months, haven't typically both been working at the same time. We've been in a perpetual cycle of having enough to pay the bills... but having to pay consistently late. And we haven't been able to do much, if anything, about our educational debt. In short, our credit sucks. Which means that $6,000 is a big deal.

Did I mention that, at the time of the incident, we still had 17 months left on our car payments?

And, on top of it, I've been in the middle of a huge project for work that's required a fair bit of overtime -- and very little wiggle room for personal time?

The timing could not have been worse, either professionally or financially.

We've been very fortunate, however. Jen's parents very graciously offerred to pay off our existing car loan -- which helped tremendously. It bought us both the time to figure things out, as well as eliminated one factor that may have barred our ability to borrow towards repairs or a new car. Additionally, a friend of Jen's turns out to be absolutely ruthless when it comes to dealing with car salespeople, and went to bat for us in working out a deal. If it hadn't been for her efforts -- and those of the salesperson, who also went to bat for us -- we would not have gotten more than a thousand or so for the vehicle; we ended up getting over $3,000 for it, as is. Finally, the finance guy at the dealership advocated for us tremendously so we could get a loan on a new vehicle, with the Rav as our trade in.

So, to conclude: We're now proud owners of a 2005 Toyota Matrix! (And now the mystery of the title is revealed... to all you Matrix fans out there...)

I'll try to get a photo of the car up soon... about the time we update the year-old photos on our site... :-)

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php|Tropics

Well, it's official: My IT Manager convinced those in the upper echelons (well, considering it's a non-profit with only around 20 employees, that meant the president and the CFO) that (1) he and I need to attend a PHP conference, (2) due to the amount of work we've been putting in to bring money into the organization, cost shouldn't be too much of a deciding factor, and (3) php|Tropics isn't too expensive, especially considering the sessions involved cover some of the very issues we've been struggling with the past few months (PHP/MySQL/Apache and clusters, PHP5 OOP, PHP Security, test-driven development, Smarty, and more).

So, we're going to Cancun in May!

This is incredibly exciting! I've never been to Mexico, nor even a resort, so I'll finally get to find out what my wife and friends have been talking about all these years. Plus, the conference is top-notch -- many of the presenters are well-known in the PHP community, and have blogs I've been following for the past year. (I only wish that Chris Shiflett's PHP Security series wasn't running head-to-head with the PHP5 OOP Extensions and PHP 5 Patterns sessions; I suspect Rob and I will have to do a divide-and-conquer that day.)

Drop me a line if you'll be attending -- I'm looking forward to meeting other PHP junkies!

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New Cgiapp Site

I've been extremely busy at work, and will continue to be through the end of March. I realized this past week that I'd set a goal of having a SourceForge website up and running for Cgiapp by the end of January -- and it's now mid-February. Originally, I was going to backport some of my libraries from PHP5 to PHP4 so I could do so... and I think that was beginning to daunt me a little.

Fortunately, I ran across a quick-and-dirty content management solution yesterday called Gunther. It does templating in Smarty, and uses a wiki-esque syntax for markup -- though page editing is limited to admin users only (something I was looking for). I decided to try it out, and within an hour or so had a working site ready to upload.

Cgiapp's new site can be found at cgiapp.sourceforge.net.

UPDATE

Shortly after I wrote this original post, I figured out what the strength of Gunther was -- and why I no longer needed it. Gunther was basically taking content entered from a form and then inserting that content (after some processing for wiki-like syntax) into a Smarty template. Which meant that I could do the same thing with Cgiapp and Text_Wiki. Within an hour, I wrote an application module in Cgiapp that did just that, and am proud to say that the Cgiapp website is 100% Cgiapp.

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