Time to Learn Something New!

I’ve taken it upon myself to start learning a new programming language and leaving my happy little LAMP (or preferably LNMP) comfort zone. I love PHP and how easy it is to get up and running. Its pretty simple and gets the job done quick. PHP unfortunately lacks a lot of the “grace” and modern nuances that a more modern platform such as Ruby on Rails provides.

Now, before the pitchforks start coming out I already know that I’m kind of comparing Apples to Apple Pie. PHP is a language with a ton of community support and Ruby on Rails is a framework. I get it, but there’s a lot to be desired in PHP land. PHP has some good frameworks as well – CakePHP, Zend, CodeIgniter, Yii, etc. – but the sheer variety creates a lot of discontinuity in the community and a lot of the frameworks out there are just Ruby on Rails wannabe’s anyways. More importantly besides any of that, PHP is getting a little boring and I want to learn something new 🙂 So, I’m starting to learn Ruby, Sinatra and eventually Ruby on Rails and share my learning here.

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2 New WordPress Plugins – OOP Plugin Boilerplate and MU Utility Plugin

I’ve done a lot of WordPress plugin development lately and thought I’d share some of the great little tools that I’ve used during creation. To start giving back to the community, I’ve decided to make public my OOP WordPress plugin boilerplate and my Utility Functions MU plugin – both valuable tools that I use whenever I’m building a new masterpiece with WordPress.

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Pure LNMP stack

So, in an effort to save a little cash on hosting I’ve moved my stack on this server to a pure LNMP stack – no Apache, no Varnish. I’ve also introduced a new third-party caching solution called CloudFlare to see if we can take even more traffic off the server. With W3 Total Cache running as well the site is extremely fast, and this only on a 256MB box. Granted, I get about as much traffic as the 395 in the middle of the Mojave, but its fun running at this speed anyways.

Zen Development

One thing that I’ve found helped me out a lot with development snags is perspective. I know it sounds a little hippy and existential, but it really helps. It always used to frustrate the hell out of me when I’d encounter a bug in my code, but I realized that it was only frustrating me because I was taking it personally – “why the heck isn’t this working! I know I programmed it right!”. Once I realized that this was happening I began taking a different perspective – learning.

I know that I’m going to write some code that will break. I know that something might break because I made changes elsewhere. Knowing this, I take every bug now as an opportunity to learn. So, instead of getting frustrated and pissed at my IDE (Aptana) or my PHP because it isn’t doing what I told it to, I just start from nothing. I assume nothing, and start building up what I can know for sure. I begin throwing a bunch of debug,  exits and echos all over the place and starting from the very beginning I try to discover where it might have gone wrong, establishing a base for what I can be sure of. From that base I can discover what went wrong and learn from it because I’m not distracted by my frustration.

Treat every bug like a puzzle to unravel and a chance to learn something new. In becoming a learning opportunity, it looses its power to piss you off 🙂

Image Upload MIME type handling and IE

I was recently writing a script to handle image uploads from users to an Amazon S3 bucket and discovered one of those great IE quirks. Normally when writing an upload script you check for MIME type validity to make sure that the file that a user is uploading is uploading the correct type of file you are expecting to process. Now, I know that MIME types can be spoofed, but it’s still good to check against them to determine file type and prevent a user from accidentally uploading the wrong type of file. In writing the MIME type validation script though, I ran across a problem where versions of IE less than 9 would not detect my MIME type properly.

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