Which Programming Language Do You Prefer?


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Someone on our Lockergnome site recently asked which full programming language is “the best.” That is a good question – but impossible to answer, really.

Each language was developed for a specific purpose. What works for one type of application may not work for another. Therefore, you can’t really chose “the best.” It would be better to ask which was the best for what you are trying to DO at any given time.

Everything from WordPress to moveable type uses something different. It’s impossible, therefore, to try and figure out any one language to name as the be-all and end-all of language types. The most useful programming language, ultimately, is the one that will best serve your needs.

No one language will or can do everything. If you want to be a general programmer, you’re going to have to learn many different types. If you want to be specialized, then sure – focus on one or two that you will need in your career or hobby.

What do you think? I’m sure you have your favorite language… but do you truly believe any one is better or more important than everything else out there?

Deploy – A New Seattle Conference for Developers

I’m launching a new conference with the folks over at Seattle 2.0 called Deploy – Today’s Technology for Tomorrow’s Apps. It will be held Monday, November 8th from 9AM – 5PM at the Bell Harbor Conference Center. Deploy is a conference for technology builders and geeks. New languages, frameworks, storage systems, methodologies and devices are creating entirely new opportunities. Deploy 2010 is a “Show and Tell” conference where speakers will discuss hot new topics and show what can be done – and how. Topics will include NoSQL, Mobile and Tablet, Game Mechanics, Open Source, Location and more.

We have a great lineup of speakers including:

  • Doug Cutting, creator of Hadoop, Lucene and Nutch
  • Andre Charland, creator of PhoneGap – the open source cross-platform mobile technology
  • Brian Fling, founder of Pinch/Zoom and creator of the NY Times iPad app
  • Poornima Vijayashanker, first engineering lead at Mint and bizeebee creator
  • Bob Walsh, author of “MicroISV: From Vision to Reality and the Web Startup Success Guide

Deploy 2010 will be a technology conference focused on software development. It’s perfect for developers of all backgrounds, whether you are still in college or are an industry veteran . It’s also valuable to managers and executives who have technologists in their organizations.

As an added bonus, we are reserving eight spots for show and tell. For three minutes, up to 8 lucky winners, will be able to get up on stage and either speak about or demonstrate their technology. During the morning session, we’ll collect entries from attendees who want to present their technology during the Tech Demo segment. At 1:30 PM, after the lunch break, we’ll draw the entries from a hat. The lucky winner has three minutes to get up on stage and present his or her technology.

If you are a developer or hard-core tech enthusiast, I hope you will join us for join us for Deploy.

Gnomedex 2010 Open Government Hackathon

If you have a passion for coding and will be in Seattle on August 20 – 21st, you will want to attend this event. The Gnomedex10 Open Government Hackathon will be held at the Edgewater Hotel – adjacent to the Bell Harbor Conference Center. The event is slated to begin as our Gnomedex conference winds down, and the cost of attending is absolutely free.

Ruby, Python, PHP, web developers, coders and anyone who has a passion to code, hack or kluge applications that will free (or otherwise enhance) the accessibility and usefulness of government-shared data are encouraged to participate. You can enter as an individual or a team, and don’t have to be attending our conference in order to take part in this amazing opportunity. At the end of the 24 hour period, each app will be evaluated by the Hackathon partners to determine the best apps – which can earn you a prize or two!

The nature of this event will be free-form. Hackathon partners will have organizers on-site to help you get the ball rolling initially. Even though it won’t cost you anything to take part in this day of hacking and fun, you are asked to please register so they know how many people to expect.

I know several of you out there in the Seattle community (and many attending Gnomedex from other far-away places) are hard-core programmers. Let your creativity soar while having a great time winding down your weekend during the Open Government Hackathon.

Do Computer Majors Mean Anything Anymore?


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The job market is always changing. Computer program majors often find themselves having a tough time after graduation. It may sound insane due to the number of computer-related fields that are are there. Much of it depends on where you live, and what your exact area of focus is.

You cannot possibly try to get a “general” computer degree anymore. Pick a specific area that you are good at or interested and focus on that. If you’re a developer, go develop! If you’re more of a networking whiz, you know what you need to do. There are SO MANY hundreds of possibilities. Don’t cut off your nose to spite your face by choosing too broad of a major.

A consulting route isn’t a bad idea, but you honestly have to be REALLY good at what you’re trying to do. However, becoming a developer is where it’s at right now in MY mind. The other areas won’t disappear any time soon, no. But look at all of the dev opportunities out there right now. That’s the hottest and most in-demand area.

Network like crazy every chance you get. I say that about pretty much any type of career, but it holds even more true of us Geeks. Social connections enable you to find the path before the path is eliminated.

Most importantly, love what you do. Don’t choose an area of study just because you think you’ll make good money. Sure, that’s an important consideration. You have to support yourself. But if you hate what you do, you’re not going to do it for long. Know where your passions lie, and choose your path based off of them.

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Tips for Programming and PHP

Community member “a_v58” sent me a short list of PHP tips. These days, people are rabid in their thirst to learn more about PHP. If you want to become a programmer, you should know what you’re doing when it comes to PHP. The following tips were sent in to me by Andrew. They are solid tips, so I wanted to pass them along to all of you.

  • Don’t be tempted to use packets such as WAMP or XAMPP that install and configure Apache, PHP, MySQL for you automatically. You’ll learn more by installing them one-by-one and configuring them manually. After a quick Google search, you’ll find a list of recommended configurations for PHP and/or Apache – depending whether your machine is a server or a development machine. I recommend installing in this order: MySQL, Apache, PHP.
      A small suggestion to check if all 3 were installed and configured correctly: place a small PHP script in the .htdocs directory of Apache in which you call the phpinfo function, as well as one function from every extension (MySQL, cURL, Java, etc.). If there are no warnings or errors, everything should be fine.
      For fewer headaches and happier programming, I also strongly recommend using an IDE such as EclipsePHP (which can be found at eclipse.org) or Zend. You might also look into xDebug.
  • Remember to sanitize your database inputs. To avoid this, understand what this is and how this works. Google or read on Wikipedia for “SQL injection.” Use functions such as ‘addslashes’ and ‘get_magic_quotes_gpc.’
  • When you think you did everything right and you don’t understand why something isn’t working, look at your code carefully, debug it, and possibly run a ‘var_dump’ on all the variables to see whether something is faulty. If you still can’t figure it out, take a break and get some fresh air. Come back to the problem with a clear mind.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask on forums or the community questions. Remember: there are no stupid questions. However, if for every little mistake you ask, and you don’t figure a couple of questions on your own… no offense: programming may not be right for you.
  • Why choose PHP? It has a syntax similar to C/C++ (which are some of the used frequently for desktop applications. PHP.net has almost everything you might need to know – including examples and user-contributed notes (which may contain exactly what you need).
  • When somebody asks you a question, don’t be afraid to answer. You’ll either help that person by teaching him or her something new (or be corrected by someone with more experience – in which case, you’ll learn something new).

Sure, it’s a starter list of tips – extremely rudimentary for some. That’s where you have the opportunity to suggest your own PHP starter tips in the comments stream below. 🙂