Intro to PHP talk at LUV Beginners

Linux Users of Victoria (LUV) holds a beginners’ session every month, aimed at people who are interested in Linux, but who might need some additional guidance or direction to get going. I was honoured to be asked to present at this month’s session, providing an introduction to the PHP programming language. You can see the presentation on Slideshare here;

For a presenter, the venue, The Hub at Docklands, is perfect. It comfortably seats around 25 people, has good lighting, a whiteboard and a projector and projector screen. These worked perfectly with my Ubuntu-ised EEEPC, running Open Office Impress. My Logitech wireless presenter generally worked well, but it was sluggish at times.

The feedback from the presentation was generally positive. Introducing PHP is a very large topic, and in condensing it to around 2 hours there was a lot that had to be left out.

On reflection, I think that there are generally two entrypoints to PHP – and the current material and literature is really only appropriate for one of them – something that the community may have to consider in the future.

  • Coders who are already familiar with programming concepts such as variables, flow of execution, conditional processing, data structures etc. For this group of people, PHP is simply another programming language. The specifics that they are interested in are how PHP does object oriented, what specific language features it has, what the appropriate IDE and testing / quality assurance tools are etc.
  • People who have come from a blogging or design (say CSS and HTML with graphics) background, for instance via WordPress or Drupal, appear to approach learning PHP in a different way. The concepts that are important here are how PHP differs from HTML, the static vs dynamic concept, and a solid foundation in the client-server HTTP request response lifecycle.

Perhaps the PHP introductory documentation has to be rejigged to be more appropriate to each audience?

Ada Lovelace Day – Donna Benjamin, Brianna Laugher, Lorna Jane Mitchell and Elizabeth Naramore

One of the reasons behind the Finding Ada campaign is to promote the wealth of female talent in science, engineering, technology and computing. In previous years, I’ve heard the laments of many would-be bloggers; “but I don’t know any women in technology or computing!”. In contrast, I believe there are so many to choose from!

Donna Benjamin

Donna is a stalwart in the Linux and Drupal communities in Australia, and a key member of AussieChix. Although she holds many positions of responsibility within those communities, it is her passion, dedication, fervour and strong commitment to the values underpinning open sourceĀ  that make me admire her so much. Education, openness and freedom are principles she strongly advocates – and on that basis alone she deserves credit. Her leadership abilities enable her to gain support – often from volunteers at events such as Software Freedom Day or for running conferences – and drive people to deliver on a shared vision. She is a force to be reckoned with, and a wonderful role model for other women.

Donna is @KatteKrab on Twitter, etc.

Brianna Laugher

Also a key player in the open source community, Brianna heads up Wikimedia Australia, an organisation dedicated to supporting the creation of free cultural works. She is active in the open source and Linux communities in Melbourne, and shares my passion for language.

Brianna is @pfctdayelise on Twitter, etc.

Lorna Jane Mitchell

Although having collaborated online as part of PHPWomen, I had the privilege of meeting Lorna while travelling in the UK. She is one of the most dynamic, energetic and determined people I’ve ever met – and an absolute dynamo during her time with PHPWomen. She now looks after the developer community at iBuildings, and has the (fun!) job of organising the Dutch PHP conference. As part of PHPWomen’s Big Sis L’il Sis programme, Lorna has mentored and coached a number of up-and-coming PHP developers, imbuing them with the confidence and skills to hone their PHP development technique.

Lorna is @LornaJane on Twitter, etc

Elizabeth Naramore

One of the founders of PHPWomen, Liz has previously worked on PHPArchitect magazine and in a number of development roles. She has played an instrumental role in establishing PHPWomen’s partnerships programme, in which open source software projects with strong values and statements about supporting equity and diversity within their development communities are promoted through PHPWomen. Liz is also a Mum – and how she manages her young family and still has time to code, I just don’t know!

Liz is @ElizabethN on Twitter, etc

So? Do you know a standout women in science, technology or computing? Then blog about them for Ada Lovelace Day!

Remember me when I’m gone – memory book project

Juliette Reinders-Folmer, a colleague of mine from PHPWomen, is currently involved in a project which is both heartbreaking and heartwarming at once. It’s the ‘Remember me when I’m gone’ project – which provides parents who know that they will die while their children are young an opportunity to record a memory book. The memory book helps children foster a sense of identity after losing a parent, through being able to understand the messages and images left to them.

From their website;

Request for your help from the Remember me when I’m gone project

The Remember me when I’m gone project is a world-wide, no-budget, non-profit initiative which aims to inspire, motivate and help parents who expect to die before their child(ren) have grown up, to make a memory book about their own life for their child / each of their children.

Though the concept of memory books is valid in all situations where the early death of a parent is imminent, memory books have so far mainly been used in AIDS-related projects where the concept has more than proven its worth.

The Remember me when I’m gone project opens up access to the memory book concept to all by providing a generic Memory Book template through the website We realize there are numerous projects in the field which already work with memory books, however with this project we hope to fill the gap for people who are not in these projects.

This template can be downloaded free of charge and is currently available in over a 100 languages. Distribution of the template is freely allowed providing the document is distributed as is and without charge.