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Hamish's Quest For Glory In The Desolate North

CTO Hamish Friedlander shares his experiences as a speaker at the 2016 PHP UK Conference in London. 

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Here’s a riddle for you: as a visitor to London, how many times can you be told “you came at the start of a cold snap, it was warm last week” before you get annoyed.

Zero. The answer is zero times.

Two weeks ago I was in London to speak at PHP UK Conference (yes, I am now an international conference speaker, another feather to add to my cap made of feathers). It was cold. Very very cold. And it was awesome. Very very awesome.

In a lucky piece of scheduling, I was speaking in the first breakout slot on the first day. That meant I was able to actually attend most of the conference, only missing the first keynote due to the thought-and-attention blotting shadow of my impending doom and/or glory.

To all the cool, intelligent and attractive people that attended my talk, I hope you enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed giving it. For those unable to attend through lack of proximity or excess of madness, I started by describing how SilverStripe had grown as a tool developed by a bespoke web agency to support the work we did. How as such it was particularly suited to the way modern web teams work collaboratively together with clients in an agile environment. Then I gave an example of developing a simple feature to show how easy it was.

The only thing I’d change was to get into the code part sooner. PHP UK Conference was very tech heavy compared to many other conferences I’ve attended, and the clearest audience reaction was when I live-coded from nothing to a full GridField based admin interface for a To Do system in about 5 minutes. Don’t listen to the Stone Temple Pilots, it’s not breathing but shutting up and letting the tech talk that’s the hardest thing to do.

Hamish presenting

Explaining why everything but SilverStripe is terrible

So which speech (other than mine, naturally) did I think best? Hard to pick a winner.

I thoroughly enjoyed Jordi Boggiano’s keynote on the first evening, “Behind the Scenes of Maintaining an Open Source Project”. It’s good to know that the joys and struggles we experience maintaining an open source project are shared by other projects, and the talk struck that delicate balance between being light-hearted and informative.

Jessica Rose’s keynote the next morning, “Imposter Syndrome and Individual Competence” was also great, and she managed to push through the hangovers of many attendees with an enlightening and thought-provoking talk. Although I had previously heard of the Dunning-Kruger effect, I had not connected it with Imposter syndrome before, nor had I heard of the Zone of Proximal Development.

PHP UK 16 speakers

Jessica (left) and Jordi (right) take the stage at PHP UK 2016.

Immediately following that, Thomas Shone’s “Security Theatre” talk was both fun and motivating. In part of his presentation he showed how failing to upgrade from framework versions with known security issues was a common problem that affected many sites, and talked about some of the efforts he had gone to to fix the problem. His talk made me rethink how much an auto-update mechanism for SilverStripe (much more practical now that we’ve adopted SemVer) might well help improve security. Also our logo was on one of his slides (and it was the right one too), which immediately made his talk at least twice as cool.

Finally, I have to give a shout out to RIT Tech who sponsored the cloud bar, for not only having basically unlimited doughnuts, but also some of the best coffee I had in London. There is no better topping for a fantastic day than the chemicals of sucrose and caffeine. There’s a reason many of the speakers were hanging out there rather than speaker’s lounge. 

rsz screen shot 2016 03 03 at 125916 pm

London is a long way away. It’s expensive, it’s grey, it gets dark early, and it’s cold cold cold. But I had an amazing time, and I hope I’m able to go back to attend PHP Conference UK 2017.

About the author
Hamish Friedlander

Programming since childhood, Hamish has dedicated his life to technology. 

Hamish brings with him more than a decade of industry experience and a comprehensive knowledge of open source frameworks and languages. As SilverStripe CTO, he uses that experience to ensure SilverStripe remains applicable to the evolving way humans use the internet, technologically advanced without becoming technical and future-focused without losing sight of the present. 

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