SCRUM Open Assessments

“The way to make a million dollars is to start a religion software development methodology.”

What does it mean to be a SCRUM disciple when you are a lone freelancer working remotely? For me it means the knowledge you retain by practising SCRUM in an Agile work environment fades.

Doing these open exams once-in-a-while helps jog my memory:

…bet you can’t beat my scores!

Developer Open
100% of my SCRUM – up to you true star.



PHP Configuration Files Rant

Let’s start with a joke. This GitHub repository:

“It’s funny ’cause it’s true” -Homer Simpson

Text configuration files (XML, Yaml, JSON, INI, …) work when the configuration is read once, the software persists in memory, and the application doesn’t exit until the user is done.

This is not what PHP does best. Sure PHP also reads the configuration file “once” but the fundamental difference is that PHP starts and exits dozens, maybe hundreds, of times for a single user using a single application.

The metaphorical equivalent would be relaunching World Of Warcraft every time time a user clicks on something.

I know some of you are thinking “Well that’s dumb. I wrote a game in PHP and the webpage isn’t reloading every time the user clicks…” but break that down: you wrote PHP which renders something the user is experiencing in a web-browser (C++) that may or may not be making Ajaxy calls back to the server (JavaScript) and PHP’s role in this solution is always to start-up, process data, return data, then exit.

For PHP to be the right tool for the right job, it has to be fast. Fast for developers to develop in *and* also fast for end users. (Hooray for PHP7!)

Some clever devs get around configuration performance problems by adding extra steps such as transpiling text into pure PHP before deploying, but do these complicated solutions really serve the PHP developer and the underlying philosophy of how we write code? When it comes to PHP there is a nuanced difference between “performance” and “fast.”

Let’s talk about JSON.

JSON, a “text only” and “language independent” data-interchange format, is currently the cool kid on the block, but from the perspective of JavaScript?

var json = { "this": "is", "valid": "javascript" };

Wow. Talk about language independence. No reprocessing!

The equivalent in PHP:

$php = [ 'this' => 'is', 'valid' => 'php' ];

Tada! No overhead of having to validate, process, and convert to PHP. Is it uglier? Debatable.

To be clear: XML, Yaml, JSON, and friends are fine as documents or as data to be processed by PHP.  This is totally normal and sometimes even useful. 😉 Barring that, any reasonable PHP developer must conclude that configuration files cannot be a bottleneck.  Not a bottleneck for speed of delivering shippable code, nor a bottleneck for acceptable performance. When choosing anything other than native PHP for configuration you are making a trade-off. Is the trade off worth it? The answer is always no. 1

But the secretary needs to be able to edit the app config live on the server and PHP is too hard for him!


But caching! But Transpiling!


But I like coding parsers!

Cool! Use your powers for docs and data, not PHP configs.

But I secretly want to be a JavaScript, Python, Ruby, C#, Java or anything but a PHP developer!

Uhhh, OK?

[1] Unless you are storing your PHP configs in Apache or Nginx as ENV variables. Then to you madam or sir, I bow down.

Profile WordPress from the Command Line Using and WP-CLI

Last week I needed a way to use to profile a POST action in the WordPress administration panel.

I thought would be able to handle POST the way Xdebug does: Generate a different cachegrind file for every PHP invocation; but alas, currently only does static webpages, command line, or API calls. In theory I could have used “Copy-As-cURL in your Browser(and believe me I tried) but in practice the WordPress admin is stateless (no $_SESSION), uses check_admin_referer() all over, making whatever POST action I was copying as cURL useless.

My solution was the following hack:

cd /path/to/wordpress
blackfire run wp eval-file --url= test.php

Where `wp` is WP-CLI, `eval-fileloads and executes a PHP file after loading WordPress, `–url=` is the the current site I want to profile on a WordPress multi-site install, and `test.php` is a script containing only the functionality I want to profile.

The profiler data gave some bogus results (Ie. a lot of WP-CLI bootstrapping gets flagged as slow) but at least this was better than nothing.

In the future, it would be great if Blackfire Companion had some sort of option to profile “the next action,” or to “start profiler on submit,” or something other than reloading the current page… Ping SensioLabs?

Making and Doing in Kamogawa, Japan

Hackerfarm is a place is located in rural Japan, about two hours east of Tokyo on the Boso peninsula. It’s a cluster of buildings, a lot of shared tools, and a beautiful country setting […] a collection of Japanese and foreign tech hackers who’ve escaped from city life. We’re working together on projects, making life richer for ourselves and for the community who have adopted us. »

More info:

Forbidden File Names on Windows 10

When I switched from Linux/OSX  to Windows 10, I encountered problems with “disappearing files.”

First time it happened:

I have a web application with a directory  named “aux.” When copying over the project from Linux to Windows this folder and its contents silently disappear.

Second time it happened:

Pulling the textmate.ruby bundle from GitHub:

$ git clone
Cloning into 'ruby.tmbundle'...
remote: Counting objects: 4012, done.
remote: Total 4012 (delta 0), reused 0 (delta 0), pack-reused 4012
Receiving objects: 100% (4012/4012), 1001.74 KiB | 0 bytes/s, done.
Resolving deltas: 100% (2061/2061), done.
Checking connectivity... done.
error: unable to create file Commands/@variable ||= memoized.tmCommand (Invalid argument)
error: unable to create file Commands/Enclose in * (RDoc comments).tmCommand (Invalid argument)
error: unable to create file Macros/class .. < DelegateClass .. initialize .. end (class).plist (Invalid argument)
error: unable to create file Macros/each_char { |chr| .. } (eac).plist (Invalid argument)
error: unable to create file Macros/each_cons(..) { |group| .. } (eac).plist (Invalid argument)
error: unable to create file Macros/each_slice(..) { |group| .. } (eas).plist (Invalid argument)
// ... snip ...


List of reserved file names on Windows 10:

The following are (case insensitive) reserved names which cannot be assigned to a directory or file in Windows 10 :

  • CON
  • PRN
  • AUX
  • NUL
  • COM1, COM2, COM3, COM4, COM5, COM6, COM7, COM8, COM9
  • LPT1, LPT2, LPT3, LPT4, LPT5, LPT6, LPT7, LPT8, LPT9

List of invalid file characters on Windows 10:

The following are special characters which cannot be assigned to a directory or file in Windows 10 :

  • < (less than)
  • > (greater than)
  • : (colon)
  • (double quote)
  • / (forward slash)
  • \ (backslash)
  • | (vertical bar or pipe)
  • ? (question mark)
  • * (asterisk)