RE: PHP Sucks

An article hit hackernews today with the title “PHP Sucks“.  The reasons for it sucking are as follows:

  • There is a lot of old code out there that’s shitty
  • There is a bad stigma for PHP developers
  • You may get paid less as a PHP developer compared to other languages (Proof?)

I’m not sure if you can get paid less to be a PHP developer, but it’s important to be a full stack engineer and learn as much as possible about the stack you are on.

One of my favorite quotes from the article

Sometimes people are more straightforward and will just respond with “Oh, I’m sorry about that”. Recently I talked to a CEO who more carefully said “Ah, that’s pretty old school right?”. Developers who more-so live in the Java-dominant corporate bubble will likely silently dismiss me as a incompetent programmer.

I find this to be pretty funny.  If you care about what other people think about the language you choose then you’re worried about the wrong stuff.

If you told me that I should switch away from the LAMP stack because it’s slow, then I am all for that.  Speed would be my #1 reason to move away from PHP.

You want to swap out Apache for nginx?  Sure thing. Why? Because nginx is much faster and uses less RAM.  (Though it’s not a drop in replacement in most instances)

If you want to swap out MySQL for MariaDB then I would not be opposed since most say that it’s 100% compatible and slightly faster.

The problem, or lackthereof, is that PHP is among the fastest languages out there. If you switch from PHP to Rails then you would be bummed to find out how slow Rails is compared to PHP7. Cool, hip programming language, but much slower. Hmm, decisions decisions.

Do you want a fast app or do you want to worry about what other people think?

If you care more about what others think than making sure your application runs as fast as possible, then I feel sorry for you. If I cared what people say I’d be working for some 9 to 5 job as just-another-developer being underappreciated and underpaid and listening to a CEO who almost knew what the fuck he was talking about.

I run the LAMP stack for FantasySP and give zero fucks. When I finally migrate to PHP7, then I’ll hopefully have around double the speed. My apps average response time is 120ms. I reckon I can get that to around 60-90 ms with PHP7. What’s not to like?

Your Hate for Google is Misguided

I read the announcement today that Google Checkout has been discontinued.  It was also featured on HackerNews.

The most popular comment right now is by ChrisNorstrom:

“Google is making the same mistakes Microsoft made. Trying to enter into every industry it can thinking it can use it’s monopoly power to take over the world. Reality: Doing 20 things mediocrely is not as profitable of doing 2 things very very well.”

The comments vary, but I tend to see this line of thinking quite often nowadays.

Why exactly can’t Google try new things and then discontinue them if they don’t gain enough traction?  Why is trying new services out a bad thing? Are they supposed to be perfect?

Here are a few Google experiments off the top of my head that turned out alright:

  • gmail
  • chrome
  • google reader
  • google maps
  • google fiber
  • google glass
  • google drive
  • google docs
  • google news
  • google play
  • google music
  • Android
  • Chromebook
  • google trends
  • google+
  • google voice
  • code.google.com
  • Nexus 7

I don’t think people realize how many products Google has at any given time.  Not every product that google makes is going to be successful.  

So just because they won’t be successful every time means that they should not try because it makes them look bad to fail?  

Do you really think that is a healthy thought process? How will anyone ever innovate with that state of mind?  Google is a massive company and they still act like a startup.  It’s absolutely incredible and takes a lot of guts to start products like Google+ so late in the game.

Did they ram Google+ down our throats?  Absolutely.  But you know what?  They are making waves by innovating the space.

Is the consumer going to lose faith in Google because they discontinued one of their free services like Google Reader?  People want Google to spend resources and money on developing tools for them to use for free or for a low cost.  Then be the first ones to complain when it’s discontinued.  It’s ridiculous.  

Google is the ONE company that you should want to invade a new market and try to innovate.  They are the ONE company that has the resources to decide one day to get into X Market and you should be excited at the thought.  They are the one company that can invest millions of dollars in a new endeavor and make billion dollar companies take notice.  (Think Google Fiber).

Would you rather still be using MapQuest than Google Maps for navigation?

What is it, exactly, that makes you want to hate a company like Google, Facebook, or Yahoo so much?

Why is it, that when Facebook bought Instagram it’s the worst thing to ever happen.  Why is it that when Google unified its terms of service it was inherently evil.  I don’t hear anyone complaining about Google Now?

I get it, everyone wants to hate the biggest companies because it’s the cool thing to do. I could make an argument that Google has done more for the web in the past 5 years than any company.

Again, I’m not saying they are perfect.  What I am saying is that they seem to be one of the few that has the balls to innovate and don’t care if they fail.

Do you?

Your idea of privacy is dead

I hear a lot about privacy these days.  More often than not, it’s about Facebook or Google and their disregard of privacy.  I think part of the problem is that privacy means different things to different people.

I know for a fact that how I view privacy online is different than other people.  I accept that the internet is changing rapidly and the idea of privacy that existed are long gone.  Online handles are a thing of the past (though there are still exceptions, hi Reddit).

I hear things like…

Ditch Google and use DuckDuckGo because they don’t track users.  Don’t use gmail because they read your email.  Ditch Facebook because Zuckerberg said privacy is dead.

In fact, the most recent knock against them is that Facebook Home can take over your phone and offers all kinds of potential privacy violations.  Reading that story led me to write this blog post.

Let’s face facts here.  The modern web and your personal data are intertwined.  There is no going back.

When Google announced their unified privacy, it was actually a great leap forward.  Those people who complained four years ago that Google was reading their email love Google Now.

Gmail will see that you booked plane tickets or had a packaged shipped and will personalize your Google Now experience.  This was not possible five years ago.  Google Glass was not even possible a year ago.

Will these companies use this data to show advertisements and make money?  Yes, of course.  As it turns out, they are companies that need to make a profit.

A privacy breach will happen time to time with the modern web.  I expect the modern web to be responsible and use SSL and OAuth to securely share my data.  When they are careless and screw things up then they deserve the bad press.  But a story about Facebook Home saying that it “destroys any notion of privacy” is complete and utter bullshit.

I’m not saying that I want to sign up for a service with my email address and phone number and they can turn around and sell this information to a third party.  I don’t want them to publish my phone number without my consent.  Those are violations of my privacy and not something I would agree to.

However, if I sign up for Facebook and they decide to use the fact that I liked ESPN in a personal advertisement, then so be it.  I understand the tradeoffs of the modern web.

I find it funny that we get bombarded with credit card offers and flyers from ten different companies in the mail and no one seems to mind.  We accept those privacy violations offline, even though they offer us nothing in return.  Yet companies online who are innovating and using private data in new ways get so much grief.

No one said you had to join Facebook, use Google, or Twitter.  If you want to pretend its 2002, then that’s fine.  The rest of us are moving forward.  We don’t need you to come along.

This is progress people.  Sit back, relax, and stop your whining.

 

 

 

 

The best start-ups are companies you’ve never heard of

I will keep this short and to the point.  A lot of news I see on tech blogs all revolve around the same type of start-up.  A start-up gets X amount of seed money, or X amount of additional round of funding, or takes on SUPER CEO Joey Wallnuts, or has some outrageous claim about growth, and how using Node.js makes their work desks levitate.

In many cases, these places are not profitable, and in some cases, never intended to be.  Their main goal is likely to flip the start-up and sell it off at the peak of it’s valuation before the shit hits the fan.  Before people realize that what they are building is a pile of shit.

So what do they do?  The CEO and investors pump up the start-up by feeding tech blogs heaps of bullshit that they can write about as if they are facts.   Before you know it, the bullshit keeps mounting and the start-up has a very high valuation in a year or two.  The pump and dump is complete and the investors make their money and move on to the next victim.

Another successful start-up saves the internets yet again!

The problem?  These are not real companies.  They should not be refereed to as real companies. The real start-ups out there are ones you’ve never heard of.  In fact, it’s an insult to call them start-ups.  They are internet companies, whose main goal is profitability and longevity.

The average bootstrapped company’s story is boring.   It often includes keeping costs down with slow but consistent growth over several years.  The stack the company is built on is nothing special, either Rails or PHP.  They failed to get funding or tech press.  The problems they solve are often terribly boring, possibly highly technical, employs a handful of people, and worse yet, no one gets rich overnight.  They tend to put their head down, plug away, and grow something out of nothing with hard-work instead of smoke and mirrors.

Talk about a snoozefest. These may not be interesting, but they are the companies you should root for and aspire to be a part of.

This post is for you.

SEO When Panda Met Pengiun

September and October have been eyebrow raising months for the SEO community and the blogs are going nuts.  As you know a bunch of algorithm updates have occurred that may affect many sites and search queries.  They make it seem like the SEO-Apocalypse is upon us. But should you be nervous when these updates come out? I think not.

…Panda update that impacts 2.4% of English search queries and is still rolling out

Holy shitballs that sounds scary.  Will my site be impacted negatively?  Should I hire an SEO consultant tomorrow to prevent the impending doom?  All signs point to no, (unless you want to hire me of course).

All websites are designed for the end user.  The end user should be able to find everything easily and access your content easily.  Google has made it abundantly clear that SEO is about merging the end user experience with a machine readable experience.  Google tries it’s best to mimic the end user experience in algorithms.  Chances are that if your end user is having a lovely time on your site then Google also agrees.

Of course we are talking general terms here.  It goes without saying that you should also make sure meta descriptions are present, you are using the proper HTML markup, etc etc.  Just about all SEO related changes you can make for a website is to help Google understand what the user experience is all about.  If you have lots of incoming links from quality sites, then guess what, the end user experience must be great at your site.  If you tend to write articles about hot topics and include keyword friendly titles then chances are you will get more traffic. (Hint: This article’s title is both amusing and SEO friendly)

So why all the doom and gloom from SEO blogs?  Fear of the SEO-Apocalypse brings pageviews, so blogs about SEO will write about them in nauseating detail.  Don’t get me wrong, I like to be in the know when an algorithm update hits and you should be aware as well.  But as it turns out, there are a lot of websites out there doing shady shit.  Those websites will lose their traffic and then complain on SEO blogs as if they are innocent victims.    If you are buying links (It’s not hard to understand that this is a paid article), exchanging links with crappy sites, light on content and heavy on ads, or trying to game Google then your site will be hit by these updates.  There are a lot of terrible sites out there and Google will (hopefully) eventually weed them all out.

That is why we should look forward to a major Google update because chances are that it will help you rank higher.  If you run a respectable site and follow the rules and concentrate on the end user experience then you have nothing to worry about.  Occasionally a respected site is hit negatively by an SEO update and those are usually rectified. Nobody’s perfect.

Now, are there gray areas in terms of an algorithm update?  Of course.  Does Google just so happen to release updates that seem to favor their own properties and lead to more revenue?  Probably.  Does Google violate it’s own best practices by cramming 5 ads above the fold for many searches?  You bet.

But the truth is that none of that should matter to you.  Stick to the user experience.  Stick to producing good content.  Stick to making sure Google is able to properly crawl and present content in search results and you will be fine.