Belated Zendcon 2011 Recap

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I started writing a Zendcon recap post as soon as I got back. And then mis-timed a couple projects. Note to freelancers, make sure your new gig starts AFTER your old gig is over. Or you’ll be working an insane schedule. Hence the lateness….

First the good part. What made Zendcon special.

I listen to many podcasts while on the LA freeways (aka parking lots), read a lot of blog posts by the pros, and connect with the #ZF community on twitter. It was great to finally meet so many “online friends” in person.

Even if you’re not a Zend Framework or PHP Developer, I recommend following these folks, as you will gain something from each of them.

First of all, many thanks to Kevin Schroeder ( for inviting me to be on

The PHP logo displaying the Handel Gothic font.

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the advisory board for Zendcon 2011. It was a wonderful experience.

Juozas Kaziukėnas proves that even if you’re circa ~7’9″ tall, you can be a better programmer than basketball player. Back when he was still trying to get accepted to speak at conferences, I could tell that this fellow had chops. Glad the last couple of years he’s been getting the recognition he deserves. His talks included sessions on Doctrine and Azure.

I wish I’d have managed to catch some sessions by Daniel Cousineau. Besides having a really neat beard, this is one smart feller.

Wayne's World

Wayne's World (Image via

If there’s one event I will remember about Zendcon2011, other than Kevin wearing a cape for two days, it will be 4 of us, David Zulke, Juozas, Paul Jones and yours truly in David’s car, singing Bohemian Rhapsody like in Wayne’s World. Anyone (ie David) who gets REST right and yells at those getting it wrong in conference talks has my props.

Paul Jones is one cool Marine. He’ll kick your ass physically and in code. I think anyone coming from OmniTI must be really smart, because between him and Elizabeth Marie Smith, you can spend a day chatting about hardcore programming and not get bored.

Image representing OmniTI as depicted in Crunc...

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I missed Paul’s talks unfortunately and only caught one of Elizabeth’s, but it was great. If you don’t know SPL, you should try to catch her SPL talk. Actually, I want to hear all of them when they’re released.

Hanging out with Dr. Keith Casey is always a blast. One of the most unique individuals you’ll come across. He has so many great stories. And we’re very much of the same mind about connecting people who would mesh well together.

I hung out a lot with @jsundquist and @jcarouth. Promising young talent. When you meet good kids like them, you have hope for the future.

English: Zend Framework logo. Português: Logot...

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I really enjoyed meeting one of our #LAMySQL speakers in person. @billkarwin. He’s so humble for someone who’s done so much. This guy headed up Zend Framework V1.0, wrote the groundbreaking SQL Antipatterns book and has had quite a career so far. Now at Percona. We chatted quite a bit and I’m honored to call him a friend.

Bill and I also hung out with another gentleman and scholar, Bradley Holt. These two guys forgot more about Databases than most of us have ever learned.

English: Zeev Suraski, significant contributor...

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I’m kind of losing steam in telling these stories, because there’s one name I want to cover at the end, and life kind of sucks, it’s hard to focus on the good when I’ve got his story in the back of my mind…so if I miss anyone please accept my apologies.

Shout outs to @DragonBe & DASPRiD. Enjoyed IHOP with you guys!

Also nice to meet fellow Canuck @afilina who manages to get the PHP community out to the Frozen Tundras of Canada with her mega conference organizing skills.

Andi Gutmans

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Too bad @skoop wasn’t there the whole conference as I was hoping to chat with him more. However I was very pleased to chat with the names behind Zend, Zeev Suraski and Andi Gutmans.

One of my favorite talks, which was in the uncon came from @iliaa. He always has so much to say about performance. If you’ve never had to worry about performance, it might be hard to tell who’s good. But trust me, he is.

And I’m going to wrap up with the dynamic duo behind Zend Framework. Ralph Schindler and MWOP. Ralph is hilarious! And I learned some interesting things chatting about the history of PHP with Matthew.

Running a project like Zend Framework has its positive sides to be sure, but also its thankless side. The public out there can be pretty mean and demanding at times. Especially with stuff they get for free. These guys really handle the community with class.

Sorry if this post is too positive, but it’s one of the few things I love. Meeting wicked smart people, often they are nice too, and just learning. If you focus on the good people, you can gain so much from conferences…

Now last, but not least I will mention Jeroen Keppens. We sat together during the opening Keynote, live tweeted the conference, and every time the live demo showed top tweets, one of us was on the screen. It was real fun. And I really enjoyed hangin’ with him and chatting. Having lived in Belgium for awhile, it’s easy to connect with people on that side of the world.

And this brings me to something that bothers me a lot about twitter. The world gets smaller. Because I run meetups, I follow a lot of people on Twitter and many are not just strangers. A good chunk are community members.

And almost every day something really sad happens to someone. I’m still kind of shocked from when Jeroen tweeted that his wife passed away from an accident. The original version of this post had more details, but now I see that his tweets are protected, so I will respect his privacy. I wish there was something we could do, but what can you do?

Jeroen is such a good guy. Why does he have to go through this? I don’t know. A week earlier, someone from the cloud community announced that his 2 year old daughter pulled a pot of boiling water onto herself and went to the hospital. Thank God she seems OK.

A couple of people have gotten cancer. Another Twitter friend had a relative commit suicide.

It’s hard to tweet as though it’s a normal day when someone you are fond of one way or another are going through such a hard time. Like a Doctor you have to get “used” to this because of the frequency. But it is hard and the downside of these tools that bring the world closer.

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