We recently posted up a job ad for a PHP developer here at Virgin, and had a comment on the Facebook post, describing Zend Framework (which we use internally) as a “a big fat sledgehammer” (thanks James Chalmers!). We found this quite amusing (and apt, as ZF is a big beast that you use to knock down big problems), and on discussing it with some of the fine people at the PHP London user group last night, a few more were suggested, which also proved amusing:
Codeigniter – Saw.
It’s kind of old, but it’s simple, and if you just need something cut in half it’ll get the job done.
Symfony – Socket Set.
Huge number of different bits, but if you know what you’re doing it lets you put together a car.
Silex – Jewelers Screwdriver
Very precise, but not really suited for the big jobs.
Kohana – Leatherman Multitool.
Very helpful to have around, looks cool, can be a bit fiddly.
Cake – Literally, some cake.
This was not a charitable suggestion I’ll warrant.
Anyone got any better ideas for Cake? Is Agavi a German precision tool that shuts off if you’re not precisely following the safety instructions? Is Yii a craft knife or a machete?
Posted in opinion
Tagged framework, php
Excuse the awful title. I was over covering the phenomenal Primavera Sound Festival in Barcelona last week. While it was pretty much wall-to-wall brilliance, there was one thing that got nearly every gig-goer rather riled.
The festival decided to introduce an innovative new Portal through which drinks could be bought via smartphones, extra special set tickets could be reserved, and all manner of other clever stuff could be done in advance of the event. Best of all, it would remove the need to queue at the bar, solving one of festival land’s biggest problems – do you get another beer or watch another band?
What a cool, inventive idea. Sadly, it didn’t work. They system clearly hadn’t been tested properly, it seemed to all be running off a few iPads, and the staff weren’t eqipped to cope when it all broke down. Cue even bigger queues of angry punters who couldn’t get their money back and – worst of all – were left thirsty while the music was playing.
Which goes to show, being forward thinking and groundbreaking is a fantastic goal everyone shold strive for. Just make sure you test, test, test to ensure your festival/website/app/new hairdo is really going to work how people expect it to.
Luckily for Primavera they got the Portal working by Day 2, and got Pulp to do the above, so all is forgiven.
I’m currently in the Netherlands at the Dutch PHP Conference, where some interesting talks have already occurred, particularly in a talk about using IPv6, the version of the basic Internet Protocol that deals with the fact that the current version only has a small number of addresses (which are in the process of rapidly running out, and have already done at some levels).
Supporting IPV6 is one of those changes that has a huge amount of impact, to operations, security, code and many other areas, a great deal of which hasn’t got the practical experience that many people bring to traditional IPv4 networks.
Security itself has been on our minds too, and the minds of many after the PSN and Qrosity hacks Sony proved vulnerable to recently. Securing data, particularly financial data, is vital, but it’s also hard, and can be very subtle. Though it’s more of a end-user problem, clever techniques like this clever right to left unicode spoofing mean there’s always someone trying something new to get it
I pulled together a presentation a few weeks back on social gaming and I have to say I was astounded by the meteoric growth in the past 6 months. Here’s a few facts: Cityville had 84.2m active users 1 month after launch http://bit.ly/eWJ9Zt . 17.5m people in the UK now play some form of social game. 40% of time spent on facebook is done so gaming. What’s also interesting is that the heartland of social gamers isn’t teenagers, no, it’s women in their late thirties. It’s clear that social gaming is part of the mass culture but have brands cottoned on to this?
Brands have already been engaging from McDonalds through to Citibank http://bit.ly/l4WiSY and I suspect we’ll see many more in the next few months. Interestingly, it’s not just brands. Lady Gaga made a recent donation to the Tsunami through Zynga’s fund and is now in talks with Zynga about a potential collaboration…I think Gagaville would be a little too obvious http://bit.ly/fJL5uR
Games such as Cityville (I’m a self confessed addict) are clever because of their inherent sociability and the strong compulsion loops which encourage repeat play. Smart brands that understand the interplay between these mechanics will reap the rewards in this space. Indeed, Citibank has done well to integrate its own rewards scheme into Farmville. Members of Citibanks Citi Thank You scheme can now redeem points for in game rewards on the Zynga platform.
The challenge for any marketer is to justify the spend in this space as it’s not a simple case of calculating reach and frequency, it’s about understanding the value of a brand interaction within a social game. I would also argue that it’s not about acquiring new customers but about engaging existing customers in a space where brands are welcomed (well they’re welcome at the moment anyway).
We’ll keep watching this space with interest and will update you very shortly.
The big news right now is the rather massive outage at Amazon’s US-EAST-1 datacenter, which has taken down Quora, FourSquare, Reddit, paper.li, Wildfire and a bunch of other notable sites that built on AWS infrastructure. While it’s being worked on at the moment, this is not a great confidence builder for those using Amazon’s kit.
On a related note, when chatting with Erik, our ops point man at Dedipower (where Virgin.com is hosted, amongst other things), he pointed me towards a blog post he wrote last year which discussed that as much as we worry about the reliability and performance of our infrastructure, it’s all for nothing if we don’t pay as much attention to developers and development. As he puts it:
Without having made a science out of it, I can confidently say that at the very least 95% of the downtime I see on a daily basis is due to faulty code in the applications running on our servers.
Finally, DHH of Rails and being outspoken fame, make some pertinent comments about how the startup world is a bit ‘swing for the fences’ – in other words that they are all about long shots that have a slim chance, but if they do get that chance will become massive. He prefers a more sustainable, reliable growth model, and more reasoned risk taking – a good point to remember in the currently bubbling climate.
The be-suited bloggers Virgin Media Business posted recently on how they’ve helped Nottingham Building Society with an IP-VPN solution. IP-VPN is an interesting tech, as part of the general trend to Next Generation Networks. For some time telecoms companies have transported phone, internet, and most other types of data over the same networks, using the same kind of communication protocols – particular IP (the Internet Protocol, natch). However, users still consume them differently, buying in phone lines, and data lines to different places, which is all a bit inefficient.
The next generation network idea is that there is this single network that can handle all sorts of different information, and be smart about it. For example, you’ll want your phone service to always take priority over someones file download. You could always do this on your own network in your own office, with Quality of Service setups, but the underlying protocols that tend to be used with next generation networks (IP and MPLS) allow that to be spread out to the wider network.
The VPN part of IP-VPN stands for Virtual Private Network – which is exactly what it sounds like, a way of having various remote resources seem like they are part of the same network, which is useful for connecting multiple offices. Because this goes via the underlying next generation network it’s usually cheaper than leasing a connection between the two offices directly, which is the older way of doing such things.
I’d say that the overall impact of all this kind of thing on most businesses is that their connectivity gets cheaper, more flexible, and easier to control, which makes things that require that connection easier to use, and hence to justify. That’s good news for people offering SaaS apps (and Cityville), as more day-to-day business can be done online reliably and confidently.